In 1 Corinthians 14:33-34, does the phrase "as in all the churches" refer to "God is not a God of confusion, but of peace," or "let the women keep silent?" Specifically, in the manuscripts that place verses 34-36 after verse 40, where is the phrase "as in all the churches" found, with "God is not the God of confusion," or at the end with "let the women keep silent?" Also, if it is true that verses 34 - 36 are found in the margins of many manuscripts, is the phrase in question in the margin or not?


5 Answers 5


Metzger points out in Textual Commentary that it is primarily western witnesses that transpose v.34-35 to appear after v.40. He also addresses your question about the verses being found in the margin (pp.499-500):

Several witnesses, chiefly Western, transpose verses 34–35 to follow ver. 40 (D F G 88* itd, g Ambrosiaster Sedulius Scotus). Such scribal alterations represent attempts to find a more appropriate location in the context for Paul’s directive concerning women.

The evidence of the sixth-century Codex Fuldensis is ambiguous. The Latin text of 1 Cor 14 runs onward throughout the chapter to ver. 40. Following ver. 33 is a scribal siglum that directs the reader to a note standing in the lower margin of the page. This note provides the text of verses 36 through 40. Does the scribe, without actually deleting verses 34–35 from the text, intend the liturgist to omit them when reading the lesson?

It would seem that in the 4th century Greek-speaking Church, the phrase in all the Churches of the saints related to For God is not a God of confusion, but of peace. We see this in the context of John Chrysostom's Homily on the passage:

For God is not a God of confusion, but of peace, as [I teach] in all the Churches of the saints.

Do you see by how many reasons he leads him to silence and soothes him, in the act of giving way to the other? By one thing and that the chief, that he was not shut up by such a proceeding; for you all can prophesy, says he, one by one. By a second, that this seems good to the Spirit Himself; for the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets. Besides these, that this is according to the mind of God; for God, says he, is not a God of confusion, but of peace: and by a fourth, that in every part of the world this custom prevails, and no strange thing is enjoined upon them. For thus, says he, I teach in all the Churches of the saints.

Homily XXXVI on 1st Corinthians

The editors of The Orthodox New Testament Praxapostolos note in the apparatus that Theophylact (11th c.) and Vincent of Lerins (5th c.) also relate As in all the churches of the saints with v.33 rather than v.34, but that the 1904 Patriarchal Text and related lectionaries have the verse relating to v.34.


Regarding the Bassler and Rowe questions, it's not a matter of total silence, rather as Paul says elsewhere in regard to 'teaching and authority' over men. Or in I Cor 14 the context is if 'there is anything they desire to learn' not whether they can speak, or pray, or prophesy, or have fellowship, et al.

Women can we co-workers, deacons, host a church, edify others with their gifts of the spirits (most of which require speaking) sing, and even function in leadership roles over other women and children without having authority over or teaching men. This distinction can be easily made and applied in the context of a local church and actually contributes to order in the Church if applied correctly, rather than causing any disorder in the Church. The few denominations/sects that have required total silence of women are an extreme minority in the Church.

And there are other phrases in the context, such as that women should keep silent 'in the churches' - plural. And 'as the Law ALSO says'. These additional contextual clues support a universal principle not a local teaching. And even 'has the Word of God only reached you' in the next section, and how he repeats 'anyone', these also indicates Paul's teaching here is not merely local.

And I don't agree there are 'too many examples' of women taking leadership roles in regard to the only 2 leadership roles reserved for men - elder in the church, and husband in the home. Can you site any clear examples of either of these? Hosting a home-church, co-worker, and Deacon are not the same as Elder, conflating them is misrepresenting the other side.

  • Indeed, it was to Roman law that he appeals: hermeneutics.stackexchange.com/questions/122/…
    – Ruminator
    Jun 5, 2018 at 21:30
  • 1
    John S, while you stated your opinion clearly, this is not the focus of this forum. Hermeneutics is the discipline of correctly interpreting scriptures with support for each point from other scriptures, Greek or Hebrew words and sentence construction, contextual analysis, scholarly works, historical documents, and so on. Using these as support, you can build a strong case for an interpretation. Hope this helps. Best wishes,
    – Dieter
    Jun 6, 2018 at 0:58

Dr. Kroger and similar START with a conclusion, and attempt to find support for their thesis, no matter how assumptive. Consider: What some would consider poor Greek construction, others see as repetition for emphasis. Often the more important word in a clause is moved to the beginning of the clause for emphasis. That the conjunction in Greek is never first in its clause and has fluidity in location (sometimes to the fourth word) should affect the way the verses are understood. It would seem repetitive or poor linguistic usage to say, “As in all the churches of the saints the women are to keep silent in the churches.” Yet if the conjunction “for” (gar) is moved in English (not Greek) to the front of the clause as we often do and the translators do here, perhaps this makes sense: For God is not a God of confusion, but of peace. As in all the churches of the saints, the women are to keep silent. (For) in the churches for they are not permitted to speak but are to subject themselves, just as the Law also says. Understood in this construction “for” further explains the preceding concept and churches is placed first in the Greek clause for emphasis. Relocation of the conjunction is quite common in Paul’s writing, and may be seen in the earlier passages in chapter 11 (verses 6, 7, 8, 9, [a conclusion in verse 10 and a caution in verse 11] and more explanation of the preceding concept in verse 12).

