Ancient Paths - Uncut Hair or Veil?

A Study on the Biblical ordinance of Headcovering

The study below was compiled from a number of internet sources that dealt with the subject of “Head-coverings” in the New Testament church.  The purpose of this study is not to criticize any specific denomination, but rather to point out logical errors in the interpretation of I Cor 11:1-16 on the part of well established, respectable Apostolic organizations.  This is an important and necessary study because only with a proper understanding and application of the ordinances of God can we find our way back to the “Ancient Path” and the true Apostolic foundation.  Very simply, a woman's Head covering is a symbol that shows God's government and headship principle in the earth...remove the symbol and you open the door to deception and error.

I apologize for the length of this study, but believe the detail is necessary due to the depth of the misunderstanding and mis-application passed down from generation to generation in Apostolic circles. 

In addition to the information presented here, the following links also explain the headcovering issue very well.

The following two links are both written by Christian women who now wear a veil:

The following is a link that briefly discusses Yeshua's appearance as a 1st Century Jewish man...this understandably lines up with I Cor 11:14.


May our Master Jesus (Yeshua) the Messiah bless you...

  Greek Definitions from Greek Lexicon of key words in I Cor 11:1-16

Traditions - paradosis: a handing down or over, a tradition


Original Word: παράδοσις, εως, ἡ
Part of Speech: Noun, Feminine
Transliteration: paradosis
Phonetic Spelling: (par-ad'-os-is)
Short Definition: an instruction, tradition
Definition: an instruction, tradition.

Uncovered -  

akatakaluptos: uncovered

Original Word: ἀκατακάλυπτος, ον
Part of Speech: Adjective
Transliteration: akatakaluptos
Phonetic Spelling: (ak-at-ak-al'-oop-tos)
Short Definition: not veiled, unveiled
Definition: unveiled, uncovered. 




katakalupto, which means "something which covers completely and hangs down

Part of Speech: Preposition
Phonetic Spelling: (kat-ah')
Short Definition:  “down from”, against, according to, throughout, during

Kalupto-  has the meaning to conceal, hide or engulf
Thayer Definition:
1) to cover up

2) to veil or cover one’s self…as in a veil that hangs down from the head”



Covering - G4018 περιβόλαιον peribolaion per-ib-ol’-ah-yon
Neuter of a presumed derivative of G4016; something thrown around one, that is, a mantle, veil: – covering, vesture.
Total KJV Occurrences: 2
covering, 1-1Co_11:15, vesture, 1-Heb_1:12
Thayer Definition:
1) a covering thrown around, a wrapper
1a) a mantle
1b) a veil (a secondary definition, not the primary meaning of this word)

Long  Hair - G2863 κομάω komaō
Thayer Definition:
1) to let the hair grow, have long hair
From G2864; to wear tresses of hair: – have long hair. Strongs
G2864 κόμη komē kom’-ay

Shorn - keiró: to shear

Original Word: κείρω
Part of Speech: Verb
Transliteration: keiró
Phonetic Spelling: (ki'-ro)
Short Definition: I shear, cut the hair of
Definition: I shear, cut the hair of; mid: I cut my own hair, have my hair cut.

STRONGS NT 2751: κείρω

κείρω; (1 aorist ἐκειρα (Acts 8:32 T WH marginal reading)); 1 aorist middle ἐκειραμην; from Homer down; to shear: a sheep, Acts 8:32 ((cf. above) from Isaiah 53:7). Middle to get or let be shorn (Winers Grammar, § 38, 2 b.; Buttmann, § 135, 4): τήν κεφαλήν, Acts 18:18; absolutely, of shearing or cutting short the hair of the head, 1 Corinthians 11:6 (cf. Winer's Grammar, § 43, 1).

Strong's Greek 2751  Acts 8:32V-PPA-GMS; NAS: before its shearer is silent, KJV: before his shearer, so opened he

Shaven – self-explanatory

Pray – Speak to God; the Greek word here is "proseuchomai",  literally means to pray to God (ie. supplicate, worship)

Prophesy – propheteuo", which means "to speak under divine inspiration", the mind and counsel of God.

Original Word: προφητεύω
Part of Speech: Verb
Transliteration: prophéteuó
Phonetic Spelling: (prof-ate-yoo'-o)
Short Definition: I foretell, prophesy
Definition: I foretell, prophesy; I set forth matter of divine teaching by special faculty, forth-tell.

Power - G1849 ἐξουσία exousia
Total KJV Occurrences: 103
power, 61- authority, 28- powers, 8- right, 2- authorities, 1 -jurisdiction, 1 -liberty, 1-strength, 1
Thayer Definition:
4d) a sign of the husband’s authority over his wife
4d1) the veil with which propriety required a women to cover herself
4e) the sign of regal authority, a crown

komé: hair

Original Word: κόμη, ης, ἡ
Part of Speech: Noun, Feminine
Transliteration: komé
Phonetic Spelling: (kom'-ay)
Short Definition: hair, long hair
Definition: hair, long hair.

STRONGS NT 2864: κόμη

κόμη, κόμης, ἡ (from Homer down), hair, head of hair: 1 Corinthians 11:15. (According to Schmidt (21, 2) it differs from θρίξ (the anatomical or physical term) by designating the hair as an ornament (the notion of length being only secondary and suggested). Cf. B. D. under the word .)

473 v15 “for” antí (a preposition) – properly, opposite, corresponding to, off-setting (over-against); (figuratively) "in place of," i.e. what substitutes (serves as an equivalent, what is proportional)….in context “nature’s equivalent to the material veil…not instead of”.


