A Crucial New Testament Verse: 1 Corinthians 14:37

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1 Corinthians 14:37

 

A Crucial New Testament Verse:

1 Corinthians 14:37

How often have you read through the Bible and come to a verse that seems to carry a weight far beyond the normal? There are many verses like that—John 3:16; Romans 5:1; Romans 5:8; Romans 8:1; 1 Corinthians 15:1-4; Galatians 2:20; James 1:12; Revelation 21:1-2. Many others could be added.

Just here I would like to offer another verse that carries many implications that we must accept and promote. Notice this verse and ask yourself what it really means:

“If anyone thinks he is a prophet or spiritual, let him recognize that the things which I write to you are the Lord’s commandment” (1 Corinthians 14:37).

In context, this statement by Paul the apostle may refer to the immediately preceding verses that say:

  1. Women are to keep silent in the churches/assemblies (14:34).
  2. Women are not permitted to publicly speak (v. 34).
  3. It is improper for a woman to speak in church (v. 35).

Therefore, Paul writes that a prophet or spiritual person must recognize that what he writes about a women’s participation in public meetings must be obeyed. However, the apostle surely is going beyond this. Anything that Paul—as an apostle—commands, must be recognized as coming from the Lord Himself. His commands are not merely Paul’s commands; they are something beyond that. They are actually “the Lord’s commandment”!

If anyone claims to be a prophet or prophetess and refuses to listen to Paul’s words in this passage, he is rejecting not only Paul but also the Lord Himself!  This would include Muhammad who claimed to be a prophet. It would include Joseph Smith who also professed to be a prophet.  Others who claimed to be prophets (actually, prophetesses) would be Ellen G. While and Mary Baker Eddy. If Paul said women are to be silent or quiet and both of these women insisted on not being silent, we know who we should heed!

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1 Corinthians 14:37

If we take the broader context of the entire 1 Corinthian letter, we notice a number of additional commands that go beyond Paul to the Lord who commanded Paul:

  1. There must be no divisions in the body (1:10).
  2. Do not boast in oneself but in the Lord (1:31).
  3. We must not destroy God’s temple (the community of saints) (3:16-17).
  4. Withdraw fellowship from sinful brothers who refuse to repent (5:1-13).
  5. Flee sexual immorality (6:18).
  6. Glorify God in your body (6:20).
  7. A husband or wife must fulfill their duty to their spouse (7:3-5).
  8. Separation is sinful and wrong (7:10-11).
  9. Make your body your slave (9:24-27).
  10. Do all to the glory of God (10:31).
  11. Men, do not wear a veil when praying or prophesying (11:4-16).
  12. Women, wear a veil when praying or prophesying (11:4-16).
  13. Practice genuine love toward others (13:1-13).

Probably Paul would say that all of these and dozens of other commands must be obeyed. But why? Because they are not merely Paul’s commands but fundamentally they are “the Lord’s commandment” (14:37).

What is the implication of this matter? We should take Paul the apostle’s words seriously and obey them carefully. Some seem to demean the apostle by plainly violating what he has commanded for us to observe. They reject his words, saying that they merely reflect first century culture, or are expressions of Paul’s “hatred” of women, or were only binding on people living in Corinth of the first century. No, we need to soberly look at Paul’s commands and be willing to obey them if there is any indication that those commands were meant to be universal in application.

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1 Corinthians 14:37

Paul writes his first letter to the Corinthians (the first one preserved) by not only writing to people in Corinth, but “with all who in every place call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, their Lord and ours” (1 Corinthians 1:2). We should also accept his writings as having a direct bearing on us—you and me—in the twenty-first century. Let’s recognize that the things which Paul writes “are the Lord’s commandment” (14:37).

Whatever others do or say, let’s be careful to recognize Paul’s authority to write commands and our obligation to obey them. We look beyond Paul to the Lord who commanded Paul. The words of Paul are the words of Jesus, our Lord and God!

–Richard Hollerman

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