First Corinthians 11 and Covering the Head in Worship

by Constance Belanger

For decades the leaders or minsters in the Ekklesia have not taught that women need to cover their hair when attending worship services, or when praying or prophesying (which means to teach, refute, reprove, admonish, comfort or edify).  

God Almighty saw fit to preserve these scriptures for our instruction and it is high time we took a serious look at this subject and then begin acting on the truth. 

2 Timothy 3:16  All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:

If the subject ever did come up in sermons or articles we were quickly directed to 1 Corinthians 11:15 which says, “for her hair is given her for a covering”, and told that we did not need to wear anything on our head, for women were to have long hair and that was the “covering”.  The focus on this verse and the preceding verses seemed to be about hair lengths for men and women. This passage was mostly quoted to prove that men should wear their hair short and that women should wear their hair long.

I had read 1 Corinthians 11 many, many times and because I had this prejudiced idea that we did not have to wear head coverings and that as long as women had long hair, there was no need to look any further into what it was really teaching.  So I would read right over these verses because our elders taught us that there was no need to study this as they had already looked into the meanings and had “ruled” that long hair was sufficient as a covering for women. Some of the ministers and brethren made fun of those few who actually went ahead on their own and wore headscarves at services.

I remember in one sermon, the pastor said that those who insisted on wearing coverings were just trying to be overly righteous and were drawing extra attention for themselves as they would tend to stand out from the others who did not wear head coverings. And as has been our tendency in the church of God right up to this day; we have been taught that to comply with “church government,” we must assume that the elders are always right because they were the leaders and that God leads His church through what the elders teach and determine to be right. And that there is really no need to “prove all things” as God has commanded for ourselves, because the elders have proven them already for us and we do not have to look into the validity of what they teach.

This subject of head coverings has shown me again, that the church of God leaders can be in error in their teachings; just like I have discovered that they are in error on a number of topics and doctrines (like the Biblical calendar, primacy of Peter, meaning of the Holy Days, etc.).

We are the people of God who supposedly live “by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4). Does the truth matter in respect to this judgment/ordinance? I believe it very much does matter. It is worth the effort to look into this issue to find out (and prove from Scripture) what the truth really is concerning this ordinance that Paul tells us we must keep.

John 17:17 Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.

Psalm 119:151 Thou art near, O Lord; and all thy commandments are truth.

Psalm 119:160 Thy word is true from the beginning: and every one of thy righteous judgments endureth for ever.

For the past few years this whole idea of women covering their heads when worshiping kept coming to my attention and I was challenged as to what was God’s truth in regard to this topic.

At first, I kept going to verse 1 Corinthians 11:15 and telling myself “no, it says right here that the hair is for the covering”. But when I really focused on this chapter with the subject of head coverings in mind and when I read through the text, something just was not making sense.

Paul had spent the first 14 verses explaining how men were not to pray with their heads covered and how women were supposed pray with their head covered. In the next few verses he went on to explain the authority of the husband and the roles of both men and women and then how the woman should have an emblem of “power” or authority on her head because of the angels.

But then to have the meaning appear to say in verse 15 “but the long hair is to be the woman’s covering” is contradictory and makes no sense. Additionally, in verse 16 to say “we have no such custom;”  why would Paul negate everything he had just taught in the previous 14 verses? I began to see that there was something more than met the eye in verse 15 that we were just not understanding.

When I looked up the Greek word for covering in verse 15 of 1st Corinthians 11, I discovered that it was a completely different word than the word for covering in verses 4, 5, 6, 7, 13;  and that the Greek word used in those verses 4, 5, 6, 7, 13 is katakaluptos which means “down from…. veil or covering”; it is a cloth and the meaning was well known to be a cloth in ancient times; it never meant hair.

So why is it important to understand all this? Because all of God’s Word should be taken seriously and if God commands something, we as His people need to obey and keep all of His commandments and ordinances. Paul tells us that this is an ordinance and that we are to observe it. In 1st Corinthians 11:2, Paul commended the Corinthians for keeping the ordinances as he had delivered them, and this included this ordinance as well. They apparently were having a problem with this ordinance and it was needful for him to go into further admonition to keep this one as well as the other ordinances that he had delivered to them.

If this ordnance was only for the first century Christians, why is it recorded for us in the Bible? The ministers in the church of God do not teach the necessity of keeping this ordinance and they are basically saying that the ordinance of hair coverings for women is not for the people of God today; and yet it is clearly commanded by God through the apostle Paul that women are to cover their heads with a cloth when praying and prophesying. It is in Scripture and if God commands it, we as His people are obligated to obey Him. This is like any other command, statute, ordinance that God teaches in His Holy Word, and He expects us to trust Him and keep all that He commands.

The fact is, that most women down through the ages have observed this ordinance to keep their heads covered and it was just a “given” that ladies wore cloth veils or hats when they attended services. Even women outside of the church of God knew this was a tradition taught in God’s Word. In the Catholic church it was taught right up until modern times that women were to wear a hat or a veil when attending services. I was brought up in the Catholic church and as a young girl I can remember the lace veils that we had to wear when we went to “church”.

It seems that since the 60’s and 70’s the tradition of wearing head coverings went out the window and the fashions and styles for women have become ever more decadent and indecent ever since.

Brethren, this is an ordinance that needs restoring for the people of God, regardless of what our society around us teaches and exemplifies for us.

Following is a verse by verse in-depth study of this subject from the one place in the Bible that teaches us that we must keep this ordinance, and Paul even explains to us why we are to keep it.

1 Corinthians 11:1-16

1 Corinthians 11:1 Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ.

We are to follow Paul as He follows Christ “Pattern yourselves after me [follow my example], as I imitate and follow Christ (the Messiah).” (Amplified Version)

We are to follow men only as they follow Christ. If this is true then the converse is true: if a person is not following Christ, then we are not to follow that one. Paul was appointed by God to be an apostle and he had the authority to teach and exhort as a true apostle of Christ, just as the original apostles that had been appointed and trained by Christ during His ministry. Most of us do accept the authority of Paul as a writer of Scripture and that we are to obey his instructions as he ordained them to all the church through his teachings and by his letters. (1st Corinthians 7:17)

In Acts 2:42 we read about the brethren in the early days of the growing Ekklesia “And they continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.”

The people of God, like those in the days of the early apostles, must continue steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine. We have their doctrine handed down to us by the Word of God. The apostles’ doctrine is what is taught by the authority of Jesus Christ through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit as recorded in the Scriptures. It is, in actuality, Christ’s doctrine handed down to us through the apostles, as written in His Word. Along with the prophets and Jesus Christ as the chief corner stone, the apostles also add their writings to help form the foundation of what is written in Scriptures.

Ephesians 2:19 Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God; 2:20 And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone;

2 Timothy 3:16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: 3:17 That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.

The apostles’ doctrines were not commands or teachings that they themselves had come up with by their own imaginations nor were they things that had been determined on their own. What they taught had to be in complete agreement with what God had determined to be the ordinances and practices to be followed by the members of His body.

It was by God’s divine guidance and inspiration that the apostles established the doctrines and practices for the Ekklesia and were always based on, and in complete compliance with all of God’s precepts and principles. They could not add to it nor take away from what God had constituted to be His commandments, statutes, ordinances, and judgments for His people; but they could expand (as inspired by God’s Holy Spirit) upon them. The apostles were ordained and sent forth to teach the people all the things that Jesus had taught them when they were with Him as His disciples for 3 ½ years.

John 20:21 Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you.

