Silent Submission │ Assembly Practice │ Christ Assembly

Christ Assembly

Silent Submission

Why Do Men Alone Lead the Worship during the Breaking of Bread Service?

Jesus Christ loves every human being, regardless of race, age or gender. He commands everyone to worship God in Spirit and in truth (John 4:4). Jesus unites all believers in one body, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all Who is over all and through all and in all (Ephesians 4:4-6). Because all believers are all one by faith in Christ, God does not rank Jew above Greek, slave above free man, or male above female for the purpose of salvation by faith (Galatians 3:25-28). Through faith in Christ Jesus, we are all sons of God (Galatians 2:26).

The Body of Christ. Within the one body of Christ, the Holy Spirit bestows individual, separate gifts to believers for the purpose of edifying the Body of Christ and glorifying God (1 Corinthians 12). Believers serve God by using their individual gifts to the glory of God (Romans 12). Figuratively speaking, some believers provide eyesight, while others hear, touch, or taste. God provides different blessings through different gifts, but they all work together for the common good. Not only does God bestow the gifts, He also controls the use of the gifts by believers. God calls believers to use their gifts in a variety of contexts, some in the corporate gathering of the Body of Christ and some in individual ministries with small groups, pairs, or individually. God seeks that things be done decently and in order (1 Corinthians 14:34).

Formal Church Services. Christ Assembly offers both small group Bible studies and formal church services. The formal service includes the Breaking of Bread service and morning teaching. God provided commandments for the proper practice of the assemblies of the saints (ταῖς ἐκκλησίαις τῶν ἁγίων) (1 Corinthians 14:33). God desires peace, not confusion, to reign in the Body of Christ when it assembles together, no matter how diverse the activities and powerful the display of gifts. Formal church services are the times when the saints have gathered together (“συνέρχεσθε“) for the purpose of worship and the corporate exercise of spiritual gifts. God provided special commandments to control the use of spiritual gifts during the formal church services. Please recall that Christ Assembly offers many opportunities for women to minister, and all small group Bible studies are times for women to speak freely. The special commandments only apply during the formal church services like Breaking of Bread and the morning teaching.

Women Remain Silent. During the formal services, women must refrain from speaking or exercising authority over men. The Scripture commands their silent participation (1 Corinthians 14:34). This word “silent” (“σιγάτωσαν“) means to refrain from speaking out loud. Chapter 14 of 1 Corinthians provides other examples of the use of this word “silent.” In 1 Corinthians 14:28, the man seeking to speak in tongues should be silent if an interpreter for the tongue is not at hand. In 1 Corinthians 14:30, the word silent means that if someone is speaking, and then another man receives a revelation, the first man speaking must become silent so that the second man can speak. God uses the term “silent” all three times to mean that people do not speak out loud. Just as one man remains silent while another speaks, so also God commands women to be silent during formal church services when males are teaching the Word. God commands believers to give thanks and encourage one another through singing.  Women should refrain from all activity in the formal services that amounts to speaking, such as offering testimonies, or announcing a hymn, because those activities involve leading the congregation and exercising authority.

Silent Instruction. In 1 Corinthians 14:35, God encourages women to learn in the formal services of the church, but to do so silently. He instructs them to learn quietly: if women “desire to learn anything, they should ask their own husbands (“ἄνδρας“) at home, for it is improper for a woman to speak in church.” God commands this practice (1 Corinthians 14:37). Likewise, Paul taught Timothy to apply the same practice in all the churches: “A woman must quietly receive instruction with entire submissiveness (“ὑποταγῇ“) (1 Timothy 2:11). Notice that Paul ties this submission by the woman to creation, not culture.

Creation and Deception. As Paul expounds the reasons why women must receive instruction silently, Paul cites Adam and notes that the man was created first (1 Corinthians 2:13). Then Paul explains that the woman Eve was deceived, and fell into transgression, but the man Adam was not deceived (1 Corinthians 2:14). Therefore, God commands silent instruction for theological reasons that relate to creation and spiritual discernment. Paul consistently taught that Adam also sinned, but that he was not deceived (Romans 5:12-21).

Submission to Christ. Paul also relates silent instruction to submission to Christ. The pattern of submission in the church services follows the same pattern of Christ being the head of the man, and the man is the head of the woman, and God is the head of Christ (1 Corinthians 11:3). Christ was not any less God because He submitted to the Father (1 Corinthians 15:28) and Christ always remains the head of the entire church, the one and only Savior of the body (Ephesians 5:23). A woman does not lose her identity by submitting herself to God’s commandment, but finds her essential place in God’s plan for worship. Just like the woman, every man sits in submission to Christ as he attends the worship service. The order of submission allows the gifts to function properly so that peace may reign in the Body of Christ. In 1 Corinthians 11:4, Paul does command women to pray and prophesy with their heads covered, but never said that practice occurred in the formal church services, or that he agreed with any praying and prophesying by women in a formal church service. Paul also cites the Old Testament practice (compare Genesis 3:16–“the husband shall rule over the woman”). A woman adorning herself with a gentle and quiet spirit will be a blessing to her husband as she submits to him and does what is right without any fear (1 Peter 3:4-6). Men depend upon women, and women depend upon men. Both men and women originate from God and all things originate from God (1 Corinthians 11:12). Furthermore, women have a vital role to play in silent submission because they cannot forsake the assembling of themselves, together with men, for the purpose encouraging one another all the more as we see the Day of Christ approaching (Hebrews 10:26). Women participate in singing of spiritual hymns (Ephesians 5:19; Colossians 3:16) because we sing as a congregation, without anyone leading the singing.  Congregational singing does not involve the exercise of authority over men by leading.  Women remain silent during the Breaking of Bread and morning teaching because God has commanded this pattern of submission for men and women.