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Public Worship in Corinth (4) 1 Corinthians 11

Why is 1 Corinthians such a mixed bag of instructions that seem to contradict each other?

Are women to speak and prophesy publicly or be silent?

What is Paul's advice to reduce the divisions in the congregations?

Does Paul discuss mutual dependence and equality?

Let's examine the most common contradictions and controversies.

oil lamp
Two fish carved on an oil lamp from the Roman era, found in Corinth,_fish,_AM_of_Corinth,_202942.jpg

I divide my discussion of 1 Corinthians into 6 sections. This is part 4 of 6, covering Chapter 11. This section covers disruptions in public worship gatherings, interruptions, chaos, and praying aloud in unknown languages. These behaviours are distracting new people from hearing the gospel.

Paul's response? God's Spirit unites the congregation; we are all part of one body gifted differently to build up the body of believers. Use gifts to love and serve others. Don't distract others, it's not about you. Be orderly and love others more than yourself.

1 Corinthians 11:3 and 12 Christ is the Head

This chapter opens with a confusing series of phrases:

"... the head of every man is Christ, the head of a woman is a man, the head of Christ is God" (1 Corinthians 11:3).

This verse can be understood in a variety of ways:

  1. man obeys Christ, women obey men, and Christ obeys God

  2. man submits to Christ, a wife submits to her husband, and Christ submits God

  3. man's source of life and power is Christ (in Genesis), woman's source of life/food/shelter is her husband, and Christ's source is God (Christ came from God)

  4. man (Adam) originates in Christ (Genesis 1:27, 2:7), woman originates from man (Eve from Adam's body, Genesis 2:21-23), and Christ originates in God (is the Messiah from God)

  5. man's source of new life (in the Spirit) is Christ, the woman's source of new life is the man (Christ), and the source of Christ is God (God came in the form of Jesus).

  6. Christ is the source of man (in Genesis), man is the source of woman (Eve from Adam), but put those two ideas in the context that God is the source of Christ, the Messiah

The Head as Authority

Option (1) and (2) use 'head to mean chief/ruler/director/ authority/leader and lend themselves to a patriarchal understanding. These options infer that God ordains a hierarchy with men above women and that women come to salvation through men. Those holding this view may say it reflects the biblical story of whole households being baptized when the man of the house was baptized (a Jailer in Acts 16:31). However, in the first-century women were also heads of household and Lydia's whole household was baptized when she was baptized (Acts 16:15). No man was required. Women do not approach Christ through men and are not saved by their husbands. The Bible says each person must make his or her own choice about believing in Jesus. In addition, both also portray Christ as subordinate to God. Jesus is God. Jesus is not subordinate to himself. Jesus says he and the Father are One (John 10:30). In addition,

Philip B. Payne, author of Man and Woman: One in Christ, states that interpreting 'head' to mean 'authority over' would be a heresy (2).  It denies Jesus's deity, Jesus being God in the flesh. Jesus voluntarily laid down his life (John 10:17-18). It's not about Christ ruling or men ruling. "The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve.” (Mark 10:45). God asks us to voluntarily let God reign in our hearts. There is no conscription. The doctrine of the Holy Trinity is that each person of the Holy Trinity is equal; the Son is god and the Father is God. They are of the same substance. The church discussed the idea of Christ as subordinate to the Father in the 4th century and declared it to be a heresy. The Nicene Creed expresses the divinity of the three persons of the Holy Trinity. I have covered this in my post, Is the Trinity Egalitarian or Complementarian? (3)

The hierarchal interpretation opposes Paul's own message about breaking dividing walls, mutuality and equality (1 Corinthians 11:12, 7:5, Galatians 3:28, Colossians 3:11, Romans 2:11). It also conflicts with Jesus's demonstrations of equality, overturning the powerful, lifting the lowly, educating women, healing non-Jews and welcoming all into the family of faith.

When patriarchal interpretations of Paul's letter oppose the Gospels, those who hold these views may say Paul's letters deserve a higher value because they are God's more recent revelation. Some Christians preach more often from Paul's letters than the Gospels, saying Paul's letters are God's most recent revelation and carry more weight than the Gospels.

Others reject the Bible or the faith, saying that Paul started a religion that promoted completely different teachings from those of Jesus. Some people see Paul's letters as putting unfair restrictions on women, showing God favours men with more power and authority than women. Certainly, some Complementarian beliefs seem to oppose the Gospels. These interpretations can lead a person to believe that Paul started a religion that was quite different from the one Jesus revealed, to dislike Paul, or to think that Paul was a woman-hating misogynist, limiting women for the way they were born.

card 48
Excerpt from The Sword A Fun Way to Engage

In my book, The Sword: A Fun Way to Engage in Healthy Debate on What the Bible Says about a Woman's Role, the Complementarian sword thrusts the argument that God put men in charge and women subject to men. The Egalitarian shield says that God put both men and women in charge. A Disengage Flashcard is a Joker showing an argument that always loses. It avoids addressing the opposing view.

The Head as Origin/Source

Options 3 through 6 all understand the word 'head' to mean 'origin/source/beginning'. In Greek and English the word 'head can mean either. For example, we call the source of the river its headwater. Using the word 'head' this way is consistent with other biblical passages about Christ as the beginning and the end, the foundation or beginning of the church. I've written elsewhere about how the head of the corner, or chief cornerstone, (1) can be the foundation or beginning of the building or the finishing capstone of a pyramid or arch. Both sons and daughters are cornerstones (Psalms 144:12 KJV). Jesus is the foundational head of the corner, the origin, source, and beginning (Matthew 21:42, Luke 20:17, Isaiah 28:16 KJV).

Marg Mowczko quotes several 4th and 5th-century Christian theologians who consistently taught that the word 'head' in verse 3 did not mean authority but origin, (7).

  • Athanasius, Bishop of Alexandria "the Son is the head, namely the beginning of all: and God is the head, namely the beginning of Christ"

  • John Chrysostom, Archbishop of Constantinople, “head” does not mean “leader”

  • Cyril, Archbishop of Alexandria, explains that kephalē (“head”) means archē (“beginning” or “point of origin”)

  • Theodore, Bishop of Mopsuestia in Cilicia, interpreted “head” in 1 Corinthians 11:3 as the person from whom another took their existence (i.e. “source”).

Option (3) interprets 'head' to mean the source or origin of man and God as the source or origin of Christ. However, it changes the meaning of the source to men being the origin of life, sustenance, and protection for the woman. It does not oppose the historic doctrine of the Holy Trinity but it does affirm a patriarchal view of the woman's dependence on a husband first, not on Christ.

Option (4) uses the word 'head' to mean source or origin, but infers a priority on the mand due to the creation order: God creates man from dust then creates woman from man. Does this mean man is higher ranking? No. Paul himself puts women and men on the same level, clarifying in verse 12 that everything comes from God. The origin of both man and woman is God. God made the woman and the man. God created humanity in God's own image, being both male and female, non-binary or androgynous. The word 'adam' in Genesis 1 and 2 is the word for humanity or human beings. The word Adam is not used as a proper name for a specific individual until Genesis 4:25. The non-Jews of Corinth may have incorrectly understood the creation story of Genesis.

Paul's references to the 'head' may mean origin/source or may mean head/body illustrating unity. Paul gives three examples in Ephesians (4) explaining the great mystery of the unity and strength of mutual service between Christ and the body of believers. The first example of unity is shown in a vine and branch, with Christ as the source of water and minerals for the leaves and branches (the body of believers), and the leaves collecting energy from the sun to feed the stem. It illustrates mutual dependence.

Secondly,  Paul says that he refers to the mysterious union of husband and wife for the express purpose of explaining the profound mystery of the union between Christ and the church (Ephesians 5:32). Marriage illustrates unity. Thirdly, Christ as the head, or source of life (5) illustrates unity and mutuality. Together, the head and the torso make one united body. Jesus served us as our redeemer, and we serve Jesus as his hands and feet on earth.

card 11
Excerpt from The Sword A Fun Way to Engage

Please see my post about Ephesians for more about the head and body illustration (6). The head, Christ, is the source by which the body is united, centralized, and joined together (Colossians 2:19). Christ is the foundation of the church, the beginning of our faith. Paul does not present or endorse a male hierarchy in the church or in marriage.

