First Corinthians 11

1 Corinthians 11

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

Jesus Christ taught us to live by EVERY WORD of God the Father in Christ-like zeal (Mat 4:4) in all things at all times!

Jesus Christ is the ONLY High Priest, effectual sacrifice and intercessor with God the Father. ONLY he can save us!

Judge and test the words of all men against the Word of God!

God’s Word is truth and we are to be set apart from worldliness by the truth [Word] of God.

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.

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

Today, the brethren like those in the first century 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.

The entirety of Holy Scripture is the doctrines of Jesus Christ handed down to us in God’s Word, along with the prophets and the four Gospels of Jesus Christ as the chief corner stone and the first century apostles: The entire Holy Scriptures including the first century apostles were inspired by Jesus Christ.

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.

Paul exhorts the brethren in his letter to the Thessalonians, to stay committed to holding the traditions which taught in 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 [by Jesus Christ and the first century apostles], whether by word [verbal teaching], or our epistle.

The mandate of the disciples to to Paul and all disciples including us today is teach all the things that were taught by Jesus Christ and to teach all people to observe every Word of God.

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: 28:20 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.

Paul commends the Corinthians for hearing and living by the Holy Scriptures.  It is to our great shame that today we cannot also be commended for living by every Word of God.

1 Corinthians 11:2 Now I praise you, brethren, [because] that ye remember me in all things, and keep the ordinances [every Word of God], as I delivered them to you. 

Paul begins his answer to their questions about men and women covering their heads during prayer or worship.

11:3 But I would have you know, that the head [ruler, authority over] of every man is Christ; and the head [ruler, authority over] of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ [ruler, authority over] is God.

11:4 Every man praying or prophesying, [with his head covered] having his head covered, dishonoureth his [dishonors God, because man is made the image of God] head.

Therefore if the hair is the covering, all men ought to shave their heads and go bald! Obviously the hair is not the covering; which covering is specifically a cloth; an akatakaluptos!

11:5 But every woman that prayeth or prophesieth with her head uncovered [akatakaluptos: a very specific Greek word for a cloth] dishonoureth her head: [is not being humble before God] for that is even all one as if she were shaven.

Man was made in the image of God and woman was made for man (Gen 2), and ordained to be subject [submissive] to man.

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.

Therefore men ought NOT to cover their heads in prayer or worship because they are made in the image of God, and it is disrespectful to God for a woman to refuse to cover her head as an indication of humble submission to God in prayer or worship.

For a man to cover his head or for a woman to fail to cover her head, while worshiping and praying is disrespectful, dishonoring God.

1 Corinthians 11:6 For if the woman be not covered [with an akatakaluptos: this is very specifically a cloth covering], let her also be shorn: . . .

The word used here is akatakaluptos which very specifically means a cloth covering.  If the woman’s hair is her covering; why should she be shorn for not covering her head with her hair? If her hair is her covering, then her head is already covered with her hair so why should her hair be shorn?

And if the woman has no hair to cover her head: how can she then be shorn? Therefore since the covering is NOT her hair, if a woman refuse to cover her head with a cloth [Greek: akatakaluptos] in respect for God during prayer and worship; she should have her head shorn.

11:6 . . . but if it be a shame for a woman to be shorn or shaven, let her be covered [with an akatakaluptos: a Greek word specifically meaning a cloth covering].

If she is ashamed to have her head shorn, then let her cover her head with an akatakaluptos [a cloth] in respect for God during worship and prayer.

11:7 For a man indeed ought not to cover his head, [If the hair is the covering; then all men ought to go bald!] forasmuch as he is the image and glory of God: but the woman is the glory of the man.

11:8 For the man is not of the woman; but the woman of the man. 11:9 Neither was the man created for the woman; but the woman for the man. 11:10 For this cause ought the woman to have power [a cloth covering as a symbol of respect for God’s authority] on her head because [as an example for] of the angels.

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

11:13 Judge in yourselves: is it comely [proper] that a woman pray unto God uncovered [without an akatakaluptos; a cloth, shawl or veil covering her hair]? 11:14 Doth not even nature itself teach you, that, if a man have long hair, it is a shame unto him?

Feminine hair is a woman’s glorious crown which should be covered in humility before God during prayer and worship in respect, as a sign that she accepts and submits to the authority of God not flaunting her own crown of glory.

