Women Keep Silence

“Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience, as also saith the law. And if they will learn anything, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak in the church.” (I Cor. 14:34,35)

This passage of scripture is frequently linked with First Timothy 2:11, 12 as companion passages. They are not, and should be kept separate in their application. First Corinthians 14 regulates women (and men, vs. 23, 30) when the “whole church be assembled” and when prophets were receiving revelations (vs. 29-33). First Timothy 2 regulates women everywhere and at all times.

THE CONTEXT: It is important, to observe the context of any passage in order to properly understand it. To fail to realize that the apostle Paul is here regulating men and women speaking under special conditions, i.e., during them exercise of spiritual gifts the assembly of “the whole church,” is to miss the point and give it an improper application. To apply the passage to all women under all conditions leads to several difficulties too important to be ignored. For example, no woman could sing (Col. 3:16) or confess since the passage prohibits vocal utterances and imposes utter silence. This will be considered later.

CHAPTER 12 enumerates spiritual gifts and states their purpose was “to profit withal” (v. 7). CHAPTER 13 shows their duration and the importance of love in which they were to be exercised. CHAPTER 14 regulates the use of gifts though out their duration. Since spiritual gifts have ceased (I Cor. 13:10; James 1:25), it is a misapplication to apply their regulation to circumstances today. This is not true of First Timothy 2:11, 12. Note also that the subject of spiritual gifts permeates First Corinthians 14 – “speak with tongues” (v.l); “psalm, tongue, revelation, interpretation” (v.5); “prophets speak” (v. 29); “anything be revealed” (v.30); “prophesy” (v.31); “women silence … not… speak” (vs 34,35).

The Passage Analyzed

” God is not a God of confusion but of peace” (v. 33). This should not be overlooked. It was confusion resulting from an abuse of spiritual gifts when the church assembled that brought forth Paul’s statement in verse 34.

“As in all the churches (assemblies) of the saints” (v.33). In every assembly of Christians all over the world though out all time under similar conditions, i.e., the exercise of spiritual gifts (v.l) and the whole church be assembled (v.23).

“Let the women keep silence in the churches” (v.34)

1. Women: The King James version says “your women.” That these women were wives is certain from verse 35. They were married women with Christian husbands capable of answering the wives’ questions at home. Paul did not direct this statement to single women for they have no husbands to ask. The statement was not directed to women with unbelieving husbands, or newly converted husbands, since they were not capable of answering questions. It is important that not only the women but also the men are commanded to remain silence under certain conditions. Note verse 27,28, “let him keep silence” and verse 30, “let the first keep silence.” Only two or at the most three were to speak at any one assembly. The others were to remain silence and “discern” (v.29). Obviously God did not command all men everywhere under all conditions to remain silence. Likewise the women (perhaps wives of the prophets and inspired men) who were adding to this confusion when spiritual gifts were being exercised in the assembly of the whole church were to remain silence. They were to remain silence under the conditions stated and if they would leam anything more ask their husbands at home. To be in subjection as the law says (Gen. 3:16, IPet 3:6-7, ITim. 2:11) to their husbands. They were bringing shame upon their husbands by causing confusion. To make the command general and applicable to all men and women under other conditions is to bind where God did not.

2.  Silence: This word in the First Corinthians 14:34 comes from the Greek “sige, sigao” – to keep silence, hold one’s peace, to be kept in silence, be concealed. (TTiayer, p.574.) It is not the same “silence” of First Timothy 2:11. “Silence” in 1 Timothy 2:11 comes from the Greek “hesuchia” and “denotes quietness” (W. E. Vine). Paul is saying shut up and stop causing confusion. The American Standard Version makes a distinction by using “quietness” in 1 Timothy 2:11 and “silence” in 1 Corinthians 14:34 – “sige” – means total muteness. “For it is not permitted unto them to speak” (v.34) The word “speak” is from “laleo” and means “to make vocal utterance to babble, to talk, in N. T. absolutely to exercise the faculty of speech.” (Vine, p. 243) Hence, the women commanded to be silence in this passage were not to utter a sound. If Paul meant all women in every situation then all women in every situation must remain mute. But God commanded women to sing (Col. 3:16) and to teach (2 Tim. 2:2; Titus 2:3-5). They did teach (Luke 2:36-38; Joel 2:28 and Acts 2:16; Acts 18:26; 21:9, 1 Cor. 11:5), and they can teach now as long as they do not violate First Timothy 2:11, 12. The kind of speaking prohibited is that which creates confusion and violates God’s principle of headship.

