“Role of Women” in the Assembly

Monmouth church of Christ

Sunday PM Discussion


Key Points:

q  Boundaries:

o   Two passages that are normally used to support the view that women should not speak in the assembly: I Timothy 2:11-12, I Corinthians 14:33-34.  We need to look at these passages in context.

o   What are the cultural aspects playing upon our understanding of Paul’s letters (see teaching notes by Brother Tom Robinson, Manhattan Church of Christ)

o   We recognize that within the bounds of Christian freedom we must use wisdom and discernment in making decisions that involve the body.  Not everything that is permissible may be helpful or profitable or wise.


q  Based on study and prayer, the Monmouth Shepherds want to allow women to be more active in the following roles within our assemblies:

o   Welcome the assembly together / make announcements

o   Read scripture

o   We will not be recruiting women or forcing them to serve in these roles, we want women who so desire to be free to serve in this way.


q  We are not talking about:

o   Women talking about preaching or seizing the teaching responsibilities away from men (as in I Timothy 2:11-12 – see note back page)

o   Women taking positions of leadership away from men

o   Changing our practices to attract more members

o   “keeping up with times”, or promote a “feminist agenda”, or be a “happening church”


Paul’s Discussion of Conduct in Worship in I Corinthians 11-14:  Key Perspectives

q  I Corinthians 10:11-11:1

o   Whatever we do, do all to the glory of God

o   Do not cause anyone to stumble, but seek their salvation

o   Seek the good of many, not self, so that they may be saved

o   Imitate Paul, and Paul imitates Christ

q  I Corinthians 12:4-11

o   Each one is given a manifestation of the Spirit for the common good (includes both men and women)

o   The Spirit gives to each one (male or female) just as the Spirit determines

q  I Corinthians 13:1-8

o   No matter what we do, if it is not done in love, then we are nothing

o   Love is the most excellent way



Key Teachings on the Importance of “each one” participating in the Body of Christ

q  “All”, “each one” is important and is invited to participate.  “All and “each one” includes both men and women, no distinction is made.

o   “Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good.” (I Corinthians 12:7)

o   The Spirit gives gifts to “each one, just as he determines” (I Corinthians 12:11)

o   Now you are the body of Christ and each one of you is part of it (I Corinthians 12:27).

o   ‘When you come together, everyone has a hymn, or a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue, or an interpretation.  All of these must be done for the strengthening of the church.” (I Corinthians 14:26)

o   For you can all prophesy in turn so that everyone may be instructed and encouraged (I Corinthians 14:31).

o   Paul assumes that women pray and prophesy in the assembly (I Corinthians 11:2-5)


Specific Teaching on the Activity of Women in the Assembly

q  In light of above, the issue in I Corinthians is the manner in which the women were speaking in the assembly and the disruptions it was apparently causing.

o   The principle is that everything done in the assembly should be done to edify and instruct, not promote self (I Corinthians 14:26)

o   Paul’s overall emphasis is that whatever happens should strengthen the church, not be disruptive.

o   The instructions for those who prophesy in I Corinthians 14:26-33), the goal is edification:

q  Strengthening of the church (I Corinthians 14:26)

q  Speaking by one is to be “carefully weighed” by others (I Corinthians 14:29)

q  Speaking (prophesying) should be “in turn”, and “in order”

q  “women” or “wives” should not “speak up” and disrupt what is going on, but ask their husbands at home if they have a question (the Greek word for “wife” is the same as for “woman”, here the context is husband-wife relationship, and the apparently disruptions wives were causing by “speaking up” and either dishonoring their husbands or disrupting the assembly.

q  The word translated “silent” is used 3 times 14:28, 14:30, 14:34, and means to “become still” or “stop talking”.  The idea is not a prohibition against ever talking, but rather know when to “stop talking”.


Notes on I Timothy 2:11-12

Women are to learn in “quietness” or “stillness” (literally), and not “domineer” (literally) or “take control” over men.  This is not a prohibition against speaking, but rather against domineering over men.