"The purpose of the man being uncovered when he prayed
or prophesied was to show his recognition of headship.
Since man could do what Christ did, having the same
miraculous powers in praying and prophesying, he must
do this with his head uncovered to show that he recognized
that it was not being done by his own power. He had One
to whom he was in subjection ----- Christ. Also, woman
was to wear the veil when she prayed or prophesied
showing that even though she could do what man did in
praying and prophesying, she recognized him as her head."
The same tract says as the conclusion on the last page:
"If you find a woman today who, by the Spirit of God, can
pray and prophesy as they were doing in New Testament
times, then be sure to tell her to wear a veil."
This explanation of 1 Corinthians 11 does not make any sense to me.
FIRST: Paul said "pray" not "pray in a tongue".
When I look up "pray" and all its forms (prayed, prayeth, praying, prayer, prayers, prays) in Strong's Exhaustive Concordance I find nine different Greek words:
The Greek word for pray found in the relevant passages in the 11th and 14th chapters in 1 Corinthians is proseuchomai (Strong's #4336). It is the second most common word for "pray" in the New Testament, occurring 87 times *, as follows:
Matthew 5:44 "... pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you..."
Matthew 6:5-9 "... when you pray, you shall not be like the hypocrites. For they love to pray standing in the synagogues ... when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place ... when you pray, do not use vain repetitions as the heathen do ... In this manner, therefore, pray: Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your name..."
Matthew 14:23 "...He went up on the mountain by Himself to pray..."
Matthew 19:13 "...little children were brought to Him that He might put His hands on them and pray..."
Matthew 23:14 "...For you devour widows' houses, and for a pretense make long prayers..."
Matthew 24:20 "And pray that your flight may not be in winter or on the Sabbath."
Matthew 26:36-44 "Then Jesus came with them to a place called Gethsemane, and said to the disciples, "Sit here while I go and pray over there." ... He went a little farther and fell on His face, and prayed, saying, "O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will." ... "Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation" ... Again, a second time, He went away and prayed ... He left them, went away again, and prayed the third time..."
Mark 1:35 "... departed to a solitary place; and there He prayed."
Mark 6:46 "... He departed to the mountain to pray."
Mark 11:24 "... whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them."
Mark 11:25 "... whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him ..."
Mark 12:40 "... who devour widows' houses, and for a pretense make long prayers ..."
Mark 13:18 "And pray that your flight may not be in winter."
Mark 13:33 "Take heed, watch and pray; for you do not know when the time is."
Mark 14:32 "... He said to His disciples, "Sit here while I pray.""
Mark 14:35 "... and prayed that if it were possible, the hour might pass from Him."
Mark 14:38 "Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation..."
Mark 14:39 "Again He went away and prayed, and spoke the same words."
Luke 1:10 "And the whole multitude of the people was praying outside at the hour of incense."
Luke 3:21 "... Jesus also was baptized; and while He prayed, he heaven was opened."
Luke 5:16 "So He Himself often withdrew into the wilderness and prayed."
Luke 6:12 "... He went out to the mountain to pray ... "
Luke 6:28 "... bless those who curse you, and pray for those who spitefully use you."
Luke 9:18 "... as He was alone praying, that His disciples joined Him, and He asked them, saying, "Who do the crowds say that I am?"
Luke 9:28 "... He took Peter, John, and James and went up on the mountain to pray."
Luke 9:29 "As He prayed, the appearance of His face was altered, and His robe became white and glistening."
Luke 11:1 "Now it came to pass, as He was praying in a certain place, when He ceased, that one of His disciples said to Him, "Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples."
Luke 11:2 "So He said to them, "When you pray, say: Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your name ... "
Luke 18:1 "Then He spoke a parable to them, that men ought always to pray and not lose heart ... "
Luke 18:10 "Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector."
Luke 18:11 "The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself ..."
Luke 20:47 " ... and for a pretense make long prayers ..."
Luke 22:40 "... He said to them, "Pray that you may not enter into temptation."
Luke 22:41 " ... and He knelt down and prayed, saying, "Father, if it is Your will ..."
Luke 22:44 "And being in agony, He prayed more earnestly ... "
Luke 22:46 "Then He said to them, "Why do you sleep? Rise and pray, lest you enter into temptation."
Acts 1:24 "And they prayed and said, "You, O Lord, who know the hearts of all, show which of these two You have chosen ... "
Acts 6:6 "... whom they set before the apostles; and when they had prayed, they laid hands on them."
Acts 8:15 " ... who, when they had come down, prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit."
Acts 9:11 " ... inquire at the house of Judas for one called Saul of Tarsus, for behold, he is praying."
