Headship, the Trinity, and Headcoverings, Part 1 (1 Corinthians Sermon 36)
October 06, 2019 | Andrew Davis
Man as Male and Female, Gender & Sexual Identity
I. Unchanging Biblical Truth in a Confused Age
And I'd like to ask that you turn in your Bibles to the text that Darcy just read as we continue our study in 1 Corinthians. We've come now to this passage, 1 Corinthians 11:2-16. Now, this week I was talking to someone about the Word of God, and I was thinking about the marvels of the Word of God, the written Word of God, and how incredible it is. And one of the great gifts of grace to me in my life has been that this is my portion, that I get to study God's Word continually, I get to drink it in, I get to marvel at it, and to teach it, and this is an incredible grace to me. But as I was talking to this individual, I was thinking about some conflicting images of the Word of God, and one of them comes from Jesus' Sermon on the Mount where he says, "Everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rains came, and the streams rose, and the wind blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall because it had its foundation on the rock."
So Jesus likens his words, indeed, the entire Word of God, to a rock. And the image there is immovability, unchangeability. It's not like the sand that's going to be changing all the time, but it is unchanging, it's rock-like You have that image, but then in Hebrews chapter four, we're told that the Word of God is living and active. Living and active. How do you put those images together? How do you put together the image of immutability, the rock solid aspect of the Word of God, together with the fact that it's living and active, it's a living, active, rock? And that's the thing that's just such a marvel to me, as we come to the Word of God we are reading the same words that great, great, great grandparents were reading. They've never changed, or they're in every generation. And that we can build our lives on this unchanging rock, that gives me a sense of peace and certitude.
The fact that as I get up here today and on this text... And it is a challenging text, we're going to talk about that. But to realize that this text has read the same for 2000 years. It never changes. And so we can drink in this Word of God, we can feed on it, as Jesus said. Another image of the Word of God is that it's food. "Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God." And so, for me, as I study the word and as I teach it, I realize everything asserted in the Word of God is true, and good food for us. And we should delight in feeding on it. And then it never changes. Jesus said, "Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away." So this includes controversial passages like the one that you just heard read. And I bet you're saying, "No, that's not a controversial passage." Dear friends, now that is a controversial passage. We're talking this week and next week, God willing, on head coverings for women.
And so maybe you've lived in a different place, or maybe your head's been in the sand or something like that, you're not aware of how controversial this might be. But I'm telling you, even... And perhaps especially when the text is controversial, this is where we need to understand what good food this is and how much we need to hear it. Our age, the age we live in, is inherently unstable. There's a mental, emotional, spiritual instability in the worldview of our age. I don't think that's uniquely true for us. It's true in every generation. But in Ephesian 4:14 Paul talks about people who are tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching, and by the cunning and craftiness of men and their deceitful scheming. So that's that picture of instability really like building your house on sand. And that's what we're surrounded by, terrible instability.
But just because the world, our time, the culture out there, is challenging something that's taught in the Word of God, doesn't mean we should abandon it, not at all. If anything we should study it all the more, and cling to it all the more, because it's exactly here that we need to drink in and to feed on God's word. From the beginning Satan has challenged God's word, from the beginning in the Garden of Eden, as the serpent, Satan, was testing, was tempting Eve, and Adam was just standing there quietly right next to her. But he says, "Did God really say?" And so he raises questions, he questions the Word of God. "Is that really what it says?" And then in that same encounter, he openly contradicts God's word. "You will not surely die." That is a lie. And so that's what Satan's been doing. And so in every generation Satan questions the Word of God, contradicts the Word of God, twists the Word of God, uses certain aspects of it like he did right there. He said, "For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened and you will be like God..." That's actually all true, but he is lying through the truth. That's what cults do, frequently, take some true aspect and twist it and use it. So we have to be aware of it, and we need to hold steadfastly to the Word of God.
II. Our Culture, Authority, and Feminism
Now admittedly, as I've already mentioned, this is a very challenging passage. There are challenges for us in our culture with this text. In general, our culture struggles with authority. And I don't think, again, that's unique to us as Americans. But we do struggle submitting to God-ordained authority. That's a problem, and all human beings have it. Also, our culture has uniquely, and it's developed much in my lifetime, an attack on the significance of gender, what it means to be a man or a woman, what is intrinsic in gender. I don't need to trace out comprehensively and in great detail the rise of feminism in the West or in American history, but it's clearly part of the landscape, the mental landscape of our day, and we have to be aware of it.
