Many people have questioned me about the meaning of 1 Corinthians 11:1-16. Some have asked me to teach on it. Therefore, we are presenting the following teaching in the hope it will prove illuminating and helpful to Pastors, believers and churches everywhere.
When praying or worshipping, or even prophesying, and particularly when the object of the supplicant is to draw near to the Lord, the concentration of the whole being should be on the Lord Jesus Christ. This is not the time to be thinking about other things. Brothers, at this time, generally have great freedom to engage themselves in prayer and worship without hindrances.
Our dear sisters also should not be burdened with anything that would be an obstacle to whole-hearted concentration on the Lord Jesus. There should not be any need for them to be burdened by having to fiddle with veils. When they have to ensure a veil is always covering the head, their concentration on the things of God is hindered.
We should know that hundreds of millions of women believers all over the world do not wear head coverings, whether hats or veils, while in prayer or when entering the door of a church. It is not obligatory for them to cover their heads at any meeting or at any time when they pray, worship or prophesy.
There are many man-made traditions that have been followed by churches of all denominations throughout the world. One of these man-made traditions was the covering of heads of women. The Moslem religion has influenced the Christians in this and it should be observed that for centuries it has been the custom in Europe and elsewhere for women to wear hats or veils as part of their dress for the street. Today many of these customs, particularly in Western society, have been abolished. Fashions change. It is now customary that women do not add head-gear to their dress.
Even Pentecostal churches over fifty years ago were full of women who habitually wore hats as part of their dress wherever and whenever they went out. Therefore, they wore hats to church – but not veils as we see in Eastern countries, or in Indian churches. No woman would consider going out of doors without a hat. Neither would she attend church without wearing one.
Nevertheless, after a life-time of church attendance in Pentecostal churches in many countries and in other kinds of churches, I have never heard any teaching or sermons covering 1 Corinthians 11:1-16, and particularly I have to say that not once have I heard it preached that women’s heads must be covered! The only ones I have heard this from have been those from India!
Even in relation to the matter of long hair, there was one denomination only, that taught women should not cut their hair. Nowhere else was this taught as a Christian requirement. Of course, 1 Corinthians 11:1-16 is the portion used, and it is the only portion that is used as a basis for the requirement of ‘veils’ and/or ‘long hair’. We are not speaking about culture. That is a different matter. We are speaking only about the scriptural and Christian basis or non-basis for the wearing of veils and where the necessity for women to wear their hair long, has been taught as part of Christian living. As believers, the Word of God is a lamp unto our feet.
Today, scholars have far more access to manuscripts that have been hidden for centuries in libraries and monasteries all over Europe. Therefore, there is today, a more fundamental and correct understanding of 1 Corinthians 11 than ever before. We owe the various translations of the Bible into different languages to the work of scholars. Most of us do not understand Hebrew, Greek or Aramaic, the languages of the writings of the Scriptures as “holy men of old wrote as they were moved by the Holy Ghost”.
In order to understand correctly the requirements of the Scriptures regarding women’s apparel, we will examine the portion in question, 1 Corinthians 11:1-16. Before doing so, it should be noted that there is a rule relating to the exegesis (exposition) of the Bible in relation to the formulation of doctrine, that is acknowledged by theologians, Bible teachers and scholars. It is found in Deuteronomy 19:15 “on the evidence of two or three witnesses a matter shall be confirmed“. Jesus Christ quoted this scripture in Matthew 18:16 regarding the erring brother. Paul again quoted this scripture in 2 Corinthians 13:1 when he says, “Every fact is to be confirmed by the mouth of two or three witnesses” or “In the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established”. See 1 Timothy 5:19;Numbers 35:30;Hebrews 10:28.
This is not the case regarding the issue of wearing veils. There are not even two portions of scripture that state women must wear veils or hats before God. In fact, there is only one portion of scripture where the wearing of veils is even mentioned, which is in 1 Corinthians 11. Immediately, if we state women must indeed wear veils, we are faced with a dilemma. Where are the two or three witnesses in Scripture? They are not there.
Even in the only portion that refers to veils, 1 Corinthians 11, women are not commanded to wear veils! Tamil and Malayalam Bibles are wrongly translated to make it a command to women “Veil your heads” when it is NOT so in the original. The Greek and English say, “For if a woman is not veiled”.
Let us look at the women who were often in the company of Jesus. They were in His presence, ministering to Him, listening to Him, and even worshipping or praying. Nowhere did He require them to wear head covering.
In the gospel of John, chapter 12, verse 1, it states that “Jesus came to Bethany”. There Mary in verse 3, “took a pound of very costly perfume of pure nard, and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped His feet with her hair”. She was doing this as a significant act of worship for His burial. No one else understood. She alone performed such a devoted act of worship. She obviously had no covering over her hair, as she used her long hair to wipe his feet. She was in the very presence of Jesus, God Incarnate, performing an act of highest devotion and worship. He did not require her head to be covered.
Also today, He does not require that women veil their heads when approaching Him in prayer. The scriptures nowhere command women to veil their heads in prayer or in the assembly.
It must not be over-looked that cultures vary from country to country and from age to age. The culture of India is very different from that which prevailed in the city of Corinth. The chapter we are teaching was written to the church which was in the city of Corinth, Greece. There, they did not wear saris and neither were the veils they wore in any way similar to those veils which are used by Indian women in church, or by an Indian woman who has become a widow. Their veils covered their faces.
To get into the real ‘spirit’ of the meaning of 1 Corinthians 11, and to do exactly what those women did, would be to wear the exact kind of veil that it was customary for them to wear! The apostle Paul was addressing people of a certain culture and tradition that applied to that city only. For us to receive the same message exactly would necessitate living according to that particular culture and tradition he mentions.
The Corinthians thought they were so spiritual, that they were already like angels 1 Corinthians 10-13:1, that they could do without sex in marriage, not marry or for some, be licentious, visit pagan temples for sacred meals, and ignore their natural condition of still being male and female, by casting aside social morality of women wearing veils.
EXAMINING 1 CORINTHIANS 11:1-16
In the first two verses, Paul commends the believers in the Corinthian church because they held to the teachings he had given them. In verse 3, he explains his teaching regarding MEN and a certain custom relating to their head apparel. He commences with “BUT I want you to understand”. Then in verse 4, he states the subject of that whole passage or discourse.
According to Conybeare and Howson the church in Corinth in their letter to Paul that he answered as 1 Corinthians, asked for understanding on the question of the wearing of the Jewish Tallith, or veil.
These men, as well as Dr. Lightfoot, whose comments we incorporate in this booklet, are famous for their Bible learning.
Dr. Lightfoot states that the real purpose of this chapter was to stop the practice of Jewish Christian men veiling in worship. For men to veil was according to the custom of the Jews. It appears that the Jew veiled as “a sign of reverence before God, and of condemnation for sin”.
The Roman heathen also veiled in worship of their gods, and the Corinthian Church consisted largely of Roman converts to Christ.
