Exposition of 1 Corinthians 11:13-16 Using (what should be) common sense

1 Corinthians 11:13-16

13 Judge for yourselves: Is it proper for a woman to pray to God with her head uncovered? 14 Does not the very nature of things teach you that if a man has long hair, it is a disgrace to him, 15 but that if a woman has long hair, it is her glory? For long hair is given to her as a covering. 16 If anyone wants to be contentious about this, we have no other practice nor do the churches of God.

Ever hopeful that the Corinthians will do what is needed on their own, Paul puts the ball directly in their court (1 Cor. 11:13). By the nature of things (1 Cor. 11:14), Paul means the way things are.

Paul knew that Roman custom for men was short hair, and that long hair or long hair styled in some way (e.g. braiding) was considered effeminate. For example, David Garland informs us that the forum in Roman Corinth has statues of men with long hair as part of the Faade of the Captives. Their long hair is intended to send the message that these captives were weak, soft, and effeminate.[1]

Roman women usually had long hair, and it was often considered a symbol of the wifes relationship to her husband. Accordingly, Garland summarizes, Taking this cue from nature, men do not need a cover [since they have short hair]; women do [since they have long hair].[2]

As a final argument, Paul says all the churches follow this standard, and so does he (1 Cor. 11:16).

Copyright 2013 Barry Applewhite, Plano, Texas. All rights reserved worldwide. Derived from materials created for Christ Fellowship, McKinney, Texas. Used by permission.

 


[1] David E. Garland, 1 Corinthians, Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2003) 531.

[2] Garland, 1 Corinthians, 531.

Exposition of 1 Corinthians 11:7-12 Shame and honor in assembled worship

1 Corinthians 11:7-12

7 A man 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 did not come from woman, but woman from man; 9 neither was man created for woman, but woman for man. 10 It is for this reason that a woman ought to have authority over her own head, because of the angels. 11 Nevertheless, in the Lord woman is not independent of man, nor is man independent of woman. 12 For as woman came from man, so also man is born of woman. But everything comes from God.

As we begin todays lesson, it will be helpful to remember that the context of these verses is the church in Roman Corinth gathered for worship. Perhaps they met in the home of one or more of their wealthy members or in several other locations. We can expect that some curious non-Christians were sometimes present, perhaps even someone who reported their activities elsewhere. We will see that God and the angels are part of worship as well.

As before, a lot of attention will be given to head coverings and their social and theological meaning. In the previous lesson (1 Cor. 11:1-6) we learned that men were not to wear a head covering, but women must wear one. These conditions were dictated by social propriety and to protect the reputation of the gospel in the community. In 1 Cor. 11:7-12, we learn that even deeper theological reasons exist and get deeper into the framework of shame and honor.

It is important to know what this passage does not mean, and David Garland sets us on the path: The logic is not, This man stands before God uncovered because of his spiritual subordination to Christ, so the woman should stand veiled because of her spiritual subordination to her husband, as [some] contend.[1]

A common failing of Christians today is that we do not appreciate the importance of creation and its impact on our life in Christ. But Pauls key point is that the woman reflects the glory of man, not of God.[2] The whole reason Paul offers in 1 Cor. 11:8-9 is the order of creation with man created first (Gen. 2:7) and the purpose of womans creation (Gen. 2:22) in that she was created for the man. Paul argues that the gender differences God established in creation have an effect on how corporate worship is carried out; in particular, cultural customs are used to symbolize that difference in a way that gives honor to God. Since man is the image and glory of God (1 Cor. 11:7), his head must remain open to plain view. To do so honors God. The woman should cover her head (1 Cor. 11:6b) so as not to dishonor her head (i.e. the man, 1 Cor. 11:3). How would she dishonor the man? The surprising answer is that the woman dishonors the man by glorifying him (woman is the glory of man 1 Cor. 11:7) in a setting of corporate worship where only God is to be glorified/honored.

Perhaps we can better understand this reasoning by saying that in corporate worship the attention should be on honoring/glorifying God, but the beauty of women (by creation) is such that they attract attention belonging to God. When that happens, the shame attaches to their husband (her metaphorical head) or to the men gathered for worship. What can the woman do? She can behave and dress in a way that does not draw attention and symbolize such intent by wearing a head covering.[3] Symbols in our culture are different, but the principle stands.

