Two heads one master

Two heads one master

While Paul said that the husband is the head of the wife (1 Cor. 11:3) with this metaphor implying that the wife is the body of the husband, scripture also tells us that Jesus is the head of the body of Christ and the believing wife is part of that body too.  This means that the metaphor of head/body is used both of a physical relationship between husband and wife and a spiritual relationship between believers and Christ.  But does head mean master?

Many believe that head means one who has authority over another.  Some believe that a woman is not allowed to teach the bible if her husband does not give her permission to do so.  In essence he is her master and she must obey what he tells her.  But if head means master, then scripture contradicts itself because the bible says that we have only one master.  In John 13:13 Jesus says that he is that Master.

John 13:13  Ye call me Master and Lord: and ye say well; for so I am.  KJV

The word translated as “master” is didaskalos and it means teacher, instructor, master.  Jesus then goes on to show that we are all brothers and only one is our master/teacher.

Matthew 23:8  But be not ye called Rabbi: for one is your Master, even Christ; and all ye are brethren.
Matthew 23:9  And call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven.
Matthew 23:10  Neither be ye called masters: for one is your Master, even Christ.
Matthew 23:11  But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant.  KJV

Jesus also taught that no one can serve two masters:

Matthew 6:24  “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other.

The word for master here is kurios and it means lord, master, owner.

It is impossible for “head” to mean “lord, master, owner”.  Jesus is both head and Master because he alone is God.  No husband is to be in the position of master because we are to have only one master and that is Jesus Christ.

It is a wonderful thing when a husband agrees that his wife should teach the bible.  However his agreement should have no bearing on the obedience of a servant of the one and only Master.  There is only one spiritual head and only one Master.  The husband is in a one-flesh union with his wife and together they should work out their marriage relationship.  But scripture never gives the husband the position of master over his wife and scripture never tells the wife that she must obey her husband as her master, for no one can serve two masters.

25 thoughts on “Two heads one master

  1. Actually Scripture DOES say it, but it is not an example to be followed.

    Est 1:22  He sent letters to all the royal provinces, to every province in its own script and to every people in its own language, that every man be master in his own household and speak according to the language of his people.

  2. Don,
    Of course we know that the edict was sent by a pagan king and the dominion that the man was to have as master follows along the line of Genesis 3:16 as a ruler over the woman.  It isn’t something that God said nor did Jesus.  If we follow Jesus’ way, we won’t be tempted into idolatry.  Anything or anyone who comes between us and God is an idol and husbands can become idols if they are allowed to usurp the authority of Jesus and become masters.

  3. While Paul said that the husband is the head of the wife (1 Cor. 11:3) with this metaphor implying that the wife is the body of the husband, scripture also tells us that Jesus is the head of the body of Christ and the believing wife is part of that body too.’

    If then what Paul says implies that the wife is the body of the husband then does not what he says also imply that Christ is the body of God and males the body of Christ? (I’ve not been able to determine for myself whether or not aner in 1 Co 11 means male or is being used generic for person) 

  4. Don,

    I like your answer here.  As a once serious student of Greek, Paul is very complex.  He uses allusions and complex poetic devices.  He uses complex literary devices sometimes.  Other places he is very straightforward, but his style is quite advanced and very clever.

    That’s another thing that just confounds me about this gender business.  People don’t talk about the context and often fail to consider the many things to which Paul alludes.  Ephesians 5:25-26 makes a reference back to the Hebrew word for holiness and it’s similarities to the word “married.”   Christ as our sanctification speaks of and alludes to Christ as the one who marries us, relating back to the Hebrew.  We have a more clear-cut example of how Paul used these types of references when he spoke at Mars Hill — using the people’s own literary references to open up a new perspective for them to see Christ.  Yet the significance of Paul’s skill and ability to craft these lovely literary devices is not taught as part of interpreting many of his writings in fullness. 

    Frankly, it does not speak well about the exegetical skill of those who frame out these arguments.  Aren’t all these complementarian teachers all supposed to be Bible scholars?  And in the process, we lose a beautiful aspect of appreciation for the Word of God as well.  It marginalizes the Word of God — Jesus, the Word made flesh.  But why does that not surprise me?

    Okay.  Rant over.  Back to regular programming.

    And I want to say that I appreciate Don for having appreciation for the lovely complexities that comes through the reading of Greek.  I’m no expert by any stretch of the imagination, but this honor for the Greek texts really shines through in his comments for me.  And all glory to God for it who has opened his understanding and his heart to receive it.  May the Holy Spirit work this into all believers and students of Holy Scripture.  I think that we tend to forget that it is Holy, Inspired and Effective.

