1 Corinthians 11:13
Judge in yourselves: is it comely that a woman pray unto God uncovered?
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(13) Judge in yourselves.—In this and the two following verses the Apostle reasons with them—appeals to their own common sense, and to the indications of Nature, as to the evident truth of what he has taught them on this question. Surely you would not think it seemly for a woman (setting aside the question of men and angels altogether) to speak face to face with God in prayer?

1 Corinthians 11:13-16. Judge in yourselves — For what need of more arguments in so plain a case? Is it comely — Decent, suitable to female modesty; that a woman pray unto God — The Most High, with that bold and undaunted air which she must have if, contrary to universal custom, she appears in public with her head uncovered? Doth not even nature — The light of nature, or natural reason; teach you — Previous to any arguments on the subject; that if a man have long hair — Carefully adjusted, it is a mark of such effeminacy as is a disgrace to him? But if a woman have long hair, it is a glory — An ornament; to her — Which does not incommode her, being suitable to her domestic state: for her hair was given her — Originally, and before the arts of dress were invented or needed; for Αντι, instead of; a covering — Or veil. “What a value the eastern ladies put on their hair may be known from this, that when Ptolemy Euergetes, king of Egypt, was about to march against Seleucus Callinicus, his queen, Berenice, who loved him tenderly, vowed, as the most precious sacrifice she could offer, to cut off and consecrate her hair, if he returned in safety.” But if any man seem to be contentious — And will dispute this matter, on his own different views of what is naturally decent, I shall not controvert it further, but content myself with saying, that we have here no such custom — For women to appear with their heads uncovered; neither the churches of God — In any other place, whether planted by me or any of my brethren. The several churches that were in the apostles’ time, had different customs in things that were not essential; and that under one and the same apostle, as circumstances in different places made it convenient. And in all things merely indifferent the custom of each place was of sufficient weight to determine prudent and peaceable men. Yet even this cannot overrule a scrupulous conscience, which really doubts whether the thing be indifferent or not. But those who are referred to here by the apostle were contentious, not conscientious persons.

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.Judge in yourselves - Or, "Judge among yourselves." I appeal to you. I appeal to your natural sense of what is proper and right. Paul had used various arguments to show them the impropriety of their females speaking unveiled in public. He now appeals to their natural sense of what was decent and right, according to established and acknowledged customs and habits.

Is it comely ... - Is it decent, or becoming? The Grecian women, except their priestesses, were accustomed to appear in public with a veil - Doddridge. Paul alludes to that established and proper habit, and asks whether it does not accord with their own views of propriety that women in Christian assemblies should also wear the same symbol of modesty.

13. Appeal to their own sense of decorum.

a woman … unto God—By rejecting the emblem of subjection (the head-covering), she passes at one leap in praying publicly beyond both the man and angels [Bengel].

No man is truly and thoroughly convinced of an error, till he be convicted by his own conscience. It is therefore very usual in holy writ for God, by his sacred penmen, to make appeals unto men’s own consciences, and put them to judge within themselves, to examine a thing by their own reason, and according to the dictates of that to give sentence for or against themselves. The thing as to which he would have them judge within themselves, and accordingly pronounce sentence, was, whether it were a decent thing for women to pray to God with their hair all hanging loose about their shoulders, or without any veil, or covering for their head and face.

Judge in yourselves,.... The apostle having gone through a variety of reasoning and arguments, showing the superiority of the man to the woman, by which he would prove, that the one should be covered, and the other uncovered, returns to his subject again, and appeals to the common sense and understanding of the Corinthians, and makes them themselves judges of the matter; suggesting that the thing was so clear, and he so certain of what he had advanced being right, that he leaves it with them, not doubting but that they would, upon a little reflection within themselves, join with him in this point:

is it comely that a woman pray unto God uncovered? in you judgment you can never think so, however pleasing and gratifying such a sight may be, to the lust of the flesh, and to the lust of the eye; he does not mention prophesying, only instances in praying; but it is to be understood of one, as of another; and his meaning is, that it is an uncomely thing in a woman to appear in public service with her head uncovered, whether it be in joining in the public prayers, or in singing of psalms, or in hearing the word expounded; and though the apostle does not put the case of the man's praying to God, or prophesying in his name with his head covered, yet his sense is the same of that, as of the woman's.

{12} Judge in yourselves: is it comely that a woman pray unto God uncovered?

(12) He urges the argument taken from the common sense of nature.

1 Corinthians 11:13-15. By way of appendix to the discussion, the apostle refers his readers—as regards especially the praying of the women, which had given rise to debate—to the voice of nature herself. He asks them: Is it seemly,—judge within yourselves concerning it,—is it seemly that a woman should offer up prayers uncovered? Does not nature herself even (οὐδέ) teach you the opposite?

ἐν ὑμῖν αὐτοῖς] without any influence from without; comp 1 Corinthians 10:15.

Τῷ ΘΕῷ] superfluous in itself, but added for the sake of emphasis, in order to impress upon them the more deeply the unseemliness of the uncovered state in which the woman comes forward to deal with the Most High in prayer.

Regarding the different constructions with πρέπον ἐστι, see Buttmann, neut. Gr. p. 239 [E. T. 278].

