We who preach the gospel must not think of ourselves as public relations agents sent to establish good will between Christ and the world. We must not imagine ourselves commissioned to make Christ acceptable to big business, the press, the world of sports or modern education. We are not diplomats but prophets, and our message is not a compromise but an ultimatum. A.W. Tozer
Therefore let God-inspired Scripture decide between us; and on whichever side be found doctrines in harmony with the word of God, in favor of that side will be cast the vote of truth. --Basil of Caesarea
Once you learn to discern, there's no going back. You will begin to spot the lie everywhere it appears.

I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has strengthened me, because He considered me faithful, putting me into service. 1 Timothy 1:12

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Women to be Silent in the Church?

This may turn off some of the followers of this blog who are women, but I am firm in the belief that God forbids women from being elders or pastors in the Church.  Every church which has permitted this to take place has turned liberal or aberrant.  Paul said the reason for this was because Eve was the one deceived.  Women by nature are more emotion-driven than men, which makes them easier to deceive in general. 

The following is a summary of a study I did several years ago.  In my original work, I included citations from numerous commentaries.

1 Corinthians 14:33b-35 in context:  The overall context of our subject is in regard to orderly worship.  Beginning at 11:17, Paul says, "In the following directives I have no praise for you, for your meetings do more harm than good."  At v.33 he says, "For God is not a God of disorder, but of peace."  Finally, at v.40, he says, "But every-thing should be done in a fitting and orderly way."  Paul is establishing order for the worship service.  That is the overall context of our subject text.  Now, to understand what is happening, we must put some verses around our text so as to better understand the immediate context.  It appears to start at v. 26, and concludes at the end of the chapter:

What then shall we say, brothers?  When you come together, everyone has a hymn, or a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue or an interpretation.  All of these must be done for the strengthening of the church.  If anyone speaks in a tongue, two - or at the most three - should speak, one at a time, and someone must interpret.  If there is no interpreter, the speaker should keep quiet in the church and speak to himself and God.

Two or three prophets should speak, and the others should weigh carefully what is said.  And if a revelation comes to someone who is sitting down, the first speaker should stop.  For you can all prophesy in turn so that everyone may be instructed and encouraged.  The spirits of prophets are subject to the control of prophets.  For God is not a God of disorder, but of peace.

As in all the congregations of the saints, women should remain silent in the churches.  They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the Law says.  If they want to inquire about something, they should ask their own husbands at home; for it is disgraceful for a woman to speak in the church.

Did the word of God originate with you?  Or are you the only people it has reached?  If anybody thinks he is a prophet or spiritually gifted, let him acknowledge that what I am writing to you is the Lord's command.  If he ignores this, he himself will be ignored.

Therefore, my brothers, be eager to prophesy, and do not forbid speaking in tongues.  But everything should be done in a fitting and orderly way.  [NIV]

The immediate context is when they come together for worship.  He says that everyone has "a hymn, or a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue or an interpretation" which must be for their edification.  (I do want to point out that the passage in 11:3-16 has to do with all public prayer and prophecy and is not relegated to just the worship meetings.)  Then Paul begins a discussion on tongues and prophecy.  He gives the following instructions:

1. Three persons at most could speak in a tongue, but they must have an interpreter or not speak in the church.
2.  Three prophets at most could speak.
3.  All others should "weigh carefully" what the prophets say.
4.  If someone sitting receives a revelation, the one speaking should stop.
5.  All [prophets?] can speak in turn so that everyone is “encouraged and instructed."  He points out that they do have control over their need to speak.
6.  Women are not allowed to speak, but be in submission.
7.  Women are to ask their husbands at home if they have questions about what is said.
8.  They should acknowledge that what Paul is saying is the Lord's command.
9.  Finally, they are to be eager to prophesy and are not to forbid the speaking of tongues.

Questions to answer are:

1.  Is this cultural or for all time?

The answer to this question is simple; Paul says, "As in all the congregations of the saints...” Since Christian assemblies extended throughout many countries, not all cultures could possibly be the same.  In fact, in chapter 1:2, Paul states that this letter is for "all those everywhere who call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ."  This has to mean any and all cultures that embrace the gospel.

2.  Does the restriction from speaking refer to married women or all women?

By the context of vv.34-35, this proscription must be directed at married women because Paul says they are to "ask their own husbands."  But does that mean other women can participate?

