Headship and Headcoverings – 1 Corinthians chapter 11

Just added, a new message preached by J Stewart Gillespie:

 

1 Corinthians chp 11 vs 1 to 6 – Headship and Headcoverings – J Stewart Gillespie – 21092015.mp3

 

Outline notes for this message:

 

In verse 3 we see the principle of Headship, operative throughout the whole of Gods administration.

What do I mean by headship?

κεφαλή‘ : is used in at least 3 ways in the NT:

  1. Physical head – majority of uses
  2. Place / Position / Power / Dignity / Authority – Matt 21:42; Acts 4:11; Ephesians 1:22; Ephesians 4:15; 5:23-24
  3. One one definite occasion of origin (Colossians 2:19)

Not superior / inferior; ‘head of Christ is God’

cf. John 5:19,30,36; John 8:28-29,38; John 14:13,31

Just because you are a man, doesn’t make you better / more spiritual than a woman, but it does mean that we have a role / responsibility to step up to!

 

In verse 3 we see:

  1. System of Headship
  2. Source of Headship
  3. Structure of Headship
  4. Symbol of Headship

Notice the structure of Headship in verse 3; not only the fact or system by which God operates but note the structural detail to that headship:

From:

Woman to man

to man to Christ

to Christ to God

Notice the structure, the overlapping steps in this Headship Structure

 

This detailed understanding of Headship feeds into our interpretation of verse 4.

 

V4 – the covering of the man’s anatomical head dishonours the man’s spiritual head

2 ways to read verse 4

If verse 4 was read in isolation from the chapter the simplest way to read it would be; ‘if a man prays with his anatomical head covered he dishonours his anatomical head’

We would naturally take the same word, appearing in the same sentence, with the same possessive pronoun to refer to the same object, but it is critical that the meaning of headship in verse 3 continues into verse 4 otherwise verse 3 would have no real reason for being there. Verse 3 would open up and expound a subject; headship:

  1. System of Headship
  2. Source of Headship
  3. Structure of Headship
  4. Symbol of Headship

Which would then be completely dropped, if that symbolic meaning of ‘κεφαλή does not continue into verse 4.

So in verse 4 the covering of the man’s physical head dishonours the mans symbolic head.

Once we are clear on that, we see the parallel with Verse 5; that the uncovered head of the woman brings dishonour on the woman’s spiritual head – the man.

Notice that the reality of headship of male over female continues.

Headcovering:

  1. What was the headcovering?

Is it hair (v15)

After the objection that this chapter can be dismissed on cultural grounds, probably the second commonest way of dismissing headcoverings is with the argument that a womans hair is the covering expected in verse 5.

This would never have taken off was it not for the NIV, which very naughtily introduced a footnote interpretation to the text of 1 Corinthians chapter 11: “and every woman who prays or prophesies with no covering of hair on her head dishonours her head…”

That is not a translation it is a very dishonest interpretation.

It is also completely untenable:

  • It is bad exegesis to read verse 5 retrospectively in the light of the later verse.
  • The word for uncovered in verse 5 is: ‘ἀκατακάλυπτος‘ – a covering hanging down like a vail; and the word for covering in verse 15 is: ‘περιβόλαιον‘ – covering around about
  • This makes no sense in the context of verse 4 where the man is to pray uncovered. If hair is a covering then for the man to be uncovered would require a shaver to be taken to his head before coming to the assembly, some of us may find that no great sacrifice!
  • So in a last ditch attempt to make their theory work you may hear it claimed, ah but it is not hair that is the covering ‘it is long hair.’ So the woman is to have long hair and man short hair. In response to that I can only encourage believers to read their bible. Long hair is not a covering in verse 15; hair is a covering in verse 15, long hair is a glory, when present, hair is the covering wither long or short.
  1. When was it to be worn

In the assembly – certainly (11:16-18); but not exclusively (11:5) (cf John Heading and WE Vine)

The simplest way to take verse 5; is that Paul has in mind spiritual activities beyond what we might regard as assembly gatherings; otherwise we are left with something of a difficulty in which Paul legislates on something he later condemns (1Co14:34).

It is difficult to understand the rational of legislating on how something should be done if we believe it aught not to be done!

We would be left with a verse instructing us on how to do something Paul does not want us to do?

Furthermore the apostle appears to give a further endorsement of something very similar in verse 13; asserting that it is comely for a woman to pray providing she has a head covering!

Some have suggested that in verse 5 Paul condemns both the uncovered head and the praying and prophesying with a double condemnation of:

  • ‘dishonour’
  • ‘as if she were shaven’

The man on the other hand has only a single condemnation in verse 4 for his covered head.

If this is the case however it would seem to remove any need for the head covering in verse 5 which is surely there because of the spiritual exercise of the woman and it would do violence to verse 13.

