The elusive law

The elusive law

1 Corinthians 14:34, 35 has been a problem passage because of two issues that stick out like a sore thumb.  The first issue is the elusive law.

The elusive law

The problem that occurs in this passage is that the “law” is the key reference for the required silence.  Many have tried to ignore this “elusive” law making their interpretation around it.  This has resulted in the silencing of women from asking their husbands questions in the assembly.  But where is this “elusive” law found that silences only women from asking questions in the assembly?  Paul doesn’t say that it is disruptive to talk in the assembly.  The wording is a direct prohibition attached to an existing “law”.

Some have tried to “shoe horn” Genesis 3:16 as a “law” that silences women.  This connection is not possible.  For women like myself who have very supportive husbands who encourage me to use my gifts for the benefit of the body of Christ (including benefiting men), I am not being silenced at all by Genesis 3:16 no matter how the “he will rule over you” is taken.

So where is the “law” that silences women in the assembly?  One cannot interpret this passage without finding the elusive law.

I will let my readers answer this one before we continue on with 1 Corinthians 14.  What do you think?  Why is there a “law” quoted in 1 Cor. 14:34 that cannot be found in the Old Testament?   Have you heard of any other reference to a “law” from the Old Testament?  Is it possible that verse 34 is a new law that Paul has just created?  Why or why not?

54 thoughts on “The elusive law

  1. The “law” referenced by Paul is not in the Bible but in Jewish oral law. Paul, as he does throughout the letter, is dealing with questions or problems put to him by the Corinthians, and he sometimes quotes them before answering. The Greek word “he” begins the verse following and is translated as “Or” in many translations. But the force of this “or” is more along the lines of “What???” or “Get outta town!”

    So Paul is strongly objecting to someone’s attempt to impose Jewish legalism on the people, and even mocks them by saying “So you think the law came from you, do you? Did you get it first? Who do you think you are?”

    And this is the same Paul who spent a great deal of time fighting against any inch of return to the Mosaic law, the same Paul who told women how to deal with social hair-covering issues while preaching to the congregation or giving prophecy from God, the same Paul who said “I resolved to know nothing among you but Jesus Christ, and him crucified”, the same Paul who persuaded the Jerusalem council to lay no burden on the Gentile believers except to two very basic and widespread prohibitions out of consideration, not legalistic obligation. He would have to be either very forgetful of everything else he wrote, or very self-contradictory, in order to make up a new list of “Do not handle! Do not taste! Do not touch!” rules for the assemblies.

    So it’s not in the Bible, and Paul is very much against it. So there.

  2. ESV 1Co 14:34  the women should keep silent in the churches. For they are not permitted to speak, but should be in submission, as the Law also says.

    The masculinist ESV wants to claim it is the Torah, but it is not.  It is the oral law, and the clue is the word “says”, this is not the way Scripture is referred to, which is “It is written” or similar.  At the time of Jesus and Paul the traditions of the Pharisees were oral and not written down, later they were written down in the Mishnah around 200 AD.  IMO, the Mishnah is essential to know the context of some NT passages.

  3. Great point Don, and illustrated clearly in vs. 21 of the same chapter.

    Paula – I have recently read the same. 1 Corinthians is a response to inquiries made by the church (see 1 Cor 7:1). Apparently, at the beginning of 1 Cor 14:34-35, the greek has a particular accent on the first word that indicates what follows is a quote. The presumption is Paul is quoting the Corinthians themselves, probably from their inquiry to him. Vs. 36 then begins a REBUKE of such narrow and ungodly thinking.

    (Similar possibilites exist in other parts of 1 Cor, especially our favorite section in chap 11. It is very possible that many of the supposed Pauline contradictions are actually Paul’s quoting of others in order to initiate a rebuke of false teaching and unChristian thinking.)

  4. Excellent comments Paula, Don and gengwall!  These are right on the mark.

    So what would you say to someone who states that the “law” that Paul is quoting is not an OT law, but one that has just been presented by Paul.  So in essence, Paul is saying that the law is now set forth that women are to keep silent in the churches.  Thoughts?  By the way, I have heard this explanation before so it is out there.  How do you deal with it?

  5. I would begin by having them demonstrate anywhere in the New Testament where Paul said anything like “a new commandment I give to you”. I don’t recall Paul ever claiming that level of authority. What Paul did do is make clear (especially in 1 Cor) what things he was saying that came directly from the Lord (the only One with the authority to add or take away from the law in the first place) and those that were his opinion.

  6. Yes, I think 1 Cor 11 and 1 Cor 14 have quotes from Corinth; they make the discussion make sense; otherwise Paul contradicts himself.  It is seeing these as  quotes that made me realize Paul was egal.

