Was Paul Right about Women? (By Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg)

Was Paul Right about Women? (By Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg)

In 1 Cor. 14:34 the Apostle Paul’s letter states: “…the women should keep silent in the assemblies. For they are not permitted to speak but should be in submission, as the Law also says.” There are several major problems with this statement.

First, nowhere does the Jewish Law forbid women to speak in public gatherings. Paul, bring a well-educated Jew, certainly would have known this. In fact, there was a law on the books that did forbid women to speak, vote and exercise authority over men by holding public office. It was not a Jewish, but a Roman law. These words would sound far more credible if someone else, other than the Jewish Apostle Paul, had written them.

Second, on numerous occasions throughout his travels and letters, the Apostle Paul affirmed the ministry of women (Rom 16:3-4; 1 Cor. 16:19; cf. Acts 16:11-40; 18:26). The centrality of the Shemah – the Oneness of Israel’s God (much more about this later in this study), informed Paul’s theology when he wrote that in Christ-following assemblies there was no place for segregation or discrimination: “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female: for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Gal. 3:28)

In 1 Corinthians 11:5, he wrote that a woman’s head must be covered while she is engaged in speaking in tongues or prophesying in a public assembly. The question was not, therefore, if a woman could speak and teach, but how it should be done in a way that would be right before God, angels and the people of Corinth.

When we read Paul’s letters we need to keep in mind that 1 Corinthians was not the beginning of this correspondence. Paul wrote at least one letter to the Corinthians prior to this (1 Cor. 5:9) and the Corinthian leadership had also written to him (1 Cor. 7:1). It is therefore highly probable that the statement in 1 Cor. 14:34-35 is a quotation from a letter that the Corinthian male leadership had addressed to Paul. It was their proposal on how to bring order into the disruptive practice of some women in the congregation as they spoke in tongues and prophesied. Paul, however, disagreed.

If this text is viewed as a quotation, then the challenge in 1 Cor. 14:36 that Paul brings to the male leadership makes perfect sense:

“Was it from you (masculine) that the word of God first went forth?! Or has it come to you (masculine) only?!”

The all-male leadership of the Corinthian congregation was not to forbid (women) to speak in tongues and themselves were to be encouraged to prophesy just as the women among them already were doing:

“Therefore, my brethren, desire earnestly to prophesy and do not forbid to speak in tongues. But all things must be done properly and in an orderly manner.” (1 Cor. 14:39-40)

Paul’s solution, therefore, was not to exclude half of the congregation from exercising the gifts of the Spirit, but rather to make sure that it was done in a respectful, proper and orderly fashion.

Was Paul right about women? Absolutely! His Corinthian opponents were not. 





Thank you.




4 Responses to Was Paul Right about Women? (By Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg)

  1. ted says:

    I haven’t read the article yet but thought I’d comment anyway. I will read or listen when I have a chance. God created a partner, a helper, why would we think he made one to help that was weaker. Haven’t you ever wondered why Satan approached Eve first? Yes, she was out there on the mental edge, but was that because she was the deeper thinker in the first place? Yes she was deceived by a very powerful mind, but Adam who was not exposed to this power was not deceived when approached by Eve, he was just weak.
    Wouldn’t this idea that Eve was the greater offender make more sense, given the role she has as subservient in the congregation in general. It also explains why when it comes to saving mankind, women take on the major role. The Bible describes them as a large army declaring the “Good News”. Throughout history they are shown to be empowered by God for major tasks, even the bearer of our (from among us) savior, (lowercase “s”), Yeshua.

    (Psalm 68:11) . . .Jehovah himself gives the saying; The women telling the good news are a large army.

    (Isaiah 49:26) . . .And all flesh will have to know that I, Yahweh, am your Savior (upper case) and your Repurchaser,. . .

    • jacqueline says:

      Ted the article goes another route but one statement you made reminded me of the fact that Adam appeared to be right there with them and observed the conversation but said nothing. What do you think? While with her is what some translations seems to be saying. so I agree he is a coward but to me he rebelled like satan, with full knowledge.

      • ted says:

        (Genesis 3:16-17) 16 To the woman he said: “I shall greatly increase the pain of your pregnancy; in birth pangs you will bring forth children, and your craving will be for your husband, and he will dominate you.” 17 And to Adam he said: “Because you listened to your wife’s voice and took to eating from the tree concerning which I gave you this command, . . .

        Hi Jacqueline, I’m not quite seeing Adam present for the conversation Eve had with Satan, but perhaps I’ve missed it. What I can see from the scripture above are two things: First, as I said about the possibility that Eve was the stronger mind is that she was not dominated over until after the fall.

        Second, I agree that Adam had full awareness of his obligation of relationship with his Father Yahweh. Adam chose death consciously. He gave up life, we call it suicide. Was he a coward? If you’ve never sat and waited for the death you’ve chosen, it may seem like it is easier than facing life, but it is not. I have waited, and I can share that the self control it takes is far more than jumping out of an airplane. Yes, there are the desperate who let go in a moment’s despair, but this is not the story of Adam.

        Eve, obviously the perfect partner,,, can you imagine for a moment a partner created by God with a mind that constantly becomes more one with you. I struggle to grasp it, and tears fill my eyes.

        I and my partner realized long ago in our relationship that neither one of us is half of what we are together. We have pursued together.

        Back to courage, Adam with a full grasp of what he was doing was just too weak to face the challenge presented of continuing without his partner. This is a lesson for us all, and how we let our priorities grow. This is a discussion each set of couples needs to have as they decide on direction. I told my partner, “If we’re going in the same direction, we can go together”. This seems a simple statement, but it’s a statement of our relationship with our Father first, then our connection with a partner.

        Sorry we haven’t been very quick in responding. The sweet realizations of mortality have been ever increasing. The watch set as a task inescapable, the “seeing” of the end of time seems to occupy more of the time left. It is probably as it was meant to be, when God shortened our life span.

        Gee. now that sounds pretty gloomy. I mean we are having blueberry pancakes and Canadian bacon this morning 😉

  2. jacqueline says:

    The Age old question about women’s role in the church. This is a view that I think holds weight.

    Jesus had great respect for women and poured the Holy Spirit out on them and they were prophets and spoke in tongues, so what was the problem? Enjoy this article and comment, please.

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