man and woman-exegesis of biblical texts

By - manan251

1 Corinthians 11:2-16 Instalment 4.

The Underlying Theology. Discussions about angels and exousia may be interesting BUT what is really important is that we understand and believe the Underlying Theology of the creation of man and woman that Paul presents in 1 Cor 11:2-16.

A. It seems that the Corinthian church was basically doing what Paul had instructed them to do – women covering and men not covering
v2 “I commend you … you hold firmly to the traditions as I passed them on to you”.

So, even though Paul exhorts them to continue … “man ought not” and “woman ought” to cover in church, it would seem that his main aim is to make sure they understand the underlying theology behind the practice and the underlying reality in Christ. This is why he wrote.
v3 “But I want you to understand that the head of every man is Christ …”
v 12 “in the Lord”.

Now, as we will see, this theology is in regard to how God has created man as male and female.

What Paul does is give his interpretation ie., the authoritative interpretation, of Genesis 1 & 2 including the creation of woman out of man and man being created in the image of God.

It would bode us well to put effort into understanding this underlying creation theology that Paul is teaching us.

In my previous posts I have tried to tease out and locate the verses that relate to this undelying theology. It is very important not to leave out anything of this creation theology and also not to promote miscellaneous (background information) as being as important or part of this underlying creation theology.

Within current christendom, there are opposing interpretations, diametrically opposed interpretations, of Gen 1 & 2. Both/all cannot be correct. There can only be one correct understanding for their is only one creation and one creator.

I repeat again, this is the part of the New Testament where we are told by Paul how to interpret Genesis 1 & 2.

B. A disclaimer. For now, I won’t touch on 1 Cor 11:3 1 even though that verse is theologically fundamental to the passage. What I will try and do is analyse and hopefully synthesize Paul’s Old Testament Creation (of man and woman) theology from verses 7ff to 12. I will try to understand what Paul is saying and doing, and see if it can be understand as a coherent and flowing, interconnected argument.

3. A warning. If Paul here is explaining and interpreting Gen 1&2 (and possibly up to Gen 3:20) and Psalm 8, then we need to sit under his authority to do so. Many many people say Paul has got it wrong, they say he doesn’t understand Gen 1&2. They then give their understanding of Gen 1&2 and say that Paul is thus wrong. Paul has the authority to both explain and tell us what may seem to us extra or unusual information. e.g. about “glory of man” and “glory of God” in verse 7, or “man is the image of God”. One of the main methods of understanding difficult sections of the Bible is to compare scripture to scripture. Paul has the authority to do this authoritatively. This seems to be what he is doing here with Gen 1&2 and Psalm 8, which are the Old Testaments two main creation passages, the two main passages explaining the place of man in creation. Paul seems to be comparing and integrating these two passages. That is, he has done the comparing scripture to scripture work for us already.
An even more fundamental issue is the relation of Gen 1 to Gen 2. Even though we may not consciously subscribe to the long held prevailing academic view that Gen 1 and Gen 2 are completely separate accounts of creation and may actually be diametrically opposed in some features, we may be hesitant to read them as theologically connected. Or we just not know how they are connected. What I propose is that 1 Cor 11:7-12 is Paul showing us how they are connected. He is giving us his authoritative understanding of them. He has done the work for us of comparing Gen 1 to Gen 2 and tells us how they are connected. We, us personally and wider Christendom, need to sit under Paul’s authority and teaching here. The egalitarian mindset and re-interpretation of the Bible and in particular Gen 1&2 has exerted its authority and influence over many who profess Christ. Yet, here, Paul authoritatively explains the place of man and woman in Genesis 1 & 2. Our understanding of Gen 1 & 2 and the place of man and woman in creation needs to be consistent with what Paul says here in 1 Cor 11:7-12.

You may have gathered from my previous posts/instalments that I think we need to tease out the main arguments, the flow of Paul’s different types of arguments and literature.
I have previously called the headcovering argument, Paul’s main argument. And I have also referred to his underlying theology which is what I am going to look at now. I may at times also refer to this as his “theological argument”.

