Man and Woman: The Divine Order
– J. N. Darby, J. G. Bellett, C. A. Coates,
J. Taylor, G. A. Rainbow
When I was a child, in a then unbelieving household, I recall hearing – source unknown – that 'Ladies wear hats when they go to church'.
- This was what remained in the public consciousness of the scriptural injunction that a woman should have her head covered when praying or prophesying..
Despite the different emphases noted in the sources quoted below, it is my hope that the relative position of man and woman in the divine order – especially stressed in later ministry by CAC and JT –
- will be of help to brothers and sisters who are exercised to fill out their proper place and position before God,
- and that – as subject to Christ – they will freely and happily regulate themselves in every sphere.
The Summation gives my personal understanding of Scripture and the points under consideration.
See some related comments on
Guests: My Stand 4: Wrong Attitude towards Women.
|J. N. DARBY|
Readings on 1 Corinthians,
Collected Writings, 26: 254-55
The notes seem disjointed. It is not known whether shorthand – only introduced in 1837 – or longhand was used, and it appears that only
or his answers to questions were recorded. GAR
Here we have another instance of how the greatest truths are brought into connection with commonplace subjects. Here it is a question whether a woman is to have a covering or not.
- The whole ordering of God is brought in to say whether a woman is to wear a cap on her head, verses 3-16.
- It was the custom there with women inspired by demons to have their hair flowing out wild, and this was not the order for women.
- Women did prophesy, for Philip had four daughters that did. The woman had her place for praying and prophesying, but not in the assembly.
- Men are to pray everywhere, lifting up holy hands.
- If a woman's husband were unconverted, it would not be right for her to pray with him if other men were there.
In nominal Christianity we have to take things as we find them.
- I have known a converted husband, when he went from home, tell his wife to pray with the household, including unconverted men; but I do not believe it was right.
- The woman's head was to be covered. The apostle shews by her hair that God had covered her, and her mind and will are put on the same ground.
- A woman ought to be covered at family prayers, or as one of Philip's daughters prophesying in her father's house.
- The man is the head of the woman, and she puts a covering on her physical head to shew that there is authority over her.
- The apostle takes the state of the head of the body as a sign of the condition of the man or woman in respect of their moral head.
- The woman's head – the man – is her head really, and she must cover her own head in sign of her subjection;
- and so she says in effect, I have no head myself; the man is my head, and I am in subjection.
- The man could not do that, or there would be no visible head.
- A woman's gift ought to be confined to women, or to her own family.
The apostle is not speaking of wearing the sign of subjection at all times, but I believe it would be very comely.
"For this cause ought the woman to have power on her head because of the angels", verse 10.
- She is therein a spectacle with all present to the angels, and angels ought not to see disorder among Christians.
- The whole subject is modesty, and order, and comeliness, and things in their right place.
- Therefore the woman ought to have power on her head because of the angels, that is, the sign of subjection to her husband. Angels should learn something in the church.
|J. G. BELLETT|
|Women Praying and Prophesying: Extract from letter of J.G. Bellett.
I have long thought that the expression "praying or prophesying" in 1 Corinthians 11 does not intimate that they are actually to be themselves teaching or praying, but that while women are in the Assembly, in the place, not in the act of praying or prophesying, they are to be covered.
- And my judgement is grounded on this, that the men, though they do not either pray or teach, yet being in the place of praying or teaching, are to be as much uncovered as those brethren or men who do pray and teach actually.
- How many men in our assemblies never actually do anything, and yet we should be as much offended by their being covered as if we saw the teaching, active brethren covered. So that it is the place and not the act of praying and prophesying that 1 Corinthians 11 contemplates.
|C. A. COATES|
|Letters of C. A. Coates, page 148, August 9, 1926
My dear Mrs. ——,
… I find that a good many have had the subject before them to which your letter refers, and I am glad to know how your thoughts have been formed as to it.
- One feels that it is an important exercise in view of the fact that it stands in relation to so great a principle in the moral universe as the truth of headship.
- This principle should always regulate us, but 1 Corinthians 11 teaches us that it is to do so in a formal manner even as to our outward appearance
- whenever we take our places definitely as in relation to God, either in speaking to Him or speaking for Him.
- So far as I see the "directions" given do not contemplate believers as engaged in household or business occupations but as "praying or prophesying".
- They seem to imply a definite engagement in those spiritual activities as distinct from the ordinary duties of life here.
- The believer may, surely, lift up his heart to God even amidst those duties, or may speak a word to others if occasion offers,
- but while engaged in "matters of this life" we are hardly viewed, it seems to me as "praying or prophesying".
- It is different when we go apart, or join with others, to pray, or when we go deinitely to speak to anyone on God's behalf.
The question as to what suffices to render woman "covered" in the sense of 1 Corinthians 11: 6 is an interesting one.
- It is a matter for the dear sisters to feel satisfied about.
- I must confess to some doubt whether a little bow – often of very small dimensions – really meets the case.
- Your own feeling that this "would not be sufficient when the saints are together in assembly", is to me very suggestive as a spiritual intuition.
- If not sufficient there, on what principle is it sufficient elsewhere?
- It seems to me that the thought is that it should be as obvious that a woman is covered as it is that the man's head is uncovered.
- It would seem to particularly apply to that part of the woman's head where her hair is already "glory to her", and even by nature, "in lieu of a veil".
- But I only submit this, in a suggestive way, for your consideration.
With much love in the Lord,
Yours affectionately in Him, C. A. Coates.
|2 - Letters of C. A. Coates, page 204, 1932
… I think there is a growing exercise amongst the dear sisters relative to the question of being covered in prayer, and one is thankful for this.
