Skip to content

How to preach 1 Corinthians 11:2-16 well?

Yesterday I appeared alongside Dani Treweek in Dominic Steele’s The Pastor’s Heart. The topic: How to preach 1 Corinthians 11:2-16 well? This is a much-debated Bible passage that speaks about men, women and headship. The video and audio for the interview are available at The Pastor’s Heart site.

Here’s the description from Dominic Steele:

There’s a nervousness among reformed evangelical complementarians about preaching any of the New Testament gender passages, but particularly 1 Corinthians 11:2-16, where the issue of head is discussed.

This passage is much debated in theological literature, but it seems it isn’t taught much on in our churches.

More recently there have been reports of claims blaming the bible’s teaching on headship for incidents of domestic violence.  Of course we want to speak strongly against any form of DV.

But, should we avoid teaching on 1 Corinthians, or avoid chapter 11?  I don’t think that’s the answer.

I asked some of my minister friends for recommendations of good Sunday morning sermons on 1 Corinthians 11 that I could check out online (sermons that had handled the bible well and interacted well with our current cultural concerns).  There weren’t many responses.

So, I asked a couple of friends to come and help me with my sermon preparation.  I am hoping it might be useful to you as well.

Dr Lionel Windsor is a New Testament lecturer at Moore Theological College in Sydney.

Dani Treweek is the former former women’s pastor at St Matthias church in Sydney (www.matthias.org.au).  She is doing her PhD on Singleness. And is a significant force behind the Singleminded Conference later in the year.

For an extensive analysis of the evidence for a definition of “source” or “authority” see:

Grudem, Wayne, ‘The Meaning of Kephale (“Head”): A Response to Recent Studies’, Pages 425-468 in Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, ed. John Piper & Wayne Grudem (Illinois: Crossway Books, 2006).

Also, Wayne Grudem has posted on his website, what looks like lecture notes, or a paper for distribution to a class, giving further reflections on the meaning of the word kephale.

Moore College’s Priscilla and Aquila Centre’s resources section has an excellent library of resources on topics surrounding the ministry of women in partnership with men. It includes some helpful articles on 1 Corinthians 11.

I asked Lionel Windsor if he would kindly share his private flow diagram/personal notes on the passage.  Lionel didn’t prepare these for wider consumption, but graciously agreed.


Additional note. The issue of domestic violence has been raised in this week’s The Pastor’s Heart. If this has raised issues for you please speak to a friend, minister or pastor. Again let me be clear there is no place in passages like 1 Corinthians 11 for any violence or aggression in a marriage.

Audio and video available here (~40 minutes).

Published in1 Corinthians

Publications by Lionel Windsor:

  • Lift Your Eyes: Reflections on Ephesians

Recent blog posts

  • Cathedral CeilingChrist: Up there and down here (Ephesians 4:8–10)
    In these verses, Paul makes a big deal of Christ going up (to heaven) and down (to be with us by his Spirit). Why? to encourage believers as we face all the ups and downs of living for Christ.
  • Genesis 1:27 modified NIVMale and female: Equality and order in Genesis 1:27
    Genesis 1:27 is important in debates between egalitarians and complementarians. It clearly implies equality, yet also seems to suggest a certain order.
  • Gift among giftsGifted beyond measure (Ephesians 4:7)
    How should Christians think about our own individual ‘giftedness’? We need to see our own gifts in the light of God’s wonderful, superabundant grace.
  • Temple of Antoninus and Faustina, Roman ForumThe one and only God (Ephesians 4:4–6)
    In this part of Ephesians, the apostle Paul makes an unavoidably scandalous claim: The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ is the one and only God.
  • Finding praise in the right place (Romans 2:28–29)
    There is a very strong temptation to measure your ministry by looking at how much people are praising you. This passage teaches us where to look for praise.
  • This unity (Ephesians 4:2–3)
    In the classic film Monty Python and the Holy Grail, the King of Swamp Castle issues an appeal for unity: “This is supposed to be a happy occasion. Let’s not bicker and argue about who killed who!” It’s become a classic line used to poke fun at people who are trying to bring peace and unity without showing any understanding of the reality of the situation or the depth of hurt that’s been caused. While we might never end up being quite as absurd as Monty Python, Christians can sometimes talk about unity a little like this. That is, we can treat unity as some ideal state where everybody just gets on, no matter how deep our differences are and no matter what hurt has been caused. And yet—unity really matters. Christians are called to unity. Christian unity is anchored in the truth of the gospel.
  • Feet walking on cobblesThe truth on the ground (Ephesians 4:1)
    Our step by step living, in all the details of life, really matters for Christians. It’s not an optional extra; It’s intimately connected to our calling.
  • Elf on the Shelf Balloon. Photo by Kim on Flickr https://www.flickr.com/photos/thegirlsny/8208193899God: Beyond us—and with us (Ephesians 3:20–21)
    God is nothing like the Elf on the Shelf. God’s power is far beyond us. Yet God’s power is at work in us. So God’s glory is our joyful goal.
  • EducationWhen education is not the answer (Romans 2:17–27)
    When education is not the answer (Romans 2:17–27). Amongst all the pragmatics & demands & struggles of ministry, you first need to know the why of ministry. You need deep and strong theology, and to apply that theology to your life & ministry.
  • Colosseum with skyThis is huge (Ephesians 3:18–19)
    God’s plans for his world, and his love for us in Christ, are vast and awe-inspiring. They change everything. That’s why need prayer to grasp them.

On this site

All content copyright Lionel Windsor