And it's relevant, and it connects with the text we're looking at today. Recently, recent history for us began in the 19th century with the Women's Suffrage Movement, started in 1840, it seems, with an effort to gain the vote for women. And it was consummated with the 19th Amendment on August 26, 1920, winning the vote for the constitutional right to vote for women. The Women's Movement from 1920 to, let's say, the early 1960s was more or less dormant, not much changes happen. But with the turbulent decade of the '70s came a great deal of protest, a lot of unrest, and part of that was the so-called Women's Lib Movement that happened. In 1963, an author named Betty Friedan wrote a book called "The Feminine Mystique", and in that book she addresses a number of things.
But one of them was the great un-mentioned issue for women in America today is a gross dissatisfaction with the standard roles of wife, mother, homemaker, that many women in those roles were deeply dissatisfied with their role, so she said. And some perhaps were dissatisfied before reading her book, and some were very dissatisfied after reading her book, but it was a seminal work. Along with that, there started to grow a hostility in some members of the Women's Liberation Movement, or The Women's Movement, which was an us versus them feel, a hostility toward men. Along with that in the '60s was the '60's Sexual Revolution where sexual morals were being openly challenged and pushed on. And so along with that came a union of feminism and the Women's Movement with the issue of abortion. And so women wanted to be able to walk away from a sexual encounter... There's this breaking down of all sexual mores and all that. But the ability of a woman to walk away like a man can from a sexual encounter, and abortion became almost like a central plank in the Women's Movement.
Although the Suffragettes, the women leaders at the turn of the century, from the 19th to the 20th century were universally what we would call pro-life and thought that abortion just gave men an out, and could walk away, but it changed radically by the end of the '60s. Along with this, more extreme forms came in terms of the embracing of homosexuality, of lesbianism, etcetera. If gender doesn't matter in terms of vote or property ownership or education or jobs, why should matter at all? Why should it matter at all? And so in the sexual encounters, freedom so that the gender itself didn't matter in any way, shape, or form. And the most recent version of this has come with the transgender movement, which has pushed our nation almost to the point of irrationality in some issues, bizarre places, where the idea of sex, as biologically defined, is asserted two types, male, female.
But gender is more personally felt or identified with, etcetera, it's a transient thing, and it comes and goes. I perceive in all of this, as we have to look back as Christians, biblically, a concerted satanic attack on the significance of gender, something that God established from the very beginning of the human race. In Genesis 1:27 it says, "So God created man in his image, in the image of God he created him, male and female, he created them."
The Challenges of the Meritocracy
Along with that, other aspects of our culture, one of them is what I would call the American meritocracy. And the idea here is that we are the land of opportunity. As the Declaration of Independence said, that, "All men are created equal and endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights…" Including "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness." This was in contrast to the aristocratic system in England where what mattered the most was who your father was, and what order, what birth order, if you were the first son or the second son, etcetera. And so all of that kind of system. And so for us in America, we said, "The perks of our land, the perks of our culture, such as power and money and property and pleasures and all of that, goes to those who deserve them, and who can earn them." And so, you can rise from a dirt floor log cabin to be President of the United States, as Abraham Lincoln did. It's the land of opportunity. Well, the darker side of the meritocracy is the not-so-subtle message that you're worth as a human being is tied intrinsically to what you can achieve, such as what you could put on a resume.
And so the more you can achieve, the more accomplishments in education or in business or whatever, the more important person you are. Conversely, if you're not able to achieve much, you're not worth much, you don't earn much, and you're not worth much as a person. So anyone who can achieve much is worth much, people who can't achieve much aren't worth much. So therefore, any restriction on women, frequently called the glass ceiling in the corporate structure, whatever, is a restriction on their essential worth as human beings, that they're not worth as much as human beings. And so when they hear this text and other biblical restrictions, gender-based restrictions on women, they see it as teaching an inherent superiority of men to women. And so that's why this topic is frequently met with anger, a great deal of anger.