3.  What is the nature of women being forbidden to speak; what are they not allowed to talk about or say?

Since the subject of the immediate text is prophesying or speaking in tongues, this is apparently what women are not permitted to do.  They would not be permitted to speak in a tongue or give an interpretation, nor would they be allowed to prophesy or participate in the discussion that would result from "weigh [ing] carefully what is said."  The wife is in submission to her husband "as the Law says.”

1 Timothy 2:11-12 in context:  Among a short gospel message, and verification that he was appointed to spread the Gospel to the Gentiles, Paul gives some guidelines he wants for the church:

1.  He encourages Timothy to use Paul's teaching.
2.  Continue various prayers.
3.  Men are to offer prayers everywhere, not just in church, AFTER putting aside their anger and quarrels.
4.  Women are to dress modestly, not showy; that their beauty should be in what they do, not in how they look.
5.  vs. 11-15 discussion about a woman's silence and submission, as this study is addressing.
6.  Qualifications for elders/bishops/pastors.
7.  Qualifications for Deacons.

The context is isolated in chapters 2 and 3 - what Paul wants for the church.  We can disregard chapter 3 because it is about qualifications for elders and deacons and not germane to our subject.  I will now look at the text. 

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.  [KJV]

My conclusion based on the text is that there are the two issues identified above:  (1) the learning end, and (2) the teaching end.

The learning side of it seems simply to be saying that a woman should be submissive to the authority of the one teaching, but, as long as she remains quiet and respectful, she is not precluded from questions and discussion.

On the teaching side of the issue a woman is not to be in authority over men; she is to be silent in this regard.  She may teach women, as in Titus 2:4.  In fact, this text says she is not to have authority over men in any church role, let alone teaching.


Let's start with the Corinthians passage:

1.  Is this cultural or for all time?  As pointed out at the beginning, there are two verses that answer this question:  "As in all the congregations of the saints..."  "all those everywhere who call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ."  This has to mean any and all cultures that embrace the gospel.

2.  Does the restriction from speaking refer to married women or all women?  I think it's very significant that chapter 14, by some English Bible translations and virtually all commentaries, is addressing only married women.  Even the reference to Adam and Eve is about a husband and wife situation!  This indicates positively to me that the context is only in reference to married women.  But, could single women be included by implication as some commentators suggest?  I think it is quite possible.

3.  What is the nature of women being forbidden to speak; when and what are they not allowed to talk about or say? As noted above, the subject of the immediate text is prophesying and speaking in tongues during worship meetings, so this is apparently what wives are not permitted to do.  Nor would they be permitted to participate in the discussion that would result from "weigh[ing] carefully what is said.”  If we are to assume that 11:5 is in reference to the worship service, although I don't think it is, that would just give weight to the argument against the total silence of wives.  That verse allows praying and prophesying as long as the wife's head is covered.  This would then limit the argument in this passage to be (1) no speaking in tongues, (2) no interpretation of tongues (3) no discussion of what others are prophesying.  She would be permitted to pray and prophesy if her head was covered.  Total silence would be illogical, for then women wouldn’t be able to sing the hymns!

How about the Timothy passage?

Well, there certainly is a lot to think about here.  We first have to determine two things:  (1) Was this just a cultural mandate? (2) What is the setting context?  There is no indication that Paul is speaking to just the local church or even to just the culture of the time.  At v.8, where he begins his discussion of what he wants for believers, he says, "I want men everywhere...” If his subject for men was for those "everywhere," it only makes sense that his instructions for women also include those "everywhere."  Also, when he gives the reason for his instructions to women, he makes an appeal to creation and the creative order of man and woman, which argument transcends culture.

What about the setting; was it just for the meetings of the church for worship or did it include any time believers got together?   Chapter 3:14-15 says, "Although I hope to come to you soon, I am writing you these instructions so that, if I am delayed, you will know how people ought to conduct themselves in God's household, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of the truth.”  Contrary to those who say this means when in the "household of God", i.e., the church building, it is obvious that Paul is calling believers "God's household."  He says this is how believers ought to conduct themselves as God's church, meaning this is a continuous lifestyle.

So where does that leave us in relation to the instructions?  As my conclusion of just the text stated, we are dealing with two issues:  (1) the learning end and (2) the teaching end.  The learning side of it is simply saying that a woman should be submissive to the authority of the one teaching but, as long as she remains quiet and respectful, she is not precluded from questions and discussion.  Since Paul is making this applicable to any gathering of the "household of God," this would include Bible studies, whether in a church building or in a private home.

