Must Women Be Silent in Church? (Women in Ministry Part 2)

 

Must Women Be Silent

In Church?

(Women in Ministry Part 2)

No, Despite the False Traditions Otherwise

by Rich Vermillion

 

Woodcarving: Mary sees Jesus and angels at the tomb.

God chose women to be the first people to proclaim the Gospel that Jesus has risen from the dead. In this undated and unattributed woodcarving, Mary is the first to see the resurrected Lord of Glory, Jesus Christ.

I did not cover every single point about women in my last post on this subject, Women in Ministry: God Did Call Them, So He Still Does. Understandably, there may be lingering questions that sincere Christians may have in the light of how thoroughly I destroyed the argument that women are somehow treated differently in the New Testament.

I proved in my last article on this subject that in order for that traditional interpretation to be true, then God would have had to contradict Himself, which the Bible says that He CANNOT possibly do. (See my article True Doctrines ≠ Contradictions for why this is NECESSARILY be the case.) Therefore, that traditional view against women MUST be false, and I proceeded in my first article on this subject to prove this fact using copious scriptures and exposition from the Greek language (i.e., the original language of the New Testament Scripture).

Nevertheless, I left some related topics untouched. So, again, it is very understandable that a sincere question was asked under the second video of my related Handmaidens of the Lord series:

I am trying to settle this in my own mind so I am keeping an open mind. But you were so thorough in your 2 part teaching on women in ministry and I was very disappointed that you did not mention 1Cor 14:34 in your teaching . This is a very important verse and I hope you will clarify what is the Greek to English translation. In my studies it seems that it is saying that women are not to speak in the church but if I am missing something then I am willing to be corrected. I looked up in my e-Sword (Strong’s) to try to connect the words to English. Until this is addressed, I cannot feel convinced.

I am bringing my reply to her back over here, and expanding it into a full article so that others will have this page as a resource whenever the question arises in their minds or conversations. Buckle up, buttercups! We’re about to get into a serious Bible study that also discusses Early Church history and practices.

Laying a Foundation

I am very happy to address the passage in question for the sake of honest people who have this question. There are certainly detractors who will try to use that passage as a “got ya!’ text, despite the fact that the same principal I revealed in the last article still holds true:

Namely, the “traditional” interpretation of 1 Cor. 14:34 CANNOT be true because, as I explained in my first article on this subject and my first and second videos on these issues, that view would be in contradiction with other portions of Scripture.

In short: Since God cannot self-contradict, then Paul could NOT have been commanding the suppression of the vocal expression of women in the church as has been traditionally (and falsely) assumed. The Old Testament is full of women who spoke prophetically — and publicly! — such as the prophetess, Deborah, pictured on the other article. Thus, God would not self-contradict Himself in the NEW covenant that is based on BETTER promises by reversing course.

Now this is the main point of the things we are saying: We have such a High Priest, who is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens, a Minister of the sanctuary and of the true tabernacle which the Lord erected, and not man….But now He has obtained a more excellent ministry, inasmuch as He is also Mediator of a better covenant, which was established on better promises.

(An excerpt from Hebrews 8:1-6, NKJV, emphasis mine)

So, in the BETTER covenant with its BETTER promises, women have less rights and God has decided to stop using them? At face value, only an extremely insecure male or religiously brain-washed zealot (regardless of gender) would think that argument is in the least bit plausible.

BETTER means BETTER, so women did not LOSE anything when Jesus Christ ratified the New Covenant in His Own Blood. In fact, they must have GAINED new rights and privileges in the New Testament over what women of God had under the Old Covenant.

Consider also this overarching truth from God’s Word via the Spirit-inspired writing of Paul:

For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.

(Galatians 3:26-29, NKJV, emphasis mine)

Spiritually speaking, there is no such thing as gender. All Christians, whether they are physically male or female (which happen to be the only 2 choices there can be), are “sons of God” through faith in Jesus Christ. SPIRITS do NOT have gender.