  5. I wrote:  As a once serious student of Greek, Paul is very complex.

    I intended to communicate that, for a time, I was a once serious student of Greek.  And based on my studies, I was quick to note how complex Paul’s use of the Greek language can be.

  6. All the more reason to cling to good interlinears and not depend upon Strong’s (which is largely circular with the KJV) alone but make use of other dictionaries such as Liddell-Scott.

    I like the scripture4all interlinear because it puts the grammatical parsing with each word. Their concordat approach has obvious advantages, but also seems to make them come up with some pretty obscure English equivalents; I’ve had to go to the dictionary many times, thinking “Aw, come on, that’s not a real word!”, only to find it there (albeit sometimes only used in archaic form).

    And I agree, Cindy, that those who are revered as scholars have dropped the ball in a big way. But it’s just like the scientific community; you develop a reputation, then fight like a banshee to protect it, even if your theories are proved wrong by the research of others. Every human institution become political.

    And that’s why Jesus didn’t set one up. He spoke only of relationships and attitudes, of humility and service. The very term “servant leader” is an oxymoron, an example of Orwellian doublespeak. But without heavy organization there is no one to boss, no one to corrupt, no way to politicize the Body.

    Legalism is the fruit of pride and control. And it’s everywhere, not just in the “gender wars”. The Hebrew Roots movement is trying to put us back under law, many denominations insist that every believer be under a Pastor’s (i.e., CEO’s) “covering”, tithing is still pushed, many want to dictate “proper” worship, or devise dress codes, on and on and on. And those who control the scriptures have the high ground.

    I do believe they’ll start burning Bibles and Christians again soon. One scapegoat after another will be labeled The Enemy.

  7. My take is that 1 Cor 11:4-6 is a saying from some at Corinth, as 1 Cor 7-16 partially agrees (for men not to cover) and partially disagrees (women can choose whether to cover).  1 Cor 11:2-3 then serves as an intro to the discussion.

    In 1 Cor 11:3 “pantos andros” is slightly ambiguous, it might refer to every male or it might refer to every person; and exactly how is Christ the metaphorical “kephale” head of all of them, either all males or all people is another question. 

    Where is Paul going with this, the original readers/listeners might wonder?  He MIGHT be agreeing with those that want to require head covering for women or he might not.

  8. Pinklight #5,

    You started a good discussion here when you asked:

    If then what Paul says implies that the wife is the body of the husband then does not what he says also imply that Christ is the body of God and males the body of Christ?

    Paul uses the term “kephale” or “head” in a metaphor that must include the rest of the metphor “body” to allow it to make sense.  Let’s reason through this metaphor from 1 Cor. 11:3 and see if we can make sense of Paul’s use.

    First of all we can understand a connection between head and body as one of unity.  The head is connected to the body as a one-flesh union.  In what way is the connection highlighted in 1 Corinthians 11?  Let me put out my thoughts for you to consider.  One thing that we can see is absent from the passage is a position of “authority over”.  There is nothing in 1 Cor. 11 that has God as an authority over Christ or the man as an authority over the woman.  If Paul had meant authority, then he failed to express a connection to authority so his point has fallen to the ground.  That is, if that is what he meant.  But instead of authority we see source or source of supply mentioned in the passage.

    In 1 Cor. 11:8 we see that the woman is made from the source that is of the man.  Verse 9 shows that she was created because of the man and verse 11 & 12 we see that both depend on each other and the ultimate source is God.

    So how does this all go back to verse 3?  God is the source of the humanity of Christ.  Jesus said that he came from God.  God was not only the source of his humanity but he lived his life trusting in the Father as his physical source for everything that he needed.  Since Jesus gave up his right to act independently as God and chose to live his life as a man here on earth, he relied on his Father to receive his name (he received this by inheritance according to Hebrews 1) and the source of his works.  Jesus said that the works proved that he came from the Father.  This showed that the source of the works was from the Father since Jesus set aside the independent use of his Deity.  So in this way God was the true source of the humanity of Jesus and the source of supply for his works.

    Let’s look to the previous head/body metaphor.  The husband is the head of the wife.  Now we should be able to understand that this does not mean that every man is the head of every woman so that the woman is the body of every man no matter who he is.  No, this is not right.  We must interpret “man” and “woman” here to be husband and wife as this is the only one flesh union between man and woman.  Again the context shows that the woman came from the man.  Therefore the first wife came from the body of the first husband.  They were one flesh to start with and God brought them back together in a one-flesh union in marriage.

