“And it shall come to pass afterward,
that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh;
your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
your old men shall dream dreams,
and your young men shall see visions.
Even on the male and female servants
in those days I will pour out my Spirit.”
I was on Twitter last night and I saw that a man had written a blog post titled, “Did Paul Tell Women to ‘Shut Up’ in Church?” My husband and I were in our vehicle driving someplace, so I asked if he would be interested in me reading it aloud, and he said, “Yes,” so I read aloud the entire article (1).
I can’t say that I agree with the author, Damon Gray, in entirety, so I am not pushing his article here. But, I believe he made some valid points, and it got me thinking again about this subject. Then, this morning, my passage of Scripture was in Joel 2, so I knew the Lord was directing me to write on this subject of the silencing of women in the church.
The Day of Pentecost
Jesus had died on the cross, had risen from the dead, had ascended to the Father in heaven, and now he had sent his promised Holy Spirit to indwell and to empower his followers, both men and women. When the men and women were filled with the Holy Spirit, on the Day of Pentecost, they began to speak in other known languages as the Spirit gave them utterance.
A multitude gathered, and they were bewildered by what they were hearing, because each one was hearing them speak in his own language. Some of them wanted to know what this meant, while others mocked Christ’s followers, saying that they were drunk with wine. But Peter said they were not drunk, but that what they were seeing take place was what Joel had prophesied (see Joel 2:28-29; Acts 2:1-21).
So, what Peter was saying is that, on the Day of Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit filled Jesus’ followers, both men and women, both men and women prophesied, not in the sense of future telling, but in the sense of speaking the words of the Lord to the people so that about three thousand people were saved that day. And, they prophesied in mixed company of both men and women.
So, if it was the Lord’s design and will for him to pour out his Spirit on both men and women and that they would both prophesy, in mixed company, then why all of a sudden would the Lord put the smack down on women prophesying, telling them that they had to “shut up,” basically?
“I Have no Need of You!”
So, when the leaders of the church put the smack down on women and they tell them they must keep their mouths shut, aren’t they, indeed, telling the women they have no need of them? And, didn’t Paul say in 1 Corinthians 12 that we are not to say that to another member of the body of Christ?
So, what is the purpose of spiritual gifts, and who determines who gets which gifts? “To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.” So, who is the “common”? It is for the whole church. And, it is the Holy Spirit who decides who gets which gifts, and obviously it was intended that both men and women should prophesy.
Also, the passage in 1 Corinthians 12 continues by telling us that we are all one body. We are not to be divided male and female. God’s Spirit is poured out on us equally. And, it is God who arranges the members in the body, each one of them, as he chooses, not as we choose.
When Each Part is Working Properly
It is the responsibility of the pastors and elders within the local congregations of believers in Jesus to equip ALL the saints for the work of the ministry, for the building up of the body of Christ, until we ALL attain unity of the faith, and until we ALL reach maturity in Christ, so that we do not remain spiritual infants who may easily be swayed by various teachings of men in their deceitful scheming.
So, this means that we ALL are to minister to the body of Christ toward the goal of maturity in Christ so that we are not swayed by various teachings of men in their deceitful scheming. So, we ALL are to speak the truth in love to one another, that we may all grow up (reach maturity) in every way into Christ, who is our head. And, this is the clincher here:
“From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplies, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, makes increase of the body to the edifying of itself in love.” (Eph 4:16)
Do you see what this is saying here? We are ALL necessary to the proper working of the whole body of Christ. We each have a part which we supply to the whole body. We are all necessary to the building up of the body of Christ to maturity in Christ and to seeing that we are not led astray by various winds of doctrine of people in their deceitful scheming.
The Silencing of Women
“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.” 1 Co 14:34-35 KJV
When we want to understand the meaning of a Scripture, first we look at the context, and we also compare Scripture with Scripture. So, we are going to follow the same rule here.
In 1 Corinthians 12, there is no prohibition against women regarding gifts and ministries within the church, neither is there in Ephesians 4, nor in Acts 2 nor in Joel 2.
