The Apostleʼs epistle to the Corinthians on the subject of headcovering takes a definite course which, if understood, will remove the confusion that surrounds this passage in many quarters of the Lord’s church. Is Paul’s “required covering” a veil or long hair? As it is, most pay no attention to context or outline. Some, having no instruction in laws of Scriptural interpretation, put the cart directly in front of the horse in appealing to verse 15 for the identity of the covering of verses 3-10. By doing so, verse 15 is robbed of its context, and violence is done to holy Scripture.
There is a precise outline to Paul’s presentation. The teaching of headship (and the headcovering, that is an intrinsic part) of verses 3-16 is divided into four major sections: verses 3-6, 7-10, 11-12, and 13-16.
Actually, Paul’s apostolic injunction of the headcovering is given in the first four verses of the address concerning headship (vv3-6). Here, the Apostle identifies the headcovering, and takes great pains to enjoin the ordinance upon the church at Corinth. After which comes four verses (vv7-10) that catalog four arguments which he presents for the mandate given in verses 3-6; these arguments are at once Scriptural and Spiritual (none of which are cultural in nature). Following, is an Interlude involving verses 11 and 12. In this section the Apostle softens the sting that must have been felt (is even today felt) from his previous admonition in verses 3-10. In the Interlude the Corinthians are assured of the interdependency of both sexes: Just as the first female was taken from the side of man, so all men since that time have come from the womb of a woman. Finally, and fourthly, in verses 13 through 16 Paul reasons with the Corinthians, in behalf of the headcovering, from three areas of life: conscience, nature, and Christian society.
Paul’s mention of hair as a covering does not come until the section of the teaching that deals with reasoning from nature. Therefore, it would be a violation of the “Law of Context” to attempt to teach hair as the covering required in verses 3-10. The long “hair” of verse 15 is offered by Paul as a reason from nature for the required veil. One should consider the words of the noble John Chrysostom (347-407), from his Homily XXVI. We are instructed in the admonition of John Chrysostom of two coverings: one from nature, i.e. the hair—that is universal for all women, Christian and non-Christian alike; the other, the RAC (Religious Article of Clothing), required by God’s law for Christian women, when in prayer or operating in the gifts of the Spirit, such as prophesying. It seems that then, as now, some argued that if nature has given the woman a natural covering in her hair, what need did she have for a second covering. To this complaint Chrysostom wrote:
“‘And if it be given her for a covering,’ say you, ‘wherefore need she add another covering?’ That not nature only, but also her own will may have part in her acknowledgment of subjection. For that thou oughtest to be covered nature herself by anticipation enacted a law. Add now, I pray, thine own part also, that thou mayest not seem to subvert the very laws of nature; a proof of most insolent rashness, to buffet not only with us, but with nature also.”
A valid study of the Christian woman’s headcovering MUST be executed within the context and framework of Paul’s outline. For the sake of a visual concept we give the outline of Paul’s teaching here.
I. Headcovering Identified and Enjoined (1 Corinthians 11:3-6).
A. God’s order of creation: v3;
B. Prohibition on men praying or prophesying with the head covered; this dishonors Christ: v4;
C. Prohibition on women praying or Prophesying with an uncovered head: this dishonors the man: v5;
D. The covering is identified as a veil (Religious Article of Clothing); if a woman refuses to veil herself
she should ALSO cut her hair, it is the same shame: v6
II. Headcovering Established By Four Scriptural and Spiritual Arguments (1 Corinthians 11: 7-10)
- The woman is the glory of man (v7);
- The woman was created from the man (8);
- The woman was created for the man (9);
- Because of the angles (v10).
III. Interlude (1 Corinthians 11:11-12)
The interdependency of both sexes.
IV. Headcovering Is Reasoned From Three Areas of the
Corinthians’ Life (1 Corinthians 11:13-16).
- Reasoned From Conscience (13);
- Reasoned From Nature (14-15);
- Reasoned From Christian Society (16).
This is an excerpt from the Bishop's book on the subject of the Christian Woman's Headcovering. You may purchase the book at: createspace.com/4169785
☩ David Ignatius
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