Was there an Old Testament order of worship?

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chuckd

Puritan Board Sophomore
From reading 1 Cor. 14:26-40, it seems that the apostolic church Lord's Day was somewhat chaotic. This eventually developed into an Order of Worship or liturgy over the centuries, but was there a Jewish order of worship preceding this? Did worship go from chaos to order, or was it OT order -> apostolic chaos -> NT order?
 

Contra_Mundum

Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger
Staff member
The practices Paul writes about (and corrects!) at Corinth should not be taken as a "typical" NT worship scene. It is astonishing how many people today feel nothing strange about turning to a dysfunctional NT church for guidance. Corinth was an example of degeneration or declension from the orderliness they were taught by Paul. Corinthian worshipers at Christian gatherings were seeing the presence of a gift in someone--especially a showy or noticeable one--turned into presumption of authority in worship to demand attention and do as they pleased. After Paul has laid down the law, he writes 1Cor.11:16, "But if anyone seems to be contentious, we have no such custom, nor do the churches of God."

The existing model for NT church order was the synagogue. Standard apostolic practice simply carried over the pattern of the previously practiced liturgy, and adjusted what was necessary for the new era. Synagogues have quite ancient liturgical practices, and there is scholarly effort to source the patterns all the way back to exile in Babylon. However, it would be wrong to deny precursor "synagogues" back in the land prior to the exile (see Ps.74:8).

One of my seminary professors (long ago now) taught that the synagogue's pattern was likely derived from Tabernacle/Temple worship, minus the sacrificial elements that were designed exclusively for the central shrine. Of course, most are aware of how regulated was the Levitical service of the altar, so given the Levitical role of teachers for all Israel (Lev.10:11; Dt.33:10; cf. 2Chr.15:3; Jer.18:18; Mic.3:11; Mal.2:6-7), it is no wonder if they were the original rabbins; and no wonder if they held an orderly holy convocation on the Sabbath (Lev.23:3) in all Israel's dwellings, throughout their generations (cf. v21).
 

Wretched Man

Puritan Board Freshman
The practices Paul writes about (and corrects!) at Corinth should not be taken as a "typical" NT worship scene. It is astonishing how many people today feel nothing strange about turning to a dysfunctional NT church for guidance. Corinth was an example of degeneration or declension from the orderliness they were taught by Paul. Corinthian worshipers at Christian gatherings were seeing the presence of a gift in someone--especially a showy or noticeable one--turned into presumption of authority in worship to demand attention and do as they pleased. After Paul has laid down the law, he writes 1Cor.11:16, "But if anyone seems to be contentious, we have no such custom, nor do the churches of God."

The existing model for NT church order was the synagogue. Standard apostolic practice simply carried over the pattern of the previously practiced liturgy, and adjusted what was necessary for the new era. Synagogues have quite ancient liturgical practices, and there is scholarly effort to source the patterns all the way back to exile in Babylon. However, it would be wrong to deny precursor "synagogues" back in the land prior to the exile (see Ps.74:8).

One of my seminary professors (long ago now) taught that the synagogue's pattern was likely derived from Tabernacle/Temple worship, minus the sacrificial elements that were designed exclusively for the central shrine. Of course, most are aware of how regulated was the Levitical service of the altar, so given the Levitical role of teachers for all Israel (Lev.10:11; Dt.33:10; cf. 2Chr.15:3; Jer.18:18; Mic.3:11; Mal.2:6-7), it is no wonder if they were the original rabbins; and no wonder if they held an orderly holy convocation on the Sabbath (Lev.23:3) in all Israel's dwellings, throughout their generations (cf. v21).
I have read the synagogues back in the first century and prior were more like community centers - worship being a minor function (contrary to today’s Jewish synagogues).
 

Contra_Mundum

Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger
Staff member
I have read the synagogues back in the first century and prior were more like community centers - worship being a minor function (contrary to today’s Jewish synagogues).
Where did you read, and what is the context of the comment? I can imagine someone saying something similar about New England meeting houses 300yrs ago. As the focal point of village life, such a place would be the town's one large public building, and probably used on more than the one day per week when the purpose was worship.

But more to the point, the NT makes plain enough (even if we ignore copious extrabiblical data) the primary function of synagogue, being attuned to it's religious nature. The contrary claim feels like it comes from a modern person with minimal religious sensibilities interpreting the past through his chronological and cultural prejudice.

