This is why a woman should have authority over her own head: because of the angels.1 Corinthians 11:10
The reason most translations don’t offer an interpretive comment on what “because of the angels” means is because a good translation will not add interpretive comment or theological viewpoints to the text of the Word of God. You don’t really want lots of comment from a particular theological viewpoint to “help” with understanding the Word of God. It is better and clearer when you know what the Bible says and what men say. Similar to Paul’s “this I say not the Lord” maybe we should have a “this men say, commentators say or preachers say not the Lord.” This is why most translations just offer you the stark “because of the angels” and don’t add any more interpretive comment.
Looking to the free or dynamic equivalence translations in this case didn’t help us as we saw yesterday. In cases like these they are your next step to take. But they didn’t really help either. In summary we had
- “out of respect for the angels” (GW),
- “because the angels are watching” (NLT) or
- “[that she may show reverence as do] the angels [and not displease them]” (AMP).
So what do you do in those cases? You have to turn to the commentaries provided free in E-Sword. There are few parts of the Bible that have caused such a variety of conjecture and explanations and are less understood, than this verse. Almost every critic or commentator has a different explanation. The reason is that Paul has only said “because of the angels”. He has not spelled out what the significance of the angels is nor how they connect to this matter of women and head coverings. Therefore essentially we must guess the reason he said this. Your best and most authoritative means of solving this is to go the original source – namely Paul. When you see him in heaven get in line to ask him what he meant. I will be in the line ahead of you and I have many questions for him. He will probably run weekend seminars.
Let’s see what the commentators have to say
Some suppose the apostle means the fallen angels, or devils; others, the governors of the Church; and others, those who were hired among the Jews to approach a virgin in the name of a lover. Others believes Paul uses the word “angels” in its most obvious sense, meaning the heavenly angels. The idea being that the holy angels interested themselves in the affairs of men, and particularly were present in the religious assemblies of mankind. All supposed that the angels observe and know what happens here on earth. The idea, whether right or not, prevailed among the Jews and so St. Paul is likely voicing the common opinion.
Some have explained this as good angels, who were supposed to be present in their assemblies; others think it refers to evil angels; and others to messengers or spies who, it has been supposed, were present in their public assemblies, and who would report greatly to the disadvantage of the Christian assemblies if the women were seen to be unveiled.
Various are the senses given of these words, some taking them in a proper (literal) , others in a figurative sense: some in a proper sense of angels, and these either good or bad.
Tertullian understands them of evil angels, and that a woman should cover her head in time of worship, lest they should lust after her; though much rather the reason should be, lest they should irritate and provoke lust in others. It is better to understand them of good angels, who attend the assemblies of the saints, and observe the air and behaviour of the worshippers; wherefore women should cover their heads with respect to them, and not give offence to those pure spirits, by an indecent appearance: it is agreeable to the notions of the Jews, that angels attend public prayers, and at the expounding of the word.
One commentator says I do not know what it means; and I regard it as one of the very few passages in the Bible whose meaning as yet is wholly inexplicable. The most natural interpretation seems to me to be this: “A woman in the public assemblies, and in speaking in the presence of people, should wear a veil – the usual symbol of modesty and subordination – because the angels of God are witnesses of your public worship and because they know and appreciate the propriety of subordination and order in public assemblies.” Thus they would report the activities of mankind.
Many understanding these words in a figurative sense, and in this also they are not agreed. Some by angels think young men are meant, who, for their gracefulness and humility are compared to angels. Others thought the sense was that women were to cover their heads, that they might not offend either of these worshippers or stir up any impure desires in them.
Does that help you? More to come tomorrow.
The more you read, the more things you’ll know. The more you learn, the more places you’ll go!Dr. Seuss
Heaven is full of answers to prayers for which no one ever bothered to ask.Billy Graham
So go ask Him.Ian Vail