The sample flashcard 11 shows a Complementarian sword thrusting the idea that head means authority or leader and an Egalitarian defence that head means origin or source.

The Head as Origin But Everything Originates in God

Paul's final phrases add nuances that change the meaning of the first two phrases. Verse 3 can be understood when we look at the rest of Paul's letter. While Eve came from Adam (in Genesis), men come from women (in childbirth), so all humans are on the same level: created by God (1 Corinthians 11: 3 and 12). God is the source of everything. Creation order does not infer rank or authority. Paul repeats the idea that everything originates in God:

For as woman came from man, so also man is born of woman. But everything comes from God (1 Corinthians 11:12).

This idea emphasizes what Paul has already said about all things coming from God, so no one can boast about being first or foremost.

There is one God the Father. All things come from him, and we belong to him (1 Corinthians 8:6)

Option (5) is a play on words, with Paul using the word man for Jesus, as he did in his letter to the Romans. Some Corinthians denied that Jesus was fully human, stating Jesus was cursed (1 Corinthians 12:3). Paul emphasized that through the Holy Spirit we can know Jesus was both human and divine. The play on words shows that Jesus was Christ and at the same time Jesus was a man.

man's source of new life (in the Spirit) is Christ, the woman's source of new life is the man (Christ), and the source of Christ is God (God came in the form of Jesus). (1 Corinthians 11:3)
For just as through the disobedience of the one man [Adam] the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man [Jesus] the many will be made righteous. (Romans 5:19)

Option (6) is based on Paul repeating a Quotation-Refutation device in 1 Corinthians 11. They quoted Paul but misunderstood his message to enforce a hierarchy. Paul praises them for remembering him and quoting:

the head of every man is Christ, and the head of the woman is man (1 Corinthians 11:3a)

then he corrects the Corinthian understanding of his teaching by explaining that the head of Christ is God.

and the head of Christ is God (1 Corinthians 11:3b).

Understanding that verses 3b and 12 are shaping how to understand Paul's words in verse 3a, putting it in the context that everything comes from God. This understanding removes the conflicts between verse 3 and Paul's other writing and Jesus's message. It fits with Paul's other teaching about each one being saved by their own belief, men and women as co-workers, and there is no different treatment of men and women for those who are in Christ. These verses set Paul's context that men and women are interdependent, and both come from God.

Options 4 through 6 allow us to see Paul's letters in such a way that they do not oppose the message or example of Jesus. Seen from an Egalitarian interpretation, Paul does not differ from Jesus or the other apostles in his focus on love. Paul encourages believers to walk in love (Ephesians 5:2), to be kind and loving (Colossians 3:12-14, and that the best gift is love (1 Corinthians 13:1-13, Galatians 5:21-23). Likewise, John tells all believers to love one another and to show their love through service (John 4:7-11). Peter says love covers a multitude of mistakes (1 Peter 4:8). James says to honour the poor and to keep the royal law, to love your neighbour as yourself (James 2:5-9). Jesus told his followers to love one another (John 13:4-17, Mark 10:45, Matthew 20:25-28). Egalitarians understand Paul's letters to uplift the vulnerable and ask the powerful to voluntarily forego their rights out of love for other people. This kind of love removes power structures and promotes gender equality.

1 Corinthians 11:4-12: Freedom While Men and Women Prophesy in Public Worship

1 Corinthians 3 and 12 about mutuality and everything coming from God bracket Paul's discussion of what people wear on their heads when speaking in public worship by emphasizing that everything comes from God. What is framed by this discussion of Christ as the head?

Paul does not question or stop women who are speaking, teaching, and prophesying to men. Both Egalitarian and Complementarian scholars admit that women are praying and prophesying aloud in public worship and Paul does not condemn them for it. The Bible gives many examples of women publicly prophesying, which means speaking God's word.

