Browsing Tag


Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Family Ties in the Social Distance #36: Proverbs 14:12–The Deadly Way that Seems Right

My husband, Glenn, is sharing these daily lessons  for our West Huntsville family as we are necessarily (because of the virus) spending less time physically together in worship, study and fellowship. We may be “socially distanced,” but  we’re a close-knit family and we want to keep it that way! One way to stay on track together, spiritually, is to think about a common passage and make applications for our lives together even when we are unable to assemble as frequently. I’m sharing these daily family lessons here for those in other places, whose families (or even congregations) might benefit from a common study in these uncommon days of semi-quarantine. There are Family Bible Time guides included, as well. You can adapt, shorten or lengthen them according to the ages of kids (and adults) in your family. Blessings.

From Glenn:  

My Favorite Proverbs: The Deadly Way that Seems Right (Prov. 14:12)

“There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death.”

There are some things that are beyond our language to adequately describe.  The gap between our mortal intelligence and God’s intelligence is one of those things.  Isaiah sounds awe-struck when he writes,  “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts” (Isa. 55:9).  While thinking on that, add this verse into your meditation: “Thy word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path” (Psa. 119:105).  He is omniscient, omnipresent, and omnipotent.  By comparison, we are mortal and limited, and utterly dependent on Him every day (Matt. 5:45).

Men are too proud when they boast of their life choices that are contrary to the Bible, while none of them have died and returned to tell how things worked out for them. They are replaced by yet more worldly men who “preach” their methods of living.  Every generation produces its hedonists, agnostics and atheists. In addition, for those who love to be religious but don’t feel religion necessarily has to reflect the Scriptural pattern, here’s Jesus’ warning, “And in vain they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’ (Matt. 15:9).  

In the church of Christ we want the Bible to be our final authority for our faith and practice.  Some of our practices may seem strange to people…practices such as eating the Lord’s Supper every Sunday or insisting that baptism is necessary to be saved, or having only men to be our preachers. But we practice these because of our determination to adhere to God’s word on these subjects (Acts 20:7, 1 Pet. 3:21, Acts 22:16, 1 Tim. 2:11-14). There is no biblical authority for telling a lost person that, to be saved, he must pray the sinner’s prayer or “accept Christ as your personal Savior.”  Where did any of the New Testament churches use instrumental music with their vocal/a capella music?  It isn’t there.  Do we read of women preaching for the church assemblies in the New Testament?  Was sprinkling ever a God-approved substitute for immersion in water when a person was baptized? If these are matters that seem unimportant or ambiguous to you, I’d love to communicate with you about them. Let’s talk about the importance of authority.

Today, meditate on this proverb and then, “… whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him” (Col. 3:17).


Bible time with Glenn and Cindy:

Whoosh! Tonight (as I’m writing, it’s Sunday) was an exciting night at the Colley’s house. The wind became fierce and a huge tree fell down on the power lines on our street, placing a live wire across our yard and, of course, knocking out transformers and power. Our neighbors across the street had a pretty good sized tree right on their front porch! I was planning to share something else tonight, but since this huge wind came through some of your neighborhoods tonight, let’s think about some of the times in our lives when we might have instant needs around us, that we, as God’s people could fill. Are there some times when we can more easily show people a servant heart? 

It was pretty fun tonight to see neighbors immediately working with chain saws, loaning generators and going to check on each other, even in the middle of a pandemic. Let’s see, tonight, if we can get our kids to think about times when it might be easier to find opportunities to serve. 

  1. Try to get them to think of the things we’ve been able to do during this COVID time that weotherwise would not have done (making masks, doing drive-by parades for cheer etc…).
  2. What are some “extra” ways people minister to needy people when there are storms? Help them think of these ways. 
  3. What are some times in life when we have the chance to, on-the-spot, pray for people who are in an emergency situation?  Do you do this when you see a wreck or a house on fire, even if you do not know the people involved? Start this practice with your children if you do not already do this.
  4. Review with your children the definition and consequences of a famine. Turn with them to 1 Kings 17 and tell them the account of Elijah going to the widow of Zarephath. Explain to them that she was not a citizen of Israel, the nation that really knew God. Elijah had a chance to do some really needed things for her; first because of a famine and, then, because of a death in her family. Make sure they see that, in the beginning of the account she referred to your God (verse12), but by the end (verse 24), she believed in Jehovah and the truth of Elijah’s message. 
  5. Do you think that people sometimes come to trust God because they can see the good things that His people do? Read Matthew 5:16 and discuss this with your children. We cannot do miracles like Elijah, but can we still show people the love that God has for them when we minister to their needs? Try to get your children to think of some occasion when your family has helped someone who has later come to the Lord. 
  6. If you’ve never experienced this wonderful phenomenon, try to think with your kids about someone you know who doesn’t know the Lord. Is there something good that you can do for this person or family this week to try and develop a relationship in which you can show them the Lord? Pray about this endeavor with your kids tonight. 

