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But if any man seem to be contentious, we have no such custom, neither the churches of God. - 1 Corinthians 11:16

Upon reading this verse in the context of the preceding passage, I get the impression that 1 Corinthians 11:16 is saying that if anyone resists the idea of women covering their heads (whether that be by a veil or with long hair), treat it as though that custom did not exist, namely, one does not need to practice it.

However, no Christian commentators have said the same. Most say that the "custom" refers to being contentious, although this does not seem to make sense with the flow of the text. Also, "custom" is a noun, while "be contentious" is a verb phrase, and so it makes no sense to use "custom" to refer to "be contentious". Other commentators say that the "custom" is women praying and prophesying with their heads uncovered; however, this also does not seem to make sense of the flow of the text, and the main subject of the passage is women covering their heads, not keeping them uncovered, although the two subjects are, of course, closely related.

What points in 1 Corinthians 11:1-16, and verse 16 in particular, justify these two interpretations, if there are any? Is there anything which may support my interpretation?

In other words, what is the custom of verse 16?

Thank you.

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  • @Ruminator Based on my experience, it doesn't matter which one you look at, every single commentators presents either of these two viewpoints. I suppose that my question can be sinplified into, what is the "custom" referring to in verse 16? I edited the question.
    – CMK
    Oct 16, 2018 at 11:30
  • Paul says 'we have no such custom'. That is to say the custom of a woman praying or prophesying without a suitable head covering is not customary among them. If all of his previous arguments are not accepted, then this must finally be accepted - 'we don't do that among us - it is not our custom.' So either the contender conforms - or they will not be accepted among the people worshipping.
    – Nigel J
    Oct 16, 2018 at 13:53
  • @NigelJ It just doesn't seem to me like the custom being referred to is women leaving their heads uncovered, seeing as the theme of the image is women covering their heads, not the opposite. It also does not make sense of the flow of the passage.
    – CMK
    Oct 16, 2018 at 21:15
  • Just for a bottom line, are you asking if Paul is saying that a woman must use an external head covering while praying or prophesying?
    – oldhermit
    Apr 23, 2022 at 17:47
  • @oldhermit Yes. I wrote this question when I was a teenager, and I am surprised at how unclear I was in writing at that time, because I had a very high opinion of my abilities at that time. But my question was based on this premise: When I read 1 Corinthians 11:16, the impression that I get is that Paul is saying that if anyone disagrees with the custom of women covering their heads, they can act as though no such custom existed ("if any man seem contentious, we have no such custom"). However, in order to verify this, I asked what exactly that "custom" in verse 16. Is it the custom of women...
    – CMK
    Jun 8, 2022 at 1:42

6 Answers 6

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“For her hair is given to her for a covering. But if anyone seems to be contentious, (φιλόνεικος – one who stirs up strife) we (presumably the apostles) have no such custom, nor do the churches of God.”

In other words, if you want to stir up strife about this, there is nothing more to be said. This is the end of the matter. There are no other instructions offered to regulate this practice. This practice is determinate because it is from the Lord, and it is corporate – it is for ALL the Churches of God therefore, it is non-cultural and is not bound by time. It is also non-negotiable. It is not to be substituted for another practice.

