What does 1 Corinthians 11:16 mean?
ESV: If anyone is inclined to be contentious, we have no such practice, nor do the churches of God.
NIV: If anyone wants to be contentious about this, we have no other practice--nor do the churches of God.
NASB: But if anyone is inclined to be contentious, we have no such practice, nor have the churches of God.
CSB: If anyone wants to argue about this, we have no other custom, nor do the churches of God.
NLT: But if anyone wants to argue about this, I simply say that we have no other custom than this, and neither do God’s other churches.
KJV: But if any man seem to be contentious, we have no such custom, neither the churches of God.
NKJV: But if anyone seems to be contentious, we have no such custom, nor do the churches of God.
Verse Commentary:
Paul began this section with a reference to maintaining the "traditions" he taught to the Christians in Corinth. The term used for "traditions" in that case literally refers to a teaching "passed along" or "handed down" from one person to another. That instruction can be good (2 Thessalonians 2:15), or bad (Matthew 15:2), depending on its content. Perhaps those traditions included this practice of having women keep their heads covered when participating in the services through prayer or prophesying.

The overall point being made in this passage is that culture and society interpret behaviors and styles of dress to have certain meanings. That includes what certain clothing styles, and the covering or revealing of certain body parts, "means" in that society. In the case of ancient Corinth, an uncovered woman's head was interpreted as a sign of sexual availability, prostitution, or idol worship. As such, it was inappropriate for Christian gatherings. So, too, was the opposite: a man sending mixed signals or associations by covering his head in a Christian meeting (1 Corinthians 11:4–5).

These cultural standards were—at that time—almost universal and a matter of common sense. As such, Paul points out that no Christian church of his era has the practice of allowing women to pray or prophesy with uncovered heads. He addresses those who might be inclined to argue with him. Those eager to "be contentious" about this issue are flatly told "I don't do this, and neither do other churches," suggesting the matter is decided. Any Corinthian who disagrees should not try to change it.
Verse Context:
First Corinthians 11:2–16 describes Paul's correction of an inappropriate practice of some women in the Corinthian church. Contrary to social norms of that era, they were not wearing head coverings when praying or prophesying before the church. Paul insists that both women and men consider what their chosen appearance implies about their relationship with God. Cultural details may vary, but the principle does not: Christian men and women ought to be ''respectable'' in their manners and dress. In parallel, this teaching also touches on the concept of spiritual leadership.
Chapter Summary:
Paul confronts two issues the church in Corinth was failing to practice correctly. First, some women were not wearing head coverings while praying or prophesying in their meetings. Paul insisted they must do so, and that men must not, based on mankind's relationship to God and the social implications of that covering. Second, Paul describes the reasons for observing the Lord's Supper and how it should be done. The Corinthian Christians had brought God's judgment on themselves for practicing communion in a way which dishonored Christ's sacrifice for sin and humiliated the poor among them.
Chapter Context:
After concluding his teaching on meat offered to idols, Paul turns to two issues the church in Corinth was getting wrong. The first was head coverings when praying or prophesying in their meetings. Differences between men and women in that regard are because of both spiritual and social reasons. Paul also corrects the disastrous way in which they were practicing the observance of the Lord's Supper. They were dishonoring Christ's sacrifice for sin as well as the poor in the body of Christ, the church. Despite having more to say on communion, Paul will move on to the topic of spiritual gifts in chapter 12.
Book Summary:
First Corinthians is one of the more practical books of the New Testament. Paul writes to a church immersed in a city associated with trade, but also with corruption and immorality. These believers are struggling to properly apply spiritual gifts and to resist the ungodly practices of the surrounding culture. Paul's letter gives instructions for real-life concerns such as marriage and spirituality. He also deals with the importance of unity and gives one of the Bible's more well-known descriptions of love in chapter 13.
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