Today's Jewish synagogues are for the most part embedded (as are Christian churches) as places of particular devotion, set in a diversified social milieu filled with manifold discretely dedicated locations--a distinct place for everything--and in our time of state/religious compartmentalization, are no longer "public buildings" in the official sense of the term. This reality can't obscure the fact that even today within the subculture of a local Jewish enclave, their synagogue serves them (the membership) like a community center of sorts; and the same could be said about a tightly-knit local Christian subculture/congregation.

To the degree that countless Christians and Jews of the modern age are as--if not more--communally identified with another dozen or more social hubs besides their religious affiliation, each with its own social-gathering place; coupled with the fact that religion hardly ever rises to be the top concern six days a week, and maybe seven... well, it's no wonder there's not even much reason for ordinary folk to show up at the religious meeting house except for an hour on the day of worship.

In the 1C A.D., religion for everyone was a serious cultural expression, no less for the Jews whether in the homeland or dispersed abroad. The Jews in Greco-Roman culture even before Christ were often viewed with curiosity, contempt, or suspicion because they still persisted in maintaining their separation, for not assimilating culturally. Again, that would make the synagogue a "safe space" to be Jewish in ways other than worship. But thinking this would make religion a "minor function" for synagogue seems far-fetched.
 

B.L.

Puritan Board Sophomore
The existing model for NT church order was the synagogue. Standard apostolic practice simply carried over the pattern of the previously practiced liturgy, and adjusted what was necessary for the new era. Synagogues have quite ancient liturgical practices, and there is scholarly effort to source the patterns all the way back to exile in Babylon. However, it would be wrong to deny precursor "synagogues" back in the land prior to the exile (see Ps.74:8).

One of my seminary professors (long ago now) taught that the synagogue's pattern was likely derived from Tabernacle/Temple worship, minus the sacrificial elements that were designed exclusively for the central shrine. Of course, most are aware of how regulated was the Levitical service of the altar, so given the Levitical role of teachers for all Israel (Lev.10:11; Dt.33:10; cf. 2Chr.15:3; Jer.18:18; Mic.3:11; Mal.2:6-7), it is no wonder if they were the original rabbins; and no wonder if they held an orderly holy convocation on the Sabbath (Lev.23:3) in all Israel's dwellings, throughout their generations (cf. v21).

Rev. Buchanan,

Are there any works in print today that discuss the scholarly research in this area? I've been on the hunt recently looking for a good book on ancient liturgy. I stumbled upon Bard Thompson's "Liturgies of the Western Church" on Amazon, but I'm unfamiliar with the work and am still exploring what would be money well spent. I would greatly value any recommendations you might have at your convenience.
 

chuckd

Puritan Board Sophomore
The practices Paul writes about (and corrects!) at Corinth should not be taken as a "typical" NT worship scene. It is astonishing how many people today feel nothing strange about turning to a dysfunctional NT church for guidance. Corinth was an example of degeneration or declension from the orderliness they were taught by Paul. Corinthian worshipers at Christian gatherings were seeing the presence of a gift in someone--especially a showy or noticeable one--turned into presumption of authority in worship to demand attention and do as they pleased. After Paul has laid down the law, he writes 1Cor.11:16, "But if anyone seems to be contentious, we have no such custom, nor do the churches of God."

The existing model for NT church order was the synagogue. Standard apostolic practice simply carried over the pattern of the previously practiced liturgy, and adjusted what was necessary for the new era. Synagogues have quite ancient liturgical practices, and there is scholarly effort to source the patterns all the way back to exile in Babylon. However, it would be wrong to deny precursor "synagogues" back in the land prior to the exile (see Ps.74:8).

One of my seminary professors (long ago now) taught that the synagogue's pattern was likely derived from Tabernacle/Temple worship, minus the sacrificial elements that were designed exclusively for the central shrine. Of course, most are aware of how regulated was the Levitical service of the altar, so given the Levitical role of teachers for all Israel (Lev.10:11; Dt.33:10; cf. 2Chr.15:3; Jer.18:18; Mic.3:11; Mal.2:6-7), it is no wonder if they were the original rabbins; and no wonder if they held an orderly holy convocation on the Sabbath (Lev.23:3) in all Israel's dwellings, throughout their generations (cf. v21).
Thank you. That was a very helpful explanation.

