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

Bruce Woodford bwood4d at
Fri May 14 04:37:52 EDT 2004

Hi Glenn,

I'm copying your last post and responding within it:

You wrote:"Dear Bruce, I'm finally able to respond (very briefly and 
hurriedly) to your response from awhile back, and here is where I find your 
theory on this passage to be troublesome. The picture you paint is a most 
implausible one--that the word of God gives such detailed commandments for, 
as you say, "whole church in a city" gatherings ONLY--while totally ignoring 
order and the specifics of the regular meetings of the churches (?!)."

Dear brother, you are right that I Cor 14 gives very specific and detailed 
regulations of whole church gatherings in cities, but you are wrong to say 
that I claim that scripture"totally ignores order and specifics of the 
regular meetings of churches"!!   The assembling together of new covenant 
believers was NOT a scheduled, weekly, Sunday meeting, in a religious 
building, but rather the way in which believers related to, ministered to, 
exhorted, edified, loved one another on  DAILY BASIS, WHENEVER, AND WHERE 
EVER THEY ENCOUNTERED ONE ANOTHER!  Therefore, all the commands of the Lord 
Jesus which He commanded His disciples and which they were to teach other 
disciples to observe are the specifics that are to regulate the 
RELATIONSHIPS of God's people!   There are about 50 commands of the Lord 
Jesus, recorded in the Gospels, which formed the core curriculum of things 
which they were to teach other disciples. About half of those commands deal 
with relationships with God, the other half have to do with relationships 
with other people, but all of them have to do with regulating relationships! 
  Therefore ALL OF THE COMMANDS OF LORD form the curriculum for new covenant 
believers today.  The commands of I Cor 14 are part of that curriculum, but 
their immediate context (the epistle as a whole, as well as 14:23) clearly 
determine that they do NOT regulate believers bahaviour at all times but 
rather in a specific context,  the whole church of God at Corinth come 
together into one place, or the whole church at Jerusalem or Ephesus, or 
Toronto or Boston come together into one place.

You asked me:"[Do you conclude that the commands of I Cor. 11:17-34 are only 
for city-wide gatherings also?] "

Excellent question! But it is answered clearly in the passage to which you 

When Paul is writing 11:17-34, who is he addressing?  The sanctified ones, 
the saints at Corinth.

Then, when he writes verse 20, he is saying, "When ye (Corinthian saints) 
come together into one place, THIS NOT TO EAT THE LORD'S SUPPER."

This is one fact that I have been seeking to emphasize repeatedly in these 
discussions, i.e. that eating the Lord's supper has no place in a whole 
church gathering!  Such is to be done in house church gatherings!

This is exactly what 11:22 teaches! "What? Have ye not houses to eat and to 
drink in? or despise ye the church of God, and shame them that have not? 
What shall I say unto you? Shall I praise you in this? I praise you not."    
There is not a whole church gathering on record in scripture in which saints 
broke bread together!  All, such events took place in the normal dwelling 
places of the saints!

The Corinthian saints had taken a whole church gathering in one place ( an 
event in which everything that was done was intended by God to edify all) 
and turned it into a drunken feast in which NOBODY was edified!!!    Thus 
Paul instructs them that there are two distinct kinds of gatherings in which 
they are to be involved:
(1)When ye come together into one place this is not to eat the Lord's 
supper. (v.20)
(2)When ye come together to eat, tarry one for another.  (v.33)

You wrote:"You apparently theorize that "all churches of the saints" in v. 
33 has in view TWO different types of assemblies (both city-wide, and 
regular house meetings), but that "silent in the churches"--in the very next 
verse, no less--refers only specifically to corporate gatherings of the 
*city-wide* variety. [Again, I am amazed. :-)] What is your scriptural basis 
for concluding that our Lord's commands of I Cor. 14:26-40, which undeniably 
apply to "the churches" (vv. 34-35), somehow are not to given by our Lord to 
apply to "ALL the churches of the saints" (and in an epistle full of the 
establishment of various universal assembly practices: 7:17; 11:16, 14:36, 
etc.)? I would further submit to you that the theme of a supposed city-wide 
gathering, upon which your entire theory is founded, is utterly absent from 
the context of I Corinthians, and that the "whole church" phrase of I Cor. 
14:23 refers to all persons of the church versus a subset of the whole."

Dear brother, for clarity, let me answer the previous paragraph in reverse:
Contrary to what you have expressed above, the theme of the city wide church 
is the theme of the epistle as I Cor.1:2 makes very clear!  The "church of 
God at Corinth" is clearly defined as "them that are sanctified in Christ 
Jesus, called saints".   As far as men were concerned that church had 
already been split by at least 4 different denominations (1:10-13) but as 
far as God was concerned, He had one church at Corinth and every saint in 
the city was included in His church!

So my question to you would be, when it is the city wide church that is 
addressed at the opening of the epistle, how do you get "house church 
gatherings" out of I Cor 14 without any indication that the author, Paul, 
has changed the subject???   In I Cor11:17-34, there is a very clear 
distinction in the author's own words between his original intention (to 
address issues relative to the whole church at Corinth) and his instructions 
that the Lord's supper is NOT TO BE EATEN in such a gathering but rather in 

If your thought that the expression, "whole church" refers "to all persons 
of the church versus a subset of the whole"  I agree totally!   Since the 
church which he addressed was "them (at Corinth) that are sanctified in 
Christ Jesus, called saints", the expression "whole church come together 
PLACE!  IT IS NOT A SUBSET OF THE WHOLE, (i..e one small house church 

I have already twice explained  in the last few days why I do not believe 
that the expression "all the churches of the saints" applies to verses 23-40 
but only to verse 33 of I Cor 14. Please refer to those previous posts and 
respond to what I wrote rather than repeatedly asking but not acknowledging 
the answer already given.

Finally Glenn, if one's teaching on church practice is truly scriptural, one 
will be able to demonstrate that practice in the gatherings of new covenant 
believers recorded in scripture. I have listed numerous house church 
gatherings in which saints broke bread, women participated vocally, where 
tongues speaking was NOT regulated as in I Cor 14, where one at a time 
speaking so all could be edified was NOT required etc. I have also listed a 
number of whole church gatherings recorded in scripture in which there was 
no breaking of bread and no vocal participation of sisters.  I'd hoped that 
such scriptural examples would demonstrate the consistency of this view with 
all that scripture has to say relative to church gatherings. But so far, you 
have failed to do at least two things:
(1) You have not even commented on the historical, scriptural examples I 
have cited.
(2) You have not yet cited ANY examples of house church gatherings in 
scripture which functioned according to I Cor. 14 regulations!   I really 
wonder, if your position is truly scriptural, why you would avoid giving 
such scriptural evidence.

Does not this speak louder than any of your objections, which you have put 
forward, to the city wide whole church gatherings ?

I have been wrong many times and am willing to be shown wrong on this 
subject as well, but let it be proven by teachings of scripture and 
scriptural examples of godly church practice.

I will welcome your scriptural reproofs, but so far see no scriptural reason 
to believe that I Cor 14:23-40 has anything at all to do with house church 

Your brother in Christ,

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