    The oldest manuscripts are in UNICIAL, all caps, no spaces and no punctuation or accents, at least as far as I know.

    One cannot do this quoting insight with 1 Tim (and Titus).

  7. What you do is find it in the oral law.  There are papers that do that.  Paul was against the Judaizers.

    I have my analysis of 1 Cor 14 somewhere I will post on ECA blog.

  8. So we need to ask ourselves this question – what would constitute a new law for the church?

    1.  Would a “new” law contradict what the apostles (and Paul) taught elsewhere?

    2.  Would a “new” law be alone and never repeated?

  9. 1. My understanding is that later written Scripture cannot contradict earlier written Scripture and this is true throughout the Bible.  This is related to the idea of progressive revelation. 

    Of course, they need to be understood in context, text out of context might appear to contradict other text.  When you find an apparent contradiction, it is a big clue that you need to dig for more context to better understand one or both texts.

    2. It only takes one statement for a law to be a law.  Some things are written many times in Scripture, some only once; they are all true.

  10. If Paul made this new law, he never referenced it either before or after this passage. Would such a law never be written down before he referred to it? And when he did give a decision about anything, he used terminology such as “I, not the Lord” or “I do not allow”. Here he simply said “the law”, not “my law”.

  11. Paula,

    You are right in that the way the passage is written, it is not indicative of a new “law” being written but a “law” that is being referenced.  There is no other reference to this “law” but this particular passage.


    You said:  “2. It only takes one statement for a law to be a law.  Some things are written many times in Scripture, some only once; they are all true.”

    While God’s stating the law would be law if it is only said once coming from his mouth, however there is no “law” in scripture that is there once that is not repeated.  This is a curious thing.  If every law is repeated and since scripture says that by the mouth of two or three witnesses every matter shall be established, we can understand why a repetition of the law is so important.  Jesus said that his own testimony alone would not prove a judicial matter without a second or third witness.  If Jesus needed a second witness to establish that he was the Son of God, and every “law” has at least a second witness, with most laws having many more witnesses then this, then how could a “law” demanding the silence of all women in the congregation be established without the required second or third witness?

    The fact that this “law” was not repeated by Paul or any other apostle,  the fact that this “law” was not used to scripture indict any woman of sin, and the fact that this “law” is the only law of God that doesn’t have any Old Testament roots, makes it highly suspect.  It doesn’t fit as a New Testament law nor is it listed in the Old Testament.  The only reasonable conclusion that we can come up with, is that it is indeed an oral law of the Jews.  The fact that Paul never appealed to an oral law of the Jews in proving his case before gives great weight to the fact that Paul is once again quoting from the letter written to him by the Corinthians, and then in verse 36 promptly refuting their claim.

    I will write more on the next piece of evidence that should be a red flag to us that these are not Paul’s words directly, but a quote from the Corinthians.  I have some ministry/business matters to attend to so will be away from the office for awhile.

  12. I do not see that there is no law in Scripture that is not repeated.

    Jesus needed multiple witnesses to his claims, this is a part of proving something in a legal sense.  The same is true for showing someone broke a law, you need multiple witnesses.

    But the law itself does not need to be repeated to be a law.  Some are repeated, some are not as far as I can tell.

  13. Don,

    I have never seen any law that wasn’t repeated.  I have given a challenge for anyone to give me a universal law that has no second witness.  No one yet has given me such a law to this point and I think it has been about two years since I first gave the challenge.  If you know of one universal law given only one time in scripture, I would be very interested.  Every hierarchist given this challenge has been stumped to this point.

    Paul made it clear that repetition is for our safety.  I agree with Paul.

  14. I can agree with Paul also, he was not referring to law necessarily.

    Gen 2:15  The LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it.

    I can only find this once, but it is still true.

  15. Don,

    Descriptions of happenings do not need to be repeated. They are merely events and do not fall into universal laws or judicial matters that need to be validated.  What you have given isn’t a “law”.  Can you find a universal law that is only found once in the scripture?  I have never found even one.  If the “law” of women not teaching the bible to men is such a law, it is a unique law unlike every other law.

    So is there any “thou shalt not” or any universal prohibition no matter how stated that is not repeated?  I give this challenge to anyone reading this.  Find such a “law” given only once and I will be properly refuted regarding my assertion that every law must have a second witness.

  16. I am not sure what you mean by “universal law”.  If a law is given to just one person it is still a law.

    Also, a law may be a prohibition or a command to do something.