The φύσις is the natural relation of the judgment and feeling to the matter in question,—the native, inborn sense and perception of what is seemly. This instinctive consciousness of propriety had been, as respected the point in hand, established by custom and had become φύσις. Comp Chrysostom. The manifold discussions, to little purpose, by the old commentators regarding the meaning of ΦΎΣΙς, may be seen in Poole’s Synopsis, and in Wolf. It is here, as often in Greek writers (comp also Romans 2:14), the contrast to education, law, art, and the like. It cannot in this passage mean, as Hofmann would have it, the arrangement of things in conformity with their creation—that is to say, the arrangement of nature in the objective sense (so, frequently in the classics), for the assertion that this teaches all that is expressed by the ὅτι ἀνὴρ Κ.Τ.Λ[1797] would go much too far and be unwarranted. Were we, again, to assume that ὅτι does not depend at all on διδάσκει, but gives the ground for the question, so that διδάσκει would require its contents to be supplied out of the first half of the verse, how awkwardly would Paul have expressed himself, and how liable must he have been to misapprehension, in putting ὅτι instead of conveying his meaning with clearness and precision by γάρ! And even apart from this objection as to the form of expression, we cannot surely suppose that the apostle would find in a fact of aesthetic custom (1 Corinthians 11:14-15)—that is to say, a something in its own nature accidental, and subsisting as an actual fact only for the man accustomed to it—the confirmation of what the order of things in conformity with their creation teaches.

αὐτή] independently of all other instruction.

Upon the matter itself (κόμην δὲ ἔχειν καὶ εὔκομον εἶναι γυναικώτερόν ἐστι, Eustath. a[1798] Il. iii. p. 288), see Perizonius, a[1799] Ael. V. H. ix. 4; Wetstein in loc[1800] In ancient times, among the Hellenes, the luxuriant, carefully-tended hair of the head was the mark of a free man (see generally, Hermann, Privatalterth. § xxiii. 13 ff.). Comp also 2 Samuel 14:25 f. In the church, both by councils and popes, the κομοτροφεῖν was repeatedly and strictly forbidden to the clergy.[1802] See Decretal. lib. iii. tit. i. cap. 4. 5. 7.

ὅτι ἡ κόμη ἀντὶ περιβ. δέδ.] Ground for long hair being an ornament to a woman: because it is given to her instead of a veil, to take its place, to be, as it were, a natural veil. This again implies that to wear a veil, as in the case in hand, is a decorous thing. For if the κόμη is an honour for a woman because it is given to her in place of a veil, then the veil itself too must be an honour to her, and to lay it aside in prayer a disgrace. “Naturae debet respondere voluntas,” Bengel. Περιβόλαιον, something thrown round one, a covering in general (see the Lexicons, and Schleusner, Thes. IV. p. 289), has here a special reference to the veil (καλύπτρα, κάλυμμα) spoken of in the context.

[1797] .τ.λ. καὶ τὰ λοιπά.

[1798] d refers to the note of the commentator or editor named on the particular passage.

[1799] d refers to the note of the commentator or editor named on the particular passage.

[1800] n loc. refers to the note of the commentator or editor named on the particular passage.

[1802] If we are to look upon the tonsure, however, as a symbol of the spiritual life in contradistinction to the vanities of this world (see Walter, Kirchenr. § 212), then this by no means corresponds to the view held by the apostle in our text. Long hair on the head is a disgrace to a man in his eyes; because he regards it as a sign of human subjection.

1 Corinthians 11:13. There is a constitutional feeling which supports the above inference in favour of the woman’s veil; it was implied already in the καταισχύνει and αἰσχρὸν of 1 Corinthians 11:5 f., and is now explicitly stated: “Amongst yourselves (inter rather than intra vos ipsos) judge ye; is it seemly for a woman unveiled to be engaged in prayer (pr[1651] inf[1652]) to God?”—an appeal to social sentiment (cf. Romans 2:15, μεταξὺ ἀλλήλων), recalling the κρίνατε ὑμεῖς of 1 Corinthians 10:15. πρέπον (neut. ptp[1653]: see parls.), as distinguished from ὀφείλω or δεῖ (1 Corinthians 11:7; 1 Corinthians 11:19), denotes befittingness, suitability to nature or character. τῷ Θεῷ lends solemnity to προσεύχεσθαι.

[1651] present tense.

[1652] infinitive mood.

[1653] participle

13–15. Judge in yourselves …] Return to the argument in 1 Corinthians 11:10. An appeal is now made to our natural feeling of what is proper and becoming. Man, as his sphere is the world, and as he is the highest of God’s creatures in it, needs no covering to hide him from the gaze of others. Woman, as being, whether married or unmarried, under the dominion of man, receives of God’s providence the covering of her long hair, whereby she may veil herself from the gaze of those who are not her natural protectors.

is it comely] Decet, Vulgate. Bisemeth it? Wiclif. Our version follows Tyndale here, and is equivalent in our modern language to Is it proper? Is it becoming? “It is impossible,” remarks Robertson, “to decide how much of our public morality and private purity is owing to the spirit which refuses to overstep the smallest bound of ordinary decorum.” And again, “Whatever contradicts feelings which are universally received,” that is “in questions of morality, propriety, and decency,” “is questionable to say the least.”

uncovered] Not hilid (veiled) on the heed, Wiclif. Bare hedded, Tyndale.

1 Corinthians 11:13. Ἐν ὑμῖν αὐτοῖς, in yourselves) without a long explanation.—ἔστι, is it?) a direct interrogation, as 1 Corinthians 6:5.—γυναῖκατῷ Θεῷ, a woman—to God) Paul describes the leap, which the woman uncovered takes, passing beyond both the man and angels. An excellent hypotyposis,[93] though short.

[93] A vivid picture in words of some action. Appendix.

Verse 13. - Is it comely, etc.? An appeal to the decision of their instinctive sense of propriety. 1 Corinthians 11:13
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