I was commenting on 1 Corinthians 11 in a NT class the other day, and it struck me again that Paul has a keen interest there in setting up hierarchies of human honour, and then surprisingly subverting them by subjecting all humans to God. This happens at both the beginning and the end of the headcoverings discussion in chapter 11, as well as earlier on in chapter 3:
- The set up: So let no one boast about human leaders. For all things are yours, whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or the present or the future – all belong to you…
- The sting: …and you belong to Christ, and Christ belongs to God.
- The set up: I want you to understand that Christ is the head of every man, and the husband is the head of his wife…
- The sting: …and God is the head of Christ.
- The set up: For just as woman came from man, so man comes through woman…
- The sting: …but all things come from God.
As Karl Barth said, the ‘secret nerve’ of this epistle comes in those condemning and liberating words: from God!