Our bodies have gender, and we can also understand that EMOTIONALLY (i.e., in our souls) we are pre-wired with gender-specific tendencies designed by God to MATCH our physical gender identity. (It is ONLY due to sin that gender-alignment between the soul and body is undermined and twisted.) Since Jesus Christ Himself stated that gender does not apply to spirit beings, we should not try to “interpret” Paul’s clear statement of the same in any other way either. Here is what Jesus stated:

Jesus answered and said to them, “The sons of this age marry and are given in marriage. But those who are counted worthy to attain that age, and the resurrection from the dead, neither marry nor are given in marriage; nor can they die anymore, for they are equal to the angels and are sons of God, being sons of the resurrection

(Luke 20:34-36, NKJV, emphasis mine; Matthew and Mark also quote Jesus similarly.)

Paul did not originate the idea he wrote by God’s Spirit in Galatians above, but he was perfectly agreeing with Jesus Christ. (Note: ALL scriptures, rightly understood, agrees with ALL OTHER scriptures, as I explained here in detail.)

Born-again Christians, regardless of their physical gender, are “sons of God,” as Paul wrote above too. Jesus explained that the EVENT of the resurrection will apply this same spiritual reality to our physical bodies also, and there will no longer be marriages between resurrected believers. The only “marriage” that will be relevant will be the of the Bride of Christ (i.e., the Church, all of the resurrected saints of God) at the Marriage Supper of the Lamb.

THEREFORE: Since the gifts and callings of God are SPIRITUAL in nature, then there is again a contradiction created whenever someone asserts a false interpretation of 1Cor 14:34 that demands utter silence of women in church (i.e., congressional) settings.

CONSEQUENTLY, like with the passages discussed in the videos, there MUST be another understanding/interpretation of 1Cor. 14:34 that does NOT contradict portions of scriptures such as the ones I mentioned above.

Examining the Passage In Question

Now let me quote the passage about which our commentator was inquiring. I will do so from the NKJV and in its more full context:

How is it then, brethren? Whenever you come together, each of you has a psalm, has a teaching, has a tongue, has a revelation, has an interpretation. Let all things be done for edification. If anyone speaks in a tongue, let there be two or at the most three, each in turn, and let one interpret. But if there is no interpreter, let him keep silent in church, and let him speak to himself and to God. Let two or three prophets speak, and let the others judge. But if anything is revealed to another who sits by, let the first keep silent. For you can all prophesy one by one, that all may learn and all may be encouraged. And the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets. For God is not the author of confusion but of peace, as in all the churches of the saints.

Let your women keep silent in the churches, for they are not permitted to speak; but they are to be submissive, as the law also says. And if they want to learn something, let them ask their own husbands at home; for it is shameful for women to speak in church.

Or did the word of God come originally from you? Or was it you only that it reached? If anyone thinks himself to be a prophet or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things which I write to you are the commandments of the Lord. But if anyone is ignorant, let him be ignorant.

Therefore, brethren, desire earnestly to prophesy, and do not forbid to speak with tongues. Let all things be done decently and in order.

(1 Corinthians 14:26-40, NKJV, emphasis mine)

Please notice the sections I marked in BOLD for emphasis. The overall purpose of this sections of Paul’s first letter to the Corinthian church was to explain how to run an orderly service, i.e., how things should be done “decently and in order” when believers were gathered together for worship and instruction. The individual points made in this chapter can only be correctly understood within that context, to include what Paul meant by women being silent.

However, the key point here is the context of Paul’s exhortation in this passage, and not the use of the Greek language. In my last article, there were 3 elements that clarified the 1 Timothy 2:12-15 passage discussed therein: The Greek, the immediate context, the context of the Bible as a whole. In the present discussion, the Greek of 1 Cor. 14:34 is not an issue. Rather, the 3 factors are: The immediate context, the context of the Bible as a whole, and an understanding of church history and Paul’s practices in particular.

I will address the latter from the Bible first, since it illuminates the other 2 more clearly.

Diving Deeper

Before explaining how Paul planted and organized churches, let me first point out this revealing passage of the New Testament:

On the next day we who were Paul’s companions departed and came to Caesarea, and entered the house of Philip the evangelist, who was one of the seven, and stayed with him. Now this man had four virgin daughters who prophesied.

(Acts 21:8-9, NKJV, emphasis added)

How could they know that the daughters of Philip prophesied, except that they heard them do so? These young women must not have been “silent” in the way that some have interpreted the 1Cor 14:34 passage if they were actively exercising an utterance Gift of the Spirit.

