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In 1st Corinthians 14:34-35 (NASB), Paul says:

34The women are to keep silent in the churches; for they are not permitted to speak, but are to subject themselves, just as the Law also says. 35If they desire to learn anything, let them ask their own husbands at home; for it is improper for a woman to speak in church.

Historically, what do we know about the format of early church services, and what does "speaking in church" signify? What was Paul's intent in conveying this command?

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    This seems to be more theological than hermeneutical or exegetical. Commented Oct 5, 2011 at 23:32
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    @LanceRoberts: It could definitely be approached from a theological perspective. Here though, I'm interested in the proper exegesis of the passage (considering its historical context) and the corresponding application.
    – anon
    Commented Oct 5, 2011 at 23:53
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    @LanceRoberts, try to understand that the historical-grammatical method is a rather popular one, and certainly valid at least in terms of the scope of this site. This question is simply employing that method on these verses.
    – Ray
    Commented Oct 6, 2011 at 2:32
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    @LanceRoberts: I do see your point. I reworded the last sentence to be about author's intent instead of church application.
    – anon
    Commented Oct 6, 2011 at 5:14
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    @jrdioko - A.) This question seems to tackle two different issues, broadly - B.) Are you asking for exegetical analysis - or historical references regarding Church services? C.) While I think the first topic is being tackled here - the historical aspect is not; D.) Would you consider rewording the question, and adding a second question to focus on the historical aspects? E.) If you would like to tackle the historical portion - citations from Jewish, Greek, and early Church culture could be provided - to show how they understood it at the time. Commented Aug 16, 2016 at 9:51

9 Answers 9

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@Richard offered a decent but limited exegetical understanding of the text (he emphasized the definition of the verb but not the grammar behind it), albeit with a strong complementarian doctrinal bias. @Soldernal offered a good contextual study of the text, and made it clear that Paul permits women to speak elsewhere which is helpful to this discussion because Paul must be read in harmony within the context of his entire letter to the Corinthians. I have a few notes on various aspects of this text. I will begin with the second half of v. 33 since this is part of the same sentence in v. 34 (verse numbers and chapter divisions as we have them today weren't added to the text until the mid-16th century, so they should not be considered logical breaks in the text when interpreting the text):

Exegetical Notes:

  • v. 33b. Paul's use of the phrase ὡς ἐν πάσαις ταῖς ἐκκλησίαις τῶν ἁγίων ("as in all the worshiping assemblies [churches] of the saints") makes it clear that the worshiping assembly at Corinth is not being singled out for this teaching; it is the practice of all assemblies at this time. We should not strictly interpret ἐκκλησία (ecclesia) as 'church,' because the literal meaning at this point in history was "a gathering of citizens called out from their homes into some public place, an assembly," and this did not always imply gathering for worship. It is very important to note that in 1st century Greek culture, it was customary for women to refrain from speaking in public assemblies (ἐκκλησίαις). It is also important to note that we should not equate early assemblies with 'churches,' and thus this is likely not a transcultural principle. We read our 3rd–21st century bias into the text when we interpret ἐκκλησία as 'church' (and when we refer to buildings in our communities as 'churches,' which would have been foreign to the original hearers, who did not consider ecclesia and synagogues to be an apt comparison).
  • v. 34. As @Soldernal pointed out, the word for 'woman' and 'wife' is the same in Greek (γυνή). Because of the reference to husbands in v. 35, the word may be translated 'wives' here. But in passages governing conduct in assemblies like this (cf. 11:2-16; 1 Tim 2:9-15), the general meaning 'women' is more probable.
  • v. 34. Total silence is not implied in other New Testament texts that use the verb σιγάω or the noun-form, σιγή (cf. Luke 9:36; 18:39; Acts 12:17; 21:40-22:2). Nor is absolute silence implied by the synonym ἡσυχάζω (noun form: ἡσυχία)—mentioned by @Richard, cf. Acts 11:18; 21:14; 22:2; 1 Timothy 2:11-12. 1 Timothy 2:11 is a major point in this discussion because Paul is making the same argument and yet uses the synonym that @Richard claims does not mean entirely silent. Thus the distinction between these two terms is largely a moot point in understanding this text. However, some scholars take the fact that Paul effectively makes this exhortation three times to mean that it is an absolute silence, which is worth noting.
  • v. 34. As @Soldarnal has pointed out, in light of 1 Corinthians 11:2-16 which allows for women to pray or prophesy in the assemblies, the silence commanded here does not seem to imply the absolute restriction of women speaking in the assembly. Therefore some take "be silent" to mean not taking an authoritative teaching role, and others relate it to the preceding regulations about evaluating the prophets (v. 29). Here Paul would be indicating that women should not speak up during such an evaluation, since such questioning would be in violation of the submission to male leadership that is called for in Old Testament law.

