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1 Corinthians 14:34-35 Silence in the Churches

To be extremely to the point, I believe the historical evidence of 1 Cor 14:34:35 shows it to be a gloss.
By that, I mean it was not in the original letter of Paul to the Corinthians, and years later someone added these verses into the text falsely. In short, God did not write 1 Cor 14:34-35 nor intend for these verses to be in the Bible, nor counted for establishment of doctrine.

For scholarly historical evidence of this fact, you can check out this page here:
https://www.linguistsoftware.com/payneessays.htm
This is research you probably have never heard of, because it is new, dated 95, 98, and as late as 2004. Change comes slow to the church.

“There is, however, substantial evidence for the existence of a text that omitted1 Cor 14.34–5. It has been widely argued on internal grounds and on transcriptional probability that 14.34–5 was not in the original text of 1Corinthians. In AD 546 or 547 Bishop Victor of Capua had the end of 1Corinthians 14 rewritten in the bottom margin of codex Fuldensis omitting vv.34–5. Clement of Alexandria († pre AD 215) cites 1 Cor 14.6, 9, 10, 11, 13, 20 yet calls both men and women without distinction to silence in church, indicating that 1 Cor 14.34–5 was not in his text of 1 Corinthians. Further evidence of a text of 1 Corinthians 14 without vv. 34–5 is that none of the Apostolic Fathers or the next generation of church fathers gives any indication of awareness of 1 Cor14.34–5. The most logical explanation of the features of ms. 88 is that it was copied from a Greek manuscript without 1 Cor 14.34–5. All of the other explanations require an implausible assumption such as inadvertent displacement, intentional displacement later reversed, or derivation from a Western manuscript. The one other possibility, derivation from a non-Western manuscript with vv. 34–5 after v.40, requires the existence of a reading which no known non-Western Greek manuscript through the twelfth century supports. The explanation that 88 was copied from a manuscript without vv. 34–5 does not depend on the scribe of 88 having access either to a Western manuscript or a non-Western manuscript with a reading totally out of keeping with its textual tradition. On this explanation, the source from which the scribe of ms. 88 copied vv. 34–5 presents no difficulty, since it could have come from any Greek text containing 1 Cor 14.34–5. The evidence that ms. 88 was copied from a text of 1 Corinthians 14 without vv. 34–5 provides additional external support for the thesis that vv. 34–5 were not in the original text of 1Corinthians 14.” -Philip B. Payne PhD, Ms. 88 as Evidence for a Text Without 1 Cor 14.34-5

For anyone who cannot believe that the Bible could contain an uninspired addition, please look at what Jesus said at the end of the Bible,

“For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and [from] the things which are written in this book.” Rev 22:18-19

Apparently Jesus acknowledged that words could be added or taken away; that such was possible. But at the same time, Jesus also said, “For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished.” Matt 5:18 and “the scripture cannot be broken” John 10:35.

Which is why I believe the original has been preserved, and can be known, though perhaps not at face value in any 1 perfect manuscript, but rather over the whole of all the manuscripts. And this includes the historical manuscripts analyzed above, which show that 1 Cor 14:34-35 was not in the original and earliest manuscripts.
And truly, in some modern translations passages are included which were not in the original, and there is evidence for this, like the passage of the adulterous woman in John 8. And some of the same evidence for it being a gloss overlaps with the evidence that 1 Cor 14:34-35 is a gloss. Often that passage in John 8 is italicized or bracketed off with a footnote, which says these verses are not found in the earliest manuscripts. At the very least, the evidence in the case of 1 Cor 14:34-35 is weighty enough to warrant the same measure in modern translations that John 8 receives, of being noted with italicization or bracketing that there is evidence that these verses were not in the earliest manuscripts. Although, there is more evidence besides the historical for why I think a note is warranted.
Besides this scholarly evidence, there is also the test of internal witness in the Bible, which shows that these verses contradict the rest of the Bible, which I will attempt to show below.

