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1 Corinthians 14:34 NASB

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.

Which law was Paul referring to in the above text?

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  • @Anne Why do you keep unprotecting this question? Please stop. When a question has this many existing answers we want a slight barrier to answering so that new people won't post duplicate answers before they've learned how the site works.
    – curiousdannii
    Dec 6, 2023 at 20:46
  • 1
    @curiousdannii I beseech your pardon. Clearly, I have misunderstood the role of 'protecting' questions. Will take on board your comment.
    – Anne
    Dec 7, 2023 at 14:28

18 Answers 18

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  1. Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience as also saith the law.

The first thing to note is that in Greek, there are not two different words for either man and husband, or woman and wife. As it pertains here, "Let your women..." can just as easily, and perhaps more accurately, be translated as "Let your wives...". You can see this at the following link:

https://biblehub.com/greek/1135.htm

The context must be the determining factor, as since, in the very next verse, it speaks of asking husbands at home.

So, wives must "keep silence". Now, what does this mean? If you look at this link:

https://biblehub.com/greek/4601.htm

you can see a range of meanings, more than just being silent. It also means to "hold one's peace" and to be "kept secret".

I submit that holding one's peace is the right way to understand the passage. Holding one's peace means to not lose control over one's tongue, to know when to refrain from speaking, so that peaceful relations can be maintained (think James 3:8). Remember the context. In 1 Corinthians 14, right before this verse, Paul gave a pretty thorough summary of how certain gifts of the Holy Spirit should operate, particularly prophecy and diverse kinds of tongues with interpretation. The adjoining verses previous to 34 speak of the following:

1.) Allowing two to three prophets in the meeting speak.

2.) Letting others then judge what they have said.

3.) If something prophetic is revealed to someone else, the prophet who is speaking is to "hold his peace" so that the other person may interject their revelation. This holding of the prophet's peace is from the same Greek word as keeping silent in verse 34. So, even men, prophets no less, are enjoined to "keep silence", same as the women/wives of the church.

4.) Allowing all that are present an opportunity to prophesy one by one so that everyone may learn and be comforted. All that are present includes women, since 1 Corinthians 11:5 grants women the right to pray and prophesy in the church, provided they are properly "covered" or "veiled", as it were.

5.) The spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets, meaning even prophets or those prophesying can control themselves, hold their peace, choose when to speak, and when to refrain, not speak over someone, vie for attention, shout someone down, and etc.

6.) God is not the author of confusion, but of peace (that is, if properly obeyed, God can and will help everyone correctly hold their peace, and not lose control of themselves, men and women both, in every church everywhere).

It is into that context that Paul writes about women/wives holding their peace. When he writes stating they are not permitted to speak, it's in this sense. If a woman or wife is going to lose control of herself, endanger the peace, add confusion, or etc., by not being in submission/subjection to her husband, then she must, to put it bluntly, shut up. Particularly when a prophet is speaking, particularly when she doesn't understand what has been said by that prophet.

It doesn't mean she can't even say "hi" or "Praise the Lord" in worship, or pray when the saints pray. Rather, she can and should pray, and she can and should prophesy, as the Spirit allows, in the decency and order God ordains. Remember what prophesying is: it edifies, exhorts, and comforts. It doesn't teach or indoctrinate (1 Corinthians 14:3). If a woman/wife is going to attempt to do that, it must only be under her husband's permission, and only among other women and with children, lest 1 Timothy 2:11 be violated.

Going further, remember that Corinth began as a synagogue, among Jews. The law of the synagogue regarding the mechitzah requires that men and women be separated.

See here: https://www.myjewishlearning.com/article/mehitzah-separate-seating-in-the-synagogue/

It is likely this is what Paul meant when he referred to "law" in verse 34. There is no actual law in all of the Torah that states a woman or wife cannot speak, that is, that not talking during religious rituals is the means whereby a woman or wife proves she is under obedience to her husband.

So, imagine a scenario in which a wife, who is separated from her husband by a mechitzah, who is tending to the children, while a prophet is speaking to the church, suddenly interrupts to call over to her husband because she doesn't understand something and wants her husband to explain it to her.

That would be out of order. She needs to hold her peace and ask her husband at home. If a woman/wife has missed something important, likely because she was tending their children, or helping with the meal, or for any other reason, that would otherwise bless, edify, exhort, or comfort her, it is the husband's job, at home, to share what was said, what was missed, or not understood, and explain it to the woman/wife, and thus, she gets fed what the Spirit was saying through the prophet, just at a later time, that is, at home, away from the meeting.

