I do not believe 1 Corinthians 14:34 is a universal injunction designed to permanently silence women in church gatherings. I also do not believe the intention of 1 Timothy 2:12 was to prohibit every woman from teaching any man for all time. The surrounding contexts of these verses are the main reason for my (dis)belief, but a contributing factor is a particular word found in both verses: epitrepō.
Epitrepō is consistently used in the Greek New Testament in the context of giving, or asking for, permission by making an exception or a temporary allowance, limited in scope. It may also be used in the context of withholding permission in an ad hoc, or specific and limited, situation. You can check this for yourself. Here is every New Testament verse that contains the verb epitrepō. (I’ve used the NASB 1995 for these verses.)
Matthew 8:21: . . . “Lord, permit me first to go and bury my father.”
A disciple makes this request for a one-off allowance. But Jesus does not give permission and responds to the request with, “Follow me and let the dead bury their own dead” (Matt. 8:22).
Matthew 19:8: [Jesus] said to them, “Because of your hardness of heart Moses permitted you to divorce your wives; but from the beginning it has not been this way.”
Divorce is permitted as an exception but is not the ideal or the norm.
Mark 5:13: Jesus gave them permission. And coming out, the unclean spirits entered the swine . . .
The demons, or unclean spirits, had begged Jesus not to send them out of the country, which may have been a more usual practice in exorcisms. The demons asked instead that they be sent into the swine. Jesus granted this permission as a one-off.
Mark 10:4: [The Pharisees] said, “Moses permitted [a man] to write a certificate of divorce and send her away.”
As in Matthew 19:8, Moses’ permission was a concession; it is not the ideal. So Jesus counters the Pharisees’ statement with “What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate” (Mark 10:9 cf. Mark 10:5–8).
Luke 8:32: . . . [the demons] implored Him to permit them to enter the swine. And He gave them permission to enter.
See note for Mark 5:13.
Luke 9:59: . . . “Lord, permit me first to bury my father.”
See note for Matthew 8:21.
Luke 9:61: Another also said, “I will follow You, Lord; but first permit me to say good-bye to those at home.”
Another would-be disciple asks Jesus for a temporary allowance, one which Jesus does not approve. Jesus is not allowing an exception from his overarching call of “Follow me . . . and don’t look back.”
John 19:38: . . . Joseph of Arimathea . . . asked Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus; and Pilate granted permission.
Pilate’s permission was a one-time allowance for a specific request.
Acts 21:39–40: But Paul said, “. . . I beg you, allow me to speak to the people.” When he had given him permission, Paul, standing on the stairs, motioned to the people with his hand; and when there was a great hush, he spoke to them in the Hebrew dialect . . .”
As with the other occurrences of epitrepō, Paul’s request, and the permission he receives, is for an action very much limited in duration and location.
Acts 26:1: Agrippa said to Paul, “You are permitted to speak for yourself.”
Paul is permitted to speak at a particular moment during the hearing. Herod Agrippa is not giving Paul broad permission to speak at any time.
Acts 27:3: . . Julius treated Paul with consideration and allowed him to go to his friends and receive care.
Julius kindly allowed this as a concession.
Acts 28:16: When we entered Rome, Paul was allowed to stay by himself, with the soldier who was guarding him.
Paul is given special treatment and is permitted to stay in his own accommodation rather than in prison like most other prisoners.
1 Corinthians 14:34: The women are to keep silent in the churches; for they are not permitted to speak, but are to subject themselves . . .
Earlier in 1 Corinthians, Paul acknowledged that women pray and prophesy aloud in church meetings and he doesn’t silence them (1 Cor. 11:5; cf. 1 Cor. 14:26 CSB). So Paul’s call for silence in 14:34 cannot be about a complete, universal and lasting silence from all women. Rather he is referring to a specific kind of speech in a specific situation.
1 Corinthians 16:7–8: For I do not wish to see you now just in passing; for I hope to remain with you for some time, if the Lord permits. But I will remain in Ephesus until Pentecost . . .
As an itinerant preacher, Paul was hoping for divine permission for a particular visit.
1 Timothy 2:12: But I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man . . .
With the other occurrences of the word epitrepō as a guide to its meaning, Paul’s lack of permission in this instance is related to a limited and specific situation, rather than a universal situation. This one verse must not be used to overturn or nullify Paul’s previous teaching on ministry, which he gives without respect to gender.
Hebrews 6:3: And this we will do, if God permits.
In Hebrew 6 we learn of some immature beliefs that were somewhat unique to the recipients of the letter to the Hebrews. With God’s permission, these particular Christians will progress and mature in their beliefs.
From these verses we can see that the word epitrepō is commonly used in contexts of localised situations, exceptions, and concessions, rather than contexts of universal norms and regulations. Accordingly, Andrew Perriman notes that the use of epitrepō in the New Testament “is in every case related to a specific and limited set of circumstances . . .”
Update: In footnote 1 and in the comments section are more quotations from ancient Greek texts that contain the word epitrepō. A few are in contexts that are not localised.
