The Role of Women in Church

The Mystery of the Woman’s

“Head Covering”



                        What does the Bible say about women’s dress codes?  Should

                        women wear a “headcovering” in church?  What part did veils

                        play in the attire of holy women of old?  What is the real mean-

                        ing of Paul’s words in I Corinthians 11 regarding a woman’s

                        headcovering, and long hair?  Here is vital information all God’s

                        people need to understand.


William F. Dankenbring


            In Genesis 2:18-20, we read:  “And the Lord God said, ‘It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper (help mate, fitting, suitable) comparable to him. Out of the ground the Lord God formed every beast of the field and every bird of the air.  But for Adam there was not found among all of these a help suitable for him, and the Eternal God caused a deep sleep to fall on Adam.”  


The first operation, you might say, is recorded here.  God performed an operation and took a portion from Adam’s side and closed up the flesh in its place. We read in verse 22, “then the rib [#6763 in Strong’s Concordance, meaning “of the body, of a door, hence a side, or fig., a quarter, arch, timber or plank] which God had taken from man made He into a woman, and He brought her to the man.  And Adam said: ‘This is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called woman [isha in the Hebrew] because she was taken out of man [the word for man here is ish].’”  The account continues: “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and shall cleave unto his wife and they shall become one flesh. (echad meaning one in unity, harmony) and they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.”


There was no shame, no sin, no guilt, no transgression up to that point in the world.   How were the husband and wife to get along, to work out their God given relationship? 


Husband-Wife Relationships


            In Ephesians 5, the apostle Paul discusses this subject.  He tells us, “Wives submit yourselves to your own husbands, (be subject to their authority) as unto the Lord” (verse 22).  Now we all know how difficult that often is, to submit to someone else’s authority as a human being. Employees sometimes have difficulty following the orders of their boss. Children have difficulty following the orders, or commandments, of their parents. It’s hard sometimes to submit to authority. Human beings have trouble with the authority of God. Church members sometimes have trouble with the authority God places within the ministry. So we have churches today, which deny authority, say there is no authority in the ministry and everyone is equal. At one Feast of Tabernacles mentioned in The Journal, the people have no minister, no sermons, and just fellowship together and have discussion groups. They go to the beach and have picnics and bar-b-q’s -- but no ministers.


             All true authority ultimately comes from God (Rom.13:1-6).   God is in charge. He created the universe.  This authority extends to His Church.  The apostle Paul wrote, “And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers; for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ” (Eph.4:11-12).


Wives clearly are to be submissive to the rulership and authority of their husbands.  But the husband has a responsibility also, toward his wife.  Paul writes:  “For the husband is the head of the wife, (that is, the leader, the one who should make the necessary decisions affecting the couple) even as also Christ is the head of the church” (Eph.5:23).


Paul continues:  “. . .the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is head of the church; and He is the savior of the body.” Men should take very good care of and be the protector of his wife and her health. “Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be subject to their own husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for it” (verses 24-25).


It’s a two-way relationship. Outgoing love, protection and care, on the one hand and obedience, respect, and reverence on the other hand. Christ did this to “sanctify and cleanse the church with the washing of water by the Word, that He might present it to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing but that she should be holy and without blemish” (vs.26-27).  Men should be willing to sacrifice themselves and love their wives with all their heart and soul.  True love would include any necessary teaching and education so that their wives might be clean, pure, radiant, beautiful and glorious.


Paul continues in verse 28, “So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he that loves his wife loves himself.” He who doesn’t love his wife, as much as he loves himself, diminishes or demeans her, and thereby diminishes and destroys himself. “For no one ever hated his own flesh but nourishes and cherishes it,” Paul added. 


            Paul says, “this is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church. Nevertheless, let each one of you in particular so love his own wife, even as himself, and let the wife see that she reverence (which means deeply respect and hold in deep honor) her husband” (verse 33).  This is the heart and soul of a godly husband-wife relationship.  It takes two – both partners – to really bring about such a loving, serving, positive, blessed relationship between two human beings!


            In Colossians, chapter 3, verses 18-25, Paul gives us profound spiritual principles regarding marriage. In verse 18 he says, “Wives submit yourselves to your own husbands as it is fit in the Lord.” That means as long as what husbands says does not compel you to disobey God in any way, wives are to submit to their husband’s leadership!


            In verse 19-20, Paul declares, “Husbands, love your wives and do not be bitter toward them.  Children, obey your parents in all things, for this is well pleasing to the Lord. Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged (depressed and disheartened). Servants (workers) obey in all things your master according to the flesh, not with eye service, as men pleasers, but in singleness of heart, pleasing God.”


That’s the attitude we all should have, wives, men, workers, and children. Whatever we do should be in singleness of heart, singleness of mind, fearing God. As Paul summarizes, in verse 23, “And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men.”


Do we have that attitude?  Don’t fulfill your role grudgingly, but do it heartily -- as heartily as you can, with joy and rejoicing, as unto Christ. As Paul says, “Knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ” (v.24).  He is the one we are really serving, no matter what our role or place in the world or scheme of things. “But, he who has done wrong, shall receive for the wrong he has done, and there is no respect of persons.” Everyone will be accountable, in God’s great scheme of things.  All will answer to Him in the Judgment -- for their works and what they have done in their marriage, in their family, in the community, in the work place, and in the church.


Apparel and Attitude


            In I Timothy 2:8, Paul writes, under divine inspiration, “I desire therefore that the men pray everywhere, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and without doubting; in like manner also, that the women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety.”  The word translated “shamefacedness” here is aidos in Greek and means “downcast eyes, bashfulness, modesty,” or “awe, reverence.” 


