The Veiling For Christian Women – Part 2

glory in the lord joy
Hope for Today (English)
The Veiling For Christian Women - Part 2
1 Corinthians 11:1-16

It is a symbol of authority.

10 For this cause ought the woman to have power on her head because of the angels.

The word power contains as its basic meaning “authority.” The woman ought to have authority on her head. This authority may look in two directions. It may look to her own, that is, that it gives her the right to come into the presence of God. It may look to the authority that the veil recognizes in the order God has set up, in which man is her head. Thus the veil not only applies to the women but also applies to the men of the congregation in that it urges them to assume the place that is theirs in the divine order. By the very fact that we men urge the observance of this teaching, we are saying that we accept the responsibility that is set forth. Therefore we ought willingly to take the place in the divine order that the veil symbolizes, whether man or woman.

With regard to “angels” in this verse, one can learn the attitude of angels by reading Isaiah 6. In the experience of Isaiah in the temple, he saw the cherubim covering themselves in the presence of God. Since the angels cover themselves in the presence of God, Paul taught, that women should follow the example of the angels.

The veil and insubordination cannot go together. The significance of the veil may be summarized in this way: It symbolizes sanctification; it symbolizes a proper submission; it symbolizes authority. These constitute the second reason the veil should be worn.

Third, there are:


It is more than a Corinthian custom.

16 But if any man seem to be contentious, we have no such custom, neither the churches of God.

The veil is not a generalization. It is not an idea that one can take or leave. Verse 16 would clearly indicate that it is a teaching of universal intention. The custom here referred to must be the custom of unveiled women. Paul, being led by the Holy Spirit, would not have been so foolish as to have set forth the teaching of the veiling and then with one stroke have brushed it all aside. Indeed, if one takes it simply from the historical and cultural situation in which the apostle Paul lived, then he would understand that women with the hair cut advertised themselves as being harlots of the town. Certainly, the apostle would not argue that if you want to dispute the question with me, we will forget the whole thing.

If you will note again the verses cited in the introduction 1:2; 4:17; and 7:17 it will be reasonably clear that Paul was consciously writing for a larger audience than the church in Corinth. One learns from the history of the early believers that they believed the veil was to be worn. In the catacombs of Rome, one scholar reports the women are pictured with a close-fitting head-dress and the men have short hair.

Many present-day denominations in times past practiced a covering for women. And this covering was not a protective covering. There are only a few who still preserve the veiling of Christian women with a specific and particular veil as taught in I Corinthians 11.

It is more than a public observance.

4 Every man praying or prophesying, having his head covered, dishonoureth his head.

5 But every woman that prayeth and prophesieth with her head uncovered dishonoreth her head: for that is even all one as if she were shaven.

Here we differ among ourselves. Some teach that the veil is only for public worship. The passage, however, speaks of praying or prophesying. The discussion itself focuses on the exercise of prayer. Is prayer to be engaged in one’s home life, or in one’s private life, or only in the public assembly? We must not attempt to make the Bible contradict itself. Paul on another occasion urged believers to “pray without ceasing” (I Thessalonians 5:17), which would hardly limit the veil to the public assembly.

There is, in addition, the question of prophesying. Paul explains the exercise of prophesying in chapter 14 of this book: “he that prophesieth speaketh unto men to edification, and exhortation, and comfort” (v.3). It is hoped that Christian women would speak to edification, exhortation, and comfort in other places than in the assembly, though they may properly engage in it there. It is more than a public worship observance. The way it is retained in certain religious orders of women would amplify this point. Some time ago there appeared on the platform of a Baptist institution a German Baptist deaconess wearing a veil of large design.

It is more than the hair.

15 But if a woman has long hair, it is a glory to her: for her hair is given her for a covering.

The relationship between covering in verse 15 and the covering in the earlier part of the chapter has caused problems in the minds of some. A little thought will show that the covering of this verse is of a different aspect, for her hair is given to her for a “casting around” (a literal rendering of the Greek word periballo, translated “covering”) and is to be her glory. Without being uncouth, a woman’s long hair is given to her as a part of her modesty. How can the cut hair, the hair that has been shorn, be the “casting around” of which the apostle speaks?

Furthermore, the logic of the whole passage is against considering the hair as the veil. If the hair were the veil, then verses 5 and 6 cannot be explained. If the hair is the veil and she is not veiled, then she has already cut off her hair. But Paul says if she be not veiled, let her cut off her hair. How can she cut off that which is not there! On the contrary, verse 15 would teach us that the hair and the veil are to answer to each other. The second preposition “for” in its basic meaning of the New Testament language contains something of a comparison, that “one answers to the other.” Thus the hair and the veil should answer to each other. Nature should teach us the extent of the veil, for if the hair and the veil are to answer to each other, then the hairline should set a pattern of the veil.

The application of the veil deals with more than a Corinthian custom; it deals with more than a public worship observance; it deals with more than the hair. There is to be a particular veil as an expression of a spiritual significance that indicates for the woman, and all who see her, that she has set herself apart. She has sanctified herself to Christ.


We accept the Bible as the final authority. We have seen that this letter is more than a letter to believers at Corinth in the first century.

We understand that there are


The veiling for Christian women is based on the divine foundation of order, social relation, and the distinction of the sexes.

We understand that there are


The veil signifies sanctification, submission, and authority.

We understand that there are


The applications go beyond the custom of the cultural practice in Corinth, the public worship experience, and the hair as a covering.

Having then understood the teaching of the Word of God, we are now face to face with our response to it. Let us with conviction and purpose arise and do.

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