The Ministry of Women Parts 1 & 2

From the Differentiator magazine:


Part 1

Much confusion still exists everywhere concerning the Christian service of women. It has often been stated that the Apostle Paul shows a certain attitude to women which they resent, in that he has forbidden all women to engage in spiritual teaching.

Let us begin by stating categorically that there is no ban in the whole New Testament upon the services performed by unmarried women. There are certain restrictions in the case of married women.

All the uncertainty and confusion have been caused through the fact that neither the Greek language nor the Hebrew has separate words for man and husband, or for woman and wife. This may seem very strange and awkward to us, even unaccountable. Yet even in Old English versions we find both the sexes called man, as at Mark 10:6, where God created them "waepnedman and wimman." That means weapon-man and wife-man. The word wife-man in the tenth century became wimman, or in the plural wimmen (which is still the sound of the spoken word), while later the word became wumman, then Woman.

In the Greek language, then, the word gunE has to take the place of both our wife and our word woman. This important fact is far too often overlooked, even by those who are aware that the Greek word gE has to do duty for our words earth and land. When does this little word mean the Land of Palestine, and when does it mean the whole earth? The context must decide. So with the word for wife or woman.

There is, however, One exception in the New Testament, at Romans 7:2, where Paul refers to "the underman woman"(hE hupandros gunE ), that is, the woman in wedlock. In this one case we do not require the help of the context.

Dr. Robert Young says the Greek word gunE is rendered in the British 1611 version as wife 92 times and as woman 129 times. The Concordant Version appears to use the word wife 89 times and the word woman for the rest of the occurrences. All versions, in fact, are obliged to use both these English words.

In order to prove this statement, we shall render a few occurrences in the wrong manner, or in a way which might be wrong:—Matt. 14:21, about five thousand men, apart from wives and little children.Matt. 19:8, Moses. . . permits you to dismiss your women.Acts 8:12, they were baptized, husbands as well as wives.1. Cor. 7:14, For the unbelieving man has been hallowed in the woman.1. Cor. 11:7, Yet a wife is a husband's glory.Eph. 5:25, the men: go on loving the women .
Anyone could quickly pick flaws in these examples if they were actual renderings. Every context must therefore be studied. In Some cases it would be immaterial whether we used wife or woman, as 1. Tim. 3:2, where the supervisor must be husband of one wife or woman.
What we must exclude rigidly from our minds in studying this question is the idea that a Greek-speaking person, when using the word gunE , had in mind the two English words, wife and woman. He was not thinking in English, but in his own language. This is one of the most difficult axioms for Bible students to learn.

In studying the matter of Christian service by women, it must be dearly recognized that the marriage bond implies a certain restriction of freedom, and a measure of discipline, on the part of both man and wife. In other words, the married woman has certain obligations which the unmarried has not. Paul is therefore quite in order in making a few rules which pertain only to married women, in order to preserve the dignity and status of herself and her husband. These rules are not merely Paul's own views or prejudices, as many foolish people think. They are divine principles, handed down to us for faith-obedience.

Much harm has been done, and too much prejudice has been created, by renderings such as that found in 1. Peter 3:1, where wives are told to be "in subjection" to their own husbands. There are various degrees of subjection, from drudging slavery to the idea which Paul here has in mind, of voluntary dependence, well expressed by the Middle Voice form of the Greek word. To a great extent the husband is dependent upon the wife, while the Wife is dependent upon him. Undoubtedly it is a distinct humiliation for a woman to read in 1.Tim.2:11, "Let a woman be learning in quietness, in all subjection." We may be sure this was not the thought in Paul's mind. The New World version reads "with full submissiveness," while Rotherham has, "in all submission." We suggest the true sense lies between submissiveness and dependence. No good woman wants to be in subjection to anyone. But if we mistake not, all fine women naturally love to be dependent more or less upon men.

In the whole of God's vast creation the principle of dependence reigns. The earth is said to belong to the Solar System, and it has been claimed that the Sun is pulling the earth through space in a certain direction, while the earth is said to be dragging the Sun towards itself in some measure. All through space there appears to be control and dependence. If the heavens are the work of God's hands, they cannot be controlled by anybody else. Science has reiterated that in the physical universe there is no independence; everything is dependent upon something else; the whole is dependent upon God. Everything moves in obedience to the influence of something else.
The glory of nature lies in her principle of universal dependence, with law and order throughout all.

We pause for a moment to consider the mighty Sun, upon which our earth is so dependent, the Sun which is said to control the earth. The Hebrew word for Sun is shemesh. There is no verb shamash in Hebrew, to show what the noun actually means. But in the Chaldee language it is found at Daniel 7:10, where we read, "Thousand thousands ministered-unto-Him." If the earth is utterly dependent upon the Sun, at the same time the Sun is minister to the earth.