- The scripture in 1 Corinthians 11 is plain enough, and I think it applies to prayer at all times – that is, whenever the woman turns formally to God in prayer.
- One may pray as one goes about one's daily work, but this is hardly the same thing as kneeling down to address divine Persons in a formal way.
- I think whenever the latter is done it is just as comely for the woman to be covered as it is for the man to be uncovered.
C. A. C.
|3 - Letters of C. A. Coates, pages 312-13, September 21, 1942
My dear sister in the Lord, ——
… So far as I see, the instructions of Scripture as to the woman's attire are so worded as to give the prominent place to what is within, but they imply that
- there will be correspondence in the outward deportment and dress with what is within.
- This calls for sensitiveness of moral perception as to what will really accord with the testimony.
- It is not commendable to make haste to follow every fashion.
- We have, more or less, to fall in with what becomes general, but even sober people in the world do not hurry to pick up every new fashion or habit, much less should believers have any desire to do so.
- If the body were held simply as a vessel in which Christ is to be magnified it would have a very great influence on how we dress, and on all our behaviour.
We have precise instruction as to the woman having her head covered when she prays or prophesies.
- This marks her place in the great economy of headship, and she does well to cherish it as her own peculiar glory.
- I do not know that Scripture puts an obligation on her to have her head covered whenever she appears, as one might say, in a public way.
- But I think a Christian woman who had the truth of headship in her heart would feel it to be happier to be covered rather than uncovered when she walks abroad before the world,
- not regarding this as a matter of requirement, but as expressive of a delicate sense of suitability.
- The Lord would value such an exercise of heart as linked with one of the greatest principles of the moral universe.
- This just comes back to what I began with, that the important thing is what is within, and that the outward should take character from it.
I do not speak of this from any personal observation, for I do not think I have seen any instance of sisters walking about uncovered.
- Of course, going a few yards, say, from one house to another, is hardly I suppose what you have in mind …
With much love in the Lord,
Yours affectionately in Him, C. A. Coates.
|4 - 'Outline of First Corinthians',
Readings at Teignmouth, 1943
Ministry by C. A. Coates, 25: 33-38
C.A.C. We need instruction and chapter 11 is very important for us, as bringing before us the order that is suitable to God.
- They evidently had not understood before that Christ is the Head of every man.
- Elsewhere he says, "Know ye not …", but here he says, "I wish you to know …", showing that they did not know.
- And does it not lie at the very root of assembly order? "Christ is the head of every man". That does not include women.
- The whole point of the early part of chapter 11 is the difference between the man and the woman, and this is to be publicly recognised.
- It is a matter of public order in the assembly, and, of course, privately too.
Rem. There are three heads in this chapter, Christ and man and God.
C.A.C. It is sometimes thought that this chapter bears particularly on the woman, but I think it bears very much on man.
- He begins, "I wish you to know that the Christ is the head of every man".
- It is for every man to take note of, particularly men who are in the assembly of God.
Ques. Is it always true?
C.A.C. The difference between the man and the woman is always true, and the relative position between the man and the woman is always true;
- it has to be recognised especially where praying and prophesing are in question.
Ques. How would a woman prophesy?
C.A.C. This scripture clearly suppose that she will. There are prophetesses in Scripture and it is possible to prophesy without being a prophetess.
- It means speaking for God; sisters ought perhaps to be more exercised as to doing that, speaking definitely for God.
- It is clearly not in the assembly because the same epistle says that women are to keep silent in the assembly.
A woman must be covered, so a sister would not think of going to see a sick person or anyone to whom she was going to speak of God without having her head covered. It is part of the divine order.
- And the man has to keep his head uncovered. No man on earth is entitled to move or speak without reference to Christ.
- We can see in the Lord what that means; He was a perfect Man who had a Head.
- He said, "I have set Jehovah continually before me" – Psalm 16: 8 – that is, He always lived in reference to God as His Head.
- No man on earth is right until he lives in reference to Christ.
- He is the Head of every man by divine appointment, even if men know nothing about it.
The recognition of Christ as Head is how we get wisdom to move in relation to God, and it would bear especially on the service of the assembly.
- No man is entitled to take any part in the assembly except in so far as He recognises Christ as His Head.
- And if this is so it will be a very suitable thing for the women to recognise the headship of the man.
- It is only as the men recognise the headship of Christ that they will be able to appear in the image and glory of God.
- The woman is not that; she is the glory of man.
- It is a fixed position, not a changeable or optional matter at all. It is a fixed position appointed by God.
- Christ looked to God for everything; His ear was wakened morning by morning so that He might speak a word to him that was weary.
Ques. Would you say that we see it objectively in Christ?
C.A.C. Yes, that is helpful. We see the real character of it in Christ.
- Every believing man is to look up to Christ as head, just as Christ did to God. If I do I get the gain of Christ as my Head.
- I should act nicely and suitably and in a comely way in the assembly or in service.
- There is no other way. It is an individual matter, it is not a collective thing.
We cannot doubt that there was a very great lack of what the apostle wished at Corinth, or these disorders would never have existed.
- The public order of the assembly would be beautiful if this came about.
- Some would be astonished that a meeting for worship could be carried on without a chairman.
- A meeting for worship can only be carried on on the principle that every man is holding Christ as Head and is directed by that.
- If not, it has no spiritual value. If it were so, we would not have any jolts.
- What dignity it puts on the men, that the brothers have a relation to Christ which the sisters have not!
Rem. There is "holding fast the Head" in Colossians.
