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Bible Gem 413 - Fools and angels (1 Cor 11:10)

April 14, 2019


The saying “Fools rush in where angels fear to tread” was first used by Alexander Pope in his An essay on criticism, 1709. I thought of that saying as I contemplated this next Gem, working my way through 1 Cor  11 and 12; two chapters full of controversy. I wondered well Ian, are you a fool or an angel? I know I am not an angel therefore I must be the latter, a fool. I have wondered if doing these Gems is a wise thing to do. Especially when, with these next Gems we will getting into some controversial issues about which most of you will have some very strong, passionate feelings. I think you know that I will tell you things as I see them. I am not pushing a particular viewpoint or theological bias. I am merely opening up the biblical text to your understanding. I will try very hard to just simply tell you the textual issues or the meanings or range of interpretations. I will attempt to refrain from giving interpretive theological viewpoints unless I present all sides of views on an issue for you to decide for yourself. But I am sure I will likely step on all toes equally at some stage.  I am opening myself up to lots of reaction I am sure but I am willing to be thought a fool. 



You can let me know along the way your comments and your input. I am sure you will and I don’t need to invite it. I get some interesting comments from many of you as it is. If you don’t think I represented your viewpoint fairly on the controversial issues by all means tell me. 



Now for today’s verse: (ISV) This is why a woman should have authority over her own head: because of the angels. (1 Cor 11:10) 


What on earth does because of the angels” mean? [διὰ τοὺς ἀγγέλους]. A number of you have responded already and made comments like Ï hope you are going to tell us “about the angels”. Of course, you didn’t think I would miss that out did you? It is a puzzling part of the Bible. 


A quick look at the versions yields the following: 


(ASV (BBE)  (CEV)  (EMTV)  (ESV)  (GNB)  (GNT)  (KJV) (LITV)  (MKJV) (Murdock)  (NASB)  (RV)  (Webster)  all translate “because of the angels” which is the literal meaning of the Greek [διὰ τοὺς ἀγγέλους]. 


Young’s Literal Translation offers “because of the messengers”. But all of these translations have simply rendered the literal meaning and not tried to use a dynamic equivalence approach and offer us what the meaning of the phrase really is. 


The translations which have tried to give some interpretive lead are as follows:


(GW)  Therefore, a woman should wear something on her head to show she is under someone's authority, out of respect for the angels. 

(NLT)  For this reason, and because the angels are watching, a woman should wear a covering on her head to show she is under authority. 

The expansive Amplified Version offers:  Therefore she should [be subject to his authority and should] have a covering on her head [as a token, a symbol, of her submission to authority, that she may show reverence as do] the angels [and not displease them]. 

(MSG)  Don't, by the way, read too much into the differences here between men and women. 

Eugene Peterson chooses to bypass the matter of the angels altogether. 


The Point:

Neither man nor woman can go it alone or claim priority. Man was created first, as a beautiful shining reflection of God--that is true. But the head on a woman's body clearly outshines in beauty the head of her "head," her husband. The first woman came from man, true--but ever since then, every man comes from a woman! And since virtually everything comes from God anyway, let's quit going through these "who's first" routines. (1 Cor 11:11-12)


So where to from here on understanding the meaning of “because of the angels”?  Do some thinking about what you would do now. More tomorrow. 



Since God and the angels are always watching us, the least we can do is be entertaining. 


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