Sunday, 10 November 2013

Head-coverings are ‘because of the angels’? What does that mean?

1Corinthians 11:10  This is why a woman should have authority over her own head: because of the angels. (ISV)
One interpretation of this verse is both ridiculous and ridiculously popular amongst Christians; it is said that this verse teaches that unless women cover their heads in prayer, fallen angels will come and rape them…  This comes from the sadly distorted view that fallen angels bred with human women and produced giant offspring.  See here for a thorough refutation of that interpretation:
Were there giants on the earth?

Another classical and more sensible interpretation is presented by the outstanding commentator, Bengel: ‘[L]et the woman cover herself because of the angels, i.e. because the angels are also covered. As the angels are to God, so the woman is to the man. The face of God is manifested: whereas the angels are covered, Isaiah 6.’
This is a standard interpretation and, whilst I do not disagree with it, I believe the meaning is even deeper.

Professor Beet in Exell’s Biblical Illustrator: ‘Already (4:9) we have seen the angels contemplating the apostles’ hardships. They attend upon men (Heb 1:14), are placed side by side of the Church militant (Heb 12:22), and desire to look into the teaching of the prophets (1Pe 1:12). Now, if they take interest in men, they must take special interest in those assemblies in which men unitedly draw near to God, and which have so great influence upon the spiritual life of men. We must therefore conceive them present at the public worship of the church.’

Therefore, the angels, who were not given wives to marry (Matthew 22:30), desire to observe the marriages of God’s people and how this is symbolic of Christ and His church (Ephesians 5:25 & Revelation 21:9) and all that God is performing and the depth of it reflected in His creation, especially the new creatures of Christ’s kingdom.


  1. Our baptist church recently did a teaching on this. The clearest I've heard. Semper Reformamda

    1. I saw the sermon and I think many of the points made were good. I do not agree with his excluse psalmody view as an aside.
      People need to read more commentaries on this matter rather than just taking their pastor's word for it.