The Riches OF GRACE
“hath appeared to all men.” Titus 2:11
Robert W. Reed
“For if the woman be not covered, let her also be shorn: but if it be a shame for a woman to be shorn or shaven, let her be covered.”
1 Corinthians 11:6
+ Female Veiling +
The headcovering is a divine symbol of headship. It is a beautiful testimony to God’s order of things and obedience to God’s word.
“Do you think you and I have sufficiently considered that we are always looked upon by angels, and that they desire to learn by us the wisdom of God? The reason why our sisters appear in the House of God with their heads covered is because of the angels. The apostle says that a woman is to have a covering upon her head, because of the angels, since the angels are present in the assembly, they mark every act of indecorum, and therefore everything is to be conducted with the decency and order in the presence of the angelic spirits.”
[Sermon on Ephesians 3:10, Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit, vol. 8, page 263.]
- Charles H. Spurgeon
This article will consider the what, why, and when of the headcovering. Although this is only a brief overview of the issue, may it provide an interest in the truths of Scripture. There are literally hundreds of good articles and sermons available on the headcovering.
What is a Headcovering
The traditional interpretation is a veil, that is, an external cloth covering worn on the head. For the first nineteen hundred years of church history, most if not all, believed this to be so. According to I Corinthians 11:4-13, this covering was banned for men and required for women during times of praying and prophesying. In other words, the headcovering is something that can be put on and taken off during this time, showing that it is not the hair. No church would allow a man to wear a hat or any other type of covering on his head, but today in America, most women come to church uncovered.
The words “covered and uncovered” in the King James Bible describe the putting on or the taking off of a fabric covering on the head; again, it is not the hair (Esther 6:12; II Samuel 15:30; Jeremiah 14:3-4, Leviticus 10:6; Numbers 5:18; Isaiah 47:2). Men are to pray or prophesy unveiled or bareheaded and women are to be covered. Also, other translations from the traditional Greek text confirm the same truth as in the King James Bible such as the Tyndale, Coverdale, Great Bible, Matthew, Bishops, and the Geneva Bible. These seven English Bibles are from the same Greek text (majority text). Most believe that eighty percent of the King James Bible is from the Tyndale Bible. Please notice the reading of the Tyndale Bible in I Corinthians 11:4-5, “Eevery ma praying or prophesying havynge eny thynge on his heed shameth his heed. Every woman that prayeth or prophisieth bare heeded dishonesteth hyr heed.” Even though this is Old English that is similar to the original translation of the King James Bible in 1611, please notice the wording in these verses. When referring to the men in verse 4 he is not to have anything on his head while praying or prophesying, and in verse five, the women are not to be bareheaded.
Most if not all dictionaries and lexicons define the word covered in I Corinthians 11 in similar terms, that is, a veil and not the hair. There are two different Greek words for covered in the text being discussed and they are not interchangeable. In verses 4-13, where the cloth headcovering is referred to, the Greek word is Katakalupto, meaning to cover, conceal or veil. But in verse fifteen, where the hair is called a covering, it is the Greek word Peribolaion, meaning that which is thrown around, such as a mantle or clothing. Clearly the Apostle knew what he was doing when he used these two different words when making a distinction between the veil and the hair.
The language of the text and common sense show that the hair (which is a natural covering for the woman) is not the covering being discussed. It is linguististically impossible to make hair the covering. If you substitute hair for the word covered, the text becomes nonsense. This is why for the first nineteen hundred years of church history no one taught that it was hair. In verse five, the words, “even all one as if she were shaven”, shows the covering is not the hair, but the woman who refuses to cover her head is in the same class with the one with a shaved head. In verse six, the word also links together two statements, making a comparison between the two, “For if a woman be not covered, let her also be shorn.” This can only be said if a woman took off her veil, and the shame of taking off her veil was equal to the shame of losing her natural hair. In verse 15, Paul uses the natural hair as a parallel to illustrate his point because it covers the same area and shares much the same symbolism, but the hair is not the main subject.
Why Wear a Headcovering
First, in verse two, the headcovering is called an ordinance. It was instituted by God, taught by the Apostles, and practiced by the churches. An apostolic ordinance is a commandment given by God to His church to be kept and observed.
Second, the headcovering is a symbol of headship according to verse three. It demonstrates submission to God’s order of authority in the kingdom of God.
Third, it is to be worn because of modesty. The unveiling of a woman’s hair was considered humiliating (Numbers 5:18; Isaiah 47:1-3). The Hebrew women generally seem to have appeared in public veiled (Genesis 24:65; Ruth 3:15, Song of Solomon 5:7). The woman’s body and hair can be used to awaken lust in a man.
Fourth, the headcovering should be worn because of the glory of God. The woman’s hair is her glory (verse 15). When coming into God’s presence, only God’s glory is to be on display (verse 7). So, the woman’s glory is to be veiled. Even the angelic beings cover their glory in the presence of God (Isaiah 6:2-3).
When To Wear a Headcovering
The Apostle qualifies the appropriate time for the headcovering to be worn with the two words, “praying and prophesying.” The covering can at will be put on or taken off .This cannot be done with hair, but can be done with a veil. Praying and prophesying are two words that describe Spiritual or Holy business. Praying is speaking to God, and prophesying is speaking for God. Praying and prophesying obviously refer to public worship, but not confined to it. There are many opportunities outside the church service to pray or prophesy. To prophesy simply means to explain the mysteries of God. This does not mean that a woman can lead, preach, or teach in church. It simply means that in corporate worship she can enter into the presence of God and participate in singing and praising God, prayer, and the ministering of God’s Word. She receives from the Lord the same blessing and truth as the men. In I Chronicles 25:1-8, there were those who prophesied in singing and with musical instruments. Thank God that all can worship together with one accord.
Please consider this beautiful truth for Christ’s sake and for the Glory of God. Also, remember that this Apostolic truth is not open for debate in I Corinthians 11:16, “But if any man seem to be contentious, we have no such custom, neither the churches of God.” Amen
“For this cause ought the woman to have power, that is a covering, on her head, because of the Angels, I Corinthians 11:10. . .Me thinks, holy and beloved sisters, you should be content to wear this power or badge.” -John Bunyan
“Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.” Acts 16:31
Victory Baptist Church
Pastor Robert W. Reed
14473 Bellingrath Road
P.O. Box 257
Coden, Alabama 36523