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  • 1
    This answer presupposes that the "custom" being spoken of is the custom of being contentious. Do you have any evidence that being contentious was a "custom" in the 1st century Corinthians congregation? Perhaps the "custom" being spoken of was the custom of covering a woman's head, and Paul was saying that he and all the assemblies of God do not have such a custom, that is, that they do not practice covering a woman's head. In which case, Paul would be saying the exact opposite of what your answer concludes.
    – Rajesh
    Apr 23, 2022 at 15:59
  • Perhaps you need to read what I posted again. You clearly did not understand what I said.
    – oldhermit
    Apr 23, 2022 at 17:53
  • @rajesh the text says “WE have no such custom.” The appropriate question is “who is the ‘we’?” Let’s say the “we” is the Corinthian church as you state. Doesn’t the letter itself start by admonishing the Corinthian church against infightings and arguing? “All speak the same things” “that there be no division.” That was chapter 1. So YES the Corinthian church had a problem with “contention” Dec 4, 2023 at 23:11
  • @Rajesh also, why would Paul spend half a chapter discussing hair to sum it up with “but if people are going to fight about it just lie.” Basically, “all I said previously is solely up to how you feel about it.” That’s non-sense from any biblical standpoint. Dec 4, 2023 at 23:15
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[1Cor 11:13-16 NET] Judge for yourselves: Is it proper for a woman to pray to God with her head uncovered? Does not nature itself teach you that if a man has long hair, it is a disgrace for him, but if a woman has long hair, it is her glory? For her hair is given to her for a covering. If anyone intends to quarrel about this, we have no other practice, nor do the churches of God.

  1. If Paul argued that if anyone is contentious, then consider that this decree don't exist. He wouldn't have gone to great lengths to defend and prove it from theology, common sense (natural order), and the Church tradition or customs. It is a contradiction with the whole context.

  2. Contentiousness can be linguistically a custom, but obviously rules out due from a common sense alone. Contentiousness can't be a custom, it is a state of mind; (a custom συνήθεια that I should release one man for you at the Passover. John 18:39). Conversely, no group can have a custom of being united, having no disputes. Thus, those who followed Chrysostom (Ambrosiaster, Beza, Calvin, Piscator, Estius, Calovius, and others, including Rückert and de Wette) can be easily debunked, on this interpretation.

  3. The only option left is the accurate interpretation that we have no custom of the women being unveiled (Theodoret, Erasmus, Grotius, Bengel, Michaelis, Semler, Rosenmüller, Heydenreich, Flatt, Billroth, Olshausen, Ewald, Neander, Maier, Hofmann). Those who dispute this decree, we Jews have no other custom from what I have been arguing, neither does all the churches of God. No other (NET, NLT); No such custom as you contentious man suggest (uncovered indecent women). This is the only plain reading from the context. The whole context proves only one thing that women must put head covering, and this is not the only reference of such a ruling about gender roles. The ruling is to enforce decency and order, to restrict confusion and contention against the custom.

1 Corinthians 14: NET 34 the women should be silent in the churches, for they are not permitted to speak. Rather, let them be in submission, as in fact the law says. ..36 Did the word of God begin with you, or did it come to you alone? 37 If anyone considers himself a prophet or spiritual person, he should acknowledge that what I write to you is the Lord’s command. 38 If someone does not recognize this, he is not recognized. 39 So then, brothers and sisters, be eager to prophesy, and do not forbid anyone from speaking in tongues. 40 And do everything in a decent and orderly manner.

In other words, Paul is outcasting or banning those who do not recognize the rules of customs or tradition, which have been going on since the beginning of religion. Such a man won't be recognized by Paul, you can contend, but you cannot continue such indecency in the recognized Churches of God. Carry out your feminist churches somewhere else. Paul says we have only one custom regarding this. The Jamieson-Fausset-Brown commentary is very succinct on this:

1 Corinthians 11:16 But if any man seem to be contentious, we have no such custom, neither the churches of God.

  1. A summary close to the argument by appeal to the universal custom of the churches.

if any … seem—The Greek also means "thinks" (fit) (compare Mt 3:9). If any man chooses (still after all my arguments) to be contentious. If any be contentious and thinks himself right in being so. A reproof of the Corinthians' self-sufficiency and disputatiousness (1Co 1:20).

we—apostles: or we of the Jewish nation, from whom ye have received the Gospel, and whose usages in all that is good ye ought to follow: Jewish women veiled themselves when in public, according to Tertullian [Estius]. The former explanation is best, as the Jews are not referred to in the context: but he often refers to himself and his fellow apostles, by the expression, "we—us" (1Co 4:9, 10).

no such custom—as that of women praying uncovered. Not as Chrysostom, "that of being contentious." The Greek term implies a usage, rather than a mental habit (Joh 18:39). The usage of true "churches (plural: not, as Rome uses it, 'the Church,' as an abstract entity; but 'the churches,' as a number of independent witnesses) of God" (the churches which God Himself recognizes), is a valid argument in the case of external rites, especially, negatively, for example, Such rites were not received among them, therefore, ought not to be admitted among us: but in questions of doctrine, or the essentials of worship, the argument is not valid [Sclater] (1Co 7:17; 14:33).

neither—nor yet. Catholic usage is not an infallible test of truth, but a general test of decency.

