mycrossbl.gif (957 bytes)

Christian UniverseTM

mycrossbl.gif (957 bytes)

Home | Christian Resources | Christian Links | Links | Site Map

Online Bibles

Scriptural FAQ's




Topical Studies

Electronic Greetings

God's Earth



Doctrinal Discussions:

Some Questionable Doctrines

These studies examine the traditional doctrines held by the Church of Christ to see if they are actually taught in the scriptures. This is not an "anti-Church of Christ" site. I was reared in the Church of Christ and have been preaching since 1968 in the Church of Christ. My desire is that we walk righteously before God, not according to traditions of men.  My comments are as of this date and subject to change as I learn and grow. Bernie Parsons

To Doctrinal Discussions Archive Index

To Daily Devotions Archive Index

"Let Her Be Katakalupto” 

Bernie Parsons 08/26/03  Rev. 12-10-2010 Rev. 07-28-2012

Note added 12-10-2010: I don't know Greek. I have to rely upon others who do when discussing words used in the Greek, and translated into English. On a given word, I have read different commentaries on what the original Greek word was, and what it meant. During transliteration and transcription, some use one word, while some use a different form of the same word. This makes it harder to grasp the intended meaning. In all cases, I fall back on context for understanding. - bp

In chapter 11 of the Apostle Paul's first letter to the Corinthian ekklesia (church), he explains authority in spiritual matters. Paul sets forth an hierarchy of authority, a chain-of-command, as it were, although many deny that this is the case.

Some say that Paul is here merely discussing the relationship between husband and wife. Others describe these verses as the rules for how women may preach in the assemblies, or gatherings, of the ekklesia. Even those who rightly acknowledge that he is writing about "headship" -- authority -- can't seem to agree upon exactly what Paul is teaching, or why.

I have set forth a study on the matter, after reading the comments and explanations of many men and women from Islam, Judaism, Roman Catholicism, and Protestantism -- many modern, some ancient.

These comments are based upon my understanding as of this date. As I learn and grow, I am subject to change my view on things. It is imperative that we all study and learn on our own, for each of us shall give an account to God regarding our beliefs and behavior while in this flesh. Having said all of that, understand that I have carefully studied upon what others have said and written on the subject. I have not merely picked the argument that suited me -- in fact, I find myself arriving at a conclusion different than any of those that I have heard and read.

I have included the King James Version scripture, following it with a paraphrased rendering of my understanding of that verse. Third, I have included my own comments on each verse.

1 Corinthians 11:1: "Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ."

Paul writes: “Follow me in the things wherein I follow Christ.”

Look at verses 32 & 33 of the preceding chapter.  Paul did not write in chapters and verses. This is a continuation of what he was writing in the preceding lines.

1 Corinthians 10:32 - 11:1 “Give none offence, neither to the Jews, nor to the Gentiles, nor to the church of God: Even as I please all men in all things, not seeking mine own profit, but the profit of many, that they may be saved. Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ.”

Verse one, as asserted by many scholars, would best be shown as the last verse of chapter 10, than the first verse of chapter 11. Remember that Paul did not write in chapters and verses -- this system was added later for easier study and reference.

Apostle Paul desired that the Corinthian Christians adopt his attitude of trying to “be all things to all people”, not favoring Jew over Gentile, or vice versa, but treating all as potential believers in Christ. He had already covered this in the 9th chapter -- remember again, that he did not write in chapters and verses):

1 Corinthians 9:22 “To the weak became I as weak, that I might gain the weak: I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some.”

Galatians 3:28 “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.”

1 Corinthians 1:24 “But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God.” 

Christ died for all, and broke down the middle wall of partition between Jew and Gentile. Paul treated all the same, and asked the Corinthians to follow his lead, as he followed the example set by Christ.

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

Paul writes: “I praise you, brothers, in that you remember all that I have taught you, and are keeping the ordinances, just the way that I taught them to you.”

Here Paul commends the Corinthian believers for remembering and keeping the ordinances that he had previously taught them.

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."

Paul states: “I want you to understand that Christ is the head of (authority over) every man, and the man is the head of (authority over) the woman; and God is the head  of (authority over) Christ.”