They were to expound upon the importance of keeping the letter of the law that was taught in the Old Testament and then build upon those laws and precepts, teaching  us how to apply them to the very spiritual intent of the law of God as they had learned from Christ. (Please see the sermon on the mount, Matthew 5-7)

And sometimes Christ would use the apostles to give them direct revelation as to how the precepts were to be kept and to clarify certain ordinances that needed more explaining or to expand upon the spiritual application of God’s Word. Examples of such are when the apostles came together and clarified the spiritual understanding of circumcision and what should be taught now in the Ekklesia (Acts 15:1-11); Paul’s rulings for Christian marriages in 1st Corinthians 7:1-40; and Paul’s clarifications and guidance for the proper use of spiritual gifts in 1st Corinthians 14.

Paul exhorts the brethren in his letter to the Thessalonians, to stay committed to holding the traditions which they had been taught by the Word of God and by the apostles: whose words are a part of Scripture, not just anyone who claims to be an apostle.

2 Thessalonians 2:15 Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word, or our epistle.

The mandate to the disciples to go and teach to others all the things that they had been taught by Jesus, and to teach them to observe all His commandments, was also the commission that the apostle Paul had been appointed to do.

Matthew 28:19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: 20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.

The teaching about head coverings is given in only one place of the Bible, (there are examples in the Old Testament) but if God instructs us to do something according to His Word; telling us once should suffice, if we truly are seeking to keep all of His laws and ordinances.

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

Paul is saying that he appreciates and commends the brethren because they are remembering his instructions and are keeping the ordinances as he had presented them to those in Corinth. But then after this verse he goes into some areas that they are in need of understanding better, such as the issue of head coverings, and later in the chapter, on how to keep Passover services in a more godly fashion.

The Greek word for “ordinance” in this verse is paradosis (Strong’s #3862) and means: tradition, ordinance, from paradidomi; transmission, i.e. (concretely) a precept; specially, God’s law — ordinance, tradition. (Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance)

The same Greek word “paradosis” that is used in 1st Corinthians 11:2 is the same word that is used in 2nd Thessalonians 2:15 (quoted earlier) where it is translated “traditions”. It also the same Greek word used in the following verse that is translated “tradition”. So this word can be translated either as tradition or ordinance.

We can see from the context that to not walk after the traditions [teachings] that they had received of the original apostles was very serious and was grounds for disfollowshipping someone if they refused to obey those teachings.

2 Thessalonians 3:6 Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye withdraw yourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly, and not after the tradition which he received of us.

The Hebrew word for ordinance and/or judgment is mishpat (Strong’s #4941) and means: adversary, ceremony, charge, crime, custom, desert, determination, discretion, (Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance)

There are 421 occurrences (as per Strong’s Concordance) in which mishpat is translated as either ordinance or judgment. The way it is used in Scripture clarifies the definition even further. God’s ordinances and His traditions are lumped in the same category as keeping His commandments and laws, for they are also part of His instructions for us as contained in the whole Word of God; and they are also His commandments.

Leviticus 18:3 After the doings of the land of Egypt, wherein ye dwelt, shall ye not do: and after the doings of the land of Canaan, whither I bring you, shall ye not do: neither shall ye walk in their ordinances. 18:4 Ye shall do my judgments, and keep mine ordinances, to walk therein: I am the Lord your God. 18:5 Ye shall therefore keep my statutes, and my judgments: which if a man do, he shall live in them: I am the Lord.

Exodus 18:19 Hearken now unto my voice, I will give thee counsel, and God shall be with thee: Be thou for the people to God-ward, that thou mayest bring the causes unto God: 18:20 And thou shalt teach them ordinances and laws, and shalt shew them the way wherein they must walk, and the work that they must do.

1 Corinthians 11:3 But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God.

Here Paul takes somewhat of a turn by saying “but”; which introduces an exception to the commendation given earlier. He admonishes the Corinthians that he wants them to know or to come to understand a certain precept, and starts out by reminding them that “the head of every man is Christ, and the head of the woman is the man, and the head of Christ is God [the Father].” He starts out this portion of the chapter laying the foundation for the rest of what he is going to explain to them in regard to the relationship between men and women and why a man should pray and prophesy with his head uncovered, and why a woman should pray and prophesy with her head covered by a cloth veil or covering.

The Greek word for “head” that is used three times in this verse is kephalé (Strong’s #2776). Definition is : (a) the head, (b) met: a corner stone, uniting two walls; head, ruler, lord. (Strong’s Concordance)

We see that this word, “kephale” can mean the physical head on the body; or it can mean a ruler or lord; which means someone who has the authority over others, such as the head of a company or the head of a nation. Obviously we must look at the context to determine if a word is talking about a ruler/authority or if it is about the physical head on the body. 

Here are two other Scriptures that use the word head as meaning “authority” and this precept is what Paul is talking about in verse 3 of 1st Corinthians 11. If we were to think of this word as meaning “physical head” in these verses it would not make sense.

Ephesians 4:15 But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:

Ephesians 5:23 For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body.

We see then that what Paul is speaking of is that Christ is the ruler/authority in these verses. In 1st Corinthians 11:3 and in Ephesians 5:23 the husband is the head [ruler/authority] over the woman.

I know this may be a hard teaching for us to accept, especially in our modern day feminist times, but this is what God says in His Word through the apostle Paul who has the authority to say such things on behalf of God, as talked about earlier. The apostles were ordained by God to teach us the spirit of His ordinances and to help us understand the mind of God and what He wants from us. It is really God that says that a husband has the authority over his wife.

God’s divine order for His family is: God [the Father], Christ, the man, then the woman, then children. This is not about being superior or inferior to anyone, specifically as to what our value/worth is in the eyes of God or in society. Both men and women are equally valuable in God’s plan.

A man is not better than a woman, nor a woman better than a man. People throughout all history and throughout all the societies on earth just cannot seem to grasp this concept, nor can they understand this teaching by God. They twist the meaning in Scripture and see it as very bad, not a good thing at all. So men and women compete with one another rather than cooperate. Or women have been oppressed and treated as chattel down through the ages, rather than as valued human beings.

Both men and women are of equal value and both are of tremendous importance to God’s overall purpose; both are designed by God for contributing to the divine plan that He has for humanity. This teaching about authority has to do with God’s divine arrangement that was meant to lend to the best-possible smooth operation of a godly family unit and bring about wholesome, healthy, godly children who would perpetuate the continuance of mankind.

This is what God has (in His great wisdom) decreed from the very beginning. If both men and women would respect their God-given roles and both would do their very best in obeying God and putting Him first in their lives (as their Head i.e. Ruler, Lord), and then in applying this God ordained divine order of authority; then this world would be a lot better off! It is because of man’s rebellion and our refusal to follow and obey God’s ways; that is the cause of all of the problems between men and women, (and for all the other trouble in the world as well).

This can only work if both partners are in complete submission to God, to His commandments, and to His instructions on how we are to conduct ourselves in our marriages that will bring peaceful cooperation. If a man is not leading properly as “head” in obeying the whole Word of God and loving his wife as Christ loves the church, then it is impossible for a godly wife to properly submit and the marriage will not work. If a wife refuses to obey God and to follow her husband who is obeying God, it is impossible for the marriage to function in a godly way. As we can see by observing the state of this world, very few are doing this right!

The marriage ordinance is allegorical of the relationship that Christ has with His spiritual bride and only a few are learning these lessons at this time. Most of the world under the influence of Satan are undermining the sacredness of marriage (big time!) to the point of obliterating the true meaning of marriage altogether; and redefining it into the most carnal/vile varieties of unions.

