1Co 11:8-10 “For the man is not of the woman; but the woman of the man. Neither was the man created for the woman; but the woman for the man. For this cause ought the woman to have power on her head because of the angels. Nevertheless neither is the man without the woman, neither the woman without the man, in the Lord.”
As we consider these scriptures, we cannot lose sight of the focus of Paul’s instruction; that we should be followers of Christ (1Co 11:1). He gives us instruction of how that we are to behave ourselves in the worship of God. In order to truly worship Him, our attention must be on Christ and His church. Regardless of the “natural” order of things, nothing supersedes our need for, and devotion to, Him.
Paul’s instruction was to be sure that we see Christ. The man should have his head, which is Christ, uncovered. Nothing or no one should overshadow the influence of Christ. The woman should have her head, which is the man, covered. Even her husband should not have superiority over Christ in her life. A truly godly husband should praise God every day if he is blessed to have a wife whose first love is Jesus Christ.
Paul then gives instruction in the proper order of God’s work in creation. He made man from the dust of the earth, breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living soul. Adam was God’s first human creation. Woman had no separate physical existence at that point, so man is not of (or from) the woman in creation.
After God made man, He “saw” that it was not good for the man to be alone. This in no way indicates that God made a discovery that surprised Him. This is written for our benefit that we may understand that God had a purpose in making us as He did. Because man needed help, God caused a deep sleep to fall upon him, removed a rib and made the rib woman. Adam called her name Eve, and she was created for him by God’s grace.
Paul’s assertion “For this cause” in verse ten does not signify that man is in any way the driving force behind how God saw fit to create. These words should point us directly to God and His holy will. Because it pleased God to work in this manner, the woman is under obligation (see Strong’s definition for “ought”) to have authority or liberty (see Strong’s definition for “power”) on her head. This is made evident through (because of) the angels.
There are many different ideas about the reference to the angels in this verse. Some believe that it refers to literal angels watching over our worship and that we should be circumspect before them. Others are of the opinion that it refers to not tempting otherwise righteous young men to sin. Some point to the custom in Paul’s day of a man or woman being able to use a proxy in the offering of or acceptance of a betrothal: the proxy was referred to as an angel. It seems to me more applicable to the fact that God has sent His messengers (angels) over and over again to affirm the message of His power and authority in creation and over our worship. None can stay His hand or question Him (Dan 4:35).
However, in Christ we are a new creature. The man cannot boast of supremacy over the woman nor can the woman claim no need for the man. In Christ we are all one body. He is our glorious head, and we should desire to see Him plainly seen in the earth. We should rejoice that, like Eve in creation, we are of our Husband’s body; made flesh of His flesh and bone of His bone according to the will and purpose of God.
May we give heed to the messengers God sends who declare the gospel of our Head for our good and His glory!