Paul wrote with certainty that there is a “chain of authority”, or a hierarchy of headship, with God at the top, Christ receiving instruction from Him, male humans receiving instruction from Christ, and female humans receiving instruction through the men. It is clearly a chain of command, if I may use that phrase. Women often reject this, especially since the advent of  "women's liberation", saying that it makes them second class citizens. It is God's plan, and must be observed.

What we all need to realize — and this is clearly the context — is that God is the ultimate authority, with everyone else taking instruction from Him, and following His lead. Jesus, as He Himself plainly stated, could do and say only what He had seen and heard of His heavenly father.

John 8:28 “Then said Jesus unto them, When ye have lifted up the Son of man, then shall ye know that I am he, and that I do nothing of myself; but as my Father hath taught me, I speak these things.” 

John 8:38 “I speak that which I have seen with my Father: and ye do that which ye have seen with your father.” 

John 8:40 “But now ye seek to kill me, a man that hath told you the truth, which I have heard of God: this did not Abraham.” 

John 15:15 “Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you.” 

1 Corinthians 15:27 “For he hath put all things under his feet. But when he saith all things are put under him, it is manifest that he is excepted, which did put all things under him.”

1 Corinthians 15:28 “And when all things shall be subdued unto him, then shall the Son also himself be subject unto him that put all things under him, that God may be all in all.”

We must not rebel at the order of things. Women bristling at the position of men in the hierarchy is no different than if men were to reject Jesus, or if Jesus should attempt to usurp God’s authority. We should all be diligently seeking God and His righteousness.

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

Every man praying or prophesying while his head is kata kephales echon (“down the head having”) dishonors his head (Christ—which in turn disrespects God).

Every man in a state of kata kepahles echon (literally, "down the head having") shames — disrespects — his head, which is Christ. He rejects Christ’s authority. Some say that  kata kepahles echon means either “hanging down, covered” or “down the head, covered” as it is rendered variously, and must mean a cloth veil. However, long hair hanging down from the head also fits the description. As the scholars point out, this is not a noun and is not equivalent to the word “covering”, which is a noun. Therefore, he is not saying “wearing a hat”, or “wearing a covering” — hat and covering being nouns. Besides which, a modern American hat, unlike a veil, does not cover by "hanging down the head"!

The discussion is of headship, and one's head. Hair naturally occurs on one's head. If the hair is hanging down, it covers the head. This fits the context of the discussion.

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."

Paul writes: In contrast, every woman who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered disrespects her head (man): for that is the same thing as if she were shaven.

Every woman who prays or prophesies with her head akatakalupto (“not down covered” or “not down the head, covered”), dishonors man, and thereby Christ, and ultimately, God. If this is her condition, she might as well be shaved bald.

Again, some try to render this as “unveiled”, but akatakalupto would also describe a woman whose hair is not hanging down. Some have tried to refer to ancient writers to argue that only whorish or pagan women wore their hair loose, or hanging down. (More on these writers later.) There is no mention of this in the New Testament, and there are passages that contradict that theory.

By the way, why do so many use veil in these verses when veil is not in the Greek? Because the Roman Catholic writers translated from Greek to Latin, using the word in Latin that means veil, which continued to be used for about 1,000 years. Many early translators consulted with the Latin Vulgate in order to make their translations, and finding the word veil in the Latin, translated it as such into other languages.

Luke 7:38 “And stood at his feet behind him weeping, and began to wash his feet with tears, and did wipe them with the hairs of her head, and kissed his feet, and anointed them with the ointment.” 

It would have been difficult for this woman to have wiped Jesus’ feet with her hair if it were short, or if it were tightly coiffed on her head. 

1 Timothy 2:9 “In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array;” 

1 Peter 3:3 “Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel;” 

Both Paul and Peter advised the believing women not to have plaited or braided hair. Some say that this is a condemnation of one particular way of styling the hair. Not so. In both cases, Christian demeanor was described.  The context in both cases is that of a woman adorning her inward person, not the outward appearance. 

Observing pictures of the hair styles worn by Greek and Roman women of the time of the apostles, it is immediately evident that not only were the hairstyles elaborate, arranged with nets, combs, tiaras, jewelry, and other devices, but the hair was worn close to the head, rather than hanging down. (Click here for the images.)