In fact, Paul was staying with Philip at his house, along with Luke and his other traveling companions. Where is the verse where it says that Paul told Philip to have his daughters knock it off and to be silent? (Hint: There isn’t one.) 😉

Now, let me direct you to these passages too, because it they are integral toward understanding how Paul established churches that he founded:

IN THESSALONICA:

Then Paul, as his custom was, went in to them, and for three Sabbaths reasoned with them from the Scriptures, explaining and demonstrating that the Christ had to suffer and rise again from the dead, and saying, “This Jesus whom I preach to you is the Christ.” And some of them were persuaded; and a great multitude of the devout Greeks, and not a few of the leading women, joined Paul and Silas.

(Acts 17:2-4, NKJV)

IN BEREA:

Then the brethren immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea. When they arrived, they went into the synagogue of the Jews. These were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so. Therefore many of them believed, and also not a few of the Greeks, prominent women as well as men.

(Acts 17:10-12, NKJV)

IN CORINTH (to which church Paul wrote 1 Cor. 14:34):

After these things Paul departed from Athens and went to Corinth. And he found a certain Jew named Aquila, born in Pontus, who had recently come from Italy with his wife Priscilla (because Claudius had commanded all the Jews to depart from Rome); and he came to them. So, because he was of the same trade, he stayed with them and worked; for by occupation they were tentmakers. And he reasoned in the synagogue every Sabbath, and persuaded both Jews and Greeks….But when they opposed him and blasphemed, he shook his garments and said to them, “Your blood be upon your own heads; I am clean. From now on I will go to the Gentiles.” And he departed from there and entered the house of a certain man named Justus, one who worshiped God, whose house was next door to the synagogue.

(Acts 18:1-7 excerpt, NKJV)

IN EPHESUS:

And he went into the synagogue and spoke boldly for three months, reasoning and persuading concerning the things of the kingdom of God. But when some were hardened and did not believe, but spoke evil of the Way before the multitude, he departed from them and withdrew the disciples, reasoning daily in the school of Tyrannus. And this continued for two years, so that all who dwelt in Asia heard the word of the Lord Jesus, both Jews and Greeks.

(Acts 19:8-10, NKJV)

And etc.

PLEASE NOTICE: Paul’s “habit” or “custom” (Acts 17:2) was to go nearly always into the local synagogues upon entering a new city to evangelize among both Jewish and Greek people who knew the God of the Bible, i.e., the One and Only True and Living God.

The Greeks in this setting were mostly curious Greek-speaking people (not necessarily Greeks in ethnicity) who attended the synagogues to hear God’s Word in the Greek language, and likely at least a few proselytes too. Thanks to the Septuagint, which is the Greek version of the Old Testament that was translated by 70 Hebrew scribes circa 250 BC, the Old Testament of the Bible had spread throughout the former Greek empire of Alexander the Great, which was by this time the Roman Empire. Greek was the primary and international language of the realm, and the majority of synagogues did their readings in Greek from the Septuagint because more Jews spoke that language than Hebrew or Aramaic, plus the other locals could understand it.

Therefore, Paul would enter these places at the start of his mission to that city because he could speak to them about the God of the Bible, using the very Scriptures that they read on the Sabbaths. As he did, both Jews and Greeks were converted to Christ as they believed the Gospel and put their faith in Jesus.

Eventually, in many cases, his success at winning converts from among the Jews and Greeks would cause him to be persecuted by the Jewish leaders. So, he would take his converts elsewhere to continue teaching them. However, here is the key thing to understand, which relates VERY directly to how we are to CORRECTLY understand the 1 Corinthians chapter 14 passage:

(1) Since Paul established his churches from converts made in the synagogues, he also ORGANIZED his churches to be run in the same general manner as the synagogues.

Moreover, pagan temples were full of debauchery. Many of them included heinous sexual acts as part of their idolatrous “worship.” In stark contrast, synagogues back then (AND even among the more traditional ones today) had women sitting separately from the men, keeping the children of both genders below the age of 13 (i.e., 12 and under) with them, while the men and boys ages 13 and up set together is the main part of the assembly. This method of separation was IDEAL for Paul to use as new Gentile converts came to Christ so that they would not be prone toward doing inappropriate things once they joined the congregations of the saints.

(2) Thus, since his initial leadership were people familiar with synagogue organization, it was practical for Paul to use the same worship structure (i.e., with adjustments) because they were already in that habit. This approach also helped mitigate issues that could result from recent pagan converts being tempted to doing immoral acts, among the other benefits this practice of his afforded.

