1 Corinthians 11:1-34, Head covering & Lord’s Supper
Heavenly Father, we come to You with soft hearts, obedient hearts, listening ears, and open eyes, in Jesus’ nane, Amen.
V 1, Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ.
Paul encouraged his audience to imitate him just as he imitated Christ.
VV 2-3, 2 Now I praise you, brethren, that you remember me in all things and keep the traditions just as I delivered them to you. 3 But I want you to know that the head of every man is Christ, the head of woman is man, and the head of Christ is God.
Paul laid down the hierarchy of authority between God, Christ, man, and woman. Man is the head over woman, Christ is the head over man, and God is the head over Christ.
VV 4-8, 4 Every man praying or prophesying, having his head covered, dishonors his head. 5 But every woman who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head, for that is one and the same as if her head were shaved. 6 For if a woman is not covered, let her also be shorn. But if it is shameful for a woman to be shorn or shaved, let her be covered. 7 For a man indeed ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God; but woman is the glory of man. 8 For man is not from woman, but woman from man. 9 Nor was man created for the woman, but woman for the man. 10 For this reason the woman ought to have a symbol of authority on her head, because of the angels.
In the culture and custom of the first-century world of Corinth, a man should keep short hair and a woman should keep long hair but not vice versa. A man should not cover his head and a woman should cover her head but not vice versa. Based on this culture and custom, Paul instructed women to cover their heads but forbid men to cover their heads during prayer. This was a specific instruction for the Corinthians Christian of the first century world and do not apply to Christians of the 21st-century world.
VV 11-16, 11 Nevertheless, neither is man independent of woman, nor woman independent of man, in the Lord. 12 For as woman came from man, even so, man also comes through woman; but all things are from God. 13 Judge among yourselves. Is it proper for a woman to pray to God with her head uncovered? 14 Does not even nature itself teach you that if a man has long hair, it is a dishonor to him? 15 But if a woman has long hair, it is a glory to her; for her hair is given to her for a covering. 16 But if anyone seems to be contentious, we have no such custom, nor do the churches of God.
Men are not independent of women, and women are not independent of men. Eve came from Adam, men came from women but all people are created by God. Paul asked two rhetorical questions concering head covering. The Corinthians Christians should follow the culture and custom of their times over head covering. In those days, it was considered glorious for women to keep long hair and wear head coverings. However, we do not have this custom today. Therefore, women need not any wear coverings in church or during prayer.
VV 17-22, 17 Now in giving these instructions I do not praise you, since you come together not for the better but for the worse. 18 For first of all, when you come together as a church, I hear that there are divisions among you, and in part I believe it. 19 For there must also be factions among you, that those who are approved may be recognized among you. 20 Therefore when you come together in one place, it is not to eat the Lord’s Supper. 21 For in eating, each one takes his own supper ahead of others; and one is hungry and another is drunk. 22 What! Do you not have houses to eat and drink in? Or do you despise the church of God and shame those who have nothing? What shall I say to you? Shall I praise you in this? I do not praise you.
Paul admonished the Corinthians Christians over divisions, sectarianism, and factionalism. Unlike today, the Lord’s Supper in the first-century Church was a full fellowship meal called the love feast. A love feast is equivakent to our pot luck dinner dinner. In the love feast, many of them behaved rudely, fighting for food, behaving like gluttons, and drunkards. Paul asked three more rhetorical questions.
VV 23-26, 23 For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you: that the Lord Jesus on the same night in which He was betrayed took bread; 24 and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, “Take, eat; this is My body which is broken for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” 25, In the same manner, He also took the cup after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood. This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.” 26 For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death till He comes.
Paul gave instructions concerning the Lord’s Supper. On the night before the Lord was betrayed, He took bread, gave thanks, broke, and gave them to the disciples to eat as symbolic of His broken body. In the same way, He took the cup of wine and invited them to drink it as symbolic of the new covenant in His blood. They were to do this as often as they could in remembrance of Him and to proclaim His death until His second coming.
VV 27-34, 27 Therefore whoever eats this bread or drinks this cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. 28 But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup. 29 For he who eats and drinks in an unworthy manner eats and drinks judgment to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body.
Participants of the Lord’s Supper should examine themselves for any unrepentant sin before partaking in the Lord’s supper. God will judge and punish those who partook the Lord’s supper in an unworthy manner.
VV 30-34, 30 For this reason many are weak and sick among you, and many sleep. 31 For if we would judge ourselves, we would not be judged. 32 But when we are judged, we are chastened by the Lord, that we may not be condemned with the world. 33 Therefore, my brethren, when you come together to eat, wait for one another. 34 But if anyone is hungry, let him eat at home, lest you come together for judgment. And the rest I will set in order when I come.
Paul warner that eating the Lord’s supper in an unworthy manner could result in ill health and even death. Paul encouraged them to onserve the Lord’s Supper and love feast in an orderly, friendly, courteous, and respectful manner.
Paul’s ruling on head covering for women during prayer and in church was a specific ruling to the Corinthian Christians in the first century world. This is not a universal ruling for every generation to observe. However, the brethren churches today still observe this ruling because of this passage. This is why interpretion should be based on hermenuetic to bridge the gap between “there and then” and “now and here”.
Heavenly Father, we praise You and thank You for all that You have done for us in our lives. Thank You for opening up Your Word to us and helping us unravel, understand, and interpret the difficult passage on head coverings for women, in Jesus’ name, Amen.