The advice that the believing women not imitate the styles of the Greeks and Romans indicates the removal of the devices that hold the hair close to the head (that which holds the hair close in braids and plaits).  Once the devices are removed, it is no longer convenient to wear the hair close, so the hair hangs down (katakalupto-“down from, covered” or, “down the head, covered”). Paul and Peter were not approving and disapproving particular hair styles, but were emphasizing internal spiritual beauty over external beauty, often achieved using expensive jewelry.

Hair worn close to the head resembles the profile of a man with short hair. If so worn, you might as well just shave your head!

This is significant in relation to what Paul continues to write here.

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."

For if the woman is ou katakaluptetai (“not down covered” or “not down the head, covered”), she might as well be shorn (as a sheep is shorn): but if it is a shame for a woman to be shorn (cut close, as a sheep is shorn) or shaven (bald), let her be katakaluptesthō (“ down covered”, or “down the head, covered”).

Notice that to this point in Paul's exposition on the headship, he has only mentioned states of hair --nothing about a piece of cloth! He speaks of being "hanging down, covered"; he speaks of short hair; and he speaks of baldness. These are all conditions of the hair!

If the woman is going to wear her hair close to the head to look like a man, instead of having her hair hanging down, she might as well be shorn close like a sheep is shorn, or shaved bald. In other words, if a woman,  while praying or prophesying, desires the appearance of a man through her hair style, she might as well have short hair! That is, if you dislike the hair hanging down, and instead want to appear more man-like by imitating short hair, your heart is wrong, and you might as well follow the sinful desires of your heart. This is similar to Jesus saying that a man who looks upon a woman to lust for her has committed adultery with her already, in his heart. If the desires are against what God wants and decrees, you have already condemned yourself.

Mark 12:33 “And to love him with all the heart, and with all the understanding, and with all the soul, and with all the strength, and to love his neighbour as himself, is more than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.”

Mark 7:20 “And he said, That which cometh out of the man, that defileth the man.21: For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders,22: Thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness:23: All these evil things come from within, and defile the man.”

James 4:8 “Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded.”

For a woman to want the appearance of short hair (that is, to look like a man) while she is praying or prophesying, is the same as actually following through by shearing or shaving the hair in order to resemble a man, says Paul. This denies the hierarchy of authority, stating to the world that prophesying men and women have the same roles and authority before God. In other words, not content to be a woman and occupy that role, she seeks to imitate the man, and assume his role before God.

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."

For a man actually ouk opheilei katakaluptesthai  (“not ought down to cover”) his head, because he is made in the image and glory of God: but the woman is the glory of the man.

The man in reality--in fact--is to be ouk katakaluptesthai  (“not down covered” or “not down the head, covered”) on his head, because he is created in the image and doxa (glory) of God. In similar manner, the woman is the doxa of the man.

Each gender has its own glory, similar, but differing: man, the glory of God; woman, the glory of man. This is similar to what Paul expresses in:

1 Corinthians 15:40 “There are also celestial bodies, and bodies terrestrial: but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another.
41: There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars: for one star differeth from another star in glory.”

God has designated roles and functions for men and women in life, and in His kingdom. All the roles and functions are important. Each gender has its glory. One is no more important than the other, as Paul asserts as he continues. However, the glory differs between men and women, just as it does between the sun and the moon, or the earth and the heavens, or the stars of various intensity and distance. The man, not having long hair, reflects the glory of God, who made him in His own image. The woman, having long hair, reflects the glory of man, from whom she was formed.

8: "For the man is not of the woman; but the woman of the man"

For the man did not first come from the woman, but the woman from the man.

Man was made first, then woman was made from him. That is, woman came forth from, or out of, the man. This is God's pattern, His plan.

Genesis 2:21 “And the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam and he slept: and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof; 22: And the rib, which the LORD God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man. 23: And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.”

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

Nor was the man created to assist the woman, but the woman to was created to be man’s helpmeet.

Man was not created to assist and be a companion to the woman; instead, the woman was created to assist and be a companion to the man. The gender roles in the hierarchy of authority reflect this.

Genesis 2:18”And the LORD God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him.”

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

Because of this pattern — or plan regarding authority, or headship, the woman ought to have exousiapower, or authority — on her head to show that she observes this chain of authority, as do the angels. Scholars indicate that this has often since been mistranslated in some versions as velamen, or veil. The Roman Catholics, following the lead of some of their favorite "ancient writers", which they consider "church fathers", have done this. (Please read the comments at the end of this study for more on this.)

