Re: Women in the Church

From: Jeffrey L. Shelton (
Date: Tue Aug 11 1998 - 11:55:00 EDT

Greetings all:
see various comments marked with #### below:

>At 22:45 98/08/07 -0400, Theodore H. Mann wrote:
>>Greetings all:
>>I have an off-list question I hope someone can answer for me.
>>In 1 Cor.14:34ff, women are forbidden to speak in the churches. However,
>>1 Cor. 11:5, it indicates that women prophesy. I assume this prophecy
>>occurs in a social setting of some kind. What is the solution to this
>>apparent contradiction? ( I'm sure there is really no contradiction at
>>all. )
>Let me venture a comment or two which involves the question of Greek usage,
>and therefore legitimately can be given on-list.
>In 1 Cor 14:34-35 what Paul forbids is for women to LALEW in church. If
>Paul were intending (as he is most frequently taken to be intending) to be
>forbidding women to communicate information, by way of teaching or
>preaching or similar, he had available to him in Greek (and he uses
>elsewhere) a vocabulary of about a dozen suitable words, from specific
>words such as DIDASKW, KHRUSSW, PROFHTEUW, through the range of ANGELLW
>words and compunds, to FASKW, FHMI, EIPEIN, and simply LEGW. All of these
>words have in common that they refer, specifically or generally, in one way
>or another, to the concept of conveying information. Paul did not use any
>of them when referring to what women are not to do in church.

#### In 1 Tim 2:12 Paul does in fact use DIDASKW to speak of what women are
not to do.

>There is another word in Greek which refers to the fact or act of speaking
>without necessary reference to the content of what was said. This word is
>LALEW. This verb simply involves verbal utterance - it is what "the mouth
>speaks" (Mt 12:34), the act of uttering words. Thus whenever the NT refers
>to a person who has been dumb as now being able to speak, the word used is
>always LALEW (Mt 9:33; 12:22; 15:31; Mk 7:37; Lk 11:14). What that person
>says is irrelevant, of course: what matters is the fact that he speaks at

#### Does the fact that he used the generic LALEW not in fact mean, as you
have pointed out, that they are not to speak at all, no matter what the
purpose of the speech may be? In addition to this I might add that in Acts
5:20 LALEW is used in connection with speaking the word of life. In Acts
11:15 concerning Peter speaking to Cornelius "words by which he might be
saved" it is said that "as he began to LALEW [those words]" In Acts 4:29:
LALEW is likewise used in Peter's prayer that he be able to LALEW the
[Lord's] word.

>Similarly, LALEW is the normal word used for when people engage in informal
>conversation: it refers simply to talking, especially in the sense of
>conversing, or chatting, or even chattering or babbling. On some occasions
>LALEW is used of Jesus teaching people (e.g., Mt 13:3), but on such
>occasions the central idea conveyed is that of engaging in oral
>communication, of being heard; and usually the idea of informal utterance
>is also present.
>In my judgement it is significant that when Paul says in 1 Cor 14:34-35
>that women are not permitted to speak in church, he does not use any of the
>words that mean to teach or preach or communicate a message. He does not
>even use one of the ordinary Greek words for "speak" which refer to the
>conveying of meaningful content (LEGW, FHMI, EIPEIN). The word Paul uses
>(twice, once each in 14:34 and 14:35) is LALEW - which is a VERY ambiguous
>and inconclusive word to use if "preach/teach/communicate information to
>the congregation" is the meaning to be conveyed.
>The background context in which this passage is found is one that is
>dealing with the question of good order in the congregation. The (correct)
>alternative to whatever it is which the women are doing in the congregation
>is to ask their husbands their questions at home. This would suggest that
>what they were doing was breaching good order in the congregation by
>talking amongst themselves or asking questions of their husbands during the
>assembly. (Men and women sat separately in the assembly.)
>>Can anyone suggest a really good article or publication dealing
>>with the role of women in the church ( head coverings, etc.)?
>My comments above are drawn from Chapter 3, "Women Speaking in Church", of
>my book "The Ministry of Women in the Church" (SPCK Australia, 1996, ISBN
>1-876106-05-0). Chapter 4 of this book deals with 1 Corinthians 11 and
>headcoverings, headship, etc. Other chapters discuss other passages of
>Scripture considered relevant to the topic. It is not for the author to
>comment on whether this book comes into the category of "good article or
>publication". But it does deal in some detail with all the Scriptures
>touching on the issue, examining the different interpretations which are
>found in the church, and suggesting which interpretation most fully does
>justice (in the judgement of the author) to biblical teaching. (If the book
>is not readily available locally, I can forward a copy postfree for $US15,
>paid into a US bank account.)
>>I haven't
>>checked the archives. Is there anything there? Many thanks.
>>Best in Christ,
>>Theodore "Ted" H. Mann
>>Orchard Lake, Michigan
>Rev Dr B. Ward Powers Phone (International): 61-2-9799-7501
>10 Grosvenor Crescent Phone (Australia): (02) 9799-7501
>SUMMER HILL NSW 2130 email:

#### Your fellow servant
Jeffrey L. Shelton
President, Cebu Bible College
Cebu, Philippines

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