    So we can see the the husband is the physical source of the first woman and is meant to be in a physical one-flesh union head/body relationship with his wife.  We can also see that the husband is in some sense a source of supply also for his wife.  When she is bearing and nurturing their children, he supplies her with her needs.  The man also is to sacrifice in other ways for her.  The man in this world has all the advantages that are not readily given to the woman.  The husband then can sacrifice for her by giving up of himself to open the doors for her to minister and serve the body of Christ.  When he refuses to sacrifice for her and refuses to open doors for her by fighting for her to use her gifts, it is much harder for a woman to minister in her God-given gifts.

    Now let’s go back to the first example of Christ being the head of man.  If the other two examples are head/body metaphors, then this one too is a head/body metaphor.  I believe that Paul is referencing not all men but husbands and not all husbands but the ones who are part of the body of Christ.  Jesus is the head of Christian husbands.  Christian husbands are the body (as we all are part of Jesus body) and here Jesus is noted as a special head of husbands.  Why?  Here is the key.  I believe that Paul makes note that Jesus is the head of Christian husbands because Jesus is the example of the sacrificial husband and Jesus is the source of supply for all Christian husbands.  Not only did Jesus show what a true husband was to be like when he walked the earth sacrificing for his bride and opening the door for her to minister, but he has the source of supply that all Christian husbands need.  Without going to Jesus as the source a husband will fail to be the kind of husband that he should be.

    The perfect husband is one who gives up himself in every way for his bride.  But if this husband is to meet his wife’s need and be the source of supply to feed her and give her everything she needs to mature in her Christianity and in the ability to use her spiritual gifts in the body of Christ, he is going to need help.  There is no such “perfect husband” found in any mere human Christian husband.  They all need Jesus in order to be what they should be.  If they submit to Jesus and allow him to give them what they need in order to sacrifice for their wives and meet their wive’s needs, then Jesus acts as their true head (the ultimate source for the husband). Jesus is also the source of the husband since he is the Creator.

    Paul says several things in this chapter that hone in on a specific point without nullifying other valid points (i.e. Paul says that the man is the glory of God.  This doesn’t say that the woman is not the glory of God.  It is honing in on a specific point for a specific reason.)  So Jesus is the source for Christian husbands.  This doesn’t mean that Jesus isn’t the source also for Christian wives, but Paul is honing in on this metaphor to make a point that Jesus is the source that Christian husbands need to be a sacrifical source for their wives just as Jesus gave up his own rights in order to live a sacrificial life looking to the Father as his source.

    God is the ultimate source.  From that ultimate source came Jesus the man who relied on God to meet his needs and give him everything he needed so that he could be the example and the source for all Christian husbands who then sacrifice themselves to be the sacrificial source for their wives.  When Christian husbands sacrifice for their wives and give up their rights so that their wives are lifted up as wives and women of God, then women are able to give back to the body of Christ by using their gifts for the common good.  It all benefits Christ who is both from God and is God himself.

    Does any of this make sense?  I have looked at this passage from every angle possible and this is the only angle that has made sense to me in context without any contradiction.

    I welcome your thoughts and your questions.  I may be slow in getting back to people’s thoughts/questions as this next 7 days is a very busy time for me.  I must have the majority of my work done this week so that the duplication of my DVDs and the processing of the artwork can be complete in time for delivery before the end of the first week of October when we leave for Pennsylvania.  The timeline will be very tight for the duplicators.  I am trusting God for grace as I finish the last piece of this very long process.

  9. Some things to note:
    1. One, it is not a hierarchy, as it is not in the order of a hierarchy.  You need to rearrange the words in order to make it in the order of a hierarchy and that is ASSUMING head means boss.
    2. If head means boss, how can Christ be the head of EVERY man, many men (whether males or people) do not obey Christ.
    3. For the man/husband and woman/wife metaphor, the terms in Greek have the definite article, this means they are THE man/husband and THE woman/wife.  There are natural candidates for who these might be, the man and the woman in the garden, where the man was the source of the woman.
    4. Is God the source of Christ/Messiah somehow?  Yes, God was the source of the incarnate Word.
    5. Going to the first in the list, is Christ the source of every man somehow?  Yes, Christ was at Creation.

    So that is how I understand it.  What this means for the following verses is another discussion.

  10. Paula,

    I do not see the teachers of Hebrew Roots as being monolithic, there may be some teachers that teach the all the law/Torah is for all but many others do not. 

    (P.S. I do not think all the law/Torah is for all, but if some Messianic Jews want to live a Torah-obedient life, who am I to tell them they are wrong; it is their choice.)

  11. Did I give the impression that HR teachers were monolithic?

    Anyway, the important thing is that we never let any practice blur salvation by faith alone, or our freedom in Christ. The danger I see in practices that may be technically harmless is that people have a hard time keeping them that way. They tend over time to make the practice more than it should be.

