1 Corinthians 11

1 Corinthians 11

Head Coverings
1I want you to pattern your lives after me, just as I pattern mine after Christ. 2And I give you full credit for always keeping me in mind as you follow carefully the substance of my instructions # 11:2 Or “traditions” or “guidelines.” It is likely that the instructions Paul refers to here are regarding their public worship. This would include cultural customs about church order and not necessarily doctrinal matters. that I’ve taught you. 3But I want you to understand that Christ is the head # 11:3 Or “source.” Although the Greek word kephale, found three times in this verse, can be “head,” it is used figuratively. It is not used in Greek literature or Scripture as “head over,” “chief,” or “ruler.” To say that Christ is the head of every man means that he is the source of our life and faith as the head of the body of Christ. Christ is the “head” as in the head of a river. See also vv. 8–9, which support this. The source of the woman is man, for Eve was taken from Adam. The source of the Messiah is God, for he provided a virgin birth for Christ and formed his body and fulfilled the prophecies God spoke about him. Another possible translation of v. 3 is “Christ has responsibility over all men, as the husband has responsibility for his wife, and God the Father has responsibility over Christ.” of every person, and Adam was the head of Eve, # 11:3 As translated from the Aramaic. and God is the head of the Messiah.
4Any man who leads public worship, # 11:4 Implied in both the Aramaic and the Greek, as also in v. 5. This section (vv. 3–16) is not focused on marriage or the role of women in the church, but on proper attitudes of reverence and conduct in public worship. Paul’s discussion here would have made obvious sense within the cultural standards of the Corinthians. It is a continuation of Paul’s teaching that if our conduct offends and divides the church, we are to change our ways in order to promote unity among the believers. See 1 Cor. 10:27–33. and prays or prophesies with a shawl hanging down over his head, shows disrespect to his head, which is Christ. 5And if any woman in a place of leadership within the church prays or prophesies in public with her long hair disheveled, # 11:5 Or “unbound,” as translated from the Aramaic. The Greek is “with her head uncovered.” The Greek word akatakalyptos is commonly translated as “unveiled” or “uncovered.” However, the Greek Septuagint of Lev. 13:45 uses the word akatakalyptos in saying that a person who has “leprosy” signals to the world his disease by staying dirty and keeping his hair “disheveled.” Notice also that Paul affirms the right of women to pray and prophesy in public worship services. she shows disrespect to her head, which is her husband, for this would be the same as having her head shaved. 6If a woman who wants to be in leadership will not conform to the customs of what is proper for women, # 11:6 Or “So, if a women will not wear a head covering, . . .” she might as well cut off her hair. But if it’s disgraceful for her to have her hair cut off # 11:6 That is, “having her hair cut off [like a prostitute],” which was the common practice in Corinth. For the public worship of that era, a woman would have her long hair braided and covered up so she would not be mistaken as a cult priestess of Isis or Dionysus. or her head shaved, let her cover her head.
7A man in leadership is under no obligation to have his head covered in the public gatherings, because he is the portrait of God and reflects his glory. The woman, on the other hand, reflects the glory of her husband, 8for man was not created from woman but woman from man. # 11:8 See Gen. 2:21–23; 1 Tim. 2:13. 9By the same token, the man was not created because the woman needed him; the woman was created because the man needed her. # 11:9 See Gen. 2:18. In Christ, there is no fundamental difference between man and woman, as both were created by God with different roles and personalities. Although the first woman, Eve, came from Adam, every other man came from a woman (mother). To use Gen. 2:18 to say that women are inferior to men is equal to saying that all men are inferior to their mothers. 10For this reason she should have authority over the head because of the angels. # 11:10 This literal translation is one of the most difficult verses in all the New Testament to translate and to interpret properly. Scholars and translators are divided in how to express this verse with proper meaning. First, Paul uses the Greek word exousia (authority), which is used for the authority of God, kings, and rulers, and can be translated “might” or “right.” It never occurs as a metaphor speaking of a piece of apparel. This is not a symbol of authority, but true authority on “the” (not her) head under which she ministers. Before Pentecost, the woman was not seen as anyone with authority, but at Pentecost the Holy Spirit fell upon men and women, giving each person the authority to take the gospel with power to the ends of the earth and prophesy under the direction of the Holy Spirit. The Gospels both begin and end with a visitation of angels to women. The angel Gabriel came to Mary and the angels of God greeted the women at the empty tomb. However, the Aramaic word used here is a homonym that can mean both “power” and “covering/veil.” This may explain the variation of the Greek texts.
