Hair or Covering in 1 Corinthians 11?

By Timothy Sparks


The challenge of determining the “covering” is due to the Greek words used and the context:

1. κατά (kata) = “down from, down upon, down over,” 1 Cor. 11:4
2. ἀκατακάλυπτος (akatakalyptos) = “uncovered,” 1 Cor. 11:5, 13 [with the alpha prefix it negates katakalyptos, which is a combination of kata (“down over”) and kalypto (“cover, hide, conceal”); thus, akatakalyptos means something to the effect of “not having covering down over” or simply “uncovered”]
3. κατακαλύπτω (katakalyptō), 1 Cor. 11:6-7 = “to cover” [from kata (“down over”) and kalypto (“cover, hide, conceal”)]
4. The context extends to 1 Cor. 11:14-15 where Paul says it is a disgrace for a man to have long hair but a woman’s long hair is her glory. Then Paul says, “For her long hair is given to her for a covering.” Here the word “covering” is περιβόλαιον (peribolaion) which means that which is thrown around; thus a “covering.”
5. With Paul’s focus concerning the hair (1 Cor. 11:6, 14-15), I do not see an artificial covering in the context. It appears to me that a man is not to have long hair hanging down and covering his head as a woman would. A woman’s “long hair is given to her for a covering.” This goes back to “nature” (v. 14), the way God created things and set things up.

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