C.A.C. That is the spiritual and universal side, but this is the side of assembly order, what we can see and hear, the public side – the wilderness side of the position, as we often say.
C.A.C. It is noticeable that the apostle clothes both the man and the woman with glory before he speaks of the coming together of the saints.
- The whole chapter down to verse 16 is to develop the glory of the man and the woman.
Ques. What is the bearing of that on what follows?
C.A.C. I suppose it supplies a correction for the disorder that had come in at Corinth.
Ques. Is it the full height of the divine standard put before the saints?
C.A.C. Yes, as regards conditions here in the created scene.
- It is the assembly as it is in the created scene which normally comes together for the taking of the Supper;
- so that all that is suited to God in the creation must be there, each brother and sister bringing glory.
- The divine thought is that the customs of the assembly are glorious and each memeber of the assembly is to contribute glory.
- Man has the glory of his created position in the assembly without diminution
- and the woman has her own distinctive glory as filling her assigned place according to her created position.
- Everything has its its place, not only according to divine commandments but divine instructions also.
Rem. The assembly is the only place where divine order is seen under the eye of God.
C.A.C. What is suitable in the created sphere ought to be intuitive to us. "Judge in yourselves", he says.
- 'You ought to know that intuitively; you ought not to need any scripture for it'.
- The man must stand in the knowledge of Christ as Head and the woman must stand in the knowledge that man is her head; these things are in order in the created sphere.
Ques. In Ephesians it speaks of the all-various wisdom of God being made known through the assembly; is that what you have in mind?
C.A.C. Yes, and it says distinctly that it is becuse of the angels that the women are to be covered, not because men are present, but because angels are present …
- Faith, especially, ought to have intuitive knowledge, and does that not provide the conditions for coming together?
- There was a sad lack of glory at Corinth; they even came together for the worse!
- The brothers and sisters each bring glory with them:
- if not, they become a shame and a reproach instead of a pleasure to divine Persons.
Ques. Would you explain the difference between intuitive and instinctive?
C.A.C. Intuitive means that it is intelligent. An animal may have instinct but human beings in their proper glory have intuition. It belongs to the created position.
Headship was soon surrendered.
- If Eve had been holding Adam as head she would never have parleyed with the serpent. Adam lost headship too.
- The first element of divine recovery is the truth of headship, so that we find it at the beginning of the chapter.
- Assembling together at Corinth only brought out discord and divisions.
I suppose the greatest truth of Scripture is the headship of God; that has been fully owned by one blessed anointed Man.
|1 - Letters of James Taylor, 1: 435-36, February 10, 1934
Miss W. M. Frost,
My dear Miss Frost,
… The subject you wrote about is often considered, but, I fear, a satisfactory conclusion is hardly ever reached.
- This may because spiritual understanding is specially needed for it and we must admit that this is somewhat rare.
- The Lord may have seen fit to leave the matter a little vague so that He should be more sought for understanding.
- We are to think on what He says and He gives understanding in all things.
- As waiting on Him, if we do not get what we seek we may at least get what we need – of which He is the best Judge.
One thing quite clear in 1 Corinthians 11 is that a woman should not pray or prophesy with her head uncovered.
- If this is definitely accepted and conformed to, the rest of the instruction on the subject will be seen to be more or less detail.
- This covering in prayer should be real.
The use of a bow by many sisters at all times while about the house is based, I believe, on 1 Corinthians 11: 10, the word "authority".
- It seems in this verse to be a symbol of the authority under which – in her husband or in man – the woman is.
- Thus some sisters use a bow permanently – that is during the day.
- But it cannot be a covering in the sense of the earlier verses of the chapter when a sister is engaged in formal prayer with others, say at a prayer meeting.
For sisters who do not wear a bow as a symbol of subjection, many are employed in offices, factories, etc., it seems to me the important thing is to be covered at prayer,
- even when praying alone, but especially in formal prayer with others, including so-called family prayers.
I trust the above remarks may be of help to you …
With our united love in the Lord,
I am, affectionately in Him, James Taylor.
|2 - Letters of James Taylor, 1: 445, July 1934
Mr. E. Roberts,
My dear Brother,
… The matter you mention is constantly the occasion of exercise among the Lord's people.
- No doubt the apparent vagueness of the teaching is to test our spirituality. But to a person entirely subject, the apostle's meaning is obvious.
- A sister praying or prophesying should be covered, clearly this would apply when she is in the attitude of prayer, although another may be speaking to God.
Prophesying – conveying the mind of God as from God – although evidently in the province of women in the beginning is scarcely known now, but prayer is, of course, common.
- The instruction of the passage is thus very direct at the present time.
- A sister therefore should be covered, whether in private, family, or praying among the saints.
- It is a question of the order of God in creation, and its place in the epistle, as immediately preceding the instruction governing the order of the assembly, is significant.
I think "power" in verse 10 refers to covering in verse 6.
- The former would refer to covering as a sign of authority.
- On the whole it seems to me that the simple thing for a sister is, to have a covering on her head always – that is, during the day, etc. – she is then ready for prayer as the opportunity offers.
A bow which some sisters wear, seems satisfactory; it is at least a recognition of the authority of the Word.
With love in the Lord Jesus,
Affectionately yours in Him, James Taylor.
|3 - Letters of James Taylor, 2: 126-27, August 6, 1938
Mr. J. M. Tebbett,
… As regards your enquiry I would point out that in 1 Corinthians 11 there are two words used as to head covering.
- Verse 5 has the word "covered" and verse 10 has the word "authority".
- The former cannot mean the hair, for it is said, "if a woman be not covered, let her hair also be cut off",
- thus it is clear that where the word of God is ministered and where prayer is made, sisters should have a covering.
