1 Corinthians 11:10
Verse (Click for Chapter)
New International Version
It is for this reason that a woman ought to have authority over her own head, because of the angels.

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

English Standard Version
That is why a wife ought to have a symbol of authority on her head, because of the angels.

Berean Study Bible
For this reason a woman ought to have a sign of authority on her head, because of the angels.

Berean Literal Bible
Because of this, the woman ought to have authority on the head, on account of the angels.

New American Standard Bible
Therefore the woman ought to have a symbol of authority on her head, because of the angels.

King James Bible
For this cause ought the woman to have power on her head because of the angels.

Christian Standard Bible
This is why a woman should have a symbol of authority on her head, because of the angels.

Contemporary English Version
And so, because of this, and also because of the angels, a woman ought to wear something on her head, as a sign of her authority.

Good News Translation
On account of the angels, then, a woman should have a covering over her head to show that she is under her husband's authority.

Holman Christian Standard Bible
This is why a woman should have a symbol of authority on her head, because of the angels.

International Standard Version
This is why a woman should have authority over her own head: because of the angels.

NET Bible
For this reason a woman should have a symbol of authority on her head, because of the angels.

New Heart English Bible
For this cause the woman ought to have authority on her head, because of the messengers.

Aramaic Bible in Plain English
Because of this, a woman is obligated to have authority over her head, for the sake of the Angels.

GOD'S WORD® Translation
Therefore, a woman should wear something on her head to show she is under [someone's] authority, out of respect for the angels.

New American Standard 1977
Therefore the woman ought to have a symbol of authority on her head, because of the angels.

Jubilee Bible 2000
For this cause the woman ought to have authority over her head: because of the angels.

King James 2000 Bible
For this cause ought the woman to have authority on her head because of the angels.

American King James Version
For this cause ought the woman to have power on her head because of the angels.

American Standard Version
for this cause ought the woman to have a sign of authority on her head, because of the angels.

Douay-Rheims Bible
Therefore ought the woman to have a power over her head, because of the angels.

Darby Bible Translation
Therefore ought the woman to have authority on her head, on account of the angels.

English Revised Version
for this cause ought the woman to have a sign of authority on her head, because of the angels.

Webster's Bible Translation
For this cause ought the woman to have power on her head, because of the angels.

Weymouth New Testament
That is why a woman ought to have on her head a symbol of subjection, because of the angels.

World English Bible
For this cause the woman ought to have authority on her head, because of the angels.

Young's Literal Translation
because of this the woman ought to have a token of authority upon the head, because of the messengers;
Study Bible
Roles in Worship
9Neither was man created for woman, but woman for man. 10For this reason a woman ought to have a sign of authority on her head, because of the angels. 11In the Lord, however, woman is not independent of man, nor is man independent of woman.…
Cross References
1 Corinthians 11:9
Neither was man created for woman, but woman for man.

1 Corinthians 11:11
In the Lord, however, woman is not independent of man, nor is man independent of woman.
Treasury of Scripture

For this cause ought the woman to have power on her head because of the angels.

power. That is, a covering in sign that she is under the power of her husband. [Exousia,] appears here to be used for the sign or token of being under power or authority, that is, a veil, as Theophylact, (Ecumenius, and Photius) explain; and so one MS. of the Vulgate, the Sixtine edition, and some copies of the Itala, have velamen.

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(10) For this cause ought the woman to have power on her head.--The two clauses which compose this verse are, perhaps, the two most difficult passages in the New Testament, and, accordingly, have given rise to an almost endless variety of interpretation. What is meant, first, by the woman having "power on her head?"

1. There have been many--some of them most fanciful--suggestions that the word for power (exousia) may have crept in instead of some other word by the mistake of some copyist; or that the word used by St. Paul may have been exiousa--"When she goes out in public;" or two words (ex ousias)--"in accordance with her nature." All explanations, however, which require an alteration in the Greek text of the passage must be set aside, for (1) there is no MS. evidence whatever to support any other reading than the ordinary one, exousian; and (2) any alteration of a difficult or unusual word would have been naturally into a word that would simplify the passage--whereas here, if alteration has taken place, it has been to insert a word which has increased the obscurity of a difficult passage.

2. It has been maintained that the word exousia here means the sign of power, i.e., a veil, which is the symbol of the husband's power over the wife. The fatal objection to this view, however, is that exousia expresses our own power, and not the power exercised by another over us. It is a word frequently used by St. Paul in this sense. (See 1Corinthians 8:9; 1Corinthians 9:4-5; 1Corinthians 9:12; 1Corinthians 9:18.) Whatever interpretation, therefore, we put upon this passage, it must be consistent with this word being interpreted as meaning some "power" which the woman herself has, and not some power exercised over her by her husband.

