Useful Bible Studies > 1 Corinthians Commentary > chapter 11

Women, authority, and the angels

1 Corinthians 11:10

In ancient Corinth, it was usual for women to cover their heads in a particular manner. However, some Christian women were refusing to do that. They believed that it showed their husband’s authority over them. As Christians, they wanted to be free from human authority, so that they could be more holy.

Paul taught that Christians should accept the authority of other people. So, those women should respect their husbands. They should not argue about whether to cover their heads. It is not wrong to wear something in order to show that you respect someone else’s authority. Even the angels, who are God’s special servants in heaven, do that.

Paul was referring to Isaiah chapter 6. In that chapter, Isaiah saw the greatness of God. God was sitting in his house called the temple, on his royal seat. Special angels called seraphim flew above him. They called to each other that God is ‘holy, holy, holy.’ And they declared that his greatness fills the whole world.

Isaiah mentions an interesting fact about these angels. They had six wings, but they only used two wings to fly. With two wings, they covered their feet. And with the other two wings, they covered their faces.

So the holy angels, who serve God in the most holy place, accept a sign of authority on their heads. They cover not just their heads, but also their faces.

The Christian women in Corinth did not want any sign of authority on their heads, especially when they prayed (11:5). But they were not more holy than those angels are. Clearly, it was not unholy for those women to cover their heads.

Next part: Men depend on women, even as women depend on men (1 Corinthians 11:11-12)


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© 2014, Keith Simons.