Mankind would seek to reverse God's law. Men and women usually detest dependence and wish to be free. But what is freedom? Communism, euphemistically so-called, always means and implies lawlessness; freedom from law and control. But, we might ask, where can we find true freedom? We can discover it in two regions. In the world we may find comparative freedom only among barbarian nations. Or we may find freedom—perfect freedom, in God's Ecclesia. Civilization is not a transition from dependence to freedom, but a transition from comparative freedom to dependence.

Civilized peoples are hedged about by all sorts of restrictions and laws. Only a barbarian or very primitive people can know what the word freedom means. He is untrammeled by the written law. No need for him to wade through say two hundred paragraphs of an Act of Parliament, as I have had to do at times. Our perfect freedom is found in utter dependence upon God and upon His revelation. If we chase after any other "kind of Freedom", we are chasing after a phantom, and the result must be slavery. If nature abhors a vacuum, she also abhors freedom from law and order, and loves to follow law. Freedom in nature could only produce chaos and stagnation; while universal interdependence creates stability and progress.

There is no man who liveth to himself, however free or independent he may feel. This is notably true in the Body of Christ. Each stone is being builded into a temple for God. No stone can be wholly independent of another stone. Every one is required.

While He was on earth, God's Son was entirely dependent upon His Father. He became poor—totally impoverished, for our sakes, so that we might attain spiritual health. We do not consider His state of utter dependence as a gross injustice. Neither did He.

"Of every man (anEr) the head is Christ; yet woman's head (is) the man; yet the Christ's head (is) God" (1. Cor.11:3, literally). Paul does not state here that the head of humanity is Christ, though this is also true. Paul is dealing with the relationship between believing men and women. Verse 7 tells us that a man, praying or prophesying ought not to have his head covered, because, "all along existing God's image and glory." Paul does not use the word for human being (anthrOpos), but the word for man (anEr). Nevertheless he shews that woman also possesses her glory, literally, "Yet woman is man's glory."

Paul then explains that man is not out of woman, but woman out of man. "For why, (kai gar) man was not created because of the woman; but woman because of the man." Even more literally we might say that man was not created through the fact of woman, but woman through the fact of man.

If anyone is inclined to dispute these statements, we must decline to argue, as Paul concludes in v. 12 by saying "yet all (these aforesaid) things are of God." We dare not dispute the very plain statements he makes in Eph. 5:22-23 and Co1. 3:18 concerning the husband's headship of the wife, and the wife's submissiveness to the husband.

As Alford shews, the man, having been created first, is directly the image of God, while the woman is so indirectly, only through the man. It is quite wrong for anyone to teach that woman is the image and glory of God "in precisely the same sense" as man, or to teach that. "Christian women belong to Christ, . . . . not to their husbands." Husbands and wives belong to each other, being "one flesh," while Christian husbands and wives also belong to Christ, having one spirit with Him.

Two passages especially must be closely examined to see whether the Greek word gunE stands for our wife or woman, namely, 1. Cor. 14:34-38 and 1. Tim. 2:12-15. In the latter passage, it is clear that Paul is referring to married women from his mention of the bearing of children, which should save her from any tendency to become unfemale and develop a spirit of independence or even domineering. It might possibly be that the whole of verses 8 to 15 refer to married people, but perhaps this cannot be satisfactorily proved. Verses 1 to 4 deal with petitions and prayers in general, probably "in ecclesia," while verse 8 might refer to husbands undertaking the praying in every place, in every home. Bloomfield (Greek N.T.) thought Paul had a message for women also On the subject of prayer, and suggested that v. 9 should read, "In like manner (I will, or intend) the women also (to be praying) in modest apparel, with modesty and sanity adorning themselves. . .." That is to say, Paul may have intended the husbands to pray, lifting up holy-kindly (hosios) hands, apart from any anger and disputations; while the wives were also to pray with modesty, apart from extravagance in dress or make-up.

Verse 12 is of great importance in our present study. "Now I am not permitting a wife to be teaching nor yet to be domineering over a husband, but to be in quietness." The emphatic words must be noticed, firstly, to be teaching, nextly in emphasis, a wife.

Much damage to exegesis has been done in this verse by rendering woman instead of wife. Yet worse damage has been done by inserting a comma after the word teach or teaching. The Greeks did not use special marks for punctuation, but broke up their statements by means of little words such as de (yet, now), ara (consequently), oun (then), gar (for), plEn (moreover), etc. It is quite erroneous to say that Greek manuscripts were devoid of punctuation.

Paul is not saying that no woman may teach: nor that no wife may teach. There are many women teachers, both lay and religious.

One might compose and write a letter at the same time. One might even eat and write a letter at the same time. But it would be necessary to state this thus, "I eat, and at the same time write a letter."

Paul uses the word oude (nor yet) to shew that both actions(teach and domineer) govern the same object, the husband.

