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

I Corinthians 14:34,35

Smelser's 5th

The following is brother Jeff Smelser's next in the exchange on the true meaning and application of I Corinthians 14:34,35 today.

Subject: Re: I Corinthians 14: 34, 35
Date: Wed, 26 Mar 2003 10:27:11 -0500
From: "Jeff Smelser" <>
To: <>
CC: "Mark J. Ward" <>, "Don Martin" <>,

Jeff Smelser to Don Martin and Mark Ward,

I'll address Don's last post, and then I think it is my opportunity to
question Don.

Don, you wrote:

> 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....

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.

> 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.

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."

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

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."

Do you not agree that even prophets (and prophetesses) did not have an open
line to the Holy Spirit, that the Holy Spirit did not function like Google -
type in whatever you want to learn, whenever you want to learn it, and
600,000 hits with info on the desired topic pop up - but rather the Holy
Spirit gave to each as he willed? After all, the spirits of the prophets
being subject to the prophets did not mean that the Holy Spirit was subject
to the prophets. Accordingly, even a prophet might not know something.

Paul sometimes spoke of matters whereof he would subsequently get better
information from the Holy Spirit. When on board the ship enroute to Rome,
Paul said, "Sirs, I perceive that the voyage will be with injury and much
loss, not only of the lading and the ship, but also of our lives" (Acts
27:10). But later, by revelation, he said, "there shall be no loss of life
among you but only of the ship" (27:22). Apparently, Paul's access to the
Holy Spirit did not provide that he would always know everything.

Prior to receiving revelation on the matter, might Paul have properly
inquired of the helmsman, or the captain, for information concerning
the potential dangers of the voyage? Or would you imagine such inquiry
would have belittled his apostleship?

Moreover, Nathan, a prophet of God, erroneously told David, "Go do all that
is in your mind, for the LORD is with you," when David intended to build a
temple for the Lord (2 Sam. 7:3 - given the way some today misuse the term
"false teacher," they would have to call Nathan a "false prophet" - but
that's another thread). But then of course, "the word of the LORD came to
Nathan" and told him otherwise. Yes, Don, I think you are correct when you
say, "your understanding of the prophetess and her work is clearly different
from mine." You seem to think that being a prophet or a prophetess
eliminated the possibility of not knowing something. I don't see it that

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. The only sense in which
we can rightly say a man or a woman is "God breathed" is the sense in which
every one of us is God breathed (Gen. 2:7). And therefore, when we want to
note that Paul, for example, wrote by direct revelation from God, we say,
"Paul wrote by inspiration," rather than "Paul was inspired."

My Question to Don:

(I think it is my turn?)

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?

Jeff Smelser

(from MARS-List Digest 4037, 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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