This post is the second part in a “first” for Women in Ministry blog. I have never before taken the writing of a complementarian and posted it on my blog. To facilitate dialog, I have agreed to post Mark’s articles so that we can have a jolly good discussion/debate with those who care to participate on the issue of what “head” means. The first part of Mark’s article dealing with the context of 1 Corinthians 11 is here. These posts are carried forward from a previous postthat had a lot of good discussion regarding my youtube videos on the issue of women in ministry. If you would like to get a good idea of where this discussion comes from, I refer you back to the post called Women on Trial.
This post is a first. I have never before taken the writing of a complementarian and posted it on my blog. However, in order to facilitate dialog, I have agreed to post Mark’s article so that we can have a jolly good discussion/debate with those who care to participate on the issue of what “head” means in the context of 1 Corinthians 11. This post is carried forward from a previous post that had a lot of good discussion regarding my youtube videos on the issue of women in ministry. If you would like to get a good idea of where this discussion comes from, I refer you back to the post called Women on Trial. …
Submission and authority are a big issue in the church today. Closely tied into the issue of authority is the teaching that women need a spiritual “covering.” Men, we are told, are to be the spiritual “covering” to provide protection and to allow the man to have the accountability. But is a human “covering” a Biblical teaching? There is no New Testament concept of a human “covering” and only one clear human “covering” in the Old Testament
There was a tradition in the Old Testament of the kinsman redeemer who would “redeem” a widow by marrying the widow of a deceased relative.
Ruth 3:9 He said, “Who are you?” And she answered, “I am Ruth your maid. So spread your covering over your maid, for you are a close relative.”
Ruth 3:10 Then he said, “May you be blessed of the LORD, my daughter. You have shown your last kindness to be better than the first by not going after young men, whether poor or rich.
Ruth 3:11 “Now, my daughter, do not fear. I will do for you whatever you ask, for all my people in the city know that you are a woman of excellence.
Ruth 3:12 “Now it is true I am a close relative; however, there is a relative closer than I.
Ruth 3:13 “Remain this night, and when morning comes, if he will redeem you, good; let him redeem you. But if he does not wish to redeem you, then I will redeem you, as the LORD lives. Lie down until morning.”
I am creating a new post to continue the great discussion that we have been having on a previous post while I am out of the country. The original discussion is on this post https://mmoutreach.org/wim/2009/07/05/wayne-grudem-part-2/ and since we have grown to over 240 comments, I would ask that we continue our discussions with Mark the complementarian here.
On July 27th, 2009 Mike Seaver and I started a ten session debate on Women in Ministry where I was able to ask Mike questions on his position, he answered my questions and then we each had one response. Mike is still considering whether he will continue with another ten sessions where Mike will ask me questions, and I get the privilege to answer his questions on women in ministry.
Today I would like to summarize the ten sessions that I had with Mike. …
Women in Ministry Debate – Does God Contradict Himself?
This is question #5 of a 10 question discussion/debate between Mike Seaverand Cheryl Schatz on the issue of women in ministry. The discussion will take the form of five questions posed by Cheryl Schatz with answers by Mike Seaver and then five questions posed by Mike Seaver with answers by Cheryl Schatz. Each question and answer session will be followed up in the next post by one response each from both Mike and Cheryl. Links to the questions and the responses will be at the bottom of this post.
I have been invited by Pastor Dave Woolcott to participate in a new blog conference on women’s eldership in the church put on by the Ryde Presbyterian Church in Ryde, Sidney, Australia. The blog address for the conference set for September 1 – 15, 2009 is http://www.achurchinryde.com/blog/The blog is on line now and active and I invite you to participate by commenting on Dave’s blog.
There is a thought-provoking article on “Should a Pastor Rule Over You?” It is very appropriate to the issue of women in ministry and what the real issues are. …
In 1998 Wayne Grudem wrote “An Open Letter to Egalitarians,” and in the letter, he gave six questions that he said have never been satisfactorily answered.
This is the first in a six-part set of posts addressing Mr. Grudem’s questions.
First of all, I will reprint the “Open Letter” that is found on Mike Seaver’s Role Calling blog. Right after that comes the refutation of Mr. Grudem’s question #1 by Suzanne McCarthy and after that, I pose my own question to Complementarians on the error of their teaching that there is an eternal subordination within the nature of the Trinity.
An Open Letter To Egalitarians
by Wayne Grudem
“Here Are Six Questions That Have Never Been Satisfactorily Answered”
Dear Egalitarian Friends,
We know that many of you within the evangelical world hold your views because you have been convinced that egalitarianism is what the Bible teaches. You tell us that our differences on male and female roles are just differences in interpretation, and that Bible believing Christians can honestly and fairly interpret the Bible to support complete equality in most or all roles for men and women in the family and the church. You say that you are sincere in adopting your views not because of modern cultural pressures but because you think that the Bible itself supports your position. In response to this, we want to say that we appreciate your sincerity in these matters and we believe that you are telling us the truth about your motives.
There are, nevertheless, certain questions of fact that come up frequently in your writings. We focus on these specific questions in this letter because they do not involve detailed arguments about interpretation, but involve only matters of factual data. We are simply asking to see the evidence that has convinced you about certain key interpretations of Scripture passages. If you can point out this evidence to us, then we will be able to understand more fully how you have come to your understanding of key passages. But if you cannot point out this evidence, and if no one among you can point out this evidence, then we respectfully ask that you reconsider your interpretations of these passages.
Many people have a big problem with Paul because they think that he was sexist. I would like to change that point of view by looking carefully at the text so that we can fully appreciate Paul for who he was, not the false impression that we have of Paul. Under God’s inspiration Paul refuted faulty tradition and that faulty tradition included sexism that was prevalent during his day. Let’s have a look how Paul did that.
In the book of 1 Corinthians, Paul responded to a letter written to him by the Corinthians. In 1 Corinthians 7:1, Paul says:
1 Corinthians 7:1 Now concerning the things about which you wrote….
Paul then quotes from the letter written to him and every time he quotes the letter, Paul contradicts the Corinthians.