So for us as Christians, we have to realize our intrinsic worth and value comes from being created in the image of God. And the absolute equality of the sexes in that is clearly taught, right from the beginning. And for us as Christians, also our intrinsic worth and value comes from the fact that Jesus, the Son of God, died on the cross for us, and shed his blood that our sins might be forgiven. And that is equally true of men and women. And we find also our intrinsic worth and value comes as Christians from being adopted into the family of God, fully by grace, that we are called the children of God, and that's equally for men and women. And that we're going to the same heaven that none of us deserves, and we're going to be wearing white robes, and around that throne, and we're going to be celebrating the greatness of God in saving us. And that's absolutely equal between men and women. That's where we find our worth and value, not in what you can achieve, not in your works.
Actually what we're going to do when we get to heaven... We'll be rewarded for our good works by grace, but our standing in heaven does not depend on any of those things, but on the grace of God. So all of this, this topic, head coverings for women, gender-based differentiation of roles in the home and in the church, is lumped frequently with slavery and other type issues to disprove the Bible itself. The Bible itself is an archaic word. And it's coupled frequently with evolution and evolutionary view of thought life, that we have evolved beyond the Bible. We've gotten beyond these things, and we could really tell those people back then a thing or two. So we've gotten beyond the scripture. And so, people make this kind of argument, that as we look at gender-based roles and slavery that the Bible itself is obsolete, archaic, it's worthy of being scorned.
A Challenging Text
Now, on top of all of that, friends, we have some exegetical challenges in the text. Have you noticed? Were you listening? As we walk through verses 2-16, you must see that some texts are harder than others. And really understanding what Paul meant, line by line, is hard to do in some places, easier to do in others. There are some challenges in this. My methodology is sequential exposition. Sequential means you take the next chapter, the next text. This is the next one. I didn't get up this morning and say, "You know what I really want to preach on? Head coverings. Been looking forward to this for months. Finally, a chance to preach on head coverings." Not at all. It's just the next text. Frankly, if I can be honest, this text protects me from my own cowardice. You probably know what I mean. It's just the next passage Also, exposition means, What does it mean? Lift it up and follow the patterns and try to understand what it's really teaching, and therein lies the challenge. What kinds of challenges await us? Well, verse three, and we'll deal with this today. I'm planning, God willing, on two sermons on this. But verse three, What does the word head mean in verse three? We're going to talk about that today.
Along with that, can we identify, can we trace out what kind of adornment Paul is talking about for women? Is it a veil? Is it a prayer shawl? What is it? What are we talking about? In what sense in verse seven, is the woman the glory of man? What does that mean? How do we understand the woman is the glory of man? What does Paul mean when he says in verse 10, "A woman out to have a sign of authority on her head"? What does that mean? What does, in that same verse, verse 10, "Because of the angels" mean? And finally, in verse 14, What does, "The very nature of things" tell you about all this? What do all of those things mean? So this is like a cliff hanger. Come back next week and I'll do my best to walk through it.
We're not dealing with most of those exegetical questions today, but the general principle. Now, along with this comes the difficulty in general of bridging the gap from an ancient text written two millennia ago, to our present day, 21st century America. How can we do that? And however difficult these challenges are, it's well worth the effort. This is what we need to do. For all scripture is God-breathed and useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, training, and righteousness.
What Does it Mean to Be a Man or a Woman?
We need to understand what this is. And especially because, in my opinion, our culture has gone crazy on the issue of gender. And I said this a number of years ago, something I read from John Piper and Wayne Grudem's book, "Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood". One of the key issues is when a 12-year-old son asks his dad, "What does it mean, dad, for me to be a man and not a woman?" That's a key moment. What is masculinity? What does it mean for me to be a man?
Or conversely, a woman. If she were to... A young woman, ask her mother, "Mom, What does it mean for me to be a woman and not a man?" Our culture has zero answer to that question, or those questions. Actually, they're trying to sweep it away so that it doesn't mean anything particularly to be a man or a woman. For me, what I want to do is I want to find out. I've already traced out the significant ways we're exactly equal, but I'm also interested in the ways that God's made us different, and how much we really need each other. And I can't put words to it. I can't put words to the differences between men and women, but there are differences. And for us to delight in them, and for a young man to delight in being a young man, a man, as such, and be glad that he's a man. And for a woman to delight in being a woman, because she's a... To delight in that, and for us as a church in a very healthy way to delight in each other as such. Now that seems to me to be biblical health on this. So let me lay my cards on the table. What do I think this text... What's going on in this text? What I think is happening is there is a timeless trans-cultural principle given in verse three, and that is the headship of men, in the church and in the home. That is timeless, it's trans-cultural, it's rooted in the Trinity, and we're going to talk about that today. Along with that comes temporary cultural expressions of that timeless principle.