This matter of men using veils in the meetings of the church (in Corinth) led to the question arising as to whether the Christian women as well as the Christian men should veil.
This being the case, where Christian women today veil, the men should have been the first to use veils in those churches!
THE SUBJECT OF 1 CORINTHIANS 11:1-16 IS IN REGARD TO MEN.
In verse 3, as stated, Paul explains his teaching regarding MEN. This portion is the theme of the whole portion of these first sixteen verses of chapter 11. The subject matter of it is MEN and their head covering. Paul shows he is against men veiling in worship.
The incidental question regarding women veiling is included in his answer.
He starts off in verse 1 with “BUT I want you to understand”.
Then in verse 4, he states the SUBJECT of that whole passage or discourse. It is, “EVERY MAN who has something on HIS head while praying or prophesying disgraces HIS HEAD”.
When we consider the matter of language itself, we have to admit that this verse 4 is indeed the principal clause, and the statement that Paul wishes to base his remarks on. The whole passage remains unclear in meaning, also, if we do not treat this matter of language as it should be treated.
THE REAL PURPOSE OF THIS WHOLE PASSAGE is to STOP THE PRACTICE OF JEWISH MALE CHRISTIANS FROM VEILING OR COVERING THEIR HEADS IN WORSHIP.
After this emphasis placed by Paul upon the non-wearing of veils and coverings for a man’s head, he then introduces it as a comparison in relation to veils for women and their non-use.
THE BACKGROUND OF THE CORINTHIAN CHURCH AND ITS CULTURE.
We can understand this from history written by Jewish historians, Christian historians and through the searches and writings of Christian scholars from the manuscripts and books found in many European universities and religious houses. It had a corrupt society with temple prostitutes.
At the time the letter to the Corinthians was written, we should note that the city of Corinth was given up to idolatry, as indeed were all other Greek and Roman cities. These religions excluded the true God and our Saviour, Jesus Christ. There were many temples and a multitude of priests and female temple devotees whose hair was shorn, dedicated to the temples.
There were rules amongst these heathen for entrance into their temples for worship. Some rules meant that clothing was to be regulated, e.g. that a woman’s hair be loose and a man’s head be uncovered. In other words, to enter the temple a woman was not to braid her hair or cover her head, and neither must a man cover his head! This was their religion, custom and culture. The Greek world with these customs also practised infanticide. Abortions were often attempted, and the unwanted second boy-child or unwanted female child was thrown out on the rubbish heap or some other place to die. Sometimes girl babies were taken to be reared for a life of prostitution. Prostitutes shaved their heads. They wore no veils as did other women.
The practice of Jewish men at the time of Christ and when this Corinthian letter was written was that whenever they prayed, whether at home or in the synagogue except on the Sabbath and high festivals, they wore the tefillin, or Greek “phylacteries”, Matthew 23:5 and Exodus 13:16. It was a head-tefillin worn with head straps on the head. Women were exempt from wearing this on their heads. While wearing the tefillin, they stood as they said the tefillah twice a day in the Temple.
It can be seen that the above practices differ, that they are religious and that they are cultural. Believers in Jesus Christ are not meant to follow religions or culture as part of their walk with Jesus Christ. These practices in any case are quite different from anything instituted in the Epistles of the Apostle Paul who was the Apostle to the Gentiles! Jesus Himself did not criticise any of these practices. Instead, He showed us the way of the Holy Spirit by the Word of God.
For many centuries, even to this day, Jewish men wear skullcaps (black) on their heads while in prayer, in the synagogue or in the home. We should notice that the practices of Judaism invaded the Roman Catholic church and indeed early Christianity. The backgrounds of both heathendom and Judaism have greatly influenced Christian customs and even today’s churches. This includes the domination of women. The Apostle Paul opposed this kind of thing very strongly. With him, we are to be followers of Jesus Christ and His Word, not tradition.
Jewish Men cover their heads to denote their state of being sinners before God, and coming thus before Him in reverence. They also, in Old Testament days, covered themselves with sackcloth and ashes in fastings, as a sign of their great sin before God, and their need of repentance. We, however, have clothed ourselves with Christ our righteousness, both male and female, and have no need to humble ourselves as they did. Our humility is seen in our forsaking ourselves and our own way and manner of doing good deeds and having Jesus Christ as our Saviour and Righteousness.
Indeed, fasting, purification and offerings were preliminary exercises in healing cults, preparatory to receiving visions or engaging in a magical ritual. Purification often involved some form of washing. As well as the heathen Gentiles doing this, the Jewish Pharisees had their traditions of purification, condemned by Jesus, Matthew 23:26; Luke 11:39; Mark 7:4,5.
The Greeks and Romans performed these rites before initiation, and made libations and had rites for the dead. Weakened by fasting, the devotees in wild ecstatic dance to the accompaniment of music worked themselves into a delirium, ate raw flesh with blood and performed orgies. We know it as demon possession. These various kinds of religion were associated with the way women wore their hair and how men had to have their heads uncovered to participate in their heathen religious rites. In Jewish worship, as mentioned above, the men covered their heads. According to the Jewish rules of man, it was a shame for a woman to show her hair. The Talmud, whose Pharisaical rules Jesus condemned, taught that a man should repudiate his wife as a proved adulteress, if merely found outside the home with her head uncovered. This was the cultural background of the city of Corinth. The influence was Greek and Roman and in a minor way, Jewish.
The church of Jesus Christ there in Corinth, had all those influences attacking it, including Judaism in a major way. The Corinthian church then was located in a very wicked and idolatrous city, and had many Jewish converts influencing its dogmas. The Apostle Paul preached against this, and wrote very strongly against such Judaistic tendencies.
To understand the mention of “women” and “veils” in this chapter, we should go to the history books and manuscripts again in order to know that many women in the city of Corinth, an idolatrous and licentious city, were unveiled and often wore their hair shorn off, as a sign of their having been given up to prostitution. Also, the status of women in the eyes of the Jews was very low. They followed the teachings of the Oral Law which amongst other errors that were contrary to the spirit of the Old Testament, down-graded women.
Jesus Christ Himself spoke against these laws. In Matthew 16:6 He called it the “leaven of the Pharisees”. For Matthew 15:9 we read from the New International Version. This version in English was begun in 1967. It is a completely new translation of the Bible made by over a hundred scholars working directly from the best available Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek texts. Those who were involved in the translation were from many denominations, such as Anglican, Assemblies of God (Pentecostal), Methodist, Lutheran and Presbyterian etc. We quote, (regarding teachers of the Law and Pharisees in verse 1), “They worship Me in vain; their teachings are but rules taught by men.” We should make sure we do not include in our Bible teaching and preaching what are but rules of men.
