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1 Corinthians 11:10

ESV That is why a wife ought to have a symbol of authority on her head, because of the angels.
NIV It is for this reason that a woman ought to have authority over her own head, because of the angels.
NASB Therefore the woman should have a symbol of authority on her head, because of the angels.
CSB This is why a woman should have a symbol of authority on her head, because of the angels.
NLT For this reason, and because the angels are watching, a woman should wear a covering on her head to show she is under authority.
KJV For this cause ought the woman to have power on her head because of the angels.

What does 1 Corinthians 11:10 mean?

Translation and context are complex for this verse. As a result, it has been subject to many different interpretations. This statement follows Paul's teaching that woman is the glory of man—or that a wife is the glory of her husband. Men in the Corinthian church must not cover their heads during prayer and prophesying in public worship. Because of what a covered head signifies in that culture, men should pray without head coverings, because they are the glory of God. Women must cover up their glory, represented by their heads in this era, because it belongs to their husbands.

Now Paul adds this is why a woman, or wife, should have authority on her head when praying or prophesying in a public church service. Some scholars read this to mean that a woman should have a symbol of her husband's or father's authority over her. Others understand it to mean that woman should use her own "authority over herself" or self-control to cover her glory—her head, in this case—while in public.

In either case, women should cover their glory while praying or prophesying in a church service because of the angels. That statement from Paul leads to suggestions from Bible scholars that range far and wide. Most conclude that Paul means angels observe our public worship services. Since they are watching, it is important for women to be appropriate in covering their glory and not dishonoring their husbands.

It bears repeating that most interpreters believe the specific issue of a woman covering her head to preserve her glory for her husband was related to the social standards of the time. Paul is relaying specific application of a universal principle: modesty. Christians may live in widely varied cultures, with variant standards of dress and fashion. All believers should appropriately "cover their glory" in public worship services according to conscience and the standards for modesty in their own era.
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