What is your opinion on v34-35 on women remaining silent? Calvin limits the verse to teaching and prophesying, but that doesn't make sense to me. Paul doesn't say "women should not teach or prophesy" (he does elsewhere), but he says "women should keep silent" and "they are not permitted to speak." Not even to ask a question.

Chrysostom says it's because women are prone to "prate idly and to no purpose. Therefore he represses their babbling with much authority, and taking the law along with him, thus he sews up their mouths." I'm picturing women talking during worship which showed little respect to the pastor or other male authority. So Paul prohibits it for them to "be in submission."
 

Contra_Mundum

Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger
Staff member
What is your opinion on v34-35 on women remaining silent?

So, let me dredge up (and slightly modify) some old sermon notes...


For context, Paul began dealing with the matter of disorders in the Corinthian church’s worship at ch.11. Four chs later, in coming to the close of ch.14, Paul is about to wrap up his discussion of this topic. He began (11:2) with a word of commendation, something for which he could praise the congregation, for holding fast to apostolic instruction, being obedient against tests to the contrary. That modicum of approval at the start of this long treatment—having to do with women’s decorum—factors finally in the discussion once more here at the end of this lengthy teaching.​
In between the one previous commendation (11:2-16) and these practical directions (14:26-40), and the apostle has confronted a shockingly degenerated worship-gathering. You may observe in the course of 4chs Paul correcting major aspects of both divisions of the church’s worship, which two are (borrow 16C Genevan church terminology adopted from 2C father Justin Martyr) “the Liturgy of the Upper Room,” that is: the Lord’s Supper, which is actually the second part of the service; and “the Liturgy of the Word,” which is the foregoing acts, centered in the sacred Scripture: spoken, read, sung, prayed, preached.​
Conclusion: Paul evidently had to thoroughly re-form worship in Corinth.​
So at 14:32, Paul is addresses someone’s objection. “O Paul! I have to speak! I cannot keep silent, and you can’t silence me. God is the one who has willed I should utter this. You, Paul [or some Corinthian elder] are opposing God.” Rubbish. Don’t color lack of self-control as submission to God. No, but "the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets." The prophets (with their superior gift) are under as much duty to restrain themselves as the tongue-speakers, who have a lesser gift.​
This rule sets prophet and preacher firmly under authority. They are not free to demand an audience on the supposed authority of God. For, v33, “God is not the author [those italicized words are supplied, I prefer a God] of confusion.” How dare anyone suggest otherwise, and that so it might allow them to vaunt them over others! “He is a God of peace,” which is to order as warmth is to light.​
See, back in the 1C Paul confronted and refuted the "gift" argument, that "I have a gift [from God] for X, ergo I'm allowed [by God] to do as I'm 'led,' in worship particularly." And this also has relevance to what follows.​
Vv34-35 are then a coming-back-around to women’s decorum in the congregation. It is probable that the disorderly condition of the church gatherings was threatening even such creational order as male-female roles reflected in the church of the Creator. According to ch.11, this church was presently successfully resisting moves against the order, whether explicit or implicit. Here, Paul confronts a second, implied objection: “I may be a woman, but I’m a prophet; thus, no one can prohibit me from giving utterance in worship.” Absolutely not. Paul replies, v33, the last line probably goes with v34, thus: "As in all the churches of the saints: let your women keep silent in the churches, for they are not permitted to speak; but they are to be submissive, as the law also says."​
We break with the modern mind here; as much as Paul was willing to break with the women’s lib of his day. The apostle is crystal clear here (as in other passages). So, many try to make his command here just his personal opinion. By that hermeneutic, this whole passage is nothing but his opinion. God is clear—by his NT writer, by creation and natural revelation, and (as Paul states) by his OT writer also. It seems as if perhaps those 1C services (with all their speakers) also made room for audience questions. Paul forbids even questions from the women in the worship setting, v35. He says it is shameful, embarrassing. How utterly contrary to the Word is every church where the people are ashamed to dissent from the world. So they dissent from God.​


Maybe that's helpful?
 

chuckd

Puritan Board Sophomore
So, let me dredge up (and slightly modify) some old sermon notes...


