This is a series about women in ministry. I have found that in most evangelical circles, women who are in ministry do not have the same opportunities as men. Why is this? It comes from a deep seeded belief that core leadership of a biblical church is found in men alone. Women are equal in worth to God, but are limited in their function within the body of Christ. Here is the kicker, I think that Scripture might tell a different story. This series will be and exploration on this important topic…
Central Question: Can women serve in any role within the church? If so, how does this compare to most modern evangelical churches? If not, what are the boundaries for women in ministry? How does the New Testament serve as a guide on this issue?
Today I want to explore this by looking at a key text that on the surface seems to exclude women from serving in leadership.
34 Women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the law says. 35 If they want to inquire about something, they should ask their own husbands at home; for it is disgraceful for a woman to speak in the church. 1 Corinthians 14.34-35
In this first Corinthian letter, Paul spent several chapters discussing orderly worship. In the flow of the letter, this text seems out of place and what some scholars refer to as an interpolation. It appears to be an appendix that was added by a second or third generation Pauline letter compiler. This means that it was not authentic to Paul, but was inserted by a scribe because of some pressing agenda that was facing a segment of the church. Both Richard B. Hays and Gordon Fee believe that this is indeed the case.  If interpolation is not viable and this is authentically Pauline, then there are several explanations; one of which seems to be plausible. Clearly, in 11.2-16, Paul has already stated that women may pray and prophesy in church as long as their head is covered in appropriate cultural dress. Therefore, it is proposed that in the ancient Middle East women and men would sit in separate parts of the gathering area. Most likely, worship gatherings in Corinth would have been taught in the popular language of the day: Greek. Unschooled women lacked education and were less likely to understand, as they were fluent in their own local ethnic dialects. They could have become bored or had questions that caused them to talk loud amongst themselves until the minister would have had to say: “Women, be quiet! Ask your husbands at home.” Paul may have written this to promote order in the Corinthian context so that worship would be orderly. In any case, it was not a prohibition on women in a general sense, but an occasional circumstance.
WHAT ARE YOUR PERSONAL BELIEFS ABOUT WOMEN IN MINISTRY AND ARE YOU OPEN TO CHANGING YOUR MIND IF THE EVIDENCE ALLOWS FOR SUCH?
WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON THIS PARTICULAR TEXT… AND DON’T WORRY, WE WILL GET TO OTHER RELEVANT ONES AS WELL 🙂
 Richard B. Hays, Interpretation: First Corinthians. (Louisville: John Knox Press, 1997), 245.
 N. T. Wright, Women’s Service in the Church: The Biblical Basis. Available Online: www.ntwrightpage.com, 7.