Wisconsin Lutheran Chapel logo

God’s Word for You

1 Corinthians 11:7-10 Because of the angels

by Pastor Timothy Smith on Tuesday, April 18, 2023

7 A man ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God; but the woman is the glory of man. 8 For man is not from woman, but woman is from man; 9 nor was man created for the woman, but woman for the man.

Keeping with this example (again I want to point out: it was unique to the Greeks and therefore to the Corinthians), Paul wants to teach something about men and women. This would have been known to Jews simply from their traditions but more especially from the Creation account. With the Greeks, Paul chose to use an everyday (Corinthian) example. A man ought not, should not, must not cover his head in worship. Why? Because he was made in the image of God (Genesis 1:26, 9:6). Now, man lost the image of God in the fall. Adam and Eve lost it from the moment of their sin, and so the crown and glory of that image, which was surely God’s holiness and righteousness, was gone. There were some small traces left; like a dry husk or an empty shell; the wrapping paper and empty box in which a treasured gift was packed. Man still has a soul, emotions, a will, and a ruined but still present ability to think and to reason.

Man, the male, is also God’s glory. For above all other creatures in the creation, the man retains some thought and compassion for others, even for those not his own kind. A lion or a whale may care for their young, and an old goat, even a wether or an old auntie nanny, will care for young in the flock even if they are not the parents. But only a man will care for goats, cows, horses, chickens, ducks, donkeys and mules as well as his own dear children (2 Samuel 12:3). In this way even fallen man (at least in some cases) retains that over-arching care of God for the creation.

Paul would not argue about this trait found or not found in women, although certain women might. Instead, Paul takes his doctrine as always from the Scripture. Eve was made after Adam, and it is clear that she was made entirely for Adam. As man reflects God’s glory like a gem or a mirror reflects the bright light, so also the woman reflects man’s glory. Paul draws this fact from the account: man was not created for woman, but woman for the man. Paul even makes careful use of the definite article (“the”) by saying: “Woman, women in general, womankind, was made for ‘the’ man, that is, Adam.” God could have done this in another way, but he did not. His choice was to teach us even in the order of the creation, and the facts of the creation remain.

But woman, we must admit, is indeed the glory of man. He describes her as “bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh” (Genesis 2:23). He works and lives to love and support her. She is lovely to look at, to listen to, to think about; she gives birth as the fountain of human life in person, in her own body. When she is a man’s wife, he wants to decorate her with beautiful things (“We will make you earrings of gold, studded with silver” Song of Solomon 1:10-11). He, on the other hand, is scarred and worn with his work to support her and care for her. He is tired, bent, often bleeding, for her sake. He may become lined and ugly with his years, but she will remain beautiful to him always. He will love her as long as he lives whether she is his mother or his wife; if she dies, he will wither without her. What she does in life, she does to please him, and in this way she constantly shows herself to be his glory. Her love and respect is reflected in her thoughts, her words, and her deeds.

10 For this reason the woman ought to have a sign of authority on her head, because of the angels.

Paul doesn’t explain this, and therefore we must understand that the Corinthians didn’t need any strange explanations. He says “angels” with no qualifying phrase, and therefore he means the good angels. Women should show the sign of authority on their heads in Corinth because of the angels. What do we learn from this?

1, The good angels are aware of local customs.
2, The angels know what is happening in God’s creation at all times (1 Timothy 3:16) and give constant praise to God (Revelation 5:11 ).
3, The angels are aware of our behavior in worship (Luke 12:8).
4, The angels are aware of our study of Scripture and also long to look into these things; even profiting by our study, for these things are written for man’s benefit (John 20:31; Hebrews 2:16; 1 Peter 1:12).
5, The angels are delighted when we show our faith (1 Timothy 5:21).
6, The angels are delighted when we confess our faith (1 Corinthians 4:9).
7, The angels rejoice when sinners repent (Luke 15:10).
8, The angels grieve when Christians fail to stand up for their faith (Acts 23:8) but do not judge us, for it is God who judges (2 Peter 2:11).
9, The angels grieve when Christians fail to take opportunities to show their faith; they will disown those who reject Christ (Luke 12:9).
10, The angels are grieved by inappropriate, disrespectful, and especially by blasphemous behavior in worship (Colossians 2:18).
11, The angels are grieved when man damages, ruins, or otherwise harms God’s creation (Romans 8:22).
12, The angels are aware of customs that are not godly but are blasphemous, and they fight unseen battles to protect us from these things (Daniel 10:13; Psalm 91:11-12).
13, The angels wage unseen war to protect God’s people from many unseen dangers (Genesis 19:15; Daniel 10:20; Luke 4:10)
14, The angels are completely subordinate to Christ, and they are delighted when we, too, make ourselves subordinate according to God’s design (John 1:51).
15, The holy angels are therefore also Christ’s glory, reflecting him in all they do, as Jesus says about the day when he will “come in his Father’s glory with his holy angels” (Mark 8:38).

Surely this verse teaches us more about these things, but please let this suffice for now. We each have glory to reflect, and we each should reflect upon this and give it careful thought. How am I showing my place in God’s creation today? How am I showing that I am happy with my place, that the boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places (Psalm 16:6)? Pray for each other; pray that we all find contentment in our place, and that we each do our duty before the Lord as the angels do. Let us learn from their constancy, from their lovely obedience, and from the simple joy they have as they carry out their duties.

So let us carry out ours.

In Christ,
Pastor Timothy Smith

Pastor Tim Smith
About Pastor Timothy Smith
Pastor Smith serves St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in New Ulm, Minnesota. To receive God’s Word for You via e-mail, please visit the St. Paul’s Lutheran Church website.


Browse Devotion Archive