I received much of this teaching from Jonathan Welton, who I trust and agree with. I hope I have explained it as well as he did.
1 Corinthians 11:5 NLT “But a woman dishonors her head if she prays or PROPHESIES without a COVERING on her head, for this is the same as shaving her head.” (My emphases.)
1 Corinthians 14:34 “Women should be silent during the church meetings. It is not proper for them to speak. They should be submissive, just as the law says.”
Don’t those verses sound like a contradiction? It’s okay for women to prophesy in the first verse, but that she can’t speak in church in the second verse? That’s because they’re not instructional verses, they’re quotations of a letter written to Paul.
The book of 1st Corinthians is a response to a letter the Corinthians wrote to Paul. In 7:1 it says, “Now regarding the questions you asked in your letter…” and then, he’s answering their letter, which pertains to their culture in the first century. He writes, alternating between quotes and instruction. Unfortunately, most English translations have lost the indication of when he is quoting; which leads to misinterpretation. In the Greek, there are 42 quotes that are bracketed in the 2 books of Corinth, by a grave accent, that are Not in quotations or brackets in the English translations.
In the Greek, it indicates that what he is about to say is a quote from their letter, not his instructions. In 11:5 he mentions covering their heads; which was to set themselves apart from the temple prostitutes. The prostitutes would wear heavy makeup, jewelry, and adorn their hair in braids and jewelry. The prostitutes prophesied falsely and mixed in sexuality with witchcraft. So in that culture, the women put a covering over their heads to keep down the confusion. Chapter 12 talks about the spiritual gifts and 13 is the love chapter. In Chapter 14 he instructs until he gets to verse 34 and in the Greek there is a strong quotation before 34 and after 35 indicating that what he is saying in 34 & 35 is a quotation from the Corinth letter. If you read from vs 33 & skip to vs 36, it says, “For God is not a God of disorder but of peace, as in all the meetings of God’s holy people… Or do you think God’s word originated with you Corinthians? Are you the only ones to whom it was given? If you claim to be a prophet or think you are spiritual, you should recognize that what I am saying is a command from the Lord himself. But if you do not recognize this, you yourself will not be recognized. So, my dear brothers and sisters, be eager to prophesy, and don’t forbid speaking in tongues. But be sure that everything is done properly and in order.” So he is rebuking them for thinking they know the only way to conduct the church and service and restricting women to speak.
Now read Romans 16, also written by Paul, where he praises his co-workers. The word of God does not contradict itself. Please understand what I’m sharing and take it to heart, with an open spirit. Don’t let religiosity get in the way of realization. Some of Jesus’ most ardent followers were women. Some of the ministers in his time were women, why would it be different today and why would he say he makes no difference between men and women as there is also no division in race? Jesus’ death, burial, & resurrection took us back to God’s original purpose which was to be equal as man and woman.
Genesis 1:27 So God created human beings in his own image. In the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.
Galatians 3:26-28 NLT
For you are all children of God through faith in Christ Jesus. And all who have been united with Christ in baptism have put on Christ, like putting on new clothes. There is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male and female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus.