Scripture: I Corinthinians 11:2-10
"Now I praise you, brethren, that ye remember me in all things, and keep the ordinances, as I delivered them to you. 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. Every man praying or prophesying, having his head covered, dishonoureth his head. 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. 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. 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. For the man is not of the woman; but the woman of the man. Neither was the man created for the woman; but the woman for the man. For this cause ought the woman to have power on her head because of the angels."
The language, style and theology of I Corinthians are typically Paul. Paul identified himself as the author. Paul had established the Church at Corinth and left it under the leadership of Aquila and Priscilla in the spring of A.D. 53, to continue his second missionary journey. Corinth was the political capital of Greece and the seat of commercial and intellectual life.
On Paul's third missionary journey, he received two letters from the Corinthian believers. The reports detailed the division and immorality in the church. The Church was in serious trouble; infested with sexual immorality, split by fractions that dragged each other into court and crippled by spiritual abuse, the church was in need of spiritual surgery. The true believers of Corinth had a lot of growing up to do. They had to stop following the immoral, selfish and contentious ways of their pagan neighbors.
Paul wrote First Corinthians to answer the two reports and to give some additional instructions. In the letter, Paul addresses five of the matters reported to him: (1) division in the church (2) a case of incest (3) court cases between members (4) abuse of christian freedom (5) general chaos in the church services and the Lord's Supper. Paul answered questions about marriage and single life, food consecrated to idols, social functions in the Temple. He also addressed the matter of spiritual gifts, the meaning of resurrection of the dead, and whether or not women should be veiled, and their place in public meeting.
In Biblical times, no decent woman would appear unveiled in public. The veil guaranteed safety and respect in the streets. There were differences in Greek and Hebrew customs when it came to prayer. Greek women, as well as men, prayed bareheaded. Roman and Jewish men and women prayed with their heads covered. On this matter, the church needed a ruling. The ruling Paul gave rested on the creative order.
Men, because they are the head of creation, are under no authority but Christ's. They are therefore to pray bareheaded. Women were to pray veiled, the veil being a token both of their acceptance of their husbands' or spiritual leaders' authority and the veil was also a token of submission. By discarding the veil, a woman discarded her husband's authority, as if she was a prostitute. The punishment for a prostitute was to have her hair cut off.
The image and glory of God included both sexes. Man is not from woman, but woman is from man. The woman was taken from the side of man. Woman for man is Paul's way of stating the concept of the "helpers" in Genesis 2:20. This does not mean that woman is inferior to man, it refers only to the purpose of God for man and woman in the creative order.
A woman wore a covering on her head because of the angels. Evidently God's angels are present at the meeting of the church and actually learning of God's grace through the lives and worship of God's people. (Ephesians 3:10) A covering also might refer to a symbol of man's authority over the woman. It may be a symbol of the woman's authority to prophesy in the new church age, which was inaugurated with the giving of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost.
When Paul wrote that women should have a sign of authority on their heads, this refers to spiritual authority, and it is still very important today. While we need not actually put a covering over our heads, we must submit to divinely appointed authority. Submit is the key word. It means to yield; to bring into subjection; to be under obedience. Hebrew 13:17 says, "Obey those who rule over you, and be submissive for they watch out for your souls." Romans 13:1 says, "Let every soul be subjected to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God." Scripture has much to say about submission. We submit to God; to everyone who works and labors with us; young people are to submit to elders and we should submit to one another.
A woman's spiritual covering, or authority is her protection from the enemy of her soul. When spiritual authority is done right, with strength, humility, kindness, and respect and not with abuse, arrogance, or hardness, it becomes a place of safety for her. It brings a right order to her life.
More and more believing women are being given an open door to become all they were created to be. They are moving out in different areas of expertise and ministry and making important differences in their realms of influence. They are realizing that they are not just an afterthought in the order of God's creation, but were created for special purposes. More and more they are enabled to fulfill their destiny because more men are rising to their place of spiritual authority and leadership. This is in answer to prayers of countless women and something for which everyone must praise God.
If a woman will trust God's power to flow with the authority He has placed over her, she can bloom and grow and change her world. As women of God, we must pray to be in the right order with the spiritual authority in our lives. We must (1) Ask God to help us be hungry for truth and lose our appetite for the things of this world (2) Pray that God help us to remember that we are not our own, but have been bought at a price, the precious blood of Jesus (3) Seek God to see things from His perspective, so that we may establish the right priorities with eternity in mind (4) Pray for others so that we will develop God's heart of love for them.
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