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Verse 4. "Having his head covered.”—There are several very difficult passages in this chapter, and the present is one of them. Some commentators pass over this verse as unable to explain it: while others give it the most opposite ex planations, some of which are good, separately taken, but will not stand before a comprehensive view of the subject in all its bearings. The difficulty lies in finding the Apostle's reason for giving this direction: and we are inclined to think that it has reference to some ideas and usage connected with the act of covering the head, which have eloded research, and our ignorance of which precludes us from obtaining a satisfactory explanation. We will briefly notice a few of the alternatives, and state our objections to them.
1. It is in opposition to the idolatrous custom of covering the head in worship. Objection. It was not universally an idolatrous custom: the Greeks and Egyptians worshipped with heads uncovered: and, although the Romans did cover their heads, so did the Jews, who were not idolaters.
2. That as the Greeks were uncovered even in their worship, the custom of covering the head which had crept into the Corinthian church, was forbidden as having a ridiculous appearance in the eyes of the people. Remark. This is exactly the opposite reason to the preceding: but we do not know that we should reject it as part of a reason, though not as a whole one.
3. It was a superstitious custom. Objection. It was so, certainly, among the Romans, who veiled their heads and faces that they might see no evil omen: and it may also be allowed that the Jewish Talith or prayer-veil, used by the congregations, involved much superstition. But then God had prescribed in the Law that the high-priest should wear a mitre, and the common priests and Levites turbans or "bonnets," in their ministration: and this covering of the head, at least, was not a superstition.
4. Covering the head, including the face, was a mark of subjection, or even of condemnation, and therefore for bidden to men. Objection. Covering the head was not in itself a degradation, although it became such in certain forms and under certain circumstances. Was the idea of subjection involved, when the Roman or Jewish priest covered his head with a mitre, when the king wore his crown, and the warrior put on his helmet?
After this, it may seem hazardous to offer anything new on the subject. We will however venture, although without any great confidence, to direct attention to the fact that it is not said that the congregation did, contrary to the custom of the place, cover their heads in the church, but that those who prayed and prophesied did so-distinguishing themselves by covering their heads for the occasion. This they may have thought the more proper, as, although they knew there was no authority in Scripture for the Talith to be worn, as a head veil, by the congregation, they knew also that turbans were directed to be worn by the officiating priests under the Law. There may have been very good reasons why St. Paul should object-not merely because it must have seemed absurd to the Greeks, but because it involved an idea of assimilation, in a matter purely ceremonial, to a priesthood, the functions of which he declared to have ceased when Christ died.
For those who prefer it, we may state another explanation which has occurred to us. There is every reason to sup pose that the Judaizing and Gentile Christians met in the same assembly for worship, notwithstanding their differ ences. From what we have seen of the former, we may safely enough conclude that they wore the Talith on such occasions, and insisted on the necessity of its being worn. The Gentile converts, being thus constantly reminded of it probably mentioned the subject to the Apostle in their letter, and now receive an answer from him.
5. "With her head uncovered.”—In understanding this, there is comparatively little difficulty. We have shown of former occasions that the head is the seat of female modesty in the East-and hence the care of females to veil the face is public, and still more the top and back of the head: and that for a woman to expose her head entirely, is considered most disgraceful. Now it was much the same in Greece. The women, as lately intimated (Rom. xvi. 1), led a solitary life in the gynæconitæ, and veiled themselves when they went abroad. For the rest we may quote Michaelis:-"They relaxed from their severity at the festivals instituted in honour of their deities, at which the Grecian women appeared with their faces uncovered: and this is the reason that, in the Greek comedies, love generally begins in a temple. Under these circumstances it was a disgrace for Christian women to uncover themselves during the time of divine service, and to present themselves not only in a manner unusual at other times, but like women of bad character among the Jews. Yet the Christian women at Corinth uncovered their heads when they prophesied. This again was probably an imitation of heathen customs: for not only the Baccha did the same, but other pretended prophetesses uncovered their heads and dishevelled their hair, in order to show their sacred fury and enthusiastic rage. The reader therefore will not think it extraordinary that St. Paul should oppose so superstitious and offensive a custom."
