1 Corinthians 11:2-16 (Female Prophets), Part 2

priscilla-catacombs3Prophecy and prayer

Plainly, the wives in the Corinthian church were speaking in the assembly. They were praying and prophesying. While we can easily imagine a silent prayer, silent prophecy is quite impossible.

To avoid this result, some Church of Christ commentators argue that this was not the worship assembly but some other event. And yet this passage is immediately followed by a discussion of the Lord’s Supper, grammatically linked to the passage on women: Continue reading

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1 Corinthians 11:2-16 (An Alternative Understanding), Part 1

priscilla-catacombs3I’ve tried to exegete 1 Corinthians 11:2-16 several times, beginning with my book Buried Talents, written before I began blogging, and then a couple of times here on the blog.

In Buried Talents, I took the view that “head” was the opposite of “portrait” — “image” in the Greek. Hence, God is the model of which Jesus is the image or portrait; men are the image of God; women are the glory of men. Paul uses “glory” with respect to women and men because women are, of course, also made in the image of God.

And that might actually be right. But when I first posted on this subject many long years ago, the readers persuaded me to go with another viewpoint. Hence, I rewrote and reposted the series in terms of “source” or “beginning.” And ate a little crow (an all-too-familiar flavor).

A couple of nights ago, I rewrote those posts in light of new material from Bruce Winter but following the same logic. When I finished, I said to myself, “I’m fully persuaded on the Ephesians material, but I’ve not convinced even myself on 1 Corinthians 11.”

So I thought I’d take another approach, more closely tied to the Ephesians use of “head.” Although the Corinthian church could not have interpreted “head” in light of Ephesians, since Ephesians was written many years later, it does seem unlikely that Paul would use “head” in a radically different sense in the two letters. I mean, in both cases he’s talking about husbands and wives and in both cases declares the husband the “head” of the wife. Continue reading

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1 Corinthians 11:2 – 16 (“Head” in Ephesians)


Ephesians 1-2

For nearly any metaphor, the key is to find Paul’s meaning from the context. The dictionaries aren’t much help.

(Eph 1:20-23 ESV)  20 that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places,  21 far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come.  22 And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church,  23 which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.

Paul refers to Christ as “head” over everything. But clearly Christ’s relationship with the church, His body, differs from His relationship with “everything.” Christ is head — not over the church — but for the church. His headship is for a purpose, and that purpose is for the benefit of the church. Moreover, we see the church referred to as Christ’s “body.” Paul then says that the church is the “fullness” of Christ “who fills everything in every way.” Continue reading

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1 Corinthians 11:2 – 16 (The meaning of “head” and a detour into Ephesians 5)


1 Corinthians 11:2-16 is filled with difficulties, and perhaps the most important one is its teaching that a man is the “head” of the woman (or, better translated, as in the ESV, the husband is the “head” of the wife).

(1Co 11:3 ESV)  3 But I want you to understand that the head of every man is Christ, the head of a wife is her husband, and the head of Christ is God. 

Important to understanding this passage is Ephesians 5 —

(Eph 5:23-33 ESV) 23 For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior.   Continue reading

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1 Corinthians 8:1-11:1: Paul’s Hermeneutics, Part 4 (Exodus as Hermeneutic)

corinth-anc-temp-apollo-acro-beyondNotice how readily Paul uses the Exodus as a parallel (or “type”) of the Christian experience.

(1Co 10:1-5 ESV)  For I do not want you to be unaware, brothers, that our fathers were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea,  2 and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea,  3 and all ate the same spiritual food,  4 and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank from the spiritual Rock that followed them, and the Rock was Christ.  5 Nevertheless, with most of them God was not pleased, for they were overthrown in the wilderness.

We’ve already discussed this passage. What we didn’t cover is how the Exodus permeates Paul’s writings. You can see it in his vocabulary. Numerous key New Testament words are references back to the Exodus. Continue reading

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1 Corinthians 8:1-11:1: Paul’s Hermeneutics, Part 3 (On Being a Disciple)

corinth-anc-temp-apollo-acro-beyondWhat is a “disciple”?

And here’s where we mess up. We can’t even define “disciple.” We aren’t even sure what it means to “follow Jesus.” We keep wanting to define these terms in terms of rule keeping, obedience to certain specific laws. And it just can’t be done.

In the First Century, rabbis had disciples. And a disciple wanted — more than anything — to be like his rabbi. A student became a “disciple” as soon as he decided to follow the rabbi — not when he finally mastered the rabbi’s teachings and life.

A disciple was covered in the dust of the rabbi’s feet — because he followed him so closely wherever he went. Being a disciple is far more about who you follow and how closely you follow than how well you follow. Continue reading

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1 Corinthians 8:1-11:1: Paul’s Hermeneutics, Part 2 (Be imitators of me)

corinth-anc-temp-apollo-acro-beyondAnother key element of Paul’s hermeneutics is his use of his own story to teach the gospel.

Beginning in 1 Cor 9:1, Paul uses his surrender of his own rights as an apostle as an example of how to live as a Christian, that is, of how to honor the gospel.

This argument consumes the entire chapter — one full chapter on how Paul’s life is an example of Christ-like living. And so it should be no surprise that he summarizes the three chapters by declaring —

(1Co 11:1 ESV) Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ. 

(It was surely a mistake to put this verse in chapter 11, when it really belongs at the end of chapter 10.)  Continue reading

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1 Corinthians 8:1-11:1: Paul’s Hermeneutics, Part 1 (Principles)

corinth-anc-temp-apollo-acro-beyondNotice that the question of eating meat sacrificed to idols is so important that Paul consumes three chapters on the topic — so many verses that we usually assume Paul drifted off to another subject or two, only to return to meat and idols. But it’s really all a very elaborate argument about meats and idols.

And notice what Paul does not do. He does not say, “I am an apostle empowered to know all God’s rules. Since you asked me, I’ll tell you what the rule is.” No, he uses all these verses to explain in detail why he thinks as he does. It’s not just a rule. It’s never just a rule. There’s always a reason.

What are the principles from which Paul reasons? Continue reading

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New post up at Wineskins

WineskinsbannerMy post Fix Me, Jesus: Jesus’ Plans for the Churches of Christ is up at Wineskins.

And there are posts by Keith Brenton and by Paula Harrington following up, with more to come.

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1 Corinthians 10:25-31 (The earth is the Lord’s)


(1Co 10:25-26 ESV) 25 Eat whatever is sold in the meat market without raising any question on the ground of conscience.  26 For “the earth is the Lord’s, and the fullness thereof.”

Therefore, meat is fine to eat, and we are under no obligation to ask whether it was sacrificed to an idol. Don’t ask. Enjoy.

Paul quotes from Psalm 24, and as is often the case, he is referring to the broader context – Continue reading

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