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Only Your Hairdresser Knows For Sure – 1 Corinthians 11:2-16

May 24, 2020

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As we have now finished the section of Scripture that speaks specifically to "Christian liberty" (chps. 8-10).

Recall that the theme of this epistle is "correcting church problems."

The problems then, still plague us today.

In chapter 11, the Apostle Paul will address two more church problems that the Corinthian believers sought his direction in:

      1. Head covering in worship (vs. 2-16).

      2. Abusing the Lord's supper (vs. 17-34). 

It may seem as if the church today has no issue with these particular problems.

But unfortunately, we do, and there are very important principles in this passage we need to understand.

Some think that God is not interested in when and what we put on our heads or type of haircut we have.

 But He is:

And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered.

(Matt. 10:30)

The most miniscule and intimate details of our lives are under His care and inspection. 

He is "jealous" for us in all things.

(Ex. 20:5)


Vs. 2

       "I praise you..."

           * Paul's first praise for the Corinthians, until now it has been "I praise you not!"

       "...for remembering me..."

           * In prayer and financial support after he left Corinth.

       "...and for holding to the traditions..."

             * "Traditions" - Paul's teaching, the oracles of God, not as the Pharisees used "tradition." (Matt. 15:1-3)

Vs. 3

          "...the head of every man is Christ...the head of the woman is man...the head of Christ is God."

               * "The head" - Is the symbol of authority that gives direction (“headship”). (Eph. 1:22, 5:23)

               * "Every man" - Signifies men and women, all believers.

                * "The woman" - A married woman. (Gen. 3:16)

Too many men emphasize "the head of the woman is man." Women are not inferior to men; they just have a different place under God's authority.

This is not God's intent (women's inferiority to men), rather this is His authority for the sake of order, a "chain of command" to eliminate confusion.

The principle is as important to the family as it is to the church, for neither are democracies.

Without a single leader, there is confusion and lack of direction.

                  * "The head of Christ is God" - Here is a great mystery. 

                              Jesus said:

"I and My Father are one."

(Jn. 10:30)

                              He also said:

"...for My Father is greater than I." (Jn. 14:28)

Jesus is in every way equal to the Father, His role is just different than the Fathers, and He voluntarily submits to the Father in the work of redemption.

In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:  Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to His own advantage; rather, He made Himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.

(Phil. 2:5-7)

Vs. 4

          "Every man who prays or prophesies..."

              * "Prays" - Praying - Speaking for man to God.

              * "Prophesies" - Teaching the Word, forthtelling, speaking to man for God.

          "...with his head covered dishonors his head."

                * "His head" - Again - The authority he is under.

In Jewish culture, the covering of the head (tallit - Hb.) signifies sin, shame and unworthiness before God.

But a believer, redeemed by Christ was to uncover his head as a symbol of his freedom and righteousness in Christ.

Vs. 5

          "...every woman who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head."

               * "Dishonors her head" - Her husband and:

                        - When she worships and flaunts her disregard for the rules of headship (authority) she also                                            dishonors the principles of God.

          "...it is the same as having her head shaved."

               * In Corinth an "unveiled woman" was a prostitute. Modest, married women under the authority of a                              husband wore veils in public.

              * "Head shaved" - The vestal virgins in the temple of Aphrodite, the temple prostitutes had shaved heads.

              * Also, under Jewish law, a woman found in adultery had her "head shaved." (Num. 5:11-31)

 Does this mean that today women in church must wear a veil?

 No, the principle today is that a woman in church must dress modestly, by this she honors God and her husband.

 1 Timothy 2:8-14

1 Peter 3:1-7

Ephesians 5:21-33

 Vs. 7

          "...he is the image and glory of God..."

               * This applies to both man and woman (mankind), for we are both created in God's image.

"Then God said, “Let Us make mankind in Our image, in Our likeness,...

So God created mankind in His own image,

in the image of God He created them; male and female He created them."

(Gen. 1:26a-27)

 "...but woman is the glory of man."

"The glory of woman is a private, intimate

thing revealed in the intimacy of marriage,

not outwardly and publicly.”

                                                   Dr. David Jeremiah

 As mentioned earlier, in Corinth this privacy was symbolized by a veil voluntarily worn by the woman.

In our culture, this should be symbolized by modest apparel, concealing "the woman" as she is the "glory of man," her husband, and is his most beautiful "possession." 

Vs. 8-9

          "For man did not come from woman, but woman from man; neither was man created for woman, but woman for                 man."

              * This is the order of God's sovereign creation and plan for mankind.

 Genesis 2:18, 21-25

Woman is not independent from man, but has a different status.  Both are created in God's image and equally valued by God.

Thus, it is not a matter of equality, but rather of divine design and intention.

Vs. 10

           "...because of the angels..."

                * A difficult translation with differing interpretations;

                      1. We are being observed by angels, in our disobedience, and God's grace towards us amazes them.

                      2. And because the angels ("sons of God" - Job 1:6 NKJV) were present when headship (authority) was                              established by God (Job 38:7), they again were amazed at how we dishonor God's authority.

 Vs. 11

            "Nevertheless, in the Lord woman is not independent of man, nor is man independent of woman."

                 * We are codependent and coequal before God. "One flesh" in holy matrimony.

            "...there is neither male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus."

(Gal. 3:28)

 Vs. 12

          "For as woman came from man, so also man is born of woman. But everything comes from God."

                 * A better translation:

"For as woman came from man (his rib), even so man also comes through

woman (the birth canal); but all things are from God."


"A man needs a woman, and a woman needs a man.

This is the true "liberty" in the glorious

relationship of marriage."

                                                   J. Vernon Magee

          "...everything comes from God."

                * And our response:


"...always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ."

(Eph. 5:20-21)

 Vs. 13

          "...is it proper for a woman...to pray...with her head uncovered?"

               * In light of the requirement to be under the authority of God and her husband. 

Vs. 14

         "...if a man has long hair it is a disgrace to him..."

              * Again, a difficult passage to understand in today's culture.

              * "Disgrace" - Shame.  This is why the Nazirite vow requires a man to not cut his hair until the vow is                                  complete.  It was shameful for a man to have long hair like a woman and he was willing to bear the                              "disgrace" humbly in consecration to God. (Num. 6:2, 5, 11, 18)

             * Simply, there ought to be a difference between the length of men and women's hair, or styles, to easily                        differentiate between them. (Deut. 22:5, Ezk. 44:20, 2 Sam. 14:25-26, 17:9, 14)

 Vs. 15

          "...for long hair is given to her as a covering."

               * If custom does not dictate a head covering (veil), her long hair can be that "covering."

 Vs. 16

           "If anyone wants to be contentious about this..."

                 * "Contentious" - Argumentative, divisive. 

          "...we have no other practice - nor do the churches of God."

               * Paul concludes that the church shouldn't have to make "rules" about hair or dress.

               * And he is not making "rules" in this regard.  Just giving his best opinion.


The real issue is not "head coverings" or dress, but God's authority, "headship" over us.

The real issue is the "inner man."  It is our "old nature," the "flesh" that needs a haircut and Christ's robe of righteousness.

If the "inner man" is under control of the Holy Spirit, the outer man will be properly attired and groomed!

The most important thing in our grooming is the submission of our hearts to the Lord, and obedience to His headship!



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