1 Corinthians 14:26-40 — What Paul Had Said Was….What Did Paul Really Mean About Women In This Passage?

Posted: August 5, 2015 in 1 Corinthians

1 Corinthians 14:26-40 — Today, let’s talk about women! Woohoo! Oh yeah! Ok, Mark get a hold of yourself. Let’s talk about what Paul says in vv. 34-35 of this passage. On the surface, it seems pretty controversial by today’s standards. Paul says that women should be silent during church meetings. He says they should be submissive just as the law says. He goes on to say that if they have any questions they should ask their husbands at home since it is improper for them to speak at church meetings. Wow! That’s pretty harsh. Some have taken this to mean that women are to have no role in church. So, let’s get at what Paul means here.

Does this mean that women should not speak in church services? Does this mean that women should not hold positions of responsibility in church? That would seem to controvert what Paul allowed in the church’s he planted. Paul seems to have had a high view of women when you consider Lydia, Phoebe, Priscilla, Euodia, Junia in Romans and Acts. There are Lois and Eunice in 1 Timothy. I do not think that Paul is saying that women should not hold positions of responsibility in church. If Paul meant that, he would have said that directly. As always, we must consider the context in which these words were written. This whole chapter is about orderliness of worship. Paul states that must be order in worship so that we all can get something out of it as I wrote in my last blog. Therefore, we must dig deeper hear and figure out why Paul said this to the Corinthians. In their culture, women were not allowed to confront men in public. In the freedom of their Christianity, many women in the church at Corinth were interrupting worship services to ask questions of men directly. This was stalling worship and causing division. In addition, in Corinthian culture, and most cultures of that day, women did not have the opportunity for formal religious education as the men did. These women at the Corinthian church must have been asking basic theological questions that could have easily been answered at home instead of disrupting the worship of the corporate gatherings. So, Paul was simply asking these women not to abuse their newfound freedom in Christ to completely disrupt the worship services. After all, we must all do what is beneficial to the entire body of Christ first rather than getting our own needs met at the expense of others. Paul was saying, ladies, ladies, ladies, yes you are important to the church. Yes, you are important to this new thing called Christianity. Yes, you have greater value here than in any other part of 1st century Christianity, but please do not use your freedom selfishly to disrupt group worship. Remember that we are all here TOGETHER to worship God. Let’s keep the whole body of Christ in mind when we worship. Always, always, let us remember context when we read the Bible and not make it say what we want it to say. Let us understand what is going on in and around a passage and understand the historical/cultural context of the passage before you make judgements or rip verses out of context and use them to say what you want to say.

What about where Paul says women should be submissive to their husbands. How does this square with what I just said above? It is true in marriage relationships that women, according to God’s Word, should be submissive to their husbands. Men were made by God to lead their wives and children. However, they must be willing to be the priest of their household. They must be willing to lead their wives in godly ways. Men must be willing to lay their lives on the line for the good of their wives. Men must always have their wife’s best interest at heart and ahead of their own. We must be willing to create environments for them to flourish into the beautiful flowers that women are. It is only then that a woman should submit to her husband – when He is a man chasing after God’s own heart. When he does that, it is simply natural that a woman would be willing to submit to such a man because she knows that he treats her like a queen and makes sure that she is safe, secure and allowed to flourish. So, in this context of this passage, Paul is saying that have some of these discussions at home with your husbands. You love him, you trust him, you submit to him. Ask him these questions at home and stop disrupting services to the point that no one is learning anything. To the point that people are leaving services angry and bitter and having not been edified in the Spirit. They came away not feeling that they had glorified God.

Thus, the real takeaway here is that these women were being selfish in their freedom in Christ. Paul is saying, ladies, let’s think about what you are doing here. Are you really wanting questions answered or are you just trying to be in the spotlight? We must always remember in church that we are not here to make a name for ourselves. We are not here to have our selfish needs met. We are here to glorify God. We are here to make Jesus’ name famous. We are here to unify the body of Christ. We are here to serve each other and the world around us. We are here to be the body of Christ. Selfishness has no part in that — whether I am a man or a woman. Let’s remember what we are here for, ladies…and gentlemen! Amen and Amen.

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