And so, in every culture there's going to be a way for that principle of male headship, of male leadership, to be displayed especially in corporate worship. But those will change from place to place. So I am not advocating that women go out and buy anything for next week for a church, I'm not advocating. I understand that some of our sisters in Christ really strongly believe in that and do that, and I respect their views. But I do not think that there's a timeless trans-cultural physical thing that women need to wear on their heads, or that it even necessarily has anything to do with the length of hair. Although we'll get into all that next week, so putting all that to next week, but we'll talk about that, God willing.
III. Paul’s Praise for the Corinthians (vs. 2)
So, now, let's walk through it, in verse two, Paul begins with praise for the Corinthians, "I praise you for remembering me in everything, and for holding to the teachings just as I passed them on to you." So let's set this in context, always we want to set it in context. Paul is writing to the Corinthian church that he among others, helped plant. This church, tremendously gifted but very dysfunctional, series of problems, I'm not going to walk through them cause I've done it just about every week, week after week.
But lots and lots of dysfunctionality in the Corinthian church. Factions, divisions, pride, scandalous sin, lawsuits among believers, sexual immorality of the worst kind, issues with marriage. And then for three chapters, the problem of paganism, meat sacrifice to idols and idolatry, all of that. Now, Paul is addressing problems in corporate worship, public worship. So he's going to deal with the issue of women in public worship, women's role in public worship in the first half of Chapter 11, then problems with the Lord's supper in the second half of Chapter 11. And then for three chapters, 1 Corinthians 12, 13 and 14, problems with spiritual gifts, and how they function, especially in corporate worship, especially tongues and prophecy. And so that's where we're heading over the next number of weeks and months. Yet, actually, despite all of that dysfunctionality, despite all of those problems, he actually praises and encourages them here, "I praise you for remembering me in everything and for holding on to the teaching just as I passed them on to you." He praises them.
And so this is a marvelous thing. You know the idea of remembering, it's like, "You remember that I am an apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ. I'm not just anybody, with some opinion, that I actually am passing things on to you, that I receive from God." Now the center piece of that is he uses the exact same language in 1 Corinthians 15, and that he says, "For what I received, I passed on to you as of first importance, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that he was buried, and that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures... " top priority, he's praising the Corinthians for holding on to the gospel, which he passed on to them, and not just the gospel, but lesser important teachings as well.
The gospel is of first importance, but these other teachings, they're holding on to as well. So they're recognizing his authority, his right to speak the word of God to them, and He praises them for that. And this is a vital pastoral principle. It's so important that those in leadership: Pastors, and also parents, fathers, speak words of encouragement and not just be... We've heard of those fathers that you can never please them. They never say a word of encouragement, they just keep the pressure on all the time. Paul wasn't like that, he was just a loving spiritual father and he's constantly trying to find ways to encourage the people he's working with. And if any church was a mess, let's be honest, it was this Corinthian church, and yet he's praising them. So I think that's a beautiful principle.
IV. The Timeless Order Revealed (vs. 3)
But now, Paul has to deal with and address the issue of women in corporate worship, and so he's got to address that, and he does that here in verse three. "Now, I want you to realize that the head of every man is Christ, and the head of woman is man, and the head of Christ is God." So this is, I believe, a timeless trans-cultural principle that he's laying out here. So we begin right away by asking this key question, what does the word head mean here? How do we understand this word head? Some of you will know what a battle ground that question has been and how much back and forth there is on this issue of the word head.
Some feminists who come to this text, find some uses of the word kephalē, which is the Greek word for head meaning source, like the head of a river, it's where everything comes from: The source or origin. I think that the goal is probably pretty transparently to get away from a question of authority. And so the idea here is that Paul is not talking about authority at all, he's just talking about the origination. But, while the word does occasionally mean source, as in the head of a river, whenever Paul's talking about interpersonal relationships and he does it many times, he uses the word head many times, it's inevitably a picture of authority. And the clearest of this is at the end of Ephesians Chapter 1.