Most commentators have quoted a passage from Diodorus Sic. i. 47, in which the Greek word "kingdom" (basileia) is used to signify "crown," as an illustration of the use of the word indicating the thing symbolised for the symbol itself. The parallelism between that use of the word kingdom, and the use here of the word "power," has been very positively denied (Stanley and others), on the ground that the "use of the name of the thing signified for the symbol, though natural when the power spoken of belongs to the person, would be unnatural when applied to the power exercised over that person by some one else." But the parallelism will hold good if we can refer the "power" here to some symbol of a power which belongs to the woman herself.

If we bear in mind the Apostle's constant use of words with a double significance, or rather with both an obvious and a subtly implied meaning, and if we also recall the reference made to a woman's abundance of hair in 1Corinthians 11:5-6, and the further reference to a woman's long hair in 1Corinthians 11:14-15, where the hair of the woman, given her by nature, and the wearing of a veil are used as almost identical thoughts, we may, I think, conclude that the "power" here spoken of is that long hair which is called in 1Corinthians 11:15 her "glory." It is remarkable that Callistratus twice uses this word exousia in connection with hair to express its abundance. To the Jews the recollection of Samson's history would have given the word "power," when applied to hair, a remarkable significance. To thus turn aside abruptly in the middle of a long passage in which woman's subordination is enforced, and speak suddenly and vividly of her "power," would be eminently Pauline. In the Apostle's writings the thought of inferiority and superiority, of ruler and server, are frequently and almost paradoxically regarded and enforced as identical. To serve because you rule; to be weak because you are in another sense strong, are thoughts strikingly combined again and again in the Epistles of St. Paul. Thus I would imagine him here to suddenly turn aside and say, I have been speaking of your bondage and subordination, you are, because of this, to have a covering (a veil or long hair) on your head as a sign, and yet that very thing which is the symbol of your subjection to man is the sign of your beauty and "power" as a woman.

Because of the angels.--Why should a woman have her head covered (either with her natural veil of hair, or with an artificial veil shrouding her face) because of the angels? The same objections which have been already stated to any alteration of the usual Greek text of the earlier clause of this verse apply equally here. The MS. evidence is unanimous in favour of the word "angels," nor can we accept any of the figurative meanings attached to the word angel as "the president" (see Revelation 2:1), or "messenger," sent by enemies to see what took place contrary to general custom in those assemblies. We must take the word "angel" in its ordinary and general sense.

That the angels were present in assemblies for worship was an idea prevalent among the Jews (Psalm 138:1, in the LXX.), and regarded as they were by the Christian as "ministering spirits" (Hebrews 1:14), no doubt their presence would be realised in the meetings of Christians.

We have already seen that the Apostle in his argument upon the relation of the sexes to each other (1Corinthians 11:7-9), refers to the first three chapters of Genesis as illustrating and enforcing that relationship. What more natural than that his thoughts should have gone on to 1 Corinthians 6 of the same book, where is the record of the angels (in the LXX. the word translated "sons of God" is "the angels"--angeloi) having been enamoured by the beauty of women, and so having fallen from their high estate. This account of "the fall of the angels" is referred to more than once elsewhere in the New Testament (see Jude 1Corinthians 11:1; 2Peter 2:4), and through Rabbinical interpretations would have been familiar to St. Paul's converts. Without at all necessarily expressing his belief in the historic accuracy of this legendary view of the fall of the angels, St. Paul might use it as an argument with those who did believe it (as in the case of the Rock. see 1Corinthians 10:4, and Note there). You believe--would be St. Paul's appeal to these women--that once, through seeing the beauty of the daughters of men, the holy angels themselves fell--even that thought ought to make you feel that it is not seemly for you to be without a veil (of which your "power on your head," i.e., your hair, is the type) in those assemblies where the angels are present as God's ministering spirits.

It has been urged (by Meyer and others) that the word "angels," in the New Testament, always signifies good angels, and it is in that sense I would regard it here, for the thought surely is, that they are good angels, and should not, therefore, be tempted. I presume the idea was also that the fallen angels were "good" before their fall.

