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Woman Covering Her Head 1 Corinthians 11

Posted by adventbiblestudy on June 18, 2011


1 Corinthians 11:1-16 Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ. (2) Now I praise you, brethren, that ye remember me in all things, and keep the ordinances, as I delivered them to you. (3) But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God. (4) Every man praying or prophesying, having his head covered, dishonoureth his head. (5) But every woman that prayeth or prophesieth with her head uncovered dishonoureth her head: for that is even all one as if she were shaven. (6) For if the woman be not covered, let her also be shorn: but if it be a shame for a woman to be shorn or shaven, let her be covered. (7) For a man indeed ought not to cover his head, forasmuch as he is the image and glory of God: but the woman is the glory of the man. (8) For the man is not of the woman; but the woman of the man. (9) Neither was the man created for the woman; but the woman for the man. (10) For this cause ought the woman to have power on her head because of the angels. (11) Nevertheless neither is the man without the woman, neither the woman without the man, in the Lord. (12) For as the woman is of the man, even so is the man also by the woman; but all things of God. (13) Judge in yourselves: is it comely that a woman pray unto God uncovered? (14) Doth not even nature itself teach you, that, if a man have long hair, it is a shame unto him? (15) But if a woman have long hair, it is a glory to her: for her hair is given her for a covering. (16) But if any man seem to be contentious, we have no such custom, neither the churches of God.

 

The first step to interpret any text is to write out the physical meaning of the text.

In these texts, Paul asks his readers to remember, and keep the ordinances he delivered to them. It is important to study Paul’s letters as a whole. When you do, you will find he is very consistent. Paul used three categories when dealing with laws. He used the word commandments to refer to God’s commandments, law to refer to the laws given to Moses, and ordinances to refer to the laws taught by men.

Paul then states, “head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God.” You will notice he does not state these in a particular order, but arranges them to grab the attention of the reader.

A man praying or prophesying with no covering on his head dishonors his head. A woman that prays or prophesies without covering her head dishonors her head, which is compared to a head which is shaved. If a woman does not cover her head, she should have her head shaved. When her head is shaved, let her cover her head.

A man should not cover his head because he is the image and glory of God. The woman is the glory of man. (Now ask yourself, if a man should not cover his head because he is the image and glory of God, and the woman is the glory of the man, why would a woman have to cover her head? Is this fair and equal treatment? If the man was the image and glory of God, shouldn’t he treat the woman in the exact same manner God would treat him?)

 

The man is not of the woman, but the woman from the man. Man was not created for the woman, but the woman was created for the man. “For this cause ought the woman to have power on her head because of the angels.” It seems Paul was building a case for man to have power over the woman’s head, and he adds this statement which contradicts his previous statements.

 

When they are following the Lord, a man should not be without a woman, and a woman without the man. The woman is made of the man, just as the man is made of a woman. Eve came from Adam’s rib, a man is born of a woman, and all things come from God. With that in mind, ask yourself, is it right that a woman should pray to God uncovered? Doesn’t nature teach you, if a man has long heir, it is a shame to him. If a woman has long hair, it is a glory to her, because it is given to her as a covering.

If any man wants to argue this point, remember, we have no such custom in the churches of God.

 

It is often difficult to understand the meaning of Paul’s writing because he often presents two conflicting sides to make a point. In this case, it may be easier to begin at Paul’s conclusion. In this case Paul’s conclusion is, why would any man argue the point, the churches of God have no such custom. Notice, Paul begins with the word ordinances, and uses the word custom in his conclusion. To get his point across, Paul refers to this lesson as one from nature. There is a difference between a lesson from nature, and one from God.

If the covering of a man, or woman was a law, ordinance, or custom from God, there would be supporting texts in the Old Testament. The most obvious place to look would be the first five books written by Moses. I could not find any texts to support any type of covering for the head of a man, or a woman.

