Men and Women in the Body of Messiah: Answering 50 Crucial Questions – Part 2










Continued from Part 1


reproduced from the publication Men and Women in the Body of Messiah: Answering Crucial Questions

25. Since it says in 1 Corinthians 14:34 that “women should keep silent in all the churches,” it doesn’t seem like your position is really biblical because of how much speaking you really do allow to women. How do you account for this straightforward prohibition of women speaking?

1 Corinthians 14:34 has certainly been used in many religious settings throughout history to issue blanket moratoriums on females speaking before an assembly of people, or even interjecting their thoughts and opinions in group discussions: “the women should keep silent in the churches. For they are not permitted to speak, but should be in submission, as the Law also says” (ESV). Piper and Grudem are witnessed as not thinking that 1 Corinthians 14:34 is a blanket prohibition against all females speaking in an assembly of Believers. Instead, as complementarians, they think that the context of 1 Corinthians 14:34 involves speaking in an assembly in a manner which would shame the male leaders. And, they would seemingly find textual support from 1 Corinthians 14:35 following: “If there is anything they desire to learn, let them ask their husbands at home. For it is shameful for a woman to speak in church” (ESV).

Piper and Grudem’s basic position is summarized in 50 Crucial Questions:

“The issue is not whether women are competent or intelligent or wise or well taught. The issue is how they relate to the men of the church. In 1 Corinthians 14:34 Paul speaks of submission…So the issue of shamefulness is at root an issue of doing something that would dishonor the role of the men as leaders of the congregation….Women are taking a role here that Paul thinks is inappropriate, and so it’s in this activity of public judgment on spoken prophecies that he calls them to be silent…[I]n…1 Corinthians 14 Paul is calling for not the total silence of women but a kind of involvement that signifies, in various ways, their glad affirmation of the leadership of the men God has called to be the guardians and overseers of the flock.”[133]

Many contemporary complementarians will recognize how 1 Corinthians 14:34-35 has been the cause of a great deal of dismissal of the value of women in the Body of Messiah. All of us, at one point or another, have witnessed a deep thinking and accomplished female, shut down and told to be quiet, with 1 Corinthians 14:34-35 invoked. Still, even with various complementarians recognizing that 1 Corinthians 14:34-35 should not be haphazardly applied, these verses are frequently appealed to, to limit the inclusion of women within the leadership and teaching structure of many evangelical Protestant institutions.

Egalitarians know the significance that 1 Corinthians 14:34-35 have for complementarians. How do egalitarians approach 1 Corinthians 14:34-35? Some have approached it from the perspective of idle babble or gossip, and not reasoned or intelligible dialogue, taking place on the part of women. Some have approached it from the perspective of some undiscernible situation from First Century Corinth being in view. And, based on various proposals made in textual criticism, many evangelical Christian egalitarians have concluded that 1 Corinthians 14:34-35 are not authentic verses to the Apostle Paul, but instead the interpolation of a later copyist.

My 2015 commentary 1 Corinthians for the Practical Messianic evaluated the different options for 1 Corinthians 14:34-35, with a particular focus on what these verses mean for the emerging Messianic movement. As detailed, I myself am strongly inclined to believe that 1 Corinthians 14:34-35 are not authentic verses to Paul’s letter:

The remarks of 1 Corinthians 14:34-35, have certainly been among those which have stimulated a wide amount of controversy and abuse throughout Christian history. Within the wider cotext of 1 Corinthians 14, the statement prohibiting women speaking in the assembly appears among instruction encouraging all to participate with a psalm, teaching, or revelation (v. 26), the proper usage of tongues (vs. 27-28) and the gift of prophecy among those in the assembly (vs. 29-32), the need for there to be order (v. 33), an acknowledgment from prophets that Paul’s word is from God (vs. 36-38), and that prophecy and tongues in the right order are not to be prohibited (vs. 39-40). Sandwiched between the need for there to be order for the gift of prophecy (v. 33), and an acknowledgement from prophets that Paul’s instruction is from God (vs. 36-38), is the admonition about women not being permitted to speak in the assembly (vs. 34-35).

Significant controversies have been caused, from both professional scholars and lay readers alike, with how to view 1 Corinthians 14:34-35 in light of other statements within the letter of 1 Corinthians, which clearly do permit, even with some restrictions, females to speak in the assembly:

“But every woman who has her head uncovered while praying or prophesying disgraces her head, for she is one and the same as the woman whose head is shaved” (1 Corinthians 11:5).[134]

“For you can all prophesy one by one, so that all may learn and all may be exhorted” (1 Corinthians 14:31).

Recognizing that the Holy Spirit was to be poured out upon all flesh (Joel 2:28; Acts 2:18; 21:9), the moving of the Holy Spirit, as asserted in 1 Corinthians 12:11 is universal: “But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually just as He wills.” There is no gender restriction to either males or females exclusively, then, to when a person is moved by the Holy Spirit to having “a psalm…a teaching…a revelation…a tongue…[or] an interpretation” (v. 26). And so, given the universal availability and gender blindness of the Holy Spirit, why would it be prohibited for women to speak in the assembly, when it is to be anticipated that both men and women equally will speak (14:6, 31)?

Among examiners of 1 Corinthians 14:34-35, there have been three major ways of approaching this instruction:

1. 14:34-35 are universal instructions, for all places and all times, forbidding women from speaking to the assembly

2. 14:34-35 are localized instructions forbidding First Century Corinthian women from speaking to the assembly

3. 14:34-35 are a non-Pauline interpolation, and are verses not authentic to Paul’s original letter

While we will principally be examining the various views and positions of Christian examiners of 1 Corinthians 14:34-35 in the following analysis, there are Messianic people who may be found to adhere to all three of the above views.


1. 1 Corinthians 14:34-35 are universal instructions, for all places and all times, forbidding women from speaking to the assembly

With few exceptions—those exceptions likely being found in the fringe, highly patriarchal sectors of the independent Hebrew/Hebraic Roots movement—most Messianic people are actually not going to adhere to 1 Corinthians 14:34-35 being universal instructions for all places and all times. Most Messianic congregations, be they in Messianic Judaism or in the more independent sectors of the broad Messianic world, actually do have females participate in congregational services and teaching, even if it might be limited to various degrees. This might range from women making congregational announcements, to there being public teaching to children during the Shabbat service, to there even being actual teaching to the general assembly of people.


2. 1 Corinthians 14:34-35 are localized instructions forbidding First Century Corinthian women from speaking to the assembly

The sizeable majority of both complementarian and egalitarian readers, of 1 Corinthians 14:34-35, are going to advocate some kind of localized situation for the prohibition issued. Concurrent with this are various voices who urge caution in how to apply 1 Corinthians 14:34-35 in a modern setting, including complementarians, or those who do not believe in ordination of female clergy.

One popular view of the word, “The women are to keep silent in the [assembly]; for they are not permitted to speak…” (v. 34a), is that talking in general or in public is not really the issue, but rather some kind of interfering chatter, perhaps even tied up via the influence of ancient mystery cults.[135] Some of this would be afforded by available lexical definitions of the verb laleō, “to talk, chat, prattle, babble” (LS),[136] with BDAG further explaining, “In older Gk. usu. of informal communication ranging from engagement in small talk to chattering and babbling, hence opp. of [legō].”[137]

Concurrent with this, the closing statement in v. 35b, “for it is improper for a woman to speak in [assembly],” employs the word aischros, which is “A term esp. significant in honor-shame oriented society; gener. in ref. to that which fails to meet expected moral and cultural standards [opp. {kalos}]) pert. to being socially or morally unacceptable, shameful, base” (BDAG).[138] Various interpreters are convinced that the main issue in view, for disorderly conduct, are the various negative, social impressions that the Corinthian assembly of Believers would have given to outside Greeks and Romans, if women were frequently speaking aloud in various functions.[139] As is witnessed in the works of Plutarch, “[a woman] ought to be modest and guarded about saying anything in the hearing of outsiders, since it is an exposure of herself….womankind [must be] keeping at home and keeping silence. For a woman ought to do her talking either to her husband or through her husband” (Advice to the Bride and Groom 31, 32).[140]

Recognizing that there is a range of views on 1 Corinthians 14:34-35, which notably start by proposing that the talking being prohibited is some kind of gossip or chatter, and/or that First Century Mediterranean cultural taboos are being upheld for the sake of the greater good, is important—as there are other positions represented, or at least nuanced views taken, regarding 1 Corinthians 14:34-35 across the spectrum of those both unfavorable and favorable to women in ministry.

F.F. Bruce issues some rather general remarks on the direction of 1 Corinthians 14:34-35, in that if these verses are authentic to the letter, that there must be a balance in reading these verses in light of previous direction of women praying and prophesying in public. He directs readers more in the direction of the Corinthian women speaking about things for which they have little knowledge or information, things that they should speak about at home to their husbands:

“After the recognition in 11.5ff. of women’s ‘authority’ to pray and prophesy, the imposition of silence on them here is strange. We must, of course, beware of accommodating Paul’s views to ours, but here the difficulty lies in accommodating the views expressed in these two verses to Paul’s clear teaching earlier in this letter. Some commentators have solved the problem by serving that verses 34-35 come after verse 40 in the Western text, and concluding therefore that they are in origin a marginal gloss….If we regard these two verses as integral to the text…the imposition of silence on women may be explained by verse 35 as forbidding them to interrupt proceedings by asking questions which could more properly be put to their husbands at home, or by taking part with more ardour than intelligence in the discussion of prophetic messages.”[141]

In a general sense, the rationale for 1 Corinthians 14:34-35 is proposed by David E. Garland as being required on the basis of First Century Mediterranean social norms. He details,

“I conclude that Paul’s instructions are conditioned by the social realities of his age and a desire to prevent a serious breach in decorum. The negative effect that wives publicly interrupting or contradicting their husbands might have on outsiders (let alone the bruising it would cause to sensitive male egos) could not be far from his mind.”[142]

The perspective of David H. Stern in his Jewish New Testament Commentary is also fairly close to this, but also advises readers of 1 Corinthians to consider the perspective that its author is dealing with localized questions and circumstances with which they were familiar:

“Sha’ul places his instruction precisely here in the letter because it is here that he is dealing with matters of decorum and public order in congregational meetings; his advice seems curt and abrupt if one ignores that he has already discussed the applicable general principles and that (by my assumption) his questioners are already familiar with the context of the problem, since they brought it up in the first place. If we could not supply such a framework for these verses, we might have to conclude, as some do, that Sha’ul demeans women.”[143]

Another perspective which has been offered, especially in view of the wider cotext and its themes regarding prophetic words and tongues, is that the prohibition regarding women speaking in 1 Corinthians 14:34-35 actually pertains to the evaluation of prophecies issued to the assembly. This view is offered by Craig Blomberg:

“Perhaps the best perspective…is to take Paul’s commands as prohibiting women from participating in the final church decisions about the legitimacy of any given prophecy. To begin with, ‘speak,’ in twenty of the twenty-one appearances of this verb in this chapter outside of vv 34-35, refers either directly or by analogy to one of four very particular kinds of speech: tongues, their interpretation, prophecy or its evaluation. But the first three of these are spiritual gifts, distributed regardless of gender. An authoritative evaluation of prophecy, however, while requiring input from the whole congregation, would ultimately have been the responsibility of the church leadership…who, at least in the first century, seem to have been exclusively male. The sequence of topics from verses 27-33 has been precisely: tongues, their interpretation, prophecy, and its evaluation, in that order.”[144]

This is a view that is also repeated to a wide extent by Ben Witherington III, although he adds the thought that with prophecies perhaps being evaluated, what would have occurred would have been similar to what took place at the pagan oracle of Delphi:

“During the time of the weighing of the prophecies some women, probably married women, who themselves may have been prophetesses and thus entitled to weigh what was said, were asking questions, perhaps inappropriate questions, and the worship service was being disrupted. Paul urges in vv. 34f. that Christian worship not be turned into a question-and-answer session…[I]t is very believable that these women assumed that Christian prophets or prophetesses function much like the oracle at Delphi, who only prophesied in response to questions, including questions about purely personal matters. Paul argues that Christian prophecy is different: Prophets and prophetesses speak in response to the prompting of the Holy Spirit, without any human priming of the pump. Paul then limits such questions to another location, namely home. He may imply that the husband or man who was to be asked was either a prophet or at least able to answer such questions at a more appropriate time.”[145]

In some ways, it may be thought that a wife-prophetess cross-examining various prophecies issued to the assembly, corresponds to how Moses’ sister Miriam contradicted her brother as the designated leader of Israel (Numbers 12:1-15).

Evangelical Christian voices which would be regarded as more complementarian than not in terms of gender roles, have tended to issue some caution in how 1 Corinthians 14:34-35 is read and applied in modern circumstances. Leon Morris describes how the situation presented in 1 Corinthians 14:34-35 depicts circumstances which are not necessarily the same as encountered today in contemporary Christianity:

“We must exercise due caution in applying his principle to our own very different situation. For example, in recent discussions this passage is often cited as deciding the question of the ordination of women. But it should be applied to that question only with reserve. Paul is not discussing whether and how qualified women may minister, but how women should learn (v. 35).”[146]

Roy E. Ciampa and Brian S. Rosner describe the challenges of implementing what 1 Corinthians 14:34-35 communicates in a modern Western setting, taking these verses in the obvious direction of them having been written against a First Century backdrop:

“In applying such a text to other contexts and cultures we must be aware of the extent to which Paul and other biblical authors are sensitive to the social norms of proper decorum in the places where they ministered…[I]n the modern (or postmodern) West it would be more scandalous to prohibit women from speaking with men than it is to allow men and women to speak freely with each other as long as our own sense of propriety is not offended. For a married man or woman to meet privately with a person of the opposite sex on a regular basis for prayer, study, and the like would be likely to raise questions. A married person who spends significant time discussing issues in private with a person of the opposite spouse other than their spouse might raise some concerns. In some cultures and contexts one could still suggest that a wife should ask their question of their own husbands at home (as was considered most appropriate in the Roman world) without blushing. In much of the world today such a recommendation would only discredit the person making such a statement, given the fact that the husband is hardly more likely to understand the issues better than his wife.”[147]

On the whole for today’s wide Messianic community, which is firmly complementarian and tends to oppose females as ordained clergy or leaders in the assembly, it is still to be observed that some localized First Century Corinthian or Mediterranean issue will be concluded for the rationale behind 1 Corinthians 14:34-35. These verses will not often be interpreted as a universal moratorium on women speaking in the assembly in all places and all times, but will be employed to limit the participation on women speaking in the assembly for certain.


3. 1 Corinthians 14:34-35 are a non-Pauline interpolation, and are verses not authentic to Paul’s original letter

A growing number of examiners, understandably egalitarian and favorable to females as ordained clergy and leaders in the assembly, feel that 1 Corinthians 14:34-35 are a later, non-Pauline interpolation or gloss of some kind. This does notably involve those who lean toward later letters, which include some kind of restrictive instruction on women (1 Timothy 2:11-12), as being Deutero-Pauline and the product of a later generation.[148] Yet, there are evangelical interpreters who hold to genuine Pauline authorship of all of Paul’s attributed letters, who do not believe that 1 Corinthians 14:34-35 were verses written by Paul.

Those arguing that 1 Corinthians 14:34-35 are inauthentic to this letter will appeal to the previous instruction of 1 Corinthians 11:2-26, which portrays women as being able to prophesy, and in the surrounding text of ch. 14, each being able to contribute (14:26) or prophesy (14:24, 31), all speaking in tongues (14:5, 18, 23, 39). In the wider scope of Paul’s letters, the place of various female leaders in the assembly is to be acknowledged, including: Phoebe (Romans 16:1-2), Prisca or Priscilla (Romans 16:3-4; cf. Acts 18:18-28), Junia (Romans 16:7), and Euodia and Syntyche (Philippians 4:2-3). It is widely thought that 1 Corinthians 14:34-35 interrupt Paul’s flow of thought among the wider selection of subjects addressed in ch. 14, with vs. 34-35 notably placed in parentheses () in the NRSV:

“What should be done then, my friends? When you come together, each one has a hymn, a lesson, a revelation, a tongue, or an interpretation. Let all things be done for building up. If anyone speaks in a tongue, let there be only two or at most three, and each in turn; and let one interpret. But if there is no one to interpret, let them be silent in church and speak to themselves and to God. Let two or three prophets speak, and let the others weigh what is said. If a revelation is made to someone else sitting nearby, let the first person be silent. For you can all prophesy one by one, so that all may learn and all be encouraged. And the spirits of prophets are subject to the prophets, for God is a God not of disorder but of peace. (As in all the churches of the saints, women should be silent in the churches. For they are not permitted to speak, but should be subordinate, as the law also says. If there is anything they desire to know, let them ask their husbands at home. For it is shameful for a woman to speak in church. Or did the word of God originate with you? Or are you the only ones it has reached?) Anyone who claims to be a prophet, or to have spiritual powers, must acknowledge that what I am writing to you is a command of the Lord. Anyone who does not recognize this is not to be recognized. So, my friends, be eager to prophesy, and do not forbid speaking in tongues; but all things should be done decently and in order” (1 Corinthians 14:26-40, NRSV).

In determining the intention of 1 Corinthians 14:34-35, a significant challenge is presented to all readers, but most especially Messianic readers, per the statement made “as the Law also says” or “as also the Torah says” (CJB/TLV). The specific instruction of the Pentateuch is appealed to as support for the silence and subordination of females in the assembly. This presents a serious hermeneutical dilemma, as the statement ho nomos legei appears elsewhere (Romans 3:19[149]; 1 Corinthians 9:8[150]; 14:21[151]) with some form of quotation or significant allusion to a Torah or Tanach passage. In 1 Corinthians 14:34-35, no such quotation or significant allusion is made.

Even with no direct Torah or Tanach quote present in 1 Corinthians 14:34-35, this does not mean there have not been various thoughts issued regarding whether or not some aspect of the Torah or Tanach is being referenced. The most common thought issued about “they are not permitted to speak, but are to subject themselves, just as the Law also says” (v. 34), is that Genesis 3:16 is probably being alluded to. This verse details, “Yet your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you,” and is taken by many to involve some kind of Creation order of men leading women. But this view of Genesis 3:16 and the teshuqah or “urge” (NJPS) women will have for men has been challenged by far too many, including complementarians, especially per its later usage in Genesis 4:7 in God’s word to Cain: “sin is crouching at the door; and its desire [teshuqah; urge, NJPS] is for you, but you must master it.” Genesis 3:16 does not at all pertain to some kind of Creation order of women being ruled by men, but rather is a part of the curse incurred by the Fall involving women having a domineering urge to master men, and then men mastering women—the proverbial battle of the sexes.[152] Such a curse, as implied by a passage like Galatians 3:28, is supposed to have been decisively broken via the work of Yeshua the Messiah.[153]

Other suggestions might be based on complementarian readings of Genesis 1:26-27 or 2:20-21, of the male being created before the female—but egalitarians would rightly counter this with noting that there is no hint of Adam and Eve being created as anything less than equals, and aside from their anatomical differences, both were created to rule over the Creation together.

Another suggestion can be made that “the Law” being referred to in 1 Corinthians 14:34-35 is not actually the Torah or Tanach, but instead direction witnessed in the Oral Torah. It is actually witnessed in the Talmud, that women were supposed to be silent in the assembly:

“They said to him, ‘It was the week of R. Eleazar b. Azariah.’ He said to them, ‘And what was the topic of the narrative today?’ They said to him, ‘It was the passage that begins, Assemble the people, the men and the women and the children (Deu. 31:12).’ He said to them, ‘And what did he expound in that connection?’ They said to him, ‘This is how he interpreted it. “The men come to learn, the women to listen, but why do the children come? It is to provide the occasion for the gaining of a reward for those who bring them.”’ He said to them, ‘You had a good pearl in your hands, and you wanted to make me lose it! If you had come only to let me hear this one thing, it would have been enough for me’ [Fathers According to Rabbi Nathan XVIII.II.1]” (b.Chagigah 3a).[154]

The real challenge to “the Law” being referred to in v. 34, involving the Oral Torah, is that normally—except for cases like Ephesians 2:15, ton nomon tōn entolōn en dogmasin or “the religious Law of commandments in dogmas” (PME),[155] or other places where “the Law” being referred to either involves “the Law of the Jews” (Acts 25:8) or the Romans speaking ambiguously of “your own law” (Acts 18:15)—most references to nomos in the Greek Apostolic Scriptures are to the Torah and/or Tanach, and do not involve some kind of Jewish oral instruction or halachah.

Some, not believing that 1 Corinthians 14:34-35 represents the view or instruction of the Apostle Paul, have actually proposed that v. 36 following, “Was it from you that the word of God first went forth? Or has it come to you only?”, is intended to be a refutation of what vs. 34-35 communicate.[156] Here, Paul would be quoting an errant Corinthian slogan, and then providing his own response to it. While there are certainly other places in 1 Corinthians (i.e., 6:12; 7:1; 8:1, 4, 8; 10:13; 15:15) which bear signs of being a Corinthian slogan refuted or countered by Paul, none of them are as long as 1 Corinthians 14:34-35.