But marriages that are based on the true purpose of what marriage constitute in the eyes of God will be restored in the very near future, when those who have leaned and practiced these principles now in their lifetimes will be equipped to teach the physical remnant that will be brought back from captivity and who will be a part of God’s kingdom.

1 Corinthians 11:4 Every man praying or prophesying, having his head [physical head] covered, dishonoureth [disgraces] his head [his authority].

In verse 4, the Greek word two times for “head” is used again kephalé, but we can see from the context that the first head here means the physical head but the second use means “his authority”; for how could one dishonor [disgrace] his [physical] head by not having his [physical] head covered.

Paul is clearly saying that a man is not to have any covering on his [physical] head when he is praying or prophesying, for if he does, he dishonors [disgraces] Christ who is his head [authority].

The Greek word for dishonor is kataischunó (Strong’s #2617b) which means: to put to shame, to disgrace. Short Definition: disappointed (Strong’s Concordance) 

The Greek word for prophesying is prophéteuó (Strong’s # 4395) means to foretell, tell forth, prophesy; but can also mean to teach, refute, reprove, admonish, and comfort or can simply mean inspired speaking according to God’s Word.

To edify the church by teaching refuting, reproving, admonishing and comforting is the most common practice that comes under this meaning. It is the kind of speaking by which we expound the Scriptures to each other or to talk about spiritual things. Paul tells us that we are to edify each other, or exhort one another in other passages; which is what we are all to do when we gather for services and during Christian fellowship.

Hebrews 10:25 Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.

In the following verse Paul wants all of the members to be able to prophesy so as to edify the church.

1 Corinthians 14:4 He that speaketh in an unknown tongue edifieth himself; but he that prophesieth edifieth the church. 14:5 I would that ye all spake with tongues but rather that ye prophesied: for greater is he that prophesieth than he that speaketh with tongues, except he interpret, that the church may receive edifying.

1 Corinthians 11:5 But every woman that prayeth or prophesieth with her head uncovered dishonoureth [disgraces] her head: [her husband and Christ]  for that is even all one as if she were shaven.

Then in the very next verse, Paul says that if a woman prays or prophesies with her physical head uncovered or unveiled; dishonors [disgraces] her God appointed authority “head”. The word “head” meaning the man [father or husband] as he is her head having that authority from God, just as we were told in verse 3. This plainly says that if she does not cover her head then she disgraces her husband [and his head Christ][ when praying or prophesying. 

(Note: it is proper and even encouraged for women to pray and prophesy as long as she has her head covered, and she is not replacing the elders in the assembly. If it were wrong, Paul would not be saying this in his instruction here.)

Here is the definition of what it means to be uncovered and it clearly means to be not covered or not veiled with a cloth covering. The word used in this verse does not mean hair. It is important to understand these definitions if we want to know God’s will on this topic.

The Greek word for “uncovered” is (Strong’s #177) and means: uncovered, Short Definition: not veiled, unveiled. From a ( and a derivative of a compound of kata and kalupto; unveiled – uncovered. (Strong’s Concordance)

This is a compound word with “a” as a negative particle i.e. the “un”; and typically means “no” or “not” (= “un-,” “without”). The Greek word kata is “according or down.” with the word kaluptos meaning to cover; these words put together mean to be un-covered or not to be covered with  that which comes down.

The Greek word that would mean the opposite of akatakaluptos and is the word for covering is katakaluptó: (Strong’s #2619) to cover up; Short Definition: veil, cover the head (Strong’s Concordance)

HELPS Word-studies (from 2596 /katá, “down, according to” and 2572/kalýptō, “to cover”) – properly, cover down to make appropriate (complete), i.e. to wear a veil.

When we put these compounds together, verse 5 literally means: “But every woman that prayeth or prophesieth with her head having no down covering or veil dishonoureth her head [her husband].”

So these two verses, 4 and 5, plainly tell us that the man is not to cover his head when he is praying and prophesying and the woman is to cover her head with a veil or cloth when praying and prophesying. There in no prohibition for a woman to pray and prophesy, but she must have her head covered when doing so. This is what these verses are teaching us. It doesn’t matter what anyone else tells us what they say, it only matters what God says.

In the second half of the verse Paul says that if a woman does not cover her head it is the same as if she were shaven. To not cover the head was as shameful as having her hair shaved off which is depicted as being very much a public disgrace.

1 Corinthians 11:6 For if the woman be not covered, let her also be shorn: but if it be a shame for a woman to be shorn or shaven, let her be covered.

In this verse Paul goes on to emphasize what he had just said in verse 5. If a woman prays or prophesies with no cloth covering or veil on her head then its as if she was shaven, or she might as well be shaven for it is just as disgraceful.

The Greek word for shaven is keiró (Strong’s 2751) and means to shear, cut the hair off. (Strong’s Concordance)

Throughout the history of Israel and at the time of Paul it was very much a disgrace for a woman to be shorn. God through the prophet Jeremiah tells Jerusalem to cut off her hair because her sins have caused the Lord to reject her. To be shorn was a sign of shamefulness.

Jeremiah 7:29 Cut off thine hair, O Jerusalem, and cast it away, and take up a lamentation on high places; for the LORD hath rejected and forsaken the generation of his wrath.

Please also see Deuteronomy 21:11-14 Ezra 9:3, Nehemiah 13:25, Isaiah 3:24, Isaiah 7:20, Isaiah 50:6, 2 Samuel 10:4, Ezekiel 5, Micah 1:16, for examples of the loss of hair, having ones hair cut, or head made bald in connection to being judged, being shamed, or of grieving for sins.

So we see that Paul is emphatic in his instructions to the Corinthians that for a woman not to cover her head in prayer or prophesying is a shameful thing indeed.

At the end of the verse “Let her be covered” uses the same Greek word as katakaluptó #2619 that was used earlier; kata: meaning down or down from, and kalupto: to hide, cover, or veil. It is important to note this Greek word, as most of us have been taught in the Church of God, myself included, that in verse 15, the “woman’s long hair is her covering”. But in verse 15 the word for covering is an entirely different Greek word and has a different meaning than the word being used for covering here. I will get into that later.

1 Corinthians 11:7 For a man indeed ought not to cover his head, forasmuch as he is the image and glory of God: but the woman is the glory of the man.

Here Paul is getting into the reason that a man ought not to cover (katakalýptō) his head. The man is the image and glory of God because of his position in authority for he is the head over the woman and the children. This is going back to the divine order again, that the man is under Christ and therefore is the glory of God and the woman who is under the man is therefore the glory of man.

1 Corinthians 11:8 For the man is not of the woman: but the woman of the man. 9 Neither was the man created for the woman; but the woman for the man.

This refers back to the creation account in Genesis and attesting to the fact that man was made first; and then the woman was made after him from one of his ribs. God stated that the woman was made for the man and God describes her as a help that is suitable for him.

Genesis 2:18 And the Lord God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him.

The Hebrew word for helper is azar (Strong’s #5826) which means: A primitive root; to surround, i.e. Protect or aid — help, succour. (Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance)

Again, this is in NO way a put down of the woman but is Paul’s reference to the fact that she was made second and was created to be his “helper”. This does not mean that she is in any way inferior to the man, but only depicts the divine purpose for men and women in the creative order; which is really referring to God’s divine government. Both were made to be in the image of God and they were to have dominion together over the rest of God’s creation, both functioning in their proper roles.