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    Thank you! I awarded you bounty because I think your answer brings up important scriptural points and I appreciated the way you listed potential options before showing why you think one interpretation is the right one. Thanks for taking the time to share! Apr 30, 2022 at 2:18
  • Your welcome. I think we should rather openly say we reject or disagree with an apostle than twisting and reinterpreting the scripture to suit absurd opposite views. Being honest with ourself is better.
    – Michael16
    Apr 30, 2022 at 2:30
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Several versions translate this as "other" rather than as "such":

  • NLT: But if anyone wants to argue about this, I simply say that we have no other custom than this, and neither do God’s other churches.
  • NIV: If anyone wants to be contentious about this, we have no other practice — nor do the churches of God.
  • CSB: If anyone wants to argue about this, we have no other custom, nor do the churches of God.
  • NASB95: But if one is inclined to be contentious, we have no other practice, nor have the churches of God.
  • NET: If anyone intends to quarrel about this, we have no other practice, nor do the churches of God.
  • RSV: If any one is disposed to be contentious, we recognize no other practice, nor do the churches of God.

Translated that way, the verse makes far more sense and is much more consistent with the preceding context.

I'm not arguing that this is the correct translation of the Greek, but I was surprised that none of the other answers mentioned it, so thought I would.

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  • I mentioned it about NET NLT.
    – Michael16
    Apr 29, 2022 at 3:22
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Here is an abbreviated segment of my teaching outline of 1 Corinthians 11. I hope you find this helpful.

Paul is showing us a revealed structure that is not the product of either Paul, the Church, the culture, or of time. As such, this revealed structure is not permitted to be influenced or governed by time, culture, or the Church. If the structure of the Church is God’s design, then only the Lord has the right to assign meaning to this structure, and no one, including the Church, has either the right nor the authority to change, overturn, or even question the organization of that structure. Since the Church is an extension of Christ, it must then resemble that eternal pattern of triadic unity. The structure of men and women in the Church is to mirror the relationship that exists between Jesus and the Father as well as the relationship between Jesus and the Church. This structure reflects submission, subordination, and designed function for both men and women.

  1. Here is the foundational principle for everything that follows.

“But I want you to know that the head of every man is Christ, (This is non-exclusionary) the head of woman is man, (This too is non-exclusionary) and the head of Christ is God.”

This suggests two things,

a. The degree to which man is to be above the woman is measured by the degree that Christ is above ever man.

b. The degree to which the woman is to be in subjection to the man is the degree that man is to be in subjection to Christ. “And the head of Christ is God.” These roles are fixed and non-negotiable. Man cannot presume to set himself above Christ and the woman must not presume to set herself above the man, just as Christ does not presume to set himself above the Father.

  1. Here is the divinely appointed symbol of that revealed structure, 4-5.

a. For the man

“Every man praying or prophesying, having his head covered, dishonors his head.”

Obviously, this is not talking about his hair. He is not suggesting that the man's head should be shaved. Later, Paul will give instructions concerning the man's hair. This stands as a prohibition for the man NOT to cover his head while he is preying or prophesying.

b. For the woman

“But every woman (Again, non-exclusionary within the Church) who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head, for that is one and the same as if her head were shaved.”

Actually, the word ἐξυρημένῃ is a perfect participle, middle/passive – thus, one who has had her hair shaved by another. In other words, the woman who has had her head shaved has had her glory removed which she has received from the Lord. She has, therefore, been shamed.

