1 Corinthians 14 – Tongues & Women

1 Corinthians 14:1-5 – Reading this, I can’t help but feel alienated from what Paul’s teaching here. I’ve never been a part of a church where speaking in tongues or other gifts have been practiced, and, frankly, always looked at them as suspect. Paul says in verse 3 that he wants them all to speak in tongues, while my history includes no speaking in tongues at all. I will not say that these gifts do not exist today, but I’m just not sure what to make of them.
1 Corinthians 14:6-19 – One of the reasons that speaking in tongues (the most common, it seems, of the Charismata) seems a bit suspect to me is the importance that some charismatic churches place on it. If you don’t, there’s something wrong. You aren’t really a Christian, you don’t have the spirit, God stands against you, you must be in sin, etc. This leads to all kinds of fakery and theatrics to prove that you have the spirit and are in a right standing with God.
Based on what Paul says here, it was no different in Corinth. Surely, speaking in tongues was an amazing gift. To suddenly be enabled by the spirit to speak in another language would get one’s attention. If it didn’t happen to you while it did to so many others, you might get insecure and spend an undue amount of energy perusing it. Paul here says it’s not that important, better to pursue a gift that will build up the church, like prophesy.
1 Corinthians 14:20-25 – This paragraph ought to bring chills to some in the Charismatic movement. So much is done for show, to prove to other believers that they are of God while unbelievers simply think they are nuts. Paul would call them children.
For those who wander in from Google, let me restate – I am not against the Charasmata. I do not, as some do, claim that they no longer exist (though I do believe their importance is less). Though I don’t understand them, I do not look down at those who practice them with sincere hearts. My criticism is of those who put undue importance on them, in direct contradiction with Paul’s teachings here. I would, someday, like a better understanding of those gifts and their applications today.
1 Corinthians 14:33b-35 – I wonder what this passage means for us today? Paul says it is shameful for a woman to speak in church. Of course, when we say ‘in church’ we think ‘in the Sunday service’, but I don’t think that the church of Paul’s day had what we think of as ‘Sunday service’. And today, we wouldn’t think of a woman speaking in a public gathering as shameful. I wonder, was the shame that Paul’s referred to because it was shameful for a woman so speak out at any sort of gathering, or is he referring to something innate in the roles of men and woman that makes it shameful?
I’m not comfortable taking a stand on this, based on these for sentences alone. Based on our present culture, it seems shameful to tell a woman that she cannot bring anything to the assembly to build it up (but I’m not sure I could go to a church where the minister was female). On the other hand, Paul clearly says that this is the practice of all the churches and his teaching is not unclear. It is not an easy passage to apply to today.

3 thoughts on “1 Corinthians 14 – Tongues & Women

  1. I’m with you on the gifts. I believe they are highly prevalent whenever the church is being introduced to a new people and ebb as the kingdom of God is established. In a healthy church in a thoroughly gospelized area, love should be the predominant gift exercised, and it’s superior to all those flash/bang gifts.
    As for 1 Cor 14:34&35, my take is simple. Since chapter 7 Paul’s been interspersing quoted questions and assertions from a letter sent to him by Judaizing brothers. Given the Greek’s complete lack of punctuation, we have to guess when he’s quoting and when he’s not. Here, the statement is purely Judaistic and Paul immediately and forcefully contradicts it in the very next sentence. Paul is not in the insane habit of forcefully contradicting himself, so it stands to reason he’s trying to body slam a stunningly vicious Judaistic assertion.
    Women are simply not to keep silent in Paul’s churches.

  2. I’m thinking I may be daft, because I’m not getting this either.
    So, you’re saying that 34-35 is Paul restating their question or statement and vs 36 is his response? How does 36 ‘forcefully contradict’ the idea that women should remain silent in church?

  3. Ann Nyland’s translation presents this for verse 36:
    Utter rubbish! Did the Word of God come originally from you? Utter rubbish! Were you the only ones that it reached! If anyone thinks they’re a prophet or spiritual, they are to realize that what I’m writing to you is the Lord’s commandment. But if anyone is mistaken about this, then they are certainly mistaken!
    Translation is always interpretation. When complementarians translate, they interpret their way. Nyland’s translation is valid. I think it’s right, too, but it’s valid and forceful. For the record, that’s exactly how I read it in King James, too, but that’s as a committed egalitarian.

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