Biblical Headship? What's That?
Updated: Sep 13, 2022
The Scriptures, in teaching us “The Way,” (Acts 24:14), teach us about Scriptural Headship.
You could call this a “blueprint for the structure of the human family,” and as we know, “All scripture is given by inspiration of YAHWEH and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of YAHWEH may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.” (2 Tim 3:16-17). Keeping commandments and instruction of our loving Abba Yahweh is not a yoke of bondage, but it is a law of liberty, freeing us from the painful results of bondage to sin. The modern world, which we must live in – but strive not to be of – (see John 17:14-15), in all its complexity and confusion, is in rebellion against Yahweh and His ways; and so remains in this bondage, with both subtle – and not so subtle influences on both men and women. Also, Yahweh does not change, (Malachi 3:6).
The system of government which the Bible teaches is not complicated, and was summarized by Paul in 1 Corinthians 11.
Understanding the Scriptural order of headship established by our Creator helps us to interpret the meaning of 1 Corinthians chapter 11. It need not be confusing or seem contradictory!
Let’s learn what’s meant here... The new assembly of Yahweh Paul set up at Corinth is for us, an example, that we might avoid problems they encountered. This assembly was made up of people from different ethnic backgrounds, and brought with them various past doctrines they’d learned, and this caused some division with even opposite viewpoints; (see 1 Cor 11:19 ).
Within this assembly Paul is simply doing the same as he’d urged Timothy to do in 2 Tim 4:2 – “Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.”
He begins teaching about Scriptural headship – the family model - in 1 Corinthians 11:1-3 with “Follow my example as I follow Messiah’s. I commend you for always keeping me in mind, and maintaining the tradition I handed on to you. But I wish you to understand that, while every man has Messiah for his Head, woman's head is man, as Messiah's head is Yahweh,”
This sets up the ‘theme’ of “headship,” a word defined in Merriam-Webster’s as “the position, office, or dignity of a head,” (or leader).
Paul is showing us that there are positions in the family; Yahweh being the head of Yahshua; Yahshua of man/husband, husband head of wife.
Yes, even the Messiah, Son of Yahweh is always in subjection to His Father. Notice 1 Cor. 15:27-28 - “For He hath put all things under His feet. But when He says, all things are put under Him; it is manifest that He is excepted, which did put all things under Him. And when all things shall be subdued unto Him, then shall the Son also himself be subject unto Him that put all things under Him that Yahweh may be all in all.”
After Yahshua, who will return to rule the earth, the human family has its own order of position. The man was given the responsibility of leading and guiding the family by Almighty Yahweh. The woman was placed under his leadership, to be in submission to the man just as Almighty Yahweh stands above the Messiah in position, and Yahshua willingly submits to His Father.
REMEMBER: Willing submission is NOT “slavery” or anything of the like – it is a deep respect for the person, and their position given to them by their Creator; “and the wife see that she reverence, [deeply respects], her husband.” (Eph 5:33b). ALSO REMEMBER: Almighty Yahweh in His loving wisdom, commanded husbands: “Husbands, love your wives, even as the Messiah also loved the assembly, and gave himself for it” (Eph 5:25). The woman was created to be a man’s “negeb,” (Hebrew); “counterpart,” ie; companion/helper/assistant. She was created ‘flesh of his flesh and bone of his bone,’ (Gen 2:23).
The masculinity of a man is balanced by the femininity of woman, and vice-versa. The man has strength to lead his family; he is their “covering” – ie; protection/leader/teacher/provider. In 1 Peter 3:7, a husband is actually given the admonishment to strive to understand his wife, lest their prayers be hindered. That is a big responsibility. (How to be a “counterpart” to this admonishment is given in the six preceding verses!).
Scripture shows us that all members of the human family Yahweh created, need to strive to recognize, learn about and embrace their unique placement in the family. Neither sex is “better” than the other, and there need not be any “war between the sexes.” Rather cooperation, submission, respect, honor and a desire to “pull the wagon together” – in the same direction! When each fulfill their unique roles for which they were created, that delicate and beautiful balance – that “spiritual law,” is put into action! Remember that spiritual laws work not unlike physical ones. Example; gravity. You throw a ball up – it comes down. You wives deeply respect your husbands and you men love & honor your wives’ position and you will be blessed. (Transversely, when there is “role-reversal” – or rebellion, problems will arise. Not that we can’t recognize, repent, work on & improve! Of course we can! Key? Yah’s Word & COMMUNICATION!)