In other words, a godly woman should have modest apparel, not gaudy like a Hollywood star or starlet.  She should be dressed with modest, decent, feminine apparel, with an attitude of decency and propriety, “not with braided hair or gold or pearls or costly array, but that which is proper for women professing godliness, and good works” (I Tim.2:9). 


Paul goes on, “Let a woman learn in silence with all submission. But I suffer not a woman to teach (that is, be a teacher or minister in the church, in the congregation) nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence (in respectful subjection). For Adam was formed first, then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression. Nevertheless she will be saved in childbearing” (I Tim.2:13-15).


The role of women is very important.  A home would be incomplete without them.  Their responsibilities in the home, being a wife and mother, are awesome, and should be highly respected. 


Peter’s Admonitions


The apostle Peter also had much to say about the proper husband-wife relationship.  The apostle Peter tells us, “Wives likewise be submissive to you own husbands, that even if some do not obey the word [if they are not converted], they without a word [not by words and arguments, but by letting one’s light shine, in good works and love and respect], may be won by the conduct of their wives, when they observe your chaste conduct accompanied fear [or awe, respect; the word “fear” here means with deep respect]. Do not let your adornment be merely outward – arranging the hair [such as expensive hair styles], wearing gold, or putting on fine apparel” (I Pet.3:1-3, NKJV).


“Rather,” Peter says in verse 4, “let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God. For in this manner, in former times, the holy women who trusted in God also adorned themselves, being submissive to their own husbands, as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord.”  Notice, she called him “Lord,” which is like saying, “Sir,” “ruler,” or “master.”  Sarah, whose name means “Princess of God,” was formerly named Sarai, which means merely means “princess.”  Peter goes on, “whose daughters you are if you do good and are not afraid with any terror” -- not terrified or trembling with fear. Sarah held her husband in great awe and respect, but she didn’t tremble with fear around him. She wasn’t terrified, but she did honor him.  Moffatt has this, ‘yield to no panic.” 


The Amplified Version has this passage, “In like manner you married women, be submissive to your own husbands – subordinate yourselves as being secondary to and dependent on them, and adapt yourselves to them.  So that even if any do not obey he Word [of God], they may be won over not by discussion but by the [godly] lives of their wives, when they observe the pure and modest way in which you conduct yourselves, together with your reverence [for your husband.  That is, you are to feel for him all that reverence includes] – to respect, defer to, revere him; [revere means] to honor, esteem (appreciate, prize), and [in the human sense] adore him; [and adore means] to admire, praise, be devoted to, deeply love and enjoy [your husband].


“Let not yours be the [merely] external adorning with [elaborate] interweaving and knotting of the hair, the wearing of jewelry, or changes of clothes; but let it be the inward adorning and beauty of the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible and unfading charm of a gentle and peaceful spirit, which (is not anxious or wrought up, but) is very precious in the sight of God.


“For it was thus that the pious women of old who hoped in God were (accustomed) to beautify themselves, and were submissive to their husbands – adapting themselves to them as themselves secondary and dependent upon them.


“It was thus that Sarah obeyed Abraham (following his guidance and acknowledging his headship over her by) calling him lord – master, leader, authority.  And you are now her true daughters if you do right and let nothing terrify you – not giving way to  hysterical fears or letting anxieties unnerve you.”


Peter goes on, with a word of instruction to husbands, as well.  He declares:  “Likewise you husbands, dwell with your wives with understanding, giving honor to the wife, as to the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life, that your prayers may not be hindered.”  The Amplified Version has this, “In the same way you married men should live considerately with [your wives], with an intelligent recognition [of the marriage relation], honoring the woman as [physically] the weaker, but [realizing that you] are joint heirs of the grace (God’s unmerited favor) of life, in order that your prayers may not be  hindered and cut off. – Otherwise you cannot pray effectively” (verse 7, Amplified Version).


It is very important that husbands and wives be unified and live in unity, and work together as a “team.”  Husbands should strive to give honor to their wives, be patient, and loving at all times – gentle and kind.  An abusive husband can “undo” his wife, driving her to tears and grief.  A loving husband can be strengthening and encouraging to her, helping her to become more positive, energetic, filled with energy and enthusiasm


Peter concludes this passage: “Finally, all of you be of one mind, (unified in your minds) having compassion for one another (being pitiful), love as brothers, be tenderhearted, be courteous [humble], not returning evil for evil or railing for railing (getting back or shouting at others), but on the contrary blessing, knowing that you were called to do this, that you may inherit a blessing” (I Pet.3:4-9).


Those who take Peter’s admonition to heart will receive a tremendous “blessing” from God.  Their marriage will be “blessed” indeed and in truth.  Problem solving can be a joy, when two individuals in love work them out together.  The entire relationship will take off, begin to soar, and become empowered and take “flight” into the heavenly realms. 


The “Powerful” Woman


            A picture in words of a truly godly woman is found in the book of Proverbs Proverb 31 describes the virtuous woman, or the excellent wife.  Solomon asked, “Who can find a virtuous woman?” (verse 10).  The word for “virtuous” here is chayil and means “force,” “forceful, valiant, worthy, strong,” with “virtue, strength, valor” – that is, filled with might, power, and strength. Such a wife is very productive, capable, able, and full of accomplishments and good works. 


Solomon declared of such a woman,  Who can find a virtuous wife? For her worth is far above rubies. The heart of her husband safely trusts her; she does him good and not evil all the days of her life” (Prov.31:10-12).


