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

I Corinthians 14:34,35

Martin's 3rd

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: Sun, 23 Mar 2003 21:34:59 -0700
From: "Don Martin" <>
To: <>

Don Martin to Mark Ward, Jeff Smelser, and the list (my question one):

Our exchange on I Corinthians 14: 34, 35 is progressing well. Both Mark and Jeff are evincing an admirable tone in the exchange. They are pressing their points, trying to show where I am wrong, as is to be expected, but they continue to focus on the issue and not personalities.

Again, our study verses read:
"34: 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.
35: 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" (I Cor. 14).

All three of us have posted an exegesis of the above passage and a post that addresses some of the perceived differences between us. Mark and Jeff basically agree on some of the involved essential differences. I have contended that the "women" of the passage were specific women at Corinth who were doing a specific thing: they were asking questions that were both causing confusion in the assembly and were not submitting to headship  regulation. I form this conclusion based on the context (vs. 33, 40). I do not, though, believe the teaching of I Corinthians 14: 34, 35 is limited to these married women at Corinth. Anytime a woman asks a disruptive question in the assembly and/or violates headship regulation, she is in disobedience to Paul's teaching. I have conceded that the general subject of chapter fourteen is the regulation of spiritual gifts and that in this vein, Paul is  addressing in verses 34, 35 a matter that was creating disharmony and contumacy: these women asking questions.

I have also said that qualification must be understood relative to "keep silence in the churches" (sigatosan ai gunaikes en tais ekklesiais). The example that I have provided is the command to sing (Eph. 5: 19). Both Mark and Jeff appear to agree. I have stressed that if we understand an all inclusive nature to the command, "Let your women keep silence in the churches," we have Paul either changing his mind from the time of chapter eleven or contradicting himself, I say this regarding the fact of the prophetess concerning whom Paul said she must have her head covered (I Cor. 11: 4-16). Both Mark and Jeff have said that they do not believe prophetesses ever taught in the assembly (as the prophets taught). While I have not limited I Corinthians 11 to the assembly (same assembly situation as I Corinthians 14), I do believe chapter eleven included the assembly circumstance. Prophesy is seen in the assembly and was one of the main assembly exercised gifts (I Cor. 14). Moreover, the obvious headship problem pertaining to these prophets and prophetesses necessarily involved them doing the same thing (cp. I Cor. 11: 4, 5). The covering of chapter eleven signified that while these prophetesses were doing precisely the same as the prophets and evidently in the same situations, they realized that they were under headship subjugation (I Cor. 11: 4-16).

It is my understanding that at this stage in our exchange, I am supposed to submit my question one of Mark and Jeff. My question one will focus on who these women were mentioned in our study verses. It is indisputable that they were married and had husbands who were knowledgeable.

Relative to these women, Mark has said:
"Could it be that I Corinthians 11 and I Corinthians 14 are BOTH addressing the same women (directly), ALL WOMEN, at Corinth who worshipped and worked among each other on a regular basis at the same congregation?"

Don comments:
It was evident in our exchange on I Corinthians 11 that Mark viewed "every woman praying or prophesying" as every woman at Corinth and every where (see I Cor. 11: 4, 5).

Jeff has said:
"I have Paul turning aside to remind the women that although some of them have the gift of prophecy (1 Cor. 11, Acts 21:9) they were not to use it in the assembly.

My question one asked of both Jeff (first) and Mark:

In view of the language, "Let your women keep silence in the churches" is Paul including the prophetess and precluding her from any public prophesying in the assembly (prophesying as did the prophets)?

I think both Mark and Jeff have really already answered this question, but I want to fine tune a couple of matters anterior to making any comments.

Of interest, I believe, Jeff seems to agree that Bible prophetesses did teach and address mixed audiences that included males (Jeff said he agreed with my comments pertaining to Anna, Lk. 2: 36-38). Jeff wrote:

To the second, I would simply note that the issue is not women prophesying in public. I will readily grant that women may have prophesied in public. I have no problem with your comments about Anna. But the issue is women prophesying in the assembly, not women prophesying in public. Regardless of how publicly they may have prophesied, they were not to use that gift in the assembly for they were not to speak at all in the assembly.

I thank both Mark and Jeff in advance for their answer and I commend you for your interest. In view of the changing role of women often seen in religion, I believe such exchanges and studies are very timely.

Don Martin

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(from MARS-List Digest 4029, March 23, 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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