Tomorrow night, we’ll try to get back into the meat of Matthew 25, if the Colleys have power to transmit. There are a few more nuggets there that we are hoping to cover.

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Sister to Sister: Q&A–Is it wrong to have a dramatization of a Bible story in children’s Bible classes?

In light of our authority study, particularly the lengthy discussions and assignments the diggers have had about what is appropriate in worship to our God, some have asked about the appropriateness of dressing up and re-enacting a Bible account for our children in a class setting. Here are some points to consider while coming to the conclusion that it is not wrong to show children a Bible story in a class setting by acting it out.

  1. A children’s Bible class is not worship. There are many things we do in a class for our sweet children that would not be appropriate for our worship assemblies. We let children lead prayers. We show them flannel-graph stories. We pat the Bible. We glue popsicle sticks together. We color. We compete in answering Bible questions.
  2. Whatever is appropriate for our family Bible times at home is appropriate for our children’s classes. Have you thought about the fact that they are essentially the same thing? They are groups of childrenAuthoritygathered with guiding adults to talk about the Bible and engage in activities to help them put it in their hearts.
  3. Bible classes are not mentioned in your New Testament. Of course, they are authorized by passages that give elders the authority to feed the flock (Acts 20:28) and passages that give parents the responsibility of bringing up their children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord (Ephesians 6:4). But, for informal settings (not corporate worship), we cannot stretch the commands of worship to apply. If we were to apply the authority commands and restrictions of worship to our children’s Bible classes, we would essentially do away with them, because they would BE worship, not differing from it in any significant way.
  4. While the boundaries for what’s appropriate for classes would not be the same as those for worship, there would be some boundaries as there are for all activities in which Christians are involved. Does this class glorify God? Does this class achieve its purpose of putting knowledge of the Word inside the minds of children? Is the Bible reverently esteemed in the class activities? Is the information presented accurate?…Is truth presented on the age level of the children?

I hope this is helpful.


Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Digging Deep Israel–Stop #4: Masada

The story of Masada is one of the most fascinating extra-Biblical Jewish/Roman accounts  of all of the history of the Bible lands. Masada means fortress and this old fortress is located on a very steep hill, overlooking the Dead Sea, in the Judean desert. Thankfully, today there’s a cable car that carries groups of tourists from a visitor’s center up to the top of the mesa. But once we arrived on the fortress, it was easy to forget that we were visitors from another century, The events of 74 A.D.preserved for us in the writings of Josephus Flavius, became fully accessible to our imaginations. 

Herod the Great built the fortress (or at least re-made it for his purposes) during the third decade B.C.; in other words, around the time of the death of Jesus. Herod was a lot of things, but, above all, he was taken with himself and wrapped up in His own quest for power, often even to the point of psychotic narcissism. One can easily see this self-aggrandizement when looking at the remains of his two palaces here at Masada. They were large and luxurious. 

We could see three connected terraces, his personal bath and remains of his large personal bedroom in the Northern palace. There was another very large bath, nearby, probably used for the senior Masada officials in the days of Herod. It’s hard to imagine the opulence of the tile Mosaics and the spectacular views if you’ve not witnessed them personally. 

The wall of Herod’s Masada was 1400 meters long and 4 meters wide with rooms built in between the two parallel walls. The water supply in this dry wilderness was secured by large cisterns on the northwestern side of the hill. We were told that one large rain, which generally occurred twice a year, could supply enough water for Masada’s residents for three years.  A snaking path/staircase provided an arduous way for inhabitants to go up and down when supplies were needed.  Very hardy visitors (who have ninety minutes to ascend) can still go up and down that pathway.