1 Corinthians 7:1….(Corinthians) it is good for a man not to touch a woman
1 Corinthians 7:2 (Paul) But because of immoralities, each man is to have his own wife and each woman is to have her own husband.
1 Corinthians 10:23 (Corinthians) All things are lawful (Paul) but not all things are profitable. (Corinthians) All things are lawful (Paul) but not all things edify.
1 Corinthians 14:34, 35 (Corinthians) The women are to keep silent in the churches; for they are not permitted to speak, but are to subject themselves, just as the Law also says. If they desire to learn anything, let them ask their own husbands at home; for it is improper (filthy) for a woman to speak in church.
1 Corinthians 14:36 (Paul) (What!?!) was it from you that the word of God went forth? (What!?!) has it come to you only?
In verse 36 Paul starts each statement with the Greek word “n” which isn’t always evident in the translations as some completely ignore this word. It is a term used to show that the question implies a negative answer – a negation of something that has just proceeded it. It would be the equivalent of stating a false statement and then saying “Bunk!” or “Horse feathers!” or “You have got to be kidding!” So what Paul is doing here is negating what was just quoted. Since Paul cannot negate himself, it is evident that the quote from verses 34 & 35 is a quote from the Corinthian letter to Paul. …
While Paul said that the husband is the head of the wife (1 Cor. 11:3) with this metaphor implying that the wife is the body of the husband, scripture also tells us that Jesus is the head of the body of Christ and the believing wife is part of that body too. This means that the metaphor of head/body is used both of a physical relationship between husband and wife and a spiritual relationship between believers and Christ. But does head mean master?
Many believe that head means one who has authority over another. Some believe that a woman is not allowed to teach the bible if her husband does not give her permission to do so. In essence he is her master and she must obey what he tells her. But if head means master, then scripture contradicts itself because the bible says that we have only one master. In John 13:13 Jesus says that he is that Master.
John 13:13 Ye call me Master and Lord: and ye say well; for so I am. KJV
The word translated as “master” is didaskalos and it means teacher, instructor, master. Jesus then goes on to show that we are all brothers and only one is our master/teacher.
Matthew 23:8 But be not ye called Rabbi: for one is your Master, even Christ; and all ye are brethren.
Matthew 23:9 And call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven.
Matthew 23:10 Neither be ye called masters: for one is your Master, even Christ.
Matthew 23:11 But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant. KJV
Jesus also taught that no one can serve two masters:
Matthew 6:24 “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other.
The word for master here is kurios and it means lord, master, owner.
It is impossible for “head” to mean “lord, master, owner”. Jesus is both head and Master because he alone is God. No husband is to be in the position of master because we are to have only one master and that is Jesus Christ.
It is a wonderful thing when a husband agrees that his wife should teach the bible. However his agreement should have no bearing on the obedience of a servant of the one and only Master. There is only one spiritual head and only one Master. The husband is in a one-flesh union with his wife and together they should work out their marriage relationship. But scripture never gives the husband the position of master over his wife and scripture never tells the wife that she must obey her husband as her master, for no one can serve two masters.
We have been looking at Jesus’ words in John 8:44 which says that there is no truth in satan. We are comparing this to satan’s words through the serpent in Genesis 3:5 and God’s words in Genesis 3:22
Genesis 3:5 “For God knows that in the day that you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”
Genesis 3:22 Then the LORD God said, “Behold, the man has become like one of Us, knowing good and evil; …”
Let’s compare the words in these two verses.
Genesis 3:5 the serpent said that God knows. God knows what? The serpent gives a time frame “in the day that you eat from it”. What will happen on that day? Their eyes will be opened (this is presented as a good thing) and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.
Here we have the serpent saying that Adam and his wife will become something that they are not now and it will be a good thing. It will make them “like” God. The implication then is also that God experiences both good and evil. But does he? The word for “knows” and “knowing” is the Hebrew “yada” and its primary meaning means to know relationally and experientially. What the serpent is saying is that God experientially “knows” evil as well as good.
Now let’s see what God says that is different from what the serpent has said:
In Genesis 3:22 the English is opposed to the original Hebrew and the most authentic versions. The Hebrew “hayah” (English translated as “has” become) is the third person preterite tense, and signifies was, not is. The same tense is translated in the Samaritan text, the Samaritan version, the Syriac, and the Septuagint. Adam Clarke says that “These lead us to a very different sense…” God is saying “Behold the man was like one of us…” God is not agreeing with satan that the likeness with God came on the day of their eating the fruit but the likeness started on their day of creation. They were like God in the beginning.
The distortion here is in the time frame and the grammar. The serpent said that they will become like God on the day they eat the fruit. That is a lie. God said they already were like him…until they ate the fruit.
Adam Clarke says that there is “an ellipsis of some words which must be supplied in order to make the sense complete.” This apparently is not uncommon with Hebrew where the basic information is given and you complete the sense. Adam Clarke goes on to quote a very learned man who fills in the blanks this way:
“And the Lord God said, The man who was like one of us in purity and wisdom, is now fallen and robbed of his excellence; he has added “ladaath” to the knowledge of the evil; and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat and live for ever in this miserable state, I will remove him, and guard the place lest he should reenter.”
The deception was that there was something more in store for them to be like God. But God does not experience evil. Instead of finding themselves like God, they became very much unlike him because they added evil to their experience of good.
So it is true what Jesus said that there is no truth at all in satan. Even though he comes as close as he can to the truth, he twists it and distorts it so that it says something completely different. Adam and his wife did not become like God on the day that they ate the fruit. Their sinless existence was shattered and they became very much unlike God in their experience. Their eyes were opened as the serpent said they would be, but the opening of their eyes was to evil and not to a new dimension of Godhood.
In this fourth part of my response to Matt Slick’s article called “Genesis 2, Adam and Eve, and Authority”, I am going to deal directly with Matt’s comments regarding authority and created order. Matt writes:
Still, the egalitarians will object and say that an absolute and total equality in all things exists between men and women in the church and the created order and Adam’s naming animals and naming Eve has nothing to do with it. But, is that what is implied in Paul’s words in 1 Tim. 2:12-14? “But I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man, but to remain quiet. 13 For it was Adam who was first created, and then Eve. 14 And it was not Adam who was deceived, but the woman being quite deceived, fell into transgression.” Notice that Paul says he does not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man because Adam was created first, then Eve. Obviously, in the mind of Paul the issue of authority is tied to the created order. This is not merely a cultural phenomenon.
