I Corinthians 11:2-16 – Head coverings

First view – The covering is long hair and it does apply today.

  • The passage starts by talking about God’s arrangement.
    • Notice that this goes all the way back to the beginning.
  • What is the covering under discussion?
    • This seems to be referring to long hair – not some sort of clothing or artificial covering. I Corinthians 11:15 specifically says the woman’s long hair was given to her for a covering.
  • Was Paul stating a universal truth or just referring to a Corinthian custom that doesn’t pertain to us today?
  • When is this passage binding?
  • What does nature mean in I Corinthians 11:14-15?
  • What is meant in I Corinthians 11:16?
  • How long should our hair be?

Alternate view – This covering is something placed on the head, and this passage applies today.

  • I Corinthians 11:6 – This implies that two coverings exist – a symbolic covering and hair.
  • This was not simply a Corinthian custom.
    • Universal truths are stated throughout the passage (I Corinthians 11:7-12).
    • I Corinthians 11:10 – Angels are not unique to Corinth.
    • I Corinthians 11:14 – “Nature” is not Corinthian custom, but human nature, which exists outside of Corinth.

Third alternative view – Whatever the covering was, Paul is talking about a Corinthian custom and this does not apply today.

  • This is the only place in the whole Bible that talks about this, although the concept of woman’s subjection is found in numerous places.
  • A man being covered or a woman being uncovered is a disgrace (I Corinthians 11:4-6). But why? Paul is not appealing to an established scriptural principle. Perhaps he is referring to it being a disgrace in their culture.
  • “Nature” (I Corinthians 11:14-15) is not referring to a universally recognized principle (example: Samson).
  • I Corinthians 11:16 – We have no such custom (of women being covered – this is what the context has been talking about).
  • There is a difference between God’s law and a custom that is one way to fulfill that law.
Law Custom
Holy greeting Kiss (Romans 16:16)
Hospitality Wash feet (John 13)
Subjection Covering (I Corinthians 11)