Egalitarians, who would argue for the full inclusion of women within the leadership structure of the Body of Messiah, including ordination of females as clergy, would certainly benefit from the view that 1 Corinthians 14:34-35 are a later interpolation, and are not authentic to Paul’s instruction to the Corinthians. One of the main areas of support for this view is seen in how a variety of 1 Corinthians manuscripts, vs. 34-35 have actually been transposed to follow v. 40. Bruce M. Metzger catalogues this in his Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament:

“Several witnesses, chiefly Western, transpose verses 34-35 to follow v. 40 (D F G 88* itd, g Ambrosiaster Sedulius Scotus); in codex Fuldensis they were inserted by Victor of Capua in the margin after ver. 33, without, however, removing them from their place farther down. Such scribal alterations represent attempts to find a more appropriate location in the context for Paul’s directive concerning women.”[157]

The 1987 1 Corinthians commentary of Gordon D. Fee, appearing in the New International Commentary on the New Testament series, may have been the first major evangelical Christian resource to deny 1 Corinthians 14:34-35 as authentic to the letter.[158] The most recent and substantial evangelical Christian argument, against the authenticity of 1 Corinthians 14:34-35, was offered in Philip B. Payne’s 2009 book Man and Woman, One in Christ: An Exegetical and Theological Study of Paul’s Letters.[159] Payne has argued that 1 Corinthians 14:34-35 appeared early as an interpolation sometime subsequent to the composition of 1 Timothy 2:11-15,[160] and thusly before the collection of the Pauline corpus:

[Various] Manuscripts, do…attest to the omission [of 1 Cor 14:34-35], including the distigme-obelus in Vaticanus, FuldensisVictor mg., MS 88, and Clement of Alexandria.

The verbal parallels between 1 Cor 14:34-35 and 1 Tim 2:11-15 favor an interpolation date after the writing of 1 Timothy. It is unlikely, however, to have been made after the collected letters of Paul were being distributed in codex form since that should have resulted in more MSS without 14:34-35. First Clement, probably written in the last decade of the first century, alludes to Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Acts, Romans, 1 and 2 Corinthians, Ephesians, 1 Timothy, Titus, Hebrews, James, 1 and 2 Peter, and Revelation. Such extensive allusions are most easily explained if the codices of the NT or of Paul’s letters were in circulation by then.

The gloss could have been entered into the margin of any manuscript that became the exemplar (or Vorlage of the exemplar) of the first copy of Paul’s collected letters as a codex. The gloss could even have been written into the very first codex collecting Paul’s letters sometime late in the first century. Since it was common for scribes to write text in the margin that they had omitted by mistake, subsequent scribes would insert 1 Cor 14:34-35 from the margin into the body text.

From that manuscript with 1 Cor 14:34-35 in the margin, at least two copies must have been made, one or more with these two sentences interpolated into the body text after verse 40 and one or more with these two sentences interpolated into the body text after verse 33. The manuscript(s) with 14:34-35 after verse 40 became the exemplar(s) of the Western text-type tradition. Manuscript(s) with 14:34-35 after verse 33 became the exemplar(s) from which all the non-Western text families descended…[161]

Payne, as an egalitarian, may be said to be motivated, at least partially, on theological grounds to favor 1 Corinthians 14:34-35 as being inauthentic to Paul’s letter. Perhaps the most balanced view available, joining together both textual and theological evidence, is offered by Philip W. Comfort in his 2008 New Testament Text and Translation Commentary:

In the interest of the argument that follows, it is important to see 14:34-35 in a full rendering: “34 The women are to keep silent in the church meetings, for it is not permitted for them to speak; but they must be submissive, even as the law says. 35 And if they desire to learn anything, let them ask their own husbands at home, for it is a shame for a woman to speak in the church meeting.”

In addition to the textual evidence cited above, it must also be said that Payne (1995, 240-262) has noted that both B and itf (Old Latin Codex Fuldensis) have marginal markings or readings which suggest that their scribes knew of the textual problem pertaining to 14:34-35. In Codex Vaticanus, there is a marginal umlaut by the line that contains the end of 14:33, which, in Payne’s view, indicates awareness of the textual problem regarding 14:34-35. As for Codex Fuldensis (produced in 546/547), it seems certain that Victor of Capua (the editor and reader of the manuscript) asked the original scribe to rewrite 14:36-40 in the margin. Payne argues that this rewrite was done so as to exclude 14:34-35. However, it must be said that there are no clear sigla in the manuscript which indicate such an omission. Finally, Payne conjectures that manuscript 88 must have originally been copied from an exemplar that did not contain 14:34-35 (see Payne 1998, 152-158). Niccum (1997, 242-255) presents a thorough enough case against Payne’s observations and concludes that there is no textual evidence for the omission of 14:34-35. Miller (2003, 217-236) also sees other reasons for the presence of the umlaut in Codex B than signaling inauthenticity.

Even prior to Payne’s observations about B, itf, and 88, certain scholars were convinced that 14:34-35 was a marginal gloss that found its way into the main text of other manuscripts. Fee (1987, 696-708) makes a strong and thorough argument for this position, which rests on one challenge: If the verses were originally part of Paul’s discourse at this juncture, why would any scribe have moved them after 14:40, where they are obviously out of place? Granted this transposition occurred in Western manuscripts only—and the Western text is known for textual transposition (see notes on Matt 5:4-5; Luke 4:5-10)—but in this case (contra the other verses just noted), the transposition spoils the sense. Thus, Fee’s conclusion is that the words were written as a marginal gloss, which was later inserted after 14:33 in several manuscripts and after 14:40 in others. It is possible that some scribe, influenced by 1 Tim 2:9-15, wanted to make it clear that women were not to speak at all during church meetings. However, since these verses appear in î46 (which dates to the second century), the gloss must have been made quite early. Ellis (1981, 219-220), therefore, suggests that the gloss was written by Paul himself. It is also possible that the compiler of the Pauline corpus added this gloss.

Without these verses, the passage reads:

33 God is not the author of confusion but of harmony, as in all the churches of the saints.
36 Or from you did the word of God go forth? Or to you only did it reach?”

The connection between these verses is not readily apparent but is clear enough. Paul argues that peace and order reigns in all the churches—should it be any different at Corinth? Were the Corinthians the only ones to have believed the word—did not the same word reach all the churches? So why should the Corinthian meetings be any different from what was going on in all the churches? Thus, Paul was contending that the Corinthians’ meeting behavior should coincide with what was occurring in all the other churches.

With the verses included, the text reads:

33 God is not the author of confusion but of harmony, as in all the churches of the saints. 34 The women are to keep silent in the church meetings, for it is not permitted for them to speak; but they must be submissive, even as the law says. 35 And if they desire to learn anything, let them ask their own husbands at home, for it is a shame for a woman to speak in the church meeting. 36 Or from you did the word of God go forth? Or to you only did it reach?”

As was discussed in the note on 14:33, the adverbial phrase “As in all the churches of the saints” (14:33b) could begin a new paragraph, modifying the following verses rather than the preceding.

The inclusion of 14:34-35 creates a number of exegetical concerns, the chief of which pertains to the issue of women’s verbal participation in church meetings. If Paul prohibited women from speaking in church meetings, why would he have indicated in 11:5 and 13 that women who pray and prophesy must do so with their heads covered? Obviously, these women were performing these verbal functions during a church meeting (see 11:17). So why would Paul later censure their speech? The only plausible answer is that he was not prohibiting them from functioning spiritually during the meeting; rather, he was prohibiting them from talking during the part of the meeting where the Scriptures were taught. In other words, the women had a right to participate in the prayers and prophecies, but they did not have a right to participate orally in the public discussions which arose from the teaching of Scripture. Indeed, it would be shameful to the men taking the lead in the church for them to be challenged by a woman or for a woman to assume mastery over the situation. (This is probably the situation that is addressed in 1 Tim 2:11-15.) Thus, women (or, wives) were commanded to learn from their husbands at home. Furthermore, it is possible that certain women at Corinth believed they were oracles for God or that they had some special insight into God’s word. If so, then Paul’s words could be a rebuke aimed specifically at them: “Did the word of God originate from you?”

In summary, it seems fair to consider that 14:34-35 might be a gloss. If so, the point of Paul’s passage is to urge the Corinthians to emulate the meeting behavior of the other churches (cf. 11:16). But if 14:34-35 is not a gloss—and there is no clear extant textual evidence to prove that it is—then we are faced with the challenge of exegeting the passage within the context of 1 Corinthians itself and the rest of the NT epistles. As such, it seems fair to say that Paul was not prohibiting all speech during a church meeting; rather, he was prohibiting female participation in the teaching of Scriptures in the church at Corinth, for this was a role designated to the male apostles and elders.[162]

Ultimately for the Bible reader, the issue of whether or not 1 Corinthians 14:34-35 are authentic verses written by the Apostle Paul, should be evaluated on theological grounds. Is Paul being consistent with himself and the universal availability of the Holy Spirit to move both men and women of God? Payne[163] lists a number of significant theological reasons to be evaluated, for whether or not 14:34-35 should be considered legitimate, including:

  • 34-35 contradict Paul’s encouraging women to speak in the assembly (11:5, 13)
  • 34-35 interrupt the flow of Paul’s argument
  • 34-35 conflict with the goal of instruction in the assembly (14:26, 31)
  • 34-35 are contrary to Paul championing the downtrodden, or a subordinate, weak social group (8:7-13; 10:31; 11:21-22, 33-34)

Within an evangelical Christianity that is presently and widely debating complementarian and egalitarian views of women in ministry and gender roles, it seems probable that there will be a growing number of proponents who will agree that 1 Corinthians 14:34-35 are not authentic to Paul’s letter, given various textual and theological data. Today’s broad Messianic community is behind the curve on these discussions and debates, although there have been a few voices who have expressed not only egalitarian positions on females as ordained rabbis and clergy, but also that 1 Corinthians 14:34-35 are not authentic to Paul’s letter.[164]

While recognizing it as controversial to be sure, this writer—who has without hesitation been quite open with his egalitarian convictions regarding women in ministry and gender roles[165]—would be inclined to seriously consider the views of evangelical theologians like Fee and Payne, who are not convinced that 1 Corinthians 14:34-35 are authentic to Paul’s letter. These are verses which should be placed in some kind of brackets [] or {} in English Bible translation, given their dubious nature. This is especially highlighted when it is recognized that there is no specific prohibition in the Torah or Pentateuch that bars women from speaking in the assembly. But, even if, per the small chance, that 1 Corinthians 14:34-35 are actually authentic to Paul’s letter, these verses must be read as localized instructions to the original recipients of his correspondence—and not at all as universal instructions for the Body of Messiah.


26. Doesn’t Paul’s statement that “there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Gal. 3:28) take away gender as a basis for distinction of roles in the church?

Galatians 3:28 is certainly a verse which has generated a wide number of conclusions over many centuries: “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female—for you are all one in Messiah Yeshua” (TLV). Egalitarians do give a significant amount of importance to the claims of Galatians 3:28, and will conclude, based on their trajectorizing of Scripture, that Galatians 3:28 restores a gender equality lost at the Fall (Genesis 3:16). Egalitarians will not base all of their conclusions on women serving as co-leaders with men in the Body of Messiah on this verse, but do concede a significance for Galatians 3:28 that complementarians are not witnessed as having.

It is to be noted that in our tenuous age, that Galatians 3:28 will be taken by some beyond being used as support for the ordination of female clergy in the Body of Messiah, but even for the support of same-sex marriage. Piper and Grudem, in their 50 Crucial Questions, fairly recognize that evangelical Christian people who are egalitarian, do not take Galatians 3:28 in the direction of endorsing same-sex marriage or homosexual intercourse:

“Most evangelicals still agree that this text is not a warrant for homosexuality. In other words, most of us do not force Paul’s ‘neither male nor female’ beyond what we know from other passages he would approve. For example, we know from Romans 1:24-32 that Paul does not mean for the teaching in Galatians 3:28 to overthrow the created order of different male and female roles in sexual relations.”[166]

Complementarians commonly conclude that Galatians 3:28 is only meant to stress an equality among people, so far as it concerns the universal availability of salvation. Piper and Grudem conclude it as much,

“The context of Galatians 3:28 makes abundantly clear the sense in which men and women are equal in Christ: they are equally justified by faith (v. 24), equally free from the bondage of legalism (v. 25), equally children of God (v. 26), equally clothed with Christ (v. 27), equally possessed by Christ (v. 29), and equally heirs of the promises to Abraham (v. 29).”[167]

Piper and Grudem specifically conclude,

“[I]t is important to pay careful attention to what Paul actually says in Galatians 3:28. He does not say, ‘you are all the same in Christ Jesus,’ but, ‘you are all one in Christ Jesus.’ He is stressing their unity in Christ, not their sameness.”[168]

Egalitarians do not argue from Galatians 3:28 that all people are exactly the same, but would argue from Galatians 3:28 that there are common components of our humanity which should be stressed before our differences. And, egalitarians, unlike some complementarians, do not consider females to be any less than intelligent, capable, or more prone to error than males.

There is significant background to Galatians 3:28, from both Second Temple Judaism and Greco-Roman classicism, which egalitarians consider in their evaluations for “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (RSV). The excerpt below is adapted from my 2008 exegesis paper on Galatians 3:28, “Biblical Equality and Today’s Messianic Movement”:

The Significance of Galatians 3:28—Paul’s Subversion

While he may be moderate on a selection of other issues, the Apostle Paul is by no means moderate when it comes to the required unity of all Believers in Yeshua (Jesus). He forthrightly states, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female—for you are all one in Messiah Yeshua” (TLV). Three categories of people are listed in this verse:

1. nationalities

2. slave/free status

3. gender

These various conditions are to have absolutely no bearing when it comes to being “one” in the Lord. The availability of salvation in Yeshua, and the subsequent unity to follow—goes beyond all ethnic, social, and gender barriers.

Galatians 3:28 carries some profound significance for us today, which all sectors of the worldwide Body of Messiah tend to struggle with. Paul’s argument is not that the natural ethnic, social or employment, and gender barriers and distinctions present among people all go away, because they do not. Instead, Paul’s argument is that a strong degree of unity should prevail, considering that all human beings are naturally sinners in the eyes of God and require the atonement of His Son for salvation. Jews are still Jews, and Greeks are still Greeks. Some have a high socio-economic status, and others a low socio-economic status. Males certainly do not stop being males, nor females being females. But Yeshua and who He is, are to be the focus of one’s faith or religious experience, and all are to be unified around the common hope we have in Him.

Paul’s words, favoring this kind of “radical” unity for Believers in Yeshua, take on great significance when viewed against the backdrop of knowing that proselytes to Judaism were not often treated as equal members of the Synagogue. The Mishnah indicates a common occurrence, that “when he [the proselyte] prays in private, he says, ‘God of the fathers of Israel.’ And when he prays in the synagogue, he says, ‘God of your fathers’” (m.Bikkurim 1:4).[169] Paul’s attitude runs completely contrary to this when he tells the Corinthians, a mixed group of Jewish and non-Jewish Believers, “our fathers[170] were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea” (1 Corinthians 10:1). The Patriarchs of Israel are considered to be the “ancestors” (NRSV) of the non-Jewish Believers, every bit as much as the Jewish Believers. Whether the redeemed in Yeshua be of physical Israel or not, all who look to the God of Israel partake of the great spiritual heritage of Israel, and are considered as though they participated in the Exodus. For as the Lord told Pharaoh, the plagues He dispensed upon Egypt were for the entire Earth to understand:

“For this time I will send all My plagues on you and your servants and your people, so that you may know that there is no one like Me in all the earth[171]” (Exodus 9:14).

The kind of unity of which Paul speaks in Galatians 3:28 had little precedence in either a First Century Jewish or Hellenistic context.

One does not have to go that far to see that a common prayer in the Jewish siddur (based in t.Berachot 6:18),[172] often recited during morning prayers, follows the exact same categories of nationality, socio-economic status, and gender—and in the same order—that Paul lists in Galatians 3:28. The observant Jew proclaims, as it appears in a relatively modern resource like The Authorised Daily Prayer Book,

Blessed art thou, O Lord our God, King of the universe, who hast not made me a heathen [nakri].

Blessed art thou, O Lord our God, King of the universe, who hast not made me a bondman [aved].

Blessed art thou, O Lord our God, King of the universe, who hast not made me a woman [ishah].[173]

While men are to declare the third stanza, women are to instead declare, “Blessed art thou, O Lord our God, King of the universe who hast made me according to thy will[174].”[175]

Paul counters and subverts all three of these categories, saying that to a significant degree that they are unimportant to the Lord, as all people have been affected by Yeshua’s sacrifice (Galatians 3:26-27). A Jewish person, reading the Epistle to the Galatians, should have had a very good idea about the kind of equality and unity Paul was advocating. At the same time, a non-Jewish Greek or Roman could have also been impacted by this as well. A statement attributed to Thales and Socrates is seen in the classical work Vitae Philosophorum (1.33), and says,

…that I was born a human being and not a beast, next, a man and not a woman, thirdly, a Greek and not a barbarian…[176]

Noting the distinctions seen in the traditional Jewish prayer, F.F. Bruce indicates, “It is not unlikely that Paul himself had been brought up to thank God he was born a Jew and not a Gentile, a freeman and not a slave, a man and not a woman. If so, he takes up each of these three distinctions which had considerable importance to Judaism and affirms that in Christ they are all irrelevant.”[177] G. Walter Hansen also concludes how “This radical affirmation of unity and equality in Christ is a deliberate rejection of the attitude expressed by the synagogue prayer in which the worshiper thanks God for not making him a Gentile, a slave or a woman.”[178]

Lest we think Paul is railing against his own Jewish heritage as somehow being meaningless, his remarks also affected some pagan Hellenistic views of distinctions among people as well. Paul desired a great unity among all human beings because of the sacrificial work of Yeshua the Messiah for sinners—Jewish and non-Jewish, slave and free, male and female—that as of his time would largely have not been considered possible in whatever sphere one was living. Yet, as special and unique creatures made in His image (Genesis 1:26; 9:6; James 3:9), every person has a great value which is to now be fully realized that Messiah Yeshua and His salvation have come!

My article “Biblical Equality and Today’s Messianic Movement” goes into addressing “Neither Jew Nor Greek” and “Neither Slave Nor Free.” The section “Neither Male Nor Female” supports an egalitarian orientation for gender roles, for Believers living in the post-resurrection era. It is written to a broadly Messianic audience which would tend to sit to the Right of evangelical Christian complementarians such as Piper and Grudem:

“Neither Male Nor Female”

The third and final category listed by Paul in Galatians 3:28 is ouk eni arsen kai thēlu, “there is neither male nor female.” Paul lists this last because without any doubt this kind of equality would have been the most radical for not only his time, but even well until today. What does it mean that the genders are equal in Messiah Yeshua? This is a significant question that evangelical Christianity is presently debating, and one which today’s emerging Messianic movement must recognize as it grows and is forced to deal with issues of modernity and post-modernity, and whether or not Messianic women have a significant role to play within the administration and instruction of the Body of Messiah.

From Genesis 1:27, we see that “God created humankind in his image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them” (NRSV).[179] Many will assume that God’s creation of the male first, indicates that God favors the male gender over the female gender. But note that “The LORD God fashioned into a woman the rib which He had taken from the man, and brought her to the man” (Genesis 2:22). Eve was made from Adam’s midsection or tzeila, not from Adam’s ankle implying subservience, or from Adam’s neck implying dominance. According to Adam, his wife Eve was “bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh” (Genesis 2:23), implying that she was every bit as much as him, except for the obvious anatomical differences for reproduction. In the ideal state from the beginning of Creation, both man and woman were to serve one another as equals, relying on one another, while respecting one another where they were different.

God’s creation of the male first, and His own portrayal as male in Genesis, directly combated pagan teaching of the Ancient Near East where the first humans were birthed by a mother goddess. This is seen in Mesopotamian mythology as such Atrahasis:

Belet-ili the womb-goddess is present—
Let her create primeval man
So that he may bear the yoke [(           )],
So that he may bear the yoke, [the work of Ellil],
Let man bear the yoke of the gods!’


‘Belet-ili the womb-goddess is present,
Let the womb-goddess create offspring,
And let man bear the load of the gods!’
They called up the goddess, asked
The midwife of the gods, wise Mami,
‘You are the womb-goddess (to be the) creator of mankind!
Create primeval man, that he may bear the yoke!
Let him bear the yoke, the work of Ellil,
Let man bear the load of the gods!’[180]

In this mythological account of Creation, we not only see that humanity is birthed by the womb-goddess, but that people are created solely to serve as the slaves of the gods. The Genesis 1-3 account runs completely contrary to this, as man and woman are made by the Lord ex nihilo or out of nothing, with Hebrews 11:3 further saying that “what is seen was not made out of things which are visible.” Females must join with males in order to conceive a child, similar to how the womb-goddess must give birth. But from the Biblical point of view, God portrayed as male cannot give birth. On the contrary, He must create the first two human beings out of nothing, and He places them in the Garden of Eden to commune with Him (Genesis 2:8) as His special image bearers (Genesis 1:26-27), not making them His “slaves.” While in the Garden of Eden, the first man and the first woman were equals; as a direct result of the Fall, this equality was undeniably lost (Genesis 3:16).

The story that we see in the Torah, however, is a steady progression back toward the equal status of the genders that was originally seen in Eden. The Pentateuchal legislation is radical in the extreme once again, among the law codes of the Ancient Near East, as it does not at all treat women as simply property to be bought or sold. In an era where property could only be transferred to and from men, the daughters of Zelophehad went before Moses in the wilderness, as their father died without any sons. The Lord grants Moses the right to say, “If a man dies and has no son, then you shall transfer his inheritance to his daughter” (Numbers 27:8). The daughters were given the right to the achuzat nachalah or “hereditary possession” (Numbers 27:7). Ronald B. Allen makes the important observation, “The point seems to be that not only would they receive the property, they could transfer it to their heirs as well. Thus they share with the sons of the other fathers who were deceased. It is as though their father had had sons!”[181] Such rights were simply unheard of among Israel’s contemporaries during this period, unless one was a female member of a ruling family (and hence either divine or semi-divine).

