Paul talks in 1 Cor 11 about the need for the woman to be the glory of man, and to submit to the authority of men as central to the worship of the church. How should she show her womanhood? By having long beautiful hair to cover her head with. Now on the other hand men ought to have short hair, because he is the glory of God, being made originally in God's image. Paul says, For a man ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God, but woman is the glory of man.
He then goes on to give three reasons why woman should have long hair to cover themselves with, to demonstrate that men have the authority.
1. For man was not made from woman, but woman from man.
2. Neither was man created for woman, but woman for man.
That is why a wife ought to have a symbol of authority on her head,
3. because of the angels.
The first two reasons for hair covering are easy to understand, but the third isn't nearly so clear. As Begg says the main things are the plain things and the plain things are the main things, so we will do alright to get the clear things down. And clearly the Corinthians knew what Paul was saying because the brevity of the statement seems to indicate some kind of footnote or after thought.
Calvin's explanation is thus "When, therefore, women venture upon such liberties, as to usurp for themselves the token of authority, they make their baseness manifest to the angels... [it's] as if he had said, “If women uncover their heads, not only Christ, but all the angels too, will be witnesses of the outrage.”
MacArthur agrees with this, "Woman are to be submissive by wearing the symbol of authority so as not to offend these most holy and submissive creatures who watch the church (Matt 18:10, Eph 3:9-10) who were present (Job 38:4,7) at creation." Angels are therefore offended upon seeing short hair or uncovered heads. Well I confess it may be true that they are standing by getting progressively more outraged and offended on behalf of Christ at seeing women in rebellion to men, it just seems to me that this is not a satisfactory enough explanation.
Guzik has a slightly different take, adding that God has angels watching so that they may understand Him, "God has eternal things to teach the universe through us (Ephesians 3:10-11; 1 Corinthians 4:9; 1 Peter 1:12)" Apparently seeing uncovered women would confuse or make it difficult for them to see what God is trying to teach them.
William Greenhill says something that feels nearer to the mark "angels are covered, to show their reverence and subjection to Christ. It is an honour to the angels, that in reverence to them the women are to be veiled." Now Greenhill means that women are to honor the angels by being veiled, but the logical leap is better, and that is the angels themselves are veiled (Is 6:2), and they enjoy a special privilege before God. Women enjoy the position of the angels, and therefore should be veiled, because the angels are veiled.
But for myself I think that 'because of the angels' most likely means Jude 1:6. The angels didn't respect the authority of those above them, and chose to rebel, to their everlasting destruction. Women, if you choose to rebel against head coverings consider the angels who fell. So because of the angels falling into rebellion by not respecting their authority women face the same jeopardy should they rebel.
If you've been following this series you may have noticed my two Pastors commenting on my work. Phil it might help those of us who fi...
This is the transcript of the debate between Alistair Begg and R.C. Sproul over infant baptism at the Ligonier conference in Orlando, 1997. ...
Leading up to Christmas I am leading my family through the famous prophecies about Christ and what they mean. I thought it would be good to ...