Textual Criticism Notes:

  • Some scholars consider 1 Corinthians 14:34-35 to be an interpolation (a passage that was not in the original text but was inserted at a later date). Philip B. Payne wrote an exhaustive book on the issue of gender roles in Paul's writings and has also written several scholarly articles on the subject matter, as well as summarizing his findings on his blog.
  • J.W. Wartick summarizes the book's argument for these passages as an interpolation as follows:

    "The evidence is both internal and external. First, the external evidence. The movement of the text itself hints that it was an interpolation which was placed in different parts of 1 Corinthians depending on the textual lineage (227ff). There is also a distigme which is used elsewhere to mark interpolations that is in the last line of 14:33, the correct place to mark 14:34-35 as an interpolation (232ff). Bishop Victor, between AD 541-544, corrected the text to omit 14:34-35 as an interpolation (246ff). Victor’s acumen for detecting interpolations is noteworthy, because he also omits the Trinitarian interpolation in 1 John 5:7-8 (246). MS88 omits the text, likely because it was copied from a manuscript which lacked the interpolation (249). Clement reflects a text without the verses (250-251). He notes other evidence as well (251ff). Payne also notes 9 lines of internal evidence for the text being an interpolation (253ff)."

  • Suffice it to say that Payne is not the only scholar who holds this view. Notably, Gordon D. Fee made this argument in his commentary on 1 Corinthians. Many biblical translators now include textual notes in modern translations indicating that these verses may be an interpolation.

  • It should be noted that many other respected scholars make a strong case that while vv. 34-35 were likely written in the margin, they very likely were written in the margin by the Apostle Paul himself, which would strengthen their authenticity. This is due to the fact that the verses are included, albeit in differing locations within the text, in all of the earliest manuscripts available for 1 Corinthians.
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    +1 and giving additional good answers to questions that are already "answer-accepted" is heartily encouraged on the whole network - it is good answers like this one that build the site Commented Feb 13, 2012 at 9:52
  • @dan - A.) That is a lot of notes from commentaries, and even analysis of Greek terms - but it seems to distract from the actual question - regarding history; B.) "Historically, what do we know about the format of early church services, and what does "speaking in church" signify? What was Paul's intent in conveying this command?" Commented Aug 16, 2016 at 9:46
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    "they very likely were written in the margin by the Apostle Paul himself" – How would he have managed that? Wasn't he reputed to have large handwriting? (Gal 6:11)
    – 習約塔
    Commented Jul 10, 2019 at 6:13
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    The edifice of Payne's conclusions has taken a serious hit. In the most recent session of SBL the following paper was presented which seriously calls into question Payne's conclusions: x.com/nelson_hsieh7/status/1727109074230378686?s=20
    – Epimanes
    Commented Nov 22, 2023 at 8:36
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    Thanks for sharing @Epimanes ! That is really interesting!
    – Dan
    Commented Nov 22, 2023 at 16:27
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This passage is not easy to understand, not least because certain interpretations offend many modern sensibilities. There are some (relatively minor) issues of textual criticism and of translation. There are some difficult referents, like "law" in verse 34. Moreover, the "crystal clear" line of total silence for women is difficult to adopt because in 1 Corinthians 11:5, Paul seems to assume that some women will prophecy:

But every woman who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head

Some have objected that it is a fallacy to assume from this that Paul thinks women ought to prophecy in church. In their understanding, he holds off on giving his full opinion of the matter until 14:34, but there is only concerned with head coverings for the moment in chapter 11. I am not convinced, in chief because Paul has no reason to mention praying and prophesying in Chapter 11 unless it were a situation that he anticipates will happen.

