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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

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