Here is how Wiclif & Purvey rendered the statement in 1380-1388, "but Y suffre not a womman to teche nether to have lordschip on the hosebonde, but to be in silence." This shews that as early as Wiclif it was understood that the woman here meant the wife. Young (1862) reads, "and a woman I do not suffer to teach, nor to rule a husband." Dewes (1882) reads, "let a wife in quietness learn in all subjection; but I permit not a wife to teach, nor to lord it over a husband, but I would have her to, be in quietness." Bowes (1870) shews no comma, "But I suffer not a woman to teach nor to assume authority over man." Nor does Moffatt shew a comma, "I allow no woman to teach or dictate to men." Goodspeed is very similar, "I do not allow woman to, teach or to domineer over men."

The wife is to learn in quietness in all submission or "subjection." Subjection to whom? The general inference perhaps is that she must be in subjection to men. But might not Paul simply mean subjection to God? The previous verse speaks of her professing Godly-reverence.
If a wife set about to become her husband's teacher, it might be very easy for her to go a step further and domineer over him, especially if he shewed that he was ignorant. Human beings are all too prone to spend much time exposing the weaknesses and the ignorance of their fellows.
Quite apart from Scripture, nature tells us that it is wrong for a woman to domineer over her husband. It goes against all instinct and against all law. It is quite wrong for a husband to domineer over a wife. But it is much more wrong for a wife to do the same to her husband.
Paul does not make these statements without supplying very cogent reasons. "For Adam was (a) first one moulded, thereafter Eve." It was not alone that Adam was first in time to be formed, but he was a first one, in rank, and Eve was formed from him. Paul states this as a reason why the wife should be submissive and not overbearing. Then he gives another reason, "and Adam was not seduced, yet the woman, being deluded (or, extra-seduced), in transgression has come to be."

We must note the last four words, which are one in the Greek (gegonen, perfect tense). What does this mean? Rev. T. S. Green, in Critical Notes on the N.T., says, "The Perfect gegonen has its due force, there being implied the abiding condition and mark on the transgressor and On her sex, hE teknogonia" (i.e. the bearing of children). Green seems to think Paul is alluding to Gen. 3:16 and the increased grief of women caused by child-bearing, due to her transgression.

Heinfetter's absurdly literal yet often useful version makes out that it was Adam who had come to be in transgression, through Eve having been utterly deluded. The word gegonen could refer to either Adam or Eve. Gilbert Wakefield (1795) seems to be of the same opinion, "and Adam was not deceived, but became a transgressor through the error of the woman." Alford renders thus, "But the woman (not now Eve , but generic. . . .) having been seduced has become involved in transgression." But she shall be saved through her child-bearing, saved in the sense in which some will be saved as through fire (1. Cor. 3:15). That is to say, the curse or penalty of Gen. 3:16 finds its operation in her child-bearing, yet she shall be saved through this, despite curse or any hindrance due to the curse. Wordsworth says woman "hath become, and still is, in (the) transgression". Dewes suggests that the woman "has become entangled in transgression," while Weymouth reads "and so became involved in transgression." (Weymouth thinks verses 11 and 12 may refer to the married woman and the husband).

Schaff's commentary may provide the solution of the strange perfect tense, "has come to be," or, "has been coming to be" in transgression. Woman "has come to be in the state of a transgressor. The implied thought, of course, is that that greater liability to deception continues now; and this was probably strengthened by what the apostle actually saw of the influence of false teachers over the minds of women (2.Tim. 3:6-7). The history of the fall seemed to him acted over again. Liddon says that "Eve's facility in yielding to the deceiver warrants the apostolic rule which forbids a woman to teach," also, "The experience of all ages that woman is more easily led away than man, is warranted by what is said of the first representative of the sex."

Paul is accordingly thoroughly justified in suggesting that married women, at least, will be saved from the dangers of delusion through the natural and God-given function of bearing children. The frequently made suggestion that "the child-bearing" refers to the incarnation of Christ is too ridiculous and out of place to be seriously considered. Had Paul meant this he would not have been so obscure. Farrar says the idea is a "far-fetched artificiality."