On the teaching side of the issue a woman is not to be in authority over men; she is to be silent in this regard.  She may teach women, as in Titus 2:4.  In fact, this text says she is not to have authority over men in any church role, let alone teaching.  However, I think an important thing to note here is that the understanding of the commentators is that this passage refers to the position of elder.  This makes it appear to be forbidding women from teaching men in a formal setting while approving individual teaching, as Gleason Archer pointed out.

Before continuing, let me stipulate that I don't believe tongues are a part of the modern church.  Tongues were a sign to unbelievers (1 Cor. 14:22) in the beginning stages of the church and have no current need.  All displays I have personally witnessed were not Biblical examples.  So this eliminates the use of tongues for all men and women in the assemblies.  This can be considered a bias, of course.   Additionally, prophecy is direct revelation from God, which also has ceased since New Testament times, so this is also eliminated for all members of the assembly.  Again, this can be called a priori bias.

What about the practical application of these passages?  First and foremost, a woman cannot hold any position of authority over men in the assembly.

I'm not quite sure how the original church gathered, but it appears there was a time for worship, for the breaking of bread (the Lord's supper), and also a time of instruction in the Scriptures.  It appears that their instruction may have been like our current sermons, only with the ability of the congregation to question and discuss with the one leading.  Current practices in most assemblies is a gathering for worship, with the breaking of the bread some of the time, and a lecture.  The only participation by the congregation is responsive reading and singing, neither of which is proscribed by these texts.  Separate meetings are usually held in classroom settings for Bible studies.

In the more common types of church services we have to say that the only place these issues come into play is with the sermons and classes, since certainly the women can participate in the singing and responsive readings.  However, women cannot preach to the congregation.  That's pretty simple.  

From the Scriptural evidence, I believe that women are allowed to participate in the worship service by way of singing and praying but not in the reading of scripture or other teaching.  If they have questions about what is said, they should wait until they are home with their husbands, fathers or perhaps talk to an elder later.

Since v. 11:5 says a woman can pray with her head covered, prayer meetings could include women praying.  Local custom may separate men and women for prayer due to sensitivity of some prayers, but they should still be able to join together in general prayer. 

What about Bible studies and other classroom-type meetings? With the exception of women-only meetings, a woman should not be the teacher, or the one in authority.  As long as a woman remains quiet and respectful, she is not precluded from questions and discussion.  Total silence in these cases is not warranted from Scripture.

In current society husbands have often abdicated their responsibility for the home in raising and disciplining children, including the teaching of the Word.  Additionally, there are many single or divorced women and women whose husbands are unchurched.  These women must be able to question and discuss the teaching in order to educate themselves!  A Bible study, by implication, is a gathering for give and take - such as a school classroom.  If a leader is unclear on something, or brings up general discussion, all members of the study must be able to question for clarification.

At any rate, anything more restrictive of what our subject passages actually say must be in accordance with local practice and custom instead of claiming Scriptural basis in relation to this passage.

The Defender's Study Bible, by Henry Morris
NIV Study Bible
Ryrie Study Bible, by Charles Ryrie
The International Bible Commentary
Matthew Henry’s Commentary
Church:  Woman's Role - What Does the Bible Say About Women in Ministry? (booklet by Radio Bible Class)
Showing the Spirit: A Theological Exposition of 1 Corinthians 12-14, by D.A. Carson
735 Baffling Bible Questions Answered, by Larry Richards
Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties, by Gleason L. Archer
The MacArthur Study Bible, by John MacArthur, Jr.
The Believer’s Bible Commentary, by William MacDonald
The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, by Kenneth L. Barker and John R. Kohlenberger III
The Book of First Corinthians: Christianity in a Hostile Culture, by Dan Mitchell
Men and Women: Equal Yet Different, by Alexander Strauch


Doug Evans said...