The man and the woman are not taking their respective actions — men without head covering and women with one — for any personal advantage, as Anthony Thiselton points out: Pauls main point is that man and woman are both the glory of another and therefore both have an obligation not to cause shame to their heads.[4]

The foregoing is difficult enough, and 1 Cor. 11:10 adds more mystery by mentioning angels. First, Thiselton argues that what we have here is a continuation of the issue of assertive autonomy . . . versus self-control that we have tracked earlier in the letter (e.g. 1 Cor. 6:12 and 10:23).[5] This means the woman should use her freedom and authority in Christ for the good of others and especially for her metaphorical head; that behavior manifests self-control and love. As to the angels, Thiselton reminds us that both Jewish and Christian traditions teach us that Christians worship the transcendent God of heaven in company with the heavenly host.[6]

We began with the assumption that Paul had received a report that women might be asserting their freedom in Christ in a damaging way during corporate worship. Although he has focused a lot of attention on women and how they should use their freedom, he does not by any means back off of his assertion that in the Lord woman is not independent of man, nor is man independent of woman (1 Cor. 11:11). He adds an additional statement in verse 12 that shows how dependent man and woman are on each other. While Paul has said, There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus (Gal. 3:28), it is also true that creation order limits this new freedom, because everything comes from God (1 Cor. 11:12).

Copyright 2013 Barry Applewhite, Plano, Texas. All rights reserved worldwide. Derived from materials created for Christ Fellowship, McKinney, Texas. Used by permission.

 


[1] David E. Garland, 1 Corinthians, Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2003) 523.

[2] Garland, 1 Corinthians, 523

[3] Garland, 1 Corinthians, 523.

[4] Anthony Thiselton, The First Epistle to the Corinthians, New International Greek Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids: William. B. Eerdmans publishing Company, 2000) 837, quoting Judith Gundry-Volf.

[5] Thiselton, First Epistle to the Corinthians, 839.

[6] Thiselton, First Epistle to the Corinthians, 841.

Exposition of First Corinthians 11:3 — The meaning of Greek kephale (often translated “head”)

There is little doubt that 1 Cor. 11:2–16 is extremely tough to interpret. One piece of this complex passage is 1 Cor. 11:3, and, within that text, the meaning of the Greek noun kephale, usually translated “head.”

Starting in the 1990s, research on social conditions in the Roman empire during the first century began to shed significant light on many passages in First Corinthians.

To better understand 1 Cor. 11:3, check out this video :

Copyright © 2013 Barry Applewhite, Plano, Texas. All rights reserved worldwide.

 

Exposition of Genesis 1-11: Genesis 3:20-22

Genesis 3:20-22

20 The man named his wife Eve, because she was the mother of all the living. 21 The LORD God made garments from skin for Adam and his wife, and clothed them. 22 And the LORD God said, Now that the man has become like one of us, knowing good and evil, he must not be allowed to stretch out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever.
(NET Bible)

Cleaning Up the Disaster

A big issue for every one of us is how God will treat us when we rebel against him. And, of course, we all have done so both before and after trusting in Jesus Christ.

Would God have been justified in handing out sudden death? In addition to inflicting consequences for sin, what about divine grace and care? Does God offer further opportunity to fulfill his purposes for humanity or just a life of misery until death?

In the previous post we ended with Genesis 3:17-19 concerning Adams punishment for listening to his wife. Genesis 3:20 is about Adam naming Eve, and this is followed by God making garments of skin for the two (Gen. 3:21). One major question about Genesis 3:20 is how it fits the argument of the preceding and following verses. The probable answer appears to be that after God has declared judgment, a portion of humanitys purpose still lies before the man and woman. Hamilton says, In spite of mans sin and disobedience, Gods original command to man to multiply and be fruitful is not withdrawn.[1] To protect them during this remaining task, the man and woman need protective garments.

In the wreckage caused by sin, a life remains to be lived, difficult though it will be. Adam names his wife Eve, a name derived from an ancient Hebrew form of the verb to live. This appears to be a hopeful act.

Before implementing his declared judgments, the Lord graciously deals with the needs of the man and his wife (Gen. 3:21). They had no clue of the harsh conditions outside the garden and no knowledge of how to prepare for them. Hamilton says: Adam and Eve are in need of a salvation that comes from without. God needs to do for them what they are unable to do for themselves. It is important for understanding the drift of this chapter that we note that the clothing precedes the expulsion from the garden. . . . It is probably reading too much into this verse to see in the coats of skin a hint of the use of animals and blood in the sacrificial system of the OT.[2] We consider a hint to be exactly what the text offers, but not more.