Christ is the Head of Every Man
Listen to what Paul says about the Lord Jesus Christ: "God raised Christ from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that could be given, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the Church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way." There is zero doubt that Paul was talking about the authority of the Lord Jesus Christ there, over everything, over the rulers and authorities and powers, the demons, over human kings and princes, over everything. God raised Jesus from the dead, and seated Him.
Now, note, Christ's headship there in Ephesians 1, is not to dominate it or strip it bare or be tyrannical over it, not at all, but rather to serve the church, to protect it, to care for it, nurture it, and bring it to perfection. So, he rules over everything, for that purpose, for the benefit of the church. A lot of the problem that we have with authority is the way that sinners have wrongly wielded that authority, tyrannically to indulge their own fleshly drives and desires. We've seen that again and again. Alright, so that's the first statement. Christ is the head of every man. Look at Verse three, "I want you to realize that the head of every man is Christ," again the issue here is authority. Paul establishes the authority of Jesus Christ over every man. Now this is an incredible statement here. Jesus says in the great commission, "All authority in heaven and earth has been given to me."
This... The authority of Jesus is over every human being, over every man, specifically here, men, but over every human being that will be made very clear at the second coming of Christ. Read about it in Revelation 19, when He comes back and on him is written the words King of Kings and Lord of Lords, and he has a sword coming out of His mouth, with which to strike down the nations, he is the coming king and right after that he is going to gather all the nations before Him. He will sit on a throne in Heavenly glory, and He will separate all the nations, he will separate all the people as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, and he's going to put the sheep on his right, and the goats on his left.
He has that kingly authority, he is the king, he's the head over every man and He will judge them, and He will say to those on his right, the sheep, "Come you who are blessed by my Father, take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world." And he has the right to do that. And he also has the right to say to those on his left, the unbelievers, the goats, "Depart from me, you who are cursed into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels." He is given that right to be the judge of all the Earth. He is the head of every man, and this awesome picture of judgment day, I think is what I have in mind when I hear these incredible words that Paul says in Philippians Chapter 2, that because Jesus was willing to die and even the death on the cross, because of that, "God exalted him to the highest place and gave Him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus, every knee should bow, in heaven and earth, under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God, the father." So that's what I get out of, "I want you to realize that the head of every man is Christ," whether they recognize it or not.
The Head of Woman is Man
Now the second step I think is the point that he's making here. He is not talking generally about Christ's headship over everything, or even the third point that we'll talk about in a moment, but specifically male-female relationship in the church, and specifically I think in corporate worship. The head of every woman is man. Let me read it again, verse three, "I want you to realize the head of every man is Christ and the head of woman is man."
The head of woman is man. Now, if the word head means authority over as we've been asserting, this teaching has to do with the leadership of men over women. Now in the ESV, which many of you probably have, there's a different translation here than the one that you saw read. There, it's acknowledge that the word translated man, can also be translated husband, and the word translated woman can be translated wife. And so, the ESV decided to go with a marriage assertion here which is clearly taught in Ephesians 5 that a wife should submit to her own husband as to the Lord, for the husband is the head of the wife, and it's just openly asserted. So they went there and brought it to this particular verse, "And so the head of a wife is her husband." However, while that's true, and I think part of what Paul has in mind here, in 1 Corinthians 11, but not all of it, it doesn't really fit the context here.
First of all, you have to add an additional word. The head of a woman is her husband. That possessive is just not there in the Greek. So there's more of a general kind of universal assertion being made. Furthermore, if you keep reading the ESV translation, you'll see that they can't be consistent at some point they're going to have to flip back over to men. Like when it talks about where the woman came from that she came out of etcetera, well, I don't know about you, wives, but I don't think you came out of your husband. So just as you walk through that, I think that was a one-off just at the very beginning with Adam and Eve, you know what I'm talking about. That was an unusual moment. And Paul's going to talk about that, but I just don't think they can be consistent in the way they translate it. It just doesn't fit. It's larger to see a general relationship between the sexes here in the church and also in the Christian home. And so it's a pattern, I think a general pattern of male leadership. We're also looking at corporate worship and life in the church publicly. Look at Verse 4 and 5, "Every man who prays or prophesies with his head covered dishonors his head, and every woman who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head."
