I don't understand 1 Corinthians 14:34-35


1 Corinthians 14:34-35English Standard Version (ESV)

34 the women should keep silent in the churches. For they are not permitted to speak, but should be in submission, as the Law also says. 35 If there is anything they desire to learn, let them ask their husbands at home. For it is shameful for a woman to speak in church.

link: biblegateway.com/passage/?search=1%20Corinthians%2014:34-35&version=ESV

What does it mean that women should not speak in church? Nowadays, women attend mass, pray, sing, and read the readings before the gospel in church. Is that quote above just simply out of date?


pastoral custom


Jewish customs wouldn’t allow any other option, and Paul was after all, a Jew.

Some thoughts?



It appears that there were women in Corinth who were giving the homily during the Mass, and it was causing some problems. Paul lays down the law and says they may not preach during the Mass. It also appears from other verses that it was very chaotic, with many who claimed to be in the Spirit who were crying out in tongues and other things. St. Paul wa instituting some control and sanity back into the Mass for Corinth.


Can you tell me what were the problems of women giving homily in Mass?


The statement in 1 Co 14:34-35 is problematic, because a couple chapters earlier Paul was telling the Corinthians that women must have their heads covered when they prayed in the assembly or when they prophesied, i.e. explained the faith or gospel.

The later verse may have been added to the text by a later scribe because it clearly contradicts the earlier statement. I don’t have the Bible in front of me, but these verses seem out of place, not related to the nearby texts, last time I read them.


Because only the deacon, priest or bishop may do so. No one of the laity may give the homily. Reading between the lines, it’s clear that the laity were running the show in the parish, and St. Paul was putting a firm end to that and enacting order back into the parish.


Prophesy is not explaining the faith or gospel. It is conveying a message of God to the people. And even with prophesy, Paul laid out that there had to be order and not chaos during the liturgy. Prophets could not just blurt out in the middle of Mass.


Is that one of the reasons why we can’t have female priest?


I know that there supposed to be order, not chaotic in the church. But how women could cause chaotic? There are many great women politicians. And then Iranian politician Moradi denied seat on city council because she is too attractive :eek:


No, the other way around. Women cannot be priests, so that is why they cannot be the celebrant of the Mass or give the homily. The theology behind this is that the priest, when offering the Mass and performing other sacraments, is acting “in persona Christi”, or acting in the person of Christ. Christ is acting through the priest, so that when the priest elevates the consecrated Host during Mass, it is really Jesus Himself, offering up His Body and Blood as sacrifice to the Father.

Additionally, as the priest is acting in persona Christi, as the representation of Christ, his maleness is inherent, fundamental, and necessary. Christ is the Bridegroom, and the Church is the Bride. A woman attempting to act as a priest inverts this important theological point and warps the very idea of Christ being the Bridegroom.


Well anyone could cause chaos in the Church and in Mass. It isn’t limited to women. But in the example of Corinth, the problem seemed to be a bunch of chaos during the Mass, with the women of the parish causing great commotion. They may have been running roughshod over the priest, and it appears they were giving the homilies. So St. Paul laid out clearly that the laity were not in charge, and must be respectful and obedient to the priests there.

It also seems in his instructions that he was laying out that men and women should reflect their proper genders and not pretend to be the opposite. It may be that this was a problem in the city of Corinth, and may have been rampant among the pagans there. The Christians in Corinth may have begun to follow their lead and began acting like them. So St. Paul was also laying out clear lines that this was not acceptable behavior, and the men and women should dress as their gender and not as the opposite.

closed #13

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