What is the Debate About?

Paul addresses a debate about how women should behave or clothe themselves while praying or prophesying aloud in front of a congregation of male and female believers.

The Corinthians may have been teaching that their behaviour affected God's reputation, while a woman's behaviour and dress affected her husband's reputation. Women of that day wore veils on their heads to indicate they were married and unavailable to other men. It indicated she was protected by her husband. If she went without her head covered, it may be compared to a woman taking off her wedding ring today, seemingly making herself available as an unmarried woman. However, women of lower classes were not permitted to wear a veil on their heads. Perhaps some women removed their veils when among the congregation of believers to remove class distinctions, while other women wore veils to protect themselves from attracting unwanted attention. Revealing a woman's hair was considered to provoke lust, compared to a woman wearing a revealing swimsuit today. Perhaps some women wanted to remove their veils to show off their elaborate hairstyles. Perhaps some men wanted married women to enjoy the new freedom in Christ, remove their veils and make themselves available to other men, while other men wanted a wife to keep her head covering on, to benefit her husband's reputation or as a way of showing she was under her husband's protection or authority. Other interpreters say this passage is not about veils at all; it's about hair as a head covering. This discussion of head coverings flows from the discussion on using freedom in Christ wisely.

Traditional View

The traditional interpretation is that this whole passage is Paul speaking. By obeying verses 9-10 supporting a male hierarchy, traditionalists must ignore verses 11-12 which support equality. The traditional view supports the weak argument that the creation story means a woman is in a man's image when it actually says all humans are in God's image (Genesis 2). The idea that man being created before woman relates to priority or authority is not biblical, since men and women were created at the same time in Genesis 1, and not logical, since animals were created first, not man.

Complementarians generally believe that only men should speak or lead in public worship today. Many Complementarians say the gift of prophecy has ended since we now receive God's word from the Bible. The doctrine that gifts such as prophecy, miracle healing, and speaking in tongues ended with the original apostles is called cessationism. The doctrine of cessationism became popular at the time of the Protestant Reformation, particularly by followers of John Calvin. Churches that draw on Calvinist traditions often follow a male hierarchal church model. This model is that while women prophesied in Bible times, the gift of prophecy is done and women speaking in public is done.

Conservative Christians believe that Paul told women of his day and today to wear a veil as a symbol to acknowledge they were below men in a male hierarchy. Many Christians believe that women today do not need to wear a veil, but they are still under male authority. Bible translators who hold this belief have added words to the text:

For this reason, and because the angels are watching, a woman should wear a covering on her head to show she is under authority (1 Corinthians 11:10 NLT 2015)
For this reason a woman ought to bear on her head an outward sign of man’s authority for all the angels to see. (1 Corinthians 11:10 Phillips 1972)

The traditional view is that Paul says women are to cover their literal heads and figuratively to show they are under male authority. Alternatively, they may say her decision on head covering must be based on what will most honour her husband. Uncovering her head would reflect her husband's reputation or would draw the attention or lust of other men. Uncovering her head is viewed as a breach of propriety or an affront to her husband. Some say it her head covering is required for reverence, modesty, and propriety before the angels present at worship. Others say the reference to angels links to Genesis 6:4 warning that if fallen angels saw an unveiled woman they might molest her and she should cover her head for modesty. Therefore, a woman should cover her head for modesty. The traditional view concludes that uncovering her head is "just not the way it's done (9).

card 26
Excerpt from The Sword A Fun Way to Engage

In my book, The Sword: A Fun Way to Engage in Healthy Debate on What the Bible Says about a Woman's Role, flashcard 26 shows the Complementarian argument that a man was created first and women as a subordinate helper. The Egalitarian defence is that creation order is not related to a hierarchy and that a woman is a source of strength to help the man; they are co-workers.

Egalitarian View

The Egalitarian view is that a woman believer will judge the world and the angels and can certainly judge what to wear on her head. The egalitarian view concludes that having a policy insisting that a woman cover or uncover her head is "just not the way it's done.

