Through the Bible with Les Feldick
LESSON 1 * PART 3 * BOOK 28
Now let’s pick up again in Chapter 11, and we’ll begin with verse 2 where the Apostle writes.
I Corinthians 11:2
“Now I praise you, brethren, that ye remember me in all things, and keep the ordinances, (things) as I delivered them to you.”
In other words, go by what I have instructed because I am the Apostle of the Gentiles, and of course, this was a predominantly Gentile congregation. I say predominantly because no doubt there were some Jews in the early congregation because the Scripture teaches that Paul would always go first to the Jew, and then when he saw that he wasn’t going to reap a harvest, then he would go to the Gentiles. So I’m convinced in all his early little congregations there were a smattering of Jewish believers.
Now in the next few verses we are going to deal with something that is as far removed from us in America in this day and time as what we just talked about in the previous chapters with meat offered to idols. And that is women in the Church and their covering or not to be covered heads and so forth. And it is one of those areas again that has certainly changed by virtue of customs and environment, not that the Word of God changes, but I certainly think that customs do. We know that a lot of the things that God mandated for Israel, for example, was because of their national customs and the way God had taught them. So we will take these coming verses with a little bit of a grain of salt. I’m not going to take it as no longer being the Word of God but I do want us to realize that there has been a tremendous change in the position and attitude of men toward women in Christianity.
Now maybe just for openers before we read the Scriptures, I would like to share a couple of quotes that are appropriate. You want to realize that Paul himself was not anti-women. Paul in Romans Chapter 16 commends so many women who helped him in the ministry, and he certainly recognized the fact that there was a role for women in the Church. Now in this portion in I Corinthians when it sounds like he is coming down kind of hard on the women, again, remember the circumstances in Corinth being the pagan city that it was. It was still probably closer to the Orient than what we call western civilization, and so many of the things that were part and parcel of the Hebrew, as well as the pagan attitude toward women, is probably epitomized in these two little quotes.
Sophocles, a Greek philosopher back even before Paul’s time said it like this: “Silence confers grace upon a woman.” Do you hear what he is saying? The best thing that a woman can do is be quiet. Now that was the philosophers of Greece. Now I’m not saying this to promote this, but rather I’m just saying that this was the attitude that was prevalent when Paul was dealing with these early Christian people. Now the other quote comes from the Jewish writings out of the “Talmud,” and actually the Talmud was really a commentary. But this book lists several plagues that could be laid upon the Jewish people, and of the several plagues here is one of them. Now you’re not going to like this, but I’m just trying to show you that this was the attitude prevalent when Paul is writing. The Talmud says, “The talkative widow, and the virgin who wastes her time in prayer are one of the plagues of Israel.” Now we would never dream of saying something like that today.
This backs up what I have taught for years and years, and I’ve made no apology for it. Don’t ever accuse the Apostle Paul of being anti-female, because it’s the Apostle Paul’s doctrines that opened up the world of freedom to the women. Christianity is really what set womanhood free. And as we come into these coming verses, keep in mind that even today in the Middle East, a women that is unveiled is open to anything. She can be opened to verbal abuse, and snide remarks as she walks down the street, and she may be opened to various types of attacks, but if she is veiled she can retreat into a world all her own. And then even the most brazen of men in the Middle East will recognize that that veiled women is not to be touched. So we have to take these cultures into view as we now see what Paul is writing here, and what he’s telling these Corinthians believers is, “Be careful how you handle this situation since the world is watching, lest they misinterpret.” Now we’re in the same situation in many areas of things today. We have to be careful how we do certain things lest the unbelieving world totally misinterprets our actions, and totally accuse us wrongly. Now maybe as we come into the text you can see what we are talking about. Now verse 4:
I Corinthians 11:4
“Every man praying or prophesying, having his head covered, dishonoureth his head.”
Now we still, except for the younger generation, adhere to that. Those of us who grew up in a generation several years back wouldn’t dare wear your cap into the high school, for example, or you’d wind up in the principal’s office. Well that was discipline, and it’s the same way today, as very, very few men would walk into a church sanctuary with their hat on. I mean we just don’t do those things. Well you see, back here in Paul’s day it again goes back to customs, and so Paul is telling us us that it’s just common knowledge that a man does not come into an attitude of prayer or worship with his hat on. For the woman it’s the other way around. You don’t expect a women to go into any kind of a worship situation without her head covered as we see in verse 5.
