Warfield: Paul’s ‘Prohibition of Speaking in the Church to Women is Precise, Absolute, and All-inclusive.’

Note: one hundred years ago this coming Wednesday, the famous Reformed theologian Benjamin B. Warfield published a response to a question he had received on the subject of women preachers. The questions he asks in summary are worth noting here at the beginning. These are the same questions that ought to be asked of Beth Moore’s defenders and John MacArthur’s critics:

“It all, in the end, comes back to the authority of the apostles, as founders of the church. We may like what Paul says, or we may not like it. We may be willing to do what he commands, or we may not be willing to do it. But there is no room for doubt of what he says. And he certainly would say to us what he said to the Corinthians: ‘What? Was it from you that the word of God went forth? Or came it to you alone?’ Is this Christianity ours — to do with as we like? Or is it God’s religion, receiving its laws from him through the apostles?“ 

(W.C. Newsom – Pulpit & Pen) I have recently received a letter from a valued friend asking me to send him a “discussion of the Greek words laleo and lego in such passages as 1 Corinthians 14:33-39, with special reference to the question: Does the thirty-fourth verse forbid all women everywhere to speak or preach publicly in Christian churches?” The matter is of universal interest, and I take the liberty of communicating my reply to the readers of The Presbyterian.

It requires to be said at once that there is no problem with reference to the relations of laleo and lego. Apart from niceties of merely philological interest, these words stand related to one another just as the English words speak and say do; that is to say, laleo expresses the act of talking, while lego refers to what is said. Wherever then the act of speaking, without reference to the content of what is said, is to be indicated, laleo is used, and must be used. There is nothing disparaging in the intimation of the word, any more than there is in our word talk; although, of course, it can on occasion be used disparagingly as our word talk can also — as when some of the newspapers intimate that the Senate is given over to mere talk. This disparaging application of laleo, however, never occurs in the New Testament, although the word is used very frequently.   View article →


Beth Moore