THE ROLE OF WOMEN IN THE CHURCH #7
by the late Dr.Samuele Bacchiocchi
HEADSHIP AND SUBORDINATION IN THE CHURCH
How is the principle of headship and subordination in
marriage related to the role relations of men and women in the
church? Are the role differences of husband and wife in marriage
the paradigm for the role differences of men and women in the
church? To find an answer to these questions, we shall examine 1
Corinthians 11:2-16, where Paul speaks about headship in
conjunction with his ruling about appropriate head coverings in
1. Headship and Head Coverings
In 1 Corinthians 11:2-16 Paul discusses the appropriate
headdress for men and women during the worship service. The basic
rule for church order that Paul gives in this passage is that in
worship services men should leave their heads uncovered, while
women should cover their heads. Since more of the passage
discusses the head covering for women when they pray or prophesy
in the public assembly, it seems probable that Paul was
responding to a report received about some Corinthian women who
were either refusing to cover their heads or were questioning
such practice. Possibly some women saw the abandoning of their
head coverings as an expression of their liberty and equality in
The importance of this passage lies not so much in what Paul
says about head coverings as such, but rather in the significance
that he attaches to head coverings as a symbol of the role
distinctions that men and women must preserve in the church.
These distinctions, as we shall see, are for Paul not
grounded on cultural conventions but on a male headship role
established by God at creation.
The Order of "Heads."
Paul opens his discussion by commending the Corinthians for
holding to his teachings (1 Cor 11:2). He then proceeds to set
forth his basic teaching that there exists a hierarchy of
headship authority, consisting of God, Christ, Man, Woman: "But I
want you to understand that the head of every man is Christ, the
head of a woman is her husband, and the head of Christ is God" (1
Cor 11:3). This is a foundational statement that provides for
Paul the basis for his ruling on head coverings.
In the first part of this chapter we established that the
word "head" (kephale) is used by Paul in this text and in
Ephesians 5:23 with the meaning of "authority, head over." This
meaning is evident especially in 1 Corinthians 11 where the
central issue is the relation of head coverings to authority (cf.
v.10). Thus, Paul affirms the existence of an order of "headship"
that must be respected in the home (Eph 5:21-30) and in the
church (1 Cor 11:3-16).
Some reject the hierarchical interpretation of 1 Corinthians
11:3, because Paul, "begins with Christ/man, which in a
hierarchical structure should be in second position; he goes on
with man/woman, which in a hierarchical structure should be in
third position; and he ends with God/Christ, which is an
hierarchical structure should be in first position." 41
The fact that the headship of man is sandwiched between the
headship of Christ and of God can hardly represent a negation of
a hierarchical order. Instead, this irregular sequential
arrangement could well reflect Paul's intent to place the
headship of man within the context of the headship of Christ and
God, since such Christological and theological model must govern
our understanding of the meaning of the headship of man.
Headship and Equality.
Some find the notion of a hierarchical order in the Godhead,
and in the human family, to stand in open contradiction of the
principle of equality 42 How can a woman be equal to a man when
she is expected to be subordinate to his headship in the home and
in the church? This apparent contradiction can be resolved, as
pointed out already in chapter 3, by recognizing that the
hierarchical distinctions are functional and not ontological,
that is, they have to do with roles and not with essential worth
or dignity of being.
As Walter Kaiser points out, "Such a ranking speaks not of
their relative dignity or worth (Is Christ any less than God? Or
is a woman any less created in the image of God than man?), but
only of their job relationships, responsibilities to each other
and ultimately to God." 43 The headship of God the Father in
relation to the incarnate Son in no way diminishes the dignity of
Christ's person or His full equality in the Godhead (John 10:30;
14:9; Col 1:15-20). In the same way the functional headship of
man in the home and in the church in no way detracts from, or is
detrimental to, the dignity and equality of woman in personhood.
The model of the headship of God in relation to Christ
should dispel any notion of superiority or inferiority. George
Knight states this point most clearly:
The headship of God with reference to Christ can be readily
seen and affirmed with no threat to Christ's identity. This
chain of subordination with its implications is apparently
given to help answer the objection some bring to the
headship of man in reference to woman. Just as Christ is not
a second-class person or deity because the Father is His
head, so the woman is not a secondclass person or human
being because man is her head. 44
2. Headship and Head Coverings
The Teaching about Head Coverings.