Sources Say…

Let me expand on the above by providing some useful quotations from a few of my several archeological/historical resources that I have in my personal library. I want you to understand that my statements above are not mere assumption, but informed conclusions based on what we know of the biblical account of Paul’s ministry and the early church as a whole, as well as from archeological history of this time period.

My copy of Zondervan’s Pictorial Bible Dictionary (you can get the newer edition here) says the following on pages 818 – 819 under its description of the form of worship in a synagogue (bracketed note is mine):

The congregation was divided, the men on one side and the women on the other….

…The importance of the “freedom of the synagogue,” as this custom was called, to the propagation of the Gospel can scarcely be over-emphasized. Jesus constantly went into the synagogues to teach, and everywhere Paul went he searched out the synagogue. This was not only that he might preach the “good news” to his fellow countrymen but also to reach the God-fearers (sebomenoi, hoi phoboumenoi). These were Gentiles who had become disillusioned with the old pagan religions and were attracted to Judaism because of its high ethical morality and its monotheistic faith. They were not [for the most part] proselytes. Certain requirements in order to attain that status, particularly circumcision, kept them out. But they were interested observers. Some even kept the Jewish holy days, observed eating regulations and were tolerably conversant with the synagogue prayers and scripture lessons. These God-fearers proved to be ready recipients of the Gospel, and it was primarily to reach them that Paul often used the “freedom the synagogue” to preach Christ….

The form of worship of the synagogue was adopted by both the Christian and Muslim religions….

The classic work, Smith’s Bible Dictionary (newer print edition here), confirms and adds to these points as follows on pages 657-660:

The congregation were divided, men on one side, women on the other, a low partition, five or six feet high, running between them. The arrangements of modern synagogues, for many centuries, have made the separation more complete by placing the women in low side-galleries, screened off by lattice-work….

It will be enough, in this place, to notice in what way the ritual, no less than the organization, was connected with the facts of the New Testament history, and with the life and order of the Christian Church….

…From the synagogue, lastly, come many less conspicuous practices, which meet us in the liturgical life of the first three centuries: Ablution, entire or partial, before entering the place of meeting, John 13:1-5; Heb. 10:22; standing, and not kneeling, as the attribute of prayer, Luke 19:11; the arms stretched out; the fact turned toward the Kibele of the east; the responsive amen of the congregation to the prayers and benedictions of the elders, 1 Cor. 14:16.

…The Language of the New Testament shows that the officers of the synagogue exercised in certain cases a judicial power…Here also we trace the outline of a Christian institution. The Church, either by itself or by appointed delegates, was to act as a court of arbitration in all disputes among its members. The elders of the church were not, however, to descend to the trivial disputes of daily life. For the elders, as for those of the synagogue, were reserved the graver offenses against religion and morals.

The Christian Church of the first 3 centuries imitated the order and organization of synagogues in multiple ways. I included the last paragraph above because it should bring to your attention THIS passage of 1 Corinthians also, which discusses such a judicial function of the Church as described above:

It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and such sexual immorality as is not even named among the Gentiles—that a man has his father’s wife! And you are puffed up, and have not rather mourned, that he who has done this deed might be taken away from among you. For I indeed, as absent in body but present in spirit, have already judged (as though I were present) him who has so done this deed. In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when you are gathered together, along with my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.

(1 Corinthians 5:1-5, NKJV)

If Paul was telling the Christians in Corinth how to run the judicial aspect of church affairs LIKE A SYNAGOGUE, then it is quite understandable that later in the same letter (chapter 14) he was still using that same model when he expounded on the order of worship, to include notes regarding how women were separated from the men during services. It is the same LETTER, folks!

Moreover, Paul made similar statements about church functions throughout his writings that clearly illustrate the fact that he used synagogues as models for how he organized believers when he founded congregations. His many statements about “appointing elders” is a direct reference to the Presbyterian form of governance that was practiced in the synagogues and by the ORIGINAL church in Jerusalem. For example:

So when they (i.e., the apostles, Barnabas and Paul, see verse 14) had appointed elders in every church, and prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord in whom they had believed.