Eve was intended by God to be Adam's counterpart. Men and women should be complementary, the one supplying what the other lacks. It would be an insult to God to aver that one sex was inferior to the other. Both sexes have their dangers and their pitfalls. Paul is often attacked for being unfair to the fair sex. The following remarks are from a very reasonable study of "Man and Woman" by Havelock Ellis (Contemporary Science Series, 1904) "While women usually form the larger body of followers in a religious movement, as well as the most reckless and devoted, they have initiated but few religious sects, and these have had little or no stability. Women have usually been content to accept whatever religion came to hand, and in their fervour they have lost the capacity for cold, clear-sighted organisation and attention to details. They can supply much of the living spiritual substance, if a man will supply the mould for it to flow into." Even in trivial matters "the average woman more easily accepts statements and opinions than a man, and in more serious matters she is prepared to die for a statement or an opinion, provided it is uttered with such authority and unction that her emotional nature is sufficiently thrilled." Ellis mentions "women's tendency to be vividly impressed by immediate facts, and to neglect those that are remote." Women are more touched by the fact than by the law. Woman's mind is more concrete, the man's more abstract. Boys, if asked to say what is wrong, will reply that it is wrong to steal, fight, hurt, get drunk, gamble, swear; while girls would say it is wrong to be untidy, fail to comb the hair, climb trees, or to weep. Fright is stated to be far more common in women than in men, and Ellis says "all nervous diseases are in women largely due to emotional causes." Women are said to crave more sympathy, while they cannot often stand alone when public opinion is against them.

Paul recognized the dominant hold which unscrupulous teachers, who love self-gratification more than they love God, who put on a devotional make-up, though their lives deny the power of holiness, possess over weak, foolish females, into whose houses they worm their way, leading them into captivity, women sin-heaped, lust-led, ever learning, yet never able to enter into a fuller knowledge of truth (2.Tim. 3:4-7). Little wonder that Paul faithfully warns believing women to act with caution, so that they may not be seduced by that which tickles the ears or the senses or the emotions.

Part 2

In some ways the 14th chapter of 1st Corinthians is unique. It has special features of its own. Though related to the conclusion of chapter 13 it is distinct in that it deals chiefly with the gifts of prophecy and tongues or languages. Our special objective is to discover what Paul is trying to tell us in verses 34 to 38, regarding women.

General guidance may be obtained in the final two verses, 39 and 40, wherein Paul sums up the entire chapter. "So that, my brethren, be zealous to be prophesying, and to be talking languages do not be forbidding. Yet let all things be occurring respectably and in order." Briefly, we number Paul's chief points thus, (1) the superior value of prophecy; (2) the toleration of tongues or languages; (3) the great necessity of orderliness in everything.

Further guidance and illumination is obtained by noting that no less than twenty-three times does Paul utilize the word talk (lalO) in forty verses. . The word runs like a thread through the Whole chapter. Elsewhere Paul only uses this word about thirty-six times. Why so often here? And why does he not use the ordinary word for "speak" (legO)? Unfortunately almost every version lets us down here, through being inexact. LegO means the subject matter of speech, its purport, rational intelligent speech, the thought in the speaker's mind. LalO refers to sound and utterance, the noise made by animals, the chatter of children, loose, disconnected talk. LegO is never used in place of lalO. The Concordant Version Concordance states the meaning of legO as "lay down ideas, convey thought by articulate sounds, with the emphasis on the sense;" while lalO is defined as "make articulate sounds, with special reference to the utterance."

Only three times in our chapter does Paul use legO , in verses 16, 21 and 34, first where a brother giving thanks is saying something; next the Lord is saying something; finally the Law is saying something. In each case there is a definite pronouncement, while twice there is not even talk.

What a grand statement we find in the second verse of Hebrews, "At a last (stage) of these days, God TALKS to us in (a) Son." A whole gladsome sermon is contained in this statement. The Divine voice was heard, talking in human language. Rotherham has suggested that God was talking "sonly."

We note also in this chapter the use four times of the word for sound or voice (phOnE), in verses 7, 8, 10, and 11, while in three cases we find the word for hushing or keeping silence (sigaO), in verses 28, 30, and 34.

Another thread runs through the chapter—prophesying and talking in languages. When these two gifts are mentioned not only in the second verse, but throughout most of the chapter, and finally at the very end, the presumption must be that these two gifts were very much in Paul's mind all the time . This would make us ask ourselves whether verses 34 and 35 are in some way related to the two talk gifts. In other words, were women in the ecclesias not to prophesy or use languages? Always does Paul keep to his point until he is finished. Never is he erratic and never does he import what is extraneous. What is in his mind here is not his Gospel. That he leaves until the next chapter. Dr. Charles Hebert, in his version of six of Paul's Epistles, says that in verse 34 it may be only such women as were prophesying that are included. Prophecies and tongues were audible and outward manifestations of God or of God's truth; the former for the upbuilding or "improvement" (as some versions have it) of the saints; the latter for unbelievers as a significant sign to them.

Paul was not permitting these women in the ecclesias to be talking; it was a shame for woman to be talking "in ecclesia " (vv. 34, 35). Talking what? Chattering, or small talk? Certainly not; but the kind of talk Paul had been writing about throughout the whole chapter—prophesying and languages.

But of course, if these were only women in general, including unmarried women, it seems strange that Paul should advise them to enquire at home of their own husbands. Strange it is that almost every version here reads "husbands," yet reads "women" in v. 34.