I Corinthians 11:5
“But every woman that prayeth or prophesieth with her head uncovered dishonoureth her head: for that is even all one as if she were shaven.”
Now does that mean that women today have to wear a veil or hat or something to cover their head when they go into church? No. I don’t think the scripture is saying that at all, but in the culture of that day for a woman to be out in public with nothing on her head when they were used to the veil, what kind of a woman would usually flaunt herself in that way? Well, the prostitute. They would just remove these coverings from their head to unveil their profession. Now naturally, if that is the mind-set of 99.9 percent of the population do you see what an impact that makes? So Paul is dealing with it under those circumstances. Now today we’re not bothered with that, and so this is why I think custom has completely changed our interpretation of some of these things. But we’re still going to look at it because it’s still part and parcel of the Word of God. Now verse 6:
I Corinthians 11:6
“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.”
Now that’s simple isn’t it? If a woman realizes that it’s certainly not becoming to have her hair all shaved off, and again making her right down at the same level as the prostitutes, what woman is going to do that? That’s just common sense. Now verse 7:
I Corinthians 11:7
“For a man indeed ought not to cover his head, forasmuch as he is the image and glory of God: but the woman is the glory of the man.”
And again that goes back to Adam. As Adam was created in the image of God, and also as Adam was the first created, and the woman was created next, that’s what Paul says in so many words in verse 8.
I Corinthians 11:8
“For the man is not of the woman; but the woman of the man.”
That was the process in creation. Do you remember I stressed that when God created Adam, where was Eve? In him! And then it was out of Adam that He created the woman later. Now you see this is why God has ordained all the way up through human history. That the husband was to be the head of the woman, not as a slave master, but in the order of God’s things this is the way He has ordained it by virtue of Him creating the man first and then the woman. Verse 9.
I Corinthians 11:9-12
“Neither was the man created for the woman; but the woman for the man. For this cause ought the woman to have power on her head because of the angels. Nevertheless neither is the man without the woman, neither the woman without the man, in the Lord. For as the woman is of the man, even so is the man also by the woman; but all things of God.” Let’s go back to the Book of Genesis Chapter 2 for a moment and tie this together.
“And the LORD God said, `It is not, good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet (or complement) for him.'”
Now we know that God at this time has already made the animal kingdom, and come down to verse 19 and He’s going to have Adam name them.
“And out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air; and brought them unto Adam to see what he would call them: and whatsoever Adam called every living creature, that was the name thereof. And Adam gave names to all cattle, and to the fowl of the air; and to every beast of the field; but for Adam there was not found an help meet (or a mate) for him.”
Now remember when I taught this, when we started in Genesis, I said can’t you imagine that Adam was seeing all these creatures come by him to be named, and they all had their mates, no doubt the male and the female, and probably after so long a time Adam got a lonely feeling and said, “Now LORD why? Why do all these creature have a mate and I’m alone?” Well, God had already said that it wasn’t good for man to be alone. So now let’s look at verse 21.
“And the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept; and he took one of his ribs, (I prefer to use the term side chamber, which is also the same definition for that Hebrew word) and closed up the flesh instead thereof; And the rib, which the LORD God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man.”
There was the process of Eve coming onto the scene. Now from here I always like to turn to Genesis Chapter 5 to show this is exactly how it happened, that Adam was created and was alone for a period of time, but that Eve was already inside Adam to a certain degree, because she had to be, in order to keep Adam as the federal head of the human race.
“Male and female created he them; and blessed them, and called their name Adam, in the day when they were created.”
So what does that tell you? Eve was in Adam, and she was part and parcel of him even as God created him and named him Adam. Now you also want to remember she wasn’t called Eve until after the fall. But that was the process of creation. God created Adam with Eve within him, and then sometime later He takes that part of Eve out of Adam and creates the woman, so now he has his complement, he is now complete, he is no longer alone. Now coming back to I Corinthians 11, again we find that this is what Paul is resting on. That the whole order of the sexes is not some modern phenomenon. This originated at creation. God created the man to be the head of the women because she was created next, and that was God’s ordained way of setting up the home and family, and it holds to this day, because God never rescinded it. Now I always have to emphasize, that does not make the man a slave master. His wife is not a “go-fer” for him, but rather she is a help meet, she is a complement, and men are to understand that. Now looking at verse 12 again:
I Corinthians 11:12
“For as the woman is of the man, even so is the man also by the woman; but all things of God.” In other words they have come together in a union now that puts them almost on an equal basis, but the man is still the head of the union. Now verse 13:
I Corinthians 11:13,14
“Judge (make up your own mind) in yourselves: is it comely (proper) that a woman pray unto God uncovered? Doth not even nature itself teach you, that, if a man have long hair, it is a shame unto him?”