  1. Consequences, 6

“For if a woman is not covered, let her also be shorn. But if it is shameful for a woman to be shorn or shaved, let her be covered.”

Thus, her covering here cannot refer to her hair. The hair is to be covered lest it be cut off to her shame. The cutting off of her hair is a punishment for not having her head covered while praying or prophesying.

  1. Coverings are a symbol of position, 7-12.

“For a man indeed ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God; but woman is the glory of man.(Thus, the man is to the woman what God is to the man. Just as man is the glory of God, woman is the glory of man.) For man is not from woman, (Just as God does not originate from man.) but woman from man.”

Thus, both the man and the woman are to be in submission within their appointed roles to the one from whom they both originate – woman to man, man to God.

  1. It honors the created order, 10.

“Nor was man created for the woman, but woman for the man. For this reason, the woman ought

(The word 'ought' here does not mean she should, or that it would be better if she did, or that this is in any way subject to her discretion. The word is ὀφείλει, and this in no way suggests that the woman is to have any option in the matter. Ὀφείλει means she is obligated or indebted to)

have a symbol of authority on her head, because of the angels.”

“Nevertheless, neither is man independent of woman, nor woman independent of man, in the Lord.

(The man and the woman are not designed to function independently but in unity according to their designed function within the Church.)

For as woman came from man, even so man also comes through woman; but all things are from God.”

Thus, this practice in the Church is to also reflect the order of creation.

  1. A self-evident truth. It is a matter of propriety, 13-14.

“Judge among yourselves. Is it proper for a woman to pray to God with her head uncovered? (This is a reductio ad absurdum, to which the obvious answer is NO!) Does not even nature itself teach you that if a man has long hair, it is a dishonor to him. but if a woman has long hair, it is a glory to her?”

This should be a self-evident truth. Unlike the man, her glory must be covered, but only within the prescribed conditions – praying and prophesying. Here, man is given two prohibitions.

a. He is not permitted to cover his head while praying or prophesying. This is what the woman does.

b. He is also not permitted to wear the glory of the woman – long hair. The old question of how long is long is answered within the text itself. Long is defined by ‘if he has hair like a woman.’ For the woman, her hair is her glory, and while praying or prophesying, her glory must be covered; but for the man, it is shameful for him to wear the glory of the woman. The man’s head is not to be covered, but the glory of the woman must be covered. So, for a man to have long hair, creates a contradiction.

  1. The function of the hair, 15-16

“For her hair is given to her for a covering. But if anyone seems to be contentious, (φιλόνεικος – one who stirs up strife) we (presumably the apostles) have no such custom, nor do the churches of God.”

In other words, if you want to stir up strife about this, there is nothing more to be said. This is the end of the matter. There are no other instructions offered to regulate this practice. This practice is determinate because it is from the Lord, and it is corporate – it is for ALL the Churches of God therefore, it is non-cultural and is not bound by time. It is also non-negotiable. It is not to be substituted for another practice.

  1. Arguments for and Against a Head Covering

Verses four through sixteen have received a rather wide range of interpretations because of different ideas about first century customs of the Greeks and the Jews. The big question is, what is the head covering and is this text applicable to men and women in the Church today?

Time and culture are never permitted to change biblical symbols and man has no freedom to reassign revealed meaning to counterfeit symbols. Authority belongs exclusively to the language of the text, NEVER within the human prerogative. Therefore, human will, custom, and culture are never permitted to become the standards for deciding what is true. Truth resides exclusively within the grammatical structure of the text.

The popular cultural argument is employed in an attempt to overturn the plain language of the text. The reasons for this are simple.

 What this text teaches does not fit within the current comfort zone of the “modern” Church.

 We do not want the text to say what it says.

 What this text says offends modern feminist ideologies.

 We simply do not want to do this so we attempt to limit the scope of this text by relegating it to a bygone era of a localized congregation of the Church and decree that it is now non valide.