Overall, Paul seems to state both sides throughout his statement on the subject of covering. When studying Paul’s writing, it is important to remember, Paul often presented subjects much like an attorney preparing for a trial. He would present an introduction, a list of facts, and a conclusion.

Paul’s opening statement includes, “keep the ordinances, as I delivered them to you.” Since this is the opening statement, it must refer to ordinances already delivered, not what he is about to present. Paul now begins a series of statements about when it is appropriate to cover, or not cover a head.

 

 

Every man praying or prophesying, having his head covered, dishonoureth his head.

For a man indeed ought not to cover his head

a man indeed ought not to cover his head,

Doth not even nature itself teach you, that, if a man have long hair, it is a shame unto him?

 

every woman that prayeth or prophesieth with her head uncovered dishonoureth her head

as if she were shaven

For if the woman be not covered, let her also be shorn

but if it be a shame for a woman to be shorn or shaven, let her be covered.

Judge in yourselves: is it comely that a woman pray unto God uncovered?

 

This collection of texts have two things in common. They both refer to physical actions, of covering, or not covering. In both cases these are human actions. They are both referring to a covering by a person. They also refer to this action of covering, or not covering in regards to dishonoring their own head. Paul never mentions a word about dishonoring God.

 

head of every man is Christ

head of the woman is the man

the head of Christ is God

 

Paul introduces a series of statements which appear to have a bearing on the subject, at the same time introduce a new subject. Is Paul defining the head in which the covering is being questioned? Paul is identifying God, Christ, and man as a head. If we consider this on a spiritual level, is Paul referring to the fact, God, and Christ should not be covered? What about man being covered? On a physical level it is a disgrace for a man to cover his physical head. On the spiritual level, it is a disgrace for a man to spiritually cover God, and Christ. Paul also says, it is a disgrace for a woman not to cover her physical head. Is it a disgrace for a spiritual woman not to spiritually cover a man? Often times a virtuous woman is spiritually referred to as God’s people.

 

Paul adds a third set of comments to his letter. In this instance he is introducing the relationship between a man and a woman as an example to reinforce his point.

 

man is not of the woman

the woman of the man

Neither was the man created for the woman; but the woman for the man.

neither is the man without the woman

neither the woman without the man

For as the woman is of the man, even so is the man also by the woman; but all things of God.

 

Paul provides a short review of creation. Adam was first created, Eve was made from a part of Adam. To fully understand this, a complete study of the creation of Adam and Eve must be examined. Paul does not quote texts, rather he introduces a common concept. Paul adds a contradiction to the concept, indicating Paul was referring to a misinterpreted concept. Paul’s conclusion to the relationship between a man and a woman is, the woman came from a man, just as every man since that time has come from a woman, and all things come from God. The contradiction, and conclusion make it clear, Paul is turning the minds of the reader from the concepts of men, to ways of God.

 

Since the texts contain conflicting statements which draw into question basic principles, the final conclusion must be sought by comparing scripture with scripture.

 

 

Genesis 38:14-15 And she put her widow’s garments off from her, and covered her with a vail, and wrapped herself, and sat in an open place, which is by the way to Timnath; for she saw that Shelah was grown, and she was not given unto him to wife. (15) When Judah saw her, he thought her to be an harlot; because she had covered her face.

Psalms 44:15 My confusion is continually before me, and the shame of my face hath covered me,

Psalms 71:13 Let them be confounded and consumed that are adversaries to my soul; let them be covered with reproach and dishonour that seek my hurt.

Psalms 73:6 Therefore pride compasseth them about as a chain; violence covereth them as a garment.

Psalms 89:45 The days of his youth hast thou shortened: thou hast covered him with shame. Selah.

Psalms 109:29 Let mine adversaries be clothed with shame, and let them cover themselves with their own confusion, as with a mantle.

Psalms 139:11 If I say, Surely the darkness shall cover me; even the night shall be light about me.

Isaiah 28:20 For the bed is shorter than that a man can stretch himself on it: and the covering narrower than that he can wrap himself in it.

