1Co 11:1-4 “Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ. Now I praise you, brethren, that ye remember me in all things, and keep the ordinances, as I delivered them to you. But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God. Every man praying or prophesying, having his head covered, dishonoureth his head.”
In chapter ten of this epistle, Paul has instructed us to do everything we do to the glory of God. We have been counseled to seek the good of others ahead of our own desires. Paul shows by his writing and his actions that this is the way he lives his life.
In this first verse of chapter eleven, Paul affirms that to live in this manner is according to the example that our Lord and Savior has left for us. He has told us how we must live if we would indeed be Christians. He has also given us a guide concerning following the ministers God sends among us: follow them only as they follow Christ.
Paul was not one for giving out false praise. Seeing the tone of this letter and the multitude of errors the saints at Corinth were walking in, we might be prone to wonder about his comment in verse two. Some scholars have suggested that Paul was being sarcastic with his brethren. However, being on the receiving end of sarcasm has seldom inspired men to a right action for the right reasons.
Since they sent and inquired of Paul concerning all these issues they had, it seems reasonable for Paul to assert that they remembered him in all things. In other words, whatever the issue, they had sufficient confidence in the understanding that Paul had received through the Holy Ghost to seek his counsel. They remembered that Paul was a man of God and always sought to give God the glory in everything.
While they obviously had missed the mark on a number of issues (i.e. who deserved their praise, the relationship of husbands and wives, things offered to idols, etc.), Paul pointed out that they had kept the ordinances as he had delivered them. This is understood by most scholars to point directly to water baptism and keeping the Lord’s Supper. What is obvious here is that Paul felt it necessary in the midst of all his rebuke and instruction to show his brothers and sisters in Corinth that not all their actions were wrong.
Paul understood that in order for his correction to be received as it should, everything he said could not be critical. This is not psychology, per se, but rather a principle that he repeats in other places. For instance, Paul’s letter to the Galatians was loaded with rebuke, but he still called their attention to the fact that it had not all been a failure. He told the Galatians “Ye did run well; who did hinder you that ye should not obey the truth (Gal 5:7)?”
As with the Galatians, Paul had more to say to the Corinthians, and he wanted to be sure he had their attention. He told them they had done some things right, but there was still something they did not know (see with understanding). Today, we still seem to have a problem “seeing” this truth: Christ is the head of every man. Whether we are a pauper or a king, a janitor or a president, Christ is our head.
Christ is our head by virtue of authority. The man is the head of the woman by virtue of creation. God is the head of Christ in the person of Jesus, but do not doubt that in the working of the Triune God, they are one and the same. Every man who worships and speaks by divine inspiration needs to do with his head uncovered.
To truly understand what is being taught us here, we must keep in mind that Christ is the head of the man. When we pray (worship) or prophesy (speak with inspiration), it must be done in such a way that God receives the glory. Christ must be seen to be the center of our worship and praise, and that we hold no other in the same regard. If we have a form of worship that in any way honors man or gives man any credit for our salvation, then we have our head (Christ) covered so that He is not clearly seen to be all in all.
May the Holy Spirit guide us that Christ may be clearly seen in our worship and praise!