Translation of Gen. 3:22 brings out the issue of how best to understand this verse. Gordon Wenham says, The sentence ends in mid-air, leaving the listener to supply the rest of Gods thoughts, e.g., Let me expel him from the garden.[3]

We have previously considered the identity of us (see Genesis 1:26) in the clause the man has become like one of us (Gen. 3:22). Wenham says one of us refers to the heavenly beings, including God and the angels.[4]

Since the man and woman have disobeyed God and have experienced good and evil, what is the risk that now concerns God? Hamilton summarizes: Taken by itself the wording of v. 22 could suggest the man has not yet eaten of the tree of life. How else is one to explain the use of also . . . in the verse?[5]

Will the man eat from the tree of life and live forever as a ruined creation? It is possible the man was already thinking of doing just that. God had something much better in mind! Paul tells us, So then, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; what is old has passed away look, what is new has come! (2 Cor. 5:17). Gods solution was not to make the best of a bad situation; instead, he provides for a new creation in Christ.

Copyright 2011 by Barry Applewhite, Plano, Texas. All rights reserved worldwide. Derived from material created for Christ Fellowship, McKinney, Texas. Used by permission.

 


[1] Victor P. Hamilton, The Book of Genesis: Chapters 1-17, The New International Commentary on the Old Testament (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1990) 206-207.

[2] Hamilton, Genesis 1-17, 207.

[3] Gordon J. Wenham, Genesis 1-15, Word Biblical Commentary (Nashville: Word Incorporated, 1987) 85.

[4] Wenham, Genesis 1-15, 85.

[5] Hamilton, Genesis 1-17, 209.

Exposition of Genesis 1-11: Genesis 3:16

Genesis 3:16

16 To the woman he said, I will greatly increase your labor pains; with pain you will give birth to children. You will want to control your husband, but he will dominate you.
(NET Bible)

A complicated relationship

If there is one thing you want to avoid at all costs, it is having God personally opposed to you. That condition is a sure formula for a hard life. How do we avoid negative consequences flowing from God to us? How can we avoid the regrets that come from knowing what we have lost by our own sin? What does God do to sustain us, even when we have failed him?

We have previously said that Gods declaration of consequences involves a life function and a relationship for each of those who took part in the first human sin. In Genesis 3:16, the life function is the birth of children and the relationship is the crucial one between the woman and her husband.

The original language uses a special form to heighten the intensity of the verb so that the result is greatly increase. What is increased? The King James Version says thy sorrow and thy conception. However, better linguistic evidence now demonstrates that the second word is not conception but trembling, pain,[1] apparently a reference to labor pains. The verse makes clear that the woman will bear children, but the difficulty and pain will be greatly increased.

Several of the words for pain are spelled similarly to the Hebrew word for tree, making it plain that the consequences were connected to the sin. The author of Genesis selected these words with care because they are not the common words for pain.

The second half of the verse explains the struggle for power that has manifested itself between man and woman in marriage and society. The NET Bible Notes explain: In Gen. 3:16 the Lord announces a struggle, a conflict between the man and the woman. She will desire to control him, but he will dominate her instead. This interpretation also fits the tone of the passage, which is a judgment oracle.[2]

The interpretation given in the previous paragraph flows out of the very closely parallel passage in [Gen.] 4:7, where sins urge is said to be for Cain, but he must master it.[3] The husbands relationship to his wife will become he will dominate (NET) or he will rule (ESV). The verb is a powerful one, and it is used for Abrahams servant who rules his household (Gen. 24:2) and for Joseph ruling over all Egypt (Gen. 45:8).

Hamilton describes how the tragic consequences of sin have changed the relationship of the man and woman: Far from being a reign of co-equals over the remainder of Gods creation, the relationship now becomes a fierce dispute, with each party trying to rule the other.[4]

Only in Christ do we find this breach healed.

For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female — for all of you are one in Christ Jesus (Galatians 3:27-28).

Husbands, in the same way, treat your wives with consideration as the weaker partners and show them honor as fellow heirs of the grace of life. In this way nothing will hinder your prayers (1 Peter 3:7).

Copyright 2011 by Barry Applewhite, Plano, Texas. All rights reserved worldwide. Derived from material created for Christ Fellowship, McKinney, Texas. Used by permission.


[1] NET Bible Notes for Genesis 3:16.

[2] NET Bible Notes for Genesis 3:16.

