Recently, a question
often heard was presented unto me from a lady of another congregation. That
question was in reference to the Apostle Paul’s statement at First
Corinthians 14:34-35, “Let your women keep silence in the
churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are
commanded to be under obedience, as also saith the law. And if they
will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame
for women to speak in the church.” My response is as follows:
Common sense should be
used in approaching the matter of women involved in the assembly of the
saints. Of course, God's Word must always be our guide. The principle of
women being silence in the assembly is a qualified silence.
In the first place, we do not have such an assembly today as the one taken
into consideration in First Corinthians 14. That assembly pertained to the
proper use of miraculous gifts such as speaking in tongues (languages not
known by the speaker before he was endowed with the power to speak in those
languages); also, the power to interpret foreign languages not previously
known by the interpreter.
I MENTIONED THAT THE SILENCE DISCUSSED IN FIRST CORINTHIANS 14:34
WAS A QUALIFIED SILENCE.
By that I mean that it had limited application. Otherwise if it meant
total silence then a woman could not utter a sound.
Actually that is precisely what it means in that passage. But its
limitation had to do with the exercise of miraculous gifts in the assembly and
the conduct of those assembled.
Even men in the assembly of First Corinthians 14 were instructed to
keep silence under specific circumstances (First Corinthians 14:28).
If it applied to all assemblies then a female couldn't sing or make
the good and noble confession that Jesus is the Christ the Son of God (in
obeying the gospel). Also, penitent females could not orally acknowledge or
confess their sins in the assembly of the saints.
The qualifying statement concerning a female's limitation of silence is
found at First Timothy 2:11-12.
That passage states: "Let the woman learn in silence with all
subjection. But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp
authority over the man, but to be in silence."
The phrase: "usurp authority over the man" is the key to
understanding this matter. In other words, she is not to dominate or to rule
over men in the assembly.
Thus, we have men to take the lead in the assembly of the saints. This
would involve such things as directing the singing, waiting on the table,
leading in prayer, preaching, teaching a Bible class including both men and
women, presiding over a business meeting, and such like.
The exception to this would be when only women are assembled. There
have been assemblies of small congregations when no male Christian was
Again, the key is that women are not to usurp authority over men. Even
in the home the husband is to be head of the home.
Eph. 5:23, “For
the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the
church: and he is the savior of the body.”
“Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right. HONOR THY
FATHER AND MOTHER; which is the first commandment with promise; THAT IT MAY BE
WELL WITH THEE, AND THOU MAYEST LIVE LONG ON THE EARTH. And ye fathers,
provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and
admonition of the Lord.”
SOME HAVE TAKEN THE EXTREME POSITION THAT A WOMAN CANNOT TEACH A MAN
THE SCRIPTURES UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES.
This would mean that a wife could not answer a Bible question presented
to her by her husband in the privacy of their home.
This is going beyond what is taught in the New Testament. For
example: a woman can teach her husband by example when he refuses to hear her
explain the scriptures unto him.
I Pet. 3:1-4,
“Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that, if
any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the
conversation [behavior] coupled with fear. Whose adorning let it not
be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold,
or of putting on of apparel; But let it be the hidden man of the heart,
in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet
spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price.”
We do have an example of a woman being involved in teaching a preacher
the Word of God more perfectly.
(Either read or elaborate upon this passage).
Some had thought that Aquila and Priscilla were both women in
that their names sound feminine. But Aquila was definitely a man.
Acts 18:1-2, “After
these things Paul departed from Athens, and came to Corinth; And found a
certain Jew named Aquila, born in Pontus, lately come from Italy, with his
wife Priscilla; (because that Claudius had commanded all Jews to depart
from Rome and came unto them.”
Nevertheless, his wife was involved in correcting a preacher of his
error concerning baptism.
Some ladies of the church may be married to a man who is not a
He certainly would not be qualified to answer Biblical questions. Nor
would he readily have access to judgmental matters made by the church.
Other women may be married to men who are weak in the faith and may
never attend the business meetings of the church. These men could not
adequately answer such questions.
Some women may possess more knowledge of the scriptures than their
husbands. But they might not have ready access to business and judgmental
matters pertaining to their congregation.
