The Don Martin - Mark J. Ward Discussion on

I Corinthians 11:1-16

Martin's Seventh Article

This is the next Don Martin writes under the Subject line: Re:I Corinthians 11:1-16...

Re: I Corinthians 11: 1-16
Wed, 29 Jan 2003 16:15:13 -0700
"Don Martin" <>

Don Martin to Mark Ward and the list (post one of two):

The exchange between Mark Ward and me continues with Mark submitting question four. Before Mark submitted question four, he had some lengthy comments and a number of consequential questions. Mark and I are both laboring with the burden of maintaining as short of posts as we can. Much of Mark's material leading up to question four is redundant (in my opinion because I have already addressed it). However, I will attempt to go through it and briefly address any matters that seem to merit notice. I continue to thank Mark for his good attitude and demeanor. I can truly reciprocally say the same:

Mark wrote:

In disagreement, we learn a lot about ourselves and those with whom we
disagree. I appreciate my brother and friend Don Martin even more now
than before this discussion began.

Mark wrote:

I hope Don will respond by dealing with these things
that I think show weaknesses in his position and conclusions in his next
post.... QUESTION 2: Don, do you presently believe that prophetesses
were prophesying or praying (miraculous ONLY in both cases) in the
church assembly at Corinth with God's blessings and were the ONLY women
being instructed to be covered (meaning that non-prophetesses did NOT
have to cover their heads when praying with either a prophet or a
prophetess)? Don answers YES to question #2. Don says inspired
women were preaching in the assembly at Corinth!

Don comments:

I have repeatedly answered Mark's questions and addressed the circumstance of I Corinthians 11: 3-16. My friend Mark does not like my answers. It could be that the reason for the repeated questioning is that I am not providing the typical answers, answers that allow formulated rebuttals. I told Mark at the outset that I frankly believe there is much misunderstanding regarding I Corinthians 11: 3-16, both on the part of those who bind the covering and those who do not. It fact, it would be hard to find a text concerning which there are more divergent beliefs.

It is not extremely uncommon to find a text in which there is resident general teaching but in the particular teaching situation, there is specific teaching. Also, this specific teaching pertains to a matter that special, exceptional, and more indigenous to the contemporary involved time period and conditions. For instance, Jesus taught his disciples, " also ought to wash one another's feet" (Jn. 13: 14). I submit that "foot washing" had a special meaning at that time and in those circumstances. Is there any teaching found in John 13, then, that is applicable to now? There are the timeless lessons of hospitality and humility (Jn. 13: 4-17). However, the specific act of foot washing in our culture and circumstance (America) would not have much meaning.

After a general comparison, the head covering of I Corinthians 11: 3-16 had an endemic and special meaning to the people of Corinth and that culture. Does this mean, then, that none of the teaching of I Corinthians 11: 3-16 is applicable to today? Not at all. We must remember that the point of verses three through sixteen is to apply the truth just enunciated regarding headship to the given set of prevailing circumstances at Corinth: praying or prophesying women and men. It appears that the praying or prophesying women were dishonoring their head, man, and in particular, the praying or prophesying man, by doing the same thing, in the same way. They needed to have a "symbol of authority" on their head to show that they realized and acknowledge their subjugation to their male counter-part, the prophets (vs. 10).

As I have said: "As I close this post, please carefully consider, there is no resident teaching in the Bible binding the covering on all women BEFORE I Corinthians 11and no teaching AFTER I Corinthians 11 that binds the covering on all women. In fact, there is not even any teaching IN I Corinthians 11: 3-16 that bound the covering on all women in the church at Corinth."

Mark labors under the belief that the coving teaching issued to the praying or prophesying women at Corinth is to be understood for all women of all time. Mark has sought to reduce "praying" to natural praying and "prophesying" to natural or uninspired teaching. Of course, we do not know when Mark binds the "covering" (prayer or teaching matters) or what Mark's idea of the covering is.

Mark wrote:

Since Don switched meanings of "the woman" in verse 3 FROM ~every woman,
women in general~ and "every man" in verse 3 FROM ~every man, men in
general~ TO ~inspired ONLY prophets/prophetesses prophesying or praying
miraculously ONLY~ in verses 4,5 Don is going to have to SWITCH MEANINGS
BACK to the general application before he gets to verse 8 in the text of
I Cor. 11.

Don remarks:

I do not have the problem with understanding that I Corinthians 11: 3-16 contains a specific application of headship and that the specific example also contained an endemic matter, the covering and what it meant to those people that Mark does. I do not mean to be disrespectful, but if I came into an assembly today in which there was a woman having on a covering that met the requirements of the katakalupto (translated "veil" in the American Standard Version, I Cor. 11: 6), I would think there was a Muslim visitor, a practitioner of Islam. I would not view that woman as visibly saying by the covering that she was under headship (vs. 3). Besides, the woman would not be "praying or prophesying," I hope (doing the same thing as the male prophets, hence, creating the situation for misunderstanding as to the matter of headship. I say this because we do not have inspired teaching delivered by men today, I Cor. 13: 8-10).