Being in that spot and hearing the story created questions in my mind that will never be answered, but to say that it was stirring, doesn’t adequately describe it. Of course, we know that the temple of Jerusalem was destroyed in 70 A.D., killing tens of thousands (perhaps even a million) Jews. Shortly before this destruction and well after the death of Herod the Great, some Jewish rebels overtook the Roman garrison at Masada. When the temple was destroyed they were joined by Jewish zealots fleeing Jerusalem. These outnumbered, but resourceful Jews held out against the Romans for three years high up on this hill in the desert. It is said that they actually had enough supplies to have lasted them ten years. But the Tenth Legion of the Roman army, led by Flavius Silva, was at last, by building a circumvolution wall, then erecting a ramp of mud and stone, and finally transporting a battering ram up the ramp, able to breach the mighty walls on the western side of the great Masada. 

Imagine being one of those Jewish women inhabiting one of the former Roman homes while the Roman Legion inched closer each day as they slowly built their ramp up the side of the hill. Imagine savoring the days with your children, knowing that they were likely coming to an abrupt end, and very soon. Perhaps you had fled three years earlier from the home in which you were raised in Jerusalem, during the time when Titus conquered and bathed your home city in the blood of your kinsmen. Now, for three months you watch from the highest point in the desert, as the Romans, with a steely determination to extinguish the last of the rebels, construct the rams which will eventually crash through the walls of the fortress behind which you have spent the last three years.  You know that their plan is to come into Masada to kill every last one of the Jews who have become a close-knit community of about 960 people. As they get closer to the top of the hill, you can see that, as you suspected, most of the work is being done by your own kinsmen; Jews who were taken captive in the destruction. Perhaps you even recognize some of the ramp builders.

When it becomes evident that the western wall will be breached and your life will be taken, you hear the decision that’s been made by the leader of your party of Zealots. His name is Elazar ben Yair and here are his words: 

Since we long ago resolved never to be servants to the Romans, nor to any other than to God Himself, Who alone is the true and just Lord of mankind, the time is now come that obliges us to make that resolution true in practice … We were the very first that revolted, and we are the last to fight against them; and I cannot but esteem it as a favor that God has granted us, that it is still in our power to die bravely, and in a state of freedom.

So you prepare to die. 

According to Josephus, all the lives of all of the inhabitants were taken before the wall was breached. Fires were ignited and the Jews killed one another. Husbands bade their wives and children goodbye and then cut their throats.  Lots were cast to determine ten men to kill the remaining patriarchs of families. Then they chose one man to kill the other nine of those who were charged with the mass killing. Finally, that lone man committed suicide, as he had agreed before the killing began.

When the Romans finally and exultantly entered the mighty fortress to kill and plunder, they found no living people, save two women and five children who had hid in an underground cave. 

This account, recorded by Josephus, has recently been the subject of much scrutiny. Many believe the account was embellished and that not nearly 960 Jews perished at Masada. But, since his account is the only written account of the events of 74 A.D. at Masada, and since he was a successful historian, captured by the Romans and detailing history in the service of Rome (as well as being governor of Galilee), credibility is due his account. There’s much evidence to point to the fires and the suicides of at least some inhabitants prior to the Romans’ entry into the fortress. Of course, the massive ramp, the remains of which still exist, attests to the method of Roman entry. 

Sitting in the lavish synagogue, built there by Herod (not that he was by any means a devout Jew, but, rather, he built the synagogue for political purposes), I mused on so many facets of the tragic events that unfolded as the Jews’ last hold-out against the Romans lay under siege and finally was destroyed, as the enemy breached the wall and found the bodies of the self-slain Jews. I thought about the three skeletons that were found in the bathhouse—those of a man, a woman and a child. I walked through that bathhouse as I heard about the woman’s still beautifully-braided hair and the preserved sandals next to her. I listened as we were told about the bits and pieces of the man’s armor, probably taken from the Romans in an earlier skirmish by the rebel Jews. I pondered the ornately decorated room, in the Western palace, a palace that covered an entire acre…decorated with beautiful mosaics…the room that was likely the Masada throne room of the Herod. This was the same Herod who found it in his heart to kill the baby boys at the time of the birth of the Savior (along with the killings of several members of his own royal household, including his wife.) He vacationed and found refuge (at least physical refuge) here, at Masada. I contemplated the contrast between the lavish lifestyle flaunted by Herod in those two sumptuous palaces and the stench of death that greeted the Roman legion as they forced their way through the breach in the double wall. How much can change and how quickly in the fulfillment of the will of God!

As I heard about the events of 74 A.D. from the state of Israel in this Jewish national park, I naturally felt compassion for the Jews in this last hold-out atop this steep hill. The signs, literature and guides’ messages were all geared to elicit compassion and sympathy for the Jews of the mass suicide.  Anytime there’s death and suffering, of course, it’s grievous. 

