Friday, February 14, 2014

Lecturing 1 Corinthians

I was feeling the effect of early rising yesterday when I had to lecture on 1 Corinthians to a class of 36 students, 24 men and 12 women. Invariably the question came to the problem of women's ministry. I was prepared but it was only 15 minutes explaining some of the key ideas behind Paul's teaching in ch. 11 and ch. 14. Paul uses three arguments. First, the argument based on social norms of the first century Greco-Roman world where women wore veils and even have a shawl over her head if they go out of their homes. Second, the argument based on nature whereby women have long hair and men short hair. Already nature has given long hair to the woman as a covering and cutting one's hair or going bald for a woman was a sign of a prostitute in Corinth. Thus the sign of authority which Paul asked the Corinthian women to have on their heads serve two purposes.

One is to show their submission to men as man is the head of the woman and woman was created for man and not man for woman. Second is because of the angels where obviously in the Jewish worldview projects the idea that worship of believers involves the participation of angeic beings in the heavenly realms. Hence, women must have a sign of authority on their heads so that angels would acknowledge the proper order of things, things on earth and things in heaven where God is the head of Christ, Christ the head of man and man is the head of the woman. Thus Paul uses his third argument based on theological truth - the heirarchy ordained by God in terms of headship and leadership in the church as Paul would teach that it is God who appoints first, the apostles, second, the prophets and third, the teachers as the overseers and leaders of God's church (1 Cor 12.28).

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