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

I Corinthians 14:34,35

Martin's 2nd

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: Thu, 20 Mar 2003 10:25:30 -0700
From: "Don Martin" <>
To: <>

Don Martin to Mark Ward, Jeff Smelser, and the list (post one of two):

All three of us have now completed what Mark calls "round one" by submitting
an exegesis on I Corinthians 14: 34, 35. Mark has suggested that after we
have accomplished round one we then:

Then Don, Jeff and I should have (at least) one more round
of posts reviewing each other's positions on that material
(1a and 1b) before moving to asking 5 questions of each

Don kicks off round two:

There are many points of apparent similarity between the exegetical
posts published by the three of us, especially between Mark and Jeff's
material. Let me remind us that this exchange on I Corinthians 14: 34, 35
was prompted by differences between Mark and me relative to Mark's
different view on the covering matter of I Corinthians 11: 4-16. I have
contended that the "praying or prophesying" women of that text were
prophetesses who were doing the same thing and in the same circumstance as
their male counter-parts; hence, the headship issue that, in their case (in
view of how they viewed the covering), required the artificial covering on
the heads of the prophetesses. Mark has taken strong issue with this and
contended that God never allowed prophetesses to prophesy in public before a
mixed audience as he allowed his male prophets. To attempt to
prove this, Mark alluded to I Corinthians 14: 34, 35, believing that Paul's
command, "Let your women keep silence in the churches..." precluded
prophetesses from publicly exercising their gift of prophesy. Jeff Smelser
then said that he "wanted in on this exchange" (I believe Jeff essentially
hold's the same position as Mark in this matter).

It is evident from our three explanatory posts that the three of us have
many points of agreement regarding I Corinthians 14: 34, 35, at least on the
surface. We each seem to appreciate the "assembly" circumstance of the
teaching and that the teaching applied not only to Corinth, but also to all
the churches. We have apparent agreement in that we each apply the
teaching to today as well. All three of us seem to concur relative to the
meaning of such important key words as sigao, translated "keep silence"
in our review passage. Wherein lies the chief difference? There is a
marked difference between Mark and Jeff's understanding of what
precipitated the prohibition to "keep silence" and my understanding.
As a consequence, Mark and Jeff (they seem to be in agreement) and
I differently apply "keep silence."

I wrote:

I Corinthians chapter 14 is replete with instructions as to how to conduct
themselves to avoid and obviate confusion (vs. 5, 6, 9, 16, 19, 23, 26-31).
Paul plainly and cogently informed them that they were to be in control of
themselves, even those who possessed spiritual gifts (vs. 32). I
Corinthians 14: 34, 35 is sandwiched between verses that forbid confusion
and disorder (vs. 33, 40). I, therefore, submit that what these women were
doing was asking questions (the specific speaking) in the assembly of their
husbands in such a way that both precipitated confusion and also resulted in
lack of subjection to their husbands. These "women" were not all the women
at Corinth, but they were married women. It is also implied that their
husbands of whom they were to inquire at home and not in the assembly were
in a position to provide the answers to their questions. Moreover, it is
highly likely that their husbands were the prophets concerning whom the
immediately preceding verses pertain. Hence, these women were to remain
silent or without sound (as opposed to speech) IN THE MATTER contextually
being discussed, confusion and lack of submission to their husbands. As to
other regulating teaching that is broader in its scope, we must look to such
texts as I Timothy 2: 12-15.

Don reflects:

It seems that they and I have a different understanding of the action being
presented in the context of I Corinthians 14: 34, 35. As I have said, I
view the circumstance of I Corinthians 11: 4-16 and I Corinthians 14: 34, 35
to involve totally different subjects and activities that are unrelated.
Therefore, I do not believe there is any correlation between the two texts.
"Keep silence" is addressing the circumstances of the text: asking
questions of their husbands in the assembly, probably the prophets just
discussed, in such a way as to promote confusion and disorder (vs. 33, 40).
Hence, rather than do this, they were to remain without sound (sigao), this
absence of speech, however, was only in this regard, they were to sing, for
instance (Eph. 5: 19).

Please consider post two.

(from MARS-List Digest 4015, March 20, 2003)

Subject: Re: I Corinthians 14: 34, 35
Date: Thu, 20 Mar 2003 10:26:12 -0700
From: "Don Martin" <>
To: <>

Don Martin to Mark Ward, Jeff Smelser, and the list (post two of two):

As I have heretofore made plain, I do not accept the restricted, non-public
role some assign to the prophetess of the Bible. I wrote in my exchange
with Mark:

"There are a number of prophetesses (women who prophesied) mentioned in the
Bible (cp. Miriam; Deborah; Huldah; and Anna, Ex. 15: 20, 21; Jud. 4: 4-10;
2 Kgs. 22: 14-20; Lk. 2: 36-38).

Let me be simple and brief and just take the case of Anna.

"36: And there was one Anna, a prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel, of the
tribe of Aser: she was of a great age, and had lived with an husband seven
years from her virginity;
37: And she was a widow of about fourscore and four years, which departed
not from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day.
38: And she coming in that instant gave thanks likewise unto the Lord, and
spake of him to all them that looked for redemption in Jerusalem" (Lk. 2).

Please observe three things:

(1). Anna was a "prophetess" (vs. 36).
(2). She departed not from the temple (vs. 37, probably also resided there).
(3). Anna "spake of him to all them that looked for redemption in Jerusalem"
(vs. 38).

At this point, I intended to insert a number of learned statements regarding
Anna speaking "to all them that looked for redemption in Jerusalem."
However, I decided against it. The text is plain to all who approach it with
an open mind. "Don, do you really believe Anna publicly prophesied and
taught in the temple to both men and women?" I sure do. Why would I not?
This is what we read in Luke 2: 36-38. There is no way one can limit "all"
(pasin). Anna taught and prophesied (she was a prophetess) to all, men and
women alike. It is untenable to think of "all" as women only or women and
children only. Anna spake of him to all them that looked for redemption in
Jerusalem." Anna was a prophetess and she prophesied in the temple, publicly
and to mixed audiences. This was her job as a prophetess.

Again, please consider my syllogism:

(1). Those who had the gift of prophecy (both men and women), were to edify
the church with their gift (I Cor. 14: 3, 5, 12, 23, 24, 26-31).

(2). The church at Corinth was comprised of both male and female members (I
Cor. 14: 34, 35; 11: 4, 5).

(3). Hence, both prophets and prophetesses were publicly used to teach the
church and foretell by the impetus of the Holy Spirit.

Prophesy was used publicly to teach both men and women. Again, these
prophetesses were the exception of I Timothy 2: 12."

Someone asks, "Where do I read that the prophets and the prophetesses were
doing the same thing and in the same circumstance?" The answer is found in
the reason the covering is enjoined on the prophetesses. The very reason
for the covering was the circumstance that these prophets and prophetesses
were "praying or prophesying" and there needed to be some visible sign of
authority or headship recognition on these inspired women to let others know
that they respected headship while they were doing the same thing and in the
same circumstance. Prophetesses were not given the miraculous gift of
prophesy to only teach women and children!

Before saying more, I shall wait for Jeff and Mark to make their reply posts
(round two). Suffice me to say that there is no contradiction between I
Corinthians 11: 4-16 and I Corinthians 14: 34, 35. They are really
unrelated texts as they involve different subjects (people) and
circumstances. I encourage you to respectfully consider Mark and Jeff's

Don Martin

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(from MARS-List Digest 4015, March 20, 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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