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In Leviticus there is no law requesting that women should be quiet. In Jewish literature there are also no laws requiring women to be silent in a synagogue, probably because women were usually separated from the men in some capacity (Sukkah, Talmud). Women in Jewish synagogues often led a separate prayer for the women in the synagogue.

1 Corinthians 14:34 has no relation to the Talmud or Torah in any shape or form and is entirely a Christian discourse, Paul also uses the word ekklesiais, which usually referred to the new Christian churches. What Paul is talking about is a woman's need to be submissive (hypotassesthōsan), which is mentioned in Genesis 3:16 "To the woman He said, “I will greatly multiply Your pain in childbirth, In pain you shall deliver children; Yet your desire will be for your husband, And he shall rule over you.” He is saying submissiveness to men is required by the Old Testament.

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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).

Paul was evidently referring to Roman law, not to Jewish law.

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  • 1
    Does Paul in other places refer the Roman law as simply, "the law," which is so routinely referring to the Old Testament or Law of Moses?
    – Austin
    Mar 14, 2022 at 15:10
  • @Austin No. Paul never uses "the Law" to refer to Roman law.
    – Rajesh
    Mar 14, 2022 at 18:22
  • There is no such commandment in the Torah, so was Paul mistaken? And would he allow that which Roman law forbids?
    – Ruminator
    Mar 15, 2022 at 16:26
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    @Ruminator "so was Paul mistaken" Good question(I don't think Paul could be mistaken while under inspiration). It resolves itself if you posit that these were not Paul's own words, but the words of the Corinthians whom he was writing back to, and he was merely quoting their own words.
    – Rajesh
    Mar 17, 2022 at 1:38
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I believe there is a key factor missing in many discussions regarding 1 Corinthians 14:34-35, “Women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the law says. 35 If they want to inquire about something, they should ask their own husbands at home; for it is disgraceful for a woman to speak in the church.”

It is a proven fact that the above verses were not written in the original text that Apostle Paul wrote. Those verses were actually found written in the margin on the side of a manuscript and no scholar can authenticate that Apostle Paul actually wrote them. That is why in some manuscripts of 1 Corinthians 14, the verses about women remaining silent come after verse 40 rather than verses 34 and 35. There are many articles from reputable sources over the internet validating this fact.

Here are some interesting observations. If you look at the text of the original manuscript in context of the surrounding scriptures to these verses, it is about the prophets speaking in order (verses 29-33), then these verses 34 and 35 are mentioned about women remaining silent, and immediately in verse 36, Apostle Paul resumes writing about the prophets again. It doesn’t flow and is obvious it was some sort of an afterthought, but from whom? That may be why some translations of the Bible list the verses at the end after verse 40.

In addition, if we want to stay within the letter of the law, this verse is not addressing unmarried women. They specifically state these women should ask their husbands at home. What about the unmarried ones?

A most interesting question to pose is, why would Apostle Paul reference “the law” in verse 34 as validation about women remaining silent when he preached in his other Epistles we are no longer under the law, but under grace and there is no gender in God's eyes (Galatians 3:28)? Which law is he referring to? There isn't one within the 613 Mosaic laws or the Ten Commandments, and Apostle Paul did not teach Judaism practices (i.e. Tanakh, Gemara or Talmud). Plus, the Corinthian converts were mostly Gentiles and not Jews. Therefore, if it were a country/city law, that doesn't appear to fit either, because during Paul's time, Corinthia worshipped a female god (Aphrodite) and had many women leaders as did many of the other Gentile cities He evangelized in. It makes no sense for them to restrict women in that way as a law.

More questions to ask oneself is - Do you believe Apostle Paul actually wrote those verses and do they concur with his other writings? Yes, he did write in 1 Timothy 2:11-15 that women should learn in quietness and submission, but that is between a husband and wife. All women are not to be submitted to every man, and cannot a woman ever graduate from the student (the learner)?

Most importantly, does 1 Corinthians 14:34-35 represent the heart of God and the finished work of Jesus Christ on the Cross? Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom (2 Cor. 3:17).

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As a result of the woman hearkening to another spirit (a serpentine type of spirit) than the spirit which had spoken to the man, and as a result of the woman, herself, disobeying that voice of the spirit, and as result of the woman then tempting the man to, also, disobey that spirit and to hearken and yield and to obey another (serpentine) spirit, the word of God came unto them :

Unto the woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee. [Genesis 3:16 KJV]

This is law.

