Thursday, 6 November 2014
For this reason the woman ought to have a symbol of authority on her head, because of the angels. 1 Corinthians 11:10
“For this reason” is referring to the hierarchy mentioned in verse 9. The covering mentioned earlier is a symbol of authority over the woman. Based on this statement, we can then interpret the meaning of “head” from verse 11:5 as “authority” and not the physical head. An example of this is found later in Paul’s writings in 1 Timothy 2:12 –
“And I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man, but to be in silence.”
This “covering” shows the authority placed over her and therefore what Paul writes in 1 Timothy is both explicit and expected. The modern church which is inundated with women pastors, preachers, teachers, reverends, and the like is therefore in willful disobedience of the word of the Lord. There can be no rewards for disobedience, and so the work they are doing, even if it brings others to Christ, will only bring self-inflicted loss.
Paul then explains this by saying, “because of the angels.” What exactly does this mean? There is no verse elsewhere in Scripture that explicitly refers to this statement. A search of several sound and notable Bible commentaries indicates the following:
“Thus would the apostle have the women appear In Christian assemblies, even though they spoke there by inspiration, because of the angels, that is, say some, because of the evil angels. The woman was first in the transgression, being deceived by the devil (1 Tim. ii. 14)), which increased her subjection to man, Gen. iii. 16. Now, believe evil angels will be sure to mix in all Christian assemblies, therefore should women wear the token of their shamefacedness and subjection, which in that age and country, was a veil. Others say because of the good angels. Jews and Christians have had an opinion that these ministering spirits are many of them present in their assemblies. Their presence should restrain Christians from all indecencies in the worship of God. Note, We should learn from all to behave in the public assemblies of divine worship so as to express a reverence for God, and a content and satisfaction with that rank in which he has placed us.” Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the whole Bible
“What this means, I do not yet understand.” The Geneva Bible
(In a lengthy discourse on the subject) – “I do not know what it means; and I regard it as one of the very few passages in the Bible whose meaning as yet is wholly inexplicable.” Barnes Notes on the New Testament
“…who are present at our Christian assemblies (compare Ps 138:1, “gods,” that is, angels), and delight in the orderly subordination of the several ranks of God’s worshippers in their respective places, the outward demeanor and dress of the latter being indicative of that inward humility which angels know to be most pleasing to their common Lord (1 Co 4:9; Eph 3:10; Ec 5:6). HAMMOND quotes CHRYSOSTOM, “Thou standest with angels; thou singest with them; thou hymnest with them; and yet dost thou stand laughing?” BENGEL explains, “As the angels are in relation to God, so the woman is in relation to man. God’s face is uncovered; angels in His presence are veiled (Isa 6:2). Man’s face is uncovered; woman in His presence is to be veiled. For her not to be so, would, by its indecorousness, offend the angels (Mt 18:10, 31). She, by her weakness, especially needs their ministry; she ought, therefore, to be the more careful not to offend them.” Jamieson, Faussett, and Brown
“The insubordination of women in refusing to acknowledge the authority of their husbands would offend the angels who, under God, guard the created universe (cf. Col 1:16; Eph 1:21), and know no insubordination.” The Wycliffe Bible Commentary
The commentaries from the Geneva Bible and Barnes above are probably the most honest commentaries on this subject, although they don’t help very much. Due to the variance of opinion on the matter, and the lack of direct scriptural links which actually support the statement, there is truly no harm in stating “I don’t know what this means.” However, the comment by Matthew Henry and the “evil angels” makes at least partial sense.
In the end, Paul knew what he was writing and the Corinthians at that time understood it. Because of this, we can trust that the statement “because of the angels” is valid in an of itself, even if it isn’t fully understood. It is a tenet which we can know is both sound and reasonable.
Life application: Even if we don’t fully understand “why” tenets are given in the Bible, or further – even if we don’t understand the explanation given for the “why,” if we understand the directive then we need to be obedient to that directive. Not understanding why something is directed is not an excuse to disobey the command.
Lord, I’ve come to the conclusion that I don’t completely understand the reason for some of the things You have told us to do in Your word. But I have enough sense to know that not understanding “why” isn’t a reason to be disobedient to You. You are God and I am man.
Maybe someday I will understand the “why”
But until then I will still comply
When You direct me in something, it is my duty to do it without question or complaint. All glory to You! Amen.