(Acts 14:23, NKJV, bracketed note mine)

For this reason I left you in Crete, that you should set in order the things that are lacking, and appoint elders in every city as I commanded you…

(Titus 1:5, NKJV)

And you can easily see the council and “ruler of the synagogue” model in the description of how the Jerusalem church sorted out this matter:

Now the apostles and elders came together to consider this matter…

And after they had become silent, James [half-brother of Jesus by Mary, see Matt. 13:55 and Mark 6:3, who was also the author of the Book of James in the New Testament and at this time considered the leader of the church at Jerusalem, even by Peter, e.g., note Acts 12:17] answered, saying, “Men and brethren, listen to me: Simon has declared how God at the first visited the Gentiles to take out of them a people for His name. And with this the words of the prophets agree, just as it is written:

‘After this I will return
And will rebuild the tabernacle of David, which has fallen down;
I will rebuild its ruins,
And I will set it up;
So that the rest of mankind may seek the Lord,
Even all the Gentiles who are called by My name,
Says the Lord who does all these things.’
“Known to God from eternity are all His works. Therefore I judge that we should not trouble those from among the Gentiles who are turning to God, but that we write to them to abstain from things polluted by idols, from sexual immorality, from things strangled, and from blood. For Moses has had throughout many generations those who preach him in every city, being read in the synagogues every Sabbath.”

Then it pleased the apostles and elders, with the whole church, to send chosen men of their own company to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas, namely, Judas who was also named Barsabas, and Silas, leading men among the brethren.

(Excerpt from Acts chapter 15, NKJV, bracketed note mine)

Therefore, it is of no surprise that this quote form Nelson’s New Illustrated Bible Manners and Customs: How the People of the Bible Really Lived does a fine job of summarizing all that I have just explained above when it says on page 413 (emphasis and bracketed note mine):

No doubt early Christian congregations were influenced in their form of worship by the synagogue services with which they were familiar, involving [but certainly not exclusively] the reading of Scripture and the comment on it, the singing of hymns, and prayers.

And regarding my earlier point regarding the licentious habits of pagan worship in the ancient world and Corinth, this same resource explains on page 564 (bracketed notes mine}:

Since much of the [Corinthian] population was mobile (sailors, businessmen, government officials, et al.), it was cut off from the inhibitions of a settled society. To make matters worse, the Corinthians commonly practice religious prostitution in connection with the temples of the city. For instance, religions prostitution employed 1,000 priestesses of the Temple of Aphrodite on the Acropolis. The social mobility and the evils of religions practices produced a general corruption of society. “Corinthian morals” became a byword [i.e., insult by sarcasm] even in the pagan Roman world.

It is no wonder that Paul had so much to say about the sacredness of the body in his first Corinthian letter….

Therefore, to reiterate what I said before: The combination of these 2 things…

  1. The fact that initial converts came from the synagogues (both Jews and Greeks) and had that organization of its governance and worship in mind…
  2. AND the fact that the pagan society in which Christians lived (particularly in Corinth) widely practiced sexual deviation in their temples…

…made the division of women and men in Christian services an ideal practice as part of their order of worship.

The Correct Interpretation of 1 Cor. 14:23

NOW, with these points in mind, what would it be like if a wife or daughter was sitting off in a separate section, and tried to get the attention of their husband or father to ask a question during the service?

Wife: “Pssst! Hey, Titus…what did Paul just say? I am not sure what he meant.”

Husband: “Shhhh! He’s still speaking! Ask me back at home!”

Let’s look at the passage in question again in this light:

Let your women keep silent in the churches, for they are not permitted to speak; but they are to be submissive, as the law also says. And if they want to learn something, let them ask their own husbands at home; for it is shameful for women to speak in church…. Let all things be done decently and in order.

(1 Corinthians 14:34-35, 40, NKJV, emphasis mine)

Stated another way: The CORRECT interpretation of 1 Corinthians chapter 14 requires once to first understand the immediate context that the subject is ORDER in a service, and the broader context of HOW these services were organized. Because women sat SEPARATELY from the men, then they needed to keep their peace during the services to avoid disrupting the speaker and whatever what going on at the time. They were to ask questions LATER, once they got home, if they could not hear or understand something that was said during the service.

And, of course, it is likely that the admonition for silence among the women as they sat in their part of the congregation may have been also intended to ensure they were paying attention and not becoming disruptive in conversation among themselves. This natural tendency for women to gab when they meet is even noted in the Bible in passages such as:

And besides they learn to be idle, wandering about from house to house, and not only idle but also gossips and busybodies, saying things which they ought not.