Isaiah 29:10 For the LORD hath poured out upon you the spirit of deep sleep, and hath closed your eyes: the prophets and your rulers, the seers hath he covered.

Isaiah 30:1 Woe to the rebellious children, saith the LORD, that take counsel, but not of me; and that cover with a covering, but not of my spirit, that they may add sin to sin:

Isaiah 59:6 Their webs shall not become garments, neither shall they cover themselves with their works: their works are works of iniquity, and the act of violence is in their hands.

Isaiah 60:2 For, behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people: but the LORD shall arise upon thee, and his glory shall be seen upon thee.

 

The Bible consistently refers to covering with negative attributes. Look at the list of things covered by people in the Bible. How do they relate to the question of a man, or woman covering their heads? If their heads are filled with the above items, they should be covered. Does this mean God is insinuating all men are good, and all women evil? That is not consistent with the Bible. It is becoming clear, Paul is referring to a man made ordinance.

 

Psalms 32:1 A Psalm of David, Maschil. Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered.

Psalms 85:2 Thou hast forgiven the iniquity of thy people, thou hast covered all their sin. Selah.

Psalms 104:1-2 Bless the LORD, O my soul. O LORD my God, thou art very great; thou art clothed with honour and majesty. (2) Who coverest thyself with light as with a garment: who stretchest out the heavens like a curtain:

Proverbs 10:12 Hatred stirreth up strifes: but love covereth all sins.

Isaiah 25:7 And he will destroy in this mountain the face of the covering cast over all people, and the vail that is spread over all nations.

As shown earlier, covering the head is a physical act. The Bible explains a spiritual covering comes from God.

 

Paul is questioning the act of covering, pointing out it is a physical act, not sanctioned by the church of true believers. The Bible confirms this. The physical covering has no effect on salvation, only the spiritual covering of Jesus. The physical covering of a man, or woman has no relationship to their salvation, and should not be taught in the church.

3 Responses to “Woman Covering Her Head 1 Corinthians 11”

  1. Bailey Klemp said

    Hello! Thanks for emailing me back! This is very interesting! It makes sense that the physical covering has no relationship for people’s salvation! I look at it this way, if God punished people because they didn’t cover their heads, there would be a lot of people being punished!
    And for the old testament contradicting the new testament, it’s kind of hard to know which one to choose. It is true that Paul never mentions a word about people dishonoring God if they do not cover their heads. You said you could not find any texts to support any type of covering for the head of a man, or a woman.
    I guess it’s all a matter of belief and what people feel comfortable doing. If people choose to cover their heads, all the more to them. Maybe people think they will have a better relationship with God and be closer to Him. Thank you so much for emailing me this! It is very helpful and is making me think in a new perspective! Thank you for your time finding info about the head covering in the bible! It is very much appreciated!
    -Bailey Klemp

    Like

  2. JOSEPH ONYANGO OKEWA said

    Great: i am doing the exegesis of this text, The book of the corinthians is a very complex lecture with quotations and responses. I tHINK RIGHT FROM VERSE 4-10, Paul is quoting a popular teaching as held by the Corinthians of this time. Whether the popular teaching is a tradition or a quotation from menander, epicurius , alexander , philo or pre gnosticists, i cannot tell. Verse 11 commences with His response to this popular teaching. Note that the style of Corinthian letters is a lecture approach involving quotations and responses
    Otherwise i have gained so much from the study

    Like

  3. mcintosh said

    i think the Lord means what he said, why do we change things around to suit our advantage.
    we are to cover our head (women) while prophesying or praying. the Lord gave me a dream and said woe to the women that pray or prophesy with their head uncovered.
    and please study other translation. the Darby translation said her hair is given for a veil.
    now that simple means that a woman’s hair is her glory and it is given as a veil or use as a separation between man and woman. it is given as a distinction. no more is is necessary for a man and woman to worship separately for the hair is her glory and a veil of separation.
    please honor the Lord ladies. and men please remember your are the head of the household. Responsible

    Like

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