Those Naughty Women in Corinth

Those Naughty Women in Corinth

It seems that many women falsely believe that the instructions given to women to be silent in the churches were written exclusively for the naughty women in Corinth because those women would shout out and cause disruption. “The words the Apostle Paul wrote aren’t relevant for today but were cultural instead,” they say. Let’s take a look at Scripture and see if they are correct.

Who was Paul’s intended audience when he wrote 1 Corinthians? “Paul, called to be an apostle of Jesus Christ through God..unto the church of God which is at Corinth, to them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with ALL that in every place call upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord” (1 Corinthians 1:1, 2). Therefore, Paul’s intended audience is to ALL believers everywhere so if you are a believer in Jesus Christ, his instructions in 1 Corinthians are for you!

Then we go to chapter 14 where Paul is giving instructions for the church gatherings. He explains that prophesying (edification, exhortation, and comfort) is more important than speaking in tongues. He wants order in the churches. “When ye come together, every one of you hath a psalm, hath a doctrine, hath a tongue, hath a revelation, hath an interpretation. Let all things be done unto edifying” (1 Corinthians 14:26).

A few verses later, he wrote, “For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in ALL churches of the saints.” Then right after this, he wrote, “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 any thing, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak in the church” (1 Corinthians 14:33-35).

These verses were not just for the naughty Corinth women but for ALL women who love the Lord Jesus Christ. Women are no better behaved today than the women in Corinth.

Now, what does being silent in the churches look like? For me personally, I want to take the Bible more literally than liberally, therefore, I would not stand up and make announcements or do anything else where I would be speaking out in church. I sing and praise the Lord during worship since we are called to do this and if we are asked to greet those around us, I do. In everything else, I try to remain silent as God has commanded.

What about Sunday School? I believe Sunday School is still a gathering of believers “in the church” so the same commands stand. Men should be leading the study and the women silently listening. If they have a question, they are to ask their husbands at home. This is another reason I have trouble with women’s Bible studies unless they are teaching biblical womanhood as mandated by God. Most women are learning a lot of things that aren’t biblical by studying the writings of women’s interpretations of the Bible and things that aren’t even in the Bible. There is no male authority in these studies, typically, which isn’t biblical, either.

I realize this isn’t popular at all in this feminized culture in which we live. Feminism has greatly influenced the churches, too. I don’t want to be influenced by feminism. I don’t want to be conformed to the world. I want to be transformed by God’s Word and live according to His commands even when they are not popular. Like I stated, I would rather err on the side of taking the Bible too literally than too liberally.

For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.
Hebrews 4:12

31 thoughts on “Those Naughty Women in Corinth

  1. She can study the Word on her own and there are many great commentaries written by men which are easy to access on the Internet. She can also seek out an older, godly woman and ask her.

  2. I agree, Lori, that we need to understand the scriptures more thoroughly with the help of our husbands and pastors, and sound male Bible teachers that take the Word of God more literally than liberally. Although I have not left a comment for some time, I am truly thankful and very blessed by your daily exhortations. I also enjoy spending a few moments with you on YouTube.?Those always help keep my thoughts focused on obeying the Lord and being a blessing to those in my family and church. I continue to pray for you and the mission God has given us as older women.

  3. At my old church (which most of us left do to the pastor’s sin) we met up every Tuesday night and the pastor would lead, as was his job of course, and we were all invited to participate in the discussion. He would ask everyone, including the women, questions about our topic of discussion. It was very helpful for me to be able to ask questions and receive answers from the group so I could learn. I didn’t have anyone I could ask afterwards, not even a Godly older woman. When the group discussion ended there would be some brief chit chat then we all left. I have the phone numbers of those women from my old church but they are so busy they have little time to talk with me and the other younger women who used to go there. The Internet is helpful for learning and it has helped me but it’s still good to be able to learn from talking with other believers. I’m just sharing my experience, not trying to argue! I like your blog and it has helped me to have a better understanding of biblical womanhood ?

  4. Thank you Lori. We have a woman who leads the singing at our first service which is hymns. She is on rotation with the male children’s pastor. I definitely believe she shouldn’t be leading but I don’t say anything.