  1. Does it really matter?
  1. Symbol
  2. Significance
  3. Some not too Serious objections
  1. Symbol

At first it may seem strange to give place / credence to an object on someones head, we may be tempted to think that perhaps this idea of head coverings belongs to a time and place now long gone, at best lost in translation for the present day, until we consider that far from being an extraordinary practice, significance is attached to this practice right through the Word of God and even in social structures today:

  1. King

Does it matter what we put on a kings head?

Baseball cap do?

A fascinator will suffice?

  • So I stood upon him, and slew him, because I was sure that he could not live after that he was fallen: and I took the crown that was upon his head, and the bracelet that was on his arm, and have brought them hither unto my lord.” (2Sa 1:10)
  • And he took their king’s crown from off his head, the weight whereof was a talent of gold with the precious stones: and it was set on David’s head. And he brought forth the spoil of the city in great abundance.” (2Sa 12:30)
  • And when they had platted a crown of thorns, they put it upon his head, and a reed in his right hand: and they bowed the knee before him, and mocked him, saying, Hail, King of the Jews!” (Mat 27:29)
  • The crown symbolic of rule, reign, authority and dignity, at times of the transfer of that rule from conquered to conqueror
  1. Priest
  • And he put the mitre upon his head; also upon the mitre, even upon his forefront, did he put the golden plate, the holy crown; as the LORD commanded Moses.” (Lev 8:9)
  • And they made the plate of the holy crown of pure gold, and wrote upon it a writing, like to the engravings of a signet, HOLINESS TO THE LORD.” (Exo 39:30) – What difference a head covering? Holiness
  • Neither shall he go out of the sanctuary, nor profane the sanctuary of his God; for the crown of the anointing oil of his God is upon him: I am the LORD.” (Lev 21:12) – What difference a head covering? Life and death!
  1. Prophet
  1. Significance

The significance of the symbol appears dependany upon:

  1. The System of Headship
  2. The Structure of Headship

Note the structure of headship in verse 3:

The step wise progression:

from woman to man

from man to Christ

to Christ to God

Yet here in verse 4, the woman is praying and prophesying.

This Christian woman has a relationship directly to Christ

When she prays she does not need to go through a man, seek a Levite nor a priest or ask a brother to pray for her.

She too is a child of God, born again, and is able to cry “Abba Father”

She has equal access, as the man to the throne of grace, to find help in time of need!

A problem arises however, in the ordained temporal order, the head of the woman is the man, not Christ directly.

In the eternal sphere of course all male and female distinctions will be lost; “For in the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are as the angels of God in heaven.” (Mat 22:30)

Our spiritual blessings and privileges in Christ are a foretaste of those eternal privileges, yet we are not in heaven yet.

Both male and female, are now children of God.

That leaves no room for one having headship over the other in the spiritual sphere; and in the spiritual sphere we do not (Gal 3:28)

Does God then destroy the headship order which still persists in creation and marriage within the temporal sphere?

No He does not!

The order of the temporal is maintained, whilst the new order in the spiritual is being enjoyed!

As the sister prays she is looking forward to heaven, as she covers her head she is looking back at earth.

The headship of the man is respected

The liberty in Christ is acknowledged

In verse 5 the head covering is not simply to cover the glory of man, as it is in verse 7, but in verse 5 we have an additional thought, that the spiritual exercise of the woman would cause ‘dishonour’ to the man, her ‘head’, presumably in by passing that head to god directly to Christ.

Why does the covering prevent that dishonour?

Does it symbolise a temporary covering over of man; her head; so that this exercise belongs to a different sphere – that of the heavenly and eternal?

This is Christs Church, Christs body, in which there is only one head – Christ.

The man need not feel that he is being overstepped or sidelined, the mans position of head is recognised, yet the veil reminds that this is a spiritual exercise, in which the sister has perfect liberty and freedom from the hierachy of male and female.

I would judge that this explains v5b; “that is even all one as if she were shaven” – here would be a further step in dismissing and despising the headship of the man; she would cast off her feminity and look like a man, usurping his place as a man.

It would also explain the reassurance of verse 11 that having said all that he has said, Paul wishes to reassure us that nonetheless he maintains the headship and pattern of male and female relationships, so what he has been teaching must in some way appear to bring unity and liberty for the woman in the spiritual sphere.