Because God first formed man, and then the woman as his helper and companion, a woman ought to have power, or authority, on her head, to show that she knows where she fits into God’s scheme, in a manner similar to that of the  angels, who also acknowledge their role in God’s kingdom.

Hebrews 1:4 “Being made so much better than the angels, as he hath by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they.5: For unto which of the angels said he at any time, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee? And again, I will be to him a Father, and he shall be to me a Son?6: And again, when he bringeth in the firstbegotten into the world, he saith, And let all the angels of God worship him.”

Hebrews 1:13 “But to which of the angels said he at any time, Sit on my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool?14: Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation?”

1 Peter:3:22 “Who is gone into heaven, and is on the right hand of God; angels and authorities and powers being made subject unto him.”

2 Peter 2:4 “For if God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell, and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment;”

2 Peter 2:11 “Whereas angels, which are greater in power and might, bring not railing accusation against them before the Lord.”

Jude1:6 “And the angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, he hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day.”

The angels know that God has made them, and has placed them in the heavenly realm. The obedient angels acknowledge this, and that Jesus, the Son of God, holds authority over them. In a similar manner, women are urged to understand that God made them from the man, and placed them alongside him, in order to help him carry out the work with which God has charged him. In Adam’s case, it was to dress and keep the garden. In the Christian man’s case, it is to preach the gospel and return the lost souls to God through Christ. The woman’s role is to assist. By wearing her long hair down while praying or prophesying (which she cannot do in the assembly of the ekklesia—see 1 Corinthians 14), she acknowledges the gender roles assigned by God.

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

Be this as it may, the man cannot exist without the woman, nor can the woman exist without the man, as the Lord has established.

Now that the roles are established, neither man nor woman is to reject the roles assigned by God. Each role is holy and necessary in its own right. Men and women are to work together, within their respective roles, to do the Lord’s work. The man cannot exist without the woman, nor can the woman exist without the man.

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

For woman was created from the man, but man continues to exist by being born of woman; God made them both, and all things.

The woman would not exist, had she not been extracted and formed from the man’s rib. Yet men can only exist as they are born of women — otherwise, they would cease to be. Lest we lose track of what is important, remember that it is all according to God’s plan — it is His doing. We need to glory in what God has declared, and not resist it!

Revelation 15:3 “And they sing the song of Moses the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying, Great and marvellous are thy works, Lord God Almighty; just and true are thy ways, thou King of saints.”

Psalm 118:23 "This is the LORD's doing; it is marvellous in our eyes."

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

Meditate, and answer: is it proper that a woman pray to God uncovered?

Think about it, turn your thoughts inward: is it becoming -- that is, is it proper, or does it look good -- for a woman to pray to God akatakalupto (not down covered)? In other words, as Paul had wrote earlier in the letter, a woman is to be "hanging down, covered", or "down the head, covered" when praying or prophesying. Remember, he had equated the "not" condition to being shorn or shaven.

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

Isn’t it instilled within you to know that, if a man has long hair, it is a shame to him?

Verses 13 & 14 are to be taken together, with a similar question asked regarding female, and then male: “Upon reflection, isn’t it within you to know that it is neither proper for the woman to be uncovered, nor the man to be covered, while praying?”

The short hair on a woman uncovers her before God, by-passing the chain of authority that God has established, putting her not under man’s authority, but in an equal role, with equal authority. This is disrespectful to the hierarchy that God has established, and denies the truth of the creation in Genesis.

Likewise, a man with long hair disrespects Christ, and ultimately God, by making himself as a woman, rejecting the chain of authority that God has established
, abdicating the responsibility and authority that God has given him to carry out the work that God has assigned him. This recognition is instilled in men by God.

Note that while speaking of this hierarchy of obedience, the discussion is about:

(1a) Man is to be uncovered while praying or prophesying.
(1b) Man is to have short hair — it honors God, and thereby God’s creation and scheme of things.

(2a) Woman is to be covered while praying or prophesying.
(2b) Woman is to have long hair — it honors man, and thereby God’s creation and scheme of things.

Again, I remind the reader that a piece of  cloth has yet to be mentioned in all of this. The subject under discussion is authority, and the length of hair is being tied directly to the roles of each gender before God.

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

But if the woman has long hair, it is a glory to her: because her hair is supplied her to be a covering.