To begin this study, I will first show a widely accepted Apostolic view of what I Cor 11:1-16 means:

The Principle of Authority

The subject of 1 Corinthians 11:3-16 is authority: "The head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God" (verse 3). This verse introduces and provides the basis for the following discussion about covering the head.

"Every man praying or prophesying, having his head covered, dishonoureth his head" (verse 4). Christ is man's head. It is therefore Christ who is dishonored if a man prays or prophesies with a covered head.

"But every woman that prayeth or prophesieth with her head uncovered dishonoureth her head: for that is even all one as if she were shaven" (verse 5). The man (husband or father) is the head of the woman (wife or daughter). It is therefore the man who is dishonored if a woman prays or prophesies with an uncovered head. This dishonor is the same as if her head were shaven.

Not only is it a shame if the woman is shaven, but it is equally a shame if she is shorn. "For if the woman be not covered, let her also be shorn: but if it be a shame for a woman to be shorn or shaven, let her be covered" (verse 6). The word "shorn" is simply the past participle of "shear," which means "to cut." This is the meaning of the Greek word keiro, from which "shorn" is translated.

Spiritual Significance

What is the theological basis of this teaching? "For a man indeed ought not to cover his head, forasmuch as he is the image and glory of God: but the woman is the glory of the man" (verse 7). God has chosen that a man's uncovered head reflects His image and glory in man; woman's covered head reflects the glory of man.

This reflected glory is based on the order at creation. "For the man is not of the woman; but the woman of the man. Neither was the man created for the woman; but the woman for the man" (verses 8-9).

That these things are important even in the spiritual realm is revealed in the next statement: "for this cause ought the woman to have power on her head because of the angels" (verse 10). Angels are spirits. It is not just in the physical realm that the authority represented by the length of hair is important; even angels take note of a person's obedience or disobedience in this matter.

After establishing the divine order of creation and of authority, this passage affirms that the man and the woman are equally important to each other and of equal value in the kingdom of God (verses 11-12).

The Covering

The inspired Apostle Paul believed the church at Corinth would naturally understand the validity of his teaching on this subject: "Judge in yourselves: is it comely that a woman pray unto God uncovered?" (verse 13). He did not think this should be a surprise to Christians, for the lesson of a clear distinction between male and female in this matter is deeply rooted even in nature: "Doth not even nature itself teach you, that, if a man have long hair, it is a shame unto him? But if a woman have long hair, it is a glory to her: for her hair is given her for a covering" (verses 14-15).

The words "have long hair" in these verses are translated from the Greek word komao, which means "to let the hair grow." The word "hair" in verse 15 in the phrase "her hair is given her for a covering" is translated from the Greek kome, which refers to uncut hair. This further explains verse 6, which declares it to be a shame if a woman's hair is shorn (cut) or shaven. Her long, uncut hair is a glory to her, for it illustrates her loving submission to her husband or father.

On the other hand, it is a shame for a man if he allows his hair to grow uncut. For a man to cut his hair reflects his submission to Christ; uncut hair on a man symbolizes rebellion against Christ.

The covering mentioned in this passage is the woman's uncut hair. Verse 15 is the only place the word "covering," a noun, appears in the passage. Previously, the words "uncovered" and "covered" appear. These two words are adjectives; they do not specifically declare what is the covering. But verse 15 specifically says, "Her hair is given her for a covering."

The word "for" is translated from the Greek anti, which means "against" or "instead of." Here the Bible itself declares that a woman's long, uncut hair is given to her instead of (for) a covering, and this is the inspired explanation of verses 5 and 6.

Thus, if a woman cuts or shaves the hair on her head, it is in the eyes of God a shameful dishonor of her father or husband. If a man allows his hair to grow long, it is a shameful dishonor of Christ.

Contention - The passage concludes, "But if any man seem to be contentious, we have no such custom, neither the churches of God" (verse 16).

Contention is always the result of pride (Proverbs 13:10). If any man proudly argued against this teaching, he needed to realize that none of the churches of God had a custom of allowing men to pray or prophesy with their heads covered with long, uncut hair. Nor did they permit women to pray or prophesy unless their heads were covered with long, uncut hair.
Conclusion: The sincere person who wishes to please God will want to obey His Word in every respect. He will partake of the bread and cup of the Lord's Supper with greatest of reverence, because these symbols represent the body and blood of Christ (verse 20). And a man will cut his hair, while a woman will allow hers to grow, because these symbols represent their relationship to God and to God-given authority


End of Apostolic viewpt section.


 Now let's go thru 1 Cor 11:1-16 verse by verse and examine them in detail from both a historical and logical point of view -


Now I praise you, brethren, that you remember me in all things and keep the traditions (or customs) just as I delivered them to you.

 (In order to accurately make sense out of this passage, we must look at the traditions that existed among the churches & really the whole culture in general during that period of time).

Traditions:    (Pastor Mark Bullen, Living Faith Christian Fellowship)


First century feminine modesty and what it symbolizes

Historians all agree with the following quote from Adam Clarke, “It was a custom, both among Greeks and Romans, and among the Jews an express law, that no woman should be seen abroad without a veil.  This was, and is, a common custom through all the east, and none but public prostitutes go without veils. Jewish men could divorce their wives for going in public without a veil or head covering (from Talmud, Jewish oral law) Commentary:  The trend of feminist rebellion seemed to be: First, going unveiled, and second, having the head shorn (cut short like a man). This was so in Paul’s day, and has been the trend of the feminists in America. Some cultures in the past (including Jews) would shave the head of a woman taken in adultery (also from Talmud). The symbolism was strong and universal in ancient societies. The Pulpit Commentarysays for a woman to be in a public assembly with her head unveiled was “against the national custom of all ancient communities, and might lead to the gravest misconceptions. As a rule modest women covered their heads with a veil when they worshipped or were in public.”  


