Ask at Home

The Apostle Paul closes chapter 14 of his first epistle to the Corinthians by telling any one who thought of himself as a prophet or spiritual, that he ought to “recognise the things that I write to you, that it is [the] Lord’s commandment” (v37). Not merely Paul’s commandment mark, but the Lord’s. Yet even if we confine ourselves to what is set out in that chapter, how little His commandment—for it is but one, meaning all that was taught stands or falls together—has been heeded!

   Some of the reasoning used to undermine Paul’s ministry has a superficial plausibility about it. Take verse 34 for example: “Let [your] women be silent in the assemblies, for it is not permitted to them to speak; but to be in subjection, as the law also says”. It is said that this verse is limited in its scope, being applicable only when the saints “come together in assembly” (1 Cor. 11: 18, my emphasis). Thus in certain other meetings of the saints, such as Bible readings, it is claimed that this verse no longer applies since the saints are not exactly assembled there in their ‘assembly character’. Now to some reading this, the distinction being made may be a fine one, but it is on such a hairbreadth of difference that an argument is built for sisters asking questions in some of the public meetings of the saints.

   However, the deduction used is based on an unwarranted assumption! There is a supposition, implicit in the reasoning, that NT Christians had meetings that were not of ‘assembly character’. Where is the evidence for this? There is none. Where is there an example of a gathering of saints in the NT to which 1 Cor. 14: 34 conceivably does not apply? Again, there is none. Is it not perverse therefore, to set up meetings today to which this verse supposedly does not apply? It applied in every single NT meeting that we know of—why then, should it not apply in all our meetings today?

   The inference of verse 35 is that the place of learning for women (in the sense of oral enquiry) is the home: “But if they wish to learn anything, let them ask their own husbands at home; for it is a shame for a woman to speak in assembly”. If there existed meetings to which the previous verse did not apply, would not the apostle have mentioned them and said that the women could also ask questions in that context? The silence of Scripture is deafening!