Also significant to the Pentateuch is that the Lord asks males among His people not to have sexual relations during a woman’s menstrual cycle (Leviticus 20:18). While some might consider such a request to be burdensome, per our “sexually liberated” post-modernist world, this is actually quite respectful to the woman. The period of a woman’s menstruation is one of the most uncomfortable times of the month for her. Far be it from sexual intercourse being something that can be practiced whenever couples want, the Torah does place some restrictions on it so it can be a very rewarding, fulfilling, and indeed pleasurable time between a husband and wife. This is why J.H. Hertz is able to rightly assert, “While recognizing the sacred nature of the estate of wedlock, Judaism prescribes continence even in marriage…It categorically demands reserve, self-control, and moral freedom in the most intimate relations of life. It ordains the utmost consideration for the wife…throughout the monthly period.”[182]

This particular sexual prohibition in the Torah forces the husband to actually respect his wife as a fellow human being and an equal person. Women are by no means to be treated as sex objects in the Torah, a venue by which a man is only to find physical fulfillment. Males in the Torah are intended to have a permanent reminder on their penises via their circumcision, as a memorial sign of God’s covenant with Abraham (Genesis 17:10-11). While a sign that they are connected to the Patriarch, John Goldingay is right to remind us, “it does draw attention to the need for their sexual activity to be disciplined and dedicated to God….Men [often] fail in this realm of their lives” and thus “The covenant sign becomes the covenant indictment and the covenant shame upon men. It is a mark of failure as much as a mark of status.”[183] It is up to the man to determine whether the ot b’rit is a sign of honor or dishonor upon him.

Of course, throughout the Tanach, we see a significant number of women, in addition to just men, playing important roles in God’s plan of salvation history—including some women in positions of critical leadership. Heroines such as Deborah (Judges 4-5) and Ruth are certainly godly women to be considered as models of service. The very holiday of Purim is commemorated because Queen Esther was in the right place at the right time, as the Jewish people were saved from extermination. The Tanach portrays women as very critical members of God’s community.

One practice that is by no means condoned by the Torah, yet came as a direct result of the Fall, was polygamy—men having multiple wives. With the creation of the first man and woman in the Garden of Eden, the ideal state has been for marriage to be between one man and one woman: “For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh” (Genesis 2:24), a principle upheld by Yeshua the Messiah (Mathew 19:5; Mark 10:7-8; cf. 1 Corinthians 6:16; Ephesians 5:31). Leviticus 18:18 is a clear example of an explicit Torah commandment against polygamy: “While your wife is living, do not marry her sister and have sexual relations with her, for they would be rivals” (NLT). It is true that various Patriarchs and monarchs of Israel did have multiple wives, and seemingly did not incur any significant penalties from the Lord for doing so. This must be counterbalanced with the fact that the whole nation of Israel was commanded to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles for seven days each year (Leviticus 23:33-34), and Nehemiah says that “The sons of Israel had indeed not done so from the days of Joshua the son of Nun to that day[184]” (Nehemiah 8:17)—which was after the Babylonian exile! The Ancient Israelites did not always follow the commands of God, although because of His great love and grace He often overlooked their significant transgressions. The witness of the Tanach is that severe chastisement to Israel often did not come until idolatry, child sacrifice, and outright rebellion against the Lord were practiced.

From a practical standpoint, while we see polygamy observed by some members of Israelite society, it is far fetched to think that every single Israelite man could economically afford more than one wife. On the contrary, the fact that only Patriarchs, leaders, and monarchs of Israel are portrayed as having multiple wives, demonstrates how little this practice was actually observed. And was it really worth it for them? When we read that Jacob had both Leah and Rachel as his wives, or David and Solomon had multiple wives—were their families places of genuine love and affection, or riddled with relational problems? Were their children behaved or unruly? 1 Kings 11:4 is not very good evidence in favor of polygamy: “For when Solomon was old, his wives turned his heart away after other gods; and his heart was not wholly devoted to the LORD his God.” A significant reason Ancient Israel was ultimately divided into the Northern and Southern Kingdoms goes back to Solomon’s incessant polygamy, and the state-funded idolatry he sponsored. It is no surprise why Deuteronomy 17:17 says of Israel’s kings, “He shall not multiply wives for himself, or else his heart will turn away.”

The Apostolic Scriptures make it abundantly clear that polygamy is something which is not to be practiced by the people of God today. The significant passages in the Gospels where Yeshua addresses marriage, affirm Genesis’ teaching on one man and one woman (Matthew 5:31-32; 19:3-9; Mark 10:2-12; Luke 16:18). The Apostle Paul states candidly in 1 Corinthians 7:2, “each man is to have his own wife, and each woman is to have her own husband.” He also instructs Timothy that the male overseers/bishops and deacons only be allowed one wife (1 Timothy 3:2, 12). Furthermore, and perhaps most significant, Paul asserts in Ephesians 5:21-33 that the institution of marriage is to be a reflection on the Messiah’s service for the ekklēsia. This involves the Lord serving a single body of people, not multiple bodies of people.

Given the new status for males and females that the arrival of Yeshua has inaugurated, as described by Paul in Galatians 3:28, polygamy is a practice that is degrading to the equality of the sexes which He has restored. In many cases, trying to Biblically justify polygamy—as though it is a good thing that God intended from Creation—is almost always used as a way for men to fulfill sexual urges that cannot be kept under control. Women are frequently the victims of such inappropriate and ungodly behavior often because of men who want to treat them as little more than chattel. Historically since the First Century, what we often witness in religious circles is that cultic leaders and personalities are those who practice it and it leads to great abuse and many scandals.[185]

Marriage is Biblically intended to be between one man and one woman, and as the author of Hebrews so aptly states, “Marriage is to be held in honor among all, and the marriage bed is to be undefiled” (Hebrews 13:4). Sexual intercourse among married couples is to not solely be for the purpose of reproduction, but for a husband and wife to really understand what Adam said of Eve: etzem m’atzamay u’basar m’besari, “bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh” (Genesis 2:23). There is to be pleasure in appropriate sex, and a true oneness in marriage is to teach a husband and wife about the mystery of Yeshua’s service for His Body. And in case anyone was wondering, consenting married couples are given a great freedom in the bedroom, provided the sexual estate is properly honored and considered.[186]

A Biblical marriage is to be a partnership of one man and one woman, united in common cause as Adam and Eve were originally intended to tend the Garden of Eden together. Certainly within marriage there are natural gender differences, as men are often bigger and stronger than women requiring them to protect their wives, and women have been made by God to give birth to children. Still, men are entirely expected to keep themselves under sexual control, as not only a significant way to honor their wives, but to honor the God who created sexual intercourse as a sacred institution. In 1 Corinthians 7:4, Paul directs those in marriage, “The wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does; and likewise also the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does.” This is a perfect portrayal of a husband and wife honoring one another as equals (cf. Ephesians 5:33).

What does the assertion of there is neither male nor female” made by Paul do for the First Century recipients of Galatians? One of the main views of women that is encountered in the First Century Jewish world, at least, is noted by the historian Josephus:

“[F]or, says the Scripture, ‘A woman is inferior to her husband in all things.’ Let her, therefore, be obedient to him; not so, that he should abuse her, but that she may acknowledge her duty to her husband; for God has given the authority to the husband…” (Against Apion 2.201).[187]

Of course, while Josephus references the Tanach Scriptures to claim that wives are inferior to their husbands, “This text is nowhere in our present copies of the Old Testament.”[188] However, the remark, that wives are inferior to their husbands, was an unfortunate cultural phenomenon present in the Jewish world at the time of Yeshua and the Apostles. The Apostle Paul was an advocate for women to actively serve and be valued in the Body of Messiah. John R.W. Stott makes the astute observation,

“Women were nearly always despised in the ancient world, even in Judaism, and not infrequently exploited and ill-treated as well. But here the assertion is made that in Christ male and female are one and equal—and made by Paul who is ignorantly supposed by many to have been an anti-feminist.”[189]

Perhaps most significant to consider is that the new status of equality for males and females has widely opened the door for women to be leaders and teachers in the ekklēsia—one of the most controversial ideas that evangelical Christianity is currently struggling with, and undoubtedly soon the Messianic movement. Considering Paul’s broad-sweeping declarations of equality that salvation in Yeshua has inaugurated, previously including both Jews and Greeks, slaves and free—equality between males and females as seen in Eden was only to be expected. Galatians 3:28 represents the norm, the ideal, of Biblical equality.

Many Christians and Messianics do not think that women should be allowed to teach or occupy any positions of leadership in the ekklēsia, based on verses like 1 Corinthians 14:34-35 and 1 Timothy 2:11-12. An hermeneutical question regarding Paul is asked from Galatians 3:28, concerning whether these negative or prohibitive remarks seen later take priority. Because of the wide sweeping effects of the new status Paul describes regarding ethnicity, servitude, and gender, it is best for us to understand Galatians 3:28 to have higher priority than these other remarks that Paul makes. Bruce concurs, “Paul states the basic principle here; if restrictions are found elsewhere in the Pauline corpus…they are to be understood in relation to Gal. 3:28, and not vice versa.”[190] Furthermore, it needs to be evaluated whether there are some local and not universal circumstances present in these two other statements, as well as if some translation or textual issues are to be considered.[191] Concepts such as “male headship” also need to be questioned, per the debate in contemporary Biblical Studies over whether or not kephalē pertains to “authority” or “source/origin” in Ephesians 5:23, and how it relates to Paul’s word, “husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies” (Ephesians 5:28).[192]

The Apostolic Scriptures are clear that women played an important role in the leadership of the First Century ekklēsia along with men. Following Paul’s visit to Philippi in Acts 16, it is the female Lydia who leads the new group of Believers, and Paul’s letter to the Philippians includes a reference to two women, Euodia and Syntyche (Philippians 4:2), who presumably occupy positions of leadership. Paul extends greetings to a female apostle, “Junia,” in Romans 16:7 (NRSV, ESV, HCSB).[193] And, we cannot forget the wife-husband teaching duo of Priscilla and Aquila in Acts 18. If there are witnesses in the Pauline corpus and Book of Acts to women being in positions of leadership in the local assemblies, then passages that seem to restrict such service, must be viewed as local situations where Paul recommended that the reigns be temporarily pulled back, as there were likely some abuses of gender equality. The observation of Scot McKnight should be well taken:

“I believe that, as is the case with slavery, so with women, Paul provides an agenda that would take years for the church and society to implement properly and honorably before God.”[194]

I myself have struggled in the past, as a Messianic Believer, with the two positions presently advocated in evangelicalism: complementarianism and egalitarianism.[195] (The term “egalitarian” is simply derived from the French égal, meaning “equal.”) For a season in my Messianic experience, I was of the complementarian position, believing that women were sort-of “equal” to me, but that there were positions that God only intended for men. Today, I still believe that there are positions only intended for men: Men have to learn to be sexually chaste, and women are to be greatly honored and respected by them. As far as women being in positions of leadership or teaching within the Body of Messiah, I am now definitely a card-carrying egalitarian.

Today’s Messianic community often fails to recognize the gender equality that Yeshua has restored, and which Paul speaks about in Galatians 3:28. As I have observed in an earlier article, “How Are We to Live as Modern Messianics?” (2008), “in some cases the Messianic movement is an institution run by men for men.” This shows no immediate signs of disappearing. Some claim that God’s Torah gives husbands a Biblical right to completely run their homes, and as such totally disregard the counsel of their wives. Yet, Genesis 1-3, and the ideal as modeled in early Creation, is often not a section of the Torah consulted by such men. Why would it be? Adam and Eve were equals before the Fall—and God forbid we ever return, or even try to return as some believe, to the way that He originally created us!

Consider what it would mean for the so-called “power” of Messianic men, if women were to be regarded as their equals. If there is true oneness being experienced in a marriage, with husband and wife as equal partners, then certain husband-specific powers seen in the Torah should no doubt now be shared with the wife (i.e., Numbers 30:3-8), with Yeshua’s sacrifice bringing us one step closer to the mutual state of responsibility Adam and Eve experienced in Eden. While a husband, for example, possesses the ability to cancel the foolish words of his wife and daughters (i.e., Numbers 30:10-14)—should not wives be allowed to challenge the foolish words of their husbands and sons?[196]

The blatant disrespect for women that we often see in some distinct parts of the Messianic community, has been a factor in causing me to be most open with my egalitarian convictions. Certainly while I have seen abuses of controlling women because of feminism, there are significant abuses of controlling men as well. An egalitarian position of equality for the sexes is not a discussion over whether specific Woman X is qualified for spiritual leadership, because gender should not be the determining factor whether specific Man Y is qualified for spiritual leadership. Qualifications for spiritual leadership should be determined on the basis of the spiritual temperament, skills, maturity, and the calling one possesses. Egalitarians argue in principle that both men and women can lead and teach God’s people. There are both men and women who are qualified to lead and teach others, and men and women who are not.

I consider it sad sometimes to report that women have been the most encouraging to me throughout my Messianic spiritual life and ministry, as I have served as a writer and researcher and pursued graduate studies. With a small exception of Messianic men that I can put on one hand, most of the men who have encouraged me spiritually in this time and have helped me grow as a Believer have been evangelical Christians. In fact, some of the most inspirational men to me, in my spiritual pursuits, are those who are already deceased, and whom I only know through their writings or through stories told to me.

Why do I feel so strongly about being a Messianic egalitarian, one who actually agrees with Paul that males and females are equal in Messiah Yeshua? It is because recognizing equality of the sexes hinges on the much larger unity that is to occur among God’s people. Keep in mind that of the Ten Commandments, the Fifth Commandment says “Honor your father and your mother” (Exodus 20:12; Deuteronomy 5:16), and this is the one commandment that convicted me in 1995 to repent of my sins and call out to the Lord for salvation.[197] This commandment actually has a higher priority than the commandment against murder![198] The reason this is the case is because respect and stability begin in the home. A young person is to have a godly father and a godly mother who can raise the child properly in the principles of Scripture. A sound family life, where both fathers and mothers share equal responsibility in raising their children, will lead to a cohesive and industrious society. Hertz validly states, “The home is infinitely more important to a people than the schools, the professions or its political life; and filial respect is the ground of national permanence and prosperity.”[199]


27. How do you explain God’s apparent endorsement of Old Testament women who had prophetic or leadership roles?

Complementarians frequently conclude that examples witnessed of females in prophetic or leadership roles in the Tanach or Old Testament, are to be taken as isolated incidents when males were derelict in their responsibilities, and hence females had to be raised up, to at least partially show such males that they had failed.

In addressing the issue of female prophets and leaders in the Tanach, Piper and Grudem do recognize some limited value in women communicating a word from God to people: “God has no antipathy toward revealing his will to women. Nor does he pronounce them unreliable messengers.”[200] They do, however, conclude that when God has apparently “had” to use women to pronounce a message or be used as leaders, that it is to be taken as an indictment on “men’s failures to lead.”[201]

A common example appealed to from the Tanach, of a female in a significant position of leadership, is the judge Deborah. In Judges 4:4 she is labeled to be a nevi’ah or “prophetess,” who “was judging Israel” (shoftah et-Yisrael). Deborah is featured prominently in Judges chs. 4-5. In the estimation of Piper and Grudem, “Deborah [was] a prophetess, judge, and mother in Israel (Judg. 4:4; 5:7)…[and] was a living indictment of the weakness of Barak and other men in Israel who should have been more courageous leaders (Judg. 4:9).”[202] They also conclude that God raising up a female leader should not only be viewed as a charge against weak men, but that not too much should be read into issues of leadership from the period of the Judges.[203]

When other examples of female prophets are listed in the Scriptures, Piper and Grudem further conclude,

“Huldah evidently exercised her prophetic gift not in a public preaching ministry but by means of private consultation (2 Kings 22:14-20). And Anna, the prophetess at the beginning of the New Testament, filled her days with fasting and prayer in the temple (Luke 2:36-37).”[204]

Egalitarians should be honest enough with the record of Scripture to acknowledge that the examples of females serving as prophets and leaders up until the arrival of Yeshua of Nazareth and the First Century C.E., are piecemeal. However, rather than the concluding, as complementarians do, that God might use women—egalitarians conclude that God uses women. In a pre-resurrection era example of Deborah, living in a staunchly patriarchal Ancient Near East, the opportunities for females to be raised up by God as leaders would almost only be witnessed when the standard male leaders were an abysmal failure. But, rather than taking Deborah’s word, “for the Lord will sell Sisera into the hands of a woman” (Judges 4:9), as being an indictment against the males of the time, egalitarians would instead take it as being a prompt to such ancient patriarchalists that God will not only use women, but that in the future many more women would be used by Him.

Egalitarians properly raise the issue of what the intended trajectory of the people of God is. Egalitarians believe that there was an equality of the sexes lost at the Fall (Genesis 3:16), something restored by the work of Yeshua the Messiah (Galatians 3:28). Egalitarians also decisively believe in the prophetic oracle of Joel 2:28, “I will pour out my spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, and your young men shall see visions” (NRSV), something which was not a dynamic in full play until the day of Shavuot/Pentecost (Acts 2:17-21). Only in the post-resurrection era, with the Holy Spirit being poured out on “all flesh,” would it be viable to see many more females empowered as leaders within the Body of Messiah. Holding to just a trajectory, to be sure, is an area where there are huge value judgments and conflicts of ideology between egalitarians and complementarians.


28. Do you think women are more gullible than men?

While there are exceptions to be sure, on the whole it is easily encountered that adherents of a complementarian ideology believe that women are less intelligent, less capable, and broadly the inferior of men. Many of us can recount too many instances of when various male pastors or teachers have on the one hand said that they consider females to be their equals, and then immediately on the other hand such men make some kind of derogatory joke demeaning females.

In their resource 50 Crucial Questions, Piper and Grudem appeal to 1 Timothy 2:14 and 2:12, and their interpretation of these passages, which for most complementarians serves as a universal prohibition of women ever serving in positions of high leadership or teaching in the Body of Messiah. Piper and Grudem concede from 1 Timothy 2:14, “and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor” (ESV), that the view of females being more easily deceived than males, might have some validity, but they favor another view. Piper and Grudem instead conclude, from 1 Timothy 2:14, “We think that Satan’s main target was not Eve’s particular gullibility…but rather Adam’s headship {meaning, leadership} as the one ordained by God to be responsible for the life of the garden.”[205] Piper and Grudem further assert that Satan went after Eve with the temptation, and that “Satan put her in the position of spokesman, leader, and defender.”[206] So, with Eve being forced into the position of a leader by the Adversary, and obviously falling prey to temptation—rather than Adam stepping in and leading—Piper and Grudem, and many other complementarians for that matter, are of the mindset that a blurring of leadership of roles between men and women is the cause of sin being introduced to humanity. They clearly state, “the main point is not that the man is undeceivable or that the woman is more deceivable but that when God’s order of leadership is repudiated, it brings damage and ruin.”[207]

It is true that evangelical egalitarian approaches to 1 Timothy 2:11-14 can be varied. But among those who have a high view of the text, including an acceptance of genuine Pauline authorship, any alternative interpretation to what complementarians offer is going to be provided from probing different renderings of words or clauses, as well as positing a First Century Ephesian false teaching which required an appeal to Eve’s deception.

We have previously discussed for Question #19 how the correct translation of the verb authenteō in 1 Timothy 2:12 involved various untrained and untaught females in Ephesus, usurping the position of the recognized male leaders: “I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority [authenteō] over the man, but to be in silence” (KJV) or “I do not permit a woman to teach or to assume authority [authenteō] over a man; she must be quiet” (NIV 2011). When a situational setting for the instructions of 1 Timothy 2:11-14 is assumed, the overall thrust is to see that the untrained and uneducated women, who were causing the problem for the male leaders, would be trained and educated. Quite contrary to the issue of Adam not being a leader, and Eve being forced to be one instead—the issue of Eve’s deception involved Eve not being fully taught or informed about the consequences which would incur from eating the forbidden fruit.

My 2012 commentary The Pastoral Epistles for the Practical Messianic addresses the issues of 1 Timothy 2:11, 13-14 in significant detail (Excerpts from the commentary on 1 Timothy 2:12 have been provided previously.) We first comment on the issues of, “A woman must quietly receive instruction with entire submissiveness” (1 Timothy 2:11):

More debates have erupted over 1 Timothy 2:11-12, in properly applying the Pastoral Epistles in the modern era, than in any other section of 1&2 Timothy and Titus. Far too frequently, we have all encountered pastors and teachers and (especially!) Messianic leaders just ramble off these two short verses, without any consideration at all of the wider issues of the false teaching in Ephesus—or of places within the Pauline corpus where women served alongside Paul in the leadership structure of the ekklēsia. Those who believe that the Pastoral Epistles are Deutero-Pauline, simply write these verses off as being the prohibitions of a second or third generation student of Paul. Those who believe that the Pastoral Epistles are authentic to the Apostle, including this writer, want to give them a good hearing—but in light of the original Ephesian circumstances Timothy was having to see resolved.