The first thing that we can note is that Matt didn’t do a chart using the Greek word “gune” but the English word “woman”. This allows Matt to miss some instances of “gune” which is what Paul uses in 1Timothy 2:12. This is because “gune” does not necessarily mean “a woman”. When “gune” is used, it can mean generic woman, but it is not required that it means all women. There is no indefinite article in Greek such as in English where we have indefinite articles a and an. When “gune” is used in the Greek it is possible that “a woman” is meant, but it is also just as easily possible that “the woman” is meant or even “a group” that is qualitatively female, that is “women”. In Greek, the use of the definite article means the noun is definite, but even if the definite article is not used, it doesn’t mean that it must be indefinite. It just means that there are 3 possibilities to the meaning , including the possibility that it is meant as a definite. This is the case of the anarthrous nouns. See Wallace “Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics” on anarthrous nouns (anarthrous means without an article).
While Matt makes a big deal about percentages, this doesn’t mean much. Percentages can be interesting, however percentages cannot determine the meaning of a word in a passage. It is the context of the passage that will determine the meaning not percentages.
If Paul was giving a general prohibition to Timothy that would affect all Christian women for all time, his grammar in verse 15 does not match a general prohibition. Paul on the other hand has used the term “a man” Greek “anthropos” where the context clearly shows that Paul is not talking about a generic man. For example in 2 Corinthians 12:1-21, no matter how high the percentage is that Paul uses “anthropos” to mean generic man, Paul is not talking about men in general in this passage. Paul also did not identify a man who was living with his father’s wife but called him “someone”. This obviously was not about generic man either. The key to understanding Paul is to look at the context, not how many times Paul used “aner” or “anthropos” to mean a generic man rather than a particular man.
“we conclude that the mentioning of Adam and Eve and the created order is dealing with men and women in general, not with a particular woman or just wives.”
If Paul’s mention of Adam and Eve along with created order and deception was about men and women in general, then should we be concluding that all men are not deceived and all women are deceived like Eve? There is more to see in the context of this passage that brings out the importance of Paul’s mention of creation, deception and Adam and Eve. Paul’s meaning has to be about something other than all generic man and woman.
What Matt misses is that the created order is about deception, not authority. Paul does not say that the man is to have authority over women, but that Adam was not deceived, while Eve was deceived. Paul connects the deception to the prohibition in verse 12 but he also connects it to the solution in verse 15. Paul says neither that Adam is given authority over humanity nor that he is given authority over Eve. We would have to ignore the context in order to make Adam’s authority the subject. Paul connected Adam to the state of “no deception” but Paul did not connect Adam with authority. There is not even one word in this passage that says that Adam had authority or that the man is to have authority over the woman.
Additionally, what does authority have to do with verse 15? How would man’s authority (which is never mentioned in the passage) fit in with the salvation of the single “she” mentioned in verse 15? Even if one could make a single “she” and a plural “they” mean the same thing (i.e. all women), how would man’s authority fit in with this verse? It doesn’t fit. What does fit into the context is the subject of deception. Because of deception a prohibition is given. In spite of her deception “she” will be saved (in the future)… if… Does Paul’s concern about her salvation fit into the context of deception? Or does a concern about salvation fit with all women? Women’s salvation is never questioned in scripture so all women do not fit well with verse 15.
Some take the “salvation” spoken of in verse 15 as been “saved” from dying in child birth but this would break the connection between verses 11-15 and it is not a promise that has been made and kept by God for all godly women. Where is the connection between child birth and the stopping of “a woman” from teaching “a man”? Why would Paul all of a sudden talk about women giving birth to children when he is connecting each verse together with “but” (verse 12) “for” (verse 13) “and” (verse 14) and “but” (verse 15). The flow from verses 11 – 15 is connected from one verse to the next and if we break the connection with verse 15 we have lost the end result that Paul gives because of the command to learn (verse 11) and the prohibition (verse 12). If she learns the truth and she stops teaching the error, she will be saved out of her deception if she stays in that truth, stays in the truth faith and in her love for God. Her self-control is needed to stay away from error and deception. This is how a deceived person will be saved.
Matt concludes with this statement:
“Since Paul mentions the order of creation regarding Adam and Eve in 1 Tim. 2:13 after he mentions authority and again that mentions authority with the created order in 1 Cor. 11:8-10, we can see that there is a pattern Paul teaches that is applied generically in the church.”
There are several very glaring errors in this concluding statement of Matt’s. The first error is that Matt is connecting “authority” with the order of creation when Paul is connecting “deceived” and “not deceived” with the order of creation. The word “authenteo” (verse 12) is a unique word in the scriptures and it is a hotly disputed word never used for spiritual authority elsewhere in scripture. Paul never gives men permission to “authenteo” anyone and so to connect this word with permission for men to “authenteo” women or anyone for that matter, is reading into the passage.
Secondly Matt connects the order of creation with “authority” mentioned in 1 Corinthians 11:10. This is another error of Matt’s since 1 Cor. 11:10 does not have men in authority over women. The Greek word used in verse 10 is exousia and it is the authority that the person has themselves not an authority that is over them. It is never used in scripture to mean that the person is under authority. The words “a symbol of” in verse 10 are not in the original manuscripts but have been added by the translators. The inspired word is that the woman is to have authority over her own head. She is to have authority to make a decision because of the angels. Paul’s use of “because of the angels” is clear when we go back to his reference of the angels earlier in his letter to the Corinthians.
1Co 6:2 Or do you not know that the saints will judge the world? If the world is judged by you, are you not competent to constitute the smallest law courts?
1Co 6:3 Do you not know that we will judge angels? How much more matters of this life?
Since the saints will judge the world and they will also judge angels, the woman is to have power to make her own decision concerning what she does or doesn’t wear on her head because in the next life she will also have the responsibility to judge the world and the angels. There is no reference to a man having authority over the woman in this verse at all.