When her husband comes home, he finds a place of peace and contentment, a place of refuge from the storms of the world.  He finds a comfort zone – a “shalom.”


“She seeks wool and flax and willingly works with her hands. She is like the merchant ships, she brings food from afar” (v.13-14). “She rises while it is yet night, provides food for her household and for her servants. She considers a field and buys it. She plants a vineyard” (v.15-16).  All these are the acts of a valiant, virtuous, strong and capable woman.


            Solomon went on to say, “Her husband is known in the gates, when he sits among the elders of the land. She makes linen garments and sells them, and supplies sashes for the merchants. Strength and honor are her clothing; she shall rejoice in time to come. She opens her mouth with wisdom. And her tongue is the law of kindness. She watches over the ways of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness” (verses 23-27).


            Do you know any women like that?  I do.  I am greatly blessed, because my own wife, whom God gave to me, to help me in this ministry, is such a woman – a woman of valor, praise, understanding, hard work, creativity, resourcefulness, and diligence.  I cannot sing her praises enough, and bless and thank God for giving me such a wonderful wife!  Truly, as Solomon wrote, “A prudent wife is from the Lord” (Prov.19:14).


            Solomon says of such a woman:  “Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: Many daughters have done virtuously, but you excel them all. Favor is deceitful and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the LORD (that stands in awe of God and His Word), she shall be praised. Give her of the fruit of her hands, and let her own works praise her in the gates” (Prov.31:28-31).


This is a wonderful example of a woman’s role and how important women are in society. The family is the key to the society. The family is the key to the Kingdom of God. A kingdom is nothing but a family grown great. The modern nations are descended from ancient families. The principles of the family should be extended to the kingdom. The rules begin in the family. The family is the foundation of government.  From the family, government rises to the level of the community, then to the city, town, state, nation, and ultimately, the Kingdom! 


When women leave their proper place, compete with men, enter the work place as men do, forsaking their God-given role and responsibility, they miss out on the greatest blessings life can offer.  Although it may be necessary at times for women to work in the workplace, everything should be with a view to fulfilling her God-given role in life!  Not all women marry, or even ought to marry.  As the world careens toward oblivion and global disaster, in some cases marriage can be a burden or handicap, as Paul wrote the Corinthians (I Cor.7:25-29).


The Woman’s Headcovering


            What about a woman’s “headcovering”?  What about this aspect of a woman’s dress?

Paul wrote to the Corinthians, “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 [that is, Christ!].  But every woman who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head [the man], 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” (I Cor.11:3-6).

The Greek word for “covered” in verse 4 is kata (verse 4).  Kata is a root word meaning “down” in many applications, including “covered.”   The Greek-English Interlinear has this verse as follows:  “Every man praying or prophesying, having anything down over his head, shames his Head.”

In verse 5, the word for “uncovered,” referring to a woman, is  akatakaluptos, and means, “unveiled.”  A woman who does not pray having her hair veiled, or covered, but uncovered, dishonors her head.  She might as well be shaven, Paul says.

In verse 6, Paul uses the word katakalupto means “to cover wholly, i.e., veil – cover, hide.”  Thus verse 6 says, in the Greek, “For if a woman is not covered” – that is, her hair being wholly covered or veiled – “let her also be shorn.”  She might as well be shaved, or bald! 

Men are NOT to be “covered” – have their heads covered – in religious worship.  That would be dishonorable to Christ, our Head.  Women, on the other hand, are to pray or prophesy with their heads covered, that is, wearing a veil – as that shows their submission to man. 

Paul goes on, “For a man indeed ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God; but the woman is the glory of 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” (verse 7-10).

How plain!  Men ought NOT to cover their heads with a headcovering for religious purposes.  Being created in the very image and likeness of God, they are in a sense representing Him in their duties and functions on the earth.  They are to be like Him, therefore, and a headcovering would be inappropriate for religious reasons.  Women, on the other hand, to show their submission to the authority of men, whom God has placed over them in the chain of authority, ought to wear a veil over their heads, when praying and prophesying.  Otherwise, they are in a sense vying with men, competing with men, and not submitting to their proper station in life, and accepting their true calling from God as “helpers” to men.

This is very important.  Each one of us must recognize and accept our station or position in life.  A woman out of her element, out of her position, vying and contesting with men, is in great danger due to the “angels.”  Paul here is referring to the fact that women are under the authority of men – men are to be their leaders, in Christ.  Women who forsake this God-given area of service and aptitude, who remove themselves from this chain of command or authority, expose themselves to seduction and deception by the fallen angels – Satan and  his horde of demon spirits!  They would be in danger of being led astray, even as Eve was seduced by the serpent in the garden of Eden! (II Cor.11:3).

As Paul said, “For as woman came from man, even so man also comes through woman; but all things are from God” (verse 12).  We all have our God-given position in life.  As a symbol of their position relative to the man, women ought to wear a veil when praying, worshipping God, and prophesying – that is, serving God.

Paul went on, “Judge among yourselves.  Is it proper for a woman to pray to God with her head uncovered?” (v.13).  The Greek word here again is akatakaluptos, and means, “unveiled.”  It is the same word translated “uncovered” in verse 5.  In the Greek, this verse says, “Is it fitting for a woman to pray to God uncovered?”  This passage is speaking about women wearing veils in church, or synagogue, and while praying to God.  As a sign and symbol of their submission to God, and His chain of authority and responsibility, they should wear a veil at these times. 

