Who Is Qualified To Preach?

New Testament scholar Dr. Philip Barton Payne claims he has found support for the idea that the early church did not prohibit women from preaching. Payne contends that 1 Corinthians 14:34 is not actually found Codex Vaticanus, but is marked off by “a symbol called ‘distigme-obelos,’ or two small dots and a dash which appears next to the passage to identify text that was added to the original.” Payne further claims that to forbid women from preaching and teaching is inconsistent with Paul’s earlier teaching found in 1 Corinthians 11:5 (The Christian Post, “Bible Scholar Claims Apostle Paul Never Said ‘Women Should Remain Silent in Church,’” 9-24-17).

We firmly disagree with Payne’s assertions. First, no Greek manuscript containing Paul’s first letter to the Corinthian church completely omits this specific restriction cited in 1 Corinthians 14:34-35. Some manuscripts have it in a different location (at the end of the chapter), but it is present, at least partially, in all manuscripts. Second, Paul maintains this restriction consistently throughout his teaching ministry, as it is a matter of the order of creation, not simply his personal opinion (1 Tim. 2:12, 13). In other words, the Authority for this restriction is God, not Paul. Finally, when one considers the context for providing qualifications for church ministry, 1 Corinthians 14 is not strictly about teaching and preaching but rather Paul correcting the Corinthians' misuse and abuse of miraculous spiritual gifts. In contrast, 1 Timothy 3:1-7 specifically deals with qualifications of preachers in the church, and this text delineates the fact that one of the functions of a “bishop” is that he be “apt to teach,” (v. 2). This qualification is exclusive to the male gender, for if he is married, that he be “the husband of one wife.” Biblically, this can only be fulfilled by males who serve in this role. This issue is not one of male superiority, dominance, or ability, nor is it is not a matter of preference or bigotry. It is simply and solely what God requires. — Gary Freel