- The word "veil" in verse 15, being a further thought, cannot set aside what is stated in verse 5 and 6.
Verse 10 says: "Therefore ought the woman to have authority on her head".
- This would refer to a sign worn on the head to denote authority in the man, or in Christ, over her,
- and it seems that a sister wearing "a bow", as you mention, would be observing in some sense, at least, what is said in verse 10.
I hope the above remarks will be of service to you …
My wife unites in love in Christ to you and your household,
Yours affectionately in Him, James Taylor.
|4 - Readings on 1 Corinthians, Durban, South Africa
September 10-12, 1947, Ministry by J. Taylor, 64: 72-75
J.T. … then he elaborates on the question of headship, involving the covering of the head by the sisters.
- Then in verse 17 he begins to speak of the order of the Lord's Supper as actually celebrated, and the apostle condemns what they were doing.
- It is quite obvious that the thought of headship should precede this instruction, and so he says [verses 3-10 read]. Verse 10 is one which we should especially notice;
- there is to be with the woman a token of the authority under which she stands, that is, the authority that is over her.
- She is to recognise that there is authority over her, and that there is authority over the man too, and that authority is Christ, and even over Christ is God.
- So that the order is from God to Christ, from Christ to the man, and the man to the woman,
- and verse 10 is to bring the thing home to the woman, so that she is to be covered in the recognition of the authority under which she stands.
F.J.F. Would that mean that the apostle approaches the subject of order in the assembly by way of showing that there is order in the universe of God? Has that to do with the universe?
J.T. I would think so. You see from God to Christ and from Christ to man; the word used for man means man as distinct from woman.
- Therefore the authority is from God to Christ, and from Christ to man, and from man to woman, and then in this instruction we are told that
- nature should teach us, so that universal authority, I would say, or ornamentation if we may use that word, is in mind.
- The ornamentation implied in the order of God from Himself down to Christ, from Christ down to the man and from the man down to the woman, is something that we have to ponder over, and see what is meant by it.
- Why should what is the mere physical action of the woman covering her head, or the man not covering his head, why should these things be mentioned?
- Surely there must be a very good reason for them to be mentioned and especially in view of the fact that the Lord's Supper is just immediately to be celebrated in the chapter
H.R.H.T. Is this acknowledgment of the authority under which the woman stands called for only in the assembly?
J.T. I would say at all times. I do not mean when she is sleeping or resting or the like, but where she is functioning in any capacity that a woman should function in. That is what I understand.
H.R.H.T. Praying in the home, would she be covered?
J.T. Quite so. It is to bring in the order of God. We may say, Why should it be? Well God says so and that ought to be enough for every subject heart. If we bow to Scripture, then we get understanding about it
P.L. So that subject holy women would love to reflect subjection in that economy of blessing in which sovereign love and mercy have set them.
J.T. You see how much pleasure God has in these holy women; such as Sarah and others. God dignifies them in the way they are spoken of; Mary too, and many others that could be cited, all as examples for us now …
|5 - Judgment, New York Readings, 1948
Ministry by J. Taylor, 67: 446-52
J.T. The suggestion is to briefly refer to headship in the first part of the chapter so as to link it on with our present thought of the Lord's Supper. The subject begins in verse 2 [verses 2-3 read].
- It is thought that the subject of headship fits in peculiarly as introductory to the Lord's Supper in the service of God.
- The tendency with us is to have our own thoughts about things, and hence the subject of headship would tend to regulate us and keep us subject.
Ques. Does headship according to the Corinthian epistles allude to the public side of the truth?
J.T. I would think so, especially because of the reference to the hair, and that it is given to the woman for a covering.
- Many take that to mean that it settles the whole matter, that the hair as a covering is enough, but it is not so;
- because the apostle says if a woman have not long hair she should be shaved, which is very drastic,
- and it shows how much the matter is in the mind of the Spirit of God, as to the public appearance and order of the assembly.
A.B.P. Is subjection a feminine thought?
J.T. Of course it is general, but it runs through scripture as characteristically feminine.
L.E.S. Would all this be in mind in Ephesians 5 where it says, "… even as the assembly is subjected to the Christ"?
- Does what you are saying lie at the base of our understanding of what the assembly is and its functioning?
J.T. Not simply that she is subject as a matter of fact, but that she is subjected.
A.M. The public side is especially in mind, because there is a distinction between men and women, brothers and sisters.
- It is in that connection we come together for the Supper. So that what is not seemly on that level has to be met first.
J.T. Yes, and therefore, as has often been remarked, we do not exactly come to meet the Lord, initially; we come to meet the brethren.
- And that raises the quetion as to what marks us as brothers and sisters together.
A.R. It is not only that people may be looking at us but angels also.
- It is said that there is seen in the assembly the all-various wisdom of God.
- Do you think the wisdom of God is seen in our sisters having a covering on, indicating subjection?
J.T. It would seem that angelic distinction is involved in the fact that angels are spoken of so much as having to say to the assembly.
A.R. More than long hair is spoken of in this chapter.
- There is also the matter of a covering, that is 'authority' on the head of the woman, verse 10.
J.T. That is a verse not much understood; it reads, "Therefore ought the woman to have authority on her head, on account of the angels".
- Authority there means that there is a sign or a symbol of authority on her head.
L.E.S. Would it not furnish a bulwark, if understood, over against the incoming of the floods of evil?
J.T. I think it does, and it is a question of how much sisters take it on, because there is a great deal of discussion on ths point;
- and when the subject is ended, it is said, "But if any one think to be contentious, we have no such custom, nor the assemblies of God",
- showing that the apostle was refusing the idea of contention on this point.