  5. My husband and I also take a more literal stance on Scripture. If there’s a prayer request or announcement I’d like to make public to the body, I’ll let my husband or one of my sons be aware before meeting, and they will share it. I have taught in the littlest class of 2-6 yr olds and nursery, but when they get to 7, boys are in one class taught by a man, and girls are in another class taught by a woman. The material for all Bible studies (men’s, women’s youth group, Sunday School) are all reviewed by the elders. This is a fairly recent decision as we’ve been studying out men and women’s roles in the Bible, so it’s been a difficult transition. To tell a woman leader that she now has to submit the material she wants to study with the ladies to the oversight was met with great offense and defense of a particular well known woman minister.

    When the elders didn’t agree with the teaching, the outcome was that she didn’t like her spiritual judgment coming into question, and the ladies Bible study dissolved. She took the study to her home, with the understanding that the elders disapproved. Any of the ladies that followed her to that study were very resistant to the eldership from that point on. Many of those women have since left or only come sporadically. Much prayer is needed for our collective church leadership. They are dealing with much from continually being bombarded with feminism and sexual sin. I know many who are weary and discouraged, but those also that are seeing victory as well. God bless you and yours, Lori and the other ladies seeking to follow the Bible’s blue print for Godly womanhood.

  6. I don’t either since this is a leadership position and often they give little mini-sermons between songs but most churches don’t want to offend the women in the churches, sadly.

  7. I like this a lot. Just happened upon your site through a friend…praise the Lord!

    I am also an ‘under construction’ transformed wife and instead of beating the drum for the feminists and being a dominant woman of the world (I cringe at my former pre saved self) , I am now learning to submit to what the Lord has commanded us to do as women of God…and the liberation that has come from it I never expected.

    God has shown me how his order is truly the only way that you’ll ever find satisfaction and contentment.

    I love Him.

    God bless I’ll be reading through your site slowly but surely!

  8. When women revolt against God’s order in the home; in the church; in life and anywhere really, confusion follows WITHOUT FAIL!!!!

    Ladies, let us repent and humble ourselves before God.

  9. I had a question about scripture recently and the verse about women asking their husbands at home kept coming to mind. My husband does not read the bible or go to church but I believed I needed to follow the bible on this and so I asked my husband, believing God was directing me in this. My husband gave me an answer that I believed.

  10. An interesting note about 1 Cor. 14:33-35. Many of the translations put “As in all the churches of the saints….” at the beginning of verse 34 and not at the end of verse 33… as shown below in the English Standard Version.

    31For you can all prophesy one by one, so that all may learn and all be encouraged, 32and the spirits of prophets are subject to prophets. 33For God is not a God of confusion but of peace.

    As in all the churches of the saints, 34the women should keep silent in the churches. For they are not permitted to speak, but should be in submission, as the Law also says. 35If there is anything they desire to learn, let them ask their husbands at home. For it is shameful for a woman to speak in church.

  11. What do you think about women who help lead singing? I have done this a lot, as it’s something I love to do, and I’ve always been careful to defer to the (male) worship leader…but sometimes this passage nags at me, like maybe I should not be doing this. But most of the time, people talk about this passage in relation to speaking or teaching. I would appreciate your thoughts.

  12. I am not a fan of women being the worship leader since she is then in a leadership position in the church and they often give little mini-sermons between songs. If a woman is up on stage simply singing under the direction of a male worship leader, I have no problems with that.

  13. off topic, will you please consider writing about trusting in the Lord in regards to fears? I have quite bad anxiety regarding cars because of my fear of car crashes…not really concerned for my own safety but of course deeply worried about losing my loved ones. to the point that I leave the house as rarely as possible.. I would just appreciate your words of wisdom on trusting in the Lord’s plan or any scriptures you know that are a good reminder. thank you

  14. Yeah, it has been sad but also a good thing because the hidden aspects of the heart have been revealed. We can now pray more specifically for these ladies.