"As if she were shaven.”—All ancient nations agreed in considering it the greatest disgrace to a woman, for her hair to be cut close or shaven, unless when it was done as an act of extreme grief. It was imposed as a mark of infamy and dishonour on harlots and adulteresses. This even held, and still holds, in those nations where the men habitually shave their heads-as in the modern East, and as in ancient Egypt. In the latter country, all the males shaved their heads, and wore either wigs or caps; but the women always wore their own hair, even in mourning, neither were their heads shaven after death. (Wilkinson, ch. x.) The Roman women also wore their hair long, although the men had theirs cut short. Thus the practice of the women, in not shaving or cropping their hair, has never been influenced even by the contrary usages of the men.
10. "Power on her head because of the angels.”—There is perhaps no passage of Scripture more difficult than this, or which has more exercised the learning and ingenuity of commentators to elicit the sense. On the first clause-"power on her head"—we shall content ourselves with the general admission, that it here denotes a veil, without following the elaborate investigations into the cause why a word which expresses "power" in its primary signification, should also denote "a veil." We shall only express our own inclination to concur in the interpretation of the German crities, as adduced by Bloomfield, that the word is employed to denote a veil, not with any reference to the superiority of the man to the woman, but of the married woman to the maiden; superiority in point of honour and dignity being, in the East, ever conceded to them, as indeed is the case at the present day in every country of Europe. A veil then may be called
via, because it was a sign of honour, as denoting a superior condition. We are the more disposed to concur in this, from knowing that in the East a married woman or a widow is generally distinguished from one who has not been married, by a marked difference in the veil and head-dress. In some countries indeed, the female does not formally wear a veil until she is married.
The remainder of the sentence-" because of the angels"—is much more difficult. It is not within our province to enter into a question of pure criticism; nor would we undertake to determine a matter which Locke confessed he could not understand, and on which men of much eminence have differed greatly. Not being, however, willing to pass the text without notice, we shall briefly indicate, among the various opinions, a few which have been the most largely entertained, and which deserve the most attention.
Many think that real angels are intended; but since there are both good and evil angels, opinion is divided within
this general conclusion. Those who suppose the apostles to refer to good angels, conclude that he adduces their presence at religious assemblies as a reason for propriety of appearance and decorum of demeanour. It is further observed that the Jews were firmly persuaded of the presence of angels wherever men worshipped God. Others, however, who allow angels to be intended, think that evil angels must be understood. But this explanation seems to have been the resort of those who were indeed convinced that real angels must be denoted, and were yet reluctant to admit that celestial spirits were intended; for nothing can be more far-fetched and unsatisfactory than the reasons given for this assumption.
But it has also been observed that the word "angel" also means a messenger; and that the name is indeed applied to the celestial spirits, because they were considered as the messengers of God. Therefore many here understand it in this simple sense, and suppose either that it refers to persons sent from the separate assemblies of the men to those of the women, and on whose account they ought to be veiled, and present as decorous an appearance as if they were in the same place with the male members of the church. Or else, that it denotes the messengers or spies whom, as Tertullian informs us, the heathens were in the habit of sending to observe what was said and done in the Christian assemblies. This interpretation has received the most favour from recent expositors, and in support of it reference is made to Heb. xi. 31; James ii. 25, in which the very word here employed is applied to the "spies" sent by the Israelites to survey the land of Canaan.
It has, moreover, not been forgotten that the same title of "angels" is applied to the ministers of the church in the New Testament (as in Rev. ii. and iii.); and hence some have supposed that they are here intended. Under this impression, various explanations have been afforded of the caution, with reference to them, which the apostle here gives; but if these be really the persons intended, the direction probably amounts to no more than that the women are enjoined to appear in their presence with all such decorum as the customs of the country required them to observe in the presence of men, except their husbands and very near relations.
