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Read Introduction to 1 Corinthians

 

 3But I want you to know that the head of every man is Christ, the head of woman is man, and the head of Christ is God.  

 

3But I want you to know

Paul explicitly wanted the Corinthians to know something. His teaching on roles in worship was crucial for the Corinthians to know. The principle of authority penetrates every part of the Word of God.

that the head of every man is Christ,

The right-about-face word “but” indicates that, although they remembered some of Paul’s teaching, they did not remember it all. Now Paul asserts the principle of role. Everything in God’s order follows role – even persons in the Trinity. The word “head” has two fundamental meanings: (1) origin or source and (2) authority of a leader. Both meanings are possible here.

The word “head” in this passage is metaphorical and means priority in role or function. Our physical head operates the body and sets the direction of the body. The head rules the body. The underlying idea is leadership.

This passage states three kinds of headship. It is only the middle kind that causes controversy:

1.     The head of every man is Christ.

2.     The head of the woman is man.

3.     The head of Christ is God.

The argument in the following verses shows that women should submit to men in formal worship:

1.     The nature of order in the Trinity, 11:3

2.     The difference between masculinity and femininity, 11:7

3.     The disposition of order in creation, 11:8.

4.     The purpose of a woman’s relationship to man, 11:9

5.     The submissive nature of angels, 11:10

6.     The uniqueness of natural physical differences, 11:13-15

The concept of headship has to do with order in relationships. God has a divinely ordained pattern for relationships both among individuals and in the church community. Christ is the “head” of every man (male). He is the principal of the church and has the right to set the course of the church. He is sovereign over the church.

the head of woman is man,

The male is “head” of the woman. The Greek word “man” (aner) means male. This is true in any relationship such as a daughter to a father or wife to husband. However, this does not involve every relationship of any man or woman.

The principle of headship is a coalescing principle. It brings together issues of masculinity and femininity and how they function. Headship does not imply domination. Domination is not good leadership. With that said, the leadership role is crucial for proper functioning of organizational entities. That is the way God designed us (11:8, 9).

and the head of Christ is God.

Christ is under the Father in role – “the head of Christ is God.” The principle of headship and roles in the Trinity underlines the unity and function of the Trinity. There is no controversy about this kind of headship. Headship is about order and disorder. This is especially true when it comes to worship, as we will see in the next verses. Role has nothing to do with quality of person. Christ is equal to the Father in person but He is under the Father in role. He submits Himself to the leadership of the Father.

Christ submitted Himself to the Father to fulfill the Father’s plan of salvation. Paul ties all three roles of submission together. As men submit to Christ, as Christ submitted Himself to the Father, so women submit themselves to men in worship in the local church. We cannot separate one of these out to make an exception. However, all these authority relationships revolve around love, even tough love.

PRINCIPLE: 

The principle of headship is a unifying principle in Scripture.

APPLICATION: 

The biblical role of women has become a hot issue, both in evangelical circles and in the public at large. The controlling factor for the evangelical should be a radically honest and objective approach to interpreting Scripture. Many evangelicals manipulate Scripture to accommodate to culture. Fashions of thought usually find their way into the church.

Christian feminists appeal to such passages as Galatians 3:28 to establish that men do not have authority over their wives. They take this verse out of the context of the argument of Galatians. Women are equal to men in intellect, personality, spirituality, and in many other ways. Individual women are more intelligent than some men. Some are greater athletes than men. The issue of role has nothing to do with personhood but with order for unity purposes. A private may have greater capacity than his officer, but it vital that the private follow the authority of the officer. Certain men may have greater capacity than the leaders in a congregation, but it is biblically crucial that those men accept the authority of local church leadership. Women may be better speakers and even have better understanding of the Bible than the pastor, but that has nothing to do with role and order in the local church.

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