Women’s Role in the Church
by Thomas Blasi
OT Judges 4:4 And Deborah, a woman inspired, wife of Lapidoth, she is judging Israel at that time.
2 Kings 22:14 (YLT) And Hilkiah the (high) priest goeth, (for King Josiah), unto Huldah the prophetess, wife of Shallum, and she is dwelling in Jerusalem in the second, and they speak unto her.
Thomas notes: (second = wall or mishnah district) on behalf of King Josiah who had discovered the Book of the Law and because of the Book of the Law was repenting and was requesting Jehovah’s guidance through Huldah.
Deborah and Huldah attended Hebrew training in Torah as young teen women. This was required for males but not required and however not denied upon request for females. However, this training brought them into their calling without which they could not perform their duties as prophets and judges.
NT First Corinthians 14–Women’s role in the church
If we could see Paul’s original handwriting when he wrote his letters, we would be struck by the fact that there was no punctuation. Punctuation had not yet been invented, so at times we are left with uncertainty as to how to interpret his writings.
Such is the case in 1 Corinthians 14:34, 35, which, if written today, would have been set apart in quotation marks, for Paul here was quoting directly from Chloe’s letter (1 Corinthians 1:11; 5:1; 7:1).
In other words, these verses are not to be taken as Paul’s instruction to the church, but as a teaching that someone else was setting forth.
Paul’s comment (objection and correction) then comes forth in verses 36-38.
So the apostle quotes from the letter in 1 Corinthians 14:34, 35, reading,
34 Let the women keep silent in the churches; for they are not permitted to speak, but let them subject themselves, just as the Law also says. 35 And if they desire to learn anything, let them ask their own husbands at home; for it is improper for a woman to speak in church.
The source of this teaching was no doubt part of the “Cephas” faction in the church, which tended toward bringing Jewish protocol into the church. For this reason, the quotation claims support from the law. However, there is no statement in the law about women keeping silent in an assembly.
Certainly, women were excluded from ministry as an Aaronic priest, but women such as Deborah was both a prophet and a judge in Israel (Judges 4:4). At the time, these were the highest offices in the land, the first being a spiritual office and the second political and judicial. She functioned in the Melchizedek Order, as did Moses and David.
Hence, in appealing to the law, the man was actually appealing to the traditions of men that had been formed over the years (Talmud). In other words, it was Jewish law, traditions, not God’s law.
As we might expect, given Paul’s aversion to many Jewish traditions and Old Covenant practices, the apostle immediately throws up his hands and loudly objects to this statement saying, WHAT??? 1 Corinthians 14:36 KJV says, 36 What? Came the word of God out from you [men]? Or came it unto you [men] only?
Unfortunately, the NASB leaves out “What?” It reads, 36 Was it from you [men only] that the word of God first went forth? Or has it come to you [men] only?
But Paul uses the Greek disjunctive, formed by the Greek letter eta. It can be translated as “or,” which indicates an alternative view, for the purpose of comparison or distinction. Paul uses the eta twice in the above verse, each time to begin a sentence where he was giving his alternate view. The KJV is more emphatic in its translation of this tiny word. The word eta is used elsewhere in Paul’s letter at the start of two verses.
1 Corinthians 6:16 KJV reads, 16 What? Know ye not that he which is joined to a harlot is one body? For two, saith he, shall be one flesh.
Again, in 1 Corinthians 6:19 KJV we read, 19 What? Know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost, which is in you, which you have of God, and ye are not your own?
In each case, Paul was objecting to some wrong practice or ignorant mindset. Paul was setting forth an alternative view. So also was he doing in 1 Corinthians 14:36 after quoting an incorrect view that someone was teaching in the church which in this case was the Cephas faction.
The obvious answer to verses 34 and 35 is NO. The word of God has gone forth from women as well as men. Secondly, the word of God has come (been given) to women as well as to men throughout Scripture. Therefore, when the church assembles to share the manna which each has received during the previous week, women are just as likely to have an important word or prophecy as any of the men. Should they be silenced? Should the church be deprived of their manna?
I discovered another correlating support for this misinformed mindset about women roles.
David’s very specific temple plans that were given to him by Our Father, used by Solomon, included the Outer Court, the Inner Court and the Temple itself consisting of the Holy Place and Holy of Holies.
Herod’s Temple was not built according to David’s plans, so therefore was not sanctioned by Our Father. Herod changed several construction parameters and also added the restricted Court of Women and Court of Gentiles. Much teaching about women roles has utilized the layout of the Herod Temple as a procedural example of who belongs where. I believe it is historically unfortunate that Herod’s character traits have been left out of this topic. But, then again, isn’t it this type of contrived history that our adversary interjects to cause division?