1 Corinthians‬ ‭11:3‬ ‭‬‬NASB

“But I want you to understand that Christ is the head of every man, and the man is the head of a woman, and God is the head of Christ.”

In what way is man the the head of a woman? Is that relationship to imitate man’s relationship with Christ? If so, are women supposed to seek after and follow the words of men in the church the same way those men seek after Christ? I’ve seen other answers to a similar question on this SE but they don’t get at the specific question of whether/how man’s headship is related to Christ’s.

  • Paul is probably not saying that all men, or even just Christian men, are the head of all women, but specifically that in the relationship unit of a married man and woman, the man is the head, that is, the husband is the head of the wife. In fact, the Greek words for "man" and "woman" are the same for "husband" and "wife" respectively. Paul is not saying that every man on earth is the head of every woman on earth(he could have said "every man" and "every woman"; after all, he had just said "every man" with regard to Christ), but that the man is the head of the woman in a marriage.
    – Rajesh
    Apr 23, 2022 at 3:35
  • The obvious connection is that both are poorly translated, at best. The given wording could never have a clear meaning in any language Head here might mean boss/commander/manager/ruler or leader/teacher/tutor/mentor or none of those and in every case no meaning could be clear in English. Apr 23, 2022 at 23:55
  • It is simply the connection of analogy. Study more about analogies, metaphors etc.
    – Michael16
    Apr 28, 2022 at 14:59

2 Answers 2


The Greek word that was translated “woman” here is “GUNE,” and it means “a woman, specially, a wife” (Strong’s Concordance). This word was translated “wife” or “wives” 92 times in the New Testament. He was saying that in the marriage relationship, the husband is the head of the wife.

Paul was using this example to clarify his statement about the degree to which people should submit to him (1 Corinthians 11:1). He was making sure that they understood that the wives should submit to their own husbands. He was not any woman’s head. That was the role of her husband. In all of Paul’s teachings about a woman’s role of submission (Ephesians 5:22-24; Colossians 3:18; 1 Timothy 2:11-12; 1 Peter 3:1, and 5-6), he was speaking only of a wife submitting to her own husband. It is not scriptural to teach that women in general are to submit to men in general.

Paul had just told the Corinthians in 1 Corinthians 11:1 to be followers of him. He used himself as an example and urged compliance with his instructions because of his authority as their apostle (1 Corinthians 9:1). Here, he praised them for following his ordinances and began to point them back to Christ.

Because he had invoked his apostolic authority and urged the people to follow him, he was concerned that some might place their commitment to him above their commitment to Christ. To avoid this misunderstanding, Paul stressed that the head of every man is Christ. He was not teaching blind obedience to himself. They were to follow Paul only to the degree that he followed Christ (1 Corinthians 11:1). Anyone who preaches total obedience to any leader other than Jesus is not following Paul’s teaching and will always lead people into error and bondage.

Paul’s point was that Christ always has ultimate authority in the life of the believer. To make this point, Paul used as an illustration a custom that was prevalent in his day (1 Corinthians 11:4). Sadly, many people have focused on the illustration and forgotten the point. Paul was not teaching on the proper length of hair and the veiling of women. He was illustrating that Christ is the head of the church.

  • Well balanced up until the matter of women covering the head (an essential ordinance in the Church). But up-voted despite that +1.
    – Nigel J
    Apr 23, 2022 at 7:03
  • Very helpful answer - thank you Dave! Apr 23, 2022 at 13:50
  • Absolutely fantastic answer! My thoughts exactly. +1 :)
    – Rajesh
    Apr 23, 2022 at 17:50
  • You are mistaken on one sentence about her submission to man. The context talk about woman, not wife in [1Tim 2:11-14 ESV] Let a woman learn quietly with all submissiveness. I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet. For Adam was formed first, then Eve; and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor.
    – Michael16
    Apr 28, 2022 at 14:58

No one can serve two masters. Only one man is head over his wife. The wife should submit to her husband unless the husband is instructing her to sin. Our ultimate master is God.

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    – Community Bot
    Apr 28, 2022 at 14:51
  • This answer needs the other half of the equation. Jesus's love was so great that he was willing to give his life; so should be a husband's love for his wife. Apr 28, 2022 at 15:40

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