Women in the eyes of the Jews were “things and part of the property of the husband”. With the Greeks it was the same. She was either the property of her father or of her husband. The Jews had such a low regard of women that their tradition had a saying, “Teach Law to a woman, and you may as well teach her impiety.” Women today living in the Gospel dispensation, however, are not to be treated in such a manner. They are to be taught the Word of God and salvation. Indeed we see women in many countries taught the gospel. People to some extent have been raised out of the bog mire of heathen and Jewish thinking regarding women.
PAUL came as the herald of the new identity of women, and he preached and acted accordingly. The gospel of Jesus Christ freed women from the bondage that the traditions and religions of men had imposed. This bondage did not originate in God. It came from the evil heart of man and from the bondage of Satan and his demons.
REGARDING WOMEN IN THE EARLY CHURCH, their status and dress have been revealed from history as well as from the Bible. I am quoting Dean Alford, an Anglican scholar. The Pentecostal churches of Australia and other countries recognise the indebtedness we owe to scholars from these main-line churches over the centuries. Their contributions to the translating and printing of the Bible, and their learning in relation to its contents, have been very extensive. In fact, the majority of all translations and scholarly works have come to us from these same churches.
Dean Alford says, “Women SAT UNVEILED in the assemblies in a separate place.” Regarding women pastors and preachers, he says, “They were ordained by the laying on of hands of the church Presbytery until the Church Council of Laodocea forbade it in 363 A.D.” That date is in the period after 312 A.D. when Emperor Constantine declared his empire Christian. There was introduced into the church of Jesus Christ, heathen ways, cultic practices, and a fierce onslaught resulting in a corrupted Christianity. In relation to women, it is obvious that during the period from the Apostles until at least the fourth century, they were unveiled, acted as pastors and were preachers. Verse 15 in the Greek (the original New Testament was written in Greek, not English) says, “a woman if she wears her hair long, a glory it is to her because the long hair INSTEAD OF A VEIL has been given to her.”
Are we to follow the purity of the gospel as given to the Early Church, or traditions from a corrupted Church Christendom? During the fourth century, customs and traditions usurped the place of the true gospel, and it was then that the Roman Catholic Church as well as the Syrian Orthodox, Greek and Russian Orthodox Churches came into existence as such. It is possible that veiling was introduced because the higher classed ladies of that day habitually wore some kind of a veil, and even Nuns to this day wear veils at all times. It is interesting to note that their hair is shaved. Today, in most countries, this is not the cultural custom as it was then. It is up to us to obey the Scriptures, which sometimes need to be interpreted with history in mind.
a. In the OLD TESTAMENT, veils obviously were worn but these veils covered the face, and not the head. Song of Solomon 4:1 says, “Your eyes are like doves behind your veil”.
b. Under the NEW TESTAMENT the important scriptural and cultural stand concerns the not giving of offence to unbelievers, particularly if it relates to a matter that has little or no relevance to Christian beliefs. Paul commanded the whole church in 1 Corinthians 10:32, “Give no offence either to Jews or to Greeks (or to Indians) or to the church of God.” This was mainly in regard to their eating and in their relationship to other religions. This verse applies to us today, and it is confirmed in verse 33, “not seeking my own profit, but the profit of the many, that they might be saved.”
The veiling of heads by Christian women in India brings offence to non-Christian husbands. This should not be. To do it is to disobey the Word of God.
It is an offence here in India for a wife to veil her head when her husband is living. Therefore, a wife who becomes a Christian should be taught not to give offence to her non-Christian husband by veiling her head. She should never be told to cover her head with a veil in prayer. To remain unveiled will not compromise her faith and does not deny Jesus Christ as Lord of her life. Veiling the head has no connection with the gospel of Jesus Christ. Nowhere is a woman who believes in Jesus Christ, commanded to veil her head. We do not read anywhere in the Scriptures, “Women you must veil your heads when you pray or enter a church”. In fact, the early church had no church buildings. They did not require women to veil their heads in prayer.
1 Corinthians 11:16 reads, “If any man seems anxious to dispute the matter, I can say that we have no such custom”.
In 1 Peter 3:1-6 women are shown how to please their husbands who are not yet believers.” In fact wives should as much as possible always please their husbands. The behaviour of wives should be such as to win the husbands to Christ, without their saying a word. The women are to have chaste and respectful behaviour. These husbands were heathen, and “obeyed not” the gospel. The meaning of the Greek is that they were in a state of “unbelieving disobedience”, “not allowing oneself to be persuaded”. Their wives often gave them the gospel but met with stubborn refusal to believe. In view of this, says Peter, “Stop talking about it, but live it”. “Fear” means “reverence”. This they were to show to their husbands. They were not to depend on outward adornment which should be in keeping with that of a Christian. They were to have characteristics that would show forth Christ to their husbands.
Having “worldly” adornment was forbidden. The custom was for women to plait the hair extremely high and to use expensive gold ornaments. If a Christian wife used only her appearance to appeal to her husband in order to win him to Christ, she would be merely appealing to his worldly and totally depraved nature. This nature controls an unsaved person. She would be feeding his carnal appetite instead of appealing to his conscience. She would be confronting him with the world and not with the Saviour.
These Christian women, and today’s Christian women should not wear around them a lavish and conspicuous display of jewellery. An example of this can be found in a new bride who decks herself with all the gold of her dowry. The wearing of such gold is sinful on two counts. First of all, it is contrary to Christian behaviour to wear such a display of gold. Secondly, it is non-Christian to be involved in anything to do with the dowry system. That is heathen, worldly, carnal and unchristian.
To copy the world in the wearing of jewellery or apparel is to masquerade in the dress of the world. Women who believe in Jesus Christ should not be immodest or worldly in appearance. Christian women and their fathers and husbands should consider whether the wearing of Saris comes under this heading.
In the matter of veiling in church, wearing a veil does not show forth Christ to unbelieving husbands. It may anger them so that often they will beat their wives. Pastors and preachers out of compassion should never teach a woman convert to do things that will anger her unbelieving husband. She should never have to put herself in a position where beatings can take place, excepting when it involves her confession of Jesus Christ.
Women are to have internal adornment as well as external adornment according to Peter. They are to have a gentle and quiet spirit and to be submissive to their OWN husbands. They are not called upon to be in submission to men other than their OWN husbands.
The actual translation of verse 3 is, “And let not your adornment be MERELY external – braiding the hair, and wearing gold jewellery or putting on dresses; but let it be the hidden person of the heart.”
Wives always have external adornment. Women do wear dresses, or saris. They of necessity cover their bodies with clothing. Braiding the hair and wearing gold jewellery is listed in the same way as “putting on dresses or saris”. Therefore, if women are to wear dresses or saris, they can braid their hair and they can wear gold jewellery. When Indian women wear saris and braid their hair, why do we tell them they cannot wear gold jewellery? Especially when their jewellery for them is like having a bank account.
In verse 6, it says, “Thus Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord, and you have become her children if you do what is right without being frightened by any fear,” or “And you have become Sarah’s children if you do right, and let no anxious thoughts disturb you”. How often are Christian women made to have anxious thoughts disturbing them, over the question of veils and the wearing of gold? These things should not to be.
