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Discussion Forum : Scriptures and Doctrine : Reconciliation of 1 Cor 11:5 and 1 Cor 14:34!

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Joined: 2012/3/10
Posts: 87

 Reconciliation of 1 Cor 11:5 and 1 Cor 14:34!

Recently I have been discussing the issue of women being silent in an assembly of the church with some Christians and someone mentioned that 1 Cor 14:34 could not possibly mean that women were to be silent in the common sense of the English word because it would contradict 1 Cor 11:5 where it talks of women needing to wear a head covering when they pray or prophecy (which would of course involve speaking).

So...not knowing what to say about that apparent contradiction I brought the matter up before the Lord and here is what He led me to understand.

I present it here to allow Him to give me more adequate understanding or even correction through those of you here who might care to comment on what I have been led to understand bearing in mind that I may yet not understand things as well as I ought to.

First let me quote the verses in question...(from the NASB or New American Standard Bible)...

1 Cor 11:5 says "But every woman who has her head uncovered while praying or prophesying..."

1 Cor 14:34 says "The women are to keep silent in the churches; for they are not permitted to speak..."

The context of these instructions is important. For example in 1 Cor 14:35 a woman may speak out and ask her husband whatever she wants to know about whereas in 1 Cor 14:34 she is not allowed to speak out at all.

The difference is the context.

In 1 Cor 14:34 the context for the application of that instruction is an assembly of the church whereas in 1 Cor 14:35 the context is the home where a woman can speak out freely.

As I prayed to the Lord to give me insight on this apparent contradiction (between being allowed to speak with a head covering and not in an assembly) and how to get around it, it dawned on me that the context of the instruction to remain silent in 1 Cor 14:34 is absolutely clear.

1 Cor 14:19 - "...however, in the church..."
1 Cor 14:23 - "Therefore if the whole church assembles together..."
1 Cor 14:26 - "...When you assemble..."

The context of the instruction for women to remain silent is an assembly of the church. The whole church.

Bear with me...

Now let's look at 1 Cor 11:5 and whatever context might pertain to those instructions.

In many circles the instructions about head coverings is assumed to be an assembly of the church. Yet when I asked the Lord about the context I came to realize that the context there is not clear at all.

It simply does not say.

Paul praises the Corinthians for holding on to traditions that he previously taught them (1 Cor 11:2) and then immediately goes into teaching about head coverings.

The first time a context is even mentioned is in 1 Cor 1:17 and 18 which says...

"But in giving this instruction, I do not praise you, because you come together not for the better but for the worse. For, in the first place, when you come together as a church, I hear that divisions exist among you;"

A church assembling together again but is that context tied to the instructions about head coverings?

The Amplified Bible puts it this way...

"But in what I instruct [you] next I do not commend [you], because when you meet together, it is not for the better but for the worse. For in the first place, when you assemble as a congregation, I hear that there are cliques (divisions and factions) among you; and I in part believe it..."

According to the Amplified Bible the instructions that Paul attaches to the context of a church assembly are those instructions which he is about to talk about NOT those on head coverings that he just finished instructing them about!

Here is what I believe to be a more correct interpretation of of how 1 Cor 11 and 1 Cor 14 fit together.

Head coverings are to be understood as general instructions to Christians in the church. Not as instructions for how they ought to be in an assembly of the church but in general as to how they ought to be overall.

Women in general are to wear a head covering when they pray or prophesy and men not.

Because of the angels (1 Cor 11:10). Angels are never not present (which would tie into the general context).

Whereas the instructions about women being silent in an assembly of the church in 1 Cor 14:34 and not speaking out in a prophetic utterance or other gift that expresses itself through speaking are attached to the context of an assembly of the church.

This interpretation allows both sets of instructions to perfectly blend together while not discounting or negating what each set says individually about head coverings or women being silent in the church.

This makes perfect sense.

A professor at a college might tell his students that they can all contact their friends through their cell phones by text messaging them any time they want but that in the context of his classroom that they must turn off their cell phones.

Women are to wear a head covering any time they pray or prophecy anywhere except in an assembly of the church where they are not allowed to speak prophetically or in any other way which involves expressing a gift of the Spirit through public speaking to the whole church.

Thoughts on this reconciliation between 1 Cor 11 and 1 Cor 14 anyone?


 2012/3/10 19:27Profile

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