Paul’s first Letter to the Corinthians has been so misunderstood that many of our sisters have been places in bondage over our failure to rightly divide the Word. While the introduction to the 1st Corinthians is mostly about Paul and his ministry, we miss the change of tone from chapter 7 to 14. Through those verse, Paul is responding to the things that the Church had wrote to him concerning ministry in their church: 1 Corinthians 7:1a “Now concerning the things whereof ye wrote unto me:..”
This begins a series of Paul quoting pieces of the Corinthians’ letter to himself, and following are his thoughts and responses to those things they had expressed in their letters. The theme continues throughout the chapters as he continues to use the phrase, “Now concerning…,” in relation to various topics. He is addressing their questions and concerns. This is not a one sided commentary, but rather a dialogue going on between the Corinthian church and the Apostle.
All throughout Chapters 11 and thru 14, Paul is establishing that there is no difference between male or female in appointment, receiving gifts, callings or office, rather we are all one In Christ (Galatians 3:28).
Now we land at verse 14:34-35 where Paul quotes what the Corinthians church wrote to him about: 1 Corinthians 14:34 Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience, as also saith the law. And if they will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak in the church.
Paul then offers his immediate judgement to this supposed prophetic word from the Corinthian church in verse 36, “What?!” A better translation into English would be, “Are you CRAZY?!” Then Paul goes on in the rest of that verse to explain that that word is not from God at all.
Paul had just finished in 1 Corinthians 11:1-16 saying that women were allowed to teach in the church as long as they had their heads covered. And as he rightly points out, God is not an author of confusion (1 Corinthians 14:33). These two words cannot both be from God, and condemns the notion of women not being able to speak in church as folly.
Paul’s final nail in the coffin on the subject of women not being allowed to minister in church is his use of the word “Brethren” in verse 39, which does not mean male only, but rather used to describe any that is born of women, both male and female. Hallelujah!
Praise God for the liberty and freedom we have in Christ, for all those who believe, both men and women in ministry! Amen.
Jonathan Welton teaching on the Liberty of Women in Ministry.