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

I Corinthians 14:34,35

Martin's 6th

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: Wed, 26 Mar 2003 13:51:04 -0700
From: "Don Martin" <>
To: <>

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

We have arrived at the question/answer stage of our exchange. I asked my
question one and Jeff and Mark both answered it. There was a discussion
that followed and then Jeff was to ask his question one (my next post).
Prefacing Jeff's good question, he had some additional comments. I shall
attempt to briefly notice these comments and then go directly to Jeff's
question in post two.

I have stressed that when Jeff answered "yes" to my question one (the
prophetesses of I Corinthians 11: 4-16 are included in the command to "keep
silence" and "ask their husbands at home"), he placed himself in a quandary
(having an inspired or Holy Spirit led woman having to ask her uninspired
husband for answers to her religious questions). It seems that Jeff does
not see such a plight as a quandary.

Jeff wrote:

I do not at all feel I have a quandary. Actually, while it was clear to me
that you imagined a quandary, I had to read your post repeatedly to figure
out what quandary you had imagined. It is a contrived quandary, and I
thought it likely that the readers would not perceive your point. And so
before I answering, I tried to restate it more clearly and succintly so that
the readers might understand what I was answering.

Jeff Continued:

It is obvious you are assuming all the women in view in 1 Cor. 14:34-35 were
necessarily married, although you have not addressed my comments concerning
the phrase, "let them ask their own husbands at home."

Don comments:

It says, "And if they will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at
home..." (I Cor. 14: 35).

Jeff wrote:

It is also obvious that you are assuming the husbands of the women were
prophets, for which there is no evidence at all.

Don comments:

Prophets were just mentioned in the context (I Cor. 14: 29-32). The
husbands are presented as being able to provide the answers to satisfy their
wives' lack of knowledge (vs. 35). Since I Corinthians is one of the first
written epistles forming the canon of the New Testament (knowledge often
depending on such people as prophets and prophetesses), I think there is
much to suggest these husbands were prophets. I regret that you see "no
evidence at all" for this high probability.

Jeff goes on:

But now you seem to assume that if a woman were a prophetess, and if she had
a question, that her question would necessarily be about the very thing
concerning which she had revelation from God. And it seems you assume that
on the basis of a conception of prophets and prophetesses that is indeed
entirely different than mine. You seem to think that a prophetess could not
lack knowledge about anything. You say, "I just cannot imagine an inspired
prophetess...being not knowing something."

Don answers:

Jeff, after all is said and done, you still have an inspired prophetess
having to ask her uninspired husband religious questions. Hence, I have
suggested that your position deprecates the prophetesses of the Bible. Paul
wrote one chapter earlier, "And though I have the gift of prophecy, and
understand all mysteries..." (I Cor. 13: 2). I just cannot understand why
you do not see your quandary of having prophetesses included in I
Corinthians 14: 34, 35. I grant that being a prophet or prophetess in the
first century did not necessarily mean possessing definitive knowledge on
all subjects, but to have a prophetess in a position of having to ask her
uninspired husband for answers is really untenable.

Jeff corrects me:

You speak of "an inspired prophetess." I had assumed such language on your
part was merely imprecise speech. But now I think it may reflect a
fundamental misunderstanding. It is not the man or the woman that is
inspired; it is the word of God that is inspired. The scriptures are God
breathed (2 Tim. 3:16). We should speak of the man or woman as speaking by
inspiration, but not as being themselves inspired.

Don answers:

In my exchange with Mark (the precursor to this exchange) I took the time to
qualify "inspired" (God breathed, theopneustos, 2 Tim. 3: 16). I thought
you would understand the idiom "inspired prophetess" without me having to
take space to explain. As I have said many times, these prophetesses spoke
and taught by the impetus of the Holy Spirit (cp. 2 Pet. 1: 21). While the
Spirit did not necessarily and directly place within them a replete resident
reservoir of miraculous information, as the Spirit spoke through them, they
were certainly in a position to hear what they themselves taught on various
occasions. Hence, they would have more access to truth than the ordinary
person or in the case of your prophetess in I Corinthians 14: 34, 35, more
knowledge than their husband who lacked the gift of prophecy. I suppose you
would also view an apostle as having no advantage in general, only when the
Spirit spoke through him.