For context, Paul began dealing with the matter of disorders in the Corinthian church’s worship at ch.11. Four chs later, in coming to the close of ch.14, Paul is about to wrap up his discussion of this topic. He began (11:2) with a word of commendation, something for which he could praise the congregation, for holding fast to apostolic instruction, being obedient against tests to the contrary. That modicum of approval at the start of this long treatment—having to do with women’s decorum—factors finally in the discussion once more here at the end of this lengthy teaching.​
In between the one previous commendation (11:2-16) and these practical directions (14:26-40), and the apostle has confronted a shockingly degenerated worship-gathering. You may observe in the course of 4chs Paul correcting major aspects of both divisions of the church’s worship, which two are (borrow 16C Genevan church terminology adopted from 2C father Justin Martyr) “the Liturgy of the Upper Room,” that is: the Lord’s Supper, which is actually the second part of the service; and “the Liturgy of the Word,” which is the foregoing acts, centered in the sacred Scripture: spoken, read, sung, prayed, preached.​
Conclusion: Paul evidently had to thoroughly re-form worship in Corinth.​
So at 14:32, Paul is addresses someone’s objection. “O Paul! I have to speak! I cannot keep silent, and you can’t silence me. God is the one who has willed I should utter this. You, Paul [or some Corinthian elder] are opposing God.” Rubbish. Don’t color lack of self-control as submission to God. No, but "the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets." The prophets (with their superior gift) are under as much duty to restrain themselves as the tongue-speakers, who have a lesser gift.​
This rule sets prophet and preacher firmly under authority. They are not free to demand an audience on the supposed authority of God. For, v33, “God is not the author [those italicized words are supplied, I prefer a God] of confusion.” How dare anyone suggest otherwise, and that so it might allow them to vaunt them over others! “He is a God of peace,” which is to order as warmth is to light.​
See, back in the 1C Paul confronted and refuted the "gift" argument, that "I have a gift [from God] for X, ergo I'm allowed [by God] to do as I'm 'led,' in worship particularly." And this also has relevance to what follows.​
Vv34-35 are then a coming-back-around to women’s decorum in the congregation. It is probable that the disorderly condition of the church gatherings was threatening even such creational order as male-female roles reflected in the church of the Creator. According to ch.11, this church was presently successfully resisting moves against the order, whether explicit or implicit. Here, Paul confronts a second, implied objection: “I may be a woman, but I’m a prophet; thus, no one can prohibit me from giving utterance in worship.” Absolutely not. Paul replies, v33, the last line probably goes with v34, thus: "As in all the churches of the saints: let your women keep silent in the churches, for they are not permitted to speak; but they are to be submissive, as the law also says."​
We break with the modern mind here; as much as Paul was willing to break with the women’s lib of his day. The apostle is crystal clear here (as in other passages). So, many try to make his command here just his personal opinion. By that hermeneutic, this whole passage is nothing but his opinion. God is clear—by his NT writer, by creation and natural revelation, and (as Paul states) by his OT writer also. It seems as if perhaps those 1C services (with all their speakers) also made room for audience questions. Paul forbids even questions from the women in the worship setting, v35. He says it is shameful, embarrassing. How utterly contrary to the Word is every church where the people are ashamed to dissent from the world. So they dissent from God.​


Maybe that's helpful?
Thank you. So your view is there were two separate problems:
1. Woman prophets who by their prophesying during worship were speaking out of turn.
2. There were audience questions and Paul forbids the questions from women.

Respectfully, the passage seems to be a single problem: women speaking during worship was a submission problem. I think both issues you listed touch on it - why only questions from women and not all congregants? Why couldn't a woman provide her prophesy (assuming she does it in turn - 1 Cor. 14:31)?

I was thinking on your original post on the OT synagogue worship. Were there prohibitions on women during worship? I seem to remember there being a time they sat separately from men, but did they have this command to be silent? And what was the reason? Paul refers to the Law which Chrysostom and John Gill site Gen. 3:16. I'm wondering though if it was a "natural law" taken from existing cultural practice (1 Cor. 11:14).

Along those lines, was a woman choosing not to speak a sign of submission similar to the head coverings? Her speaking at all was a public way of communicating she was not under authority similar to not wearing a head covering, or shaving her head. Similar language is used in ch. 11 regarding shame:
For if a wife will not cover her head, then she should cut her hair short. But since it is disgraceful for a wife to cut off her hair or shave her head, let her cover her head. 1 Cor. 11:6
For it is shameful for a woman to speak in church. 1 Cor. 14:35

I'm just thinking out loud.
 
