A Biblical View of Women in the Ministry Part 3: The Speaking of Women and the Prohibition of the Law -- By: H. Wayne House

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 145:579 (Jul 1988)
Article: A Biblical View of Women in the Ministry Part 3: The Speaking of Women and the Prohibition of the Law
Author: H. Wayne House


A Biblical View of Women in the Ministry
Part 3:
The Speaking of Women and the Prohibition of the Law

H. Wayne House

Assistant Professor of Systematic Theology
Dallas Theological Seminary

Paul began 1 Corinthians 14:33b–35 with a reference to the universal practice of the Christian church regarding the proper function of women in the local meeting of Christians.1 The churches agreed on these points: women are to be silent (σιγάτωσαν) at church meetings, are not to speak (λαλεῖν), and are to submit themselves (ὑποτασσέσθωσαν).

Paul’s two reasons—the practice of the churches and the Law—demonstrate he was not expressing personal opinion as he did in 1 Corinthians 7:6. Instead he appealed to guides that should convince the Corinthians to follow his directions. The words ὡς ἐν πάσαις ταῖς τῶν ἁγίων (“as in all the churches of the saints”) have a close logical arrangement2 with verse 36, “Was it from you that the word of God first went forth? Or has it come to you only?”

The Corinthians were not to be so proud in their interpretation and application of Christian truth as to suppose they might operate in conflict with the rest of the Christian world. Paul desired all Christians to conform to certain Christian practices (1 Cor 11:16; 14:33b, 36; 1 Tim 2:8). To think that the prohibitions Paul gave applied only to the Corinthians is out of harmony with Paul’s appeal that they conform to the rest of the Christian church. The idea that today one may frivolously go against the last two thousand years of Christian teaching (but for heretical movements) on the subject of women, because of the current Zeitgeist may be tantamount to having the attitude found among the Corinthians.

So these injunctions from the apostle are not merely a personal whim of his or of the church, nor are they based on custom. Instead, Paul said they are in agreement with the Scriptures (καθὼς καὶ ὁ νόμος λέγει).

What Is the “Law” in Paul’s Discussion?

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