Matters of Order


Robert’s Rules of Order are the guidelines for parliamentary procedure. These rather old-fashioned sounding terms are defined as “a set of rules for conduct at meetings, that allows everyone to be heard and to make decisions without confusion.” They were created in 1915 by Army General Henry M. Robert “to bring order out of chaos,” and are still used today because they work. Order matters. Unlike many television talk shows and political debates, order does matter in business meetings, courtrooms, operating rooms, as well as in the church. It mattered in Paul’s day, too, and he spent many verses addressing order in the church in Corinth.

  • What things can you think of that must be orderly to be effective?


31 For you can all prophesy one by one, so that all may learn and all be encouraged, 32 and the spirits of prophets are subject to prophets. 33 For God is not a God of confusion but of peace.

As in all the churches of the saints, 34 the women should keep silent in the churches. For they are not permitted to speak, but should be in submission, as the Law also says. 35 If there is anything they desire to learn, let them ask their husbands at home. For it is shameful for a woman to speak in church.

36 Or was it from you that the word of God came? Or are you the only ones it has reached? 37 If anyone thinks that he is a prophet, or spiritual, he should acknowledge that the things I am writing to you are a command of the Lord. 38 If anyone does not recognize this, he is not recognized. 39 So, my brothers, earnestly desire to prophesy, and do not forbid speaking in tongues. 40 But all things should be done decently and in order.


  1. Who did Paul say could prophesy (vs. 31)? For what purpose?
  2. There may seem to be an apparent contradiction between verses 31 and 34, but what does verse 33 say that makes a transition and sets up what Paul says in verse 34?
  3. Worship services in Corinth seemed to have become chaotic. What might have been one reason for that (vs. 35)? What did Paul suggest as a better way for women to ask their questions rather than interrupting during times of prophesy (vs. 35)?
  4. What was Paul’s ultimate goal in these instructions (vs. 40)?
  5. In what ways does order make your worship experience richer?


Previously, Paul had written about places where women did speak in church, and he had also instructed both men and women to be silent. So, this isn’t a general or timeless restriction; his admonition had cultural implications for the day. Paul was trying to bring order to what had become a disorderly worship service. Asking questions was not wrong, but when the women were asking them was. Submission of a wife to her husband on this point was for the sake of order, and Paul’s instructions pointed to this.

  • Thank God for being a God of order in all areas of our lives.
  • Ask him for discernment to know when to speak up and when to keep silent.