  17. Gen 22:12  He said, “Do not lay your hand on the boy or do anything to him, for now I know that you fear God, seeing you have not withheld your son, your only son, from me.”

    I can only find this once.

  18. Exo 19:15  And he said to the people, “Be ready for the third day; do not go near a woman.”

    I can only find this once.

  19. Exo 21:10  If he takes another wife to himself, he shall not diminish her food, her clothing, or her marital rights.
    Exo 21:11  And if he does not do these three things for her, she shall go out for nothing, without payment of money.

    I can only find this once.

  20. A law is something said to be binding upon all the people of a group, such as a nation or religion, for a specified time, and must include penalties for violation.

    This definition has served me well regarding such topics as water baptism, “church” membership, observing sacraments, etc. I always look for penalties whenever someone claims a law. After all, a law without penalties is useless.

    God clearly issued no law regarding Abraham and his offering of Isaac; it fails the test of penalties, universality for a group, and duration.

  21. This sounds to me like one can craft a definition so carefully that it may just be the case that it is true by definition.

    So I will start over.

    1. God gives commands to do and not do things, to individuals, groups and everyone.
    2. These commands do not need to be stated twice to be valid, stating them once is enough.

  22. I didn’t just make that up. As I said, I’ve used it for a long time.

    A command can be given to an individual or a group, but a law requires penalties and agreements between parties. This is vital for understanding all the NT says about the sharp divide between the Law and the Promise. So this definition I use came from scripture.

    It is important to define terms because people tend to equivocate on the meanings during debates, resulting in poor communication and wasted time.

    So the question is whether Paul in this passage is giving a law or a command, and no, they are not identical. If a law, then there had to have been a witnessed agreement between the parties involved, stipulating penalties for violation. If a command, then it cannot be claimed to have universal application as the comps insist.

    For example, Paul gave a command for Timothy to drink wine. No one would mistake that for a universally binding law. In the same way, Paul gave a command about a woman teaching falsehood. It is no more a binding law for other women than his command to Timothy is binding on other men.

    But if these were laws then they would apply to all male elders and all women. That is the question Cheryl is asking.

  23. Sharp divide between the law and the promise?  I assume you are talking about the 2 Mosaic covenants and the 3 Abrahamic covenants.

    The statements to Timothy and the woman at Ephesus are relevant to us.  They are NOT just for one person only.  For example, as Timothy was a believer and a leader, we know that statements like “No believer should drink alcohol.” or “No church leader should drink alcohol.” are not Biblical, as they have a counter-example.  On the woman, if someone is deceived and sins, it can be appropriate to teach them rather than expelling them from church and see what happens; while being taught, it can make sense that they should not teach.

  24. Don, there’s a huge difference between law and relevance. I said nothing about relevance. I said nothing about how we might learn from and apply what Paul wrote. I only said Paul is not giving universal laws here. As commands to individuals they do not apply to others. As observations of how Paul handled various problems they are of great value to others.

  25. For me, nomos/law in the most general sense is Torah, which are God’s word, the 66 books of the Bible as we carve them up today.  It is all God’s instruction, given for our benefit.

  26. Here’s a tangent question that really doesn’t have much to do with I Cor 14, but I always wondered about.

    If Anna was a prophetess that went to live in the Temple after she was widowed (the one who prophesied over the infant Jesus), why was she in the temple if she could not speak there?  What did she do there?  Why go and live there — someone identified as “one who speaks” — and then not be able to speak?

  27. Cindy, I understand you’re not saying she couldn’t speak, but asking a rhetorical question. That is, “If it was true that women before Christ were not allowed to speak in religious settings, then what was Anna doing in the temple all those years?” You’re wondering what answer comps would give to Anna’s presence in the temple, do I understand your question right?

  28. “So the question is whether Paul in this passage is giving a law or a command, and no, they are not identical. If a law, then there had to have been a witnessed agreement between the parties involved, stipulating penalties for violation. If a command, then it cannot be claimed to have universal application as the comps insist.”

    For example, Paul gave a command for Timothy to drink wine. No one would mistake that for a universally binding law. In the same way, Paul gave a command about a woman teaching falsehood. It is no more a binding law for other women than his command to Timothy is binding on other men.”

    I agree with you and immediately thought of the Jerusalem Council. Are those laws or commands?

  29. “If Anna was a prophetess that went to live in the Temple after she was widowed (the one who prophesied over the infant Jesus), why was she in the temple if she could not speak there?  What did she do there?  Why go and live there — someone identified as “one who speaks” — and then not be able to speak?”

    Cindy, it is quite relevant. It only goes to show there was NOT a prohibition of prophesying in the OC for women to men (Huldah,etc,). Yet, we are expected to believe it is a new law for the NC!