I do believe that these men and women, the praying or prophesying men and women, were doing the same thing and in the same circumstances and that this is the milieu or backdrop of Paul's teaching. Was "Anna, a prophetess," who in the temple "...spake of him to all them that looked for redemption in Jerusalem" not doing what many of her male counter-parts (prophets) were doing? (Lk. 2: 36-38.) I do believe that there is a dire misunderstanding too often in the church as to the reality and work of a special group of women called prophetesses. They used their gift of prophesy (cp. I Cor. 12: 10) to issue inspired teaching and foretelling in public. It is regarding such women at Corinth that Paul issued the special teaching that they have on a head dress (covering) when praying or prophesying. It is apparent that in the context, that the "praying" is also inspired and public. Hence, the reason for the covering.

See post number two, please.

Re: I Corinthians 11: 1-16
Wed, 29 Jan 2003 16:16:14 -0700
"Don Martin" <>

Don Martin to Mark Ward and the list (post two of two):

In this post, I shall continue to briefly address some matters and then answer Mark's question four.

Mark is kindly insistent:

"Prophetesses" were not the only women under consideration in I Cor.
11 (EVERY woman...praying OR prophesying).... since women could PRAY
without a spiritual gift and therefore not prophesy (please note the
word "or" in the text of I Cor. 11:1-16)....Praying women were not
necessarily "prophetesses" or ladies with spiritual gifts....

Don comments:

Why does Mark persist in wanting to remove "praying" from the syntax and context of I Corinthians 11 and separately consider it? Mark, Paul is not simply addressing "praying" women. Even if this had been the case, the scenario of I Corinthians 11 would still have involved the men and women under review doing the same thing, this "same thing" I view as public, and both potentially competitive and a violation of headship. I have explained over and over what I deem the significance of "praying or prophesying" to be.

I wrote: "Mark is absolutely correct in saying that the Holy Spirit separated praying from prophesying. He did this by the use of "or" (he). I do not intend to go into detail about the technical use of "or" (he) as opposed to "and" (kai). I think a simple and uncomplicated answer is that the Spirit is syntactically saying that the prophet or prophetess is praying or he/she is prophesying, not simultaneously praying and (kai) prophesying. Please notice that I did not say that Paul coupled praying and prophesying. Without getting meticulously and painstakingly particular, Paul is addressing the matter of praying and prophesying involving prophets and prophetesses and how they were to do what they were doing in the circumstances. The point is, nevertheless, both praying and prophesying are under consideration together in the same circumstances as opposed to praying and prophesying being reviewed in different, isolated settings. What Paul says about praying is also applicable to prophesying (I Cor. 11: 6-16).

Mark continues:

Further, I asked my good brother Don in this study about how his
reasoning on I Corinthians 11 would affect us if we applied it to all
instances wherein there was someone with a spiritual, miraculous gift of
the Holy Spirit present in the assembly so as to LIMIT the instruction
given (like he does in I Cor 11) in those (other) passages in such a way
as being non-applicable to us today. We would have a BIG problem (if we
applied Don's "miraculous/inspired ONLY" and "special men/women and
special circumstances" reasoning), we pointed out, with ever using Acts
20:7 AS OUR authority for first day of the week Lord's Supper observance
TODAY since Paul, an inspired apostle, was in that "special assembly" at
Troas (and we don't have assemblies with inspired folks in them today).

Don comments:

I do not teach that "apostolic examples are binding today." What I teach is "approved apostolic examples." Paul's participation in the meeting on the Lord's Day at Troas was deliberate and planned (Acts 20: 6, 7). The expression, "when the disciples came together to break bread" (sunegmenon emon klasai arton) is indicative of a practice (cp. Acts 2: 42). Based on Acts 2: 42, we learn that the Lord's Supper is to be a regular act involved in the worship. There is no teaching BEFORE Acts 20: 7, AFTER Acts 20: 7, or IN Acts 20: 7 to limit the observance of the Lord's Supper to those who possessed a spiritual, supernatural gift. The fact that Paul was present and partook of the supper does not limit the partaking to only the miraculously endowed or require that such a person be present so that others can partake. Mark's example has backfired on him. However, the subjects of the covering teaching in I Corinthians 11: 3-16 were "praying or prophesying." There is also the special cultural meaning that was then attached to the covering.

Mark said:

Don wrote nothing on Thayer's "d" definition which references I Cor. 11
(the very passage under consideration in our study), nor did he tell us
"why" it would be improper to allow ALL praying and ALL prophesying to
be included in Paul's instruction. Maybe Don didn't think it was
important to address. Don may have overlooked it. There could be a
number of reasons, but we bring it up again for the readership and Don
to note.