Or do you not know that the Lord’s people will judge the world? And if you are to judge the world, are you not competent to judge trivial cases? Do you not know that we will judge angels? How much more the things of this life! (1 Corinthians 6:2-3).

Marg Mowczko explains that Paul uses no word that means 'symbol' or 'sign'(8). Paul uses words that mean a woman has power and authority over her own head. The idea that the head covering was a symbol of being under male authority does not come from the biblical text. The meaning of head coverings is related to class distinctions and marital status as discussed above. The power or authority on the woman's head shows her own power, as a crown on the head of a royal leader. This understanding of the Bible is not a reflection of today's secular feminism; it is the accurate understanding understood by historic translators:

For this cause ought the woman to have power on her head because of the angels (1 Corinthians 11:10 KJV, 1611)
 Therefore ought the woman to have authority on her head, on account of the angels. (1 Corinthians 11:10 DARBY, 1890)

Philip B. Payne, author of The Bible vs. Biblical Womanhood, says that correctly translated, 1 Corinthians 11:10 says a woman ought to have authority over her head (13), whether to wear her hair up or down, veiled or unveiled.

Dr. Cynthia Long Westfall, (14) the author of Paul and Gender, explains that this passage in 1 Corinthians 11 is not about women being submissive to men; it is Paul giving women agency and authority over their own head covering.

Quotation-Refutation Verse by Verse

Cover of book by Lucy Peppiatt
Cover of book by Lucy Peppiatt investigating Paul's use of quote/refute in 1 Corinthians 11 and 14

Lucy Peppiatt points out that the risk of the traditional view is that you may read this chapter and think that Paul is endorsing the very ideas that Paul is refuting.

To understand all the words as Paul's words makes Paul's instructions inconsistent and conflicting. If you read verses 3 and 10 as commending a hierarchal model, you must ignore verses 11-12 which promote an egalitarian model.

Lucy Peppiatt, in her book Women and Worship at Corinth (10), suggests that like in earlier parts of 1 Corinthians, Paul quotes the incorrect beliefs of the Corinthians and refutes or corrects them.

Looking at the passage as a quotation-refutation device, Paul opens and closes a discussion of what women should wear while speaking in public worship by repeating that everything comes from God (vs. 3 and 12).

Paul praises them for quoting him by saying

"Every man who prays or prophesies with his head covered shames his head. Every woman who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered disgraces her head" (v. 4-5).

Then Paul corrects their understanding of what he said. He refutes this statement, even ridiculing them, saying if it is a disgrace for a woman to uncover her head, she may as well have all her hair shaved off. Shaving a woman's head was a form of punishment and a sign of shame in the Greco-Roman culture (v. 6).

Paul quotes the incorrect belief that a man is the glory of God while a woman is the glory of man (v.7). Paul quotes their logic that man was not created from woman, but Eve was created from Adam, and that women were created for man's benefit, to serve men (v.8-9). Paul corrects their logic by saying 'In Christ, however," women and men are interdependent (v.11). These non-Jewish believers seem to have a weak understanding of the Torah. They misinterpret "it was not good for man to be alone" (Genesis 2:18) to show her as a subordinate helper, when it actually says Adam is weak and needs an 'ezer kenegdo' helper, a strong ally.

An 'ezer kenegdo' means God made a woman as a counterpart to the man, corresponding to him, a suitable partner. It does not mean subordinate, follower, order-taker, inferior role, or servant to the man. In Genesis 1:28, God tells both the woman and man to have dominion and take charge of the fish, animals, and earth, and to be fruitful. The man could not do it on his own; he needed an ezer kind of helper.

The word ezer occurs twenty-one times in the Old Testament. In two cases it refers to the first woman, Eve, in Genesis 2. Three times it refers to powerful nations Israel called on for help when besieged. In the sixteen remaining cases the word refers to God as our help. He is the one who comes alongside us in our helplessness.- the Theology of Work (11)

The word 'ezer' refers to a helper that saves, rescues, protects, or lends strength to one in need, as in "God is our help". The woman was not created to serve the man but to serve God with the man (12). The Bible consistently uses ezer in a military context. The Ezer is a warrior, an ally. To think of how an ezer corresponds to a man, look at your right and left hand. They are different but correspond to each other. They work better together than alone.

card 25
Excerpt from The Sword A Fun Way to Engage

Flashcard 25 shows the Complementarian sword saying that men are the image of God and women are under men's authority. The Egalitarian defense is that both women and men are made in God's glorious image and a woman has authority over her own head.