Genesis 1:26 And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.”

But there has to be some kind of order at any time when there is more than one person. Someone has to be the leader. If you have two people and both want to be the leader over the other, there will be confusion and chaos with both parties demanding that they have the authority to make the decisions for the two of them. And it gets even more confusing when the children come along and there is no definite leader for the family. God decreed that it was to be the man that was to be the ruler and the authority over his wife and He says so very clearly in Genesis 3:16.

Genesis 3:16 Unto the woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee.

From living in this present evil world, women tend to balk at the idea of anyone having authority over them,  for most of them have experienced carnal and abusive people bearing rule and causing much suffering in their lives. But we must not throw out God’s teachings and His ordinances just because mankind has abused what God says is right and good.

As we know, we live in a very “far from perfect world” at this time. Solomon understood this and stated that life is only good when the righteous are in authority (which includes righteous husbands and fathers). So as men and women who are called out to learn and practice God’s ways, we should be striving to exemplify His purposes for men and women as best we can even when we are surrounded by those who are in rebellion to all of God’s ways. If they oppose us, we are still to be model examples and lights to them, including God’s principles of godly men being servant leaders in their homes; and godly women being submissive and helpful servants to their husbands. Our marriages and family life are instrumental in training God’s people to be godly leaders in other capacities as God assigns them positions of authority in the future. The following verses depict more insights on this vital subject

Proverbs 29:22 When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice: but when the wicked beareth rule, the people mourn.

Luke 22:25 And he said unto them, The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and they that exercise authority upon them are called benefactors. 22:26 But ye shall not be so: but he that is greatest among you, let him be as the younger; and he that is chief, as he that doth serve. 22:27 For whether is greater, he that sitteth at meat, or he that serveth? is not he that sitteth at meat? but I am among you as he that serveth.

Ephesians 5:25 Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; 5:26 That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, 5:27 That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. 3:28 So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself.

(Please Note: this is not to advocate in any way that anyone should submit to evil, for we are to always submit to only those who lead us in obedience to God. God is the ultimate authority for everyone, just as Paul said in the very first verse; that we are to follow him only as he followed Christ; we are to always obey God rather than men if they are trying to lead us astray! (Acts 5:29) If a woman’s “head” tries to lead her away from God’s righteousness and does not repent; he disqualifies himself from being her head and she must then submit to the One that is her spiritual Head, who is over her husband.)

When both the man and the woman are subordinate to their respective roles they are both learning how to manage and be good stewards of those that God has put into their charge.

1 Timothy 3:5 (For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?)

If we are not doing this now in our own marriages and in our own families, how are we going to ever be able to teach the way of good, happy, functional families to others; not only not in the church in this present age but when we are kings and priests ruling under Christ in the millennial Kingdom of God?

For Those Who are Not Married

Very many of the people of God are not fortunate to be in loving Christian marriages for various reasons. Many at this time are single, divorced, or widowed, and most of God’s people are very much scattered. There just are not many other singles even available to get to know in their areas, (and many cases there are none); and as Christians we must never settle for someone that does not share our faith. Therefore, many of us may not be able at this time to be exemplifying or modeling proper marriages and God understands; for it is better to remain single than to get hastily involved in a situation with someone that just is not suited for us, only because we may want to be married. As Christians, we must be very wise in choosing someone that is on the same path as we are; someone who is seeking after God with all of their hearts just as we are. If we get into a marriage with someone who is constantly trying to take us in another direction or is not very zealous in spiritual things, it will only bring misery and makes it very difficult to serve God.

A woman must determine before she agrees to an engagement that the man she is considering to marry, is someone that she would be able to submit to because his goals and values are the same as hers. A man must determine before he asks a woman to marry him that she is on the same path as he is and that she would be completely on his team as to serving God and living a godly life together.

If someone is lacking in godly character as their habitual way of living (in having or not having a zealous heart for God) before marriage, that person will be that way still after marriage. People do not change their character just because another person would like them to for the sake of a marriage.

So even if it is impossible for us to be married at this point in our lives, God does expect that we study and learn these principles so that we can be teachers of these things in His kingdom. And those who may have had failed marriages in the past are the very ones that could possibly be able to teach others with even more enthusiasm the proper ways of man/woman relationships from having experienced heartbreak themselves. 

They know the pain and they don’t want others (especially the young people who are just starting out) to experience that pain if they will only listen to and obey sound teaching in this area. (Read about Hosea) In fact, sometimes its the ones who have suffered the most from bad marital experiences that are the most motivated and knowledgeable in teaching others to do it right. It’s because they know how heartbreaking it is when we do not use wisdom in this area; and follow our hearts, rather than determining before hand if this person is really godly.

Even the apostle Paul was unmarried for some unrevealed reason, yet he taught more about marriage than anyone else in the Bible. (See 1st Corinthians 7, the whole chapter)

How We Glorify God in Our Respective Roles

When the wife is a proper help to her husband and aiding him in his work, loving him and showing him affection, running the household well, taking good care of the children, she glorifies him and is fulfilling the very role and purpose for which God created her for. If a man is leading properly, loving and showing affection to his wife, protecting, providing for her, caring for their children, he is glorifying God and fulfilling his purpose that God created him for. This is what this verse is indicating when it says that the the man is the glory of God and the woman is the glory of the man.

This is very profound and it needs to be understood in spite of what the world teaches and exemplifies. Most of the people in the world have very much been indoctrinated (to a lessor or greater degree) with the modern day viewpoint of what it means to be a man or a woman and have never really been taught what the proper roles are. And it is getting worse and worse every day with the gender confusion that is happening on a global scale.

The woman is not some whipping post for her husband, but she was created to be his companion and helper, and he in turn cares for and protects his wife. These verses (7 & 8) are pointing out the proper submissive role of the wife. The fact that the husband is in authority and she is his helpmate is what God’s divine order is about.

God is looking for people of God that are fulfilling their roles and illustrating examples of godly, loving marriages: they will shine brightly in this perverse and corrupt generation as the world gets more and more confused as to what it means to be a real man or a real woman in this dark world we are living in, these latter days just before the coming of the King of kings who is going to set these things in order, once and for all!

And regardless of whether or not we are in a physical marriage; if we “are in Christ” then He is our Spiritual Husband and we are to be His “helper”, someone who is on His team and is suitable to Him to be a part of the collective spiritual Bride of Christ.

1 Corinthians 11:10 For this cause ought the woman to have power on her head because of the angels.

This is a very interesting and may be a very puzzling verse. There is nowhere else in the Bible that talks of this. What exactly does Paul mean for a woman to have power on her head in relation to the angels? If we look to what the Scriptures have to say and look at the meaning of some of the words used in this verse, we can get an indication.

When he says for this “cause” we understand that the word cause is a preposition and can mean by, with, through, because, cause, account of, or reason of.

The Greek word for ought is opheiló (Strong’s #3784) and means; to owe 

In English definition for “ought” means: to indicate obligation or duty: (The Free Online Dictionary)

The Greek word for power is exousia (Stong’s #1849) and means: authority, jurisdiction, liberty, power, exousia: power to act, authority. Short Definition: power, authority, weight (Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance)

I quote this verse in a modern translation to understand more clearly what it is really saying according to these Greek definitions:

1 Corinthians 11:10 Therefore she should [be subject to his authority and should] have a covering on her head [as a token, a symbol, of her submission to authority, that she may show reverence to authority as do] the angels. (Amplified Bible)

From this modern translation and from the meanings of the words we see that the veil or covering was a token or a symbol of the fact that a woman is under the authority of her husband. And then the verse adds that it is because of the angels. Why are angels being introduced or mentioned seemingly out of the blue here?

