Can women ‘speak’ in church? A very brief observation.

Some believers think that women should not or cannot speak in church beyond singing or worshipping God, or even at all. I do not believe this is biblical. The reasoning used by those against women speaking in church is mainly found in 1 Corinthians 14:34-35 and 1 Timothy 2:12.

1 Corinthians 14:34-35 states, “women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak but must be in submission, as the Law says. 35 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”.

Firstly, to put things in some context, 1 Corinthians 11 reveals that women are instructed to be “covered” when praying or prophesying. Does this mean that prayers by women will can only take place in non-church settings? Of course not.

This is obviously because this is a common practice that is necessarily done both privately and corporately by both sexes and is for the benefit of the church and others. Prophesying is a gift of the Holy Spirit that is obviously and evidently not limited to men and thus God does not preclude His inspired words from being spoken by women in a church setting.

After all, Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 14: 26 that the people of God come together and may conduct themselves, among other things, in prophesying. On this note, importantly, this verse also mentions that the corporate church setting would function as a place where the believers would communicate a hymn, a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue, or an interpretation of tongues. Will men only do this? Of course not. Are these not ‘speaking’ and ‘communication’ functions? Of course.

Thus, 1 Corinthians 14:34-35 is not referring to the common God-inspired communications like the above in verse 26. Rather, it is speaking of the command for women to submit to the authority of man given by God in 1 Corinthians 11 and 1 Timothy 2:11 where in the latter women are to learn in quietness. This means that a woman should not ask about other things as such would conflict with the exercising of church authority and practice which would usurp God’s way of ‘conducting’ gatherings. Therefore, the Word in verse 35 reveals that such things should be communicated to a woman’s husband outside of the church setting or logically to another trusted person externally if she does not have a husband.

Relevantly, in further context, 1 Timothy 2:12 reveals that women are prevented from teaching and having authority over men. So, in this respect, it is clear that women cannot be pastors or operate in the five-fold ministry except in the prophet’s role, though, as prophetesses they are not allowed to teach due to the prohibition on women teachers in 1 Timothy 2:12.

Thus, the disallowance in 1st Corinthians 14:34 of women ‘speaking’ also refers to the preclusion against engaging in these functions above. In saying so, however, it does not prevent women from training other women and children irrespective of gender. Though, this is to be done under the instruction and authority of men as found in Titus 2:3-5 where evidently Paul instructs Titus that he is to teach the older women to be morally upright so that they would train the younger women to love their husbands and children.

Thus, to conclude, 1 Corinthians chapters 14 and 11 reveal that women can pray, prophesy, sing, speak a word of instruction or revelation, speak in and interpret tongues, all within the church setting. God did not intend that women cannot speak in church beyond singing or worshipping or at all.