The female Believers in Ephesus were easy targets for the false teaching that had been circulating (2 Timothy 3:6), and many were quite eager to promote it, per Paul’s observation how they were not to be “malicious gossips” (1 Timothy 3:11). Instead of being susceptible and gullible to false teaching, and then passing it on—creating problems for the assembly—Paul’s solution is quite reasonable: “Let a woman learn in silence with full submission” (2 Timothy 2:11, NRSV). Women were helping to pass on bad information, so let them instead be taught in order for the problem to be halted. Today in the assembly, whenever a particular sector of people has been negatively influenced by others, educating and informing them in what is right and proper can usually stop a bad situation from getting worse. If women are the cause, then let such women be taught. Modern persons have no problem with this, but Paul’s words to Timothy about the Ephesian women being taught could have been viewed as scandalous. Witherington indicates, “the degree of education appropriate for women was very much a subject of debate in the Greco-Roman world, with some suggesting that it was inappropriate altogether.”[208]

Consider a scenario in Ephesus where some ignorant females have helped promote false teaching and error—if by any other means by chatter, loose tongues, and gossip. In light of congregational problems having erupted as a result, there could have been a tendency among the recognized, male leaders of the assembly to get overly-conservative and completely restrict the females—including barring them from times of instruction and exposition on the Scriptures. This was actually quite commonplace in much of the ancient Jewish Synagogue, as Jewish women were frequently not trained and instructed in God’s Torah. The Talmud records the views of how “The men come to learn, the women to listen” (b.Chagigah 3a), and “Said Rab to R. Hiyya, ‘How do women gain merit? It is by having their children learn to recite Scripture in the synagogue, and having their husbands learn to repeat Mishnah-traditions at the rabbis’ house, and by watching for their husbands until they come from the rabbis’ house” (b.Berachot 17a).[209] To one like a Rabbi Eliezer, “Whoever teaches Torah to his daughter is as if he teaches her sexual gratification” (m.Sotah 3:4-5).[210] Such is not at all the view of the Torah itself, where the entire community of Israel was commanded to be instructed from Moses’ Teaching:

“Assemble the people, the men and the women and children and the alien who is in your town, so that they may hear and learn and fear the Lord your God, and be careful to observe all the words of this law” (Deuteronomy 31:12).

What kind of instruction or teaching were the women in Ephesus to receive? While it may elude us as modern people—who regardless of gender have probably received instruction in basic skills like reading and writing—without possessing these kinds of basic skills, First Century women in the ekklēsia would be excellent targets for aberrant doctrine. IVPBBC informs us of how “Women were less likely to be literate than men, were trained in philosophy far less often than men, were trained in rhetoric almost never, and in Judaism were far less likely to be educated in the law.”[211] Guthrie also states, “a woman, although theoretically permitted to read the Torah in public, was in practice not allowed to teach even small children.”[212] In wanting women in Ephesus to learn, Paul wanted to prevent a kind of backlash that would see women completely put off to the side, sheltered, ignorant of Scripture, and remain entirely at the whim of men who might just tell them what to do with blind compliance expected.

Quite notable is how 1 Timothy 2:11 employs the verb manthanō, which means “to gain knowledge or skill by instruction” (BDAG).[213] What makes this an important term for Messiah followers is how a related noun, mathētēs, is used to describe disciples, such as in Matthew 5:1: “When Yeshua saw the crowds, He went up on the mountain; and after He sat down, His disciples [sing. mathētēs] came to Him.” David H. Stern actually remarks on 1 Timothy 2:11, “the context is the pattern of discipling and being discipled which existed in Judaism and was exemplified by Yeshua and his talmidim,”[214] and we do know that Yeshua had many female disciples[215] along with male disciples. This could have offended some overly-conservative Rabbinical teachers of the period (although certainly not all of the Rabbis), but the Messiah never rebuked the women who followed Him, and the Apostle Paul is working from the same vantage point in wanting women to be disciples as well. Recognizing the instruction/discipleship aspect of 1 Timothy 2:11, Marshall & Towner correctly conclude, “This may be intended as a positive assertion of the woman’s role over against the prohibition on teaching which follows.”[216]

The false teaching, and its incumbent myths, were spreading due to ignorant teachers (1 Timothy 1:4-7), and was only helped along because of the lack of knowledge on the part of many Ephesian women (1 Timothy 5:13; 2 Timothy 3:6). The solution is not to shuffle women off to the side, perhaps making them resentful and bitter that they have no part to play in the faith community—but instead for them to learn, not remaining ignorant. Fee is astute to describe, “It simply goes too far to argue from this that he is herewith commanding that they be taught, thus inaugurating a new era for women. The rest of the data in the NT makes it clear that that had already happened among most Christians.”[217] Elsewhere in the Messianic Scriptures, women had already been taught from the Tanach, and other various Apostolic writings and letters. The remedy for the situation here in Ephesus would be no different. Paul simply did not want the male leaders to overreact to a female problem, which could see many women purposefully untaught. As the Jewish philosopher Philo said, “Ignorance, therefore, being but a slight and also an involuntary calamity, admits of a cure which is neither difficult nor troublesome, namely instruction” (Sacrifices of Abel and Cain 48).[218]

In wanting the female Ephesian Believers to be taught and discipled—which may have included some basic skills like reading and writing—they were to do so in an appropriate and respectful manner. Mounce points out, “the emphasis of the verse is not that women should learn but how they should learn,”[219] which would run contrary how many of them had been carriers of the false teaching. While rendered as either “quietly” (NASU) or “silence” (RSV), hēsuchia can regard “solitude, a sequestered place” (LS),[220] and relates to how the women needing to be taught could do so in a manner that would demonstrate themselves as excellent students. The Phillips New Testament renders 1 Timothy 2:11 with, “A woman should learn quietly and humbly.” While some readers of 1 Timothy 2:11 make much about women being (forcibly) “silenced” in the congregation, be aware that Paul also said that the male circumcision group on Crete was also to shut its mouth (Titus 1:11).

There can be no doubting how a major part of Paul’s solution, to women helping spread the false teaching in Ephesus, was to see them properly educated in the Scriptures. But were there any other reasons for the Ephesian women to be properly instructed, perhaps allowing them to be eligible to be teachers at a time in the future? Complementarians argue “No”;[221] egalitarians generally argue “Yes.” Being a teacher of God’s people means that one is to fulfill a specific selection of prerequisites. Egalitarian interpreters of 1 Timothy 2:11 would not restrict a woman today from being a leader or teacher in the Body of Messiah on the basis of gender, but they would restrict a woman—and a man for that same matter—from being a teacher on the basis of whether they are educationally qualified for the role (cf. James 3:1). There is no way of knowing for certain how much education the female Believers in Ephesus needed, but we can safely conclude that if many were quite gullible, they would have needed a great deal. And, they would need to demonstrate diligence in showing a proper countenance to their male teachers.

Paul directed for the women in Ephesus, “Let a woman learn in silence with all submissiveness. But I do not permit a woman to teach or usurp authority of a man, but to be in silence” (1 Timothy 2:11-12, PME). He then interjects a statement in 1 Timothy 2:13, which has been translated two different ways, among major versions: “For it was Adam who was first created, and then Eve” (NASU) or “For Adam was formed first, then Eve” (RSV/NRSV/ESV). Was the problem in Eden, as complementarians frequently see it, Eve taking over a position of leadership given to Adam, which Adam had because he was created first? Or, was the problem in Eden, one of Adam being educationally formed first, and not informing Eve sufficiently of what would happen if the forbidden fruit was eaten, resulting in her deception (1 Timothy 2:14)? These options are weighed more fully in the 2012 commentary The Pastoral Epistles for the Practical Messianic:

The Apostle Paul has just asserted that the women in Ephesus are to be taught (1 Timothy 2:11), and that no female is to usurp the authority of the recognized male leadership within the assembly (1 Timothy 2:12, Grk.). Controversial instructions for modern people continue to be written to Timothy in the remaining three verses of 1 Timothy ch. 2, verses which have frequently been abused throughout religious history to keep males in a position of (utter) dominance over women. What is commonly overlooked is how these statements relate to the false teaching that had been circulating in Ephesus, how such a false teaching may have had an inappropriate emphasis on the woman Eve, and how valuable females truly are to God’s plan of salvation history.

In 1 Timothy 2:13 Paul makes the assertion, “For Adam was formed first, then Eve” (RSV). Many have taken this as meaning that Adam, or man, is more important than Eve, or woman, and that the instruction detailed, in 1 Timothy 2:8-15, is to be taken as universal on the basis of some kind of Creation order. It is only men who should be leaders and teachers, and women need to be quiet listeners. It cannot be denied how this was a view present in First Century Judaism. Philo describes how God gave instruction that basically “wives shall serve their husbands…in the spirit of reasonable obedience” (Apology for the Jews 7.3).[222]

While no one should deny the Biblical importance of women respecting their husbands, and in demonstrating an appropriate degree of submission to them (cf. Ephesians 5:21ff for a submission that involves wives and husbands), is the creation of the man first an indication that God actually prefers males over females? Are the men to just lead, and the women just to follow?

Within the chronology of Creation, the man was created first. However, it is probably true that not enough Bible readers today are aware of the significance of what “It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make him a helper suitable for him” (Genesis 2:18) really means. Some just see Adam in need of a subordinate companion; but this is not what is communicated by the Hebrew ezer. In its various forms, the root a-z-r regards various functions of “help,” perhaps most significantly as its verb form is “Used approximately eighty times in the OT, ‘āzar generally indicates military assistance” (TWOT).[223] The creation of the woman to help the man was not just as some “helpmate,” but rather to give the man a significant ally for the challenges he would face in life. In the context of the Genesis account, both man and woman were to tend the Garden together as equals. Even if the woman was created second, there is no indication anywhere that the woman is to be regarded as any less human or any less an equal than the man (cf. Genesis 1:27).

In what is being asserted about Adam coming first, is the Apostle Paul really upholding some kind of “patriarchal” ideal when it comes to leading and teaching in the assembly? Or, was there something going on in Ephesus that required a Creation example to be considered? Sometimes we have to be remembered of the interconnectivity of males and females that Paul describes elsewhere, “For as the woman originates from the man, so also the man has his birth through the woman; and all things originate from God” (1 Corinthians 11:12). Yet in Ephesus, the issue regarded Adam’s condition followed by Eve’s condition. While they were intended to take care of the Garden together, Adam did have some advantages in coming into being before Eve.

Too much can be made regarding the deception of the woman Eve (1 Timothy 2:14), because Paul places much more blame for human sin squarely at the fault of the man Adam (Romans 5:12-21; 1 Corinthians 15:21-22). The deception of Eve is not the result of her being female, because as he writes the Corinthians, “I am afraid that, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, your minds will be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Messiah” (2 Corinthians 11:3), meaning that anyone can succumb to the Devil. In making light of Adam and Eve in 1 Timothy 1:13-14, Paul wants Timothy and the women in Ephesus to know something important from the Creation account. While upholding the concept of men first, women second, is commonplace among readers (especially Messianics), recognizing the role that myths and genealogies played within the false teaching (1 Timothy 1:4), did the false teachers at all promote various ideas regarding either the first people or the figure of Eve that were inappropriate? Payne indicates how we cannot afford to exclude this from our deliberations:

“If the false teachings had taught any…myths exalting Eve, it would explain part of the special appeal their message had to women. It would further explain Paul’s specification that Adam was formed first, especially if it contributed to women’s unauthorized or domineering teaching.”[224]

Women are not to forget the sin of Eve. And what advantage would Adam have had over Eve? That he had testosterone and not estrogen—testicles and not tubes? Of course not. The man Adam was the first human being, and he had more experience in knowing what the Garden was, what the animals were, and who the Creator was—than did the woman Eve when she was made to be his ezer. The NASU is actually one of the few mainline Bibles that uses the rendering “created” in 1 Timothy 2:13, whereas most others use “formed” (RSV, NIV, NRSV, CJB, HCSB, etc.). Not surprisingly, there is discussion as to how the verb plassō should be viewed, which means “to form, mould, shape,” and in a classical context “generally, to mould and form by education, training” (LS).[225] In the Septuagint, plassō appears in the various verses describing the creation of the man Adam (Genesis 2:7-8, 15, 19), where (except Genesis 2:15) it renders the Hebrew yatzar (rc;y”).

It is to be recognized that the normal verb which Paul employs for the strict creation of things is ktizō,[226] and it is thought that there must be a specific reason why plassō appears in 1 Timothy 2:13. Frequently proposed is that Adam was educated before Eve was educated, and that not having sufficient knowledge Eve was easy prey to be deceived into sin. This is, to be sure, debated among commentators. Mounce states that “[plassein] can be used in a wide variety of contexts such as education,” but as a complementarian concludes “the vast majority of uses in the LXX are of God’s creative works,”[227] implying a “Creation order” at work in 1 Timothy 2:13 of males to be primary before females. Yet, as Payne is keen on indicating, the Septuagint only employs plassō to describe the “forming” of men, and the “forming” of Eve in 1 Timothy 2:13 is to be taken as strong support of man and woman being equals in the sight of God:

“…‘Adam was formed [eplasthē] first’ (2:13) [may be taken] to indicate male superiority…the OT specifically states that God formed (LXX: [plassō]) Adam (Gen 2:7, 8, 15; Job 38:14; cf. also 1 Clem. 33:4; Sib. Or. 3:24; Philo, Creation 137), but it never uses this verb of God ‘forming’ Eve or any other woman. The LXX, however, identifies many men as ‘formed’ ([plassō]) by God: Job (Job 10:8, 9), David (LXX: Psa 138:5, 16), Jacob/Israel (Isa 43:1, 7; 44:2, 21, 24), Isaiah (Isa 49:5), the Servant (Isa 53:11), the writer of Psa 119:73, Habakkuk (Hab 1:12), and even an idol maker (Wis 15:11). Paul’s addition of ‘then Eve’ is the first-documented occurrence that Eve as well as Adam was ‘formed’ by God. By including Eve as also ‘formed’ by God, Paul affirmed the essential equality of men and women.”[228]

The conclusion of an Old Testament theologian like Walter C. Kaiser should also not elude us, as he argues for plassō (shaped/formed/molded) in 1 Timothy 2:13 to be interpreted along the lines of education being the issue. He astutely describes, “Adam was created first and then came Eve. If [a male primacy] argument were held consistently, then the animals might be demanding their rights since they got here even before Adam was created!” He further points out how plassō regards the training and knowledge of Adam and Eve, as “Adam had a head start on education, for God walked and talked with him in the Garden of Eden until he got lonely. This is how Satan, the snake, was able to trick her”[229]—as Eve had not experienced the kind of one-on-one “first human” relationship that her husband had. Adam had an advantage that his wife did not, and he was delinquent in relaying his accounts of this to her as she was easily deceived (1 Timothy 2:14) into eating the forbidden fruit. Witherington observes, “One is left to assume that it was Adam who told Eve about the prohibition, and apparently he did not do a very clear or good job of it.”[230] Eve does say “You shall not eat from it or touch it, or you will die” (Genesis 3:3), but that is about all she knows. Even though she knows to think—actually thinking that God will condemn her if she touches the tree (which we are not told He specifically said)—the enemy was crafty with his words and got the better of her.

We have good reasons not to take 1 Timothy 2:13 as representing any kind of “Creation order,” but rather of the educational forming of Adam before Eve. With Adam knowing more about what God had made, and the dangers which could lay in store should the two of them ever “die,”[231] his responsibility as the first created was to relay everything he had known to her so she could be adequately “formed” as well. While Eve had been formed to some degree, it was apparently not enough as the serpent deceived her.

Recognizing how Adam’s formation occurred before Eve’s—a formation involving education, and for the first humans knowing the consequences of what would happen if they ate the forbidden fruit—is not a view heard enough in today’s Christian world, and will certainly not be a view heard in much of today’s Messianic movement (at least for quite some time). Moving ahead to 1 Timothy 2:14, Paul continues his instruction and states, “Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and transgressed” (HCSB). In various overly-conservative parts of Christianity today, it is commonly thought that Adam somehow gave up his role as leader, and that poor Eve was deceived by the serpent, and she was able to easily manipulate her husband who just followed along in succumbing to an inferior female.

There was some ancient Jewish speculation that the woman Eve was to some degree sexually seduced by the serpent (2 Enoch 31:6; 4 Maccabees 18:6-8; b.Yevamot 103b). Paul is not at all addressing this in 1 Timothy 2:14, but instead the common idea that the man Adam was created smart, and at best the woman Eve was confused, although more probably the woman was created stupid. The philosopher Philo thought that the man Adam was typical of a rational mind, whereas the woman Eve was entangled in sense and perception (cf. Allegorical Interpretation 2.24-25; On the Creation 58-60). But was it some “stupidity” inherent in females that caused Eve originally to be deceived? Not if the serpent’s strategy could also work on everyone else (2 Corinthians 11:3). This is why identifying the education factor for women seen in the larger cotext (1 Timothy 2:11, 13) is crucial. The Ephesian women were not inherently stupid, but in the case of Eve, if they are not adequately told what to look out for—they will fall prey to Satan (cf. 1 Timothy 5:15).

It is very true that in 1 Timothy 2:14 Paul says that Eve was deceived, and Adam was not. He also said that Eve’s deception caused her to fall “into transgression” (en parabasei). Yet nowhere here is it ever stated that the woman Eve is the sole person to blame for the Fall in the Garden. Eve was beguiled by the serpent; Paul in no way claims that Adam was deceived. Even though a negative word is issued upon Eve, we should think that had she been taught by her husband a bit more thoroughly, she would not have been misled by the serpent.

Philo blamed the Fall of humankind squarely on the woman, saying “God did not condescend to put any question to the woman at all, looking upon her as the cause of the evil which had occurred, and as the guide to her husband to a life of shame” (Questions and Answers on Genesis 1.45; cf. Sirach 25:24; 42:12-14).[232] For him, the deception of Eve was something entirely resultant of her own stupidity, “for the minds of women are, in some degree, weaker than those of men, and are not so well able to comprehend a thing which is appreciable only by the intellect” (Embassy to Gaius 319).[233] Philo was not hesitant to say, “the woman was more accustomed to be deceived than the man” (Questions and Answers on Genesis 1.33).[234]

You could expect ancient men to have looked down upon women as being intellectually inferior, but the sad reality is that there are some male Bible commentators in the modern era who do indeed make sexist observations on 1 Timothy 2:14. Stibbs is one who claims, “the tragedy of the Fall establishes the general truth that a woman is more easily deceived than a man; so it is out of place for her to take the lead in settling either doctrine or practice for the Christian community.”[235] A complementarian like Guthrie, fortunately, is more cautious in reminding us, “the question of women teachers cannot be divorced from the first-century disparity between men and women in the matter of education,”[236] educational forming being the very issue that caused both the women in Ephesus and the woman Eve to be deceived.

It is appreciated that complementarians like Mounce acknowledge, regarding 1 Timothy 2:14, “Unfortunately, many have held that this means women are intellectually inferior to men. This cannot be or Paul would have never encouraged women to teach children (2 Tim 3:15) and younger women (Titus 2:3-4).”[237] He appeals to all Believers remembering 1 Corinthians 12:25, “so that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another.” Even if he does not favor trained and qualified women functioning as leaders and teachers, he still recognizes significant roles that women can play within the Body of Messiah and how there has been significant abuse from 1 Timothy 2:14 in the past.

I would have to agree most strongly with an egalitarian like Payne, though, in how “Paul’s affirmation of women as teachers elsewhere…undermines…a generalization”[238] in that women are somehow more susceptible to deception than men. As a man writing to his colleague Titus, Paul himself states “For we also once were foolish ourselves…” (Titus 3:3), implying that men are just as open to being deceived as women. Yet for Timothy’s circumstances in Ephesus, it was the women who were most susceptible to deception—something to be remedied with them being properly taught and educated (1 Timothy 2:11). Towner notes how the false teaching may have given some degree of importance to the Genesis account, and what 1 Timothy 2:14 serves in light of seeing it stopped:

“If heretical speculation on the early chapters of Genesis…somehow influenced women to think they were free from the constraints and limitations brought on by the fall into sin, v. 14 not only reminds women of their complicity in the fall and of the present unfinished nature of Christian existence, but it does so in a way that aptly illustrates the deception of wives/women in Ephesus by false teachers (2 Cor 11:3).”[239]

Even though we have just noted how various Christians have interpreted 1 Timothy 2:14 from the point of view that women in general are more ignorant and more easily led astray than men, and is a view waning fast—such a conclusion is, most sadly, quite alive and well in many of today’s Messianic congregations. While many evangelical Christians have been repenting of past mistreatment of women, recognizing the contextual circumstances behind 1 Timothy 2:14, such a view shows no signs of weakening in the Messianic movement any time soon. In fact, in a few sectors, there are more signs that it will grow. All I can observe sometimes is that if it were not for the distinct streak of Pentecostal and charismatic influence on many Messianic congregations and fellowships—where it is rightly believed that the Holy Spirit is gender blind—then we might see a kind of trend toward a total moratorium on women playing any role in Messianic ministry. Christian complementarians, after all, still allow females to teach Sunday school and they permit women’s prayer meetings and luncheons!

In 1 Timothy 2:13-14 it is proper for us to see that the reason the woman Eve was deceived was because the man Adam—who was formed first—had not taught her. If anything can be derived from this, regarding males in leadership, it is that men who know the truth of God and its right application do have a responsibility to teach women who do not. This cannot be construed to be a universal prohibition against women who know God’s truth to also teach it, but the males who had been in leadership in Ephesus had clearly not done a good enough job to squelch the false teaching with many women falling for it. Today, if there are any well trained and educated male pastors and Bible teachers in a congregation, their responsibility is to make sure not to enforce their position on the basis of their gender—but to make sure that all of their constituents (female and male) are taught adequately so as to not be deceived by false teachings, and led astray by demonic influences.


29. But it does look as if Paul really thought Eve was somehow more vulnerable to deception than Adam. Wouldn’t this make Paul a culpable chauvinist?

Throughout history, and surely disengaged from its ancient Ephesian circumstances, 1 Timothy 2:14 has been used to promote the idea that most females are ignorant and stupid—and most males are competent and logical. Complementarians like Piper and Grudem are keen to stop these sorts of stereotypes, drawing general conclusions about how both men and women have their strengths and weaknesses, and how they are reliant upon one another:

“When someone asks if women are weaker than men or smarter than men or more easily frightened than men or something like that, perhaps the best way to answer is this: women are weaker in some ways and men are weaker in others; women are smarter in some ways and men are smarter in others; women are more easily frightened in some circumstances and men are more easily frightened in others. It is dangerous to put negative values on the so-called weaknesses that each of us has. God intends for all the ‘weaknesses’ that characteristically belong to the man to call forth and highlight the woman’s strengths. And God intends for all the ‘weaknesses’ that characteristically belong to the woman to call forth and highlight the man’s strengths.”[240]

There is much that egalitarians can agree with here, as we would strongly believe in the credo, “Bear one another’s burdens, and so complete the Torah of Messiah” (Galatians 6:2, TLV). Men and women in the Body of Messiah—be they brothers and sisters in the Lord, and most especially if they be husbands and wives—are to be looking out for each other, helping one another, and working together rather than working against one another. Stereotypes aside, every single one of us has our strengths and weaknesses, and that is why as brothers and sisters in Yeshua the Messiah, we must have community.

