Life-Study of 1 Corinthiansby Witness Lee
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
In this message we shall consider 11:2-16, where Paul deals with head covering.
In 11:2 Paul says, “Now I praise you that in all things you remembered me, and hold fast the traditions even as I delivered them to you.” Here Paul praises the Corinthians because they remembered him in all things and because they hold fast the traditions even as he had delivered them to them. The word traditions in this verse denotes instructions delivered by word of mouth or writing (2 Thes. 2:15).
In verse 3 Paul says, “But I want you to 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.” This verse through verse 16 deals with the seventh problem, the problem concerning head covering. The first six problems, dealt with in chapters one through ten, may be considered one group. They are concerned with matters in the realm of human life. The last five problems, dealt with in chapters eleven through sixteen, are another group. They are concerned with matters in the realm of God’s administration. The first is concerning the headship of Christ and of God in the divine government. In Ephesians 1:22 and 23 the headship of Christ over all things is to His Body, the church. Here the headship of Christ over every man is concerning individuals. Christ is both the Head corporately of the Body, the church, and individually of the believers. He is the Head directly of every one of us. In the apostle’s dealing with the Corinthians’ problems concerning God’s administration, this matter of the headship of Christ and of God is his first concern.
In verse 3 Paul points out that the head of the woman is the man. In the divine governmental ordination, woman is under the headship of man. God created the female in this way (Gen. 2:18-24; 1 Tim. 2:13). According to the nature (1 Cor. 11:14) created by God, woman is subordinate to man.
Paul also says in verse 3 that the head of Christ is God. Christ is God’s anointed One, appointed by God. Hence, He is under God, and God as the originator is His Head. This refers to the relationship between Christ and God in the divine government.
In dealing with the problem of head covering, the apostle takes the headship of God, the headship of Christ, and the headship of man as strong ground for his instruction. His instruction concerning head covering is not based upon any religious practices or human customs, but based upon the headship in God’s governmental administration. Such a strong base leaves no ground for any argument over the matter of head covering.
Soon after I was saved, I heard a great deal of talk about head covering. Some argued that Paul spoke concerning head covering because in his time there was such a custom among the people. Later, thorough study made it clear that there was no such custom either among the Greeks or the Jews. Actually, according to Jewish custom, it was the priests who were required to cover their heads. Paul’s teaching in 1 Corinthians 11 is not based on any custom found in the Mediterranean area. On the contrary, his teaching is according to divine revelation.
The reason we need head covering in the church is that head covering is related to the headship of God. This is the reason Paul speaks the way he does in 11:3, telling us that he wants us to know that the head of every man is Christ, that the head of the woman is the man, and that the head of Christ is God. Thus, head covering is related to the headship in God’s government. In the universe, especially in God’s governmental administration, there is order. God is the head over Christ, Christ is the head over every man, and man is the head over the woman. Therefore, in the church meetings the sisters should wear a head covering to signify that we recognize God’s authority and respect His headship and that we are not a people rebellious against God. Instead, we are absolutely submissive to Him and signify this by having a head covering. However, although this has been our practice for more than fifty years, we have never forced anyone to participate in such a practice. We do not want to make head covering a mere outward formality. But it is a fact that the Bible reveals that the church should have such a sign declaring that we are a people under God’s headship.
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