Praying, Prophesying, and Order in God’s Church, Part 5 (Praying Through the Bible #248)



TEXT: 1 Corinthians 11:1-16:

1 Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ.

2 Now I praise you, brethren, that ye remember me in all things, and keep the ordinances, as I delivered them to you.

3 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.

4 Every man praying or prophesying, having his head covered, dishonoureth his head.

5 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.

6 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.

7 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.

8 For the man is not of the woman: but the woman of the man.

9 Neither was the man created for the woman; but the woman for the man.

10 For this cause ought the woman to have power on her head because of the angels.

11 Nevertheless neither is the man without the woman, neither the woman without the man, in the Lord.

12 For as the woman is of the man, even so is the man also by the woman; but all things of God.

13 Judge in yourselves: is it comely that a woman pray unto God uncovered?

14 Doth not even nature itself teach you, that, if a man have long hair, it is a shame unto him?

15 But if a woman have long hair, it is a glory to her: for her hair is given her for a covering.

16 But if any man seem to be contentious, we have no such custom, neither the churches of God.

We are in a series of messages titled “Praying Through the Bible: A Series on Every Passage and Verse Regarding Prayer in the Bible.” The purpose of this series is to encourage and motivate you to pray to the God of the Bible. We highlighted each of these over 500 verses and passages in the Prayer Motivator Devotional Bible. So far, we have completed 247 messages in this series.

This is message #248 titled, Praying, Prophesying, and Order in God’s Church, Part 5.

By way of introduction to this passage, Walter Elwell writes:

The first issue is concerned with the different head coverings that appropriately distinguish women and men as they pray or prophesy in worship. The interpretation of the passage is complicated from the outset (so also to some extent is) by its dependence on prior teaching which Paul has given to the church but which, of course, is unknown to us. However, by beginning with ‘praise,’ Paul hints that the church has not departed significantly from the substance of what he has previously taught. The discussion of the issue then begins with a call for the church to acknowledge (again or anew) that the ‘head of every man is Christ, and the head of the woman is man, and the head of Christ is God.’ However, the word head, used here and repeatedly throughout this section, has various meanings. It may be used to speak of a physical head. But from this literal meaning come two metaphorical ones which allow the same word to denote rule and authority (the head of the church being in authority over the body, or source and origin (the head of the church being the source of its existence. Of course, the precise meaning intended here will greatly influence the interpretation of the principle being expressed, not to mention any attempt to apply it to different, broader questions about the roles appropriate to men and women in contemporary worship. It may be helpful, therefore, to note first that either meaning enables these words to support the instructions which follow. But it is also significant to observe that the second has the advantage of according greater continuity to the section as a whole .If the second of the metaphorical meanings is Paul’s here, then his principle will be a statement of the truth that the source of every man’s existence (or perhaps ‘person’; the Greek can be used generically) is Christ, “through whom all things were made” (the Nicene Creed) the source of woman’s existence is ‘the man’ (the definite article in Greek is used with the word man, not woman; and the source of existence for the historical person of Christ is God. Thus a man who prays or prophesies with his physical head covered (either, as the NIV text suggests, by some form of head covering or, as the footnote has it, with long hair) symbolically dishonors the source of his existence by obscuring that which was created in the image of God and designed to reflect that image to God’s glory. Similarly, a woman who prays or prophesies (a practice Paul affirms apart from these comments on proper dress) with her physical head uncovered symbolically refuses to honor the source of her existence (i.e., by trying to obscure the distinctions between woman and man) and so brings dishonor upon her own head as surely as if it “were shaved.” Thus if a woman refuses to ‘cover her head,’ she may as well ‘have her hair cut off,’ for the latter state is no more or less dishonoring to her than the former. The basis for this argument is now reexpressed and supplemented before Paul returns to the question of the woman’s appearance. For the ‘reason’ he has given, and because of the angels, the woman who prays or prophesies must ‘have a sign of authority on her head.’ This allows her to transcend her created distinction from man (without seeking to deny it) in the expression of her gift. For both now participate in worship in a new order in Christ. This does not mean, however, that in the Lord woman is free to disregard man, nor is man free to disregard woman. The truth is that they are dependent upon each other and both dependent upon God.

