1 Corinthians 11:2-16 (God; Christ; Husband; Wife), Part 6


(Eph 5:22 ESV) 22 Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 

As Paul explains in Ephesians 5, the wife’s obligation to her husband does not mean the husband has no reciprocal obligation.

Rather, while Paul finds the role of wives in their prototype, Eve, he finds the role of husbands in their prototype Jesus as the husband of the church (and from the Old Testament, the Lord as husband of Israel). Continue reading

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1 Corinthians 11:2-16 (Husbands and Wives), Part 6

priscilla-catacombs3So, finally, we get to 1 Corinthians 11 — but hopefully with a rich, full understanding of Jesus and our relationship to him in mind.

(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.

There’s a good case from context that “head” or kephalē means source, but Greek is devoid of any prior use of kephalē in that sense. Rather, the more common uses are as the most prominent part, the end point, the beginning, and as chief, leader, or ruler.

But metaphors are always defined by context, and we cannot ignore the context in deciding what Paul has in mind. Moreover, we cannot assume that Paul abandons his understanding of Christ or of men and women.

Notice that the ESV translates anēr as “husband” and gunē as “wife,” contrary to the NIV. This is for a couple of reasons. First, as pointed out earlier, the subject of the passage is veils, and only wives were expected to wear a veil. Continue reading

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1 Corinthians 11:2-16 (Seeing the Image of God in Us), Part 5

priscilla-catacombs3I know I’ve wandered far from 1 Corinthians 11, but it’s necessary. You see, we have a tendency to revert to our childhood understanding when we take a text out of context — the context of all of scripture.

And so it’s easy to imagine that “head” requires a hierarchical relationship of power and dominance, even though the rest of scripture points us in the opposite direction.

We have to remember the big lessons before we start inserting our preconceptions into the text.

And we have to cover one more essential truth before we return to “head.” What is the image of God? What does God really look like? If we were to be restored to his image, what would that be like? Continue reading

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1 Corinthians 11:2-16 (Called to Become Kings; Theosis), Part 4


While the idea of being on the throne with Jesus seems utterly foreign to modern Christians, it was an important theme for First Century Jews — who knew their scriptures better than we often do.

Paul had already introduced the idea in 1 Corinthians —

(1Co 6:2-3 ESV) 2 Or do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world is to be judged by you, are you incompetent to try trivial cases?  3 Do you not know that we are to judge angels? How much more, then, matters pertaining to this life!

Remember that in the ancient world the king was also a judge. That’s why we read of the greatness of Solomon in terms of his wise rulings as judge. Continue reading

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Another Wineskins Post Is Up

WineskinsbannerI’ve put up a post at Wineskins with a couple of follow up questions to Paula Harrington’s thoughtful post from a few days earlier.

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Spanish Translators?

LatinAmericaI just received a message from an American missionary to Latin America asking whether someone might translate my ebooks into Spanish. He writes,

My wife and I  lived in Latin America for several years and plan to return to work among the Churches of Christ. We know how steeped in patternism/legalism/creedalism the church leaders are. It is very rare, extremely rare to hear a Latin-American Church of Christ preacher who openly questions “the pattern.” Pray for a like-minded brother or sister to translate your works and make them available to the many Christians who need them. God bless you. 

My Spanish begins and ends with “taco,” but I bet there’s someone out there whose sleeve is being tugged by the Spirit to do some translation work.

Contact me at jfguin(at)comcast(dot)net.

This is not a money-paying thing. It’s strictly for jewels in your crown.

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1 Corinthians 11:2-16 (Kephalē in Ephesians), Part 3


The meaning of “head” in 1 Corinthians 11 is controversial. After all, the entire passage is replete with difficulties.

In First Century Greek, “head” can refer to the highest or most prominent part of something, to the beginning, to the extremities or ends of something, or to life.

And, of course, Paul was free to coin his own metaphors, discernible from context. Continue reading

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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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