It is not the law of Moses, which came later and is a more full expression of law, as such, in many commandments and ordinances. The law was more fully expressed at that time, prior to the whole Hebrew nation being given, for the first time, their own land to live in, separate from all the other nations.

Thus they needed the whole of law to govern them.

But in the beginning, the word of God, which, itself 'law' in every sense of the word, came quite specifically as to the relationship of male to female, given what had occurred, given the necessary response to those activities and given the necessity of not allowing the same to happen again in future . . . .

. . . . for example, within the church.

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  • So, you are saying there is no provision in the Mosaic Law that we know of, but Paul is speaking of a prior law Gen 3:16 given by God to all. Which, speaking to what would become Jew and Gentile, makes some sense. Paul says we are from the Mosaic Law (Romans 6:15, Gal 5:1), but apparently not from prior law. Or again, could Paul not be speaking of Roman Law?
    – SLM
    Dec 5, 2023 at 17:44
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    @SLM I see this in much the same way that the apostles pointed back to the command made after the Flood, to the whole world, regarding blood being forbidden ; or the way that Paul says 'doth not nature teach' in regard to the different hair lengths of male and female. These are matters that are general to the whole of humanity. They are fundamental to human nature. Just as was the command 'the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou dost not eat of it'. They are contradictory to human nature as such. Or to human nature after a specific judgment has been enacted.
    – Nigel J
    Dec 5, 2023 at 19:26
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As Stirling March wrote, Paul explicitly speaks of women in light of their respective social/cultural position under the authority of man as a whole. The woman is the weaker version of man according to 1 Peter 3:7, and Paul makes clear to note in 1 Corinthians 11 that Man is the head of the woman as Christ is the head of man and God is the head of Christ. Moreover, Peter states that women should consider their Husbands as Lord. Biblical context means comparing the Bible to The Bible. There was, in fact, not a single recorded Biblical instance of a woman addressing a religious congregation in any way. It simply was not done. Also, when Paul refers to The Law in the entirety of 1 Corinthians, he quoted the old testament exclusively. It makes no sense (except to satisfy one’s biases) to assume that Paul would be referring to any other law except the one he exclusively referred to earlier on in 1 Corinthians without making a point to differentiate the two. The question then comes down to, is Scripture God-Breathed or not? Did God not choose the words that Paul wrote? Does verse 38 in 1 Corinthians 14 not state that the preceding instructions were The Lord’s Commandment?

It seems many here want to avoid explicit teaching in order to satisfy their seemingly secular desire to get along with contemporary culture. The word “Speak”, which is used more than several times in 1 Corinthians 14 alludes to all kinds of speech. It is a term that is used as a general descriptor throughout all of the New Testament. Paul could have easily used any other word to specify the kind of speech women were to not engage in, but he didn’t. The general descriptor for all forms of audible expression were used. He also stated this in the plural when it came to who received this instruction in verse 34; as in all churches, not only the one. That means the Greek and the Roman churches both received the same instructions.

It is presumptuous at best to conclude that women were praying or prophesying in the midst of religious congregation. The context of 1 Corinthians 11 when speaking of head coverings is abstract and not specified when it comes to environment. Everyone who reads their Bible know that women pray and prophesy. However, there is no instance of a woman audibly doing so within the setting of religious congregation found in the entirety of Scripture.

To conclude this simply and bluntly, The Bible says what it says. God Says what He says. 1 Corinthians 14:33-38 says what it says. Arguing against it is not going to change what it says. Women are not allowed to speak in Church, period. It is disgraceful for women to speak in church, period. Women are to be subject to men, period; for women are not the dominant form of mankind, only man is. Men and women are not equal. God can speak through males and females, but in Worship of The Lord, we worship Him in order. That means: God First, Christ Second, Man third, Woman last. Women have nothing to say but to receive. They can Pray and Prophesy in their own hearts to themselves.

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    Largely, I agree. But what about Priscilla and Aquila ? (Sometimes she is first, sometimes it is he. And they both instructed Apollos, but, yes indeed, she only in Aquila's presence.) And Deborah ? (Yes, in concert with Barak.) And the prophetess Huldah ? Up-voted +1, but with slight reservations. Women may prophesy (among themselves, covered) and even to men, in seemly fashion, covered. And in a day of weak men, they might outshine the males. Welcome to BH. Please see the Tour and Help (below, bottom left),
    – Nigel J
    Mar 25, 2021 at 22:48
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The cited verse does not say that there is a law that women aren't allowed to speak.

