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"TEXT. . 28 But if any man say unto you, “This is offered in sacrifice unto idols,”
eat not, for his sake that showed it, and for conscience sake. For,
the earth is the Lord's, and the fulness thereof. 29 Conscience, I say, not thine own, but of the others: for why is my
liberty judged of another man's conscience ? 30 For if I, by grace, be a partaker, why am I evil spoken of for that
for which I give thanks ? 31 Whether, therefore, ye eat or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to
the glory of God. 32 Give none offence, neither to the Jews, nor to the Gentiles, nor to
the church of God : 33 Even as I please all men in all things, not seeking mine own profit,
but the profit of many, that they may be saved. XI. 1. Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ.
PARAPHRASE. you go, eat whatever is set before you, without making any
question or scruple about it, whether it had been offered in sa28 crifice, or no. But if any one say to you,
66 This was offered in sacrifice to an idol,” eat it not, for his sake that mentioned 29 it, and for conscience sakea. Conscience, I say, not thine own,
(for thou knowest thy liberty, and that an idol is nothing) but the conscience of the other. For why should I use my
liberty so, that another man should in conscience think I offend30 ed? And if I, with thanksgiving, partake of what is lawful
for me to eat, why do I order the matter so, that I am ill31 spoken of, for that which I bless God for? Whether, there
eat or drink, or whatever you do, let your care and aim 32 be the glory of God. Give no offence to the Jews, by giving
them occasion to think that Christians are permitted to worship heathen idols ; nor to the Gentiles, by giving them occasion to think that you allow their idolatry, by partaking of their sacri
nor to weak members of the church of God, by drawing them, by your examples, to eat of things offered to
idols, of the lawfulness whereof they are not fully satisfied. 33 As I myself do, who abridge myself of many conveniencies of
life, to comply with the different judgments of men, and gain the good opinion of others, that I may be instrumental to the XI. 1. salvation of as many as is possible. Imitate herein my ex
NOTE. 28 a The repetition of these words, “The earth is the Lord's, and the fulness
thereof,” does so manifestly disturb the sense, that the Syriac, Arabic, Vulgar, and French translations, have omitted them, and are justified in it by the Alexaudrian, and some other Greek copies.
PARAPHRASE. ample, as I do that of our Lord Christ, who neglected himself for the salvation of others b.
NOTE. 1 Rom. xv. 3. This verse seems to belong to the precedent, wherein he had
proposed himself as an example, and therefore this verse should not be cut off from the former chapter. lo what St. Paul says, in this and the preceding verse, taken together, we may suppose, he makes some reflection on the false apostle, whom many of the Corinthians followed, as their leader. At least it is for St. Paul's justification, that he proposes himself to be followed, no farther than as he sought the good of others, and not his own, and had Christ for his patteru. Vid. ch. iv. 16.
CHAPTER XI. 2-16.
CONTENTS. St. Paul commends them for observing the orders he had left with them, and uses arguments to justify the rule he had given them, that women should not pray, or prophesy, in their assemblies, uncovered; which, it seems, there was some contention about, and they had writ to him to be resolved in it.
TEXT. 2 Now I praise you, brethren, that you remember me in all things,
and keep the ordinances, as I delivered them to you. 3 But I would have you know, that the head of every inan is Christ; and the head of the
woman is the man ; and the head of Christ is God.
PARAPHRASE. 2 I commend you, brethren, for remembering all my orders, and
for retaining those rules I delivered to you, when I was with 3 you. But for your better understanding what concerns women",
NOTE. 3 • This, about women, seeming as difficult a passage as most in St. Paul's epistles,
I crave leave to premise some few considerations, which I hope may conduce to the clearing of it.
(1.) It is to be observed, that it was the custom for women, who appeared in public, to be veiled, ver. 13–16. Therefore it could be no question at all,
TEXT. 4 Every man praying, or prophesying, having his head covered, dis
honoureth his head.