20. "This is not to eat the Lord's supper."-From this and what follows, it is evident that the apostle refers to circumstances connected with the celebration of the Lord's Supper; and the question is how the disorderly eating and drinking here mentioned could be associated with so simple a celebration. It should be noted that the Lord's Supper was taken every Sunday; and it seems clear that the Agapæ, or love-feasts, of which so much is said by the early ecclesiastical writers, were joined to the Communion, forming part of the celebration. This was probably in imitation of what took place at its institution; when the eating and drinking of the bread and wine were not solitary acts, but formed parts of a feast which was at the same time taken. The feast itself, as celebrated by the Corinthians, seems to have been furnished after the model of the Symposia of the Greeks, in which every one contributed his own provision, and then all partook in common. But it seems that, in the Corinthian church, the selfishness, and unseemly greed of the wealthier members, marred the intention of this regulation; as, instead of forming, with the provisions they brought, a common stock, to be equally shared by all the members of the church, they appropriated to their separate use the food they had brought, whereby the poor, who could bring but little, must have come off with very indifferent fare. It is not very clear whether the wealthy kept constant possession of that which they brought, or, having in the first instance affected to throw it into the common stock, eagerly appropriated it to their own use when the time of eating arrived. We can easily imagine the disgraceful scenes which this practice produced, and the just occasion which it offered for the animadversions of the apostle.
1 Spiritual gifts 4 are divers, 7 yet all to profit
withal. 8 And to that end are diversely bestowed: 12 that by the like proportion, as the members of a natural body tend all to the 16 mutual decency, 22 service, and 26 succour of the same body; 27 so we should do one for another, to make up the mystical body of Christ.
7 But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal.
8 For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit;
9 To another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit ;
10 To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues:
11 But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will.
12 For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ.
13 For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or 'Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit. 14 For the body is not one member, but many.
Rom. 12, 4, &c.
Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I would not have you ignorant.
2 Ye know that ye were Gentiles, carried away unto these dumb idols, even as ye were led.
3 Wherefore I give you to understand, that no man speaking by the Spirit of God calleth Jesus 'accursed: and that no man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost.
4 Now 'there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit.
5 And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord.
6 And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all.
1 Or, anathema.
3 Gr. Greeks.
15 If the foot shall say, Because I am not the hand, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body?
16 And if the ear shall say, Because I am not the eye, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body?
uncomely parts have more abundant comeli
24 For our comely parts have no need: but God hath tempered the body together, having given more abundant honour to that part which lacked:
25 That there should be no 'schism in the body; but that the members should have the same care one for another.
17 If the whole body were an eye, where were the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where were the smelling?
18 But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him.
19 And if they were all one member, where were the body?
20 But now are they many members, yet but one body.
21 And the eye cannot say unto the hand, I have no need of thee: nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you.
22 Nay, much more those members of the body, which seem to be more feeble, are necessary:
23 And those members of the body, which we think to be less honourable, upon these we 'bestow more abundant honour; and our
4 Or, put on.
5 Or, division.
Verse 3. “Calleth Jesus accursed.”—This probably refers to the custom of persecutors to require of suspected Chris tians that they should curse Christ, as a test by which it might be known whether they were really such or not see the note on Acts xxvi. 11). Or else it may allude to the Jews, who delighted to avow that they held Christ accursed, of the ground (among others) that he was crucified; and the Law says, "Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree. We do not like, without strong necessity, which does not here exist, to adduce the shocking blasphemies which they were accustomed to connect with our Lord's name.
Ephes. 4. 11.
26 And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it.
27 Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular.
28 And 'God hath set some in the Church first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, 'diversities of tongues.
29 Are all apostles? are all prophets? are all teachers? are all workers of miracles? 30 Have all the gifts of healing? do all speak with tongues? do all interpret?
31 But covet earnestly the best gifts: and yet shew I unto you a more excellent way.
7 Or, kinds.
8 Or, powers.
15. "If the foot shall say," &c.—The beautiful and sustained similitude which here follows, drawn from the mutual dependence of the members of the human body, will remind most of our readers of the famous apologue, on the same subject, by Menenius Agrippa, by which he succeeded in allaying the discontents of the Roman people. It is exceed ingly illustrative, but is so familiarly known as to render its insertion unnecessary.
THOUGH I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.
2 And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing.
charity envieth not; charity 'vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up,
1 All gifts, 2, 3 how excellent soever, are nothing
worth without charity. 4 The praises thereof, and eth not her own, is not easily provoked 5 Doth not behave itself unseemly, seek 13 prelation before hope and faith.
