Just added, a new message in our series on 1 Corinthians, preached by Dr J Stewart Gillespie:
Outline notes are available for this message:
We have previously noted that in 1 Corinthians chapter 11 Paul continues his concern for the unity of the church at Corinth, a concern running through chapters 1,3,6,8-10
Far from the headship truth of 1 Corinthians chp 11 being a separate issue, it is part and parcel of Paul’s desire to keep the assembly together.
What could be more unifying than appreciating that we are all under the one head?
A nation will will unite under one leader, one flag, one anthem and one monarch.
The church as a body will unite under one head : Christ
In verse 3 we saw :
- The system of headship
- The source of headship
- The structure of headship
From woman to man to Christ
In verse 4 we noted the symbol of that headship: that the physical head is the symbol of the spiritual head
It is important to be consistent and coherent in our interpretation of the section.
Verse 4: since Christ is mans spiritual head then in acknowledgement of this man leaves his physical head uncovered
Verse 5: when it comes to the woman in verse 5, man is her spiritual head and therefore the covering of her physical head symbolises the covering of mans headship. If the woman was to leave her head uncovered she would really be saying, I am under the headship and authority of man. It is important to see this, because over the years it has been common to suggest that a womans head covering represents the symbol of mans headship over the woman. It is clear from verse 4 that it is the uncovering of the physical head which declares spiritual headship and not covering it.
If we wish to declare and display the symbol of mans headship that would be symbolised by a woman with an uncovered head.
The uncovered head of the woman in the church is really thus saying : ‘I’ve wandered into this gathering of Gods people in exactly the same way as I wander the streets of this village, in exactly the same way I order my life at work and at home, as a woman in a mans world and under the headship of man ,and I expect to go no higher and no further.
But when the woman covers her head in the assembly she recognises a higher headship than that purely present within creation, she recognises a headship over creation, a headship with which she is now directly connected by redemption. In Christ she has been brought into something higher, something better, something altogether more glorious.
The symbol of the covered head declares that on an equal basis :
I approach the throne of grace (Hebrews 4:14-16)
I have the hope of eternal life (Hebrews 10:19ff)
I find grace to help
I have a place prepared in heaven (John 14)
I have the prospect of being filled with the Holy Spirit
I have the standing of sonship before God
These blessings are mine, mine, mine
That is the simple testimony of that little head covering.
Does that mean that the function of the men and women in the assembly is the same?
The answer lies in the question.
So long as there are men and women there are distinctions
We do not cease to be men and women.
We have been brought into the same; blessings, prospects, hope, salvation and joy, all because of Christ, we are not yet at Matthew 22:30
Headship specifies the authority under which we operate, it does not specify the nature of that operation: 1 Corinthians 12:5-6
Every believer has the same :
- Hope of eternal life
- Guarantee of a home in heaven
- Prospect of being filled by the Holy Spirit
- Access to the throne of grace
- Standing of sonship
But quite clearly not every believer will express those privileges or exercise those liberties in exactly the same way (1 Corinthians 12:4-5)
In verses 7-16 we are going to see the reasons behind the system, structure and source of headship and this symbol of of head coverings
What is it all about?
Verses 7 – 10 give us the reason for head coverings based on headship structure
V7 ‘for a man… ‘
V10 ‘for this cause… ‘
Down through this section we can discern at least 6 reasons, distinct reasons for the practice of headship :
- Mans relationship with God (v7)
- Womans relationship with man (v7-9)
- Angels (v10)
- Common sense of decorum (v13)
- Natural president (v14)
- Practice of the churches (v16)
6 reasons are maybe a bit too many to remember but perhaps I can remember 3 reasons, especially if they are all the same.
- Glory of God (v7)
- Glory of man (v7)
- Glory of the woman (v15)
- Glory of God
Mans purpose is the glory of God
Revelation 4:11; 5:12
So man ought to operate under the headship of Christ for His Glory
When a man preaches
When a man teaches
When a man serves
When a man prays
When a man praises
It all ought to be done for the Glory of God
When a man gives of his time, treasure and his talent
When a man serves then he must do it with all of his might for a greater Glory, the Glory of God.
Surely every Christian must sense the tragedy as we glimpse the empty purposeless lives of men and women satisfied with their time and talents being robbed, setting their hearts on nothing more than :
Pursuing a hobby
Scoring a goal
Potting a ball
Building a business
Topping up a sun tan
In all of that missing the purpose for which they were created ; to live for the glory of God
This often lies at the root of problems which arise over head coverings, a failure amongst the men in stepping up to the mark to live for the glory of God.
If our collective experience is the enjoyment of the Glory of God, we will be satisfied with this and not looking for something else less than the Glory of God.
If we are not enjoying the Glory of God, then a lesser Glory will do
Humanity beats with a pulse that flows from the heart of God, if any feature of humanity guarantees our ultimate victory, it is this, that people need Christ, for man was made in His Image.
- Glory of man
The glory of man is to be covered
- Glory of woman
Womans glory – her hair is likewise covered in the sight of God
All might be for His Glory