  30. There is a huge difference between a law and a command. I think Paula has hit the nail on the head regarding the difference.

    I don’t have much time right now to comment more. I have been traveling today and right now I am catching up in a hotel room. The challenge that I have given is not regarding individual commands from God towards individuals or even a nation.

    The challenge I made was regarding a judicial matter that requires two or three witnesses.  It is for a law of God.  My point is that every law – the prohibitions that are universally applicable and have consequences, do not ever appear in scripture only once.  If there is a “law” that silences women, or if there is a “law” that forbids women to teach men, then this “law” should have a second or third witness.  I was asking if anyone could name even one “law” that was a universal prohibition that was not repeated in scripture.  I have never seen such a “law”.

  31. (Gen 9:4)


    But you shall not eat flesh with its life, that is, its blood.

    This is a command that is given to everyone.  Later it is given to Israel also, but it is not given to everyone again as far as I can tell.

  32. In the comp realm to which I am connected (though am not a part of), all that is said per ‘restricting women’ in the NT is classified as ‘pastoral advice’ from Paul to Timothy, etc.  That is, not all comps even care about whether a thing is a law, command, or a passing bit of advice.  As long as it has been ‘said’ in the bible, it is therefore ‘biblical’.  It is such muddled thinking, and I feel it has to be prayed away sometimes.  With folk like this, no amount of clever, truthful, logical appeal works.  That is not to say that discussions such as this are not vital;  it is just to say that there are those out there whose minds are not yet open to the truth about this issue.  I think only the Holy Spirit can make inroads into some of these cases.  Many of us were on that side of the fence at one time, too, and it was likely the nudging of the Holy Spirit that began to budge our thinking.  Again, this doesn’t at all negate the need for these discussions and clarifications.  It is just a reminder that what may seem as obvious as the nose on one’s face to us is not necessarily so to others.  

    When someone questioned what a comp whom I know thought of Sarah Palin being in a leadership role-over men-since this comp is quite a supporter of Palin, the comp’s response, albeit rather irritably, was ‘I know it doesn’t make sense, but it is biblical’.   It must be frustrating for comps at times to have such a ‘non-airtight’ belief about this whole matter of women’s ‘roles’ and ‘limits’.  Yet, because it is such a powerful error, in its consequences, we have to prayerfully and lovingly continue responding to it, whenever we encounter it.

  33. On non-egals, I think they do a LEGITIMATE application, given their exegesis, it is their exegesis that I disagree with.

    I think trying to make 1 Tim 2:12 not apply because for some reason it does not comform to a law is not a good tactic, since I am not even following the argument. 

    My tactic is to point out how much uncertainty is involved with the whole pericope, so how can they be so certain that their many choices are correct?  The answer is they cannot be.  This allows them to see that they are making interpretive choices and that they do not need to make those choices, and should not based on the witness of the rest of Scripture.

  34. Don, what you are saying makes sense to me in light of the way I have seen comps approach the matter.  We have to be very careful with our own ‘additions’ of any kind to the matter of intrepreting scripture if we are going to hold their toes to the flame, also.

  35. What the non-egals are being in regards to 1 Tim 2:12 is arrogant, altho they do not realize it as they are deceived.  They are asserting something is clear that is not at all clear.  That is why I try to use my tactic, to get them to see they are making choices, as they do not even see that due to the deception involved.

  36. Don,

    Lev. 19:26 gives the same law.  In Genesis it is given to Noah and his family and by implication their descendants as well.  In Leviticus the same law is repeated for Israel’s benefit, presumably because they were not following the original law.  Since it is a repetition of a law originally given to one family and repeated for the family of Israel, this law follows the general practice of a general law – it is repeated.

    Do you have an example of a general law that is not repeated in scripture?

    In 2006 I gave a talk to an audience of both Christians and former Jehovah’s Witnesses.  The talk included the fact that God’s law is always repeated in in scripture and is never found only once.  God’s repetition is for our safety.  This is especially applicable for those who have come out of the Jehovah’s Witness faith because their beliefs as well as other cult’s beliefs are often based on one verse ripped from its context.  I was very pleased to hear the one very brilliant ex-JW who originally fought me on this issue has come alongside me in believing that there is no universal prohibition that is not repeated and he is now using this as a help in his apologetic work with JW’s.

