House Church Talk - Re: hc, women JL et.al
bwood4d at hotmail.com
Sat May 8 06:13:39 EDT 2004
I appreciated your post and your perspective on the issue of the silence of
women in a I Cor.14 meeting. I'm glad you are open to be persuaded to the
view I've presented but I understand you have an objection. So let me try
to answer that objection and make a few other comments.
You wrote:"There was only one church in Corinth. There were likely many
gatherings, but they comprise one church. (I think you and I would see this
the same way.) The same could be said of the church in Colosse, Ephesus,
Rome, and any other city where the church had been planted. Yet Paul also
referred to "the church that is in ____ house" on several occasions (Rom.
16:5; 1 Cor. 16:19; Col. 4:15; Phile. 1:2). Arguably in this sense there
were multiple churches in a city. Certainly, though, in the case of Corinth,
He told the brothers there (1 Cor. 14:34) to "Let your women keep silent in
the CHURCHES" (ekklesiais is plural here). It seems to me he must be
referring here to the multiple house churches that comprise the one church
in the city of Corinth. How would you see this?
Actually, brother, there were THREE KINDS OF CHURCHES at Corinth!
(1) The saints at Corinth were all members in the church which is his
(Christ's) body. Eph.1:22,23 and Col.1:24. (There is just one such church
in the universe so this is the largest kind of church.)
(2) All the saints at Corinth comprised the church of God in that city. I
Cor.1:2 (There was just one such church in the city of Corinth, and only
one such church in any other city where there are believers so this is the
largest kind of church which can meet together in any community. There is
only one church of God in any city, but plural churches of God in larger
territories such as Judea I Thess. 2:14)
(3) There were, no doubt, a number and possibly many churches in houses in
that city. (This kind of church is the smallest of the three, but is not
the kind of church which is generally in view in Paul's first epistle to the
We should note that the church which is Christ's body will only be gathered
together as the Lord Jesus is returning to the earth and we are caught up to
meet Him in the air when He is revealed from heaven with His mighty angels
in flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God and that obey not
the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. (II Thess.1 and 2 esp. 2:1)
We should also note that, while whole church gatherings of the church of God
in particular cities were common events in the first century, most of us
have never experienced such a gathering in our own communities!
Denominationalism and sectarianism are the chief opponents which stand in
the way of such gatherings in our day and one reason why it is evident that
neither are of God..
But what many believers fail to realize is that whenever 2or 3 or 20 or 30
believers are together in one of their homes and are relating one to another
as believers obedient to their Lord, they are a functioning house church!
Now, regarding Paul's statement in 14:34, you wrote:"It seems to me he must
be referring here to the multiple house churches that comprise the one
church in the city of Corinth. How would you see this?"
This is an excellent question and I believe scripture has the answer to it.
In I Cor.1:2 Paul DID address the church of God at Corinth (singular). But
he did not address them exclusively. He also addressed the churches at
Jerusalem, Ephesus, Colosse, Thessalonica etc as well as the churches today
at New York, London, Tokyo, Toronto, as well as at Podunk Junction, Parson's
Pond etc. He wrote "to the church of God at Corinth...with ALL THAT IN EVERY
PLACE call upon the name iof Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours."
(Thus he was addressing a plurality of churches of God and it is to brethren
in these churches to which the instruction of 14:34 is addressed.)
Now, a house church IS mentioned in I Cor.16:19, and the church which is
Christ's body is mentioned in I Cor.3:16 as the temple of God and in
12:12-28 as the body. However, in I Cor.14 it is NOT a house church or a
gathering in a believer's home which is in view, nor is it the gathering of
the church which is Christ's Body! It is the gathering of the kind of
churches to which Paul addressed his epistle. It is the coming together of
the whole church in the city of Corinth (and gatherings of the whole church
in every other place) which is spoken of in 14:23.
Are not these very principles (of I Cor.14) seen in operation in actual
recorded whole church gatherings of Acts 6 and 15?
Are not very different principles (one anothering of interactive exhorting
and provoking to love and good works, female participation in speaking in
tongues, prophecying, teaching, expounding etc in the presence of male
believers) seen in operation in many other actual recorded gatherings of
saints in homes?
Brother Jonathan, does this seem to you to be an answer which is honest,
consistent with the near context of the first Corinthian epistle and with
all of the rest of scripture?