Historical commentary:  That this passage is speaking about the material veil and its symbolism was the understanding of all denominations through 1800 years of Christianity (and is still the understanding of many today in this apostate age.) During the reformation the Catholics, Protestants, and Ana-baptists all understood this to be the meaning. Luther and Calvin’s wives were covered. The Ana-baptists were covered. The Moravians were covered. The Episcopalians were covered. The Pilgrims and Puritans were covered.

Albert Barnes (American theologian) gives this note:   "With her head uncovered. That is, with the veil removed which she usually wore. It would seem from this (I Cor 11:5) that the women removed their veils, and wore their hair dishevelled, when they pretended to be under the influence of Divine inspiration. This was the case with the heathen priestesses; and in so doing, the Christian women may have imitated them. (See Gal 3:28) On this account, if on no other, Paul declares the impropriety of this conduct.  It was, besides, a custom among ancient females, and one that was strictly enjoined by the traditional laws of the Jews, that a woman should not appear in public unless she was veiled." 

Tertullian (early Christian theologian) writing about 207 AD, complains about women’s veils getting smaller and says, “The region of the veil is (or should be) co–extensive with the space covered by the hair when unbound...Arabia’s pagan females will be your judges. For they not only cover the head, but the face also.” Author’s comment:  This shows that the head covering was not a face covering as some teachers today have indicated. It covered the head area where the hair covered when not bound up.  

Vincent Word Studies
1Co 11:16
Not the custom of contentiousness, but that of women speaking unveiled. The testimonies of Tertullian and Chrysostom show that these injunctions of Paul prevailed in the churches. In the sculptures of the catacombs the women have a close-fitting head-dress, while the men have the hair short.

Hippolytus, a leader in the church at Rome around the year 200, compiled a record of the various customs and practices in that church from the generations that preceded him. His Apostolic Tradition contains this statement: “And let all the women have their heads covered with an opaque cloth, not with a veil of thin linen, for this is not a true covering”. [Hippolytus Apostolic Tradition

From”Apostolic Constitution”  writings (380AD):  And when thou art in the streets, cover thy head; for by such a covering thou wilt avoid being viewed of idle persons. Do not paint thy face, which is God's workmanship; for there is no part of thee which wants ornament, inasmuch as all things which God has made are very good. But the lascivious additional adorning of what is already good is an affront to the bounty of the Creator. Look downward when thou walkest abroad, veiling thyself as becomes women.


JOHN WESLEY: “If she will throw off the badge of subjection, let her appear with her hair cut like a man's...But if it be shameful for a woman to appear thus in public, especially in a religious assembly, let her, for the same reason, keep on her veil." 

Men’s custom:  During the time of Jesus, Jewish teachers would always have their heads covered in public and in prayer as a sign of respect or of righteous reverence. They apparently wore the "sudarium" (white linen cloth), wound round the head as a turban, with the ends of it falling down over the neck. Common people sometimes wore a cloth with a band, or just a band in warm months (Note:  it wasn’t immodest for men to be in public with a head covering or in other words when not doing spiritual business…but it was considered immodest 4 women to be w/o a veil in public)

Robert H. Gundry (A Survey of the New Testament was published in 1970)

a. "Paul's instructions concerning the veiling of women also demand knowledge of prevailing ancient customs. It was proper in the Roman Empire for a respectable woman to veil herself in public. Tarsus, the home city of Paul, was noted for its strict adherence to this rule of propriety. The veil covered the head from view, but not the face. It was at once a symbol of subordination to the male and of the respect which a woman deserves. The Christian women at Corinth, however, were quite naturally following the custom of Greek women, who left their heads uncovered when they worshipped. Paul therefore states that it is disgraceful for Christian women to pray or to prophesy in church services unveiled. On the other hand, Paul goes against the practice of Jewish and Roman men, who prayed with heads covered, by commanding Christian men to pray and prophesy bareheaded as a sign of their authority."53 








Uncut Hair



The Catacombs

c. 100- 300



Cave paintings show veiled Christian women


c. 120-202



Taught that 1 Corinthians 11 referred to veiling


c. 150 - 225



Taught that 1 Corinthians 11 referred to veiling

Clement of Alexandria

c. 153-217



Taught that 1 Corinthians  11 referred to veiling


c. 170-236



Spoke of the practice of veiling


c. 340-407



Taught that 1 Corinthians  11 referred to veiling


c. 347-420



Spoke of the practice of veiling, also spoke positively of women cutting their hair





* Irenaeus was a disciple of Polycarp, who was a direct disciple of the Apostle John.


Note:  Not one early Church writing speaks against women cutting their hair nor does any early church writing
indicate that 1 Corinthians 11 teaches uncut hair for women.




The Catacombs, Tom Shank, "Let Her Be Veiled". Torch Publications, 1992

Irenaeus, "Against Heresies," Book I


Tertullian, "On the Veiling of Virgins".


Clement of Alexandria, "The Instructor".


Hippolytus, "Canon Seventeenth".


Chrysostom, "Homily XXVI," on 1st Corinthians.


Jerome, "To Sabinianus".