So we're talking about general male leadership in the church and in the home. And indeed, throughout the Bible, you see a consistent pattern of male leadership, of kings and military leaders and all that. As a matter of fact, in the entire 66 books of the Bible, there's only one godly and seemingly God-ordained woman leader over men in the entire Bible and that's Deborah in the Book of Judges. And anyone who's read the book of Judges knows it's an odd book with lots of odd things happening. So it's almost like the quintessential exception that proves the rule. Other than that, there are none. So, it's just a consistent pattern of male-leadership throughout the Bible. But here I think Paul's mind is on the church and in the home.
Now, modern people under the influence of feminism have acknowledged that was true back then, but said it's just archaic patriarchy and sexism that again, that evolutionary view we have now grown past, we've grown beyond. Now we have to realize how male dominated the Greco-Roman world indeed was, and that the Gospel came with a liberating force over women. The equalities that I've already talked about, which go to the basis of the gospel, equally in the image of God, equally fallen into sin and in need of a savior, equally redeemed by faith in the blood of Christ, equally adopted as sons and daughters of the living God, equally indwelt by the Holy Spirit, listen to this, equally gifted by the spirit to do certain things in the life of the body, equally going to heaven and equally spending eternity in Heaven.
All of those things were radical for the Greco-Roman world, radical. And they go back to the way Jesus himself taught women. A number of weeks ago, I said, I think it's important for us as Christians, all of us to have the exact same view of scripture that Jesus did. Amen? Well, I think the same is true of this issue. We should have the same view of men and women that Jesus did. And if we have that, we're going to be fine. Jesus elevated women in ways that were radical in his day. He wanted... Remember Martha and Mary, remember how Mary was getting busy doing all the cooking remember? And where was Mary? Sitting at the feet of Jesus, in the posture of a disciple, drinking in his doctrine, and Jesus upheld that she has chosen the better portion and it will not be taken from her, she was drinking in the Word of God.
And you look at the intensity of Jesus' interest in winning a Samaritan woman to Christ, and what she... The effect she had in her community. He went after her and wanted her and rescued her from darkness through the Gospel. So there's that elevation. Yet, it's important to note that in choosing out 12 leaders for the future of his church, he chose out 12 men. 12 for 12 it's not like he didn't know that there were qualified women or any of that, it's just he chose men to lead, and that's clearly what he did. Again, don't think Jesus was hindered or hampered by cultural norms. You know Jesus he is not hindered or hampered by anything he wanted to do. Look how He dealt with Sabbath regulations and how he dealt... He was bold and courageous, he said it how he wanted it to be. And so we should have the same view. He cherished women as women, men as men, and he established men in leadership while elevating women, in the ways we've said.
Now in Corinth, I believe, that the women began using their spiritual gifts: Prophecy, tongues, other things, very freely especially in corporate worship and it seemed like they were going off the rails. And we're going to see this in the teaching on spiritual gifts, in Chapters 12 through 14, that there was a tremendous amount of disorder in public worship in Corinth. We're going to talk about that, and I think this was part of it. So Paul wants to deal with gender-based roles in the corporate life of the church.
So men and women are equal in these vital areas, but still there are roles and the establishment of male leadership and a clear evidencing on Sunday morning of that male leadership is what Paul has in mind. When an outsider walked in, it should be very clear that men are leading, that's what he wants to talk about. And we'll talk about that also with prophecy.
The Head of Christ is God
But lest anyone should think that this headship and submission is in any way demeaning, he gives this final headship statement, look at the end of Verse 3, I'll read the whole thing again, "Now, I want you to realize the head of every man is Christ, and the head of woman is man, and the head of Christ is God." Now, here we are swimming in some of the deepest theology we will ever swim in.
Here, we come into the theology of the Trinity and the functional subordination of Jesus, the Son of God, to the father in the Trinity. It's amazing the amount of debates that have been even over this one. The fact of the matter is I believe that the Bible teaches that the Son, the second person of the Trinity, has always in some sense, submitted to the leadership of His Father from eternity past, through His incarnation, right now and on into eternity future. Not everyone holds this but I think this is true. Now, the key thing here is the Father commands and Jesus obeys. And that's never reversed.