3 And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.
4 Charity suffereth long, and is kind;
1 Or, is not rash.
thinketh no evil;
6 Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth;
7 Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.
8 Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away;
9 For we know in part, and we prophesy in part.
10 But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done
11 When I was a child, I spake as a child,
Or, with the truth.
I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.
12 For now we see through a glass, 'darkly; but then face to face: now I know
in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.
13 And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.
4 Gr. in a riddle.
Verse 1. "Though I speak with the tongues of men.”—It is well observed by Lightfoot and Whitby, that the apostle, in the three first verses of this chapter, reckons up the things which were most highly esteemed among the Jews. We here observe, that "the tongues of men "probably means the languages of all men. It may be suspected that some persons in the church of Corinth, who had received the gift of tongues, were too proud of the distinction and power which it gave them; and are now told, that if they could speak all the languages of men, this, without "charity," would be to themselves of no avail.
"Of angels."—It is by no means necessary to inquire whether the angels have a language, or to understand the Apostle as affirming that they have. The passage is hyperbolical as it stands, and the idea involved, of the angels as speaking a language, may be part of the hyperbole. It is enough for the purpose of the Apostle to suppose this-particularly as it was the opinion of his countrymen. They not only believed that the angels had a language, but that this language was the key of all mysteries, and that some of their Rabbins had acquired a knowledge of it. They tell us, for ins ace, that R. Jochanan ben Zacchai, who was a contemporary of St. Paul, understood this language: but we doubt whether, by this, anything more is meant than the old Hebrew tongue, which was at this time a dead language; since the same authorities assure us that the use of "the holy tongue" was one of three things in which the Israelites were like the ministering angels: and to this information they add, that angels were ignorant of the Syriac language. Perhaps, after all, by "the tongue of angels," the Apostle means the power and eloquence with which an angel might be supposed to speak.
“Charity.”—Some serious misconceptions have arisen from the use of this word, which, whatever may have been its force when employed by our venerable translators, now bears a restricted signification which very inadequately and unworthily expresses the force of the original. "Love" is the proper meaning of the word yarn; but even so, the original, like the word by which it is translated, varies in intensity of meaning according to the manner in which it is applied. We apply the word "Love" to express a considerable variety of feelings. In the present case we may safely accept the sense which Robinson here assigns it; namely that it denotes, "that good will towards others, that love to our neighbours, that brotherly affection which the religion of Jesus commands and inspires." Indeed, what the Apostle intended to express by this word, is so clearly and minutely defined by himself, in the concluding verses of this chapter, that all misconception might seem to be precluded.
“Sounding brass.”—Such as a trumpet or other wind instrument, usually made of brass.
2. "Remove mountains.”—This was a proverbial expression among the Jews to denote the doing of things which seem impossible. So they tell us of one R. Azzai, that there was not in his days a rooter up of mountains like unto him, or one that could do such great things as he did. This title of "Rooter up of mountains," they were fond of applying to such of their learned doctors as were notedly acute in disputation, and ready at solving difficulties.
3. "Bestow all my goods," &c.-The Jews, like the Mohammedans of the present day, had a very exalted notion of the efficacy of alms-giving in procuring them acceptance with God. Hence they say, "Whosoever diminisheth anything of his substance to bestow in alms, shall be delivered from hell," Mention is made of some who for this reason gave to the poor everything they possessed.
"Give my body to be burned."-This must have sounded strange to, at least, the Jewish Christians, who had been brought up in the persuasion that martyrdom for the Law was sufficient not only for the expiation of their own sins, but for the sins of the whole nation. It would also have been well had those early Christians, who sought their own death, and exhibited an eager desire for martyrdom, studied carefully the important meaning of this text.
12. "Now we see through a glass, darkly.”—There is nothing in the word rorrgov to denote the substance of "glass ;" it simply expresses "something to see through," and is now generally supposed to refer to some of those semitransparent substances which the ancients used in their windows, such as their plates of horn, transparent stone, and the like, through which they indeed saw the objects without, but very obscurely. Windows were often formed of the lapis specularis, mentioned by Pliny, which was very pellucid, and admitted of being split into thin cruste, though some of them were much more obscure than others. (See Bloomfield, in loc.) A stone of this description is still employed for admitting light into apartments (chiefly baths) in some parts of Western Asia. It admits light rather freely, but objects cannot be seen through it, the effect being somewhat similar to that of ground glass.