But what about the reference to creation in 1 Cor. 11:12? Is this about the man having authority over the woman as Matt has said? When we test all things, we can see that this is not true.
1Co 11:11 However, in the Lord, neither is woman independent of man, nor is man independent of woman.
1Co 11:12 For as the woman originates from the man, so also the man has his birth through the woman; and all things originate from God.
Paul says that neither the man or the woman is independent of each other. Just as the woman originated from the man so now the man has his origin through her. But neither one is preeminent over the other because God is the ultimate origin of all.
These passages say not one word about the man having authority over the woman. In 1 Timothy 2:13, 14 the reference to creation is about deception and in 1 Cor. 11:12 the reference to creation is about the equality of the man and the woman in that both are dependent on each other and the preeminent one is God. There is absolutely nothing that says that the man has authority over the woman in these passages.
While Matt has been trying to provide a reasoning in 1 Timothy 2 for Paul to be stopping the biblical teaching of all women to all men, he has not given a reasonable explanation for verse 15 which has specific grammar that gives the boundary or “fence” as to how far we can apply verse 12. Without the ability to apply “she” and “they” from verse 15 to something other than the exact same thing (i.e. Matt makes “she” and “they” to mean the same thing), Matt has ignored the boundary markers that force us to go back to find out who the “she” is that Paul is giving the prohibition to. “She” will be saved, Paul says “if”… Paul applies the prohibition to “gune”, and he stops her from teaching because of the verses that follow. It is because of deception, then Paul brings out that her salvation out of that deception is dependent on what “she” and “they” do to make sure she doesn’t fall back into deception. The list of things is the same as what Paul said the deceived teachers fell away from.
1Ti 1:5 But the goal of our instruction is love from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.
1Ti 1:6 For some men, straying from these things, have turned aside to fruitless discussion,
This is why Paul said that “they” must continue in these things (verse 15). Those who stray from these things, Paul said were falling into deception.
What we don’t have in the passage is Paul saying that “a man” or “any man” is to have authority over “gune” (a woman, wife or the woman) or over another man. Instead we are to serve one another and never lord it over others in the body of Christ.
Continuing on with our verse by verse discussion through the section of 1 Corinthians 11 about women, we come to verse 13:
1Co 11:13 Judge for yourselves: is it proper for a woman to pray to God with her head uncovered?
Paul is asking the Corinthians now to make a judgment call regarding the evidence that he has brought them. Is it proper for a woman to pray to God with her head uncovered? What evidence has Paul brought that should cause the Corinthians to say “yes”?
1. Paul says that the woman is the glory of the man. Glory is never to be hidden from view. When Moses went in to speak with God, his face shone forth with the glory of God. Exodus 34:35 shows that Moses did not hide the glory of God from the Israelites.
Exodus 34:35 …the sons of Israel would see the face of Moses, that the skin of Moses’ face shone…
It wasn’t until the glory was fading away that Moses would put a veil over his face so that the Israelites could not see the fading of the glory.
2 Corinthians 3:13 …and are not like Moses, who used to put a veil over his face so that the sons of Israel would not look intently at the end of what was fading away.
Jesus said that our light was not meant to be hidden:
Matthew 5:14-16 “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see you good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.”
We are meant to shine forth God’s glory and that glory is not to be hidden. Also Moses himself took off his veil when he was in the presence of God. Is this not a powerful argument that women who are also the glory of God should also be unveiled when they come before God in worship?
2. Paul said that the woman has authority over her head (1 Cor. 11:10). If she has the authority and the right to make a decision regarding her own head, then is it not also right for her to make the decision to uncover in worship as she comes before God?
3. If the man has the preeminence in the creation and the woman has the preeminence since the creation, wouldn’t their interdependent equality make them equal in worship before their maker? Why would must one be forcedto cover their glory while the other must uncover their glory? Shouldn’t the man and the woman both uncover their glory before God? Also if we interpret Paul’s writing to say that a woman must cover herself in coming before God, then how can we say that men and women are equal before God?
Paul has carefully crafted his argument concerning the issue of glory by showing that women too have glory. Glory is always to be uncovered. Where does God ever tell us to cover up the glory? He doesn’t.
Next Paul appeals to the fact that a woman has the right to made her own decision regarding her own head. Then Paul appeals to the equal premeninence of man and woman and their interdependent equality. Now we are at the point where Paul makes his appeal using one last argument from nature showing the equality of men and women regarding their hair. The NASB renders verses 14 & 15 this way:
1 Corinthians 11:14 Does not even nature itself teach you that if a man has long hair, it is a dishonor to him,
1 Corinthians 11:15 but if a woman has long hair, it is a glory to her? For her hair is given to her for a covering.
However the ISV renders these verses very differently and without the question mark:
1 Cor. 11:14, 15 (ISV) Nature itself teaches you neither that it is disgraceful for a man to have long hair nor that hair is a woman’s glory, for hair is given as a substitute for coverings.
In order to understand these verses properly we need to understand a couple of very important things about these verses. The first thing is that the Greek was written without punctuation. Whether these verses are a question or a statement has to be determined by the context. The punctuation that we have in our bibles are there because of the translator’s interpretation of what Paul is saying but not all agree that Paul is asking a question.
Let’s look at the context to see if Paul’s words should be taken as a question. Does nature teach us that men should have short hair and that women should have long hair? No, nature doesn’t teach us that at all. The hair on a boys head grow just as the hair on a girls head. Nature does not teach us that there is a difference. Does nature teach us that it is a shame for a man to have long hair? How could nature teach us that? In many cultures men have long hair and they are not ashamed. Nature does not teach them to be ashamed. Why not? Because a man’s hair is designed to keep growing unless it is cut off.
Now we can see that God has designed some hair to show that these hairs are different. Look at the hair on your arms. Does your arm hair keep growing until you cut it? No, it doesn’t. The reason is that God designed the hair on our arms to be different than the hair on our head. But there is nothing in nature that allows us to see a difference in God’s design for hair on the head of a little boy and the hair on the head of a little girl. Each of them has hair that keeps growing until the hair is cut. There is no difference in nature. In nature, the hair on boys and girls are equally growing and nothing in nature shows that there is shame involved regarding the length of their hair.