Women are to emulate Sarah. As well as internal adornment, Sarah had external adornment.
In Genesis 24:22, Abraham and Sarah’s servant gave Rachel, the expected bride of Isaac, their son, a gold ring and two gold bracelets, worth in today’s currency, one lakh rupees. This gold jewellery was not the servant’s. It came from Abraham and Sarah, and knowing the custom of women for generations and centuries, we have no hesitation in saying that Sarah most probably had worn that jewellery herself. In any case, if they gave Rachel jewellery it was obviously the custom for those women to wear gold. Sarah wore gold. Christian women according to the scriptures can wear gold!
The writer has on many occasions sold precious possessions, cars and houses, to use the funds for the ministry. If Christian women desire to sell some gold for the work of the ministry, that is their prerogative or right. They can do so. They should not be forced to sell their gold, which is legalism.
Before minutely examining the passage of 1 Corinthians 11:1-16, verse by verse, we should state this. In verse 5, it is obvious that women were allowed to pray and prophesy and that they did so without covering their heads else why write about it? Yet in 1 Corinthians 14:34-36 Paul would appear to forbid women to speak in the church. Can he allow women to pray/prophesy in chapter 11 and contradict it some time later when he wrote 1 Corinthians 14? No, Scripture does not contradict itself as it is written by the Holy Ghost. In chapter 14, verse 34 onwards, he says, “Let the women keep silent in the churches, as the law says… 35 it is improper for a woman to speak in church!” These two verses do not counteract his allowing women in chapter 11 to pray and prophesy. These two verses obviously have to be a quotation from an oral tradition, as the Old Testament did not forbid women to speak or prophesy. “As the law says” cannot refer to the Old Testament. There is no such verse or teaching in the Old Testament. It has to be mere oral tradition!
There were women who prophesied and judged in the Old Testament. Continuing on to verse 36, Paul asks, “Was it from you that the word of God went forth?” Obviously these men were Judaizers who had not brought the gospel to that church. We know from the book of Acts that it was Paul himself who had brought the gospel to Corinth. Then again we see in verse 37, he declares that what he has written is from the Lord. We must listen to Paul, and not to the teaching of the oral tradition of the Judaizers. Paul does not forbid women to speak. In verse 39, he exhorts, “my brethren, desire earnestly to prophesy”. “Brethren” in the Greek language means “men and women”.
As Paul quotes oral tradition in chapter 14, is it not possible that in chapter 11, verse 6, he has also quoted “oral tradition” when he writes, “for if a woman does not cover her head, let her also have her hair cut off, but, if it is disgraceful for a woman to have her hair cut off or her head shaved, let her cover her head?”
THE FOLLOWING IS NOTED FROM 1 CORINTHIANS 11:1-16
The subject of this passage, as has been stated, is ‘The man’. It is in relation to the fact that Christian men were covering their heads like the Jews. The Apostle Paul withstood strongly any teaching of the Judaizers. In Galatians 6:12 he writes, “Would that those who are troubling you would even mutilate themselves.” In Galatians 2:4 he speaks of the “false brethren” who came in to spy on the believers. There were (verse 12) “certain men from James” who came down from the Jewish church in Jerusalem. They brought Jewish teachings, contrary to the gospel. The Judaizers tried to infiltrate every church, and often were successful.
Obviously their influence was to be found in the church in Corinth, as it was in the church of Galatia. So Paul told the men they were not to pray in the Jewish manner of covering the head. The Jewish men covered their heads for two reasons.
Firstly, they covered their heads out of reverence for God. Secondly, they wore a covering as a sign of condemnation. They condemned themselves as sinners before God. Judaizers were a problem in the Church.
Both of these reasons were contrary to the gospel. The New Covenant was and is, one of the Spirit. Our worship is to be in Spirit and in Truth. It is to involve the heart. It is internal worship. Posture of the body or the wearing of clothing is not the basis for this kind of worship. The Old Covenant had a form of worship and ritualistic ceremonies that were external. Added to this, were the traditions and oral teaching of the Scribes and Pharisees which these Jewish men in the church in Corinth were following. They had also influenced the Gentile Christians there.
Believers in Christ Jesus are under the New Covenant of the Spirit, where there is freedom, “Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty,” 2 Corinthians 3:17.
Furthermore, any adherence to Jewish laws and traditions, indeed the following of any rules and regulations, meant they had “fallen out of Christ”, Galatians 3:4, or “were severed from Christ and fallen from grace”. They were in danger of “trampling under foot the Son of God”, and “regarding as unclean the blood of the covenant”, Hebrews 10:29.
The apostle Paul in all of his epistles, and also the writer of the book of Hebrews, repudiated any adherence to things of the Law and regulations of the Jews.
Now Paul deals with the subject of a man covering his head to pray, and we see from verses 3 and 7 of 1 Corinthians 11, that this indeed is the actual subject of the passage. We request that you read this passage carefully, particularly noting the language formation which certainly gives the sense that I have outlined.
Regarding condemnation, Romans 8:1 reads, “There is therefore now no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus”. Therefore, Christian men in that Corinthian church could not wear a covering on their heads which meant a sign of condemnation. It refutes the truth of the gospel that in Christ, there is no condemnation.
Wearing a head covering would mean that these men were denying the gospel of grace and justification.
Also, from the point of view of the ANGELS, they should not wear a head covering. Why does Paul involve the ANGELS? The angels were instrumental in the giving of the Law. Galatians 3:19, “Why the Law then? It was added because of transgressions, having been ordained through ANGELS by the agency of a mediator (Moses), until the Seed should come to whom the promise had been made.” Because the Law was given in this way, involving the angels until the Seed would come, they knew the Seed, Jesus Christ, had come. Angels were out on the hillside when He was born, singing, Luke 2:13,14. After the resurrection of Jesus from the dead, two angels spoke to the women, Luke 24:5-7 and gave them the glad tidings “Remind yourselves of what he told you when he was still in Galilee: that the Son of Man was destined to be given into the hands of sinful men, that he was to be crucified, and that on the third day he was to rise to life again.” The angels knew about the Saviour. They knew all about His birth, death and resurrection. They knew the “Seed” had come and that the end of the Law had come. Men were to be no longer “under Law, but under grace”, Romans 6:14. It was an angel that came to Joseph before Jesus was born, Matthew 1:20-23, and said, “She will give birth to a son, and Jesus, that is to say, Saviour, is the Name you shall give Him, because He is the One who is to save His people from their sins.”
The angels knew of this great salvation. They knew the Saviour justifies from sin as shown in Revelation 5:12, singing, “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain”. They knew it would be disgraceful to the Lord Jesus for Christian men to wear a cap on the head while in prayer, which is a sign of condemnation. Not only would it disgrace the Lord Jesus and His gospel, but also it would be in full view of the angels who had borne a hand in the giving of the Law, and knew that it brought only condemnation. Angels know that the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to man. Believers are not under the Law, but under grace, Romans 6:14. For Christian men to wear a head covering, it meant they were acting as if they were still under the Law. The angels knew Christ had come and that the Law as a means of salvation was not to be. Believers are in Christ.
