Thursday, June 20, 2024

Veiled in the Assembly (1 Corinthians 11:4-5)

"But every woman who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head …" (1 Cor. 11:5).

Because of the divinely established order that men are subordinate to Christ and women subordinate to men, everyone should act in accordance with that order: the man by having his head uncovered in public assembly, and the woman by being covered or veiled. The setting of this command is clearly in reference to the public assembly, or public worship, of God’s people. “As the apostle refers to their appearance in public assemblies, he says, ‘Every man praying or prophesying,’ i.e., officiating in public worship,” Hodge wrote. “In the scriptural sense of the word (prophesying), a prophet is one who speaks for another, as Aaron is called the prophet or spokesman of Moses.… To prophesy, in Scripture, is accordingly, to speak under divine inspiration; not merely to predict future events, but to deliver, as the organ of the Holy Ghost, the messages of God to men, whether in the form of doctrine, exhortation, consolation, or prediction. This public function, the apostle says, should not be exercised by a man with his head covered.”

The problem in Corinth, however, was not that men were prophesying in the public assemblies with their heads covered, but that women were appearing in public assemblies with their heads uncovered. One’s dress reflects the principles that one lives by, and that even our exterior must conform to the order that God has established, especially in matters pertaining to public worship. The apostle makes the point that the veil, as a symbol of authority, is inconsistent with the position of the man, but it is required for women, who are subordinate to men. If they appear in the public assemblies with their heads uncovered, then they are acting in such a way that challenges the authority of men because they have removed the symbol that they are under masculine authority.

It is obvious from this comparison between men having their heads uncovered and women having their heads covered, that the covering is not hair. For if the covering in this context were hair, verse 6 would make no sense in the context of this passage. More on this subject, however, will be dealt with in following studies. For now, the point is that our actions must conform to the principles that God has established.

While signs and symbols are not the most important aspects of obedience, the state of the heart being the root of the matter, why is it still important not to ignore the outward aspects of biblical principles? Do you disregard the exterior aspects of religion, saying the heart is all that matters? If so, confess your pride before God today.