To preserve and to symbolize the order of hierarchical
relationships, Paul now teaches that "Any man who prays or
prophesies with his head covered dishonors his head, but any
woman who prays or prophesies with her head unveiled dishonors
her head--it is the same as if her head were shaven" (1 Cor
Noteworthy is the fact that Paul assumes that some women at
Corinth were praying and prophesying along with men in the
worship assembly (cf. Acts 21:9). The gifts of the Spirit are
given to the church without regard to sexual differences (Joel
2:28; 1 Cor 12:7-11). Paul does not oppose the participation of
women in the worship service. What he opposes is the behavior of
those women who had disregarded their subordinate position by
praying and giving prophetic exhorations to the congregation with
uncovered head, like the men.
Reason for Head Coverings.
The reason why Paul opposes this practice is because "any
woman who prays or prophesies with her head unveiled dishonors
her head--it is the same as if her head were shaven" (v.5). The
"head" being dishonored is presumably her husband since Paul
states in verse 3 that "the head of a woman is her husband." Why
would a woman dishonor her head, the husband, when praying and
prophesying in public with her head uncovered? Simply because the
head covering, whatever its nature, was seen as the sign of her
being under the "head" or authority of a man (cf. 1 Cor 11:10).
Thus, the removal of such a sign constituted a repudiation of her
husband's authority or headship.
It is not difficult to see how a wife would dishonor her
"head," the husband, when she repudiated publicly the symbol of
his authority by removing her head covering. By that act she
would make a public statement that she viewed herself free from
her vow of loyalty and submission to her husband.
Apparently some of the Corinthian women had concluded that,
having been raised with Christ (1 Cor 4:6-9), they were now
released from wearing a sign of submission to their husbands and
thus they were free to participate in the worship by praying and
prophesying with their head uncovered. Paul defends their right
to pray and prophesy, but opposes their rejection of the symbol
of their marital submission.
Symbol of Submission and Honor.
Paul argues that if a woman chose to reject the symbol of
her marital submission, "then she should cut off her hair; but if
it is disgraceful for a woman to be shorn or shaven, let her wear
a veil" (1 Cor 11:6). To understand the meaning of this
statement, we need to note that in New Testament times the Jews
could no longer execute an adulteress (Lev 20:10). Instead, they
punished her by shearing off her hair and expelling her from the
synagogue. 45 Apparently a similar practice existed in Roman
society because, according to Tacitus, the husband of an
adulterous wife cut off her hair and drove her from her house. 46
The clipped or shaven hair was thus a highly visible sign of a
woman's shame resulting from her repudiation of her husband's
authority. On the contrary the long hair was for a wife the
symbol of her dignity (v.15) and submission to her husband. As
Stephen Clark points out:
This sign brought her honor and respect, because her
position as a wife and as a woman was honorable. In fact,
for her not to have the appropriate expression of her
position as a wife and woman would be degrading. A woman
without a veil and a woman without long hair would be
This reasoning appears strange to us who live in a Western
society which is loosing its awareness of how certain symbols of
status and subordination can be honorable. The situation was much
different in Paul's time. Fritz Zerbst correctly observes:
The people of Paul's day felt much more keenly than do
people of our day that the outward demeanor of a person is
an expression of his inner life, specifically, of his
religious convictions and moral attitude. The arguments of
Paul will be rightly understood and appreciated only when
the attempts of Corinthian women to lay aside the headcloth
are recognized as an attack in general upon the relations
between man and woman as established in creation. This
attack Paul strives to counter with a meaningful custom. 48
The concern of Paul is not merely to promote the outward
maintenance of a custom, but rather to protect the creational
principle of the role distinctions men and women must respect in
the home and in the church. To defend this principle Paul appeals
not merely to cultural customs (head coverings, head shaven, and
hair length), but especially to theological reasons derived from
the order and manner of the creation of Adam and Eve. Before
examining the latter, two clarifications are in order: (1) Is
Paul addressing exclusively wives or inclusively all women? and
(2) What is the head covering that Paul wanted on women's head?
Wives or Women?
The statement "the head of a woman is her husband" (1 Cor
11:3), is ambiguous because the words used in Greek (aner and
gune) can refer either to husband and wife or man and woman. The
fact that Paul uses the same words in Ephesians 5:23 when
speaking of the headship of the husband over his wife has led
some to conclude that Paul's ruling here regards exclusively
husbands and wives and not inclusively all men and women.
In spite of this evidence, this interpretation is
unacceptable. especially because verses 3 and 5 speak inclusively
of "every man" and "every women' respectively. The qualifying
word "pas," "every" suggests that the ruling about head coverings
applies to all men and women and not just husbands and wives.
