Original Research

1 Corinthians 14:33b–36 in light of women and church leadership in Nigeria

Solomon O. Ademiluka
Verbum et Ecclesia | Vol 38, No 1 | a1672 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ve.v38i1.1672 | © 2017 Solomon O. Ademiluka | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 19 July 2016 | Published: 14 September 2017

About the author(s)

Solomon O. Ademiluka, Department of Religious Studies, Kogi State University, Nigeria; Department of Human Resources, University of South Africa, South Africa


1 Corinthians 14:33b–36 contains the injunction by Paul that women should not speak in the church. In Nigeria, many of the mainline denominations exclude women from church leadership, basing the doctrine on this passage. This research examines the text with a view to assessing its relevance for women’s participation in church leadership with a focus on contemporary Nigeria. An examination of the history of the Jews reveals that women had a very small role in religious leadership. However, Jesus in his woman-friendly ministry marked a change in the male-dominated social structure. Paul built upon this, having many women as co-preachers; which would contradict a literal interpretation of 1 Corinthians 14:33b–36. However, the text is best understood from the perspective of the Greek term ekklesia. In its popular context, it refers to the assembly of a Greek city-state in which women were not permitted to speak. In similar Christian assemblies, they were permitted on the basis of the Christian brotherhood. Apparently, in the Corinthian church, women were abusing this privilege by disrupting church services, which warranted Paul’s order. This being the case, the crucial issue is the disorderliness being caused by the women, and not their participation. Therefore, in this text it was not the intention of Paul to establish a doctrine disallowing women from participating in church leadership. Hence, for the Nigerian context, the text does not provide a basis for excluding women from church leadership.

Intradisciplinary and/or interdisciplinary implications: This research involves the disciplines of New Testament theology and church history. It examines 1 Corinthians 14:33b–36 with a view to assessing its relevance for women participation in church leadership and anticipates a situation in which all the mainline churches in Nigeria would involve women in church leadership.


Corinthian church; women; Paulinology


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