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According to 1 Corinthians 11:10 should a woman cover her head when she is praying or prophesying for the reason of signaling to the heavenly host that she is not exposed but is covered (protected) under a higher authority?

1 Corinthians 11:10

This is why a woman should have authority over her own head: because of the angels.

It seems unusual that Paul would make mention of angels in relation to a woman covering her head.

According to the scripture, could it be that angels are a reason why women ought to accept Paul’s instructions regarding head covering?

Veiling oneself appears linked with glory.

  • Moses veiled himself. Exodus 34 and 2 Corinthians 3.
  • We are beholding the glory of The Lord with unveiled faces as in a mirror 2 Corinthians 3:18.
  • When a man falls in love with a woman and pursues her to betroth her to himself, she veils herself (her glory) from all other suitors, to shield herself for the one she is betrothed to. We see this symbolically when a bride is veiled.

This is symbolised by covering her head when praying and prophesying. Activities that intentionally intersect through the spiritual realm.

  • The benei ha-elohim desired earthly women. Genesis 6:1-4

Perhaps Paul is urging Christian women to come into agreement with Gods stated spiritual order of creation by covering their head. Perhaps it is a sign that they are under authority and protection.

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  • For this cause ought the woman to have power on her head because of the angels. 1 Corinthians 11:10. Are you querying the reliability of the Greek text of this verse or are you querying Paul personally ? The text itself answers the question (affirmatively) posed by your question header and I do not understand, therefore, why you are asking it.
    – Nigel J
    Mar 6, 2023 at 14:33
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    Thank you for your question Nigel. The text seem crystal clear, therefore my question is posed to try and understand the hermeneutical reasoning and interpretation as to why much of the modern church chooses to interpret it in such a way as to practically ignore it. I have never heard a good explanation as to why Paul would refer to angels to support his assertion that woman ought to cover their heads during prayer and prophesying. Surely he had good reason to make this reference? Mar 7, 2023 at 11:10
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    I am not interested in legalism, but I am interested in understanding the Truth given for our benefit, and not merely discarding it because it is unfashionable in our culture. I want to find out if our ‘culture’ has caused us to ignore something important. In my lifetime, I have never seen women wearing head coverings in church, in fact if they did they would be viewed as ‘very odd’. So, it has swung from one extreme to the other?. Why such extremes? The modern interpretation seems to have only applied in the last 60 years of almost 2000 yrs of church history. I’d like to understand more. Mar 7, 2023 at 11:26
  • This Q on whether angels observe Christians at worship may relate to your Q. christianity.stackexchange.com/questions/91511/…
    – Anne
    Mar 8, 2023 at 12:47
  • You might also look at Head covering for Jewish women - Wikipedia. The traditions described weren't necessarily in effect 2000 years ago, but it has some possibly relevant ideas. Apr 2, 2023 at 19:36

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I know this issue about head covering has created a great confusion in the body of Christ. This is because of lack of spiritual understanding of the scriptures.

Now let us look into Apostle Paul's teaching in 1 Corinthians 11.

2 Now I praise you, brethren, that you remember me in all things and keep the traditions just as I delivered them to you. 3 But I want you to know that the head of every man is Christ, the head of woman is man, and the head of Christ is God. 4 Every man praying or prophesying, having his head covered, dishonours his head. 5 But every woman who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonours her head, for that is one and the same as if her head were shaved. 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. 7 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. 8 For man is not from woman, but woman from man. 9 Nor was man created for the woman, but woman for the man. 10 For this reason the woman ought to have a symbol of authority on her head, because of the angels. 11 Nevertheless, neither is man independent of woman, nor woman independent of man, in the Lord. 12 For as woman came from man, even so man also comes through woman; but all things are from God.
13 Judge among yourselves. Is it proper for a woman to pray to God with her head uncovered? 14 Does not even nature itself teach you that if a man has long hair, it is a dishonour to him? 15 But if a woman has long hair, it is a glory to her; for her hair is given to her for a covering. 16 But if anyone seems to be contentious, we have no such custom, nor do the churches of God. (1 Corinthians 11:1-16)

From the above scripture, Paul, the Apostle, was teaching about leadership and authority in the body of Christ. In Bible symbols or prophetic language, the head represents leadership OR authority.

For example, in Genesis 3:15, it was said that the seed of the woman (Jesus Christ), would bruise the head of the Serpent (Satan). This means Jesus Christ would conquer Satan and take the authority from him. And this is exactly what He did. Listen to what He said to His disciples after His resurrection.

And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth". (Matthew 28:18)

Therefore, when Paul said, the head of every man is Christ, the head of the woman is man, and the head of Christ is God, he was not referring to our natural head, what he meant was that the man holds authority over the woman. In other words, the woman submits to the man. The man also submits to Christ, and Christ holds authority over the man. Christ Himself also submits to the Father. This is the leadership structure he was teaching the Church.

Every man praying or prophesying, having his head covered, dishonours his head.

Why the man should not cover his head?