Paul then writes, “Does not even nature itself teach you that if a man has long hair (that is, like a woman), it is a dishonor to him?” (verse 14).  The Greek is very interesting, here.  Paul declares, “Or does not nature herself teach you that if a man indeed adorns the hair, it is a dishonor to him?”  The meaning here is that men are NOT to wear veils, or head-coverings, like “kippahs” or skullcaps, while praying or prophesying! 

To put it another way, men are not to compete with women, or dress or act like women, or to cover their hair, like women.  They are not to behave or look like women but to be masculine and manly – in the image of God and Christ.  It is shameful and folly for a man to dress or present himself like a woman.  On the other hand, women are not to compete with men, act like men, or behave in a manly, masculine manner.  This principle is brought ought in Deuteronomy 22:5 – “A woman shall not wear anything that pertains to a man, nor shall a man put on a woman’s garment, for all who do so are an abomination [that is, detestable] to the LORD your God.”

A woman’s true place, Paul shows, is in being a truly godly, submissive, helpful, glorious WOMAN – fulfilling her true position, role and responsibility in life.  He says, alluding to this fact, “But if a woman has long hair [a sign of femininity], it is a GLORY to her; for her hair is given to her for a covering” (verse 15).  In this case, an altogether different Greek word is translated “covering.”  It is peribolaion [#4018 in Strong’s Concordance] and means “something thrown around one,” as a “mantle, veil, covering, vesture.”  This is an entirely different word from kataluptos.  In verse 15 Paul is discussing a woman’s long hair, as being her glory, something wrapped around her head in a beautiful manner.  But in the previous verses, he is clearly discussing a “veil,” or article of clothing worn over a woman’s hair and head.

The Woman’s Veil

Veils were commonly worn by women in Biblical times.  In Genesis 24:65, when Rachel is being brought to Isaac, “She took a veil and covered herself.”  In another story, Tamar “covered herself with a veil, and wrapped herself” (Gen.38:14). 

In the Song of Solomon, Solomon writes of his bride, “Behold, you are fair, my love!  Behold, you are fair!  You have dove’s eyes behind your veil” (Song 4:1).  He adds, “Your lips are like a strand of scarlet, and your mouth is lovely.  Your temples behind your veil are like a piece of pomegranate” (verse 3).  Later, the bride of Solomon, a type of the Church, or Israel, says, “The keepers of the walls took my veil away from me” (Songs 5:7). 

The veil was very common in Biblical times.  It was an article of clothing denoting modesty and femininity.  Says The Second Jewish Book of Why, “In biblical times women covered their heads with scarves or veils as a sign of chastity and modesty.  To expose a woman’s hair was considered a humiliation (Numbers 5:18)” (p.53).   In Jewish law, married women always kept their heads covered; however, unmarried women were not required to do this.  The purpose of this Jewish code was to make it perfectly clear to men the marital status of a woman. 

Ruth wore a veil of considerable size, as we read in the book of Ruth.  Boaz said to her, “Bring me the shawl that is on you and hold it.  And when she held it, he measured six ephahs of barley, and laid it on her” (Ruth 3:15).  The word “shawl” is translated “veil” in the King James Version.


            Now let’s rephrase the words of the apostle Paul in I Corinthians 11.  He said, in effect:  “Now I am praising you, as you have kept me in remembrance of you in all things, and at present still have me in your thinking. Even as also you are holding fast to those things which were delivered to me, to be handed down to you; which I delivered also to you, to be passed on to succeeding generations. Moreover I desire you to know that the head of every man is the Christ and the woman’s head is the man. The head of the Christ is God the Father.


“Every man while praying or prophesying having a shawl, or head covering, hanging down over his head – dishonors his head, which is Christ. But every woman while praying or prophesying, with her head uncovered dishonors her head, her husband. For this would be one and the same thing as if she had her head shaved. For assuming that a woman’s head or hair is uncovered, let her also cut her hair close. Since it is dishonorable for a woman to be shaven or her hair cropped close, let her put a shawl over her head (or a scarf).


“For indeed a male individual is morally obligated not to cover his head in that manner, since he is so constituted as to be the derived image and glory of God. But the woman is the glory of the man. For a man is not out of the woman, as a source, but the woman is out of the man. Assuredly, the man was not created for the sake of the woman, but a woman was created for the sake of the man. On this account the woman is under moral obligation to be having a sign of authority on her head, because of the angels.


“Nevertheless, man is not complete apart from a woman in the Lord. For even as the woman came out of the man, as a source, does also the man owe his existence to the intermediate agency of the woman. But all things are out of God as a source. Come to a decision among yourselves. Is it seemly or fitting for a woman to be engaged in prayer to God, not wearing the shawl hanging down over her head? Does not the innate sense of propriety itself based upon the objective difference in the constitution of things (the difference between the male and the female) teach you that indeed if a man allows his hair to grow long it is a disgrace to him?  But if a woman allows her hair to grow long it is her glory because her head of hair has been given to her for a permanent covering (answering in character to, but not a substitute for a shawl).


“If anyone presumes to be cantankerous about this, the woman’s obligation to wear a head covering when engaged in public prayer in the assembly, as for us we do not have such a custom, neither do the assemblies of God.”


This paraphrase of Paul’s words helps us to understand the real issues involved in this question. 


            In other words, if a man prays or prophesizes with his head covered, like with a kippot, or with a scarf, he dishonors his head, Christ. But every woman that prays or prophesized with her head uncovered dishonors her head, her husband, even as much as though she had been shaven. If the woman’s head is not covered she might as well be shorn, or bald. But if it’s a shame for a woman to be shorn or shaven, then let her have her head covered. That is what Paul is saying to us. 