This passage is made more difficult by the fact that we have little historical understanding of church meetings at the time. Thankfully the text gives us some context. Paul has just finished discussing the gifts of the Spirit, arguing for the principle that they are given for the purpose of building up. Verse 14:26 marks a transition, as Paul moves into some practical considerations.

After laying down some instructions for speaking in tongues, he also gives some instructions for prophecy. "Let two or three prophets speak, and let the others weigh what is said." (14:29 ESV) This is the immediate context for the verses under our consideration.

My contention is that Paul expects the women (and possibly just the wives) to remain silent during the weighing of prophecies.

  • As we have just seen, the immediate context for these verses is the giving and weighing of prophecies in the assemblies. It is possible that Paul abruptly transitions to an entirely different topic, but he immediately returns to prophecy again in 37; it would seem like an altogether off-topic insertion.
  • If women are, per Chapter 11, permitted to prophecy, total silence becomes impossible to accept.
  • Verse 14:35 says "If there is anything they desire to learn, let them ask their husbands at home." To me this suggests the context of weighing prophecies.
  • Paul's chief concern seems to be shame. In Paul's thought (following Chapter 11) shame moves upward to your head, in this case to a woman's husband. It's not hard to see how a man would be shamed if his wife began to weigh his prophecy. I can also see how it would bring shame on a man in that culture to have his prophecy weighed by any woman in general; but I am not certain of it.
  • My reason for thinking it could be just the wives in view is that 1) the word for women can also be translated wives, and 2) the referent to asking their husbands at home.

For these reasons, I think it is best not to see Paul's instructions as meaning total silence for women in the assemblies, but silence during the time of weighing prophecies.

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    This is a great insight: "Paul's chief concern seems to be shame." Compared to modern cultures, it's quite likely the Corinthians were an honor or shame culture. In the Spanish language congregation I attend, women speak in church all the time. But they would never, ever contradict a man in public. To do so would deeply embarrass the man and, if she were married, her own husband. Thank you for this answer. +1 Commented Dec 2, 2011 at 20:29
  • None of the answers address Paul's teaching that there is no male or female in Christ Jesus. If it that apparent contradiction is not explained, a full understanding of this passage cannot be claimed. Likewise, Jeremiah claims that all men will become pregnant. That sure confuses the issue concerning gender.
    – Bob Jones
    Commented Jul 8, 2012 at 14:24
  • 1Sa 2:9 He will keep the feet of his saints, and the wicked shall be silent in darkness; for by strength shall no man prevail. Here the wicked are silent and 'concealed' in darkness. Perhaps Paul is making reference to this?
    – Bob Jones
    Commented Jul 8, 2012 at 14:33
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    @BobJones - I don't believe anything I've written in this answer contradicts anything in Galatians 3:28. Anyway, the OP did not ask how the two passages relate.
    – Soldarnal
    Commented Jul 10, 2012 at 1:43
  • @soldarnal Does that mean you don't think the possibility that Paul isn't even speaking of a literal woman is even important if the OP didn't ask about it? or ever?
    – Bob Jones
    Commented Jul 10, 2012 at 4:25
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Looking at the verse, we can see that the command is crystal clear for woman to not speak in church.

In fact, it mentions this four times in four different ways:

  1. The women are to keep silent
  2. they are not permitted to speak
  3. let them ask their own husbands at home
  4. it is improper for a woman to speak in church

To further illustrate the point of silence, we can see that the word being used here is sigaō, which means to "keep silent" or "to be conceled". By comparison, there's a less harsh word that could have been used, hēsychia, which means "quietness". That word comparison alone shows that complete silence is what is being commanded here.

