Head Covering in the Bible

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1 Corithians 11:1-16 Best commentary on Head Covering in the Bible. Some refer to the head covering as “a culture of that time.”  Head Covering - Paul is not saying wear a physical covering but a spiritual covering - and talking especially about some women who are causing problems in the Corinthian church and people are allowing it (1 Cor. 14:34-35).  Paul didn't add a new law, and especially not about clothing helping people be in position with God. In the OT men wore a covering when speaking to God (Lev. 10:6). No law was given to women, except what people did anyways.  It was not a law by God and neither was it instituted by Paul. The entire context Paul is referencing is that there needs to be order in the church and it is obvious that the issue is about some women not submitting to a man (husband or father) - the liberal movement (same as Rev. 2:25). Paul is using physical things to explain spiritual matters - the key is the spiritual matters.  This is the literal interpretation, authority is literal.  The interpretation by some say it is physical literal – let’s look at this “physical” literal.  The scripture says not to cover his head when praying or prophesying correct?  It doesn’t say you need to cover all the time does it?  Therefore by implication literally it is only when praying and prophesying to be uncovered.  For something to be uncovered it needs to be covered in the first place, that is, man wears a hat so that he uncovers when he prays and prophecies.  Thus this is against even the law of God (Lev. 10:6). Also People who are instituting wearing a covering as a law of God are going against the law of God, for the law of God doesn’t say we need to, neither the disciples neither did Paul.  The Pharisees were the ones who added to the law like – washing of hands, cups and corban.  “Every word of God is pure: he is a shield unto them that put their trust in him. Add thou not unto his words, lest he reprove thee, and thou be found a liar” (Prov. 30:5-6).  

1Co 11:1  Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ.

1Co 11:2  Now I praise you, brethren, that you remember me in all things and keep the traditions just as I delivered them to you.

1Co 11:3  But I want you to know (know what?) that the head of every man is Christ, the head of woman is man, and the head of Christ is God.

(The Divine order of protection and authority is 1) God is the head of Christ, 2) Christ is the head of the man, i.e. Christ is the head of man and governs man (God’s Word). 3) the man is the head of a woman, i.e. if a woman is married then her husband is her spiritual head, spiritual covering. Before this it is her father).

1Co 11:4  Every man praying or prophesying, having his head covered, dishonors his head.  

(It would sound as if Paul was contradicting the Jewish law. It is not talking about a physical object on his head because priests were to cover their head physically with turbans (Ex. 28:36-39; 29:6-9; Lev 8:9).  He who has his head covered with any other head/authority, dishonours his head who is Christ.  If we were to take this literally, it would mean that EVERY time a man prayed or prophesied, he would have to have his head uncovered, and would have to wear a covering ALL the rest of the time.  This is a contradiction to the law which states in Lev 10:8 that those who took off their covering were killed when they were praying or prophesying.)   

1Co 11:5  But every woman who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head,

(If this was a physical covering for a woman, this would be a new law and no law had been given regarding a woman covering her head.  The law of God defines what is important, if it was important it would have been a law.  We do know that the cultures in the east wore a head covering, even back in the day of Moses, the Egyptians also wore a head covering because they did not want to get their hair dirty from the sand (the men also wore it).  Again it was not a law, it was done for practical reasons.  Every woman who speaks with God or declares the word of God to others, not having her head as her husband or father, dishonours her husband or father.  If we were to take this literally, then a woman must have her head uncovered ALL the time, unless she prays or prophesies at which time she would need to cover her head.)

for that is one and the same as if her head were shaved.

1Co 11:6  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

(the “same as” Paul brings in the physical angle to explain the spiritual. Paul emphasises if a woman is “not covered” i.e. does not willingly acknowledge and submit to her spiritual authority, then let her be ashamed by shaving her hair or shorn (cutting out a chunk of hair). It shows that she is rebellious to God’s order – basically making her ashamed. What is better be ashamed or be covered by a man?).

1Co 11:7  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.

(Man must not have his head covered by another authority e.g. his wife, denomination, another leader, etc.  Divine order: wife submits to her husband, husband covers his wife and God covers the husband therefore all are under God’s protection.)

1Co 11:8  For man is not from woman, but woman from man.

1Co 11:9  Nor was man created for the woman, but woman for the man.

(Talking about the order, not a cultural thing but a Bible thing – God’s Word.)

1Co 11:10  For this reason the woman ought to have a symbol of authority on her head, because of the angels.

(Notice the symbol is in italics – it is not in the original – a bad translation from the NKJV but I am glad they put it in so we know what they added – unlike the NIV.  Anyhow the key here is “For this reason” What reason?  A woman is to have a covering of a MAN (just like the 2 verses spoke about).  Why? Because of the angels – what about the Angels?  The angels minister God’s Word through the authority structure and the woman is out of order for she was created for the man to help him.  Man needs help. It makes no sense from context, or from the rest of scripture, that Paul is talking about a literal cloth over her head).

1Co 11:11  Nevertheless, neither is man independent of woman, nor woman independent of man, in the Lord.

(Both are needed to fulfill the message God has given us. A man needs woman just as much as woman needs man.  Different roles but one is not less important than the other.)

1Co 11:12  For as woman came from man, even so man also comes through woman; but all things are from God.

1Co 11:13  Judge among yourselves. Is it proper for a woman to pray to God with her head uncovered?

(Praying with no authority over her – will God hear her? Will the angels react when she is rebellious to the order God has provided? Paul is saying ‘Judge among yourselves’ – Paul is continuing what he said earlier, in the 12 previous verses.  Christ is the head of man, man is the head of woman and God is the head of Christ. This is the order.)

1Co 11:14  Does not even nature itself teach you that if a man has long hair, it is a dishonor to him?

1Co 11:15  But if a woman has long hair, it is a glory to her; for her hair is given to her for a covering.

(Paul goes back again to use the physical to explain this principle, that is why he says “Does not even nature”

(oh Paul I thought you were talking about nature all along J - ok a little wit isn’t bad). See how Paul is using the physical world to express his point?)

1Co 11:16  But if anyone seems to be contentious, we have no such custom, nor do the churches of God.

(‘We’ have  no custom (tradition in the Jewish culture) nor in the churches of God, that a woman is over a man.)