This all comes down to the Authority of Scripture and man's willingness to bend to the will of God. In my own blog today I wrote about Genesis 1:1 deniers which dovetails nicely with this issue. I used Chuck Queen, a man who makes fun of Christians who believe in a 6 day creation and has no problem with female elders, as an example:

Why are we allowing people like Chuck Queen to stand in front of people and trash the word of God? He believes in allowing women to teach men where God says otherwise (1 Timothy 2:11-12, Titus 1:6, 1 Timothy 3:4-7) so he clearly has no trust in the New Testament. He tries to humiliate those that believe in Genesis so he clearly has no trust in the Old Testament. By their example men like Chuck Queen are teaching their flock that you can pick and chose which part of the bible you can ignore through eisegesis. Eisegesis, roughly put, is the interpretation of a text by reading into it one's own ideas, basically to corrupt the pure word of God with the sinful ideas of Man. This is something that a pastor is NOT allowed to do

7 For the overseer must be above reproach as God's steward, not self-willed, not quick-tempered, not addicted to wine, not pugnacious, not fond of sordid gain, 8 but hospitable, loving what is good, sensible, just, devout, self-controlled, 9 holding fast the faithful word which is in accordance with the teaching, so that he will be able both to exhort in sound doctrine and to refute those who contradict. (Titus 1:7-9) (emphasis mine)

Glenn E. Chatfield said...

Hi Doug,

I wondered if you had a blog; all your name links to is a Google profile. So, now that you said you have a blog, I actually discovered a section on the Google profile which showed a link and, bingo-- I found it. Some pretty good stuff, so now I'm following :oD

I didn't get into the qualifications of elders with this article, but you are 100% correct by using the qualifications to demonstrate why women can't be elders. I was just demonstrating from the passage which says they are not to teach men or be in authority over them.

Yesterday and today I have been entertaining an e-mail communication with a woman who has attacked me for a comment I made in reference to the teachings of Steve Cioccolanti in regards to women elders/pastors. She basically says I hate women, etc. Her emotionalism is exactly the reason God said that women are not to be in that role!

Anonymous said...

Hi Glenn,
I am a woman, and I agree with you. If men are fulfilling their role in a godly way, then women should have no problem with it. Mutual submission is the key. I think people get riled when they immediately refer in their minds to men who use scripture to justify wrong behavior on their own part (being oppressive, putting women down,etc). It is unfortunate that people always use the bad example in their justification.
Anyhow, I have never seen a church/denomination who does not fall into error in other areas who have women as pastors or elders. When you compromise in one area, you inevitably fall into error in others. As is the case with the denomination I grew up in: Nazarene. They have women pastors and elders and they are falling into all kinds of emergent/mysticism junk.

Anonymous said...

Hi Glenn,

No offense, women are not to be elders or pastors, Scripture is clear. However, it appears that in a private setting, a man and woman can co-teach a man, ie Priscilla and Aquila, instructing Apollos, Acts 18:26.

One of the problems I have had, though, with male leadership, and this would be an example of poor male leadership, is that discerning women are often dismissed as drama queens. When the likes of Warren, Driscoll, etc, were poisoning the flock, many discerning women spoke up. With rare exception, the men of the church were too busy hobnobbing with these purveyors of error to bother listening to their godly sisters' wisdom. In fact, many of these discerning women were treated in an egregious manner by their brothers in Christ. To date, the discernment of these precious sisters has proven true, and there has been a dearth of apologies from the men...


Glenn E. Chatfield said...

Hi Carolyn,

I thought I noted in this summary, but it must be in my full study, that the proscriptions against women teaching men is in context of the gathered saints.

Women certainly can teach unbelieving husbands and sons, and any other one-on-one with a man. These situations don't put the woman in a position of authority.

I don't consider a woman alerting a pastor of dangerous teachings to be teaching them. We have a woman in the church we recently left who was considered a "flake" because she was always pointing out bad teachings; it was she who first got me to look at Beth Moore. She is indeed discerning, but the leadership wouldn't listen to her. Then again, they barely listened to me.

Anonymous said...

Hi Glenn,

Maybe I missed it? Anyhow, I know you appreciate discerning sisters. Sorry to hear the wise woman in your local assembly was dismissed, and ended up leaving, but sounds like they aren't terribly willing to listen to anyone with discernment. Not an uncommon attitude in American churches, unfortunately.


Glenn E. Chatfield said...

No, you didn't miss it. I just missed including it. Here's a quote from my original:

"Women may certainly teach men in individual situations outside of the gathered saints; women can teach their unbelieving husbands or their sons, for example.  There are many ministries for women in the assembly, but God dictated that the one role they will not have is teaching and leading over men.  They are not to be pastors/elders."

Anonymous said...


Thank-you for this teaching and the Scriptures you posted. Being a woman and a child of God, I am in agreement with your study for our LORD knows what is best for His people. Good and Godly male leadership is decreasing in these last days for most desire to joke around in desiring people to like and follow them, being lulled into that party spirit. It is often the women in the church that are left to do the disciplining while the men sit there and watch because they are "such nice guys."