Please see post two and the question/answer.

(from MARS-List Digest 4037, March 26, 2003)

Subject: Re: I Corinthians 14: 34, 35
Date: Wed, 26 Mar 2003 13:52:09 -0700
From: "Don Martin" <>
To: <>

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

I appreciate Jeff's time and knowledge. I also thank Jeff for his question
one. Question one asks:

Is it wrong (I'm not asking if it is merely inadvisable, nor if it is merely
poor judgment - I'm asking if it is sinful) for a woman to sit in her seat
during the assembly and read aloud a list of those who are ill, the list
having been prepared by a man and given to her? I stipulate that she sits
in her seat lest you say by standing up front she assumes a position of
authority. For the same reason, I stipulate that the list is prepared by a
man and given to her. So, do you believe God's word forbids this? I say yes,
based on 1 Cor. 14:33b-35. What say you? Please provide a scriptural basis
for your response.

And if you say yes, she may do that, may she also announce the song numbers
for the day, the list having been prepared for her by a man? And if you say
yes, she may do that, may she also serve as translator for a man, who does
not speak English, as he reads a passage from the Bible without further
comment? And if you say yes, she may do that, then in the assembly may she
also read from the inspired scriptures herself, aloud, without making any
additional comment? And if not, why not? How is she doing anything different
than what you believe a prophetess of the 1st century was permitted to do?

Don comments:

I like Jeff's question because it places pressure on me and pins down what I
am saying. I assume in Jeff's example, men are present in the assembly.

Let me preface my answer by saying that I think the prohibition of I
Corinthians 14: 34, 35 possesses specificity. These were questions being
asked that evidently placed the woman in an insubordinate position
(reference to the way in which the question was asked, I believe, vs. 34).
They also, I believe, are questions that are disruptive. I say this because
of the context, before and after (vs. 33, 40). Hence, I do not think Jeff's
good question focuses in on the understood action of our study verses and
the reason for the command, "keep silence...." I want it also clearly
understood that the woman today is not to assume the position of the teacher
in a mixed audience of men and women (I Tim. 2: 12). In the assembly, the
role of the woman is not that of leading prayer or the teacher, but that of
"learn in silence" and "subjection" (I Tim. 2: 8-12). Again, though, I
think we have digressed from the prophet of I Corinthians 11 and the
specific prohibition of I Corinthians 14: 34, 35.

I have been faced with many efforts to move women toward new roles in the
church and assembly. "Let us allow the woman to stand up and address the
audience herself regarding her public confession of sin," "why cannot a
woman assist with the Lord's table as long as she does not say anything,"
"why not have women ushers," ad infinitum. Regarding all of such impetus, I
have offered strong opposition. I asked one brother what he wanted to see
happen next after the woman silently assisted with the Lord's table. "We
might could then have a woman make announcements," said he. Having said
this, it must be remembered that both Jeff and Mark have agreed that the
woman in the assembly is allowed to audibly sing (Eph. 5: 19). Thus, they
have consented to some understood qualification of "keep silence" and "
is not permitted unto them to speak..." (I Cor. 14: 34, 35). I would also
include the act of confessing belief that Jesus Christ is the Son of God
prior to baptism (Rom. 10: 9, 10, Acts 8: 37). Also, both
Jeff and Mark have distinguished between the assembly of I Corinthians 14
and the typical class scenario and circumstance.

In view of I Timothy 2: 11, "Let the woman learn in silence with all
subjection," I would have to say it is a sin "for a woman to sit in her seat
during the assembly and read aloud a list of those who are ill, the list
having been prepared by a man and given to her." (Since I answered "yes" to
the first question, the following questions do not apply).

Don Martin

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(from MARS-List Digest 4038, March 26, 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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