1st Corinthians – Wayne Barber/Part 69
By: Dr. Wayne Barber
|By: Dr. Wayne Barber; ©1998|
|The Corinthians were living attached to men and everything else other than Christ. But when you attach yourself to Christ and surrender to Him, God so changes you in your perspective. Not only is there a love that is sensitive to others, but there also is a deep respect for the design and the order with which God has set things up in your life, a deep, deep respect. You can never get somebody to respect the order until that person respects God enough to surrender to Him.|
1 Corinthians 11
Respecting God’s Order – Part 1
Turn to 1 Corinthians 11. That’s a different sound. We’ve been in chapter 10 for a while. “Respecting God’s Order – Part 1” is the title for this study. It’s going to be a while before we develop this one. We’ll get far enough to quicken your appetite for wanting to read the chapter ahead of me and really glean the great things that are here.
The Corinthians were living attached to men and everything else other than Christ. But when you attach yourself to Christ and surrender to Him, God so changes you in your perspective. Not only is there a love that is sensitive to others, but there also is a deep respect for the design and the order with which God has set things up in your life, a deep, deep respect. You can never get somebody to respect the order until that person respects God enough to surrender to Him. It starts there.
I know you know Paul’s context for the last three chapters well. In chapters 8 through 10 he dealt with denying yourself for the sake of others. It all started in chapter 8 when they wrote the question to him of whether or not they should eat meat sacrificed to idols. The problem was not in those who didn’t understand. The problem was with those who did understand. There were those in the group who had been taught by Paul. They had been taught by Apollos. We’ll see later on they held to the teachings of the apostle Paul and they understood their position in Christ eternally before God. They knew that. They knew that nothing could threaten that position. They knew that eating meat sacrificed to idols didn’t mean a thing. It’s just a thing, an idol, anyway. They didn’t care. It didn’t bother them. The problem was, there were some weaker brothers around them who really struggled.
These weaker brothers, when they were either offered the meat or when they would eat it themselves, would be defiled. Or when they’d watch a stronger brother eat that meat, they would be defiled in their conscience. The apostle Paul is really reprimanding the ones who understand. He’s reprimanding the stronger ones. He’s trying to say to them, “You understand grace, but you’re not living up under grace. You’re not willing to let grace within you, the person of Christ within you, you’re not willing to let Him restrain you from the privileges that you have under grace.” That sensitivity to others is something only God can produce.
Remember, 90% of the meat that was sold in the market was sacrificed to idols. When you were asked to a feast or some type of celebration, 99.9% of that meat was meat sacrificed to idols. So it was a very difficult situation, a grey area, if you please.
Paul is showing the overwhelming principle that when you’re surrendered to God, then love can mix in with what you know. If it’s just what you know, that’s going to break your brother. But if love is mixed in with it, which is the fruit of the Spirit of God, that makes you sensitive to your brother. That love affects your decisions.
Now, in chapter 8 Paul says, “It’s affected my decisions.” Actually, there was no choice to be made by Paul. If Paul was ever in the presence of a weaker brother, and meat sacrificed to idols was given to him and he knew it, Paul would lay his fork down, push his plate back, and would never touch that meat. He says in 8:13, “Therefore, if food causes my brother to stumble [The food meaning food sacrificed to idols], I will never eat meat again, that I might not cause my brother to stumble.” The choice was already made. You see, that’s what God’s love in us does. It causes us to be willing to lay down our privileges for the sake of a weaker brother who doesn’t understand that very privilege, who has that privilege in Christ but doesn’t realize it. That love affects our decisions. And that love that only God can produce, that softens us and sensitizes us to others, affects our discipline of our life. That’s what affected Paul’s life.
He says in chapter 9 how that this love motivated him and how it caused him to live a certain way. He says in 9:26, “Therefore I run in such a way, as not without aim; I box in such a way, as not beating the air; but I buffet my body and make it my slave, lest possibly, after I have preached to others, I myself should be disqualified.” Being disqualified does in no way mean losing your salvation. That’s a terrible hermeneutic of that passage. What he’s talking about is usability in the kingdom. He says, “I don’t want to be in the game and experiencing what’s going on out here, then be put back on the bench.” It’s the worst thing in the world to be taken out of the game and put back on the bench. I don’t want to be disqualified.
Then he warns the Corinthians church and he says, “You’re living just like Israel, and Israel was disqualified. If you keep on living like you’re living you will be too.” As a matter of fact, he cites the great experiences of Israel in chapter 10, how they came out of Egypt and how they experienced the protection and delivering power of God and then how they went into the wilderness and experienced the provision of God, but how only two of them out of that whole generation got to go over into Canaan.
Isn’t that amazing how you hear the songs and people think that Canaan is Heaven? Do you realize that warfare started in Canaan? Do you think there’s going to be warfare in Heaven? Canaan is a picture of the fullness of all that God wants you to have. It’s a beautiful picture coming out of that fleshly living and coming into that spiritual dimension of what God has for you. But Israel was disqualified. Only two of them got to go in. God was not pleased with their lifestyle.
So what he’s saying to the Corinthian church is, “Guys, don’t you understand? This weaker brother situation is important to you. It shows whether or not you’re living sensitive to Christ and whether or not you’re living wrapped up in yourself. If you’re living wrapped up in yourself, you’re going to be disqualified. You’re going to miss out on all the joy and the fullness of what God can offer to you.
Then he says in verse 10:31, as he closes out on this question that has been asked him, “Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” Do you know what that means? The glory of God means the recognition of God. In other words, whatever you do, make sure that you’re so dead to yourself that Christ might be manifested in and through your life. Glorified means to be seen in you, to be made manifest in you, to have the proper estimate of worthiness in your life He can be seen that He is your life. So do everything you do to the glory of God.
Now, in chapter 11 Paul’s going to shift gears. He comes out of that question starting in chapter 8 and going through the last verse of chapter 10. In chapter 7 he dealt with marriages, divorce, remarriage, and now he’s coming to another question, a question that’s going to concern the role of women. I want you to be very careful to understand the way he approaches this question. It’s interesting. It’s not explicit as to exactly what the question was. Let’s begin.
A portrait of submission
The first thing we see is he shows them a portrait of submission. I want to say to you again, when you’re surrendered to Christ, that is the first key. Then and only then can you respect His order, His design that He has for you. Do you know what the word “mime” means? It means to copy the manner or expression of another. The way a person does something is mimed by another. It is not just what someone does, but it’s the way they go about doing it. It’s exaggerated.
When you mime something, you exaggerate something. It’s not so much what you do, it’s the manner in which you do it. That’s very important to a word that we’re going to see here in 11:1, because the Greek word that the word “mime” comes from carries with it this idea. He says in verse 1, “Be imitators of me, just as I also am of Christ.” “I’m an imitator of Christ. You be an imitator of me.” The word for “imitators” again is the word we get the word “mime” from. What is Paul saying? Is Paul saying, “Do what I do.”? Yes, but he’s really saying that it’s the manner in which he goes about his life. It’s not necessarily just what he does, it’s the way he goes about doing it.
Look at the last phrase. “Be imitators of me, just as I also am of Christ.” Let me ask you a question. How in the world do you think Paul could imitate Christ? Have you tried to imitate Christ lately? Do we understand that we cannot imitate Christ in the sense of living exactly the way He lived? How in the world have we been duped into thinking that? You wake up in the morning and say, “I’m going to love my brother. Christ loved His brother.” And by 12:00 tomorrow God’s going to put a brother in your life you didn’t know existed and you’re going to say, “But, God, I can’t.” And God’s going to say, “I never said you could. But I live in you and always said I would.” You cannot imitate the Lord Jesus Christ in exactly the way He lived. There’s no way. In a sense, however, you can.
Understand what we’re saying here. It’s not just what someone does. It’s the way that they lived. How did Christ live? I’ll tell you how Christ lived? He lived in total submission to His Father. What he’s doing here is giving you a portrait of what submission is all about, what surrender is all about. The design that God has for each of us is to live absolutely, totally surrendered to Christ. He exemplified that for us. In that respect we can imitate the Lord Jesus Christ.
Look over in John 14:10. It’s very, very significant that we see this. To imitate Christ is not to go out and think you can live exactly like Him. No. But to imitate Him is the expression. It’s the way you go about it. It’s the idea of living totally submitted to the will of the Father. In John 14:10 Jesus said, “Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father is in Me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on My own initiative, but the Father abiding in Me does His works.”
Now, that’s a beautiful picture of how we are to live. Jesus lived in such relationship to the Father that whatever He did was a reflex of what the Father was doing through Him. It was the Father working in Him. In John 14:13 He goes on to say, “And whatever you ask in My name, that will I do (remember, it’s the Father working in Him), that the Father may be glorified in the Son.” So when you saw Jesus working, you’re seeing the Father. When you see us imitating Him, and you’re looking at us and you’re seeing us working, you’re seeing Christ.
He says, “You imitate me. Live like I live. How do I live? I live like Christ lived.” How did they live? They lived in submission to the will and the Word of God. That’s what submission is all about. It starts right here.
But make sure you understand you don’t have a clue what He would do when it comes to the actual act, but you do have a clue what He would do when it comes to the attitude. He would surrender to the will of the Father. That’s what we are dealing with. Listen, I don’t know where He’s walking half the time. But He, living in me, will walk and carry me while He’s doing it. We have got to understand this. That’s the way you imitate Christ. You don’t do what He did. You let Him do what He wants to do through you. You just live in such connection to Him, such surrender to Him, that He’s glorified in you as the Father was glorified in Him, you see. That’s the way we live.
You can’t live like Jesus, but you can live in the attitude that He had. He was totally subjected to His Father and the Father in Him did His works. That’s the way Paul lived. You didn’t see Paul. You saw Christ. He said, “I’m crucified with Christ, nevertheless, I live. Yet not I but Christ lives in me.” That’s the idea of imitation here. It’s the picture of submission. If I live submitted to Him, that means that Christ is going to be glorified in me. That’s the starting point for a believer. Before you ever get to talking about a woman’s role, before you ever get to talking about a man’s role, you’ve got to find out what a believer’s role is. That’s to live in absolute submission to the Lord Jesus Christ. Then He in you can be glorified, recognized, and properly esteemed through you. That’s the portrait of submission that the apostle Paul begins with.
Remember back in 7:7 he made the statement, “Yet I wish that all men were even as I myself am.” Every commentator says that he means being single. No, more than that. The apostle Paul lived such a life submitted to Christ as Christ lived to His Father that all that was seen in him was Christ. That was a summation of his focus in life. What he’s saying is, “If you’re living like I’m living, then all these questions you’re asking me would fall by the wayside, because the most important thing to you would not be marriage or remarriage. The most important thing to you is Christ being glorified in your life.”
Look over in 2 Corinthians 4. I want to show you something. This is the way Paul lived. A professor in the school where my son is going made a statement in class one day. He said, “These people who say that Christ is your life and every demand placed on us is in reality a demand placed on Himself because He lives in you to enable you to do what you do, that’s ridiculous.” That’s what the professor said. He read a verse out of 2 Corinthians 7, and it troubled my son. He called me on the phone and said, “Daddy, I’ve been hearing you preach this all my life, but for the first time I’ve heard somebody slam it up against the wall.” He gave me the verse out of chapter 7, and I said, “Did the professor read anything else out of 2 Corinthians?” He said, “No.” I said, “You mean he’s a professor at seminary and didn’t read anything out of chapter 4 before he commented on chapter 7?” He said, “No, sir. He didn’t.”
Look at 2 Corinthians 4:10. Paul says, “Always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested [where?] in our body.” Look at verse 11, “For we who live are constantly being delivered over to death for Jesus’ sake, that the life of Jesus [the life of Jesus], also may be manifested in our [what?] mortal flesh.” The word “manifest” is the word phaneroo, which means to be shown openly, to be made visible so that nothing is hidden, apparent to everyone, to be absolutely conspicuous. What Paul is saying is we live this life of dying to self daily. We’re already dead. We mortify the deeds of the flesh. We live in submission to Christ so that the life of Christ in us might be completely conspicuous to everybody and manifest and apparent and visible through our mortal flesh.
Wow! That’s living the Christ life. That’s living as Christ lived, because the Father was glorified in the Son. When you live as Christ lived, then as the Father was to Christ, Christ is to us; and the Son is made manifest in us. That’s a picture of surrender. That’s a picture of submission. It’s when it begins to have its foundation in all things, that we’re going to discuss. You begin to appreciate the order that God has.
Years ago I worked for a pastor who’s a friend. He used to just give me a list of things to do every week. I lived under such a rigid person. I couldn’t move unless I called and asked for permission. But you know what God continued to do? The more I surrendered to Christ, the more God began to give me the understanding that I need to submit to this man.
My wife one day told me, “Do you know, something incredible has happened to me. I have learned to appreciate my submitting to you by watching you submit to this pastor that you’re submitting to. How you’re living has communicated to me the appreciation I need to have for the order and the design God has placed within my own life.”
Now, folks, that’s what happens. Do you know what’s wrong? We can’t even discuss the role of women until first of all we’ve discussed this. One of the reasons people won’t talk to you about it, one of the reasons they have their own opinions, one of the reasons they’re trying to push their own programs, is because they have not yet abandoned everything in surrender to Christ. And until we’re surrendered and abandoned, then we don’t even understand the design and order and the function that God has for the rest of us.
So he starts with a portrait of submission. He says, “You imitate me as I imitate Christ.” Hopefully you understand that now. It’s not necessarily in what they do as it is the way they went about doing it, that submitted attitude, that attitude of surrender.
The purpose of submission
Well, the second thing he gets into is the purpose of submission. The purpose is to show allegiance to God’s will and God’s order. You see, when I’m willing to submit to the headship of Christ in my life and a woman is willing to submit to the headship of the man, as we’ll see, all these things communicate a message to others that absolutely we hold allegiance to what God says and we respect and honor His will even beyond our own mental comprehension sometimes of what He asks us to do.
Again, before we leap into it, remember that Paul is simply asking questions. Some things he’s going to leave the door open. He’s not giving a complete exposition on this. He’s answering some questions that were evidently written to him about the lifestyle and the role of women in the Corinthian church.
Here’s what you need to realize. In Corinth women’s lib was the thing among the Corinthian women. Can you believe this? The book of Ecclesiastes says, “There’s nothing new under the sun.”
History records that feminism appeared in the Roman Empire during New Testament times. Remember, that was the dominant government at that time. The women and the men wore robes just like we see pictures of them today. But they were distinguishable, not necessarily by the color of a robe, but in the fact that the woman would take that flap on her robe and pull it up over her head. It would come down over her brow. The word for covering really means something that hangs down over the head. It’s more the idea of a veil than it is actually a cover. It’s something that came over the head. It came down at least over the brow. Christian women would especially wear a covering over their head.
But when the feminist movement began to move into Corinth, it began to affect the church. The women would often take off their veil or other head coverings that distinguished them in their culture. Why would they do that? To make themselves look like men. You think we’re living in a new day? You think this is something new to the 20th century when you’re walking down the street and somebody passes you and you have to look twice to tell whether or not it’s a man or whether or not it’s a woman? It’s exactly what they wanted back in their culture. They would even shave their heads to look like men.
They asserted their independence by leaving their husbands at home and refusing to care for their children. They demanded jobs traditionally held by men and discarded all signs of femininity. Does that sound like today? It does, doesn’t it? This was going on in Corinth when Paul wrote this. This caused the church to be disturbed. They had many questions because what started in the secular society had now ended up in the church. That’s so sad, isn’t it? It always starts in the secular world but somehow if people aren’t living surrendered lives, it will affect the people in God’s family. They began to affect us.
Do you know why you can’t deal with this issue and why women in particular? We’re on women right now. We’ll get to the men when it’s time. Why women won’t hear you? It’s because it all has to do with their absolute total surrender and abandonment to Christ. If flesh is alive, it’s going to respond. That’s why you can’t deal with it. That’s why you just bring it up. You can say something and people just walk away mad at you because you’ve said something that sounded derogatory towards them.
Now listen. Paul is telling them to deal with it. The first thing he does is compliments them. He says in verse 2, “Now I praise you because you remember me in everything, and hold firmly to the traditions, just as I delivered them to you.” The Corinthians were doing most things upside down, but at least they had some good orthodox. They had some great truth. Paul had taught them. They had not forgotten this. It appears from what he says is that they want and they respect what Paul says. That’s why they’re asking him these questions. Paul says, “you remember me in everything.” The word “everything” apparently ties itself to the traditions that he’s speaking of here.
The word “traditions” is the word paradosis. It comes from the word paradidomi, to give over to somebody. It has to do with the teachings. So Paul is saying, “You remember the things that I have taught you.” In fact, the word paradidomi, to give over to someone, is the next phrase. He says, “Now I praise you because you remember me in everything, and hold firmly to the traditions, just as I delivered them to you.” That’s the actual phrase, “I gave them over to you.” Paul says, “You hold firmly to these teachings.” The King James Version simply says, “You keep these ordinances,” but the New American Standard says, “You hold firmly to.” That’s a better translation.
The Greek word is katecho, to hold fast to something, to retain something. It’s used in 1 Thessalonians 5:21 when he says, “But examine everything carefully. Hold fast to that which is good.” You see, the Corinthians still remembered the teachings of Paul, but they didn’t understand those teachings. That’s an interesting thought to me. How many things do you remember that have been taught? You even have it in your Bible. You have the outline, the date, when it was preached, but you don’t have any understanding of that which you remember.
Paul goes on in verse 3 and says, “But I want you to understand.” That’s a contrasting word there, “But I want you to understand.” The word “understand” there is the word eido. It comes from the word horao, which means to see it, to be able to fully perceive it, and to understand it. I don’t want you to just remember it. I want you to fully understand the things that I have taught you.
What is it that Paul wanted these Corinthians to understand? Evidently, it had something to do, everything to do, with submitting, living your life submissive to Christ in the order that God has given. Evidently, they remembered the things he had taught but hadn’t been able to put it together. They didn’t understand that submission to Christ establishes the base for all submission, no matter what arena it’s in.
First of all he gives the example of the fact that every man should be submissive to Christ. He says, “But I want you to understand that Christ is the head of every man.” The word “head” is kephale. When it’s used metaphorically with relationships here and people, it means the chief, the one to whom others are subordinate to. That’s where your word submission comes in to play. The ones you submit to, the ones you obey, the one who’s the head of a company is the one everybody obeys. The head of whatever is the one everybody obeys. That’s what he means in a metaphorical sense there.
Well, the term for “man” is interesting. It’s not the generic term of mankind which would be anthropos. It’s the word aner. That’s the word for male, actual man. That’s interesting to me. He immediately narrows himself to the point he’s about to make. He starts with the men. Is Jesus the head of all men? Absolutely. It says that every creation will bow before Him and confess Him as Lord some day. Yes, but that’s not his context. The context is he’s got something else to say. He narrows it and speaks to all the men who are listening to him and says, “Christ is the head of every man.”
Now, implicit in this is the believer and the union the believer has to Christ by faith. You see, once a person, a man, puts his faith into Christ, he now is in a relationship to Him, and in every relationship there has to be a head. By faith he’s in union to Christ, but Christ has to be the head. He becomes a part of a body which has many members. But every body has to have a head, and the head is Christ. That’s where it starts. Every man, his head is Christ.
Secondly, he switches, I think, to the husband, for the word “man,” aner, is also the same word for husband. But the implication here, since there’s a union with this man in Christ and Christ is his head as a result, now there has to be a union between this man and a woman and, therefore, a relationship has been formed and somebody has to be the head. He shifts gears. He says in verse 3, “But I want you to understand that Christ is the head of every man, and the man is the head of a woman.” In other words, they’re united by marriage and when you’re united by marriage you become one body.
Look over in Matthew 19:6. I just want to make sure you see this. A body has to have a head, has to have someone to lead it where the thoughts are originated, and then the body complies with it. They’re one body. That body has to have a head. Matthew 19:6 says, “Consequently they are no longer two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate.” That’s repeated again in Mark 10:8. But then in Ephesians 5:23 comes the essence of this thing. Now that they’re united and become one flesh, there is a relationship between the man and the woman. They are one body. They have to have a head. It says in 5:23, “For the husband is the head of the wife [has to be; the example he gives is] as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body.”
So you have two pictures here of submission. And this is his whole point that he’s going to be bringing out. Every man has got to learn that Christ is his covering because of a union by faith. Is Christ the head of a woman? Certainly. That’s not his point right here. Then he says the husband, however, has to learn he is the covering for the wife and the wife has to learn that. Therefore, everybody has to have a head.
Then he gives a third example. It’s a beautiful example. He says in the last part of verse 3, “and God is the head of Christ.” I can just see the Jehovah’s Witnesses right now jumping up and down saying, “You see? You see? I told you. God’s the head of Christ. You see? You see? Christ is inferior to God.” No. The definite article is used before God. And when God and Christ are used in the same verse and the definite article is before God, it is God the Father. It’s Christ the Son. We know very well from Scripture He emptied Himself of His glory and His right to use His power for His own benefit and came to this earth. And by choice in this new union of the God man and the Father, by choice the Father becomes the head and the Son becomes the One who responds to the head.
Isn’t it amazing how Christ starts, Christ finishes it? Any time you have trouble with God’s order, go back to Christ, because there’s a union. As a result of that union, there has to be a head and one to submit to that head. He gives you three beautiful examples, and evidently he had taught them this but they did not have comprehension of what he was saying. If they had understood it, they wouldn’t have been asking him some of the questions about the role of the women there in the church of Corinth.
Why would he say these things? Why is he so emphatic? It gives you the understanding something’s going on in Corinth. The world has gotten into that church and those women, I bet you, had been taking those coverings off, acting like the men, disregarding the order that God had given. That’s the problem.
Now, there’s two things running side by side here and if you don’t see them, you’re going to get confused in chapter 11. One is culture. The culture is different in Corinth than it is for us today. The other is an eternal truth and principle, and they’re running side by side. You’ve got to be able to separate the two. Oh, the way he ends this thing is so simple. It’s as clear as the nose on your face. But right now it’s going to be a little confusing.
One is the culture. Now the cultural concerns the way the people would dress in that time. Like I said, the believing man would never wear a covering over his head when he came to pray in public or prophesy, just like the believing woman would never fail to wear a covering, a veil, because her husband was her covering, her head. This is a cultural trait. This is the way the believers set themselves apart from the unbelievers. You’ll see that in a moment.
Over in Romania, even to this day, it’s that way. Prostitution was so bad even under the former dictator that the Christian believing women would wear those coverings over their head to separate themselves from the people who wore the make-up, the prostitutes of Romania. They tried to separate themselves. It becomes something of a necessity because of society and the paganism that’s around us to make sure that there’s a difference here in the way that we look. That was a cultural thing.
He says in verse 4, “Every man who has something on his head while praying or prophesying disgraces his head.” In that culture if a man put a veil over his head, a covering, a veil, then he would disgrace himself. Why? Because he’s supposed to be the head of his wife, and Christ is his head, and he’s put another covering over that. That disgraces that man. Praying involves saying things to God. Prophesying involves saying things that God has said to you to others. He’s not talking about in church or anything else. It’s just a principle he’s bringing up here.
But look at the reverse of that in verse 5: “But every woman who has her head uncovered while praying or prophesying, disgraces her head [it’s exactly the reverse of the man], for she is one and the same with her [now watch this] whose head is shaved.” Man, the culture is so clear. Paul is saying in Corinth, by necessity, a man does not put a covering over his head when he prays or prophesies and a woman does, because there’s a difference in roles. Christ is the head of the man and the man is the head or the covering for the woman. Symbolically and in that culture it made a statement.
Now, be careful. Paul shows how a woman disgraces herself by taking the covering off her head. Look at the last part of that verse. I read it kind of fast. Go back and read it. Now, if she takes that covering off, she is “one and the same with her whose head is shaved.” You need to know their culture.
Remember that great Acropolis, that big rock mountain that overlooked Corinth? On the top of that was the temple of Venus or the temple of Aphrodite. That was where all the priestesses were, 1,000 of them. Were they priestesses? No, they were prostitutes. And those prostitutes shaved their heads and would come into the city at night with sandals that would have on the bottom of them “Follow Me.” People followed them and all the garbage took place as a result of it.
So he says if you’re going to come in, in this culture, and uncover your head, you are identifying with that prostitute over there that you don’t even know Christ and that you’re an immoral woman.
The second person who shaved their head was an adulteress. A woman accused of adultery had to shave their head by the law that comes out of the Old Testament. Then, thirdly, the poor slave was one who many times had to have her head shaved. Paul says, “Women, you disgrace yourself. If you’re in this culture, when you come in looking so much like the world and the immoral world at that time, you’re identifying yourself with them and you disgrace yourself. You disgraced your head.”