It's never the case that it's Jesus' turn to command and then the father obeys, it's never that way. The Father commands, Jesus obeys, even to the cost of His life. So what we have to understand the father made a plan from before the foundation of the world, to redeem sinners by the blood of His only begotten Son. This plan was set in the mind of God before time began. This is taught in a number of places, but in 1 Peter 1:19-20, it speaks of, "The precious blood of Christ" with which we were redeemed, he was "a lamb without blemish or defect chosen from before the foundation of the world." What does that mean? It means that Jesus before he was incarnate knew all along that some day he was going to obey his father and die on the cross.
So that means all of that time, he was in submission to the Father's plan knowing what it was before he entered the world. And furthermore, He entered the world to obey his father. As "the son of man," his favorite title for himself, "I want to show you how to obey God because you don't seem to know how to do it." And so he is a role model of submission to God, and He says, in John 6 verse 38 and 39, "For I have come down from heaven not to do my own will, but to do the will of Him who sent me." Do you hear how radical that is, "I have come down to submit to my father." "And this is the will of Him who sent me that I shall lose none of all that has given me, but raise them up on the last day." Jesus goes beyond that to say, every moment of his life was lived in submission to His Father's will.
He says, "I do nothing on my own, but I speak just what the father has taught me." Sometimes, I think Jesus' extended prayer times at night or His quiet times in the morning were basically the father telling him what to say that day: "This woman is going to come, this man is going to come, this is what I want you to say." Jesus, I don't think would descend from that. "Everything I say the father told me to say." And then He said this, "I always do what pleases Him." Oh, how sweet is that? "Every moment of my life, I seek to please my Father." In Gethsemane, when the cup metaphorically was there of wrath poured out that he was going to drink on the cross, He said, "Not my will, but yours be done." "I'll drink the cup."
Jesus' willing death on the cross is the highest display of his obedience to the Father's will. He says in John 14:31, "The world must learn that I love the Father and that I do exactly what the Father has commanded me to do." Even his own resurrection was done in submission to the Father's will. He said in John 10:18, "No one takes my life from me, but I lay it down of my own accord." In other words, no one can kill me if I don't want to be killed, no one takes my life from me, but I lay it down of my own accord, I have the authority to lay it down and I have the authority to take it back up again. This command I received from my Father. At every moment, even his own resurrection, he did an obedience to His Father, from beginning to end.
Now, turn over, if you would, one page maybe, or it's on the same page in your Bible, to 1 Corinthians 15, and this is goes on into eternity, future. 1 Corinthians 15:24-28, it says, "Then the end will come, when Christ, hands over the Kingdom to God the Father after He has destroyed all dominion, authority and power, for He must reign until He has put all His enemies under His feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death, for He has put everything under his feet." Now, when it says that everything has been put under him, it is clear that this does not include God Himself, who put everything under Christ.
When He has done this, verse 28, "Then the Son Himself will be made subject to Him who put everything under Him, so that God may be all in all." That's the end of salvation, that's the end of the work of everything, where Jesus packages up the universe and hands it back to the Father in submission to Him, isn't that awesome? This is an eternal submission to the kingship of God. And when we get to heaven, we're going to be in concentric circles around the throne of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Spirit. Now the key point here is that in all of this, the Son is exactly equal to the father in essence as God. This is key to everything. Jesus is equally God to the father: Equally wise, equally powerful, equally worthy of worship, equally worthy of glory, that all may honor the Son, even as they honor the Father. That we would honor Him, He is worthy of worship, all of these things.
Now let me stop and tell you a little story. Yesterday, I hope I don't mind... Calvin I don't mind... You don't mind me telling you this story. Yesterday we were having a Bible study, Calvin and I, came a knock on the door. Interesting, we don't get many visitors, not unannounced, you probably don't either these days. Anyway, so I go to the carport and who's there but a well-dressed man and woman, Jehovah's Witnesses. Here we go. I happened to have a Bible literally, physically in my hand. He looked down and said, "It looks like you're ready for our visit." I'm like, "Sure come on in." and I did, they came in and it's like... But I wanted... Fair warning, I said, "I want you to know who I am and what we're about to do here, okay? Don't be deceived.
I'm a Southern Baptist pastor, I love the Lord Jesus Christ, I consider you to be in great spiritual danger and I want to talk to you, and we had about a 45-minute conversation. "Fundamental issue," I said, "My biggest problem with the Watchtower is that you're polytheists, you believe in two Gods. You believe in God with a big G, Yahweh, Jehovah God, and you also believe in Jesus, a creature, a created being, who is afforded the title little g-god, that is two and I'm just going to call that polytheism." The Bible is fiercely monotheistic. You cannot overstate how passionately committed Jehovah God, Yahweh, God is, to letting the universe know there is no one like Him, no one. There's an infinite gap between God the creator and every creature.