In Hebrews 12:22,23, the Scriptures reveal that “You have been allowed to approach the true Mount Zion, even to the place of the living God, to the Jerusalem which is in heaven, and to an army of angels which may not be numbered, To the full assembly and to the congregation of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven.” The angels are involved in every part of our salvation.
Also, angels are ministering spirits sent to minister to them who are heirs of salvation, Hebrews 1:14. The angels are vitally concerned with the spiritual welfare of believers. They worship the Son of God with believers, before the Lamb, Revelation 5:8-13. Angels do not wish to see believers make the gospel of Christ of little regard in any way. Angels are so involved with the redemption of men that in Matthew 13:41 and 49, angels are said by Jesus to be involved in the taking out of the wicked from among the righteous at the end of the age. It is no wonder that “because of the angels” is mentioned in 1 Corinthians 11:10, where even the wives are called upon to consider all this and join with their husbands who are “the head” in ensuring that even the angels do not have to see believing men who are in grace, ignoring that grace by acting in condemnation in the wearing of such head covering.
VERSE BY VERSE EXPLANATION OF 1 CORINTHIANS 11:1-16
Verse 2. “Now I praise you because you remember me in everything, and hold firmly to the teachings just as I delivered them to you.” Paul commends them because they followed his preaching, i.e. oral teaching.
Verse 3. “But I want you to understand that Christ is the head of every man, and the man is the head of a woman, and God is the head of Christ.” “BUT’, is the commencement of this verse. This clause is therefore enlarging on that previous teaching. He explains that Christ is the head OR SOURCE OF LIFE, of every man. The man is the head, or source of life, of a woman, as God is of Christ. We note: –
a. This accords with John 1:2, “All things came into being by Him (Christ), and apart from Him nothing came into being that had any being.” Christ is the source of life of every man. In addition, “Every man” could relate to salvation, where “every man” means both male and female, 2 Corinthians 5:17, “if any man is in Christ, he is a new creature.” This obviously refers to male and female.
b. Adam was created first. Therefore in that sense he could be said to be the source of life of the woman. Adam was never made the boss or ruler of Eve. Man’s domination of the woman is found in anti-Christ religion and beliefs as a result of the enmity placed between Satan and the woman, Genesis 3:16. It is also because of the male hardness of heart, as in Matthew 19:8. One translation says, “It was because you knew so little of the meaning of love.”
c. God is the head (SOURCE OR ORIGIN OF LIFE) of Christ. This is borne out by John 1:14, “As of the only begotten from the Father”, and Hebrews 1:6, “And when He again brings the first-born into the world”.
“Head” does not mean “Ruler”. Christ is Ruler, King and Potentate, just as is God the Father.
Verse 4. “Every man who has something on his head while praying or prophesying, disgraces his head.” “Head”From the previous verse, we see that man’s head is Christ. Therefore, verse 4 reads, “Every man who has something on his head (physical head) while praying or prophesying, disgraces his head (Christ)”. He disgraces Christ, his Head, by adhering to the traditional law and not to the Gospel of the Grace of Christ, and by placing himself while in prayer under condemnation, if he wears a covering, instead of placing himself without condemnation in Christ. Covering his head would indicate he feels condemnation and not the cleansing of the blood of Jesus.
The Jewish “Tabith” says, “wearing a hat is for a Jewish man, a sign of condemnation.”
Verse 5. “But every woman who has her head uncovered while praying or prophesying, disgraces her head, for she is one and the same with her whose head is shaved.”
This verse begins with ‘but’, indicating it is a clause qualifying the principal clause which is verse 4. The “Head” disgraced is her husband. There was a heathen custom in Corinth, where prevalent idolatry produced many prostitutes. These prostitutes did not wear veils, as was the custom of ordinary women. They even shaved off their hair. As stated previously regarding Jewish women, the Talmud taught that a husband could put away his wife as a proven adulteress if she merely went out of the house with her head uncovered. What Jewish hypocrisy!
Christian women in this Corinthian church realised Christ had made them free. However, Paul informed them that this freedom did not mean they should go against the custom and culture and not wear veils. If they did, it would appear to others that their husband was having a prostitute. In this way, the woman would disgrace her “head”, who is her husband, as indicated by verse 3. It would seem to onlookers that the wife was a prostitute. “She is one and the same with her whose head is shaved”, the Bible puts it.
Her “head” could be her husband or in the case of a Greek woman, her father, if there were no husband.
This verse does show clearly that it was customary for women to pray and prophesy in the church. This was in public view of everybody, and obviously women were allowed to pray and prophesy without wearing veils, because Paul inserts, “if”. No one had stopped them praying and prophesying without veils.
Paul is now correcting the whole situation regarding “heads” in that church, for male and female. Actually, in certain cultures, a veil covers the face and not the head. If we look at 2 Corinthians 3:18, we read “But we all with unveiled face beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord.”
He had been speaking of Moses, who when he came down off the mountain, had to cover his face literally with a veil. The people could not look at the glory on his face. This was while he was not giving them the covenant word, or addressing Israel as mediator. After delivering the word, he had to wear a veil, showing the distance between himself and unbelieving, disobedient and hardened Israel.
They heard the word while his face was unveiled, but were so hardened that they could not receive it into their hearts. Thus he covered his face whereon was glory after speaking to them. We read this in 2 Corinthians 3:14, “But their minds were made dull, for to this day the same veil remains when the old covenant is read. It has not been removed, because only in Christ is it taken away”. See Exodus 34:33-35.
The wearing of the veil to Israel meant they were just that, unbelieving, disobedient, dull and hardened. They were different from him, Moses, and could not see the glory. We can see the glory in the face of Jesus Christ. We today, do not literally have to wear the covering of a veil. Spiritually and naturally, we look at the glory of the Lord with “unveiled faces”. In Christ, that veil has been done away.
Verse 6. “For if a woman does not cover her head, let her also have her hair cut off; but if it is disgraceful for a woman to have her hair cut off or her head shaved, let her cover her head.”
Each “head” used in this verse refers to the physical head of a woman. Also, this is another qualifying clause to verse 4, because it commences with ‘For’. It is not the principal clause. It starts with a conjunction, “for”. As mentioned before this verse could be a quotation of oral tradition. If it is not a quotation, it could mean “If she is unveiled, she may as well have her hair cut off, because she appears to be a prostitute anyway. Therefore, if we regard it disgraceful to shave or cut her hair as people will think her a prostitute, verse 5, she had better wear a veil”. Please note the importance of “if we regard it disgraceful”. Only for that reason does Paul say, “she had better wear a veil”. He does not say she should wear a veil as applicable to other women in other places and in other generations.
Verse 7. “For a man ought not to have his head covered, since he is the image and glory of God; but the woman is the glory of man.”