Acts 9:40 "But Peter put them all out, and knelt down and prayed. And turning to the body he said, "Tabitha, arise."
Acts 10:9 "... Peter went up on the housetop to pray ..."
Acts 10:30 "So Cornelius said, "Four days ago I was fasting until this hour; and at the ninth hour I prayed in my house ... "
Acts 11:5 "I was in the city of Joppa praying; and in a trance I saw a vision ... "
Acts 12:12 " ... where many were gathered together praying."
Acts 13:3 "Then, having fasted and prayed, and laid hands on them, they sent them away."
Acts 14:23 "So when they had appointed elders in every church, and prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord in whom they had believed."
Acts 16:25 "But at midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God ... "
Acts 20:36 "And when he had said these things, he knelt down and prayed with them all."
Acts 21:5 "... And we knelt down on the shore and prayed."
Acts 22:17 " ... when I returned to Jerusalem and was praying in the temple, that I was in a trance ... "
Acts 28:8 " ... Paul went in to him and prayed, and he laid his hands on him and healed him."
Romans 8:26 "Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered."
1 Cor. 11:4-5 "Every man praying or prophesying, having his head covered, dishonors his head. But every woman who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head, for that is one and the same as if her head were shaved."
1 Cor. 11:13 "Judge among yourselves. Is it proper for a woman to pray to God with her head uncovered?
1 Cor. 14:13-15 "Therefore let him who speaks in a tongue pray that he may interpret. For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays, but my understanding is unfruitful. What is the conclusion then? I will pray with the spirit, and I will also pray with the understanding. I will sing with the spirit, and I will also sing with the understanding.
Eph. 6:17-18 "And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful ... "
Phil. 1:9 "And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more ... "
Col. 1:3 "We give thanks to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you ... "
Col. 1:9 "For this reason we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you ... "
Col. 4:3 " ... meanwhile praying also for us, that God would open to us a door for the word ... "
1 Thess. 5:16-18 "Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you."
1 Thess. 5:25 "Brethren, pray for us."
2 Thess. 1:11 "Therefore we also pray always for you ... "
2 Thess. 3:1 "Finally, brethren, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may run swiftly and be glorified ... "
1 Tim. 2:8 "I desire therefore that the men pray everywhere, lifting up holy hands ... "
Heb. 13:18 "Pray for us; for we are confident that we have a good conscience ... "
James 5:13-14 "Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing psalms. Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord."
James 5:17-18 "Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it would not rain; and it did not rain on the land for three years and six months. And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth produced its fruit."
Jude 20-21 "But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life."
The Greek word proseuchomai simply means "to pray". It is the addition of the Greek word glosse, meaning "with a tongue", which changes the meaning into the spiritual gift of praying in a tongue.
And glosse is not there in 1 Cor. 11:2-16. If Paul had meant the spiritual gift of praying in a tongue, he could have added glosse, but he did not.
Paul is speaking in 1 Cor. 11:2-16 of regular prayer.
* Bible Hub counts 86 occurrences of proseuchomai; Strong's Concordance (hardback book) also counts Mark 13:33 to make a total of 87 occurrences (87 is correct as you will see if you look it up in a Greek New Testament)
SECOND: The scriptural context is apostolic traditions, not spiritual gifts.
On the second page of the above-mentioned tract by J.T. Smith, he says:
"We need to consider also what is meant by the words
"pray" and "prophesy". The twelfth, thirteenth, and fourteenth
chapters of 1 Corintians were written to discuss the spiritual
gifts being practiced by Christians in the first century. Both
praying and prophesying were done miraculously in New
Testament times. Praying in tongues was a spiritual gift
described and practiced in 1 Cor. 14:13-16 ... "
Chapters 12, 13, and 14 of 1 Corinthians are about spiritual gifts. Chapter 11 is not about spiritual gifts, however; it is about the traditions which Paul had delivered to the Corinthian Christians previous to writing this epistle, and which those immature Christians were still observing (albeit improperly).
Verse 2 of chapter 11 mentions "traditions":
"Now I praise you, brethren, that you remember me in all things and keep the traditions just as I delivered them to you."
Then Paul discusses the headcovering. Verse 2 is connected to the rest of the passage by the conjunction but which begins verse 3 (see section on Traditions on this site).
Then Paul discusses the Lord's Supper in the remainder of chapter 11, and in verse 23, in speaking of the Lord's Supper, he says:
"For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you: that the Lord Jesus on the same night in which He was betrayed took bread ... "
This (receiving and delivering) is what a tradition is: a tradition is something which is passed down or handed down. It is something which is received and delivered. The Lord's Supper is a tradition (something passed down) which the apostle Paul received directly from the Lord and delivered to the Corinthian Christians (and to us when we read his epistle).
