The Hierarchy
1 Corinthians 11:3
But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God.

Before entering upon particular counsels with regard to the attire of the two sexes respectively in the Christian assemblies, St. Paul lays down a great general principle, from which, rather than from custom or from experience, he deduces the special duties devolving upon the members of Christ's Church. The case upon which he was consulted, and upon which he gave his advice, has lost all practical interest, and is to us merely an antiquarian curiosity; but the great principle propounded in connection with it holds good for all time.

I. THE APPOINTED SUBORDINATION OF WOMAN TO MAN. There is a sense in which there is equality between the sexes. In Christ Jesus there is neither male nor female. The gospel is intended for and is offered to both men and women. Both are equally dear to him who died for all. As in Jesus' earthly ministry he wrought cures and expelled demons for the relief of women, and as he chose certain women as his personal friends, and as he willingly accepted the affectionate and generous ministration of other women; so in the dispensation of the Spirit he numbers women amongst his people, and honours them by promoting them to his service. There is, so to speak, spiritual equality. But domestic and social equality is quite another thing. In the household and in the congregation there must be subjection and submission. "Order is Heaven's first law." "The head of the woman is the man." And this notwithstanding that many men are base and unworthy of their position and calling; notwithstanding that many women are not only pure, but noble and well fitted for command.


1. Man is not supreme, though invested with a limited authority. "The head of every man is Christ." He, the Son of man, has the primacy over this humanity. In wisdom and in righteousness, in power and in grace, the Lord Jesus is superior and supreme. The law is revealed in him and administered by him. Every man is morally bound to subjection and submission to the Divine Man. And he is Head over all things to his Church. This is the truth, the ideal, the purpose of eternal wisdom; though, alas! often misunderstood, or forgotten, or denied by men.

2. Even in the Godhead there is an official subordination of the Son to the Father; "the head of Christ is God." This language takes us into the region of heavenly things, of Divine mysteries. But it reveals to us the fact that the universe is one great hierarchy, of which not every member is mentioned here, only certain leading dominant notes being successively sounded in the celestial scale. Men may suppose that order and subordination in human society, civil and ecclesiastical, are merely expedients for peace and quietness. But it is not so; there is Divine archetype to which human relationships and affairs conform. Let there be nonconformity to this, and there is discord breaking in upon the harmonious minstrelsy of the spiritual universe. Let there be conformity, and the sweet concert proves that earth is in tune with heaven. - T.

Parallel Verses
KJV: But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God.

WEB: But I would have you know that the head of every man is Christ, and the head of the woman is the man, and the head of Christ is God.

The Headship of Christ
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