    We need to help hierarchists to be aware that there is no universal prohibition that is not repeated in scripture so a “law” that forbids godly Christian women from teaching doctrine to men is out of place in God’s law.  It is out of place in the text since Paul’s words to Timothy have been false deceived teachers in the congregation.  It is out of place in the scripture because there is no second witness nor is there an application of the prohibition.  There is no list of sins that includes women teaching the bible to men.  There is no punishment listed for women teaching the bible to men.  I know that I have made many think about why this is.  One comp fellow said on a blog that I had given this challenge that no one had been able to answer my challenge nor had anyone been able to explain why there was such a unique law that was unlike any other law.  He said that if I was wrong, I deserved to be refuted and if I was right, I deserved to be listened to.  I am still waiting for someone to answer my challenge.  There is no universal prohibition in scripture that is not repeated.  There is nothing that stands as a law that is used to pronounce judgment on a person without a repetition.  Not even one.  If I am wrong, I welcome an answer.

    I am still on the road.  Should be back home by late Friday.  It is good to get away for a few days even if it is mostly business.

  37. Giving a law to everyone and giving it to Israel is a different audience, it is not repeated to everyone.  There are only a few laws that are given to everyone.

  38. Don,

    In the case of Noah, giving it to “everyone” was 8 people. I don’t think we need to worry that God didn’t speak to the pagans on the blood issue. The fact is that God repeated the law. It was a law that was for all of Israel. This of course came after it was given to every person on the earth (all 8 of them). And the best thing….it was repeated.

    So, my question still stands. Is there a universal law that God has given that isn’t repeated? Let’s take the law against lying, stealing, adultery, etc, etc. All of these sins are prohibited and they are all very clear in scripture so that we are not confused about how to stay away from sin. God has no problem in repeating himself and sometimes he does it over and over again. He wants us to “get it” because he wants us to stay away from sin.

    So if there is a “law” that stops godly women from teaching doctrine to men, why isn’t this law placed into any list of sin? Why isn’t there a punishment given for this sin? Why was there no example of a woman charged with this universal sin? No other universal law is like this. No other universal law is left without a second witness. The question that I would like all of us to consider, is why not? Does God care less for women that he could not give a second witness to only women? Or is it possible that there is no such universal “law” that forbids godly women from teaching correct biblical doctrine to men?

  39. Every law given to everyone (sometimes worded as being given to gentiles) is repeated to Israel, so your claim is true as you have asked the question in a way to ensure it is always true.  Some may not know about these distinctions about laws for gentiles and laws for Israel.

  40. God’s moral law is also on our conscience which is given to everyone. However the issue at hand is what is given to the church in the NT and the people of God in the OT. Any law of God whether it is given universally to all of God’s people for all of time or all people for all of time is always given more than once in scripture. It is the repetition of the law that is the important issue. God has not left us without a second witness. If I was to be silenced then there would be a clear second witness in scripture. My challenge still stands from the only source that is our measuring stick and that is God’s word. Is there a law given as a universal law for all of time that is given By God directly or through his representatives that is without a second witness? 

    This isn’t Cheryl’s law, but it is the consistent witness of scripture.  Even Jesus said that his claim to Deity (and this claim would result in our damnation for rejecting his testimony so it was a judicial matter) would not be considered valid without a second witness.  If the creator of the universe allowed himself to be under the law of a second witness, then surely God would supply a second witness to the “law” that silences every godly woman regarding her teaching of correct biblical doctrine to men.  The fact is that there is no second witness and this “law” fails the consistent testimony of every other law.  Every universal law has a second witness. 

    There is also no “law” that silences women in the church.  The fact that this “law” does not have a second witness in the scriptures, is another witness that the “law” that is references is not one of God’s laws.

  41. I do not see your premise being proven, you are the one asserting it and when I point out where it is not true, you claim I misuderstood.

    1. You need to clearly state what you are asserting.  This includes examples and counterexamples.
    2. You need to show it is true.  It is not up to others to show it is false, since it is you that are asserting it.

  42. Don,

    The premise is that there is no universal law that is not repeated in scripture.  I am not saying that God has to repeat the law to the exact same people that he said it to the first time.  What I am claiming is that every universal prohibition in scripture is never alone.  It is always with a second or third witness. 

    Deut 19:15 A single witness shall not rise up against a man on account of any iniquity or any sin which he has committed; on the evidence of two or three witnesses a matter shall be confirmed.

    Jesus stated that his own testimony is invalid with a second witness.  John 5:31-37.  A judicial matter had to have a second witness to validate it. God’s testimony about sin is never alone.  God has provided a second witness repeating the charge of sin for every single universal sin.

    The sin of adultery is universal.  It is repeated in Exodus 20:14, Deut 5:18 and numerous other places.

    Drunkenness is a universal sin.  It is identified in Duet 21:20, Galatians 5:21, 1 Cor. 5:11 and ! Cor 6:10.