  12. ‘Paul uses the term “kephale” or “head” in a metaphor that must include the rest of the metphor “body” to allow it to make sense.  Let’s reason through this metaphor from 1 Cor. 11:3 and see if we can make sense of Paul’s use.’

    Let me start with the above.

    I don’t see where Paul is using ‘kephale’ IN a metaphor in 1 Co 11, but AS a metaphor, though I can see that he could be in Eph 5 since he says the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body but I don’t see that this MUST be the case. In Eph 5, I understand kephale used as a metaphor to mean ‘source of unity’ in context, as it is about marriage (plus a word study I did long ago supported this very strongly) and in 1 Co 11, I see kephale used as a metaphor to mean ‘source of life’ as the context is about glory and origin. I’ll just stop here for now.

  13. ‘They were one flesh to start with and God brought them back together in a one-flesh union in marriage.’

    This gives me pause for a ‘head/body’ metaphor. I am reluctant with a head/body metaphor being a description of the result of the above. Like I said, I can see it as possible in Eph 5, but it’s not ‘the script’ as far as I can see.

  14. Either way head/body (a picture of unity) metaphor is closer (at least in Eph 5) than kephale being used as a metaphor to mean ‘leader’ or ‘ruler’ since there is no contextual support for that whatsoever in either 1 Co 11 or Eph 5.

  15. When I read Eph 5, I tend to incorporate what the body IS as said in 1 Co 12 and when I do this I am reluctant to accept a head/body metaphor.

    The husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body (eye, hand, head, feet etc).

    14Now the body is not made up of one part but of many.

    18But in fact God has arranged the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. 19If they were all one part, where would the body be? 20As it is, there are many parts, but one body.
     21The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!”

  16. Don #15,

    Yes the natural sense of the passage is source starting from verse 3.

    As far as the definite article, it is with man but not woman.  We certainly can understand that the man is a specific man.  If Adam is referenced then woman would be understood to be definite as well even if the definite article is not there.

    If we look merely at source the man Jesus came from God, the first woman came from the body of the man and the man was created from the Word (Jesus) as his source as he was the Creator.

    This interpretation fits well with the rest of the passage.  What I see in addition to this is verse 11& 12 where there is a mutual dependence.  Woman was dependent on man for her existence as her source and man now depends on the woman for his existence as his source, but the ultimate source is God.  This is the meaning that I put in my DVD.  But is there more in regards to sustaining of life?  Paul could have written verse 3 to match verses 12 and said that man is out of Christ and woman is out of man and Christ is out of God.  But the first man in verse 3 is not one man but all men.  All men are created by Christ but is not Christ’s place as their source not a picture of the head?  Not only did Christ create all men but if they look to him as their head, he will supply what they need to be men.  It is a big job to take on the responsibility of a family.  If the source of supply is what is also meant in this passage then the head feeds the body.

    Jesus is the human son, God in the flesh.  The body.  The woman is called the body in scripture while man is the head.  Again a one-flesh union with head referencing to body.  It is the first example that must be worked out.

    I am really tired right now.  So maybe others can point out all the thoughts in this passage.

    I have this week left to get my DVD set finished and after this week I will be much more like myself.  Hopefully less tired and more able to contribute 🙂

  17. I think the important thing here is the meaning of head as “source”.  This completely fits the context.

    I have been thinking about the head/body thing and looking again at the context, I don’t think there is a strong case for this connection.  After all if a head/body connection is meant we should see it referenced in the following context.  There is a strong connection with “source” as the man is the source of the woman and the woman is the source of all men after that, but there doesn’t appear to be any strength for a unity of the head and body in this particular context.  With that being the case, I take back my comments about head/body.  I think that “source” is the only real connection we can make a real case for from this passage.

    Did I really say that I think I was wrong on this one?  I will say it again for those who think I know it all.  I don’t.  After a consideration of the context, although knowing that a connection between God/Christ and man/woman, can be there, there isn’t such a strong connection between all men/Christ except for Christ’s is their creator thus their source.

    With that said, I will try to go back to bed and get some much needed sleep 🙂

  18. Yes, I agree that kephale-head in 1 Cor 11 seems to be source and kephale-head in Eph 5 seems to be a head/body metaphor.  In neither case it is an authority metaphor, but since head IS an authority metaphor in English, this can be challenging to get past.

  19. We know it cannot mean  ‘authority’ because that would mean that a ‘wife’ would be serving two masters and we all know that in doing that we serve one and hate the other.

    This concerns me greatly as I see so many women spending all their time seeking comp literature to know how to fulfill their ‘role’ as wife and mother. That sounds so godly but it isn’t. They should be seeking the Kingdom with all their heart and these other ‘things will be given to them’.

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