So the head covering passage is sandwiched between "traditions" in verse 2 and the Lord's Supper tradition in verses 20 - 34. The head covering is not about spiritual gifts. The spiritual gift of prophecy is mentioned, but not in a discussion of spiritual gifts per se, but only because it happened to be a problem area for the Christian women in Corinth, as was the area of prayer.
THIRD: It is a necessary inference that prayer & prophecy were not the only situations encompassed by the head covering tradition.
1) The word "only" is not in the passage.
Take Galatians 4:22 for example:
"For it is written that Abraham had two sons: the one by a bondwoman, the other by a freewoman."
But we know from Genesis 25:1-6 that Abraham had more than two sons: he had six sons from his second wife Keturah, as well as sons (plural) from his concubines (plural). He had at least ten sons and perhaps more. But the scripture does not contradict itself because Galatians 4:22 does not say "Abraham had only two sons."
So why are Ishmael and Isaac the only two sons mentioned in this passage in Galatians? They are the only two sons mentioned because they are the ones relevant to the point Paul is making about the two covenants.
Similarly, prayer and prophesying are the only two situations mentioned in the head covering passage because they are the ones that the Corinthians were having problems with. (Much of this epistle is about problems the Corinthians were having.)
2) Paul delivered a more comprehensive head covering tradition to the Corinthian Christians when he was with them for the year and a half in Corinth:
In the first place, the passage itself (verse 2) says that Paul had delivered (past tense) these traditions to them.
In the second place, it simply is not possible that Paul could have assembled and worshipped with the Corinthian Christians for a year and a half and not told them this. He would never have allowed them to do something "shameful", "improper", and a "dishonor" while he was worshipping with them.
In the third place, Paul's instruction in 1 Corinthians 11:2-16 is focused on the women at Corinth and not on the entire group. The men are mentioned only as support for his argument to the women. This shows that he had to have given a more comprehensive head covering tradition at a previous time to the whole group of both men and women Christians.
To explain what I mean --- I used to be a teacher. Whenever I had a new topic to present, I would teach it to the entire class. Later, after the students had had time to practice and I had had time to do some informal assessments, I would re-teach the topic but this time I would focus on the areas where the class was having problems, or I would focus on those students who were having problems.
Because Paul is focusing on the women, I infer that this is not the first time he has taught the Corinthian Christians about the head covering.
I also infer that not only is Paul focusing on the particular Christians who were having problems, but also on the particular areas where they were having problems; in other words, the initial instruction which Paul personally delivered to them in Corinth encompassed more than just the 2 situations of prayer / prophesying.
This agrees with the reason for the symbol which Paul gives in verse 7: "A man indeed ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God." A man's physical head is a symbol of Christ's authority and the glory of God. To cover his head is to symbolically cover or hide the authority of Christ and the glory of God, something which obviously should not be done during any part of his worship to God. Christ's authority should be acknowledged and God's glory should be shown forth not only during prayer and prophecy but also during speaking or hearing God's Word, singing hymns, taking the Lord's Supper, and so on.
FOURTH: The passage already gives the reason for the symbol.
The inspired apostle wrote in verse 7:
"A man indeed ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God."
The passage does NOT say:
"A man indeed ought not to cover his head, since men in the surrounding culture do not cover their heads."
And neither does it say:
"A man indeed ought not to cover his head, since man can do what Christ can do."
Paul also wrote in verse 10:
"For this reason the woman ought to have a symbol of authority on her head, because of the angels."
This verse does NOT say:
"For this reason the woman ought to have a symbol of authority on her head, because of the prostitutes."
Nor does it say:
"For this reason the woman ought to have a symbol of authority on her head, because that's the practice of the surrounding cultures."
Nor does it say:
"For this reason the woman ought to have a symbol of authority on her head, because a woman can do what a man can do."
We are not to take away from nor add to God's Word :
"Every word of God is pure; He is a shield to those who put their trust in Him. Do not add to His words, lest He rebuke you, and you be found a liar." Proverbs 30:5-6
"You shall not add to the word which I command you, nor take from it, that you may keep the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you." Deut. 4:2
" ... if anyone adds to these things, God will add to him the plagues that are written in this book; and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part from the Book of Life ... " Revelation 22:18-19
Since Paul has already given the reasons ("since man is the image and glory of God; but woman is the glory of man" and "because of the angels"), any other explanation for why a man should not cover his head or why a woman should cover hers involves taking away Paul's given reasons and adding in our own reasons.
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