SHALL WOMAN KEEP SILENCE?
203. To repeat: We are driven to believe the Apostle was not uttering his own views in verses 34 and 35 of 1 Corinthians 14, which read: "Let the woman keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak: but let them be in subjection, as also saith the law. And if they would learn anything, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak in the church" (R. V.) We believe this is the language of Judaizers at Corinth, which has been reported to Paul, and which Paul quotes to answer back in the words: "What! came the word of God out from you! or came it unto you only?"with what follows to the end of the chapter.
204. Now for the evidences that Paul quotes the Judaizers here, and then answers that false teaching as to women keeping silence: First re-read what we said in par. 192-6 on The Situation in Corinth, the prejudice that had been aroused there against Paul's having Priscilla "laboring in the Gospel" with him. These Corinthians had written Paul a letter, all agree to that; Paul was answering a lot of points that had been submitted to him for decision, in this Epistle. Listen, please, to what Prof. Weizsäcker writes, in his book, The Apostolic Age of the Christian Church, on this First Epistle to the Corinthians, and Paul's method: "And now [at chapter 7] begins a new letter, or at any rate a new section of the letter . . . What follows, therefore, bears a wholly different character; the language is now comparatively calm, official, instructive and hortatory, and treats of a whole series of affairs belonging to the life of the Church. And as an answer to the Church's enquiry, the discussion furnishes a subject new in form as well as in matter. The reference to the question is repeated whenever a new point is taken up. . . . Under each heading a discussion is given as has been desired, and therefore the matters are discussed one after the other and each by itself.”
205. Now let us see what this means. At 6:12 occur the words, "All things are lawful unto me.” Paul is here expressing not his own views. This is his quotation from the Corinthians’ letter to him; he has quoted it as a subhead, to answer it. This he does in the next sentence, "But all things are not expedient.” Then he repeats the "heading" again, in order to give another answer, namely: "But I will not be brought under the power of any." The Corinthians were justifying license by these words, because Paul had taught, "Ye are not under law, but under grace.” At 10:23 he again reverts to their claim, "all things are lawful," and repeats his first answer, then adds a third reply. "All things edify not.” Again, at 8:8, he takes words (probably his own originally, but being misapplied), "Meat commendeth us not to God," from the Corinthians’ letter as his text, and comments on them thus: "But take heed lest this liberty of yours become a stumbling block to the weak." We could give other instances where commentators trace Paul's quotations from the letter from Corinth, using each as a "heading" to his discussion of the points involved, but it is unnecessary. We merely wish to show that this idea that Paul makes quotations from the letter he has received and is answering, is no novel idea, invented by us to suit a prejudiced view. Prof. Sir. Wm. Ramsay says, on this subject: "We should be ready to suspect Paul is making a quotation from the letter addressed to him by the Corinthians whenever he alludes to their knowledge, or when any statement stands in marked contrast either with the immediate context or with Paul's known views.”
Our case answers to all of these tests. Following our guide, we will apply the three points of Prof. Ramsay's rule. I. "Whenever he alludes to their knowledge:" Paul alludes to their knowledge in verse 37; and in 38 he declares if anyone still remains ignorant of his meaning he is past being enlightened. II. "When any statement stands in marked contrast with the immediate context:" Verses 34, 35 are in marked contrast to verse 31 and to verse 39, for it is impossible to hold that Paul's use of the word "brethren" applies only to the male sex. III. "When any statement stands in marked contrast with Paul's known views:" A command on the part of the Apostle for women to "keep silence" would put him in direct conflict with what must be inferred from what he has just written in chapter eleven, about women veiling.
206. Paul's reply to all this caviling of Judaizers and their efforts to strengthen their case by quoting the Oral Law of the Jews, is; "What? came the word of God out from you? or came it unto you only?” Then, in verses 37-40, he expresses his own mind, which is the mind of the Holy Spirit, on the subject. Psalm 68:11 (R. V.) declares: "The Lord giveth the word; the women that publish the tidings are a great host." The "word" therefore, when women prophesy, comes out from God, and comes unto women. Expositors attempt to show that here the expression "the word of God," in Paul's language, refers to church customs. But such an expression has never been used in this sense. This is far-fetched. The expression "the word of God" and "the word of the Lord" have a definite and specific sense in the N. T., as referring either to the Gospel, or to prophetic utterances given from above. See Luke 3:1,2, "In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar the word of God came unto John the son of Zecharias in the wilderness.” Thus, Luke 5:1; John 10:35. Compare 1 Kings 12:22; 1 Chronicles 17:3; Jeremiah 2:1; Ezekiel 34:1; Jonah 1:1. See Paul's use of the expression, Romans 9:6; 1 Thessalonians 1:8, 2:13; 2 Corinthians 2:17, 4:2. Paul's contention is, that the spirit of prophecy, which is "the word of God," did not, as its very terms imply, come forth from anyone but God, to attempt to control prophecy by restrictions as to who may utter it, means a dictating to God as to what instruments He may employ. As a matter of fact, Scripture teaches us that “the word of God" has come to kings (1 Samuel 10:10), and also to women (Judges 4:6; 2 Kings 22:15-16; Luke 1:41-42, etc.).
207. On the day of Pentecost, the Spirit was poured out upon "all flesh," that is, not upon every human being, but as is precisely told us, upon old and young and upon male and female alike. And in these words, "What? Came the word of God out from you? Or came it unto you only? Paul seems specially to refer to that day of Pentecost, when about 120 persons, many of them women (Acts 1:14-15), were assembled, and the Holy Spirit, that is, the spirit of prophecy, came upon "each of them" (Acts 2:3), and they all "began to speak . . . as the Spirit gave them utterance;" and Peter said, "This is that which hath been spoken by the prophet Joel . . . your daughters shall prophesy . . . and upon my hand-maidens . . . will I pour out of my Spirit.” So that there is no possibility of denying that at the time of the inauguration of the present Gospel dispensation, the "word of God" "came out" from God, not from man, and it "came unto" women, and not unto men only. This is Paul's indignant protest against these Judaizers, who, by quoting the Oral Law of the Jews would silence women, and interfere with Divine order.
208. The Apostle then declares: "If any man think himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things that I write unto you are the commandment of the Lord." He here contrasts “the commandment of the Lord" with the “precepts of men," which the Oral law of the Jews taught. In other words, a true prophet, or a spiritual person, would perceive, Paul claims, that his ruling in this matter accorded with Scripture, while the ruling of the Jewish rabbis did not. What was Paul's ruling? It was given just before, in directions relating to veiling in worship, which clearly show that he permitted women both to preach and to pray in public. He gave the same permission in his universal rule but a moment before, at verse 31: "Ye ALL can prophesy . . . that ALL may learn, and ALL may be comforted.”
(To be continued.)
 Prof. Harnack declares that the expression in our passage [1Cor.14:36], "the word of God," means, "the new preaching which went forth from Jerusalem, and then from other places." See for example the use of this expression four times over in Acts 13: and "the word of the Lord" twice in the same chapter.Lesson 28 Home