D.McD. Would you say something in regard to long hair? There are sisters amongst us who have their hair cut.
J.T. Well, this subject affects every brother and every sister particularly.
F.N.W. Is that one way in which priestly sensibilities would show themselves in the sisterhood?
J.T. Yes, 'priestly sensibilities' is a good expression because it is so allied with the service of God,
- and that is the point we are aiming at just now, the service of God and what is becoming in it.
A.M. So that the public position is only introductory; it is only a means to an end, is it not?
- The end in view is the spiritual side of things, and the sisters are included, all are on the same level in that regard.
J.T. Gradually we come into the service of God, we come into sonship, sisters and brothers alike.
- The service of God is progressive, from gloey to glory, and the idea of glory is attached to the woman's hair.
C.A.M. The matter of headship will continue eternally, I take it.
- The setting here in regard to the man and woman is a provisional idea, would you say?
J.T. Yes, because we are still in the public position; the order in which we are under the government of God now, as we are sitting here in this hall …
- What has been said is right – it is the provisional thought, because it will not continue eternally.
- What will continue is sonship, and from the feminine side what will continue is the assembly.
A.A.T. Our chapter speaks of a woman praying or prophesying. We know that in the assembly the woman is silent. When does she pray?
J.T. She prays with the brethren; when they pray, she prays.
- The brother that prays is not the only one that is praying, the brother that prays is just a leader in the prayer.
- We would be very sorry to see a sister come in without her hat on, in the assembly.
R.W.S. It would be difficult to have the service of God without the sisters.
J.T. It would not be just right without the sisters, not that it could not be, but the assembly implies brothers and sisters.
|6 - Readings at Manchester, July 22, 1950
Ministry by J. Taylor, 73: 4-15
Ques. Is this recognition of headship intended to set us free in regard of speaking to God and speaking to men? I was thinking of the way headship is introduced by praying and prophesying.
J.T. That show that the chapter we have just read has the service of God in mind.
- The idea is to correct everything that was wrong and to maintain things according to order,
- for God is said to be the God of order, and the God of order enters into this matter of headship.
- Headship is the prime thought as conveying the intelligence that belongs to the assembly,
- especially in view of the Lord Jesus Christ being Head of it; He is the Head of the assembly.
Ques. Will you please distinguish between the thought of Head of the Assembly and Head of every man, as it is in chapter 11.
J.T. I think Christ being the Head of every man would bring out the divine thought as to man. God is dealing with humanity and, of course,
- the fact that the Son has become Man is to give the full thought of it, and to show how important it is in the divine mind.
- The Son has become man, and before entering on His full service he is seen as "about thirty years old". So it is full manhood in the gospel of Luke.
Ques. And the highest thought of manhood would be to be occupied in the service of God?
J.T. That is what I think. There are things added, such as meetings of this kind, and the Lord's day afternoon reading to which the brethren usually rally, and which I think ought to be fully supported and promoted generally,
- especially among young people, who should not allow themselves to be diverted by ordinary affairs on the first day of the week.
- Then again another matter of importance is that God has graciously, or mercifully, granted us these weekends free to have meetings of this kind, and they are very prevalent.
- Generally, as far as I know, they are prevalent throughout the christian world.
Ques. Would you say that the idea of the man and woman in their place in the divine economy in the first part of the chapter is in view of that thought being filled out fully in Christ and the assembly?
J.T. That is just what I thought. One has often thought of the man and the woman being brought in in this peculiar way.
- No other part of Scripture has such a place in Paul's writings, in this sense, and it is because the Lord took him up at the time his service was needed.
- The Lord took him up, and in due time gave him a leading place, which he retained until the end.
- Whenever it was that he was martyred, he had that place, and he had a great deal of time, too, in imprisonment,
- which was probably in the Lord's mind to give him opportunity to develop the truth, even in writing, so that we have it now in our hands.
Ques. Would you say a little more about the thought of divine order in all these things? Would that assure the divine presence?
J.T. See how the chapter opens. The apostle says "Be my imitators, even as I also am of Christ".
- That is to say, the apostle followed the Lord Jesus in the service of God, and the idea of imitation is carried through, and all flowing from Christ as Head.
- "Be my imitators", he says, "even as I " – emphatic – "also am of Christ".
- So that the idea of imitation is stressed here, showing that the thing is to go through.
E.B.S. Would you mind saying another word on Him being the Head of every man, in contrast to woman?
J.T. Well, let us read the passage. "I praise you, that in all things ye are mindful of me; and that as I have directed you, ye keep the directions", showing that Paul is stressing himself.
- Notice these words – "ye keep the directions". It is the idea of order, and then he goes on,
- "But I wish you to know that the Christ is the head of every man".
- Well now, I believe that what has been said already is true, that God is going on with humanity.
- He is not simply going on with judaism; He is going on with man – humanity;
- and the service of God requires that headship should be stressed for this.
- It is a question of man, and that Christ is the head of every man – not only in the aggregate, nor of every assembly, but of every man; it is the idea of men.
A.J.G. Does that mean that the intention is that every man should learn from Christ, and then that the woman should learn from the man?
J.T. That is just what I think is the truth here.
- Again I would say that God is showing that the idea of humanity has the first place with Him in regard of creation.
- Man is the leader of creation and hence the word was "Let us make man in our image after our likeness".
- And then it says "let them have dominion" that word is a plural word, and requires a woman. She is to be with the man, and the man is not to be without her.
- But the woman is not the first; man is the first and the woman was created for the man, not man created for the woman.
