Some interpretations I've heard of 1 Corinthians 14:34-35 argue that because verse 35 is merely restating what is said in verse 34, and since verse 35 discusses women asking questions, therefore verse 34 also must only be discussing the asking of questions. However, since verse 35 starts out saying, "And [δέ] if they want to learn something..." (NKJV, emphasis mine), would this suggest that verse 35 is in addition to verse 34, rather than a mere restatement in different words? Thank you.


Concerning 1 Cor 14:34, 35, the NIV provides a good, representative translation of this verse.

“Women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the law says. 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.” 1 Cor 14:34, 35.

We should immediately observe three points about this text that are obvious:

  • The women (or wives) being in subjection should be read in the context of ALL Christians being subject to one another (Eph 5:21)
  • Paul’s instruction here does not mean that women (or wives) should remain silent in church or that they are forbidden to speak or preach. 1 Cor 11:5 makes this clear by providing instruction on how women were to speak and preach.
  • The advice Paul gives is in the context of calming the rabble that had developed in Corinth as various “prophets” competed to speak in tongues and prophesy. Thus it is not a plea for silence as much as order as confirmed in 1 Cor 14:40, “let all things be done decently and in order”.

The "but if" (εἰ δέ) phrase at the beginning of V35 is significant. Paul is discussing general chit-chat in church where people chat to one another and wives talk with their husband. He is contrasting banning such general chit-chat in church with what is allowed at home.

That is, Paul does not forbid women to speak and preach in church, he only forbids women and others to talk among themselves while some is presumably preaching or prophesying. Only one person should speak at a time (V29-33).

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