1 Corinthians 11


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

We can follow the example of our church leaders but only if they follow Christ. The minute one steps out of that role, we must continue to follow Christ.

  • 1Corinthains 11:2 Now I praise you, brethren, that ye remember me in all things, and keep the ordinances, as I delivered them to you.
  • 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.
  • 4 Every man praying or prophesying, having his head covered, dishonoreth his head.

I've read that head coverings for men were a custom because they knew that something separated them from our holy God. Through Christ however, that covering can be removed because through faith in Christ mankind is reconciled to God. The symbol of a covering on a man's head is no longer necessary when he prays or prophesies. This chapter can actually be beautiful if one sees it in this light. If we read these passages with an attitude of obedience and worship instead of resistance and rebellion, they can really be beautiful.

They never should be read with the object in mind to bring women into bondage either. True Christianity brings honor and protection to women. It never degrades them or makes them less than man. Never was this chapter intended to make women inferior dependent upon man for their salvation. All scripture that applies to our salvation must be for single as well as married people. If it is interpreted the way some have done in the past then you are going to get into error and have women dependent upon their husbands for salvation. This would leave out all single women so that teaching has to be false.

  • 1Corinthains 11:5 But every woman that prayeth or prophesieth with her head uncovered dishonoreth her head: for that is even all one as if she were shaven.

There are different schools of thought on these passages. I will cover those that I'm aware of.

1. The woman needed to wear a veil on her head as a sign of the husband's protection over her. She sets an example of humility. If this is taken along with Ephesians 5:25 " Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it," then we see that the proper place for the husband is the protector, not oppressor of his wife. In those days single women were under the protection of her father's house and not yet under the authority of a husband. This was the custom then also, and to be different was to identify herself with heathens or unbelievers.

Here is another interpretation that is quite beautiful if it is true. I've never heard of this one until very recently.

2. A man is the head of a woman so a woman, in order for her to pray and prophesy, needs to make sure the man over her is covered so that she can seek only God. A man doesn't have to have a cover because Christ is the head of man. Since man is the head of woman, she has to cover the man and just seek God. A symbol of this is her long hair or a head covering of some kind. It is a symbol of covering her head, (her husband) when she prays or prophesies. Nothing should be between her and Christ. Not all have this interpretation and this one may be wrong but I wanted to state it because the thought is really worth thinking about.

3. Some believe that men should have short hair and women should have long hair and that long hair is given as a covering and this has something to do with the original fall of mankind where the woman was deceived first.

4. Others believe a woman should wear a hat, scarf or some other head covering when she is in public or in church during prayer services. Some are so strong in this area that they actually believe a woman would be in a lost condition if she did not wear a head covering. I would disagree with that strong of interpretation because that would make salvation dependent upon one's knowledge of head coverings instead of Jesus alone. However, it is beautiful to see those that wear head coverings because they believe it to be in obedience to God. I wouldn't criticize them for anything. When you see them, you see obedience and respect for God that is admirable.

5. Another interpretation I will cover is that all of this is an attitude rather than an actual act. A woman should have an attitude of humility and be in subjection to her husband as he is in subjection to God. My only question in this is where would that put the single woman? So much to discuss and think about but all should be done with the attitude of obedience instead of rebellion and never should we use these scriptures to bring someone into bondage and make them think they have no salvation if they don't line up to our own understanding. Remember our Lord Jesus Christ desires to save the lost, not cast them away over whether they wear a head covering or not. However, trust the Holy Spirit to give understanding and not me.

6. The last interpretation is that this chapter involves the customs of that day and Paul was trying to make peace and avoid division over this subject.

  • 1Corinthains 11:6 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.

It was a disgrace in those days for a women to be shorn. That was usually done to humiliate her when she was guilty of some sexual sin.

  • 1Corinthains 11:7 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.

When we pray and worship all glory belongs to God. So all our customs and works need to glorify God and not ourselves. God is all in all. Our attitude has much to do with all these instructions. Whatever brings glory to God and furthers the cause of Christ is what we should seek. If we offend people by our actions and cause one soul to be lost, what profit is it to have our own way all the time. That is what Paul covered in the first chapters of this epistle.

  • 1Corinthains 11:8 For the man is not of the woman; but the woman of the man.
  • 9 Neither was the man created for the woman; but the woman for the man.
  • 10 For this cause ought the woman to have power on her head because of the angels.

Looks as if angels are present in our public worship so our worship should be in reverence. One interpretation is that when women are in obedience and subjection, it gives an example to the angels that are present.

  • 1Corinthains 11:11 Nevertheless neither is the man without the woman, neither the woman without the man, in the Lord.
  • 12 For as the woman is of the man, even so is the man also by the woman; but all things of God.
  • 13 Judge in yourselves: is it comely that a woman pray unto God uncovered?
  • 14 Doth not even nature itself teach you, that, if a man have long hair, it is a shame unto him?
  • 15 But if a woman have long hair, it is a glory to her: for her hair is given her for a covering.
  • 16 But if any man seem to be contentious, we have no such custom, neither the churches of God.

