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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    The Authorised Version has a marginal note to Genesis 3:16 thy desire shall be to thy husband and he shall rule over thee. – Nigel J Jul 8 '19 at 11:32
  • Chrysostom's commentary can be found here. – Lucian Jul 9 '19 at 0:10
  • @Ruminator How can a very specific and important question regarding the intriguing phrase "just as the Law also says" be regarded as a duplicate of a general question about the meaning of the entire passage? – Julian Newman Dec 28 '19 at 16:47
  • No worries; I didn't move to close as a duplicate, just noted the similarity. – Ruminator Dec 29 '19 at 17:07

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. 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:


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:


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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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. Rule in this term means whom God has chosen to give you the word of God. To add to give more understanding. The God head: God head of Jesus, Jesus head of man, man head of woman. Head means came first. Man was to rule over the woman, give her the word. Since he was to give her the word she was ordered to keep silent and ask her own husband at home not blurt out at church. Church was to keep order. That is the law to keep order. Moses gave the law and in it where does it say for a woman to keep silent in the church? Old testament teaches us their was women of God such as prophetesses etc... Bible says all are call but few are chosen. All includes women. Most Scholars overlook this verse and chooses the one that say many are called and few are chosen. The word also tells us God has no respectable person whom ever is willing.

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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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