The Corinthian church seems to be more like the Wild West than modern worship! The issue once again becomes how normative this was for the church at large. Is Paul just trying to reign in some excessiveness peculiar to that context, or are more churches this way? Regardless, it seems that this may have been something from the early era of the church. We find that once pastors, teachers, and elders become normative (as we see in later New Testament works), the worship experience changes. It makes sense that it would. Rather than having multiple people speaking and being critiqued, a man gifted and set apart to proclaim and safeguard the apostles teaching makes a lot of sense.
Paul is trying to get the church to understand that it’s not about showcasing their own spirituality or trying to further their own agenda. It’s only and always about Jesus. They are not special or different from any other church (14:36), and they need to make sure that the truth is proclaimed in a decent, orderly and peaceful manner. And, as we saw yesterday, one additional reason for this is to be welcoming to the non-Christians as well.
Now, what about “the women should be silent in the churches” (14:34). It can’t be an absolute prohibition because of “but any woman who prays or prophesies” (11:5). The best understanding is probably from the context we have here. Women (or perhaps “wives”) were not to participate when others were evaluating what was said (14:29). If they did, then they may end up in the awkward position of questioning what their own husbands said. Instead, for submissions sake (14:34), they should wait until they get home to inquire about the teaching.
So, does any of this apply today? Let me repeat from paragraph two: “it’s not about showcasing their own spirituality or trying to further their own agenda.” Church is about what God has done for us through Jesus Christ. It is to be a peaceful and ordered experience, where someone from the outside can come in and not think people are insane (14:23)!