(1 Timothy 5:13, NKJV)

…the older women likewise, that they be reverent in behavior, not slanderers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things—that they admonish the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be discreet…

(Titus 2:3-5 excerpt, NKJV)

Mature Christian women are those who know how to curb this tendency, and they should teach younger women to do the same. (And, yes, men can blab too much too; I am not picking on women here, but expounding on the practicality of admonishing the women to not disturb services outside of normal order.)

IN SUMMARY, and including some of the points made in the previous article, Women in Ministry:

  1. Women are used by God throughout the Bible in public ministry, to include public prophecy in the New Testament.
  2. There is NO distinction between male and female IN CHRIST, i.e., spiritually, and thus, they are EQUAL in Christ (i.e., in the church and outside the family order, wherein fathers and then husbands are the heads of the household).
  3. Paul organized his churches like synagogues, and separated the women from the men. Therefore, the admonition to “keep silence” in the church is not in contradiction to the fact of women in public ministry whenever the context of 1 Cor. 14:34 is properly understood to be keeping order in a gender-segregated service (which division is rarely made in modern societies).
  4. Paul heard Phillip’s daughters prophesy, which indicates that women upon whom the Spirit moved were indeed allowed to PROPHECY in churches. From this fact we can again infer what my previous articles and videos explain, i.e., that women served in LEADERSHIP and taught God’s people of both physical genders.
  5. Therefore, the ONLY correct interpretation of 1Cor. 14:34 is that women were being instructions to NOT disrupt the services from their location but, as a matter of practicality. They were instructed to ask questions AT HOME later rather than shouting out or trying to get the attention of their husband or father during the meeting, and they needed to avoid chattering with one another during the service.

AGAIN, any other interpretation:

  • Contradicts Scripture (as my previous article details);
  • DENIES passages like Galatians 3:28 that make NO distinction between male and female IN CHRIST;
  • Reduces the gifts and callings of God to a FLESH-BASED criterion (i.e., the contents of one’s pants, i.e., their genitals become the first test of a person’s calling, rather than their salvation, knowledge of Scripture, etc.);
  • And let me add also that such false interpretation is a DENIAL of Bible Prophecy that, in these Last Days, God’s handmaidens will be speaking BOLDLY in the Name of the Lord.

Since this last point is one I had hoped to include in my video series, but did not address. So, let me now expand this second article on the subject to include God’s Word about these End Days.

Women Shall Proclaim, i.e., SPEAK!

There are so many clear passages like these in the Bible, one has to wonder how the traditional interpretation of 1 Corinthians 14:34 could ever have been considered plausible. Nevertheless, bad doctrine does blind people to clear truths found in Scripture, so let me point these passages out VERY openly now.

But Peter, standing up with the eleven, raised his voice and said to them, “Men of Judea and all who dwell in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and heed my words. For these are not drunk, as you suppose, since it is only the third hour of the day. But this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel:

‘And it shall come to pass in the last days, says God,
That I will pour out of My Spirit on all flesh;
Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
Your young men shall see visions,
Your old men shall dream dreams.
And on My menservants and on My maidservants
I will pour out My Spirit in those days;
And they shall prophesy.

I will show wonders in heaven above
And signs in the earth beneath:
Blood and fire and vapor of smoke.
The sun shall be turned into darkness,
And the moon into blood,
Before the coming of the great and awesome day of the Lord.
And it shall come to pass
That whoever calls on the name of the Lord
Shall be saved.’

(Acts 2: 14-21, NKJV, emphasis mine)

Peter said that the Day of Pentecost was the BEGINNING of the fulfillment of Joel’s prophecy. Thus, at the very START of the Church of Jesus Christ, its premier apostle stated clearly and emphatically that WOMEN would be quite VOCAL.

And now look at this passage from Psalm 68:11 in the Old testament, from multiple translations to bring out the original Hebrew meaning of the prophecy:

The Lord gave the word;
Great was the company of those who proclaimed it:

(Psalm 68:11, NKJV)

The Lord doth give the saying, The female proclaimers [are] a numerous host.

(Psalm 68:11, Young’s Literal Translation)

The Lord shall give a word; to them that preach the gospel with much virtue. (The Lord gave the word; and many women preached this good news.)

