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

I Corinthians 14:34,35

Martin's 4th

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, 24 Mar 2003 20:52:26 -0700
From: "Don Martin" <>
To: <>

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

My question one that I submitted to Jeff and Mark read:

"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)?

Jeff answered:

Mark replied thus:
Mark here:
There are two parts to brother Don's question above: Part one asks if "prophetesses" were included in the meaning/sense of the word "women" as used in verse 34. Part two asks if the prohibition of verses 34,35 instruct us that is not right for such a woman to prophesy in the public assembly of the local church, as did the prophets. (IF I miss something brother Don, please bring it to my attention. Thanks.)

In the sense in which these words are being used in chapter 14, I answer both parts of the question "yes"; that ~prophetesses~ were included in the meaning/sense of the word "women" in verse 34 (& "woman" in verse 35 <g>) AND, that they would not be permitted to address the mixed assembly of the local church (but the prophets sure were). NOTE: This type of prophesying was not to occur simultaneously, but was one prophet at a time, to be pleasing to God.

Don comments:
Both Jeff and Mark have answered, "yes" to my question. In view of their respective positions, I fully anticipated an affirmative answer.

I have affirmed many times that the prophets and prophetesses were doing exactly the same thing (I Cor. 11: 4, 5). I have also stressed that in view of the headship matter and the need for the head covering in the case of the prophetesses, these special inspired men and women at Corinth were functioning in precisely the same circumstance. In other words, on the same occasion, both prophets and prophetesses would prophecy (in pursuant of I Cor. 14: 28-32, some believe that anterior to 14: 28-32, they were acting concurrently).

I have accused Mark's position of belittling and deprecating the prophetesses. Through various maneuvers, Mark in our exchange on I Corinthians 11: 1-16, reduced "prophesying" to uninspired teaching (in order to have present day application). Now, I believe both Mark and Jeff are seen undervaluing the work and nature of the prophetesses. Why do I say this?

I submit that the prophets and prophetesses were considered equal in as far as the inspiration of what they taught and foretold (I Cor. 11: 4, 5). This being the case, why would Paul write in the case of prophetesses, "And if they will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home...." (I Cor. 14: 35). I kindly submit that the "yes" answer provided by both Jeff and Mark to my above question makes the prophetess inferior to her prophet husband.

If the "husbands" are not the prophets, then the "yes" answer underrates the prophetesses even more. In other words, let these inspired prophetesses who do not know something ask their uninspired husbands at home.

I maintain that the evidence and influence of the context shows that Paul is not addressing or including in his address the prophetesses of chapter eleven. Moreover, I continue to stress that the "women" were in all probability the uninspired wives of the prophets. I Corinthians is one of the earliest written books comprising the New Testament canon. Hence, knowledge outside of miraculous inspiration was sparse. Prophecy was one of the main sources of the infusion of knowledge at the time of I Corinthians. I believe "let them ask their husbands at home" certainly implies some capability on the part of these husbands and more capability than the inquiring wives. This is one reason I have insisted that the circumstances of I Corinthians 11 and chapter 14: 34, 35 are unrelated. Therefore, it does harm to try to use chapter 14: 34, 35 to regulate chapter 11: 4-16. These prophetesses were doing exactly the same work and in the same places as their male counter-parts the prophets. They, I repeat, were the exception to I Timothy 2: 12. Jeff and Mark appear to be unable to acknowledge the unique, indigenous, and peculiar nature of the covering circumstance of chapter 11. Therefore, they seem to be not properly relating these two texts (chapter 11 and 14).

I again thank Jeff and Mark for their interest in studying God's word. I also thank them for their interest in others and me. They view me as wrong in saying that I Corinthians 14: 34, 35 pertained to certain women at Corinth asking questions in a way that appears to have been causing confusion and constituting headship insubordination and that this is what is meant by "keep silent." While I disagree, I commend and thank them for seeking to teach their convictions in this matter.

I shall now watch for rebuttal comments from Jeff and Mark and then Jeff's first question.

Don Martin

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(from MARS-List Digest 4032, March 24, 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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