A godly Christian woman knows her true place and because she understands God’s divine order of authority she happily or eagerly is willing to wear a head covering or veil because it is a reminder or a symbol of her God commanded role as a submissive help for her husband.

And she wears a covering because she understands that God tells her she is to do this; so she, in effect, is really showing her submission to God, who is her ultimate authority!

Paul then speaks of the angels, who also are beings that God created, and they too are in subjection to Him. These are the holy angels that have remained totally faithful to Him and are completely obedient to Him.

The principle here is that, as man is the glory and image of God, created for God’s pleasure; so woman is the glory of man, created for man as his helpmate and for this cause the woman “should have a symbol of authority (it is symbolic that she is in submission to and in agreement to God’s divine order of authority) on her head”, (the covering or veil) because to refuse to do so, reveals rebellion to God’s divine order of authority.

The head covering is a symbol of authority that a woman displays to the spirit world ( i.e. the angels); that just as the holy angels are obedient and submissive to God; she too (like they are) is obedient and submissive to her Creator.  A woman is basically saying to them; she is on the same side as they, God’s side. And the angels are always watching us.

Here are some revealing Scriptures as to the function of God’s angels.

Hebrews 1:14 Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation?

Matthew 4:6 …for it is written, He shall give his angels charge concerning thee: and in [their] hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone.

Psalms 103:20 Bless the LORD, ye his angels, that excel in strength, that do his commandments, hearkening unto the voice of his word.

Psalms 91:11 For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways.

Colossians 1:16 For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether [they be] thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him:

Hebrews 12:22 But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels…

1 Timothy 5:21 I charge thee before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, and the elect angels, that thou observe these things without preferring one before another, doing nothing by partiality.

2 Kings 6:17 And Elisha prayed, and said, LORD, I pray thee, open his eyes, that he may see. And the LORD opened the eyes of the young man; and he saw: and, behold, the mountain [was] full of horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha.

Daniel 6:22 My God hath sent his angel, and hath shut the lions’ mouths, that they have not hurt me: forasmuch as before him innocency was found in me; and also before thee, O king, have I done no hurt.

1 Peter 3:22 Who is gone into heaven, and is on the right hand of God; angels and authorities and powers being made subject unto him.

Psalms 103:21 Bless ye the LORD, all [ye] his hosts; [ye] ministers of his, that do his pleasure.

Women are like the angels in that the godly do seek to please their husbands and are submissive to them just as the faithful angels are God’s helpers .

The angels are apparently learning things as they watch us and as they observe what we do, as they invisibly protect and watch over us.

1 Peter 1:12 Unto whom it was revealed, that not unto themselves, but unto us they did minister the things, which are now reported unto you by them that have preached the gospel unto you with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven; which things the angels desire to look into.

I know this is not a study on angels but a further reading about this subject would make for an interesting Bible study; as angels are important in God’s plan and have their own purpose. The Bible does have a lot to say about them.

In many places God calls them His HOLY angels and we too are called to be holy just as God is holy. (1st Peter 1:16) And when we are subordinate to God by doing all His will and His pleasure then we become holy and we have that aspect of holiness in common with His holy angels.

We are never to worship angels or become too obsessed with the idea of angels, but always keeping our focus on God (Revelation 19:10), but I believe that God wants us to show respect to them and be grateful to Him for providing us with so much invisible, spiritual help in the form of His holy angels. (James 1:17)  I find it interesting that He would add this statement about angels in a passage of Scripture on the topic of authority and head coverings.

This statement about angels may indicate that when a woman is under the canopy of authority of her husband because she wants to obey and please God in all things, God will protect her in ways she may never know (and in some ways that are evident as most of us can attest to; being providentially protected on many occasions).

A woman is to wear a cloth head covering or a veil, as sign on her head that she is striving to be like the angels that are faithful to God as a testimony to them also of submission and obedience to the ordinances of God regarding her relationship to her husband.

This verse does not say anything about the rebellious angels called demons; but they too see us and are watching us. Could it be possible that they hate the head covering because of what it symbolizes and that it reminds them of their own disgrace because of their own rejection of God as their rightful authority?

1 Corinthians 11:11 Nevertheless neither is the man without the woman, neither the woman without the man, in the Lord. 12 For as the woman is of the man, even so is the man also by the woman; but all things of God.

Paul is speaking of the inter-dependence between the man and woman. Both are needed and are very important to each other. What would the world be like if there were just men or if there were just women? Life would cease, there would be no life.

From the Genesis account we know that the woman was made from a man; and then thereafter it is by a woman that men are born. It is very apparent that human life and the perpetuation of humanity is dependent on the capability and functional aspect of the woman to bring forth children. The woman is very important in God’ plan and she is a very important person as a wife and as a mother and as a contributing member of society, just as men are important in their roles.

We may be thinking of Galatians 3:28 that says that God no longer sees us as male or female because we are now all one with Him.

Galatians 3:28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.

Paul is not speaking of doing away with the distinctions between a man a woman, nor is he negating the specific roles each are to play. If he were, he would be contradicting all that we just studied about and would negate all of these other verses about the differences between men and women, in the New Testament and also in the Old Testament, including:

Deuteronomy 22:55 The woman shall not wear that which pertaineth unto a man, neither shall a man put on a woman’s garment: for all that do so are abomination unto the Lord thy God.

But rather, Galatians 3:28 is telling us that no matter what our race, whether we are free or a slave, whether we are male or female, we all have the same opportunity and privilege of becoming one of His children and inheriting all things with Christ; if we have applied His sacrifice for our sins and then go on to zealously sin no more, using our time that we have left here on earth to overcome the sins of the flesh and our human nature!

Revelation 21: 7 He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son.

1 Corinthians 11:13 Judge in yourselves: is it comely that a woman pray unto God uncovered?

Paul then asks the Corinthian brethren a question and to now make a decision based on what he has just taught them; to use common sense and put the facts all together: “Is it comely (fitting, proper, suitable) for a woman to pray to God with her head uncovered?” He is in essence giving them a pop quiz, so to speak, “what is your judgment based on the facts I have just given to you.”

The Greek word he uses for “uncovered” again is akatakaluptos and means “a” = “un” and katakaluptos “down from…. cloth veil or covering.” This word is explicitly talking about a cloth cover that hangs down. Anyone can look this up in many Bible reference dictionaries to see that this is what it means. This is not hair as we will see when we get to verse 15.

Because this is recorded in the Word of God; then this is a question not just for the Corinthian brethren in Paul’s day, but is a question we all need to ask ourselves. 

This is not just a cultural thing or just something for the Christian women of those times. Nothing is said about it being an ordinance just for the times Paul was living in, nor is anything said about it being just a cultural requirement.  So Paul is asking all Christians in all ages; if by the evidence he has just given, if it is right for a woman to pray with her head uncovered? This is what we too must ask ourselves as we strive to prove all things from the Scriptures as to if a thing is really true or not.

Acts 17:11 These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.

1 Corinthians 11:14 Doth not even nature itself teach you, that, if a man have long hair, it is a shame unto him?

In this verse, Paul adds to his question about women being uncovered when they pray, by asking another question. Now his challenge is about men and the fact we can look to nature to give us clues that God has distinct characteristics for each of the sexes.

