Do you have any writings that tackles 1 Timothy 2:11-15 and 1 Cor. 14:34-35 which talks about women being silent in the church? What does the apostle Paul mean in these verses? Do they mean that women are not allowed to speak in the church?
I know a minister here in the Philippines that do not allow women to even speak in their church and are also encouraging other minister to do the same. I am a woman and I want to do all righteousness in the church but I feel that this interpretation is not right. I want to understand what the apostle Paul really meant when he wrote these. I have read the Q&A in your website and they are enlightening to me. I hope you can also share your thoughts on this.
Praised God that the Q&A in this website has helped you! And yes, I don’t have any writings about this. But thank you to your question, perhaps this is the right time to tackle this subject.
1 Timothy 2:11-15 “Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection. But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence. For Adam was first formed, then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression. Notwithstanding she shall be saved in childbearing, if they continue in faith and charity and holiness with sobriety.
1 Cor. 14:34-35 “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.”
Indeed, there are churches today that have misinterpreted these verses big time. For them, women are not allowed to testify, sing a song offering, speak in tongues, prophesy or praised the Lord in the church. Some have even gone to the extreme and prohibited women to say “hello” to other believers once they are in the church. Literally, women are not allowed to open their mouths while in the church building! I hope you don’t belong in these kinds of churches.
As I said, this is the result of misinterpreting the above verses. But if you will just try to look at these verses in the original Greek text, you will see that the word that was used for “silence” in 1 Tim. 2:11 and 12 is “hēsuchia.” This is the same Greek word used for the word “peaceable” in verse 2 of the same chapter:
1 Tim. 2:2 “For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty.”
So the word “hēsuchia” does not mean complete silence, or without speaking anything and just closing your mouth all the time while in church. “That we may lead a quiet and peaceable life” does not mean that you must not speak anything while living your Christian life. That’s far from what Paul wanted to say. It means “to live in peace or be peaceful.” And this is true because if you will look at the word “hēsuchia” in Strong’s concordance it means “peaceful, rest, tranquil, quiet, silent life.”
You can also read the word hēsuchia in 2 Thes. 3:12 where it was translated us “quietness”:
“Now them that are such we command and exhort by our Lord Jesus Christ, that with quietness (hēsuchia) they work, and eat their own bread.”
Now, does this mean that while they are at work, believers should also never open their mouths? You see? It pays to know the original Greek word. What the apostle Paul is telling us here in 2 Thes. 3:12 is that, while working, we must not create a big ruckus about it. We must work peacefully and privately as much as possible.
Going back to 2 Tim 2:11, what the apostle Paul is trying to tell us here is to “Let the women learn in a peaceful way with all subjection.” Women should learn not by creating ruckus in the church but by keeping herself peaceful or in the spirit of quietness while learning.
So applying this meaning in 2 Tim. 2:11-12, it will look like this:
“Let the woman learn in a peaceful way with all subjection. But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be peaceful.”
This is the same also with 1 Cor. 14:34-35. The phrase “keep silence” in verse 34 came from the Greek word “sigaō” which is the same word use in verse 30 of the same chapter for the phrase “hold his peace.” So “keep silence” and “hold his peace” are one and the same, that is, sigaō. What the apostle Paul is trying to tell us is this:
“Let your women hold their peace 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.”
If any woman wanted to learn or clarify anything, she must not create a scene in the church but to hold her peace.
Again, 1 Timothy 2:11-15 and 1 Cor. 14:34-35 does not mean that women are not allowed to open their mouth while in the church building. It means that they have to be peaceful especially in learning. In fact, Paul encourages them to learn: “Let the woman learn…”
Another important reason why the words “hēsuchia” and “sigaō” does not mean that women are prohibited to speak while in the church is because Paul are actually encouraging both men and women to speak and contribute something for the edification of the Church:
1 Cor 14:26 “What then shall we say, brothers and sisters? When you come together, each of you has a hymn, or a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue or an interpretation. Everything must be done so that the church may be built up.”
In fact, in 1 Cor. 11:5, Paul is encouraging the women to exercise their spiritual gifts including praying and prophesying while in the church. So Paul will be contradicting himself if he is not allowing women to speak in the church.
To conclude, as advised by Apostle Paul, anyone is encourage to contribute to build up the church. If you have something to contribute that you think can edify the church, then contribute! If you have a testimony, a song offering, a word of instruction or a revelation, then tell it to the church! Offer them to the Lord! The same with the gifts. If you have a gift of speaking in tongues or an interpretation or a prophesy, tell it to the Church!