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The following isolates this theology


And in the following, I am going to further (for now) leave out two phrases from this, viz. “because of the angels” and “in the Lord”. I do this so we can better see the flow of his theological argument. Now, I will have to re-include them again later to understand the fuller scope of Paul’s argument.


I propose that all this underlying theology, this theological argument all comes from Gen 1 & 2 (and probably a bit from Gen 3:20) and Psalm 8 in the use of the term “glory”.
So we see
“image of God” from Gen 1:26&27,
“man” and “woman” from Gen 2:23,
“woman out of man” from Gen 2:22&23 Note: “woman out of man” is repeated by Paul in 1Cor 11:12a.
“woman for man” from Gen 2:20b-23 and Gen 2:18 “it is not good that the man should be alone”,
“neither woman without man, nor man without woman” possibly from Gen 1:26 “let them” and 1:27 “male and female. However, when we add back in “because of the angels” we see that Paul seems to be relating it back to Psalm 8.
“man through woman” seemingly from Gen 3:20.

There seems to be three main sections with the first two connected by the word “nevertheless””.
a. v7b-9
b. v11-12
c. v12c “all things out of God”.

At face value 7b-9 says

  • man (and in context man as opposed to woman) is the image of God
  • man is the glory of God
  • woman is the glory of man
    and then he refers to Genesis 2: “woman out of man” etc …
    This seems to entail an ordering (just as in 1 Cor 11:3 1) in the relationships of God, man and woman based on the order and sequence and purpose of God’s creative acts in creating man and building woman out of the man.
    He then in v11-12 seems to say that this ordering is not the whole story, that there is also a unity and and interdependence in the relationship of man and woman.
    Note: He never mentions equality whether in word or concept. It is not a word or concept that he uses to describe God’s creation of man and woman. He rather uses the concepts of order and unity/interdependence.
    Finally, he simply states that everything, all this ordering and unity/interdependence of man/woman comes from God. Once again re-affirming 1 Cor 11:3 1.

But, where and why does Paul introduce the idea of “glory”? The word is not present in Gen 1 & 2.
Gen 1 & 2 AND Psalm 8 are the two main places in the Old Testament that tell us of the place of man in God’s creation.
Psalm 8:4 “What is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him?”
Psalm 8:5 “Yet you have made him a little lower than the heavenly beings, and crowned him with glory and honor.”
Now, some technical information.
a. In the Septuagint (Greek) Old Testament “heavenly beings” is translated as “angels”.
b. In Hebrews 2:7, Psalm 8 is quoted and the translation “angels’’ is used. So, the New Testament writers were familiar with Psalm 8:5 as referencing angels.

In his use of “glory” and his referencing “angels” it would seem that Paul is referencing Psalm 8 and integrating Psalm 8 and Gen 1 & 2. This is further likely since Paul also uses the word/concept of “honor” in his main argument in 1 Cor 11:4-10. This word/concept “honor” is also found in Psalm 8:5. And further still, but admittedly much more tenuously, is that the word “crowned” is also mentioned in Psalm 8. Now, a crown is something you wear on your head, it is a symbol of authority, even if it is metaphorical in Psalm 8. And 1 Cor 11:2-16 is also about what you wear on your head. So, in Psalm 8:5 there are up to 4 words/concepts that Paul uses in 1Cor11:2-16 “glory”, “angels”, “honor”, and possibly “crowned”.

At its basic level, the creation narrative, Psalm 8 is about the order of creation – the place of God and man and the rest of creation (Psalm 8:6 “dominion over the work of your hands”) and the angels. It is about order and dare we say it, authority for clearly the “crowned with glory and honor” of Psalm 8:5 is related to the “dominion over” of Psalm 8:6.

