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

I Corinthians 14:34,35

Martin's 5th

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: Tue, 25 Mar 2003 20:39:35 -0700
From: "Don Martin" <>
To: <>

Don Martin to Jeff Smelser, Mark Ward, and the list:

Jeff, I appreciate your timely reply and your comments. To the question of
were the prophetesses of I Corinthians 11: 4-16 included in the command to,
"Let you women keep silence in the churches...And if they will learn any
thing, let them ask their husbands at home...," you answered, "yes."

I have maintained all the while that I Corinthians 11: 4-16 and chapter 14:
34, 35 are unrelated, involving different women and circumstances. I have
tried to show this to be the case by pointing out that by you and Mark Ward
answering yes to my question one (referenced above), you are deprecating the
prophetess and her work. I thought for sure that the fact (so viewed by
you) of the inspired prophetess being told to ask her husband, especially
her uninspired husband, questions at home would cause you to realize that
these texts are different. However, you continue to maintain your initial

You realized your quandary as evidenced by what you wrote:

If I understand you correctly, your point is that if I allow that
prophetesses are included in the command, "and if any would learn
anything, let them ask their own husbands at home," then I am making
the prophecies of the prophetesses take a back seat to the instruction
of their husbands. Accordingly, I think your point is that prophetesses
must have been excluded from the command else their prophecies
would be considered inferior to their husband's wisdom and subject to
their husband's instruction....

Don comments:

Jeff, what surprises me is your next comment:

In short, yes, prophetesses are included in the prohibition of 1 Cor.
14: 34-35; but no, prophetesses functioning in their prophetic capacity are
not specifically in view when Paul says, "if they would learn anything..."

Don again:

Then, you further explain:

Don, when a prophetess, functioning in her prophetic capacity, desired to
learn something, should she ask her husband, or should she listen to the
Holy Spirit? The latter of course. And therefore, clearly, when Paul speaks
of a woman desiring to learn something and tells her to ask her husband (vs.
35), he must not be talking about a prophetess functioning in her prophetic

Don further reflects:

Jeff, I kindly say that your understanding of the prophetess and her work is
clearly different from mine. I just cannot imagine an inspired prophetess
that possessed not a scintilla of inferiority relative to her male
counter-part, the prophet, being presented, first, as not knowing something,
and then being told to ask her uninspired husband at home. As I have
pointed out, I Corinthians is one of the first inspired writings that
comprise the canon of the New Testament. Serious knowledge was often,
therefore, lacking and many looked to such spiritual gifts as prophecy for
knowledge. Yet, you have a prophetess being told to ask her husband

You further state:

No, there is no inferiority in the prophecy of the woman, and there is no
inconsistency in my saying so. The prophetesses are included in the
prohibition of 1 Cor. 14:34f, but not exclusively so. They are included
because they are women; they are to be silent in the assembly because it is
a shame for a woman to speak, any woman. And Paul does not leave it at that,
but sees fit to drive home the point about just how extensive this
injunction is - they shouldn't even ask questions!

Don concludes:

Jeff, I think the consequences of your position, as seen above, clearly
demonstrate the lack of tenability of your views. I urge you to reread the
above and consider what you are saying.

Again, I Corinthians 14: 34, 35 is not negating the prophetess from doing
her work. The women of our passage were not inspired; hence, they had to
ask their husbands questions. As I have maintained, the husbands were men
who were considered as knowledgeable and knowing. Thus, I have suggested
that in all probability they were the prophets being discussed in the
context. The questions being asked were evidently impeding the orderly
exercise of the spiritual gifts and were also being asked in such a way
as to result in headship insubordination. I say this in view of I
Corinthians 14: 34, 35. Paul did not teach the prophetess how to dress
(head covering) in her circumstance in chapter eleven and then turn around
three chapters later and say that she was not to even utter a sound in the
assembly and if she had a question, let her ask her husband at home.

Jeff, I do thank you for sharing your thoughts and for forthrightly
answering my questions and being willing to comment on the answer. I shall
now watch for Mark's responsive post.

Don Martin

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(from MARS-List Digest 4036, March 25, 2003)

Subject: Re: I Corinthians 14: 34, 35
Date: Tue, 25 Mar 2003 21:39:33 -0700
From: "Don Martin" <>
To: <>

Don Martin to Mark Ward, Jeff Smelser, and the list:

Both Jeff and Mark have answer "yes" to my question one asking if they
believe the prophetesses of I Corinthians 11: 4-16 were included in the
teaching of I Corinthians 14: 34, 35. Mark seems aware of the serious
consequences prompted by the "yes" answer.

Mark wrote:

Don has asked if "prophetesses" were included in the meaning
or sense of the word(s) "women" and "woman" in verses 34,35.
Don does NOT believe that they were. Don argues that an
affirmative answer to this belittles and deprecates the
prophetesses. I deny that such has to be the case.

Mark continues to write:

Don asserts that prophets and prophetesses were doing
exactly the same thing in the SAME CIRCUMSTANCES. I AGREE
that they both were "prophesying", but I DISAGREE that women
who prophesied were allowed by God to remove themselves from
their God-given roles at times of prophesying and usurp
authority over men while exercising that gift! Don has no
scripture, has tried to use an OLD TESTAMENT prophetess in
Anna (and other Old Testament prophetesses) who didn't even
have to wear an artificial covering according to the law of

Don comments:

The reference to prophetesses in the Hebrew scriptures was to
show that they had the same public role as their male counter-part, the
prophets. I have also demonstrated this by presenting the way the gift of
prophecy was to be exercised in the local church at Corinth. I have shown
that the work of the prophetess was not limited to teaching women and
children and, perhaps, some qualified teaching of men, but unlike the
teaching that the prophet would do.