3.  In the churches; “Church” is from the Greek “ekklesia” meaning “called out” (Vine). Not as one called out but when the “whole church, the assembly of the church.” It does not specify any particular assembly but does specify “when the whole church be assembled.” Unlike First Timothy 2:12, this passage is limited in it’s application to the assembly. The woman can speak at home or in other situations. First Timothy 2:12 does not specify any condition but regulates the woman under every situation. As Paul says of the men in 1 Timothy 2:8 “I want men in every place to pray, lifting up holy hands”. When Paul says in verse 9 “likewise in the same way I want women everywhere to dress proper” Then thru verse 10 he tells them the proper way to dress. And in verses 11 and 12 he tells them the proper way to show respect to men.

“Let them be in subjection as also saith the law. (v. 34)

In this verse Paul gives the reason God imposed silence upon certain women under the stated conditions. Their speaking under the stated conditions took them from their rightful places of subjection to men. It has always been God’s plan that woman be in subjection to man (Gen. 3:15; 1 Tim. 2:12) and ruled by man. Though a woman may teach men (Anna, Luke 2:36-38; daughters, Joel 2:28; Priscilla, Acts 18:24-26; Phillip’s daughters, Acts 21:8,9) and speak in an assembly of men and women (Acts 5:1-11; 12:12-16), she may never do either if and when doing so usurps authority over a man or takes her from her rightful place of subjection to men (1 Tim. 2:11,12).

“And if they will learn anything, let them ask their husbands at home.”(v.35)

It is obvious from this statement that it was by speaking and asking questions in such a way as to take them out of subjection to man that certain women in Corinth were commanded to remain silence. In the absence of complete revelation (which women today learn by reading) the women at Corinth were seeking information by asking questions at a time when such added to confusion and violated God’s principle of headship “as also saith the law.”

Is Paul here saying a woman cannot ask a question except of her husband and at home? Certainly not for the following reasons:

1.  The context shows the conditions under which she was to refrain from asking questions (remain silence) were “when the whole church be assembled together” (v. 23,26) and when spiritual gifts were being exercised. Any woman today must remain silence under the stated conditions when speaking violates the principles of subjection to man and when it causes confusion in the assembly. Does the verse prohibit a woman asking a question or making comments in Bible classes? Not if she does so in the spirit of quietness and subjection (1 Tim. 2:11,12).

That silence imposed upon women in First Corinthians 14:34 does not apply to Bible class arrangements follows from the fact that the whole church is not assembled together but are divided into separate classes with different teachers teaching different lessons. No collections are taken and the Lord’s supper is not served. If verse 34 is binding then verses 27 and 31 are binding. Since more than one speaks at once in concurrent classes, such would violate the principle of orderliness if they constitute the whole church come together. In the latter case First Corinthians 14:34 is not applicable.

2.  The women commanded to refrain from asking questions were women with husbands capable of answering questions. Every woman does not fit that category. Some have no husbands. Some who do, have alien husbands. Others have husbands not capable of answering questions.

“For it is shameful for a woman to speak in the church.” The expression “in the church,” which is explained in verse 23 shows when it is a shame for her to speak.


The silence imposed upon women in First Corinthians 14:34,35 is binding “when the whole church be assembled together.” She is to refrain from speaking in such a way as to violate the two stated principles: (a) Headship of man, “let them be in subjection as also saith the law.” (b) Orderliness, “God is not the God of confusion but of peace.” “Let all things be done decently and in order.”

Also please notice these verses

These verses are what I call not BUT statements:

It seems to me that the emphasis is on the BUT part of the statement.

1 Cor. 14:20:

Brethren do not be children in your thinking yet in evil be babes. But inyour thinking be mature.

Verse 22:

So then tongues are a sign not to those who believe. But to unbelievers, but prophecy is for a sign not to unbelievers but to those who believe.

Verse 33:

For God is not a God of confusion but of peace as in all the churches of the saints.

John 6:27:

Do not work for the food which perishes but for the food which endures to eternal life which the Son of Man shall give you for on him the Father even God has set his seal.


Therefore be careful how you walk not as unwise men but as wise.

Verse 17:

So then do not be foolish but understand what the will of the Lord is.

Verse 18:

And do not get drunk with wine for that is dissipation but be filled with the spirit.