In 1Cor 11:7-12 Paul is integrating this Psalm of order and authority into his discussion. He is discussing and interpreting Gen 1 & 2 in light of Psalm 8, in terms of order and authority. He is indicating that Gen 1 & 2 must also be interpreted and understood in terms of order and authority.

But, how does it relate specifically to Gen 1 & 2?
Genesis 1:26-27 has some enigmas in it. One of these relates to the use of singulars and plurals in regard to both God and man. But, for now, we will discuss these in relation to man, and not regarding God. (If you are interested to explore this further, I have articles on 1 that discuss Gen 1 & 2 in more detail including the singular/plural designations for God.).

Let us make man (singular) in our image (singular), after our likeness.
and let them (plural) have dominion over the fish of the sea and the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.
So God created man (singular) in his own image (singular)
in the image (singular) of God He created him (singular)
male and female (dual) he created them (plural/dual).

It does seem as if Moses has failed year 1 basic Hebrew, mixing up his singulars and his plurals. So, is it man (singular) or is it man-male & female plural, that is the image of God? And Paul explains that the answer is Yes. Yes, it is man singular who is the image of God. and also Yes, it is man plural – male and female who is the image of God. Paul, explains what Gen 2 is doing to answer this question, this enigma in Gen 1.

In Genesis 2 we get the details of the creation of man in the image of God. It is described as a 2 stage process. First, Adam is created from dust. Then Eve is built from Adam. Eve is NOT created from the dust. She is not independently created to Adam. She is not another image of God. Just as she is not an animal, separately created to Adam. Adam did not find her amongst the animals. She was not created from a separate piece of dust to Adam. She was not formed out of the ground as were the animals and as was Adam. She is unique in all God’s creatures. There is no other creature like her. Adam is like the animals in that he was created out of a piece of dust. Eve is not like this. If Adam had found Eve amongst the animals, then she would have been an animal and by implication so too would Adam. But, she is not an animal. Nor is Adam, and the way we know that is because Eve is formed out of him.
The building of Eve out of Adam is the second stage in the process of Adam being made in the image of God. It is what tells us that man is not an animal.

It is Adam (singular in Gen 1) who is the image of God.
Yet, without woman Adam is not and cannot be the image of God. Gen 2:18 “it is not good for man to be alone”. The job of creating Adam/man in the image of God was not complete, it was not good. Compare Gen 1:31 “it was very good” where it is describing the completed process.
With woman being found amongst the animals, Adam could not be the image of God. Yes, he is glorious, yes, he is smart, he can talk and think and … but all this only makes him a smart animal. It does not make him the image of God. What makes him the image of God is that Eve is made out of him.
The Bible never describes woman as the image of God, just as in parallel it never describes her as an animal. She is neither. She is unique. She is woman. She is the only one who is made out of man. She is the glory of man. She completes Adam to be the image of God. And so, Genesis 1:27 can also say
“in the image of God … male and female he created them”
BUT the whole sentence also says
“in the image of God he created him (singular), male and female he created them (dual/plural)”.
It is him, Adam/man who is created the image of God, and that creating is complete when woman is built out of him.
What a glorious thing God has done in building woman out of man/Adam.

So when Paul says
“man … is the image and glory of God, but woman is the glory of man” I am proposing that he is in effect saying
man is the glory of God (Gen 2:5-17) + woman is the glory of man (Genesis 2:19-23) = man is the image of God (Genesis 1:26-27).

Paul’s analysis and interpretation of Gen 1 & 2 in 1Cor 11:7-12 is the only interpretation that we are allowed. We are not allowed to independently (ie. independently of Paul) interpret Gen 1 & 2 and to say or imply like many do, that Paul got it wrong.
We have an authoritative interpretation of Gen 1 & 2, let us work hard to understand it. Hopefully, my analysis and this discussion is doing that. The tragegy of the rejection of the headcovering practice in churches is that it is also a symbol of the rejection of what Paul has to say about Gen 1 & 2.

