What Does “Because Of The Angels” Mean In 1 Corinthians 11:10?
“Now I praise you, brethren, that you remember me in all things and keep the traditions just as I delivered them to you. But I want you to know that the head of every man is Christ, the head of woman is man, and the head of Christ is God. Every man praying or prophesying, having his head covered, dishonors his head. But every woman who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head, for that is one and the same as if her head were shaved. For if a woman is not covered, let her also be shorn. But if it is shameful for a woman to be shorn or shaved, let her be covered. For a man indeed ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God; but woman is the glory of man. For man is not from woman, but woman from man. Nor was man created for the woman, but woman for the man. For this reason the woman ought to have a symbol of authority on her head, because of the angels. Nevertheless, neither is man independent of woman, nor woman independent of man, in the Lord. For as woman came from man, even so man also comes through woman; but all things are from God. Judge among 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 anyone seems to be contentious, we have no such custom, nor do the churches of God.”
It is important to keep in mind the differentiation between the ancient social customs and the eternal principle of the creation hierarchy (1 Corinthians 11:3). Please consult our question for further information: Do Women Still Need To Wear Veils? In the context, the woman is to submit herself to the ancient custom of wearing the veil while praying or prophesying. One of the reasons given as to why she is to do so is “because of the angels.”
Let us examine some of the explanations given:
First, it could be referring to angels who sinned, and thus they were cast down from heaven (2 Peter 2:4; Jude 6). Paul was instructing the women to be submissive in their God-designed role and not act like the angels who were assigned roles by God, but chose to rebel against Him.
Second, it could be referring to Christian messengers (the Greek word “angel” means “messenger” and could refer to human messengers; compare “angels” in Revelation 2 and 3). Paul’s concern was that these Christian messengers would come to Corinth and be greatly offended if they saw the women not wearing a veil, because the women were not following the social custom that was related to their God-assigned role.
Third, it could be referring to heavenly angels who covered their faces when they stood before God (Isaiah 6:2) and thus would serve as examples for women to have the same respect in light of the culture of their day. Or, since the angels are interested in the affairs of those who will inherit salvation (Luke 15:10; Hebrews 1:13-14), they may very well be present at the mixed assemblies of the church as well as at the all-female assemblies (such as in the context here; if “gods” in Psalm 138:1-2 refers to angels, this could be a possibility). Even though men are not present at these all-female assemblies in 1 Corinthians 11:2-16 (in light of 1 Corinthians 14:34-35; 1 Timothy 2:11-15), the women who are praying and prophesying still need to be aware of their God-given role of subordination, especially in the light of the fact that they are still in the presence of God and His angels. They need to maintain their humble, submissive spirit rather than feel empowered just because the men are not present.
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