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veiled women

12-01-2014 - Posted by Andre Piet

images19 Brief summary of the study on 1Cor.11:1-15. In the immediately preceding chapter to 1Corinthians 11, Paul had taught that believers should not become a stumbling block for Jews, Greeks or for the ecclesia of God (10:32). Each of these groups had their own customs and Paul adjusted himself to them, as much as possible. For the Jews, he became a Jew and for the Greeks a Greek. Should women show a scandalous behaviour in the ecclesia, then they would form a stumbling block in winning others for the Evangel. That is Paul’s introduction to 1Corinthians 11. In 1Corinthians 11, Paul does not introduce a new custom, but respects an existing one. The women did not have to put on a hat, because they went to church, but they should not take off their veils, when they prayed and/or prophesied. It is not about women who quietly sat in the pew, but rather about women, who, in public, came to the fore (11,4.5). Paul wrote 1Corinthians 11 against the background that it was a shame for a woman to pray or prophesy, while being unveiled. Doing so, she would present herself as being a shaven or clipped-bald woman (11:5,6). Consequently, dishonored (cp Deut.21:12). In this passage, Paul is not writing about a hat or a cap, but about a veil. The word for “head cover” is literally “downwards-head” (11:4). It hangs from the head down. Therefore, a veil. The meaning of a veil and long hair are identical to Paul. Long hair is given the woman instead of (Gr. anti) a veil (11:15). The veil of a woman pictures the authority (“power of attorney”; 11:10) of the man, under which she functions. Being uncovered, while doing things that are reserved for a man, such as praying and prophesying in public, a woman withdraws herself from the authority of the man. These are masculine activities and, generally, are not intended for a woman (1Cor.14:34; 1Tim.2:11). Nevertheless, 1 Corinthians 11 shows that a woman can exercise those functions, although under power of attorney, i.e., authorized by man. The veil serves as a proxy on her head, because of the messengers (11:10). The rendering “angels” is rather suggestive, here. It is not about celestial beings, but about male messengers (cp Luke 7:24; James 2:25). The idea is: a woman who prays or prophesies, assumes the honors of the man. It is no shame for a man to have long hair, as many translations say it is (11:14). The word in 11:14 (Gr. atima) is a completely different word than in 11:5 (Gr. kataischuno). Long hair is for a man “without honor” (Gr. atima), i.e., nothing special. Elsewhere, this word is translated as “common use” (Rom. 9:21, see also 2Tim.2:20 – NIV). In contrast, for a woman to have long hair is an honor (11:15), because it reflects the glory of the man (and thus refers to the image of God; 11:7). In the “modern” Western world, people speak with disdain about parts of the world where a submissive woman wears a headdress. This disrespect is misplaced, because it masks their own spiritual poverty. In general, people have lost basic knowledge. They do not anymore know that the male is the image of God, the Creator, out of whom (11:8) and for whom (11:9) are all things. The female represents the creation (see this study). The latter is not inferior, but is her glory! In the “modern” West, too many people do not know anymore a Creator or creation – everything is, for many, meaningless. That is really dishonoring! When it comes to external customs (such as, whether or not to go veiled), Paul says, “judge for yourself” (11:13). He did not want to fight about it (11:16). For him, the issue is that believers present themselves appropriately (comely; 11:13) not being a stumbling block for the Evangel. External customs vary from place to place. In 1 Corinthians 11, it is not about laws, but about knowing (“I want you to know…”, 11:3). Knowing who is the head of whom and thus, to know the Divine order: God – Christ – man – woman.