This brings us to the second thing that we need to know about this passage. We need to know that the glory of hair belongs to “himself or herself” not to just “women”.
1 Corinthians 11:15 (ISV)…nor that hair is a woman’s glory, for hair is given as a substitute for coverings.
Each one of us male and female has been given hair by God for a covering so hair is not a glory just for a woman. Neither male nor female is required to have any outside covering on their head when they come before God.
So are men to be ashamed to have long hair? How can that be? Orthodox male Jews let the sides of their hair grow long and they believe that the bible tells them to leave the corners of their hair long.
Jeremiah 49:32 “Their camels will become plunder, And their many cattle for booty, And I will scatter to all the winds those who cut the corners of their hair; And I will bring their disaster from every side,” declares the LORD.
Here is a picture of an orthodox Jew. The “corners” of his hair are left long and he is not ashamed of his long hair.
Does nature teach them that men are to be ashamed of their long hair? No, not at all. The only command that God had regarding the length of one’s hair was the nazirite vow (Numbers 6:2-18). Both male and female were required in this vow to grow their hair out and when the vow was over, both men and women were required to shave their hair off and offer it as a peace offering to God. Since God required equal rules about hair for both men and women, (both had to have long hair and later both had to shave their hair completely off) how could God then have inspired a passage to say that nature showed that it was a shame for a man to have long hair? Nature says nothing of the sort and God said nothing about long hair being a shame so the words of Paul must be taken as a statement and not a question otherwise we have a contradiction with scripture as well as an illogical argument.
God has designed through nature that the hair on both men and women will grow until it is cut. God has a requirement for both men and women to grow their hair long in the nazirite vow. There is nothing in God’s requirement that would even hint that nature teaches us that it is a shame for a man to have long hair or that it is a shame for a woman to cut her hair.
If we take verses 14 & 15 without the question mark as the International Standard Version does, then it makes sense with the “nature” argument. Paul is arguing for our equality once again. Both men and women are to come before God without a head covering because they both already have a natural head covering and nothing more is needed. Paul isn’t saying that only a woman has her hair as her glory. Hair has been given to both male and female and nothing more is needed when we come before God. Again here we have Paul’s argument as equality between men and women.
Paul then sums up his argument regarding our equality in Christ and our equality in head coverings and hair. Paul says in verse 16 in the International Standard Versions:
1 Corinthians 11:16 (ISV) But if anyone wants to argue about this, we do not have any custom like this, nor do any of God’s churches.
Paul says that if one is inclined to argue about the matter – the matter of head coverings and the length of one’s hair – that one final proof that the head covering is not needed is that none of the churches of God have a custom of head coverings or a requirement for the length of one’s hair.
The NASB adds the word “other” to the passage … (we do not have any “other” custom)…but the word “other” is not in the original inspired Greek. The inspired word is the Greek word toioutos which means “of this sort”. Paul is saying that we do not have this sort of custom (head coverings and rules about the length of one’s hair) and neither do any of God’s churches.
The glory of God belongs to men and women alike. Both are to shine forth the glory of God and women are also to shine forth the glory of man. The glory of hair belongs to men and women alike and God’s only command regarding the length of hair shows equality for men and women alike before God.
Is Paul using this passage to force women to hide their glory with a veil and to force women to leave their hair uncut? Not at all! In fact, his arguments are completely opposite to the human tradition that forces the segregation of men and women. His arguments are also opposite from those who say that only men have glory and women do not. This inspired passage is rather a tremendously powerful passage supporting men and women’s equality before God and their interdependence with each other. This is God’s way. God is not prejudiced preferring men over women or women over men. God wants us united together in the body of Christ giving each other equal respect as “sons” of God and fellow members of the body of Christ.
In our verse by verse through 1 Corinthians 11, we now come to verse 11:
1 Corinthians 11:11 However, in the Lord, neither is woman independent of man, nor is man independent of woman.
Paul once again breaks with tradition. Paul gives the woman the right to make her own decision in verse 10 about what she will or won’t wear on her head when he says the woman ought to have “authority” (exousia) on her head. Although the cultural tradition gave a woman no authority to make her own decisions, Paul dismisses that tradition as a non-Christian tradition. However Paul quickly follows the woman’s authority to make a decision (exousia) with the qualifier “however”. However, Paul says, “in the Lord”, woman is not independent of the man. She has the right to make her own decision but she is not independent of the man. In what way is she not independent of the man? She is not independent of the man in the exact same way that the man is not independent of the woman.
Paul gives the reason for the interdependence in 1 Corinthians 11:12 –
For as the woman originates from the man, so also the man has his birth through the woman; and all things originate from God.
Paul makes use of the Greek word “gar” (for) which is a primary particle; properly assigning a reason for his argument. The woman is not independent of the man Paul says, because the man is the original source of the woman and she wouldn’t exist without him. Paul also says that the man is not independent of the woman because the woman is the original source of all men since her creation. No man would have his existence now without her. Adam’s position of primacy as the first one created and his being the source of the woman is balanced out and equaled with the woman’s primacy as the source of all men.
Paul sums it all up by saying that the woman is dependent on the man and the man is dependent on the woman but the ultimate source is not man and it is not woman either. The ultimate source is God.
So how does this all play out regarding decision making? The woman has the right to make her own decision, but since she is also joined in a one-flesh union with the man, she must consider her husband and his conscience with the issue of the head covering because what she decides to do may bring his weak conscience deep shame. The cultural tradition of the head covering which brought shame to a man whose wife was uncovered in public needed the time to be exposed and accepted as a faulty tradition. Instead of bringing the man shame, Paul said that the woman is his glory. The decision is now in the hands of the woman with her full knowing that she is not completely independent of the man. As a Christian wife she is to respect her husband and to consider his conscience in her decision.
The woman is the only one given a choice regarding what she will do regarding the head covering. The man is never told that he can choose to wear the head covering or not. For him, the decision has already been made because there is only one who is shamed when he wears the head covering. The cultural tradition that brought shame to Christ is to be abandoned.