Therefore, looking at the verse, it seems quite clear that silence was required of women.


An interesting note regarding the church at the time, B.B. Warfield mentions that there were no church buildings at that time:

Precisely what the apostle is doing is forbidding women to speak at all in the church... It would be impossible for the apostle to speak more directly or more emphatically than he has done here. He requires women to be silent at the church meetings; for that is what ‘in the churches’ means, there were no church buildings then.
“Women Speaking in the Church,” The Presbyterian, Oct. 30, 1919, pp. 8-9
Emphasis added

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  • I really think that this whole line is borderline (if not fully) doctrinal. However, with the text being so crystal clear, it's hard to interpret this in a way that that changes the meaning. Paul's meaning and intention were very clear (both textually and doctrinally)
    – Richard
    Commented Oct 6, 2011 at 19:14
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    The context should be taken into account: Paul is teaching in this chapter about speaking in tongues.
    – vasquez
    Commented Nov 18, 2011 at 8:40
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    @vasquez If you disagree with the answer, please post your own interpretation. From my interpretation, the passage is crystal clear.
    – Richard
    Commented Nov 18, 2011 at 13:35
  • I don't necessarily disagree, but 1 Tim 2:12 is a much better, broader reference for your point IMHO.
    – vasquez
    Commented Nov 18, 2011 at 17:01
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When Paul (1Cor 14:33) was refering to the Law he may have used the term in its wider sense as the whole Torah including the 1st Book of Moses where it is stated that (as a consequence of the transgression in Eden) the man would from then on rule over the woman. (Without conflict there would have been no such order.)

The Law itself expands on the matter of rule rather implicitly. That a wife is being owned by her husband we can see in the last commandment of the ten (i.e. not to covet).

Furthermore it is to be noticed that women in general were not being directly addressed in public speech or letter. It was regarded inappropriate for a man to directly address another man's wife or daughter authoritatively. (If that was so, one can easily imagine how many would have felt about a woman speaking to men in public assembly.)

Regarding the Apostle's order for a woman when praying or speaking God's word to cover up her head (ch.12): This was more concerning her conduct in private, not for behaving in the presence of the ekklesia. (That is why he says: for the sake of the angels. He is at this point not yet dealing with matters concerning their public assembly.)

For Paul to use such clear and unyielding words as here (ch. 12 and 14 and elsewhere in other matters) the situation must have become outrageously chaotic in Corinth. (The conduct of some women was just one of the many difficulties they had. Their custom to speak out had probably not come up while the apostle was there. The same with other problems.)

Timothy, staying in Ephesus, received similar order by the same apostle (1 Timothy 2:12): But I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man. She must remain quiet.

The statement in his letter to the Galatian disciples about there being no distinctions in Christ refers to the promises to Abraham being and getting to be fulfilled in Christ and all that belong to Him. It is not declaring all offices (apostles, elders, teachers) to be the same and for everyone. (In this matter Christ had given no divergent example. He could have easily chosen some women as his Apostles.)

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In his commentary on 1 Timothy 2:12 Adam Clarke writes:

Nor to usurp authority - A woman should attempt nothing, either in public or private, that belongs to man as his peculiar function. This was prohibited by the Roman laws: In multis juris nostri articulis deterior est conditio foeminarum quam masculorun,; l. 9, Pap. Lib. 31, Quaest. Foeminoe ab omnibus officiis civilibus vel publicis remotae sunt; et ideo nec judicis esse possunt, nec magistratum gerere, nec postulare, nec pro alio invenire, nec procuratores existere; l. 2, de Reg. Juris. Ulp. Lib. i. Ad Sab. - Vid. Poth. Pand. Justin., vol. i. p. 13.