It is appreciable how Piper and Grudem assert that “if 1 Timothy 2:14 means that in some circumstances women are characteristically more vulnerable to deception, that would not settle anything about the quality or worth of manhood and womanhood.”[241] While evangelical egalitarians might conclude that 1 Timothy 2:14 involved factors concerning localized Ephesian circumstances and a false teaching that Timothy needed to see resolved—Piper and Grudem are seen here opposing a blanket application of 1 Timothy 2:14 to all females in all situations. Piper and Grudem are instead, most properly, seen emphasizing that our focus as Believers is on the intrinsic worth of men and women first.


30. If a woman is not allowed to teach men in a regular, official way, why is it permissible for her to teach children, who are far more impressionable and defenseless?

We have already addressed how 1 Timothy 2:12 should be read as situational to Ephesus, and not universal: “But I do not permit a woman to teach or usurp authority of a man, but to be in silence” (PME).

It is entirely appropriate to question complementarians, as to why in their schema adult females would not be permitted to teach or speak to adult males about religious matters—but would be permitted to speak or teach to both male and female children about religious matters. In their view, the reason that adult females are permitted to speak or teach to male children, is that male children do not relate to adult females in the same way as adult males relate to adult females:

“The differentiation of roles for men and women in ministry is rooted not in any supposed incompetence but in God’s created order for manhood and womanhood. Since little boys do not relate to their women teachers as men relate to women, the leadership dynamic ordained by God is not injured.”[242]

Egalitarians should be fair to recognize that statistically, there are going to be far more adult females involved in children’s education than adult males. Egalitarians are also keen to correct one of the most significant offenses committed by complementarians, in their rearing of children: male children are often not taught to look at female children, or females, as their equals. Many of the problems that occur between men and women, as male children grow up into adulthood, result because male children are not taught to respect and honor females as their equals, with women made in God’s image and just as valued as men are, from a young age. Instead, in complementarian environments, male children can often see female children discouraged from achieving great things—such as doing well academically, being encouraged to plan for college and a potential career—and they will see females placed in a secondary place to their male counterparts.


31. Aren’t you guilty of a selective literalism when you say some commands in a text are permanently valid and others, like “Don’t wear braided hair” or “Do wear a head covering,” are culturally conditioned and not absolute?

Bible readers and interpreters of all kinds, should be able to fairly recognize how there are conditionally-issued statements appearing in the Holy Scriptures, bound by some ancient series of circumstances, and which cannot be easily transferred into a modern setting. 2 Timothy 4:13 is a glaring example of this: “When you come bring the cloak which I left at Troas with Carpus, and the books, especially the parchments.” Still, there are other statements, such as what appears in 1 Timothy 2:9-10, where there will be divergence between those who adhere to some ancient circumstances or values being confronted, and those who think these are universal instructions for all times and settings:

“Likewise, I want women to adorn themselves with proper clothing, modestly and discreetly, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly garments, but rather by means of good works, as is proper for women making a claim to godliness.”

Complementarians and egalitarians are agreed that careful reading of various passages, is required, to deduce whether a situational or universal setting of certain instructions is in view. Piper and Grudem astutely conclude,

“All life and language is culturally conditioned. We share with all interpreters the challenge of discerning how biblical teaching should be applied today in a very different culture. In demonstrating the permanent validity of a command, we would try to show from its context that it has roots in the nature of God, the gospel, or creation as God ordered it.”[243]

I wrote on 1 Timothy 2:9-10 in my 2012 commentary The Pastoral Epistles for the Practical Messianic:

…Paul communicates significant virtues of upstanding behavior becoming of females, which has obviously been interrupted because of the false teaching. In 1 Timothy 2:9, he says, “likewise also that women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire” (ESV). The actual opening of v. 9 is Hōsautōs [kai] gunaikas, with the adverb hōsautōs meaning “in like manner, just so” (LS).[244] It can be validly argued that grammatically v. 9 continues the sentence in v. 8. The women in Ephesus were to pray in the same dignified way as the men, a continuation from v. 8, although vs. 9ff are clear that there are other issues present among them. While the men have been targeted as having publicly prayed in an inappropriate, possibly even vengeful manner, so have the women been responsible for some of their own disruptions.

1 Timothy 2:9 specifically mentions how Paul wanted women to “adorn themselves modestly and sensibly in seemly apparel” (RSV). While women dressing appropriately was important to Paul, more important to be aware of is how the verb kosmeō can “pert. to having characteristics or qualities that evoke admiration or delight, an expression of high regard for pers., respectable, honorable” (BDAG).[245] Paul is more concerned with the demeanor of the women in Ephesus, or perhaps specifically the demeanor communicated by the clothing that they wore. We should rightfully ask ourselves: What did “braided hair and gold or pearls or costly garments” represent within the culture of First Century Ephesus?

Rendered as “discreetly” in the NASU, sōphrosunē means “gener. soundness of mind, reasonableness, rationality” (BDAG).[246] It is found in classical literature like Plato’s Republic, where we see, “Self-discipline…is sure a kind of order, a control of certain desires and appetites” (4.430e).[247] Within ancient Jewish literature like the Pseudepigrapha, we see the sentiment, “my children, flee from sexual promiscuity, and order your wives and your daughters not to adorn their heads and their appearances so as to deceive men’s sound minds” (Testament of Reuben 5:5).[248] Also not to be overlooked could be some of the parallels between 1 Timothy 2:9 and Isaiah 3:16-26:

“Moreover, the LORD said, ‘Because the daughters of Zion are proud and walk with heads held high and seductive eyes, and go along with mincing steps and tinkle the bangles on their feet, therefore the Lord will afflict the scalp of the daughters of Zion with scabs, and the LORD will make their foreheads bare.’ In that day the Lord will take away the beauty of their anklets, headbands, crescent ornaments, dangling earrings, bracelets, veils, headdresses, ankle chains, sashes, perfume boxes, amulets, finger rings, nose rings, festal robes, outer tunics, cloaks, money purses, hand mirrors, undergarments, turbans and veils. Now it will come about that instead of sweet perfume there will be putrefaction; instead of a belt, a rope; instead of well-set hair, a plucked-out scalp; instead of fine clothes, a donning of sackcloth; and branding instead of beauty. Your men will fall by the sword and your mighty ones in battle. And her gates will lament and mourn, and deserted she will sit on the ground.”

It is fairly easy to deduce how the women here have been dressed in sexually seductive attire and engaged in wantonness, and that the Lord is going to pay specific attention to it in His judgment. Similarly, although with far fewer forms of dress to be concerned with, the thrust of Paul’s instruction is “They should wear decent and appropriate clothing and not draw attention to themselves” (1 Timothy 2:9, NLT). While no specific reasons are stated in the text, commentators have proposed a number of probable reasons ranging from “braided hair and gold or pearls or costly garments” relating to just ostentatious dress, to being sexually suggestive dress. Earle notes the range of options at an interpreter’s disposal, in that “The Christian woman is not to adorn herself…so as to draw attention to herself. At worst, this is what the prostitutes did. At best, it shows pride and self-centeredness.”[249]

Given how 1 Timothy 2:9 opens with how the Ephesian women are to be of a respectable appearance, Guthrie rightly observes that the main issue is not what they might wear, but more how “it is a question of dignity and seriousness of purpose, as opposed to levity and frivolity.” He continues, stating, “Paul leaves no doubt as to what he means by adding a list of prohibitions relating to outward garments.”[250] Commentators have widely recognized that the specific dress he does not want the Ephesian women to adopt is situation-specific, something intensified in how Fee indicates, “There is a large body of evidence, both Hellenistic and Jewish, which equated ‘dressing up’ on the part of women with both sexual wantonness and wifely insubordination.”[251] Knight further elaborates,

“The reason for Paul’s prohibition of elaborate hair styles, ornate jewelry, and extremely expensive clothing becomes clear when one reads in the contemporary literature of the inordinate time, expense, and effort that elaborately braided hair and jewels demanded, not just as ostentatious display, but also as the mode of dress of courtesans and harlots.”[252]

Within the Ephesian culture of the First Century, the kind of dress Paul tells Timothy the women should not be wearing, would have communicated concepts to the wider world that the community of Messiah followers should not have been expressing. That these are situation- and culture-specific to what Timothy was having to oversee, should be obvious. From a much different vantage point, Ezekiel 16:11-13[253] actually describes in metaphorical language some of these same elements as adorning a redeemed city of Jerusalem. Yet while Jerusalem is to be displayed in garments of royalty, what would some of the female Believers in Ephesus have been displayed in? Many modern readers see 1 Timothy 2:9 and simply do not see the big deal about females with braided hear, gold jewelry, pearls, and at least wearing an expensive garment or two. Contrary to 1 Timothy 2:9 being against people today wearing nice clothes, Towner’s summary about the changes going on within the wider Roman Empire is quite valuable:

“Some women of means and position (married and widowed), supported in some cases by free-thinking males, flouted traditional values governing adornment and dress and sexual propriety…Associated with the new paradigm was behavior that gave it the look of an ancient sexual revolution, with wealthy women displaying themselves in permissive clothing and hairstyles and seeking the sexual freedoms normally reserved for men….Given the existence of the ‘new woman’ in Roman society, it is not surprising that Christian women would also be drawn to the movement. Perhaps the most notable symbol of the movement was outer adornment and apparel, and that of the new woman transgressed the traditional dress code of respectability.”[254]

If the kind of dress spoken against by Paul in 1 Timothy 2:9 would have represented a trend in Roman society toward female sexual liberation, and in wives utterly disrespecting their husbands—at times looked at as semi-treasonous by traditional Romans, and also opposed by the Tanach Scriptures as well—then we can understand why he wanted female Messiah followers to wear more reserved clothing. This kind of clothing, in the eyes of First Century men at least, could have been sexually appealing. Male Believers certainly did not need to be distracted in prayer or worship services of the assembly by female Believers wearing attire that could be viewed as lewd, promiscuous, and completely anti-traditional in much of the Empire. Most important to remember would have been Yeshua’s words, “but I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matthew 5:28). Paul wanted many of the women to “tone down” what they were wearing, so Timothy could focus on the more important matters of the assembly.

Even though Paul could be speaking in terms specific to the wider culture, it is right to ask why would he target a seductive style of dress, as the false teaching in Ephesus actually had an emphasis on asceticism and celibacy (1 Timothy 4:3). Why would people who have heard that they do not have to marry—because the resurrection had apparently already occurred (2 Timothy 2:18)—have to be concerned about the issue of attire? While internal congregational behavior would have surely been important, Marshall & Towner think “the concern [was] for the perceptions of outsiders who would not appreciate fine points of doctrine.”[255] While the false teaching may have fed any attitudes that women were free of most cultural norms regarding modesty, Mounce is probably right to conclude, “the opponents were [not] teaching about dress.”[256]

The areas listed by Paul in 1 Timothy 2:9 regarding modesty had specific, First Century Ephesian significance; many of these same areas do not convey sexual lewdness or promiscuity in Western society of the Twenty-First Century. It is very true, though, that today’s female Believers can derive key, applicable principles from Paul’s ancient instruction, most importantly “They should…not draw attention to themselves” (NLT). Marshall & Towner recognize the overarching issue to be, “inappropriate adornment was seen as a disruptive influence in the case of women.”[257] Witherington’s observations can help us bridge the gap between the ancient circumstances in 1 Timothy, and the best way to apply v. 9 today:

“Paul…is not just arguing here for modest apparel, but he is arguing against ostentatious, flashy and distracting apparel. Such apparel goes against the rules of modesty, discretion, propriety or sobriety that were to apply to everyone in worship, especially when meeting in close quarters.”[258]

In our time, we can probably all immediately think of a few women on popular Christian television who violate the main thrust of 1 Timothy 2:9 in a variety of ways. While people today generally do not associate all hair styles or jewelry as being scandalous or harlotrous, when a necklace or earrings or an overly-elaborate hairstyle grab our attention more than what is communicated or said by a particular lady, then we might have an issue. Even though it is often easier to criticize what females are wearing, it is completely inappropriate to not think that today’s male Christian leaders and popular ministers are fully innocent. Just consider the contrast between the stereotypical televangelist who might wear the latest Armani suit, to the average seminary professor who might wear a sweater vest and tweed jacket—whose monthly salary in teaching young people theology might buy him one of the televangelist’s suits. To this can be added how many of today’s pop preachers drive the latest Mercedes Benz or BMW, as opposed to a vehicle of a more humble, utilitarian means. How many Christian leaders have private jets that they do not need?

The issue of modesty is a huge, albeit frequently unspoken, controversy in certain parts of today’s Messianic movement. While rendered as “modesty” in the NASU, aidōs in a classical sense could mean, “a sense of shame” (LS).[259] Certainly while the Ephesian women corrected because of their dress, in 1 Timothy 2:9, may have had to experience a degree of “shame,” bearing a permanent stigma is not at all what aidōs implies. If anything, it can be used to describe the kind of temperance that young women preparing to be married are to display (cf. 3 Maccabees 1:19).[260] Mounce’s thought is, “It seems to indicate a reverence that is appropriate for a specific person or situation, a nuance that fits our context.”[261] In the specific case of the First Century, Towner also asserts how, “At this time the widely approved apparel of the wife was the stola, a robe-like garment made of much cloth. As a sign of marital fidelity and respectability, the stola presented an intentional contrast with the often more revealing and colorful clothing (toga) of the prostitute, designed to signify her shame but frequently used to advertise her wares.”[262] Surely women who were Messiah followers were not allowed to dress like this “new woman” of the Roman Empire!

So is it at all possible for us to adequately apply 1 Timothy 2:9 in our Messianic faith community, now in the Twenty-First Century? The overall emphasis of v. 9 is on how the women in Ephesus were to demonstrate self-restraint, and be focused around what it meant to demonstrate the good works becoming of born again Believers (1 Timothy 1:10). Any clothing that would associate them with a sexually alluring or (radically) socially subversive movement, would need to be replaced by something more appropriate. Every Messianic Believer I know thinks that modesty should be followed in today’s Messianic movement, among females and males. But what does this mean in practice?

In many cases in our faith community, what one group of Believers thinks is modest is regarded by others as being a bit hyper-modest, and another group’s thoughts of modesty are thought by yet another’s to be worldly and rather sensual. The problem that I have witnessed, in my ministry experience, is that frequently, some of those who talk about modesty have a tendency to over-emphasize it to the point where their “modest” style of dress can become every bit as much of a distraction for people in the assembly, as those who dress “immodestly.” This most especially includes people who try to dress in a quasi-Biblical period style, or those Messianics who make the effort to really live like ultra Orthodox or Chassidic Jews. I do acknowledge that these people are quite sincere in their convictions, and that their dress does not invoke sexual or promiscuous thoughts. Yet, their dress can have a tendency to draw unnecessary and unkind attention to themselves, and away from much bigger issues of spiritual service.

We need to avoid the creation of a Messianic sub-culture, for which a self-defined modesty is most important—a “modesty” which actually draws attention to a sub-group, not too dissimilar from those females who would have received attention in Ephesus. Sadly, many of those who have taken it upon themselves to rigidly define “modesty,” have been responsible for publicly judging others who may see things a little differently, and who want to dress like relatively normal Twenty-First Century people. In the case of 1 Timothy 2:9, there are ancient cultural circumstances that need to be considered, which should not be totally transferred to our Western society today. And above all, regardless as to what degree we may push “modesty,” we do need to recognize that there are some gray areas in our application of what 1 Timothy 2:9 communicates.

A better emphasis in terms of classifying modesty would simply be for today’s Messianic Believers, male and female alike, to just dress conservatively. It is appropriate to have nice clothes, including both dresses and suits, but not ones that convey opulence, vanity, and extravagance. There are many examples of modern Jews and modern evangelical Christians who dress in current fashions, but who would very much be considered modest. Clothes do not make someone, and what we wear should not be with the intention of grabbing attention: be it sexual attention or general adoration.[263]

Paul informs Timothy how he does not want the Ephesian women to be known for the clothes they wear, but rather how they are to be about performing good works (Grk. ergōn agathōn). He writes, “Rather, they should adorn themselves with what is appropriate for women who claim to be worshipping God, namely, good deeds” (1 Timothy 2:10, CJB). The necessity of all Believers demonstrating good works is a concept witnessed throughout the Pastoral Epistles (2 Timothy 2:21; Titus 2:14; 3:1, 8, 14). While salvation does not come from human works, good works are to follow salvation, as Paul has said, “For we are His workmanship, created in Messiah Yeshua for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them” (Ephesians 2:10). Mounce further states,

“Good works are the necessary response by the believer to God’s grace and mercy and are one of the purposes for which Christ came. Any theology that sees Christ’s work merely as a means to salvation, divorcing it from any notion of obedience and behavior, falls short of the theology of the PE.”[264]

We can be reminded of how Ancient Israel’s obedience to Moses’ Teaching was intended to draw others to God (Deuteronomy 4:6). In the case of the female Believers in Ephesus, getting them to focus on good deeds, and positive works of service, would get their attention off of the false teaching and the negative atmosphere it would cause not only for the assembly—but for any Jew, Greek, or Roman who wanted to know more about Messiah Yeshua, attending their gatherings. Towner observes how all this “falls within the overarching missiological theme of Christian existence as a life that is lived with a concern for the observation of the outsider.”[265] Believers today, including Messianic Believers, often face challenges in implementing what it means to be “dressed” in good works, as opposed to drawing attention to various personal quirks or curiosities.

A second passage which is commonly quoted, as an example of something culturally conditioned and situational to the First Century C.E.—at least for feminine attire—is 1 Peter 3:3: “Your adornment must not be merely external—braiding the hair, and wearing gold jewelry, or putting on dresses.” The discussion in 1 Peter 3:1-5 involves husbands and wives, and as most complementarians will agree, 1 Peter 3:1 specifies how the husbands in view are most probably non-Believers, but the wives are Believers: “In the same way, you wives, be submissive to your own husbands so that even if any of them are disobedient to the word, they may be won without a word by the behavior of their wives.” These wives who are Believers, are to be respectful, rather than be usurping and manipulative, of their husbands who are non-Believers: “they [are to] observe your chaste and respectful behavior” (1 Peter 3:2). The Apostle Peter, in addressing wives who are Believers in Israel’s Messiah, stresses how “Your beauty should not consist of outward things” (1 Peter 3:3a, HCSB), but instead their inward character (1 Peter 3:4).

There have been a variety of ways that interpreters have approached 1 Peter 3:1-5, especially as it involves the equality of men and women in the Body of Messiah (Galatians 3:28)—a truth notably not embraced by First Century non-Believers. Complementarians like Grudem, in his commentary on the Epistle of First Peter, takes the position that the seemingly one-way submission of a believing wife to her non-believing husband, is rooted in the apparent Biblical ideal of men solely leading the family—even if such men are non-Believers:

“The attractiveness of a wife’s submissive behaviour even to an unbelieving husband suggests that God has inscribed the rightness and beauty of role distinctions in marriage on the hearts of all mankind. Such role distinctions include male leadership or headship in the family and female acceptance of and responsiveness to that leadership.”[266]

C.E.B. Cranfield takes a much more open-ended approach to the roles of men and women in the post-resurrection era. While not a declared egalitarian, in his commentary on 1 Peter, he suggests that a one-way wifely submission to an unbelieving husband is more of a pragmatic concession—given how First Century pagans were not likely to embrace the truth of male and female equality in the Lord:

“Peter is trying to help the Christian wives of heathen husbands in Asia Minor in the first century A.D. It was no use suggesting that they should explain to their partners that in Christ ‘there can be no male and female’, though the Church had already grasped that tremendous truth (Gal. 3.28). So he does not embark on any disquisition on the rights of women, but gives them some practical advice. They must conform to the social conventions of the day, in so far as these do not directly conflict with their obedience in Christ.”[267]

The believing wives of unbelieving husbands, to whom Peter was writing, are to approach their husbands in a submissive manner, and are to let their inner gentleness and not external apparel, be what impresses them: “Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight” (1 Peter 3:3-4, NIV). Commonly considered here is not only the previously-quoted Testament of Reuben 5:5, but also God’s words regarding David in 1 Samuel 16:7: “for the LORD does not see as mortals see; they look on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks on the heart” (NRSV).

Both complementarian and egalitarian readers should be honest enough to see that the one-way, submission of a believing wife to an unbelieving husband, is rooted in the submission of Sarah to Abraham, in the pre-resurrection Patriarchal era several millennia earlier: “For this is the way the holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to make themselves beautiful. They were submissive to their own husbands” (1 Peter 3:5, NIV). Complementarians think that the one-way submission of Sarah to Abraham is something that remained in place not only in the First Century C.E., but is something to be stressed today in the Twenty-First Century as well. Egalitarians, however, might be keen to emphasize how it is stated houtōs gar pote, “for~so formerly” (1 Peter 3:5, Brown and Comfort),[268] the adverb potepert. to generalization of time, at some time or other of the past once, formerly” (BDAG).[269] A past example of a Patriarchal marriage was to serve as the template of what to do when a believing wife relates to her unbelieving husband.

