The Don Martin - Jeff Smelser - Mark J. Ward Discussion on

I Corinthians 14:34,35

Martin's 12th

The following is brother Don Martin's next in the exchange on the proper understanding and application today of I Corinthians 14:34,35.

Subject: Re: I Corinthians 14: 34, 35
Date: Mon, 7 Apr 2003 22:38:05 -0600
From: "Don Martin" <>
To: <>

Don Martin to the list (post one of two):

First, I appreciate the participation of Mark Ward and Jeff Smelser in the I
Corinthians 14: 34, 35 exchange. I personally think we pretty well
exhausted the passage without engaging in endless repetition. The essential
difference that remained is that Mark and Jeff contend that, "...let you
women keep silence in the churches..." is a blanket statement that included
and presently embraces all women in the assembly. They have insisted on an
absolute application even to the point of excluding the prophetesses
addressed in chapter eleven from speaking in the assembly. However, they
both have admitted to at least one exception: The female audibly singing in
the assembly (Eph. 5: 19). They have maintain that I have perverted the
passage when I make the prophetess the exception, but they make singing the
exception. They justify this (I concur) on the basis of Ephesians 5: 19
and I justify the prophetess being an exception based on I Corinthians 11:

I have contended that the gift of prophecy was designedly a gift to be used
in public. I have illustrated this with the case of Bible prophetesses,
particularly Anna (Lk. 2: 36-38). While I did not limit I Corinthians 11:
4-16 to the assembly, I said that I thought any public place, including the
assembly was where the prophetess along with the prophet did their work of
prophesying. This is especially seen when we realize that the miraculous
gift of prophecy was a primary means of edifying the assembled local church
(I Cor. 14). I asked the question as to why Paul would devote so much time
to regulating the public work of the prophetess and then three chapters
later say that the prophetess was not to make a sound in the assembly (I
Cor. 14: 34, 35). I have tried to kindly show that I believe the views
of both Mark and Jeff undervalue and deprecate the Bible prophetess.

Both Mark and Jeff took the position that the prophetesses were included in
the prohibition to speak in the assembly and were told to ask questions of
their husbands at home (cp. I Cor. 14: 34, 35). They both maintained that
prophetesses were to ask their "uninspired husbands" religious questions at
home (I maintained that their husbands were probably the prophets, those
who would more likely know the answers, just mentioned in the context).
I used their teaching to show that the prophetess was not included in
the prohibition. The very thought of a Spirit led prophetess being told to
ask her "uninspired" and even "non-Christian" husband (according to Mark's
expanded application) religious questions at home is, to me, untenable!

In order to bind the head covering on all women today, Mark had to use
various methods and processes to reduce "prophesying" to "uninspired
teaching" (cp. I Cor. 11: 4, 5). In the case of 14: 34, 35, Mark reduces
the prophetess to one looking to an unbeliever husband for answers to
religious questions.

I have presented contextual reasons and extractions from the passage as to
why I think, "...let women keep silence in the churches..." in the passage
is special and specific. First of all, these particular women were married
("...let them ask their husbands at home..."). The particular speaking that
they were doing was, "...a shame..." (I Cor. 14: 35). I submitted that
their speaking was specific, they were asking questions of their husbands.
Moreover, I have shown that the questions that they posed to their husbands
in the assembly were both:

1. Productive of and instrumental to confusion (I Cor. 14: 33, 40).
2. The way these women were interrogating their husbands in the assembly
also constituted insubordination of headship; hence, the language: "...but
they are commanded to be under obedience, as also saith the law...for it is
a shame for women to speak in the church" (I Cor. 14: 34, 35).

Hence, I Corinthians 14: 34, 35 is a specific passage that addresses a
specific situation and circumstance. The matter is duplicated today when
women ask their husbands disruptive questions and conduct themselves in the
asking of these questions in such a way as to be in disobedience to their
husbands. This act would be an exact parallel to the matter addressed in I
Corinthians 14: 34, 35. Mark and Jeff have not agreed and have said that I
have arbitrarily added these details.

Please see post two.