As short hair uncovers the woman, and brings shame upon the authority that God has decreed, so long hair provides a covering, plainly advertising her acceptance of the chain of authority that God has set forth. Her long hair thus becomes her glory. Her long hair is given her as (anti — against, instead of, for) a peribolaiou, or “throw-around”. The scholars say that this word is a noun, and means something that is thrown around a thing as a covering. Those who promote the wearing of a veil will point to this word, and render it as veil. However, taken in the context of the entire teaching to this point, the hair is a
peribolaiou when hanging down  (katakalupto). While hanging down, it becomes a throw-around, as evidenced when a woman tosses her head—the long flowing hair is literally thrown around, and envelops the head, oftentimes partially covering the face.

Those who promote a cloth veil as a covering try to use the fact that this word perbolaiou is different than the word katakalupto to prove that it is talking about a “second covering” — the long hair being the first, katakalupto, and the veil being the second, perbolaiou. As shown previously, katakalupto is not a noun, and does not mean what these veil-promoters say it does. It shows a state of being, and is used as an adverb, say the scholars. Therefore, there are not two nouns — that is, two distinct coverings — being discussed. Rather, a state of being, or condition, is discussed: the man’s head is in a state or condition of being “not hanging-down, covered”, while the woman’s head is in a state of being “hanging-down, covered”. Her hair is given her for a “throw-around”. In other words, the hanging-down hair serves as a throw-around for her head — she is covered, and meets the condition first put forth: that she pray or prophesy with her long hair hanging down on her head. Since it is a shame for a man to have long hair, he is to pray to God with his head “not hanging-down, covered” --
ouk katakaluptesthai.

The entire context of this discussion about authority and headship, and the hierarchy established by God, includes a discussion of long hair on women and short hair on men. There is never a mention of a piece of cloth. Consider: the veil is a man-made device to cover a God-given, natural state. It is an imitation of what God has already provided. The cloth veil was a common article worn by both men and women of the desert lands. It served a practical purpose in that it protected the head, hair, and face from the relentless hot sun and the blowing sands of the desert. It was not commanded by God, but was a practical invention. As the centuries wore on, it became a custom among certain cultures and religions. God does not bind man-made customs upon His people as immutable law!

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

If a man wants to dispute these truths, that is not our custom, neither the churches of God.

Many represent this verse to say: “Let us not argue over whether hair length is important, for it is merely a custom.”

Others say that it means, “Wear long hair -- or a cloth veil -- as some insist, because that is the custom in the churches.” This is an incredible stretch of the imagination. One need but look at what the Apostle Paul wrote at the beginning of this letter to the Corinthian ekklesia to understand the context. There had arisen sects, or factions, within the Corinthian ekklesia, as was the custom among the Greeks. They followed one philosopher/teacher or another, forming themselves into schools of students behind each man.

1 Corinthians 1:11 “For it hath been declared unto me of you, my brethren, by them which are of the house of Chloe, that there are contentions among you.12: Now this I say, that every one of you saith, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ.13: Is Christ divided? was Paul crucified for you? or were ye baptized in the name of Paul?”

1 Corinthians 1:19 “For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent.20: Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world? hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world?21: For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.22: For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom:”

Acts 19:9 “But when divers were hardened, and believed not, but spake evil of that way before the multitude, he departed from them, and separated the disciples, disputing daily in the school of one Tyrannus.10: And this continued by the space of two years; so that all they which dwelt in Asia heard the word of the Lord Jesus, both Jews and Greeks.”

Acts 17:18 “Then certain philosophers of the Epicureans, and of the Stoicks, encountered him. And some said, What will this babbler say? other some, He seemeth to be a setter forth of strange gods: because he preached unto them Jesus, and the resurrection. 19: And they took him, and brought him unto Areopagus, saying, May we know what this new doctrine, whereof thou speakest, is? 20: For thou bringest certain strange things to our ears: we would know therefore what these things mean. 21: (For all the Athenians and strangers which were there spent their time in nothing else, but either to tell, or to hear some new thing.)”

Romans 14:1 “Him that is weak in the faith receive ye, but not to doubtful disputations.”

Paul spoke to that custom of the Greeks by pointing out that neither the brethren at Corinth, nor those in any of the ekklesia in other localities, followed this Greek custom of debating the issues. He had already pointed out several times that the chain of authority was set by God, and could not be altered without consequence. It was not open for debate.

