House Church Talk - A vision of women and silence in the church

jesusislord343 at jesusislord343 at
Wed May 12 23:58:23 EDT 2004

On Wed, 12 May 2004 15:07:05 -0700 "Sean Kelly" <seank at>
> Please forgive me if this was already covered. I think I read all the 
> related threads but I'm not sure and I still have these questions. 
> So I'd like to throw them out here and see if someone can help me 
> understand and put them together.
> As I stated previously, I understand Jesus to say in Mat thew 18 that 
> were two or three are gathered we have a church. Titus 2:3-5 and 1 
> Timothy 2:12 create a tension that encourages older women to 
> instruct younger women in matters of the home (for lack of a better 
> description), clearly this must involve speaking. The instruction in 
> 1 Corinthians 14:34-35 seems to plainly mean that women are not to 
> speak. I don't think this can be limited to whole church gatherings 
> as the preceding verse points out that these instructions are for 
> all the churches of the saints.

Dear Sean,
I found your post to raise many excellent questions.  First of all, the
way I Tim. 2:12 and Tit. 2:3-5 are harmonized is to observe that I
Timothy 2 explicitly identifies itself as an "" context (see
3:14-15), precisely as I Cor. 14:26-40 also does.  By contrast, Titus 2
does not give such indication of being "in church."  It undoubtedly has
in view not corporate assembling but rather day-to-day continual domestic
training *in the home*--under the supervision of the "older women" in the
local body.

> So when two or three Christian women come together over coffee at 
> Starbucks, what do they do? If that is no a church meeting then what 
> makes it different? 

Yet we know that two or three Christian women may not necessarily
constitute "the whole church" coming together, in the sense spoken of in
I Cor. 14:23.  As the NT indicates throughout, two or more Christians
merely being in close physical proximity to one another hardly
constitutes an assembly time being undertaken by them, in the sense
spoken of in I Cor. 5:4: "when you are gathered in the name of our Lord
Jesus the power of our Lord Jesus Christ."

> Could two single missionary women in Africa not meet without finding a
man to do the speaking?  
> This isn't a snide question, I'm just having trouble making all the 
> plain readings fit together. Honestly, my wife would prefer not 
> having the pressure to contribute beyond materially to our weekly 
> gatherings. However she has expressed confusion at how her silent 
> presence could edify and build up the body. Silence is silence, so 
> if scripture really says that, should the singing be all male?

Consider that among the gifts of the "brothers" in I Cor. 14:26 is a
"psalm."  All "one by one" (v. 31) "each in turn" (v. 27) addressing of
the congregation is to be by the men, including singing.

To answer your previous question, purposed silence (and particularly as
part of the feminine submission in view here) can indeed be edifying to
the assembly, as is seen in the two prior parallel passages to the
sisters' silence (vv. 28 and 30). 

> Especially since Colossians 3:16 would imply that one of the primary 
> purposes of singing in the meeting is to teach one another.

This is an excellent observation.  Consider then this point in light of I
Tim. 2:12's command for women not to *teach* (the same word in Gk.) or to
have a "man's (male's) authority."

> So putting this all together, my vision would be that the decision 
> making part of the meeting should be distinguished from the rest. 
> This is drawing on the roots of the word ekklesia and stating that 
> women should be silent in that process as we see in Acts 15:6-23 but 
> that for the rest of the gathering they are encouraged to 
> participate as parts of the body, praying and prophesying...

Notice that it is "the men" (males) who are to pray (I Tim. 2:8); that
is, leading in the corporate prayers (see Acts 2:42).  Also note that
prophesying is a form of *teaching* also (I Cor. 14:19, 31), and in view
in the restriction of I Tim. 2:11-12.  I would ask you: How may a woman
be a quiet position of *learning in silence* (v. 11) while also being
zealous to prophesy (I Cor. 14:1) at every turn (v. 30)?

> ...instructing the younger women as mentioned above but leaving the 
> teaching of doctrine and exercising of church authority to the men.

Again, the confusion arises only when Titus 2 is forced into a corporate
assembly context.

> I'm curious how others who take the plain reading of 1 Corinthians 
> 14:34-35 might see this walked out? Please let me know.
> Go Carefully,
> SeanK
> Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, 
> making the most of your time, because the days are evil. - Ephesians 
> 5:15-16


May our Lord Jesus Christ richly bless you and your family.

Grace in Christ,
Glenn S.

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