(from Mars-List Digest 4070, April 7, 2003)

Subject: Re: I Corinthians 14: 34, 35
Date: Mon, 7 Apr 2003 22:38:52 -0600
From: "Don Martin" <>
To: <>

Don Martin to the list (post two of two):

I Timothy 2: 8-12 is a general assembly passage, I suggested, that is
designed for general application. The female in general is not to lead in
public prayer and is not to assume the posture of the teacher (vs. 8, 12).
Her posture is that of, "...learn in silence with all subjection...but to be
in silence" (I Tim. 2: 11, 12). In answer to a repeated question posed by
Mark, I have said that I really do not see how a woman, my wife, to
have what I view as a parallel, could interrupt my sermon and ask me a
question in the assembly without it causing confusion (cp. I Cor. 14:
33-35). I have also shown that the female does not have the role to
attempt to provide explanation or elucidation regarding a point her
husband is making in a sermon by posing a question, she is to learn
"in silence" (I Tim. 2: 11). Mark has not liked or accepted my answers.

Regarding Mark's multiple part (about 11 parts) first question, he
accused me of not answering, but evading his question(s). I did
answer but I also said:

"Here is the problem: You have presented me with a tangled, arbitrarily
interspersed, and ill-matched assortment of matters. I know you do not
see this in this manner, but I do. Therefore, I cannot simply answer
'yes' or 'no' to a lot of your ideas."

However, Mark has continued to accuse me of not answering. Here is what I
said in answering part C (represented of the first series of parts):

"Regarding C of your question:

TO AN ALIEN, innocent in heart, raising her hand, waiting to be called
upon (thus non-disruptive like the simultaneous Bible class arrangement),
and asking a question in the assembly of the local church?

To this I answered thus:

Answer: Such a question reflects Mark's continued misunderstanding of the
Bible prophetess. No, I do not believe such is in Paul's mind or included
in I Corinthians 14: 34, 35."

Relative to part J (representative of the second set of parts), I said:

"Part J of your question was:

MAN asking ANOTHER MAN (other than her husband, like a man more
knowledgeable in the scriptures whether inspired or not) a question away
from the assembly of the local church?

To this I answered:

Answer: Mark, I do not understand any relevance between this question and I
Corinthians 14: 34, 35. No scripture condemns such.

As I said, I believe we have sufficiently covered and discussed I
Corinthians 14: 34, 35. Mark has said, in mentioning his disfavor with
closing the exchange, that he had planned on discussing what I have said in
our first exchange (I Corinthians 11: 4-16) was Spirit led prayer (I Cor.
14: 15). However, I Corinthians 14: 15 is really not immediately germane to
14: 34, 35.

It has been my decision to end my part in this exchange because I basically
believe we have covered the primary bases. In addition to the reason Jeff
mentioned, I also believe Mark's delays in responding have been a part of
the lack of communication. I understand that Mark has a secular job and I
am not meaning to necessarily fault Mark in this matter.

The bottom line, as far as I am concerned, is: The person, work, and role
of the prophetess does not even pertain to us today because the gift of
prophesy has ceased (I Cor. 13: 8, 11: 4-16). Paul's special teaching that
was only given to the prophetess in her circumstance and proximity to the
prophet regarding the head covering that apparently was emblematic of
headship subjection in that culture does not apply today simply because we
do not have prophetesses or women who exceptionally teach in a public
capacity (I Tim. 2: 12). In regards to 14: 34, 35, the passage is specific
and did not necessarily and automatically preclude the prophetess from
prophesying in the assembly.

I regret that Mark, Jeff, and I have ended this exchange with remaining
differences (I believe that Mark and Jeff basically agree regarding the head
covering being applicable today and that 14: 34, 35 precluded the
prophetesses from speaking in the assembly). However, I believe the
exchange has served to provide impetus and material for further study for
all who are interested in a serious study of I Corinthians 14: 34, 35.

I again thank Mark and Jeff, the list owners for providing this medium, and
all of you who have followed this exchange.

Don Martin

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(from Mars-List Digest 4070, April 7, 2003)



[Editor’s Note: This is one of the most in-depth, comprehensive studies between brethren on the issue of whether the women in the "b" part of verse 35 of I Corinthians 14:34,35 is "all women", including women today, or whether those women were only the "prophets' wives". We hope all readers will continue to study all Bible topics with open minds, willing to conform to God's Truth. Thanks for reading! - Mark J. Ward]

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