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I Corinthians 11:2-16

I. What is the subject of these verses?

[1] NOT: Women's wearing of hats or scarfs to the church assembly.

Too many essentials are missing --

a. The acts of worship are missing

b. The modern hat vs. veil of this time

c. The assembly -

NOTE: Paul says that women should be veiled when they pray or prophesy. Then, in chapter 14, he forbids then to prophesy in the church. WHY GIVE A RULE HERE IF THEY ARE FORBIDDEN LATER?

[2] IS: Headship and how its recognition was demonstrated at Corinth.

a. Study the chart:

God             Christ             Man




Christ             Man             Woman

b. Word for "head" means "anything supreme, chief, prominent; of persons, master, lord" (Thayer's Greek Lexicon, p. 344)

c. Three reasons for this headship:

(1) Woman is of man. vs.8

(2) Woman is for man. vs. 9

d. Both men and women are to demonstrate their subordination when "praying or prophesying" by:

(1) Woman was to wear a veil.

(2) Man was NOT to wear a veil.

II. A Study of the Veil.

[1] Greek word is "Kata-kaloupto"

a. Kata = a preposition denoting motion, direction from higher to lower; i.e., hang down, down from, down.

b. Kalupto = to cover, to veil oneself, to be covered.

c. This word is specific. It means "a hanging down from the head and covering the face." It was a haning down from the higher to the lower, to fully cover the head, esp. the face.

d. Not specific in color, cloth, or composition.

e. It must prevent the ability to be seen.

f. Moses wore a veil so Israel "could not look." II Cor. 3:13-14

[2] Man was NOT to wear a covering on his head.

a. A woman without a veil indicated that she had elevated herself to man's level. It would be an act of masculinity.

b. If a man wore a veil, it would be an act of femininity.

[3] WHEN? While praying or prophesying.

III. What was the situation at Corinth?

[1] The veil was a customary sign of the woman's subordination to man. This was the custom of that day and in that society.

a. "judge in yourselves" v.13

b. "Is it comely?" v. 13

c. "Doth nature teach you?" v. 14

d. "We have no custom" v. 16

[A] Same with other "customs"

a. Foot washing

b. Holy kiss

c. TODAY - different customs in different countries

[B] The veil was not required for the sake of the veil. But for the sake of what it meant in society. "Paul appeals to the sense of propriety among the Christians." (Robertson's Word Pictures, v.4, p. 161)

[C] Paul was appealing to them on the basis of national custom, not specific Biblical legislation.

[2] Some of the inspired women had mistakenly removed their veils while praying or prophesying.

a. The point was not that they should PUT ON a veil to pray or prophesy.

b. They were to KEEP it on. Not remove it.

c. The gift of inspiration gave them no right to remove it.

d. Inspiration was the reason for them to put on a veil, but the Corinthian women had used it as an excuse to take it off.

[3] A woman with a shaved head indicated that she was a convicted prostitute.

[4] A woman without a veil indicated that she was not in subjection to a man.

IV. Do the artificial veil regulations apply today?


a. It hangs down from head.

b. It covers the face.

c. Has the same significance in society.

[2] To modify the covering is to change the regulation of it. In America we have "no such custom." Women go bare headed anywhere without casting reflection on their morality.

[3] Long hair is her glory, for a covering. v.15

a. This is a covering.

b. Given by God.

c. Is a natural covering.

NOTE: Men can become bald. Seldom does a woman lose her hair.

[4] THE POINT MADE IS: In the absence of a custom requiring women to wear artificial veils as a sign of subordination to man, a woman's long hair is given her for a covering.

V. Is the text dealing with custom?

[1] Yes. See III. [1] a. - d.

[2] Custom has always required a symbol of subjection.

[3] It has not always been wrong for a man to prophesy with a veil upon him. Moses wore a veil. 2 Cor. 3:13; Exodus 34:33, 35


a. Woman has always been in subjection to man.

b. The method of showing it changes with cultures and customs.

c. Humility has always been required, but not foot washing. Friendliness is required, but not holy kisses.


[1] What I have admitted:

a. There are two coverings. (Veil and Hair)

b. The veil was a sign of subjection in Corinth society.

[2] What I have objected to:

a. Binding a custom from a different century, society, culture.

b. Substitution or modification of the text

c. "Reading into" the text what is not there.

[3] What I have not said:

a. That headship is a matter of custom.

b. That roles are matters of custom.

c. Ruled out possibility of 1 Cor. 11 being applicable today.

d. It is wrong for a woman to wear a hat to church.

[4] Principles taught in 1 Corinthians 11.

a. Woman is subordinate to man.

b. Man is subordinate to Christ.

c. Both must show their subordination.

d. Christians must fit themselves into the society where they live. The only exception would be where the custom violates divine principles.

e. Everyone must recognize his or her place and stay in it.

f. Sex identity: The distinction between the sexes must be kept clear in dress, behavior, jewelry, hair styles, etc.

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