    There is no prohibition given universally for all of time that is not repeated.  A universal prohibition that is forbidden for all is a “law’ of God.

    Jesus submitted himself to the requirement for two or three witnesses for a judicial matter.  Every judicial matter is established with two or three witnesses.  God has followed his own requirements by providing a second or third witness for every single universal prohibition.

    If the “sin” of a woman teaching the bible to men is a universal prohibition, it does not follow the pattern of every other universal prohibition.  There is no second witness to this supposed “law”.  It is a unique “law” that has not been proven as a God-given universal law.

    See my other articles here:

    1.  It is a fact there there is no universal law given that is not repeated.

    2.  It has not been established that the “sin” of a woman teaching the bible to men is a universal law or that it is a punishable “sin”.

    3.  If it is a “law” that all godly women are forbidden to teach doctrine to men, then this “law” is unlike any of God’s other laws.

    4.  If there is no other universal prohibition that is not repeated in scripture, so we see God offering a minimum of a second witness, and since Jesus himself subjected his own testimony to the requirement of two or three witnesses, we must either say that there is one unique “law” that does not need to be an established judicial matter or we can accept the fact that repetition is for our safety and God has provided the repetition for us so that we can be assured of knowing what is sin and what is against God’s law.

    5.  Repetition is for our safety (Philippians 3:1) and a charge of sin from a “law” that has not been established judicially is not safe.

    Lastly, if I am wrong, then it should not take much to prove me wrong from my own source of authority – God’s word.  If there is even one judicial universal prohibition that is not repeated in scripture, then I am wrong.  I submit my case to the evidence of scripture.  Every single universal prohibition follows the exact same pattern.  Every one of them is repeated in scripture.  Every one of them has a second witness.  God has not given all of us a charge of sin without the safety of repetition so that we can know and understand what is sin without question and without excuse.

    I ask, where is the second witness that women are not allowed to teach the bible to men?

    Where is the second witness that women are to be silenced in the church?

    There is no second witness to either of these “laws”.  This is not safe, it is not God’s pattern and it does not follow the judicial system requiring a charge of sin to have a second or third witness.  Since Jesus followed this pattern just as his Father followed the pattern with every other sin, I rest my case.

  43. One other thing I should mention.  It is far easier to refute someone’s error, then it is to unravel the hard passages of scripture.  When I read Grudem’s material and when I hear Bruce Ware preach, I can pick out the holes in the argument very easily.

    One pastor said that it would take two years to refute the exegesis in my DVD on women in ministry.  I told him that it may take someone years to present their own reasoning through the scriptures on the hard passages, but it shouldn’t take too long to refute error.

    My premise regarding the scripture always having a second witness regarding universal sin would be easy to refute if there was such a refutation available.  I am not talking about God’s commands to do something but his prohibitions against doing something.  i.e. The ten commandments; the list of sins found in the New Testament that are universal sins, i.e. Galatians 5:20-21.  The deeds of the flesh are spoken against in scripture and none of the prohibitions against these deeds of the flesh are without a second witness.

    This is a very important fact that we should note from the list of sins both in the OT and the NT.  The list of sins are repeated and they are warned against.  God loves us dearly and wants us not to sin against him.  He reminds us of what is sin and he warns us against the sin.  He does not leave his telling us only once because of his great mercy towards us.  God repeats himself because it is for our safety. 

    I want to take this opportunity to thank God for this example of his grace and mercy towards us.  I want to thank him that he has given us guidelines for testing truth and exposing error.  I praise God that he has given his word as a straight edge and it does not waiver.  God is consistent and he is trustworthy and I am so thankful that God has not made it a sin for me or any other woman to teach the truth from scripture.  God has no such “law” that would indict me of sin since those who try to prove such a universal “law” are without evidence either in the passages themselves and in the rest of the scriptures.

  44. To all:

    The issue about two or three witnesses is very important.  It gives a very clear indication that the charge of sin is not to be taken lightly.

    So why did Jesus say that his testimony by itself was not valid?

    John 5:31  If I alone testify about Myself, My testimony is not true.

    Jesus appealed to Deuteronomy where the evidence of two or three witnesses was required in a Judicial matter.  Every fact is to be confirmed by two or three witnesses.  (Deut 17:6, Deut 19:15)

    Paul also appealed to the same OT scriptures regarding a judicial matter (2 Cor. 13:1)  Paul himself coming to the Corinthians several times and in different ways was a fulfillment of the two or three witnesses.