Mark wrote:

If one but properly understands the "b" part of verse 35, "for it is a shame
for a woman to speak in church", one will properly realize
THAT IS WHY a "prophetess" (or any other woman, for that
matter) is not to speak in either an authoritative or
non-authoritative way, ask a question, prophesy (in the
sense of addressing the mixed audience and usurping
authority over the men), etc IN THE CHURCH. It's really not
that hard. Don has to go to great lengths in efforts to
shore up his unusual theory. I hope the reader can see the
great lengths to which Don's "spiritual gifts position" has
to go in order to attempt to remove the applicability of
BOTH of these texts (chapters 11 AND 14, wherein we are
specifically discussing them) for folks today.

Don comments:

I have no problem applying I Corinthians 14: 34, 35. Anytime a woman asks a
disruptive question in an assembly and does so in a way to not only cause
confusion but also be disrespective of her husband, she in violation of
Paul's teaching (see vs. 33, 40). However, I Corinthians 14: 34, 35 does
not have any relationship to I Corinthians 11: 4-16. These are two
different texts, addressing two different sets of women, and circumstances.
The respective context in each case shows this to be the case. Mark, in my
view, is under pressure and feels compelled to maintain that 14: 34, 35 is
telling the prophetess of chapter 11 to remain silent in the assembly and
ask her husband questions at home. Imagine the inspired prophetess having
to ask her uninspired husband questions at home. Such is the consequence of
Mark's "yes" answer.

Mark continues:

Is it because the prophetesses would have to LIMIT or "hold
back" from using ~their gift of prophecy~ at times stated in
the text (as to why Don might think this would have them, in
his mind, to be made ~inferior to men~)? We are not yet
told. But the answer is a big NO, it can't be for that
reason for the ~male prophets~ were also taught to regulate,
limit, or keep their peace/silence at times, as well as male
tongue speakers (See I Cor. 14:27,28,29,30,40)! See the
point here??? The ~inferior argument~ Don promotes really
has no weight, brother Don.

Don comments:

Mark, the point is that you have the inspired prophetess (I Cor. 11) being
told to remain silent in the assembly and ask her husband questions at home.
As I have pointed out, I Corinthians was among the first books written that
comprise the canon of the New Testament. Knowledge was limited and sparse,
except for inspired people such as prophets and prophetesses. To understand
Paul's teaching as instructing a prophetess who is ignorant to ask her
uninspired husband questions is to, indeed, deprecate the prophetess. I am
truly sorry that you cannot see this.

Mark reasoned:

God said "every woman" who prays or prophesies was to cover
her head. But, brother Don, in that passage (chapter 11)
EXCLUDES ALL WOMEN except for his theory's special class of
prophetesses and ONLY WHILE THEY WERE LEADING (praying or
prophesying)! In chapter 14, 35b, God instructs, ".for it is
a shame for a woman to speak in church" and Don's position
EXCLUDES ALL WOMEN except for his theory's special class of
prophets' wives ONLY....

Don responds:

Mark is still not observing one of the most basic rules of Bible study:
considering the context and looking to it for dialectic, definitional, and
interpretive influences. Paul never included all women in the head covering
command (I Cor. 11: 4-16). In regard to 14: 34, 35, I have said many times
that any time a woman does what these women were doing, she also is guilty.
Asking disruptive questions and conducting oneself as to be insubordinate is
a sin.

Mark further wrote:

In chapter 14, 35b, God instructs, ".for it is
a shame for a woman to speak in church" and Don's position
EXCLUDES ALL WOMEN except for his theory's special class of
prophets' wives ONLY (and I am not sure but what Don's
position would even allow THEM TO SPEAK in the assembly, so
long as they were not asking a question of a "prophet", were
not causing disruption, and were not exercising authority
over men in so speaking??? Is that right, Don?).

Don answers:

I cannot imagine a question being thus asked in the assembly that is not
disruptive. When I am preaching, I do not allow male or female to interrupt
with questions or comments. I have, however, allowed a special time
following a service for questions, both from females and males. Mark is
still ignoring the context of I Corinthians 14: 34, 35, especially verses 33
and 40.

In conclusion, Mark said:

Don ELEVATES the prophetesses above that
which is written! I say this in light of his theory's
contention that, in his words, they ".were the exception to
I Timothy 2:12."

Don answers:

I have charged Mark with deprecating the prophetess and her work and Mark
accuses me of elevating the prophetess above what is written. In our
exchange on I Corinthians 11: 4-16, I dealt with the prophetess in the Bible
and showed how her work was not in any way less than the prophet (cp.
Miriam; Deborah; Huldah; and Anna, Ex. 15: 20, 21; Jud. 4: 4-10; 2 Kgs. 22:
14-20; Lk. 2: 36-38).

I continue to appreciate many things about Mark, but I kindly submit that he
is wrong when it comes to a study of prophetesses and I Corinthians 14: 34,
35. Again, I see one of Mark's chief mistakes being lack of awareness and
familiarity with context.

(from MARS-List Digest 4036, March 25, 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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