1 Corinthians14:36

Previous Verse Next Verse


Or from you has the word of THEOS gone out? Or to you only has it come down?


If you think you can make up your own mind on this matter, let me ask you these questions: Are you the only vehicle THE CREATOR AND OWNER OF ALL THINGS uses to disseminate His truth? Are you the only one to receive such truth? [Do you have the right to singlehandedly change what has been established for a long time?]


We can see verse 36 as a summary, among other things, of the issue of the authority of men and women. Paul’s final point is this: “Even if you don’t like it, you don’t have the authority to change it. Trying to change these things would require taking authority that was not given to you.”

Indeed a woman can take that authority for herself, but the consequence will be a disruption of the lines of authority that God established.

Paul says, “Don’t do it because you don’t have the right authority to change these things.” Is there something that he left out which he wanted us to assume? I believe there was. The part he left out was, “There will be consequences if you try, because there are always consequences.” Allow me to spell it all out for you by saying, “You shouldn’t usurp authority even though it is within your reach. However, if you do, there will be consequences.”

Consequences are the bottom line, so don’t ignore the consequences.

However, there is another way to understand this verse. See the next comment.


I cannot say conclusively who started the counterfeit form of tongues in Corinth. However, if it was the man who is described in chapter 5 of this letter as participating in immorality with his stepmother, it would make a couple things clearer than if it was not him.

Consider this possibility – This man started babbling in one of their meetings and claimed that it was a special form of speaking in tongues that God had given him. It made him look exceedingly spiritual that he had received this special gift. Immediately, some of the leaders of the congregation questioned what was going on, but others accepted what he said about this being a legitimate form of tongues, and, wanting to look more spiritual as well, they started copying the new form of tongues. A number of women were among those that accepted the counterfeit and copied it. At some point, it became common knowledge that this man was involved in an ongoing sexual affair with his stepmother. The affair may have been going on before he invented his counterfeit form of speaking in tongues, or it may have started later; it does not matter. When the leaders of the congregation (the grandfather figures known as elders) learned of the sexual immorality, they openly condemned his sexual improprieties and opposed the way he spoke in tongues. During a meeting of the church, they told everyone present to refuse to follow this man’s leadership because he had no moral authority with which to lead. But those who had already followed him and were regularly speaking in tongues the way he did, stood up for him during a during that meeting. They claimed that he did have moral authority because he, and they, had a special spiritual gift. They were proud of their accepting attitude (according to 5:2), and they viewed their own spirituality as being higher than that of others because they spoke in tongues while others did not. It appears from verses 33-38 that a number of women (and possibly some of the younger men) spoke vehemently during that worship service in defense of the immoral man and against the leaders of the congregation. This issue caused a sharp division in the congregation and, for fear of having a bunch of people leave, the leaders did nothing. Therefore, the chaos, division, confusion, and immorality continued.

This imaginative scenario would explain why Paul chastised the women for acting disorderly during worship, failing to understand that larger realms allowed fewer people to speak (vv 33-35), assuming they had just as much authority in the congregation as the leaders (v 36), and told them to learn at home from their husbands (v 35). The questions “Or from you has the word of THEOS gone out? Or to you only has it come down?” (v. 36) clearly indicate a serious violation of authority in that congregation committed by women against the congregational leaders. Apart from a connection to the sexually immoral man, the violation of the women may not seem to warrant such harsh questions from Paul, but if these women were defending someone who committed sexual sins that violated the two key principles of sexuality – those principles being relationship and authority (see “What Makes Sexual Sins Wrong?”), Paul’s questions seem to fit the situation. These women were not just out of control; they were approving of sexual immorality and trying to prevent the church leaders from disciplining the one committing the immoral acts. Instead of seeking to quell God’s wrath, they were inviting it.