Pauline Commands And Women In 1 Corinthians 14 -- By: Αndrew B. Spurgeon

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 168:671 (Jul 2011)
Article: Pauline Commands And Women In 1 Corinthians 14
Author: Αndrew B. Spurgeon


Pauline Commands And Women In 1 Corinthians 14

Αndrew B. Spurgeon

Τhe Corinthian believers had asked Paul several questions that he answered in 1 Corinthians. He introduced each answer with περὶ δὲ (“and concerning”) in 7:1, 25; 8:1; 12:1; 16:1, 12. The fourth περὶ δὲ topic discussed questions about spiritual gifts and the Resurrection (chaps. 12-15). In discussing spiritual gifts Paul stated who a spiritual person is (12:1-3), how the spiritual gifts operate (12:4-14:25), and how spiritual gifts strengthen the body of Christ (14:26-36). To illustrate how a spiritual gift can strengthen the body of Christ, he discussed three specific situations: speaking in unlearned languages (14:26-28), prophesying (14:29-33), and women remaining silent in the church gathering (14:34-36). The last of these three issues has become a matter of contention. The purpose of this article is to evaluate several views on these topics and to propose an alternative to the traditional rendering of the passage.

Context: Strengthening The Church (14:26-36)

Earlier in 1 Corinthians 14 Paul repeatedly taught that spiritual gifts are given for the strengthening of the church (οἰκοδομὴν and οἰκοδομέω, vv. 3, 4, 5, 12, 17). He stated that principle again in this section: “What is the outcome then, brethren? When you assemble, each one has a psalm, has a teaching, has a revelation, has a tongue, has an interpretation. Let all things be done for edification [οἰκοδομὴν]” (v. 26).

The gift of speaking in languages strengthens the church, but

only if three criteria are met. First, there should be only two or three speakers of foreign languages in a church gathering (v. 27b). Second, language-speakers must take turns so that their words do not overlap and become meaningless (v. 27c). Third, someone needs to interpret what is said (v. 27; cf. vv. 6, 13). If those criteria are not met, the language-speakers must remain silent (σιγάω) in the church (v. 28a). Of course language-speakers are free to speak to God or to his or her own heart in silence (v. 28b). Such orderliness—two or three language-speakers taking turns, and with interpretation—and self-control (remaining silent when there is no interpretation) will strengthen the church.

Also prophesying strengthens the church when proper stipulations are followed. First, only two or three prophets should speak in a church gathering (v. 29a). Second, ...

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