1 Corinthians 11:10 It is for this reason that a woman ought to have authority over her* head, because of the angels.[*The NIV2011 inserts “own” in this verse. I took it out.]There are three main questions people ask about verse 10:
- What did Paul mean by, “for this reason”?
- What did Paul mean by, “a woman ought to have authority over her head”?
- What did Paul mean by, “because of the angels”?
Today I’m just looking at the first question: What did Paul mean by “For this reason”?10 It is for this reason that a woman ought to have authority over her head, because of the angels.
Is Paul talking about the reason given in vv7-9 (woman is the glory of man)?
Is Paul talking about the reason given in verse 10 (the angels)?
The phrase itself can be read either way.
The angels could be the reason because:
(i) The mention of angels at the end of the verse does not need to be there. It would make complete sense if the verse finished after “head”, i.e. For this reason a woman should have authority over her head. If “the angels” were the reason for woman having authority over their heads, then it would explain why “the angels” are there at all.
“Women being the glory of man” (vv7-9) could be the reason because:
(i) It balances out the reason/conclusion pattern Paul uses when he talks about men in verse 7.
- [conclusion] a man ought not to cover his head
- [reason] because he is the image and glory of God
- [reason] but woman is the glory of God because she was taken from man for man.
- [conclusion] For this reason a woman should have authority over her head…
(ii) “For this reason” refers to one specific reason. If Paul was saying “this reason” is the angels, he would be adding another reason to those already mentioned in detail in vv7-9.
(iii) If you read the passage carefully in more word-for-word translations, you’ll see that each part of Paul’s explanation is linked to every other part. To introduce a completely new, unconnected reason in v10 makes a mockery of Paul’s previous reasoning.
The vast majority of Bible translators agree “for this reason” refers back to vv7-9.