A man is to manifest God’s glory and grace and not do as the Jews did, who by wearing a cap did not show forth any of God’s glory or grace. They instead showed forth condemnation instead of forgiveness by the grace found through Christ.
A woman also comes under the category of being made naturally in the image and glory of God, Genesis 1:21, “God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him, male and female He created them.” As well, woman is in the category of ‘being made spiritually in the image and glory of God’, as in 2 Corinthians 5:17, “if any man is in Christ, he is a new creature.”
Also, both male and female are included in 1 Corinthians 15:49 “And just as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly.” As well, Romans 8:29, “For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the first-born among many brethren.”
The latter part of 1 Corinthians 11:7 can only refer to men and women in natural creation. In this only, is she the glory of man. She should “reflect honour upon him”. She is to be the glory of man. She also is the one the man glories in. He is her matrimonial “head”. This is borne out by nature and by Proverbs 30:18,19, where the “way of a man with a maiden” (i.e. “the growth of love”) is an “amazing” thing!
Verse 8. “For man does not originate from woman, but woman from man;” Again there is a connecting “For”. This verse again qualifies what has been said before, and leads back to the main statement in verse 4. Woman is the glory of man because man does not originate from woman. Rather woman originates from the man, in creation. That is the law of nature. Also, woman is the crowning glory of creation, created last.
Verse 9. “For indeed man was not created for the woman’s sake, but woman for the man’s sake.”
Again there is a connecting “for”, leading back to verse 4. This verse also relates to Genesis 2:18, “It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make him a helper suitable for him.”
Verse 10. “Therefore, the woman ought to have a (symbol of) authority on her head, because of the angels.” In the English translation, which is in ordinary printing type, “symbol” is in Italics, which indicates that word is not found in the Greek but has been inserted by the translators. The Greek reads, “Therefore ought the woman authority to have on the head because of the angels.” “Authority on the head” can no way be stretched in meaning to be able to say this refers to a husband’s authority.
Rather, the real meaning is “over”, as from the Greek word translated “on” is the same word as is in Acts 15:10, “to put a yoke on (upon) the head”. It means to “put or lay upon”. Thus, 1 Corinthians 11:10 reads “Therefore the woman ought to have authority over (laid or put upon) her husband because of the angels.”
The King James Bible was translated in 1611. 1 Corinthians 11:10 in that version, reads “For this cause ought the woman to have power on head because of the angels”. Interlinear Greek-English translates, “ought the woman authority to have on the head because of the angels”. In their translation, scholars called upon earlier English translations, as well as the original languages, Hebrew and Greek. They used mainly two translations into Greek, that were the work of scholars using manuscripts no earlier than the tenth century, and those of course were copies.
Also, these scholars and theologians were not long out of the Roman Catholic Church. They had to have been influenced by the common practice in that church of women wearing, in those days, a kind of veil. Therefore they inserted “sign” or “symbol”. They also appear not to have understood the different meanings of “head” used by Paul. We can see from the above what is in the original Greek.
This is more correct. “Therefore, the woman ought to have authority OVER her head (her husband), because of the angels,” and should not use a veil. The word, “therefore”, indicates the ultimate conclusion that Paul puts forward. This we know because of the qualifying statements he has made in connection with “Every man who has something on his head while praying or prophesying disgraces his head (Christ).”
This being the case, it makes sense of the verses from 4 to 9, to make the statement that women, who are created “helpers” for their husbands, should help him and so do him good, in this matter of having authority over him, who is her head. Sarah had such authority as she told Abraham to cast Hagar out, Genesis 21:11. He obeyed, being required to do so by God. Her words are quoted in Galatians 4:30 for us to obey by following the Spirit and not legalism.
Women have been given authority over their husbands in another scripture. This is found in 1 Corinthians 7:4, “The wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does; and likewise also the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does.” In this way, she is his glory, and his helper.
Verse 10 ends with ‘because of the angels’.
To understand the reason Paul pays such attention to the angels we need to read Hebrews 2:2. Also see the comments in the earlier part of this article. Verses 1 and 2 read, “This is why we must pay much closer attention to the truth that we have heard, so that we do not drift away from it. For if the word (the Law of Moses) spoken through angels stood firm, so that defiance of it and disobedience has met with a just punishment…” Also, please read Acts 7:38, 53, regarding the Law given to Moses and the people through angels.
Hebrews is teaching us that there were limits to the law as given by angels. That first Testament has been set aside, as the whole book of Hebrews declares. With it, man’s subordination to angels has been abolished. Therefore, women also are no longer subject to angels and their heads need not be covered because of angels, as some believers state.
Hebrews 2:3 shows that the gospel of salvation was brought to earth by the Son of God Himself, and not by angels. We must not treat this gospel of grace lightly. “What escape can there be for us if we ignore a deliverance so great?” The wearing of veils or hats by women is not included in the message of salvation. However, the wearing of hats on men’s heads in Corinth showed to the angels that they were not regarding the gospel of grace. It showed to the angels that these men were still under the message of the Law that the angels themselves had mediated. To the angels, these men were not acting as if they were above angels, but rather below them. These men made the gospel of no effect. Indeed they acted this way before the angels.
Sometimes the connection is made between this phrase and Genesis 6:2, “The sons of God saw that the daughters of men were beautiful; and they took wives for themselves.”
Some Christians think that these “sons of God” were fallen angels, as mentioned in Jude 6.
Regarding Jude 4-7 and the “Angels”, in relation to the “Sons of God” in Genesis 6: –
1. Explaining Jude 4-7.
a. It is not evident from these verses that these sons of God of Genesis 6, were indeed fallen angels.
Jude 6 states, “Angels who did not keep their own domain, but abandoned their proper abode (who did not preserve their original rank)”.
b. Let us see the meaning of Jude, verses 5 to 7. These verses refer back to verse 4, “there are some who have insinuated themselves into your fellowship – they were long ago marked out for this judgment – godless men they are, who pervert the grace of God into an excuse for blatant immorality.”
Then Jude in verse 5, to reinforce his statement, he mentions the people of Israel who although rescued by the Lord were later destroyed because of unbelief. The whole matter is related to us in Hebrews chapters 3 and 4.
c. Their unbelief is synonymous with their disobedience, as Hebrews 3:18,19 states, “those who were disobedient” and “they were not able to enter because of unbelief.” It also refers to 1 Corinthians 10:1-10 and Numbers 25 where according to Revelation 2:14, Balaam incited the Children of Israel to follow idolatry and immorality, because of their unbelief in God’s ways.
In Jude 6, we read about the disobedient angels who left their proper place, and who are now in eternal chains. In verse 7, he gives another instance of those who turned from God’s ways in Sodom and Gomorrah. It reads, “They in the same way practised sexual immorality and pursued unnatural vice… they were subjected to the penalty of eternal fire.” They also were disobedient.
d. Because of disobedience, God brings judgment. In Jude 4, the statement is about “condemnation” or “judgment“. Verse 5, is about the Lord “destroying” those who had no faith. In other words, that verse is about “judgment” also. Verse 6, concerns “judgment” of the angels. Verse 7 is regarding “eternal fire in punishment” and that too is “judgment.”
