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Rays of Light Bible Lessons by Keith Holder

WHEN WOMEN ARE TO BE SILENT

1 Tim 2:11-12 Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection. But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence.

In verses previous to the lesson text, we found teachings on the appearance and conduct of both men and women, when they assemble to worship God, as members of the church of Christ. This assembly is also the setting for the inspired message of God found in the lesson text. Worship services are to be conducted and teaching is to be made by qualified and godly men of the congregation. Within the worship service the women (of the congregation are to) learn in silence with all subjection; they are not to teach, nor usurp the authority over the man, but to be in silence. Men did not forcefully take this authority; it became their duty and responsibility by the commandment of God. The hierarchy of this authority is found in 1 Cor. 11:3, which states: But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God.

Although the lesson text does not specifically refer to the silence of women within worship services, we know it to be true, from Paul's inspired teaching to the church at Corinth. To them he wrote: Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience, as also saith the law. And if they will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak in the church (1 Cor. 14:34-35). Verse 23, preceding this text, tells us when God declares this restriction as necessary. It is when proper order and decorum is necessary in the worship services to fulfill the will of God. It is when the whole church be come together in one place. This indicates that the reference here is to formal gatherings of the entire congregation for worship services each Sunday as required in New Testament Christianity.

This being so, the commandment of women's silence refers to those particular assemblies required by Christians to partake of all the congregational religious ceremonies that comprise acceptable worship to God on each first day of the week. The authority is vested in qualified men of the congregation to conduct the worship service on every Lord's Day - Sunday - the first day of the week. They are to lead the congregational prayers, and song service; they are to preside around the communion table, and present the unleavened bread and the fruit of the vine to all members of the body of Christ; they are to receive contributions made to sustain, and further the cause of Christ; they are to present lessons to the entire congregation, that teach God's holy word, and inspire each member to live a righteous life.

Each member of the church of Christ is to participate in all aspects of the worship service, but they are to be lead only by the qualified men of the congregation. It may be good to note here that in first century Christian worship services it was acceptable, and in order, to interrupt, and question the teacher that was presenting a lesson from God's word. This seems to be the reason for Paul's teaching, in 1 Cor. 14:35, that women, instead of interrupting the speaker, should inquire of their husbands at home,if they have questions about the lesson being presented to the congregation in the church assembly.

These commandments of God, as noted in the lesson text, and the similar passage found in 1 Corinthians, seem very simple and plain. There seems to be no uncertainty, vagueness, or double meanings in these verses. However, with the exception of congregational worship services, God's word does not restrict the teaching of women. Certainly the example of teaching the holy scriptures to Timothy, by his mother and grandmother, tell us that women are to teach the word of God in their homes (See 2 Tim. 1:5, 3:14-15). Pricilla and Aquila taught the young preacher, Apollos, the way of God more perfectly (Acts 18:24-26). Neither are there any scriptural restrictions on women speaking out in, or teaching, bible classes or in social gatherings. Where God has given the authority to men, women are to respect and obey the will of God, remain silent within the worship services of Christ's church, and not usurp authority over the man.

1 Corinthians, 11:3 tells us that, by God's design, all people of the world are subject to a higher authority. From the beginning of time, and where God has specified, man has the obligation assume his god-given authority, and carry it out to the best of his ability. Women are to respect the authority of righteous men, which God has given them, within the family, and within the body of Christ, remain silent where required by God, accept their own god-given responsibilities, and abide by them to the best of their abilities.