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Should women be limited in the church according to bible scripture in 1 Corinthians 14:34 and 1 Peter 3:1-3?

Updated on March 28, 2011

In 1 Corinthians 14:34, women are commanded to be obedient, and not talk in the church. From today’s perspective this seems to be extremely harsh, since we have some great and mighty women preachers of God. Back then the Jewish laws and customs did command the women to be silent in the synagogues. Later those same laws would have been carried over into the New Testament churches.

The women could only study, learn, and ask about the scriptures at home from their husbands and fathers. For those who had no fathers or husbands, I believe they would have been able to ask of the men who were kind enough to visit them and help them out. This is supported by James 2:27 when James talked about men who wanted to be pure in their religion and undefiled before God that they were to visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction. In that sense, God provided a way for the entire Jewish society to learn about Him, and not just the women who were lucky enough to have male relations and the men.

They were a people that followed and obeyed the law, especially God’s law. God’s law did make up the foundation and most of their society’s laws. The Pharisees did unnecessarily add to God’s laws. Women were ruled over by their husbands due to God saying in Genesis 3:16 the women’s desire shall be to their husband, and he shall rule over his wife. 1 Corinthians 11:15 is also used to make the women submissive to the husband. Yet the woman was created as a help-mete in Genesis 2:18. According to Strong’s 5828, help-mete means one who helps. Woman was created to help the man, be his wife, and friend so he wouldn’t get lonely. She was not created for him to dominate her.

There were many laws created by the Pharisees that the people did not need to follow. According to, the Pharisees believed that Moses gave a two-part law. The written law called the Torah, and additional oral commandments that passed through generations to help people understand and apply the written law. It became a complex guide to ever day life beyond the comprehension of the average person. It was often the oral Torah that Jesus condemned. The Torah taught by the Pharisees was a heavy burden sometimes obscuring the very law they sought to obey.

I suspect some of these laws allowed the husbands to dominate and strictly control the wives, since Ephesians 5:21-33 had to be written to remind the men to love their wives. A man who loves his wife would guide her and not dominate her. More than likely the women were questioning in the new church why they had to follow some of the strict rules that stifled them. Plus Jesus changed many things with his Gospel. He called the Pharisees snakes and vipers. He fulfilled many of the old laws on that cross that do not need to be followed any longer. Basically shook every one up.

The women could have tried to start their own small women’s movement to ease up on some of their restrictions without even knowing it. One restriction they were disobeying was speaking up at the church instead of asking a male relative at home. There were women who decided to follow Jesus, but their husband’s did not. They could not go home and ask their husbands or fathers, so they had to speak up in the church to ask questions. For those women who did decide to follow Jesus without their husband and more than likely without his consent, Peter did give them the knowledge and ok to do so by saying the wife sanctified the unbelieving husband in 1 Corinthians 7:14. Unfortunately that is as far as Peter went.

Reading the Epistles he and the other apostles were dealing with upheaval in the new church. The unrest inside the church would do more to break up the new church than any unrest outside of the church even with the threat of persecution and death for those who believe in Jesus. He needed to put back some type of stability into the church. Yes, he gave good instructions on how to follow Christ, and solved some disputes. He did so from the man’s perspective and from the strict laws that may have made some of the women feel like they were in a straight jacket.

Most people find comfort and stability in what they already know. With so many other changes happening and the fact they are putting their lives on the line, the small women’s movement failed. The women still had to stay silent, wear hats or head coverings on their heads, and follow many procedural restrictions.

If you take a look at Jesus’ ministry, he really didn’t treat women that much differently than men. He even went out of his way sometimes to talk with women when no other man would. For example, Jesus talked to a Samarian woman at Jacob’s well in John 4:7 when no Jewish man would even think about approaching her just because she was a Samarian let alone that she had several husbands and the man she is currently with is not her husband. Jesus choose to use a sinful woman to carry his gospel to her people. He used a widow and her mite to show how much more was her faith and devotion to God than the rest of the people at the temple in Mark 12:43-44. God even raised up in the Old Testament such as Deborah in Judges 4:4 who was a prophetess and judged all of Israel.