“In our laws the condition of women is, in many respects, worse than that of men. Women are precluded from all public offices; therefore they cannot be judges, nor execute the function of magistrates; they cannot sue, plead, nor act in any case, as proxies.” They were under many other disabilities, which may be seen in different places of the Pandects. But to be in silence - It was lawful for men in public assemblies to ask questions, or even interrupt the speaker when there was any matter in his speech which they did not understand; but this liberty was not granted to women. See the note on 1Co_14:34, 1Co_14:35 (note).

This seems to be what is meant by "as the law also says" rather than the Torah:

NASB 1 Cor 14: 34 The women are to keep silent in the churches; for they are not permitted to speak, but are to subject themselves, just as the Law also says.

Westcott and Hort / [NA27 variants] Αἱ γυναῖκες ἐν ταῖς ἐκκλησίαις σιγάτωσαν, οὐ γὰρ ἐπιτρέπεται αὐταῖς λαλεῖν· ἀλλὰ ὑποτασσέσθωσαν, καθὼς καὶ ὁ νόμος λέγει.

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Some scholars, such at Dominick Crossan and Marcus Borg suggest that 1 Cor. 14:33-36 is a later insertion, for if you remove this passage, the subject of prophecy in 14:26-33 picks up naturally at 14:37-40. Furthermore, the insertion is given as a separate paragraph in all Greek manuscripts. The silencing of women in church contradicts the general attitude of the radical Paul, and contradicts what he said earlier in 1Corinthians where “any man who prays or prophesies with something on his head disgraces his head, but any woman who prays or prophesies with her head unveiled disgraces her head.” Regardless of what the local rule was regarding head covering, it is clear that both men and women minister publicly in the Christian assembly. The theory is that someone, sometime after the letter was written, inserted this text to reflect the prevailing Roman practice of patriarchy. Whoever made the insertion may have admired Paul in general, but wanted to tame him on this issue to demonstrate to the powers that be that Christianity is not a threat to the Empire. You recall that when Paul closes his Roman letter, he asks the recipients to greet his fellow workers in the Roman church. The list of names include at least seven women, one of them - Phoebe - is a deacon. And how can we forget Gal. 3:28-29 where Paul proclaims that "there is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male or female, for all of you are one in Christ Jesus." In other words, if you closely examine Paul's letters, you discover that the Apostle is an advocate of gender equality. Eager to present Christianity to the Empire in the best possible light, therefore, this insertion is an attempt to neutralize an otherwise radical Paul. Yet, Paul's letter, taken together, demonstrate that Paul was anything but tame.

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  • It may be that the passage is an interpolation, and it may also be out of place. It certainly seems out of place where it is. However, if Paul was hoping to put the Church's best foot forward then commanding them to obey Roman law regarding a woman's place would indeed be the way to go. Please see my answer below yours. Thanks.
    – Ruminator
    Commented Aug 1, 2018 at 21:50
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A notable issue here is Paul's appeal to the law: "as the law also says." I would think, since Paul appeals to the law as a second witness to what he is prescribing, anyone who would interpret this passage then should necessarily include a reflection upon that phrase. But indeed, I know of nowhere in the Torah where women are commanded to be silent in assemblies, nor silent at all.

So what law then is Paul refering to?? In general, in almost every other place in scripture where Paul refers to "the law," he is talking about the law of Moses, is he not? This conundrum makes me even more partial to the argument that this text is an interpolation, not a real quote from Paul. But if for the sake of discussion we assume the text to be valid, then the question really does become, "What law?"

The only two answers to that question that have appeared so far in my research are:

a) the Jewish 'oral' law, the Talmud. Yet the Talmud is full of so much "stuff" of which Jesus blasted the Pharisees for clinging to traditions, rather than the Word of God. Would Paul really be appealing to the Talmud as an authority in this matter?

b) civil Roman law. I am not aware of the extent to which civil Roman law would prohibit women from speaking in a gathered assembly - especially if the assembly was occurring within the private home of a christian. Perhaps others would know better than I what this would really entail. All that I have read on it thus far has only been speculative.

It is possible that Paul really is refering to the Torah in some extremely abstract way that has eluded me here, but one would assume that if "the law also says" that it would say it pretty loud and clear. This does not seem to be the case.

