A teaching class for the Watford church of Christ
2 Peter 3:15–16
Some of this material can be triggering because of abuses that happened in our past. This can be the case for both men and for women.
Corinth: Entrepreneurial; Progressive; Cult of Aphrodite (Goddess of war and fertility); Port city (vice and visitors); Honour/shame; Diverse; Patron/client system. Las Vegas/New York.
Aristophanes (c. 450–385 BC.) coined the term korinthiazesthai (“to act like a Corinthian,” i.e., “to commit fornication”) in view of the city’s reputation. Plato used the term “Corinthian girl” as an euphemism for a prostitute.
The church: Divided (rich/poor); disorderly – Patron house churches
- Chapters 12 and 13 between these instructions
- Emphasis on everyone needing one another (12:27-31)
- Love one another — be like God. The way we use our gifts is more important than the gifts themselves. The gifts are temporary. Love is permanent.
- Gifts are things from God. Love is God’s nature.
1 Cor 11 Summary
‘Head’: Kephale — ‘source’, ‘leader’, or, ‘authority’.
Paul does not criticise women praying and prophesying. He accepted it.
Wealthy women tended to be less strict about head coverings. If they were in their own home, they may have not been wearing a head covering, while the poorer visiting Christians would do so. This would lead to tension between the groups. Tension between the rich and poor is also seen in the selfish behaviour of the rich around the Lord’s supper (1 Cor 11:20-22).
Everyone who prays and prophesies needs some ‘authority’ over their head. For women is it a covered head (hair tied up) and/or a veil. For men it is short hair.
His main point is that in worship men should follow the dress codes (including hair styles) which proclaim them to be male, and women the codes which proclaim them to be female. The headship/glory issue
Married women are exclusively dedicated to their husbands. A veil (head covering) communicates this. They thus enable men’s glory to become ‘visible’. Or, at least, they do not obscure it.
Men are exclusively dedicated to Christ. Short hair (lack of covering) communicates this. They thus enable God’s glory to become ‘visible’. Or, at least, they do not obscure it.
The angels are in attendance at times of collective worship (similar to ‘where two or three are gathered’?). Via decorum appropriate to their culture (veil for women, short hair for men), men and women show respect to the presence of beings inhabiting the heavenlies.
“You Corinthian Christians are having a hard time understanding the significance of following social etiquette while praying and prophesying. You think your freedom in Christ allows you to disregard cultural customs. The trouble with that is that it is dividing you, and bringing the gospel into disrepute. You are right that wearing a veil or not, and the length of your hair is not something significant to God, but you are wrong if you think it is immaterial to healthy worship and revealing God’s glory to people. In your culture women are subordinate to men. You are just going to have to accept that. Men are subordinate to Christ, in any case, and Christ is subordinate to God as Father. That works well, and so can your (women’s) subordination to men. It might not be God’s ideal (like slavery, 1 Cor 7.21-24), but it is no barrier to harmonious and meaningful worship.”
1 Cor 14 Summary
Tongues needed interpretation. i.e. were not in a language the locals understood. Whether angelic language or human foreign languages, interpretation was needed.
Prophecy needed to be ‘weighed’, v29.
No New Testament nor Apostle left early churches with a vacuum of instruction filled by the Spirit working through prophets.
False prophets existed (Matt 7.15; 2 Cor 11.13; 1 John 4.1) meaning prophecies had to be ‘tested’ (Rev 2.2).
Perhaps the Women were less educated, and thus had more questions than the men. This would lead them to ask more questions, which might, in a packed room, prevent the prophets from communicating their message and/or those able to weigh the message from doing so.
Silent can mean in effect – ‘wait your turn’. Either at the meeting, or at home.
To speak up in a way that causes disorder (which is presumably what is happening) is disgraceful. But it cannot be disgraceful for women to speak as such, because how else will they prophesy (1 Cor 11.5. See also Acts 2.17-18; Acts 21.9)?
The Corinthian women must be in submission – in this context.
Decorum in worship is important because we want God to shine (his glory), and visitors to see his glory.
Decorum is not the same as ’controlled’ (early Christian worship has spontaneity built-in — “each of you has a…” 1 Corinthians 14.26).
Decorum is culturally conditioned.
Decorum looks different for men and women
There is something significant about the differences between men and women that connect to headship and authority, but this headship and authority does not compromise the interdependence of men and women.
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God bless, Malcolm