... One textual principle is that “the more difficult the reading, the more likely it is to be the original.” The idea is that a later revisionist may have tried to “smooth out” the reading by making an alteration. On that basis, the seeming contradiction between 11:2-16 and 14:33b-36 would lend authenticity to the text. The main point is that essentially all manuscripts have the verses (two 10th century Latin manuscripts may be an exception). Unquestionably, in the consensus of the textual scholars, the verses are genuine. It is likely that if there were not a “theological axe” to grind, these verses would never be challenged as original.

Comments taken from "As in All the Churches - A Close look at the Call for Full Female Participation and Leadership in the Church." Available on Amazon. John A. Fewkes, Author

  • 2
    The question doesn't ask anything about Dr. Kroger. It's fine to copy and adapt your own content for this question, but please edit and actually adapt this into an answer format. It's confusing that you start of with something irrelevant to the question.
    – Caleb
    Sep 28, 2018 at 23:04

The way that modern Westerners read this in translation is something like this:

"Women should remain silent in the church buildings".

But that is not what the Greek says or means. The word translated "churches" is better translated "assemblies":

ἐκκλησίαις - an assembly, a (religious) congregation https://biblehub.com/greek/1577.htm

In the Roman empire it was illegal for women to speak out in an assembly. Please see my answer to this very, very related post:

What does the prohibition against women speaking in church in 1 Corinthians 14:34-35 mean?

Bottom line:

What Paul is saying is that it is just as inappropriate for a woman to address the Roman assembly as it is for her to address any Christian assembly.


It has long been debated whether the phrase "as in all the churches" refers to "God is not a God of confusion, but of peace," or "let the women keep silent", yet there is still no consensus. For example, Ellicott, Robert Jamieson, A. R. Fausset and David Brown believed the phrase belongs with what follows, whereas Albert Barnes, Matthew Poole, John Gill and the Geneva Study Bible saw it as referring to what preceded. The Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges does not take a position, simply remarking on what Paul might have meant in one case or the other.

All this becomes moot if verses 14:34-35 were not written by Paul himself, but were added some time later. No extant manuscript omits these verses, although a few, rather late manuscripts place them after 14:40. Catherine Clark Kroeger and Mary J. Evans (The IVP Women's Bible Commentary) say that many scholars argue that verses 14:35-36 are an interpolation, pointing out that verse 14:36 actually continues the argument of 14:33. It is therefore worth investigating this view even if, once again, there is no conclusive evidence either way.

David E. Garland (1 Corinthians, ebook) cites Bassler and Rowe:

How can women like Euodia and Syntyche (Phil 4:2-3), Prisca (Rom. 16:3;1 Cor. 16:16), Mary (Rom. 16:6), Junia (Rom. 16:7) and Tryphaena and Tryphosa (Rom. 16:12) function as co-workers in the churches if they cannot speak in those churches? How can Phoebe fulfill her role of deacon (Rom. 16:1-2) if she cannot speak out in the assembly? How can a woman like Nympha, who is influential enough to host a house church (Col. 4:15) have been required to remain silent in her own home (cf. also Prisca, the wife of Aquila, 16:19)?

Although uncommitted to either side, Garland goes on to say, "In recent years, an increasing number of scholars judge 14:34-35 (sometimes including v. 36) to be written by someone other than Paul and inserted into the text," explaining:

Intrinsic evidence weighs heavily in making this textual judgement. In addition to questioning how Paul would contradict himself so quickly in the same letter about the role of women in worship, many note the instructions in 1 Cor. 14:34-35 interrupt the flow of Paul's thought dealing with tongues and prophecy. Omitting them does not disturb the sense of the paragraph.

Returning to the question in hand:

If Paul did write 1 Corinthians 14:34-35, about women remaining silent in church, he could scarcely have suggested that this was the case in all churches, as we see above in the citation from Bassler and Rowe. Whatever his instruction to the Corinthians, there are too many examples of women taking leadership roles for Paul to have believed that in all churches they remained silent. Therefore, the phrase "as in all the churches" would not refer to "let the women keep silent".

If Paul did not write 1 Corinthians 14:34-35, then the phrase "as in all the churches" could not have referred to "let the women keep silent".

This means that whether or not 1 Corinthians 14:34-35 is original to the epistle, the phrase "as in all the churches" does not refer to "let the women keep silent".

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