I also appreciate your desire to be consistent, honest, and obedient to what
you currently understand from scripture on this particular subject. But I
must be honest with you that the view and practice which you have kindly
described for us in your post seems to be one which introduces a principle
that, as far as I can tell, seems to be foreign to scripture.
Your understanding of "church" or "in church" as in 14:33,34 and 35 does not
seem to be a kind of "church" which is delineated in scripture! 14:23 does
NOT say, "If you come to a time in your house church gathering when everyone
intuitively knows it is time for only one person to speak at a time..."!!
If that really was the case, the instructions of verses 27,30 and 31 would
It would also mean that in whole, city wide, church gatherings, all of the
regulations of 14:23-40 could be violated until "everyone intuitively knew
that it was time for one person to speak at a time"!!!
It seems to me that your view presents no scriptural basis by which any or
all believers may know by an objective standard when they may speak or when
they must be silent. But if one understands that one-at-a-time speaking for
the edification of all is one hallmark of an entire whole city-wide church
gathering, I Cor.14 provides an objective standard to regulate behaviour and
participation in such a gathering.
I think the subjective nature of your perspective (i.e. the basis for
knowing when the "one-at-a-time portion of the meeting" has started or
stopped) was amply illustrated by your wife's and daughter's felt need to
seek confirmation from you regarding their participation. It did NOT seem to
be "intuitively known" by them. Furthermore, they felt compelled to ask you
a question DURING the meeting! If it really was a I Cor 14 meeting, they
would be required to be silent and to ask you (NOT during the meeting, or
after a certain segment of the meeting, not even in the same place,but) AT
How would you respond to one who objects to your view as being entirely
subjective, not illustrated by actual examples in scripture, nor even stated
in words of scripture?
You also asked a number of other excellent questions which I will answer
from my understanding of scripture:
Q. "So when are the sisters to be silent?"
A. When the whole church in a city is gathered together, as in Acts 2:46a;
6:1-7 and 15.
Q."When we gather together there is lots of interaction. Initially saints
are greeting one another. Can the sisters speak then?"
A.Neither the interaction of saints together nor sisters speaking are ever
limitted or prohibitted in house church gatherings. Rather, "one anothering"
(exhorting and provoking unto love and good works) is commanded!
(Heb.10:24,25) Such could not be part of a I Cor.14 meeting!
Q.We have a love feast together, and there are lots of conversations taking
place concurrently. Can the sisters speak during the meal?
A. Eating of meals, conversations, and sisters speaking are all very right
and proper in house church gatherings (Acts 1 and 2, 12,18 etc) but none are
appropriate during whole church gatherings. Everything that is spoken in
such gatherings must edify ALL, and sisters are to be silent and not to
speak. (I Cor.14)
Q. "As our time together progresses, there are many points at which we all
lift our voices together in song or in prayer. Can the sisters join their
voices to the brothers at those points? "
A.There is no scripture that would teach otherwise in house church
gatherings, in fact all of these activities are recorded in house church
gatherings in scripture.(Acts 1:14; 4:24; Ephesians 5:19; Col.3:16)
However, just as congregational praying, congregational tongues speaking,
congregational prophesying are not to be part of whole church gatherings,
neither is there any provision for congegational singing in such gatherings.
Singing is speaking (LALEO) Eph.5:19. All speaking (LALEO) in a I
Cor.14 meeting, whether it is a doctrine, a tongue, an interpretation, a
revelation or a psalm, is to be one at a time. (I Cor.14:26-31)
So, brother Jonathan, can you see that the perspective which I've been
attempting to present is actually consistent with scripture and that such
questions may be answered in a scriptural manner? Does this help to
understand this perspective better, or do other objections present
themselves to your mind which seem to indicate that what I'm suggesting is
actually contrary to scripture?
I look forward to hearing from you again and trust our discussions may be
for mutual profit, clearer understanding of the Word of God and a desire and
purpose of heart to be obedient to what the Holy Spirit would reveal to us
from His Word.
The "willingness principle" of John 7:17 and Mark 11:27-33 is a real test
for all of our hearts! i.e. IF I found out that that the position which I
presently hold was actually wrong, AM I WILLING to acknowledge that, change
my practice and teaching to exemplify and explain to others how I was wrong
and what I understand now is actually the truth of scripture??
This is a test that I continually seek to apply to whatever I believe and
teach to others. IF I am NOT willing to change when I find that I have been
wrong (I have discovered I was wrong many many times in the past, and so
will most likely make many more such discoveries!), I cannot expect the Lord
to teach me anything more!
Your brother in Christ,
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