Because Christianity is bigger than Biblical manhood or Biblical womanhood (Blog of Retha Faurie)

A Chinese and a Western representative of a large motor company was talking. At first, they disagreed. But there came a point where the European said: “We are thinking along parallel lines now!” The Asian agreed. A few sentences further, the Chinese said something that the Westerner completely disagreed with all along. The latter exploded: “I thought you agreed that we were thinking along parallel lines!” “Yes,” replied the Chinese. “Parallel lines mean we will never meet.”

The moral of the story? A figure of speech does not always mean the same thing in different cultures. If we read of Jesus being the head in the Bible, we must know what head means in their figure of speech. Many Greek scholars claim the meaning is “source”, not “leader”. It matters, because we should understand what the Bible wants to say about Christ. But does it really matter, since Christ is the ruler whether the Christ-is-the-head verses say it or not? Yes, because there is another reason why it matters.

That reason is Ephesians 5:23 and 1 Corinthians 11:3. Our understanding of headship colours our view of what a marriage should be.

Eph 5:23 For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, being himself the Saviour of the body.

1 Cor 11:3 But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God.

There are, in the ASV, 12 bible verses which refer to Christ as the head. Do these refer to Christ as the authority figure, or as the source, or what does it mean?

Head of the corner:

[1-5 of the 12 verses] In 5 of the 12 cases where Jesus is called the head, he is called the head of the corner. (Mat 21:42 , Mar 12:10, Luk 20:17 Act 4:11 1Pe 2:7) Being head of the corner is not a ruling position, but a position of upholding other stones.

Verses in which head more likely mean source than ruler:

[6] He is the head of the body, the beginning, the firstborn from the dead in Col 1:18
[7] Col 2:19 and not holding fast the Head, from whom all the body, being supplied and knit together through the joints and bands, increasing with the increase of God.

Jesus is the beginning and firstborn, which closely relates to being the source. He is the one from whom the body is being supplied.

Direct context is arguably against the ruler interpretation:

(These 2 verses matter a lot, because these are two that claim the man is the head of the woman)

[8] Eph 5:23 For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, being himself the Saviour of the body.

Eph 5:24 But as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives also be to their husbands in everything.

Head is connected to being subject here, which leads to thinking it is about Christ’s rule. But a clue to the opposite is this: The husband does not rule the wife as Christ rules the church. Any time the church don’t submit to Christ’s rule, it is sinning. But if you think a wife is beneath the husband’s rule that way, you have to say a wife who disobeys her husband’s rule when he tells her to do wrong (for example, telling her to sleep with another man for money) is the sinner, and the one who follows her man’s rule is following the Bible. Therefore, inserting “ruler” instead of head in verse 23 doesn’t work.

[9] He is the head of every man according to 1Co 11:3. I see no verses close by that describes Christ either as a source from which every man originates/ source which supplies the needs of every man; or as a ruler over every man. There is, however, a simple argument against Christ being the ruler of every man: The majority of men on the planet are not Christians, or Christians in name only. Does Christ rule the Hindu priest? Did Christ rule Joseph Stalin? It would seem that this verse does not use “head” to mean “ruler.”

Direct context describes both source and ruler:

[10] Eph 1:21 far above all rule, and authority, and power, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come:

Eph 1:22 and he put all things in subjection under his feet, and gave him to be head over all things to the church,

Eph 1:23 which is his body, the fullness of him that filleth all in all.

:22 calls Christ the head. :21 describe Him as above all principality and power. (ruler). Verse 23 calls Him the One that filleth all in all (source as in provider). Is the headship thought most closely related to verse 23, or verse 21?  

Verses where direct context describe neither source nor ruler, as far as I see, and where nothing I see speak against the ruler interpretation:

[11] He is the head from which the body is fitly joined together in Eph 4:15-16 Does a body fit together from a source? Does it fit together from a leader? You decide.

[12] Col 2:10 and in him ye are made full, who is the head of all principality and power:

God is the source of all principality (he made everything) and power (power comes from Him.) He is also the ruler to which they are subject. (Many powers and principalities may not submit to Him now, but they will.) I can see no reason in this verse to favour one interpretation above the other.


Of 12 verses in which Christ is called the head, 5 describe him as the head of the corner. That does not carry the connection of ruling, but supporting everyone else. In two more, “source” is seemingly the right word in the immediate context. In two more the context does not indicate the meaning, but common sense is against the “ruler” meaning. In the other 3, source and ruler is seemingly both fitting in the context. Those who take head to mean ruler is following their own interpretation, not the direct teaching of the Bible. Of course, Jesus rules. But when the Bible calls him the head, the Bible is probably not referring to that.

Comments on: "If Christ is the head, what is He?" (2)

  1. It is interesting you want to think that the chief cornerstone is not the one which determines how things go (which is what a leader does). The church is built upon the foundation of the prophets and apostles and chief cornerstone – without which there would be no building (Eph 2:19-22). They are the source, but as such they are also the leaders, with Christ being the ultimate in both. Christ is our model and we should seek to be like Him. Leaders should lead sacrificially, but make no mistake, scripture is clear time and again that woman is not to have authority over men (in context this speaks of marriage and church). Feel free to ignore the decree made by God in the garden of Eden (Genesis 3:16) at your own peril – but teaching that woman can/should have authority over men is error.


  2. A chief cornerstone is not the one which determines how things go. A builder determines how things go.

    And your argument is a red herring: Even if Christ and after him the apostles are both sources and leaders – if men are not told to lead, but to be the source as Christ is the source/ the Savior, then it has no bearing on leadership.

    Feel free to add burdens to scripture which is not part of Christ’s freedom for the oppressed, His message, at your own peril.


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