1 Corinthians 3:4 “For while one saith, I am of Paul; and another, I am of Apollos; are ye not carnal? 5: Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers by whom ye believed, even as the Lord gave to every man? 6: I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase.”

As was discussed early in his letter, we are not Christians by following the man who we perceive to be the best orator, but by following Christ, whom God sent. Recall the following:

1 Corinthians 4:15 “For though ye have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet have ye not many fathers: for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel.16: Wherefore I beseech you, be ye followers of me.17: For this cause have I sent unto you Timotheus, who is my beloved son, and faithful in the Lord, who shall bring you into remembrance of my ways which be in Christ, as I teach every where in every church.”

1 Corinthians 11:1 “Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ.”

Paul concludes his discussion on the headship and the hair by saying that what he has written is the teaching of God in Christ Jesus, and is not open to debate, as is the custom of the Greeks.

17: "Now in this that I declare unto you I praise you not, that ye come together not for the better, but for the worse."

In this next thing that I will talk about, I cannot praise you, for you are not assembling (gathering) for improvement, but for weakness.

Turning to another matter, I cannot praise you, because when you gather together, you do not come together for improvement, but for weakening.

As Paul so aptly describes later in this letter, known to us as chapter 14, the gatherings (assemblies) of the ekklesia are for the edification of the attendees, but in the manner in which they were being conducted at Corinth, the body of Christ was being weakened instead of strengthened.

18: "For first of all, when ye come together in the church, I hear that there be divisions among you; and I partly believe it."

The first problem I will address, is that when you assemble in the ekklesia, I hear that you are divided, and I tend to believe it.

The first thing of several that Paul wishes to discuss about their assemblies (gatherings) in the ekklesia, is this rumor that they are not united, which Paul was inclined to believe. Many argue that Paul’s teachings on the covering, or the lack of coverings, pertained to the assemblies of the ekklesia only. The context shows otherwise. After his discussion on the hair as a covering, Paul moves on to a new topic — the first of several (first of all) regarding the assemblies (gatherings) of the ekklesia. Had the discussion of authority and head covering pertained to the assembly, then it would have been the first topic, and this next topic would not be the first of several to be discussed — it would be second on the list.

What is the first thing about the assemblies of the ekklesia that Paul wishes to discuss? The Lord’s Supper! Therefore, we can conclude that the discussion of praying or prophesying covered or uncovered did not pertain to the assemblies of the ekklesia. This makes perfect sense, as Paul makes it plain later in this letter (chapter 14) that women are to remain silent in the ekklesia gatherings.

I personally know one promoter of the “veil-as-second-covering” doctrine who sarcastically preached that “in chapter 11 Paul covered them up, then in chapter 14 he shut them up!” when referring to the role of women in the gatherings. This is not only inaccurate, but is derogatory towards women. Paul would not have spent all his effort to convince the Corinthians that women must be covered when praying or prophesying in the assemblies, only to tell them later in the same letter that they cannot pray and prophesy in the assemblies. Therefore, we can conclude that the covering did not mean in the assemblies, but rather on other occasions when women had opportunity to pray with others, or teach them, outside the gatherings of the ekklesia.

Yes, women can teach outside the ekklesia gatherings.

Acts 2:16 “But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel;17: And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams:18: And on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy:”

Acts 21:8 “And the next day we that were of Paul's company departed, and came unto Caesarea: and we entered into the house of Philip the evangelist, which was one of the seven; and abode with him.9: And the same man had four daughters, virgins, which did prophesy.”

Acts 18:26 “And he began to speak boldly in the synagogue: whom when Aquila and Priscilla had heard, they took him unto them, and expounded unto him the way of God more perfectly.”

But they cannot teach in the general gatherings of the ekklesia.

1 Corinthians 14:3 “If therefore the whole church be come together into one place, and all speak with tongues, and there come in those that are unlearned, or unbelievers, will they not say that ye are mad? 24: But if all prophesy, and there come in one that believeth not, or one unlearned, he is convinced of all, he is judged of all:”

1 Corinthians 14:34 “Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience, as also saith the law.35: And if they will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak in the church.”

1 Timothy 2:11 “Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection.12: But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence.”

