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Why Head Covering Was Not a Jewish Custom

Why Head Covering Was Not a Jewish Custom

In 1 Corinthians 11, the Apostle Paul commands the practice of head covering when praying and prophesying. One of the most common objections to this being practiced today is the belief that Paul only commanded it for that specific culture. Whenever someone says this, the first thing I want to ask them is, “which culture?” Corinth was multi-cultural city. So which culture was Paul telling the Corinthian believers to adapt to? In this series of posts we will examine the three different cultures that are relevant, which are Greek, Roman, and Jewish cultures. Today we will answer the question, did Paul command head covering so that believers would not offend Jewish culture?

The Jerusalem Council

Around A.D. 48-49, the apostles and elders met together in Jerusalem to debate what was required of gentile believers who were coming to God. Some of the Pharisees said that Gentiles had to “be circumcised and to keep the Law of Moses” (Acts 15:5).  This belief was what led to the council being called. After discussing and debating the issue, they came to a conclusion. They articulated this by letter which was delivered to the churches. Here’s what it said:

For it has seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us to lay on you [gentiles] no greater burden than these requirements: that you abstain from what has been sacrificed to idols, and from blood, and from what has been strangled, and from sexual immorality. If you keep yourselves from these, you will do well. (Acts 15:28-29 ESV)

The Gentiles were instructed to abstain from four different things so that they would not offend Jewish custom. There was nothing further to be required of them so that there may be “no greater burden”. They didn’t need to be circumcised, they didn’t need to observe feasts and festivals, they didn’t need to do specific washings, and they didn’t need to cover/uncover their heads. No other Jewish practices would be required of Gentile believers. This is significant as the church in Corinth was comprised primarily of gentiles (1 Cor 12:2). So, if Paul were to command the Gentile Corinthians to practice headcovering in order to avoid offending the Jews, that would be contradictory to edict passed down from the Jerusalem council. Read more

Interpreting 1 Corinthians 11 Using Today’s Culture

Interpreting 1 Corinthians 11 Using Today's Culture

Communion: A Symbol We’re Already Familiar With

It’s the passage that your pastor recites every time he introduces the Lord’s Supper (a.k.a, Communion or Eucharist). “This bread is My body, which is broken for you… This cup is the new covenant in My blood… Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.”  These are the words of Jesus, quoted by the Apostle Paul in First Corinthians 11.

To institute the Lord’s Supper, Christ took an ancient practice (the Passover celebration) and gave it a powerful new meaning.  Eating the Passover meal had already been a standard tradition in Israelite culture for hundreds of years.  But Jesus’ divine adaptation of it became an honored practice of the Christian Church.  Two thousand years later, Communion is still regularly celebrated around the globe.

What did it take to transform this Jewish tradition into a new universal Christian practice?  We see the combination of three factors:  (1) a description of the new symbolic practice, (2) an explanation of the uniquely-Christian reasons for the new symbolic practice, and (3) an unqualified command to perform the new symbolic practice.  Regarding Communion, each of these components was provided by Jesus, taught by the Apostles, and maintained in the pages of Scripture for Christians throughout history.

But here’s the interesting thing: the practice of (and meaning behind) the Lord’s Supper has no unique relationship to modern Western culture. Yet, separated from its initiation by 2000 years, believers today feel quite comfortable with continuing this ancient practice. Because of the three key components listed above, Christians affirm that Communion was intended by God to extend well beyond the local First Century churches.

However, it would be easy for modern churches to find reasons to give up this tradition. For example, Christians today could simply say…

  • “The Lord’s Supper is not understood by the average person on the street nowadays. If we practiced it in our church, visitors would be confused.They may even consider leaving if we start talking about eating Jesus’ body and drinking His blood.”
  • “Jesus and His disciples were Jewish, and they were employing a Jewish practice. But we’re not a Jewish church, and we’re not trying to import Jewish culture into our church.”
  • “People today want substance, not rituals. The Lord’s Supper was only a symbolic tradition — the reality is in Christ Himself. Just experiencing Jesus personally is more than enough for us.”

In spite of responses like these, the Lord’s Supper is a solid component of Christianity — both historically and biblically. Most believers would agree that if a congregation decided that Communion is no longer relevant, they could not base their discontinuation of it on the teaching of Scripture. Read more

What Did A.W. Pink Believe About Head Covering?