As we return to this passage once again, Paul provides another major reason as to why women should wear head coverings in public worship. His first reason is because of the divine order of authority: God, Christ, man, and then woman. The second reason is because of Creation: God created man first and woman second. These reasons are still valid today as it pertains to a woman’s role in the home and the church. The husband is the head of the household and men are to be ordained as pastors of churches. However, when it comes to headcoverings, most commentators agree that Paul’s words should be applied in light of the cultural relevancy of the headcovering. In New Testament times and in some places today (particularly Muslim countries), a head covering is representative of a respectable, upstanding woman. But, in the Western world, physical headcoverings — whether they are veils, or hats, or shawls — don’t carry the same symbolism and are not required in the church.

Another of Paul’s reasons in defense of the Biblical position of a woman’s role in the home is one that also carries weight for our society. In verses 13-16, Paul appeals to nature, writing: “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.” In fact, in this day and time, when there is so much Satanic confusion surrounding gender and what constitutes male and female, these words are more relevant than ever. There are some things that apply to men and some things that apply to women across the board.

Addressing what Paul’s words mean in light of our present discussion, Dr. John Walvoord and Dr. Roy Zuck write: “Mankind instinctively distinguished between the sexes in various ways, one of which was length of hair. Exceptions to this general practice were due either to necessity or perversity. No abstract length of hair was in mind so much as male and female differentiation. The Spartans, for example, favored shoulder-length hair for men which they tied up for battle, and no one thought them effeminate. Long hair was a woman’s glory because it gave visible expression to the differentiation of the sexes. This was Paul’s point in noting that long hair was given to her as a covering. Natural revelation confirmed the propriety of women wearing the physical covering. She has a natural covering, and should follow the custom of wearing a physical covering in a public meeting.”

Some might try to contend with the natural order of things by stating that this order is solely based on centuries of misguided human social construction. However, for Paul, the natural order is based on the divine order and the created order. Genesis states that God made them “male and female.” He didn’t make two people of the same kind. He made two people of a different kind. And He did it for a reason.

In the church, it is tempting to go along with the culture’s attempt to erase the differences and blend the roles of men and women. But God has given us a clear order for the church and the family. His natural creation testifies that men and women are equal but distinct from each other. We must respect that order in worship, in service, and in life.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

Now, if you are with us today, and you do not know the Lord Jesus Christ as your Saviour, your first prayer needs to be what we call the Sinner’s Prayer. First, please understand that you are a sinner, just as I am, and that you have broken God’s laws. The Bible says in Romans 3:23: “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.”

Second, accept the fact that there is a penalty for sin. The Bible states in Romans 6:23: “For the wages of sin is death…”

Third, accept the fact that you are on the road to hell. Jesus Christ said in Matthew 10:28: “And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” Also, the Bible states in Revelation 21:8: “But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.”

Now this is bad news, but here’s the good news. Jesus Christ said in John 3:16: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

Just believe in your heart that Jesus Christ died for your sins, was buried, and rose from the dead by the power of God for you so that you can live eternally with Him. Pray and ask Him to come into your heart today, and He will.

Romans 10:9 & 13 says, “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved… For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

If you believe that Jesus Christ died on the cross for your sins, was buried, and rose from the dead, and you want to trust Him for your salvation today, please pray with me this simple prayer: Holy Father God, I realize that I am a sinner and that I have done some bad things in my life. For Jesus Christ sake, please forgive me of my sins. I now believe with all of my heart that Jesus Christ died for me, was buried, and rose again. Lord Jesus, please come into my heart and save my soul and change my life today. Amen.

If you just trusted Jesus Christ as your Saviour, and you prayed that prayer and meant it from your heart, I declare to you that based upon the Word of God, you are now saved from Hell and you are on your way to Heaven. Welcome to the family of God! Congratulations on trusting Jesus Christ as your Lord and Saviour. You have done the most important thing in life. For more information to help you grow in your newfound faith in Christ, go to Gospel Light and read “What To Do After You Enter Through the Door”. Jesus Christ said in John 10:9, “I am the door, by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.”

God loves you. We love you. And may God bless you.


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