In this chapter we want to examine three objections which are sometimes voiced. The first two are given in order to question the conclusion that the instructions of Paul are for all Christians for all time, and the third objection is an attempt to weaken the position that the head covering is for women today by showing problems of application between brethren.
1. Found only once in scripture
This instruction is not found anywhere else in the Bible. However, that alone does not lessen its power to be authority for all. There are many instructions which are found only once. Two examples: Matt 5:32 tells us two things not repeated elsewhere—that the man who puts away his wife for a cause other than fornication causes her to commit fornication, and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery. (The latter clause is found in late manuscripts and included as Matt 19:9b, but it is not included in the NASB.) Matt 18:15-17 gives instructions concerning church discipline.
The Lord does not have to tell us twice. Whatever His Holy Spirit gives to us is true, whether it is repeated or not.
2. Written only to Corinth
There are many instructions found in books written to individual churches, instructions which we understand are for all Christians. Paul wrote: “Therefore I exhort you, be imitators of me. For this reason I have sent to you Timothy, who is my beloved and faithful child in the Lord, and he will remind you of my ways which are in Christ, just as I teach everywhere in every church.” 1 Cor 4:16-17. The particular teachings which are given in any one letter will be governed by the need of that church, but the teachings are universal in application. Paul taught the same everywhere in every church.
3. Those who contend that women cover their heads in worship
are divided on what kind of covering and when it must be worn.
This is sadly true, but the same can be said of other subjects. Brethren who believe the church must eat the Lord’s supper each first day of the week are divided as to how many drinking vessels may be used and whether the church which serves the Lord’s supper in the morning may serve it to others on Sunday night. But this does not take away from the clear teaching that brethren must assemble to eat the Lord’s supper each first day of the week.
When there is disagreement, we need to keep studying and attempting to carry out God’s instructions in the spirit they have been given. Whether a hat will suffice as a covering, or whether the covering must hang down needs to be discussed. But disagreement on that topic does not mean that women do not need to be covered when praying or prophesying.