The point of Worship ( 1 Corinthians 11: 1-16)

Why do we come together for worship?  What is a church gathering all about?                Key things

Praise and Glory to God

Hearing God speak to us together

Encouraging and building one another up

This will help us make sense of the next section of 1 Corinthians because

  1. This is where the focus is
  2. These are things the Corinthians haven’t been too good at.

NB – Aware this morning that this section of 1 Corinthians can prove controversial and difficult

  1. The importance of love, charity and humility -as we get to grips with God’s Word together
  2. A willingness to allow God to speak to me means he will disagree with me.

The Big Issue  (v 3-6)

Men and Women – public speaking in church, praying and prophesying


Women to cover heads

Men to uncover heads

What’s it about …. ?

Cultural norm – men short hair, women long hair but tied neatly and often esp for married women – covered in public[1]


–          Women were seeing a church gathering in their home as just a private thing [2]-so head covering didn’t matter. This would be a bit like turning up in your pyjamas and slippers


–          Possibly asserting freedom[3] – I can do what I want. This would be a bit like someone getting up and throwing away their wedding ring before speaking to the Church.


Example of God’s Word disagreeing with two approaches

  1. That women are subjected and so silent and invisible in church. The women speak here
  2. That we can do what we want – complete unshackled freedom, pursuing our own dreams and ideas at whatever expense.  No, we are constrained by the authority of God’s Word.

The Reason  For Paul’s instruction

What God tells us about himself and his plan and purpose for us (v 7-12)

NB Headship is not about status or value – men and women are equal (Gen 1)  Christ is fully and equally God but The Father = his head (v 3)

Men – made in God’s image to glorify him (v 7)

Roman/Greek culture – head covering = mourning[4] and/or pagan worship[5] – both associations dishonour Christ as man’s head

Women/wives (v 7-9)  – made for man -a helper to complement him/complete him cf Gen 2

C.f.  v 11-12 This is not hierarchy/inequality – men come from women too mothers to sons!

What we do in church should reflect that we get this. I think it’s partly to do with getting God’s purpose for marriage to show the relationship of Christ to the church (cf Eph 5). Don’t do things in church that undermine the home (cf last Sunday folly tearing the home down)

There’s probably a broader application here.  What behaviour do we model for our children if we show that we rebel against order and authority in the church family, if we are pushy to get our way and expect life to revolve around us, if we won’t take advice, if we are selfish etc.  What example will they follow at home?

The converse is true humble, servant hearted, loving believers can modal this and gain the love and respect of their family too

Our witness to others

Worship is public … impact on others.

Angels (v10)[6]

Wider society and culture (v 14)

NLT “Isn’t it obvious” – literally to do with “The natural order” – but this isn’t in this context about creation order. Rather it’s about what people culturally knew to be right and proper.[7]

NB This isn’t about conforming to the World’s practices but about living in obedience to Christ so that the World sees our love for him, each other and them

The wider church (v16)

Remember the Corinthians were proud, puffed up with knowledge, thought they’s already “arrived” and wanted to rule over the church.

This is part of the call to do the opposite, loving, humble service putting the needs of others and unity of the body first


NB – lots of potential discussion about how we apply Scripture to our context for marriage and church life (c.f. e-books on faithroots)

But this is about much more than church structures and outward symbols

Have we grasped the purpose of worship?

Do we use the church for our own ends – fulfilling our needs

Do we come to serve or be served? -song choices, sermons, prayers, words etc

Family or consumers?

[1] Garland, Kindle version, location 11951.

[2] Garland, Kindle version location 11654

[3] See Fee, 497.

[4] Fee, 506-7.

[5] Fee, 508.

[6] Garland, Location 12125.

[7] Fee, 526-529.