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Matters of Worship: Part 1 

Women’s head covering 

First Corinthians 11.2–16 

Don Ruhl • Savage Street, Grants Pass, Oregon • April 3, In the year of our Lord Christ, 2019 

  1. 11.2 | Apostolic Traditions

    2 Now I praise you, brethren, that you remember me in all things and keep the traditions just as I delivered them to you (1Co 11.2).
    1. Are there some traditions to avoid and others to embrace? 
    2. As an apostle, an ambassador, the traditions Paul delivered came from Christ. 
  2. 11.3 | The Order of Authority

    3 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 (1Co 11.3).
    1. Here is a tradition that Paul delivered: 
      1. God is the head of Christ. 
      2. Christ is the head of man. 
      3. Man is the head of woman. 
    2. This is the point of Paul’s discussion on the veil, 
      1. that when a society has customs and traditions 
      2. that reflect this biblical order, 
        1. Christians should embrace them, and 
        2. not think that their liberty allows them to disregard these things. 
  3. 11.4–6 | Head Covering While Praying or Prophesying

    4 Every man praying or prophesying, having his head covered, dishonors his head. 5 But every woman who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head, for that is one and the same as if her head were shaved. 6 For if a woman is not covered, let her also be shorn. But if it is shameful for a woman to be shorn or shaved, let her be covered (1Co 11.4–6).
    1. During what actions is the head covering considered here? 
      1. When either gender is praying or prophesying. 
      2. Think of these two activities: 
        1. Prayer: A creature speaking to the Creator. 
        2. Prophesying: A creature speaking for the Creator. 
    2. What did Paul say a man does if he prays or prophesies with his head covered? 
      1. If he covers his head, 
      2. he dishonors his head. 
        1. The first use of “head,” probably refers to his own head, but 
        2. the second use of “head,” refers to Christ who is man’s head. 
    3. What did Paul say a woman does if she prays or prophesies with her head covered?
      1. If she uncovers her head during praying or prophesying, 
      2. she dishonors her head, 
        1. who is man, because 
        2. God is greater than man, 
        3. as will be shown in verse 7. 
    4. If a woman did not wish to be covered, what was she to do? 
      1. She was to be shorn, but 
      2. if that was shameful, 
        1. she should be covered. 
    5. Why did Paul place this option here? 
  4. 11.7–10 | The Reason for the Veil

    7 For a man indeed ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God; but woman is the glory of man. 8 For man is not from woman, but woman from man. 9 Nor was man created for the woman, but woman for the man. 10 For this reason the woman ought to have a symbol of authority on her head, because of the angels (1Co 11.7–10).
    1. Heads covered or uncovered reflected either God’s or man’s glory. 
      1. A man was not to cover his head, because 
        1. he reflected the image and glory of God. 
        2. God made man from the dust of the Earth, 
          1. making him from that dust into God’s image. 
      2. A woman was to cover her head, because 
        1. she reflects man’s glory, for 
        2. she was made from man, 
          1. which Paul will explain in verses 8 and following. 
    2. Remember as we go through this text 
      1. that verse 3 drives Paul’s discussion. 
      2. Whatever he taught in First Corinthians 11 reflects: 
        1. That God is the head of Christ, 
        2. That Christ is the head of man or males, 
        3. That man is the head of woman, and 
          1. from other passages of the New Testament, 
          2. woman is the head 
            1. of children and 
            2. of the household. 
    3. Verses 8 and 9 show the source and purpose of creation. 
      1. Who came from whom? 
      2. Who was created for whom? 
      3. Gen 2.18–22 
    4. According to verse 10, what did Paul say she was to have on her head? 
      1. What did it show? 
        1. This showed the headship of the man and 
        2. that God created the woman for the man. 
      2. He also said that it was because of who? 
        1. I have concluded that this means 
        2. angels have an interest whenever men and women pray or prophesy. 
          1. Angels have direct dealings with God. 
            1. Naturally when a man or a woman 
              1. speaks to God or 
              2. speaks for God, 
            2. that gets the attention of the angels. 
    5. What did Paul establish from Genesis? 
      1. He did not establish 
        1. the wearing of a veil for women, but 
        2. the order and purpose of creation. 
      2. Does the Bible say Eve wore a veil? 
        1. The thing that knows no cultural boundaries 
          1. is not the wearing of the veil, but 
          2. the man as the head of the woman. 
  5. 11.11–12 | The Origin of Men and Women

