What is the meaning of 1 Corinthians 11:7? Could I get your thoughts on the meaning of the middle phrase in 1 Corinthians 11:7, beginning with "... since he..."? I am particularly interested in Paul's use of the Greek word "huparchon", especially as it contrasts with "estin" in the last phrase of the verse.
1 Corinthians 11:7 introduces us to an unexpected discussion about a husband being the glory of God and the wife being the glory of her husband. Here is 1 Corinthians 11;7.
For a man ought not to have his head covered, since he is the image and glory of God; but the woman is the glory of man. 1 Corinthians 11:7 (NASB)
The question that is answered in this article is, “What is the meaning of 1 Corinthians 11:7?” What is the meaning of “woman is the glory of man”?
Meaning of “Is”
The two words “is” in this verse are translated from two different Greek words. The first “is” comes from the Hebrew word hupacho and the second “is” comes from eimi. The second one is the normal verb for “to be.” It occurs 2,460 times in the New Testament. The first Greek word is the difficult one. It occurs only 60 times in the New Testament in 60 verses. So when it appears, the Holy Spirit has uniquely selected it to communicate a special concept.
Hupacho is a compound word composed of hupo and archo. Hupo means “under,” and archo means “begin” in Koine Greek. That means it has the sense of “to begin below.” The meaning of this compound word shifted slightly with time according to Danker and Bauer. They state the word had the sense of an “originating point.” In the New Testament, the word has the sense of possession and inheritance.
A tour of some of the uses of hupacho with the same Greek construction is helpful. Here are 10 of the 60 places where it appears. In each example below, I have colored in red the English word that is translated from hupacho.
Luke 16:23 — “In Hades he lifted up his eyes, being in torment.”
Luke 23:50 — “was a member of the Council,”
Acts 2:30 — “because he was a prophet.”
Acts 7:55 — “But being full of the Holy Spirit,”
Acts 16:20 — “city into confusion, being Jews”
Acts 16:37 — “men who are Romans,”
1 Corinthians 11:18 — “I hear that divisions exist among you”
Philippians 2:6 — “who, although He existed in the form of God,”
Philippians 3:20 — “For our citizenship is in heaven,”
2 Peter 3:11 — “ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness,”
Therefore, hupacho implies possession, ownership, or to be in existence. Philippians 2:6 is probably the most important passage, followed by Acts 7:55; 16:20; and 16:37. Hupacho strongly refers to existence, while eimi is more general. Hupacho is more specific.
He Is the Image and Glory of God
Therefore, if we apply the discussion to 1 Corinthians 11:7, we are to understand that Adam existed in the image and the glory of God. Adam’s own image and glory existed in God, Himself. A husband’s glory originated from God, independent of his wife. Genesis 1:26 and James 3:9 tells us that man was made in the image of God and according to His likeness. That is true for both men and women.
Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness . . .” Genesis 1:26 (NASB)
With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the likeness of God . . . James 3:9 (NASB)
When man was created in the image of God, he was unlike any of the other animals. He was unbelievably superior in every way. When God told Adam to name the animals (Genesis 2:19-20), it revealed that Adam was superior to the animals and in control of the animal kingdom. Adam had been delegated authority from God over the animal kingdom. Adam reflected God’s superiority and authority. Man is the glory of God. Psalm 8:5-8 is a great summary.
. . . You have made him a little lower than God,
And You crown him with glory and majesty
You make him to rule over the works of Your hands;
You have put all things under his feet,
All sheep and oxen,
And also the beasts of the field,
The birds of the heavens and the fish of the sea,
Whatever passes through the paths of the seas.
Psalm 8:5-8 (NASB)
The psalm connects man’s glory from God with God’s delegated authority over all of the animals of the world.
Woman Is the Glory of Man
In God’s creative act, He gave Adam delegated authority. Then Eve was created for Adam so that he would not be alone (Genesis 2:18, 20). When she was made, she also had the image and likeness of God. Yet, when the wife is referred to in 1 Corinthians 11:7, no statement is made that the wife is the image of God. The Holy Spirit’s emphasis is that she is the glory of her husband. She is her husband’s glory in the same sense that her husband reflects God’s glory.
Just as God provided for Adam in Genesis 2, so the husband provides spiritual guidance, material blessings, and loves the wife (Ephesians 5:23-28; 1 Timothy 5:8). Just as Adam’s authority is derived from God, so the wife’s authority is derived from her husband. She reflects her husband in every way, just as Adam reflects God in every way. As John Calvin states,
There is no doubt that the woman is a distinguished ornament of the man . . .
Since the overarching discussion of the context of the verse is about authority (v. 3, 8-11), we are to understand that the wife’s authority is a delegated authority. She is also her husband’s glory when she honors and respects him (Ephesians 5:22-24; 1 Peter 3:1-4). Man brings glory to God when he obeys and honors him (1 Corinthians 6:20; 1 Peter 2:12). So, there is no difference between the wife and the husband in terms of equality. The marriage relationship reflects God’s divine order in marriage. This does not mean that she is inferior. She is his equal. But just as Christ and the Holy Spirit submit to the Father, so the teaching of 1 Corinthians 11:1-16 is that the husband is the head of the wife.
Thus, 1 Corinthians 11:7 is another reason for the husband’s position of leadership and the wife’s responsibility to honor him and respectfully follow his leadership (Ephesians 5:33). While the Holy Spirit does not argue for her right in the decision making process, or joint decision-making, 1 Peter 3:7 strongly suggests that he should include her in the discussion over decisions and strongly be influenced by her viewpoint.
Thus the teaching of 1 Corinthians 11:7 is that husbands are the image and glory of God because they reflect God’s superiority in the creation and possess His delegated authority. Likewise, the wife is the glory of her husband because she is his equal in his “world,” and she has authority, his authority. The assumption is that he longs to please and submit to the Lord, and does and she longs to please and submit to her husband and does. Proverbs 12:4 is a great summary,
An excellent wife is the crown of her husband,
But she who shames him is like rottenness in his bones.
Proverbs 12:4 (NASB)
Also read Proverbs 31:10-25.
1. Danker and Bauer. Greek-Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature. University Chicago Press. 1979. p. 1029.
2. John Calvin. 1 Corinthians. Calvin’s Commentaries. Baker Book House. 1996. Vol. XX. p. 357.
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