Bible Reading Day 249
Day 249: September 6 (1 Corinthians 14:21-40)
Paul continues his teaching on spiritual gifts with further instruction on orderly worship gatherings. And as we found in earlier chapters, his advice is rooted in the errors he was correcting.
He lays down parameters for participation, which no-one would say are the only model for a Christian worship service, but are clearly correcting Corinthian excesses: only two or three should speak, and they should do so one at a time (clearly this church was one where anything goes, and he who shouts loudest is most spiritual!). Also speaking in tongues should be done, but in an orderly manner with interpretation (not the clamor of competitive ‘spirituality’ they were familiar with). If there is no-one present to interpret, the one speaking in tongues must remain quiet (not permanently but while that circumstance remains). Also everyone must weigh what is said (in other words pay attention, compare it to scripture, and see what is “weighty” enough to take to heart.
This foregoing is key to understanding verses 34-35 (which is perhaps one of the most misused verses in the New Testament). Having stated that God is a God of order (peace in some translations), Paul goes on to instruct that women remain silent (using a word which is best translated “not chatter”) during the services. This is not a prohibition on women teaching, praying, prophesying or speaking in tongues during the worship service (which Paul has specifically instructed them to do in chapters 11 and 14). Instead it is an appeal to women to come into line with the practice of the churches (Greek: hupotasso, translated submission in many English Bibles) and listen rather than shouting out questions.
If you would like to follow this topic further, I recommend this thorough and balanced summary at gci.org.
So, in summary, Paul wants us to use spiritual gifts, especially to win unbelievers to Christ, and he wants us to do so in an orderly manner.
Have a great day!