1 Cor 14:34 is such a statement.

Let your women keep silence in the churches for it is not permitted unto them to speak, but they are commanded to be under obedience, also saith the law. Gen 3:16,1 Pet 3:1-6, Eph 5:22-24.

I think from what I have said that you can understand we need to be teaching submission. Not that women cannot speak.

by Johnny Hicks

This article was prepared and submitted by brother Johnny Hicks of the Winston Church of Christ in Winston, Oregon.  Johnny has been an elder/preacher for over 40 years.  For questions regarding this article, please feel free to contact Johnny Hicks directly at (541) 679-8312.

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Unforgivable Sin

Before continuing with the article below, please take the following test to find your innocence or guilt:

Are you dead, having denied God and died unrepentant of a life of sins? Yes or No?

If you answered, “Yes”, you have indeed committed the unforgivable sin. This sin also known as the sin unto death and blasphemy of the holy spirit is 100% the affliction of the dead.

If you answered, “No”, you still have time to commit the unforgivable sin. However, you have not done so to date.

Many people have been concerned they have committed unforgivable sin. Some would call this blasphemy of the Holy Spirit. Others would call it the sin unto death. unforgivable sin is something that must be examined closely to allay fear. Unforgivable sin most certainly does deal with the Holy Spirit, but it is not as simple as using a curse word as some fear.

At the core of the discussion is whether or not God is willing to forgive the sins of man. God wishes that none perish (John 3:16, 2 Peter 3:9). He has set requirements to accept his free offer of forgiveness and that includes repentance – changing your life to one of obeying Him (Acts 2:38, Acts 3:19, Luke 24:45-47). The apostle John stated the following:

1 John 1:7 – But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.

John’s inspired words make it clear, through Christ “all” sin is forgiven. Important to note, there is a requirement. The individual must walk in the light, that is, he must be obedient to God’s will, which includes repentance.

So if God is willing to forgive all sins, where does the idea of unforgivable sin come into play and how does it relate to the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit and committing sin unto death?

In the context of Matthew 12:30-32 and Mark 3:28-29, Jesus is faced with Pharisees (Jewish leaders) who acknowledge Jesus was performing wonders, signs, and miracles, but said He was doing it by the power of demons. They were denying He was doing it by the Spirit and power of God. Jesus then told them: “any sin or blasphemy shall be forgiven men, but blasphemy against the Spirit shall not be forgiven”. To many, this sounds like a total contradiction. How can verses say all will be forgiven, but one won’t?

Disconnect occurs by not understanding the term “Blasphemy of the Holy Spirit”. Blasphemy of the Holy Spirit is first: the ultimate refusal to accept the miracles by the power of the Spirit. If men could not be convinced by these miraculous occurrences, nothing would convict them. Hebrews 6:4-6 similarly speaks of individuals who had believed and had been given the gift of the Holy Spirit, but then turned back to the things of the world. These too were guilty of blaspheming the Spirit with their actions. It is said it would be impossible for them to come to repentance. Thus, if the men would not come to repentance because they would not be convicted by the miraculous, they were choosing not to be forgiven by God.

Consider now those who will not change their actions, who will not repent of them:

Hebrews 10:26-27 – For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more a sacrifice for sins, but a certain fearful expectation of judgment, and a fierceness of fire which shall devour the adversaries.

The knowledge of the Truth, the word of God (John 17:17), is the spirit (2 Peter 1:21, I John 5:7). If the Spirit is rejected, there is no forgiveness. So there is not just a single sin leading to unforgiveness. First, rejecting the miracles of the Spirit and second, rejecting the truth of the Spirit, can be classified singularly as blaspheming Him. All deeds willfully practiced against the truth without repentance are unforgiven.

Now the following:

1 John 5:16-17 – If any man see his brother sinning a sin not unto death, he shall ask, and God will give him life for them that sin not unto death. There is a sin unto death: not concerning this do I say that he should make request. All unrighteousness is sin: and there is a sin not unto death.

The idea from this verse in the context of believing on and obeying God (having the truth in you) is pray for Christians who are struggling with sin. The prayers will aid the individual in his struggle and through repentance before he dies he will be forgiven. However, when the individual willingly defies God by sin to his death, there is no more hope. Do not pray for that individual. For information on the topic of praying for the dead please see: http://www.thatchristianwebsite.com/articles/secondchanceforthedead.html .