Paul can only mean that the wives in the ecclesias were to keep silent. Any thinking person can see good reasons for this rule. Most expositors, of course, think in terms of a modern Church building with but one preacher, in which no other person talks, though all may sing. We must keep in mind that in Paul's day others could join in the service or discussion, and it would be a great benefit to-day if this could still be allowed, as it would destroy much of the spiritual stagnation which exists in Churches. If anyone says that Paul is here trampling upon the "rights" of women, we would retort, that modern Churches trample upon the God-given rights of the congregation, to play their proper part.

Beyond a doubt the Corinthians must have presented Paul with a very difficult problem. They seem to have been greatly in need of discipline and orderliness, not to mention correction for misdeeds. Emotional displays captivated many of them. Some explanation may be obtained from verse 12, If we may be permitted to read it without glossing it. Moffatt renders, "since your heart is set on possessing , spirits . . .." Stanley reads, "as ye are zealous of spirits (i.e. spiritual gifts)." Wordsworth paraphrases thus, "ye are zealous on behalf of'your own spirits, and covet power over other men's spirits." Darby translates here, by reading "since ye are desirous of spirits." In a footnote he explains that though in sum the sense is "spiritual gifts," this " deprives the phrase of its force here. As Gentiles, they were in danger of confounding demons' action with the Holy Ghost; and they did not adequately hold the unity of the Spirit, but looked for a spirit's power and action to distinguish them. Such is man. Hence the apostle was obliged to point out the difference between demons and the Holy Ghost." This would shew the eagerness the Corinthians possessed for outward demonstrations of God's power and presence, when they ought to have been walking purely in faith. In verse 1 Darby reads "spiritual (manifestations)," where the Greek has only "the spirituals" or "the spiritual (things)." The whole of chapter 12 is devoted to these spiritual grace-gifts, and in verse 7 Paul says these manifestations of the spirit were granted to each one with a view to benefit or profit. In verse 31 he appeals to them to be zealous for those grace-gifts which are greater, and he points out to them a way which is correspondingly more surpassing (ch. 13).

In these three chapters, 12, 13, and 14, Paul must have had one main theme in mind,—the various grace-gifts and something which completely outstripped them—faith, hopeful-expectation, and love. Yet he tells them to be pursuing, chasing after, (that) love. Then immediately, he tells them to be zealous for the spiritual (things).

It is not likely that many of the Corinthians could swallow the very strong meat found in ch. 15, or that they could climb the heights of ch. 13. They were too soulish and too carnal; too materialistic and too unruly. There are still many of the Corinthian type in God's Church.
Paul therefore recognized the condition of these former idolaters, bent upon the display of outward signs and wonders, and while he tells them in ch. 14:39 to be zealous to be prophesying, he does not tell them to be zealous for tongues, nor does he say he is in favour or against. All he says is that they are not to forbid or prevent the tongues. This was a safe rule for those who had found their first utterance of the spiritual life in tongues, so that their spirits might not be crushed or extinguished. At the same time Paul undoubtedly sets tongues lowest in the scale of the gifts, as belonging to the childhood of Christian life, not to maturity. With tongues there went the risk of disturbance (ch. 14:23). Moreover they tended to upset the equilibrium between the feelings and the understanding. For that reason prophesyings were of much greater benefit.
Paul had a profound respect for married women and the marriage state. He recognized that they acquired great dignity through bringing forth children and training them through childhood. But it was no dignified employment for married women to be involved in such childish immaturity as tongues. We should keep in mind that although in Acts 2 we find the apostles on the day of Pentecost suddenly talking in different languages, so that they could address the many foreign Jews then in Jerusalem, the talking in languages or tongues mentioned in 1. Cor. 12 and 14 seems to have been of an ecstatic character. In Acts 2 the apostles presented a sign to the foreign Jews, but it does not appear that the Corinthians used tongues in order to impress either Jews or outsiders. They might pray, or sing, or bless, in a tongue, but their understanding was unfruitful or in abeyance (1. Cor. 14:14). They were under the influence of a compelling power, and therefore their utterances were involuntary. They were not talking to human beings, or foreigners, but to God (14:2). They talked "secrets", which remained unintelligible to others until interpreted. The outstanding feature of tongues in the Corinthian epistle is their unintelligibleness; so different from the "own vernacular" or "dialect" of Acts 2:6, 8. Yet some, like Neander and Farrar, have claimed that even in Acts 2 the "tongues" were highly emotional utterances which were so thrilling and mighty that men of all languages who heard them were able to gather the import and be stirred to the very depths of their being. It is argued that if Peter addressed the Jews gathered in Jerusalem in the Greek tongue, there was no need to talk to them in their own foreign tongue, as most of the habitable world then understood Greek, and often Latin too. In other words, it is claimed that if the Greek and Latin languages were universally disseminated at that time, the gift of foreign languages was absolutely useless to the apostles.

