1 Corinthians 14:34 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

1 Corinthians 14:34, NIV: "Women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the law says."

1 Corinthians 14:34, ESV: "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."

1 Corinthians 14:34, KJV: "Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience, as also saith the law."

1 Corinthians 14:34, NASB: "the women are to keep silent in the churches; for they are not permitted to speak, but are to subject themselves, just as the Law also says."

1 Corinthians 14:34, NLT: "Women should be silent during the church meetings. It is not proper for them to speak. They should be submissive, just as the law says."

1 Corinthians 14:34, CSB: "the women should be silent in the churches, for they are not permitted to speak, but are to submit themselves, as the law also says."

What does 1 Corinthians 14:34 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

The role of women in church is among the more divisive issues faced by modern believers. This and the following verse play a large part in that conversation, along with 1 Timothy 2:11–15.

Paul's thought begins in the previous verse, where he states flatly that this is the practice of all churches of the saints. In other words, he is insisting to the Corinthians that what he is about to instruct them is not a unique teaching; it is the way of all Christian churches. That would deflect claims that this is some special criticism of the people of Corinth, or that it only applies to their specific situation.

As stated, the instruction is that women should remain silent in churches. In fact, they are not permitted to speak, but must be in submission—in context, meaning to their specific husbands—as was true for those living under the Law, as well.

This raises many questions and misunderstandings. It's important to remember Paul's teaching earlier in this letter (1 Corinthians 11:2–16) that women could pray or prophecy during worship services as long as their heads were properly covered. Taken without care, this verse reads like a contradiction to that passage.

Scholars suggest three possible explanations. Some believe these verses were inserted later by someone other than Paul, but they appear in even the earliest known manuscripts. Others suggest that Paul is quoting someone else in these two verses in order to refute their statements with his words in verse 36. That doesn't seem to fit, however, with the pattern of the rest of the letter.

Most scholars understand these instructions to be given to wives, specifically, and not to all women. This is based on the word usages and the reference to husbands in the following verse. Taken in this way, many believe the command to "remain silent" to refer to general conversation among the congregation, perhaps while evaluating a prophecy together, as opposed to the prayer or prophesying allowed by Paul in chapter 11.