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  • Hi Heather, welcome to the site! When you get a chance, take a look at our tour and faq pages to familiarize yourself with the site a bit more. Regarding this answer, I appreciated your reminder here that a good answer ought to address "the law." (+1) The explanation I have heard is that Paul is referring to women submitting to men (or wives to husbands), which is evident in the Law (i.e. Torah) in Sarah's behavior toward Abraham, etc.
    – Jas 3.1
    Commented Jul 5, 2013 at 17:56
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    Roman Law - I provide that info in my answer.
    – Ruminator
    Commented Aug 1, 2018 at 21:45
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Norman Geisler in the slide 21 of his presentation "The Role of Women in the Ministry" makes it clear that the silence of women in the church is only in specific occasions.

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This answer is long, so you will need to read everything, then decide if I am correct or have a reasonable point of view.

Lets start with taking the Christian historical standpoint that the Bible is inerrant and that these are not falsely presented words. Let's accept that God is sovereign and capable of preserving his Words exactly the way He intended it to be as demonstrated repeatedly through Archeology not forgetting the Dead Sea Scrolls. Lets also accept that God is a god of harmony and law, not of chaos, and that all scripture is God-breathed, but authored through people with perspectives.

Next, lets ensure the internal integrity of the scripture by comparing it to similar scripture in 1 Timothy 2:12. From that, we can see that this line of thinking is repetitive in different letters. The different letters go to the cities of Corinth and Ephesus, which are Greek cities.

Let's dismiss 1 Peter 3 as discussion regarding Wives and Husbands, not female roles in the church.

Now, let's review whether there were any worship leadership roles by women in Biblical history: We have Miriam, Deborah, Esther pre-Christ and Lydia, Phoebe, and Priscilla were Paul's contemporaries. Furthermore, if women were to be silent regarding religious matters, why then, are the first to learn of the Gospel as recorded in Matthew 28, the women, Mary and Martha? Why is a divine messenger sent to them who are later forbidden to speak to a congregation? Was it so they could speak with Peter and John but never to a group?

Next lets look at how Paul views the old laws: let me paraphrase: that the majority of them have passed away in favor of freedom through Christ and that old rituals are now unnecessary and that food sacrificed to idols and pig meat is fine to eat.

So, is the Bible then divided about whether women should have leadership roles and speak in the church, was Paul double-minded, and by our own utterance, is God double-minded? If no, then what is the reason for these passages aka why were the written and what do they mean today?

Let's start with Women in Roman Society. Women of Ancient Rome could not vote/hold public office/were forbidden to make speeches in public.. So that was the basic law of the land... however, various areas of the empire were given governors and officials to enforce that area's laws. A lot of leeway was given to Israel for their religious practices, but as we can see that didn't last forever, eventually Rome tired of their rebellions.

The point of the Gospel and Jesus's life were not to undermine human-made governments but rather to save people from their sins. However, Peter and John are told by the Sanhedrin to stop speaking about Jesus and say that they will do what God has told them to do rather than what men tell them to do.

These churches were located in modern day Greece and Turkey. The Greco-Roman world strived to take gods and goddesses and Hellenize them. Furthermore, the City States of Greece had different privileges for women depending on which City you were in. For example, in Sparta, women could train like men and own land; but in other places women had no rights. However, we know that in Athens: women were denied a political voice and civic rights outside of their participation in religious activities.

So, now looking directly at Ephesus because of 1 Timothy 2:12, what was Ephesus like? The temple of Diana/Artemis was located in Ephesus. The Ephesian Artemis was worshiped for fertility and we know that women were priestesses of Artemis from documentation such as the cult of Artemis at Brauron, but that doesn't mean specifically the Ephesian priestesses were chaste, and with its correlation and discussion in Ephesians 5:3 we see that the Ephesians may have the same problems that the Corinthians had at some level. Furthermore, we know from Acts 19, that there is a religious war raging in Ephesus at this time.