But there’s one important aspect about what occurred at Masada that all Christians should remember. God had planned, since the inception of Israel, for the nation to be a vehicle through which Christ could come and through which Christianity could be born. The sweet redemption that we have in Christ, of necessity, called for the fulfillment of Judaism and the end of the law of Moses. The destruction of Jerusalem (and other outposts of organized Jewish nationalism) was the fulfillment of both Old and New Testament prophecies and signaled the end of the Mosaic era, ushering in the age of Christianity. 

Further, what happened at Masada was the punishment of God on a nation that rejected Him, over and over again. Israel was a nation that had enjoyed God’s favor and then committed spiritual adultery on numerous occasions. The ultimate slap in the face of God was the rejection of God in the flesh, the Messiah, by the very people God honored to bear the seed of the Holy Spirit to the world. 

John the Baptist had prophesied of the destruction of the Jewish nation only a few years prior, calling it the “wrath to come” and saying that even then (as he spoke), the “axe was laid at the root of the tree” (Matthew 3:7-10).   Matthew 24: 21 contains the Lord’s warning about the impending destruction of the Jews, saying that the upcoming tribulation would be greater than anything that had ever been or that ever would be. Masada was, though immediately a Roman conquest of a rebellious people, more importantly, the promised judgment of God on a people that had rejected Him over and over, most recently putting to death the very Son of God!

Masada was, as it were, the period at the bottom of the exclamation point regarding the final end of Judaism. There could be no remaining Jewish strongholds; no acceptable religion clinging to the Mosaic law. God absolutely worked through the tragedy of Masada in 74 A.D. to finalize the end of Judaism and administer promised judgment on the Jews. That  finalization at Masada simply had to occur, for our salvation.  God worked through a powerful Roman army, a battering ram that could breach a fortress wall, and the mass suicide that occurred inside the walls to accomplish His purpose. I’m thankful that His overriding purposes always come to fruition. 

Masada’s lesson: The judgment of God on those who fail to submit to His authority is sure. What was prophesied in the first half of Matthew 24 happened to the Jews in vivid and tragic reality in A.D. 66-74. But what was prophesied in the last half of the chapter for those who reject today is just as sure:

…the master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he does not know and will cut him in pieces and put him with the hypocrites. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth (Matthew 24: 50-51).


Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Digging Deep Israel–Stop #3: Beersheba

It was still our first full day of traveling in Israel. During the early afternoon we saw the ruins of a civilization that played a role of major importance in Bible History from the time of Abraham to the close of the Old Testament: Beersheba. First named by Abraham in Genesis 21, its name means “well of the oath,” thus named because of the oath made with Abimelech. (Photo below is an Iron age well in Beersheba, but very reminiscent of the wells of Abraham. It doesn’t take long to figure out in this Negev desert why there were contentions over the wells. Water is a valuable commodity, to this day, in this part of the world.)  This was the wilderness where Hagar went to die (Gen.21). Both Isaac and Jacob lived there (Genesis 26 and 28) and it became a part of the inheritance of Simeon when the promised land was allocated to the tribes in Joshua 19.

Located in the center of the Negev desert, Beersheba is mentioned in scripture often as the southernmost point of Israel: “from Dan to Beersheba.” The ruins we saw were primarily those from the period of the divided kingdom; the period archaeologists call the Iron Age. Looking out over those wells they dug, seeing the four room homes they lived in and descending into a cool cistern (pictured below) built during the period of the Biblical divided kingdom had a way of making this Christian woman feel very connected to the people who formed the conduit through which the Savior would enter the world.  

Significantly, I Samuel 8:2 tells us that Samuel’s sons, Joel and Abiah, were judges in Beersheba. Verse three tells us that they failed to walk in the way of Samuel, but rather took bribes and perverted judgment. This was in direct violation of Deuteronomy 16: 18-19. The Israelites clamored for a human king at this time, in a bold-faced rejection of their current king, Jehovah, using the depravity of Joel and Abiah as the catalyst excuse for rejecting God: Behold, thou art old, and thy sons walk not in thy ways: now make us a king to judge us like all the nations (vs 5).

So the rejection of God as king and the establishment of a kingdom with a human leader, as God had predicted in the latter half of Deuteronomy 17, began right there in Beersheba with the perversion of the sons of Samuel. As I looked out over the ruins of a once great civilization, I could not help but think about the huge and negative ramifications that always occur when parents fail to instill within their children a deep and abiding respect for authority. 