Final point:  These are just a few of the overwhelming number of historical accounts available for review that support the existence and routine use of the veil in the first century church and throughout history. There simply is no evidence of a church custom that universally allowed women to go unveiled in public let alone in a church assembly.  So based on the historical info we have, the interpretation of hair as the covering or veil spoken of in I Cor 11 is simply not supported.  Important notes:  it's one thing for a church organization to set a standard of "uncut hair" for its' women to follow but it's another thing entirely to use an incorrect interpretation of scripture to support that standard.  I once had a Pastor (who believes in the uncut hair doctrine) tell me that we cannot rely on historical information to define the truth but we must rely totally on the scripture - I would normally agree with this but have to say in this case, when dealing with a simple, visible custom that was universal in the 1st Century assembly, if you can't see it in history then I would question the validity of the "revelatory" character of the "uncut hair" interpretation of I Cor 11.  Lastly, this same Pastor was only able to justify his belief in the "uncut hair" by saying that this "custom" does not need to be readily observable by men or women...but only to God (He sees the heart). In other words, whether or not a woman has uncut hair is between her and the Lord...the same with men and cut hair.  I would contend that if Paul gave us an Apostolic custom (ordinance) that could not be readily observed then how would anyone know it was truly being practiced in the church?...I think the answer is pretty obvious.  So let's move on...

I will now attempt to show the logical inconsistencies and errors contained in this particular viewpoint using primarily the New King James version of the Bible beginning with I Cor 11:3 -

Definition of terms based on popular Apostolic viewpt just explained above.

Covered – uncut hair

Uncovered – cut or trimmed hair

Shorn – cut or trimmed hair

Covering – long (uncut) hair

Head Coverings…New King James version of I Cor 11:2-16

But I want you to know that the head of every man is Christ, the head of woman is man, and the head of Christ is God.

God’s divine order of headship…don’t think there’s any argument about this...however, some might say it’s just referring to husband and wife relationship…which again is not supported by historical accounts:

Tertullian (c.160-230 A.D.)  “So, too, did the Corinthians themselves understand him(speaking of Paul).  In fact, at this day, the Corinthians do veil their virgins (unmarried women).  What the apostles taught, their disciples approve.” 

It also does not make sense in context that this is only referring to husbands and wives. For instance, just looking at this verse does it make sense that Christ is the head of only He not the head of every man? Following this same logic thru the whole passage makes it ever more clear that Paul is talking about women and men in general.

Every man praying or prophesying, having his head covered, dishonors his head.

Using definition of “uncut” hair for covered and “cut or trimmed” for uncovered:

Point 1:  In order for this logic to be sound, you must be able to apply it to men’s hair as well…because covered is the same Greek word used when referring to women’s hair.  With that in mind, according to these definitions, a man could conceivably cut/trim his hair a ¼ inch and still have hair down to his shoulders and qualify as uncovered (cut or trimmed hair) or if he only had hair down to his ears and it was uncut would he then be considered covered and therefore be violating the headship principle?

Point 2:  Continuing on from point 1, who makes that judgement (as to what male heads are covered/uncovered, uncut/cut) and how is it done?  This passage is not talking about spiritual discernment, but simple observation.  If “uncut” is the criteria, who would know that by simple “observation”?...because all hair is not created equal.

Point 3:  Note that Paul specifically says that while praying and prophesying the man shouldn’t have his head covered.  If covered means uncut hair, then this verse is saying men should not have uncut hair while praying or prophesying…but what about the rest of the time? The pt is, you can’t take your hair on and off in different settings…& remember it was a custom for men (especially teachers) to wear a head covering in public…this would explain why Paul felt it necessary to say men should “not” wear it while praying or prophesying.

Point 4:  If covered means long or uncut hair then why didn’t Paul just use the same words he uses in verses 14 and 15…in other words why didn’t he just say…”every man praying or prophesying with is hair long or with long hair dishonors his head”…answer:  probably because Paul wasn’t referring to hair but rather a material veil.

Conclusion:  This verse logically cannot be talking about uncut hair, it makes much more sense that it’s talking about an external covering over the man’s head that is readily observable which the man should remove when he’s engaged in spiritual activity…namely because such a covering would also show that he is subject to someone or something other than God and this would bring shame on his head (God)…the understanding is - because man has no equal on this earth there should be nothing between the man’s physical head and God (like an external covering or veil) when he is involved in spiritual communication.

But every woman who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head, for that is one and the same as if her head were shaved. For if a woman is not covered, let her also be shorn. But if it is shameful for a woman to be shorn or shaved, let her be covered.

Using ‘uncut” hair logic:

Point 1 – If uncovered means cut hair (even if it is just trimmed a ¼”) who decides if it is uncovered? Paul is talking about literal observation here not spiritual discernment. If a woman has trimmed her hair ¼”, only God and possibly the woman’s close friends or husband might notice especially if she has it up on her head with the ends tucked in.  Also, how would the angels know she was uncovered (had cut or trimmed her hair ¼”) from simply the appearance of her hair...they can’t see the heart or read the mind…some women’s hair is naturally shorter or longer & more even than others…all hair is not created equal!..and again, if it’s in a neat bun, how long is it…uncut, cut? 

Point 2 - If this is talking about hair length, how short did it have to be for the woman to appear disgraced and shamed? Would cutting it ¼” make a woman with hair 3’ long appear uncomely or shameful looking…again, we’re talking about physical observation not spiritual discernment? Logically, it would only be a shame if she looked like a man with very short hair.

Point 3 - What about an African-American woman whose hair does not naturally hang down? Is she covered? According to this logic she would be covered she had uncut hair. Again, who makes that judgement? The angels can only observe, not read minds…neither can those around tell unless they have specific info about the woman.

Point 4 – If uncovered means cut or trimmed, and “shorn” means to cut (even a little) here is how verse 6 would translate:  if a woman has cut or trimmed her hair, then let her hair also be cut or trimmed…??

