Brethren Archive

Is it Scriptural for a Woman to Speak in the Church?

by C. Knapp

Jerry said ...
Great work. Thanks.
Sunday, Oct 10, 2021 : 23:19
Mark said ...

There is a common argument that the Greek word for “to speak” in 1 Corinthians 14 verse 34 means “to chatter.” The reasoning from somebody who supports the notion usually goes something like this: ‘I know somebody who knows somebody else who knows somebody who knows Greek, and he says that “lalein” means “to chatter.” It means women must not chatter during a church service.’

Indeed, “lalein” can mean “to chatter” in Classical Greek, as a Liddle and Scott’s Lexicon will show, but that is not suitable for the New Testament which was written in Koinē Greek. The verb “laleō,” of which “lalein” is the present infinitive active, never means “chatter” in the New Testament, nor in the Septuagint for that matter.

‘God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son’ (Heb. 1:1-2a KJV). Try replacing the verb “to speak” with “chatter,” and see the blasphemous nonsense that would make of “laleō” in these two occurrences.

Try it with Abel: ‘he being dead yet speaketh’ (Heb. 11:4). Is Abel still chattering? Some idle chit chat from Abel? The verb “laleō” is that translated “speaketh” here.

What about the officers who were sent to arrest the Lord Jesus, and returned without Him? Will “never man chatters like this man” be acceptable? Perish the thought! Again, “laleō.”

Try it with the Lord Jesus speaking to Philp and the disciples in the Upper Room: ‘Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? The words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself: but the Father in me, he doeth the works.’ (Jn. 14:10.) Would “laleō” translated as “chatter” instead of “speak” be suitable here? Obviously not.

These are some examples drawn on more or less at random.

The verb “laleō” occurs so frequently throughout the New Testament as well as in the Septuagint that it would take a very long time and a great deal of effort to deal with them all. Not once does “laleō” mean “chatter” in the entire Bible.

Incidentally, ‘the law’ mentioned in the second part of 1 Corinthians 14 verse 34 is not the Ten Commandments as some suppose (thinking that none of them command women to be under obedience), but the Torah, the first part of the Hebrew Bible, and would be referring to Genesis 3 verse 16.

Indeed, just a little earlier in 1 Corinthians 14 verse 21 Paul quotes Isaiah 28 verse 11 as citing what is written in the law, thereby meaning the whole of the Old Testament.

Strange it is how some think they have knowledge, but, in reality, are but showing their ignorance, trying to adjust the Bible to suit their thinking, make it fit in with modern ideas. God has established His order; but people are arrogant enough to challenge Him.

Monday, Oct 11, 2021 : 04:37

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