 Of course, the back story to what happened in I Samuel 8, when the people used the rebellious sons of Samuel as their justification for rejecting God’s system of judges, is found much earlier in the book of 1 Samuel. It’s in chapter two, where the sons of Eli the priest were fornicating with women at the door of the tabernacle, greedily taking the fat of the meat offerings against the commands of God, and, in general showing they “knew not the Lord” (vs. 12). In chapter two we see some weak efforts of rebuke on the part of Eli toward his sons, but in chapter three, the Word plainly says that Eli “restrained them not” (vs 13). 

It’s important to notice that this household, in which sons were not restrained, was the one in which Samuel grew up. What he learned about parenting, he almost certainly had to learn from Eli. So, when it was time for Samuel, himself, to display the backbone of a nurturing father, he failed miserably, and his failure was a significant part of the crystallization of a national rejection of the authority of God. 

So there I was, looking out over Beersheba, thinking about this place where the sons of Samuel were taking the bribes. I could see the ruins of the ensuing kingdom that looked to a human head, rather than the Lord, as king. I thought about the remains of that horned altar found inside storehouse walls (storehouse walls  and altar shown in photos ) in this spot–an altar made of well-dressed stones (an obvious center of idolatry); likely destroyed by Hezekiah or Josiah.I saw the well-defined rooms of houses; houses is which mothers sang lullabies and children played games, and I thought about the ultimate destruction that came upon them all in 701 B.C. at the hand of the Assyrians.

Lesson from Beersheba: Massive national declines and disasters begin in seemingly small ways when parents fail to instill principles of authority in their children.

How parents in America today need the lessons from Beersheba!


Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Cover Story Conclusion–A Dozen Things I’d Do If I Wore the Covering Today

I’ve spent more time than perhaps I should’ve this week contemplating the issue of the head covering from 1 Corinthians 11. I think it’s hard for any of us, in 2019, who are sisters in the kingdom of God to approach the study without any preconceived ideas. I tried to be open and honest as I looked at the teaching, but I confess that I do not want to wear the head covering. The chief reason I do not want to wear it is that my husband—my head—-does not want me to wear it. He’s convicted that it is not commanded for women in America, in 2019, and he believes that my wearing it would be a contentious and impeding action. However, he is, as always kind and protective of my conscience. Both of us understand that, if it is commanded by God for me to do so, then our fears and concerns about anything else, are irrelevant. But if it is not a requirement for women in the 21st century, it’s our judgment that it is best for me not to wear the head-covering, particularly after examining what it actually was and when it was worn. 

So for today, after much consideration and my best attempt at an open heart and mind…

If I were to wear a head covering when I pray or prophesy:

