Womens role in the church paul seems to contradict himself?

Doing my own bible study and im working through Pauls pronouncement about women having their heads covered in 1 Corinthians 11 and to be silent in the church 1 Corinthians 14:34-35

However paul commends phoebee in Romans 16, and euodia and syntyche from Philemon 4 as contenders of the cause of the gospel with him. Pricilla and aquilla teach Apollos in Acts 18: 24-26.
And Paul states there is neither male or female in Christ in Galatians 3:23-29…

Some commentaries suggest to take the verses at face value. Others that Paul was addressing cultural distinctions… My wife’s cousin considers me a mentor and wanted my oppinion on this and I don’t want to give her the wrong advice. What do I say?


@scottbeau It is commendable that you have taken the time to notice this apparent contradiction. I think there are a few things to keep in mind:

  • we should always interpret uncertain texts in light of clear texts - in this case I Cor 14:34-35 is uncertain because we do not know what specific issue Paul was trying to address, whereas Romans 16 / Philemon 4 are more clear
  • the context of 1 Corinthians 14, beginning three chapters earlier in 11, is about Church order. The Corinthians were behaving in a disorderly manner. It is rational to assume that the rebuke given to women in I Cor 14, rather than being a universal command, was also a corrective for some type of disorderly behavior

I commend reading Mike Day’s thorough analysis of this topic in the thread below. I think it is very helpful!

  • (1) An essential hermeneutic principle is to engage the cultural context of NT writings to consider authorial intention and meaning.
  • (2) The arc of Scripture, in which we see God’s blueprint for male/ female dynamics, points to equality in ontology, vocation and inheritance. (Of course, we are not saying men and women are the same – equality does not equal sameness .)
  • (3) Jesus radically dignified women in a male-centric culture; they played a crucial role in the Gospels and early church as disciples, leaders, missionaries, prophets, apostles, benefactors etc.
  • (4) The one text that seems explicitly to deny women authority to proclaim the Gospel turns out to encourage a learning process that enables unlearned women in the Ephesian community to perform that very act.

This website has some helpful thoughts on 1 Cor 14:


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