Next post we will get into the “hairy” issue of the length of one’s hair in 1 Corinthians 11:13-16.
Continuing our verse by verse through 1 Corinthians 11, we come to verse 6:
For if a woman does not cover her head, let her also have her hair cut off; but if it is disgraceful for a woman to have her hair cut off or her head shaved, let her cover her head.
We have already discussed that the cultural view of women’s hair coverings is “covered” in verse 5. We have also seen that Paul takes a non-traditional view of women by telling the men that his wife is his glory. Paul reveals that the tradition of women being covered is not God’s way of dealing with glory. Glory is meant to be shown or revealed and not covered up. Just as a man reveals God’s glory and is not to cover his head, so a woman reveals the glory of man and she too should be uncovered.
Women whose husbands are Christians and who understand the women’s freedom in Christ to reveal the glory of the Lord just as men reveal the glory of the Lord (2 Corinthians 3:18) will have no reason to insist their wives cover themselves because of man’s tradition. So Paul says that “if a woman does not cover her head” then “let her also have her hair cut off”. Here Paul is talking about a woman’s freedom to have her hair cut. Is it wrong for a woman to get a hair cut? Is it wrong for her to have short hair? Paul says the tradition of not cutting one’s hair is in the same category as the tradition that women must wear a head covering. …
Several posts back we talked about how Paul shows in 1 Corinthians 11 that the head covering shamed Christ. This post will discuss why a woman without her head covering shamed her head. Let’s start again with 1 Corinthians 11:4, 5 –
Every man who has something on his head while praying or prophesying disgraces his head. But every woman who has her head uncovered while praying or prophesying disgraces her head, for she is one and the same as the woman whose head is shaved.
Paul has identified the man’s head as Christ and the man who had his head covered during his praying and prophesying shamed Christ. Paul also identified the woman’s head was the man. When she prayed and prophesied with her head uncovered she shamed her head which is her husband (verse 3). Paul doesn’t say why going without a head covering shamed the woman’s husband since the Corinthians would have understood the cultural reason. However we need to do some research to find out why a husband would experience shame when his wife exposed her head in public. …
In the last post we discussed that the man is the image and glory of God and Christ is his head. Why does Paul emphasize that the man is the image and glory of God but he says nothing about the woman having God’s glory? It is because Paul is working on a contrast that will blow the lid off a faulty tradition.
In Corinthians 11:3 Paul had just taught the Corinthians that Christ is the head of man. In verse 4 he relates that the one who is the head is not to be dishonored. How is it that a man can shame Christ? The head covering was used historically to show reverence for God and unworthiness to come into God’s presence because of the shame of one’s own sin (see this previous post for the discussion on the historical meaning of the head covering). When a Christian wears something that symbolizes the shame of his sin and his unworthiness to come into the presence of God, Christ is shamed and dishonored for it was Christ himself who died to take away our shame and to be the door of righteousness that takes us into the presence of God. By wearing a reminder of the shame of his sin, the man dishonors Christ. Instead of focusing on his sin, the man is to bring honor to Christ because Christ died to take away the shame of sin, and the penalty that it caused. The man is to respond by bringing honor and glory to Christ, his head. So when a man comes publicly before God through prayer and prophesying, he is to reflect the glory of God.
Now let’s skip down to 1 Cor. 11:7 to see the connection between Christ and the man, and the man and woman. …
Last post we discussed how the head covering shamed Christ. Before we carry on with 1 Corinthians 11:5 in our verse by verse discussion, I want to skip over to verse 7 to discuss the second reason that a man is not to have his head covered and this has to do with honoring his head. 1 Corinthians 11:7 says:
For a man ought not to have his head covered, since he is the image and glory of God…
The man is not to cover his head when he prays or prophesies because the covering of the head hides the glory and the glory of God is not to be hidden but to be reflected. Matthew 5:14-16 says:
“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. “Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.
The glory that shines through us is not to be hidden. The glory properly reflected glorifies the Father in heaven. 2 Corinthians 3:18 says: …
1 Corinthians 11:4-6 lists three “shames” and verse 7 lists two glories. Two of these shames and glories relate directly back to the “head” and one shame relates to the person themselves. Let’s find out about the contrasting “shames” and “glories” because they are vital to understanding this difficult passage.
1 Corinthians 11:4 says:
“Every man who has something on his head while praying or prophesying disgraces his head.”
“Every man” refers back to verse 3 where Paul said that Christ is the head of “every man”. Since Christ is the one who is the head of “every man”, Christ is the one who is shamed when men wear a head covering during the time that they are praying or prophesying. Notice that it isn’t just anytime that a man wears a head covering that Christ is shamed. It is only during the time that he is praying or prophesying.
Why would Christ be shamed if a man prays and prophesies with a head covering on his head? The reason is found in both the historical meaning of the head covering and also in Paul’s reference to honor in verse 7. John Lightfoot a Hebrew Scholar (1602-1675 AD) explains the historical reason for the head covering during worship and prayer. For the Jews, the covering symbolized their unworthiness to look upon God because it symbolized the shame of their sin. Are we unworthy to look upon God and are we to wear something that symbolizes the shame of our sin? Paul says no way. In 1 Corinthians 11:7, Paul says:
“For a man ought not to have his head covered, since he is the image and glory of God…”
Before we continue with our verse by verse discussion through 1 Corinthians 11, I wanted to add a note about what some consider to be the universal role of male headship. In universal male headship the male is the head over every woman. Recently I got an email from a male apologist named Sandy Simpson who believes this way. He directed me to his online article that in part reads:
THE HEAD OF EVERY WOMAN IS THE MAN, THE HEAD OF EVERY WIFE IS THE HUSBAND
This verse is talking specifically about the husband and wife. But in a larger sense the head of the man is Christ, the head of the woman is man. The Bible teaches that Christ is the first head over man, the Christian husband the second head under Christ, with the elders of the church the third authority in the life of every Christian woman.
1 Corinthians 11:3 Now I want you to realize that the head of every man is Christ, and the head of the woman is man, and the head of Christ is God.
