4. (34-35) Women should not judge prophecy or disrupt meetings.
Let your women keep silent in the churches, for they are not permitted to speak; but they are to be submissive, as the law also says. And if they want to learn something, let them ask their own husbands at home; for it is shameful for women to speak in church.
a. Let your women keep silent in the churches: Paul has already assumed the right of women to pray or prophecy publicly (as stated in 1 Corinthians 11:1-16). Here, he probably is saying women do not have the right to judge prophecy, something restricted to the male leadership of the church.
i. Instead of judging prophecy, women should be submissive to what the leadership of the church judges regarding words of prophecy.
b. If they want to learn something, let them ask their own husbands at home: In the ancient world, just as in some modern cultures, women and men sit in different groups at church. Among the Corinthian Christians, there seems to have been the problem of women chattering or disrupting the meetings with questions. Paul is saying, “Don’t disrupt the meeting. Ask your questions at home.”
i. In the Jewish synagogues, men and women would sit apart. But if a woman chattered or called out to her husband sitting far off, she would be dealt with severely. The Corinthian church may have adopted the same kind of seating arrangement, but with many women from Gentile backgrounds, they did not know how to conduct themselves at a church meeting. Paul is teaching them how.
c. It is shameful for women to speak in church: Again, because Paul assumed the right of women to pray and prophesy under proper authority in 1 Corinthians 11:1-16, the context suggests speak refers to either the judging of prophecy (something for the leadership of the church to do) or to disruptive speaking.
i. Alan Redpath points out that Paul uses the Greek verb laleo, which means, “to talk, question, argue, profess, or chatter.” Redpath says, “It has nothing to do with prophecy or prayer; it is not public speaking as such.”