StudyI Corinthians 11:2 Now I praise you because you remember me in everything and hold firmly to the traditions, just as I delivered them to you.
Paul tells this congregation that they have been good about the traditions he taught them. What is interesting is that Paul doesn’t say Gospel and he doesn’t say law or Torah he says traditions. In Acts 28:17 Paul references the customs or the traditions of the Fathers. What traditions could Paul be talking about here?I Corinthians 11:3 But I want you to understand that Christ is the head of every man, and the man is the head of a woman, and God is the head of Christ.
I always find it helpful to consult http://www.blueletterbible.com when it comes to languages and literal interpretations. My first question here is the “but” at the beginning of the verse, is it in the original language? Then I want to know more about this word “head”. There is some debate as to what language the Brit Hadashah was originally written in Aramaic, Hebrew or Greek. What we have to work with is Greek so I will look to that to answer these questions.
For the first there is a conjunction word in the Greek all the translations I have available agree except Young’s Literal it translates it “and”. The Greek word is “de” and is the same word that is translated as “and” in the rest of the verse. Why does it matter, in some verses say “but” instead of “and” may change the whole meaning. In this case I agree with Young’s and this is why. There is no evidence in our understanding of first century Judaism that the man being the head of the house would be a new teaching. Everything we know about the Jews is that they are a patriarchal society. To say Paul taught the tradition “but” man is the head of the house only makes sense if man being head of the house wasn’t the norm. So I’m going to go with Paul praises the congregation and leads into another teaching this one being on the order of man and woman, man and Messiah, and Messiah and God.
This leads into my next question, what Greek is used for head and is there any history with this term or concept in Judaism. The Greek is “kephale” is means literally a head and also metaphorically the one in charge. We see this word used in describing anointing one’s head and also in the Matthew 21:42 where Yeshua refers to himself as the “head of the corner” or the “chief cornerstone.” The concept of someone being the head of another is not unknown then, this is a common way to describe a hierarchy.
So Paul is saying that
God is in charge or the lead of Messiah Yeshua.
Messiah is in charge or the lead of every man.
Man is in charge of woman.
For the most part this ancient flowchart is generally accepted. The practice of it may be debated, but Paul makes it very clear. The pattern God wants us to acknowledge and follow is God > Messiah > Man > Woman. In the verse the Greek reveals that the word for “every” can mean every individual man or it can mean mankind. I tend to think it means mankind because every single adult should fall directly under the leadership of Messiah.