(Psalm 68:11, Wycliffe Bible)

The Lord gives the command [to take Canaan];
The women who proclaim the good news are a great host (army);

(Psalm 68:11, Amplified Bible)

The passage in Psalm 68:11 is poorly translated by the NKJV and others. They do not elaborate on the literal Hebrew fact that this passage is FORETELLING the fact that a great ARMY of WOMEN will be proclaiming God’s Word in these Last Days, as did Joel’s prophecy (and others). Literal translations do highlight this truth, however, as will most Interlinear translations.

The picture painted by this prophecy above is described very clearly in the Old Testament in passages such as these:

Then Miriam the prophetess, the sister of Aaron, took the timbrel in her hand; and all the women went out after her with timbrels and with dances. And Miriam answered them:

“Sing to the Lord,
For He has triumphed gloriously!
The horse and its rider
He has thrown into the sea!”

(Exodus 15:20-21, NKJV)

Now it had happened as they were coming home, when David was returning from the slaughter of the Philistine, that the women had come out of all the cities of Israel, singing and dancing, to meet King Saul, with tambourines, with joy, and with musical instruments. So the women sang as they danced, and said:

“Saul has slain his thousands,
And David his ten thousands.”

(1 Samuel 18:6-7, NKJV)

God brought about great victory in overthrowing Pharoah’s army in the Red Sea and in empowering the young shepherd boy, David, to slay the giant Goliath. And who told EVERYONE what the Lord had done? THE WOMEN!!!!

LIKEWISE, in Psalm 68:11 above, God has foretold that it would be WOMEN who would be a “great company” and a “numerous host [army]” proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the TRUTH of what God has done for us through Him!

In fact, the START of the fulfillment of this prophecy (along with that of Joel’s that Peter quoted!) happened immediately after the Resurrection of Jesus Christ:

Now on the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they, and certain other women with them, came to the tomb bringing the spices which they had prepared. But they found the stone rolled away from the tomb. Then they went in and did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. And it happened, as they were greatly perplexed about this, that behold, two men stood by them in shining garments. Then, as they were afraid and bowed their faces to the earth, they said to them, “Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but is risen! Remember how He spoke to you when He was still in Galilee, saying, ‘The Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again.’ ”

And they remembered His words.

Then they returned from the tomb and told all these things to the eleven and to all the rest. It was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the other women with them, who told these things to the apostles.

(Luke 24:1-10, NKJV)

But Mary stood outside by the tomb weeping, and as she wept she stooped down and looked into the tomb. And she saw two angels in white sitting, one at the head and the other at the feet, where the body of Jesus had lain. Then they said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?”

She said to them, “Because they have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid Him.”

Now when she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there,and did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?”

She, supposing Him to be the gardener, said to Him, “Sir, if You have carried Him away, tell me where You have laid Him, and I will take Him away.”

Jesus said to her, “Mary!”

She turned and said to Him, “Rabboni!” (which is to say, Teacher).

Jesus said to her, “Do not cling to Me, for I have not yet ascended to My Father; but go to My brethren and say to them, ‘I am ascending to My Father and your Father, and to My God and your God.’ ”

Mary Magdalene came and told the disciples that she had seen the Lord, and that He had spoken these things to her.

(John 20:11-18, NKJV)

Jesus did NOT say, “Mary, I granted you the privilege to be the first to see Me after My resurrection, but you cannot say anything to the apostles because they are men, and they are all in an upper room, and that’s like being in a church. So, you have to remain silent as you walk in there and keep this to yourself, know what I mean? Sorry about that.”

NO, and a thousand times NOOOOO!

Jesus Christ chose WOMEN to be the first to see Him Resurrected from the dead, and He told them to PROCLAIM what they had seen and now know!

Did God LIE in those prophecies above? No, He did not.

Did Jesus make a mistake by showing Himself to the women FIRST and telling THEM to tell the men? No, He did not!

Therefore, anyone who claims women cannot preach, teach, prophesy, or must be absolutely silent in a church assembly, is grossly misinterpreting 1Cor. 14:34. The immediate and full biblical context DEMANDS the interpretation I have presented here: Namely, that women can do anything a man can do in church, particularly in our modern churches that do NOT separate women in the congregation from the men.

In Closing

Let me clarify here that I am not discussing the household order in this article. I explained that subject in great detail in my video Handmaidens of the Lord (Part 1): The Biblical Limits of a Wife’s Submission.Wives are indeed to be in submission to their OWN husbands (or fathers, for unmarried women) within certain BIBLICAL limits.

