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.
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.
1Co 11:4 Every man praying or prophesying, having his head covered, dishonoureth his head.
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.
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.
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.
1Co 11:8 For the man is not of the woman; but the woman of the man.
1Co 11:9 Neither was the man created for the woman; but the woman for the man.
1Co 11:10 For this cause ought the woman to have power on her head because of the angels.
1Co 11:11 Nevertheless neither is the man without the woman, neither the woman without the man, in the Lord.
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.
1Co 11:13 Judge in yourselves: is it comely that a woman pray unto God uncovered?
1Co 11:14 Doth not even nature itself teach you, that, if a man have long hair, it is a shame unto him?
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.
1Co 11:16 But if any man seem to be contentious, we have no such custom, neither the churches of God.
This chapter of Corinthians begins by reminding the readers of the ordinances as determined by God.
Paul said in this chapter that Christ should be the head of all men, and a man is the head of every woman. God is also the head of Jesus Christ. This means that there is a structure that should be followed.
According to Paul in 1 Corinthians Chapter 11, women were considered part of the man, being created for man and not the other way around.
1 Corinthians 11:9 Nor was man created for the woman, but woman for the man.
Paul explained that when a man prayed, his head should not be covered because this would bring dishonour since this is not in the image of God. (Man was made in the image of God. Gen 1:27)
However, if a woman prayed and did not hide her head, this was not honourable. She must have her head veiled and she should not be revealed. This would be much like having a woman’s head shaved to bring her shame. Paul said that a woman’s long hair brought her glory. But if her hair were short or cut off, it would bring her shame.
The importance of this passage is:
The principle of headship.
Vv 2,3 Now I praise you, brethren, that you remember me in all things and keep the traditions just as I delivered them to you. But I want you to know that the head of every man is Christ, the head of woman is man, and the head of Christ is God. I praise you brethren, that you remember me in all things and keep the traditions:
Sounds like Paul is speaking sarcastically to the Corinthian Christians. In fact, they did not remember Paul in all things; they disregarded him as they sought fit. Additionally, they did not keep the traditions as they should have. This is why he was writing this.
Keep the traditions is a scary phrase to many Christians. It can give the idea that Christians are to be bound by ancient, outdated traditions in their conduct and worship. (Under law as it were).
However, the traditions Paul delivered to the Corinthian Christians were simply the teachings and practices of the apostles, received from Jesus.
Paul was not talking about ceremonies and rituals, or customs but about basic teaching and doctrine. E.G The head of every man is Christ, the head of every woman is man, and the head of Christ is God:
With these words, Paul sets a foundation for his teaching in the rest of the chapter. Simply put, Paul makes it clear that God has established principles of order, authority, and accountability.
Head is an important word in this chapter. Some consider head to mean nothing more than source, in the sense that the head of a river is its source. Though this word can mean this, Paul is not simply saying, “Man came from Jesus, woman came from man, and Jesus came from God.” Though that simple understanding is true, it goes much deeper, because in Biblical thinking a source has inherent authority. If something comes from me, then in some way I have authority over it.
In its full sense, head has the idea of headship and authority. It means to have the appropriate responsibility to lead, and the matching accountability. It is right and appropriate to submit to someone who is our head.
Therefore, Paul is not talking about what the customs were but about principals. Namely Headship.
It just so happens that the customary way that women showed subjection to her husband was in fact head covering.
However, the truth of what Paul is teaching is not custom but principal.
Wives submit to husbands
Ephesians 5:21 Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.
22 Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord.
23For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, His body, of which He is the Savior.…
All submit to authorities
1Pe 2:13 Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord's sake: whether it be to the king, as supreme;
1Pe 2:14 Or unto governors, as unto them that are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers, and for the praise of them that do well.
1Pe 2:15 For so is the will of God, that with well doing ye may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men:
1Pe 2:16 As free, and not using your liberty for a cloke of maliciousness, but as the servants of God.
1Pe 2:17 Honour all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honour the king.
1Pe 2:18 Servants, be subject to your masters with all fear; not only to the good and gentle, but also to the froward.
1Pe 2:19 For this is thankworthy, if a man for conscience toward God endure grief, suffering wrongfully.
1Pe 2:20 For what glory is it, if, when ye be buffeted for your faults, ye shall take it patiently? but if, when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable with God.
1Pe 2:21 For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps:
1Pe 2:22 Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth:
1Pe 2:23 Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously:
1Pe 2:24 Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed.
1Pe 2:25 For ye were as sheep going astray; but are now returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls.
Submit to leadership.
Hebrews 13:17 Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they keep watch over your souls and will give an account for their work. Let them do this with joy and not with complaints, for this would be no advantage for you.
Submit to God.
James 4:7 Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.
With this understanding, we see Paul describes three “headship” relationships: Jesus is head of every man; man is the head of woman,
and God (the Father) is head of Christ. Because Paul connects the three relationships, the principles of headship are the same among them.
The head of every man is Christ, the head of every woman is man, and the head of Christ is God:
Therefore, women in the Church have two options in their attitude towards their head:
They imitate the kind of attitude men have towards Christ, showing a rebelliousness that must be won over; or women can imitate the kind of attitude Christ displayed towards God the Father, loving submission to Him as an equal.
The idea of headship and authority is important to God. In His great plan for the ages, one great thing God looks for from man is wilful submission.
This is what Jesus showed in His life over and over again, (Not My will but Yours) and this is exactly what God looks for from both men and women, though it will be expressed in different ways.
It is essential to understand that being under authority does not equal inferiority.
Jesus was totally under the authority of God the Father
Joh 5:19 Then answered Jesus and said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do: for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise.
Joh 8:28 Then said Jesus unto them, When ye have lifted up the Son of man, then shall ye know that I am he, and that I do nothing of myself; but as my Father hath taught me, I speak these things.
Yet He is equally God
Joh 1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
Joh 8:58 Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am.
Joh 10:30 I and my Father are one.
When God calls women in the church to recognize the headship of men, it is not because women are unequal or inferior, but because there is a God-ordained order of authority to be respected.
Head covering because of the angels
1Co 11:10 For this cause ought the woman to have power on her head because of the angels.
This is a strange phrase and has been the cause of much debate.
Several explanations have been offered by scholars, but one explanation stands out as being by far the most commonly accepted.
Briefly it is this: In Jewish tradition, and also in the early Church, angels are said to be present at sacred gatherings and sacred times, to watch over and to join with the saints in their spiritual exercises.
Any serious offense against propriety during these sacred moments will stir up the disapproval of these angelic helpers of the saints, perhaps causing them to depart; and any good deed they witness will bring all the more aid from them.
Another view is linked to the fallen angel that left their first estate and took women to wife.
Genesis 6. And the sons of God saw that daughters of men were fair.
Jude 1:6 And the angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, he hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day.
Some say that these are actually "bad" angels that Paul has in view. This is based on a Graeco-Roman culture in which the female head (and hair) could be viewed as displays of sexuality (and availability).
The head covering was a means of maintaining order and reducing potential for lust/sexual angst within the male population (akin to forbidding inappropriate dress in church).
The "bad" angels were angels who fell because they had sex with the beautiful daughters of men. As such, Paul is enjoining this upon them for their own protection from these angels.
Someone may ask. Should women then wear something on their heads in church.
My answer to that question would be, a man should subject to Christ as Christ was subject to God and therefore a woman should be subject to her husband and all subject to the God chosen leadership.
Whether or not the woman chooses to follow a particular custom is not the issue.
The issue is the principal of honour and subjection.