Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Chain of Command (1 Corinthians 11:2-3)

"… the head of every man is Christ, the head of woman is man, and the head of Christ is God" (1 Cor. 11:3).

The Corinthians had fallen into error concerning the issue of divinely-appointed authority. Paul, then, spends the following chapter rebuilding the foundation of instruction on the issue of the authority, of the authority of Christ over man and of man over woman.

He begins by saying, “But 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.” Paul wanted the Corinthians, and Christians in every age, to “know” this truth, to sink it into their minds and hearts, to understand it and live by it. The established order presented here is of upmost importance if chaos and confusion are to be averted. When the order of authority and subordination in God’s design is disrupted, all else is wrought with confusion, and thus God is not honored.

Paul’s use of “head” can have two meanings: origin or authority. It can be used in both ways here, but the primary use, given the context, is that of authority. The chain of command is like this: God is in authority over the God-man, Jesus Christ, Christ is in authority over man, and man is in authority over woman. Christ as our Redeemer is the head of the church. He establishes the rules, and the church is responsible to obey and be submissive to its head. Likewise, men in general are directly answerable to Christ as their authority, they have no other over them in a direct way, i.e., neither angels nor women are in authority over the man. Just as Christ is head over man, man is head of the woman. As Paul teaches in 1 Timothy 2:12–13, a woman is not to have authority over a man because man was created first and then the woman.

To continue the parallel, Paul teaches that the head of Christ is God. In the work of redemption, the God-man came into the world to do the work of the Father. In His work, Christ is subordinate to the Father. While by nature He is equal with the Father, being of one nature, in His role as Redeemer, He is subordinate. This proves that while the woman is subordinate to man in her role, she is equal with him in nature, sharing the same value, worth, and dignity as a human being made in God’s image (1 Peter 3:1–7).

In our politically correct era, perhaps no area of Paul’s teaching raises opposition more than his teaching on the roles of men and women. What about you? Do you chafe under this teaching? Do you too quickly dismiss it as not applicable? Ask God to help you submit to His order, not men’s preferences.