  1. I know I would be doing what the women in Corinth (at LEAST the women in Corinth) were commanded to do. In all of my reading, I did not find one scholar who argued that the women in Corinth were not commanded to cover their heads in I Corinthians 11 when they were praying and prophesying. 
  2. I would wear it both inside and outside of the worship assembly. As I posited in the last installment of this study, I cannot see any way that the head covering in 1 Corinthians 11 was limited to the worship assembly for the women in Corinth. They were not to be praying or prophesying without covered heads. They also were not to be speaking in worship (I Cor. 14:34-35; I Tim. 2: 11ff), so I could be sure the praying and prophesying they were doing was not in the assembly—thus, the command for the head covering was surely not limited to the assembly. Some have asserted that the prophesying was merely a “listening to prophecy.” I see no indication of this since we know that New Testament women did prophesy, having the gift of miraculous knowledge (Acts 2:16-18; Acts 21:8,9). For them merely to be in the audience of prophecy seems to me to stretch the text. 
  3. I would need to wear it because it is at least in some way related to nature, itself. This word nature is often used in the assertion that this teaching in 1 Corinthians 11 was not cultural; that it is inherent in the natural order; thus, is for all eras. I wanted to know if this is so, since the activity, for which the covering is specifically prescribed, seems to be, at least in part, one that women in the body no longer perform. Is it even possible that the nature word has any other connotation than meaning that the entire teaching of 1 Corinthians 11 (particularly here it would be the part about a woman having long hair) is inherent in the universal natural scheme of the earth and its elements?  When I looked at this, I noticed that Strong’s gave a secondary use of the Greek word for nature in I Corinthians 11:14. It is this: as opposed to what is monstrous, abnormal, perverse. Could it be that the women of Corinth were commanded to wear this covering when praying and prophesying because it would oppose what was abnormal or perverse in their environment of Corinth? That is, could it have been that their social climate (at least a segment of it) considered the unveiling of a woman to be that which was not normal?…maybe even perverse? Could that be the nature to which the covering of long hair, in this instance, was tied? (More on this in number 8.)
  4. I would need to be able to wear it “to give no offense to Jews or Greeks or to the church of God” (10:32). I believe that’s an important premise to whatever Paul is teaching. It seems that Paul is not specifically addressing the worship assembly until he actually says he is addressing it in verse 17… “when you come together…” It seems to me that the teaching about the head covering is in a section (looking back at chapter 10) that’s about the interaction of Christians in a community of unbelievers. It’s about what you do when invited to a pagan feast or when you see meat that perhaps was offered to idols in the marketplace. It’s about giving God glory in whatever common activity or event you participate (10:31). An examination of where the head-covering verses lie places them pretty clearly in a section about community involvement and glorifying God in the culture. It is clearly previous to the introduction, at least, by Paul of what we do when we “come together” (2:17).
  5. I would, then, need to wear this covering whenever I was in public, as was the Jewish and Roman custom at the time, not just in the worship assembly. 
  6. I’d need to be sure that the nature of my community was also of the mindset that the head-covering for worship was in opposition to the perverse. I was surprised to see, upon studying this topic, that in Genesis 38:14-16, in the culture of Judah and Tamar, it was the covered woman who was dressed as a prostitute (the opposite in that day and culture, from what it was, by nature, in the day of the first-century Corinthian church.) I believe, in the day and culture of Tamar, it would have been wrong for me to veil myself as did Tamar, but I do not believe it would be sinful today, because it does not signify prostitution in America today. (It might be a serious mistake, because it might make those in my community believe I was converting to the Muslim faith, however.)
  7. I’d have to do so knowing full well that the message I conveyed to my community by doing so was very different from the message the Corinthian Christian women conveyed in their wearing of the veil. As Guy Woods asserts “Corinth was made up of Greeks, Romans, and Jews, and all of these three elements of her population were found in the church to which Paul wrote. The Jew and the Roman worshipped with covered and the Greek with uncovered head. Naturally, a dispute would arise as to which custom was right…Now, in the East, in Paul’s day, all women went into public assemblies with their heads veiled, and this peplum, or veil, was regarded as a badge of subordination, a sign that the woman was under the power of the man. Thus, Chardin, the traveler, says that the women of Persia wear a veil in sign that they are under subjection., a fact which Paul also asserts in this chapter.” It seems that the symbolic significance of the head-dress became very much the crux of the discussion of Paul in the first half of 1 Corinthians 11. He asserts that, if a man prayed or prophesied with a covered head, he would have appeared to be effeminate, and, if a woman did so uncovered, she would have appeared to be insubordinate, casting off her modesty and boldly asserting her independence. In my community today, were I to begin to wear a head covering in all public places, as was the custom of the Jews and Romans of the environment to which the letter was written, my message to my neighbors would be far different from what theirs would have been. It seems clear to me that Paul was encouraging the Corinthian women to refrain from needlessly crossing the culture, from introducing unnecessary innovations and distinctions which would have added to their persecutions and perhaps impeded their evangelism. If they (Corinthian women) went unveiled, their message was that they did not recognize the headship of their husbands, the authority of the God of creation, the respect due to angels (in what sense I am unsure), the standards of the society in which they lived, and the instruction of Paul. None of those messages are conveyed today, to any of my neighbors when I bow my head at our community picnics, ballgames or in the restaurant as I pray while my husband is leading the prayer.
  8. I would certainly wear more than a small lace cloth. In examining the societal context of what Paul is telling the Corinthian women, I can see no evidence that their covering was anything less than a full, head covering and, very likely, it was in contradistinction to the prostitutes of the temple of Aphrodite, who dared to walk around the city in that day having removed their veils. We can be fairly certain that a lot of sexual activity was related to the worship at this temple bearing the name with the same root as our word aphrodisiac. This quote from Strabo in 20 A.D. is indicative of that: “The temple of Aphrodite was once so rich that it had acquired more than a thousand prostitutes, donated by both men and women to the service of the goddess. And because of them, the city used to be jam-packed and became wealthy. The ship-captains would spend fortunes there, and so the proverb says: ‘The voyage to Corinth isn’t for just any man.’”  To be fair, there are many who believe Strabo exaggerated the rampancy of prostitution, but few who believe the sexuality associated with the temple was not rampant. My belief that the covering was really a covering, however, is just because the word cover is used rather than ornamentation or cloth or lace. Here is Strong’s on that word. I just do not believe this could have/would have been done with a small lace covering.