1 Prophecy is commended, 2, 3, 4 and preferred
FOLLOW after charity, and desire spiritual gifts, but rather that ye may prophesy.
2 For he that speaketh in an unknown
tongue speaketh not unto men, but unto beit in the spirit he speaketh mysteries. God: for no man 'understandeth him; how
3 But he that prophesieth speaketh unto men to edification, and exhortation, and comfort.
4 He that speaketh in an unknown tongue edifieth himself; but he that prophesieth edifieth the Church.
5 I would that ye all spake with tongues, but rather that ye prophesied: for greater
is he that prophesieth than he that speaketh with tongues, except he interpret, that the Church may receive edifying.
6 Now, brethren, if I come unto you speaking with tongues, what shall I profit you, except I shall speak to you either by revelation, or by knowledge, or by prophesying, or by doctrine?
7 And even things without life giving sound, whether pipe or harp, except they give a distinction in the 'sounds, how shall it be known what is piped or harped?
8 For if the trumpet give an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself to the battle?
9 So likewise ye, except ye utter by the tongue words easy to be understood, how shall it be known what is spoken? for ye shall speak into the air.
10 There are, it may be, so many kinds of voices in the world, and none of them is without signification.
11 Therefore if I know not the meaning of the voice, I shall be unto him that speaketh a barbarian, and he that speaketh shall be a barbarian unto me.
12 Even so ye, forasmuch as ye are zcalous of spiritual gifts, seek that ye may excel to the edifying of the Church.
13 Wherefore let him that speaketh in an unknown tongue pray that he may interpret.
14 For if I pray in an unknown tongue, my spirit prayeth, but my understanding is unfruitful.
15 What is it then? I will pray with the spirit, and I will pray with the understanding also: I will sing with the spirit, and I will sing with the understanding also.
16 Else when thou shalt bless with the spirit, how shall he that occupieth the room of the unlearned say Amen at thy giving of thanks, seeing he understandeth not what thou savest?
17 For thou verily givest thanks well, but
the other is not edified.
3 Gr. significant.
standing: howbeit in malice 'be ye children, but in understanding be 'men.
• Gr. of spirits. 8 Gr. tumult, or, unquietness.
21 In the law it is 'written, With men of other tongues and other lips will I speak unto this people; and yet for all that will they not hear me, saith the Lord.
22 Wherefore tongues are for a sign, not to them that believe, but to them that believe not: but prophesying serveth not for them that believe not, but for them which believe.
18 I thank my God, I speak with tongues more than ye all:
19 Yet in the Church I had rather speak five words with my understanding, that by my voice I might teach others also, than ten thousand words in an unknown tongue. 20 Brethren, be not children in under- Church.
23 If therefore the whole church be come together into one place, and all speak with tongues, and there come in those that are unlearned, or unbelievers, will they not say that ye are mad?
24 But if all prophesy, and there come in one that believeth not, or one unlearned, he is convinced of all, he is judged of all:
25 And thus are the secrets of his heart made manifest; and so falling down on his face he will worship God, and report that God is in you of a truth.
26 How is it then, brethren? when ye come together, every one of you hath a psalm, hath a doctrine, hath a tongue, hath a revelation, hath an interpretation. Let all things be done unto edifying.
27 If any man speak in an unknown tongue, let it be by two, or at the most by three, and that by course; and let one interpret.
28 But if there be no interpreter, let him keep silence in the church; and let him speak to himself, and to God.
29 Let the prophets speak two or three, and let the other judge.
30 If any thing be revealed to another that sitteth by, let the first hold his peace.
31 For ye may all prophesy one by one, that all may learn, and all may be com forted.
32 And the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets.
33 For God is not the author of 'confu sion, but of peace, as in all churches of the
34 'Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience, as also saith the law.
35 And if they will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak in the
Matt. 18. 3. 91 Tim. 2. 19,