Can someone explain to me what this passage is saying?


Hello! I have a protestant friend who I was having a discussion about Catholicism with when we came to a particular bible passage that she mentioned. The verse is 1 Corinthians 14:26-40. She said that when she had attended mass before she had not seen any of the things which Peter had said should be there. I did not know how to respond as I was confused by the passage as I suspect she is as well. Can anyone help me understand what it’s saying?


What Paul is speaking about there is when an assembly is gathered and there is community prayer with the manifestation of the gifts of the Holy Spirit.

Your friend went to Mass, so obviously she was at the celebration of the Eucharist, the source and summit of our faith.

Today there are Catholic Charismatic prayer meetings where a group praises the Lord in song, in sharing scripture, and other charisms of the Holy Spirit.

It sounds like she was looking for the charisms of the Holy Spirit to take place at the Mass.

Many non-Catholic Christians are not aware that the celebration of the Eucharist is the most important for our sanctification.


Does your friend sing in church? Does she pray out loud?

In that passage, Paul (not Peter – this is Paul’s letter to the Corinthians) tells the Corinthians that women should be silent in church. If she does not keep silent, then she’s giving witness to the fact that she doesn’t interpret literally everything that Paul is saying there. :wink:


*1 Cor 14:26 What then, brethren? When you come together, each one has a hymn, a lesson, a revelation, a tongue, or an interpretation. Let all things be done for edification. 27 If any speak in a tongue, let there be only two or at most three, and each in turn; and let one interpret. 28 But if there is no one to interpret, let each of them keep silence in church and speak to himself and to God. 29 Let two or three prophets speak, and let the others weigh what is said. 30 If a revelation is made to another sitting by, let the first be silent. 31 For you can all prophesy one by one, so that all may learn and all be encouraged; 32 and the spirits of prophets are subject to prophets. 33 For God is not a God of confusion but of peace.

As in all the churches of the saints, 34 the women should keep silence in the churches. For they are not permitted to speak, but should be subordinate, as even the law says. 35 If there is anything they desire to know, let them ask their husbands at home. For it is shameful for a woman to speak in church. 36 What! Did the word of God originate with you, or are you the only ones it has reached?

37 If any one thinks that he is a prophet, or spiritual, he should acknowledge that what I am writing to you is a command of the Lord. 38 If any one does not recognize this, he is not recognized. 39 So, my brethren, earnestly desire to prophesy, and do not forbid speaking in tongues; 40 but all things should be done decently and in order.*

He’s talking about keeping orderly meetings and without chaos. We’re not to have people all speaking in tongues without someone to translate, and everyone doing it all at the same time. Prayer meetings are to be ordered.

As to the women keeping silence, notice here he says “in the churches”. He is talking about during the Mass. Apparently they were having women get up and give speeches like the homily during the Mass, and St .Paul is putting an end to that. Only the priest is to give the homily.

Do ask your friend if she keeps silent at all times in her church. I wonder if she realizes the implication of her interpretation.


It is hard for me, a non-scholar, to attribute those words to St. Paul, about women being silent in the assembly, for if you look a few chapters earlier in Corinthians, Paul is talking ABOUT women speaking in the assembly. This is a contradiction, if it is anything at all, in the first place.

When you read this verse about women not speaking in the assembly, just look carefully, and it does not seem to “fit” into the preceding and following discussion. It seems to be an insertion into Paul’s text.

So, somebody’s got to explain the contradiction first, before there is any attempt to interpret and apply those verses prohibiting women to speak in the assembly, as far as I’m concerned.

the first semester I spent in college, I took a philosophy course in logic. According to the rules of logic, ANYTHING follows from a contradiction, even a false statement.

example: It is raining. It is not raining. Therefore, the dish ran away with the spoon.
---- is a logically correct argument. Hope this clears up your question.


I think i would ask her to clarify what she “did not see” that she felt she should see??? And i ask what denomination of protestant she is because if she is talking about the speaking in tongues or keeping silent, the denomination will make a difference on her ideas.


I’m not %100 percent sure on the denomination but she was most concerned with the speaking in tounges and prophecy. She didn’t mention women not speaking actually.


Here is a good article about speaking in tongues. Some religions believe that if the Holy Spirit is upon anyone they will speak in tongues and some believe it must occur to “prove” the Holy Spirit is there…
IF the link doesnt work it is:


It is real big in Pentecostal and other charismatic organizations.


It sounds like she might be pentecostal. Perhaps Assrmblies of God?
Although I once attended an evangelical church and heard a couple of people speaking in tongues.

I agree with the poster who said you should ask her what she expected to witness.


You’re talking about 1 Cor 11, I’m guessing.

Let me ask you – since the context of 1 Cor 14 is “the assembly” (that is, in the church), is there anything that you see in 1 Cor 11 that suggests that Paul – in that context – is talking about actions in church? In other words, since you suggest that there is a contradiction in play, wouldn’t you say that you need to show that there needs to be the same context in order for there to be a contradiction?

When you read this verse about women not speaking in the assembly, just look carefully, and it does not seem to “fit” into the preceding and following discussion. It seems to be an insertion into Paul’s text.

