Some have found difficulty in understanding Paul’s statements for women to remain silent in church especially in context of our modern concepts of the place of women in the church. Let us not forget the Biblical record and examples of the important roles and place of women in Bible history (Judges 4:4; 2 Kings 22:14; Luke 2:36, 37; Acts 21:9). Paul himself commended the women who labored with him in the gospel (Philippians 4:3). So, why did he discourage them from speaking out in the church setting?
There are two references in the writings of Paul regarding women being silent in church. Let’s examine them both in context. The first passage is found in 1 Timothy 2:12, “Let a woman learn in silence with all submission. And I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man, but to be in silence. For Adam was formed first, then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression” (1 Timothy 2:11–14). The second passage is found in 1 Corinthians 14:34-35, “Let your women keep silent in the churches, for they are not permitted to speak; but they are to be submissive, as the law also says. And if they want to learn something, let them ask their own husbands at home; for it is shameful for women to speak in church.”
Culturally, both Greek and Jewish customs dictated that women should be kept in the background in public affairs. Because of the general lack of rights that were given to women, Paul felt it to be beneficial to give this counsel to the church. Apparently, the Corinthian church was giving women extra freedoms in the church services (speaking and not wearing veils). So, Paul deemed it necessary to give this council for any breaking of the socially accepted traditions would bring dishonor and confusion upon the church and thus would have hindered the cause of God. Christians should avoid even the appearance of evil (1 Thessalonians 5:22) and should do everything decently and in order (1 Corinthians 14:40).
Also, 1 Timothy 2:12 tells us that the root of the issue was over the role of women in relation to men and the necessity of her not having authority over men. While both men and women serve the Lord in significant ways, God did not intend men and women to function in the same capacity and have the same roles.
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In His service,