In 1st Corinthians chapter 11, Paul discusses the topic of women and men praying and prophesying during church services.
In 1st Corinthians 11:10, Paul makes a statement that has baffled many people. In this verse, Paul states,
“For this cause ought the woman to have power on her head because of the angels.”
Some have assumed that Paul was referring to the legend of angels falling in love and marrying human women, as taught in the Book of Enoch, and claimed by some to have supposedly occurred in Genesis chapter six.
Was Paul reflecting on the Book of Enoch when he said a woman should have something on her head because of the angels?
First, we must understand that this discussion (1 Corinthians 11) is about orderly worship in the church.
Second, The Greek word for angel in 1st Corinthians 11:10 is “aggelos,” and it means messenger, which refers to both heavenly, supernatural messengers or even to human messengers.
1) In Matthew 11:10, Mark 1:2, and Luke 7:27, John the Baptist is listed in these passages as a messenger, the same Greek word for angel (aggelos).
2) In Luke 7:24, one of Johns the Baptists disciples is indicated in scripture as being a messenger, the same Greek word for angels (aggelos) used in 1st Corinthians 11:10.
3) The angels or messengers of the seven churches (Revelation 1:11,19) are likely human messengers, or even pastors of the seven churches and not supernatural beings.
Therefore, when Paul was addressing issues of orderly worship and how men and women should appear and act in church, his statement about women having something on their head because of the angels (11:10), is not about the Book of Enoch, Genesis chapter six, or supernatural beings having relations with human women. His statement is about men and women ensuring they have an identifying uniqueness about themselves for the benefit of the human messengers, or aggelos of the churches, the pastors, and elders of the churches.
English translators should have translated the Greek aggelos to messengers in 11:10, but because of church tradition, and the interpretation of early church writers, this translation of angels rather than messengers, has been the default rendering of the verse (11:10), which is why so many struggle to understand what Paul is saying in chapter 11.
In the Corinthian church, Paul identified that uniqueness regarding women (11:10).
For this cause ought the woman to have power or ἐξουσίαν (exousian) on her head because of the angels (visiting messenger, or pastor of the church).
What is that power = ἐξουσίαν (exousian) on her head?
Greek writers (callistratus, Descriptions 5. On the Statue of Narcissus) used similar terms (ἐξουσίαν / exousian) for an abundance or fullness of hair, also known as powerful hair in their terminology.
According to Paul, a woman is given her long hair as a covering (1 Corinthians 11:15), which he said is also her glory. This covering, long hair, identifies her as the feminine side of creation, thus eliminating confusion as to if a man or woman is standing before the congregation to publicly pray or prophesy in the Church of Corinth.
Paul was dealing with many cultural dynamics in that region with pagan temple worship and cultural norms, which are not easily seen in this letter to the church but are known through a study of the region’s history, mostly about the practices of the Dionysiac cult, which had gender identity issues.
This is not suggesting we are advocating that women cannot cut their hair, or that men cannot have long hair. The topic Paul was dealing with is that people in the local culture were blurring the lines of who or what they truly were (reversing their roles) as part of their worship of a pagan god of wine that was born male but raised as a female.
Therefore, 1st Corinthians 11:10 is a very practical instruction for church order, avoidance of pagan practices, and not something that needs to be overly spiritualized or turned into something supernatural. Paul was not influenced by, nor was he suggesting something connected to the Book of Enoch as advocates for the Book of Enoch claim.
As an additional note, this article and associated video is not a debate over head coverings, but solely focused on debunking the claim that Paul was endorsing the Book of Enoch or the false Genesis six narrative of fallen angles having relations with human women. In no way was Paul focused on the mythology found in the Book of Enoch. For further details about the head covering issues, a comprehensive study on the topic can be found at the following link.
For a comprehensive debunk of the Book of Enoch, please consider purchasing the following books (Click the links):
The Book of Enoch Debunked
The Bible vs. The Book of Enoch
We match teaching against the scriptures to point out error and call people back to truth in love and with the desire to save and restore.
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