1 Corinthians 11:2-16

Head Coverings

2 Now I commend you 1because you remember me in everything and 2maintain the traditions 3even as I delivered them to you.
3 But I want you to understand that 4the head of every man is Christ, 5the head of a wife[a] is her husband, and 6the head of Christ is God.
4 Every man who prays or prophesies with his head covered dishonors his head,
5 but every wife[b] who prays or 7prophesies 8with her head uncovered dishonors her head, since it is the same 9as if her head were shaven.
6 For if a wife will not cover her head, then she should cut her hair short. But since it is disgraceful for a wife to cut off her hair or shave her head, let her cover her head.
7 For a man ought not to cover his head, since 10he is the image and glory of God, but 11woman is the glory of man.
8 For 12man was not made from woman, but woman from man.
9 Neither was man created for woman, but 13woman for man.
10 That is why a wife ought to have a symbol of authority on her head, because of the angels.[c]
11 Nevertheless, 14in the Lord woman is not independent of man nor man of woman;
12 for as woman was made from man, so man is now born of woman. And 15all things are from God.
13 Judge for yourselves: is it proper for a wife to pray to God with her head uncovered?
14 Does not nature itself teach you that if a man wears long hair it is a disgrace for him,
15 but if a woman has long hair, it is her glory? For her hair is given to her for a covering.
16 16If anyone is inclined to be contentious, we have no such practice, nor do 17the churches of God.

1 Corinthians 11:2-16 Meaning and Commentary

INTRODUCTION TO 1 CORINTHIANS 11

In this chapter the apostle blames both men and women for their indecent appearance in public worship, and admonishes them how they should behave with the reasons of it; and also corrects some abuses and irregularities among them, at, or before, the Lord's supper; which leads him to give a particular account of that ordinance, of the nature, use, and design of it, and some directions about the performance of it, and attendance on it. He begins with an exhortation suitable to what he had said in the latter part of the preceding chapter, to follow him, as he followed Christ, 1Co 11:1 and praises them for their remembrance of him, and for the keeping the ordinances as they were delivered to them; that is, as many of them, and as far as they did so, 1Co 11:2. And in order to make way for what he had on his mind to reprove them for, and admonish them about, he observes, that as God is the head of Christ, and Christ the head of every man, so the man is the head of the woman, 1Co 11:3 wherefore for him to appear, and join in public worship, with his head covered, is to dishonour his head, 1Co 11:4 as, on the other hand, for a woman to have her head uncovered in divine service, is to dishonour her head, it being all one as if her head was shaved, 1Co 11:5 wherefore it is concluded, that if it is a shame for her to be shaved or shorn, she ought to be covered when attending the worship of God, 1Co 11:6. The reason why a man should be uncovered at such a time is, because he is the image and glory of God; and the reason why the woman should be covered is, because she is the glory of the man, is made for his glory, and to be in subjection to him, of which the covering is a token, 1Co 11:7 and that she is so, is argued from the order of the creation, man being not of the woman, but the woman of the man, 1Co 11:8 and from the end of the creation, man being not for the woman, but the woman for the man, 1Co 11:9. Another reason why the woman should be covered at the time of public worship is, because of the angels then present, 1Co 11:10 but lest on this account the woman should be treated with contempt by the man, the apostle observes, that they are not, and cannot be without one another; and that they are from each other in different senses, and both from the Lord, 1Co 11:11,12, and then proceeds to other arguments, showing that women should not appear uncovered in the house of God: one is taken from the uncomeliness of it, which must be so judged by everyone, 1Co 11:13 and another is taken from nature and custom, and the contrary in men, which is disagreeable and shameful; for, if, the dictates of nature, it is shameful in men to wear long hair, it must be comely and decent in women, and what is for their glory, to wear such hair, since it is their covering, 1Co 11:14,15. But if, after all the apostle had said on this subject, there should be any contentious persons disposed to wrangle about it, he observes, that they were not proper persons to be continued in the church, 1Co 11:16 and then proceeds to take notice of some ill conduct of many in the Corinthian church, at, or before, the eating of the Lord's supper; partly through schisms and factions, they meeting in parties for that purpose; which he had heard of, and had reason to believe, and could not praise them for; their coming together in such a manner, being for the worse, and not the better, 1Co 11:18,19 and the rather he gave credit to this report, since there were heresies among them, which issue in schisms and divisions, and which must be expected, that hereby Christ's faithful ones might be distinguished from others, 1Co 11:19 when he goes on to show how they abused the ordinance of the supper, not only by meeting together in parties, but by indulging their sensual appetites in eating and drinking, which was the principal end in coming together, and not the Lord's supper, 1Co 11:20 for they stayed not one for another, but one took his supper before the other, and so the one was full, and the other hungry, 1Co 11:21 the evil of which the apostle exposes by observing the indecency of such a conduct, when they had houses of their own to feast in; the contempt which they cast upon the church of God, and the shame they exposed the poor and hungry unto, all which was far from being praiseworthy, 1Co 11:22 upon which he gives a particular account of the Lord's supper, as he had it from Christ himself, the time when, the manner in which it was instituted and celebrated by him, the significance of its several parts, its use, and end, and the continuance of it until the second coming of Christ, 1Co 11:23-26 and then he proceeds to show the evil of an unworthy partaking of this ordinance, how that such are guilty of, and vilify and reproach the body and blood of Christ, 1Co 11:27 wherefore previous to a participation of it a man should examine himself as to his repentance towards God, and faith in Christ, 1Co 11:28 seeing such that are unworthy communicants bring condemnation on themselves, not having spiritual judgment to discern the Lord's body in the ordinance, 1Co 11:29 and so become liable to diseases and death itself, which was the case of several in the Corinthian church, 1Co 11:30 whereas, if persons would but examine and judge of themselves before hand, they would not be exposed to such judgments, 1Co 11:31 though the people of God, when they are afflicted, should look upon their afflictions, not as punishments, but as chastisements inflicted on them, for this end, that they might not be condemned with the world of the ungodly hereafter, 1Co 11:32. Wherefore the apostle's advice is, that when they came to the Lord's table they would not form themselves into factions and parties, and one part of them eat before, and separate from the rest, but that they would tarry till they all come together, and then join as one body and one bread, 1Co 11:33 and that if any man was an hungry, he should eat at home, and not have an ante-supper in the house of God, indulging his appetite there to his condemnation, and those that joined with him, 1Co 11:34 and the chapter is concluded with an intimation, that besides these irregularities, there were others in this church which the apostle signifies he would correct, when he should be in person with them.