  15. Krystyna (and all),

    I’ve long wrestled with these very scriptures and biblical gender roles, in general. First, scriptures are clear women are to be silent in church. Second, women are commanded to wear head coverings when praying or prophesying. Since prophesying is done to others, it necessitates that this is speaking of being in a group, and not alone, in one’s prayer closet. Just as Priscilla taught Apollos with her husband, Aquilla, and just as the women prayed in the upper room with the male disciples at the coming of Pentecost, so women are to pray and prophecy (teach) in group settings today, but not in church. Church is not defined as any gathering of believers, otherwise Priscilla would not have been allowed to teach Apollos, which she was allowed to do. Official church is when the male leaders assemble the people together to be the local body of Christ. Then, and then only, only men are permitted to speak. Any other gathering of saints for prayer, conversation, worship, mutual instruction, etc.b is open for both women and men to speak together, whether it be in prayer or prophecy (including teaching). We must keep the full counsel of the word of God, and not only our favorites, or else we become hobby horse preachers, rather than proper expounders of His words and His ways.

  16. Thank you, Joshua, and as I don’t teach men, I don’t intend to change your mind but I will just give my opinion for the women who read my blog; for you may be correct.

    Priscilla was with her husband when they taught Apollo. It would be different if she was alone and we have no idea who did most of the teaching but I imagine it was Aquilla and it wasn’t in any type of a gathering of believers or in a Church service since the Church had not even been established.

    During the Pentecost, when the body of believers were gathered together, the Bible states this, “And when they were come in, they went up into an upper room, where abode both Peter, and James, and John, and Andrew, Philip, and Thomas, Bartholomew, and Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon Zelotes, and Judas the brother of James. These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brethren. And in those days Peter stood up in the midst of the disciples, and said, (the number of names together were about an hundred and twenty,…” (Acts 1:13-15) The men and women were praying to the Lord together. There was no teaching or prophesying going on in this verse which includes the women. The only teaching going on was when Peter stood up and began teaching. Also, the Church wasn’t set up at this time so I wouldn’t base my convictions on something that happened before the Apostle Paul gave clear instructions for the Church. The reasons given for women not teaching men nor being in authority over men still hold true for any gathering of believers, I would think.

    I prefer to look at God’s commands specifically to us in the Church age instead of examples in the Bible.

  17. 1 Corinthians 11:5 But every woman that prayeth or prophesieth with her head uncovered dishonoureth her head: for that is even all one as if she were shaven. 6 For if the woman be not covered, let her also be shorn: but if it be a shame for a woman to be shorn or shaven, let her be covered.

    All the women of the early church wore head coverings, as recorded by the early church fathers. And all the women of every following generation wore head coverings in church right up through about the 1950’s. Feel free to check me on that! My mother wore stuff on her head to church when I was little, probably not out of conviction, but because it was believed only brazen Feminists didn’t wear that symbol of being under authority, back then.

    A wise woman once concluded:
    I don’t want to be influenced by feminism. I don’t want to be conformed to the world. I want to be transformed by God’s Word and live according to His commands even when they are not popular. Like I stated, I would rather err on the side of taking the Bible too literally than too liberally.

  18. In the spirit of godly conversation, comparing the 2 passages on women being silent, this one in 1 Corinthians and the other in 1 Timothy, which you’ve done a great job explaining to us in this post and one other previous, the verses in 1 Timothy 2 on silence do not say anything about women being silent in the church like the verses in 1 Corinthians 14 specifies. In 1 Timothy modesty is mentioned along with silently learning with all subjection. So, I’m thinking that quietness and calmness are supposed to be taking place at home and at church. It’s what we as women struggle with, being silent and in subjection.

    I think of Mary, Jesus’ mother. I can’t imagine God choosing a woman who was loud and belligerent to be the mother of His Son. She calmly accepted God’s will for her life and pondered all things in her heart. She gave thanks and praise to God. She submitted to Joseph’s plan. She wasn’t just outwardly peaceful, it was a reflection of her inward peace. Do you have any thought onthis?

  19. What about households where the man doesnt earn enough to support his family alone. What about the wives that have to work to help support their families?

  20. Hi Michele,

    It’s not my job to figure out all of the “what ifs…?” to God’s commands. These families will have to seek the Lord in prayer and decide what to do. I can tell you that it usually isn’t profitable for women to work outside of their home since what paycheck they would receive from being in the workforce wouldn’t amount to much after taxes and expenses. It’s better to read The Tightwad Gazette and learn to live on one income.