 

The Lack of Internal Biblical Consistency

Below I’ve included the verses surrounding 1 Cor 14:34-35 for context. This passage is talking about people speaking in tongues in church, and how it all must be done in an orderly manner. Earlier in this letter, 1 Cor teaches about praying and prophesying and other gifts of the spirit. No restriction is placed upon women using their spiritual gifts. In other places in the NT, women use their gifts, such as tongues during gatherings of believers, which was their church service. Yet here it is commanded that women be silent in church.

1 Cor 14:30-40 ”But if a revelation is made to another who is seated, the first one must keep silent. For you can all prophesy one by one, so that all may learn and all may be exhorted; and the spirits of prophets are subject to prophets; for God is not a God of confusion but of peace, as in all the churches of the saints. The women are to keep silent in the churches; for they are not permitted to speak, but are to submit themselves, just as the Law also says. 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. Was it from you that the word of God first went forth? Or has it come to you only? If anyone thinks he is a prophet or spiritual, let him recognize that the things which I write to you are the Lord’s commandment. But if anyone does not recognize this, he is not recognized. Therefore, my brethren, desire earnestly to prophesy, and do not forbid to speak in tongues. But all things must be done properly and in an orderly manner.”


Let’s take a closer look at verses 34 and 35. These verses make several assertions that need to be analyzed one by one.
1. Women are to be submissive to men, because no woman is to speak whether she is married or not.
2. Silence shows submission.
3. All women must learn from their husbands at home.
4. Therefore, All women must have husbands in order to learn.
5. “The Law” says that women are to subject themselves.

Let’s start with,

“The Law” says women must subject themselves

The Law refers to the first 5 books of Moses. The Law does not say that women are to subject themselves. Go ahead and read the Bible. It’s not there. The closest thing to this might be “he will rule over you” in Genesis 3:16, which does not mean “submit yourself to him”. Submission is not the same thing as domination. Gen 3:16 cannot apply as an example of “subject themselves just as the Law also says” because “he will rule over you” does not describe the woman “submitting herself” but rather domination by the husband.  God did not tell Eve she would subject herself, or that she even should subject herself, in Genesis, or to women in the Old Testament at all. It’s not there. So verse 35 says something that is a lie. The Law, the first 5 books of Moses, does not say anywhere that women are to submit themselves. This is a lie. And the Word of God does not contradict itself. In the Law, it also does not say that women have to submit to men, period, which also is implied here. More on that in a minute.

All women must learn from their husbands at home

This is directly contradicted by 1 Tim 2:11-12:
“Let a woman in quietness receive instruction with entire submissiveness. But I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man, but to be in quietness.”

The Greek here for “quietness” is “hesychia” which means to be quiet, but not silent. It also means to not meddle in the affairs of others, but to keep to ones own business, and this may be the actual usage of the word in these verses.

The word in Greek for “silence” is “sigao”. This is the word used in 1 Cor 14 (which also says “not permitted to speak” as an additional defining of silence as silence). We have 2 different words here, one saying women need to be quiet or not meddlesome, the other word saying they may not verbally speak at all. 1 Tim 2 contains Paul’s instructions to Timothy as a leader in the church in Ephesus, saying Timothy should let a woman learn. In context, this means a woman learning under the church, in the church.

Additionally, the particular word translated as “submissiveness” in 1 Tim 2 implies a classroom setting. The sense here is that the women may learn in church quietly and in an orderly manner, like a classroom. The word for submissiveness here in 1 Tim 2 is not hupotasso, as is the word for submit in marriage verses, but the word “hupotage” which is also translated as submit, but is a word more commonly used to describe being set in an organized fashion, and is more reflective of the kind of submission of a student in a classroom rather than the special submission between a husband and wife, or a king and his kingdom, which is in the special word case hupotasso in Greek.
In contrast, 1 Cor 14 says “if they desire to learn anything let them ask their own husbands at home”. So these are two very different verses, one claiming women may be taught in church in an implied classroom setting, the other claiming women must learn at home from their husbands. Thus 1 Cor 14 directly conflicts with 1 Tim 2. And the Word of God does not contradict itself. (*We will cover some of the verses on this page later in more detail as to other aspects*)

Also, the idea that women should only learn from their husbands is directly contradicted by the relationship that each believer has to the Holy Spirit, John 14:26 and 16:13