I am only discussing in this article the subject of women being able to speak in the church and among the saints of God. By extension, I am also expanding on my article Women in Ministry: God Did Call Them, So He Still Does by addressing 2 issues I have not covered yet elsewhere:

  1. That the “traditional” interpretation of 1 Corinthians 14:34 is entirely wrong, as Paul was not categorically commanding women to be silent when in the presence of other Christians, i.e., in church assemblies.
  2. That God spoke thousands of years ago in the prophecies of Scripture that He would call forth a great ARMY of women proclaiming His Resurrection, Gospel, and biblical Truth!

Now, if you were ever of a different opinion, I hope you realize by now that you would have to explain-away LARGE portions of Scripture — and create contradictions in the process, which can NEVER indicate correct theology — in order to hold onto that false view.

Stated another way: As I have now proven in 2 articles and 2 videos, you simply cannot defend an anti-women doctrine WITHOUT ALSO contradicting numerous principles and examples of Scripture during your futile effort. So, just reject that “tradition of men” and accept that God is indeed calling women to the forefront of ministry in these Last Days:

He answered and said to them, “Why do you also transgress the commandment of God because of your tradition?… Thus you have made the commandment of God of no effect by your tradition. Hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy about you, saying:

‘These people draw near to Me with their mouth,
And honor Me with their lips,
But their heart is far from Me.
And in vain they worship Me,
Teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’ ”

(Matthew 15:3-8 excerpt, NKJV)

He said to them, “All too well you reject the commandment of God, that you may keep your tradition.”

(Mark 7:8, NKJV)

But this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel:

‘And it shall come to pass in the last days, says God,
That I will pour out of My Spirit on all flesh;
Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
Your young men shall see visions,
Your old men shall dream dreams.
And on My menservants and on My maidservants
I will pour out My Spirit in those days;
And they shall prophesy.

(Acts 2:16-18, NKJV, emphasis mine)

GOD ALMIGHTY HAS CALLED HIS HANDMAIDENS TO SERVE HIM IN MINISTRY!

Therefore, jettison any and all ungodly “traditions” that attempts to nullify the clear Will of God in this matter. But if you are still tempted to believe such errant tradition, at least have enough sense not to OPPOSE what by all biblical evidence is indeed a move of God in these Last Days. Remember this warning of Scripture, lest your folly of “fighting against God” become your undoing:

And now I say to you, keep away from these men and let them alone; for if this plan or this work is of men, it will come to nothing; but if it is of God, you cannot overthrow it—lest you even be found to fight against God.”

(Acts 5:38-39, NKJV)

If you are an insecure man who feels threatened in your masculinity if women seek to do all that God has called them to do, well you need to see either a medical doctor or get some form of counseling. Why? Because you must either be deficient in testosterone or mentally deranged if your masculinity is so easily “threatened” by what women do. Furthermore, your manhood is NEVER “proven” by your refusal to let God’s handmaidens serve their Lord as HE chooses for them to do. Frankly, you need to learn to be secure in your own manliness BEFORE you ever open your mouth to criticize a woman who is secure in her godly calling and womanhood.

Let me add that if anyone reading this article is concerned with anything other than the quality of doctrine that emanates from the mouth or writings of a female preacher or pastor, then your priorities are very badly twisted and carnal. Again, if your first question is “Is the preacher a man or woman?” when evaluating the genuineness of their ministry, then you have elevated the flesh over the things of the Spirit of God, and are in contradiction to God’s clear Word.

Then contents of one’s britches (pants) is NEVER a criterion for determining their calling to the ministry, much less the first one!

Remember:

For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.

(Galatians 3:26-29, NKJV, emphasis mine)

And if you are a woman who was ever oppressed by these false views, BE FREE NOW, IN THE NAME OF JESUS CHRIST! The Word of God has set you FREE, my sisters! Just keep meditating on these Scriptures until the revelation of God’s truth liberates you from the bondages of false religion and unbiblical tradition:

Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”

(John 8:31-32, NKJV)

And to my sweet sister who asked the question to which I originally responded, God bless you and thank you for asking your question!

To All: Feel free to inquire more, and I will try to answer as I have the time. 🙂

Always in Jesus,

– Rich Vermillion