Now, because Paul is integrating Psalm 8 into his analysis in 1Cor 11:7-12, there seems to be even more that he is telling us about Gen 1 & 2. Psalm 8, as I said above, is a creation psalm about the ordering of creation, about the place of man and the chain of authority of God, man, angels and the other creatures (animals).

It is the concept of “honor” that links the theological argument in 1 Cor 11:7-12 to Paul’s main argument about headcoverings. As I said previously, this too is a word/concept that is rooted in Psalm 8:5. Psalm 8 is about order and authority.

As I pointed out previously, Paul has taken the single mention of “glory” of man in Psalm 8:5 and teased it out into 2 components in his interpretation/explanation of Gen 2, viz man is the glory of God as seen in the creation of Adam/man from the dust, and woman is the glory of man, as seen in the building of woman out of man/Adam.
His understanding of the glory of man in Psalm 8 is that there is an order in that glory. And this is entirely consistent with the overall theme of Psalm 8 that there is order and authority in creation. Paul, is making explicit the details of that internal glory of man as seen in Genesis 2.

He also seems to do a similar thing with “honor”. In Psalm 8:5 there is just the single mention of “honor”, but because of the internal ordering of creation as seen in the different but interdependent glories of man and woman, Paul in 1Cor 11:4-10 teases out that ordering of honor in terms of the practice of headcovering. So, just as “man is the glory of God”, so man has a special honor to give to God and just as “woman is the glory of man” she has a special honor to give to man. And so these “glories” and “honourings” in 1 Cor 11:2-16 are ordered and part of the chain of authority inherent in creation as we are told in Psalm 8 that creation is ordered and encompasses a chain of authority. And of course, it is 1Cor 11:3 1 that bluntly and definitively tells us this at the very beginning of Paul’s discussion.


So,now let’s get back to 1 Cor 11:7-9


in my analysis I am proposing that both v7 and v8 are Paul’s quoting and interpreting and explaining Genesis 2 and 1.

It is easy to agree that “woman out of man” comes from Gen 2 but what I am further proposing is that “man is …the glory of God, … woman is the glory of man” also comes from Gen 2 elucidating the 2 stage process (Adam/man from dust and woman from Adam/man) of the creation of man/Adam in the image of God (Gen 1) as male and female (Gen 1). However, because Paul is using the Psalm 8 language of “glory” then its context of and association with order and authority is also part and parcel of what is inherent in this 2 stage process of the creation of adam/man in the image of God. That is, that woman was created out of man and for man means there is inherently order and authority within man as male and female. The connection with Psalm 8 and the understanding of Gen 2 and 1 in terms of Psalm 8 establishes this.
Basically, Paul is saying that we know there is order and authority in creation because of Psalm 8. There is order and authority btweeen creator and creature and there is order and authority between creatures – man, angels and animals. The 2 fold creation of man as the image of God also tells us that there is order and authority within man.

So, now, let’s move on to 1Cor 11:11-12
[Note: I have left out “because of the angels” and “in the Lord” to better get the flow of the theological argument. Though I have indicated above that “because of the angels” is a reference to Psalm 8:5 and ties what Paul is arguing back in to Psalm 8. After I analyse the flow, I will come back to “because of the angels”.]


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So, here Paul says “however/nevertheless”.
He has established the truth about the order and authority of the creation of man and woman. But, that is not the only thing that is true.
He now says
“neither (is) woman separate from man, nor man separate from woman”.
He points out that there is a unity to man and woman. They are not separate creatures. They are not different animals with each being made separately in God’s image. The order and authority inherent in their creation MUST ONLY be understood in the context of their unity. It is often argued that Paul in 1Cor 11:7 really means that “man is the image of God” and that “woman is the (a separate) image of God” and that he just forgot to say the second part. That is, that they, man and woman, are each separately made in the image of God. This is wrong. There can be nothing further from the truth. It is the exact opposite of what Paul is telling us. And it is the exact opposite of what Gen 1 & 2 tells us. It is often further argued that Paul cannot mean that man/Adam is in the image of God and woman is not described by him as such because God has made both man and woman (male and female) in His image in Gen 1:27. This too misunderstands Gen 1 and what Paul is saying in this passage. He is telling us that man and woman are not separate images. Within the man being the image of God, the woman is included as part of that image, and as we discussed above, the essential part without whom man/Adam would not be the image of God. In God’s completed “it was very good” for Adam/man to be the image of God, Eve was as essential as Adam. 1 Cor 11:11 “neither woman without man, nor man without woman”. Yet, it still remains true that it is Adam/man who is the image of God.