Note:  The purpose of covering a woman’s head during prayer and worship is to cover her glorious crown of hair as a sign of humility and submission to God. Since women’s hats come in a wide variety and are designed to impress and accentuate appearance, they do not adequately fulfill the purpose of representing humility and it would be much better to wear a simple scarf over the hair.

11:15 But if a woman have long hair, it is a glory to her: for her hair is given her for a covering.

The Greek word for covering in verse fifteen is a peribolaion: a covering not of cloth, but her own glorious hair.  This word is something quite different from akatakaluptos in verses six and seven, akatakaluptos which means a cloth

The word group akatakaluptos which includes the words translated “cover” and “uncover” in verses 5, 6, 7, and 13 is never used anywhere to refer to the hair, but is used to refer to some other type of covering as a hat, cloth, veil.

In verses 6 and 7 translates akatakaluptos which means cover, cloth, veil and in the middle voice “cover oneself.” The word occurs only here in the New Testament, but it is found several times in the LXX. It is used in Genesis 38:15 of Tamar where it is said that she had “covered” her face. It can easily be seen from the preceding verse that she did not cover her face with her hair but with a veil. Similarly the word is used in three manuscripts in Esther 6:12 where it says that Haman hurried to his house in mourning with his head “covered.” Here again it is obvious that Haman had not grown his hair long to show his shame, but had thrown something over his head. “Uncovered” (“unveiled”—ASV, RSV of verse 5)

The words “cover” in verse 6 and “covering” in verse 15 translate from two entirely different Greek words.

The noun translated covering in verse fifteen is not akatakalupsis or katakalumma, but peribolaion, which is a generalized covering of any kind, not specifically of cloth like akatakalupsis; the fact that Paul uses an entirely different and very general word for hair; shows that he is not referring to the same type of covering as an akatakalupsis [a cloth].

Paul’s point in verse 15 is that since nature gives woman one type of glorious covering [her hair], she ought also to wear another type of covering over the first covering as a sign of humility before God while praying.

A woman’s hair is her covering crown of glory, her mantle or veil of glory. Therefore she must show respect and cover her crown of glory in the presence of her God to show humility before God. 

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

This instruction of Paul is in response to the Jewish practice of men covering their heads in prayer and the practice of Corinthian women praying without being covered by a cloth.

It was NOT the custom of the Ekklesia for men to cover their heads or for women to pray without covering their heads with a cloth while praying, and Paul says that no argument in this matter is to be tolerated.

Paul teaches that a man is the head of the woman; and as such the man is a figure of the Creator while the woman as a physical wife is a figure of the spiritual Bride of Christ, the Spiritual Ekklesia; and is to show respect before her God by covering her crown of glory in humility when coming before God in prayer or worship.

In the Spiritual Ekklesia the men are NOT to cover their heads with a cloth [or anything else] but are to remove their hats in respect while praying or in worship; and women must cover their heads [crown of hair] with a cloth while praying or in worship as a symbol of respect for God.

ALL scripture is for US as Paul himself explains, and this is not merely a Corinthian cultural issue, but was preserved until today for OUR instruction. 

It is important for women to cover their heads in respect for God, women being symbolic of the bride of Christ.

I know that in our ultra liberal and permissive society this is not a popular position; yet I will stand with Paul. This is my position and is not open to argument. 

It is of significant note that women in the Spiritual Ekklesia have always covered their hair with some kind of cloth scarf until this practice began to fade in the early 20th Century.

Paul’s arguments still apply. The fact that Christ is still head of every man and the man is head of woman has not changed. Neither has the fact of creation, that woman was created from and for man. it is also safe to say that the angels have not changed; And the fact that for nineteen hundred years the uniform practice of the the Ekklesia and professing Christian churches was for men to pray bareheaded and women covered stands as an indictment of the modern practice.

True our salvation does not depend on whether we cover our heads, but this issue is important when we understand that our salvation IS dependent on our obedience, humility and submissiveness before God.  Will we obey God on this point or not?

Remember the story of Naaman and ow he humbled his pride to be healed in 2 Kings 5; if we are not willing to do as the scriptures command, perhaps the issue is pride?