Today God can and will rise up great women to preach and speak in the church. Neither do I believe he wants women hampered by old traditions, nor have their husbands dominate them. Jesus has shown us more about how to treat, love each other, and how husbands should treat their wives than any writings of the Apostles.  Jesus showed how to be loving, kind, and considerate to everyone including sinners. He showed how to give advice and lessons, listen, and share his word to women as well as men without dominating or forcing them to do what he wants them to do.

In today’s free world (I know in some parts of the world women have even worse restrictions placed on them because of religion), we don’t have religious or secular laws that restrict woman’s clothes, makeup, property she can own, the amount of money she can make, or where she can go. Yet at the same time women still need to be come aware of how we are acting, behaving, and dressing. Not only women need to do this, but men also. Would you feel comfortable if Jesus was standing in front of you right now? Are others around you comfortable, or are they nervous, blushing, and trying to look away without being rude towards to you? I don’t think anyone wants to be like a woman I heard about that sat in the front row at a wedding with a short dress on. The pastor announced in front of everyone asking if this is the KFC showing off your breasts and thighs.

The Jewish laws tried to regulate women to look and remain what they believed to be pure. That really didn’t work since they still had scandals and adulterers. Today with the freedom to choose, we also have the responsibility to act and behave as Jesus Christ would want us to. I honestly believe that would be to talk decently, act decently, and dress decently so others, no matter who they are, can be comfortable around us while we are helping them, spreading the Gospel, and having fun and sharing the love of God with friends, family, and neighbors.


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    • Bible Studies profile imageAUTHOR

      Bible Studies 

      6 years ago from PA

      I had to deny this comment, and re-post it. There were some elements that would have violated the terms and conditions, and were highly offensive. Everyone does deserve their opinion, so I copied and past the rest of the statement that was unoffensive without changing anything.

      name: Sit down.

      Simple answer YES.

      These directions are part of the religion. If you don't like this then CHANGE religions. Do not expect the religion to change for you.

      Same deal with "women's rights". In the search for equality many women are in fact denying their biology. Stop insisting that the planet change to accommodate your "entitlement issues".

      - women in sports & bodybuilding taking testosterone (male) steroids (gender identity issues anyone?)

      - women in the military, police & fireMAN's roles.. as long as the physical admission standards are lowered.

    • Bible Studies profile imageAUTHOR

      Bible Studies 

      8 years ago from PA

      allpurposeguru - You got me to do some more digging here.

      Yes the English language makes the distinction between man/husband and woman/wife. The only distinction it makes is whether the man or woman is married or not. It has nothing to do or say who is actually in control. That was always determined by culture in each era, and sometimes even in each household.

      I’m no Greek scholar either, but I have noticed that what the Strongs points to for the word man is not always the same, and does not always mean husband.

      I would like to know which source lead you to believe that man/husband were the same in the Greek.

      Which definition is used for the word man is determined by how man is described such as married or not, if he is righteous or not, what order God placed him in the grand scheme of things, etc.

      In Matthew 4:4 the Strongs points to 444 a[nqrwpoß Anthropos (anth'-ro-pos); to distinguish man from beings of a different order of animals and plants of from God and Christ of the angels. There is no reference to being a husband.

      In Matthew 7:24 the Strongs points to 435 ajnhvr Aner (an'-ayr); with reference to sex of a male of a husband

      In Mattthew 10:41 the Strongs points to 1342 divkaioß Dikaios (dik'-ah-yos); righteous, observing divine laws in a wide sense, upright, righteous, virtuous, keeping the commands of God.

      The word for husband mostly seems to point to Strongs 435 ajnhvr Aner (an'-ayr); with reference to sex, of a male, of a husband,of a betrothed or future husband, with reference to age, and to distinguish an adult man from a boy any male, used generically of a group of both men and women

      Examples would be in Matthew 1:16, Matthew 1:19, Mark 10:12, Luke 2:36, John 4:18, Acts 5:9, Acts 5:10, 1 Corinthians 7:2. The only variation was when I found it talking about the woman being bound by law to her husband such as in Romans 7:2 Strongs 5220 Romans 7:2 basically states that the woman is bound by law to her husband, which is true even by today’s standards of marriage. It does not restrict her general actions on what she can and can not do in her normal day activities.