But this would be to overlook the purpose of the tongues at Pentecost, which was not to enable the apostles to address the foreign Jews in their own languages, for there is no mention of teaching or discourse (for which the word legO would most probably have been used), but rather to shew forth the wonderful works of God; to invest the apostles with proper authority and their doctrine with the weight of inspiration; and to stir up in the multitude the spirit of enquiry. These foreigners listened to a band of plain Galileans" talking (lalO) in our very own (hEmeterais) languages the great things of God.�34; It was the miracle that amazed the multitude, the sudden acquisition of a strange new power. The suggestion that the apostles were overcome by wine could only have been made had they used excited utterance and gesticulation, in a more or less ecstatic state. It was the form of their talk, or perhaps better, their voice, that was the extraordinary thing, not the matter of their speech.

Elsewhere we never read in the Scriptures of other foreigners being addressed in tongues. In Corinthians, this tongue-talk was unintelligible to every one until interpreted (14:2). This could never be said of a foreign tongue. Would anyone want to speak to God in foreign tongues? Paul sets tongues in opposition, not to talking in vernacular, but to talking intelligibly (14:14-16). If he had foreign tongues in view, he would have made the exercise of them dependent on the presence of those by whom they were understood, not upon their bearing on the edification of the church.

We are now ready to discuss Paul's real attitude toward the tongues. Paul was both very sensitive and very artful. He wished to hurt no one's feelings, yet he had to teach a salutary lesson. Beholding the somewhat selfish competition among the Corinthians to exhibit their own special gifts,—which was as powerful a temptation to these zealous but immature believers, as the stately ceremonial of Hebrew worship became to Israel, to neglect the illustrious example of Abraham's faith and to forsake the true teaching of Moses,—he did not immediately forbid or dissuade talking in tongues. Yet Paul's entire argument could have had no other effect upon the Corinthian ecclesia than to teach them plainly that talking in tongues was making them seem like unto children, even like unto barbarians. His aim was to teach them that mere displays of divine might, and thrilling states of mind and soul, were greatly inferior to a deep knowledge of God-in-Christ, and to a life of service and usefulness to others. Were they to be allowed to become like modern Moslem dervishes, for whom nothing can be too wild in religious worship, and nothing too extravagant to be accepted as a miracle?

Bishop Wordsworth in his Greek New Testament (1861) makes a very fine summary of 1. Cor, ch. 14, as follows. The Corinthian Greeks, who gloried in their country and in their intellectual powers, and looked down upon other nations as barbarous, were really degrading themselves into barbarians, by talking, in ecclesia, strange languages or tongues which none could understand. The tongues were for a sign, not to believers, but to disbelievers. Thus, by requiring the use of foreign tongues now, in their own city, and indulging in their display, they degraded themselves from the rank of Christians to that of unbelievers. By their abuse of the superior gifts, they exposed themselves to the ridicule even of those who did not possess the gift, that is, the ordinary or plain or ungifted persons who might be present; and though the Corinthians were vain and proud as to their intellectual and spiritual powers, in effect, they shewed that they possessed less common sense than those who did not have these powers.

We can now see how Paul, without one word of blame or fault-finding, is gently chiding the Corinthians for indulging in tongues. The effect of this must have been to kill the movement entirely within a very short time. Tongues in the Corinthian Church and other Churches had no direct connection with the fate of the nation of Israel. There is no evidence that tongues continued to be talked right up until the time of Acts 28, or until the time when Paul, in writing, disclosed the secret of Eph. 3. We must keep in mind that so long as the Gentile Churches possessed the spiritual gift of direct prophecy, even though that was piecemeal, or by instalments only, it is not likely that any prophetical communication made by God's Spirit would go beyond what Paul later committed to writing in his epistles. But it is quite possible that the matter of Eph. 3 was divulged through some member of an Ecclesia, by means of his spiritual gift, years before Paul wrote to the Ephesians.

Perhaps we can now also better understand why Chapter 13 of 1. Corinthians is so strangely intercalated between chapters 12 and 14. Paul has suddenly interrupted his theme—spiritual gifts—to bring in. another theme, real spiritual Love. What he means is that chapters 12 and 14 cannot be understood without chapter 13, The three chapters form one whole. In a similar manner, but on a much smaller scale, the passage Romans 14:10-13 deals with one subject judgment. Sometimes it has been claimed that the word bEma in verse 10 does not mean a "judgment-seat," and that there will be no judging there at all. But this is wrong, as the entire four verses deal with judging. There is judging in verse 10, and judging in verse 13. If we have all to render an account of ourselves to God, we must pass judgment there upon the occasions on which we judged our brothers or scorned them.

