In the chapters preceding today’s passage, Paul discussed the behaviors of certain Corinthian believers and the ripple effect caused by those behaviors within the church. Conversely, at the end of chapter ten, Paul discussed behavior that glorifies God. In today’s passage, Paul turned his focus to order within the church, especially as it pertained to the Corinthian believers’ worship in a large group setting. The specific issue Paul addressed had to do with the cultural tradition of head coverings during worship (women covered, men uncovered); but the message of orderly communal worship within the church still applies today.
- Why is it important to have order during communal worship? What are some potential results of a person not caring about his or her conduct during worship?
READ THE WORD: 1 CORINTHIANS 11:2-16 (ESV)
2 Now I commend you because you remember me in everything and maintain the traditions even as I delivered them to you. 3 But I want you to understand that the head of every man is Christ, the head of a wife is her husband, and the head of Christ is God.4 Every man who prays or prophesies with his head covered dishonors his head, 5 but every wife who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head, since it is the same as if her head were shaven. 6 For if a wife will not cover her head, then she should cut her hair short. But since it is disgraceful for a wife to cut off her hair or shave her head, let her cover her head. 7 For a man ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God, but woman is the glory of man. 8 For man was not made from woman, but woman from man. 9 Neither was man created for woman, but woman for man. 10 That is why a wife ought to have a symbol of authority on her head, because of the angels. 11 Nevertheless, in the Lord woman is not independent of man nor man of woman; 12 for as woman was made from man, so man is now born of woman. And all things are from God. 13 Judge for yourselves: is it proper for a wife to pray to God with her head uncovered? 14 Does not nature itself teach you that if a man wears long hair it is a disgrace for him, 15 but if a woman has long hair, it is her glory? For her hair is given to her for a covering. 16 If anyone is inclined to be contentious, we have no such practice, nor do the churches of God.
- Who did Paul say is the head of every man (vs. 3)? Of a wife? Of Christ?
- Paul discussed certain activities of communal worship, such as praying and prophesying. Cultural tradition dictated that women and men did these things in a different manner out of respect for God’s ordained order. Whom did a husband dishonor if he prayed with his head covered (vss. 4-7)? Whom did a wife dishonor if she prayed with her head uncovered?
- What does verse 11 imply about how a believer’s behavior in worship affects others?
- To whom was Paul referring in verse 16 when he spoke of those inclined to be contentious? What does it look like for a believer, man or woman, to be “contentious” in worship today? How is that harmful to the church?
- How does your own conduct in a communal worship setting communicate respect for other believers and bring glory to God?
RESPOND TO GOD
In his divine wisdom, God ordained an order to things: an order to make things function effectively. This God-appointed order is for the sake of functionality in the home and the church—not a commentary about the worth or capabilities of men and women. Embracing our created order, and applying that to our conduct within the church, brings glory to God and edification to all those around us.
- Thank God for creating order within our relationships for our benefit. Ask him how you can best embrace and reflect his created order.
- Ask God to reveal any ways your conduct detracts from others’ edification during times of worship.