1 Jan 2001

Was Paul holding the Corinthians to the Law?

Submitted by theshovel
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It really does seem that they never realized they had passed from law to grace. I was bothered this morning reading Corinthians because of Corinthians 14:34 Women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak but must be in submission, as the LAW says. Why was Paul holding people to the Law even in Corinthians??? Help I'm stumped. Does anyone know when Corinthians was written? Heather

Hello Heather,

Don't overlook the fact that Jesus and the apostles often used the phrase "the Law" as simply describing the specific writings of Moses as opposed to making a statement about the CONDEMNATION of the law or the PRINCIPLE of law. They would also use the word "Moses" in the same way. Even a few times Jesus threw it in the faces of those who claimed "Moses" as an authority to make the point that they didn't really believe Moses' words at all - for if they had they would have believed in the ONE Moses wrote of. I've used terms like "the Bible", "the Scriptures", "the written word", "the New Testament", etc in the same way because it often cuts to the chase in a more direct way.

My point in all this would be to prompt an examination of the style of communication through context before assuming Paul was holding people to the Law. When Paul's readers heard him they would not have regarded it in the manner we might. These people were very familiar with the writings of the Law, and I have the sense that it formed a large part of their arrogant knowledge or wisdom of the flesh that runs as a theme throughout the whole letter and into the second letter. The so-called "super-apostles" or "most eminent apostles" Paul mentioned at the end of 2 Corinthians would have most likely been heavy-hitters in the quoting of Moses. Consider the following verse in that same chapter:

In the Law it is written, .... 1 Corinthians 14:21

Now, we don't normally read this in the sense of Paul holding anybody to the law, but instead as using the OT reference as giving a historical insight into the nature of tongues to show that it was given as a sign to the unbelieving Jews.

Paul's whole discussion about women in the church had nothing to do with pushing a bondage through the law's legalism but was instead calling them to sanity in the midst of their confusion and then adding the "witness" of the Law. If you notice, he doesn't even give a scriptural reference here so it seems to be more of a general suggestion they already had discussed at an earlier time (I'm even wondering if he may have been tying it back to the same reference in verse 21). I'm not real sure about the exact scripture he referred to, but I am sure about this: whatever was going on with the Corinthians (including the "women" thing) was all wrapped around a fleshly mindset that was causing unrest, confusion and arrogance among the people.

Pay attention to what Paul wrote after that:

Was it from you that the word of God first went forth? Or has it come to you only? If any one thinks he is a prophet or spiritual, let him recognize that the things which I write to you are the Lord's commandment. But if any one does not recognize this, he is not recognized. 1 Corinthians 14:36-38

Don't you get the sense from this that the Corinthians may have been viewing themselves somehow as the originators and sole possessors of God's truth? Oh yeah, if you follow the two letters in their entirety you discover it was actually that degree of arrogance on the part of the group mentality. I think Paul's comment about "the things which I write to you are the Lord's commandment" is all part of the reason for his mention of "the Law". It's just like in Hebrews where it says,

For if the word spoken through angels proved unalterable, and every transgression and disobedience received a just penalty, how will we escape if we neglect so great a salvation? Hebrews 2:2

The point to the Hebrews (Jews) was that if there was no getting around the judgment of the law there was surely no getting around the judgment of Christ. It's also the same way many of us have questioned a legalistic interpretation of certain Bible verses by quoting the misused verse while emphasizing the ignored words. Those in Corinth would have gained confidence in the simple mention of the fact that the Law didn't support the confusion that was happening in their midst despite those who built their current confusion on their scriptural knowledge.


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