SHOULD A WOMAN HAVE HER HEAD UNCOVERED IN CHURCH ? 1COR 11:1-16.
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I think we have all had problems understanding Paul's words in 1COR
11:1-16, and that is evident in the number of differing church
doctrines and writings. Part of the problem of understanding, I
believe, is in the use and understanding of the word `head' because
it has more than one meaning in these verses. One meaning being the
head on which the hair grows, and the other meaning, cardinal, chief,
or foremost. So what is the truth, what does God's bible the KJV
really say ?

We must first of all understand that Paul was writing to the church
at Corinth and before you say, that's obvious, I think we should
try to understand all that that entails, the history, the religion,
and especially the culture. If one was reading a letter from a pen-
pal in India one would need to grasp the conditions under which he or
she lived to better understand what was being said. So when we read
any book of the bible, because it refers to churches in other
countries, we should first try to understand the things pertaining
to that country, during that time period, before we make statements,
or judgements, or jump to conclusions.

In order to comprehend why Paul needed to answer this question
for the Corinthian Church of God, which held their meetings in
members houses, as to whether a woman should cover her head or not,
we should all know that Corinth was a pagan city, the capital of the
Roman province Achaia, and was the most important city in Greece
during Roman times. The Corinthians worshipped Aphrodite the pagan
goddess of love, beauty, and fertility, and in the temple dedicated
to her worship over 1,000 slave-priestesses, known as sacred prostit-
utes, served. During their worship, if they were prophesying, they
let their hair hang down loosely round their shoulders.

The city of Corinth had a population of over 700,000 who were mainly
given to self indulgence, and vice. The morals of the Corinthians
were very bad, corrupt even when compared to pagan Rome. It was the
custom throughout the region to shave the heads of female slaves and
also women who were guilty of fornication or adultery. The sign of
marriage in that day was the wearing of a veil or distinctive hair
style, as a wedding ring is in our society today.

Obviously the emerging Christian church had it's problems just as the
Israelites had when they left Egypt, learning new things but
remembering the old. One can imagine how hard it must have been for
Paul to establish a Christian church there, he also had opposition
from some of the resident Jews.

So let's examine what Paul says in 1COR 11:1-16 and then reply.

In his 1st Letter to the Corinthians he advises, guides, and replies
to a number of questions and then in chapter 11 writes, obviously in
reply to a question asked, about whether a woman should cover her
head in church. THAT IS - IN THE CHURCH AT CORINTH.

He replies:-
1CO 11:1 Be ye followers of me, even as I also {am} of Christ. (KJV)
1CO 11:2 Now I praise you, brethren, that ye remember me in all
things, and keep the ordinances, as I delivered {them} to you. (KJV)
1CO 11:3 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. (KJV)
PAUL IS SAYING HERE THAT CHRIST IS THE CHIEF OR FOREMOST OF EVERY MAN
AND WOMAN, AND MAN IS THE CHIEF OR FOREMOST OF THE WOMAN, AND GOD IS
THE CHIEF OR FOREMOST OF CHRIST.

1CO 11:4 Every man praying or prophesying, having {his} head covered,
dishonoureth his head. (KJV)
EVERY MAN HAVING HIS ACTUAL HEAD COVERED, DISHONOURETH CHRIST.
1CO 11:5 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. (KJV)
SOME MARRIED WOMEN IN THE CHURCH WERE OBVIOUSLY REMEMBERING AND
COPYING WHAT THE TEMPLE-SLAVES DID, AND WERE UNCOVERING THEIR HEADS
AND LETTING THEIR HAIR DOWN. IN DOING THIS THEY DISHONOURED THEIR
HEAD, THEIR HUSBANDS. UNCOVERING THEIR HEADS WAS THE SAME AS HAVING
THEIR HEADS SHAVED.

1CO 11:6 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. (KJV)
IF THE WOMAN IS NOT VEILED THEN LET HER BE SHAVED. BUT IF IT SHAMES
HER THEN LET HER BE COVERED, VEILED.

1CO 11:7 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. (KJV)
1CO 11:8 For the man is not of the woman; but the woman of the man.
(KJV)
1CO 11:9 Neither was the man created for the woman; but the woman for
the man. (KJV)
1CO 11:10 For this cause ought the woman to have power on {her} head
because of the angels. (KJV)
THE WOMAN OUGHT TO HAVE POWER, A VEIL, ON HER HEAD TO SHOW THE ANGELS
WHO WATCH OVER US THAT SHE RESPECTS AND SUBMITS TO HER HUSBAND AND
THEREFORE TO CHRIST.

1CO 11:11 Nevertheless neither is the man without the woman, neither
the woman without the man, in the Lord. (KJV)
1CO 11:12 For as the woman {is} of the man, even so {is} the man also
by the woman; but all things of God. (KJV)
NEVERTHELESS BOTH SHOULD LOVE AND RESPECT EACH OTHER.

