42 Question 3

The portion you are referring to is indeed in the New Testament.  1 Corinthians 11:1-16 says, “Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ. Now I praise you, brethren, that ye remember me in all things, and keep the ordinances, as I delivered them to you.  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. Every man praying or prophesying, having his head covered, dishonoureth his head. But every woman that prayeth or prophesieth with her head uncovered dishonoureth her head: for that is even all one as if she were shaven. 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. 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. For the man is not of the woman; but the woman of the man.  Neither was the man created for the woman; but the woman for the man. For this cause ought the woman to have power on her head because of the angels.  Nevertheless neither is the man without the woman, neither the woman without the man, in the Lord. For as the woman is of the man, even so is the man also by the woman; but all things of God. Judge in yourselves: is it comely that a woman pray unto God uncovered? Doth not even nature itself teach you, that, if a man have long hair, it is a shame unto him? But if a woman have long hair, it is a glory to her: for her hair is given her for a covering.  But if any man seem to be contentious, we have no such custom, neither the churches of God.”

This is one of those portions of scriptures that have often been ignored, misunderstood, and explained away.  Some have taught that the teaching of the head covering for women is outdated or that it was given to show a difference between Christian women and loose women in the city of Corinth at the time of the writing of this epistle. In the portion we just read, we see in verse 3 that the head covering is a symbol of the headship of God, Christ and man.  In verses 7-9, we see that the head covering is given to women because of the order of creation.  Then, in verse 10, we see that the head covering is because of the angels’ observance as they look for obedience to the order the Lord has given to His church.  So we see that there are three reasons given for the women’s head covering.  None of them are outdated and none of them are restricted to the city of Corinth in the 1st century.

Others have said that the woman’s hair serves as her covering.  We read in verse 15 that, “But if a woman have long hair, it is a glory to her: for her hair is given her for a covering.”  Sometimes the King James Version of the Bible obscures the meaning of certain passages.  It doesn’t happen very often, but here, the meaning has been lost in translation.  Consider these more accurate translations of this verse:

In the JN Darby translation verse 15 says, “But woman, if she have long hair, it is glory to her; for the long hair is given to her in lieu of a veil.”  In the Young’s Literal Translation, verse 15 says, “And a woman, if she have long hair, a glory it is to her, because the hair instead of a covering hath been given to her.”

In the King James Version, the word ‘for’ is used twice in 1 Cor. 11:15, but they are two different Greek words.  Let’s read that verse, “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 the 2nd word ‘for’ is “anti”, which means: opposite, instead or because of, often used in composition to denote contrast, requital, or substitution.

Does the head covering teach that women are inferior to men?  Absolutely not.  In fact this portion speaks much of the woman’s glory outshining that of man.  As such, it should be covered in the assembly, or church, so that the glory of Christ will be preeminent.  Some Bible commentators that you might be familiar with who taught that the women’s head covering was proper during Church gatherings include John Gill, Charles Spurgeon, Matthew Henry, A. T. Robertson, and Harry A. Ironside.  Charles Ryrie, author of the Ryrie Study Bible and former professor at Dallas Theological Seminary, wrote in his book, “The Role of Women in the Church, “Women should be veiled or covered in the meeting of the church, and men should not. Paul’s reasons were based on theology, or headship, the order of creation, and the presence of angels in the meeting. None of these reasons was based on contemporary social customs.”

In light of all the important things taught in Scripture, is this teaching really very important today?  Well, if Scripture teaches it, we should receive it as from God Himself.  If He thought it important enough to include in His Holy Word, how can we question or diminish its worth?  As we read in 2 Timothy 3:16-17, “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.”  (42.3)