Head Coverings and The Angels Present in Worship by Greg Gordon
It is for this reason that a woman ought to have authority over her own head, because of the angels. – 1 Corinthians 11:10
Modern scholars now say they have had no strong opinion on this Bible verse that mentions angels yet many commentators before them agreed on the early Church consensus about this passage. What is wrong and we should not try and do is apply modern 21st century cultural thinking to a Bible passage that was in the ancient 1st century Church. The practice of Head Coverings for women in Churches was universally practiced in virtually every congregation in history up till the last century. The most commonly accepted belief of this verse is that there was an angelic presence during the holy times of worship as believers assembled or partook in prayer, communion and other sacred activities. The role of angels have never ceased, from the Old Testament mediatorial role (delivering the law and commandments and executing judgments), to the New Testament role in delivering and helping early Apostles out of prison, answering prayers, etc. Tertuallian in A.D. 200 urged believers to continue to stand in prayer because “the angel of prayer is still standing by.” He thought it was irreligious before God for people to not recognize spiritual activity and the worshipful presence of God’s angels when they gathered. Chrysostom A.D. 380 says, “Thou standest with angels; thou singest with them; thou hymnest with them.” What this speaks to us is that we are entering into a holy worship that pre-dates human history where the angels have been worshipping God before the throne. Revelation 5 gives us this wonderful picture of the eternal worship that has been never ending.
It is interesting that the holy angels in God’s presence cover their feet and faces (Isaiah 6:2). I believe one reason that sisters in the congregations are to cover their heads because it is an active symbol of recognizing God’s very presence when we pray and assemble. Another sobering thought for sisters to consider is that the angels and Lucifer who choose to rebel against God’s order (Jude 1:6) did not follow God’s prescribed method of worship. When a sister wears a veil she is testifying to the fallen angels that she is willing to follow God’s order and be submitted under His rule. Albert Barnes the commentator states, “it would mean that the simple reason would be that the angels were witnesses of their worship; and that they were the friends of propriety, due subordination, and order.” Women and men together make one body of Christ, (Galatians 3:28, Romans 12:5), therefore the roles we each partake in are important and sisters can accomplish things pleasing to God that men cannot.
I remember taking a friend to 2 churches on a given Sunday. In one earlier service we partook in worship, sisters were veiled, there was a holy atmosphere, the Scriptures were read in reverence, and the Lord’s Supper was taken. The other church begin with loud music, jokes from the pastor, a few lazy boy chairs in the congregation and no sense of solemnity and reverence. After both services were ended I asked my young friend, ‘What Church do you believe the angels were worshipping with?’ He thought deeply for a few seconds and replied, “I understand.” In an age where we see many churches pursuing worldly techniques, seeker friendly atmospheres, we seem to be losing the sense of the divine and holy. This Scripture truth of the holy angels present in the gathering of believers should perhaps be our litmus test, “Are we gathering in a way that would cater to the worship of angels, the entering into the very worship of heaven?”