If one will not even place a cloth on the head during worship or prayer it begs the question: Is eternal life and the treasures of the Kingdom of God worth so little that we will not even place a cloth on our head?

This is one of the “little things,” yet one who is faithful in little things will be faithful in much; and one who is not faithful in little things cannot be expected to be faithful in other things (Luke 16:10). The “little things” are TESTS as to whether we can be trusted with bigger things.

Paul now instructs about taking the Passover

11:17 Now in this that I declare unto you I praise you not, that ye come together not for the better, but for the worse. It is shameful that your gatherings bring strife among you.

11:18 For first of all, when ye come together in the church, I hear that there be divisions [disputing] among you; and I partly believe it. 11:19 For there must be also heresies among you, that they which are approved may be made manifest among you.

A departing from the way by the faithless has come today as well, so that the faithful can be clearly seen and known.

11:20 When ye come together therefore into one place, this is not to eat the [a full Passover meal] Lord’s supper.

11:21 For in eating every one taketh before other his own supper: and one is hungry, and another is drunken.

11:22 What? have ye not houses to eat and to drink in? or despise ye the church of God, and shame them that have not? What shall I say to you? shall I praise you in this? I praise you not. 11:23 For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you,

Paul instructs that on Passover the people should meet to partake of the Unleavened Bread and Wine in memory of the Sacrifice of our Lord and are not to meet for the purpose of eating our fill which can be done at our homes.

. . . That the Lord Jesus the same night in which he was betrayed took bread: 11:24 And when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me.

11:25 After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament [the symbol of the shed blood of Christ which effects reconciliation with God the Father and opens up the New Covenant] in my blood: this do ye, as oft [This is an anniversary of the event of Christ’s death on Passover and therefore should be done annually on the Passover day; following the example of Jesus Christ who himself instituted this service at his last Passover in the flesh.] as ye drink it, [do so] in remembrance of me.

11:26 For as often as ye eat this [unleavened Passover bread] bread, and drink this cup [Passover wine], ye do shew the Lord’s death till he come. 11:27 Wherefore whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, [taking Passover without sincere repentance from all things contrary to the Word of God] shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord.

Without sincere repentance and an honest commitment to stop sinning one remains guilty of sin; for Christ’s sacrificial atonement will not be applied to the unrepentant, self-justifying or habitual sinner.

11:28 But let a man examine himself, [sincerely repent] and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup. 11:29 For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily [taking Passover without repentance and without understanding that we are committing to live by every Word of God through the power of Jesus Christ dwelling in us], eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body.

Not understanding the meaning of Christ’s sacrifice and the need to live by every Word of God [and that includes hair covering]. The unrepentant will be corrected by God, for they are making a mockery of the Lord’s sacrifice.

11:30 For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep [are dead].

Many are estranged from God and subject to correction because of the sin of making the sacrifice of Christ a license to continue in sin or an excuse for a lack of zeal to please God.

11:31 For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged.

If we examine ourselves and STOP living contrary to the Word of God; God will not need to correct us.

11:32 But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord [in the hope of saving us], that we should not be condemned with the world.

When it is needful that our God correct us he does so to save us from being condemned and damned. Sometimes it is necessary to afflict the flesh to save the spirit.

That is what the great tribulation is about. It is to correct God’s people by afflicting the flesh so that the spirit might be saved. We have become so full of pride and so self-righteous that the only way to save us is for God to administer: major, serious, loving and merciful correction upon his people.

11:33 Wherefore, my brethren, when ye come together to eat, tarry [wait for] one for another. 11:34 And if any man hunger, let him eat at home; that ye come not together unto condemnation. And the rest will I set in order when I come.


Head Covering

Let me begin by asking: Who was Paul writing to? To whom was this epistle addressed?

It was addressed to the brethren in Corinth, who were mainly Greek Corinthian converts.

Now let me ask: Why was this issue addressed by Paul?

The various pagan religions of Corinth were mainly dedicated to fertility gods and the goddess Aphrodite [Dianna, Astarte etc are different names for the same goddess]; the Queen of heaven [her statue is prominent in New York today, called “Liberty”].

In Corinth women had a major part in these religions; acting as priestesses, pagan prophets, and income earners as temple prostitutes.