Also, we note from Timothy 2:11-12 that Paul uses First Person not the Lord, possibly implying he is talking about his personal opinion at the time for that congregation in that scenario, and the following verse Timothy 2:13 is the hint to the answer to the riddle of why: Adam was first formed then Eve, and Adam was not deceived, but Eve was. This verse implies the direction I'd like to bring this, which is that these Artemis/Greek/Cult priestesses and women who were interested in taking an active role in society in one of the only ways there were normally allowed in some places were not well educated in regards to these religious matters and were bringing deceptive teachings (the fruit symbolized by the fall) and Hellenized ideals into the church. To solve the issue, Paul tells Timothy, just don't let them take these roles, let them teach their children, possibly implying to leave this to the children's generation to decide again... and to the Corinthians (yet to be discussed and as further proof): follow the laws (of which we see no biblical laws forbidding women to speak in the Bible as finally culminated in 382 at the Council of Rome).

1 Corinthians 14:33-37 Paul continues by saying that God is a god of Peace, not disorder, leading into discussing women. Should a woman's marital status alone prevent her speech? Not unless, the Law of the Country said so... and then why not? Because each family was given a vote through the men, and if a woman had no family, she may be able to speak through her husband, but a woman without a husband had no one to speak through. Thus we can interpret gynaikes to be wives. With all the effort put into widows by the church, why should they be left without a voice to the congregation? We could also interpret gynaikes to be women... and then why would the women in the churches of Corinth be forbidden to speak? The temple of Aphrodite was in Acrocorinth, aka Corinth, and Strabo quotes: 'Not for every man is the voyage to Korinthos." A huge issue for the Corinthians was the sexual immorality and the control women could exert over men through those sexual impulses and promises. Some of the women of Corinth were dressed in such a way that Paul calls it to account in both 1 Timothy 2:9-10 and Corinthians 11:5-6,10; in fact allegedly, women without their head coverings were stating their unwillingness to submit to their husbands or possibly even promiscuity. The fact that Hellenization was a real thing, the disorder in worship, the spiritual warfare that was occurring in these cities, and the sexual immorality of this church led to Paul's letter to the Corinthian churches forbidding women to be in leadership in the church and admonishing silence to those not called upon to speak or share their prophecy.

Simply put: the letter to them meant regaining an orderly service, where perhaps a priestess of Aphrodite or a woman without education was not trying to teach them through the lens of her experiences, wearing what amounts today as a short-cut scarlet dress in a manner that was similar to Potifer's wife. Paul offered a Roman government sanctioned way to prevent a huge revolt over it, because women were allowed to participate in Greek religious activities. I've provided the scripture, I've provided the world history, I've provided the logic, I've provided the theory.

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  • Welcome to Biblical Hermeneutics! and thank you for your contribution. When you get a chance, please take the tour to understand how the site works and how it is different than others. I also recommend going through the Help Center's sections on both asking and answering questions.
    – agarza
    Commented Aug 10, 2023 at 19:14
  • At the risk of being obtuse, I call to mind the Apostles asking Jesus how to pray. I remember Jesus told the women to cover their heads... and told the men to leave their heads uncovered and uncovered His own head. Only, that's not true, and we would know if it was true. Therefore, the head coverings mentioned here do not mean what we think they do. IMO, the women were wearing none to say something like: "I'm not ashamed and am available" and the men might wear them to say, "I am available, the gods can't see me". Context and history matter. Archeologists, please go find the proof. Commented Aug 15, 2023 at 21:25
  • Anyway, that's my thinking... the Bible is perfectly preserved by God. Therefore, when I run across these verses that do not make sense, I can either 1. dismiss them, setting myself up to judge scripture. 2. discredit them. 3. interpret them in light of other scripture and history knowing I am limited and acting on the faith of who I know God to be, knowing my theory may be flawed. 4. Blindly obey at the risk of ignoring God's character. Of these, to me the only options I dare choose are 3 or 4; and those must be thoroughly considered because each has a pitfall. Commented Aug 15, 2023 at 21:52