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Contra_Mundum

Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger
Staff member
Thank you. So your view is there were two separate problems:
1. Woman prophets who by their prophesying during worship were speaking out of turn.
2. There were audience questions and Paul forbids the questions from women.

Respectfully, the passage seems to be a single problem: women speaking during worship was a submission problem. I think both issues you listed touch on it - why only questions from women and not all congregants? Why couldn't a woman provide her prophesy (assuming she does it in turn - 1 Cor. 14:31)?

I was thinking on your original post on the OT synagogue worship. Were there prohibitions on women during worship? I seem to remember there being a time they sat separately from men, but did they have this command to be silent? And what was the reason? Paul refers to the Law which Chrysostom and John Gill site Gen. 3:16. I'm wondering though if it was a "natural law" taken from existing cultural practice (1 Cor. 11:14).

Along those lines, was a woman choosing not to speak a sign of submission similar to the head coverings? Her speaking at all was a public way of communicating she was not under authority similar to not wearing a head covering, or shaving her head. Similar language is used in ch. 11 regarding shame:
For if a wife will not cover her head, then she should cut her hair short. But since it is disgraceful for a wife to cut off her hair or shave her head, let her cover her head. 1 Cor. 11:6
For it is shameful for a woman to speak in church. 1 Cor. 14:35

I'm just thinking out loud.
I understand you are narrowly interested in the issues that are presented in vv34-35 specifically--which is fine. But to answer your narrow questions properly requires me to draw on as much context of the letter as necessary (and, it further helps to have the entire Pauline context in mind); in order for us to accurately grasp both what is being addressed and why, thus rendering Paul coherent across the topic, the letter, and his whole body of work.

There are two, related issues underlying Paul's statements in vv34-35.
1. That there were women who had the gift of prophecy in the 1C is indisputable from the NT record. The gift itself in a woman is acknowledged and some comment given on it back in ch.11. Act.21:8-9 even give us a concrete instance of Philip's four prophesying daughters. Joel 2:28/Act.2:17 declare they shall and they do. So, a "female prophet" is no problem.

My interpretation is that Paul by his teaching, by parity to his immediately foregoing correction of another version of the "I'm gifted so let me..." argument, silences the female prophet who similarly protests apostolic church order. There is no authority whatever for them to speak in Christian worship; and I would say that a proper interpretation of 1Cor.11 yields no different conclusion.

Hence, I disagree with the proposal that the real problem being dealt with is female submission. No, but it's the far bigger problem of a general lack of submission to apostolic authority and order in the church, manifested in rebellion (by men and women, in different ways at times) to the elders of the local congregation who are attempting to keep the church on the straight and narrow.

In Corinth, you had men "with gifts" including prophecy who were demanding on that basis to be heard by the church when "the gift" (i.e. "God") supposedly called for it; and who cares what the elders have to say. Paul cuts them off. And you had a female challenge (or there was strong potential of such, given the resistance to order addressed back in 11:2ff) of women having the supreme gift of prophecy demanding on that basis to be heard by the church when "the gift" (i.e. "God") supposedly called for it.

Paul cuts them off too, but he doesn't use the exact same terms to do it as he used correcting the men, because the male prophet under the proper circumstances might be given permission to be heard; whereas there was no circumstance in a properly ordered worship service where it would be fitting for the female prophet to "have her voice." By reducing the problem at Corinth to "women not knowing their place" or somesuch, that runs a greater risk of denigrating the prophetic gift given those women by God. The problem was violation of church order.

2. But it was not only the male prophet who might under the proper circumstances have permission to speak up in worship. Apparently Q&A--whether it was within the worship frame [between call and benediction], or so closely connected to that frame that sex mattered--allowed any male (in turns of course, when selected and not speaking over others) to present his question to the minister. Well then, but there is no more "male or female" (Gal.3:28), so mightn't it be within the bounds of order to allow the female to also pose her question?

Except, that point is also addressed by the fact it is a general prohibition: it's not OK within the strict limitations of the church's worship for female "silence" to be broken. Her voice is both allowed and encouraged when, with all the voices they are raised in the collective song of the redeemed, or if there is any other common-confession of the body. She's a part of that body, and her voice is required there. But there's a different message conveyed when she is silent "as the law also says." So, if she is not silent, that message is lost. Her silence is positive in that sense. It is not a silence that is "about female submission."