The logic of the argument is as follows:

Women shouldn't be permitted to speak because, as the law says, they should be submissive.

The idea that women should be submissive to men is throughout scripture. But even the prohibition on speaking is taken out of context, which is an extended discussion of people interrupting the service of the church by speaking in tongues spontaneously and disruptively prophesying.

Apparrently, there was a problem in Corinth of the women interrupting the speaker by speaking in tongues, and Paul was in effect forbidding them to speak and reminding them that they should be be quiet and submit to their husbands. If they had a question, they were to ask their husbands after the service. Possibly the husbands in that church were not the ones interrupting the service, and therefore they were not the ones commanded to be silent.

One of the issues with reading these letters to the churches is that you are listening to one statement in a conversation, as the churches wrote to Paul for guidance or may have asked Paul for advice on the normal issues of church administration, and we are seeing just one message in this back and forth.

There is just no substitute for spending time reading the context and really trying to understand what these things are about, rather than just grabbing a couple of clauses, stringing them together, and then demanding an explanation.

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Possibly Miriam and Aaron

You excluded Genesis, which is probably most commonly connected to the author's citation. The Law often refers to the first 5 books of the Torah, which includes Genesis. Excluding Genesis is non-trivial.

However, accepting that conceit, it seems possible that the author is referring to Numbers 12:14, the story of Miriam and Aaron. This argument was advanced (best) by Kenneth Cukrowsi1 at Yale Divinity. Dr. Cukrowski notes that Corinthians includes some allusions to this story. The story also parallels the discussions happening within the Corinthian community. Miriam was also a popular figure at the time of writing.

Did Paul write this?

Your question frames this as something Paul wrote. That's a non-trivial assertion. Although it is possible, there is also an extant tradition of interpreting this passage as a quotation.

In this understanding, Paul is quoting an argument made by Corinthians (presumably the men). The men claim that their women should be silent. Paul refutes this in 1 Cor: 36-37.

You can find this interpretation in many journals and publications. A succinct example (which isn't paywalled!) is in Flanagan and Snyder, 19812.


Works Cited:

(1). "'Even as the Law Says': An Allusion to Miriam in Numbers 12?." published in Ethics in Context. Ed: James Thompson and Richard A. Wright.

(2). "Did Paul Put Down Women in 1 Cor 14: 34-36?". Biblical Theology Bulletin 11.1. 1981.

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  • Interesting comments. The "Did Paul ..." article especially. It would be odd to claim freedom from the Law (1 Cor 15:56), then subject some back to it. This negates the idea of a broader Mosaic Law from Genesis than only starting at Sinai. Same difference. Set free, but? The address is masculine in v36 also makes one wonder. Of course there are the other verses, but in this question was trying to understand to which law specifically Paul refers. Why not the extant Roman Law of the time? I wouldn't walk down the "later interpolation" lane. Thanks.
    – SLM
    Dec 6, 2023 at 4:23
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As best I can work out, there is no quotation from the Torah here. There may be an allusion to Gen 3:16 (according to UBS5 appendix and most commentaries) about women being obedient to husbands, but it is a strained allusion. In any case, such an injunction should be read in conjunction with Eph 5:21 as applying to all people, not just women.

Further, the same instruction of silence was also applied to all other church attendees in the previous few verses, unless an individual had something significant to say. The same must also apply in v34 too.

As to the source such laws - It does not come from the Torah but Paul's divine revelation such as Paul's own summary of this teaching in 1 Cor 14:39, 40: do not forbid anyone speaking but let it all be done decently and in order; that is, remain silent until after others have spoken. See 2 Peter 3:16, where Peter refers to Paul's writings as authoritative scripture.

There is a similar phenomenon of Paul using his own writings as authoritative in 1 Cor 7:12

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In the bible it says to obey the one who has the rule over you. The original, hebraic understanding of "ruler" would mean, the one whom God has chosen to give you the word of God. The one who adds to or provides more understanding. The God head: God head of Jesus, Jesus head of man, man head of woman. The biblical understanding of the word, "head" can mean the one who "came first," not "head," as in "head of state," or some other hierarchical position. Man was to "rule" over the woman, giving her the word, instruction, wisdom. Since he was to give her the word she was instructed to keep silent and ask her own husband at home, not disrupting a church meeting.

