Updated: Dec 20, 2021
There are several considerations when it comes to understanding the Bible. I will share these rules over a few blogs.
There are social issues that must be understood to interpret correctly. There are many differences in social behaviors and governing laws from biblical times to life lived in our Western world. For example there were Roman laws that prohibited women to address their husbands without invitation or another male in public. Breaking these Roman laws carried a severe punishment (these were Roman laws not biblical laws). Therefore, Roman and/or Greek women growing up in a Roman culture would not think of addressing their husband in public, and the romans and greeks would find this kind of public behavior offensive.
Now within the Jewish culture women didn’t necessarily grow up with this oppression even though they were living under Roman rule. Jewish women within the Jewish community were treated with respect and as equals. As the Church began to grow with in Roman culture the Gentiles brought with them their biases, fears, and social practices. Imagine being in a public worship service and a Jewish woman publicly addresses her husband or another male in that setting and there were several Gentile believers sitting in that gathering. The Gentile believers would be offended, and for certain be fearful. Thus, when Paul writes for women to keep silent in church he was respecting the Gentiles cultural laws and practices and practicing unity within the church of preferring one another. Keep in mind the primary citizens living in Corinth were Gentile (Roman & Greek).
“As in all the churches of the saints, the women should keep silent in the churches. For they are not permitted to speak, but should be in submission, as the Law (Roman Law) also says. And if they desire to learn anything, let them ask their own husbands at home; for it is improper for a woman to speak in church. 1 Corinthians 14:34
“I do not permit a woman to teach or to assume authority over a man; she must be quiet.” 1 Timothy 2:12
This law of women remaining silent in public is not God’s law, it was Roman law. God has never been throughout history disrespectful toward women, or treated them like second class citizens. As the Apostle Paul writes he is not being disrespectful toward women, but being respectful of the culture and biases of the people he is trying to reach with the message of Christ. He is creating a culture of safety and respect that the Gentiles would not find offensive.