Woman's Covering, Veil or Long Hair?

1 Cor 11:1-16 Concise Version Article cZ 2004

Apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 11:1-16 gave very emphatic teachings about woman's head being appropriately covered and man's being appropriately uncovered. He in emphasizing his intended to be clear teaching used terms such as "judge in yourselves", "doth not nature teach you", and further said "if woman isn't appropriately covered, let her be shaven or shorn", which hair removal he considered an obvious shame to a woman. Paul meant business and emphasized this teaching as if it were an important issue, and something he very much expected to be understood. cZ-1

Yet today Paul's teaching about covering is so obscure to our world that even some Bible translations directly conflict with one another regarding what Paul actually meant by it. The ASV, NRSV and RSV Bible translations actually use the word veil as they speak of what Paul said woman needs to be covered with, while other translations such as the Spanish Bible, Darby's, Young's and literal interlinear translations translate verse 15 saying that woman's long hair is given to her instead of a veil or covering. What conflicting translations of Paul's emphatic teaching! Which if either of these translations are correct? The writer in researching this subject shed many tears as it dawned on him what Paul in this Scripture likely really meant, as compared to how oppositely it has been interpreted and applied by many Christians over the years. May we be open hearted, honest, and concerned about this teaching of Paul's. May the reader please read carefully and continue reading right on till the end, as often the consecutive paragraphs clarify and strengthen what has already been said. cZ-2

As one researches the original Greek text it becomes quite understandable why various Biblical translations translate verse 15 saying "her hair is given to her instead of a covering or veil". The writer was totally shocked as he extensively studied the Greek word "anti" which underlies the word "for" in the phrase "her hair is given to her for [anti] a covering" (KJV). Concerning the Greek word "anti" it appears around 400 times in the Greek Scriptures (Septuagint and New Testament) and is basically always used with the distinct meaning of exchange. The Greek word "anti" is repeatedly translated into the English word for as in this thing being exchanged for that thing, and is repeatedly translated into the English word because denoting the exchange of deeds, as in "I did this because you did that". Other than and beyond such, the Greek word "anti" in denoting exchange also is explicitly translated into the terms "in the room of and instead of", and around 150 times (KJV). Considering that the word anti throughout the Greek Scriptures basically always pertains to exchange (almost 100 percent of the time) and is often translated as instead of, translators obviously had significant reason to translate verse 15 as "her hair is given to her instead of [anti] a veil or covering". According to how "anti" is used in the Greek Scriptures (which text is believed to be the very Scriptures and text that Jesus and the Apostles used), exchange or replacement is simply what the word "anti" pertains to. One might yet wonder what would have motivated Paul to write, "woman's long hair is given to woman instead of or in exchange for a covering or veil". In considering such question one should be aware that Paul in writing to the Corinthians quite obviously was writing to a society where heathen customs of oppressively veiling women were practiced. Tertullian writes of some heathen women being so veiled that they could only see with one eye. Paul who often advocated liberty in Christ and who was very opposed to the commandments of men, would have had much reason to disregard and disapprove such veiling traditions. cZ-3

One should here also be aware that although the Greek word "anti" very much and mostly means exchange, it yet also can have a significant meaning of opposition and conflict, even as our related English word anti as in anti Christ also does. Quite often when the Greek word anti is used as a prefix in Greek words, the resulting Greek word pertains to opposition and conflict. Note, when the Greek word anti denotes exchange of actions, it often therewith also includes a meaning of opposition, as a deed was not only done in exchange for another but also in conflict and opposition to it. Thus according to the Greek word "anti" verse 15 really could read, "woman's long hair is given to her in exchange for and in opposition to a covering or veil". cZ-4

It further should be noticed how Paul in verse 10 said, "For this cause ought the woman to have power on her head because of the angels". Note, the word power in this verse comes from the Greek word "exousia" which although most often being translated as power and authority, yet very much means "power of choice, liberty, and freedom, etc" (Enhanced Strongs Lexicon), and is repeatedly translated with that meaning in other Scriptures (John 1:12, Acts 5:4, Romans 9:21, 1 Cor 7:4, 1 Cor 8:9, 9:4-6&12&18, 2 Thes 3:9, Heb 13:10, Rev 22:14). Thus with regards to the original Greek, verse 10 very much could be translated as, "For this cause ought woman to have freedom and liberty on her head because of the Angels [example]." Thus it is very possible that Paul in verse 10 largely was saying that woman should have freedom and liberty on her head as the Angels, and such rather than being in bondage to the gloomy, oppressive, and secluding heathen veil. This would nicely agree with how Paul used the word ANTI in speaking against the veil in verse 15. Can one imagine the Angels of God going about heaven with their head in an unattractive and secluding veil and largely hooded as might be done in punishment? The writer in seeing his little girls with their longer hair hanging sometimes tends to think they are like beautiful little Angels. Yet in the veiling tradition this alikeness with the Angels is largely destroyed. cZ-5

In old Jewish times, man's covering of hair and it's particular length was an important issue. The Priest's hair was neither to be too long or too short (Ezek 44:20). Yet hair was shaved and let grow long in various religious rituals. Hair was even a part of the Nazarite's sacrifice. In lamenting deaths the Israelites would uncover their heads by a removing of the hair. In examining Paul's teaching about men and women being appropriately covered, one should consider that Paul not only advocated that the man who prays with his head covered dishonors his head but also said it is a shame for a man to have long hair, and consider Paul neither only said that it is a shame for a woman to pray uncovered, but also said long hair is both a glory and a covering to woman. Paul in this Scripture emphatically spoke of it being a shame for a woman to be shaven or shorn and obviously desired women to have longer hair. Yet ancient inscriptions show women of the Greek society with short hair (or combed in a way which appeared as such), and according to how Paul wrote in this Scripture it very much appears he was writing in a situation were some Christian women had short hair and which Paul felt was not appropriate for women. These issues all must be considered in researching this Scripture. cZ-6