NOW LET’S DEAL WITH WHAT A WOMAN IS TO DO IN SUCH MATTERS IF SHE DOES
NOT HAVE A HUSBAND.
This supposed dilemma is often brought up as though she is in an
Obviously, if she does not have a husband then other consideration must
If the congregation in which she has membership has elders then she
should feel free to go to them privately and ask her questions. After all,
they are the spiritual leaders of the local church. Or, she might inquire of
their preacher. Some other well grounded brother in the congregation should
be able to answer her question. Some times a lady can ask a knowledgeable
brother outside the congregation about Biblical matters.
Men outside the congregation in which she has membership may not be
able to answer questions that pertain to judgmental matters peculiar to the
congregation in consideration. But they should be able to answer Biblical
questions on spiritual matters or seek additional help in obtaining the
The problem of women being uninformed about the Biblical issues
affecting the local congregation can be avoided.
If the local church has elders then it is their responsibility to take
the lead in guarding those they oversee against false teachers and doctrines (Acts
The evangelist who preaches for their congregation has the
responsibility to proclaim the true doctrine and expose false teaching.
I Tim. 4:16, “Take
heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this
thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee.”
II Tim. 4:1-5, “I
charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ who shall
judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom; Preach the
word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all
longsuffering and doctrine. For the time will come when they will not endure
sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves
teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from
the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. But watch thou in all things,
endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy
If a congregation does not have elders then it is the responsibility of
both the preacher and faithful men of the local church to expose error and
warn the brethren to avoid it.
In the New Testament there are letters written to specific
congregations warning them of false doctrine and what they must do to avoid
THE QUESTION ABOUT WHO WOMEN SHOULD ASK ABOUT THINGS PERTAINING TO THE
LOCAL CHURCH USUALLY HAS REFERENCE TO JUDGMENTAL MATTERS, NOT MATTERS OF
Elders or the men of a congregation can eliminate this potential
problem by keeping the entire congregation informed of their decisions.
As a preacher, I encourage the elders or the men of a local church
without elders to keep the brethren informed of decisions made in business
This can be done by having a handout of the business minutes
distributed to the entire congregation. Or, such pertinent decisions could be
included in the announcements made to the assembly of the saints.
Certainly the entire congregation should be informed about such plans
as constructing a new meeting house. Otherwise, the entire congregation could
not be motivated to support such an ambitious project.
Also, a monthly financial statement distributed to the membership
would aid in keeping the brethren informed.
Some misguided brethren contend that the females within a congregation
do not have the right to be informed about business affairs or judgmental
decisions made by the elders or men of the church.
There is a small church of Christ in Texas taken over by a faction
split off from another congregation. Those gaining control dismissed the
preacher who had been preaching for those brethren. The man leading the
faction commenced to preach for the church and his son lead the singing. Both
men began drawing a salary. Some of the women inquired about the financial
affairs of the church. The man doing the preaching told those women that such
matters were none of their business.
Brethren, this is a gross misconception of the passages of scripture in
consideration. Even their interpretation of First Corinthians 14:34-35
provides an avenue for women to receive answers to their questions.
WE ARE NOT APPROACHING THIS SUBJECT WITH A CHAUVINIST ATTITUDE; BUT
RATHER SEEKING GOD’S WILL IN THIS MATTER.
Our Heavenly Father values one soul equal to another.
Matt. 16:26, “For
what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own
soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?”
“Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, Of a truth I perceive that God
is no respecter of persons: But in every nation he that feareth him, and
worketh righteousness, is accepted with him.”
Gal. 3:26-29, “For
ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you
as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew
nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female:
for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye
Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.”
Although God is not a respecter of persons, He still has distinct rolls
for males and females.
Men are to take the leadership in the church.
Elders are to be men.
I Tim. 3:2, “A
bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife,…
Deacons are to be men.
I Tim. 3:11, (In
reference to deacons) “Even so must their wives be
grave, not slanderers, sober, faithful in all things.”
Women are to be in subjection, but preachers are to preach with all
Titus 2:15, “These
things speak, and exhort, and rebuke with all authority. Let no man
Women can teach other women and children.
Titus 2:3-5, “The
aged women likewise, that they be in behavior as becometh holiness, not
false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things; That they
may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love
their children, To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient
to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed.”