1 Corinthians 11:2-16 In-Context

1 Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.
2 Now I commend you because you remember me in everything and maintain the traditions even as I delivered them to you.
3 But I want you to understand that the head of every man is Christ, the head of a wife is her husband, and the head of Christ is God.
4 Every man who prays or prophesies with his head covered dishonors his head,
5 but every wife who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head, since it is the same as if her head were shaven.
6 For if a wife will not cover her head, then she should cut her hair short. But since it is disgraceful for a wife to cut off her hair or shave her head, let her cover her head.
7 For a man ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God, but woman is the glory of man.
8 For man was not made from woman, but woman from man.
9 Neither was man created for woman, but woman for man.
10 That is why a wife ought to have a symbol of authority on her head, because of the angels.
11 Nevertheless, in the Lord woman is not independent of man nor man of woman;
12 for as woman was made from man, so man is now born of woman. And all things are from God.
13 Judge for yourselves: is it proper for a wife to pray to God with her head uncovered?
14 Does not nature itself teach you that if a man wears long hair it is a disgrace for him,
15 but if a woman has long hair, it is her glory? For her hair is given to her for a covering.
16 If anyone is inclined to be contentious, we have no such practice, nor do the churches of God.
17 But in the following instructions I do not commend you, because when you come together it is not for the better but for the worse.
18 For, in the first place, when you come together as a church, I hear that there are divisions among you. And I believe it in part,
19 for there must be factions among you in order that those who are genuine among you may be recognized.

Cross References 17

  • 1. [1 Corinthians 4:17; 1 Thessalonians 3:6]
  • 2. 2 Thessalonians 2:15; 2 Thessalonians 3:6
  • 3. [1 Thessalonians 4:1, 2]
  • 4. Ephesians 1:22; Ephesians 4:15; Ephesians 5:23; Colossians 1:18
  • 5. See Genesis 3:16
  • 6. [1 Corinthians 3:23]
  • 7. Luke 2:36; Acts 21:9; [1 Corinthians 14:34]
  • 8. [Numbers 5:18]
  • 9. Deuteronomy 21:12
  • 10. See Genesis 1:26
  • 11. [Proverbs 12:4]
  • 12. Genesis 2:21-23; [1 Timothy 2:13]
  • 13. Genesis 2:18
  • 14. Galatians 3:28
  • 15. See Romans 11:36
  • 16. 1 Timothy 6:3, 4
  • 17. 2 Thessalonians 1:4; [1 Thessalonians 2:14]; See 1 Corinthians 7:17; 1 Corinthians 10:32

Footnotes 3

  • [a]. Greek gune. This term may refer to a woman or a wife, depending on the context
  • [b]. In verses 5-13, the Greek word gune is translated wife in verses that deal with wearing a veil, a sign of being married in first-century culture
  • [c]. Or messengers, that is, people sent to observe and report