The point is that:

1. The women of Corinth had NEVER covered their hair in worship and therefore it was totally unnecessary for Paul to instruct them that they need not cover their hair.

2. That in the pagan religions, women usurped the role of men and officiated as priestesses teaching their religion, which Paul forbade.

The Religions of Corinth

The temple of Aphrodite, the goddess of love, stood atop the Acrocorinth.

“A famous temple to Aphrodite had stood on the summit of Acrocorinth in the Classical Age… It had fallen into ruins by Paul’s time, but successors to its 1,000 cult prostitutes continued to ply their profession in the city below. Many of them were no doubt housed in the lofts above the 33 wine shops uncovered in the modern excavations. Corinth was a city catering to sailors and traveling salesmen. Even by the Classical Age it had earned an unsavory reputation for its libertine atmosphere; to call someone ‘a Corinthian lass’ was to impugn her morals. It may well be that one of Corinth’s attractions for Paul was precisely this reputation of immorality.” (The Biblical World In Pictures).

The city was filled with sailors who gladly spent their money there. The name “Corinth” became a synonym for immorality. This temple gave Corinth it’s reputation for gross immorality of which Paul often spoke (1 Cor. 6:9-20; 2 Cor. 12:20-21).

“She [Corinth] had a reputation for commercial prosperity, but she was also a byword for evil living. The very word korinthiazesthai, to live like a Corinthian, had become a part of the Greek language, and meant to live with drunken and immoral debauchery … Aelian, the late Greek writer, tells us that if ever a Corinthian was shown upon the stage in a Greek play he was shown drunk. The very name Corinth was synonymous with debauchery and there was one source of evil in the city which was known all over the civilized world.

Above the isthmus towered the hill of the Acropolis, and on it stood the great temple of Aphrodite, the goddess of fertility. To that temple there were attached one thousand priestesses who were sacred prostitutes, and in the evenings they descended from the Acropolis and plied their trade upon the streets of Corinth, until it became a Greek proverb, ‘It is not every man who can afford a journey to Corinth.’

In addition to these cruder sins, there flourished far more recondite vices, which had come in with the traders and the sailors from the ends of the earth, until Corinth became not only a synonym for wealth and luxury, drunkenness and debauchery, but also for filth.” (William Barclay, The Letters To The Corinthians, p. 2-3).

Of equal fame in Corinth was the temple of Poseidon, ruler of the sea (on which Corinth’s commercial life depended) and maker of earthquakes (a frequent danger in the area). Poseidon had a very large temple at a nearby village where the biennial Isthmian Games were held.

Numerous other temples in Corinth include ones to Apollo, Hermes, Venus-Fortuna, Isis, and one dedicated to “All The Gods” (Pantheon). On the slopes of the Acrocorinth was the sanctuary of Demeter, which dates from the 6th and 7th centuries B.C.

In Corinth, as often found in other parts of ancient Greece, there was a shrine dedicated to Asklepios, the god of healing, and his daughter, Hygieia. The museum at Corinth has hundreds of terra-cotta votive offerings presented to Asklepios by pilgrims who sought a cure or who wanted to thank the god for a healing they attributed to him. Among these votives can be seen limbs, hands, feet, breasts and genitals.

In a time-honored tradition, petitioners to Asklepios had dedicated replicas of the particular parts of the body in which they were afflicted. (1 Cor. 12:12, 15-17).

The temple of Apollo stood on the hill overlooking the Roman city’s main forum which served as a reminder of Corinth’s ancient splendor, and was 700 years old by Paul’s time, but it was in ruins. At one time a bronze statue of Apollo stood in the temple. To Paul it would have served merely as a sermon illustration of the impotence of the Greek’s pagan gods. There were several sanctuaries to Apollo inside the city.

Paul’s Instructions

Paul was answering questions sent to him about this subject, probably because of a dispute between the Jewish converts, and the Corinthian converts who had a background of seeing women as having a major part in the city’s religions: And it was the custom of  women in the pagan religions in Corinth to preach and prophesy with their heads and hair uncovered.

In short, the Gentile Corinthian women had NEVER covered their heads and hair in worship, while it was a Jewish custom for both men and women to cover their heads with shawls in prayer. 

Paul wrote to answer this question and  teach them the proper and godly conduct that God expects from men and women in the faith concerning this matter.


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