The framework for the message this morning will consist of a series of questions revolving around this command: "Let her be covered."
The first of these questions is: "To whom is this command addressed?"
Now that's a very simple question. In your opinion, perhaps, it's too elementary to even raise. Your answer might be, "Why, it's addressed, of course, to the Corinthians!" and that's right. They were the initial recipients of it. Does that mean, then, that it was exclusively for them? Does that mean that what was enjoined upon them is not binding upon us? Have the teachings of the epistles been generally understood in that way? Among Christian people, is the Bible usually viewed as "out of date"? No! The Bible has been studied and applied because it is believed to be relevant for today.
If 1 Corinthians was intended only for the Corinthians, then we might as well close our doors and go out of business. A very few would take so radical a stand as that. The continued observance of the communion ordinance is evidence of the widespread conviction that not the Corinthians only, but we, too, are being addressed in this epistle. But, as was pointed out earlier, it's unfortunate that, in that larger group, there are those who, at certain points, draw back from that position in order to escape the reproach of Christ. And so you have this practice of teaching one part of the chapter, but not the part of the chapter that might make you unpopular.
In answer to this question, there are yet other lines of evidence that ought to be looked at. The book of Revelation, in chapters 2 and 3, records individual messages sent by the ascended Christ to seven churches. At the conclusion of each of those letters, this familiar refrain is repeated: "He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit sayeth unto the churches" ? plural. Each of those letters, in addition to being for one particular church, was to be heeded also by all the churches. "Let him hear what the Spirit sayeth unto the churches". And so it is, too, with the Corinthian epistle. It's for us, too, even though it was for them initially.
To further reinforce this fact, let's go to the very beginning of this epistle, 1 Corinthians chapter 1, and listen to verses 1 and 2 for a possible clue to this answer, for a possible answer to the question: " (1) Paul, called to be an apostle of Jesus Christ through the will of God, and Sosthenes our brother, (2) unto the church of God which is at Corinth, to them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all that in every place call upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord." There you have it again. The writer, God's chosen servant, declares himself that he's addressing not only the Corinthians, but also ALL that in EVERY place call upon the Lord.
There is, however, still more that ought to be added to this answer. Remember the question is: "To whom is this command addressed?"
Was this portion of the letter for sisters only? They very much are in focus here. It surely relates to them. But, are they being addressed directly, or indirectly? Well, back again in chapter 11, I find in verses 2 and 3 a clue to that answer. "Now I praise you, BRETHREN, that YE remember me in all things and keep the ordinances, as I delivered them to YOU. But I would have YOU know that the head of every man is Christ" and so on. Let's not overlook this! Obviously, brethren are to be in charge ? both in the church and in the home. It's their responsibility to teach God's headship order, and to see that that order is maintained. Even though it may have been the Corinthian women who were pushing at the fence, God viewed it as a problem that rested on the shoulders of the brethren -- fathers, husbands, church leaders. I, myself, very much need to face up to this fact. And so do you, brethren. When wrong trends appear in covering styles or covering sizes, brethren, let's not blame one another. Let's work TOGETHER at correcting the problem, for this is addressed to US. Let's be willing to admit that an irregularity in relation to the headcovering is seldom a sister's problem only. It usually involves more than just the sister.
I think we're ready now to move to another question. That question, number 2, is this: "With what is this practice associated?"
Some persons make much of the fact that, among the women of that day, this was the then-existing practice. And they immediately jump to the conclusion that on that basis it's not obligatory today. But that line of reasoning ignores completely verse 3 and the obvious link between verse 3 and all that follows, for I am of the opinion that verse 3 is the KEY to the whole passage. Notice now again how verse 3 brings into focus something far more authoritative than a local practice: "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."
God wants it to be known that there is a divinely established arrangement for working relations within the divine human economy. This is otherwise known as God's headship order. Better than anyone else, God knows that in every sphere of life there needs to be leadership and respect for leadership. God wants this fact known. He wants it known that on the human level God has assigned that leadership to the man. "I would have you know that the head of the woman is the man." God wants that fact KNOWN. Wherever a church or a family departs from this arrangement, it steps outside of the will of God, and it exchanges the best arrangement for an inferior arrangement. which will inevitably lead to confusion.
We have now our answer to question number 2: "With what is this practice associated?" It's associated with God's permanently existing headship order. Those verses that I read, verses 4-6, follow immediately upon the disclosure of this headship arrangement. Those verses 4-6 outline the God-prescribed way of preserving an awareness of this God-established headship order. The fact that the women of that day and place veiled their heads is to their credit, but it's simply an incidental factor. It's by no means the foundation on which this teaching is built.
Incidentally, for the Jewish men of that day, the embracing of Christianity did require breaking their custom. It may not have required a breaking of their custom on the part of the women, but on the part of the Jewish men they had to discontinue what they had been doing. So, please don't allow anyone to ever convince you that this passage is merely a call to fit in with their culture.
I'm moving now to question number 3: "But doesn't this practice destroy the woman's equality with man in Christ? Doesn't it do that?"
It is true that, more than anything else, Christianity elevated the status of womanhood. In Christ, the Christian woman stands before God on a footing equal to that of man. That is the input of a verse like Galatians 3:28, in which it is declared that "there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus."
In relation to salvation, man and woman are equal. It may be, however, that in Corinth especially, this newfound liberty may have been interpreted too broadly. So broadly as to obliterate the headship order. Perhaps it's in order to correct any such thinking that Paul is led to include in this passage evidence of the fact that the headship arrangement dates back, not only to the fall, but beyond the fall. It dates back to the time of the creation. That shows that it was meant to be a permanently existing thing in the earthly order.
Verses 8 and 9 speak to that point. Let's listen now to verse 8: "For the man is not of the woman; but the woman of the man." That speaks of man's priority in the sequence of creation. The fact that man was created first was not simply incidental, that was by divine design. Now verse 9: "Neither was the man created for the woman; but the woman for the man." This brings into focus the Creator's purpose. Eve was created for the purpose of being Adam's helper.
Now, the evident purpose for the inclusion of these facts is to emphasize that redemption does not cancel out headship. Headship remains intact in the reckoning of God. And so, the answer to our question is "NO", this practice does NOT destroy woman's equality with man in Christ. In the reckoning of God, man's continuing to function as the administrative head of the race is altogether compatible with woman's spiritual equality with the man in matters pertaining to Christian experience. Both concepts need to be promoted. There is no conflict between them. The man and the woman are equal in spiritual privilege, but they are not equal in authority.
Shall we come before the Lord in prayer? Or having now read further on you say this is boring or doesn't apply to me, may I suggest you visit www.successmagnet.org
In part three I will try and answer your questions, that you serious readers are asking.
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