Egaltiarians believe that mutual submission of wife to husband and husband to wife is the ideal in the post-resurrection era (Ephesians 5:21ff), not just one of wife to husband. Peter’s appeal to “former times” (1 Peter 3:5, NASU) was a concession made for the situation of what to do with a husband who was a non-Believer, with the intention of her good character eventually winning him over to salvation. Being of a gentle and reasonable disposition was to serve as a testimony to Yeshua, not dressing in a particular way so as to coerce or seduce. A one-way submission of a wife to a husband, is not however, ideal, when the husband is a Believer. And, it should be more than apparent that a husband-wife team of Believers is going to achieve far more things for the Kingdom of God than a believing wife married to an unbelieving husband (or vice versa) will accomplish.

Issues regarding head covering garments, commonly derived from 1 Corinthians 11:2-16, are addressed in the next question (#32).


32. But doesn’t Paul argue for a head covering for women in worship by appealing to the created order in 1 Corinthians 11:13-15? Why is the head covering not binding today while the teaching concerning submission and headship is?

Inevitably in the debate over men and women in the Body of Messiah, and their proper roles or designations, will arise discussion from 1 Corinthians 11 about head covering garments and their potential applicability for Twentieth and Twenty-First Century female Believers. Piper and Grudem, as evangelical Christian complementarians, conclude that a head covering garment was a necessary First Century C.E. expression of femininity for the Believers, culturally appropriate to the Mediterranean, but may not necessarily need to be transferred to a present day setting:

“The key question here is whether Paul is saying that creation dictates a head covering or that creation dictates that we use culturally appropriate expressions of masculinity and femininity, which just happened to be a head covering for women in that setting. We think the latter is the case.”[270]

Piper and Grudem consider that head covering garments on females, per 1 Corinthians 11:13-15, are situational to the First Century C.E., per Paul’s statement, “Judge for yourselves…” (1 Corinthians 11:13, ESV).

Egalitarian perspectives on 1 Corinthians 11:13-15 are varied, but most of them do consider the issues regarding attire and adornment in 1 Corinthians 11:2-16 to be somehow conditioned to First Century C.E. circumstances. My own perspective as a commentator is unique, because after reading some of the proposals of Philip B. Payne in his 2009 book Man and Woman, One in Christ, I came to the conclusion that head covering garments were not, in fact, the actual issue in view—but instead various First Century hairstyles on men and women. I admittedly found this quite inviting, given the frequent debates present in the Messianic community on the employment of the Jewish kippah or yarmulke, the small skullcap commonly worn in reverence to God. Many non-Jewish people in the Messianic community consider Paul’s words of 1 Corinthians 11 to decisively speak against the usage of the kippah or yarmulke. So, if the actual issue present in 1 Corinthians 11:2-16 regarding “covered” and “uncovered,” is ancient hairstyles, then it makes the kippah or yarmulke a Jewish tradition hardly opposed by the Scriptures.

The following, extensive analysis of 1 Corinthians 11:2-16 has been adapted from my 2015 commentary 1 Corinthians for the Practical Messianic:

Now I praise you because you remember me in everything and hold firmly to the traditions, just as I delivered them to you. But I want you to understand that Messiah is the head of every man, and the man is the head of a woman, and God is the head of Messiah. Every man who has something on his head while praying or prophesying disgraces his head. But every woman who has her head uncovered while praying or prophesying disgraces her head, for she is one and the same as the woman whose head is shaved. For if a woman does not cover her head, let her also have her hair cut off; but if it is disgraceful for a woman to have her hair cut off or her head shaved, let her cover her head. For a man ought not to have his head covered, since he is the image and glory of God; but the woman is the glory of man. For man does not originate from woman, but woman from man; for indeed man was not created for the woman’s sake, but woman for the man’s sake. Therefore the woman ought to have a symbol of authority on her head, because of the angels. However, in the Lord, neither is woman independent of man, nor is man independent of woman. For as the woman originates from the man, so also the man has his birth through the woman; and all things originate from God. Judge for yourselves: is it proper for a woman to pray to God with her head uncovered? Does not even nature itself teach you that if a man has long hair, it is a dishonor to him, but if a woman has long hair, it is a glory to her? For her hair is given to her for a covering. But if one is inclined to be contentious, we have no other practice, nor have the churches of God (NASU).

11:2 It is hardly a surprise why the statements made, and the subject matter present, in 1 Corinthians 11:2-16, have made it one of the most difficult of the Pauline passages one will encounter. There is a variance of opinion in contemporary examination, on how to approach and translate different terms and clauses, how to evaluate various ancient background issues, and hence also how to weigh what the actual problem was within the Corinthian assembly. As Richard B. Hays puts it, “[Paul’s] reasoning is notoriously obscure, partly because we do not know precisely how to interpret some of the key terms in the argument and partly because the line of the argument is—by any standard—labored and convoluted.”[271] To a wide degree, the only way that some of Paul’s methodology of communication can make sense to us—regardless of what conclusions we may draw—is to recognize that what he says in 1 Corinthians 11:2-16 involves terms, clauses, and a background which the Corinthians were familiar with via Paul’s teaching to them.

The Apostle Paul lauds the Corinthians, “I commend you because you remember me in everything and maintain the traditions even as I have delivered them to you” (1 Corinthians 11:2, RSV). While some versions will render the term paradosis as “teachings” (NIV) or “doctrines” (LITV) or even “ordinances” (KJV), paradosis really does mean “the content of instruction that has been handed down, tradition” (BDAG).[272] Too frequently, readers of the Apostolic Scriptures or New Testament encounter negative uses of the term “tradition” (Matthew 15:6; Mark 7:4, 8, 13; Galatians 1:14; Colossians 2:8), and can easily gloss over positive uses (2 Thessalonians 2:15; 3:6). 1 Corinthians 11:2 includes a positive usage of “tradition,” although there is no agreement what such “tradition” might be. It is safe to say that what Paul has directed the Corinthians to follow, is consistent with the theological views and spiritual values of his Jewish heritage.

What Paul communicates to the Corinthians in the verses which follow, generally fall into two categories today. That there is some discussion about ornamentation of some sort on the heads of men and women in the Corinthian assembly, is easily deduced from any English translation. That there is debate as to whether (1) head covering garments in worship on the heads of men and women, or whether (2) ancient hairstyles communicating respectability or lewdness, is the targeted issue, is not as widely known by today’s lay Bible readers. In our own ministry experience, few of today’s Messianic people are aware of these two options—although there are some firm opinions present in our faith community about head covering garments on men and women to be employed in congregational worship.

David E. Garland notes, “The problem centers on head attire in worship, but interpreters cannot agree whether it has to do with some kind of head covering, hairstyles, or properly tended hair…”[273] That some kind of head covering garments were used in worship, by both Jewish men and women in the Second Temple period, is easily deduced from 2 Corinthians 3:14.[274] Doubt as to whether head covering garments is the actual issue found in 1 Corinthians 11:2-16, arises over the mentioning of long hair present on either a man or a woman (vs. 14-15). In the estimation of Roy E. Ciampa and Brian S. Rosner, “If hair styles are in view (men wearing long hair and/or women letting their hair down rather than putting it up), it may suggest that homosexual influences were penetrating the church, since long hair was associated with homosexuality in the Roman world.”[275]

11:3 The Apostle Paul opens his argument about heads and hair on men and women in the assembly, in what has become a very dissected and debated statement in recent theological discussion. 1 Corinthians 11:3 appears in most English Bibles along the lines of, “But I want you to know that the head of every man is Messiah, and the head of the woman is the man, and the head of Messiah is God” (TLV). 1 Corinthians 11:3 is frequently viewed from the perspective of a hierarchical order to be present between God, the Messiah, males, and females.[276] A frequent conclusion drawn is that Yeshua the Son is permanently (or even eternally) subordinate to God the Father (cf. 15:28), and that females are permanently subordinate to males. While Messianic readers of 1 Corinthians 11:3 might not be too sure over the relationship of the Father and Son in this verse, it is safe to say that most would definitely assert that, at least as a broad rule from this verse, that females are to be subordinate to males.

Within the past several decades, in evangelical Christian examination of 1 Corinthians 11:3, there has been considerable disagreement as to whether Paul is even presenting some kind of hierarchical order. If a hierarchical order involving God and human beings were the issue, then why does 1 Corinthians 11:3 not include some kind of descending or ascending order, such as: God, Messiah, males, females? 1 Corinthians 11:3 notably does not say, “God is the leader/authority of Christ, Christ is the leader/authority of every man, and the man is the leader/authority of a woman.” Instead, what is encountered are three pairs of relationships expressed, which are intended to convey something to the Corinthian audience:

hoti pantos andros hē kephalē ho Christos estin, kephalē de gunaikos ho anēr, kephalē de tou Christou ho Theos

Within discussions and debates over 1 Corinthians 11:3, no factor has become more pronounced than over the correct meaning of the Greek term kephalē, which would literally mean “head.” Obviously, in the various uses which follow in 1 Corinthians 11:4-16, that kephalē or “head” pertains to the physical head of a man or woman is contextually obvious. Strong debates take place in contemporary scholarship over what kephalē means in 1 Corinthians 11:3, specifically whether it means “authority” or “leader”—as the term “head” frequently can mean in English—or whether it means something else, particularly “source” or “origin,” akin to the “headwaters” of a river. An unambiguous term that Paul could have used, if “authority” were expressly intended in 1 Corinthians 11:3, is exousia, appearing in 1 Corinthians 11:10. Another term which could have been employed, witnessed in 1 Corinthians for sure (2:6, 8), is archōn, “a ruler, commander, chief, captain” (LS).[277]

Most people, in today’s broad Messianic movement you will encounter, will just assume that there is no other meaning for “head” than “authority” or “leader”[278]—especially given widespread English usage of the term “head” akin to “leader.” However, a brief survey of some scholastic examination of 1 Corinthians 11:3 has demonstrated greater variance than the average reader may know. Some general resources for popular distribution, such as the 1996 Hard Sayings of the Bible, certainly does include some deliberation over whether or not kephalē means “authority over” or “source,” with “source” definitely preferred.[279] Unfortunately, one of the major drawbacks regarding kephalē meaning “source” or “origin,” as noted by Garland (who is notably not favorable to it), is that “no Greek lexicon offers this as an option.”[280] What is more the case, is that some of the major tools available to Bible students, do not offer the definition of “source” or “origin” for kephalē. The unabridged Liddell-Scott-Jones-McKenzie lexicon, inaccessible to most, does include the definition “source, origin” for kephalē.[281] More accessible is the intermediate Liddell-Scott lexicon, which does state how kephalē can mean “the head or source of a river” (LS).[282]

There has actually been a considerable amount of ink spilled defending the view that kephalē should be viewed as “source” in some key Pauline texts describing gender roles,[283] and strong rebuttals issued holding to the position that kephalē means “authority.”[284] Fairer discussions as to whether or not kephalē means “authority” or “source,” are more often to be found in 1 Corinthians commentaries, among other studies (also notably including commentaries on Ephesians 5:23), because the textual usage of kephalē has to be evaluated. As is seen, there are a fair number of examiners in agreement that kephalē does not at all have to mean “authority” in 1 Corinthians 11:3—and this will notably include complementarian theologians, who are widely disfavorable toward women serving on a more level playing field with men in the Body of Messiah.

F.F. Bruce was a relatively early commentator who remarked, “By head in this context we are probably to understand not, as has frequently been suggested, ‘chief’ or ‘ruler’ but rather ‘source’ or ‘origin’—a sense well attested for Gk kephalē.”[285] Leon Morris would also have to indicate, “‘Head’ was used of the ‘source’ (as ‘head’ of a river)…Paul is saying that the woman derives her being from man (Gn. 2:21-22), as man does from Christ and Christ from God. But we must be cautious in pressing these words, for none of the relationships mentioned is exactly the same as either of the others.”[286] And other commentators, who to various degrees do believe in a hierarchical order present in 1 Corinthians 11:3, have had to acknowledge how kephalē could mean “source” or “origin.”[287] In his 1994 volume in the NIV Application Commentary series, Craig Blomberg usefully indicates, “The order of the three parts of verse 3…proves significant. Some commentators stress that the sequence does not set up a chain of command, as if Paul had written, ‘The head of the woman is man, the head of every man is Christ, and the head of Christ is God.’” He goes on to conclude, though, “the vast majority of all church history has understood ‘head’ as ‘authority’…[W]eighty arguments are needed to overthrow it.”[288] The considerable bulk of data which has been put together, by mainly evangelical examiners, in support of the term kephalē meaning “source” or “origin,” has been witnessed in the 2000s and 2010s.[289]

While lexical debates over the meaning of the term kephalē will probably never end, what is notably changed if kephalē in 1 Corinthians 11:3 does not mean “authority” or “leader,” as it has been traditionally approached? Gordon D. Fee draws out how when kephalē is approached as “source” in 1 Corinthians 11:3, the relationships of the different parties, with one originating from another, are necessarily highlighted:

“The metaphor itself is often understood to be hierarchical, setting up structures of authority. But nothing in the passage suggests as much; in that the only appearance of the word exousia (‘authority’) refers to the woman’s own authority (v. 10). Moreover, vv. 11-12 explicitly qualify vv. 8-9 so that they will not be understood in this way. Indeed, the metaphorical use of kephalē to mean ‘chief’ or ‘the person of the highest rank’ is rare in Greek literature—so much so that even though the Hebrew word rō’š often carried this sense, the Greek translators of the LXX, who ordinarily used kephalē to translate rō’š when the physical ‘head’ was intended, almost never did so when ‘ruler’ was intended….Paul’s understanding of the metaphor…and almost certainly the only one the Corinthians would have grasped, is ‘head’ as ‘source,’ especially ‘source of life’…Thus Paul’s concern is not hierarchical (who has authority over whom), but relational (the unique relationships that are predicated on one’s being the source of the other’s existence).”[290]

With physical head ornamentation on men and women to be discussed in the verses which follow, “the man is the head/kephalē of a woman” expressing origins, necessarily directs people to how Eve came from Adam (1 Corinthians 11:8), and how there were gender distinctions to be properly maintained in the Body of Messiah, although there is notably also an interdependence of both genders (1 Corinthians 11:11-12). If particular sorts of physical head ornamentation conveyed an inappropriate message for the assembly—such as men identifying as homosexuals or females as prostitutes—than an affirmation on where human beings come from, and what they stand in relation to, should be in order. As Anthony C. Thiselton directs,

“Paul’s concern is not with subordination but with gender distinction. He expresses no less disquiet (probably indeed more) about men whose style is effeminate with possible hints of a quasihomosexual blurring of male gender than about women who likewise reject the use of signals of respectable and respected gender distinctiveness.”[291]

Of course, concurrent with woman originating from man, would be how kephalē concerns the relationship of Yeshua the Son to God the Father. While the Son is certainly witnessed in other passages as being submissive to the Father, particularly involving His agency—is the Son the Father’s permanent subordinate, and possibly a lesser supernatural being than He, rather than His equal (cf. Philippians 2:6)? This does not need to be a conclusion drawn from 1 Corinthians 11:3. When kephalē is approached as “source” or “origin,” the statement “Messiah is the kephalē of every man” concerns the Messiah’s role in the Creation of Adam. When kephalē is approached as “source” or “origin,” the statement “God is the kephalē of Messiah” is more appropriately to be approached as “The Godhead is the source of Messiah,” given the presence of the definite article in ho Theos, and would be appropriately viewed as the Messiah’s Incarnation.

With kephalē approached as “source” or “origin” in 1 Corinthians 11:3, rather than some sort of hierarchical relationship involving God-Messiah-males-females, we instead see three pairs of relationships present, both beginning and ending with an emphasis on the Messiah. It begins with the place of the Messiah in creation, the origin of woman from man, and it ends with the place of the Messiah in His Incarnation and redemption. Between the Messiah as Creator and Redeemer sit the man and the woman, who indeed have Divinely-granted differences of gender. Evangelical Christian egalitarians, who do interpret the Scriptures as presenting a trajectory of a level playing field for men and women as co-leaders in the family and the Body of Messiah, do not at all conclude that the Bible presents men and women as eventually merging into some kind of unisex. Woman does originate from man, but both genders are interconnected (1 Corinthians 11:11).

A rendering of 1 Corinthians 11:3, with all possibilities represented, is offered by Thiselton in his commentary: “However, I want you to understand that while Christ is preeminent (or head? source?) for man, man is foremost (or head? source?) in relation to woman, and God is preeminent (or head? source?) in relation to Christ.”[292] The aptly titled Source New Testament by A. Nyland actually does have, “Now, I want you to know that the source of every man is the Anointed One, the source of woman is man, and the source of the Anointed One is God,”[293] for 1 Corinthians 11:3. A recognition that kephalē can indeed mean “source” or “origin,” as such ho Theos or “the Godhead” is the origin of the Messiah’s Incarnation, should lead to 1 Corinthians 11:3 being legitimately approached as, “But I want you to understand that the source of every man is Messiah, and the source of the woman is the man, and the source of Messiah is the Godhead” (my translation).[294]

The advantage of approaching kephalē from the perspective of it being “source” or “origin” in 1 Corinthians 11:3, is how it would decisively place the discussion of head ornamentation on men and women, within the venue of Creation-humankind-redemption. The relationship of man and woman in the Body of Messiah, involves a wider place for humanity’s relationship with the Messiah who created them, the same Messiah who took on humanity to be sacrificed for their sins. As Philip B. Payne excellently summarizes in his resource Man and Woman, One in Christ,

“‘God is the [kephalē] of Christ’ anchors Paul’s concern in the Godhead. This most naturally refers to Christ’s source as from God in the incarnation…This explains the order of these three [kephalē] (source) relationships as chronological: the creation of man, the creation of woman, and the incarnation…Preceding the statement, ‘the man is the source of woman,’ is an affirmation of Christ’s role in creation as the source of every man. Following it is an affirmation of Christ’s role in redemption, since this is implied by the reference to God as the [kephalē] (source) of Christ in the incarnation. This bracketing suggests that Paul desired the Corinthians to view the relationship of man and woman in light of two pivotal events, creation and redemption. These two pivotal events are the keys to understanding natural and special revelation. The creation of humankind in the image of God and God’s provision for redemption through his very Son provide the two pillars that uphold both the value of human life and the respect that people should show to each other.”[295]

11:4-16 A major controversy which tends to exist in various parts of the Messianic community, surrounding the issue of head covering garments in worship settings, pertains to diagnosing what the actual issue of Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 11:4-16 involves. Frequently, and most often from non-Jewish Messianics with a more often than not fundamentalist reading of Holy Scripture, some would take 1 Corinthians 11:4-16, in English, as an insistence that Jewish men and Messianic men should not wear a kippah or yarmulke, but that all females (at least in worship settings) must wear a head covering garment. However, as can be easily seen, there are some translation issues present in these verses in various English Bible versions, as well as some ancient background issues germane to First Century Corinth, which need to be seriously considered.

There are many commentators who adhere to the view that the females in Corinth had stopped wearing head covering garments, and that the Apostle Paul wanted them to return to following such a tradition.[296] Yet, there are many reasons for considering an alternative approach to what “covered” and “uncovered” means in 1 Corinthians 11:4-6, as they involved ancient hairstyles present in Corinth, which can easily be deduced from the uses of male and female hair in the wider cotext (1 Corinthians 11:14-15). All can be agreed that regardless of what kind of head ornamentation was specifically in view, that various Corinthians were presenting themselves in the assembly in a disrespectable way, bringing dishonor to God, to one another, and conveying an inappropriate message to wider society.

The view, represented in this resource {1 Corinthians for the Practical Messianic}, will support the proposal that “covered” relates to hair that has been pulled up upon the head, and that “uncovered” relates to hair which has been let go freely—one communicating respectability, and another communicating lewdness, in the context of Ancient Corinth. Hence, 1 Corinthians 11:4-16 should not be used as a passage to condemn the usage of the kippah or yarmulke or tallit, when worn on the head or being draped over the head.

11:4 Paul opens up this section of his letter with the recognition that a man or a male can bring some kind of dishonor to his head, via some kind of an inappropriate ornamentation, and as such will draw undue attention to himself. 1 Corinthians 11:4 states, pas anēr proseuchomenos ē prophēteuōn kata kephalēs, which the NRSV has rendered with, “Any man who prays or prophesies with something on his head…” There is some discussion on how to approach the clause kata kephalēs, as the preposition kata, when used with a genitive (case indicating possession), can often mean “of location that is relatively lower, down from someth” (BDAG).[297] Frequently, though, various examiners have made light of a statement appearing from Plutarch, “after disembarking, [he] was walking with his toga covering his head [kata tēs kephalēs]” (Moralia 200F),[298] and have assumed that something similar was present in Corinth with various men wearing a head covering garment.

