| The question often
comes up about whether or not women are authorized to speak in
Bible classes because of what the apostle Paul stated in 1 Corinthians
14:34-35, and a study of the context surrounding the verse will
show that it is perfectly acceptable for women to do so. The
issue is easily resolved when we understand what type of assembly
Paul was referring to in the verses. I know some women are concerned
about this topic, so let's take some time to study the verse
and its context.
Paul wrote, "Let your women keep silent in the churches, for they are not permitted to speak; but they are to be submissive, as the law also says. And if they want to learn something, let them ask their own husbands at home; for it is shameful for women to speak in church" (1 Cor. 14:34-35). Paul clearly states that women are to be silent, submissive, and not to speak in church. That is about as clear and straight forward as you can get. Women are strictly forbidden to do so, and there is no question about that. So, what is needed to resolve the issue is to discover and understand what exactly Paul was speaking of when he said "church" in this text.
Paul was speaking specifically of the worship assembly of the church when the Christians of a congregation come together to worship on the first day of the week. He was not referring to a Bible class setting where Christians are simply gathered for the purpose of studying the Bible together. If we show from the context that Paul was only referring to the actual worship assembly, then we will see that it is authorized for women to speak at other times such as Bible classes. The context shows that he was specifically speaking of the worship assembly. Paul was also teaching about spiritual gifts in this context, but that does not have any bearing on our topic now, and we all know that those gifts no longer exist today. So, what is necessary for a church gathering to be considered a worship assembly? The New Testament has given us a blue print, or pattern, to follow for our congregational worship service. We know that when we come together to worship on the first day of the week; we are to pray, sing, teach God's word, take up a collection, and partake of the Lord's Supper. When all five of those acts are done together, it constitutes the worship service. In the immediate context of 1st Corinthians 14 we see Paul speaking of three of those activities; praying, singing, and teaching. Now, when we consider the overall context of 1st Corinthians 11-16 we will see the other two acts of worship are spoken of as well. In 1st Corinthians 11, Paul speaks of taking the Lord's Supper. In 1st Corinthians 16:1-2 he wrote about taking up the collection on the first day of the week. So, we see that the overall context of 1st Corinthians 11-16 refers to Paul attempting to teach and correct those Christian brethren regarding their worship assemblies. Paul's statements regarding the silence of women in the church are found right in the middle of chapters 11-16 which are speaking of how to conduct decent and orderly worship services on the Lord's Day.
Now, we do not give a contribution or partake of the Lord's Supper at our Wednesday night Bible class because that would be unauthorized worship. It would not be on the first day of the week. When we have our Sunday morning Bible class, we may pray and study the Bible, but we do not sing, give the contribution, or partake of the Lord's Supper. If we did all those things during our Sunday morning Bible class, it would no longer be a Bible class, but would instead become a worship service where the women would thus have to remain silent. -ED