Let Her Hair Grow: Part One

I do not believe a woman should be concerned with cutting her hair unless it is an absolute dire need. Even then some women will not cut their hair. A lady recently told me, of Baptist persuasion, that when lice was very bad in her younger years, while attending public school, her father would still not cut her hair. I was actually not amazed that this type of principle or understanding was held apart from a Pentecostal voice. Nor am I suggesting it is amazing, indeed for a woman to let her hair grow is natural and does include the idea of not cutting. It is necessary however that we defend this point. This post will take for granted that you have read Paul's discourse in 1 Corinthians 11:1-16 and are familiar with its contents.
In vs. 5 "uncovered" is Grk. akatakaluptos and it is an adjective. Katakaluptos means covered completely. Akatakaluptos means not completely covered. Scholars have traditionally noted an ellipsis in this portion of the passage. In other words the passage falls short of mentioning any kind of garment, or even a certain subject. I believe the ellipsis, or subject introduced in later verses is filled by hair. Hair being the subject not mentioned prior. The New Interpreters Study Bible (pg. 2051) notes:
It is unclear exactly what Paul had in mind; scholars suggest something shawl-like, long hair, or even a demure hairstyle.
The understanding that a material headdress is not being discussed here is not new. Scholars like W. J. Martin, L. B. Hurley, Alan Padgett, and most recently Richard Horsley support this view that long hair is the issue. Instead of citing them I will simply post an alternate rendering (vss. 4-7) offered in the margin notes of the NIV translation.
Or Every man who prays or prophesies with long hair dishonors his head. And every woman who prays or prophesies with no covering of hair on her head dishonors her head—she is just like one of the “shorn women.” If a woman has no covering, let her be for now with short hair, but since it is a disgrace for a woman to have her hair shorn or shaved, she should grow it again. A man ought not to have long hair The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984 (electronic ed.). Grand Rapids: Zondervan.
This should be evidence that this position has merit. C.A. Thiselton, a contributor to the, New International Greek Commentary on First Corinthians, concedes this and says the case for this argument is "strong"(See NOTES). Native Greek and NT Scholar, Dr. Spiros Zodhiates, also supports the view that veil wearing may have been temporary due to female new converts from the temples.
I think what we should truly come away from this text believing is that a woman's long/let to grow hair given to her, by God, is a covering to distinguish His own creation (gender differentiation). Indeed a woman's hair was given her before the art of clothing. These are profound facts for us to consider, as to not allow the profundity to be lost. As a point of gender distinction her hair it is to clearly be long, as in the sense of being distinguished from the man, who's hair should be short. Long as in length is not pertinent in some sense, yet it is still part of Paul's actual comparison in his argument that invoked nature (vss. 14-15, eg. long and short).
A woman was created for the sake of the man (yet still interdependent/interconnected, see vs. 12), and she should have a covering, which is an emblem or symbol of authority (vs. 10). Symbolizing that she is indeed in harmony with the Divine Order just mentioned by Paul (11:3-9). It is her glory, because the angels, who are onlookers ( vs. 10), are shocked by conduct outside of God's will (See NOTES). It is her glory, given her by God. It should have considerable care and attention as one of the chief characteristics that sets her apart in God's creation.
I believe a woman should not cut her hair. I believe that is indeed part of what the Scripture is intending to tell us (See 1 Corinthians 11:1ff). Let your hair grow. Have long hair, or much hair as it can also be implied from the text. As we all realize the length is in some sense not the main thrust, yet in some sense it is indeed close by. However, for the man a certain modification or moderation is yet seen by the contrast meaning of "covering" which involves the hair of a woman hanging down. A man's hair is a perfect contrast since it was not to be long like a womans, hanging down the head. That is Paul's contrast generally. That in itself is an obvious reference to "much hair" as that is what naturally distinguishes the genders. (See NOTES)
Paul attempted to appeal to humanity's sense of propriety (vs. 14), and at the least has told us that the issue is simple enough to be settled among themselves (vs. 13 "judge among yourselves"). Differing cultures have had differing concepts but most men, whether eastern or western, wear their hair short in contrast to the women. At the time of Paul's letter short hair was common on men. Men did wear long hair but they were exceptions mostly, at the time and at the very least location.
I beleive Paul is taking a step further and saying that it is natural for a man to have short hair and a woman to have long hair. Long hair is the meaning of the text, "uncut" is the implicit force of this meaning. That is why in some languages, when the implicit force will be lost, a much more direct meaning must be translated. Textual scholars agree that if a language loses the implicit force of this text (See NOTES) it must be translated more explicitly so that the implicit meaning is not lost. In other words, we cannot leave out the implied meaning of Paul's statements that a woman is to have "long" hair and does imply a sense of "uncut".
I am saying that we, as Pentecostals, should not divorce the meaning "uncut" from what Paul is saying because of outside influence. Some have ceased to teach this doctrine in relation to believers sanctification or holiness. I believe it appropriate to take his meaning of "long hair" and point out that it can rightly imply "uncut". If not then why do translators maintain we keep the implicit force?


1. Thiselton, A. C. (2000). The First Epistle to the Corinthians : A commentary on the Greek text (824). Grand Rapids, Mich.: W.B. Eerdmans.

2. W. Harold Mare, "1 Corinthians," in The NIV Study Bible, ed. Kenneth Barker (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Bible Publishers, 1985), 1748.

3. Women in certain cultures do not grow what can relatively be called long hair. When we look at a woman and see her hair to her waist or mid back we might suggest that is indeed long. That is not all that we should take from this text. The hair should essentially be "let" to grow.

4. “Long hair” translates a verb meaning "to wear long hair," "to let one's hair grow long." In some languages the translation must be "to have much hair."

The UBS Handbook Series
. Copyright (c) 1961-1997, by United Bible Societies

5. To wear long hair as part of one's attire - 'to have long hair, to appear with long hair, to wear long hair.' gunh\ de\ e)a\n koma=| do/ca au)th=| e)stin 'if a women wears long hair, it is a pride for her' 1 Co 11:15. In a number of languages it may be necessary to translate koma/w as 'to let one's hair grow long' or 'not to cut one's hair.'

Louw and Nida, Greek-English Lexicon Based on Semantic Domain. Copyright (c) 1988 United Bible Societies, New York. Used by permission.

6. Some tend to marginalize the Pauline epistles. It should be readily known however that 1 Corinthians is one of the earliest manuscripts from the New Testament Scriptures that Christendom currently enjoys. It is dated to be a copy from around 50 AD. This date actually predates the Gospels themselves and comes around 20-25 years after the death of Christ. The actual writing of 1 Corinthians could possibly be a couple years after the death, burial, resurrection and ascension of Jesus Christ. A profound testimony to the truths found in this book of sacred Scripture, deity of Christ, resurrection, etc.

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