  21. It sounds like a woman’s long hair is the covering, then? Not necessarily an actual shawl?

    I lived in India off-and-on for a few years and the Christian ladies there cover their heads for church, but they often cover their heads in other situations, too. How much is head covering cultural or practical vs. a sign of authority? Is it only necessary when a lady has short hair?


  22. It should probably be pointed out that hair length itself is relative and cultural. Jewish men of the first century had much longer hair than men typically do today. Jesus himself most likely had shoulder-length hair that might have been tied back in a ponytail. Today, we would consider such a hairstyle to be the proper domain of women. Meanwhile, it was the pagan Romans who often went around close-cropped and clean-shaven. True, Jewish women did have longer hair than Jewish men, but Jewish men had longer hair than Roman men. There are no commands anywhere in the NT for Jewish Christian men to cut their hair to be the same length as the hair of the Gentile men they were converting, or for Roman men to grow their hair out to be the same length as Jewish men. If hair length was really meant to be that big of an issue, we would likely expect to see such a command somewhere in the Epistles; after all, the Law of Moses did say that men were to keep their beards nattily trimmed. Practically all Jewish men had beards (most devout Jewish men today still have beards), but Roman did not; if hair length were such a big issue under the New Covenant, we would expect that one of the Jewish men who wrote the words to the NT would mention that newly converted beardless Gentiles should grow out their beards. But it’s never mentioned at all.

    Hair length is cultural, and head coverings are cultural. This would be a case where reading the text exactly literally would lead us astray from the main point God wants to make. The principles behind a wife’s submission to her husband, communicated and elaborated upon in many other NT passages, are not cultural, and neither is God’s desire for order in the church; these things are universal and apply to all churches in all places at all times. Women remaining silent in the gatherings is one way to keep order in the service, as well as one way to reinforce the lessons of headship and submission between husband and wife that the NT clearly establishes in numerous places; and apparently it was necessary to point this out explicitly to the women in the church at Corinth. However, I don’t think it’s likely that very many churches have the type of chaotic worship services that Paul is condemning the Corinthinans for in 1 Cor. 14. When the church was first getting formed, the rules hadn’t been set down yet; that’s why the Epistles exist in the first place. But as Paul himself says in his broader point from 1 Cor. 12 – 14 (many people forget that 1 Cor. 14 is not an independent passage–it’s the closing thoughts to a discussion about spiritual gifts Paul begins in 1 Cor. 12; you cannot properly interpret 1 Cor. 14 without first properly understanding the two chapters that precede it), spiritual gifts such as prophecying and speaking in tongues were teaching aids that were designed to help the church reach maturity; after maturity was reached (which, by the way, is not when Jesus comes again–Paul is talking about Christians reaching spiritual maturity in this life, in this body), the gifts would be taken away, which is why we don’t have prophecy and speaking in tongues in the church in the west today (I’m not opposed to the idea the Spirit still uses these tools to teach immature churches in places that still need them, but I don’t believe any English-speaking church in the western world qualifies). Most denominations and many non-denominational churches have a regular worship service they follow faithfully week after week (perhaps a little too faithfully; we can fall in love with our own traditions and place those on a pedestal higher than God if we’re not careful). Chaos and disorder is not a problem in the vast, vast majority of church services today; thus, while the concept of male headship, in particular the different functions played by the husband and wife in a marriage relationship, are still absolutely universal and applicable today, being God’s intent from the beginning of creation, the specific rule about head coverings and hair length (and, possibly, even about women “keeping silent in the assemblies,” whatever their assemblies were like back then) do not necessarily apply across cultural lines.

    That being said, if a woman wants to wear a head covering of some sort during service, I would have no problems with that; if a man kept his hat on all throughout the service, I would be less comfortable, and that doesn’t happen in either of the two churches I attend regularly. But I don’t think this is an issue worth being particularly dogmatic about. I especially don’t think it’s worth making this issue into a stumbling block for a young believer or a non-believer. I consider it to be equivalent to the issue of food sacrificed to idols: an huge deal to certain people, but not a big deal to those who are mature.

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