Today, the unforgivable sin, blasphemy of the Holy Spirit, sin to death, is when a man rejects God and therefore, His Word to the point of his death. Today, while a man lives, he can change. He can repent. He can do what is right. The scriptures are the inspiration and power of the Holy Spirit leading to life. If man will simply follow the requirements set by God, repent, and obey, he will be forgiven.

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The Holy Spirit Today?

Miraculous Indwelling of the Holy Spirit Today?

Holy Spirit Indwelling Series – Part 6

This is the final article in a series examining the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. To date a non-miraculous literal indwelling has been rejected and left the question: “What benefit would it be anyway?” A representative indwelling of Deity and man demonstrating unity according to God’s purpose stands scripturally acceptable. However, the question yet to be answered is why not a miraculous indwelling of the Holy Spirit today? The miraculous must be explored so it can be accepted or rejected.

There are various religions today which lay claim to the miraculous. They are characterized by “faith healings”, “tongues”, direct guidance in teaching and persecution, and direct operation to comfort, strengthen, and energize the believer. Indeed, these occurrences are embraced in part or full by the Charismatic, Pentecostal, Christian, and denominational faiths. Even those bodies which outwardly reject the miraculous have embraced some of the above characteristics. Such a conflict occurs because a lack of study and improper teaching in regard to the nature of such claims. In this article, rather than focus on the specific miraculous characteristics claimed by man, the duration of the miraculous will be examined. If the miraculous is possible today, then why not have a miraculous indwelling? If however, the miraculous is not possible today, then a miraculous indwelling is out of the question.

That the miraculous was present in the Old Testament is without dispute. Moses, Elijah, and Elisha stand out as having been given the ability to conduct such actions. In the nature of miraculous inspiration, visions, revelations, and prophesying were demonstrated by many in past ages. The New Testament opens with the gospels where beginning with John the baptizer the direct operation of the Holy Spirit is seen in inspired speech. With Christ’s first miracle in Cana there came a flood of the miraculous. The twelve, the seventy sent out, they demonstrated the miraculous. Then came the day of Pentecost discussed in the second article in this series. The Holy Spirit was poured out upon the apostles. They were filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke in tongues. Joel prophesied of that day. Peter declared the miraculous. The promised gifts of the Spirit were distributed to the obedient by the laying on of the hands of the apostles as demonstrated throughout the book of Acts. It is a very detailed and recorded fact, men and women of the past demonstrated the miraculous through miracles and inspiration. Still, is the miraculous possible today?

To understand whether the miraculous is possible today, the purpose of miracles in past ages must be examined. The first reason for the miraculous is edification (John 20:30-31, Ephesians 3:3-7). When God wanted to reveal something in the past which would help man mature, there was direct interaction by Him to convey the information. The people of the first century and before did not have all of the Word of God with them. Without the revelation through the miraculous to edify him, man still would not have God’s Word today. God’s word is all man needs (2 Peter 1:3). It is sufficient to mature man (2 Timothy 3:16-17). Yet, in ages since Christ, men have declared the miraculous and revelation of more information from God. The faiths of Islam and Mormonism are prominent examples of such declarations. Jude 1:3 establishes the Word of God was once for all delivered in the first century. The apostle Paul told the Galatians (Galatians 1:6-9) whoever or whatever would preach something contrary to the word he preached should be cursed. With the word received in full, there is no need for the miraculous today to edify. Yet, it could be argued by the wisdom of man such events could be helpful today.

The second reason for the miraculous is confirmation of the Word (Matthew 12:24-28, Mark 16:20, John 5:36, 10:38). If a man appears claiming to be the son of God and he has a group of guys with him declaring men need to listen and obey, there will be some skepticism. The miraculous was given to demonstrate Christ indeed had authority to declare words with authority. Even then, he faced great skepticism reaching forward to today. Today the Word of God is received and has been confirmed. What need is there of the miraculous for confirmation? The answer is there is no need for the miraculous to confirm today. As with the first reason for miracles, it could be argued by man’s wisdom further confirmation could be helpful.

The third reason for the miraculous is to glorify God (John 9:3, John 11:40-42). Numerous occurrences of the miraculous glorified God by showing His compassion (Mark 1:41 – Leper; Luke 7:12-14 – Widow’s son; Matthew 20:29-34 – Two Blind Men; Matthew 14:14 – Healed sick of Multitude). The Word of God continues to glorify God and demonstrate His compassion. Still, once again, it could be argued by man’s wisdom the miraculous would continue to glorify God by showing His compassion today.

