ABUSES AT THE
1. Rather belonging to the end of the tenth chapter, than to this
of Christ--who did not please Himself
but gave Himself, at the cost of laying aside His divine glory, and
dying as man, for us
Php 2:4, 5).
We are to follow Christ first, and earthly teachers only so far as they
2. Here the chapter ought to begin.
ye remember me in all things--in your general practice, though
in the particular instances which follow ye fail.
ordinances--Greek, "traditions," that is, apostolic directions
given by word of mouth or in writing
(1Co 11:23; 15:3;
The reference here is mainly to ceremonies: for in
as to the LORD'S SUPPER,
which is not a mere ceremony, he says, not merely, "I delivered
unto you," but also, "I received of the Lord"; here he says only, "I
delivered to you." Romanists argue hence for oral traditions. But the
difficulty is to know what is a genuine apostolic tradition
intended for all ages. Any that can be proved to be such ought
to be observed; any that cannot, ought to be rejected
Those preserved in the written word alone can be proved to be such.
3. The Corinthian women, on the ground of the abolition of
distinction of sexes in Christ, claimed equality with the male sex,
and, overstepping the bounds of propriety, came forward to pray and
prophesy without the customary head-covering of females. The Gospel,
doubtless, did raise women from the degradation in which they had been
sunk, especially in the East. Yet, while on a level with males as to
the offer of, and standing in grace
their subjection in point of order, modesty, and
seemliness, is to be maintained. Paul reproves here their
unseemliness as to dress: in
as to the retiring modesty in public which becomes them. He
grounds his reproof here on the subjection of woman to man in the order
the head--an appropriate expression, when he is about to treat of
woman's appropriate headdress in public.
of every man . . . Christ--
of . . . woman . . . man--
1Ti 2:11, 12;
1Pe 3:1, 5, 6).
head of Christ is God--
(1Co 3:23; 15:27, 28;
Lu 3:22, 38;
Joh 14:28; 20:17;
"Jesus, therefore, must be of the same essence as God: for, since the
man is the head of the woman, and since the head is of the same essence
as the body, and God is the head of the Son, it follows the Son is of
the same essence as the Father" [CHRYSOSTOM]. "The
woman is of the essence of the man, and not made by the man; so, too,
the Son is not made by the Father, but of the essence of the Father"
[THEODORET, t. 3, p. 171].
4. praying--in public
prophesying--preaching in the Spirit
having--that is, if he were to have: a supposed case to illustrate
the impropriety in the woman's case. It was the Greek custom (and so
that at Corinth) for men in worship to be uncovered; whereas the Jews
wore the Talith, or veil, to show reverence before God, and their
unworthiness to look on Him
however, MAIMONIDES [Mishna] excepts cases
where (as in Greece) the custom of the place was different.
dishonoureth his head--not as ALFORD, "Christ"
but literally, as "his head" is used in the beginning of the verse.
He dishonoreth his head (the principal part of the body) by
wearing a covering or veil, which is a mark of subjection, and which
makes him look downwards instead of upwards to his Spiritual Head,
Christ, to whom alone he owes subjection. Why, then, ought not man to
wear the covering in token of his subjection to Christ, as the woman
wears it in token of her subjection to man? "Because Christ is not
seen: the man is seen; so the covering of him who is under Christ is
not seen; of her who is under the man, is seen" [BENGEL]. (Compare
5. woman . . . prayeth . . .
prophesieth--This instance of women speaking in public worship is
an extraordinary case, and justified only by the miraculous gifts which
such women possessed as their credentials; for instance, Anna the
prophetess and Priscilla (so
The ordinary rule to them is: silence in public
(1Co 14:34, 35;
1Ti 2:11, 12).
Mental receptivity and activity in family life are recognized in
Christianity, as most accordant with the destiny of woman. This passage
does not necessarily sanction women speaking in public, even though
possessing miraculous gifts; but simply records what took place at
Corinth, without expressing an opinion on it, reserving the censure of
1Co 14:34, 35.
Even those women endowed with prophecy were designed to exercise their
gift, rather in other times and places, than the public congregation.
dishonoureth . . . head--in that she acts against the
divine ordinance and the modest propriety that becomes her: in putting
away the veil, she puts away the badge of her subjection to man, which
is her true "honor"; for through him it connects her with Christ, the
head of the man. Moreover, as the head-covering was the emblem
of maiden modesty before man
and conjugal chastity
so, to uncover the head indicated withdrawal from the
power of the husband, whence a suspected wife had her head
uncovered by the priest
ALFORD takes "her head" to be man, her symbolical,
not her literal head; but as it is literal in the former clause, it
must be so in the latter one.
all one as if . . . shaven--As woman's hair is given
her by nature, as her covering
to cut it off like a man, all admit, would be indecorous: therefore, to
put away the head-covering, too, like a man, would be similarly
indecorous. It is natural to her to have long hair for her
covering: she ought, therefore, to add the other (the wearing of a
head-covering) to show that she does of her own will that which
nature itself teaches she ought to do, in token of her
subjection to man.