Head Covering: Church History Profiles

[Series introduction: This post is part of a series that will examine what certain leaders in church history believed about head covering. Their arguments, choice of language and conclusions should not be misconstrued as an endorsement from us. The purpose of this series is to faithfully show what they believe about covering rather than only selectively quoting the parts we agree with.]

A.W. Pink (1886–1952), according to his biographer Iain Murray, is “one of the most influential evangelical authors in the second half of the twentieth century.” He pastored churches in the United States and Australia but he is best known for his books such as “The Attributes of God” and “The Sovereignty of God“.
Arthur and Vera Pink

In May 1926, Arthur Pink addressed the congregation of Particular Baptist Church in Sydney, Australia. His topic was “Headship” and the sermon text was 1 Corinthians 11:2-16. Through this sermon we come to understand what Pink believed about the symbol of head covering.

He believed that the symbol should be practiced today and distanced himself from the cultural view. He said that “there are some who claim that much in this first epistle to the Corinthians only had to do with local conditions that then existed and does not apply to the churches of God today. I emphatically deny it.” He also didn’t see this as an insignificant matter. He knew that “there is nothing small or trivial in the things of God” and that “big doors swing on little hinges.” That’s why he exhorted his congregation on this passage. Through his words we see that head covering in Australia was losing popularity even in the 1920’s. He said that wearing one may “cause the world to sneer” and “bring upon you the taunt of ‘old-fashioned'”. He also mentioned that there was “fashion which is increasingly popular among women today” of cutting their hair short, which he was strictly against. This was the era of the first wave of feminism and we see that it was already having a negative impact on biblical gender roles and distinctions. Read more

40+ Head Covering Tutorials on Youtube

Headcovering Tutorials

Soon after discovering head covering, I went to the internet for more information.

Almost immediately I found K.P. Yohannan’s free e-book, Head Coverings. I devoured it and many articles by Jeremy, the founder of the Head Covering Movement.

But while KP and Jeremy are great at explaining the doctrinal whys of head covering, I was kinda on my own when it came to the hows of head covering.

Enter YouTube.

The one-stop-DIY-video shop where you can figure out how to take off your car’s bumper, watch a TED talk or play a ukulele.

After watching countless head covering tutorials (and making a few myself), I’m sharing my favorite head covering tutorial videos on YouTube.

Disclaimer: These videos aren’t necessarily made by Christian women, nor does The Head Covering Movement endorse any particular style. (Though there is an opinion piece on should a Christian woman wear a hijab or not.)

40+ Head Covering Tutorials on Youtube

Beginners

Read more

What Did Linus & the Apostle Peter Believe About Head Covering?

What Did Linus and Peter Believe About Head Covering?

[Series introduction: This post is part of a series that will examine what certain leaders in church history believed about head covering. Their arguments, choice of language and conclusions should not be misconstrued as an endorsement from us. The purpose of this series is to faithfully show what they believe about covering rather than only selectively quoting the parts we agree with.]

Linus (died approx 76-79 A.D.) was the successor to the Apostle Peter as bishop of Rome.
Linus, Bishop of Rome

Linus became bishop of Rome during the latter end of the lives of the Apostle Paul and Peter. He held the office for 12 years and was martyred for his faith. He was an Italian, from the province of Tuscany, the son of Claudia and Herculanus. He was a friend of the Apostle Paul who mentioned him by name in his letter to Timothy:

Do your best to come before winter. Eubulus sends greetings to you, as do Pudens and Linus and Claudia and all the brothers. (2 Tim 4:21)

Eusebius and Irenaeus both identify the Linus mentioned here in Scripture as the same one who became bishop. The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia likewise argues that “considering the great rarity of this Greek mythological name as a proper name for persons, we can hardly doubt that here…[in Paul’s letter is] the first bishop of Rome.” 1) Rutherfurd, J. (1915). Linus. In J. Orr, J. L. Nuelsen, E. Y. Mullins, & M. O. Evans (Eds.), The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (Vol. 1–5, p. 1895). Chicago: The Howard-Severance Company. Read more

References

1.
 Rutherfurd, J. (1915). Linus. In J. Orr, J. L. Nuelsen, E. Y. Mullins, & M. O. Evans (Eds.), The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (Vol. 1–5, p. 1895). Chicago: The Howard-Severance Company.

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