If we insist in having our own way in this, there is no custom in the church concerning it. The church isn't subject to the customs of the era we live in except perhaps to try not to give offense as Paul covered in previous chapters. It seems as if the Corinthian church had disputes on the area of head coverings.

It would seem that Paul settled this dispute by saying that the church has no such custom about head coverings. Some disagree with this but this issue is not the main issue that should concern the church. Preaching the gospel and edifying the church is our main goal. I personally am not going to judge a woman for whether or not she has a covering, long hair or short. Let everyone be fully persuaded in his or her own mind so that we can pray and prophesy with a clear conscience of heart and mind.

If a woman would wear a head covering and come into an assembly with a rebellious attitude trying to lord over the men in the assembly, then the covering would be a waste of effort. In her heart there would be no covering or sign of obedience.

Another point I should bring out is the fact that if women were not allowed to prophesy, speak in public assemblies or preach why would Paul say here that if she prophesied she is to be covered?

  • 1Corinthains 11:17 Now in this that I declare unto you I praise you not, that ye come together not for the better, but for the worse.
  • 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.
  • 19 For there must be also heresies among you, that they which are approved may be made manifest among you.

Divisions caused by heresy is what Paul is trying to stop. Divisions caused by trivial nonsense or things that are not essential to one's salvation is a waste of time and usually caused by Satan to divide the church.

In saying that, I don't believe Paul was preaching unity in all things. I don't believe he was saying that we should all agree on false doctrine and error. He was talking of real heresy and doctrines that are unscriptural or doctrines that were not the doctrines of Jesus Christ.

There are some doctrines out now that are the exact opposite of what Jesus taught. There are some that are preaching unity but desire us to lay aside the sound doctrine of the scripture to have unity. I don't believe that is the type of unity Paul is expounding here.

Love, order, submission, peace and holiness is the main thought to keep the unity of spirit and the bond of peace. True love is not what we think of love but it is preferring one another and not purposely giving offense by wanting one's own way all the time. We all should endeavor to find the will of God in all things and forsake our own will.

By love serve one another. If we have love we can overlook non-essentials easily. However, there are things that are very important and essential that we cannot compromise on. The main one being that our salvation depends on whether or not we believe Jesus is the way the truth and the life and no one can come to the Father but through Jesus and whether we are willing to repent or turn from sin and turn to Jesus for forgiveness of sin. 

  • 1Corinthains 11:20 When ye come together therefore into one place, this is not to eat the Lord's supper.
  • 21 For in eating every one taketh before other his own supper: and one is hungry, and another is drunken.
  • 22 What? have ye not houses to eat and to drink in? or despise ye the church of God, and shame them that have not? What shall I say to you? shall I praise you in this? I praise you not.

Every time we come together for food and fellowship, it should be done in love considering the poor. It should never be done the way described by Paul in this chapter. Even in a fund raising events to raise money for the church, the poor should be considered. If any cannot afford to pay the fundraising price then give them dinner for free. I know there will be some who may take advantage of this but its better not to have fund raisers than to deny the poor something to eat if they can't afford it.

Most church dinners should be given freely and not with a charge. The gospel itself should never be charged. In other words church services should never be accompanied by an admission fee. If I see an event that charges admission connected to a church, I wouldn't attend even if I could afford the price because Jesus said, "Matthew 10:8 Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils: freely ye have received, freely give."

  • 1Corinthains 11:23 For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, That the Lord Jesus the same night in which he was betrayed took bread:
  • 24 And when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me.
  • 25 After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me.
  • 26 For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do show the Lord's death till he come.

When we come together to remember the Lord and the suffering He did on our behalf, we should be reverent, and examine our hearts to make sure we are partaking for the right reasons. If we come just to eat and drink because we are hungry and we are not considering why we are partaking of the service, then we are there for the wrong reasons.

Those that partake of this should understand why they are there and what each ordinance represents. It is to remember the broken body of Jesus and the blood He shed to save us from sin.

  • 1Corinthains 11:27 Wherefore whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord.
  • 1Co 11:28 But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup.
  • 1Co 11:29 For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord's body.
  • 1Co 11:30 For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep.

It would seem that not discerning and eating with irreverence caused sickness and premature death among them. This could refer to spiritual weakness and having no strength in the holy things of God.

  • 1Corinthains 11:31 For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged.

Better to judge ourselves and examine ourselves to make sure we are walking in the spirit and not the flesh. If we find ourselves being selfish and wanting our own way, being greedy and wanting the best, wanting to get the best before someone else gets it etc. it is not a sign of walking in the spirit.

  • 1Corinthains 11:32 But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world.

If we judge ourselves by the word and repent, then we escape God's judgment. If we do not judge ourselves we are chastened or corrected by the Lord.

  • 1Corinthains 11:33 Wherefore, my brethren, when ye come together to eat, tarry one for another.

Wait on one another, prefer one another, let the other person be first.

  • 1Corinthains 11:34 And if any man hunger, let him eat at home; that ye come not together unto condemnation. And the rest will I set in order when I come.

The whole chapter can be summed up with, "Walk in love, considering one another and preferring one another." This whole chapter teaches submission to one another and is the very opposite to wanting one's own way.

1 Corinthians 12


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