Should women be silent in church? That’s what Paul seems to be saying in 1 Corinthians. But is that what he meant?

Shopping Day; Metropolitan Museum of Art, Women Conversing, Attic Greek, ca. 460-450 BC, Painter of Bologna

More importantly, what do we do about tough passages in Scripture? Should we ignore them, or grit our teeth and do what they say, even when it seems wrong or unrealistic? A better approach is to take those passages seriously. What does it look like when we do that? Pastor Luke teaches from 1 Corinthians 14 in “Yackety-Yak.”

Additional Reading

You may get more from this talk if you read the story of Hannah and Eli and the Song of Mary first.

Questions for Consideration

1. How is the role of women in church different, here and now, from what it was in the first church you were familiar with?

2. Pastor Luke described two errors: some people simply ignore difficult parts of the Bible, while others take them out of context. Which would you more likely to do with a passage like the one above?

3. Our translation (above) sets verses 33b–36 in parentheses. What do you see when you look at how various other translations treat these verses?

4. Read 1 Corinthians 11: 5. How could it be read to narrow the application of the above passage? —to support a strict policy of silence for women?

5. Some commenters suggest these verses were added by an editor when the early church first began to circulate Paul’s letters. If that were so, how would it affect your interpretation of this passage?

6. Nowhere else in the rest of 1–2 Corinthians, or all of Romans, Galatians, Philemon, Philippians, and 1–2 Thessalonians, does Paul suggest any limits on the roles or functions of women. In that light, how should we interpret “all” in “all the churches” (verses 33–34 above)?

7. Pastor Luke said that if women are permitted to speak in church, they should not limit their speaking to other women. What can our church do to ensure our proclamation addresses men as well as women?

More Study

1. Read what Paul says about some of the women Paul cites as fellow workers: Chloe (1 Corinthians 1: 11), Prisca (1 Corinthians 16: 19, Romans 16: 3), Phoebe, Mary, and Junia (Romans 16: 1–7), Euodia and Syntyche (Philip. 4: 2–3).

2. Look at how Paul uses rhetorical questions in 1 Corinthians. Some examples are in 4: 7–8; 8: 1; 9: 3–4; 10: 23; 15: 12, 35; and 16: 12–13.