Point 5 – Verse 5 says every woman who prays or prophecies uncovered dishonors her head…what about the rest of the time? The custom was that a woman would wear a veil in public, not just in church. So it follows, if Paul is talking about hair as the covering here, then a woman in that culture would be taking off her veil for prayer and prophesying and showing immodesty in the most sacred of settings…does that make sense?

Point 6 – What about the sinner (with short hair like a man) that’s repented and just received the Holy Ghost does she have to wait for her hair to grow out to pray and prophesy?...because remember this is not spiritual discernment on the part of the rest of the people present and the Angels…all they would see is short hair on a woman unless they had knowledge of her conversion etc.  What about the woman that has cancer or has a medical procedure etc…all the Angels would see is the short (uncovered) hair..(unless we’re just talking about her personal guardian angel who may have seen her cut her hair…not likely). And again who decides when it is covered (uncut)…only God can see the heart?  Additional thought:  if a Saint rebels and decides to cut her hair, at what point does it become covered again?  According to the uncut hair doctrine it would be at the point she repents and decides to grow her hair long again…simple observation???...only God can see the heart…all we would see is the hair that’s been cut shorter (if it’s noticeable).

Point 7 - And since when does the Bible punish sin by ordering more sin? If cutting the hair is a sin or sign of rebellion then cutting all of it off certainly doesn’t make it any better! Paul is merely comparing the spiritual covering to the natural covering.

Point 8:  Same as with previous verse, if covered means long or uncut hair then why didn’t Paul just use the same words he uses in verses 14 and 15…in other words why didn’t he just say…”if a woman doesn’t have long or uncut hair let her be shorn”…answer:  because Paul wasn’t referring to hair but rather a material veil. When Paul uses the word uncovered in this verse why didn’t he just say cut or trimmed hair…I think the answer again is obvious. Was Paul trying to conceal the true meaning of the word cover and uncovered until he got to verse 15 and then suddenly reveal its meaning…was this some type of riddle game that Paul was playing with the Corinthians?  The answer again I think is pretty obvious…Paul meant to use the words that best represented what he was trying to explain to the Corinthians...that women should be veiled and men unveiled and that even nature teaches the same!

Point 9:  If this is talking about “uncut” hair then show by history the validity of this definition.  Not that women typically grew their hair long but that fully revealed, “uncut” hair was associated with a woman under submission of male headship. (another good site)

Conclusion:  These verses cannot logically be talking about hair, neither the “long or the short of it”…but rather an external covering (veil) over the head that is the great equalizer (indisputable symbol)  for all woman and every culture as long as it completely covers the head including the back of head…is readily observable by men and angels (without having to judge or guess whether it’s been cut or not)…and is also something that can be taken on and off…and finally, most importantly, it was the universal tradition of that day that woman would wear a head covering in public. The veil showed her submission to man and therefore God’s divine order.  The uncut explanation seems to totally ignore historical context and reason.

Also, what’s really disturbing about all this is the mystical quality behind this “uncut” hair explanation. It assumes that women switch back and forth between covered and uncovered based on the condition of the heart which is totally “unobservable” (except to God).  It’s progressed to the point that some women are laying their hair on their sick children as if there was special healing power in the hair…the Bible says “laying on of hands” not “laying on of hair”.  When I challenged one Pastor who believes the uncut hair doctrine as to how he could tell who was covered and who was not...he simply responded:  that is not my job...God knows and that's what matters.  So the truth is they have an Apostolic custom that can't be readily observed yet is supposed to be practiced in all churches/assemblies?  Does that make sense?

so what is Paul saying?

Author’s comment: Paul says that if you are going to be so immodest and bold as to take off the spiritual veil, then you might as well cut off your hair also, like one of the pagan temple prostitutes at Corinth.  Both, the cutting of the hair short (like a man’s), and the removing of the veil is usurping the man's position - feminists have now done both!  For a woman to take off her veil during spiritual communication/activity etc, she in effect has put her head at the same level as the man’s…completely open and uncovered before God and the Angels.

Paul is making a parallel between the natural covering (hair) and the spiritual covering (veil). To remove the spiritual covering (all at once); is compared to removing the natural covering all at once -- shaven. He is showing that the common knowledge of shame associated with the shaven woman (in the natural), is the same for the uncovered (unveiled) woman in the spiritual sense. It is the same shame.   Also, If it was so uncomely/immodest to be seen in public without a veil (according to tradition); was it comely (appropriate, modest) to be in public praying, prophesying, and thus representing Christ without a veil?

(From Let Them Wear Veils Article) - Why would Paul demand that if a woman refused to wear a veil she should then cut off all her hair? Plainly it is because her glory is to be covered, and if she rejects the veil, which serves that purpose, then her hair (glory, ornament that enhances her beauty etc) should be sheared off. A Christian woman then has the choice of wearing the veil or having her hair sheared like a sheep, which even today is not a popular hair style for women.  (A.R. Faust) In putting away the veil, she puts away the badge or symbol of her subjection to man (which is her true 'honor'), and of her connection with Christ, man's Head. In covering the head, the woman signifies that she is not head, that she is as if she has no head—for it is covered.

(Oneness Article) Now this gives the reasoning why man is not to cover his head. Man you see carries the authority of God as he was made in his image. He is not to put on anything that shows he is in subjection any longer. This is in regards to a veil or covering (katakalupto) as a woman wears a covering completely over her head. (The woman however needs to show proper subjection to male headship or she is out of order and disgraces her head (man)…so the understanding is that when the woman wears a veil over her head she is in submission to God’s order and government.