Verse 10. - To have power on her head. A great deal of irrelevant guesswork has been written on this verse. Under this head must be classed the idle attempts to twist the word exousia, power, or authority, into some other reading - an attempt which may be set aside, because it is not sanctioned by a single manuscript. We may also dismiss the futile efforts to make exousia have any other primary meaning than "authority." The context shows that the word has here a secondary sense, and implies some kind of covering. The verse, therefore, points the same lessons as Genesis 24:64, 65. This much may be regarded as certain, and this view is adopted by the steadfast good sense of our English translators, both in the Authorized and Revised Versions. The only question worth asking is why the word exousia had come at Corinth, or in the Corinthian Church, to be used for "a veil," or "covering." The simplest answer is that just as the word "kingdom" in Greek may be used for "a crown" (comp. regno as the name of the pope's tiara), so "authority" may mean "a sign of authority" (Revised Version), or "a covering, in sign that she is under the power of her husband" (Authorized Version, margin). The margin of the Revised Version, "authority over her head," is a strange suggestion. Some have explained the word of her own true authority, which consists in accepting the rule of her husband; but it probably moans a sign of her husband's authority over her. Similarly the traveller Chardin says that in Persia the women wear a veil, in sign that they are "under subjection." If so, the best comment on the word may be found in the exquisite lines of Milton, which illustrate the passage in other ways also -

"She, as a vei1, down to the slender waist
Her unadorned golden tresses wore...
As the vine curves her tendrils, which implied
Subjection, but required with gentle sway,
And by her yielded, by him best received."
The fact that Callistratus twice uses exousia of "abundance of hair" is probably a mere coincidence, resembling the Irish expression "a power of hair." Nor can there be any allusion to the isolated fact that Samson's strength lay in his hair. The very brief comment of Luther sums up all the best of the many pages which have been written on the subject. He says that exousia means "the veil or covering, by which one may see that she is under her husband's authority" (Genesis 3:16). Because of the angels. In this clause also we must set aside, as idle waste of time, the attempts to alter the text, or to twist the plain words into impossible meanings. The word "angels" cannot mean "Church officials," or "holy men," or "prophets," or "delegates," or "'bridegroom's men," or anything but angels. Nor can the verse mean, as Bengel supposes, that women are to veil themselves because the angels do so (Isaiah 6:2), or (as Augustine says) because the angels approve of it. The only question is whether the allusion is to good or bad angels. In favour of the latter view is

the universal tradition among the Jews that the angels fell by lust for mortal women, which was the Jewish way of interpreting Genesis 6:1, 2. This is the view of Tertullian ('De Virg. Vel.,' 7) in writing on this subject. A woman, in the opinion and traditions of Oriental Jews, is liable to injury from the shedim, if she appears in public unveiled; and these evil spirits are supposed to delight in the appearance of unveiled women. The objection to this view, that angeloi alone is never used of evil but always of good angels, is not perhaps decisive (see 1 Corinthians 6:3). The verse may, however, mean (in accordance with the Jewish belief of those days) that good angels, being under the possibility of falling from the same cause as their evil brethren, fly away at once from the presence of unveiled women. Thus Khadijah tested that the visitant of her husband Mohammed really was the angel Gabriel, because he disappeared the moment she unveiled her head. On the whole, however, the meaning seems to be, out of respect and reverence for the holy angels, who are always invisibly present in the Christian assemblies. (On this point, see Luke 15:10; Ephesians 3:10; Hebrews 1:14; Hebrews 12:1; Ecclesiastes 5:6; Psalm 138:1 [LXX.]; Tobit 12:12. See Latimer's 'Sermons,' p. 253). "Reverence the angels" is St. Chrysostom's remark. For this cause ought the woman to have power on her head,.... The generality of interpreters, by power, understand the veil, or covering on the woman's head, as a sign of the man's power over her, and her subjection to him; which Dr. Hammond endeavours to confirm, by observing that the Hebrew word which signifies a woman's veil, or hood, comes from a root which signifies power and dominion; but in that he is mistaken, for the word is derived not from to rule, govern, or exercise power and authority, but from to expand, stretch out, or draw over, as a woman's veil is drawn over her head and face. The Greek word more properly signifies the power she had of putting on and off her covering as she pleased, according as times, places, and persons; made it necessary:

because of the angels; various are the senses given of these words, some taking them in a proper, others in a figurative sense: some in a proper sense of angels, and these either good or bad. Tertullian (e) 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: but 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; they often speak (f) of an angel, "that is appointed over prayers"; hence (g) Tertullian seems to have took his notion of an angel of prayer: and of angels being present at expounding of the Scriptures, take the following story (h);

"it happened to Rabban Jochanan ben Zaccai, that he was riding upon an ass, and as he was journeying, R. Eleazar ben Arach was leading an ass after him; he said to him, Rabbi, teach me one chapter in the work of Mercavah (Ezekiel's vision); he replied to him, not so have I taught you, nor in the Mercavah a single man, unless he was a wise man by his own industry; he answered him, Rabbi, give me leave to say one thing before thee, which thou hast taught me; immediately Rabban Jochanan ben Zaccai alighted from his ass and "veiled himself", and sat upon a stone under an olive tree; he said to him, Rabbi, why dost thou alight off from the ass? he replied, is it possible that thou shouldst expound in the work of Mercavah, and the Shekinah be with us, , "and the ministering angels join us", and I ride upon an ass?''