Now again I think that goes back to the custom of Rome, and I think the men of those days wore rather short cropped hair. Now verse 15:
I Corinthians 11:15
“But if a woman have long hair, it is a glory to her: for her hair is given her for a covering.”
It’s a blessing, and I think any woman would be the first to admit that to have a beautiful head of hair is indeed a blessing. Now verse 16, and here Paul is tempering all this. He’s not just coming in with a sledge hammer blow, but is constantly tempering his words to these Corinthians because he doesn’t want them to feel browbeaten, and return their feelings in rebellion. Yet he’s got to make some corrections, things have to be straightened up, and the word he uses in Chapter 14 is, “Everything that is done in the local Church must be done in order.” This is the way God does things. He is a God of order, and even in the Nation of Israel when the children of Israel were ready to move out after camping over night, did they just pick up and go like a mob? No! I mean they moved out like an organized army with all the tribes in their rightful order. He’s a God of order, and it was the same way in the Temple worship, there were prescribed ways to do everything. And it’s the same way in the resurrection that Paul teaches in Chapter 15, and we’ll be coming to that soon. What does Paul say:
I Corinthians 15:22,23
“For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. 23. But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ’s at his coming.”
Even the resurrection isn’t going to be just a great big jumbled up affair, but every man in his own particular order, so it’s going to be an orderly resurrection. Now verse 16:
I Corinthians 11:16
“But if any man seem to be contentious, (always causing problems) we have no such custom, neither the churches of God.”
Now again I think he is tempering the attitude of these people concerning the hair cuts of the prostitutes compared to the hair cuts of the Roman citizenry. He’s basically saying, “Just don’t do anything that makes the outside world think that you believers here in the Church are a bunch of kooks.” Now that’s the best way I can put it. Don’t let the world think of your Church service as something like a bunch of nuts, or you’re somebody out there in left field, because they are watching. Now verse 17, and here Paul is coming back to the instructions concerning the Lord’s table. And the Corinthians did have a tremendous problem with the Lord’s table, it was more than any church could imagine today.
I Corinthians 11:17
“Now in this that I declare unto you I praise you not, (in other words Paul is telling them that he is finding fault with them.) that ye come together not for the better, but for the worse.”
Paul is saying, “The way you’re doing things is totally wrong. You are mixing up things that I have delivered unto you. You’re doing it all wrong.” Now verse 18:
I Corinthians 11:18
“For first of all, when ye come together in the church, I hear that there be division among you; (we covered that back in Chapter 1. And remember the division was that some followed only Jesus, others said they followed Paul, some Peter, some Apollos) and I partly believe it.” Now remember Paul is getting all this by hear-say. Now verse 19.
I Corinthians 11:19-21
“For there must be also heresies among you that they which are approved may be made manifest among you. (Now here is where we’re going to deal with the Lord’s table.) When ye come together therefore into one place, this is not to eat the Lord’s supper. For in eating every one taketh before other his own supper: and one is hungry, and another is drunken.”
Now wait a minute, the Lord’s Supper now is nothing more than pieces of unleavened bread, and a little cup of grape juice or wine. Now that’s not enough to satisfy physical hunger or to get drunk on. Right? So what was going on? Hey, they were having a great big pot luck supper before they had the Lord’s supper. And most of the smaller rural churches still like to have their pot luck suppers where people just bring in what they feel they’re qualified to bring, and everybody eats. Well the Corinthians were doing that ahead of the Lord’s table for an evening service. I think the reason it’s called supper is because the ancients practiced more or less like rural America does . The farmer, when he gets up, wants a big breakfast; he probably won’t eat all that much at noon, but then in the evening is the big meal. Well it was the same way back here, and so these Corinthians were used to their main meal being in the evening. So before they observed the Lord’s table they would come in with the pot luck supper. And in the next lesson we’ll get into what Paul meant when he says they were using excesses at this pot luck supper, and that’s what it all amounted to, and why he had to correct them.