1 Corinthians 14, pt.2

Please remember that we are gathering this evening to read through and discuss 1 Corinthians 14. In verses 34-35 of this chapter, Paul instructs women to be silent. This instruction is similar to that given in 1 Timothy 2:12 and provides the basis for many churches to restrict preaching and teaching to men only. This instruction, however, is seemingly at odds with the practice of the Corinthians themselves and in other congregations. 1 Cor. 11:5, Acts 21:9.  These verses, at least in the modern context, challenge us in the use of proof-texting Scripture.  Taking a particular verse of Scripture in which to build a position can be dangerous. For example, Ezekiel teaches that a man who charges interest on a loan should die (Eze. 18:13) but I don’t think we have begun lynching bankers, yet. And if we look hard enough, we can find particular verses to support almost any position. For example, a list of verses supporting the five points of Calvinism is HERE and a list of verses opposing the five points of Calvinism is THERE.  Jehovah’s Witnesses quote individual verses to oppose blood transfusions (Acts 15:29), birthday parties (Mark 6:21), serving on juries (Matt 7:1) and the Trinity (Colossians 1:15b).  So although everything that is to be believed must be found within the Scriptures, since whatsoever is not read therein, nor may be proved thereby, is not to be required of any man (Article IV of the 39 Articles) it does not necessarily follow that whatever maybe found within a particular verse must be believed. In his Reflections on the Psalms, C.S. Lewis warns that Scripture should not be used as an encyclopedia or an encyclical but that we should steep ourselves in its tone or temper and so learn its overall message. In other words, we can not simply hunt-and-peck for a verse to support our position from Scripture, but should fully immerse within it in order to allow its overall message to seep deep within us.

As to the specific interpretation of the verses themselves, most, if not all, older commentators take verses 34-35 at face value as reflected within their culture. John Chrysostom, writing in the 5th century, extols the wisdom of Paul by enjoining women to not only be silent but be silent with fear. In the sixteenth century, John Calvin wrote that these verses simply reflect the “natural propriety” that women have always been excluded from the public management of affairs, and this would include any positions of authority within the church including that of teacher. John Piper writing twenty years ago has a more nuanced understanding of the verse that Paul isn’t calling for “the total silence of women but a kind of involvement that signifies, in various ways, their glad affirmation of the leadership of the men God has called to be the guardians and overseers of the flock.” (see, question 25, page 65)  For a different perspective, I have attached the commentary from Wright and The New Bible Commentary on these verses. 

Dinner is at 6. The menu tonight is Asian chicken salad. Hope to see you here.

The human qualities of the raw materials show through. Naivety, error, contradiction, even (as in the cursing Psalms) wickedness are not removed.  The total result is not the “Word of God” in the sense that every passage, in itself, gives impeccable science or history. It carries the Word of God; and we (under grace, with attention to tradition and to interpreters wiser than ourselves, and with the use of such intelligence and learning as we may have) receive that word from it not by using it as an encyclopedia or an encyclical but by steeping ourselves in its tone or temper and so learning its overall message

C.S. Lewis, Reflections on the Psalms, p.111-12.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *