First Corinthians 9-12

I am not accepting financial assistance for my work; even though this is my right, I do not want anyone to have control over my teaching.  Flee from idol worship; do not eat food sacrificed to idols, but if an unbeliever invites you to a meal, do not refuse.  If you are directly informed that the food has been sacrificed to idols, refuse it, to avoid setting a bad example for the other person.

Husbands have authority over their wives, just as God has authority over the husband.  Men should pray with their head uncovered, but women should keep their heads covered, since women were created for the sake of men.  On the issue of the Lord’s Supper, I hear that some people are eating and drinking without waiting for others, leaving them hungry.  What is this?  Wait for one another, or eat at home!  Concerning spiritual gifts, such as speaking in tongues, the Spirit gave different gifts to each of you: faith, power of healing, miracle-working, prophecy, speaking in tongues, interpretation of tongues, etc.  All are valuable, and they complement one another.

Commentary: Why does Paul think women should cover their heads, while men shouldn’t?  He gives four reasons:

  1. Men are superior to women.  To start off this argument, Paul says “Christ is the head of every man, and the husband is the head of his wife” (11:3).  But why does this matter?  Paul continues: “For a man ought not to have his head veiled, since his is the image and reflection of God; but woman is the reflection of man” (11:7).  So a man should expose his head, for he is made in the image of God; but a woman should not, because she is made from man.  Paul reinforces this point by saying “neither was man created for the sake of woman, but woman for the sake of man” (11:9).
  2. Because of the angels.  According to Paul, “for this reason a woman ought to have a symbol of authority on her head, because of the angels” (11:10).  What do the angels have to do with this?  According to my study Bible, the angels refer to the sons of God mentioned in Genesis 6:1-2:

    When people began to multiply on the face of the ground, and daughters were born to them, the sons of God saw that they were fair; and they took wives for themselves for all that they chose

    So women should keep their heads covered, or else the sons of God would be aroused by them.  This was a common opinion of Jewish writers at the time (e.g. T. Reuben 5.6)

  3. Nature.  It is natural for women to have long hair, as a covering: “Does not nature itself teach you that if a man wears long hair, it is degrading to him, but if a woman has long hair, it is her glory?” (11:15).
  4. Custom.  All the churches do it, and it’s part of the culture: “But if anyone is disposed to be contentious–we have no such custom, nor do the churches of God.” (11:16)

Incidentally, notice how the Lord’s Supper was not just a few crackers and wine in Paul’s day–it was a full meal.  Some people, presumably the rich, started eating the meal without waiting for the poor, who do not return from their jobs until late in the evening.

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One Response to First Corinthians 9-12

  1. Pingback: First Corinthians 13-16: Prophecy, women, resurrection | Studying religious texts

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