It's the problem I have with the Watchtower, with the Jehovah's Witnesses. I want... Just rest assured, he didn't convert me. I'm still a Baptist preacher, I'm not a Jehovah's Witness. But I did warn him at the end, John 8:24, "Jesus said, "I told you that you would die in your sins; if you do not believe that I am… you will die in your sins." They have to believe that Jesus is the I AM that spoke to Moses out of the flames of the burning bush, He is God. The only way to make sense of that, friends, is the Trinity: One God, three persons, co-equal, co-eternal.
And therefore the subordination of the Son to the father is completely functional. It's not essential, the father is not essentially greater than the Son, He is greater in that he's the one that gives the commands, it's a functional subordination but he is equally God. The radiance of God's glory and the exact representation of God is Jesus, and if you've seen him, you've seen the Father. The beauty of this. Therefore, the headship of man over woman should not be offensive. It does not teach an ontological essential superiority of men to women, not at all. Women can be and often are every bit as intelligent as men or more so, every bit as inspirational as leaders, every bit as gifted in the Spirit or more so, none of that would change the headship of men in the church and in the home.
It's something that God set up for order and for His glory. Now we're going to talk about practical aspects of this next week, God willing. We're going to walk through all of the head covering aspects and the hair aspects and do the best we can. But I believe that this leadership of men in the church, so that men should be elders in the church and not women, that men should be the teachers and preachers in the Church and not women, is not in any way meant by God, by Jesus or by Paul to be demeaning to women. It's just a functional role that we play, and it's the order that God wants and it's timeless. However, there are cultural expressions of that that we're going to get into God willing, next week.
So what applications can we make for this? Well, first, just stand in awe of the infinitely deep truths we've just looked at. Stand in awe. I don't fully understand the Trinity, I never will. But just stand in awe at the level of submission of Jesus to His Father. We find our salvation in that. The fact that he was willing to become obedient to death, even death on a cross, although he was God in very nature God, He didn't consider equality with God something to grasp but He made himself nothing so that we can be saved. And we're going to spend eternity worshipping Jesus as God. Equally worthy of worship, we'll spend eternity. So, just stand in awe of that.
Secondly, understand the basic nature of our rebellious hearts. We just fight authority. It's just in us, it's part of the carnal mind, men and women alike, we fight it. Whoever God sets up... God-ordain authority, we tend to resist and rebel. Here's the thing, we find our salvation in this beautiful invitation Jesus made, "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls for my yoke is easy and my burden is light." That yoke is His kingly authority, his right to command. He said, "If you will just bow your neck and put it under my yoke, you will find rest for your souls. Serve me, love me.
And now I just want to invite you if you came here this morning, as an unbeliever, and you heard that text read and you're like, "Why am I here?" Well, I think you may be here for just this moment. Jesus is reaching out and offering you forgiveness of all of your rebellions against God's authority in your life that you've shown by breaking his laws for years. He is willing to forgive you and cover all of your sins through His blood. Just trust in Him, all you have to do is call on him, but as you call on Him, realize you're calling on him as King. He is master and he will say, "Take my yoke upon you, submit to my leadership and you'll find rest for your souls."
Now for us we're going to learn more about this God willing next week. There are roles, gender-based roles, in the church and in the home. Men are to be godly Christ-like leaders, heads, over their wives and wives are to submit to them as Ephesians 5 says plainly. In the church, we also believe that, that the role of teaching and preaching is given to men as he makes very plain in 1 Timothy 2, verse 12, he says, "I do not permit a woman to teach or have authority over a man, she must be silent, for Adam was formed first then Eve." So this is a timeless creation order but it's not in any way demeaning, it's not saying that women can't articulate Christian doctrine with great power and clarity, it's just how God wants it to be.
And so for us to fit into that pattern and then finally to delight, to absolutely delight in the uniqueness and difference of men and women we've got to hold up this banner. It's getting bizarre in our culture, we need to say it is a delightful thing for women to be women, and for men to be men. Close with me in prayer.