6. A woman would not like to be "shorn" or (what is worse) "shaven";
but if she chooses to be uncovered (unveiled) in front, let her be so
also behind, that is, "shorn."
a shame--an unbecoming thing (compare
Thus the shaving of nuns is "a shame."
7-9. Argument, also, from man's more immediate relation to God, and
the woman's to man.
he is . . . image . . . glory of God--being
created in God's "image," first and directly: the woman,
subsequently, and indirectly, through the mediation of
man. Man is the representative of God's "glory" this ideal of man being
realized most fully in the Son of man
(Ps 8:4, 5;
Man is declared in Scripture to be both the "image," and in the
"likeness," of God (compare
But "image" alone is applied to the Son of God
"Express image," Greek, "the impress." The Divine Son is not
merely "like" God, He is God of God, "being of one substance
(essence) with the Father." [Nicene Creed].
woman . . . glory of . . . man--He does not say,
also, "the image of the man." For the sexes differ: moreover, the woman is created in the
image of God, as well as the man
(Ge 1:26, 27).
But as the moon in relation to the sun
so woman shines not so much with light direct from God, as with light
derived from man, that is, in her order in creation; not that
she does not in grace come individually into direct
communion with God; but even here much of her knowledge is mediately
given her through man, on whom she is naturally dependent.
8. is of . . . of--takes his being from ("out
of") . . . from: referring to woman's original
creation, "taken out of man" (compare
The woman was made by God mediately through the man, who was, as it
were, a veil or medium placed between her and God, and therefore,
should wear the veil or head-covering in public worship, in
acknowledgement of this subordination to man in the order of creation.
The man being made immediately by God as His glory, has no veil between
himself and God [FABER STAPULENSIS in BENGEL].
9. Neither--rather, "For also";
Another argument: The immediate object of woman's creation. "The man
was not created for the sake of the woman; but the woman for the sake
of the man"
(Ge 2:18, 21, 22).
Just as the Church, the bride, is made for Christ; and yet in both the
natural and the spiritual creations, the bride, while made for the
bridegroom, in fulfilling that end, attains her own true "glory," and
brings "shame" and "dishonor" on herself by any departure from it
(1Co 11:4, 6).
10. power on her head--the kerchief: French
couvre chef, head-covering, the emblem of "power on her head"; the
sign of her being under man's power, and exercising delegated authority
under him. Paul had before his mind the root-connection between the
Hebrew terms for "veil" (radid), and "subjection" (radad).
because of the angels--who are present at our Christian assemblies
"gods," that is, angels), and delight in the orderly
subordination of the several ranks of God's worshippers in their
respective places, the outward demeanor and dress of the latter being
indicative of that inward humility which angels know to be most
pleasing to their common Lord
HAMMOND quotes CHRYSOSTOM,
"Thou standest with angels; thou singest with them; thou hymnest with
them; and yet dost thou stand laughing?" BENGEL
explains, "As the angels are in relation to God, so the woman is in
relation to man. God's face is uncovered; angels in His presence are
Man's face is uncovered; woman in His presence is to be veiled. For her
not to be so, would, by its indecorousness, offend the angels
(Mt 18:10, 31).
She, by her weakness, especially needs their ministry; she ought,
therefore, to be the more careful not to offend them."
11. Yet neither sex is insulated and independent of the other in the
Christian life [ALFORD]. The one needs the other in the sexual relation;
and in respect to Christ ("in the Lord"), the man and the woman together
(for neither can be dispensed with) realize the ideal of redeemed
humanity represented by the bride, the Church.
12. As the woman was formed out of (from) the man, even so is
man born by means of woman; but all things (including both man and woman)
are from God as their source
They depend mutually each on the other, and both on him.
13. Appeal to their own sense of decorum.
a woman . . . unto God--By rejecting the emblem of
subjection (the head-covering), she passes at one leap in praying
publicly beyond both the man and angels [BENGEL].
14. The fact that nature has provided woman, and not man, with long
hair, proves that man was designed to be uncovered, and woman covered.
The Nazarite, however, wore long hair lawfully, as being part of a vow
sanctioned by God
Compare as to Absalom,
and Ac 18:18.
15. her hair . . . for a covering--Not that she does not need
additional covering. Nay, her long hair shows she ought to cover her
head as much as possible. The will ought to accord with nature
16. A summary close to the argument by appeal to the universal
custom of the churches.
if any . . . seem--The Greek also means
"thinks" (fit) (compare
If any man chooses (still after all my arguments) to be
contentious. If any be contentious and thinks himself
right in being so. A reproof of the Corinthians'
self-sufficiency and disputatiousness
we--apostles: or we of the Jewish nation, from whom ye have received
the Gospel, and whose usages in all that is good ye ought to follow:
Jewish women veiled themselves when in public, according to
[ESTIUS]. The former explanation is best, as the Jews are not referred
to in the context: but he often refers to himself and his fellow
apostles, by the expression, "we--us"
(1Co 4:9, 10).
no such custom--as that of women praying uncovered. Not as
"that of being contentious." The Greek term implies a usage,
rather than a menta