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Women Veiled Because of the Angels.

Women Veiled Because of the Angels.

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Published by glennpease


I Corinthians xi. lo.


I Corinthians xi. lo.

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Published by: glennpease on Mar 18, 2013
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WOMEN VEILED BECAUSE OF THE ANGELS.BY PATON J. GLOAG, D.D,I Corinthians xi. lo.Authorised Versz'on. — For this cause ought the woman to havepower on /ler head, because of the angels.Revised Version. — For this cause ought the woman to have asign ^authority on her head, because of the angels.The celebrated John Locke confesses that the mean-ing of these words of St. Paul was beyond his compre-hension ; and certainly few of the sayings of thatgreat apostle have given rise to so much discussion,and to so great a diversity of opinion. But theirdifficulty must not deter us from attempting anexplanation, especially as the object of the apostlein writing these words is perfectly obvious.The first thing to do, in order to attain to a correctinterpretation of the passage, is to consider thecontext. Nearly the whole of the First Epistle tothe Corinthians was written for the purpose of correcting the disorders which had arisen in the Churchof Corinth. One of these disorders was occasioned114Wo7nen Veiled because of the Angels. 115by the conduct of the Corinthian women in theirassembhes for pubhc worship. It would appear thatthey had adopted the unseemly, and, to an Oriental,immodest custom of appearing with their headsuncovered. The practice of covering or uncoveringthe head at public worship was different amongdifferent nations. The men among the Jews, as iswell known, cover their heads ; and that for the samereason as we uncover them, namely, as a mark of respect and reverence. It would also appear thatamong the Romans the men used to worship withtheir heads covered, whilst among the Greeks theywere accustomed to uncover their heads. Accordingly,in the mixed congregation of the Corinthians, com-posed partly of Jewish and partly of Greek converts,there would be a want of uniformity with regard tothis practice among the men ; some would pray withcovered and others with uncovered heads. On theother hand, it would seem to be the universal customamong the Orientals for the women in their publicassemblies to wear a veil, or at least a covering ontheir heads. The Corinthian women had abandonedthis practice in their Christian assemblies ; many of 
them, in defiance of the custom of their country, andof the natural modesty of their sex, appeared withtheir heads uncovered, and thus gave occasion of offence to the heathen. Their reason for doing so wasprobably because they considered that Christianityhad done away with all distinctions of sex, and hadabolished the inequality between the man and the1 1 6 Exegetical Studies.woman, there being in Christ Jesus neither male norfemale ; and that, therefore, all those marks of distinc-tion, all those symbols of subordination, should bedone away with.The Apostle sets himself to correct these dis-orders in the Corinthian Church. He enjoins orderand decorum in their Christian assemblies. He tellsthem that Christianity had not abolished the naturaldistinction and subordination of the sexes : that, asthe head of every man is Christ, so the head of thewoman is the man ; and, as regards the matter inquestion, he enjoins that in their assemblies forworship the men should appear with their headsuncovered, and the women with their heads covered." Every man praying or prophesying, having his headcovered, dishonoureth his head (that is, Christ). Butevery woman that prayeth or prophesieth, having herhead uncovered, dishonoureth her head (that is, theman)." The reason which he assigns for the injunc-tion is the natural subordination of the woman ; thatas the man is the reflection of the glory of God, sothe woman is the reflection of the glory of the man :" For the man is not of the woman ; but the womanof the man. Neither was the man created for thewoman, but the woman for the man." And thenfollow the words which form the subject of the presentexposition : " for this cause " — evidently on account of this subordination, " ought the woman to have poweron Jier head, because of the angels."The commands or injunctions of the apostle on thisWomen Veiled because of the Aftgels. 117practice refer to matters which do not come properlyunder the law of moral duties, but under the law of expediency. Abstractly and by itself there can benothing either morally right or wrong in having thehead covered or uncovered ; the matter belongs to anentirely different category from honesty, truth, for-giveness, and such like moral duties. But as it isimportant that religious assemblies should be orderlyconducted, and that the disorders in the Corinthian
Church should be suppressed ; these rules and regula-tions are laid down by the apostle chiefly as a matterof order. " Let all things," he observes, " be donedecently and in order." " God is not the author of con-fusion, but of peace, as in all the churches of the saints"(i Cor, xiv, 40, 33). In things morally indifferent, re-spect is to be paid to the customs of the country inwhich the Christians lived. In'the East it was regardedas a matter, not merely of gross impropriety, but of immodesty, for women to appear with their headsuncovered in popular assemblies ; and, for this reason,for a Christian woman to do so was morally wrong.The apostle, in this epistle, frequently adverts tosimilar cases, — to things which in themselves werematters of indifference, but which in consequence of circumstances became morally right or wrong ; suchas those questions of meats and drinks, the eating of things offered in sacrifice to idols, the abstinencefrom blood ; the regulations regarding which varywith circumstances and national customs. Principles,rather than things, are here involved. " All things,"1 1 8 Exegetical Studies.observes the apostle, " are lawful unto me, but allthings are not expedient : all things are lawful forme, but I will not be brought under the power of any" (i Cor. vi. 12).The reading of the textus receptus is attested bypredominant authority. Two cursive manuscriptsread ovk 6(f)elX6t ; but this is evidently a correction toescape a difficulty. Nor is there much difficulty inthe translation, nor any obscurity in the purpose of the apostle. Bia tovto denotes "for this cause;" thatis, on account of what has just been said concerningthe subordination of the woman to the man ; andhence the words which follow, " ought the woman tohave power on her head," must have reference to thissubordination. Perhaps e^ovaiav, might be morecorrectly rendered authority. The words which followhia T0V9 d^<yi\.ov<; have been considered by some as agloss, since the sense is complete without them ; butfor this opinion there is no authority, as they are con-tained in all manuscripts. Some translate them as aform of oath, " by the angels ; " but this is inadmis-sible ; as to swear by the angels is opposed to apostolicteaching. It must, however, be borne in mind,especially as this will form an important element inour explanation of the verse, that the word djyiXov^admits of the translation inesse7igers as well asangels.There are two great exegetical difficulties con-nected with this verse ; first, the meaning of thewords, " a woman ought to have authority on her

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