December 3, 2023 | Doug Sauder
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“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. Or did the word of God originate with you? Or are you the only people it has reached? If anyone thinks they are a prophet or otherwise gifted by the Spirit, let them acknowledge that what I am writing to you is the Lord’s command. But if anyone ignores this, they will themselves be ignored. Therefore, my brothers and sisters, be eager to prophesy, and do not forbid speaking in tongues.”—1 Corinthians 14:34–39 (NIV)
After reading today’s Scripture, there are probably a lot of emotions and thoughts circulating through your mind. As believers, we want to be good stewards of the Word of God by not shying away from these passages. If you have ever heard of the expression, “Drinking from a fire hose,” then I want you to keep that in mind while reading today. In order to keep this devotional concise, yet applicable and truthful, I will present 3 areas of context to consider and end with an eternal truth to walk away with!
Local Church Culture
When you think about Paul writing to the Corinthian Church, it’s probably very different from what the Church was actually like back then. Churches in this time gathered in houses. People would come together to worship, fellowship, and hear teaching, yet they would also exercise their spiritual gifts in a way we don’t see today in large church environments. Consequently, there was more room for speaking in tongues and prophecy which is why Paul writes so much about conduct in worship.
If you have been following along with the daily devotionals, then you know that Paul has been correcting flawed practices in worship because the Corinthians were using spiritual gifts in their own pride. This is why Paul’s tone of voice is so stern. He has just instructed them on speaking in tongues and, in the verses right before these, he is talking about conduct in prophesying. Therefore, we must recognize that Paul is talking about the specific practice of prophecy when he writes this passage.
Women in Corinth
Corinth was surrounded by mystery cults that exploited women as temple prostitutes and normalized their unruly and provocative behavior. Traces of these norms were being seen in the behavior of women in the Church as they spoke over others and questioned prophecies, including that of their husbands. This is why Paul directly addresses them here. He does not claim women should never speak, period, because he does not restrict the gift of prophecy only to men in earlier passages such as in 1 Corinthians 11. Nonetheless, Paul is consistent in his message of correcting disrespectful or prideful behavior in worship.
In light of this, it can be clearly seen that Paul was already addressing the pride and ego of the Church in general and, in the process, called out women who were being disruptive in these house church gatherings.
In 1 Corinthians 14:26, just a few verses before, Paul writes “What then shall we say, brothers and sisters? When you come together, each of you has a hymn, or a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue or an interpretation. Everything must be done so that the church may be built up.” The overall truth to be taken from this passage, and from this entire chapter, is that we must speak and use our gifts in obedience and submission to the Lord. If we are disrespectful or distracting in our speaking, then we must check our own heart, leave our ego at the door, and humbly submit to the Spirit’s direction.
Pause: Have you ever spoken something, even though it is truthful, out of pride or selfish motives? Have you ever witnessed someone be disruptive or disrespectful in their speaking in church?
Practice: Practice listening to the Spirit today before you speak. Lean into the direction He steers you in when it comes to speaking truth to people in conversations.
Pray: Father, You are holy and perfect! Thank You for showering me with grace when I speak in my pride or from my ego. I’m sorry for the times I have misused my spiritual gifts or spoken truth from this ill-intent. Continue to expose my weaknesses and humble me so I can become more like You! I want to worship and honor You in every action I make. I love You Lord. Amen.
Samy Rodriguez has been serving with the Calvary writing team since 2020 as a senior at Calvary Christian Academy. Before going to study communications, biblical studies, and intercultural studies at Palm Beach Atlantic University, she interned with the Calvary Communications Team and was a student leader in HSM (High School Ministry). She is passionate about communicating God’s Word and looks forward to continuing to serve in ministry after college.