Some of the other reasons for this inclusive interpretation are
cogently given by Ralph Alexander:
Verses 7-11 are concerned with creation as a basis for the
regulations given. This, in turn, would tend to stress men
and women in general rather than just husbands and wives.
Verses 11-12 speak of the mutual interdependence of the
sexes in the process of procreation. If husband and wife
were meant, these verses would be illogical, for the husband
does not come into being through the wife nor is the wife
the source of the husband. Verses 13-16 argue from nature,
which would give greater support that man and woman in
general is being discussed, rather than just husbands and
The ambiguity which is caused by the double meaning of
"gune." namely, wife and woman, can be clarified when we bear in
mind that for Paul the husband-wife relationship in marriage is
the paradigm for the man-woman relationship in the church. The
role of a married woman is for Paul a model for women in general.
This means that though 1 Corinthians 11 focuses on husbands and
wives, the principle of headship and subordination is applicable
to the broader relations of men and women in the church. Thus, we
would conclude with Fritz Zerbst that, the Apostle had husband
and wives in mind when he wrote this passage. However, Paul in
this passage at the same time speaks also generally of man and
woman. In order to understand Paul we must bear in mind that the
relationship between the sexes always has its center in
What is the Head Covering?
Perhaps the most debated question is, What is the head
covering that Paul wanted on women's heads? The traditional
understanding has been that the covering is some sort of shawl or
veil over the head. It should be noted, however, that Paul does
not mention any "veil" as such except in verse 15 where he says:
"For her hair is given ato her for (anti, instead of) a
On the basis of this text and of Numbers 5:18, James Hurley
argues rather convincingly that the covering is not a veil or a
shawl, but rather long hair which a woman was to wear in a bun or
up when praying or prophesying. Such a hair style is supposedly
viewed by Paul as a head covering. 51 Support for this conclusion
is provided also by 1 Timothy 2:9 and 1 Peter 3:3, where women
are instructed not to have goldbraided hair. Such an instruction
would seem redundant if women covered their heads with a shawl.
(Bacchiocchi is WRONG concerning 1 Tim.2:9 and 1 Peter 3:3. As a
Seventh Day Adventist he would naturally make this mistake about
those two passages as the teaching of the SDA is against the use
of Jewelry and Makeup. The read is asked to study my studies on
those two subjects (Jewelry and Make-up) for the truth of the
matter on 1 Tim.2:9 and 1 Pter 3:3 - Keith Hunt)
In spite of these valid observations, it seems reasonable to
suppose that Paul refers to a covering consisting of a veil or a
(No, Paul was NOT referring to either a veil or a shawl - Paul
CLEARLY tells us in the CONTEXT what he is referring to - HAIR! -
to read into the context anything else is doing injustice to the
clear context and to the Bible interpreting the Bible. As Dr.Sam
has pointed out James Hurley has convincingly proved the context
is about HAIR. Huelry's study can be found on this website -
Support for this conclusion comes primarily from the custom
of Jewish women in Paul's time to cover their heads when in
public. Josephus, for example, bears witness to head veiling when
he writes in his Antiquities about the bitter-water ceremony to
which a wife suspected of adultery was subjected. The relevant
text reads: "One of the priests set the woman at the gates that
are turned toward the temple, and took the veil from her head,
and wrote the name of God on parchment, and enjoined her to swear
that she had not at all injured her husband." 52
After sifting through written and graphic sources, Hans Conzelman
concludes: "For a Jewess to go out with her head uncovered is a
disgrace (3 Macc 4:6) and grounds for divorce . . . ; it can also
be assumed that respectable Greek women wore a head covering in
public." 53 Similarly Morna Hooker, Lady Margaret Professor of
Divinity at Cambridge University, writes: "According to Jewish
custom a bride went bareheaded until her marriage, as a symbol of
her freedom; when married, she wore a veil as a sign that she was
under the authority of her husband." 54
The veiling of the head by women appears to have been a
predominant Jewish custom. Tertullian (c. A.D. 160-225) notes
that Jewish women could be recognized on the street of North
Africa by the veils they wore on their heads: "Among the Jews, so
usual is it for their women to have the head veiled, that they
may thereby be recognized." 55
"The Jew regarded it as typical of Gentile women that they should
go about unveiled (Nu. r., 9 on 5:18, Str.-B., III, 429)." 56
Thus, it appears that Paul was introducing into Greek
congregations a custom which corresponded to especially Jewish
(oriental) sensibility rather than Greek.
