Love, Joy, Peace...

The Three Tougies of Gender Role

Important Linguistic Insight:


In the New Testament, “γυνή” is always used for "wife", but it is also used for “woman.”

-ἀνήρ (anér)

In the New Testament, “ἀνήρ” is always used for "husband", but it is also used for “man.”

1 Corinthians 11:3-16

Historical Contextual Hermeneutics


1. Immodest Hair Down In Public

2. Insubordinate “Free in Christ” Mentality

-Single women (& sex workers) wore their hair down but married women wore veils.

3. Hair Shaved (possibly against husbands’ wishes) - Acts 18:18

Either way it is culturally relevant and adaptable otherwise we would need to shame men with long hair (11:14)

Clearly communicates women prayed and prophesied in the assembly

-At some level women wore head coverings

-The concept of headship is explained in some detail. This headship carries over to the communal gatherings but it can’t mean physical silence if they are “praying and prophesying.”

1 Corinthians 14:34-35 - “women should remain silent in the churches” 

Paul here commands order and propriety in worship services. 

Three groups were told to be “silent” - 14:28, 30, 34

-A tongues speak minus and interpreter was to “be silent” as it would not edify the body.

-If someone was speaking when someone got a “revelation” the first speaker was to “be silent” so the revelation could be shared.

-Wives/women were to “be silent” meaning waiting or respectful rather than disrupting the service when someone was speaking.

“Silent” here cannot indicate that women could not vocalize in church since they prayed, prophesied, sang, and shared publicly (11:5, 14:26, also ref. Acts 21:8-9, Rev. 2:20).

1 Timothy 2:11-12 - “A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. I do not permit a woman to teach or to assume authority over a man; she must be quiet.” 

Historical Contextual Hermeneutics

-Paul was addressing propriety in worship (2:8-10)

-This could be addressing the marriage dynamic as the words are interchangeable

-Either way he expected women to be submissive and to abstain from being disrespectful or domineering in the assembly. (Note that Jesus expected men to lead in a submissive manner, without “lording it over” or “exercising authority over” those they lead (Matthew 20:25). )

-This passage suggests some level of restriction on women in the areas of exercising authority and teaching. 

○  We know it is not saying that women should never teach or never have authority because of what is stated in other passages.

○  This scripture has been misused to silence the voice of women in the church. This practice needs to be corrected.


After applying Historical Contextual Hermeneutics and harmonizing these with many other passages…

-Women clearly prayed and prophesied in the assembly

-Women were expected to bring a hymn or a word of instruction

-Women were named as prophets

-This can’t be teaching that women had to be completely silent in the assembly

-However there seem to have been proper submission to leadership and husbands and restrictions in the area of authoritative preaching

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