    Will God now change things and condemn godly Christian women without the same two or three witnesses that he has used for every other judicial matter?  God doesn’t change.  If he deemed it necessary to document and establish a matter by providing two or three witnesses and Jesus set himself under the requirement for two or three witnesses, how can we now charge women with sin whose only charge against them is that they do not kick men out of the bible studies that they are leading?

    Is it really a sin for women to speak in the assembly?  Is it really a sin for women to teach correct biblical doctrine to men?  Where are the two witnesses for this “sin”?  There are no second or third witness in scripture.  This must make us pause to consider.  Two or three witnesses will establish a matter where a charge of sin is involved.

    God is consistent and he gives repetition for our good.  It is for our safety that we have the second witness.  Any matter that we set forth to establish as a documented sin must follow the set pattern set out in scripture.  All sin is documented and confirmed for us by a second witness.  If we try to establish a judicial charge of sin without a second scriptural witness, we become like the cults who assume all kinds of “essential” doctrines that are found in obscure passages of scripture, with no second witness and they snip these scriptures out of the complete context of the passage.  This is the pathway to an unsafe set of doctrines and an unsafe charge of sin against Christian brothers and sisters.  Let’s practice the safe way that God has established.  Every judicial matter is to be established by two or three witnesses or it is not an established and documented judicial doctrine.

  45. When Paul wrote “that is what some of you were”, we can all agree that the list of things believers should not still practice are things that are universally recognized as sinful. But I don’t see “women preachers” in any such list.

    When Paul wrote to have a man thrown out of the Assembly, his sin was something that belonged on that list. When he or Peter wrote about false teachers, things on that list were part of the evidences of falsehood. But women preachers are never lumped with such people.

    Again, I believe the simple, clear, bottom line is whether or not there is a penalty. Does Paul say to throw out women preachers from the assembly? Does he say their teachings “spread like gangrene”? Does he show by example that women are to be unseen and unheard? Does God have a history of rebuking women who speak the truth to men?

    Obviously, seeing the complete absence of any shred of evidence that women are to be silenced, restricted, or bossed, and remembering “not so among you”, it simply astounds me that we’re still having to prove in this day and age that women are free, equal, and human.

    The only thing this whole debate shows is the depth of pride in the flesh, the spiritual immaturity, the complete misunderstanding of the very basics of what it means to be a Christian on the part of these people who desire power and control and preeminence. It’s a pathetic indictment of the church today.

  46. In case some one reads this and does not know the context, I am egal and agree with Cheryl’s general conclusions.  I just doubt in this case her method to get there.

    Drunkeness prohibitions are only for Jews and believers, not for everyone.  This does not mean it is wise for non-believing gentiles to do this.

    For Jesus to show himself as Messiah to more than one witness, but it would only take one verse on Messiah for that prophecy to exist and be a valid prophecy.  For example, Bethlehem is a one place prophecy and many others.

  47. Don, thanks for reiterating our mutual stand just in case someone doesn’t see that you agree with me in general.  This blog is a safe place to passionately argue one’s view in a respectful manner, unlike other places that would draw and quarter one for disagreeing 🙂

    As far as drunkenness goes, it is clearly a wickedness that God charges against both his people and the nations.  In Nahum, God displeasure is with Ninevah which is a pagan city and drunkenness is spoken against unbelievers in Nahum 1:10.  God calls them to repentance through Jonah and they go back to their evil ways later.  I don’t think we can say that doing heroin is a sin for believers, but it is not a sin for unbelievers.  This is a universal moral issue of substance abuse.

    As far as the issue about prophesy and the place of Jesus’ birth, one prophesy alone would not validate Jesus as the Messiah since there were other baby boys born in that city.  God did not leave us with only one prophetic witness, though, and so we can be certain, even if from prophecy alone, that Jesus is the Christ.

    Yet while the prophetic is a fascinating issue to deal with, the issue that I want to bring out is the judicial matters that necessitate a second or third witness.  Jesus’ claim to Deity was such a judicial matter since rejecting him as Messiah would result in a charge of sin.

    I would also like to affirm Don as a very special person that visits my blog.  Don is a male (not a female “Dawn”) and his presence here is very special.  The mere fact that a male would step out to support women in ministry and risk receiving abuse from hierarchists because of his support, is a very special thing in my eyes and many other people’s eyes too!  Don, you are special in many ways, but your support is precious and I trust that the Lord will give you an extra crown in heaven for being willing to face those who see you as a threat because of your brave stand.  Thank you!!

  48. I have faced some forum insults, I was amazed at how one can be treated when he/she does not toe the “party line” at some places.  They are many who have gone before me who have faced much worse, including martyrs for the faith.  I am grateful to them for being able to be baptized in water and have my own Bible and many other things which we now take for granted.

