1Corinthians Chapter Eleven


In the first sixteen verses of this chapter Paul gives his advice to the Corinthians about their localized problem of women having their heads covered in church gatherings. The rest of the chapter deals with their bad attitudes when they gather together to have communion.

The issue with the head covering has arisen because he has obviously received a letter of complaint by someone or some group within the church that the lack of head covering by some women in the church was demonstrating a lack of respect for order in the church and was an offensive display by these women of independence or rebellion or both.. Paul speaks tentatively and at some times awkwardly about this issue, and makes it clear that this issue does not arise in any other church (verse 16). He knows that the women’s behavior is an attitude problem, and is causing division, just like every other issue he has to deal with in the Corinthian church, so he makes the appeal to the women to respect the local custom, for the sake of unity and peace and harmony in the church. He appeals to the fact that if this lack of head covering is perceived as a sign of disrespect towards their husband, then the perception is a reality and things have to change. He appeals firstly to creation, and uses the word ‘headship’ of the male not so much as a description of the male authority over a woman, but as a statement of the fact that man was the source, or head, of woman because God took woman out of the body of man in the act of her creation. In this way the word ‘head’ meaning ‘source’ is like the idea of the ‘head’ of a river being another way of describing the ‘source’ or fountain of a river, etc.

Paul tortuously uses other arguments, appealing to the ‘natural appearance’ of things, and says that it even looks inappropriate for a woman to have short hair, as it does for men to have long hair. So this is in obvious reference to the shorn hair of the pagan temple prostitutes who would have been the extreme representation of some kind of feminism or feminine elitism in Corinth. Verse 16 indeed sums it up by saying ’ But if any person wants to continue debating this issue, we ourselves have no command or precedent of usage in this matter, nor do any of the other churches of God.’

The issue of communion has to do with the ‘haves’ in the community looking down upon the ‘have-nots’, and eating and drinking sumptuously at the communion feasts while others missed out altogether. This is yet another sign of the division and disunity in the church. He warns them that their ungodly attitudes and behavior in their communion services has resulted in a dealing of discipline from God in their church, whereby some have become sick and others have died prematurely. The attitudes and behavior of the Corinthian church were a constant headache for Paul, and is patience and longsuffering for them truly shows the love of God that comes through his ministry, even when he has to bring rebuke to them.

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1. So in all that I have just been saying, seek to respond the way I do, just as I seek to respond as Jesus would.

2. I commend you for taking me seriously in the guidelines I outlined to you and instructed you in.

3. But I want to let you know that the head of every man is Christ, as the source of his existence, and through man, woman came into being, and through God the Father Christ incarnate came into being.

4. Every man who prays or prophesies in your worship services without removing his headpiece is not respecting Christ as the head or source of his existence.

5. But every woman who prays or prophesies in your worship services without a headpiece is not respecting her head. She might as well shave her head.

6. Because if the woman is not covered, she might as well have shave her head. But if it is inappropriate for a woman to have her head shaved, then let her cover it.

7. For a man should not cover his head for he is the image and visible glory on earth of God in heaven, but the woman is the visible glory of man and woman in the earth.

8. Because woman is not the original source of existence for man, but woman came into existence through man.

9. And the man was not created to complete the creation of woman, but woman was created to complete the creation of mankind.

10. This is why a woman should possess authority concerning her head because of the angels.

11. Nonetheless womankind is not complete without mankind neither mankind complete without womankind in The Lord.

12. because just as woman existed through man, so now man is also born through woman

13. Make the distinction yourselves – Is it suitable in your setting that a woman prays publicly to God without her head covered?

14. Doesn’t the natural order of things tell you that long hair on a man is out of place?

15. But long hair on a woman is quite fitting because her hair is given to her as a covering.

16. But if any person wants to continue debating this issue, we ourselves have no command or precedent of usage in this matter, nor do any of the other churches of God.

17. The next thing that I want to talk to you about is something that I cannot approve of at all. It appears that when you come together for communion you end up making it a meeting of disunion rather than communion.

18. The first thing I was told was that when you gather for communion there is division within the family. And I think there is an element of truth in this.

19. There are going to be disputed opinions amongst you, and out of the testing of these things that which is the correct belief will become obvious.

20. But this division affects the way you come together for Communion,

21. Because some are taking more than their share before another one has had anything to eat, so that one ends up hungry and another ends up drunk.

22. Can’t some of you have a meal in your own houses first? Or are you willing to belittle what The house of God stands for by belittling those who have little? 

What is left for me to say here – a word of praise for you? I don’t think so.

23. As for communion, I am sharing with you what Jesus revealed to me, that on the night when he was betrayed he took the bread

24. And when he had given thanks for it he told the disciples to take it and eat it because as he broke it in pieces for them it represented his body which had been broken for you. He was telling us that when we did this we were to remember what he did for us.

25. In the same way he drank from the cup after he had eaten and said that that cup represented his blood that made a New Covenant with mankind. Again he was telling us that when we did this we were to remember what he did for us.

26. For every time you eat the communion bread and drink of the communion cup you demonstrate what the Lord’s death means to you, till he returns to the earth again.

27. So then anyone who eats the communion bread and drinks the communion cup with disunity in his heart is abusing our oneness with Jesus that his broken body and poured out blood stands for.

28. So a person should check out his own heart in this area first, and then eat the bread and drink the cup.

29. For the person who eats the bread and drinks the cup with a heart attitude of disunity and judgment is actually bringing judgment upon himself, not understanding the oneness of the Body of Christ.

30. This is why so many in the Body are weak and sick, and some have even died prematurely.

31. But if we correct and discipline our own hearts we will not come under this discipline of God’s.

32. But when we are disciplined in this way we are corrected by The Lord, so that we will not receive the same judgment that the world will receive.

33. So then when you come together for communion, thoughtfully wait for one another.

34. And if anyone is likely to feel hungry, he can eat at home. This way you are not going to turn your communion into a cause for God to have to discipline you. If there are any other problems with this I will set things straight when I come to visit you.

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