  1. Let us examine the cultural argument as a whole.

Since the cultural argument is a popular one made solely on the strength of first century Corinthian culture, and since it attempts to shape 1 Corinthians 11 into some type of palatable context with our present culture, I think it is important to spend a little time examining the facts about the cultural customs of first century Corinth to see if any of the more popular arguments have any merit.

Since I am not an authority on the history of this period, nor do I have any particular background in the various cultures of first century Corinth, I am bound to rely on the scholarship of others in this area.

What I have been able to determine in my research of related ancient cultures from quite a number of sources is that the cultural arguments we typically use are based largely on a misrepresentation of Roman, Greek, and Jewish practices of the first century. I have listed here some of the most popular arguments we hear today.

  1. The myth of the unshaven head and prostitution This myth argues that Paul was instructing the women at Corinth not to shave their heads (thus uncovering their heads) like the temple prostitutes.

a. I have been unable to find any evidence anywhere that connected temple prostitution with a shaved head. What I have found is that the shaving of a woman's head was typically a punishment for infidelity/adultery, but this was not always the case. The shaving of the head was also a fashionable practice among some women of the Gentile elite class but was not endemic to prostitution.

Dr. Gill explains that:

“Public marble portraits of women at Corinth, presumably members of wealthy and prestigious families, are most frequently shown bare-headed. This would suggest that it was socially acceptable in a Roman colony for women to be seen bare-headed in public."

If indeed this is true, this does not even begin to equate a woman’s shaved head with prostitution of any type. This article went on to explain that this marble portrait certainly does not represent an isolated piece of evidence. There have been many such pieces of artwork discovered.

b. Actually, the argument Paul was instructing the women at Corinth not to shave their heads is exactly the opposite of what Paul said about the shaving of the woman's head. Paul was not commanding the women NOT to shave their heads like a prostitute as this argument claims. Rather, he is commanding their heads to be shaved if they would not cover their heads while praying.

  1. The myth of the uncovered head and prostitution The reality is that there was really no clear distinction between the woman who covered her head and the woman who went about with her head uncovered, not even among temple prostitutes, nor of prostitutes of either the pornai (The street prostitute or slave prostitute) nor the Hetairai (high class escort). The shaved head among different prostitute classes would have been a rare exception rather than the rule.

In a paper titled “LET HER BE SHORN,” Let Her Be Shorn: 1 Corinthians 11 and Female Head Shaving in Antiquity (unt.edu) written by Curtis E. Montier, MA on 1 Corinthians 11, Mr. Montier gives a good explanation of the cultural practices of Corinth of the period.

In his paper, Mr. Montier observes that it is thought by some scholars that short hair or even the absence of a head-covering may have been marks of a prostitute but that there seems to be little or no evidence that would support this. He believes that evidence from the art and literature of the period seem to challenge this notion. Art from this period depicting prostitution offers examples of prostitutes with both covered and uncovered heads, but none that depict the prostitute with a shaved head. Neither the wearing of a head-covering nor the absence of a head-covering distinguished a woman as a prostitute. Even among prostitutes, the wearing of a head covering generally signified her status as a “respectable” woman.

  1. The myth that, the head covering in 1 Corinthians 11 was based on cultural practices.

“As you can see from the description of women in the Roman Empire in the first century, the head covering teaching in 1 Corinthians 11 was not based on the Corinthian culture. Nor was it based on the Jewish culture where both men and women covered their heads.”

  1. The myth that, the Corinthians wore the veil because it was the “oriental” (Middle East) custom.

The problem with this claim is that Corinthian customs were distinctly Roman, not middle eastern.

“Part of this myth has already been addressed but it has been perpetuated in commentaries because of an ignorance of geography. Corinth is located in Greece, which is part of Europe, not the middle east! In addition, the Church at Corinth consisted of both Jew and Gentile Christians with a predominately Gentile majority, Acts 18:6 and 1 Corinthians 12:2, “Ye know that ye were Gentiles, carried away unto these dumb idols, even as ye were led.” This could not then have been addressing a cultural issue that was common to both because the Jew and the Gentile had different customs regarding women’s appearance in public.”