- I believe all that is worked out in this chapter, the service of God being in mind.
- Man is in God's mind, and He is never going to give it up.
- He will cleanse the world in the course of time in the sense of judgment, but He will retain man.
- He will retain man because Christ has become Man and He is not going to give up His manhood; He is to continue in it.
W.S.S. I was thinking in connection with what you have been saying, would it not bring out the importance of the man on the one hand and the woman on the other hand,
- each knowing their place in relation to the assembly in order that the service might be carried on rightly?
J.T. Quite so. Woman, in this epistle, is put under restriction as to speaking in the assembly, but she is nevertheless part of those who serve,
- she is part of the assembly, and her existence really will call attention to the fact that the assembly is a feminine thought.
W.S.S. In the world, woman is seeking a great place and denying the principle that is laid down here.
- I was thinking of the necessity of accepting this principle if the sisters are to have the great place which belongs to them in assembly exercises and testimony.
J.T. Quite so. The place that women have, of course, has greatly caused degeneration because she assumes to have the same place as man in regard of rule.
- Even in regard of voting, in certain countries those who hold the vote include women and they put certain men in power.
- So that all that is in mind, and yet God says that "He has set a day in which He is going to judge the habitable earth in righteousness by the man whom He has appointed".
- So that man is kept there and the assurance comes from God as to Christ's place.
- The word "judge" there would be judgment in the sense of humanity being judged, and the government of God is in the hands of a Man.
- He will judge the habitable earth in righteousness; the expression "habitable earth" is just a general thought of humanity.
R.W. In verse 3, it goes back to God, "Christ's head God". So that there is no confusion, but order.
J.T. That is true.
J.S.E. Is there something peculiarly attractive in this allusion to the angels in verse 10 in relation to the woman
J.T. It would show the place that angels have, although, as I said, they are given to be servants to those who are heirs of salvation.
- We cannot say how old the idea of angels is, but we do know how old man is, and God has kept the idea of manhood to the final thought.
- It is in order clearly that His beloved Son should become a Man and He is now Man, and is the Head of every man.
A.J.G. Does this reference to angels involve that angels take account of the maintenance of divine order in the assembly in contrast to the confusion in the world?
J.T. Just so, and, of course, we know angels have fallen, too; some of them have lost their first estate and the judgment of God overtakes them.
- At the same time, God has not given up His primary thought in man.
P.L. Is their service as ministering spirits but rendered the more intelligent by what is here afforded to them in the instruction as to divine order in the assembly?
- Does the observation on the part of angels here of the covering afford them instruction as to the great thoughts of divine recovery?
J.T. Quite so. Every sister should take account of this. It will not, in any way, decrease her place or importance or service,
- but she is to take account of divine order, and see that she is answering to God as she is observing what He has ordered in creation.
- Everything is under Christ in John 1: "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God",
- and it goes on to say that all things were made by Him, and that nothing was made without Him.
- So that there is no variation in the divine thoughts by sisters taking account of this matter of the covering,
- because it honours God and the influence of it extends not only to men on earth but to angels in heaven.
- It shows how God is regarding His creatures in the sense of man and woman, because He intends to work out the thought of the masculine and the feminine in men,
- and it will come out presently in the millenium; in the meantime everything is worked out in the assembly.
Ques. Is it made attractive in that Christ Himself took a place of subjection?
J.T. Quite so, He was subject even to His parents.
W.S.S. Would you be free to say something about the word "authority" in the verse we are considering – verse 10: "Therefore ought the woman to have authority on her head"?
J.T. We might well look at the note given at the bottom of the page.
W.S.S. The note says: "that is, a token of the authority under which she stands".
J.T. That is, she has something above her.
W.S.S. I think you said sometime ago, that it is like the badge or rank which a soldier wears, and of which he is proud, showing that he is under authority;
- but being under authority he can speak with authority.
J.T. Quite so. Under authority does not mean that he is rendered inferior by it, but he can speak with authority because he is under authority.
- A Corporal is under authority in the Army; he is not reduced on that account, but there is an authority above him.
W.G.C. Does the woman in the ordering of God become the expression of the grace of the assembly as subjected to Christ?
J.T. That is right. In the creation God intended to bring out the great thought of Christ and the assembly.
- He intended to bring it out, and He wanted to do it, and now He has done it,
- and the thing is to be worked out in christians, because christians have the Spirit; it is all a question of the Spirit.
A.J.G. And you would say that this verse requires that the woman should at all times have authority on her head, and not simply when we are together in assembly?
J.T. That is what I think is right, and I believe the sisters are coming to see that, and to use the token – even if it is only a token of the place that she has and the authority she is under.
A.H.G. Has woman a distinctive place in the setting forth of this principle of subjection?
J.T. I would think so. There is no doubt that God is helping us in our households.
- The principle of the household has come into more prominence than it has been, and I think it is to bring out this very thought,
- the place that woman has in it, and the place that man has over her and then the place that man has under Christ, and that Christ has under God.
- It is to bring out the great thought of order, divine order in God – God being everything.
J.T.S. May not the very fact of the token being worn afford opportunity for testimony, testimony to Christ really?
J.T. Just so; and the household underlies that.
- That is to say the place that man has, and then the place that woman has under man, and the place that man has under Christ, and then the place that Christ has under God.
- It is remarkable that God stoops or condescends to give us all this instruction, so that He might see His own order in the assembly,
- and I believe the first day of the week has acquired a greater place because of this, and these meetings that we have, too, on Saturday afternoons, have acquired a place for the instruction of the brethren.
Ques. Is it right to make clear that for formal prayer or prophesying a woman requires a real covering; the token you have spoken of would not be sufficient for that?