(What became a "custom" with SOME Jewish women does not alter the
fact that the context of this passage is interpreted by Paul
himself as being HAIR and nothing other than HAIR - Keith Hunt)
Although there is disagreement on whether the head covering
was a veil or long hair worn up as a bun, there is no doubt that
Paul saw such a covering as a fitting cultural expression of a
woman's acknowledgment of the headship of man. The head covering
was a custom (vv.13-15) subservient to the principle "the head of
a woman is the man" (v.3-literal translation). While the
principle is permanent, its application will vary in different
(The CONTEXT is the key to this passage as also is letting the
Bible interpret the Bible. Paul INTERPRETS HIMSELF - and that
interpretation is given as HAIR - nothing more and nothing less -
3. Theological Justification
Glory of Man.
To defend the principle of the headship of man expressed in
the rule about head covering, Paul appeals especially to the way
in which man and woman were created in relationship to one
another. First, he says: "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" (1 Cor 11:7).
Our analysis of this text in chapter 3 indicated that Paul
uses the terms "image and glory," not with reference to personal
dignity and worth, but in the context of the relation of man to
God and of woman to man. In this context man images God's
dominion and gives Him glory by exercising his headship role in a
loving and self-sacrificing way (Eph 5:25-29). On the other hand,
a woman is the glory of man in the way she honors his headship by
her life and attitude (Prov 12:4; Eph 5:2124). Another
possibility, suggested by F. W. Grosheide, is that a woman is the
glory of man in the way she "reveals how beautiful a being God
could create from a man." 57
Woman for the Sake of Man?
Paul continues in verses 8 and 9 to explain the reason why a
man is the glory of God and a woman is the glory of man, namely,
because ("for") the woman was taken out of (ek) of man (v.8; cf.
Gen 2:21-22) and because woman was created for the sake of man
(v.9; Gen 2:18). These two facts, namely, the derivative origin
of the woman and her creation to be man's helper, constitute for
Paul the fundamental theological justification for the headship
of man, expressed culturally through the head covering on the
part of women.
The significance of the order of creation for the role
distinctions of men and women in the church will receive further
consideration in the next chapter in conjunction with our
analysis of 1 Timothy 2:9-15, where Paul refers to the same
creation texts. At this juncture it suffices to note that "Paul
makes everything a question of creation." 58 He bases his
argument for headship and subordination not on the cultural
conventions of his time, but on the created relationship between
man and woman.
Authority on the Head.
Paul concludes his theological defense of the need for women
to maintain a subordinate role in the worship service by wearing
a head cover, saying in verse 10: "For this reason, and because
of the angels, the woman ought to have a sign of authority on her
head" (NIV). This cryptic remark has been the subject of much
discussion. The problem centers on the meaning of "authority"
(exousia) and on the role of angels.
Most commentators agree that "authority" is a metonym (the
name of one thing referring to another) for the covering on the
head. On the basis of this view the RSV translates "exousia" by
the word "veil." The question is, In what sense is a woman's head
cover the sign of authority? To put it differently, What is the
function of the veil? For some, the veil is the symbol of the
authority given to the woman to participate in public worship by
praying and prophesying. 59 The support for this interpretation
derives primarily from the fact that the word "exousia" is
generally used in the New Testament not in the passive sense of
"being under authority," but in the active sense of "having
This interpretation, though appealing, can at best be
accepted as a secondary application of "exousia." First, such an
interpretation provides not a reason for ("for this reason") but
a negation of the preceding argument on the need of women to show
their subordination to man in the worship service by covering
their heads. Second, it ignores the connection, assumed in verses
5-6, between the use of the head cover in the church and its
cultural meaning. Therefore, it is preferable to interpret the
"exousia" over the head as being primarily a head covering which
was seen as the sign of a woman's subordination to man's
headship, and secondarily, a sign which gives to a woman the
authority or right to participate in the worship service. Bruce
K. Waltke puts it this way, "By wearing a covering she preserves
the order of creation while exercising her ... spiritual right."
Respect for the Angels.
An additional reason given by Paul why a woman ought to have
a sign of her being under man's authority, is "because of the
angels" (v.10). The latter phrase has been interpreted in two
major ways: (1) the woman ought to have a sign of a man's
authority on her head so that the angels who are present at
church gatherings will not be sexually aroused by women; (2) the
woman ought to have a sign of man's authority out of respect for
the angels who are the guardians of the "creation order."
The first interpretation, though rooted in ancient Jewish
speculations about the "sons of God" of Genesis 6:2 who were
supposed to have been evil angels who took to themselves the
daughter of men, must be regarded as an odious fantasy, foreign
to Biblical thought. Christian women need not fear sexual
assaulted by evil angels. Christ has defeated Satan and his host
and the angels present at the gathering of God's people are
obedient to God (Heb 12:22, Rev 5:11).