I will continue on with the flow of the argument in v12 (leaving out for now “in the Lord” just as I have left out “because of the angels”).

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for just as the woman out of the man, so also the man through the woman.”

Here Paul seems to be referencing
Gen 3:20b “she was the mother of all living”
which is seen in
Gen 4:1 “…Eve … bore Cain, saying Ï have gotten a man with the help of the LORD.””

So, Paul is saying, you can see clearly in Genesis with woman being the bearer of children, that their is a unity in the interdependence of man and woman, and more than this there is a dependence of man on woman. The whole system, of man and woman, that God has created is one of unity and interdependence, even though their is order and authority.
It is to be noted, he begins this verse, by re-affirming what he previously said about “woman out of man” and all that the 2 stage creation process of man in the image of God creates, entails and implies.

*Before, I get back to “because of the angels” and “in the Lord” I want to divert to an area of application. *
I must admit that in practice for many years (and still currently at times) I have used the wording “men and women are equal but different” and “men and women are each made in image of God but they have different roles”. It has been helpful in trying to explain the error of egalitarian theology. However, I have a growing unease with these statements.
Firstly, earlier I pointed out that Paul and Gen 1 & 2 never use the language of equality.
*Secondly, I have argued that Paul and Genesis and the rest of the Bible, does not refer to woman, independently of man, being a separate image of God. *
Thirdly, I wonder that “roles” may not be the right word. Yes, men and women are different, but I think the difference is not just in roles, but is more fundamental than that. To be a woman is who you are as God’s creature not just a role. To be a woman and a mother is not just a role, it is who women were made to be. And similarly for men. It seems to me that the term roles is used because we still keep talking about both men and women being equal, being separately made in the image of God, and we describe their differences as roles. Whereas, I think Paul and Gen do not do this. Men and women are different and should do different things but this difference is founded upon and nourished by an essential unity and interdependence. The difference to animals is that we are all made from the one piece of dust, and so are in the image of God, so for humanity (for men and women) there is a fundamental unity that underlies our differences. Just as Paul argues about the church, that Christ is the head and we are the body made up of different parts. There is a fundamental unity underlying our differences. We are one. We each do different things, we each play different roles, but we do so as the one body. I am not the church and you the church. I am not the body of Christ and you a separate body of Christ each performing different roles. We together are the body of Christ. So, too man and woman are not separate images of God, but are described as being from the one man, from the one body, from the one piece of dust, together making man the image of God.

Enough of the diversion.
Where do “because of the angels” and “in the Lord” fit in.
As I have intimated, the main theological argument flows and makes sense without them.
Yet, they are there.

“Because of the angels”. As you have observed, I have moved its location from where it is in the English translations. Actually, I haven’t really moved it at all. All I have done is change the punctuation.
In English translations, there is a comma before “because of the angels” and a full-stop after it, which makes it part of the previous sentence. It then is tied directly to the issue of headcovering in church. And so commentators come up with a bewildering array of reasons why angels are related to headcovering in church. Note: There are no commas or fullstops in the greek.
However, If you put a fullstop before “Because of the angels” and a comma after it, it then becomes part of the following sentence.
“Because of the angels, nevertheless, woman is not separate to man, nor man separate to woman”.