“But the Comforter, [which is] the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.” “But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come.”
and also speaking of the Holy Spirit,
“As for you, the anointing which you received from Him abides in you, and you have no need for anyone to teach you; but as His anointing teaches you about all things, and is true and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you abide in Him.” 1 John 2:27
Jesus said the Holy Spirit would teach all things to believers, in whom He indwells.
“For I know that this will turn out for my deliverance through your prayer and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ” Phil 1:19

The Holy Spirit is also called the “Spirit of Jesus”, so when the Holy Spirit teaches us, Jesus teaches us. This directly contradicts that women should only learn from their husbands at home, and shows that men and women with the indwelling Holy Spirit of Jesus are equally meant to be able to learn from Him directly. 1 Cor 14:34-35 completely seems to ignore and contradict this reality of the Holy Spirit guiding all believers into all truth directly, in the Spirit of Jesus’ personally teaching each Christian.

Another point to be made: Women seemed free to learn and talk while with Jesus, and I see no mention of our Lord ever putting these kinds of restrictions on women. In fact the Bible records that Jesus spoke to women, and taught women himself, both alone and in mixed groups, and generally encouraged their learning.

Luke 8:1-3 “And it came to pass afterward, that he went throughout every city and village, preaching and shewing the glad tidings of the kingdom of God: and the twelve [were] with him, And certain women, which had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities, Mary called Magdalene, out of whom went seven devils, And Joanna the wife of Chuza Herod’s steward, and Susanna, and many others, which ministered unto him of their substance.”

John 4:5-10, 22-27 “Then cometh he to a city of Samaria, which is called Sychar, near to the parcel of ground that Jacob gave to his son Joseph. Now Jacob’s well was there. Jesus therefore, being wearied with his journey, sat thus on the well: and it was about the sixth hour. There cometh a woman of Samaria to draw water: Jesus saith unto her, Give me to drink. (For his disciples were gone away unto the city to buy meat.) Then saith the woman of Samaria unto him, How is it that thou, being a Jew, askest drink of me, which am a woman of Samaria? for the Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans. Jesus answered and said unto her, If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water.“…“Ye worship ye know not what: we know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews. But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth. The woman saith unto him, I know that Messias cometh, which is called Christ: when he is come, he will tell us all things. Jesus saith unto her, I that speak unto thee am he. And upon this came his disciples, and marvelled that he talked with the woman: yet no man said, What seekest thou? or, Why talkest thou with her?”

Luke 10:38-42 “Now it came to pass, as they went, that he entered into a certain village: and a certain woman named Martha received him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, which also sat at Jesus’ feet, and heard his word. But Martha was cumbered about much serving, and came to him, and said, Lord, dost thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone? bid her therefore that she help me. And Jesus answered and said unto her, Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things: But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.”

Everywhere else in the New Testament it can easily be accepted that women were using their spiritual gifts right beside the men in their church setting. In Acts, many believers of both genders were in Jerusalem, on the day of Pentecost, when the believers spoke in tongues, including the women who had been followers of Jesus.

Acts 1:13-14, 2:1-4 “And when they were come in, they went up into an upper room, where abode both Peter, and James, and John, and Andrew, Philip, and Thomas, Bartholomew, and Matthew, James [the son] of Alphaeus, and Simon Zelotes, and Judas [the brother] of James. These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brethren.”…”And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.”

Lydia held church meetings, fellowship of believers, in her house, Acts 16:14-15, 40:
“And a certain woman named Lydia, a seller of purple, of the city of Thyatira, which worshipped God, heard [us]: whose heart the Lord opened, that she attended unto the things which were spoken of Paul. And when she was baptized, and her household, she besought [us], saying, If ye have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come into my house, and abide [there]. And she prevailed upon us.”… “After Paul and Silas came out of the prison, they went to Lydia’s house, where they met with the brothers and encouraged them. Then they left.”

It seems unlikely that we are to assume so very much that Paul made her keep silence in her own house. The whole idea is very wrong.
Lydia is not the only instance of church being held in a woman’s house,
Col 4:15 “Greet the brethren who are in Laodicea and also Nympha and the church that is in her house.”
Acts 12:12 “And when he had considered the thing, he came to the house of Mary the mother of John, whose surname was Mark; where many were gathered together praying.