(I should say so! The first idea is a theology supportted by some
Jewish "scholars" including Josephus the Pharisee historian of
the first centgury - in stating fallen angels came and reproduced
through physucal human women - Genesis 6. This has given rise in
our days to the teaching of the "serpent's seed" and is one of
the most damnable perverse heresies from planet Pluto teaching to
come to earth. The reader will find studies on this website that
fully expose and blast back to Pluto this heresy doctrine - Keith
The second interpretation deserves acceptance because
Scripture speaks of the angels as the witnesses not only of the
creation of this world (Job 38:7), but also of the activities of
God's people (1 Cor 4:8-9; 1 Tim 5:21; Heb 1:14). The angels are
seen as the custodians of God's created order. Consequently, what
Paul is saying is that a woman must cover her head not only out
of respect for the headship of man, but also out of respect for
the angels who are the guardians of God's order and discipline 61
(It is the angels - the righteous ones - that are given to serve
God's people [and others as allowed by God] and so the role of
women, maintaining that role in the home and in the church, are
going to be blessed and favored by God, they will be serving the
commandments of the Lord regarding their role in life, and hence
the angels will not be hindered in any manner in fulfilling their
service towards women. So also will they serve man as planned and
desired by the Lord when man is fulfilling his role in the home
and in the church. It all means harmony as each - man and women -
live and act and speak as within their intended roles ordained by
the Lord from the beginning - Keith Hunt)
Subordinate but Equal.
Aware of the possibility that his argument could be
misconstrued to mean that women are inferior to men, Paul quickly
adds in verses 11 and 12 a clarifying statement on the equality
and natural interdependence of man and woman: "Nevertheless, in
the Lord woman is not independent of man nor man of woman; for as
woman was made from man, so man is now born of woman. And all
things are from God" (1 Cor 11:11-12).
The opening word "nevertheless" (plen) indicates Paul's
concern to set the record straight. "In spite of what I have just
said, I want you to know," Paul seems to be saying "that in the
Lord man and woman are interdependent and equal." One senses how
the apostle is fighting on two fronts. On one side he had to put
the liberated Corinthian women in their place by telling them to
respect the headship of man in the church service by covering
their heads. On the other side he had to prevent men from
considering and treating women as inferior by reminding them of
their derivation from women and their mutual dependence in the
Lord. This passage provides a fine example of how Paul respected
and applied the Biblical principle of equality in being and
subordination in function, at a time when the role distinctions
between men and women were being challenged. The existence of a
similar situation in our time makes Paul's approach particularly
relevant to us today.
Nature and Church Custom.
In his closing remarks (vv. 1316) Paul returns to his
central teaching by adding two final reasons for the veil: the
order of nature (vv.13-15) and the prevailing custom of the
congregations. Paul appeals to the good judgment of the
Corinthians ("Judge for yourselves"), on the assumption that they
will agree with him that it is not "proper for a woman to pray to
God with her head uncovered" (v.13). To help them formulate the
right judgment, Paul appeals to nature: "Does not nature itself
teach you that for a man to wear long hair is degrading to him,
but if a woman has long hair, it is her pride? For her hair is
given to her for a covering" (vv.14-15).
(And so Paul has interpreted himself in these verses. The context
then being HAIR - nothing more and nothing less. How simple is
the Bible when we let the Bible interpret itself. Not allowing
this to be so, has brought hundreds of false teachings into the
world of Christianity. A MAJOR KEY to Bible understanding is
letting the Bible interpret itself - Keith Hunt)
"Nature" (phusis) here apparently refers both to God's
revelation in the world (Rom 1:20) and in one's heart (Rom 2:15).
On the basis of natural revelation and their own consciences, the
Corinthians can conclude for themselves that short hair is
honorable for men but long hair is honorable for women. In giving
long hair to woman as a covering, nature hints that she should
not uncover her head.
(Looking at the pictures and sculptures of the Roman world in the
first century, it is clear that both Jews and the Romans had
relatively short hair for men and long hair for women. And
certainly the Jewish world from the time of Moses, the men had
short hair and the women longer hair than men - the exception
being when a man was under the nazorite vow [Number 6] - Keith
As a final argument against anyone wishing to be
contentious, Paul states categorically: "we recognize no other
practice, nor do the churches of God" (v.16). This final appeal
to his own authority and to the authority of the existing
practice in the churches of God is intended to make it clear that
the practice of women covering their heads during worship
service, was not open to debate.