The word “nature” can imply identifiable natural peculiarities of certain species. So how can nature teach us that it is a disgrace for men to have long hair?

The Greek word for nature is phusis (Strong’s #5449) From phuo; growth (by germination or expansion), i.e. (by implication) natural production (lineal descent); by extension, a genus or sort; figuratively, native disposition, constitution or usage — (man-)kind, nature(-al). Definition: nature, inherent nature, origin, birth. (Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance)

Paul is using nature as an example that we should have a natural sense of what is attributable to males and what is attributable to females. Even in nature there generally are distinctions between male and female in each of the species of animals and we can look to them as examples of the differences that God has designed for them. Just as God has designed and determines what the proper order of things should be in the spiritual realm including the divine order of authority.

Carrying that over to the human species, we should be able to connect the dots as to what God wants for men and women. Even in our own natural mindset, if we were to take a man and put a long haired wig on him, it can look “unnatural”.  And if we were to photoshop a picture of a woman and take away all her hair, it too looks “unnatural”. 

I quote this verse again here to show that God wants men to be men and women to be women and long hair on a man looks feminine; and baldness or short hair on a woman makes her look masculine. Short hair pertaineth to a man and long hair pertaineth to a woman.

Deuteronomy 22:5 The woman shall not wear that which pertaineth unto a man, neither shall a man put on a woman’s garment: for all that do so [are an] abomination unto the LORD thy God.”

Paul further says that it is a shame or a disgrace for a man to have long hair. And he is saying that our natural sense should tell us that it just is not right for a man to have long hair because it makes him look like a woman. That is if our senses have not been influenced by our modern day culture that promotes long hair on men and tries to have us accept that it is masculine even when it is not.

How long is long for men?   When the length tends to appear feminine, or when it is styled in a feminine manner.  Some men can wear longer hair than others and still appear very masculine.  The idea that a little hair over the collar is wrong, is simply power tripping by certain folks.

How short is short for women?   When it makes a woman look masculine, either the hair is too short or badly styled.  Many women look very good in well styled shorter hair which is truly a beautiful crown of glory; and some women may not be able to grow hair long being genetically disposed to short hair. 

Those who deliberately try to look really masculine with very hair short and deliberately styled to be masculine appearing; this is sin. 

Its all about appearing what you are; masculine or feminine, and about NOT trying to appear what you are not.

As we will see in the next verse, Paul elaborates on this theme, showing that long hair is a distinctive gift, a crown of glory; that God has ordained for women to have, not men. God gives long hair to women to be a part of her glory that makes her beautiful and adds to her femininity. That is what God has determined to be, just as He has determined that men have the authority over the wife.

1 Corinthians 11:15 But if a woman have long hair, it is a glory to her: for her hair is given her for a covering [Crown of Glory] .

This is the scripture that trips most of us up, for after going through the first 14 Scriptures in which Paul explains to us why a woman should cover her head with a cloth and a man should not; we are then told by church leaders and ministers that a woman’s long hair is her covering and that is sufficient, she has no need then to cover her crown of glory with anything else.

But is that what this is really saying? 

This just doesn’t make sense if you really think about it; a logical mind begins to wonder if there is something about this verse that we just cannot see from the way it is translated. And that is exactly right. The key to understanding this verse, is that this covering is not the same covering that is talked about throughout this chapter previously. In all the previous verses the word for covering is katakalupto; which means “down from…. veil or covering.” That word is explicitly talking about a cloth that covers and that hangs down, it never means hair.

But the word for covering in verse 15 is another kind of covering and the Greek Word here is peribolaion (not katakalupto) and it has the meaning of a covering or a wrapper, or something that is wrapped around.

The Greek word used in verse 15 for this covering is peribolaion (Strong’s #4018) and means: that which is thrown around, a covering. (Strong’s Concordance)

Because most church leaders apparently have not honestly looked into the two different words and the two different meanings, we are told that we do not need to cover our heads  “for her long hair is given her for a covering”. But this is not what this is saying. Paul is talking about another KIND of covering. The Greek word used for “covering” in 1st Corinthians 11:15 is completely different from the word translated “covering” prior to this verse and used throughout Chapter 11.

This Greek word “peribolaion” in verse 15, means to ‘wrap around’. Therefore the meaning would be, “for her hair is given her for to be wrapped around”.

The first part of this verse tells us that, in contrast to the man having long hair which is a shame to him, a woman’s long hair is a glory to her and God has given it to her as a type of covering that wraps around (the head); it is feminine and identifies her as being womanly.

The words translated “covering”, prior to verse 15 in this Chapter, use an entirely different Greek word, which is katakalupto. By using this word previously, Paul described an actual covering cloth or veil for the woman’s covering, not her hair.

The two Greek words used for hair and covering are not interchangeable, for katakalupto means to cover up something indicating some cloth hanging down that covers; it never means hair.

Paul is instructing Christians that a woman has a natural covering, which is her hair or crown of glory, but that she is to cover her hair or glory when she prays or prophesies, because the [cloth] covering is a symbol of power [authority] on her head. (Verse 10)

He is actually talking about two different coverings in this Chapter 11 and that is what has generally caused so much confusion about whether or not women are to wear a cloth covering on their heads when they pray and prophesy and when attending assemblies.

The Greek word peribolaion is derived from peri – perimeter – peri (Strong’s # 4012). and means about, concerning, around (denotes place, cause or subject) indicating the natural hair around the head.

When the verse says “for her hair is given her for a covering,” Paul is talking about an entirely different type of covering than the one he talked about in the previous verses.  The subject has changed to hair beginning in verse 14, talking about how long hair is a dishonorable for a man, but in verse 15 it is referring to the fact that long hair is a glory for a woman. Her long hair is the kind of cover that falls around her head and body as a type of identifying feminine cover that is part of what makes a woman glorious [or as Paul puts it, a glory to her]. Paul is not talking about the kind of cover that is a cloth and covers the head that is a symbol of authority of her husband over her.

When we understand the two distinctions we can see that the hair is not a substitute for the covering (katakalupto) which means to cover up something indicating some cloth hanging down that covers.

When we read this verse without any preconceived idea of what it is saying about head coverings, we also see that the focus is on the fact that God wants men to wear their hair short (or short enough that the length does not make him look like a woman) as per verse 14. Then verse 15 is a continuation of that thought; that God wants women to wear long hair (or at least long enough to make her look feminine). 

Paul goes on to say that her long hair is her glory and it is her covering, the kind that is natural, that wraps around and is a different kind of covering than a cloth that is for the purpose of covering that glory while she is praying and prophesying.

By covering her glory with a cloth covering  she indicates her willing submission to the authority of her husband; the authority or headship which was set up by God, Himself; and if she refuses to cover her hair, she ultimately is rejecting God’s headship. That is what these verses 2-16 are all about.

Paul tells us in this chapter that a woman is the glory of the man (verse 7) and also that her hair is a glory to her (verse 15). He describes two different glories.

She is a glory and she has a glory, her long hair which is a gift from God. Her hair is a natural covering and is a cover of feminine glory. She glorifies her husband (and ultimately God) by being willing to cover her glory (long hair) during worshiping as a sign of submission to the authority of God; who made her husband her head.

Here is a quote that describes this very succinctly by J. Boyd Nicholson, Sr.

“Some excuse their uncovered heads by citing verse 15, ‘Her hair is given her for a covering.’ Since she has hair, these assert, that is enough.

