10For this reason the woman ought to have a symbol of authority on her head, because of the angels.
10For this reason the woman ought to have a symbol of authority on her head,
The words “a symbol of” are an unfortunate rendering implying that a woman ought to wear a head covering. The Greek just says, “The woman ought to have authority on her head.” The reason for this is that she is the glory of man (vv. 7-9).
The woman’s authority refers to her hair (11:14) and not to a veil or hat. Her hair frames her face and is part of her feminine beauty. Her hair is an indication of her feminine submission to masculinity. Her hair is a badge of feminine submission to her husband. The male rejoices in a woman’s femininity because this complements him. The word “authority” means the freedom or right to choose. This is not an external authority (exousia) but an internal authority possessed by the woman. Women should freely choose to accept their husband’s headship or authority. Feminine women are both in subordinate relationship to men and, by their femininity manifested by long hair, are free to pray and prophesy in public. This is a delegated authority.
because of the angels.
Angels watch women’s reaction to authority for a special reason. Some angels followed Satan’s rebellion against God. This was an issue of rejection of the authority of God (Isaiah 14:12-14). The fall of certain angels was an issue of the freedom to exercise volition. Some angels volitionally chose to go independent from God. The issue for angels is, “Will women inferior to angels go independent from God or will they volitionally accept the authority of men?”
Authority in the Bible is important from the principle of an orderly relationship in creation.
This chapter is dealing with the husband and wife and is not making a general statement about all possible relationships between men and women. The principle is true for all women, Christian or otherwise. Obviously non-Christian women do not accept the principle, because they are in rebellion against the authority of God in the first place.
The ancient world viewed the value of women as somewhere between a first-class camel and a human being. When Christ came, he placed high value and equality on the woman. Wherever Christianity has gone, it has dignified woman. God protects women both by divine principle and by her own free will. The greatest freedom and protection of the woman is her own free will.
It is important to note the crucial role women play in ministry. Euodia and Syntyche were “co-laborers” with the mighty apostle Paul, no less in ministry (Ph 4:1f). There were women prophets in the Old Testament. Phoebe served the church at Cenchrea (Ro 16:1-2). Priscilla explained the Bible more accurately to the great preacher Apollos (Acts 18:24-26).