In spite of all the difficulties in its interpretation, 1
Corinthians 11:2-16 provides one of the clearest statements on
the fundamental significance of the role differences which must
exist between men and women, not only in the home but also in the
church. The lengthy discussion about head covering can mislead a
person to think that in this passage Paul is majoring in minors,
that is, he deals with incidental and culturally conditioned
matters such as hair length and head covering.
The truth of the matter, however, is that the lengthy
discussion on head coverings is only secondary and subservient to
the fundamental principle of the headship of man ("the head of
the woman is man" v.3, NIV) and of the subordination of the woman
(vv.5-10) which must be respected not only in the home but also
in the church. This principle was being challenged by emancipated
Corinthian women who had concluded that their new position in
Christ (1 Cor 4:6-9), granted them freedom to stop wearing a sign
of submission to their husbands, especially at times of prayer
and charismatic expression in the church service. To counteract
this trend, which would have resulted in the violation of
creational role distinctions, Paul emphasizes at length the
importance of respecting the custom of head covering as a way or
honoring the creation order. James Hurley succintly puts it, "If
the leadership of the congregation was divinely placed in the
hands of men, a rejection of sexual differentiation was a
rejection of the divine pattern." 62
The concern of Paul, however, is not to legislate on hair
styles or head coverings. In fact, no specific guidelines are
given on the length of hair or type of head coverings. Rather,
the concern of Paul, as stated by F. W. Grosheide, is "to teach
that women are wrong if they in any respect neglect their
difference from men, a difference which remains also in the
What is the relevance for today of Paul's instruction on
head coverings? Paul urges respect of a custom such as hair
length and head cover because in his time these fittingly
expressed sexual differentiation and role distinctions. Applied
to our culture, this means that if certain styles of hair and
clothing are distinctively male or female, their gender
association must be respected in order to maintain the clear
distinction between the sexes enjoined in Scripture. This
principle is particularly relevant to our time when some promote
the blurring of sexual differentiations (unisex), while others
are adopting the dress and sometimes the behavior of the opposite
("style" is NOT the subject here - the subject is strictly HAIR
and its length - men have short hair while women have long hair -
the long hair for women is given for her glory - unless a women
has some kind of desease she never goes bald as often is the case
with men. And God has made it so, that it is a sign of functions
between men and women in the home [family life] and in the
congregational church - men are to lead out both in the home and
in the church. It is all to do with FUNCTION - all to do with
ROLE function in the home and in the church. It has nothing to do
with styles of clothing or hair. In the world of the "Western
horse" or "English horse" men and women both wear similar styles
of boots, pants, shirts, and hats. The same holds true for many
other sports such as ice hockey, soccer etc. In Jesus' day men
and women wore similar clothing so from a distance you would not
know if the person was male or female. Certainly at other times
and other events the two sexes today can look very DIS-SIMILAR in
dress. Dr. Sam being a SDA minister would naturally desire to
draw comments as above about "styles of hair and clothing" as
that is part of their theology - Keith Hunt)
We asked at the beginning of this chapter, Is the principle
of male headship in the home and in the church derived
legitimately from the Scriptures or illegitimately from men's
efforts to dominate women? Our examination of Ephesians 5:21-33
and 1 Corinthians 11:2-16 has shown that the male headship roles
in marriage and in the church stand or fall together. We have
reached this conclusion first by ascertaining the meaning of
"head," and then by examining Paul's application of the principle
of male headship in marriage (Eph 5:21-33) and in the church (1
We have seen that Paul uses the term "head" with the
meaning, not of "source, origin," but of "authority, head over."
The headship of man in marriage is established and clarified by
Paul in Ephesians 5:21-33, not on the basis of cultural customs,
but of theological reasons. By utilizing the model of Christ and
the church, Paul effectively clarifies the meaning of the
husband's headship as loving and sacrificial leadership and the
meaning of the wife's submission as willing response to a caring
In 1 Corinthians 11:2-16 the headship of man and the
subordination of women in the church are grounded by Paul on the
creational distinctions between man and woman, distinctions which
must be respected within the church.
How is the principle of headship and subordination to be
applied in the context of church office? What roles are women to
fulfill in the church? To these important questions we will now
address ourselves in the following chapter.
NOTES ON CHAPTER V
1. Roberta Hestenes mentions briefly the reinterpretation of the
"proponents of the partnership paradigm" in her article, "Women
in Leadership: Finding Ways to Serve the Church," Christianity
Today (October 3, 1986): 8-1.
