c) 1 Cor 11:7–10: These verses concern propriety in worship, not family relationships.[1]

However, Paul asserted that a link does occur between our fidelity in marriage and our worship of the Lord.[2]

He wrote, “Indeed a man is not obligated to cover the head, for he is the image and glory of God, but the woman is the glory of man. For a man is not from a woman but a woman from a man. For indeed man was not brought into existence for a woman but a woman for a man.”

In this passage, Paul alluded to Gen 1:26 and Gen 2:18–24. He noted the lack of any contribution of humanity in the creation of Adam (Gen 2:7), but the necessary aspect of the man in forming Eve.[3]

He never asserted that the Lord created the woman in the man’s image, for God made both in his image (Gen 1:27).[4]

Later in this letter, Paul claimed that all the Corinthians bore the image of the earthly man and would soon bear the image of the heavenly one (1 Cor 15:49). The Lord created only Adam directly in his image. Everyone else inherits God’s image from Adam and our biological parents (Gen 5:3; Gen 9:6).[5]

Throughout the Ancient Near East, people placed an image of a god in a temple. It represented not only the authority of the deity but also its luminous glory.[6]

For this reason, craftsmen made such idols from precious metals to reflect the light of the gods they represented (Cf. 2 Cor 3:18; 2 Cor 4:3–6).[7]

Consequently, Paul contended that Eve completed both Adam’s and God’s creation (Cf. Gen 2:18 with Gen 1:27–31).[8]

The Greek term “glory” (doxa) connotes “reflected radiance.”[9]

In the Greco-Roman culture, a woman’s uncovered head produced shame (1 Cor 11:4–6).[10] However, God intended her to mirror the honor of a man,[11] as the Greek translation of Prov 11:16 indicates.

Contrary to how many people today understand these verses, they contain no hint of a woman’s subordination.[12]

As suggested by 2 Cor 3–4, Paul wanted women to cover their heads to prevent others from focusing upon the grandeur of men during church services.[13]

Nothing should prevent all glory being directed to God during worship.[14] It should go neither to women nor their husbands.[15]

Bolstering the idea that Paul intended the word “head” (kephalē) in 1 Cor 11:3 to refer to the source of  women, the apostle argued that the first woman was created from a man for his sake (Gen 2:18–24).

Greek manuscripts of this section say, “For this reason, a woman ought to have authority over her head” without mentioning any kind of symbol.[16]

Typically, the phrase “authority over” (exousianepi) conveys having “the right over something” (Matt 9:6; Rev 11:6; Rev 14:18).[17]

When Paul used the word “authority” in the context of the church, he emphasized freedom balanced with moderation (“mastered” in 1 Cor 6:12; “liberty” in 1 Cor 8:9).[18]

The puzzling phrase “because of the angels” likely refers to the Old Testament injunction against indecent exposure in worship (Exod 20:24–26; Exod 28:40–43).[19]

According to a Dead Sea Scroll:

No man shall go down with them on the day of battle who is impure because of his ‘fount,’ for the holy angels shall be with their hosts.

And there shall be a space of about two thousand cubits between all their camps for the place serving as a latrine, so that no indecent nakedness may be seen in the surroundings of their camps (1QM).[20]

Impropriety in worship offends both the Lord and the angels who stand in his presence.[21]

By respecting the proper decorum expected in the presence of God and his angels, women in Corinth could pray and speak words of encouragement and exhortation in worship without shame or disgrace,[22] just as the men of the congregation did (1 Cor 11:4–6).[23]

Image via Wikimedia Commons

 

Read 1 Cor 11:7–10. How do women reflect the glory of men? Why did Paul command that the women of Corinth should cover their heads during worship? What does having authority over her own head enable a woman to do? How do you or the women in your life practice this?

 

 

 

 

 

Go to Interdependence

 

[Related posts include Three Heads (1 Cor 11:3); Women Praying and Prophesying (1 Cor 11:4–6 and 1 Cor 14:34–35); Interdependence (1 Cor 11:11–12); Made in the Image of God (Gen 1:26 cont.); Stewards of the Earth (Gen 1:26 cont.); Male and Female He Created Them (Gen 1:27); God Evaluates His Creation (Gen 1:31); The Lord Breathes Life (Gen 2:7); Not Good! (Gen 2:18); An Equal and Adequate Partner (Gen 2:21–23); In Adam’s Likeness and Image (Gen 5:3–5); Partners in Ministry (Acts 18:1–3, 18–20, 24–26 and 2 Ki 22:11–23:4); Effects of the Fall Reversed (Rom 5:12–21 and Rom 16:1–12);  The Cult of Artemis (False Teaching in Ephesus); Prayer without Anger (1 Tim 2:8); Adorned with Good Works (1 Tim 2:9–10); She Must Learn (1 Tim 2:11); Domineering Women (1 Tim 2:12–14); Saved through Childbearing (1 Tim 2:15); Ancient Literature; and Greek Translation of the Old Testament]

[Click here to go to Women and Marriage Throughout Redemptive History; or to Chapter 8: Pain and Desire (Genesis 3:16, 20)]

 

[1]Witherington, Conflict and Community in Corinth: A Socio-Rhetorical Commentary on 1 and 2 Corinthians, 235.

[2]Blomberg, 1 Corinthians, 211.

[3]Ciampa and Rosner, The First Letter to the Corinthians, 524.

[4]Fee, The First Epistle to the Corinthians, Rev. Ed., 570.

[5]Ciampa and Rosner, The First Letter to the Corinthians, 524.

[6]Beale, The Temple and the Church’s Mission: A Biblical Theology of the Dwelling Place of God, 88.

[7]Ciampa and Rosner, The First Letter to the Corinthians, 526.

[8]Garland, 1 Corinthians, 523.

[9]Arndt et. al., “δοξα” (doxa), A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature, 3rd ed., 256–8, 257.

[10]Garland, 1 Corinthians, 522–3.

[11]Blomberg, 1 Corinthians, 211.

[12]Garland, 1 Corinthians, 523.

[13]Ciampa and Rosner, The First Letter to the Corinthians, 526.

[14]Witherington, Conflict and Community in Corinth: A Socio-Rhetorical Commentary on 1 and 2 Corinthians, 237.

[15]Garland, 1 Corinthians, 523.

[16]Also note that the word is exousian, a form which reflects a direct object. This means “authority,” not “of authority.”

[17]Blomberg, 1 Corinthians, 212.

[18]Werner Foerster, “ἐξουσια” (exousia), TDNT 2:560–74, 562, 570.

[19]Ciampa and Rosner, The First Letter to the Corinthians, 530.

[20]Vermes, The Dead Sea Scrolls in English, 4th ed., 132, https://archive.org/stream/pdfy-Uy_BZ_QGsaLiJ4Zs/The%20Dead%20Sea%20Scrolls%20%5BComplete%20English%20Translation%5D#page/n209/mode/2up.

[21]Ciampa and Rosner, The First Letter to the Corinthians, 530.

[22] Ciampa and Rosner, The First Letter to the Corinthians, 531.

[23]Timothy J. Harris, “Why Did Paul Mention Eve’s Deception? A Critique of P. W. Barnett’s Interpretation of 1Timothy 2,” EvQ 62: 335–52, 343–4, https://biblicalstudies.org.uk/pdf/eq/1990-4_335.pdf.