J.T. Not in the assembly service, but in the household I believe it is wise to have it.
Ques. To wear the token?
J.T. Just so.
Ques. But when you kneel down to pray for the gospel should the women then have a hat on, or a covering?
J.T. Surely, and, as far as I know, they do.
A.J.G. And in a woman's individual prayer when she kneels down at home?
J.T. I would think so, especially of course if it is a household and she is not the only one in it.
- The idea of a household is not simply man and woman, but children too.
- Because God intends children to be brought into it all, for they are the ones coming forward.
- The Lord is taking one after another and others are taking their place, and the great thing is that
- they should carry on this great idea of imitation as we have it in this chapter. "Be my imitators, even as I also am of Christ".
Ques. Are not children very observant of order, and do they not take it on quickly, and God helps them?
J.T. I am sure that is so.
C.H. Is it instructive that after Paul has insisted on the place which woman has, he says in verse 11,
- "However, neither is woman without man, nor man without woman, in the Lord", as though they are both necessary in that particular sphere?
J.T. They are necessary. Whys should not God have a right to create humanity?
- He has created others especially angels, but why should He not have a right to do it,
- and therefore He must have this order carried out in the assemblies, even amongst ourselves.
Ques. Do I understand that the token of authority on a woman's head does not give her the authority to pray or prophesy? What is the authority?
J.T. Well, the authority is given her; that is to say, God, Christ, man, woman – four great thoughts.
Ques. In the case of a husband and wife praying together, is it proper for the man to voice the prayer for both of them?
J.T. I think so. Men pray everywhere. It says
- "I will therefore that the men pray in every place", 1 Tim. 2: 8. What would you say about that?
Rem. Yes, that is what I thought. Sometimes it is suggested that the woman should pray too in the presence of her husband.
J.T. Well, I do not know. I did not think of it in that way.
- Men are said to pray everywhere, and if there is any prayer being made, I think men are to do it, not women.
A.J.G. It would seem to be in keeping with divine order that if a brother and a sister are together in prayer, that God should be approached through the head?
J.T. That is just what I was thinking …
J.A.C. Does Peter in his epistle put the responsibility on the husband in saying,
- "Ye husbands likewise, dwell with them according to knowledge, as with a weaker, even the female, vessel, giving them honour, as also fellow-heirs of the grace of life, that your prayers be not hindered"?
J.T. Very good. Many a time one has thought of that.
A.H.G. Does the adjustment of things in the households in this way prepare the way for the taking of the Supper and for the service of God?
J.T. Well, the setting here is clearly that. We have the culmination of the subject of headship and then the Lord's Supper is worked out from verse 17 to the end.
A.H.G. Would perhaps the weakness in relation to the latter part of the Supper and the service of God be the result of these exercises not having been faced?
J.T. I think that is right. I am encouraged to read this chapter today – I am encouraged in every moment of it – because I can see that the brethren are concerned about it too …
|Man and Woman: The Divine Order|
G. A. Rainbow
It should be clear to all – as a universal principle – that "God is not [a God] of disorder", 1 Corinthians 14: 33.
- That being so, it is inconceivable that disorder should be sanctioned in – or individually by those who comprise – "the assembly of God", 1 Corinthians 1: 1.
- The divine order for the relationship of man and woman – which is implicit in creation – was stated explicitly after the fall.
- "To the woman he said, I will greatly increase thy travail and thy pregnancy; with pain thou shalt bear children; and to thy husband shall be thy desire, and he shall rule over thee.
- And to Adam he said, Because thou hast hearkened to the voice of thy wife, and eaten of the tree of which I commanded thee saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed be the ground on thy account; with toil shalt thou eat [of] it all the days of thy life …", Genesis 3: 16-17.
- Through lawlessness, that relationship has become practically obscured, if not altogether disregarded – even among some who name the name of the Lord.
- The proper relationship of the man and the woman has been established – and will be set out eternally to the glory of God – in Christ and the assembly.
- "… and has put all things under his feet, and gave him [to be] head over all things to the assembly, which is his body, the fulness of him who fills all in all ␎", Ephesians 1: 22-23;
- "But even as the assembly is subjected to the Christ, so also wives to their own husbands in everything", Ephesians 5: 24;
- "Let us rejoice and exult, and give him glory; for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife has made herself ready. And it was given to her that she should be clothed in fine linen, bright [and] pure; for the fine linen is the righteousnesses of the saints", Revelation 19: 7-8;
- "And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of the heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband", Revelation 21: 2.
- It is now seen in assembly persons, man and woman restored – not as in the garden, but now under Christ, and observed by the angels – to proper divine order.
- God – Christ – man – woman.
An understanding and recognition of the relative place of man and woman before God
- is indispensable to the practical working out of what is due to God in the assembly, in the Christian household and individually.
- 1 Corinthians 11: 2-16 [quoted], the passage that bears directly on this matter is usually treated as if it only referred to the woman's place and the covering of her head.
- Important as that is, it cannot be properly understood or applied without considering the place of the man – and the relative positions of man and woman.
There are Many Opinionss
Whether – and when – a woman's head ought to be covered has produced as many opinions as has baptism.
- A few insist on it as an integral part of a woman's attire.
- Some leave it to individual 'conscience'.
- Others repudiate the concept as 'cultural'.
- A resurgence of interest among some women has led to the production of many 'fashions' in head coverings.
Is the Covering for 'Modesty'?
Some of the world's religions require covering the head – and even the face – for feminine 'modesty'.
