April 2, 2019
Daybreak: 1 Corinthians 11:2-16
“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.” (1 Corinthians 11:3)
One of our children’s schoolteachers used to say, “Who’s in charge around here, huh? Huh?” This was her humorous reminder to students that she was the leader in the classroom.
Every group must have a leader and an order for organization. Departments within a company must have a supervisor, or the workers of the department will not have any direction or know how to work together. City traffic must also have order and control. (I’ve visited some cities where it seemed there was no order or control, and travel was pretty scary! Yet, even there, some system was used, and we were just happy that our driver understood it.) Governments must have order and leadership, too. President Harry Truman was famous for the sign on his desk that said, “The buck stops here!” Someone must have the final authority.
To operate properly, families also must have order and leadership. Today’s verse says, “The head of the woman is the man.” In this day of liberated women, some might say, “Whoa! Don’t go there!” However, it is important to remember that God established this leadership order. Look at what the verse says about the man! “The head of every man is Christ.” Will it be difficult for a wife to follow the leadership of a man who is following Christ with all his heart?
The verse ends, “and the head of Christ is God.” Thus, the Trinity also has an order and leadership, even though the three Persons of the Godhead are equal. Did Jesus ever resist the Father’s directions? No, He faithfully followed God’s will and plan. Jesus is our example.
God created human beings in an order — the man first, and then the woman — but all souls are equal and cherished in God’s eyes. Therefore, following God’s ordained order does not diminish anyone. Rather, it puts all of us in a position to receive God’s blessings!
Today, are we following God’s order in our lives? We will never be sorry if we do.
The Greek word ordinance in this passage is translated in other places as “tradition” or “teaching.”
The thrust of Paul’s concern in this passage was submission, specifically regarding a practice of worship. In Corinth, two cultures were coming together. Grecian women took a head covering at marriage, which was a sign of their married state and indicated that they were under their husbands’ authority. Jewish women covered their heads at all times; to uncover their heads in public indicated they were loose morally. Some of the women in Corinth thought that because Christianity contained no distinction between Jews and Gentiles, bond and free, males and females, they could take off their coverings, even though it was a sign of their submission to their husbands.
Paul wanted the Corinthians to understand that by creating man first and then woman, God set forth an order and established the roles he wanted men and women to have. Christ is the head of the man and the man is the head of the woman.
This order does not imply inferiority; all people are equally valuable in God’s sight. His lines of authority are not lines of superiority, but rather a system for working together. God wants the unique and complementary characteristics of men and women to strengthen their marriages and usability. Jesus is equal with God the Father, but Jesus submitted His will to God’s will and plan. In the same way, if a man submits to God and a woman submits to the man, their marriage and family will benefit. This is a submission by choice, not force, just as serving God is a submission by choice.
At the time of this writing, for a man to wear a head covering while worshipping implied another authority had come between him and God (verse 4). If a woman worshipped without her head covered, she indicated that she was not subjecting herself to her husband, and therefore not to God, either. This lack of subjection was not a light offense to Paul, or to God. Verse 10 implies that even the angels would notice whether or not that submission was in place when a woman worshipped.
The blending of the sexes is also not a light issue to God. Paul made it clear that a man should not wear his hair in a way that would be considered effeminate by his culture. In Corinth, long hair on a man was thought to be an indicator of male prostitution. Female prostitutes cut their hair short or shaved their heads. Thus, the length of hair would have been important to a person’s witness in Jesus Christ.
Paul set forth a principle here — in any culture, God wants His people to submit to His authority and the order He has prescribed. Each aspect of a Christian’s life, including hair and attire, should show that he or she submits to and obeys God. Anything that detracts from the Christian’s witness should be avoided.
(Hannah’s Bible Outlines - Used by permission per WORDsearch)
III. Answers to inquiries
C. Concerning matters in public assembly
1. The attire of women: the necessity of subjection (11:2-16)
a. Because of divine appointment (11:2-6)
b. Because of the order of creation (11:7-12)
c. Because of the priorities of society (11:13-16)
A Closer Look
- What did Paul consider praiseworthy in the believers of Corinth?
- Why did Paul tell the Corinthians to follow him?
- What do Paul’s instructions about head coverings teach you regarding the importance of maintaining unity in the church family?
- How can you demonstrate your willingness to submit to your God-given role as a man or woman? What benefits might result from such submission?
Everything about a Christian — hair, attire, conduct, entertainment, relationships, and conversations — should exemplify a holy life. How does your life measure up today?
- 1 Corinthians Introduction
- 1 Corinthians Complete Amplified Outline
- Daybreak Unit PDF (1 & 2 Corinthians, 1 & 2 Timothy, Titus, Philemon, 1 & 2 Peter, Mark)
- Discovery Unit PDF (1 & 2 Corinthians, 1 & 2 Timothy, Titus, Philemon, 1 & 2 Peter, Mark)
- Discovery Teacher's Guide Unit PDF (1 & 2 Corinthians, 1 & 2 Timothy, Titus, Philemon, 1 & 2 Peter, Mark)
- Unit Binder Cover