For a man indeed ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God; but woman is the glory of man. For man is not from woman, but woman from man. Nor was man created for the woman, but woman for the man. A sister who prays or prophesies without a veil, then, knowingly or unknowingly is rejecting the authority of her head, man, by rejecting the sign of it, and in so doing is dishonoring God's governmental design and Word.

10 For this reason the woman ought to have a symbol of authority on her head, because of the angels.

Point 1 – The covering again must be readily observable to the angels.

Point 2 – What does this verse mean?

Angel involvement with prayer – ?? 

Hebrews 1:13-14 - 13 But to which of the angels said he at any time, Sit on my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool? 14 Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation?  Good News - 14 What are the angels, then? They are spirits who serve God and are sent by him to help those who are to receive salvation.  (they work and minister on our behalf)

Hebrews 13:2
Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares. (they can take on human form)

 (From Oneness Article, commentary) - When a woman comes to pray without covering her head (akatakaluptos) she is showing insubordination. When she places a veil on her head she has power (a symbol of her submission to man’s authority and therefore God’s divine order, a sign of obedience, what gives her the right to pray or prophesy w/o usurping authority of the man) on her head and the ministering angels are able to operate freely seeing man and woman are following Gods order for them. If the woman doesn’t cover her head in the spiritual sense it is as much of a shame as if in the natural sense she were shorn (cut short) or shaven. 

The Pulpit Commentary says this:  This is much deeper and will require additional study: "The verse may, however, mean (in accordance with the Jewish belief of those days) that good angels, being under the possibility of falling from the same cause as their evil brethren (See Jude 6-7,14 Gen 6, for further study) fly away at once from the presence of unveiled women." Jewish tradition has it that Angels are present at worship services and will flee from an unveiled woman, because she is promoting rebellion”. Based on v10 - Paul seems to agree with the Jewish tradition. 

          Commentary:  The idea here is that, as man is the glory and image of God, created for God's pleasure; so woman is the glory of man, created for man -- for this cause the woman should have a symbol of authority (submission to this order) on her head, because not to do so reveals rebellion to God's order. Ellis Scolfield - This spiritual neon sign (speaking of the material veil) tells the spirit world (angels) whose side you are on. When you are under your canopy of authority, you are protected in ways you may never know.

(Article: Let Her be Veiled, Watchman Nee) Today woman has a sign of authority on her head because of the angels, that is, as a testimony to the angels. Only the sisters in the church can testify to this, for the women of the world know nothing of it. Today when the sisters have the sign of authority on their heads, they bear the testimony that, "I have covered my head so that I do not have my own head, for I do not seek to be head. My head is veiled, and I have accepted man as head, and to accept man as head means that I have accepted Christ as head and God as head. But some of you angels have rebelled against God." This is what it meant by "because of the angels."     I have on my head a sign of authority. I am a woman with my head covered. This is a most excellent testimony to the angels, to the fallen and to the unfallen ones. No wonder Satan persistently opposes the matter of head covering.

When many of the sisters in the church take the place given to women and learn to cover their heads, they send out an unspoken word of testimony to the angels in the air, to the effect that God has obtained in the church what He desires. Because of this, woman must have on her head a sign of authority, a testimony to the angels. God wants the woman to cover her head in order to manifest His government on earth. This privilege falls only to the woman…a type of the Bride of Christ.

          11 Nevertheless, neither is man independent of woman, nor woman independent of man, in the Lord. 12 For as woman came from man, even so man also comes through woman; but all things are from God.

In God’s eyes and overall plan, both men and women are equally important…just different roles.

13 Judge among yourselves. Is it comely (proper, pleasing, wholesome in appearance, suitable) for a woman to pray to God with her head uncovered or unveiled? (simple observation)

14 Does not even nature itself teach you that if a man has long hair, it is a dishonor to him? 15 But if a woman has long hair, it is a glory to her (; for her hair is given to her[a] for a covering. 16 But if anyone seems to be contentious, we have no such custom, nor do the churches of God…refers back to what he said in verse 13!

A look at the Greek:

Much unnecessary confusion has originated in this verse, in that some conclude that this must mean the long hair is given instead of a veiling. However, the confusion ends when one goes to the original text. The Greek word here for "covering" is peribolaion, which literally means "something cast or thrown around". The only other place this word is used in the N.T. is in Heb. 1:12, where it says, "like a cloak (peribolaion) You will fold them up... . The verb form of the word (periballo), found about 23 times, almost always refers to being covered with a robe cast around oneself. This is a completely different word than katakalupto. which is the "veiling" mentioned in verses 5, 6, 7, & 13, and which again means "something covering completely and hanging down". (So then women who have hair up in a bun are also out of order if hair is the covering).  The word translated "for" in the KJV, NKJV, etc. in the phrase "for a covering" is the Greek word "anti", which has a range of meanings, but the context clarifies its definition to be "in behalf of" or "to serve as"—this is verified by the best lexical authorities. (to serve as her natural covering)

The point is:  the Greek word for covering is not even similar (different root) to the words used for “covered” and “uncovered” even if it is a noun rather than an adjective…it has a completely different meaning.  To say that this identifies what the veil actually is as referenced by the words “covered” and uncovered is again a breach of logic and literally makes no sense. If Paul meant to say the hair replaced the veil as the covering, he would have logically used the same root word for covering.  Also, none of the Greek words used, including the word “covering” mention hair at all…Paul just used certain words when describing the spiritual or literal material veil and he used a different word when he associated it with a woman’s long hair…a wrap rather than a veil. 