  1. The myth that, the teaching of the head covering was written only to the Church at Corinth.

Since 1 Corinthians presents revealed principles that are to be observed and obeyed by all Christians everywhere, we are not given the prerogative to ignore or dismiss ANY of these principles as something that is non-applicable to us today. As Paul declares in verse 16, these principles are to be observed in all the Churches. So, a Church in another part of the world who practiced distinctly different customs than those practiced at Corinth was still obliged to obey this same revealed principle that Paul binds upon the Churches. There was no distinction.

  1. The myth that, Paul is the one who gave this command, not God.

This is the battle cry of the liberal mind who seeks to marginalize biblical principles with which they do not agree. Paul himself offers no such disclaimer. To quite the contrary, he affirms in 14:37,

“If anyone thinks himself to be a prophet or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things which I write to you are the commandments of the Lord.”

To what things does this refer? According to 2 Peter 3:15, this refers to whatever Paul wrote.

“… our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given to him, has written to you, as also in all his epistles, (What Peter is saying here is that whatever Paul wrote, he was given to write by the Lord.) speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which untaught and unstable people twist to their own destruction, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures.”

One of the ways in which Paul’s scriptures are distorted is by rendering them contingent upon and limited to time, history, and culture. Those who do so are relegated by Peter to the ranks of the untaught and the unstable. The end result of such treatment of scripture is their own destruction. We had better be very careful about how we treat any segment of scripture because it is all from the same source – the Holy Spirit.

  1. The myth that, the hair is the head covering – as in the New International Version footnote.

“This (The NIV commentary on this text) is an example of twisting Scripture to make the Bible say what one wants it to say. The Greek cannot be translated as it is in the NIV footnote. Words were added to and subtracted from the Greek to get this interpretation.”

In conclusion then, the fact that Paul says in verse 10, “For this reason,” means that the answer for why Paul issues this command is provided in the text by Paul himself and is not to be found in an appeal to first century Corinthian culture.

  1. When we examine Roman cultural practices of the first century what we find is that:

a. There is no case to be made for a connection between the shaved head and prostitution.

b. That men traditionally covered their heads in non-Christian worship. Paul says men are NOT permitted to cover their heads when praying or prophesying.

c. For women not to cover their heads was not looked upon as an outrage nor was it associated with prostitution. In order to appeal to the cultural argument for a reason for the head-covering, one must completely ignore both the historical record and Paul’s own inspired explanation of “For this reason.”

  1. The strength of Paul’s command for the women to cover their heads and the prohibition of the men not to cover their heads is not rooted in culture nor is it limited by time. This is an established creation principal that reflects the relationship of the woman to the man which we see in verses 7-10. The argument that this practice has no pragmatic application today is based solely on the weakness of the modern English translations. Paul's instruction on this issue was one of doctrinal command, not some quaint, cultural custom that one could simply set aside, or dismiss as one may wish; nor could it be rendered subordinate to changes in culture. What is the nature of this delivered command?

a. Men were NOT to pray with their heads covered. It is interesting that we have continued to honor this practice as biblical even to the present time. Typically, when public prayer is offered, men continue to remove their hats for the prayer and we think nothing of it. For some inexplicable reason, however, we refuse to honor the commandment given to the women which says that women are to pray with their heads covered. If this covering is the hair, are the men then required to shave their head in order to follow this restriction? Whatever covering is required for the woman to have, is the same covering the man is forbidden to have while he prays.

b. It was of divine origin, not human origin.

c. As such, it mirrored the relationship between man and Christ. Christ is the head of the man.

d. It mirrored the order and function of the creation both of the man and the woman.

“Nor was man created for the woman, but woman for the man. For this reason, (διὰ τοῦτο – Because of this, [so here Paul gives the revealed reason why]) the woman ought to have a symbol of authority on her head….”