Surely a careful reading of the text would show such an interpretation to be a weak avoidance of the truth as it is set out. Notice that for the woman there are two glories involved. She is a glory: “The woman is the glory of the man” (v. 7). But she also has a glory of her own. Her hair is a glory to her (verse 15). For the glory that she is (the glory of the man), God has given her a natural covering, her long hair. For the glory that she has (her hair), she must submit her will to cover that with another covering which she places over her own glory.” (J. Boyd Nicholson, Sr.)

Ladies, we have been deceived all of these years into believing that we do not have to wear a head covering when coming into the presence of our Lord and Savior at services and when we pray or when we are edifying the Ekklesia.

This one verse (1st Corinthians 11:15) has been misinterpreted and maligned and used to negate all that Paul is telling us in the other verses in the chapter. We, as woman of God, have been cheated, of this beautiful ordinance that honors our husbands as our head/authority and by extension honors our Great Sovereign God; by showing that we believe in and agree with the ordained purpose or the distinctive roles of husband and wife and of His divine order for the Family of God!

We have assumed, again, that the church leaders had done their homework and that they knew what they were talking about when they taught us that we are not to cover our hair at services.  Some of the ministers mock the idea of such “fanatical notions” among some who were looking into the prospect that we need to wear coverings when participating in church services.

But now there is really no excuse for there are all these definitions available to anyone that has a Lexicon, Strong’s Concordance or even Internet access, that with a click of a few buttons, we can download all of these word definitions in Greek and Hebrew to see what they really mean, just as I have done for this article.

What this shows me is; that if I can find all this out and prove these principles are true from the Bible, then these ministers just have not studied it for themselves to see what this verse 15 really does say. They should know these things from their own studying into this topic for themselves, and then proving it one way or another, so that they can accurately teach those that are under their care. But most have not looked into the correct meaning of these things, preferring to let others tell them what they should believe and teach.

It appears that for years and years, just like the Biblical calendar, and other things that we are learning, we just assumed that others knew best and refused to look into these things for ourselves, relying instead on men who are also just relying on other men and the chain just continues all the way back to the 50’s and 60’s when wearing a hat or a veil that covered the hair went out of vogue.

I’m not trying to criticize or judge anyone else in regard to this teaching, and for the fact that we have not looked into it for ourselves, for I myself did the very same thing up until just last year; but now that we are being called to look into these things (God is challenging us) it behooves us to do a study and find out for ourselves on these matters.

If you are reading this and have been challenged by this article and by others as well that are teaching the truth on this topic; it could mean that it is time to step out in faith and look into these things for ourselves. And if we do truly see that we have been wrong on this in the past we need to repent and start keeping these ordinances.

In actuality, they are broken because of our past traditions, preconceived ideas, and by the fact that we have been so conditioned to just accept what the elders teach us without proving all things as to whether they are true or not.

The command to keep all of these Biblical ordinances that we have neglected all these years, has been hiding in plain sight if we will only open our eyes to see. Perhaps this, too, is one of the things that God is opening up to us as we get closer and closer to the time of the end, just as He promised Daniel in chapter 12:4, 9 of the Book of Daniel.

1 Corinthians 11:16 But if any man seem to be contentious, we have no such custom, neither the churches of God.

Right after we read verse 15, Paul then tells the Corinthians that “we have no such custom” and if we read this without realizing what he is referring to, it can appear to be validating the false interpretation, (that most give in our day,) that verse 15 is saying “the long hair is given for a covering and therefore no added head covering is required”.

Then these teachers back up what they think verse 15 means by saying “Paul is saying that there is no such ‘custom’ in the churches of God” and then follow one false premise with another false premise and interpret this statement to mean that “we have no such custom of covering one’s head during worship”. But is that really what this verse is saying? And does it really make any sense?

This is the closing summary of what Paul had just taught in the previous 15 verses showing us that God does expect the women to wear head coverings and he explained why. Now at the close he is saying that if anyone is contentious, we, meaning the apostles, and also the churches of God have no such custom.

What is the custom that he if referring to? It appears that only the Corinthians were having the problem of not wanting women to wear the head coverings; the other church assemblies in other areas were in compliance with this ordinance and had no need to be reprimanded for not keeping it.

But evidently, by writing this letter and having it recorded in the New Testament, it shows that he had to address it with the Corinthians because they were the only ones having a problem with it.

In verse 2, Paul at first commends the Corinthians for keeping the ordinances; “just as he had delivered the ordinances to them” (of which the head covering ordinance would have been one of them) but the next verse (3) he starts out with “but” indicating that there was an exception, and the exception was the “ordinance” that he would go into great detail in the next 12 verses.

It is evident that they were still having a problem with this ordinance of head coverings and he felt that he had to address it; that he needed to “have them know”; meaning they needed more exhortation to keep this one ordinance properly along with the other ordinances that he “had delivered to them” and for which he had just praised them for keeping (or at least most of the ordinances) so when Paul says that “we have no such custom” in verse 16, what custom is he referring to?

The Greek word used in this verse for custom is sunétheia (Strong’s #4914). and means habit, habitual use. (Strong’s Concordance)

This word does not mean ordinance, so it is not talking about the ordinance of women wearing head coverings.

When Paul says “we have no such custom, neither the churches of God.” he is referring to the fact that the other assemblies were not having this pagan Corinthian custom of women appearing in worship without a covering on their hair, or of men following the improper Jewish custom of men covering their heads in prayer. 

So rather than validating that the church did not have this custom of women wearing a cloth covering on their hair; Paul is saying the exact opposite.  He is saying that only the Corinthians had these issues, and that all the other Ekklesia congregations did teach the women to cover with a veil or cloth during worship, and their men did not cover their heads with a cloth in worship.

Paul is telling the Corinthians that none of the other congregations had any such custom as women praying without a cloth veil on their hair, or men praying with a cloth covering on their heads.  These false customs were only in Corinth!

Why would Paul go into great detail teaching them that it was uncomely and it dishonored her head for a woman to pray and prophesy without a cloth covering, and then just negate all that he said by reversing his stance.

By saying “But if any man seem to be contentious” he is implying that the members were acting contentious about this whole thing, being deposed to arguing over this subject.

In another place in Paul’s instruction to Timothy, he condemns this kind of thing.

1 Timothy 6:3 If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness; 6:4 He is proud, knowing nothing, but doting about questions and strifes of words, whereof cometh envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings, 6:5 Perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself.

In verse 16, Paul ends the whole discussion about head coverings by summing it up by saying “if any man is of the thought to love strife and contention over this topic we have no such custom, [habit] neither do the other assemblies of God in other cities and they are not having this contention”.

I hope that I have sufficiently shown you from the Holy Scriptures that the teaching that Paul gave about the ordinance of women wearing a head covering is a valid ordinance, not only for his day in the first century, but is just as valid in our “modern” times. But please do a thorough study on your own and prove this one way or another and have it firmly fixed in your mind as to if this is truly a valid teaching. We are admonished in 1 Thessalonians 5:21 to “Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.” And in Acts 17:11 we are told that the Bereans were more noble because they did search the scriptures daily to see if what they were being taught were so or not

1 Thessalonians 5:21 These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.

Now that I have been wearing a head covering when I come before God in prayer and worship or fellowshiping with others in the assemblies, I have come to see that it really is an honor to obey God in this way. It is a sign that we acknowledge our husband as our head, and even beyond, that we acknowledge God, our espoused Husband, as the ultimate authority in our lives.

