Below is a snippet of my new blog post on my new Women in Ministry blog address. For direct access to the new blog site and the entire article, go to http://www.mmoutreach.org/wim/2016/09/17/context-is-key/ Make sure that you subscribe to the new blog address to receive any new posts.
CONTEXT is Key
Recently, I listened to a pastor describe the context of 1 Corinthians 14:34-35. I was very interested to hear what he had to say since I had never heard anyone explain the context of 1 Corinthians to show how there is support for the silencing of women. I was quite surprised when he claimed the context of 1 Corinthians 14:34-35 was 1 Timothy 2. I had heard him emphasize the importance of context, context, context many times. However, his explanation of what qualifies as context was always the same as mine. The context of a disputed verse are the verses and chapters that surround it. It is never a passage in another book. While another passage in another book can be related, it isn’t the context. So I asked him again. Could he please give the direct context from the book of 1 Corinthians that supports the silencing of women. I have not yet heard back from him, but I thought it would be a good idea to go back through the entire book of 1 Corinthians to gather all of the evidence that Paul documents for why the two verses of 1 Cor. 14:34-35 were added to his letter. I found so much more than I expected from looking at a wider context! There is way more material than I could put into one article, so I am going to try to distil the evidence into categories and then I will give a conclusion of Paul’s reasoning. I will challenge anyone who thinks I have not considered the entire context. I welcome you to bring me correction and show me the supporting context from the book of First Corinthians that defines and upholds the silencing of women in the church.
CONTEXT: The Corinthian’s Letter to Paul – Questions and Claims
- 1 Cor. 1:11 Paul reveals there are quarrels among the Corinthians – information passed on to him from Cloe’s people. The key purpose of the book is to deal with these conflicts and quarrels. Watch carefully throughout the book of 1 Corinthians how Paul ties in his correction with the source of the conflicts.
- 1 Cor. 7:1 Paul mentions a letter that the Corinthians had written to Paul. The letter from the Corinthians to Paul plus the report from Cloe’s people bring to Paul information about the quarrels.
- 1 Cor. 7:25 Paul moves on to another area of concern; “Now concerning” virgins.
- 1 Cor. 8:1 “Now concerning” things sacrificed to idols.
- 1 Cor 16:1 “Now concerning” the collection for the saints. All of the “now concerning” references are Paul answering what had been sent to him in writing.
Other comments that Paul makes do not directly reference the letter from the Corinthians, but they appear to answer challenges, claims or arguments. For example, 1 Cor. 6:12 says:
1 Corinthians 6:12 (NASB) All things are lawful for me, but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be mastered by anything.
Are “all things” lawful for Paul? The negation that follows appears to be Paul’s answer to the writer of the letter who claims not to be under any law. “All things are lawful for me,” the letter says, but Paul answers “BUT NOT all things are profitable.” Again, “All things are lawful for me,” the writer concludes, but Paul answers, “BUT I will NOT be mastered by anything.” Paul’s testimony in all the churches is that we are under the “law of Christ.” We can fulfill the duty to Christ through love and service to our brother (Gal. 6:2.) Anytime a statement is made in 1 Corinthians that appears contradictory to Paul’s known position we can suspect that Paul is dealing with issues that were presented to him, for Paul does not contradict himself. The fact that Paul consistently speaks about setting aside what is good for oneself and aiming for what is helpful for others as the “common good” should tip us off that the arrogant claim that “all things are lawful” is part of the quarrel among the Corinthians.
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In my last post I presented one of the best sermons that I have ever heard on Ephesians 5, regarding the evidence of Spirit-filled lives for both men and women. This post is on the opposite of the Spirit-filled life which is an influx of worldly infection through male-centered pride. The outgrowth of this infection is the teaching that encourages men to focus their efforts on taking the “lead” over women, putting them under their authority and control. They are taught that women were made to be led and when men don’t take leadership over women’s lives, women will not be able to fulfill their “role” in Christ. Recently I heard a teaching where young Christian men were rebuked for taking the authority over their girlfriend’s by deciding for them what university courses they would register for. The speaker chastised the young men and told them that they were “not yet” responsible for making their girlfriend’s decisions. They needed to wait until they actually became their husbands and then they had this authority. It is no wonder that many women are surprised with an entirely different man on their wedding day than who they thought they were marrying. The teaching that men are responsible for the entire home including their wife and her spirituality has caused many young men to subjugate their women in order to fulfill their calling and for the wife’s “own good”. The spiritual harm that has resulted from the teaching that the man has the mandate to rule his wife for God, has caused untold pain and suffering and a stifling of the woman’s ability to seek after God for her own life. She is no longer in control of the exercise of her own gifts and calling – he is. …
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Phil Johnson over at Pyromaniacshas struck up some heat on a post that he titles “The First Blast of the Trumpet Against the Monstrous Regiment of the Discernment Divas”. In this post and in his subsequent comments he makes his position plain that women are not allowed to publicly point out error of a “duly ordained pastor”. Phil classifies many “housewives and homeschool moms” as bad discerners who are discernment divas. These “divas” believe that God has called them into a ministry of discernment but their abilities are not in rational understanding of doctrinal truth but an ability “to use a really sharp tongue” which Phil says is counter productive and embarrassing. Phil doesn’t seem to mind that this may offend a lot of women as he tells Friel that he is a descendent of the John Knox clan. It was John Knox who offended more than a few when he wrote the book The First Blast of the Trumpet Against the Monstrous Regiment of Women in 1558. In this book, Knox wrote that women compared to men were blind, weak, sick, impotent, mad, frenetic and their counsel is foolish. …
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The body of Christ is a body ministry where each of us are needed and each gift that God has distributed among us is needed. So why is it that many men say that they do not need for a woman teacher when this personal rejection of their own need is contradicted by 1 Corinthians 12:21?
1 Corinthians 12:21 (NASB95)
21And the eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you”; or again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.”
Why does the Bible say that the eye cannot say to the hand that others may need you, but I have no need of you? In other words, why is it that some say what the Bible says they cannot say? …
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While God is Sovereign, some men believe that they can set a limit on God’s gifts. In the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood’s doctrinal stand, they believe that God is allowed to distribute gifts to men and women alike with the gifts listed in 1 Cor. 12:4-26 but that He does not gift women with the gifts mentioned in Ephesians 4:11 or 1 Peter 4:10, 11 for those gifts are for men alone. Randy Stinson and Christopher Cowan writing an article for the Journal for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood a work of CBMW write that: …
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Another common objection to women in ministry is the claim that when women speak and lead publicly it dishonors men.
The Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood (CBMW) speaks of this as dishonoring the “calling” of men:
We would say that the teaching inappropriate for a woman is the teaching of men in settings or ways that dishonor the calling of men to bear the primary responsibility for teaching and leadership. This primary responsibility is to be carried by the pastors or elders. Therefore we think it is God’s will that only men bear the responsibility for this office. (pg 64 online version)
One thing that we can notice from the quote above is that CBMW says “we think it is God’s will…”. The fact that they don’t know for sure is telling. …
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One of the first objections to women in ministry is the fact that Jesus chose only males as his twelve apostles. If Jesus only chose men for this special “class” of people who were to be His witnesses of the resurrection, then didn’t Jesus show by this act that He does not allow women to minister in the church as men alone are to have a special position of authority?
I would like to suggest that Jesus deliberately chose men as part of the group of 12 who were to be witnesses to the resurrection since these men were to be witnesses to the world while Jesus assigned women to be the first witnesses to the church. …
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