But what about verse 10, “for this cause ought the woman to have power on her head because of the angels.”   Just what does that mean?


A Messianic Jewish teacher, Daniel Bodkin, wrote a very good booklet entitled The Validity and the Value of the Woman’s Head Covering.  Let’s read a few cogent paragraphs. 


            Bodkin says in his forward, “I realize that most Bible believers consider head coverings as one of the least important commandments, and perhaps they’re right. There are certainly many things that are more vital for faith than head coverings. However, the subject requires attention because the practice is ignored by all but a small minority of women today. The prophet Jeremiah was commanded to root out, to pull down, and to destroy and throw down and also to build and to plant (Jeremiah 1:10). I don’t want to tear down people who hold erroneous views about the head covering, however, as a teacher whom God has set in the Body of Christ, it is my duty to root out and pull down error (or false doctrines or false teachings), to throw down the erroneous views because erroneous views can rob God’s people of great potential blessings. In New Testament terminology this is called, ‘casting down imaginations’ or ‘destroying speculations’, and all those things which lead to disobedience. II Corinthians 10:5 is a very important scripture.”


            Indeed, the truth about the woman’s headcovering needs to be restored in the churches of God!  Erroneous views need to be destroyed, demolished, and replaced with the truth of God.  Human excuses and speculations need to be eradicated, and torn out, uprooted and replaced by the holy Word of God.


            What about these passages in I Corinthians 11?  How do they apply to men and women today? 


The Lesson for Today’s Woman


Many people might say, “Well, there are different ways to interpret these passages.” Others say, “Well, the head covering referred to is just the hair itself.” The third view is, “Well, these instructions only apply to the church at Corinth not, to the rest of us. Paul was writing to the Corinthians because they had a problem in their community. So they had to do this. Only them – but surely not us.”


Then some women say that they don’t want to wear a head covering, or a scarf, or shawl, or veil over their hair because “no one else does it.” They don’t want to stand out and look strange or peculiar.  So, they don’t want to wear a veil or scarf or feminine hat since, they think, “no one else does it.”  But this fact just demonstrates how FAR the world has gone in its plunge into anti-godly values and ungodly customs!   Some women even fear that they might project a “holier than thou” attitude by wearing a head covering in a congregation where they are not customarily worn.


But human “feelings” should have nothing to do with our decision.  A woman’s  decision on whether to wear a veil or not should be based entirely on the WORD OF GOD – NOT HUMAN EMOTIONS, FEARS, or sensitivities!  At first, obeying God may feel somewhat strange, awkward, and “different” – until one gets used to the idea, and it begins to grow on them, and begins to feel more natural, comfortable, and proper!


            The apostle Paul obviously thought that wearing headcoverings was important enough to write these Scriptures. God felt that it was important enough to put them in the Bible, for our instruction and admonition.  Therefore, we need to learn from these divinely inspired words and do what God wants us to do. We should not ignore these Scriptures, which are “God-breathed” and the divinely inspired Word of God (II Tim.3:16).  We should not just pass it off and say, “Well, it doesn’t matter,” or, “Well, we don’t really know the truth.”


            Obviously there has to be a correct interpretation for these passages. That’s what is important. To seek out and find the truth, to explore, dig, and find the gold. Then follow the truth.


            Could the “headcovering” spoken of in this chapter refer to a person’s hair itself? Is the hair the covering spoken of here? Or is it a veil, or a scarf, or something else?


The woman’s hair cannot be the only covering that Paul refers to in this passage.  Notice the proof!


Two different Greek words are used in this passage for the word “covering.”  In verse 15 – where a woman’s hair is given to her for a “covering,” the Greek word here is peribolion and that word is only used in this one verse. Peri means around, as in “perimeter,” “periscope.” This word is different from the word used earlier in this passage, in verse 4, verse 5, verse 6 and 7. That word is katakalupto.  Kata means “down.” That word is used six times in this passage. So, if Paul had meant that hair is the only covering women need, he would have used the word katakalupto throughout the passage. That’s the term he used all six times where the covering is mentioned in preceding verses.  But Paul does not write, “her hair is given to her for a katakalupto.  He used a totally different word, when discussing the woman’s hair. He said, “her hair is given to her for a peribolion.”


Why does Paul use an entirely different word when referring to a woman’s hair?  He wants to make sure that we do not confuse the woman’s natural covering, her hair (peribolion) with the scarf or shawl, (the katakalupto) which she willingly places on her head.


Katakalupto refers to the covering a woman places on her head. It’s composed of the prefix – kata, which means down, and kalupto, which means cover – so this word means “down cover.” This is exactly what a scarf or shawl does, it hangs down from the top of the head and covers the woman’s hair.


            Peribolion, which refers to the woman’s hair as a natural covering, uses the prefix, peri, which means wrap around, as in our English word perimeter. The long hair functions as a frame that flows around the perimeter, or border of a woman’s face. That’s why Paul uses peribolion for the hair that is like a perimeter around the woman’s face. The word peribolion appears only twice in the New Testament, but it appears 12 times in the Septuagint.


The Septuagint is the Greek version of the Bible, which was used and quoted by the New Testament writers, Christ and the apostles. It is significant that the word peribolion is used in Deuteronomy 22:12. Let’s read that in the Septuagint. God says, “You shall make yourselves fringes upon the four quarters of your vesture where with you cover yourself.” In this verse, the peribolion is used to refer to the tallit -- the four cornered, fringed, cloak worn by men.  Paul was familiar with the Greek Septuagint and most certainly was aware of the use of peribolion to refer to the tallit, or prayer shawl.