When we refuse to keep God’s ordinances it is considered as being disobedient and is displeasing to God. And for a Christian woman to not wear a head covering while praying or prophesying; or at worship services, is disobedience. I have come to know that now.

And what does God have to say about keeping all of His judgments and ordinances? There are many verses but here are just a few:

Leviticus 18:4 Ye shall do my judgments, and keep mine ordinances, to walk therein: I am the Lord your God. 18:5 Ye shall therefore keep my statutes, and my judgments: which if a man do, he shall live in them: I am the Lord.

Malachi 4:4 Remember ye the law of Moses my servant, which I commanded unto him in Horeb for all Israel, with the statutes and judgments.

Psalm 19:7 The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple. 19:8 The statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart: the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes. 19:9 The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring for ever: the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether. 19:10 More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold: sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb. 19:11 Moreover by them is thy servant warned: and in keeping of them there is great reward.

Psalm 48:10 According to thy name, O God, so is thy praise unto the ends of the earth: thy right hand is full of righteousness. 48:11 Let mount Zion rejoice, let the daughters of Judah be glad, because of thy judgments. [ordinances]

When we obey God and submit to wearing the head covering it shows God that we agree with His divine arrangement in His government and what He has planned for mankind.

Will we be ostracized or made fun of if we go ahead and start practicing this ordinance? Probably. Especially in these times when the hijabs and Muslim veils are such an outward sign to many of severe oppression of women in those cultures. After the September 11, 2001 attacks, the hijab has generated much controversy and stereotyping and westerners associate it sometimes with other religions that believe in terrorism.

But we must not be ashamed to obey God when He shows us that we have been doing things wrong and need to repent; and then we must step out on faith and start doing things right; even if it should offend others or if they think of us as legalistic or fanatical. It is not legalistic (nor fanatical) if it is something that God commands from His Word.

Mark 8:38 Whosoever therefore shall be ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation; of him also shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he cometh in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.

In fact, it has just been in the last 50-60 years or so, that it has not been the style to wear hats or scarves anymore. Whether it is in style or not, what is important is that we obey God in doing what He wants.

The ordinance of women covering their heads when praying or prophesying, [edifying the church] is a command from God and is just as valid today as it was in the first century church.

When we see a woman wearing a head covering during church assemblies, it not only pictures her submission to her husband but it also pictures and is symbolic of the submission of the church to Christ!

Joshua 24:15 And if it seem evil unto you to serve the Lord, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.


Women covered their heads with veils or scarves throughout the Old Testament Genesis 24:65, Numbers 5:18 and Isaiah 47:2 all indicate that women covered their heads.

God commanded the uncovering of women’s heads in cases of adultery; thereby implying that it was proper sign of righteous faithfulness for women to cover their heads outside the home. Paul allows this “outside the home” tradition to slip somewhat but insists that women’s heads be covered at least in worship situations, making the point that the headcovering symbolizes the submission of the woman to her husband as God had commanded in Genesis 3:16 “. . . thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee”. The headcovering being an example of submission to authority for even the angels to see.

The unveiling of a woman’s hair was considered a humiliation and punishment (Isa. 3:17; cf. Num. 5:18 on the loosening of the hair of a woman suspected of adultery; Jewish writings III Macc. 4:6; and Sus. 32).

In 1 Corinthians 11:16, Paul responded to any readers that disagreed with his teaching about the use of headcoverings: “But if one is inclined to be contentious, we have no other practice, nor have the churches of God.” This indicates that headcoverings were considered a standard, universal Christian practice (rather than a local cultural custom). In other words, while the churches were spread out geographically and contained a diversity of cultures, they all practiced headcovering for female members.


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  1. Does the Old Testament discuss head coverings? If so, I cannot find it

    Women covered their heads with veils or scarves throughout the Old Testament Genesis 24:65, Numbers 5:18 and Isaiah 47:2 all indicate that women covered their heads.

    God commanded the uncovering of women’s heads in cases of adultery; thereby implying that it was proper sign of righteous faithfulness for women to cover their heads outside the home. Paul allows this “outside the home” tradition to slip somewhat but insists that women’s heads be covered at least in worship situations, making the point that the headcovering symbolizes the submission of the woman to her husband as God had commanded in Genesis 3:16 “. . . thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee”. The headcovering being an example of submission to authority for even the angels to see.

    The unveiling of a woman’s hair was considered a humiliation and punishment (Isa. 3:17; cf. Num. 5:18 on the loosening of the hair of a woman suspected of adultery; Jewish writings III Macc. 4:6; and Sus. 32).

    In 1 Corinthians 11:16, Paul responded to any readers that disagreed with his teaching about the use of headcoverings: “But if one is inclined to be contentious, we have no other practice, nor have the churches of God.” This indicates that headcoverings were considered a standard, universal Christian practice (rather than a local cultural custom). In other words, while the churches were spread out geographically and contained a diversity of cultures, they all practiced headcovering for female members. James

  2. James, you mentioned that Paul “…insists that women’s heads be covered at least in worship situations, making the point that the headcovering symbolizes the submission of the woman to her husband as God had commanded in Genesis 3:16 “. . . thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee”. The headcovering being an example of submission to authority for even the angels to see.”

    But Genesis 3:16 says: “Unto the woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee.”

    Can you elaborate a little further on the connection, using Gen 3:16, between the woman wearing a headcovering and the woman submitting to her husband?

    Genesis 3:16 explains multiplied sorrow, multiplied conception, sorrow in bringing forth children, and Adam’s rule over Eve, but how would Adam rule over her? Both Adam and Even already had their minds infested/infected with Satan’s spirit. Genesis 3:16 seems to indicate that Adam’s rule, via Satan’s fruits/works in his life, over his wife Eve was not going to be a pleasant, positive, thing in her life, whether there is submission or not.

    Nothing godly is easy in Satan’s world: Thank God that will soon end!

    I expect that God added a desire for a woman to submit to a husband into the nature of the woman, since all through history most women have submitted until this last century when Satan has succeeded is subverting this point at least in much of the western word.

    I think that God’s purpose in doing this was so that women – who are natural leaders, just look at how they lead, teach, and nourish the children, what mother’s do is so amazing and incredible! – would learn to submit after the garden episode, and men who’s natural desire is to please their women would be forced to lead.

    Hair Coverings
    In the garden, God commanded wives to submit to their husbands. In physical Israel which was a type of spiritual Israel, God commanded that a wicked woman was to loose her hair, which means to remove the cloth covering on her head to let her hair fall freely.

    The command for a wicked woman to uncover her head is a defacto command that righteous women should have their heads covered with a cloth.

    Paul taught that if a woman would not wear a cloth on her head during worship it was shameful and she should have her hair shorn. This makes absurd the claim that the hair is the covering.

    The woman was given glorious hair as a covering for her head and if she will not cover that glory in respect for her husband’s God commanded authority and the glory of God in services, it is a great shame and she should have her covering of hair also shorn off.

    Today people make a big deal about men wearing suits and ties to services; which is not in the bible; yet they resist a women wearing a scarf on her head, which is scriptural!

    In the COG women covered their hair for services up to at least the 1930’s. Is it a sin for a woman to wear a scarf on her head? We follow our own traditions and diligently seek an excuse to avoid following the simplest and easy instructions of God.

    Do I care if a lady wears a scarf or not? Of course not! Does God care? Wearing the scarf is only the superficial issue- today’s version of the forbidden fruit in the garden, it was not the fruit but the issue of obedience – the deeper point is whether we will obey God or whether our pride will come between us and God. James

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