As one concludes a subject he often summarizes his whole teaching, thus one should carefully consider Paul's conclusion of this teaching. In concluding this teaching Paul basically said, "Just use your own common sense, to determine whether it is comely that a woman pray to God uncovered. Yet even nature teaches you that if man has long hair that isn't appropriate. But if woman has long hair that is a glory to her for it is given to her in exchange for a veil" (1 Cor 11:13-15). What an ending to Paul's emphatic teaching about being appropriately covered! Such verses should be carefully examined. cZ-7

The issue of veiling must have been a significant issue at Corinth as Paul later writing to the Corinthians, again spoke about veiling and very disapprovingly. He wrote, "And not as Moses, which put a vail over his face, that the children of Israel could not stedfastly look to the end of that which is abolished: 14 But their minds were blinded: for until this day remaineth the same vail untaken away in the reading of the old testament; which vail is done away in Christ. 15 But even unto this day, when Moses is read, the vail is upon their heart. 16 Nevertheless when it shall turn to the Lord, the vail shall be taken away. 17 Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. 18 But we all [men and women], with open face [Greek unveiled face] beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image [unveiled and in His image, freedom on our heads like the Angels] from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord." (2 Cor 3:13-18). This whole Scripture and especially verses 17-18 should be carefully considered!!! Considering all the above issues, how can one condemn those who believe woman's long hair is given to her instead of a veil? Following are given several more vital issues concerning this subject. cZ-8

Firstly, just because Paul particularly emphasized being appropriately covered and uncovered in praying and prophesying, does not need to mean he was speaking of some special attire just for then. Note, just because one in trying to make an impression might ask, "judge in yourself whether it is comely for one to wear an idolatrous ephod in praying and prophesying", would not need to mean that he meant it is acceptable to do so at other times. Rather he could simply be trying to make a point of how this erroneous attire, seems so much more improper in that setting. cZ-10

Secondly, Paul in saying "woman's hair is given to her ANTI (in exchange for) a covering", here used a compound Greek word for covering that strongly indicates a manmade throw around garment or veil which her longer hair was given in exchange for, while earlier Paul in advocating that woman's head needs to be appropriately covered, did not use that Greek word but used a Greek word that simply meant to be covered or enclosed and which could have pertained to hair or anything. cZ-11

Thirdly, Paul right after emphasizing that it is obviously uncomely for a woman to pray uncovered, then continued right on and immediately advocated that it yet is shameful for a man to have long hair, which indicates he was speaking of hair all along (v13-14). cZ-12

Fourthly, Paul in saying a woman who is not appropriately covered, might as well be shaven or shorn, used a Greek word for shorn that often means shorn as sheep are shorn (Greek Old Testament), and thus quite clearly was saying if a woman is not appropriately covered she should remove all her hair, rather than saying let her either shave it or merely cut it shorter. cZ-13

Fifthly, With regards to Paul's teaching against men being improperly covered in praying and prophesying, it should be considered that both the Jewish Kings and Priests in old times yet wore special head gear in their special service to God, while yet the Priests were not to have long hair. Considering how both the Jewish Kings and Priests wore special head gear in their special service to God, while yet the Priest's (and likely Kings) were not to have long hair, why is Paul's teaching against men being improperly covered in praying, in our day so understood to be teaching against head gear rather than against long hair?! cZ-14

It is astounding how 1 Corinthians 11:1-16 has been so taken to mean that women should veil and distort her natural complimentary covering of longer hair, and taken as a strike and witness against the beauty of woman, while yet it appears this Scripture oppositely is teaching that woman should neither cut off or veil her long hair, but rather should allow their long hair to be a natural and complimentary covering to woman as God designed. Woman is to have freedom on her head because and like the Angels (V10)! Paul in this Scripture said woman is the glory of man (V7) and said her hair is a glory to her (V15), and her beauty is not evil, and is not to be derided or rejected. Woman is God's very special creation for man. cZ-15

Yet even before the Apostolic times a very erroneous attitude toward marriage and intimacy existed within some heathen religions. This ascetic emphasis wrongly despised women and her natural beauty, and demanded women to be oppressively veiled. This emphasis was far removed from authentic and legitimate Jewish and Christian practices. Yet this false anti marriage and intimacy emphasis later entered the Christian Church as heathen Rome supposedly became Christian. Paul foretold of it's coming into Christendom and spoke of it as the doctrine of Devils (1 Tim 4:1-3). It now has affected Christians from the Roman Catholic Church to the Amish as well as the Moslems. Although many Scriptures advocate that true religion is a way of freedom and blessing, rather than bondage, yet somehow Satan by the commandments of men has often turned things totally around. cZ-16

Note, as this article is intended to be concise, only most vital and pertinent issues are touched on herein. Thus article cU (found at "TeachMeGod.com) a more extensive and lengthy article should also be read. In conclusion the writer prays that he as well as the reader can find and bear the cross of Christ rather than bearing the crosses which the commandments of men and doctrines of Devils have created. God bless and farewell. 2370 083104 cZ-17