Don responds:

Mark wrote nothing, as I recall, regarding my extensive quotation from W. E. Vine. The verb propheteuo is used to describe or indicate the work of a prophet, simply put. Thayer says of the prophet (propheteia, noun), "...discourse emanating from divine inspiration...." (Thayer's Greek-English Lexicon, pg. 552). Regarding Mark's above, Thayer says of the verb propheteuo and alludes to I Corinthians 11: 4, 5 as follows: " break forth under sudden impulse in lofty discourse or in praise of the divine counsels...or, under the like prompting, to teach, refute, reprove, admonish, comfort others...I Cor. 11: 4, 5....." (Ibid.). Mark, as the young people say, what is your point? It seems to me that you can not use any reputable word definition source because none of them are going to reduce "prophesying" to the common meaning of uninspired teaching as you must do. I noticed that you did not comment on my treatment:

Notice I Corinthians 11: 4, 5: "Every man praying or prophesying...But
every woman that prayeth or prophesieth...." (pas Anna proseuchomenos he
propheteuon....pasa de gune proseuchomene he propheteuousa....). You will
observe that the language is the same, except for accommodating grammatical
changes. What the men (prophets) were doing, the women (prophetesses) were
doing (see case of "Anna, a prophetess," Lk. 2: 36-38).

Propheteia ("prophecy") is used about 19 times in the Greek New Testament
and is found 5 times in I Corinthians. Propheteuo ("prophesied," etc.) is
used a total of 28 times, 11 times in I Corinthians; and prophetes
("prophet") is found 149 times and 6 times in I Corinthians. There is not
any thing present in the combined 22 occurrences of these words in the
vocabulary of I Corinthians to suggest any thing but the common and normal
meaning of the words. Again, prophets were actuated by the Holy Spirit (I
Pet. 1: 11, 2 Pet. 1: 21). They miraculously foretold events to come and
delivered God breathed teaching.

Please direct you attention briefly to the act of "praying" in connection
with "prophesying" (I Cor. 11: 4, 5). I believe the scriptures present the
concept and the first century practice not only of miraculous prophesying
but also of Spirit led prayer. "What is it then? I will pray with the
spirit, and I will pray with the understanding also: I will sing with the
spirit, and I will sing with the understanding also," Paul wrote (I Cor. 14:
15). This statement was made in the setting of spiritual gifts and
miraculous impetus (see I Cor. 14: 1ff.). Notice Matthew Henry's comments
on the verse:

"...The apostle here sums up the argument hitherto, and, I. Directs
them how they should sing and pray in public (v. 15): What is it then? I
will pray with the spirit, and I will pray with the understanding also. I
will sing with the spirit, etc. He does not forbid their praying or singing
under a divine afflatus, or when they were inspired for this purpose, or had
such a spiritual gift communicated to them; but he would have them perform
both so as to be understood by others, that others might join with
them....." (Complete Commentary on the Bible, 1706). Since prayer was in
some cases Spirit led and in view of prayer being mentioned as something
done in connection with prophesying in I Corinthians 11: 4, 5, I believe it
is axiomatic that the prayer thus mentioned was also "inspired." (The
prophetess was obviously the exception in what she was doing. I say this in
view of I Timothy 2: 8, men only, andras, were to publicly pray, and verse

QUESTION #4: Don, since you state that the nouns and pronouns in verse
7 can have specific application AND general application, why can't you
allow the same thing for the definitions of "praying or prophesying" in
verses 4, 5?

Don answers:

Mark, I know that when we affirm and are contending for a point of doctrine that we can be slow to see a counter-point. However, I do not see what you mention in your question four as being the case. The general subject of headship applied to the praying or prophesying men and women at Corinth (vs. 3). There were also a number of particular universal truths and principles under headship that also applied (vs. 7, 8, 9, etc.).

To attempt to assign the natural meaning to "praying or prophesying" is to ignore both the syntax, immediate context, and remote contexts associated with men and women. I have said that the common meaning for "prophesying" is to speak with divine assistance. I have also conceded that the natural meaning of "praying" generally considered is uninspired. However, I have tried to show that in view of the association of "praying" with "prophesying" in I Corinthians 11: 4, 5, the context, and the fact that prayer could also be inspired, that the "praying" under consideration also had miraculous impetus (cp. I Cor. 14: 15).

Mark, it is plain that we are at an impasse regarding your and my views of the subjects of I Corinthians 11: 3-16 and the special teaching (not found anywhere else) regarding the covering. I can appreciate your frustration in trying to get me to agree that the praying in the setting can be simply natural and that the "prophesying" can be simple uninspired teaching. Nonetheless, based on the foregoing stated reasons, I must view the text as special and the covering as not binding on all women today.

I look forward to Mark's question number five and then to posing some questions for Mark to answer (up to five in number). Since we have exhausted the subjects of I Corinthians 11: 3-16, I would like to see Mark move on to question number five.

(from MARS-List 3847, January 29, 2003)



[Editor’s Note: This is one of the most in-depth, comprehensive studies between two brethren on the issue of whether "the spiritual gifts view" of I Corinthians 11:1-16 is true, or whether God requires women today to cover their heads with an artifical covering whenever they pray. We hope all readers will continue to study all Bible topics with open minds, willing to conform to God's Truth. Thanks for reading! - Mark J. Ward]

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