Silence in the Church

1 Corinthians 14:26-35

How is it then, brethren? Whenever you come together, each of you has a psalm, has a teaching, has a tongue, has a revelation, has an interpretation. Let all things be done for edification. 27If anyone speaks in a tongue, let there be two or at the most three, each in turn, and let one interpret. 28But if there is no interpreter, let him keep silent in church, and let him speak to himself and to God. 29Let two or three prophets speak, and let the others judge. 30But if anything is revealed to another who sits by, let the first keep silent. 31For you can all prophesy one by one, that all may learn and all may be encouraged. 32And the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets. 33For God is not the author of confusion but of peace, as in all the churches of the saints.

34Let your women keep silent in the churches, for they are not permitted to speak; but they are to be submissive, as the law also says.  35And if they want to learn something, let them ask their own husbands at home; for it is shameful for women to speak in church.

First of all the context of the above verses concerns the gift of prophecy, & the context of what is underlined were guidelines so that the prophetic moving of the Spirit within the meeting were not interrupted. 

To explain verse 34-35 we need to look at historical setting as well.  At the time Paul wrote this, the church met publicly and from house to house.  In the public meetings the people often met in synagogues as at that time there were “many myriads" or tens of thousands of Jews who have believed on the Lord.”

In a synagogue setting the men sat on one side of the room and the women on the other; copying the basic pattern of the temple as there was a court for the women. 

Also at this time the practice was to send only the males to school for formal religious education. 

The only thing Paul was communicating to the women was (paraphrasing) ‘don’t interrupt the moving of the Holy Spirit in the meetings… if there is something you don’t understand wait and ask your husband at home.’   What was shameful was also that the more a woman asked questions of her husband, the more it brought shame as it exposed the husband’s neglect in sharing the truths that he would have learned in school. 

This thought also demonstrated Kingdom order concerning the authority of the husband as head of the house and can be clearly seen as we look at Ephesians 5:25-29:

“Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, 26that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, 27that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish. 28So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself. 29For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the church.

Back to 1 Corinthians 14:  part of a husband's obligation in loving his wife was such that he was to teach her at home.  Jesus in John 17 prayed in part "Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth..."  As Paul was addressing the spiritual obligation of a husband; it is clear that part of this obligation was to wash her with the water of God's word; showing forth his love for her; imitating Christ's love for the church.

He was to lift her up; having a total commitment to raising her up in the faith to stand beside him.  A wife who had to continually ask her husband questions at a meeting of the church exposed her husband’s neglect in this area and brought shame upon him.  While this situation of neglect needed to be addressed, I believe Paul’s comment reflected that the Holy Spirit did not want to shame a man publicly over this.

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