Two Forgotten Apostolic Ordinances of 1 Corinthians 11
The content here is authored by Albert Barnes, a 19th Century Presbyterian theologian of America. After this section, except for what is in brackets, everything was written by him.
Barnes is best known for his extensive Bible commentary and notes on the Old and New Testaments, published in a total of 14 volumes in the 1830’s.
— Wikipedia, “Albert Barnes (theologian),” accessed on 4/4/178 JE
His commentary is among the classics that were written before new theology crept in which replaced Bible standards and principles such as the fear of God and obedience with an effortless, sentimental religion devoid of many of the standards, which is reflected by the popular literature in “Christian” bookstores today. This new theology has infected Seventh-day Adventism just as it has the rest of Christendom.
One of these old standards that disappeared through the effects of the women’s liberation movement was women wearing head coverings when in public. In the western world, they began shrinking in size in the 19th Century and disappearing altogether in the 20th Century, first in the public, then in worship services. In certain eastern regions head coverings are still prevalent to this day, but that is even changing due to increasing western expansion.
Ellen G. White was living in the time when the head coverings were shrinking; and God gave her a vision on this. Here is what she lamented afterwards:
I was shown that some of the people of God imitate the fashions of the world, and are fast losing their peculiar, holy character, which should distinguish them as God’s people. I was pointed back to God’s ancient people, and then was led to compare their apparel with the mode of dress in these last days. What a difference! What a change! Then the women were not so bold as now. When they went in public they covered their face with a veil. In these last days fashions are shameful and immodest. They are noticed in prophecy. They were first brought in by a class over whom Satan has entire control, who “being past feeling (without any conviction of the Spirit of God), have given themselves over unto lasciviousness to work all uncleanness with greediness.”
If God’s professed people had not departed greatly from him, there would now be a marked difference between their dress and that of the world. The small bonnets, exposing the face and head, show a lack of modesty. The hoops are a shame. The inhabitants of earth are growing more and more corrupt, and the line of distinction must be more plain between them and the Israel of God, or the curse which falls upon worldlings will fall upon God’s professed people.
— 2 Spiritual Gifts, p. 227
Eventually, after her death, the head covering completely went out of existence in most of the western world, but there were a people that held onto it a bit longer. For a testimony of them, we highly recommend reading A Call to the Churches in America. Dreams and visions were given to this people after Ellen White died, including on the topic of holiness and the importance of modest clothing, which included their wearing of head coverings, but eventually they too took on the fashions of Babylon, causing the head covering to get smaller and smaller until it died, along with the blessing of the Lord (exhibited in miracles, dreams, and visions) to die with it.
“Covered Their Face”?
It should be noted that the head coverings in the Bible days and early in Ellen White’s day loosely covered the sides of the face, not the front as we have seen in pictures of Islamic women, nor the necks as Catholic nuns practice. She was lamenting that the smaller bonnets were no longer covering the face on its sides, which showed greater modesty, but she would have lamented much more if she knew that the head covering would be entirely discarded after her death and that women would dare to bare parts of their legs in public; yet she had lamented how greatly God’s professed people had departed from God’s standards back then!
I mention this to show that women with unveiled heads in public is a new phenomenon in Christendom, and thus the context in Barnes’ time—again, the 1830s—was that women were always wearing head coverings. There would not have been a thought back then for women to only put head coverings on when they prayed or attended religious gatherings, because they were wearing them all the time when they were out in public for modesty’s sake. As we will see in Barnes’ notes, surprising to us (but not to those before us), the issue that Paul was dealing with was the wrong practice of putting off the head coverings—that is, women unveiling their heads—in an ecclesiastical setting, rather than failing to put them on, because they were already on.
Back to Barnes
Barnes’ view on head coverings was therefore no different than that of other classic commentators since head coverings being worn in public by women was universal in the civilized world. But his commentary I find is the clearest on this chapter, so that is why I am using his. In fact, it is so clear that I believe that the chapter will make perfect sense to you as it never has before, after you go through it, as long as you are sincere and thorough in your reading it.
Part I is thus on the head coverings, but I continue the commentary after that because Barnes makes some very good points about heresies (Part II) and the Lord’s supper (Part III), which makes these subjects appear much different than we are used to seeing them, and this will lead to reforms to be made there as well—all for the purpose of returning to primitive godliness that has not been witnessed since the apostolic days, thus true revival and reformation.
I encourage you to have a good prayer before we open up God’s Word in this Bible study.
4 thoughts on “Two Forgotten Apostolic Ordinances of 1 Corinthians 11”
“BE READY TO MEET YOUR GOD:”
This is the title of the 3rd quarter lesson I have been dealing with and it has to do with modesty. Actually our brethren and church has turned her back against God and we are steady retreating back to the world. There is no difference between the worldliness and the people of God. Everything is common. We want the majority flock into our camp meetings and not spiritually awakened. This kind of worship has shut out the Spirit of God from our midst.
We cannot be Sabbath reformers if we neglect Dress Reform. This must begin from our very homes. If we reform at home, the church will be revived. Our children and women have been allowed to dress in order to please the public and not to please God who created us!
Much has been left out to our children and women to plait and put on the apparel that satisfies the flesh and not the Spirit. Thanks for this subject. We need to pray and reform on this.
We also have the DRESS# CODE subject going on around the world. We have the LGBT issues in America and the Equality Agenda. These things are the signs of the last days and the approaching doom.
“The world is crazy after show and fashion and pleasure. Licentiousness is steadily and fearfully on the increase. Why will not Christians be true to their high profession? 4T.647.
Fashion is a mistress that rules with an iron hand. In very many homes the strength and time and attention of parents and children are absorbed in meeting her demands. The rich are ambitious to outdo one another in conforming to her ever-varying styles; the middle and poor classes strive to approach the standard set by those supposed to be above them. Where means or strength is limited, and the ambition for gentility is great, burden becomes almost insupportable.
With many it matters not how becoming, or even beautiful, a garment may be, let the fashion change, and it must be remade or cast aside. The members of the household are doomed to ceaseless toil. There is no time for training the children , no time for prayer or Bible study, no time for helping the little ones to become acquainted with God through His works. Ed.246.”
I will need this article send to me via postal mail. It is very expensive for me reading or studying in a cyber cafe while online.
I delight in these materials for revival of our faith.
We just got our printer working properly, so I will try to get this and some other things printed for you very soon. 🙂