Do you think that John Mark told his mother Mary to keep silence during a gathering of believers in her own house? Let me put it this way: Do you think your mother would feel like you are honoring her (as per the 10 Commandments) if you told her she needed to not speak during a church service she was holding in her own house, on account of her being a woman?

I would think not.

therefore, all women must have husbands in order to learn

On to the next point, how ridiculous it is to suppose that all women must marry! This directly contradicts Paul’s advice in 1 Cor 7:8, 25-40. This is the same letter! It makes no sense whatsoever that Paul would directly contradict himself in the same letter, nor that God would contradict Himself in the same letter.

“But I say to the unmarried and to widows that it is good for them if they remain even as I. Now concerning virgins I have no command of the Lord, but I give an opinion as one who by the mercy of the Lord is trustworthy. I think then that this is good in view of the present distress, that it is good for a man to remain as he is. Are you bound to a wife? Do not seek to be released. Are you released from a wife? Do not seek a wife. But if you marry, you have not sinned; and if a virgin marries, she has not sinned. Yet such will have trouble in this life, and I am trying to spare you. But this I say, brethren, the time has been shortened, so that from now on those who have wives should be as though they had none; and those who weep, as though they did not weep; and those who rejoice, as though they did not rejoice; and those who buy, as though they did not possess; and those who use the world, as though they did not make full use of it; for the form of this world is passing away. But I want you to be free from concern. One who is unmarried is concerned about the things of the Lord, how he may please the Lord; but one who is married is concerned about the things of the world, how he may please his wife, and his interests are divided. The woman who is unmarried, and the virgin, is concerned about the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in body and spirit; but one who is married is concerned about the things of the world, how she may please her husband. This I say for your own benefit; not to put a restraint upon you, but to promote what is appropriate and to secure undistracted devotion to the Lord. But if any man thinks that he is acting unbecomingly toward his virgin daughter, if she is past her youth, and if it must be so, let him do what he wishes, he does not sin; let her marry. But he who stands firm in his heart, being under no constraint, but has authority over his own will, and has decided this in his own heart, to keep his own virgin daughter, he will do well. So then both he who gives his own virgin daughter in marriage does well, and he who does not give her in marriage will do better. A wife is bound as long as her husband lives; but if her husband is dead, she is free to be married to whom she wishes, only in the Lord. But in my opinion she is happier if she remains as she is; and I think that I also have the Spirit of God.”

So it is clear that God does not teach that all women need to have husbands. So if 1 Cor 14:34-35 was true, then how would any unmarried women or widows learn? If they have to ask their husbands at home to learn anything, and they have no husbands, then they cannot learn. Why would Paul advise older widows to stay unmarried in 1 Cor 7, and say she can better focus on pleasing God if she is single, and then say that if women want to learn in the Christian faith that they should be silent in church and ask their own husbands at home? Again, there is a direct contradiction, and it is found in the very same letter from Paul of 1 Cor. He makes clear that there are differences between single and married women in 1 Cor 7, but completely ignores the existence and situation of single women, especially widows, in 1 Cor 14. There is no getting around this complete contradiction and inconsistency in Paul’s letter.

Silence shows submission

In what is one of the most submissive scenes of a woman in the Bible, we see Mary, visited by the angel Gabriel, told that though a virgin betrothed, that she will bear a son, conceived by the Holy Spirit. In this scene of total submission to God’s will, what does Mary do? She speaks.

“And in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth, To a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary. And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women. And when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and cast in her mind what manner of salutation this should be. And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God. And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end. Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man? And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God. And, behold, thy cousin Elisabeth, she hath also conceived a son in her old age: and this is the sixth month with her, who was called barren. For with God nothing shall be impossible.
And Mary said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word. And the angel departed from her.”

Among all women to bear His son, God chose Mary, a woman who when showing her submission, is not silent, but instead she speaks. In this, I believe God shows us that a woman’s submission is not defined by silence.