               2619. κατακαλύπτω katakalyptō; from 2596 and 2572; to cover wholly, i.e. veil: — cover, hide. to cover up, to veil or cover one’s self   

  9. I would wear it when I led prayer in front of an exclusively female group (that’s the only place I  would ever lead a prayer as per I Timothy 2 and I Corinthians 14), but I would not ever need one for prophesying. The three instances, as we have mentioned, in the New Testament that refer to women prophesying are all in a context, I believe, of miraculous spiritual gifts. Acts 2:16-18 is very clear about what kind of prophesying the daughters and handmaidens would be doing. Acts 21 draws special attention to the daughters of Philip in a way that I believe lends itself to the miraculous. (It seems to me there would be many women who regularly and routinely taught in the non-miraculous Titus 2 sense.) It seems to me that the praying and prophesying of the early part of 1 Corinthians 11 may very well have both been related to the miraculous, since it is followed closely by a fairly large portion of scripture devoted to the miraculous. (It is interesting that the scripture in Jude 20 does refer to praying in the Spirit. This very well could be referring to miraculous knowledge directing the prayers of Christians in the first century. The recorded prayers of the New Testament writers were certainly miraculously God-breathed.) This large section of scripture in chapters 12-14, interestingly is very clear about the close of the miraculous age and the end of prophecies (I Corinthians 13:8-9). I would not be dogmatic about the praying of I Corinthians 11:5, but I, personally believe that both the praying and the prophesying of that passage were activities women did in the context of the miraculous (outside of the assembly)…things we do not even do today. As Robert Taylor put it “ It is quite likely that the apostle is discussing those with miraculous powers for both praying and prophesying.” 
  10. I’d be aware that the wearing of such a covering was likely not worn in every New Testament church. First Timothy was a letter full of instructions for Timothy to pass along to the Ephesian church. Sandwiched right between men lifting holy hands in chapter 2, verse 8 and women being silent in the assembly in verse 11, Paul describes the kind of hairstyle that women needed to avoid (or at least the hairstyle that was not to be the emphasis when they were assembled). But why would this matter all if women’s heads were covered? It simply would not. But Ephesus was a different culture than was Corinth, so it seems the admonition for the woman’s head in worship was not exactly the same. In fact, it seems it was pretty different for these two churches separated by a land distance of just under 900 miles or a trip across the Aegean Sea. It seems to me that maybe Paul could have referred to this very thing when he said in verse 16 of 1 Corinthians 11, “If anyone is inclined to be contentious, we have no such practice, nor do the churches of God.”  Maybe it was that the city from which he was writing the letter to Corinth (Ephesus) did not have such a custom; thus, “…we have no such custom (or practice).”
  11. I’d wonder if I should be at the door of the building each Sunday to greet all the brothers and sisters with a holy kiss. I say this, not with any sarcasm at all, but truly trying to distinguish between the cultural practice being regulated by Romans 16:16 of kissing one another and the regulation of the 1 Timothy 2 cultural practice. As Brother Woods put it in the same article cited earlier “…the mere omission of it [the covering] is no more an act of disobedience than is the failure to stand at the door and greet each member with a holy kiss.”
  12. I would be very careful not to bind the wearing on others. There is nothing wrong with wearing a veil, although I believe it would be inhibitive of unity and evangelism, in my case. If a woman’s conscience is violated by the omission of a veil, then certainly she should wear one. (I would beg, though, that consistency should induce her to wear a full head covering and to wear it in all public places.) But to bind this practice, intended to encourage conformity to a culture in which the covering represented submission to God and husband, I believe, is a wrong and contentious thing to do. I understand that there will be those who disagree with what I’ve written. But I am praying that this writing will not be divisive in any way. May we all strive to please Him in both our study and application and may we be gracious to each other as we strive as sisters to live under His authority in 2019 and beyond.

Sources quoted or consulted:

Faraone, Christopher A. and McClure, Laura K., Prostitutes and Courtesans in the Ancient Word, University of Wisconsin Press, Madison, WI. 2006, p.90.