The Church was to keep order. That is the law to keep order. Moses gave the law, but where does it say that a woman must keep silent in the congregation? The Old Testament teaches us that there were women of God such as prophetesses etc... The Bible also says "all are called but few are chosen." All includes women. Most scholars overlook this wording and choose the one that says, MANY are called and few are chosen. The word also tells us God is not a "respecter of persons," (Acts 10:34 KJV) but deals with whomever is willing.

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The law concerning this commandment was given in the book of Genesis. When God declared "Let us make man in our image and likeness and let them have dominion over the earth"he was referring to the Male man. Proof of this is in the fact that immediately after making Adam,God set him about his purpose to dominate(cultivate) the earth even before he made the woman. Then he made the woman! He then gave them a command not to eat from the tree of Good and Evil.Eve deceived by Satan made a decision to disobey God.Adam did not. 1 Tim.2:14 Adam was not deceived but it was Eve who was deceived and was of the transgression. Adam's mistake was to listen to his wife. God told him"Because you have listened to your wife,the ground is now cursed". That was the law! That a man of God is never to receive counsel from his wife seeing as there is nothing in her that did not come out of him but in him is the original essence of God that does not exist in her. Everything in a man is not in a woman but everything in her comes from him!God never went back to the earth after making man and never breathed himself into another human being! Not because of the sin or transgression was the ground cursed but because he received counsel from his wife which was out of order seeing she came out of him and dominion was given to him not her.

Further evidence of this is when God declared to the woman that her husband would have authority(dominion-same word used) and rule over her. From that point on we see much evidence of man's authority over the woman and that she is commanded to serve under man's authority. Furthermore in no divine ceremony or ritual in the bible is a woman allowed to participate verbally period!From Leviticus on. Now it may be said that this pertains to marriage. God intended for all men to be married unless they give themselves to God himself in ministry! His wisdom tells us man should not be alone! In order for the command to be fruitful and multiply given to all mankind to be fulfilled,they must be married! Therefore woman may possess gifts of the Spirit but may not address a congregation of men(and women)to provide counsel from God but are to receive from him at home!

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  • Welcome to BHSX. Thanks for your contribution. Please remember to take the tour (link below) to better understand how this site works. This answer could use some references to support the assertions.
    – Dottard
    Mar 5, 2021 at 8:46
  • As a new contributor, I just offer these comments in a spirit of helpfulness. A trivial detail is that you used exclamation marks 8 times in this short answer, which renders their use virtually ineffective. A serious point is that when you make adamant statements such as, "in him is the original essence of God that does not exist in her" you need to back such claims up with biblical/hermeneutic sources. You cannot expect people to just take your word for that (and other startling statements). I hope you find that helpful.
    – Anne
    Mar 5, 2021 at 17:04
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Paul does not say that the Law command women to be silent. The argument Paul uses from the Law is that women are to be insubmission as the Law also says. Remaining silent in the assembly is simply a way of demonstrating that submission.

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The statement "as the law says" in the OT should be understood as describing women's submission to their husbands, not to keeping silent. The rule against speaking in church was based on the Paul's own authority. This is supported by 1 Timothy 2:12: "I permit no woman to teach or to have authority over men; she is to keep silent." He there is no reference to legal authority but a simple declaration of a rule instituted by the apostle. (See footnote for arguments against the author of either quote being Paul.)

Female submission to one's husband, as noted in other answers, was thought to be instituted by God as part of His curse to Eve:

your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you (Gen. 4:16)

It is further demonstrated by the OT divorce law, which permitted a man to divorce his wife but not the other way around. The commandment, "You shall not covet your neighbor's house, you shall not covet your neighbor's wife, or his male slave, his female slave, his ox, his donkey or anything which belongs to your neighbor" (Exodus 20:17; Deuteronomy 5:21), is not a prohibition about sexual desire, it is a law against contriving to take property belonging to one's neighbor. A woman belonged to her father prior to marriage and to her husband afterward.

Conclusion: the law in question was the law requiring a wife's submission to her husband. There was no Jewish law against a woman speaking in the synagogue.


