Women should keep silent??? 1Corinth14:34-35

OK - so I’m in a process of reading the scriptures, and this sticks out at me. This doesn’t fit well with my understanding of the Church or Christ. I don’t understand this verse at first glance.

32Indeed, the spirits of prophets are under the prophets’ control, 33 since he is not the God of disorder but of peace. As in all the churches of the holy ones, 34 **women should keep silent in the churches, for they are not allowed to speak, but should be subordinate, as even the law says. 35 But if they want to learn anything, they should ask their husbands at home. **For it is improper for a woman to speak in the church. 36 Did the word of God go forth from you? Or has it come to you alone?

Can someone point me to some good commentary on this?


Well, this is awkward. I spoke at my confirmation. I also sang hymm’s the last time I was at Mass. :blush:

I don’t have any links off hand but I remember being taught this was a condemnation due to a cultural problem.

From what I was told women were prone to speaking up during services to ask their husbands (who sat across the room) what the Rabbi meant. Since women were not allowed to sit with men and they were a rooms width apart the women had to shout to be heard. This was such a disruption that Paul had to admonish this behavior.

I’ve never heard it put like this before. Will have to look into it. I also realize that the Anglican church and Catholic church are miles apart on this subject.

I’m going to read this to my wife tonight.

I’ll report back tomorrow…

if I’m still alive!:thumbsup:


Bible Study ToolsOur LibraryCommentariesMatthew Henry Commentary on the Whole Bible (Complete)1 Corinthians1 Corinthians 14
1 Corinthians 14


Verses 34-35 Here the apostle, 1. Enjoins silence on their women in public assemblies, and to such a degree that they must not ask questions for their own information in the church, but ask their husbands at home. They are to learn in silence with all subjection; but, says the apostle, I suffer them not to teach, 1 Tim. 2:11, 1 Tim. 2:12 . There is indeed an intimation ch. 11:5 ) as if the women sometimes did pray and prophecy in their assemblies, which the apostle, in that passage, does not simply condemn, but the manner of performance, that is, praying or prophesying with the head uncovered, which, in that age and country, was throwing off the distinction of sexes, and setting themselves on a level with the men. But here he seems to forbid all public performances of theirs. They are not permitted to speak (v. 34) in the church, neither in praying nor prophesying. The connection seems plainly to include the latter, in the limited sense in which it is taken in this chapter, namely, for preaching, or interpreting scripture by inspiration. And, indeed, for a woman to prophesy in this sense were to teach, which does not so well befit her state of subjection. A teacher of others has in that respect a superiority over them, which is not allowed the woman over the man, nor must she therefore be allowed to teach in a congregation: I suffer them not to teach. But praying, and uttering hymns inspired, were not teaching. And seeing there were women who had spiritual gifts of this sort in that age of the church (see Acts. 22:9 ), and might be under this impulse in the assembly, must they altogether suppress it? Or why should they have this gift, if it must never be publicly exercised?

For these reasons, some think that these general prohibitions are only to be understood in common cases; but that upon extraordinary occasions, when women were under a divine afflatus, and known to be so, they might have liberty of speech. They were not ordinarily to teach, nor so much as to debate and ask questions in the church, but learn in silence there; and, if difficulties occurred, ask their own husbands at home. Note, As it is the woman’s duty to learn in subjection, it is the man’s duty to keep up his superiority, by being able to instruct her; if it be her duty to ask her husband at home, it is his concern and duty to endeavour at lest to be able to answer her enquiries; if it be a shame for her to speak in the church, where she should be silent, it is a shame for him to be silent when he should speak, and not be able to give an answer, when she asks him at home.

  1. We have here the reason of this injunction: It is God’s law and commandment that they should be under obedience (v. 34); they are placed in subordination to the man, and it is a shame for them to do any thing that looks like an affectation of changing ranks, which speaking in public seemed to imply, at least in that age, and among that people, as would public teaching much more: so that the apostle concludes it was a shame for women to speak in the church, in the assembly. Shame is the mind’s uneasy reflection on having done an indecent thing. And what more indecent than for a woman to quit her rank, renounce the subordination of her sex, or do what in common account had such aspect and appearance? Note, Our spirit and conduct should be suitable to our rank. The natural distinctions God has made, we should observe. Those he has placed in subjection to others should not set themselves on a level, nor affect or assume superiority. The woman was made subject to the man, and she should keep her station and be content with it. For this reason women must be silent in the churches, not set up for teachers; for this is setting up for superiority over the man.


My husband quotes this passage whenever he wants to jump on my last nerve. :slapfight:



Interesting! Thank you!

Note Acts 21:9

8 On the morrow we departed and came to Caesarea; and we entered the house of Philip the evangelist, who was one of the seven, and stayed with him. 9 And he had four unmarried daughters, who prophesied.

I read that too, they sat separately and sometimes the women would gossip also, and like you said would ask their husbands questions. That would be awful even nowdays in Church.:wink:

As others have stated, St Paul was discussing issues taking place at the Church in Corinth and those were his admonitions to the new Christians in Corinth on how to deal with those issues which they were encountering. You must keep in mind that St Paul was a man of his culture and time. Just as Blessed John Paul ll was of our time (particulary how he addressed women and their role in Mulieris Dignitatem):vatican.va/holy_father/john_paul_ii/apost_letters/documents/hf_jp-ii_apl_15081988_mulieris-dignitatem_en.html

St Paul has other advice for the women of Corinth, based on his observation of those women who were previously pagan and had adopted the pagan cultural trend of shaving their head and being bald. For those who had not grown their hair back after their conversion and for those who might be tempted to shave their head (because it was fashionable), he made admonitions of women covering their head so they would not be mistaken as those who were not Christian in Corinth!

So many problems occur when we take Bible verses and people out of their place and context in history…

:rotfl::rotfl::rotfl: LOOK OUT FOR THE CAST IRON FRYING PAN :stuck_out_tongue:


Another interpretation I have heard is that this is not a verse about women speaking in church but about what they were saying . I have heard this is a verse about “woman’s talk” which in those days meant gossip

I have nothing but my own reasoning for my opinion on this matter. Many husbands are not actively involved in their faith. In some cultures this is more common than in others. Those who aren’t actively involved may have faith that has stagnated at a very basic level. It might even have gone off on tangents that are completely opposed to Catholic teaching. If their wive remain faithful to the Church, is that wrong? They aren’t following their husband’s lead. How are they to receive answers if they are allowed to ask only their husbands to clear up questions and doubts?

I don’t see how that admonition can be valid today.

I read this to my wife,

and she kept silent

for quite a long time really :frowning:


:thumbsup::thumbsup::thumbsup:…Good…now I can read the verse to my wife too…since you survived the next day…

Perhaps she will read you a phrase in return? Although it is not Biblical.

“Hell hath no fury than a woman scorned.” :wink:

I cam across several related verses while I was skimming Proverbs this morning. My favorite is 11:22.

Like a golden ring in a swine’s snout
is a beautiful woman with a rebellious disposition.

Even today men should keep quiet too, unless saying prayers!! Not just women.:slight_smile:

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