What is meant by the verse, "For this cause ought the woman to have power on her head because of the angels" (11:10)?
- It should be noted that if one of the reasons for wearing the head covering is "because of the angels", then this verse in itself indicates the seriousness with which this subject should be approached. How many sisters who come uncovered to ecclesial meetings have given thought to the angels as a reason for wearing a head covering?
- "Because of the angels" is a difficult phrase because there is no explanation given in the chapter as to what it means. The context, however, of the Genesis account of the creation of man and woman, suggests the following two interpretations:
- --- Angels are present as unseen witnesses in the assembly of the believers (cf. 1 Cor. 4:9; 1 Tim. 5:21; Heb. 1:14). The argument might be stated as follows: Let sisters who claim equal authority with the brethren remember that they are continually open to the gaze of God's angels who were instrumental in establishing woman's subordinate position at her creation. (5)
- ---- It was, in part, through Eve's desire to be like the angels "to know good and evil" that the Fall occurred (Gen. 3:5, 6). As a result of the Fall, God said to Eve, "he [thy husband] shall rule over thee" (Gen. 3:16). The head covering is a symbol of this fact. (6)
- What is meant by the expression "to have power on her head"? The word "power", Gk: "exousia," includes such meanings as "privilege, authority" ( Yg.). It has been variously translated and interpreted as follows:
- ---- R.S.V. --- "veil" with an interpretive footnote: "Greek authority (the veil being a symbol of this)".
- ---- R.V. --- "A sign of authority on her head (mg. 'or, have authority over')".
- ---- A.V. --- mg. "That is, a covering, in sign that she is under the power of her husband." (also interpretive).
The woman wears a head covering as a sign of her subordination to man. (7)
- The whole verse may be paraphrased as follows:
"For this cause ought the woman to wear a head covering because of her subordinate position as a helper fit for man, and because of her unlawful attempt to become like the angels 'to know good and evil'."
5. For example. "Let us make man in our image" (Gen. l: 26) was the work of the angels by divine appointment. Their appointment was to make man first (11:8) and to make woman from the man as a helper fit for him (11:9; Gen. 2:18).
6. Similarly, the Apostle Paul said, "I permit no woman to teach or to have authority over men; she is to keep silent. For Adam was formed first, then Eve; (1 Cor. 11:8, 9] and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived, --· literally, 'utterly deceived'] and became a transgressor" ( 1 Tim. 2:12-15, R.S.V.). In this passage and in 1 Cor. 11 Paul is reasoning for the subordinate position of women from the Genesis record.
7. The authority of man over woman is the idea symbolized by the head covering. It is for this reason that the verse reads, "to have power C authority · on her head." The word "authority" or "power'' is put in the place of the thing which symbolizes it -the head covering.