Christian women are indeed exhorted to modesty in attire and manner – 1 Timothy 2: 9-10; 1 Peter 3: 1-6 –
- but, in Christianity – despite JND's comment – I am convinced that the covering of the head has absolutely nothing to do with 'modesty'.
- Many 1 Corinthian 11: 2-16 – the only relevant scripture – and the quotations below show that the covering of the head by women, required when praying or prophesying, is a recognition of the headship of man in the divine order.
- There are no details as to the covering itself – other than the head should be covered – but clearly it should itself be modest as becoming "holy women".
Those commonly called 'brethren' – of whatever persuasion – have always accpted Paul's instruction in 1 Corinthian 11 in regard of what they consider an 'assembly' [church] meeting,
- but have often ignored – or been confused as to – its application in other settings.
- Apprehension of the position, the influence and the responsibility of the man have suffered equally from an unbalanced emphasis on that which relates to woman.
The extracts – from J. N. Darby, J. G. Bellett, C. A. Coates and J. Taylor – reflect a growing awareness, a deepening interpetation and a wider application of 1 Corinthians 11: 2-16.
- JND says, "The apostle is not speaking of wearing the sign of subjection" – evidently he means covering – "at all times, but I believe it would be very comely".
- JT agrees in July 1934, saying that " 'power' in verse 10 refers to covering in verse 6", but adds somewhat grudgingly, "A bow which some sisters wear, seems satisfactory".
- The practice of some sisters wearing a "bow" is first noted in the 1926 letter of CAC who is dubious, and in 1934 by JT, who comments favourably on it.
- However neither indicate how long the practice had existed or its origin, whether as a result of ministry or through individual exercise.
- In the 1947 reading JT seems to still connect "authority" with a covering. Then in 1948 as to 1 Corinthians 11: 10, he says "That is a verse not much understood".
- But in 1950 he is clearly supporting the use of a "bow" as fulfilling the idea of a "token" of the "authority" to be on the woman's head,
- thus making a distinction between a covering for "praying or prophesying" and a permanent symbol of authority required at other times.
Whether the "authority on her head" of verse 10 – " i.e. a token of the authority under which she stands", JND's translation note – is thought to be
the clear, precise and unambiguous statements of verses 4-5 are not affected.
- the same as being "covered" or
- a "bow" or other symbol to be worn all the time,
- Whenever engaged formally – individually, or in the presence of others – in "praying or prophesying",
- a man should have his head uncovered, and
- a woman should have her head covered.
Therefore, this instruction – coming before the formal reference to coming "together in assembly", verse 17 –
- applies in the household – or family – setting, and also privately as well as in the collective assembly setting.
In the household there is not only prayer but also prophesying [speaking] – i.e. the reading of the Holy Scriptures and instruction or conversation on what has been read.
- For a woman to cover her head only for the prayer portion – speaking to God – would be disorderly.
- It would disregard the "prophesying" character – i.e. speaking for God – of what is said, whether by the head of the house or others,
- including women who might 'prophesy' – i.e. speak for God, as did Philip's four daughters – in the household in a comely manner – but not in the assembly as the apostle says:
- "Let [your] women be silent in the assemblies, for it is not permitted to them to speak; but to be in subjection, as the law also says. But if they wish to learn anything, let them ask their own husbands at home; for it is a shame for a woman to speak in assembly," 1 Corinthians 14: 34-35.
The "covered" head would also apply to a mother praying with or instructing her children –
- and little girls should be taught early – by example and precept – to cover their heads.
It should be noted that the noun 'covering' is never used.
- The verbs – "covered" or "uncovered" – are always used emphasizing deliberate action in accord with, or opposed to, the headship of Christ or that of the man,
- without drawing attention to the covering – which might be a mantilla or a simple hat – as a mere item of clothing, not an adornment.
The mere external following of the detailed directions is not an end in itself,
- for all could be carried out externally without any spiritual understanding of the meaning.
- The purpose is, surely, that woman being in her right relation to man, and man to Christ, there will be the rendering of what is due to God and Christ for
- "To us there is one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we for Him; and one Lord, Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by Him", 1 Corinthians 8: 6.
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|• • • 1 Corinthians 11: 2-16 • • •|
2. Now I praise you, that in all things ye are mindful of me;
and that as I have directed you, ye keep the directions.
3. But I wish you to know that the Christ is the head of every
man, but woman's head [is] the man, and the Christ's head God.
4. Every man praying or prophesying, having [anything] on his
head, puts his head to shame.
5. But every woman praying or prophesying with her head
uncovered puts her own head to shame; for it is one and the same
as a shaved [woman].
6. For if a woman be not covered, let her hair also be cut off.
But if [it be] shameful to a woman to have her hair cut off or to
be shaved, let her be covered.
7. For man indeed ought not to have his head covered, being
God's image and glory; but woman is man's glory.
8. For man is not of woman, but woman of man.
9. For also man was not created for the sake of the woman, but
woman for the sake of the man.
10. Therefore ought the woman to have authority* on her head, on
account of the angels.
11. However, neither [is] woman without man, nor man without
woman, in [the] Lord.
12. For as the woman [is] of the man, so also [is] the man by
the woman, but all things of God.
13. Judge in yourselves: is it comely that a woman should pray
to God uncovered?
14. Does not even nature itself teach you, that man, if he have
long hair, it is a dishonour to him?
15. But woman, if she have long hair, [it is] glory to her; for
the long hair is given [to her] in lieu of a veil.
16. But if any one think to be contentious, we have no such
custom, nor the assemblies of God.
* i.e. a token of the authority under which she stands.
From the J. N. Darby translation.
|Return to the Introduction or Simmation.