This is because his head is Christ, who is the image and the glory of God. He is our role Model. It is Christ we should see presented to the people and not the minister. It means the man serving in the body of Christ must present Christ and not himself to the people. Christ must be the centre of our ministry or else we covered Him. If the minister directs the people's attention to himself and not to God, he has covered his head (Christ). He is taking for himself the glory which belongs to God.

But every woman who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonours her head

Why should the woman cover her head?

The head of the woman is man and man is not our Role Model for God's perfection. He can make many mistakes. Therefore, the man must be covered by the woman.

What is given to the woman to cover her head (the man)?

Apostle Paul answered this question in the same passage of scripture. Now let us listen to him in verses 13-15.

13 Judge among yourselves. Is it proper for a woman to pray to God with her head uncovered? 14 Does not even nature itself teach you that if a man has long hair, it is a dishonour to him? 15 But if a woman has long hair, it is a glory to her; for her hair is given to her for a covering.

Yes, a woman should cover her head, I agree, but the truth is, her head covering is not about a scarf or a piece of cloth, but it is about her long hair, representing her glory. Women should keep their hair on their heads. When they cut their hair low like men do, they have uncovered their heads. Her hair which represents her glory is meant to cover her head (her husband). For she is the glory of the man. That glory is display through her submission and respect for the man.

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. (vs 6)

If a woman cut her hair low like a man, she should rather shave the whole hair and have a bald head. But if she finds it shameful to have a bald head, then she should keep her long hair on her head.

8 For man is not from woman, but woman from man. 9 Nor was man created for the woman, but woman for the man. 10 For this reason the woman ought to have a symbol of authority on her head, because of the angels.

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  • Welcome to the site, E.B. You have given a good response to this question, showing that you have taken it, and the scripture involved, seriously. I hope this will spark further answers. People on this site do not need to agree with every point made in an answer to upvote what is, overall, a good answer.
    – Anne
    Apr 2, 2023 at 13:28
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There seems to be only one verse in the Bible that refers to angels as part of the reason for Christian women wearing a head covering when praying /prophesying. It is the one cited in the question, 1 Cor. 11:10. In order to examine what the text means, the need is to understand what is meant by “the woman to have power on her head because of the angels” K.J.V. It is interesting to note that different translations render this somewhat differently.

“…because of the angels, the woman ought to have a sign of authority on her head” N.I.V.

“…the woman ought to have [a token of] authority upon the head, because of the messengers” Y.L.T.

“…ought to have a symbol of authority on her head, because of the angels” but you do not say what translation this is, that you quote.

However, the N.L.T. (which is a thought-for-thought = dynamic equivalence version) takes a clear stance on the reason why angels are a reason by adding words to the text (italicised):

“For this reason, and because the angels are watching, a woman should wear a covering on her head to show she is under authority.” N.L.T.

The text does not say that angels are watching women in the congregation of believers at worship. The whole chapter is dealing with believers – men and women - coming together in the church, and orderly regulations for worshipping acceptably to God, and it goes on to discuss matters of order with the Lord’s supper. This is all about recognition of due order, but the question here is only about the angles. And the text does not explain the matter further. Some believe that Genesis 6:1-4 can be invoked as a reason, but that is a matter of opinion, and personal interpretation. Those who think that need to consider that such rebellious angels have already been consigned in chains to their dark place and do not threaten women like that now (if, indeed, the threat was physical interference; see Jude vs. 6.)

Hair is given to women as a glorious head-covering – “But if a woman has long hair, it is a glory to her; for her hair is given to her for a covering” (vs. 15). It is inglorious for a woman to have cropped, or shorn, hair. That is spoken of as a disgrace (but I trust nobody today will think women enduring chemotherapy or suffering alopecia come into that category). Men, on the other hand, are given specific instructions about such things with regard to themselves in the worshipful gathering. They have orderly regulations to follow too. Yet angels are not linked here in the God-ordained order for worship on earth.

Men are (in the divine order of things) “a little lower than the angels”. Angels are designated “messengers”, “fellow-servants” (Rev.19:10). The angel speaking there to the apostle John warned against wrong worship: to bow down before an angel is prohibited. Indeed, Christians are given a stern warning about angels in worship in Colossians 2:18. Further, all the angels are to prostrate themselves in worship before Jesus (Hebrews 1:6), as do all Christian men and women when worshipping on earth. (Prostration need not always be literal, as it is obeisance of the heart that counts - Heb. 12:21 - but that is another question!) No prayers are offered to angels, however, so the matter of women having a head covering that shows respect for God’s order in the congregation is clearly about prayers to God through Christ. The angels are not said to come into that.

That is why my answer regarding “because of the angels” is simply that the text itself does not give the reason. And that is why there are different opinions and interpretations about this one verse. Christians must, in all conscience, work this out and act accordingly. A godly woman could have a symbol of respect for the principle of headship on her head, when in worship where Christian men are present, without knowing what, exactly, that verse means regarding the angels.

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