The main prohibition against women in ministry within the church that I see throughout the New Testament is that women are not to be in authority over men nor are they to teach them in a way in which they are in authority over them, as though they can exercise church discipline over them. I agree!
So, what’s the deal here with the silencing of women in the churches? Let’s look at the context, which is about order within the gatherings of the church. The main subject being discussed in 1 Corinthians 14 is speaking in tongues versus prophesying. And, I want us to look at the subject of prophesying.
We are encouraged here (all of us) to desire spiritual gifts, especially that we would prophesy, which isn’t just future telling, but which is sharing the word of God in a way that is practical and applicable to our individual lives, to the church, and to the world we live in today.
So, what is the purpose of prophecy? The one who prophesies speaks to people for their upbuilding and encouragement and consolation. The one who prophesies builds up the church. The one who prophesies is greater than the one who speaks in tongues, unless someone interprets, so that the church may be built up. Prophecy is a sign not for unbelievers but for believers. Let all things be done for building up. (See: 1 Co 14)
So, the purpose of prophecy is the same purpose as is mentioned in Ephesians 4, which is for the church to be built up in the faith to maturity in Christ. So, then, how can a woman use her gift of prophecy for the building up of the body of Christ if she has to remain silent in the gatherings of the body of Christ?
Again, let’s look at the context of 1 Corinthians 14. It is talking about order. And, it says that God is not a God of confusion, but of peace, and that is why we were given all these instructions on how the gift of tongues was supposed to work, and how the gift of prophecy was to work, too.
Thus, it says that they are to let two or three prophets speak, and they were to let the others weigh what was said. So, if one is talking, and a revelation is made to another, the first was to be silent (same as with the women), for they were to prophesy one by one. Again, this is about order, and it is about dispelling the confusion that was taking place.
Okay, now pay attention to the wording in verses 34-35. The women were not permitted to speak. Why? They were to be in submission. So, this would imply that their speaking (talking, chattering) was out from underneath submission to authority, i.e. that they were disrupting the order of the meetings by their talking.
Then, it says that if they are wanting to learn something, they are to ask their husbands at home. Now, this was not suggesting that they couldn’t learn anything in the gatherings of the meetings, but it is suggesting that they were asking questions, and talking out of turn, and so they were being instructed to not disrupt the gatherings with their questions but to ask their husbands when they got home. This makes sense.
For, the chapter ends with these words: “But all things should be done decently and in order.”
And, that is the object of these instructions. It is not to put the smack down on women and telling them that they are not allowed to speak at all in the gatherings of the church, for if they have the gift of prophecy, it is for the church as a whole, and it is for the building up of the body of Christ as a whole. And, we are not to tell a part of the body, “I have no need of you.”
So, if the church is gathering together, and the body is working as it ought, where each part has something to share with the other parts, and permission is given to a part to speak, whether male or female, then the gathering is orderly, and the part (male or female) is in submission to those over him or her.
And, the daughters of God are, thus, allowed to prophesy as God designed for them to do, so all is well, and the congregation is being encouraged and built up to maturity in Christ and to unity in the faith.
God is With Us
An Original Work / June 11, 2019
Based off Psalm 46
God’s our refuge. He is our strength,
A present help to us when in pain.
Therefore, we will not be afraid,
Although the earth beneath us gives way.
Though the mountains be moved to the sea,
Roaring waters abound so free,
And the mountains now tremble so,
We will not fear, God is near, we know.
God is with us and He makes glad
The hearts of all who to Christ have fled.
Christ is in us, so we’ll not fall
When on our Savior our hearts do call.
God will help us, as mornings arise,
To be faithful to His design.
Nations raging, and tempers flare.
Our God is with us. We know He cares.
Come and see the works of the Lord.
He’s armed for battle with His great sword.
He’s the Word, and He is the Life.
He gives us strength in all of our strife.
Be still and know that He is our God.
He’s exalted where’er He trods.
The Lord Almighty, with us still;
The God of Jacob, our citadel.
*This is not an endorsement of this author or his article: For reference purposes only.