PARAPHRASE. in your assemblies, you are to take notice, that Christ is the head to which every man is subjected, and the man is the head,
to which every woman is subjected ; and that the head, or su4 perior, to Christ himself, is God. Every man, that prayeth,
NOTE. whether they ought to be veiled, when they assisted at the prayers and praises in the public assemblies; or, if that were the thing intended by the apostle, it had been much easier, shorter, and plainer, for him to have said, th
“ Women should be covered in the assemblies.”
(2.) It is plain, that this covering the head, in women, is restrained to some particular actions, which they performed in the assembly, expressed by the words, “ praying and prophesying,” ver. 4 and 5, which, whatever they signify, must have the same meaning, when applied to the women, in the 5th verse, that they have, when applied to the men in the 4th verse.
It will possibly be objected, “If women were to be veiled in the assemblies, let those actions be what they will, the women, joining in them, were still to be veiled.
Answ. This would be plainly so, if their interpretation were to be followed, who are of opinion, that by “ praying and prophesying,” here, was meant to be present in the assembly, and joining with the congregation, in the prayers that were made, or hymns that were sung, or in hearing the reading and exposition of the Holy Scriptures there. But against this, that the hearing of preaching, or prophesying, was never called “preaching, or prophesying,” is so unauswerable an objection, that I think there can be no reply to it.
The case, in short, seems to be this : the men prayed and prophesied in the assemblies, and did it with their heads uncovered : the women also, sometimes, prayed and prophesied too in the assemblies, which, when they did, they thought, during their performing that action, they were excused from being veiled, and might be bare-headed, or at least open-faced, as well as the men. This was that which the apostle restrains in them, and directs, that, though they prayed or prophesied, they were still to remain veiled.
(3.) The next thing to be considered is, what is here to be understood by “ “praying and prophesying." And that seems to me to be the performing of some particular, public action, in the assembly, by some one person, which was, for that time, peculiar to that person; and, whilst it lasted, the rest of the assembly silently assisted. For it cannot be supposed, that, when the apostle says, a man praying, or prophesying, he means an action, performed in common, by the whole congregation; or, if he did, what pretence could that give the woman to be unveiled, more, during the performance of such an action, thau at any other time? A woman must be veiled in the assembly: what pretence then, or claim, could it give her to be unveiled, that she joined with the rest of the assembly in the prayer that some one person made ? Such a praying as this could give no more ground for her being unveiled, than her being in the assembly could be thought a reason for her being unveiled. The same may be said of prophesying, when understood to signify a woman's joining with the congregation, in singing the praises of God. But if the woman prayed, as the mouth of the assembly,
TEXT. 5 But every woman, that prayeth, or prophesieth, with her head un
covered, dishonoureth her head: for that is even all one as if she were shaven.
or prophesieth, i. e. by the gift of the Spirit of God, speaketh in the church for the edifying, exhorting, and comforting of the congregation, having his head covered, dishonoureth Christ, his head, by appearing in a garb not becoming the authority and dominion, which God, through Christ, has given him over
all the things of this world ; the covering of the head being a 5 mark of subjection. But, on the contrary, a woman praying,
As to pro
NOTE. &c. then it was like she might think she might have the privilege to be unveiled.
“ Praying and prophesying," as hath been shown, signifying here the doing some peculiar action in the assembly, whilst the rest of the congregation only assisted, let us, in the next place, examine what that action was. phesying, the apostle in express words tells us, ch. xiv. 3 and 12, that it was speaking in the assembly. The same is evident as to praying, that the apostle means by it, praying publicly, with an audible voice, in the congregation : vid. ch. xiv. 14--19.
(4.) It is to be observed, that, whether any one prayed, or prophesied, they did it alone, the rest remaining silent, chap. xiv. 27–33. So that, even in these extraordinary praises, which any one sung to God, by the immediate motion and impulse of the Holy Ghost, which was one of the actions called prophesying, they sung alone. And, indeed, how could it be otherwise ? For who could join with the person so prophesying, in things dictated to him alone, by the Holy Ghost, which the others could not know, till the person prophesying uttered them ?