  49. I have seen some blogs/web sites/discussion boards that claim to be Christian and they delight in abusing those who do not believe the same way as they do on secondary issues.  I am thoroughly amazed by this.  We are told in scripture that we are to strive together for peace.  We are commanded to show love for one another by none other than Jesus Christ himself.  In fact John wrote that the love of the brethren that we are commanded to show is proof that we are truly born again.

    1 John 3:14, 15, 18 We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brethren. He who does not love abides in death. Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer; and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him…Little children, let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth.

    The truth of the matter is that no one can see our heart.  We alone need to judge whether there is love within us.  But others can see the fruit of our heart by our deeds.  Those who rip at the sheep and take pleasure in hurting other Christians, calling them heretics and deceivers for merely having a different secondary doctrine of faith are in danger.  These are not acts of love.  I have personally seen many hurt, many called names and many dismissed as if they are the scum of the earth by none other than those who state that they are Christians.  What I have also seen is the love of Christ coming through the ones who have been called horrible names.  I have seen them respond in humility, return respect for the anger and disrespect leveled at them, and generally show a Christ-like attitude.  I have been in awe of some of the kindest and most gentle Christians that I have seen who are egalitarians, and who are living the command to love.

    I have also seen a few complementarians try to show a level of respect and love even in the heat of the dialog.  I commend them as well for their love of the brethren.  I am also honored to be known as their sister in Christ as I see the fruits of love in their lives.

    What we all need to remember is that when we love each other and show respect because we are all in the same body of Christ, we are actually showing love for Jesus.  The one question that I have asked of hierarchists who are acting in anger and separating themselves from their brethren, is if they love Jesus?  The interesting thing is that when I have asked this question, while they are acting in anger, I haven’t had an answer at all.  Do they love Jesus?  We can never really know except to see how they tend to the sheep.  When the love of Jesus and the love of the Father lives within us, we cannot help but LOVE the sheep.

    Let me ask a direct question to hierarchists that may read my words – Do you mock other believers?  Do you speak derogatory words about the appearance, the manner of speech or the “style” of communication of other believers merely because they disagree with you on the non-essentials?  Do you fail to walk in forgiveness and take the wrongs that have been done to you that you have forgiven them for and turn around and use the same thing that you have forgiven, to question the character of the other brother, their salvation or their place in the body of Christ?  No one can make you repent of these things.  You must do it yourself.  When we walk together in repentance and the forgiveness that follows repentance we will not only have fellowship with one another, but we will have fellowship with the owner, master, Savior and Lord of the sheep.  Those who refuse to do that must consider what proof do they have that they belong to this special flock?  Again I repeat that “We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brethren.  He who does not love abides in death.”

  50.        Though the traditional understanding of 1 Cor 14:34-35 as an absolute prohibition against women preaching and teaching has been shown to be without any sound foundation in any other OT or NT, it is still being used to silence women.  In the May issue of The Trinity Review, Gary Crampton an article in which he pitted 1 Cor 11:2-11 and  1 Cor 14:34-35, arguing that the first passage was “hypothetical” in nature while the second passage is a clear and definite denial of and prohibition against what Paul apparently granted in the previous passage.  Jon Zens (whom some of you may know) that I had previously written a study on prophets and prophecy from an egalitarian viewpoint, and asked me to write a reply to this article.   And one of the first things I targeted was this matter of “the elusive law.”   Still, people stick to their opinions, regardless of the contrary evidence presented to them.  Very sad.    

  51. Frank,

    It is amazing that proof can be carefully presented that the scriptures release women to serve in their God-given gifts and that the difficult passages read in context do not contradict this view, yet people will still turn a blind eye because man’s tradition has become a powerful attraction rather than wrestling with the “not so clear” passages of scripture.

    Frank, you mentioned on a previous comment on another post that Dr. Robert K. Wright recommended this blog to you.  I believe that I failed to mention at that time, that Dr. Wright has been very encouraging to me and very supportive of my ministry especially regarding my work on women in ministry.  I am eternally grateful for the men who have valued my work and supported me.  Dr. Jon Zens is another one of those brothers in Christ who has been extremely supportive of my work.  I really trust that God has a special crown in heaven for you precious men who risk your necks to support, affirm and stand alongside women in ministry.  It is a tough battle to be heard because of the prejudice in the church against women who teach the bible for the benefit of both men and women.  I value everyone who supports this work and who has given words of encouragement to me.  But these days I am in awe of men who are not silent on this issue.  Thank God for my brothers in Christ!!

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