In the last post I summarized the foundational points from chapter 10 that is necessary to the understanding of chapter 11. If you haven’t read it already, it can be read by clicking here. In this post I will continue our verse by verse discussion from 1 Corinthians 11:3. I will be using the New American Standard Version for most of these posts unless otherwise indicated. I Corinthians 11:3 –
But I want you to understand that Christ is the head of every man, and the man is the head of a woman, and God is the head of Christ.
In 1 Corinthians 11:3 Paul commended the Corinthians for holding firm to the traditions that he had delivered to them and now Paul is going to help them to understand some of these traditions. In the fall of 2006 I heard a Pastor give an excellent sermon on the traditions that the Jewish people hold to this day that actually symbolize the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus even though they do not even know what they are doing with their traditions. At Passover they take a piece of unleavened bread and fold it into a white napkin and then they hide it in their house for 3 days. When the 3 days are over, the children look for the napkin and when they find it they bring it out and uncover the bread. They keep the tradition but never understand what the tradition is all about. The tradition of the unleavened bread in the white napkin being revived after 3 days is symbolic of the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus. In verses 2 and 3, Paul says that the Corinthians were holding to the traditions that he gave them but he wanted them to understand what the traditions meant. …
Because I have received several questions posed to me on 1 Corinthians 11, I think it best that we go through the passage verse by verse and that should help deal with each question in context.As we go through each set of verses, please feel free to comment or ask questions on the section that we are covering.This should keep our discussions focused and keep each post and each set of questions separated.
The first thing that we need to note is that 1 Corinthians was not written with the chapter and verse divisions.Instead Paul wrote it as a complete letter to the Corinthians.The chapter and verse divisions were added later by translators for our benefit but these divisions are not inspired.Verse 1 of 1 Corinthians 11 is then a continuation from chapter 10.When Paul says in verse 1:
“Be imitators of me just as I am an imitator of Christ”
he is summing up what he has just told the Corinthians throughout chapter 10.In 1 Corinthians 10:23 Paul said:
“All things are lawful, but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful, but not all things edify.”
Paul then gives a principle of behavior in verse 24:
“Let no one seek his own good, but that of his neighbor.”
This is an important point to note as this thought will be carried on to chapter 11.Paul is saying that we are “allowed” to do many things, but not everything we are “allowed” to do will be helpful or good for our neighbor.Paul then goes on to give examples such as eating meat.One is allowed to eat meat that has been offered to idols, but will our eating stumble our brother?We are to do things with deliberate thought.We are not just to do things for our own benefit but also for the benefit of our neighbor.
Then in verse 32, Paul gives another statement that is very important to pay attention to because this thought will also be carried forward to chapter 11.Paul says:
“Give no offense either to Jews or to Greeks or to the church of God”
There are three types of people mentioned here that have traditions that can be offended.The Jews can be offended, the Greeks or Gentiles can be offended and the church of God can be offended.This is a very key point so keep it in mind as we dive into chapter 11.Next Paul says:
“just as I also please all men in all things, not seeking my own profit but the profit of the many, so that they may be saved.”
Paul is concerned that men are not offended and he tells the Corinthians that he lives his life in such a way that he is not seeking his own profit but the profit of others (Jews, Greeks, the church of God).The reason that he is seeking their profit is so that there will be no offense brought to the gospel of Christ.Now verse 1 of chapter 11 will make more sense when Paul said:
“Be imitators of me, just as I also am of Christ.”
We are going tolook at 1 Corinthians 11 with an eye of understanding as to what Paul has already been teaching throughout chapter 10.Paul is talking about not giving an offense to anyone and not doing things for one’s own profit but seeking the benefit of others.With that in mind let’s look at what Paul says next.In verse 2 and the first part of verse 3 Paul says:
“Now I praise you because you remember me in everything and hold firmly to the traditions, just as I delivered them to you.But I want you to understand…”
Paul is saying that the Corinthians have been holding fast to the traditions that Paul had given them, but Paul now wants them to do more than just hold fast to these traditions.Paul wants them to understand these traditions.
This is the foundation that chapter 11 is built on.Next post we will continue on with verse 3.
The woman was created for the man: Is she inferior?
One question that was posed to me last week was on 1 Corinthians 11:9 regarding the creation of woman for the man. Does this mean that the woman is somehow inferior to the man because she was created for him? Let’s have a close look at the passage starting with verse 7 of 1 Corinthians 11:7:
7. For a man ought not to have his head covered, since he is the image and glory of God; but the woman is the glory of man.
8. For man does not originate from woman, but woman from man;
9. for indeed man was not created for the woman’s sake, but woman for the man’s sake.
10. This is why a woman should have authority over her own head: because of the angels. (International Standard Version)
11. However, in the Lord, neither is woman independent of man, nor is man independent of woman.
12. For as the woman originates from the man, so also the man has his birth through the woman; and all things originate from God.
1 Corinthians 11 has been a hotly disputed passage regarding the meaning of “head”.
While some have seen a hierarchy of authority in this passage,
others say that Paul is explaining the importance of origins.
Is it possible that those who see male authority in the metaphor of “head” are bringing their own presupposition of male superiority to the text? There is only one way to find out and that is to examine the text carefully to see what evidence Paul gives for his own definition of “head”.Before we discuss this passage, it would be a good thing to lay out the presuppositions that I bring to this text.
The first presupposition I have is that I come to this passage believing that it is fully God breathed.I believe that God inspired its content, word usage, grammar and word order.
The second presupposition of mine is that I believe Paul is consistent in repeating himself and defining his own terms.Paul let us know that repetition is very important to for our safety.Paul said in Philippians 3:1 –
Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things again is no trouble to me, and it is a safeguard for you.
Repeating the same things over again in a slightly different way is a safeguard for us because it helps us to understand what is being said.Repetition lessens the problems of miscommunication.Paul said that it was no trouble for him to repeat himself because it was for our benefit.So if Paul thought repetition was a good thing, we can expect that Paul will define his terms by repeating himself in a slightly different way to enable us to understand this important teaching.
Let’s look at the original reference to “head”
1 Corinthians 11:3But I want you to understand that Christ is the head of every man, and the man is the head of a woman, and God is the head of Christ.