 

women are to be submissive to men

The women are to keep silent in the churches; for they are not permitted to speak, but are to subject themselves, just as the Law also says. 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 implication here is that, while not all women have husbands (widows for instance) that nevertheless all women must be silent and cannot speak.
The Bible only ever states that a woman should submit herself to her own husband. Every time it is mentioned it is only to her own husband. Even if was true that submission was defined by silence, who would the widows be being submissive to, in keeping silent in the churches? A widow could not be showing submission to her dead husband, because in the same letter of 1 Cor 7:39 the Bible says a widow is not bound, but free: “A wife is bound as long as her husband lives; but if her husband is dead, she is free to be married to whom she wishes, only in the Lord.” If silence shows submission, and ALL women have to be silent in church, whether they are married or single, then this contradicts itself and has no internal logic.

This describes women being silent in submission to all men, even though they don’t have a husband. But nowhere in the Bible does it say anywhere that all women are to submit to all men, let alone by showing silence. Nowhere does it say women need to be silent in church, except for here. In several blatant ways, these verses contradict the rest of the Bible. As shown above, neither Paul nor Jesus Himself required women to be silent in their presence, when learning, nor during church service, and both taught women who were not their wives! The statement “it is improper for women to speak in church” could not be based on showing submission to church elders. Especially as Jesus is the head and husband of the entire church!

As such, the most logical conclusion is that the widows would be showing submission to the men in general, on the basis purely of them being women, and not because of “wives submit yourselves to your own husbands” or even any misconstruing of the many places where the Bible says that wives should submit to their own husbands. This concept of women in general submitting to men in general does not originate elsewhere in the Bible, and any notion of this belief as some may teach it,  I would argue originates right here in these exact verses of 1 Cor 14:34-35. Elsewhere in many places wives are told to submit to their own husbands, but women in general are not ever told to submit to men in general. Nor in the Bible anywhere is a wife told to submit to men in general. There is no second witness to this idea that women are to submit to men in general.

I would think such an important concept as women submitting to men in general should be covered in other places in the Bible if it was genuine, but the rules here of what is expected of women and men in this way are left vague and not covered anywhere else in the Bible, very unlike the submission between wives and husbands, which is covered in great detail in Eph 5, and in lesser detail in other parts of the New Testament. Why the silence elsewhere about women in general submitting to men in general? It is arguable that a woman cannot be submissive to both her own husband and to all men in general in this vague undefined way because the two would conflict. I think that is a reasonable argument.

As much as no man can serve 2 masters (Matt 6:24), no woman can submit to 2 heads of an equal sort. A woman cannot submit herself both to her husband, and to every other man who comes along. Such would lead to terrible confusion!

And the verse prior, 1 Cor 14:33 states,
“For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints.”

In and of itself, how could such a true statement, that God is the author of peace and not confusion, in truth be immediately followed by 2 verses of such confusion, contradicting the rest of the Bible, and the rest of this book of 1 Cor, and thus even this chapter of 1 Cor 14 itself? Nowhere in the Law does it say that a wife or woman is to be submissive. The rest of the New Testament contradicts this teaching that women are to be silent and not speak in church. A woman who held church in her house surely spoke in her own house. Many women learned from Jesus, who never had a wife. The logic that women must all learn from their husbands is ridiculous as many women don’t even have husbands. The lack of internal consistency with the rest of the Bible is the best proof to my mind that these verses are a gloss, besides the historical evidence I mentioned first. But the greatest proof to my heart that these verses are a gloss, is the truth I feel and peace I feel from the Holy Spirit in my heart, when I say what I know is true: that 1 Cor 14:34-35 is a gloss.

 

how should it truly read?

“But if a revelation is made to another who is seated, the first one must keep silent. For you can all prophesy one by one, so that all may learn and all may be exhorted; and the spirits of prophets are subject to prophets; for God is not a God of confusion but of peace, as in all the churches of the saints. Was it from you that the word of God first went forth? Or has it come to you only? If anyone thinks he is a prophet or spiritual, let him recognize that the things which I write to you are the Lord’s commandment. But if anyone does not recognize this, he is not recognized. Therefore, my brethren, desire earnestly to prophesy, and do not forbid to speak in tongues. But all things must be done properly and in an orderly manner.”