Because of this a woman should have authority over her head, because of the angels (1 Corinthians 11:10).

The word 'angels' could refer to fallen angels lust in Genesis 6:4 or good angels who deserve propriety or could be translated as 'messengers'. Paul is concerned about human messengers, spies, or gossips, who want to slander the church. Paul is concerned about the reputation of the congregation.

Lucy Peppiatt says that Paul quotes the report that says because a woman was created after a man and for a man, she should have authority over her head, because of the angels (v.10). Paul corrects them, repeating the concept of interdependence and refuting the idea that men should be first and foremost. Paul says a woman is not independent from man, and man is not independent from woman: everything comes from God (v.11-12).

card 27
Excerpt from The Sword A Fun Way to Engage

In my book, The Sword: A Fun Way to Engage in Healthy Debate on What the Bible Says about a Woman's Role, flashcard 27 shows the Complementarian argument that a woman should wear a symbol on her head to show she is under man's authority. The Egalitarian shield is that women have authority over their own head and the church has no policy on that.

Stop Telling Women What to Wear

Paul wraps up the discussion on head coverings by asking the reader to judge for themselves whether a woman should cover or uncover her head while praying and leading public worship (v.13).

Since Paul is addressing Gentiles, who may be more familiar with Greco-Roman ideas than with the Jewish Torah, he appeals to nature (v.14-15). Paul says it is 'natural' for a man to have short hair and a woman to have long hair and 'disgraceful' for a man to have long hair and a woman to have short hair or a shaved head. Since nature gives a woman long hair as a glorious head covering, she may not need to wear a veil over her head. We understand that this statement about what is natural or disgraceful refers to what is customary in first-century culture, not a universal rule for Christians today about hair length.

Paul concludes by telling the vocal men of Corinth that a woman ought to have authority over her own head. While it seems some want to argue about this, Paul explains that he has no custom, policy, or rule on head covering, and none of the assemblies of God require women to cover their heads when speaking or leading in public worship (v. 16).

Conclusion on 1 Corinthians 11:4-12: Freedom While Prophesying in Public Worship

Complementarian theologians may say that Paul had a problem with disobedient women uncovering their heads or not demonstrating that they were under man's authority. They may insist that women today be under male authority or that they wear something today to symbolize their submission to male authority.

Egalitarian theologians believe that Paul is stating women and men are both under Christ's authority. For those in Christ, there is no male or female, both are equipped to make judgements. Paul does not have an issue with women covering or uncovering their heads; Paul has an issue with the men who were causing dissension, insisting on rules that were not observed by any other congregations and creating division.

1 Corinthians 11:17-34: Sharing the Last Supper

Paul corrects the Corinthians in the way they meet together. Paul refers again to the divisions within the congregation. It is necessary to have some separate groups, but as discussed earlier in this letter, there should be no rivalry. They are not sharing the Lord's meal if each brings their own food and drink, and some are hungry while others are gluttonous or drunk. Paul says this humiliates those who have nothing. It does not reflect well on God's people. Paul has no praise for them in the report from Chloe's people about how they celebrate the Last Supper of our Lord.

Paul reviews the correct way to proceed with the tradition of the Last Supper, also called Holy Communion or Eucharist. Paul gives them the words to repeat and explains the way to proceed. Every time they share this ritual meal, they proclaim Jesus's death and expected return. If you eat or drink inappropriately or greedily, you are guilty of breaking faith with Jesus. To abuse or cheat another person is to sin against Christ.