So, now, we have to try and understand how “because of the angels” is related to this bit of theology about man and woman.
First we need to note that this bit of theology has connections.
a. Nevertheless, connects it with what Paul has just said previously. It is a balancing of what he has said, in that it is filling out and adding to what he has said. What he has said is not the whole story.
b. it connects with what follows, for the next verse begins with “for”, and there in v12b Paul explains or gives an example in terms of Gen 3:20.
So, whatever “because of angels” means or is doing, it has to make sense in terms of these 3 bits of theology v7-10 v11 itself v12b and what Paul is arguing in regard to them. This makes speculation about angels a bit more problematic. It restricts our speculations. Yes, we might still speculate but there are now severe restrictions on the speculations.

Previously, I have argued that Paul is explaining how he understands (and so how we should understand) Gen 1 & 2 through in conjunction with Psalm 8. I have pointed out that Psalm 8:5 contains the words/concepts “glory”, “honor”, “crowned” and “angels” and how these same words/concepts seem to be present in 1Cor 11:2-16.
So, for me the simplest explanation of “because of the angels” is just as a textual reference, not even trying to ascertain any meaning from it. It is simply a way of pointing us to Psalm 8. So, it would basically mean, “because of what Psalm 8 says”.
I am very happy to take it just as that.
Yet, that still raises the question, what does Psalm 8 say about man and woman and their unity and interdependence?
Well, in one sense Nothing. And in another Everything.
Woman is not directly mentioned in Psalm 8.
She is not independently mentioned, nor is male man.
And this may be Paul’s point. As you look at this passage which outlines the place of man in creation in relation to God and to the angels and to the animals, man is here described as a whole, a unity, not as independent and competing man and woman. There is no separate male and no separate female, it is just mankind.
In this broad overview, there is no differentiation made, there is no rivalry, there is no separation, it is just mankind.
So, what is Paul saying?
Even, though I have explained that the order and authority seen in Psalm 8 does also apply internally to man as man and woman because of the details of the creation account in Gen 2, there is also a sense in which they do not apply for mankind as male and female are an essential unity. The order and the differentiation are not such that they are separate creatures.
He then re-iterates this in verse 12, for just as “woman out of man” is true ie. order and authority is true, so too is it true that man and woman are interdependent as seen in the woman being the bearer of man.
As a sidenote, in the other famous passage in 1 Tim 2 about Adam and Eve, he also points out the fundamental and honored position woman has as childbearer 1 Tim 2:15.

So, finally, what about “in the Lord”.
I think I have shown that the phrase “in the Lord” is not essential to understand the flow of Paul’s theological argument.
However, it is essential to understand him fully.
“In the Lord” could either go with v11 or with v12 or it could be meant to go with both, as verse 12 is logically connected and part of the argument of verse 11.
As I put, “because of the angels” as a conditional clause of verse 11, it seems more balanced to me to put “in the Lord” as a type of conditional/situational clause of verse 12.
11 “Nevertheless, because of the angels, neither is woman without man, nor man without woman””
12 “For, in the Lord, just as woman out of man, so also the man through woman”.

Verse 12 has the 2 sides to it, and it thus seems to be a summary type statement of the 2 sides to vv7-9 and v11. And in fact, verse 12a is simply a repetition of v8b “woman out of man”. Even without “in the Lord”, the repetition of 8b in 11a re-inforces the centrality of Gen 2 “out of man” in Paul’s discussion. By giving the nevertheless in verse 11 he is not backtracking or contradicting what he said, the theological argument, in vv-9. In fact, in v12 he says “just as”. That is, both things are true and make up reality.
However, when he adds “in the Lord” it makes it inescapable for Christians to believe what he has said in his arguments. These things are the reality in Christ. These things cannot be explained away as part of the fall. They are part of the new creation, of being in Christ. Man and woman have been created as one image, man the image of God, as male and female and within this image there is order and authority between man and woman all within the fundamental unity and interdependence that comes through woman being built out of man. They are the reality of the created order as Paul explains from Gen 1 & 2 and Psalm 8 and they indeed are the reality of being in Christ. Christ has come to restore the original creation.


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