2. Let Us Examine Jude 7.
a. Phillips translation, “Sodom and Gomorrah and the adjacent cities who, in the same way as these men today, gave themselves up to sexual immorality and perversion, stand in their punishment as a permanent warning of the fire of judgment.” This translation appears to be the most correct of any, as it does not violate any of the verses of Jude or any other doctrine of the Bible.
b. In each case they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, Romans 1:25. The Children of Israel did that. The angels also did the same thing, as did the people in Sodom and Gomorrah. Because of this sin, Romans 1:26, regarding men (not angels), “God game them (men, as in Romans 1:18, ‘of men’, not angels) over to degrading passions.” Angels, being unsexed, cannot sin by immorality, as can men.
c. The belief that the “sons of God” were fallen angels is based on a Jewish legend that appears in 1 Enoch 6-8, which is part of the Apocrypha. The Apocrypha is part of the Roman Catholic Bible and is in included for reading with the New English Bible. However, the Protestant churches do not receive it as the inspired Word of God, as they receive the 66 books of our present Bible. Therefore we should not base our beliefs on a mere legend that is not inspired.
d. In Jude 4, 5, 7 and 11, three particular sins are referred to. They are rebellion and unbelief (denial of our Lord Jesus Christ), immorality (the error of Balaam) and the way of Cain (self-will and resistance to the grace of God, Genesis 4:3-8).
In verse 5, the children of Israel and in verse 6, the angels were following the way of self-will and resistance to the grace of God. In verse 7, it was the way of immorality that was followed. Verse 11 mentions all three, the way of Cain, the error of Balaam and the rebellion of Korah as being followed by the men of verse 4 who have crept into the church unnoticed. Verse 8 enunciates again the sins of these men who again in verse 12 are stated to be “hidden reefs in your love feasts, when the feast with you (in communion) without fear, caring for themselves, clouds without water, carried along by winds, autumn trees without fruit, doubly dead, uprooted; 13 wild waves of the sea, casting up their own shame like foam, wandering stars, for whom the black darkness has been reserved forever”.
As a result of Balaam’s advice to Balak, King of Moab, Israel went into deliberate sin, as in Numbers 25:1,2 “the people began to have sexual relations with the women of Moab”, see Revelation 2:14.
3. Reasons that “Sons of God” in Genesis 6 Could Not Be Angels.
a. If they were fallen, they would not be called the “sons of God”. Sons of God must refer to the line of Seth, the godly line, from whom came Abraham, David and eventually the Messiah.
b. In Genesis 6:2, it states they “married”. Fallen angels could never have married, even had it been possible for them to mate with earthly females. Jesus said angels do not marry. In verse 1, it clearly shows that “When men began to increase in number on the earth and daughters were born to them (and this cannot include angels that are not men)”. The verses are about “mankind“, not angels!
c. This belief was first of all propagated by a Jewish historian, Josephus, who was not a Christian, and then by some of the earlier theologians of the first few centuries who followed suit.
d. Genesis 6:3 states, “My Spirit shall not always strive with man because he also is FLESH (mortal).” If the children of the so-called mating of fallen angels and women were to be included, God could not have said, “flesh”. Angels are not mortal and neither are angels “flesh”. Angel’s substance and flesh could never mix. What would result? A species of evolution? Then God’s judgment was that man’s days would be a hundred and twenty years only from that time.
e. In Genesis 6:5-7, because of the wickedness of Man, He was “grieved” that He had made man on the earth. Any so-called progeny of angels and men could never be in this class. Then He sent a flood to wipe out “mankind“, not any progeny of angels and men. It should be noted that Jesus Christ taught that angels “neither marry nor are given in marriage”, Matthew 22:30.
4. Therefore, veiling of women’s heads and angels has nothing to do with sex or lust.
This cannot to be considered the meaning or reason why women in our churches should wear veils. Angels do not have sexual desires. Certainly, “holy” angels would have no illicit sexual desire towards women, as is believed in the churches that follow the above meaning for 1 Corinthians 11:10.
In any case, sexual desire is not directed towards a woman’s head, but towards that part of her body, beginning at the top of her chest and going right down her body to the tops of her legs. Therefore it can be seen that with this area of the body modestly dressed and covered, even the head uncovered could not be the means of tempting angels!
5. Beware of pagan, licentious and immoral myths.
We must not bring worldly, ungodly or heathen thinking into our understanding of the Word of God. God’s standard for all of us is to be purity. There can be no connection with stories from mythology in Christian teaching.
1 Corinthians 11:11. This verse shows equality of the sexes. There is an English translation from the Aramaic manuscripts, which are also the basis of the Syrian Orthodox Church writings, which churches were established centuries ago in Kerala.
Indeed, some western scholars do say that the original New Testament was written in Aramaic and not in Greek. In any case, it is a good translation in its reading of “Nevertheless, in our Lord, there is no preference between man and woman, neither between woman and man”. This is self-explanatory.
Verse 12. Paul sets out the origin of both male and female. She has originated from the man, and the man has his birth through the woman. Each is dependent on the other, and neither can do without the other. Neither can lord it over the other. In any case, all things originate from God.
Verse 13. In the Greek language there is no punctuation. Punctuation marks have been added by the translators and printers, according to their personal interpretation and understanding. In this verse in the English translation, a question mark has been inserted at the end of the sentence. There is no question mark in the Greek. The sense of this verse then, is: –
“Judge for yourselves whether it is proper for a woman to pray to God uncovered.” Without a doubt, the answer to that judgment must be, “Of course it is proper for a woman to pray to God with her head uncovered”.
Many women, while lying in bed in the middle of the night, find themselves praying to the Lord and communing with Him. Often we women find ourselves praying in other tongues as we lie in bed. No woman would think of getting up to cover her head, and then lie down again and continue praying! We all, men and women are shown that it is with “unveiled face” see the glory of the Lord (not as Moses who used a veil because the Children of Israel could not look upon the glory) 2 Corinthians 3:18.
Verses 14 and 15. For a man to wear his hair long, falling down his back, it is naturally a dishonour in most countries and places and ages. In fact, in every civilised culture and nation, it is customary that men do not wear their hair in that fashion.
On the contrary, a woman’s long hair is a glory, and a covering. This was in contradiction to the prevalent Jewish teaching then that it was shameful for a woman to show her hair. Paul pointed out that custom had no merits. He said, “It is wrong to think it is shameful for a woman to show her hair. Rather, it is her honour and her glory.”
Jewish women customarily had their hair shorn at the time of marriage. For the rest of their lives their hair remained cut and they wore wigs. Long hair was a disgrace. This has been the custom in Eastern Europe for centuries. To follow this Jewish belief about hair would be contrary to Indian culture, where women everywhere show their hair.
