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1 Corinthians 11:3-14

Context
11:3 But I want you to know that Christ is the head of every man, and the man is the head of a woman, 1  and God is the head of Christ. 11:4 Any man who prays or prophesies with his head covered disgraces his head. 11:5 But any woman who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered disgraces her head, for it is one and the same thing as having a shaved head. 11:6 For if a woman will not cover her head, she should cut off her hair. But if it is disgraceful for a woman to have her hair cut off or her head shaved, she should cover her head. 11:7 For a man should not have his head covered, since he is the image and glory of God. But the woman is the glory of the man. 11:8 For man did not come from woman, but woman from man. 11:9 Neither was man created for the sake of woman, but woman for man. 11:10 For this reason a woman should have a symbol of authority 2  on her head, because of the angels. 3  11:11 In any case, in the Lord woman is not independent of man, nor is man independent of woman. 11:12 For just as woman came from man, so man comes through woman. But all things come from God. 11:13 Judge for yourselves: Is it proper for a woman to pray to God with her head uncovered? 11:14 Does not nature 4  itself teach you that if a man has long hair, it is a disgrace for him,

1 tn Or “the husband is the head of his wife.” The same Greek words translated “man” and “woman” can mean, as determined by context, “husband” and “wife” respectively. Such an approach is followed by NAB, TEV, NRSV, and NLT (with some variations).

2 sn Paul does not use a word specifying what type of “covering” is meant (veil, hat, etc.). The Greek word he uses here (ἐξουσία exousia; translated symbol of authority) could be (1) a figure of speech that may substitute the result (the right to participate in worship) for the appropriate appearance that makes it possible (the covered head). Or (2) it refers to the outward symbol (having the head covered) as representing the inward attitude the woman is to possess (deference to male leadership in the church).

3 sn Paul does not explain this reference to the angels, and its point is not entirely clear. It seems to reflect an awareness that angels are witnesses to church life (cf. Eph 3:10) and would be particularly sensitive to resistance against God’s created order.

4 sn Paul does not mean nature in the sense of “the natural world” or “Mother Nature.” It denotes “the way things are” because of God’s design.



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