It's the church--of men and women--that need to obey the Lord in all things, and not only in those things that "make sense" to them, or after they finally reconcile to and justify the apostolic policy in their individual minds. "I believe, in order that I may understand." First we follow directions, even if we don't fully understand the reasons for them. As long as we don't blindly follow the leaders God gives, but do trust them as those who have not violated our trust, we grow under their guidance into appreciation for the order that comes to us from the Bible.


As for the synagogue and its habits: what we care about is not what secular history can tell us, but what the Scriptures teach. There are Christian churches in the Middle East, where the women sit on one side, the men on the other. Is this a carry-over from the most ancient example? I don't know, however I do appreciate that our families sit together. I don't think the Bible is going to organize the congregational seating. Neither practice is "wrong." Wisdom, not law, guides us.

The matter addressed in 1Cor.11:2-16 is the exclusive glory of Christ on display in his church. The presenting problem was an issue of concern: the apostolic practice taught that women at worship had (some kind of) "covering the head." Of that, there can be no doubt, though there continues to be differences of opinion about what covering was, or how the apostle's teaching was/is honored. It seems there was a move in the Corinthian church by certain persons to oppose and remove this practice, and various arguments were floated as to why it should go away, or be one option among many, etc.

Paul starts with this matter, because he wants to offer a commendable word to the church, and encourage the leaders who are struggling to maintain discipline, that they are "keeping the tradition" of the apostles that was taught them. This was a place where the line was being held. Paul's writing confirms the practice of women covering their heads, and he justifies the practice theologically. He also emphasizes the mutuality of men and women, and doesn't once appeal to "the subordinate place of women" in his comments. Instead, his words on mutuality serve to remove such a basis men might be tempted to use in a self-serving way. Paul undercuts the chauvinistic appeal.

It is because this matter has first and foremost to do with Church/Worship Order, that Paul makes the most of it (along with the opportunity to make one commendation, before his lengthy complaint about how poorly the church is behaving). The matter is ORDER, not "uppity women." I think it likely there was some insubordination behind the move to get rid of the headcovering; but that was probably not the sole or even primary driver in the minds of most (men and women) who were looking to abandon it. There was a lot of just "being mixed up" due to faulty premises. The solution to getting the great majority of the congregation back into a "submissive mind" under Christ was NOT to explain that "women need to remember their place," but that the church ALWAYS needs to think theologically and biblically in church matters. The very small place given "nature" v14, it is used as a form of reinforcement (a secondary rationale).

The headcovering wasn't about "teaching female subordination" AT ALL. If it was turned by some into a "women's lib" argument, that shows how good things are perverted and put to a wrong end by subversives. Headcovering was about the need to cover up every distracting GLORY from the GLORY of Christ. HER glory (her hair), and the fact that SHE IS the glory of the MAN, meant that it was important to subdue that distracting display, so that Christ's Personal glory would be maximized in the church's orderly worship.
 

chuckd

Puritan Board Sophomore
I appreciate the great length you took to respond. I have a few questions or comments to bounce off of you if you don't mind.
Paul cuts them off too, but he doesn't use the exact same terms to do it as he used correcting the men, because the male prophet under the proper circumstances might be given permission to be heard; whereas there was no circumstance in a properly ordered worship service where it would be fitting for the female prophet to "have her voice." By reducing the problem at Corinth to "women not knowing their place" or somesuch, that runs a greater risk of denigrating the prophetic gift given those women by God. The problem was violation of church order.
Except, that point is also addressed by the fact it is a general prohibition: it's not OK within the strict limitations of the church's worship for female "silence" to be broken. Her voice is both allowed and encouraged when, with all the voices they are raised in the collective song of the redeemed, or if there is any other common-confession of the body. She's a part of that body, and her voice is required there. But there's a different message conveyed when she is silent "as the law also says." So, if she is not silent, that message is lost. Her silence is positive in that sense. It is not a silence that is "about female submission."
I assume these prophecies from women were heard outside of worship? The question still remains why women were to remain silent, if not out of submission. I like your immediate answer that we believe, in order that we may understand. I'm trying to understand.

It is not a silence that is "about female submission."
The headcovering wasn't about "teaching female subordination" AT ALL.
These two statements did leave me perplexed. Both passages directly link the teaching to submission. Paul calls the headcovering a "symbol of authority." He says women are not permitted to speak, "but should be in submission." Maybe I misunderstood the comments.
 