Commentary:  Verse 14,15… is not a continuation of the previous, it is further justification from nature given by Paul to give further proof that a woman should be veiled. What is the lesson of nature? Does it back up Paul's teaching about the veil? Yes, men cut off their natural veil, and don't wear a spiritual veil and the women wear the natural veil, and also should wear the spiritual veil ....."doth not even nature itself teach you"!


(Oneness Article) Long hair is the symbol of “her” natural glory (female appearance).  It gives no special power but does show her adherence to the natural order that gives a woman distinction from the man.  It is a glory or ornament to her, not to God, not for the working of miracles. No different from when the man keeps his hair cut short also in subjection to God’s divine order. What does give the Spirit more liberty to move is his and her being in divine subjection as God has ordained...uncovered or unveiled for the man and covered or veiled for the woman.  (From article: Let Her be Veiled)  The veiled head very effectively deals with slavery to hair styles, and may I add, feminine pride.  If you don't believe me, wear one or try to promote it in today's Christian circles.

Verse16. Commentary. It is soon obvious to anyone studying this passage that "such custom" is referring to and answering his question in verse 13, "Is it proper for a woman to pray to God with, her head uncovered?". In the Greek, the grammatical structure of this verse is such in case, number and gender to make it agree only with the pronoun "yourselves" in verse 13. Thus verses 14 and 15 are a parenthesis between verses 13 and 16, where he appeals to their native sense in the matter of hair length for each sex. Paul proclaims boldly that in every church the sisters wore the head veiling, and he flatly commands them to step in line with universal apostolic practice. Early church writings and pictures in the earliest Christian art in the catacombs of Rome give clear evidence that this was the case.

Vs 16 is very important because it shows that what Paul was teaching was the accepted practice of all the apostles ("we"); and the churches of God in Paul’s day. So what does history teach? How did the Corinthians obey what Paul wrote? They certainly understood what he was saying. What was the practice of all the first century churches on this issue? Did they just wear long hair?  

 Tertullian (c.160-230 A.D.)  “So, too, did the Corinthians themselves understand him.  In fact, at this day, the Corinthians do veil their virgins.  What the apostles taught, their disciples approve.” 


Regardless of how we interpret the Greek, or customs of the day, which I think both whole heartedly support the application of the veil, there simply is no way to implement and enforce an ordinance of uncut hair. If a Pastor or other leader in a church cannot stand in front of a congregation and quickly scan the assembly and tell if the ordinance is being followed, then something is wrong with their interpretation of I Cor 11.  When we really look closely at the logic behind this “uncut” hair doctrine you quickly see how flawed it is.  Not only does one have to go to the Greek to find any type of justification for uncut hair, the interpretation of the Greek to mean uncut is an inference at best. To base one’s whole interpretation of the passage on an extreme or inferred interpretation of the Greek puts one on very slippery ground.  The truth is, there is no commandment in the Bible given to say that women should not cut their hair. Additionally, hair is not the main issue in this passage, but rather the custom of veiling that was universal among women of that culture and that time.  However, to say that the veil was just a cultural requirement for women back then is again missing the truth that Paul is trying to convey in this passage…namely that, regardless of culture or timeframe, the veil is the universal symbol of female  submission to male headship…and it’s what the angels recognize as well. Note:  even though the verse 10 does not specifically refer to “submission” as the word exousia is used and means authority or power, it can be deduced from the scriptures right before it that this “power or authority” on the head of the woman is the symbol that gives her the right to pray or speak for God without usurping the authority of man.

So basically what most churches have done is remove the symbol that tells the spirit world that a woman is submitting to the authority of man and therefore also the headship principle as ordained by God. A woman’s long hair is her (natural) glory or what enhances her beauty and femininity as well as what brings her in line with the natural order God has ordained for separation of the sexes.  Long, publically exposed hair on a woman is attractive and feminine, but is not modest according to traditional standards, it portrays a spirit of independence and even if the hair is bundled on the head, though more proper and lady-like, it is still not covered according to I Cor 11.

Genesis 24:65 “For she had said unto the servant, What man is this that walketh in the

field to meet us? And the servant had said, It is my master: therefore she took a vail, and covered


Genesis 38:14 And she put her widow's garments off from her, and covered her with a

vail, and wrapped herself, and sat in an open place, which is by the way to Timnath; for she saw

that Shelah was grown, and she was not given unto him to wife.

Ruth 3:15 Also he said, Bring the veil that thou hast upon thee, and hold it. And when

she held it, he measured six measures of barley, and laid it on her: and she went into the city.


Song of Solomon 4:1
[ The Bridegroom Praises the Bride ] The Beloved Behold, you are fair, my love! Behold, you are fair! You have dove’s eyes behind

your veil.


Song of Solomon 4:3
Your lips are like a strand of scarlet, And your mouth is lovely. Your temples behind your veil Are like a piece of pomegranate


Song of Solomon 5:7
The watchmen who went about the city found me. They struck me, they wounded me; The keepers of the walls Took my veil

away from me


Isaiah 3 - The crown of the head of the daughters of Zion, And the Lord will uncover their secret parts.”

18 In that day the Lord will take away the finery: The jingling anklets, the scarves, and the crescents;
19 The pendants, the bracelets, and the veils; 20 The headdresses, the leg ornaments, and the headbands;

Isaiah 47:2
Take the millstones and grind meal. Remove your veil, Take off the skirt, Uncover the thigh, Pass through the rivers.

