Headship and Covering the Head 1 Cor 11:1-16

Headship and Covering the Head 1 Cor 11: 1-16 CLICK TITLE FOR AUDIO

In 1 Cor 11:1-6, Paul deals with headship, or the proper order of authority, the covering of the head with hair, and the protection afforded women when they are covered.


1 Cor 11:3 The head of man is Christ.  The head of the woman is man.  The head of Christ is God. 

The head of Christ.  In Phil 2:5-8, Jesus willingly humbled himself.  In Jn 14:28, Jesus said that the Father is greater than I.  In 1 Cor 15:25-28, the Son himself is subject unto him.

The head of man and the head of woman.  In Gen 3:16, the husband rules his wife.  In Eph 5:22-24, wives are subject unto their husbands.  The census used to identify the man as the head of household.  In 1 Pet 3:1-7, the wife is subject unto her husband even when he is disobedient to the word of God.  This comes from the order of creation in 1 Cor 11:7-9 and Gen 2:20-23.  The man was created first and the woman was created for him and from him.  A woman’s head is the man.  In Num 30:3-12 concerning vows, a woman’s father or her husband can disallow her vow.  


1 Cor 11:4-6 What does to cover mean?  To cover means to hide from sight [to conceal], to spread something over, to place a cover over, and many other definitions.  For example, in Matt 8:24 the ship was covered with waves.  In Matt 10:26 there is nothing covered that shall not be revealed.  The idea of covering in 1 Cor 11 is to cover “the head” not just the top of the head.

What is the cover?  In 1 Cor 11:14-15, the cover is hair; it’s already there.  The head is covered when he/she has long hair.  She is given long hair for a covering in 1 Cor 11:15.  He is not supposed to have long hair in 1 Cor 11:14.  The length of “long hair” is implied in the following verses.  Mary was able to wipe Jesus’ feet with her hair [Jn 11:2], it was that long.  In 1 Tim 2:9, 1 Pet 3:3 women’s hair is long enough to braid. In Rev 9:8 the locusts had “the hair of women.”

1 Cor 11:6 if the woman is not covered let her be shorn.  Women captured by Israel who would be married to their captor were to shave their head, Deut 21:12.  Paul said that if it is a shame to be shorn or shaven, let her be covered.  To shear is to cut off the hair.  To shave is to sever the hair from the head or another part of the body close to the roots; to cut off hair close to the skin.  In Is 3:24, judgment against the women included baldness instead of well set hair.

In Num 6:5, a man could let his hair grow in the Nazarite vow, but he shaved it off at the end of the vow in Num 6:18. 

Note: on covering, 2 Sam 15:30 David and the men that went with him away from Absalom had their head covered.  Haman went this house mourning having his head covered.  Men take their hats off when entering a church.  Women used to wear hats, scarves and veils in church.  Most commentators on this passage deal with head coverings, not hair.

Note: on 1 Cor 11:5 woman prophesying and praying… see Anna the prophetess Lk 2:36-38.  See the daughters of Philip Acts 21:8-9.  See in the Old Testament, Deborah was a prophetess in Jud 4:4.


1 Cor 11:10 Power on her head.  A woman should always have a “head” over her… her father, then her husband.  Paul said that this is because of the angels.  In Matt 13:41 the Son of man shall send forth his angels.  In Matt 25:41 hell is prepared for the devil and his angels.  In Rev 12:7 Michael and his angels fight the devil and his angels.  Paul is undoubtedly writing about evil angels who would deceive.  In 2 Cor 11:3 the serpent beguiled Eve. In 2 Cor 11:11-15 deception is by the devil and his apostles.  1 Tim 2:9-15 women are more easily deceived than men.  In 2 Tim 3:5-6 deceivers lead captive silly women.

1 Cor 11:11-12 Neither the man without the woman… in the Lord there is neither male nor female [Gal 3:28].  He has power over her but he honors her [1 Pet 3:7] and she reverences him [Eph 5:33].  There is mutual benevolence [1 Cor 7:3-4].  They do not have a master-servant relationship.

1 Cor 11:13-14 When men begin to grow their hair long, they are rebelling.  In 2 Sam 14:26, Absalom’s hair was only polled once each year (and you know what kind of man he was).

When women begin to cut their hair off, they are rebelling.  Short hair is connected with the women’s liberation movement.  Hair cut short suggests masculinity and equality with man not in the sense of 1 Cor11:11-12 but in the sense of 1 Cor 11:3.  See the excerpts from two recent articles concerning hair, below.

“Short hair communicates both liberation and deviation. Girls with short hair may appear masculine or butch, a look embodying what gender studies professor Jack Halberstam has called ‘female masculinity.’ 

“Long hair, on the other hand, communicates femininity in a number of ways, some of them related to how women should not just look but behave.

“The shorter flapper ‘do became popular during a period of women’s (relative) liberation in the 1920s, and in the 1960s and 1970s, as the women’s and civil rights movements unfolded, the pixie cut took hold, especially in style icons like Mia Farrow and Twiggy (though not in little girls).

“The musical “Hair” focused on that same period, when many white men who grew their hair long or African-Americans who grew out their Afros were also rejecting a set of values, refusing to look and behave in narrowly prescribed ways.”

Lisa Selin Davis https://www.cnn.com/2017/06/09/opinions/short-hair-davis-opinion/index.html

“A group of Sydney women have stormed out of an evangelical conference after being left flabbergasted when a speaker told them cutting their hair short goes against what’s written in the Bible.

Carmelina Read, a speaker and committee member at the Equip 2017 conference, suggested it’s ungodly for women to have their hair short like Hollywood actress Kristen Stewart. 

“In her speech about male leadership, Ms Read showed a picture of the actress with a ‘fierce’ new buzz cut which has been hailed by many as a sign of female liberation.

“Ms Read said that having long hair was in line’s with God’s good design and delight as the length made it easier for people to differentiate between a man and a women.”

June Ramli 7 June 2017 http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4579442/Women-walk-preacher-urging-women-not-cut-hair.html

1 Cor 11:16 If a man wants to be contentious about this, Paul said we have “no such custom.” In other words, the men in women in the other churches were not having a problem with this.