Paul is saying to the women of his day who had long hair, “Women, ‘Put away your veils,’ you already have a covering. Your hair is your covering, if you feel your head must be covered. Therefore you do not need a veil”. Even the shorter fashion of the cutting of women’s hair in the west, still shows the woman’s hair as a glory and a covering. It is worn longer than that of the men
Verse 16. Again we quote the translation of Lamsa, who is himself an Easterner, and not a Westerner. He is from the Middle East. He says, “But if one is inclined to be contentious, we have no precedent, nor have the churches of God.”
In other words, there was not any church under Paul’s spiritual authority that set a precedent of enforcing women to wear veils or to have long hair.
The NRSV English translation reads, “But if anyone is disposed to be contentious – we have no such custom, nor do the churches of God”. He was saying that no woman in the church of Rome wore a veil. He was stating that no woman in the church of Galatia wore a veil. He was showing that no woman in the church in Ephesus wore a veil. He declared that no woman in the church in Philippi wore a veil. He was stating what was evident general knowledge, that no one in any of those churches wore a veil. No one in the church of Thessalonica wore a veil.
Why is the veil being enforced? Those who do are contending for something that is not the truth of the Word of God. They need to repent of their stand against the Word of God. They should interpret correctly the Word of God. “We are redeemed from the futile traditions hand down”, 1 Peter 1:18.
“In any case”, Paul says emphatically, “it is not the custom in any of the churches of the New Testament for any woman to wear a veil.” Why then are you, dear reader, either enforcing the veil if you are a Pastor, or wearing it, if you are a woman?
There was not any Pastor who insisted the women were to wear veils. In addition the fact that Paul even mentions the wearing of veils by women in that large church of perhaps 15,000 members, indicates that none of the Pastors in that city of Corinth had insisted that the women did indeed wear veils in the church, because so many women were unveiled as the chapter shows. In fact, Paul renounces the custom of women having to veil!
The obvious conclusion from this passage of Scripture, now that we have a better understanding of it, is as follows: –
1. Paul forbids men to cover their heads, as being a contradiction of the Gospel of the Grace of God through our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.
2. Paul allows women to veil. Their veils covered their faces as Genesis 24:65.
3. Ideally, women should unveil before God, before men and before angels.
4. Propriety for their culture, would be better served by the Corinthian women in the use of veils.
Our culture is different. In our day and in our culture and society, it is most advisable and scriptural that women engage in prayer, worship and service to God according to the dress their culture and modesty dictates. For us, it means we do not wear veils or any other head covering, as cultural custom dictates.
We who believe on the Lord Jesus Christ are under the New Covenant. We are not under the Old Covenant. It has passed away, as we find from Hebrews 8:13, “By saying, “new”, He puts the first out of date” or “He makes the first one obsolete – out of use”.
This Old Covenant that is out of use, as we discover in Hebrews 9:10, which I quote, “Being only with meats and drinks and divers (various) washings, and regulations for the body (Amplified says, ‘mere external rules and regulations for the body”, imposed on them until the coming of the New Order”, or as another translation reads, “which have their place till the time comes when things will be put right”. From these verses, it is obvious that under the Old Testament order, there was a concern for external worship and material regulations and rules. This was ordained by God only until the Gospel came.
We are now under the New Testament and the Gospel of Grace. It is not a gospel of rules and regulations or external worship and material, external regulations and rules. Those things have all passed away. Therefore the regulation that everywhere in our day is imposing the necessity for women to wear veils in their worship has also passed away. That kind of thing has no part in the New Testament order.
This is confirmed by Colossians 2:20, “If, then, when you died with Christ, you put away the childish lessons of outward things, why do you submit, as though your life were still that of the world, to such ordinances (rules and regulations)?” “Why do you submit to rules and regulations?”
As the New English Bible translates it, in the kind of English we today speak and understand – “Then why behave as though you were still living the life of the world? Why let people dictate to you?”
The rule of having to wear veils in church, worship or prayer is clearly not part of the New Testament order, and can not be a Gospel or Christian requirement. In fact, in 2 Corinthians 3:16-18 shows that Paul and the Corinthians, male and female, had “unveiled faces” when gazing at the glory of the Lord. Freedom of the Spirit means the veil is removed from the heart and the light of the gospel has shone in. Now, figuratively speaking, there is no veil on believing hearts, and also faces look at His glory, without veils.
The crux of the whole matter is that the gospel of the grace of God must not be perverted by legalism in our day. The Jewish Judaizers in the book of Galatians tried to do just that. They, however, rather than insisting on certain codes of dress as in Corinth, maintained that the observance of days and seasons was necessary to being justified and acceptable with God.
We have died to the elemental spirits (demons) of the universe. The apostle Paul questioned the Colossians, at the end of chapter 2, as to why they lived as if they still belonged to the world. He wondered that they still submitted to regulations, “‘Do not handle, Do not taste, Do not touch’, referring to things which all perish as they are used, according to human precepts and doctrines”.
We also are not to submit to regulations concerning things we handle, taste or touch. This includes any regulation that women must wear veils! Some may insist upon certain things as necessary to salvation, communion and baptism. This could be in the form of observing days, discarding of the gold worn, or the necessity of wearing veils in worship to the Lord who has set us all free.
This is not the gospel. It relates to the “weak and beggarly rudiments”, Galatians 4:9, is a “different gospel” and received the apostle’s “anathemas”, Galatians 1:8,9. One translations of Galatians 4:9 reads, “How can you turn back to the weak and helpless elemental false gods, whose slaves you want to be once more”?
Colossians 2:20-23 as mentioned above, reads “If then when you died with Christ you put away the childish lessons of outward things why do you submit, as though your life were still that of the world, to such rules and regulations, ‘Do not touch’, which things are all for decay. These rules have an appearance of wisdom with their self-inspired efforts at worship”.
We should let these words of God sink into our hearts. Should we not meditate on them, and obey them? The things of God are spiritually discerned. God give us a Spirit of Wisdom and Revelation of Him and of His Word! Paul’s words found in the Word of God, so speak to us all today.
In view of the facts and history regarding the wearing of head covering by women in churches, it would appear that this is another instance where, sad to say, male dominance exerts its power. In other words, women in churches where the custom of wearing head coverings or veils persists are being subjected to a lack of Christian love and obedience to carnal authority.
As there is no scriptural basis for the modern attitude that generally prevails towards women, whether in the home, society or in the church, the only conclusion one can arrive at is based on male desire for dominance as well as often female contentment which such a subjection. Men and women both, all need to aim for the purposes of Jesus Christ for His own, whether n the home, society or in the church. Women must be uplifted to their rightful place beside, and not under the men! Such repentance from wrong ways, in this instance, will result in women not being required to wear veils or hats in church.
If it is said, “This is our tradition”, the Scripture would make the reply, “We have been redeemed from the traditions handed down by the fathers, by the precious blood of Christ”.