  1. The Spiritual exercise of the woman
  1. Some not too Serious objections

Pauls presentation of head coverings does not depend upon culture:

  1. Church practice (11:16)
  2. Principles of headship (11:3)
  3. Biblical significance of head coverings (11:4-6)
  4. Creatorial order (11:7-9)
  5. Testimony to angels (11:10)
  6. Personal sense of decency (11:13)
  7. Natural order (11:14)

1 Corinthians Chapters 10 to 13

mp3 recordings of messages preached from 1 Corinthians chapters 10 to 13

 

1 Corinthians chp 10 – Led Fed and Dead – J Stewart Gillespie – 28062015

 

1 Corinthians chp 10 vs 1 to 2 – Led Fed and Dead – JS Gillespie – 19052015

notes available from this message

 

1 Corinthians Chp 10 – Led Fed and Dead – J Stewart Gillespie – 08032015

 

1 Corinthians chp 10 vs 3 to 5 – 1141 Reasons not to Talk to a Rock – JS Gillespie – 26052015

notes available for this message

 

1 Corinthians chp 10 vs 7 to 10 – In the Shadow of Sinai – JS Gillespie – 02062015

notes available for this message

 

1 Corinthians chp 10 verse 13 – Have You Trials and Temptations – J Stewart Gillespie – 30062015

Outline notes available for this message

 

1 Corinthians chp 10 vs 16 – The Cup of Blessing – J Stewart Gillespie – 28072015

 

1 Corinthians chp 10 vs 18 to 33 – Survival Skills for a Christless City – JS Gillespie – 11082015

outline notes available for this message

 

1 Corinthians chp 10 vs 23 – Freedom and How to Handle it – J Stewart Gillespie – 18082015.mp3

outline notes are available for this message

 

1 Corinthians chp 10 vs 23 – Gathering Together and Building Up – J Stewart Gillespie – 25083015

outline notes are available for this message

 

1 Corinthians chp 10 vs 31 – Making a Cheese Baguette to the Glory of God – J Stewart Gillespie – 08092015

outline notes are available for this message

 

1 Corinthians chp 11 vs 1 to 3 – One Body under Christ Indivisible – J Stewart Gillespie – 15092015.mp3

outline notes are available for this message

 

1 Corinthians chp 11 vs 1 to 6 – Headship and Headcoverings – J Stewart Gillespie – 21092015.mp3

outline notes available from this message

 

1 Corinthians chp 11 vs 7 to 16 – Glory Glory Glory – J Stewart Gillespie

outline notes are available for this message

 

1 Corinthians chp 11 vs 17 to 34 – Take Eat this is My Body – J Stewart Gillespie – 27102015.mp3

outline notes are available for this message

 

1 Corinthians chp 11 vs 17 to 34 – This do in Remembrance of me – JS Gillespie – 03112015

 

1 Corinthians chp 12 vs 1 to 11 – Knowing the Presence of God – JS Gillespie – 24112015

outline notes are available for this message
1 Corinthians chp 12 vs 4 to 11 – How to be Sure Really Sure that God Exists – JS Gillespie – 01122015

 

1 Corinthians chp 12 vs 9 – to another faith…- JS Gillespie

outline notes are available for this message

 

1 Corinthians chp 12 vs 9 – To Another the Gifts of Healing – JS Gillespie

outline notes are available form this message

 

The Body of Christ – J Stewart Gillespie

 

1 Corinthians chp 13 vs 1 to 3 – When Love is Absent – J S Gillespie – 19012015

 

1 Corinthians chp 13 vs 4 to 7 – Attributes of Love – When God Moves in the Heart of Man – JS Gillespie – 26012016

 

1 Corinthians chp 13 vs 4 – Love – When God Possesses the Heart of Man – JS Gillespie – 02022016

 

1 Corinthians chp 13 vs 4 – Love does not Vaunt Itself

 

1 Corinthians chp 13 vs 4 to 7 – Two Shoulders One Heart and a Love that Bears all Things – JS Gillespie – 01032016

 

1 Corinthians chp 13 vs 8 to 13 – Preparing for Perfection – JS Gillespie – 22032016

 

1 Corinthians chp 13 vs 11 – When I was a Child – J Stewart Gillespie – 20032016

 
 

Impossible Lives – Unspeakable Sins :
Messages brought by J Stewart Gillespie, at the October 2015 Family Week at Faskally House Pitlochry:

 

1 Corinthians chp 5 – Unspeakable Sins – J Stewart Gillespie – 12102015.mp3

 

1 Corinthians chp 10 vs 1 to 6 – Unbelievable Provision – J Stewart Gillespie – 13102015.mp3

 

1 Corinthians chp 10 vs 6 to 16 – Inexcusable Failure – J Stewart Gillespie – 14102015.mp3

 

1 Corinthians chp 10 vs 23 to 33 – Impossible Decisions – J Stewart Gillespie – 15102015.mp3

 

messages on 1 Corinthians chps 10 to 13 outwith this series:

DeVille Andrew – 1 Corinthians Chp11 Headship + Headcoverings – 16102001

 

DeVille Andrew – 1 Corinthians Chp12 Ye are body of Christ – 30102001

 

William Park – 1Corinthians chapter 13 – Love – 04122001

 

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