If 1 Cor 11 was talking about behavior in church, I would agree with you – there would seem to be a contradiction. But, if there isn’t the notion of “in church” in 1 Cor 11, then there’s no contradiction (after all, one’s behavior in church isn’t necessarily the same as one’s behavior in the world, right?), and therefore, no reason to suggest that 1 Cor 14 is an insertion by a later redactor.

the first semester I spent in college, I took a philosophy course in logic. According to the rules of logic, ANYTHING follows from a contradiction, even a false statement.

example: It is raining. It is not raining. Therefore, the dish ran away with the spoon.

Hmm. I’m guessing that you’re just speaking loosely – otherwise, your understanding of logic from your course is a bit spotty.

After all, the issue would be a conditional: If A, then B.

An example of a conditional would be: If “it is raining”, then “the dish ran away with the spoon”.

For this statement – in its entirety – to be true, we have only the following conditions:

if “it is raining” is true, then “the dish ran away with the spoon” would have to be true for the statement to be true. If it’s raining, but the dish is just hanging out, then the statement is untrue.

If “it is raining” is false, then all bets are off. Whether or not “the dish ran away with the spoon”, the statement itself is true, regardless.

So, I think you’re trying to refer to the following truth table:

A   B   A->B
T   T   T
T   F   F
F   T   T
F   F   T

I think that’s what you’re trying to make an appeal to. That doesn’t help you here, though. There’s not a conditional in play here. The question of whether 1 Cor 11 is true doesn’t help you evaluate 1 Cor 14 – and therefore, on that basis, doesn’t help you toss it out.

Sorry – your conclusions look like a freshman “Logic 101” fail. :shrug:


Well, I didn’t look up the verse, I tagged off a previous post which discussed women not speaking in the assembly. Maybe I’m totally out of bounds, on that score.

regarding the logic: There is no conditional statement involved. The structure of the logic is: "1) statement A, 2) NOT statement A. /: (anything follows). The A,B truth table does not apply here. (it’s A, ~A, /: anything follows). The actual truth table shows why anything follow from a contradiction:

A | ~A | result
T | ~T | anything (you have to have studied logic or otherwise look)
~T | ~(~T) = T | (this up)

Ii Co 11:4 refers to a woman who prays or prophesies
14:26 (at least in the RSV-2CE) does not refer to gender “each one has a hymn, a lesson, a revelation, a tongue, or an interpretation.” (no gender specified)
14:34 says that women should not speak in the assemblies but, if anything, Paul immediately seems to refute that in 14:36 where it says "What! Did the word of God originate with you, or are you the only ones it has reached?"

Who is the “you” (14:36) that Paul is referring to, if not to just the men, who seem to be lulled into the convention “in all the churches”(14:33) that “the women should keep silent” (14:34).

Maybe this is not even the subject of this thread, but I’m even more convinced that Paul is being ironic, and is NOT prohibiting women from speaking in the assemblies.

In the NAB translation 14:36 is not as emphatic as stated above, but the NAB footnote notes the inconsistency of this chapter with Chap 11, where it is stated that women DO pray and prophesy in the assembly. They explain the contradiction on historical development.

But, I maintain Paul is emphatically ALLOWING women to pray and speak in the churches, contrary to the existing chauvanistic practice. Otherwise 1 Co 14:36 makes no sense.

Thank You, Holy Spirit. I’ve been over this several times in my life, and didn’t figure it out clearly until now.


I Tim 2:12 • But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to use authority over the man: but to be in silence.

It may be uncomfortable, but Paul actually meant what he said.


The Bible should always make us uncomfortable, but comforted.

Yes, in Corinthians Paul refers to women speaking (prayer, prophecy) in churches. In 1 Timothy 2:12 it is the reverse. The Ignatius Study Bible which others have quoted above does what is common in Jewish Bible commentaries, and that is harmonization.

Paul says they can speak and elsewhere says they can’t speak. How to harmonize this? The ISB comment is that the prohibition refers to women not being the central minister or homilist.

Obviously we’ve had dedicated consecrated women religious teaching at all levels of Catholic education of men and women.

Feminists have fought for removal of all gender exclusive language in Scripture, when it is warranted. Even the Church has budged on this. The epistle readings at Mass used to start off with the greeting and address “brethren” but now, officially or unofficially I know not which (I don’t have a lectionary), that has been revised to “brothers and sisters” or “sisters and brothers” – not to be confused as if these were addressing only women and men in religious congregations.


Charismatic gifts, such as the gift of tongues and the gift of prophecy, seem to have been very common in the first century, during the period of public revelation in Church history, which ended at the death of the last apostle. This is understandable since God probably had much to reveal to the Church during its formative years. In his letter, St Paul seems to be saying that the Christians at Corinth ought to make room in their assemblies so that, if present, two or three people with the charismatic gift of prophecy or the gift of tongues (provided there is also someone with the gift of interpretation of tongues) can make known God’s revelations to the community in an orderly manner. However, even then any supposed revelation from God needed to be tested to make sure it was indeed from God.

One might expect that when the Church became better established the need for such divine revelations would decrease and it seems that that was indeed what happened. Although such charismatic gifts didn’t disappear from the Church entirely after the close of the first century (as proved by the lives of many Catholic saints who had such gifts), they did eventually became so rare that they ceased being a regular part of Christian assemblies. That explains why today there is typically no provision in the Mass itself for those with such gifts to make known God’s revelation to the community directly. These days, such revelations are classified as “private” revelations. They are typically tested first by the local bishop before being published to the community.

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