            Paul says in verse 6, “For if a woman does not cover her head, let her also have her hair cut off.” Now, if Paul meant that the woman’s only head covering was the hair itself, this verse would be saying, “If a woman does not have hair on her head, let her have her hair cut off.” Now, how can you do that? If she has no hair on her head, how can she cut it off? It is linguistically impossible to say that a woman’s head covering is nothing more than the hair. If the hair were the only covering, then an uncovered woman, would be a woman who already had her hair cut off. If the hair was the covering, then the uncovered woman would be a woman with no hair. A hairless woman cannot be commanded to have her hair cut off.


Ridiculous, isn’t it?  That would be like saying, “let the bald men get a hair cut.” Or “Let the beardless man shave his beard.” What verse 6 means is, if the woman refuses to wear a scarf or shawl, she should also remove the natural covering, her hair. In other words, she should wear both coverings or none at all in God’s sight.


            Biblical and Talmudic evidence both show that the head covering is more than just the hair.  In Bible times, women customarily wore scarves or shawls or veils over their hair. The Encyclopedia Judaica tells us, “The general custom was to appear in public and in the presence of strange men with covered hair.” 


Biblical Evidence


            Notice an interesting account in Numbers, chapter 5.  We read: “And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, Speak to the children of Israel, and say to then; ‘If any man’s wife goes astray and behaves unfaithfully toward him, and a man lies with her carnally, and it is hidden from the eyes of her husband, and it is concealed that she has defiled herself, and there was no witness against her, nor was she caught [she didn’t become pregnant], but the spirit of jealousy comes upon him [her husband] and he becomes jealous of his wife [maybe her affections have changed and she is avoiding him and he’s become suspicious of her], or if the spirit of jealously comes upon him and he becomes jealous of his wife, although she has not defiled herself – then the man shall bring his wife to the priest. He shall bring the offering required for her” (Num.5:11-15).


Verse 16 says, “The priest shall bring her near, and set her before the Lord. The priest shall take holy water in an earthen vessel, and take some of the dust that is on the floor of the tabernacle and put it into the water.  Then the priest shall stand the woman before the Lord, and uncover the woman’s head [take off her veil or scarf or shawl from her hair], and put the offering of memorial in her hands, which is the jealousy offering. And the priest shall have in his hand the bitter water that brings a curse.”


What is the point?  This passage shows that the women in those days wore hair coverings, and it did not refer to their hair!


            In the Song of Solomon, chapter 5, verse 7, we have the story of the bride, the church, desiring that the Messiah come and deliver the church. The church is pictured as a young maiden. Starting in verse 2, the virgin church says, “I sleep, but my heart is awake; It is the voice of my beloved! He knocks, saying, ‘Open to me, my sister, my love, my dove, my perfect one for my head is covered with dew, my locks with the drops of the night.”


Verse 5 says, “ I arose to open for my beloved, and my hands dripped with myrrh.” Verse 6 goes on, “I opened for my beloved, but my beloved had turned away and was gone.” That is, Christ was gone -- He had gone back to heaven and he has remained in heaven for 2000 years, almost. The Church laments, “My heart leaped up when he spoke. I sought him, but I could not find him; I called him, but He gave me no answer.”


The church has been yearning for the coming of the Messiah, the groom, for 2000 years. Verse 7goes on, “The watchmen who went about the city found me. They struck me, they wounded me.”  This is speaking of the persecution and tribulation and the distress the church has suffered at the hands of the world for these past 2000 years, from the first century until our age.  The watchmen in the world have abused God’s people. The church has been struck and beaten and undergone torture and vicious persecution.


Now notice.  The bride, the Church, says, “The keepers of the walls took my veil away from me.   How plain!  How obvious!  The church has a veil. The bride of Christ is wearing a veil!  A sign of modesty, humility, and submission to Christ!


            In Genesis 24:63-65, we read the story of how Abraham’s servant went to get a bride for Isaac, and the servant finally returned home with Rebekah, whom Isaac had never seen before. We read: “Isaac went out to meditate in the field in the evening; and he lifted his eyes and looked, and there, the camels were coming. Then Rebekah lifted her eyes and when she saw Isaac she dismounted from her camel; for she said to the servant, ‘Who is this man walking in the field to meet us?’ The servant said, ‘It is my master.’ So she took a veil and covered herself.”  She took a veil and covered her hair with the veil.


            Now notice Genesis 38, verse 14. This is a story of intrigue and seduction. Judah had refused to let his daughter-in-law, Tamar, marry his youngest son after her first two husbands, who were his sons, died before the Lord because of their disobedience and wickedness.  Tamar decided that she was going to have a son from Judah anyway, and if he wouldn’t give her his youngest son, she’d disguise herself as a prostitute and seduce Judah himself. We read in verse 13, “And it was told Tamar, saying, ‘Look, your father-in-law is going up to Timnah to shear his sheep.’ So she took off her widows garments, and covered herself with a veil (she put on a veil) and wrapped herself, and sat in an open place.” After this was all done, “She arose and went away and laid aside her veil, and put on the garments of her widowhood” (verse 19).  