The original needs the miraculous addressed were met. The Hebrew writer discussing the words of the prophet Jeremiah in Hebrews 8:13 discussed the fact that when something is old (or had fulfilled its purpose) it vanishes away. Though the context is of the Law of Moses and the Law of Christ, similar logic can certainly be applied to the miraculous. If it has fulfilled its purpose, why should it continue to endure? However, this really does not answer the question: “Is the miraculous possible today? Therefore, further examination must be engaged upon.

The key passages in determining the answer to this question were briefly acknowledged in the fourth article of this series. These passages are I Corinthians 13 and Ephesians 4.

1 Corinthians 13:8-13 – Love never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall be done away; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall be done away. For we know in part, and we prophesy in part; but when that which is perfect is come, that which is in part shall be done away. When I was a child, I spake as a child, I felt as a child, I thought as a child: now that I am become a man, I have put away childish things. For now we see in a mirror, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know fully even as also I was fully known. But now abideth faith, hope, love, these three; and the greatest of these is love.

This passage written by the apostle Paul discusses the miraculous. The context is a discussion of the need to have love. Love in Paul’s conclusion will outlast the miraculous, faith, and hope. Important to this article is how long miracles will last. Paul’s states the miraculous shall cease and be done away. He calls the knowledge and prophesies only a part of the “perfect” which was to come. The Greek word “perfect” in this text means mature, finished, or complete. The item which would be complete and they as individuals only had a part at that time was the Word. James 1:25 calls the Word the perfect/complete law of liberty. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 mentioned previously, establishes the Word makes a man perfect or complete. 1 Peter 2:2 and the Corinthian’s passage echoes this by making the comparison of growing up from childhood. When the Word was fully delivered to them, confirmed, and written down for all (it certainly was by the second century) the miracles would no longer be needed.

Ephesians 4:11-16 – And he gave some to be apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; for the perfecting of the saints, unto the work of ministering, unto the building up of the body of Christ: till we all attain unto the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: that we may be no longer children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, in craftiness, after the wiles of error; but speaking truth in love, we may grow up in all things into him, who is the head, even Christ; from whom all the body fitly framed and knit together through that which every joint supplieth, according to the working in due measure of each several part, maketh the increase of the body unto the building up of itself in love.

In this letter to the Ephesians Paul again discusses the miraculous. He notes the miraculous was there until they had unity of the faith and knowledge of the Son causing them to be perfect/complete/mature men. How can anyone have unity of the Faith? They would have unity because through inspiration it was written down so all could read, hear, and know it. Again like the other passages and specifically the Corinthians passage, the growth from immature to mature by having the Word is mentioned. It is the written Word of God which would sustain the growth of man without need of the miraculous.

A final critical factor in determining the end of the age of the miraculous has already been mentioned. In the second article of this series, discussing the gifts of the Holy Spirit, it was established that the miraculous was only passed on through the laying on of the hands of the apostles. Acts 8:14-17 demonstrates clearly the apostles were responsible for the imparting of the miraculous. The apostle John was the last apostle living. History has him dying in the late first century or early second century. At this point there was no way to pass the miraculous forward. Those who had the miraculous even if they had it their whole lives would not have been able to carry it past the beginning of the third century at the most.

Yes, there are those individuals and groups which declare the miraculous today, but the stories do not match scriptural examples of the miraculous. They also do not accord with the scriptural account of the ending of the miraculous. Some of these folks are straight charlatans, others simply mislead. Whatever they are, they do not have the miraculous today. Some scholars claim the miraculous ended as early as 70 AD. Others see it possibly having extended through to the middle of the second century. At either rate, the miraculous by the authority of scripture is gone. In regard to our topic of a miraculous indwelling of the Holy Spirit today, if the miraculous is gone, then there is no such indwelling today.

This concludes a six part series on the Holy Spirit. Is there an indwelling of the Holy Spirit? Yes! It is the same as the indwelling of Father, Christ, and the Word in man. It is the same as man indwelling all of the same. It is a representative unity according to Truth. It is not the gift of the Holy Spirit, the filling of the Holy Spirit, the seal of the Holy Spirit, or the miraculous in any way. The indwelling is not literal, for there is no scriptural basis or benefit to such an indwelling. The abiding of the Holy Spirit is a blessing which awaits all men who would humble themselves to God’s will. May each individual repent of the world and strive to dwell in the truth.

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