New Living Translation (NLT)

11 And you should imitate me, just as I imitate Christ.I am so glad that you always keep me in your thoughts, and that you are following the teachings I passed on to you. But there is one thing I want you to know: The head of every man is Christ, the head of woman is man, and the head of Christ is God.[a] A man dishonors his head[b] if he covers his head while praying or prophesying. But a woman dishonors her head[c] if she prays or prophesies without a covering on her head, for this is the same as shaving her head. Yes, if she refuses to wear a head covering, she should cut off all her hair! But since it is shameful for a woman to have her hair cut or her head shaved, she should wear a covering.[d]

A man should not wear anything on his head when worshiping, for man is made in God’s image and reflects God’s glory. And woman reflects man’s glory. For the first man didn’t come from woman, but the first woman came from man. And man was not made for woman, but woman was made for man. 10 For this reason, and because the angels are watching, a woman should wear a covering on her head to show she is under authority.11 But among the Lord’s people, women are not independent of men, and men are not independent of women. 12 For although the first woman came from man, every other man was born from a woman, and everything comes from God. 13 Judge for yourselves. Is it right for a woman to pray to God in public without covering her head? 14 Isn’t it obvious that it’s disgraceful for a man to have long hair? 15 And isn’t long hair a woman’s pride and joy? For it has been given to her as a covering. 16 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

Amplified version -

11 Pattern yourselves after me [follow my example], as I imitate and follow Christ (the Messiah).

I appreciate and commend you because you always remember me in everything and keep firm possession of the traditions (the substance of my instructions), just as I have [verbally] passed them on to you.

But I want you to know and realize that Christ is the Head of every man, the head of a woman is her husband, and the Head of Christ is God.

Any man who prays or prophesies (teaches, refutes, reproves, admonishes, and comforts) with his head covered dishonors his Head (Christ).

And any woman who [publicly] prays or prophesies (teaches, refutes, reproves, admonishes, or comforts) when she is bareheaded dishonors her head (her husband); it is the same as [if her head were] shaved.

For if a woman will not wear [a head] covering, then she should cut off her hair too; but if it is disgraceful for a woman to have her head shorn or shaven, let her cover [her head].

For a man ought not to wear anything on his head [in church], for he is the image and [reflected] glory of God [[a]his function of government reflects the majesty of the divine Rule]; but woman is [the expression of] man’s glory (majesty, preeminence).

For man was not [created] from woman, but woman from man;

Neither was man created on account of or for the benefit of woman, but woman on account of and for the benefit of man.

10 [b]Therefore she should [be subject to his authority and should] have a covering on her head [as a token, a symbol, of her submission to authority, [c]that she may show reverence as do] the angels [and not displease them].

11 Nevertheless, in [the plan of] the Lord and from His point of view woman is not apart from and independent of man, nor is man aloof from and independent of woman;

12 For as woman was made from man, even so man is also born of woman; and all [whether male or female go forth] from God [as their Author].

13 Consider for yourselves; is it proper and decent [according to your customs] for a woman to offer prayer to God [publicly] with her head uncovered?

14 Does not [d]the native sense of propriety (experience, common sense, reason) itself teach you that for a man to wear long hair is a dishonor [humiliating and degrading] to him,

15 But if a woman has long hair, it is her ornament and glory? For her hair is given to her for a covering.

16 Now if anyone is disposed to be argumentative and contentious about this, we hold to and recognize no other custom [in worship] than this, nor do the churches of God generally.

Complete Jewish Bible (CJB)

11 try to imitate me, even as I myself try to imitate the Messiah. Now I praise you because you have remembered everything I told you and observe the traditions just the way I passed them on to you. But I want you to understand that the head of every man is the Messiah, and the head of a wife is her husband, and the head of the Messiah is God. Every man who prays or prophesies wearing something down over his head brings shame to his head, but every woman who prays or prophesies with her head unveiled brings shame to her head — there is no difference between her and a woman who has had her head shaved. For if a woman is not veiled, let her also have her hair cut short; but if it is shameful for a woman to wear her hair cut short or to have her head shaved, then let her be veiled. For a man indeed should not have his head veiled, because he is the image and glory of God, and the woman is the glory of man. For man was not made from woman, but woman from man; and indeed man was not created for the sake of the woman but woman for the sake of the man. 10 The reason a woman should show by veiling her head that she is under authority has to do with the angels. 11 Nevertheless, in union with the Lord neither is woman independent of man nor is man independent of woman; 12 for as the woman was made from the man, so also the man is now born through the woman. But everything is from God. 13 Decide for yourselves: is it appropriate for a woman to pray to God when she is unveiled? 14 Doesn’t the nature of things itself teach you that a man who wears his hair long degrades himself? 15 But a woman who wears her hair long enhances her appearance, because her hair has been given to her as a covering. 16 However, if anyone wants to argue about it, the fact remains that we have no such custom, nor do the Messianic communities of God

So why all the fuss about 1 Corinthians 11 and a little piece of cloth? Simply because 1 Corinthians 11 with its teachings on headship, order, authority, submission, and communion is a foundation for 1 Corinthians 12. There never will be a truly effective body as long as these foundational principles are ignored or neglected.  If we want the church to be powerful, it will be God's way, or not at all.

Again, it's one thing for a church organization to set a "standard" (of women not cutting their hair), but it's another thing entirely to make a scripture say something that it does not...this then moves a belief into the realm of misinterpretation/misuse of scripture and even "false doctrine" - which can then lead to other "hairesies" (pun intended).


Latest comments

07.10 | 19:04

Entrenched trinitarians are the power hungry egoist’s that play God and 90% of the rest of you just follow without knowing anything.

07.10 | 18:36

Most of you who are trinitarians only support this doctrine through pressure from your family, your church and your friends.

07.10 | 18:16

Yeshua and Yahweh are not one and the same, have never been one and the same, and are currently not one and the same as the Son sits at the right hand of power.

04.10 | 01:24

Shalom Bro!