            In the Book of Ruth, a beautiful romantic story is told of the Moabitess Ruth, who has come to Israel with her mother-in-law Naomi, after Ruth’s husband had died in the land of Moab.  One day, to support themselves, Ruth goes glean wheat from the fields of Boaz.  Boaz had shown her great grace and favor and told her to glean only in his fields and told his workers to leave plenty of grain for her to pick up in her gleaning. So Ruth reported here astounding success and good fortune to Naomi, who was surprised at the amount of wheat that Ruth brought back from the fields.


Naomi said, “My daughter, shall I not seek security for you, that it may be well with you? Now Boaz, whose young women you were with, is he not our relative?  In fact, he is winnowing barley tonight at the threshing floor. Therefore wash yourself and anoint yourself, put on your best garment and go down to the threshing floor; but do not make yourself known to the man until he has finished eating and drinking.  Then it shall be, when he lies down, that you shall notice the place where he lies; and you shall go in, uncover his feet, and lie down; and he will tell you what you should do” (Ruth 3:1-4).


Ruth went and lay down at Boaz feet and uncovered his feet. Boaz awoke with a start in the middle of the night and said, “Who are you?” (Ruth 3:9).  She replied, “I am Ruth, your maid servant.  Take your maid servant under your wing, for you are a close relative.”  


Boaz replied, “Blessed are you of the Lord, my daughter! For you have shown more kindness at the end than at the beginning, [he was very elderly at this time] in that you did not go after young men, whether poor or rich.  And now, my daughter, do not fear.  I will do for you all that you request” (verses 10-11).


In the morning, Boaz said to her, “Bring the shawl [“veil,” in the King James Version] that is on you and hold it.” And when she held it out, he measured six measures of barley and gave it to her.  Here again, the women of the Bible times wore a veil! 


Not Open for Debate


Paul concluded the section on haircoverings, saying, “But if anyone seems to be contentious, we have no such custom, nor do the churches of God” (I Cor.11:16).  In other words, this matter he said is not open to debate or argument.  The rule is, women are to wear headcoverings.  That was the Biblical custom.


This epistle was written to all of those who are sanctified in Christ and called to be saints. So these scriptures apply to the whole church. What Paul is saying in I Corinthians 11:16, is that if one is inclined to be contentious, we, the apostles, have no other practice, nor have the churches of God. In other words, it was a universal custom in all of the congregations and not even open to dispute. If someone wanted to be contentious, Paul said, arguing about it was not allowed. This was the practice. This was the custom. It was a non-negotiable custom that all believers in all places were expected to practice.


Why don’t other epistles mention the wearing of headcoverings for women?


Head coverings are not mentioned in other epistles simply because correction was not needed in other places, in other congregations. Apparently, it was only the women in Corinth that refused to follow the apostle’s instructions about covering the head.  Corinth was a wide open society of those times.  Prostitution abounded.  Feminism was apparently rampant.


 Some believers today will admit that head coverings were worn not only in Corinth, but in all congregations when Paul wrote his epistle. But, they still argue that the reason had to do with time, not place.  They claim that wearing a veil was merely a first century custom, not applicable for us in today’s world.  Since modern society thinks nothing of bare headed women today, they reason, it is no longer important for women to wear veils, and we can disregard Paul’s instruction nowadays.  It was only a custom of that time.


Did Paul write just for the women at Corinth or for all the church? Did he write this only for that time or for all generations and all ages?


Women are given the hair covering or veil just as men are given the tallit.


So where then is the argument flawed?  The Bible plainly states that there are two reasons for the headcovering, and these reasons cover women of all centuries and times. First, the veil demonstrates the divine order of authority and submission that God decreed.  The head of every man is Christ, the head of every woman is the man, the head of Christ is God. The man is the head of the woman and she is to wear a head covering out of respect to this chain of authority, respect for her husband.


            The other reason is given in verse 10, “For this cause ought the woman to have power, or authority, on her head because of the angels.”


“The Angels”


“Because of the angels.”  What do angels have to do with whether a woman wears a veil or headcovering?


The righteous angels want to see women wearing veils because they are assigned the job to protect God’s people on the earth.  One of the signs of a woman of God is her veil, which she wears in keeping the commandments of God.  When the righteous angels see the veil, the hair covering on a woman, they will recognize that she is one of God’s children, fulfilling her rightful place, in submission to God and her husband.  It’s a sign for the righteous angels to see. It’s a sign given to the righteous angels that these are the people who they have been assigned to protect and look after.


On the other hand, what about the fallen angels?  The rebellious angels, the demons, will also see a woman wearing the head covering, the veil, and they will recognize that she is under the power and authority of God and under His divine protection.  They will know she is protected by God’s righteous angels, His Spirit, and His power, and by her husband, and by Christ, and by God.  So they will leave her alone, and go seek out other women to tempt, molest, seduce, and deceive, as Satan deceived Eve in the garden!


Women, who don’t have this protection, this symbol of authority, are taking a terrible chance.  Such women are very prone to being deceived, caught like a bird in a trap.  When they are “out of their element,” any soft peddling salesman can come along and toy with their emotions, and deceive them with their small talk and seductive, soothing words.


            Daniel Bodkin visited a Christian church in India in 1988. He noticed that the Christian women in India all wore head coverings. He says, “I asked my Indian friend, Brother Mathew, if the women covered their heads because of what the Bible says or because of some, local Indian custom. Brother Mathew assured me that it had nothing at all to do with the Indian culture. He said, ‘When the apostle Thomas brought the gospel to India, in the first century, he taught that the woman’s hair should be covered.’ My friend explained that they have been doing it in the Christian Church in India ever since. Pastors in India never need to tell the woman to cover their heads. The women know that the Bible tells them it do it, so they do it.”