      If you noticed the end of Strongs 435, which mainly deals with the word husband it can be used generically. I suspect that it could be used to refer to a group such as we used to use he and him before political correctness set in making us use he/she or him/her to be sensitive incase what was being read may apply to a woman also.

      Since you set me off on this quest to search to see if one word is used for man and husband, I found a highly interesting site. Woman, Man and Fire. This is truly what God intended for the husband and wife. Thank you for leading me to this site. I’m going to be adding it to mine in the reference section. I would like to know which source you were using to come to that conclusion. For now I only looked up man/husband.

      There is a lot in scriptures that we do not understand, because the writers did not see the need to add parts of the law and culture that they knew and understood. That is why I like to look up Jewish culture and the various cultures in that time when I can. There is so much richness in the scriptures that we haven’t even scratched the surface on because we don’t know and understand what they did.

      Did you ever think or wonder how much of the oral Torah and cultural laws crept into the epistles by the apostles after Jesus death? Then they got canonized into what is known as the Bible today? This is what I’m thinking actually happened. Jesus did treat women much differently than other men did during his time.

      If all the restrictive laws on women were truly God’s law, then Jesus would have never healed the women with the issue of blood, he would have let the adulteress be stoned to death. In Luke 10:38-42, he would not have let Mary sit and learn his teachings. Jesus would have never talked to any women, unless he was a blood relative to them. That is just to name a few things he did.

      If Jesus thought the way the apostles did, why did he talk to the Samarian woman, and have her go and tell her people who he was. Why didn’t he go to a man? If he followed those strict laws, then he would have never even thought about meeting her at the well. First she was a Sumerian, second she was a woman, and thirdly she was a major sinner. Yet against everything in the Jewish tradition about women, he selected her to go preach about Him.

      Sorry, but what the Sumerian woman did was actually preach God’s word in its most basic form. She told others who Jesus was. There was really nothing different between what she did and what Jesus’ 12 apostles did. At that time they told others about who Jesus was, and what Jesus did. It wasn’t until after Jesus died that the apostles started to give the salvation message, and give instructions on how to live.

      Since there were 120 people in the upper room including women in Acts 1:14-15, I’m not surprised that the Holy Ghost came down upon both men as well as women. God himself does not discriminate. We humans do discriminate. We discriminate each other over whether we are men or women, the color of our skin, our nationalities, whether we perceive people as sinning or not, whether they actually sinned, what the sin was, and the list could go on.

      I still hold the belief God did not want undue restrictions put on women, and will use both men and women to teach and preach. Jesus himself treated women that made other Jewish men question his actions. Yes, the 12 apostles he choose even questioned him about how he treated women. Doesn’t that in and of itself tell you that they were writing about women from a cultural aspect of how women were to be treated and what they were allowed and not allowed to do?

      Note: There is some question on whether or not Junia in Romans 16 is a woman or man. I do know John Gills Exposition and James Coffman’s New Testament Commentary believe Junia could very well have been a man. The name could have been a male or female name. There is more, if you would like to look it up.

    • allpurposeguru profile image

      David Guion 

      8 years ago from North Carolina

      Yes women should be limited according to the scriptures in your title. No they should not be limited according to the "oral Bible" that has gotten caked on over the centuries. As you pointed out regarding the Torah, there is a huge difference.

      Another thing to keep in mind is that English makes distinctions between man and woman on the one hand and husband and wife on the other. I'm no Greek scholar, but it looks to me from the resources I have that one Greek word serves both for man and husband, and another both for woman and wife.

      So I would add another caveat: women's roles are properly described by Scripture as it was written in Greek in any case where a translation can be interpreted differently. There is a huge difference for example, between "I do not allow women to exercise authority over men" and "I do not allow wives to exercise authority over their husbands."

      In Romans 16, Paul sends greetings to a lot of people including a woman named Junia, whom he seems to acknowledge as an apostle! (Scripture never said there were only 12 apostles. Including Junia, it names a couple of dozen.)


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