Giselbach, Ben; Questions and Answers;

Taylor, Robert; Studies in 1 Corinthians 11,Words of Truth, Volume 14, Number 37, 1978

Woods, Guy N., The Christian life of faithful subordination to God replaces a 1st century custom of veiling, Christian Times, 1993.

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Sister to Sister: The Cover Story

As promised earlier, we want to take some of the blog posts this month to say a few things about the head covering discussed in the first part of I Corinthians 11. 

Prefacing, let me say I realize we will not all agree on this. I also realize that likely few, if any of the things we notice will be new ideas about the chapter. (Perhaps they should not be new, anyway.) 

For this initial post, I’d like to do two things. The first is a book recommendation. If you have not read “No Such Custom”, by Kevin Moore, I’d recommend doing so. Whether or not you reach the same conclusions as did Dr. Moore as he researched this difficult passage, you will find this book to be a well documented and valuable resource by one of our brothers as you do your own “thinking” about whether or not women should wear head coverings during worship today. 

The second consideration is this. After much reading, on several different occasions in my life, on this topic, I’ve come to the conclusion that, whatever the coverings were ( and we will get to that a bit later), they were likely worn not just in worship, but all of the time women were outside their homes. There’s just a lot of evidence in historical writings to confirm that devout women, in at least some of the cultures of the early church were veiled all of the time, in public arenas, whether or not worship was occurring. 

Notice some of these quotations taken from ancient writings and collected by Kevin Moore: 

Among these is the convention regarding feminine attire, a convention which prescribes that women should be so arrayed and should so deport themselves when in the street that nobody could see any part of them, neither of the face nor of the rest of the body, and that they themselves might not see anything off the road . . . . while they have their faces covered as they walk. (Dio Chrysostom…contemporary of Paul…writing about Tarsus)

Woman and men are to go to church decently attired . . . . Let the woman observe this, further. Let her be entirely covered, unless she happens to be at home. For that style of dress is grave, and protects from being gazed at [sic]. And she will never fall, who puts before her eyes modesty, and her shawl; nor will she invite another to fall into sin by uncovering her face. For this is the wish of the Word, since it is becoming for her to pray veiled. (Clement of Alexandria…(A.D. 153-220)

For perhaps some one might here have doubt also, questioning with himself, what sort of crime it was that the woman should be uncovered, or that the man should be covered? What sort of crime then it is, learn now from hence. Symbols many and diverse have been given both to man and woman; to him of rule, to her of subjection: and among them this also, that she should be covered, while he hath his head bare. If now these be symbols, you see that both err, when they disturb the order and the disposition of God, and transgress their proper limits, both the man falling into the woman’s inferiority, and the woman rising up against the man, by her outward habiliments . . . . And tell me not this, that the error is but small. For first, it is great, even of itself: being as it is disobedience. Next, though it were small, it became great, because of the greatness of the things whereof it is a sign. However, that it is a great matter, is evident from its ministering so effectually to good order among mankind, the governor and the governed being regularly kept in their several places by it . . . . Well then: the man he compelleth not to be always uncovered, but when he prays only . . . But the woman he commands to be at all times covered . . . . He signifies that not at the time of prayer only, but also continually, she ought to be covered . . . . and establishing them both ways, from what was customary, and from their contraries . . . . It follows, that being covered is a mark of subjection and of power. For it induces her to look down, and be ashamed, and preserve entire her proper virtue . . . . His constant practice of stating commonly received reasons, he adopts also in this place, betaking himself to the common custom, and greatly abashing those who waited to be taught these things from him, which even from men’s ordinary practice they might have learned. For such things are not unknown even to Barbarians . . . . For if one ought not to have the head bare, but every where to carry about the token of subjection, much more is it becoming to exhibit the same in our deeds. (John Chrysostom…347-407, A.D. in his commentary on our passage.)

From these and many other citations from history, and from the context in I Corinthians,  it seems likely to me that the head covering spoken of in I Corinthians 11 was not a covering Paul intended to be worn exclusively in worship. In fact, it seems to me that the problem in the Corinthian church was that they were taking off what was surely a recognized (in their culture) sign of their submission to their husbands and what was typically worn in all public places. It was, it appears, more the taking off of the covering for times of prayer and prophesying, than it was the failure to put it on for these times. 

Next time: Clues from the text itself that perhaps this covering (veil) was worn all the time in the first century Corinthian culture, rather than being “put on” for the worship service as we often see done today.  Feel free to post comments on the Digging Deep in God’s Word page and I will try to post all of your observations that are both kind and relevant. More next time!