And a little after,

"R. Joshua and R. Jose the priest were walking on the road, they said, yea, let us expound in the work of Mercavah; R. Joshua opened and expounded, and that day was the solstice of Tammuz, and the heavens were thickened with clouds, and there appeared the form of a bow in the cloud, "and the ministering angels gathered together", , "and came to hear": as the children of men gather together, and come to see the rejoicings of the bridegroom and bride.''

Moreover, this veiling of the woman in public worship because of angels, may be an imitation of the good angels, who when they sung the praises of God, and adored and glorified his perfections, covered their faces and their feet with their wings, Isaiah 6:1. 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 comeliness, are compared to angels; others good men in general, that attend religious worship; others ministers of the word, called angels often in the book of the Revelations; which last seems to be most agreeable of any of these senses; and the women were to cover their heads, that they might not offend either of these, or stir up any impure desires in them; see Ecclesiastes 5:6 but as these words follow the account given of the creation of the woman from the man, and for his sake; this may have no reference to her conduct in public worship, but to the power she had of using her covering, or taking it off, or putting it on, at the time of her espousals to a man; which was sometimes done by proxy, or messengers, whom the Jews call "angels" (i); their canon is,

"a man may espouse (a wife) by himself, "or by his angel", or messenger; and a woman may be espoused by herself, or by her angel, or messenger:''

wherefore because of these angels, or messengers, that came to espouse her to such, she had power over her head to take off her veil, and show herself, if she thought fit; or to keep it on, as expressing her modesty; or just as she pleased, when she by them was espoused to a man, for whose sake she was made; which sense, after Dr. Lightfoot, many learned men have given into, and seems probable.

(e) De Veland. Virg. c. 7. (f) Shemot Rabba, sect. 21. fol. 106. 2. Zohar. in Gen. fol. 97. 2.((g) De Oratione, c. 15. (h) T. Bab. Chagiga, fol. 14. 2.((i) Misn. Kiddushin, c. 2. sect. 1.10. power on her head—the kerchief: French couvre chef, head-covering, the emblem of "power on her head"; the sign of her being under man's power, and exercising delegated authority under him. Paul had before his mind the root-connection between the Hebrew terms for "veil" (radid), and "subjection" (radad).

because of the angels—who are present at our Christian assemblies (compare Ps 138:1, "gods," that is, angels), and delight in the orderly subordination of the several ranks of God's worshippers in their respective places, the outward demeanor and dress of the latter being indicative of that inward humility which angels know to be most pleasing to their common Lord (1Co 4:9; Eph 3:10; Ec 5:6). Hammond quotes Chrysostom, "Thou standest with angels; thou singest with them; thou hymnest with them; and yet dost thou stand laughing?" Bengel explains, "As the angels are in relation to God, so the woman is in relation to man. God's face is uncovered; angels in His presence are veiled (Isa 6:2). Man's face is uncovered; woman in His presence is to be veiled. For her not to be so, would, by its indecorousness, offend the angels (Mt 18:10, 31). She, by her weakness, especially needs their ministry; she ought, therefore, to be the more careful not to offend them."11:2-16 Here begin particulars respecting the public assemblies, ch. 1Co 14. In the abundance of spiritual gifts bestowed on the Corinthians, some abuses had crept in; but as Christ did the will, and sought the honour of God, so the Christian should avow his subjection to Christ, doing his will and seeking his glory. We should, even in our dress and habit, avoid every thing that may dishonour Christ. The woman was made subject to man, because made for his help and comfort. And she should do nothing, in Christian assemblies, which looked like a claim of being equal. She ought to have power, that is, a veil, on her head, because of the angels. Their presence should keep Christians from all that is wrong while in the worship of God. Nevertheless, the man and the woman were made for one another. They were to be mutual comforts and blessings, not one a slave, and the other a tyrant. God has so settled matters, both in the kingdom of providence and that of grace, that the authority and subjection of each party should be for mutual help and benefit. It was the common usage of the churches, for women to appear in public assemblies, and join in public worship, veiled; and it was right that they should do so. The Christian religion sanctions national customs wherever these are not against the great principles of truth and holiness; affected singularities receive no countenance from any thing in the Bible.
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