11So then, I have to insist that in the Lord, neither is woman inferior to man nor is man inferior to woman. # 11:11 As translated from the Aramaic and implied in the Greek. 12For just as woman was taken from the side of man, in the same way man is taken from the womb of woman. God, as the source of all things, designed it this way.
13So then you can decide for yourselves—is it proper for a woman to pray to God with her hair unbound? # 11:13 As translated from the Aramaic. The Greek is “with her head uncovered.” 14Doesn’t our long-established cultural tradition teach us that if a man has long hair that is ornamentally arranged it invites disgrace, but if a woman has long hair that is ornamentally arranged it is her glory? 15This is because long hair is the endowment that God has given her as a head covering. # 11:15 Or “prayer shawl.” The Greek word peribolaion is translated in the Deut. 22:12 (LXX) as “prayer shawl.”
16If someone wants to quarrel about this, I want you to know that we have no intention # 11:16 Or “custom.” to start an argument, neither I nor the congregations of God.
The Lord’s Table
17Now, on this next matter, I wish I could commend you, but I cannot, because when you meet together as a church family it is doing more harm than good! 18I’ve been told many times that when you meet as a congregation, divisions and cliques emerge—and to some extent, this doesn’t surprise me. 19Differences of opinion are unavoidable, yet they will reveal which ones among you truly have God’s approval. # 11:19 Differences of opinion between believers expose our hearts. Mature ones will overlook offenses and faults in order to maintain the precious unity of the body of Christ. Immature ones will cause splits, divisions, and cliques around their respective opinions. The ones whom God approves are those whose hearts remain pure in spite of petty differences.
20When all of your house churches # 11:20 Implied both in the text and by the cultural context of the day. gather as one church family, you are not really properly celebrating the Lord’s Supper. # 11:20 Paul is implying that it is the Lord’s Supper, not merely a meal for favored ones. Jesus is hosting the meal for the benefit of all every time we gather for communion. 21For when it comes time to eat, some gobble down their food before anything is given to others—one is left hungry while others become drunk! # 11:21 Apparently, the church of Corinth was divided between the “haves” and the “have nots.” Those who were wealthy would feast and become drunk, while those who had very little went hungry. The precious unity of the church was spoiled by this behavior. These shared meals were called “love feasts” (Judah 12). 22Don’t you all have homes where you can eat and drink? Don’t you realize that you’re showing a superior attitude by humiliating those who have nothing? Are you trying to show contempt for God’s beloved church? How should I address this appropriately? If you’re looking for my approval, you won’t find it!
23I have handed down to you what came to me by direct revelation from the Lord himself. The same night in which he was handed over, # 11:23 Or “betrayed.” Paul is using a play on words in the Greek text. He “handed down” to us the instructions for the Lord’s Table, but the Lord was “handed over” to his accusers. he took bread 24and gave thanks. Then he distributed it to the disciples and said, “Take it and eat your fill. # 11:24 As translated from the Aramaic, which means “Eat and be satisfied.” It is my body, which is given for you. Do this to remember me.” 25He did the same with the cup of wine after supper and said, “This cup seals the new covenant with my blood. Drink it—and whenever you drink this, do it to remember me.”
26Whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you are retelling the story, proclaiming our Lord’s death until he comes. 27For this reason, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in the wrong spirit will be guilty of dishonoring the body and blood of the Lord. 28So let each individual first evaluate his own attitude and only then eat the bread and drink the cup. 29For continually eating and drinking with a wrong spirit # 11:29 Or “unworthily” or “irreverently.” will bring judgment upon yourself by not recognizing the body. # 11:29 Some manuscripts have “the Lord’s body.” This can be understood in at least two ways. It may refer to not recognizing the bread as Christ’s body given in sacrifice, or not recognizing Christ’s body on earth, the church. To properly discern the Lord’s body, which was beaten and bruised for our healing, would mean we would not be weak or sick or die prematurely. 30This insensitivity is why many of you are weak, chronically ill, and some even dying. # 11:30 Or “asleep,” a metaphor for death. 31If we have examined ourselves, we should not be judged. 32But when we are judged, it is the Lord’s training so that we will not be condemned along with the world.
33So then, my fellow believers, when you assemble as one to share a meal, show respect for one another and wait for all to be served. # 11:33 The Aramaic can be translated “strengthen [encourage] one another.” 34If you are that hungry, eat at home first, so that when you gather together you will not bring judgment upon yourself.
When I come to you, I will answer the other questions you asked me in your letter.
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