    11 Nevertheless, neither is man independent of woman, nor woman independent of man, in the Lord. 12 For as woman came from man, even so man also comes through woman; but all things are from God (1Co 11.11–12).
    1. Why did Paul state what is obvious that man comes from woman? 
      1. In the beginning the woman came from the man, 
      2. now the man comes from the woman, showing 
        1. that we need one another, 
        2. that we are not independent of the opposite gender, 
        3. that one is not better than the other, and 
        4. that God is the responsible One. 
      3. His point was in verse 11, that we are not independent of one another. 
      4. Learn to see God in all things. 
    2. In the Lord, the battle of the sexes does not exist, for 
      1. the woman would not be without the man, and 
      2. the man would not be without the woman. 
        1. However, ultimately all things come from God. 
  6. 11.13–15 | The Covering of Men and Women

    13 Judge among yourselves. Is it proper for a woman to pray to God with her head uncovered? 14 Does not even nature itself teach you that if a man has long hair, it is a dishonor to him? 15 But if a woman has long hair, it is a glory to her; for her hair is given to her for a covering (1Co 11.13–15).
    1. Is it proper for a woman to pray to God with her head uncovered? 
      1. Paul expected a negative answer. 
      2. A negative answer is not obvious for our culture. 
        1. The reason: 
          1. Our society does not recognize the veil as a sign of headship. 
          2. We have other things that indicate the same. 
    2. Are there exceptions to verse 14? 
      1. Typically, long hair is a dishonor to a man. 
      2. There are exceptions, such as the Nazarite Vow. 
    3. Verse 15 says a woman’s hair is a glory to her. 
      1. Generally the length of hair is how we distinguish the genders. 
      2. Nature teaches that there should be a visual distinction between the sexes. 
  7. VII.11.16 | Contention versus Custom

    16 But if anyone seems to be contentious, we have no such custom, nor do the churches of God (1Co 11.16).
    1. If someone wants to contend over this, 
      1. we have no other custom from the apostles, 
      2. nor from the churches as a whole. 
    2. Does this mean that if you do not like what Paul said, you can disregard it? 
      1. Do not be contentious against prevailing customs 
      2. that uphold the truth, such as the order of creation. 
    3. Did women in some cultures wear a veil before the church existed? 
      1. Was Paul originating the wearing of one? 
      2. Remember what drives his discussion here (v. 3). 
    4. Let the church and Christians accept whatever our society does 
      1. that reflects the order of creation, and 
      2. other biblical truths. 
        1. Those customs will be different in the nations of the world. 
        2. In ours, 
          1. the woman taking on the name of the man in marriage, 
          2. the use of the masculine pronoun to picture all of humanity, and 
          3. other things show this biblical truth. 


  1. Interpret this passage as we do others: 
    1. How do you interpret chapters 12–14 on tongue-speaking? 
    2. How do you interpret chapters 8 and 10 on meat sacrificed to idols? 
    3. How do you interpret 16.20? 
    4. You recognize guiding truths. 
      1. Even if you cannot speak in other languages miraculously, 
        1. you know that 12–14 still addresses orderly worship services. 
      2. Even if none of our meat sold in the store was sacrificed to an idol, 
        1. you know that 8 and 10 still address issues about eating meat. 
      3. You know that the Corinthians greeted one another before converting. 
        1. Now they were to make it a holy greeting.
  2. Remember the point of this passage: The order of Divine authority 
    1. When a woman 
      1. speaks to God or 
      2. speaks for God, 
        1. she, and men too, 
        2. should remember God’s creation of the sexes. 
    2. Men and women should observe all local customs that show a biblical truth.