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Topic 37: 1 Cor. 14:26-39: Part 6: Summary


In summary, 1 Corinthians 14:34-36 can be understood as follows (following Dentinger, “Women in the Church,” pg. 13):

(A) “But the heart of the passage is the Greek term e, which introduces 1 Corinthians 14:36.  This particle startles us with its vivid forcefulness and its strong negative reaction.  As J.H. Thayer pointed out in 1889 (A Greek-English Lexicon), e with the grave accent may appear ‘before a sentence contrary to the one preceding [it] ….’  Thayer then listed 1 Corinthians 14:36 as an illustration.  Therefore, 1 Corinthians 14:36 is hardly a summation of verses 33b-35.  Consequently, Paul rejects the quotation of verses 33b-35, apparently cited from the Corinthian letter and rabbinic law: “What! Did the word of God originate with you, or are you [men = masculine form] the only ones it has reached?”  What irony!  The very text that has been used for centuries to silence women from joining in the worship of the church, Paul used to establish their equality” (Kaiser, “Shared Leadership…” (Christianity Today Institute, pg.e 12-I).

(B)  Paul (with sarcasm, mimicking comments he has heard or else quoting from the letter he has received from the Corinthians (note, for example, 1 Corinthians 6:12-13, 7:1, 8:1, 10:23):

“Women should keep silent!”  “Wives should not speak!”  “Wives (women) should be subordinate (that is our culture!)!”  “Jewish custom says wives should keep silent (they do not help constitute a synagogue)!” “Let women ask their husbands!  It is a shame for wives to speak (i.e, question husbands) publicly!”

Paul, then, with anger, incredulously (because these kind of sniping comments contradict what he said in 1 Corinthians 11:5):

What! Are you men (the second pronoun in verse 36 has a masculine adjective) the only ones who have received the word of God?  (No, there are other congregations with other practices!)  Did the word originate with you men?  (The Greek, literally translated, “… or from you [umon, plural] the word of God went out, or to you [umas, plural] only did it arrive?!”]  Are you men God?  Do you have the arrogance to usurp authority over other human beings?”

(Other examples of Pauline sarcasm include 1 Corinthians 11:20;  Paul uses sarcasm to show how ridiculous a point of view is. Paul is saying God did not give men a monopoly on the Word of God.)


following Martin (The Spirit and the Congregation: Studies in 1 Corinthians 12-15, pg. 75) and Dinda (pg. 8), the passage can be read this way:

Paul: (While I’m on the subject of confusion in the church, let me briefly address the problem of babbling and chattering and causing confusion back behind the screens where they must stand or sit.  They are disturbing us, and that’s disgraceful.  Let your wives keep silent in the worship service, for they are not allowed to babble (that disturbs the worship).  Rather let them be under (self-)control, just as the (pastoral) ruling says.  (My pastoral advice — in order to end confusion in worship — is that) If they wish to learn anything, let them ask their own husbands at home (rather than disrupt the worship scene).


[1 Corinthians 14:37] If any one thinks that he is a prophet, or spiritual, he should acknowledge that what I am writing to you is a command of the Lord.  [38] If any one does not recognize this, he is not recognized.  [39] So, my brethren, earnestly desire to prophesy, and do not forbid speaking in tongues; [40] but all things should be done decently and in order.

◆ “Having appealed to the Old Testament (to the Law in I Cor. 14:34; the Creation Accounts and the Fall into Sin in I Tim. 2:13f.), Paul points to the highest authority the early church knew, the command of the Lord himself” (Giertz, The Springfielder, pg. 15).

Thesis: The Scriptural “[vs 37] … a command of the Lord” addresses behavior in worship, not eligibility for public office in the church.

(A) Exactly what is the Lord’s command?  That women should stay out of public ministry?  Or that worship be done “decently and in order”?

(B) Verse 37 indicates that this is addressed to “any one,” that is everyone, regardless of gender, and not specifically women.

(C) These verses are Paul’s summary of the chapter, and, one would think that if women’s role in worship leadership and preaching were the problem, it would have been included in this summary.  His key word in this chapter is “edify.”