The woman was created for the man, not the man for the woman. Thus, Paul removes this completely out of the cultural context. The context is the woman’s created relationship to man as designed by God and her relationship to God through Christ. It is the veil that reflects this relationship, not her hair.

e. It was a command that levied pragmatic consequences for the woman who violated it. This suggests that the woman has total control over whether or not she chooses to obey this command. “For if a woman is not covered, let her also be shorn.” But there were consequences if she chose not to obey the command.

The word ‘also’ here is a mighty big word. The force of the word καὶ draws a contrast between two separate things. It distinguishes between the ‘covering’ and the ‘hair,’ and the cutting off of the one is the consequence of failing to observe the other. If the hair of verse 15 and the covering of verses 5 and 6 are the same thing, then Paul's argument in verses 5 and 6 represent an absurdity, “if a woman will not cut off her hair, then let her also cut off her hair.”

The wearing of the veil was to symbolize how God viewed the woman as she prayed and prophesied. It was also a symbol of how the woman is to view herself as she approaches the Almighty.

  1. Even if some evidence from antiquity existed that linked the shaved head or even the uncovered head to temple prostitution, this would have absolutely no impact on this text because Paul appeals to four different evidences to establish the validity of this command and none of these appeals are linked to time, culture, or history. Paul appeals to...

a. The order of creation

b. The natural order of male and female appearance

c. Apostolic authority/teaching

d. The universal practice of all the churches

All of these transcend any appeal one may wish to make to time, history, or culture. This means that the command for a head covering cannot be explained by appealing to the local customs at Corinth. For the Jew, Paul is instructing the men NOT to wear their head covering because prior to this, it had always been the custom of the Jews for men to pray with their heads covered. This is a custom still practiced today among the Jews. For the Gentile, he is instructing the women TO wear a head covering. For the Gentiles, it was customary for women not to cover their heads. In both instances, this command was contrary to the respective cultural practices of both the Jew and the Gentile, not a submission to culture. So, this is NOT an embrace of cultural practices. Rather, Paul imposed a practice that was counter-cultural. This practice then is uniquely Christian.

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  • Thank you for this thorough answer. You make a strong argument that women are supposed to cover their heads when praying or prophesying in the church today.
    – CMK
    Jun 11, 2022 at 3:13
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    You're welcome. I did not bother to post the arguments on the points of grammar. I figured this would be sufficient.
    – oldhermit
    Jun 11, 2022 at 20:15
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Could he be referring back to Vs13? “ we have no such (or no other ) custom of being uncovered. My question is ..why would Paul have took the time to write all the previous verses and then with one vs16 essentially undo what he said? I think to many people want to follow Christ but they want to do it on their terms!

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    If you have a new question, please ask it by clicking the Ask Question button. Include a link to this question if it helps provide context. - From Review
    – agarza
    Dec 20, 2023 at 15:02
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My understanding of 1 Corinthians 11 is that Paul is responding to reports that someone (presumably a Jew) is insisting that either the Jewish believers of Corinth or all Jewish believers practice the Jewish custom of wearing a prayer shawl or a yarmulke when they pray or prophesy, at least publicly.

In his brief rebuttal in 1 Cor 11:1-16 Paul argues the following:

So Paul praises the Corinthians for following the customs he handed down but urges them now to ignore the custom of headcoverings for men when they pray or prophesy.

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  • Paul isn't telling the Corinthians to eat the Passover
    – warren
    Oct 16, 2018 at 20:56
  • Thank you for your answer. But what, exactly, is the meaning of 1 Corinthians 11:16?
    – CMK
    Oct 16, 2018 at 21:12
  • @warren I removed the reference to the second part of the chapter as it was irrelevant and thus unnecessarily controversial.
    – Ruminator
    Oct 22, 2018 at 7:41
  • @CMK I answered the question the in the question which was about the identification of the custom to ignore: "Which custom does 1 Corinthians 11:16 say the saints are to ignore?". It is the custom of head coverings.
    – Ruminator
    Oct 22, 2018 at 7:45

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