That there is not agreement on the clause kata kephalēs meaning “with his head covered” (NIV) or “who has something on his head” (NASU), is easily seen in the 1984 NIV footnote, which offers the alternative rendering, “Every man who prays or prophesies with long hair dishonors his head.”[299] Such a rendering would take into account how the preposition kata often means “down.” W. Harold Mare notes how in 1 Corinthians 11:4, what is debated is “literally, ‘having [something] down from [or over] one’s head.’”[300] While one option could indeed be that Paul disapproves of men wearing a head covering garment in worship settings, the other option at an interpreter’s disposal, from the surrounding text and keeping in mind kata kephalēs as “down from the head,” is that long hair on a man is what is being condemned. Blomberg states it as much:

“In verses 14-15 Paul is definitely talking about relative lengths of hair for men and women, so it is somewhat more natural to assume that he has been talking about hairstyles all long. Long hair on Greek men might well have led to suspicions of homosexual behavior.”[301]

Would it have really been disgraceful for a First Century Jewish man, or even a Greek or Roman man, to wear a garment upon his head during a time of prayer or prophecy? No. Paul specifies later in 1 Corinthians 11:14 that there is something which could be down from a man’s head that would disgrace him: “if a man has long hair, it is a dishonor to him.” Long hair on a man hanging down, could have communicated something in Corinth that might not have been very good for the Believers. At the very least, some males with long hair hanging down, from certain angles, could possibly be confused as being female. More concerning, to be sure, is if long hair hanging down from a man, identified such a man as possibly being homosexual. Payne, in his book Man and Woman, One in Christ, further describes,

“Something ‘down from’ ([kata] with the genitive, ‘lit. hanging down fr. the head,’ BDAG 511 A.1.a) or ‘over’ the head of men leading in worship was disgraceful. Paul does not in this verse identify what was down from the head, so any explanation, to be convincing, needs to cite evidence from this passage and its cultural context. What hanging down from a man’s head would be disgraceful for men leading worship in Corinth, a Greek city and a Roman colony? Many assume it is a toga (himation). It was not, however, disgraceful in the cultural context of Corinth or in Jewish culture for a man to drape a garment over his head. The capite velato custom of pulling a toga over one’s head in Roman religious contexts symbolized devotion and piety, not disgrace. Jewish custom and the Hebrew Scriptures also approved head-covering garments for men leading in worship[302]…Thankfully, Paul identifies in verse 15 what ‘hanging down from the head’ causes disgrace: ‘If a man has long hair, it is a disgrace to him [1 Corinthians 11:14, NIV].’”[303]

Payne goes on to assert that one of the significant reasons why long, free flowing hair on a man, would be considered disgraceful, would be how “Many desiring homosexual liaisons advertised their sexual availability through display of effeminate hair, particularly in the Dionysiac cult that was influential in Corinth.”[304]

Surely for our Messianic faith community, which can wrestle with the issue of men wearing a kippah or yarmulke during worship, much can be relieved when weighing how 1 Corinthians 11:4 should be translated along the lines of “Every man praying or prophesying, having something down from the head [kata kephalēs], dishonors the head” (my translation). Far be it from “something down from the head” being a tallit or prayer shawl, it would instead be what the text of Paul’s letter actually states brings dishonor: long, effeminate hair (1 Corinthians 11:14), perhaps even with homosexual overtones or undertones. 1 Corinthians 11:4, when properly viewed from this angle, has nothing to do with the Jewish tradition or custom of men wearing a kippah or yarmulke, and cannot be used to disparage such a practice.

11:5-6 Having just made a statement about proper head ornamentation for the males in Corinth, Paul now speaks about proper head ornamentation for the females in Corinth. The RSV rendering of 1 Corinthians 11:5 does need to be noted, as it does represent a value judgment: “but any woman who prays or prophesies with her head unveiled dishonors her head—it is the same as if her head were shaven.” A much better rendering would be seen in the NASU: “But every woman who has her head uncovered while praying or prophesying disgraces her head, for she is one and the same as the woman whose head is shaved.” The term akatakaluptos does legitimately mean “uncovered” (LS)[305]—but whether this involves some lack of a head covering garment, or some ancient hairstyle, is something which obviously needs to be weighed.

One of the things which can be easily overlooked—regardless of how “uncovered” in 1 Corinthians 11:5 is approached—is that females were absolutely permitted to speak and prophecy in the assembly (cf. Acts 2:17-18; 21:9). That women were permitted to speak in the assembly, is rightly taken to be a sign of female liberation for those who trust in Israel’s Messiah, in a wider Jewish and Greco-Roman context where females were not typically able to speak into the life of the community.

In 1 Corinthians 11:5a, Paul issues instruction regarding pasa de gunē proseuchomenē ē prophēteuousa akatakaluptō tē kephalē, “and every woman praying or prophesying with the head uncovered…” (YLT), is to be regarded as having dishonored her head, being as though her head were shaved (1 Corinthians 11:5b). Having a shaved (Grk. verb xureō) head in ancient times, whether in Ancient Israel, Second Temple Judaism, or even Greco-Roman culture, was frequently a sign of mourning and/or humiliation. Often referenced by examiners is a statement made by the Roman historian Tacitus, regarding how an Ancient Germanic female having such cut hair was a sign of her being an adulteress:

“Very rare for so numerous a population is adultery, the punishment for which is prompt, and in the husband’s power. Having cut off the hair of the adulteress and stripped her naked, he expels her from the house in the presence of her kinsfolk, and then flogs her through the whole village” (Germania 19).[306]

While there is certainly longstanding support for approaching a female with a “head uncovered,” as meaning that a woman praying or prophesying must have some kind of a garment present, there are good reasons for us to think that the issue here is not really the wearing of a head covering garment. A significant usage of the adjective akatakaluptos or “uncovered,” in the Septuagint, is Leviticus 13:45, speaking of “the leper who has the plague in him, his garments shall be torn, and his head shall be uncovered [akatakaluptos]” (LXE).[307] Akatakaluptos renders the Hebrew verb para, which notably can mean “to let the hair on the head hang loosely” (HALOT),[308] as “The leper who has the disease shall wear torn clothes and let the hair of his head hang loose [para]…” (Leviticus 13:45, RSV).

Among examiners, Payne is one who makes a connection between the Greek akatakaluptos and the Hebrew para, for properly interpreting v. 5:

“The only occurrence in the text Paul cited the most, the LXX [Septuagint], of ‘uncovered’ (11:5; [akatakaluptos] in Lev 13:45) translates [faru’a], from [para], which Hebrew scholars agree means ‘to let the hair on the head hang loosely.’ It is the earliest instance of the word ‘cover’ ([katakaluptos]) occurring with ‘head’ in the TLG database…‘Uncovered’ is explained twice in verses 5-6, using ‘for’ ([gar]). Both reasons explain the uncovering as equivalent to hair being clipped or shaved. This associates the covering as hair and fits most naturally if ‘uncovered’ refers to a woman with her hair let down.”[309]

As far as translation of akatakaluptos is concerned from 1 Corinthians 11:5, “uncovered” is a correct rendering. What needs to be recognized is the probable association of the Greek akatakaluptos and Hebrew para, with “uncovered” more properly meaning: “with free flowing hair.”

Payne is not the only interpreter who interjects some significant doubt as to whether or not “uncovered” and “covered” relate to some kind of head covering garment—or instead ancient Corinthian hairstyles. Blomberg interjects multiple options in his commentary from the NIV Application series:

“[T]he covering could refer to long hair. It could be that Paul wants them to keep it ‘done up,’ as was the custom among married women, rather than loose and flowing—a sign in some circles of being unmarried or, worse still, of suspected adultery (among Jews) or pagan, prophetic frenzy (among Greeks). Or it could be that they are simply wearing their hair too short, perilously close to the shaven heads of a convicted adulteress in Jewish circles or of the more ‘masculine’ partner in a lesbian relationship in the Greek world.”[310]

Hays elaborates on how Corinthian females, wearing free flowing hair in an assembly of Messiah followers, would not only be seen as a sign of disgrace, but would likely associate the Believers with various religious cults—something the Apostle Paul surely did not want:

“For women to have loose hair in public…was conventionally seen as shameful, a sign associated either with prostitutes or—perhaps worse for Paul’s point of view—with women caught up in the ecstatic worship practices of the cults associated with Dionysius, Cybele, and Isis. Paul is concerned that the practice of Christian prophecy be sharply distinguished from the frenzied behavior of prophetesses in pagan worship (cf. 14:26-33, 37-40). The symbolic confusion introduced by women with loose, disheveled hair in the Christian assembly would therefore be, from Paul’s point of view, shameful. If the women will not keep their hair bound up, he says, they should cut if off—an action which he regards as self-evidently disgraceful.”[311]

If this background is kept in view, then a Corinthian woman who had her head “uncovered,” is one who actually had her long hair hanging loose for all in the assembly to see. It is true that when modern readers encounter a term like “uncovered,” it is more natural for us to think that the Corinthian woman was to probably be wearing some sort of head garment. But wearing or not wearing a head garment would not have been as problematic as a female having loosed hair flowing freely. In a largely progressive and so-called “sexually liberated” city like First Century Corinth, a woman with free-flowing loose hair was anything but respectable. In fact, such a hairstyle could also be viewed from the angle of a prostitute advertising her wares! Payne details,

“Loosed hair was disgraceful (11:5) and symbolized sexual looseness in Roman, Greek, and Jewish culture….Loosed hair fits the cultural influence and specific practice of the Dionysiac cult, which was popular in Corinth and explains why women in Corinth might have let their hair down.”[312]

Contrary to women with “uncovered” heads—heads with hair freely flowing down—respectable women would have “covered heads”: “For if a woman does not cover her head, let her also have her hair cut off; but if it is disgraceful for a woman to have her hair cut off or her head shaved, let her cover her head” (1 Corinthians 11:6). But what would it mean for a woman to “cover her head”? Is this to be taken as “wear[ing] a veil” (NRSV), or is it the opposite of “uncovered” meaning “free flowing hair”? If “covered” is to be taken as meaning “without free flowing hair,” then it would necessarily involve the Corinthian women arranging their hair in a kind of bun, something attested in the artwork of the broad First Century. As Payne describes,

“What about having one’s head ‘uncovered’ would cause shame to a woman leading in worship in the cultural setting of Corinth? The extensive evidence from portraiture, frescoes, sculptures, and vase paintings in Greek and Roman cities of Paul’s day almost universally depicts respectable women with their hair done up. Women in everyday public settings are not depicted with their hair hanging loose over their shoulders.”[313]

A Corinthian woman with an “uncovered” head meaning free-flowing long hair, hair that has not been arranged in a proper manner, makes sense of Paul’s prescription that such an “uncovered” woman’s hair be cut or shaved off—which was definitely a sign of dishonor. With the realization that “covered” and “uncovered” probably relates to hairstyles of hair pulled up versus free-flowing long hair, how does this change our reading of Paul’s further direction? When people would attend home gatherings of the Corinthians, including any visiting pagans, what impression would it give of the Messiah followers and the Lord Yeshua (1 Corinthians 11:13-16)?

11:7 Some controversy has definitely been stirred over Paul’s statement in 1 Corinthians 11:7, which can involve the different approaches to kephalē or “head” seen earlier in 1 Corinthians 11:3, and how “Messiah is the kephalē of every man” can indeed mean “Messiah is the source of every man,” as in the Creation of Adam. Paul asserts, “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” (RSV). When having the head “covered” is understood from the perspective of long, free-flowing hair bound up in a bun, then Paul would indeed be denouncing a hairstyle on a male which would not only confuse necessary gender differentiation, but would also place a male outside of the chronology of Adam’s being created by God.

Real confusion can emerge when it is glossed over how with chronology being the issue, that “he is the image and glory of God; but the woman is the glory of man,” hardly means that females are not created in the image of God. Genesis 1:27 is clear that both the male and female bear the image of God: “So God created humankind in his image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them” (NRSV). It is also true, however, that female originated from male (Genesis 2:21-23), with God’s image being passed on to the female. Bruce is one who thinks, “Paul does not deny that woman also bears the image of God; indeed, he implies that she does by carefully avoiding complete parallelism in the following statement, woman is the glory of man.[314]

While “glory” can be taken from the perspective of it being a synonym for God’s image, the woman being the glory of the man might instead be directing one back to Genesis 2:23, where Adam declared: “This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.” Payne observes, “The glory of someone is the person in whom he glories, as the man glories over the woman in Gen 2:23. Woman is depicted as the crowning glory of creation made specifically to be man’s partner. Most men would agree that of all creation, woman is the most beautiful.”[315] Thiselton asserts how here “Paul provides no hint of ‘inferiority.’ Because of women, men is all the more man, just as because of men woman is all the more woman, and as humankind woman and man manifest the divine attributes…as expressions of God’s creative being.”[316]

With a source-origin perspective having been asserted for 1 Corinthians 11:3—“But I want you to understand that the source of every man is Messiah, and the source of the woman is the man, and the source of Messiah is the Godhead” (my translation)—for a man to have a “covered” head, with long, effeminate hair pulled up, is to bring dishonor and disgrace to woman. As Payne puts it, “Paul’s appeal to woman as the glory of man affirms woman as the proper sexual partner for man. This exposes the error of effeminate hair, for in symbolizing homosexual relations it repudiates woman as man’s sexual mate.”[317]

11:8-9 With a chronological-origination order having been asserted for 1 Corinthians 11:3 via kephalē, Paul asserts, “for man is not of the woman, but woman of man” (1 Corinthians 11:8, LITV), correctly taken to represent Adam being created first, and then Eve being created second. While it is common for some readers to approach 1 Corinthians 11:9 from the perspective of the female having been created second, as being inferior to the male—Paul has just said that “the woman is the glory of man” (1 Corinthians 11:7b), highlighting the female’s great value for the man. When approached from the perspective of “For a man ought not to have his head covered” (1 Corinthians 11:7a) meaning that men should not wear long, effeminate hair, bound up—as though he were a homosexual—then the statement of 1 Corinthians 11:9 can stand as a chronological affirmation of woman being created as the man’s legitimate sexual partner: “for indeed man was not created for the woman’s sake, but woman for the man’s sake.”[318]

11:10 Because English versions can have a tendency to add words to the source text of 1 Corinthians 11:10, a more literal rendering of dia toutou opheilei hē gunē exousian echein epi tēs kephalēs dia tous angelous would be, “because of this ought the woman authority to have on the head because of the angels” (Brown and Comfort).[319] What is this to mean? The NASU adds some obvious terminology in italics with, “the woman ought to have a symbol of authority on her head.” It is fair, of course, to deduce that Paul’s statement of 1 Corinthians 11:11 meant something which had significance for the First Century Corinthians, options which are reflected in Hays’ observation,

“[T]wo interpretations are plausible…the sentence might mean that a woman should wear her hair bound up as a symbol of her new authority in Christ to prophesy and pray in the assembly…More likely, the expression should be…understood to mean that the woman should take charge of her hair and keep it under control, that is, bound up rather than loose.”[320]

In view of what has been stated previously, Payne draws the conclusion,

“‘On account of this’ {Therefore, NASU} points back to Paul’s preceding reasons why man should not wear effeminate hair in 11:7-9 and reapplies them to woman as reasons against letting her hair down in public worship. Each of these specific affirmations is a good reason for a wife to show respect to her husband: man is the image and glory of God (v. 7b), woman is the glory of man (v. 7c), woman’s source was from man (v. 8), and woman was created to fulfill man (v. 9).”[321]

Assuming that Paul intends the Corinthian women to control their hairstyles properly, as a means of respectability and proper decorum in the assembly—the same as men should control their hairstyles properly—what is intended by him adding “because of the angels”? Commentators frequently disregard the view as lore that in Genesis 6:1-4 human females were able to tempt the Nephilim or fallen angels to have sexual relations with them.[322] A default view is to approach “because of the angels” as a recognition that within worship services of God’s people, that angels are present as Heavenly dignitaries or spectators (Psalm 103:20-21; Ephesians 3:10; 1 Timothy 5:21). As Payne puts it, “It ought to be embarrassing enough for a woman to be seen by others in the church with her hair let down, but knowing she is being observed by God’s holy angels should be reason enough for even the most foolhardy woman to restrain her urge to let her hair down.”[323]

11:11-12 That a chronological-origination relationship between the man and woman was intended previously in 1 Corinthians 11:8-10 to convey important points about proper head ornamentation (which this commentary {1 Corinthians for the Practical Messianic} thinks is best represented by ancient hairstyles), and probably also sexuality, is made clear by the statements which follow from Paul: “However, man is not apart from woman, nor woman apart from man, in the Lord” (1 Corinthians 11:11, LITV). For men and women who know Israel’s Messiah, there is actually an interdependence and mutual reliance, of people from both genders—and especially of husband and wife to one another. While Eve did originate from Adam, so too are male children born from female mothers: “For as the woman is out of the man, so also the man through the woman” (1 Corinthians 11:12a, LITV). Ultimately, though, “all things are from God” (1 Corinthians 11:12b, LITV).

Highly reflective of a complementarian viewpoint for the statements of 1 Corinthians 11:2-16 would be Garland, but who still properly concludes, “Paul’s purpose is not to argue for the subordination or inferiority of the woman. Verses 11-12 make this clear: in the Lord, men and women are interdependent and equal in Christ. His main point is that both man and woman are the glory of another…”[324] Inappropriate hairstyles or ornamentation, on either a man or a woman in Ancient Corinth, would not only cause dishonor for the Messiah followers, but dishonor toward those of the opposite gender, especially in a marriage relationship.

11:13 Because of how many have been conditioned to read 1 Corinthians 11:2-16 from the perspective of “covered” and “uncovered” relating to head covering garments, it is hardly a surprise that a version like the NRSV has, “Judge for yourselves: is it proper for a woman to pray to God with her head unveiled?” More literally, Paul would ask, “is it proper that a woman pray to God uncovered?” (my translation). And, when akatakaluptos is approached from the meaning of, “with free-flowing long hair” akin to a pagan prophetess manifesting in a frenzy and/or a prostitute advertising her wares, then it is clear that for the Corinthian Messiah followers, it was not proper for a woman to pray in the public assembly with her lair let loose.

11:14-15 While discussions over “covered” and “uncovered” often center around the thinking that head covering garments for religious purposes are being described, support for “covered” and “uncovered” indeed involving ancient hairstyles finds its support from 1 Corinthians 11:14-15. Paul inquires, “Does not nature itself teach you that for a man to wear his hair long is degrading?” (1 Corinthians 11:14, Goodspeed New Testament). Here, the verb of note is komaō, “wear long hair, let one’s hair grow long” (BDAG).[325] While there would surely be variance from the First Century period as to what would constitute inappropriate long hair on a man, it would need to be sufficiently long for a man to pull it up into a bun of sorts, hence being “covered” (1 Corinthians 11:7).

Contrary to dishonor being brought to a man who has long hair, Paul says, “but if a woman has long hair, it is her glory” (1 Corinthians 11:15a, ESV). At the very least, hair that is much longer on a woman, than on a man, does distinguish a female from a male. And as Paul states to the Corinthians in 1 Corinthians 11:15b following, there is an appropriate usage of such long hair on a female: hoti hē komē anti peribolaiou dedotai [autē]. While often (incorrectly) rendered as “covering,” the term peribolaion is actually “‘that which is thrown around’: an article of apparel that covers much of the body, covering, wrap, cloak, robe” (BDAG),[326]a mantle” (Thayer).[327] A female’s long hair, to be viewed as a mantle, is supportive of her being “covered” as involving her hair pulled up and arranged in a respectable manner, not freed loose and free flowing.

11:16 As this vignette of Paul’s letter closes, one gets the distinct impression that there has been a widescale observance of his instruction not just in Corinth, but throughout the Mediterranean: “But if someone wants to argue about this, we don’t have such a custom, nor do God’s [assemblies]” (Common English Bible).

As we reflect on what has been stated in 1 Corinthians 11:2-16, the perspectives presented in this resource {1 Corinthians for the Practical Messianic} do differ from those one is more likely to find in a selection of evangelical Christian resources, and most certainly the perspective which would be offered in a present majority of Messianic resources. It is difficult at first for us to consider “covered” and “uncovered” to relate to hairstyles, which either communicated lewdness or promiscuity or just general disrespectfulness to wider society—but it is a much better way for us to understand the issues. Men should not have long hair hanging down (1 Corinthians 11:14). Women should have their long hair put up, being “covered” (1 Corinthians 11:5-6), as being “uncovered” would mean letting the hair go. The association that such hairstyles would have, could not only communicate a degree of prostitution-promotion (female and male) to outsiders, but perhaps also associate the Corinthians as participating with local pagan religious activities, and men acting as effeminate (quasi-)homosexuals. The Apostle Paul clearly did not want something like this communicated to outsiders in the gatherings and worship activities of the Messiah followers! As Blomberg closes,

“Romans 1:21-27 identifies the theological core of unbelief as idolatry and the ethical core as sexual sin. Behavior, mannerisms, clothing, or hairstyles that suggest a person is sexually unfaithful to his or her spouse, promiscuous, homosexual, or the devotee of some non-Christian religion or cultic or occult sect are entirely inappropriate for Christians, particularly in church.”[328]

Continue Reading with Part 3


[133] Ibid., pp 42, 43.

[134] Consult the previous discussion on 1 Corinthians 11:1-16 {in 1 Corinthians for the Practical Messianic}, for an evaluation of what “covered” and “uncovered” means not in terms of some form of garment on a man or woman’s head, but rather in terms of ancient hairstyles communicating either dignity or lewdness.

[135] Cf. Norman Hillyer, “1 and 2 Corinthians,” in D. Guthrie and J.A. Motyer, eds. The New Bible Commentary Revised (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1970), pp 1049-1088., 1070; “The Role of Women in Religious Life in the Greco-Roman World,” in Duane A. Garrett, ed., et. al., NIV Archaeological Study Bible (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2005), 1879.

[136] LS, 463.

[137] BDAG, 582.

[138] Ibid., 29.

[139] Cf. David Prior, The Message of 1 Corinthians (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 1985), pp 251-252; David E. Garland, Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament: 1 Corinthians (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2003), pp 668-669.

[140] Plutarch: Advice to Bride and Groom, Loeb Classical Library edition (1928). Accessible online at <*.html>.

[141] F.F. Bruce, New Century Bible: 1 and 2 Corinthians (London: Oliphants, 1971), 135.

[142] Garland, 673.

[143] Stern, Jewish New Testament Commentary, 484.

[144] Craig Blomberg, NIV Application Commentary: 1 Corinthians (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1994), 281.

[145] Ben Witherington III, Conflict & Community in Corinth: A Socio-Rhetorical Commentary on 1 and 2 Corinthians (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1995), 287; also D.A. Carson, “‘Silent in the Churches’: On the Role of Women in 1 Corinthians 14:33b-36,” in John Piper and Wayne Grudem, eds., Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood: A Response to Evangelical Feminism (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 1991), 152-153 who seems to favor such a view.