Paul says to examine or test yourself first, and be right with God before partaking in the Lord's Supper. This is usually done by a time of silence for private introspection and prayer as well as a communal prayer of confession. This confirms Jesus's message that if you remember a brother or sister has something against you, reconcile with them before you offer your gift at the altar (Matthew 5:23-24). You should not partake in the ritual meal until you ask forgiveness and reconcile with whoever you have wronged. A person must understand that this meal is a holy ritual, not a time to be selfish, divisive, or judgemental. These verses are the rationale for excluding individuals from Holy Communion based on a specific definition of sexual immorality as discussed in my post about 1 Corinthians 5-7,

Many churches require members to complete a catechism program to fully understand the meaning of the Holy Communion meal before sharing it. Others announce that the table is open to all, leaving it up to each individual to come with a sincere heart. Many churches have members wait until everyone is served, and then eat the bread and drink the cup. If Holy Communion is done by intinction, each member comes to the table individually, dips their piece of bread in the drink and receives the bread and drink together.

Paul notes that many of them are weak or sick or have died, and indicates that this is God's judgement on them for the inappropriate way that they approach the Lord's table. While they won't lose their salvation (v. 32), Paul indicates that God may judge them and their inappropriate behaviour explains their prevalent sickness and death. Paul seems to refer back to the discipline God meted out to the children of Israel, many of whom abused their freedom, so God disciplined them and they died in the wilderness. Eat for sustenance when you are at home so that when you get together for the holy meal, you eat for spiritual reasons. Paul advises them to wait for each other and take turns eating. Paul seems to repeatedly say to think of others before themselves, take turns in eating and in speaking, be orderly, don't insist on your own way, and regulate their selfish behaviours with love,


Chapter 11 continues to address troubles in the church at Corinth. First, Paul addresses a debate about how women should cover or uncover their heads when they pray or speak in public worship. Christians for Biblical Equality (CBE) International points out that Paul's actions are compatible with his words commending women in leadership. (15) Most egalitarian scholars and some Bible translators are admitting that Paul gives women authority over their own head and what they should wear when speaking or teaching in public worship. Secondly, Paul addresses the inappropriate way that congregants are approaching the Lord's Supper. He indicates that to approach Holy Communion without understanding its meaning, or without confessing your wrongs or reconciling with other people can bring illness and death.

  1. Introduction to 1 Corinthians and discussion on chapters 1-4 on divisions

  2. Post 2 of 6 on 1 Corinthians 5-7 discusses sex and moralilty in Corinth

  3. Post 3 on 1 Corinthians 8-10 discusses Christian freedom in Corinth.

  4. This is Post 4 on 1 Corinthians 11 discusses public worship in Corinth.

  5. 1 Corinthians 12-14 discusses Spiritual Gifts in Corinth.

  6. 1 Corinthians 15-16 discusses Christ's Resurrection, the Cornerstone of our Faith








  7. Marg Mowczko, "4 reasons “head” does not mean “leader” in 1 Cor. 11:3",

  8. Marg Mowczko "Woman’s Authority or Subordination in 1 Cor. 11:10?"

  9. Keener, Craig S. “11:2-16 Head Coverings and Sexual Modesty.” The IVP Bible Background Commentary New Testament, InterVarsity Press, Illinois, 2014.

  10. Dr. Lucy Peppiatt, Women and Worship at Corinth: Paul's Rhetorical Arguments in 1 Corinthians, James Clarke & Co, 2017




  14. Cynthia Long Westfall, Paul and Gender: Reclaiming the Apostle's vision for men and women in Christ, Baker Academic, 2016

  15. CBE International


Elaine Ricker Kelly Author is empowering women with Christian fiction about women in the Bible and early church and Christian blogs about women in leadership, church history and doctrine. Her books include:

  • Forgotten Followers from Broken to Bold, a biblical fiction about woman disciples set in the Gospel stories

  • The Sword A Fun Way to Engage in Healthy Debate on What the Bible Says About a Woman's Role. The Sword is a book of 104 flashcards, placing Egalitarian and Complementarian views of the same passages side by side. Half are swords thrusting Complementarian arguments and half are swords thrusting Egalitarian viewpoints. It is an introduction to the contrasting views of the Bible, including 180 End Notes for further study.

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