2. Letha Scanzoni and Nancy Hardesty, All We're Meant to Be: A
Biblical Approach to Women's Liberation (Waco, Texas, 1975), p.
3. Ibid., p.110.
4. Philip Barton Payne, "Response to Berkeley and Alvera
Mickelsen Chapter What Does Kephale mean in the New Testament?"'
in Women, Authority and the Bible, ed. Alvera Mickelsen (Downers
Grove, Illinois, 1986), pp. 118-132; Richard and Joyce Boldrey,
Chauvinist or Feminist? Paul's View of Women (Grand Rapids,
Michigan, 1976), p.34; Margaret Howe, Women and Church Leadership
(Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1982), p.60; F. F. Bruce, 1 and 2
Corinthians (London, 1971), p.248; Letha Scanzoni and Nancy
Hardesty (n. 2), pp.30-31, 100.
5. Stephen Bedale, "The Meaning of Kephale in the Pauline
Epistles," Journal of Theological Studies 5 (1954): 211-215.
6. See above n. 4.
7. Berkeley and Alvera Mickelsen, "What Does Kephale Mean in the
New Testament?" in Women, Authority and the Bible (n. 4), pp.
106-109; also by the same authors, "Does Male Dominance Tarnish
Our Translations?" Christianity Today (October 1979): 23-29; "The
'Head' of the Epistles," Christianity Today (February 20,1981):
8. Wayne Grudem, "Does Kephale ('head') Mean 'Source' or
'Authority Over' in Greek Literature? A Survey of 2,336
Examples," appendix 1, in George W. Knight III, The Role
Relationship of Men and Women (Chicago, 1985), pp.49-80.
9. Berkeley and Alvera Mickelsen, "Does Male Dominance Tarnish
Our Translations?" Christianity Today (October 5, 1979): 23, 25;
Stephen Bedale (n. 5), p.211.
10. H. G. Liddell and Robert Scott, eds., A Greek-English
Lexicon, 9th ed., with Supplement (Oxford, 1968), vol. 1, p 944.
11. Stephen Bedale (n. 5), p.212.
13. Stephen Bedale (n. 5), p.213.
14. Berkeley and Alvera Mickelsen, "What Does Kephale Mean in the
New Testament?" (n. 4), pp.105-106.
15. For the listing and quotation of each passage, see Wayne
Grudem (n. 8), pp.72-76.
16. Wayne Grudem (n. 8), p. 62.
17. Plutarch, Table-Talk 692, D, 11.
18. Philo, Life of Moses 2, 82.
19. Philo, Life of Moses 2, 30. For other examples see Wayne
Grudem (n.8), pp.73-74.
20. Stephen Bedale speaks of a "virtual equation of kephale with
arche" without giving one text to prove it (n. 5), p.213.
21. Wayne Grudem (n. 8), p.56.
22. Walter Bauer, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament,
trans. and eds. William F. Arndt and F. Wilber Gingrich (Chicago,
1979), s. v. "kephale," p.430.
23. Heinrich Schlier, "Kephale," Theological Dictionary of the
New Testament, ed. Gerhard Kittel (Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1974),
vol. 3, p.675.
24. Ibid., p.679.
25. Wayne Grudem (n. 8), p.67.
26. Ibid., p. 68. Grudem questions the meaning of "source" in the
two instances given by Liddell-Scott (Herodotus 4, 91 and Orphic
Fragments 21 a). See his reasoning on pp.57-61.
27. Berkeley and Alvera Mickelsen, "Does Male Dominance Tarnish
Our Translations?" (n. 7), p.23.
28. Philo, On Rewards and Punishments 1, 25; cf. Moses 2,30; 2,
82; On Dreams 2, 207.
29. Plutarch, Pelopidas 2, 1, 3. For other examples from Plutarch
and other authors, see Wayne Grudem (n. 8), pp.72-78.
30. Ruth A. Tucker, "Response to Berkeley and Alvera Mickelsen's
article What Does Kephale Mean in the New Testament?"' in Women,
Authority and the Bible, ed. Alvera Mickelsen (Downers Grove,
Illinois, 1986), p.117.
31. James B. Hurley, Man and Woman in Biblical Perspective (Grand
Rapids, Michigan, 1981), p.166.
32. Stephen Bedale (n. 5), p.214 (emphasis supplied).
33. See, for example, Gilbert Bilezikian, Beyond Sex Roles (Grand
Rapids, Michigan, 1985), pp.153-162; Letha Scanzoni and Nancy
Hardesty (n. 2), p.30; J. Sampley, And the Two Shall Become One
Flesh (Cambridge, 1971), pp. 116-117; Marcus Barth, Ephesians:
4-6, The Anchor Bible (New York, 1974), pp.609-610.
