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Read Introduction to 1 Corinthians


And if they want to learn something, let them ask their own husbands at home; for it is shameful for women to speak in church.  


And if they want to learn something,

The word “learn” corresponds to desire to learn mentioned in verse 31. The desire to question was what tempted women to speak, making an issue out of the desire for authority.

let them ask their own husbands at home;

A woman was not to challenge the content of a message publicly but to ask her husband about the issue when they got home.

for it is shameful for women to speak in church.

It is a disgrace for a woman to speak in a church service, for the right to question is the right of authority. Paul does not dodge the problem of women’s ministry in the church.

The “silence” in this verse is not absolute silence but a particular kind of silence, the silence where submission requires it. The Holy Spirit permits any speaking by women in public worship where there is no exercise of authority over men. Women can pray or prophesy because these are not authoritative activities.


In authority issues in the local church, women accept the divine order (roles) of creation.


The principle of women not speaking in church when authority is at issue is universal and applies to all churches of all time. A woman who usurps the role of her husband because he will take the lead compounds the problem. A church should not be like a mausoleum, but neither should it be like a bowling alley. Some churches are dead, and some are wild, but neither is God’s norm. Paul does not base his argument on culture, but on doctrine in 1 Timothy: (1) Adam was created before Eve, (2) Eve was deceived (1 Ti 2:13-14).

1 Ti 2:11-12, 11 Let a woman learn in silence with all submission. 12 And I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man, but to be in silence.

Evangelical feminists claim that Paul flatly contradicted himself (error in the Bible) by both asserting submission and oneness in Christ (Ga 3:28 – see Verse-by-Verse Commentary on this passage: They go to the extent of denying the inerrancy of Scripture. If so, why would they not also deny John 3:16? Rather than abandoning social distinctions between men and women, Paul argues in Galatians 3:28 that all men or women hold equal spiritual standing before God.