Note: Biblical critics hold that 1 Timothy was not written by Paul, and some also think that the quote in the OP is an interpolation. Elsewhere in the same letter Paul gives a guideline for for women prophesying: "any woman who prays or prophesies with her head unveiled dishonors her head." (11:5) Prophecy was done in church meetings, not in private. Textual critics point out the rule in the OP appears in different places in various manuscripts, leading the the idea that it was not in the original letter. See this Christianity Today article for details.

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Jewish law alone, since Paul wouldn't be bothered about pagan dirty laws of Rome. The Greeks and Romans had women priests, & goddesses, prostitutes and temple prostitution, women who did not cover themselves in submission, but acted equal as men. Even if you don't find an apparent reference intended by Paul, you should assume the main text which he referenced elsewhere:

[1Tim 2:12-15 NHEB] But I do not permit a woman to teach, nor to exercise authority over a man, but to be in quietness. For Adam was first formed, then Eve. Adam was not deceived, but the woman, being deceived, has fallen into disobedience; but she will be delivered through the childbirth, if they continue in faith and love and holiness, with good judgment.

The midrashic sense for her need to learn passively, due to her .... nature. We also know that a woman's testimony was considered half of a man's. For details, you must look into the Jewish roots of scripture, the midrash, Talmud etc for a better understanding of Christianity, since Christians know very little about the scriptures. David Stern, a Jewish roots Christian commentator writes on this verse:

As the Torah also says. See v. 21N, Ro 3:19N and Mt 5:17&N. If Sha'ul means the Five Books of Moses, he may be thinking of Genesis 3:16 (compare Ep 5:22, 1 Ti 2:8-15). If he is thinking of the Tanakh as a whole, there are a number of places where a subordinate role for women is assumed or prescribed, although other places envision an equal or superior role; see the article on "Woman" in the Encyclopedia Judaica for references. The Talmud reports that Rabbi El'azar ben-'Azaryah (early 2nd century) gave a homily on the verse, "Assemble the people, the men and the women and the little ones" (Deuteronomy 31:10), in which he said, "If the men came to learn, the women came to hear" (Chagigah 3a). To "learn" in Judaism is to study by discussing and thus to understand fully, because one's questions get answered; whereas to "hear" is to listen to the interchange but not participate in it. 

I couldn't find the Encyclopedia Judaica, but here is a quote from myjewishlearning, women in rabbinic literature site:

Negative Traits Ascribed to Women

Woman’s otherness and less desirable status are assumed throughout the rabbinic literature. While women are credited with more compassion and concern for the unfortunate than men, perhaps as a result of their nurturing roles, they also are linked with witchcraft (Mishnah 2:7; Jerusalem Talmud Kiddushin 4, 66b), foolishness (BT Shabbat 33b), dishonesty (Genesis Rabbah 18:2), and licentiousness (Mishnah Sotah 3:4, and BT Ketubot 65a), among a number of other inherent negative qualities (Genesis Rabbah 45:5).

Sometimes the secondary and inferior creation of women is cited as explaining their disagreeable traits (Genesis Rabbah 18:2); elsewhere Eve’s culpability in introducing death into the world accounts for women’s disabilities in comparison to male advantages (Genesis Rabbah 17:8). Aggadic [narrative] exegeses of independent biblical women tend to criticize their pride and presumption. Thus, the biblical judge Deborah is likened to a wasp, and the prophetess Huldah to a weasel (BT Megillah 14b); other biblical heroines are similarly disparaged, and women who display unusual sagacity often meet early deaths (BT Ketubot 23a).

Women do utter words of wisdom in rabbinic stories, but generally such stories either confirm a rabbinic belief about women’s character, such as women’s higher degree of compassion for others (BT Avodah Zarah 18a; BT Ketubot 104a), or deliver a rebuke to a man in need of chastisement (BT Eruvin 53b; BT Sanhedrin 39a).

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The capitalization used in the word Law in NASB, but also in other versions like ESV,

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.

indicates to be the Old Testament Law.


Also, in the Portuguese Bíblia Para Todos (BPT) version is clear to be the Law of Moses (equivalent to Old Testament Law). In it, one reads

as mulheres não devem tomar a palavra nas reuniões da igreja. Não lhes é permitido falar, mas devem ser submissas, como diz a Lei de Moisés.

which translates to something like

women should not take the floor in church meetings. They are not allowed to speak, but they must be submissive, as the Law of Moses says.

This Portuguese version is, according to Sociedade Bíblica Portuguesa

translated from the original languages: the Hebrew and Aramaic of the Old Testament and the Greek of the New Testament, into the current Portuguese-European.