Paul’s use of epitrepō in 1 Timothy 2:12 is especially marked when compared with the language he uses elsewhere in First Timothy, including, for example, 1 Timothy 6:17: “As for the rich in this present age, charge (or, direct) them not to be haughty . . .” Paul uses this word (verb: paraggellō and noun: paraggelia) seven times in 1 Timothy (1 Tim. 1:3, 5; 4:11; 5:7; 6:13, 17, 18, NIV). But there is no such word or force in 1 Timothy 2:12 in the Greek. Furthermore, Paul does not directly tell or command Timothy, or a woman, what to do. Rather, he informs Timothy, “I am not allowing . . .”
The Greek word epitrepō was not the word typically used when making broad and definitive statements or universal injunctions. This is one reason why I believe the restrictions in 1 Corinthians 14:34 and 1 Timothy 2:12 were ad hoc stipulations addressing local problems. And so, these verses should not be used to deny the speaking ministries of godly, gifted women.
 Andrew C. Perriman, “What Eve Did, What Women Shouldn’t Do: The Meaning of Authenteō in 1 Timothy 2:12,″ Tyndale Bulletin 44.1 (1993): 130.
Philip B. Payne writes, “the verb ‘to permit’ (ἐπιτρέπω) never refers to a universal or permanent situation in any of its uses in the LXX or NT.” Payne, Man and Woman, One in Christ: An Exegetical and Theological Study of Paul’s Letters (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2009), 395.
Here are the verses in the Septuagint (LXX) that contain epitrepō (ἐπιτρέπω). All but the last verse, 4 Maccabees 5:26, are about allowing a specific situation of limited duration.
Genesis 39:6: καὶ ἐπέτρεψεν πάντα ὅσα ἦν αὐτῷ εἰς χεῗρας Ιωσηφ …: And [Potiphar] allowed everything, all that was his, to be in the hands of Joseph …
Esther 9:14: καὶ ἐπέτρεψεν οὕτως γενέσθαι καὶ ἐξέθηκε τοῗς Ιουδαίοις τῆς πόλεως τὰ σώματα τῶν υἱῶν Αμαν κρεμάσαι: And [Artaxerxes] allowed it to be this way and he declared to the Jews of the city that the bodies of the sons of Haman were to be hung.
Job 32:14: ἀνθρώπῳ δὲ ἐπετρέψατε λαλῆσαι τοιαῦτα ῥήματα: And you allowed a person to say such things.
Wisdom 19:2: ὅτι αὐτοὶ ἐπιτρέψαντες τοῦ ἀπιέναι καὶ μετὰ σπουδῆς προπέμψαντες αὐτοὺς διώξουσιν μεταμεληθέντες: that after they were allowed to leave and were sent away quickly, they would pursue them, having changed their minds.
1 Maccabees 15:6: καὶ ἐπέτρεψά σοι ποιῆσαι κόμμα ἴδιον νόμισμα τῇ χώρᾳ σου: And I allowed you to mint your own coins for use in your country
4 Maccabees 4:18: ὁ δὲ ἐπέτρεψεν αὐτῷ καὶ ἀρχιερᾶσθαι καὶ τοῦ ἔθνους ἀφηγεῖσθαι: And he allowed him [Jason] both the high priesthood and the rule of the nation.
4 Maccabees 5:26: τὰ μὲν οἰκειωθησόμενα ἡμῶν ταῖς ψυχαῖς ἐπέτρεψεν ἐσθίειν τὰ δὲ ἐναντιωθησόμενα ἐκώλυσεν σαρκοφαγεῖν: The things (food) that are suitable for our lives, he allowed us to eat, but the things that are repulsive he has forbidden us to eat.
In the comments section are more quotations from ancient Greek texts.
 Paul could have told Timothy directly, “Forbid women from teaching” or “Women must not teach,” but he speaks indirectly. Walter L. Liefeld further notes, “. . . the Holy Spirit could have led Paul to use an imperative construction that might be interpreted as binding the church to follow that practice [of not allowing a woman to teach, etc] for all time . . . ” Liefeld, 1 and 2 Timothy, Titus (The NIV Application Commentary; Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1999), 98.
Rather, Paul’s statement (“I am not permitting . . .”) carries no imperatival sense.
 I. Howard Marshall concludes that the prohibition in 1 Timothy 2:12 “is in fact meant for a specific group of women among the recipients of the letter.” The Pastoral Epistles (International Critical Commentary; London: T & T Clark, 2004), 455. I wonder, however, if 1 Timothy 2:11–15 involves a particular couple, a wife and husband, in the Ephesian church. I’ve written about this here and here.
 In his general teaching on ministry, Paul gives no indication whatsoever that vocal ministries, including teaching, are only for men. See Romans 12:6–7, 1 Corinthians 12 (including 1 Cor. 12:28), Ephesians 4:11ff, as well as 1 Corinthians 14:26 and Colossians 3:16.
More articles on 1 Corinthians 14:34–35 are here.
More articles on 1 Timothy 2:12 are here.
More articles on Paul’s Theology of Ministry are here.
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