Craig S. Keener, New Cambridge Bible Commentary: 1-2 Corinthians (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005), 119 offers a similar proposal in terms of women being allowed to learn, but only at home, in a Greco-Roman culture where women were largely disparaged from learning at all.

[146] Leon Morris, Tyndale New Testament Commentaries: 1 Corinthians (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1985), pp 196-197.

[147] Roy E. Ciampa and Brian S. Rosner, Pillar New Testament Commentary: The First Letter to the Corinthians (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2010), pp 729-730.

[148] Jouette M. Bassler, “1 Corinthians,” in Carol A. Newsom and Sharon H. Ringe, eds., The Women’s Bible Commentary (Louisville: Westminster/John Knox Press, 1992), pp 327-328; Richard B. Hays, Interpretation, A Bible Commentary for Teaching and Preaching: 1 Corinthians (Louisville: John Knox Press, 1997), 247; J. Paul Sampley, “The First Letter to the Corinthians,” in Leander E. Keck, ed. et. al., New Interpreter’s Bible (Nashville: Abingdon, 2002), 10:968-971; J. Paul Sampley, “The First Letter of Paul to the Corinthians,” in Walter J. Harrelson, ed., et. al., New Interpreter’s Study Bible, NRSV (Nashville: Abingdon, 2003), 2056; Stephen C. Barton, “1 Corinthians,” in James D.G. Dunn and John W. Rogerson, eds., Eerdmans Commentary on the Bible (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2003), 1345; Laurence W. Welborn, “The First Letter of Paul to the Corinthians,” in Michael D. Coogan, ed. et. al., The New Oxford Annotated Bible: Fully Revised Fourth Edition, NRSV (New York: Oxford University Press, 2010), 2019.

[149] Romans 3:10-18 includes a long litany of quotations from the Tanach, including: Romans 3:10-12: Psalm 14:1-3; 53:1-3; Ecclesiastes 7:20; Romans 3:13: Psalm 5:9; 140:3; Romans 3:14: Psalm 10:7; Romans 3:15-17: Isaiah 59:7-8; Proverbs 1:6; Romans 3:18: Psalm 36:1.

Cf. Kurt Aland, et. al., The Greek New Testament, Fourth Revised Edition (Stuttgart: Deutche Bibelgesellschaft/United Bible Societies, 1998), pp 525-526.

[150] 1 Corinthians 9:9 following quotes from Deuteronomy 25:4.

[151] 1 Corinthians 14:21 quotes from Isaiah 28:11-12; Deuteronomy 28:49.

[152] For a further discussion, consult the relevant sections of the author’s article “Addressing the Frequently Avoided Issues Messianics Encounter in the Torah,” appearing in the Messianic Torah Helper by Messianic Apologetics.

[153] Consult the author’s exegesis paper on Galatians 3:28, “Biblical Equality and Today’s Messianic Movement,” appearing in the commentary Galatians for the Practical Messianic.

[154] The Babylonian Talmud: A Translation and Commentary. MS Windows XP. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 2005. CD-ROM.

[155] “the law code of mitzvot contained in regulations” (TLV).

[156] Cf. A. Nyland, trans., The Source New Testament (Australia: Smith and Stirling Publishing, 2007), 330.

[157] Bruce M. Metzger, A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament (London and New York: United Bible Societies, 1975), 565.

Cf. Erwin Nestle and Kurt Aland, eds., Novum Testamentum Graece, Nestle-Aland 27th Edition (New York: American Bible Society, 1993), 466; Nestle-Aland Greek-English New Testament, NE27-RSV (Stuttgart: United Bible Societies/Deutche Bibelgesellschaft, 2001), 466; Kurt Aland, et. al., The Greek New Testament, Fourth Revised Edition (Stuttgart: Deutche Bibelgesellschaft/United Bible Societies, 1998), 601; Barbara and Kurt Aland, Johannes Karavidopoulos, Carlo M. Martini, Bruce M. Metzger, eds., Novum Testamentum Graece, 28th Revised Edition (Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft: Stutgart, 2012), pp 547-548.

[158] Gordon D. Fee, New International Commentary on the New Testament: The First Epistle to the Corinthians (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1987), pp 699-708; against: D.A. Carson, “‘Silent in the Churches’: On the Role of Women in 1 Corinthians 14:33b-36,” in John Piper and Wayne Grudem, eds., Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood: A Response to Evangelical Feminism (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 1991), pp 141-145.

[159] Philip B. Payne, Man and Woman, One in Christ: An Exegetical and Theological Study of Paul’s Letters (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2009), pp 217-267; against: Adam D. Hensley. “[sigaō, laleō, and hupotassō] in 1 Corinthians 14:34 in Their Literary and Rhetorical Context” in Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society Vol. 55 No. 2 (2012): 363-364.

[160] 1 Timothy 2:11-15, and the various issues surrounding authenteō (v. 12), plassō (v. 13), and dia tēs teknogonias (v. 15) are addressed in the author’s commentary The Pastoral Epistles for the Practical Messianic. As these verses appear in the Author’s Rendering appendix:

“Let a woman learn in silence with all submissiveness. But I do not permit a woman to teach or usurp authority [authenteō] of a man, but to be in silence. For Adam was formed [plassō] first, then Eve; and Adam was not deceived, but the woman, being deceived, fell into transgression. But she will be saved through the Child-Bearing [dia tēs teknogonias], if they continue in faith and love and sanctification with sensibility.”

[161] Payne, pp 266-267.

[162] Philip W. Comfort, New Testament Text and Translation Commentary (Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House, 2008), pp 518-519.

[163] Payne, pp 253-265.

[164] Joshua Brumbach. (2007). Women Rabbis and Messianic Judaism. Retrieved 12 February, 2014, from <>.

[165] This has been seen especially in the author’s commentary volumes Ephesians for the Practical Messianic (2009) and The Pastoral Epistles for the Practical Messianic (2012).

[166] Piper and Grudem, 43.

[167] Ibid., 43.

[168] Ibid., 44.

[169] Margaret Wenig Rubenstein and David Weiner, trans., in Jacob Neusner, The Mishnah: A New Translation (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1988), 167.

[170] Grk. hoi pateres hēmōn pantes.

[171] Heb. b’kol-ha’eretz.

[172] “R. Judah says, ‘A man must recite three benedictions every day: “Praised [be Thou, O Lord…] who did not make me a gentile; Praised [be Thou, O Lord…] who did not make me a boor; Praised [be Thou, O Lord…] who did not make me a woman” (t.Berachot 6:18; Jacob Neusner, ed., The Tosefta: Translated from the Hebrew With a New Introduction, 2 vols. [Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 2002] 1:42.)

[173] Joseph H. Hertz, ed., The Authorised Daily Prayer Book, revised (New York: Bloch Publishing Company, 1960), pp 19, 21; cf. Nosson Scherman and Meir Zlotowitz, eds., Complete ArtScroll Siddur, Nusach Ashkenaz (Brooklyn: Mesorah Publications, 1984), 19.

[174] Heb. she’asani k’retzunu.

[175] Hertz, Authorised Daily Prayer Book, 21.

[176] Richard N. Longenecker, Word Biblical Commentary: Galatians, Vol. 41 (Nashville: Nelson Reference & Electronic, 1990), 157.

[177] F.F. Bruce, New International Greek Testament Commentary: Galatians (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1982), 187.

[178] G. Walter Hansen, IVP New Testament Commentary Series: Galatians (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 1994), 113; Payne, pp 84-85.

[179] Do note that I am a moderate advocate of Believers using inclusive language, hence my reference to the NRSV in this verse, which renders adam as “humankind,” followed by the TNIV as “human beings” (and similarly with anthrōpos throughout the Apostolic Scriptures).

[180] Stephanie Dalley, trans., Myths from Mesopotamia: Creation, the Flood, Gilgamesh, and Others (Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 1989), pp 14-15ff.

[181] Ronald B. Allen, “Numbers,” in Frank E. Gaebelein, ed. et. al., Expositor’s Bible Commentary (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1990), 2:943.

[182] J.H. Hertz, ed., Pentateuch & Haftorahs (London: Soncino, 1960), 491.

[183] John Goldingay, Old Testament Theology: Israel’s Gospel (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 2003), pp 202, 203.

[184] Heb. ad ha’yom ha’hu.

This probably pertains to the whole assembly of people observing Tabernacles, not intermittent groups of people.

[185] For a further evaluation of this issue, consult the author’s article “Is Polygamy for Today?” Also useful for a discussion of related subjects, is the article “Addressing the Frequently Avoided Issues Messianics Encounter in the Torah,” appearing in the Messianic Torah Helper by Messianic Apologetics.

[186] Stern, Jewish New Testament Commentary, 720 is entirely correct to say of Hebrews 13:4, “This verse permits considerable variety in sexual activity between husband and wife, so long as both agree…; the notion that God requires the so-called ‘missionary position’ is fiction, a limitation that Christians of the past imposed upon themselves. There are a number of popular books about the New Testament’s approach to marriage, sex and family. On the other hand, although the Bible encourages sexual fulfillment, it does not condone promiscuity.”

[187] Flavius Josephus: The Works of Josephus: Complete and Unabridged, trans. William Whiston (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 1987), 806.

[188] Ibid.

[189] John R.W. Stott, The Message of Galatians (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 1986), 100.

[190] Bruce, Galatians, 190.

[191] For a further analysis of 1 Timothy 2:11-15 and related issues, consult the author’s article “The Message of the Pastoral Epistles” and his commentary The Pastoral Epistles for the Practical Messianic.

As it concerns the issue of women not being permitted to speak in 1 Corinthians 14:34-35, it is noteworthy that earlier in 1 Corinthians 11:5 Paul recognized the role that women played in praying and prophesying in public. These two verses later would seem to contradict this. It might be suggested that female “chatter” (Grk. verb laleō) in Corinth could be the issue instead, but the authority of the Torah is notably appealed to justify a silence of women.

Various conservative, evangelical Christian interpreters have made a strong case in favor of 1 Corinthians 13:34-35 actually being an interpolation of a later copyist. Of significant interest would be the direct appeal made to “the Law” in silencing women, especially as there is no specific prohibition in the Torah or Pentateuch that bars women from speaking in the assembly. This is a position that the author is inclined to seriously consider.

Cf. Gordon D. Fee, New International Commentary on the New Testament: The First Epistle to the Corinthians (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1987), pp 699-708; “1 Corinthians 14:34-35: Did Paul Forbid Women to Speak in Church?”, in Payne, pp 217-267.

[192] Consult the FAQ on the Messianic Apologetics website, “Male Headship.”

[193] For a discussion on this, consult the author’s blog post, “Jumpin’ Junia(s)!

[194] Scot McKnight, NIV Application Commentary: Galatians (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1995), 202.

[195] For a broad Christian overview of this issue, consult James R. Beck and Craig L. Blomberg, eds., Two Views on Women in Ministry (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2001).

[196] For some additional thoughts, consult Mark Huey’s commentary on Mattot (Numbers 30:2[1]-32:42), “Vows, Unity, Brotherly Love,” appearing in TorahScope, Volume I.

[197] Consult the author’s article, “The Assurance of Our Salvation,” appearing in Introduction to Things Messianic.

[198] Exodus 20:13; Deuteronomy 5:17.

[199] Hertz, Pentateuch & Haftorahs, 299.

[200] Piper and Grudem, 44.

[201] Ibid.

[202] Ibid.

[203] Ibid.

[204] Ibid., pp 44-45.

[205] Piper and Grudem, 45.

[206] Ibid., 46.

[207] Ibid.

[208] Witherington, 1-2 Timothy and 1-3 John, 226.

[209] The Babylonian Talmud: A Translation and Commentary. MS Windows XP. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 2005. CD-ROM.

[210] Neusner, Mishnah, 452.

[211] Keener, Craig S. The IVP Bible Background Commentary: New Testament (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 1993), 611.

[212] Guthrie, Pastoral Epistles, 86.

[213] BDAG, 615.

[214] Stern, Jewish New Testament Commentary, 639.

[215] Matthew 27:55; Mark 15:41; Luke 8:2; 23:27, 49.

[216] Marshall & Towner, 452.

[217] Fee, 1 and 2 Timothy, Titus, 72.

[218] Philo Judaeus: The Works of Philo: Complete and Unabridged, trans. C.D. Yonge (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 1993), 100.

[219] Mounce, 119.

[220] LS, 355.

[221] A complementarian voice like Guthrie, Pastoral Epistles, 86, does argue that caution needs to be employed in deriving universal application from 1 Timothy 2:11, even though he ultimately affirms his view that men are to be superiors of women.

[222] The Works of Philo: Complete and Unabridged, 743.

[223] Carl Schultz, “azar,” in R. Laird Harris, Gleason L. Archer, Jr., and Bruce K. Waltke, eds., Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament, 2 vols (Chicago: Moody Press, 1980), 2:660.

[224] Payne, 405.

[225] LS, 643.

[226] 1 Corinthians 11:9; Ephesians 3:9; 4:24; Colossians 1:16; 3:10; 1 Timothy 4:3.

[227] Mounce, 131.

[228] Payne, 404.

[229] Walter C. Kaiser, “Correcting Caricatures: The Biblical Teaching on Women” Priscilla Papers Vol. 19, No. 2, Spring 2005.

[230] Witherington, 1-2 Timothy and 1-3 John, 228.

[231] Consult the useful discussions in Hugh Ross, The Genesis Question: Scientific Advances and the Accuracy of Genesis, second expanded edition (Colorado Springs: NavPress, 2001), pp 93-106; A Matter of Days: Resolving a Creation Controversy (Colorado Springs: NavPress, 2004), pp 97-109.

[232] The Works of Philo: Complete and Unabridged, 800.

[233] Ibid., 786.

[234] Ibid., 798.

[235] Stibbs, in NBCR, 1171.

[236] Guthrie, Pastoral Epistles, 88.

[237] Mounce, pp 136-137.

[238] Payne, 410.

[239] Towner, 232.

[240] Piper and Grudem, pp 46-47.

[241] Ibid., 47.

[242] Ibid., 47.

[243] Ibid., 48.

[244] LS, 908.

[245] BDAG, 560.

[246] Ibid., 987.

[247] Plato: The Republic, trans. Desmond Lee (London: Penguin Books, 2007), 134.

[248] H.C. Kee, trans., “Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs,” in James H. Charlesworth, ed., The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha, Vol 1 (New York: Doubleday, 1983), 784.

[249] Earle, in EXP, 11:361.

[250] Guthrie, Pastoral Epistles, 85.

[251] Fee, 1 and 2 Timothy, Titus, 71.

[252] Knight, 135.

[253] “I adorned you with ornaments, put bracelets on your hands and a necklace around your neck. I also put a ring in your nostril, earrings in your ears and a beautiful crown on your head. Thus you were adorned with gold and silver, and your dress was of fine linen, silk and embroidered cloth. You ate fine flour, honey and oil; so you were exceedingly beautiful and advanced to royalty” (Ezekiel 16:11-13).

[254] Towner, 196.

For more information, consult “A Complex Background,” in Ibid., pp 194-197.

[255] Marshall & Towner, 450.

[256] Mounce, 111.

[257] Marshall & Towner, pp 447-448.

[258] Witherington, 1-2 Timothy and 1-3 John, 225.

[259] LS, 19.

[260] “Those women who had recently been arrayed for marriage abandoned the bridal chambers prepared for wedded union, and, neglecting proper modesty [aidōs], in a disorderly rush flocked together in the city” (3 Maccabees 1:19).

[261] Mounce, 113.

[262] Towner, pp 205-206.

[263] For further consideration, consult Craig S. Keener, Paul, Women & Wives: Marriage and Women’s Ministry in the Letters of Paul (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 1992), pp 103-107.

[264] Mounce, 116.

[265] Towner, 212.

Cf. Romans 12:17; 13:1-7; 1 Thessalonians 4:12.

[266] Wayne Grudem, Tyndale New Testament Commentaries: 1 Peter (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1988), 139.

[267] C.E.B. Cranfield, The First Epistle of Peter (London: SCM Press, 1950), 70.

[268] Brown and Comfort, 313.

[269] BDAG, 856.

[270] Piper and Grudem, pp 49-50.

[271] Richard B. Hays, Interpretation, A Bible Commentary for Teaching and Preaching: 1 Corinthians (Louisville: John Knox Press, 1997), 183.

[272] BDAG, 763.

[273] David E. Garland, Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament: 1 Corinthians (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2003), 505.

[274] “But their minds were hardened; for until this very day at the reading of the old covenant the same veil [kalumma] remains unlifted, because it is removed in Messiah” (2 Corinthians 3:14).

[275] Roy E. Ciampa and Brian S. Rosner, Pillar New Testament Commentary: The First Letter to the Corinthians (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2010), 512.

[276] There are indeed versions which reflect this, including: “But I want you to understand that Christ is supreme over every man, the husband is supreme over his wife, and God is supreme over Christ” (Good News Bible); “In a marriage relationship, there is authority from Christ to husband, and from husband to wife. The authority of Christ is the authority of God” (The Message).

[277] LS, 122.

[278] A possible exception to this might be seen in the footnote offered on 1 Corinthians 11:3 in the public domain resource, Michael Paul Johnson and Wayne Mitchell, eds., World Messianic Bible (n.d., 2015) [eBook for Amazon Kindle], which does state, “or, origin.”

[279] Walter C. Kaiser, Peter H. Davids, F.F. Bruce, and Manfred T. Brauch, Hard Sayings of the Bible (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 1996), pp 599-602.

[280] Garland, 515.

[281] BibleWorks 9.0: LSJM Lexicon (Unabridged).

[282] LS, 430.

[283] “1 Corinthians 11:2-3: Head/Source Relationships,” in Payne, pp 117-139; specifically his fifteen reasons on why kephalē does not exclusively mean “authority.”

[284] Wayne Grudem, “The Meaning of Kephalē (‘Head’): A Response to Recent Studies,” in John Piper and Wayne Grudem, eds., Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood: A Response to Evangelical Feminism (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 1991), pp 425-468.

[285] F.F. Bruce, New Century Bible: 1 and 2 Corinthians (London: Oliphants, 1971), 103.

[286] Leon Morris, Tyndale New Testament Commentaries: 1 Corinthians (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1985), 149.

[287] Cf. David Prior, The Message of 1 Corinthians (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 1985), 181.

[288] Craig Blomberg, NIV Application Commentary: 1 Corinthians (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1994), 209.

[289] For a summary of views surrounding the term kephalē, consult C.C. Kroeger, “Head,” in Dictionary of Paul and His Letters, pp 375-377; Anthony C. Thiselton, New International Greek Testament Commentary: The First Epistle to the Corinthians (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2000), pp 812-822; Alan F. Johnson, “A Meta-Study of the Debate over the Meaning of ‘Head’ (Kephalē) in Paul’s Writings,” Priscilla Papers Issue 20:4, Autumn 2006; Lynn H. Cohick, “Headship,” in Dictionary of Scripture and Ethics, pp 349-350; Richard S. Cervin, “On the Significance of [Kephalē] (Head): A Study of the Abuse of One Greek Word,” Missing Voices: A special edition journal of Christians for Biblical Equality 2014.

[290] Fee, 1 Corinthians, pp 502-503.

[291] Thiselton, 805.

[292] Thiselton, 800.

[293] A. Nyland, trans., The Source New Testament (Australia: Smith and Stirling Publishing, 2007), 323.

[294] Other passages to be considered, where kephalē appears, would include: Ephesians 1:21-22; 5:22-23; Colossians 1:18; 2:10.

[295] Payne, pp 138-139.

[296] Cf. “On Headcoverings and Religion in Roman Cities,” in Ben Witherington III, Conflict & Community in Corinth: A Socio-Rhetorical Commentary on 1 and 2 Corinthians (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1995), pp 232-234 for a useful summary of some ancient perspectives.

[297] BDAG, 511.

[298] Plutarch: Moralia, Vol III, trans. Frank Cole Babbitt (London: William Heinemann, 1961), pp 190-191.

[299] Kenneth L. Barker, ed., et. al., NIV Study Bible (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2002), 1789.

[300] W. Harold Mare, “1 Corinthians,” in Frank E. Gaebelein, ed. et. al., Expositor’s Bible Commentary (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1976), 10:257.

[301] Blomberg, 210.

[302] E.g., Exodus 28:4, 37, 39; 29:6; 39:28, 31; Leviticus 8:9; 16:4; Ezekiel 24:17; 44:18; Zechariah 3:5.

[303] Payne, pp 141-142.

[304] Ibid., 143; Ibid., pp 144-145 lists fourteen reasons in support of long hair hanging down from men being the issue in 1 Corinthians 11:4.

[305] LS, 26.

[306] Tacitus: Germania, trans. Chris Heaton. Accessible online at <>.

[307] NETS similarly has: “let his clothes the loosened and his head be uncovered [akatakaluptos].”

[308] HALOT, 2:970.

[309] Payne, 167.

[310] Blomberg, 211; also the discussion in Fee, 1 Corinthians, pp 495-497, 509-510.

[311] Hays, pp 185-186.

[312] Payne, 166.

[313] Ibid., 151.

[314] Bruce, 1 and 2 Corinthians, 105.

[315] Payne, 179.

[316] Thiselton, 835.

[317] Payne, 180.

[318] Cf. Payne, pp 180-181.

[319] Brown and Comfort, 604.

[320] Hays, pp 187-188.

[321] Payne, 181.

[322] Consult the FAQ on the Messianic Apologetics website, “Nephilim.”

[323] Payne, 186.

[324] Garland, pp 523-524.

[325] BDAG, 557.

[326] Ibid., 800.

[327] Thayer, 502.

[328] Blomberg, 215.