So, we can certainly see why the Apostles Peter and Paul in their epistles to the members of the Assemblies of Yahweh were so adamant about teaching the doctrine of headship
Paul tells us that there are established symbols to be used to show the order of headship in the Assembly; “A man who keeps his head covered when he prays or prophesies brings shame on his head; [who is a man’s head; Messiah Yahshua], a woman, on the contrary, brings shame on her head, [who is her head; her husband], if she prays or prophesies [teaches other women or children] bare-headed; it is as bad as if her head were shaved. If a woman is not to wear a veil she might as well have her hair cut off; but if it is a disgrace for her to be cropped and shaved, then she should wear a veil. [be covered]” (1 Corinthians 11:4-6) So when you come into an Assembly of Yahweh on the Sabbath, or at the Feast of Tabernacles, and you see the women’s heads covered, you now can understand why they desire to do this.
The word translated “covered” in verse 4 literally means “to have something upon the head.” We do caution against simply “striving to meet the minimum standards,” (be it in head-covering or in any part of your walk!). We rather encourage and exhort you to be zealous! Let your head-covering be a dignified expression of your feminine role! Embrace it and enjoy it. Example of “the minimum?” - Some women have gone so far as to wear “doilies” or what amount to the Greek sign of an educated man on their heads for worship, even encouraging other women; even “new lambs,” (new to the faith), to do the same. How sad, as this leads them in the opposite direction of feminity. Jewish men wore - and continue to wear them; they’re called “yarmulkes,” - a custom easily traced to a pagan source, being the philosophers of ancient Greece, who wore the hat of the g-d H-rmes, and who insisted that all their students wearing this cap. Today it is still visible under the mortarboard worn by those graduating from high schools and universities. So, by doing this, women are not only cheating themselves of embracing their femininity / feminine role, they’re bordering on breaking Torah’s instruction to “not wear that which pertains to a man.” (Deut 22:5).
Moving on to a word some ask about; the word ‘glory’ appears in Paul's commentary relating to the woman. When he speaks in 1 Cor. 11:7-12, stating “A man has no need to cover his head, because man is the image of Yahweh, and the mirror of his glory, whereas woman reflects the glory of man. For man did not originally spring from woman, but woman was made out of man; and man was not created for woman's sake, but woman for the sake of man; and therefore it is the woman's duty to have a sign of authority on her head, out of regard for the angels. And yet, in Messiah's fellowship woman is as essential to man as man to woman, if woman was made out of man, it is through woman that man now comes to be; Yahweh being the source of all life.” The woman is the glory of the man and as such stands in the same position of rank to her husband as does the high priest to the Heavenly Father Yahweh. The woman was taken out of man and not man from woman. The man ranks first in the order of creation; the woman was made as a mirror of the man. She is the feminine part of the family; the man is the masculine, stronger part. The man does not need to cover his head because he stands in the position of leadership, and to cover his head would not be respectful to Yahshua, nor would it honor his wife. The woman must cover her head as a sign that she loyally supports him, and because she deeply respects him and his Yahweh-given position. Verse 10 has many times been a “struggle” exegetically / of translation - In the King James Version the verse reads, “For this cause ought the woman to have power on her head because of the angels.” This is a thought difficult to explain in this form. However, in the Aramaic version the verse reads, “For this reason the woman ought to be modest and cover her head as a mark of respect to the angels.” Here then is a much more correct reading. The Hebrew word “radid” (which comes from the word “radad” meaning, to have power/authority) signifies a veil, The Greek word “exousia” also means veil as may be seen from the Arndt and Gingrich Greek Lexicon. So the meaning is two-fold; a woman is to have a covering on her head when she sits and listens to the messengers of Yahweh preaching. The word angel means messenger. Elders teaching in the assembly are not ‘angels,’ – but they are messengers! A veil on her head shows respect for them and for her husband, and by extension, the entire Assembly. (Note: Single adult women, while not “covered” - ie; led / advised by a husband, do have the opportunity, by submitting to their Messiah Yahshua, to be covered by the Assembly under Yahshua). Shalom!
~ c03/22 Green Bay Sabbath Fellowship – an Assembly of YHWH in N. E. Wisconsin