1CO 11:13 Judge in yourselves: is it comely that a woman pray unto
God uncovered? (KJV)
PAUL IS ASKING THE CORINTHIANS, BECAUSE OF YOUR CUSTOM OF MARRIED
WOMEN WEARING THEIR HAIR IN A CERTAIN FASHION AND/OR WEARING A VEIL
AT ALL TIMES, TO SHOW THEIR SUBMISSION TO THEIR HUSBANDS, IS IT RIGHT
THAT THEY SHOULD LET THEIR HAIR HANG DOWN LOOSELY WHEN PROPHESYING
BEFORE GOD IN CHURCH ?

1CO 11:14 Doth not even nature itself teach you, that, if a man have
long hair, it is a shame unto him? (KJV)
BECAUSE HE WILL LOOK LIKE A WOMAN.

1CO 11:15 But if a woman have long hair, it is a glory to her: for
{her} hair is given her for a covering. (KJV)
PAUL IS SAYING HERE THAT THE LONG HAIR OF A WOMAN IS NATURAL EVIDENCE
OF HER WOMANLY POSITION UNDER MAN, INSTEAD OF A VEIL.

1CO 11:16 But if any man seem to be contentious, we have no such
custom, neither the churches of God. (KJV)
BUT IF ANY MAN IN THE CORINTHIAN CHURCH WANTS TO ARGUE OVER THE ISSUE
AND WHAT I HAVE WRITTEN, PAUL SAYS, "WE HAVE NO SUCH CUSTOM, NEITHER
THE CHURCHES OF GOD." HE IS SAYING, WE OF OURSELVES HAVE NO SUCH
CUSTOM AND NEITHER DO THE CHURCHES OF GOD.

I think it should now be plain to all what Paul was saying in 1COR
11:1-16.

He starts out by telling us the order of things under Almighty God in
relation to humans. GOD is first with Christ under Him then man under
both God the Father and Christ and finally woman is under man. The
bible states quite clearly, woman was made for man, man was not made
for woman. That does not mean woman is less than man, because God
once again says in EPH 5:24-28, both should respect each other. It
simply means that there is an order with God and man, just as there
is an order in the animal world. ALL BY DESIGN.

EPH 5:24 Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so {let} the
wives {be} to their own husbands in every thing. (KJV)
EPH 5:25 Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the
church, and gave himself for it; (KJV)
EPH 5:26 That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of
water by the word, (KJV)
EPH 5:27 That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not
having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be
holy and without blemish. (KJV)
EPH 5:28 So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He
that loveth his wife loveth himself. (KJV)

Paul then says, if a man prays with his head covered he dishonours
Christ, who is his head, or who is head over him.

In that region during that time period the heads of slave women were
shaved, and also the heads of any women found guilty of fornication,
and adultery. It was also the custom of the slave-priestesses who
worshipped Aphrodite to take off their veils and let their hair hang
down when prophesying in the temple. On the other hand because it was
the custom for married women to wear veils or to wear their hair in
a particular fashion to show they were married, Paul advised it was
wrong for the Corinthian women to take off their veils and let down
their hair when praying or prophesying in church as it gave the wrong
impression, and dishonoured their husbands and therefore Christ.

The bible says a woman's long hair is in itself a covering given by
God so there is no need for any other covering.

Paul ends this discourse by saying if anyone disagreed with his
appraisal of that situation, in the Corinthian church, then they
should know that neither he (and his companions) nor the Church of
God had such a custom.

SO QUITE CLEARLY THERE IS NO RULING IN THE BIBLE WHICH SAYS ALL WOMEN
SHOULD COVER THEIR HEADS IN CHURCH.


References used.


The King James Bible, Mathew Henry's Commentary, Baker Encyclopedia
of the Bible Vol 1, from which the following extract is taken.



"The fourth issue Paul deals with is that of order in church meetings
(11:2-14:40). The Corinthian house churches had lively meetings,
but rather than showing unity in Christ they demonstrated selfishn-
ess. Paul had no desire to change what they did; he did want to
change how they did it.

The first problem in the meetings was the behaviour of married women
(11:1-16). The sign of marriage in that day was the wearing of a
veil or distinctive hair style, as a ring is today. Women praying and
delivering prophecies in church was no issue for Paul, but the women
felt that this foretaste of resurrection life (cf. ch I5) temporarily
loosed them from their husbands (cf. Mk 12:25), and therefore was
reason to toss off their veils. Paul argues that husband and wife are
intimately joined, just as humans are to God (11:3). Therefore as
humans should not shame, but glorify God, so the wife should act
toward her husband. And because the unveiling would look like a
sexual come-on, it was improper to do this in a church attended by
the holy angels (11:10)."

Baker Encyclopedia of the Bible Vol 1. Page 519.




I hope this has helped your understanding of 1COR 11:1-16.

May Almighty God bless you in your study of His word.



Written 28th. Nov. 96. Richard W Hayes
3, Christie Avenue,
Christies Beach,
South Australia. 5165.
Phone 08 8382 0006.