(5.) Prophesying, as St. Paul tells us, chap. xiv. 3, was, “speaking unto others to edification, exhortation, and comfort:" but every speaking to others, to any of these ends, was not prophesying ; but only then, when such speaking was a spiritual gift, performed by the immediate and extraordinary motion of the Holy Ghost; vid. chap. xiv. 1, 12, 24, 30. For example, singing praises to God was called prophesying: but we see, when aul prop hesied the Spirit of God fell upon him, and he was turned into another man, 1 Sam. x. 6. Nor do I think any place, in the New Testament, can be produced, wherein prophesying signifies bare reading of the Scripture, or any other action, performed without a supernatural impulse and assistance of the Spirit of God. This we are sure, that the prophesying, which St. Paul here speaks of, is one of the extraordinary gifts, given by the Spirit of God : vid. chap. xii. 10. Now, that the Spirit of God and the gift of prophecy should be poured out upon women, as well as men, in the time of the Gospel, is plain from Acts ii. 17, and then, where could be a fitter place for them to utter their prophecies in than the assemblies ?
It is not unlikely, what one of the most learned and sagacious of our interpreters * of Scripture suggests upon this place, viz. That Christian women might, out of a vanity incident to that sex, propose to themselves, and affect an imita
* Mr. Mede, Disc. 6, p. 61.
TEXT. 6 For if the woman be not covered, let her also be shorn : but if it be
a shame for a woman to be shorn or shaven, let her be covered.
or prophesying, in the church, with her head uncovered, dishonoureth the man, who is her head, by appearing in a garb that disowns her subjection to him. For to appear bareheaded in public, is all one as to have her hair cut off, which
is the garb and dress of the other sex, and not of a woman. 6 If, therefore, it be unsuitable to the female sex to have their
hair shorn, or shaved off, let her, for the same reason, be covered.
NOTE. tion of the priests and prophetesses of the Gentiles, who had their faces uncovered, when they uttered their oracles, or officiated in their sacrifices: but I cannot but wonder, that that very acute writer should not see, that the bare being in the assembly could not give a Christian woman any pretence to that freedom. None of the Bacchæ, or Pythiæ, quitted their ordinary, modest guise, but when she was, as the poets express it, “Rapta,” or “ Plena Deo," possessed and hurried by the Spirit she served. And so, possibly, a Christian woman, when she found the Spirit of God poured out upon her, as Joel expresses it, exciting her to pray, or sing praises to God, or discover any truth, immediately revealed to her, might think it convenient, for her better uttering of it, to be uncovered, or at least to be no more restrained in her liberty of showing herself, than the female priests of the heathens were, when they delivered their oracles : but yet, even in these actions, the apostle forbids the women to unveil themselves.
St. Paul's forbidding women to speak in the assemblies will probably seem a strong argument against this : but, when well considered, will perhaps prove none. There be two places wherein the apostle forbids women to speak in the church; 1 Cor. xiv. 34, 35, and I Tim. ii. 11, 12. He, that shall attentively read and compare these together, may observe that the silence, enjoined the women, is for a mark of their subjection to the male sex: and, therefore, what, in the one, is expressed by “keeping silence, and not speaking, but being under obedience;” in the other, is called, “ being in silence, with all subjection; not teaching, or usurping authority over the man." The women, in the churches, were not to assume the personage of doctors, or speak there as teachers; this carried with it the appearance of superiority, and was forbidden. Nay, they were not so much as to ask questions there, or to enter into any sort of conference. This shows a kind of equality, and was also forbidden : but yet, though they were not to speak in the church, in their own names; or, as if they were raised by the franchises of Christianity to such an equality with the men, that where knowledge, or presumption of their own abilities, emboldened them to it, they might take upon them to be teachers and instructors of the congregation, or might, at least, enter into questionings and debates there; this would have had too great an air of standing upon even ground with the men, and would not have well comported with the subordination of the sex. But yet this subordination, which God, for order's sake, had instituted in the world, hindered not, but that, by the supernatural gifts of the Spirit, he might make use of the weaker sex, to an extraordinary function, whenever he thought fit, as well as he did of men. But yet, when they thus either prayed or prophesied, by the motion and impulse of the Holy Ghost, care was taken, that, whilst they were obeying God, who was pleased, by his Spirit, to set them a speaking, the subjection of their sex should