We conclude that the praying and prophesying by the women was to be outside of the gathering of the ekklesia. The wearing of the long hair hanging down while doing so showed subjection to the role of men as the primary teachers under Christ. It is no accident that Jesus chose 12 males as His apostles, or that he sent out 70 male disciples to spread the gospel, or that he chose Paul — a man — to take the gospel to the Gentiles. It is in keeping with the role of men and women described at the creation in Genesis, and the understanding among the Jews, that teaching was the role of men in the believer's gatherings, which were designed for edification.

John17:6 “I have manifested thy name unto the men which thou gavest me out of the world: thine they were, and thou gavest them me; and they have kept thy word.”

2 Timothy 2:2 “And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also.”Elders (bishops) and deacons were males.

Titus 1:5 “For this cause left I thee in Crete, that thou shouldest set in order the things that are wanting, and ordain elders in every city, as I had appointed thee: 6: If any be blameless, the husband of one wife, having faithful children not accused of riot or unruly.”

1 Timothy 3:1 “This is a true saying, If a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work.”

1 Timothy 3:2 “A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach;”

1 Timothy 3:12 “Let the deacons be the husbands of one wife, ruling their children and their own houses well.”

Leaders in the ekklesia were males, as were the teachers in the assemblies. The women could pray and prophesy in a covered state -- that is, showing that they were under the tutelage and leadership of the men -- among others outside the ekklesia gatherings, but not during the gatherings.

If the Bible does not teach that women must wear a cloth covering over their long hair, why do so many “Christian” churches teach it, and expect compliance?

I have discovered that many practices in the Church of Christ, and among the Protestant religions, are adopted from the Roman Catholic church. The Catholics teach that a cloth covering must be worn during their “worship services”. Not only does the Bible not describe the ekklesia gatherings as “worship service” — a Catholic attempt to imitate Jewish temple worship — neither does it teach that a cloth veil must be worn in assembly!

The foundation for this doctrine is like that for many of the Roman Catholic doctrines — it is born of, and steeped in, the traditions and teachings of men. In fact, some of the “ancient writers” — or, “church fathers”, as the Catholics like to call them — advised Christian women to wear coverings because pagan women did!

It is obvious that there is no scriptural description of such a covering as suggested by the Roman Catholics, and the Protestants who follow them. Instead, they depend upon the so-called "church fathers". Yet those writers did not even agree among themselves.

Some say a small doily atop the head suffices. Some say any hat or scarf will do. Others say it must cover all the hair. Still others say it should also cover the face, and some go so far as to suggest a device like the burqha worn in Afghanistan and other Muslim countries, that shrouds the entire head. The context is that the head is to be "hanging down, covered", or "down the head, covered".
Even if it were speaking of a cloth veil, as some argue, this description rules out hats, doilies, and short scarves! And the scriptures do not call for the face to be covered.

Let's look at what these "church fathers" wrote about veils on believing women.

"I also admonish you second group of women, who are married, not to outgrow the discipline of the veil. Not even for a moment of an hour. Because you can't avoid wearing a veil, you should not find some other way to nullify it. That is, by going about neither covered nor bare. For some women do not veil their heads, but rather bind them up with turbans and woollen bands. It's true that they are protected in front. But where the head properly lies, they are bare. Others cover only the area of the brain with small linen coifs that do not even quite reach the ears.... They should know that the entire head constitutes the woman. Its limits and boundaries reach as far as the place where the robe begins. The region of the veil is co-extensive with the space covered by the hair when it is unbound. In this way, the neck too is encircled. The pagan women of Arabia will be your judges. For they cover not only the head, but the face also. . . . But how severe a chastisement will they likewise deserve, who remain uncovered even during the recital of the Psalms and at any mention of the name of God? For even when they are about to spend time in prayer itself, they only place a fringe, tuft [of cloth], or any thread whatever on the crown of their heads. And they think that they are covered!" [Tertullian, The Veiling of Virgins : The Ante-Nicene Fathers Vol. 4 pp. 27-29]

"Throughout Greece, and certain of its barbaric provinces, the majority of churches keep their virgins covered. In fact, this practice is followed in certain places beneath this African sky. So let no one ascribe this custom merely to the Gentile customs of the Greeks and barbarians. Moreover, I will put forth as models those churches that were founded by either apostles or apostolic men. . . . The Corinthians themselves understood him to speak in this manner. For to this very day the Corinthians veil their virgins. What the apostles taught, the disciples of the apostles confirmed." [Tertullian, The Veiling of Virgins : The Ante-Nicene Fathers Vol. 4 pp. 27-29,33]