[3] Gordon J. Wenham, Genesis 1-15, Word Biblical Commentary (Nashville: Word Incorporated, 1987) 81.

[4] Victor P. Hamilton, The Book of Genesis: Chapters 1-17, The New International Commentary on the Old Testament (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1990) 202.

 

Exposition of Genesis 1–11: Genesis 3:6–7

Genesis 3:6–7
6 When the woman saw that the tree produced fruit that was good for food, was attractive to the eye, and was desirable for making one wise, she took some of its fruit and ate it. She also gave some of it to her husband who was with her, and he ate it.  7 Then the eyes of both of them opened, and they knew they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.
(NET Bible)

Looking at the Wrong Thing

Everyone knows that good eyesight is a tremendous help in life. What we seldom consider is that spiritual sight is even more vital. Many people have 20/20 physical-vision, but they are experiencing inner, spiritual darkness. What is worse, they think it to be wisdom.

Jesus tells us: “The eye is the lamp of the body. If then your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eye is diseased, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!” (Matt. 6:22-23).

How does one acquire darkened spiritual-vision? Unfortunately, Eve learned the secret.

It is hard to write a sentence to summarize such far-reaching tragedy as Genesis 3:6 presents. Gordon Wenham relates how the narrator approaches the story: “The fatal steps are described in eleven . . . clauses that suggest the rapidity of the action—‘she saw,’ ‘she took,’ ‘she gave’ . . . . ‘and he ate’ employs the key verb of this tale—‘eat.’”[1]

We who read English cannot readily see the artistry embedded in the narrator’s writing. Victor Hamilton notes how the narrator has selected words that are very difficult to speak: “Such ‘extremely difficult pronunciation . . . forces a merciless concentration on each word.’”[2] In other words, when the priests and Levites taught these words to the Israelites, their speech had to slow to pronounce each awful word, thus branding them on the minds of their listeners.

In describing the essence of the sin itself, Hamilton says: “Indulgence here would give the woman something she did not, in her judgment, presently possess, and that is wisdom. . . . Here is the essence of covetousness. It is the attitude that says I need something I do not now have in order to be happy.”[3] To our discredit, we have all done the same and reaped the same result.

It is difficult to understand what goes on in the man’s mind because we are not told. What leads him to follow the woman’s fatal act? Is it the emotional, one-flesh bond? Could he not simply obey what God had commanded? Does he not know what fruit he is getting? Again, Hamilton observes:

The woman does not try to tempt the man. She simply gives and he takes. He neither challenges or raises questions. The woman allows her mind and her own judgment to be her guide; the man neither approves nor rebukes. Hers is the sin of initiative. His is the sin of acquiescence.[4]

Genesis 3:6 is the climax of the entire section from Genesis 2:5 through Genesis 3:24. But the surprise for the man and woman comes in Genesis 3:7 when those who sought to become shrewd now know they are nude. Why do they feel the desire to cover up? The most obvious explanation is that each can look upon the other and see an outward, visible change commensurate with the inner change brought by the fresh experience of sin.

Describing the sequel to the fatal sequence, Hamilton says, “Rather than driving them back to God, their guilt leads them into a self-atoning, self-protecting procedure: they must cover themselves.”[5] Again, we have all tried to save ourselves from sin by good deeds, to no avail.

Wenham invites us to look back and see something profound about the sequence of actors: “God-man-woman-animal in [Genesis 2:18-25] becomes snake-woman-man-God in [Genesis 3:6-8]. The order of creation is totally inverted.”[6] Sin twists everything beyond anything humanity can do.

In the next Genesis post, help will arrive at the scene of devastation.

Copyright © 2011 by Barry Applewhite. All rights reserved worldwide. Derived from material created for Christ Fellowship, McKinney, Texas. Used by permission.


[1] Gordon J. Wenham, Genesis 1–15, Word Biblical Commentary (Nashville: Word Incorporated, 1987) 75.

[2] Victor P. Hamilton, The Book of Genesis: Chapters 1-17, The New International Commentary on the Old Testament (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1990) 190.

[3] Hamilton, Genesis 1-17, 190.

[4] Hamilton, Genesis 1-17, 191.

[5] Hamilton, Genesis 1-17, 191.

[6] Wenham, Genesis 1-15, 51.