Western culture has not been as insulated as rural Indian culture. As a result, the women in Western cultures have not continued this Biblical practice as their Indian sisters have. In India the women are quite active in many areas of public ministry. During meetings women are free to openly pray, worship, praise, prophesy, testify, even to read a passage of scripture and give a brief comment on it. So they are not being suppressed. This custom goes back to the apostle Thomas who brought it from Christ.


            So, why is the hair covering to be worn?  For two major reasons:


1)      To demonstrate God’s order of authority.  (I Corinthians 11:2)


2) Because of the angels.  (I Corinthians 11:10)


When these two concepts are properly understood, wearing the head covering will not be viewed or looked at as some legalistic bondage, but as a doorway into glorious liberty, opening up a new threshold, a new horizon, a new expanse of truth, a new avenue of obedience.


It will be wonderful. Not negative, but positive, because it follows and obeys God’s law. Then God will pour out His blessings -- supernatural blessings  -- on those families and couples and marriages where the women wear the head covering, shawl, or veil when they pray or prophesy, speak or represent God in any way.


For a woman to wearing a veil, hat or headcovering should NOT be viewed as something to oppress women, but as something that gives women the freedom and liberty in Christ.  It provides them the right and privilege to rightfully move into their God given place of authority in the Body of Christ.


In God’s order of authority, God is Supreme, the Ruler of the Universe.  Under Him is Yeshua, the Messiah, who is submissive to the Father’s authority. Likewise, under Christ are men, and under men are women, and under them are the children.  That is the pattern God has laid out and established. 


The simple truth is, men and women have different roles in life. The woman is to be submissive to the man’s authority, so long as it is used according to God’s Word. God has decreed this arrangement and we dare not argue against it. To defy God’s decree is to defy God Himself.


The hair covering for women serves as a visible declaration, a symbol, a sign to all the universe that the woman is within and under God’s entire system of authority and that she is obedient to God’s laws.  It serves as a symbol of her authority in the spiritual realm. It’s similar to a policeman’s badge. In I Corinthians 11:10, in the King James Version, the head covering is referred to as “power on her head.”  The margin of my Bible says, “i.e., covering in sign that she is under the power of her husband.”  The Greek word for “power” here is rendered “authority” in the New King James Version.  It is the word exousia, which means “ability, force, competency, capacity, freedom, mastery, token of control, delegated influence, liberty, strength, right, authority, jurisdiction” (see #1849, in Strong’s Concordance).   That’s what the hair covering, or the veil, is.   Notice that the veil is a “token of control,” and represents “power, strength, authority.”


In other words, the woman’s veil is a powerful SYMBOL of her femininity and womanhood.  Even as a man’s prayer shawl with its fringes is a SYMBOL of His obedience to God, so a woman’s veil is a symbol as well of HER obedience and submission to God, being “covered” by His authority, His rulership, His power and protection. 


Maybe one reason the end-time Church of God hasn’t seen the miracles it saw in the first century is because in our generation few men – even Christians – wear tallits, or prayer shawls, and few women wear veils or godly headcoverings!  Have we missed this vital truth – this hidden KEY to spiritual influence and power with God?


If we obey God’s laws, won’t He respond with blessings, miracles, and wonders, as He did in ancient times?  The failure is not in God, but in ourselves, that we have “missed the boat,” in our modern vanity, self-esteem, and waywardness. 


            The women of God’s Church today should wear veils or headcoverings, as a badge of God given authority. It would truly become a token of control, a means of exercising power, in her life, and in the spiritual realm, as the woman of God becomes a woman of spiritual POWER, valor, grace, and virtue -- as she joyfully moves forward in her life, praying and speaking and working with power and authority.


If we begin to obey God in ALL these things, then perhaps, once again God will respond by pouring out His Spirit without measure, and the world will see a spiritual witness such as it has never seen before!  Perhaps once again the church will be blessed with prophets and prophetesses, as it was in the first century!


God will pour out His Spirit upon His people as they OBEY Him in all things. 


What about you? 


Will you?


            God wants us to learn these lessons brethren, and learn that there is power in the veil and the hair covering and in obeying God’s customs. If we really want to grow in spiritual power and exercise God’s authority in our lives and in our marriages, then let’s get back to the customs and faith once delivered to the saints.  As Jude wrote, “Beloved, while I was very diligent to write to you concerning our common salvation, I found it necessary to write to you exhorting you to CONTEND EARNESTLY for the faith [body of beliefs, practices and doctrines of the early church] which was once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 3).


            The Amplified Bible has this verse, “Beloved, my whole concern was to write to you in regard to our common salvation.  [But] I found it necessary and was impelled to write to you and urgently appeal to and exhort [you] to CONTEND for the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints – the faith [which is that sum of Christian belief] which was delivered verbally to the holy people of God.”


            It’s time we get back to the original pure faith and practice of the apostles, the prophets and saints of old.  As Paul wrote, “And do not be conformed to this world, but be TRANSFORMED by the renewing of your mind, that you may PROVE what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God” (Romans 12:2).


            These things may not seem very important to men and women around us.  But  what is unimportant to men and women is often VERY important in the eyes of God!


            Jesus Christ declared, “For assuredly I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot [Greek iota, Hebrew yod, the smallest letter] or one tittle [the smallest stroke in a Hebrew letter] will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled.  Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, shall be called GREAT in the kingdom of heaven” (Matt.5:18-19, NKJV).


            Is this important enough to you, for you to change your approach toward your life, your position in life, and your conduct before the Throne of God? 


            May a word to the wise be sufficient!