Notice that Tertullian, championed by Catholics as an “ancient writer” and “church father” (writing around 200 AD), invokes pagans as the reason for Christian virgins to be veiled. Yet 1 Corinthians 11, which he claims the Corinthians churches were following in his time, makes no mention of virgins, or the assembly! Furthermore, Tertullian boldly describes the length and coverage of the veil, a thing not mentioned by Paul in his Corinthian letter. Additionally, he wants to use pagan women as the standard by which Christian women should compare themselves! Other oft-cited ancient sources:

Clement of Alexandria, writing around the year 190, said: “Let the woman observe this, further. Let her be entirely covered, unless she happens to be at home. For that style of dress is grave, and protects from being gazed at. And she will never fall, who puts before her eyes modesty, and her shawl; nor will she invite another to fall into sin by uncovering her face. For this is the wish of the Word, since it is becoming for her to pray veiled.” [Clement, The Instructor 3.12]

Clement calls for women to be “entirely covered” when going out into public. Why is it that Paul addressed only the hair, and not the entire body? And where in 1 Corinthians 11 was she told to hide her face? Yet Clement ascribes his teaching to “the Word”—yet what he describes is not to be found in the Word!

Hippolytus, writing around the year 200, also claimed to understand the truth about this head covering. His Apostolic Tradition contains this statement: ”And let all the women have their heads covered with an opaque cloth, not with a veil of thin linen, for this is not a true covering.” [Hippolytus Apostolic Tradition]

So is it the entire body that must be covered, as said Clement, or just the head, as Hippolytus said? And where in 1 Corinthians 11 was an opaque cloth specified in preference to thin linen? It is easy to see that each man was offering his own opinion, and was not drawing from the Bible. Yet the Catholics, Protestants, and even many Church of Christ teachers fall back on Tertullian, Clement, and Hippolytus for their “proof of the truth”!

By the way, you should read Tertullian's entire treatise on The Veiling of Virgins — it is quite an eye-opener. In it, he admits that the Christian women were only covering their heads among the heathen to keep from incurring their wrath. In other words, they behaved as the heathen did, only covering their heads among the heathen in order to blend in. They did not cover their heads within the gatherings of the ekklesia.

Here is an excerpt from Chapter XIII:

“and as they veil their head in presence of heathens, let them at all events in the church conceal their virginity, which they do veil outside the church. They fear strangers: let them stand in awe of the brethren too; or else let them have the consistent hardihood to appear as virgins in the streets as well, as they have the hardihood to do in the churches. I will praise their vigour, if they succeed in selling aught of virginity among the heathens withal. Identity of nature abroad as at home, identity of custom in the presence of men as of the Lord, consists in identity of liberty. To what purpose, then, do they thrust their glory out of sight abroad, but expose it in the church?”

He was upset because the Christian virgins only wore their veils in the streets, not in the assemblies! They wore veils among the heathen because they were afraid of what the heathen would do to them if they didn’t! This is not based on scripture, but rather on adopting the customs of the heathen--out of fear! Again, remember that he is calling for veiling of virgins only, something that Apostle Paul did not do in 1 Corinthians 11.

As to Clement sticking with the scriptures, here are some excerpts of his writings that show that he was making doctrine, not following it as set forth in the scriptures:

"Neither is it seemly for the clothes to be above the knee." Clement of Alexandria (circa 195 AD), 2.266

"Let a woman wear a plain and becoming dress, but softer than what is suitable for a man."

"Yet, it should not be immodest or entirely steeped in luxury. And let the garments be suited to age, person, figure, nature, and pursuits." Clement of Alexandria (circa 195 AD), 2.285

Book, chapter, & verse for these? There is none! Yet, from these men the Roman Catholics adopted the practice of having women wear a cloth veil while in their so-called "worship service". Protestants, and members of the Church of Christ, willingly embrace this doctrine, which is not supported in the scriptures. Instead, we must take the scriptures as written, and reject the Roman Catholic practice of "veiling".

Love, in Christ,

Bernie Parsons

Back to Top


saucerbl.gif (1636 bytes)

Hit Counter