The next verse says essentially the same thing. Verse 6 reads, “For if a woman does not cover her head, let her also have her hair cut off.” In other words, if you’re not going to cover your head, go on and shave your head. But if it’s disgraceful for a woman to have her hair cut off or her head shaved, then let her cover her head. I hope you’re following with him. It’s just as clear as anything.
Then he begins to balance the equation. He doesn’t want anybody to start thinking that a woman is any less than a man. No, no. When it comes to submission, man being the head, that’s an order that God has set up and it has nothing to do with the quality of that woman’s life, the dignity of that woman.
Do you realize that until the church, the gospel, reached that area of the world, that women were absolutely nothing? The gospel elevated women to a position. I hear people say the things about what the church says about submission, that it puts a woman down. Sometimes I’m just so grateful I can’t say anything. It’s in a newspaper or on a television set. I just want to say, “What in the world are you talking about? Had it not been for Christ, you would have never had a position. Christ elevated you and gave great integrity to who you are.”
He’s going to bring this out. Any man that would degrade a woman, in fact, ends up degrading himself. It’s a beautiful thing he does here. Look in verse 7. I love this. “For a man ought not to have his head covered, since he is the image and glory of God; but the woman is the glory of man.” What in the world does he mean he’s the image and the glory of God? The word image there, eikon. You’ve heard the word “icon.” We think it’s something that resembles something else. No, no. In the Greek understanding it’s more than that. It requires a prototype. In other words, it’s not that which it merely resembles, but it’s that from which it comes, from which it’s drawn. Man was made by God. Without God there would be no man. So when you look at man, you’re seeing the glory of God. God made the man. The man came out of God. God was the one who created him. For God to degrade man would be to degrade Himself. He made man and in the same way Paul says, “but the woman is the glory of man.” Without man there would be no woman. She was taken out of man.
Look at verse 8. “For man does not originate from woman.” Now when you first read this if you didn’t know Scripture and could put context together, would this be confusing? I had a Mama. I really did. I want you to know that. I came from a woman. I was born of my Mama. I wasn’t left in a basket at the front doorstep. I have a Mama. She’s in Heaven today. But you see, when you read that you say, “What’s he saying?” The key is the word “originate.” Where did the first man come from?
Look at Genesis 2:22. “And the Lord God fashioned into a woman the rib which He had taken from the man, and brought her to the man.” So for a man to degrade a woman is to turn right around and degrade himself. The woman originated out of man. It’s just like if God degraded man, He would degrade Himself, because man was created by God.
Look at what he says in verses 9 and 10. He says, “for indeed man was not created for the woman’s sake [this is very obvious in Genesis unless you believe those who say this is not God’s inspired word] but woman for the man’s sake.” God said it and that ought to settle it. God created man and out of man came woman. It’s his whole argument.
He says in verse 10, “Therefore the woman ought to have a symbol of authority on her head, because of the angels.” Have I wrestled with that! I think I’ve got an answer. I really do.
What is an angel’s first response to God? It’s to submit to the will of God. The ones who didn’t are the demonic angels and Satan himself. Those are the fallen ones. The angel lives in total submission. He understands a man living in total submission. Remember, they don’t understand redemption. But when they see a woman not willing to submit to a man, that’s a reproach to everything they understand about redemption. The order of God has been turned upside down. Who had the audacity to do something like that? Because of the angels, a woman should submit to a man.
There’s a whole lot more to that. We’re going to go further. I just hope that you’ll stay with me, because I really believe this is a message for all of us in these days. I don’t want you to miss verse 1, whether we agree or disagree in 1 Corinthians 11, and certainly we’re free to do that. I’m not the authority. The Word of God is the authority and sometimes I make mistakes.
I want to tell you something. Verse 1 is your key. No matter how you want to argue the role of a woman, you’d better go back to verse 1. He says, “Imitate me as I imitate Christ.” Live in such a submission to Him that Christ now can live His life through you.” When you live that dead to self, you won’t have any trouble with the order and function God has given in the designs of husband, wife, or any other area of submission. God set it up, and that’s okay, because you’re already submitted to Him. You have a perspective now towards these things that you didn’t have before.