Interpreting the Woman’s Headcovering

Head-Covering-2While going through my daily online reading I came across a common theme on two different blogs I follow. They were written to address the often difficult passage of 1 Corinthians 11:1-16 and the subject of the woman’s head covering. I took some interest in this since the former church I attended for a number of years was very particular about women wearing head coverings during the church meetings. My views over the years have changed on this topic especially since I left this church and reviewed the text of 1 Corinthians 11.

The first article I read gave a more traditional approach to the whole discussion. I felt he did a good job expressing the view that women should wear a covering during the service.

The second blog post took on some elements of my personal view which is that women should wear a covering if they pray. The author however took it further and presented a viewpoint that I had never considered in the past. Mr. Slane would associate the text relating closely to what was said in Joel 3 and the fulfilment of daughter’s prophesying. He would see the text relating to the first 40 years after Pentecost. While I’m not totally convinced of this position since it is very reliant on the preterist position, I felt he made a pretty good argument for his view.

I would recommend both these articles but especially reading the second and I would love to hear your thoughts!



7 thoughts on “Interpreting the Woman’s Headcovering

  1. Having been raised in a church where head coverings were a necessity I really never questioned what Paul said in 1Cor.11 This article by Rob Slane has been presented very well. His Preterist approach certainly would not convince me of his head covering argument because I would see the prophecies to which he referred even the one in Joel reaching forward to the final judgement of the nations and Babylon as seen in Rev.
    He certainly presented a good argument showing in 1Cor 11:4-5 the singular form of man and woman is used. It does appear this was directed to a particular group of men and women. In 1Cor.14:34 when women are told to remain silent it is the pleural form.
    The other argument he gave although connected with his Preterist views was very good praying and prophesying is connected with the sign gifts that were active until we had the full cannon of scripture.
    This certainly is something to consider. However, I would not split hairs over it. If I go to a church that requires hats I will submit at the same time I would not wear a hat in churches who have other views.
    Interesting article and it provokes thought. 🙂

    1. So do you think the hat is necessary? What are your thoughts of Joel 3 being fulfilled in Acts 2?

      Personally I think Slane made a good case for its cessation. I mean, if you believe that women don’t prophecy today then why make them wear hats?

  2. I believe I said I was raised to believe the hat was necessary and still attend a church that takes this view. In fact they would see a woman without a hat as denying the headship of Christ. You see I do not believe in causing division with God’s people who have not been enlightened by the grace of God to these truths. At this point in my Christian life I would agree with Rob Slane, the hat was for the time when women had the gift of prophecy.
    I presume you are referring to all of Joel 3 or did you have a certain passage in mind. I feel Joel 2:28-29 were fulfilled at the day of Pentecost. At this point in time I would see vs.30-32 being fulfilled at the final consummation. Certainly, Joel 3 I also see this being fulfilled at the second coming of our Lord. Certainly, I would not stand hard on these views but as yet the Spirit of God has not enlightened me on the Preterist views. I am however very Amill. Since taken from dispensationalism to this the scripture has brought me more joy and is like a new book.

    1. I can appreciate that you don’t want to rock the boat with your church. It seems to be a common thing to be controversial these days and I can appreciate that you don’t want to be.


  3. I looked at the first article. I thought it was well exegeted. Even if the author of the second article could prove the complete fulfillment of Joel’s prophecy as being limited to the apostolic age it would not support his view of 1st Corinthians chapter 11 because Paul did not just address prophesying but praying as well. Did women stop praying after 70 AD? Did not Paul write “every woman that prayeth OR prophesieth”? Prophesying (understood as acting as a prophetess and not general preaching) may have ceased in the first century but not prayer.

    1. But did not Slane deal with this in his article? Was not the prayer something different than what we see as in a corporate worship service today? Any idea why he would be wrong on this one? Here’s what he said:

      “But what of the praying? This is far more difficult, because it could be argued that the praying he has in mind is referring to corporate praying. If this were the case, at best those who advocate head coverings in the church could argue that women should wear them whilst praying, but there is no warrant to insist on this at any other time during a worship service. However, there are a few good reasons why the praying mentioned here is not simply congregational prayer – women listening and praying silently when their minister or another church member prays – but is actually when a woman literally stands up to vocally pray herself.

      Firstly, in all other instances where Paul talks about praying in this letter to the Corinthians, it is always tied to the “sign gifts”. Nowhere in this epistle is the word used to mean someone “praying” in the sense of listening to the prayers of another and assenting to them. It is likely, therefore, that the praying mentioned in verse 5 is therefore connected with the “sign gifts” and the gift of prophesying, rather than silent prayer.