Also, Bible commentaries mostly agree that it refers the Old Testament Law.


To me, based on that, is clear to be the "Old Testament Law" - also referred to "Law of Moses" or “Law”.

Note: if you will to know more about what this prohibition mean, consider reading my other answer.

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    He knows which law, but he is asking which specific command, where it is written.
    – Michael16
    Oct 2, 2022 at 13:58
  • @Michael16 disagree. There are different views on that where some point to the Roman law or even affirm that is not Paul's writing. I also disagree with both of these views. Oct 2, 2022 at 16:34
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Anyone who said that this is a Roman law is clearly not reading scripture properly. First, let me state that it is clear that this is a law of God because he said both to Ephesus women by Tim for them trying to gain power in the church and he said not only that they can not teach which they were doing in Ephesus as pagan church allowed it (see "Prominent First-Century Women). It is clear that there is an order because in 1 Cor. 14:34 the same thing is said about not speaking but it says that it dishonors a husband for them to speak in the congregation what does this have to do regarding Roman law. How does going against Roman law dishonor a husband if God allows women teachers because wouldn't they say it's honorable but Romans won't let it? Or maybe it is dishonorable because the man is the head of the woman the **man is supposed to be seen as the head not having women teaching as if they are the head for the Woman is subject to her Husbands law while she lives.

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Gen. 3:16

There's a clear answer here if we understand that "just as the Law says" actually means just as the Torah says. In Hebrew, "torah" and "law" are synonymous. Since the author does not quote the "law" it is probably a well known Torah scripture. The most likely verse is Gen. 3:16b:

Your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you.

The fact that 1 Cor. is speaking of subjection to one's husband is indicated in the next verse: "...if they want to learn anything, they should ask their husbands at home."

Incidentally, some commentators argue that these verses are not actually written by Paul. They appear in different places in the text of ancient manuscripts, and seem to contradict his teachings elsewhere about the equality of women in Christ. In fact, Paul gives guidance about the proper attire for women who prophecy in church in 1 Cor. itself (chapter 11).

Conclusion: Whether this verse was actually written by Paul or was inserted by a scribe later on, the term "law" probably means Torah, and the most likely reference is Gen. 3:16.

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Did you know there is a symbol within this statement, that women should be silent, that is the equivalent of a quotation mark? There was no punctuation in greek but there was a symbol that looks like an n with the later leg hanging low. This greek symbol when used with a quote means "ridiculous!" or "What!" Some theologians ascertain that Paul was not the one saying that woman should be silent, they should not be permitted to speak, as he was just teaching about how men and women are to speak in all of the congregations. That would be contradicting himself. There is also no "law" that is referred to here in the Jewish text, which means the person demanding that the women not speak (not preach, speak)is not very familiar with Jewish law, so that is another reason why it is most likely not Paul. After this supposed quote, Paul states "do you think the gospel came for you and me only? Again I say... and he encourages men and women to speak. Granted he is using the word prophecy, but what is prophecy? Speaking out the heart of God. Dare I say, what is happening when one preaches? You can find the references to this in the book that has hundreds of references that are excellent. Very well done on the research end. It is called "Why Not Women?" by Loren Cunningham and David Joel Hamilton. The leaders of Youth With A mission. The largest short-term missions agency in the world that has sent millions of men and women to preach the gospel worldwide. If it is true and Paul is correcting a letter that came to him regarding this, then we have been making up doctrine to keep 1/2 the population from preaching the gospel for thousands of years. Sounds like a plot of satan not of God to have the gospel muzzled. Especially as Jesus picked a woman to preach to men as for the first time the gospel was every told in the upper room. Jesus rebuked the men in one of the gospels for not listening to the women. Pricilla and Aquila were pastors affirmed by Paul. A female pastor. Phoebe was sent by Paul to speak in all of the churches in Rome. We have to look at all of scripture. It is amazing how one quotation mark changes the entire reading of these verses. Look for the symbol. It is still in most King James Versions and all greek versions.

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  • Welcome to Bible 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.
    – agarza
    Oct 1, 2022 at 12:58
  • Why don't you provide the symbol and an authoritative link? Oct 3, 2022 at 16:48
  • Paul states " does not have a closing quote. Oct 3, 2022 at 16:49
  • Sounds like a plot of satan not of God to have the gospel muzzled. Speculation, without any Bible references, is not what this site is for. Oct 3, 2022 at 16:49

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