Truth will flee from us unless we treat the Sacred Writings in a thoroughly logical fashion.
A few other points in 1. Cor. 14 must be considered. It has often been stated that verse 34 is wrong, where Paul instructs the "women" or wives to be subject, or in dependence, "as the law also is saying." It has been argued that the Hebrew Law says nothing about this matter. Or commentators refer to Gen. 3:16, "thy husband. . . . shall rule over thee." We must observe, however, that in 1. Cor. 14:21 Paul makes a quotation from Isaiah 28:11, and says this is "in the law." In John 10:34 the Lord quotes from Psalm 82:6 and says this is "written in your law." Dr. W. J. Irons connects "the law" with Numbers 30:3-7. Others consider that the whole Hebrew Scriptures are in a general sense "The Law." In Britain there is Statute Law, but there is also the very much older Common Law. Common Law is based upon ancient decisions and principles, and is the unwritten law. In a sense the whole Old Testament is the Common Law of the Hebrews, and it reveals, throughout, that from the beginning women were in a state of dependence upon men. This is also the law of Nature. It is natural for the wife to lean upon her husband, and leave decisions to him.

Most women shrink from making important decisions. In business, most women prefer to be free from heavy responsibilities. As being the weaker vessel and thus being in dependence upon the husband, women are to be accorded the more honour by the husband (1. Peter 3:7).
It has been claimed by quite a few commentaries that whereas Paul permits women in 1. Cor. 11 to pray and prophesy in a gathering, he appears to withdraw this limited permission in ch. 14. There is nothing, however, in ch. 11:1-15 to iudicate that Paul is referring to married women and men. Besides, we may be sure God never chose men to hand down to posterity His written revelation, who required to correct and adjust their words as they went along. Weymouth has a note on ch. 14:34 that ch. 11:1-16 "proves that Paul did not order all women to be silent at meetings of the church," as verse 34 only refers to married Women.

It has also been claimed that in some cases Paul is quoting what questioners or Judaizers have asked, notably verses 34 and 35 of ch. 14. It is averred that these Judaizers denied to women the right to talk in the ecclesias, because the Law forbade this. Let us test this claim. If verses 34 and 35 are advice given by objectors, what is the relevance and connection of verse 36? "Or from you (plural) did the Word of God come out?" If this is a statement by an objector, addressed to Paul, it reveals the height of rudeness. There is not the slightest hint that Paul has quoted the very words of an objector. An examination of verses 26 to 30 will shew that Paul says, "let all be occurring in view of edification . . . . let one be interpreting . . . . let him be hushing in ecclesia . . . . yet to himself let him be talking. . . . now let prophets two or three be talking . . . . and let the others be discriminating . . . .let the first be hushing. . .." Then verse 34 resumes, "let the women in the ecclesias be hushing. . . . but let them be subject. . . . let them be enquiring at home. . . .."Thereupon follows Paul's stern authority, "If anyone is presuming to be a prophet or spiritual, let him be recognizing what I am writing to you, that of the Lord it is a precept. Now if anyone goes on being ignorant, let him go on being ignorant!"

Surely the continuous use of the words "let him," "let them" proves that the entire passage gives Paul's own words.

Who would be so presumptuous as to affirm that 1. Tim. 2:11 or 12 was a statement by an objector? This passage is confirmation that it is Paul's voice which is heard in 1. Cor. 14:34-36. Verse 34 does not commence a new topic, because in verse 39 Paul recurs to prophesying and tongues. The whole chapter is closely and regularly integrated. It is not a collection of odd memoranda, but a treatise dealing with the somewhat demonstrative but temporary talk-gifts. The word TALK in verses 34 and 35 must be invested with the same atmosphere and contents as it bears all through the chapter. Paul was insisting on commonsense and orderliness "in church." All things ought to be done with decency and in order. The reference to the Law in verse 34 implies this in a general way, for law is always connected with order.

Husbands and wives ought to be much more confidential to each other at home than they might be to outsiders. It is right and seemly that they should discuss spiritual matters together, in private. They should learn as much as they can from each other, rather than from outsiders. Being one flesh, they ought as far as possible to be of one mind. The married woman who indulged in tongues and prophesyings would not be likely to put her family first.

Just one more small point. Were the wives to "keep silence" or "be hushing" (C.V.) in 1. Cor. 14:34? We meet with the same Greek word (sigaO) in verse 28, where the talker in tongues should "hush" or keep silent in ecclesia, if there is no interpreter present, yet he is to go on talking to himself and to God. How could there be strict silence when the man was engaged in talking? Is not the proper sense that he was to be comparatively silent, while thus talking to himself and to God? That is the usage of the word in Modern Greek, to "talk in a low voice" or to "move slowly and quietly." Other three terms are used in the New Testament which are rendered by silence, be still, hold peace, or the like. But when we find that the term used thrice in 1. Cor. 14 (sigaO, originally swigaO, and identical with Old English swig and German schweigen, all meaning comparative silence) is used in Romans 16:25, it makes one wonder in what sense the secret Paul there revealed and made known unto all the Gentiles for faith-obedience, was "kept secret" or "hushed" as regards (or, in) times eonian. Perhaps it might be more true to say that secret had been kept dark, or muffled up throughout these times.