      Secondly, the “praying and prophesying” seem very much to be connected and therefore part of the same package, being used in respect to both men (verse 4) and women (verse 5). It would be natural from the way these verses are phrased to assume that the two elements go hand in hand. Therefore, if the prophesying mentioned is specific to certain men and women of that time, isn’t it natural to assume that the praying is similarly specific to certain men and women of that time, and not just talking about all women praying silently?

      Thirdly, there is nothing whatsoever in the Old Testament that required a woman to wear a head covering when praying silently in the congregation. For Paul to come along and liken a woman who prays silently in the congregation without a head covering to an immoral woman, asking whether it is “comely that she prays to God with her head uncovered” (verse 13), wouldn’t he need to have some basis in the Old Testament for making such a heavy charge? Fourthly, when he addresses the men and women that pray and prophesy, he always does so in the singular: “Every man praying or prophesying, having his head covered, dishonoureth his head. But every woman that prayeth or prophesieth with her head uncovered dishonoureth her head: for that is even all one as if she were shaven” (1 Corinthians 11:4-5). However, three chapters later, when speaking about women in the churches, he does so in the plural sense: “Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak” (1 Corinthians 14:34). What this seems to suggest, is that the women he is addressing in 1 Corinthians 11 are not the entirety of women in the congregation. When he wants to address women in general, he does so by speaking of women in the plural sense. But he does not do this in 1 Corinthians 11, instead using the singular sense, which gives the impression that he is addressing a very specific and separate type of woman to the rest of the women in the congregation.

      Finally, notice the contrast between the command in the 14th chapter and what is stated in the 11th chapter. In the 14th chapter he tells the women that they must be silent in the churches. This appears to be a total contradiction of what he had said three chapters earlier, where he spoke of a woman prophesying. It seems to me that the only plausible explanation of this is that the women addressed in chapter 11 are not the same as those addressed in chapter 14. Is it not more likely that in chapter 11 he is addressing the prophetesses, foretold by Joel, who vocally prayed and prophesied in the church, whereas in chapter 14, he is addressing the generality of women who had not been called to this office? Without going verse by verse through the rest of the passage,

      I believe that this offers the most reasonable explanation for what is contained in the remainder of the passage. It explains why she needs to have “power” on her head – because she is doing something that for all intents and purposes appears to show her usurping the authority of her husband or father. – “

      1. The author makes a mistake when he says “Firstly, in ALL other instances where Paul talks about praying in this letter to the Corinthians, it is always tied to the “sign gifts”. What about 1st Corinthians 7:5 which talks about PRAYER and fasting? There are no sign gifts mentioned there (a chapter about marriage and celibacy) and fasting was not something that was done away with in 70 AD no more than alms or prayer (Matthew chapter 6) or other parts of the Sermon on the Mount for that matter.

        I agree with the prophesying part (done away with by 70 AD*) but I’m not yet convinced about the prayer part. It says “prophesying OR praying” not “prophesying AND praying”. Let us rightly divide the word of truth (words written by Paul in connection with the first full preterist, Hymenaeus). Whether a sign gift (tongues or prophesying) or not is involved in some way a prayer is a prayer. Were women only able to pray publicly (meaning in the assembly) till 70 AD? Is the Holy Spirit less involved today in prayer than He was in the first century? I could be wrong but I believe the evidence would tend to show that the head covering could be warranted for a woman audibly praying in the assembly.

        * I am a Protestant historicist like godly and learned men of the past who were not proud and arrogant like some of these modern preterists who think they have it all figured out… some things happened in 70 AD in fulfillment of SOME prophecies but other important things (parts of Daniel 2 and Daniel 7, 2nd Thessalonians 2, 1st Timothy 4, 2nd Timothy 3, much of the Book of Revelation) were to happen after that time.,.. to my knowledge Sodom (Matthew chapter 11) was not judged in 70 AD and Nero was never an apostate church leader (“son of perdition”) or by any means “a little horn ruling with 10 other contemporary horns” who sat in the temple of God whether understood physically or ecclesiastically… how Nero, the emperor of the biggest empire, could be considered “a little horn” is beyond me? How was he “smaller” than Claudius or any other contemporary king or governor? What other “horns” were rooted up by him? I thought Roman Catholic attempts to say that the little horn of Daniel 7 (not chapter 8) was Antiochus Epiphanes (not part of chapter 7 but in reality explicitly part of chapters 8 and 11) were pretty pathetic but Nero-was-the-AntiChrist preterists are not a whole lot better in my mind… I believe the Sovereign God sovereignly gives greater understanding of prophecy to humble, obedient, fruitful, God-fearing men so that means the Puritans are more trustworthy on prophecy than a Gary DeMar or a David Chilton

Share Your Thoughts

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s