Contra_Mundum

Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger
Staff member
The question still remains why women were to remain silent, if not out of submission.
Paul gives two explicit reasons in 1Tim.2:13-14, neither which is submission. V11 of that passage says, "Let a woman learn in silence with (Gk. "en") all submission." It does not say a woman's silence was "out of" (from the basis?) the estate of "female submission." Rather, that women as a subcategory of the "all" for whom Christ gave himself a ransom (v6) were to learn from Christ submissively--that's the manner in which they were to conduct themselves. The proper posture of a true disciple of the LORD is submission (regardless of sex).

Furthermore, it was "all" submission. Why that particular qualifier? Well, since in the apostolic church order the general class of men (because of duties of office to which certain ones may be appointed) cannot be in ALL submission, only the class of women can fulfill such a sign in all respects. Paul could not give the command "learn... in all submission" to the church as a whole, nor to the whole primary subclass of men from which was taken the church's ministry (officers). Even though there would be many non-officer males of whom Paul could have written: they too should be quiet to learn submissively; yet "many" is not every member of that class. Whereas, he could and did say that the sum total of the alternate primary subclass of women would in a well-ordered congregation put on display the radical submissiveness of the whole church to Christ.

I think there is contextually relevant justification for why Paul feels the need to touch again the topic of women's silence in the worship gathering of the church, justification I'm not going to elaborate here; but when he passes from the direction to the reasons, he first addresses (v12) the fact that teaching is an exercise of authority--and in the church's worship and government it is Christ's authority instrumentally displayed by select men and not by any women. OT pattern of male officeholders is reinforced by Christ's appointments in the NT. Then follow the theological reasons: v13, the order of creation; v14, the order of the fall.

It isn't the creation order itself implying any superiority. If being created first implied superiority, the subrational creation would have superiority to man, something we know to be untrue. The order of creation relates to how God tasked the man alone prior to proving his "incomplete" quality absent the woman. The man was ordained among other things to instruct on the divine commands and instructions entrusted to him for them both. Adam's role was in service to his wife, much like Jesus washed his disciples feet. You couldn't tell his headship by looking at Jesus dressed and acting like a houseboy. In like manner, it cannot be the case that bare creation order alone explains either superiority or inferiority, dominance or submission. The issue is not finding the right lens to interpret, but marshaling a full set of relevant facts: what God said, when he said it, and whom he ordained to convey his counsel. Adam was ordained as head, he wasn't simply "the natural leader." Something of the original creation order therefore is meet for display in the church's order.

In the case of the order of the fall, it is again a case of regarding what actually happened, and not running to a submission-interpretation of events. Eve actually bore less responsibility for the tragedy than Adam did in his head office. His sin was also more culpable, inasmuch as he acted more rationally than she. Eve listened to the wrong party, she experimented in folly, and she aimed at being Adam’s teacher. Paul basically says: "Each of you faithful women do the contrary. And that is how your silence will speak volumes." Thus, Eve's daughters all help their mother bear her discipline.


So, when I reply in the previous post, that "It is not a silence that is about female submission," it isn't my intent to imply that there's no connection between silence and submission. Rather, when we read Paul's instruction we should avoid concluding that an imposed silence on any party is a tool for enforcing submission (or dominance). The men and the women learning submissively are not quiet as a reminder of their "dhimmitude," compared to those with permission to speak. And especially the women are not being silenced because their sex demands it, or that they need their vaunting nature curbed. On the whole, the church is given the biblical character of the bride of Christ. Therefore, of all the human race our females are the most thoroughly embodied illustrations of the relationship between Christ and his church in the church itself. Therefore, her silence is GOLDEN; and when she steps away from that role we collectively lose what she could show us.

Again, the headcovering (sign of authority, specifically points to Christ's authority) is not about female submission. Everyone in the congregation is technically in submission to Christ, and is present in worship to behold and to extol his exclusive glory. The headcovering on the woman's head is not there as a reminder that she needs to "remember she's lower in rank" than the menfolk. It's about the glory of Christ. Without this sign, some earthly glory gets put on display. Rather than be a unique sign of female submission in the church, it's a sign that mutes ordinary yet impressive female glory. By covering her sex's glory, she comes thereby to the same position as the man, so that both are properly in submission to Christ, both being the image and glory of God.
 
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