 

Exposition of Genesis 1–11: Genesis 3:1–2

Genesis 3:1–2
1 Now the serpent was more shrewd than any of the wild animals that the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, “Is it really true that God said, ‘You must not eat from any tree of the orchard’?”  2 The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit from the trees of the orchard;”
(NET Bible)

Off to a Bad Start

Satan’s question “Is it really true that God said . . .?” has vexed humanity down to this very day. Satan took on a poorly informed opponent and dealt humanity a mortal blow. His servants today question whether the great story of God redeeming humanity through Jesus Christ might simply be a story told by those who want to hold religious power over others.

How do we know what is true? If we pick the wrong answer to that question, how serious will the consequences be?

The literary creativity in Genesis is great, and nowhere more so than in Genesis 3:1. In the previous verse, Genesis 2:25, the word for “naked” is ‘arom, and in Genesis 3:1 the word for “shrewd” is ‘arom. Yes, the two words are spelled the same and sound identical, a situation that sometimes occurs in English. Gordon Wenham cleverly reproduces this play on words in English: “They [the man and his wife] will seek themselves to be shrewd (cf. 3:6) but will discover that they are ‘nude’ (3:7, 10).”[1]

Before going further into the details, let us take a moment to review a few points. First, the man was explicitly given the duty to guard the garden (Gen. 2:15). Yet, here is a dire threat confronting his mate! A great deal of blame has been placed on the woman in these events, but one must wonder whether the failure was shared. Second, consider that when the serpent approaches, the woman is alone. Did not God say that being alone was “not good” (Gen. 2:18)? While we are not given full details of this scene, what we do see is disturbing.

While we are making general observations, consider that in Gen. 1:2 we found the earth in a negative condition, a dark and formless waste of water. Now we see that evil incarnate has invaded Eden in the form of the serpent. Genesis says nothing about the origin of evil, but its fell presence is seen all too clearly. In spite of this danger, no harm need come to the man and woman if only they obey what God has said.

The serpent in Eden was not the same as those we have today. In time we will see that the serpent currently crawls on the ground as a curse from God beyond the curse that has fallen on all of creation due to sin (Gen. 3:14). Perhaps the serpent was formerly a possessor of the attractiveness that draws interest; think how we react to a puppy or the graceful strength of a dolphin. We simply do not know, so we should not assume too much about the world before sin ruined it.

The choice of the word “shrewd” (Hebrew: ‘arom) to describe the serpent may be because a similar word means “to practice divination,” a distinctly demonic activity that God forbids (Deut. 18:10). The word ‘arom refers to a characteristic that can be either a virtue or a vice. Wenham says, “On the one hand it is a virtue the wise should cultivate (Prov. 12:16; 13:16), but misused it becomes wiliness and guile (Job 5:12; 15:5; cf. Exod. 21:14; Josh. 9:4).”[2] Satan always distorts a virtue into a vice.

The first voice to speak to humanity other than God’s is that of the serpent. Satan’s strategy of deception against humanity begins in the most unlikely place, Eden. Victor Hamilton offers a slightly different translation to bring out the fact that the serpent’s “first words should not be construed as a question but as an expression of [feigned] shock and surprise.”[3]

Genesis 3:1b (Hamilton) says: “Indeed! To think that God said you are not to eat of any tree of the garden!”[4] This provocative comment is designed to engage the woman and start a conversation. It works! But a moment’s reflection leads to questions. Wenham says: “But how, the narrator expects us to ask, did the snake know anything about God’s command? If he heard that command, why has he so grossly distorted it?”[5]

Eve does not express any questions or show any sense of danger. After the narrator’s dramatic declaration that the man and woman are “one flesh” (Gen. 2:24, ESV), we find the woman taking action independent of her mate. She begins (Genesis 3:2) by approximately expressing the general rule God had given the man (Gen. 2:16), but we will see tomorrow that she had a less accurate grasp of the one, specific exception (Gen. 2:17).

The Lord God had given Adam the truth about the garden, but, by failing to know it accurately, the woman quickly moved toward trouble. Ignorance was not bliss in Eden.

Copyright © 2011 by Barry Applewhite. All rights reserved worldwide. Derived from material created for Christ Fellowship, McKinney, Texas. Used by permission.


[1] Gordon J. Wenham, Genesis 1–15, Word Biblical Commentary (Nashville: Word Incorporated, 1987) 72.

[2] Wenham, Genesis 1-15, 72.

[3] Victor P. Hamilton, The Book of Genesis: Chapters 1-17, The New International Commentary on the Old Testament (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1990) 188.

[4] Hamilton, Genesis 1-17, 186.

[5] Wenham, Genesis 1-15, 73.