34. For a general discussion of the use of the term, see Gerhard
Delling, "Hypotassso," Theological Dictionary of the New
Testament, eds., Gerhard Kittel and Hergard Friedrich (Grand
Rapids, Michigan, 1974), vol. 8, pp.41-46.
35. James B. Hurley (n. 31), p.142.
36. Women in the Church: Scriptural Principles and Ecclesial
Practice, A Report of the Commission on Theology and Church
Relations of the Lutheran Church--Missouri Synod, September 1985,
37. Elisabeth Elliot, "Why I Oppose the Ordination of Women,"
Christianity Today 19 (June 6, 1975): 14.
38. Ellen G. White, Testimonies for the Church (Mountain View,
California, 1948), vol. 1, p.307-308.
39. Ellen G. White, Patriarchs and Prophets (Mountain View,
California, 1958), p.59.
40. Susan T. Foh, Women and the Word of God (Phillipsburg, New
Jersey, 1979), p.261.
41. Gilbert Bilezikian (n.33), pp.153-162; cf. Letha Scanzoni and
Nancy Hardesty (n. 2), p.30.
42. See, for example, Letha Scanzoni and Nancy Hardesty (n. 2),
43. Walter Kaiser, "Paul, Women, and the Church," Worldwide
Challenge (September 1976): 12.
44. George W. Knight (n. 8), p.21.
45. For discussion and documentation on cutting the hair of an
adulteress, see James B. Hurley (n. 31), pp.169-171. F. W.
Grosheide, Commentary on the First Epistle to the Corinthians
(Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1983), p.254; Leonard
Swindler, Women in Judaism: The Status of Women in Formative
Judaism (Metuchen, New Jersey, 1976), pp.121-122.
46. See C. K. Barrett, A Commentary on the First Epistle to the
Corinthians (New York, 1968), p.251.
47. Stephen B. Clark, Man and Woman in Christ (Ann Arbor,
Michigan, 1980), p.171.
48. Fritz Zerbst, The Office of Woman in the Church (St. Louis,
Missouri, 1955), p.40.
49. Ralph H. Alexander, "An Exegetical Presentation on 1
Corinthians 11:2-16 and 1 Timothy 2:8-15," Paper presented at the
Seminar on Women in Ministry, Western Baptist Seminary, November
50. Fritz Zerbst (n. 48), p.33.
51. James B. Hurley (n. 31), pp.168-171; also Mary J. Evans,
Woman in the Bible (Downers Grove, Illinois, 1983), pp.87-91.
52. Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews 3, 11, 6, trans. William
Whiston (Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1960), p. 81; emphasis supplied.
53. Hans Conzelmann, A Commentary on the First Epistle to the
Corinthians (Philadelphia, 1975), p.185.
54. M. D. Hooker, "Authority on Her Head: An Examination of 1
Corinthians 11:10," New Testament Studies 10 (1963-64): 413.
55. Tertullian, De Corona 4, The Ante-Nicene Fathers, eds.
Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson (Grand Rapids, Michigan,
1973), vol. 3, p.95.
56. Albrecht Oepke, "Katakalupto," Theological Dictionary of the
New Testament, eds. Gerhard Kittel and Geoffrey W. Bromiley
(Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1974), vol. 3, p.562.
57. F. W. Grosheide, Commentary on the First Epistle to the
Corinthians , The New International Commentary of the New
Testament (Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1953), p.256.
59. See, Susan T. Fohn (n. 40), p. 113; F. F. Bruce, 1 and 2
Corinthians, New Century Bible (Greenwood, North Carolina, 1976),
p.106; M. D. Hooker (n. 53), p.413; Leroy Bimey, The Role of
Women in the New Testament Church (Pinner, England, 1971), p.9.
60. Bruce K. Waltke, "l Corinthians 11:2-16: An Interpretation,"
Bibliotheca Sacra 135 (January-March 1978): 53.
61. Among those who support this view are Bruce K. Wartke (n.
60), p.54; James Moffatt, The First Epistle of Paul to the
Corinthians (London, 1947), p. 152; Joseph A. Fitzmyer, Essays on
the Semitic Background of the New Testament (Missoula, Montana,
1974), p.204; Fritz Zerbst (n. 48), p.43.
62. James B. Hurley (n. 31), p.181.
63. F. W. Grosheide (n. 57), p.262.
To be continued