Alexander Thomson

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Listing of Articles

Who is our God? Chapter 1
Who is our God? Chapter 2
Who is our God? Chapter 3
Who is our God? Chapter 4
Who is our God? Chapter 5
Who is our God? Chapter 6
Who is our God? Chapter 7
Who is our God? Chapter 8
Who is our God? Chapter 9
Who is our God? Chapter 10
Who is our God? Chapter 11
Who is our God? Chapter 12
Who is our God? Chapter 13
Who is our God? Chapter 14
Who is our God? Chapter 15
Who is our God? Chapter 16
Who is our God? Chapter 17
A Female Deity?
Acts 7:15 & 16
All Things
Amos 3:6
An Answer to the Challenge of Hell
Angels & Men One Species?
An Interesting New Version
Are You an Ambassador?
Are You a Pillar?
Are You a Witness for Jehovah?
Are You an Israelite? Chapter 1
Are You an Israelite? Chapter 2
Are You an Israelite? Chapters 3 & 4
A Special Resurrection?
Baptized for the Dead?
"Beloved" or "Loveable"?
Brotherly Love
Book Review
Colossians 1:23
Common or Unclean?
Common Sense
Did Paul Visit Spain?
Did the Lord give up His Flesh?
"Divine" Fire?
Doctoring the Holy Scriptures
Does God know Everything?
Does God will Everything?
Does your Spiritual Life seem Unreal?
Did God hate Esau?
Earth our Future Home?
Emphasis in the Scriptures
English more Archaic than Ancient Hebrew?
Ephesians 1:23
Erroneous Translations
Gleanings from A.T.
Heaven our Homeland
How is Christ God's "Word"?
How many were Crucified?
In the Christ All Shall Be Made Alive
Is Dust the Serpent's Food?
Is the Devil Impersonal?
Isaiah 26:14,19
James 4:5
Jehovah's Theocratic Organization
Jesus the Saviour
John 19:29
The Kingdom of the Hebrews
Leave it with God
Men or Mortals?
Misplaced Ingenuity
New Light on the Second Death
None Other Things
Objective Value of Prayer
Other or Different
Our Advocate
Paul's Chain
Paul the Sensitive
Paul versus James
Prevailing Prayer
Problems of Translation: I Cor. 7:21
Problems of Translation: II Cor. 3:18
Psalm 66:18
Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth
Rogues and Rascals
Rom 9 & 10: Human Freedom & Human Choice
Romans 9:14-24
Romans 9:30 to 10:21
II Corinthians 5:16
II Peter 3:10
Seven Wicked Spirits
Shall We See God?
Sir, We would see Jesus
Should we fear God?
The Bloody Husband
The Cherubim of Glory
The Corinthian Error
The Cunning Manager
The Dead Sea Scroll of Isaiah
The Designation of Jesus as "God"
The Disruption Fallacy
The Disruption Fallacy #2
The Eighth of Proverbs
The Eleven "Generations" of Genesis
The Elohim
The Ends of the Eons
The Eternal Saviour-Judge
The Eternity of Hell Torments
The First Christian Convention
The Four Gospels
The Gentiles in Ephesians
The Greek Definite Article
The Hardening of Pharoah's Heart
The Hebrew Conception of Time
The Hebrews Epistle
The Hebrew Terms Rendered 'For Ever'
The Hope of Israel
The Life of Prayer
The Lord Jesus Revealing the Heart of God
The Lord's Relatives
The Lordly Supper
The Meaning of Ta Panta
The Ministry of Women Parts 1 & 2
The Ministry of Women Parts 3 & 4
The "Penalty of Sin"
The Poor in Spirit
The Primeval Laws
The Primeval Laws #2
The Problem of Evil
The Quality of Divine Love
The Rich Man and Lazarus
The Serpent of Genesis 3
The Soul and the Spirit
The Talmud of the Jews Parts 1 & 2
The Talmud of the Jews Parts 3 & 4
The Translation of Acts 28:25
The Trial of the Lord
The Truth of the Bible
The Two Seeds
The Works of Henry Clay Mabie, D.D.
"Three Days and Three Nights"
Translator's Incentive
Truthfulness and Mercy
Try the Spirits
Unto Eternity and Further
We have all been Wrong
What did Peter do?
What does Olethros mean?
What Happened to Jephthah's Daughter?
What is Destruction?
What is the Flesh?
What is the Sin unto Death?
Whence "Eternity"?
Who are the Saints?
Who is Jehovah?
Who Shall Deliver Me?
Why Pray?
Why the "Lake" of Fire?
Will God Punish?
Will the Lord Come for Us?
Will the Man of Lawlessness be Killed?


The Differentiator Revisited 2009