This chapter forms a chiastic structure:
1 Cor 14
1a) 1 Cor 14:1-33, Prophecy and tongues, and their proper exercise:
— 1a.1) 1 Cor 14:1, Pursue love, and desire spiritual gifts, but especially that you may prophesy;
— 1a.2) 1 Cor 14:2-25, Proper exercise of the gift of tongues;
— 1a.3) 1 Cor 14:26-33, Proper decency and order in gatherings;
1b) 1 Cor 14:34-35, Women in church:
— 1b.1) 1 Cor 14:34a, Let women keep silent and be submissive;
— 1b.2) 1 Cor 14:34b, As the Law says;
— 1b.3) 1 Cor 14:35, And if they want to learn something, let them ask their own husbands at home;
central axis) 1 Cor 14:36, Or did the word of God come originally from you? Or was it you only that it reached?;
2b) 1 Cor 14:37-38, The spiritual and ignorant in church:
–1b.1) 1 Cor 14:37a, If anyone thinks himself to be a prophet or spiritual (therefore compelled to speak);
— 1b.2) 1 Cor 14:37b, Let him acknowledge that what I write are the commandments of the Lord;
— 1b.3) 1 Cor 14:38, But if anyone is ignorant, let him be ignorant;
2a) 1 Cor 14:39-40, Prophecy and tongues, decently and in order:
— 2a.1) 1 Cor 14:39a, Therefore, brethren, desire earnestly to prophesy;
— 2a.2) 1 Cor 14:39b, And do not forbid to speak with tongues;
— 2a.3) 1 Cor 14:40, Let all things be done decently and in order.
The word of God is what it is, and this is not the only place in Scripture that offends. If we look at the B pair in its entirety, Paul is saying that instructing and edifying others — being in a position of leadership (so that others look to you for guidance and direction) — is for those who are spiritual. He is not saying that women are not spiritual. But he is saying that the spiritual yield their own rights in order to seek the profit of others. Spirituality and humility go together!
The ones who have the hardest time with keeping silent, are the ones who are so convinced of their own importance that they must speak or others will suffer if they don’t have the benefit of hearing their words, or their gift. The ones who are spiritual – who are truly anointed by the Spirit to lead, to teach, to give guidance and direction – do not forcefully make a way for themselves, but yield for others, and serve others, instead of seeking to get their own pride stroked by being seen as somebody with gifts.
Now let me speak to my fellow sisters in the Lord. This instruction stings my pride too! I have heard it said that the Greek Corinthian women in this time and place were a loud bunch of undisciplined busybodies, constantly interrupting the meeting so that it could not flow decently and in order, and that is what prompted Paul’s instruction. But I don’t know that for sure at this point in my walk. My rule of thumb in learning to obey commandments, including this one to keep silent, is to obey what I know, and if my understanding needs to be adjusted because I don’t yet know enough, then I adjust my obedience when my understanding increases. If as a woman, I am keeping silent because my heart is submitted to God first and foremost, and God really wants me to speak, He will open doors for me. He will build a platform for me. I do not have to force doors open for myself. ♥