Now there are three things that we can note from this verse:
1.Christ is the “head” of every man
2. The man is the “head” of a woman
3. God is the “head” of Christ
Where are these things repeated in the passage? It is in verse 12.
1 Corinthians 11:12 For as the woman originates from the man, so also the man has his birth through the woman; and all things originate from God.
Here Paul says the same thing in a slightly different way.Man is the beginning point of origin for the woman because the very first woman, Eve, came through the body of Adam. As the man was the originating point for the woman, the man now has his origin through the woman.Christ himself became human through the woman but his ultimate origin is of God.
What is Paul’s application?Paul tells us in verse 11.
1 Corinthians 1:11 However, in the Lord, neither is woman independent of man, nor is man independent of woman.
There is to be no competition between men and women because God has overridden any advantage that one has over the other.Men and women are interdependent (verse 11) because in the beginning God created man to be the source of the woman but since then woman has been the one to produce the man.However God is the ultimate source not any man or woman because all things originate through Him.
Christ received his humanity through the woman, but his origin was from God and as God he is the origin of all things and of all men.
So where is Paul’s reference to a hierarchical order? Where is the man said to be the authority of the woman in this passage? Where does the passage say anything in reference to Christ being an authority of every man or that God is to be an authority over Christ? Unfortunately for those who come to this passage with a bias already in place towards male superiority, Paul defines the meaning of “head” in verse 12 and this meaning has everything to do with “source” or “origin” and nothing whatsoever to do with authority of one person over another.
The original source is God and men and women are interdependent regarding one another.
1 Corinthians 11 has been a difficult passage because of several elements that have been hard to interpret.Some of the disputed elements are the meaning of “head” in verse 3, whether head coverings are necessary in verse 5, the woman being the glory of the man in verse 7, the reference to angels in verse 10 and long hair for a man being an issue of shame in verse 14.
In this new series of posts, we will be discussing the meanings of the difficult verses and how to understand Paul.
The best way that I know how to explain Paul’s method of teaching doctrine is to reference Paul’s own words in Philippians 3:1
Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things again is no trouble to me, and it is a safeguard for you.
Paul had a habit of repeating himself so that when we see a word or concept that seems difficult in a verse, we need to look back in the book to see where Paul either originally explained his meaning, or we need to look forward in the book to see where Paul explains what he means.Â If we keep this in mind, Paul is much easier to understand.
Take for example the reference to the angels in verse 10 of 1 Corinthians 11.Now there has been much speculation regarding what Paul meant by saying “because of the angels” however we don’t need to speculate because Paul has already told us what he means.Â When Paul says “because of the angels” we can know that he is repeating what he has already said.Paul said that repetition is for our safety.A phrase thrown out without a reference point is not safe.Paul is the original “Safety Man” so let’s get started to see how Paul keeps us safe.Let’s go back into 1 Corinthians to find out the original reference to angels.
When I was first studying 1 Corinthians 11, I decided to work my way back through Paul’s epistle to find out what he meant by referring to the angels.There was no other reference to angels in chapter 11 so I went back further.There was nothing in chapter 10 or 9 or 8.One thing that we have to remember is that when Paul originally wrote the book of 1 Corinthians it did not have chapters and verses.Paul was writing a letter to the congregation in Corinth and his entire letter was meant to be read at one time.Reading the book this way, it becomes much clearer what Paul meant by the reference to the angels.If you keep going back and back you will eventually go back to chapter 6.Here Paul said:
1 Corinthians 6:3Do you not know that we will judge angels? How much more matters of this life?
Paul had been discussing the problem within the congregation where Christians were taking matters that should have been dealt with among the Christian body and were bringing them into the worldly courts.Â Paul chides the Christians by telling them that the Christian church should be able to judge matters within their own Christian community.Paul asks if there isn’t one who had some wisdom to make a judgment.Paul then asks them if they are aware that in the next life, they will have the responsibility of judging angels.If they are going to judge angels, Paul says, surely they should be able to judge the matters of this life.
So Paul’s original reference to the angels is about maturity, responsibility and our duty in the next life regarding judging the angels.Now let’s take that original reference and go ahead to where Paul repeats himself in 1 Corinthians 11:10.The International Standard Version renders it this way:
1 Cor. 11:10 This is why a woman should have authority over her own head: because of the angels.
The International Standard version along with the KJV, Literal Translation of the Bible, Modern King James Version, Messianic Renewed Covenant Bible, World English Bible, Webster’s Bible, Darby Bible and Douay-Rheims Bible all translate this verse without the additional words “symbol of” that is not found in the original text.Let’s follow this verse from the original text without the addition of uninspired words.
Next let’s look at the Greek word for “authority”.The original word is exousia and means “Permission, authority, right, liberty, power to do something”. The WordStudy Dictionary says regarding this word,
“As (exousia) denies the presence of a hindrance, it may be used either of the capability or the right to do a certain action.”
The word exousia never means that the person themselves is under someone else’s authority. Instead it always means that the person has the right, permission or capability to make the decision or do the action.
So Paul is saying in verse 10 that the woman should have “the capablility or the right or the liberty” over her own head (regarding whether she wears a veil or doesn’t wear a veil, whether she cuts her hair or she doesn’t cut her hair); because in the next life she will also be judging the angels.Paul is repeating what he has already said in 1 Corinthians 6:3.He is saying that in this life we need to learn to make our own mature decisions.After all, Paul said, we will be making some very important decisions in the next life because we will be judging angels.Since women will also be judging the angels, she should have the right in this life to make the decision about what she does or doesn’t wear on her head.
Unfortunately when translations add words that are not in the text, they can distort what the scripture actually says.Verse 10 does not say that the woman is under someone else’s authority, neither does it say that she must wear a veil.It does say that the decision is hers regarding her head.It says that the decision over her own head is in her own authority and her own right to act and her own liberty because she too will be judging the angels.Does this make sense?
Next time we will be discussing the meaning of “Head”.Once again Paul is repeating himself so that we don’t need to guess what he means.Paul tells us in the passage.Stay tuned for the next blog entry.