Headship –Vs- Lordship
A cornerstone of traditional role religionist theology is 1 Corinthians 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." In this passage, most expositors lay a faulty foundation for all other study based upon the verse by confusing headship with lordship. What is the meaning of headship? What is the difference between headship and lordship? Can any human can claim “headship” over anything?
In Matthew 21:42, Jesus says, “Did ye never read in the scriptures the stone which the builders rejected the same is become the head of the corner this is the Lord's doing and it is marvelous in our eyes? 1 Corinthians 11:3 and Matthew 21:42 are companion scriptures referring to the same thing, which is Christ in his role of “head.”
There is no end to arguments concerning what the Apostle meant by “head” in his letter to the Corinthians, but understanding what Jesus meant by “head of the corner,” in Matthew 21, is critical to understanding how Christ functions as “head” of the church. And until we gain a clear understanding of what is meant by Christ as the head, how can we begin to apply the meaning of 1 Corinthians 11:3 to our human relationships?
The Greek word, kephale, translated “head” in both Matthew and 1 Corinthians, is used throughout scripture with different meanings depending upon context. In one verse, it may refer to a portion of the human anatomy, the physical head. In another verse, it may carry a metaphorical connotation with the responsibility resting upon the reader to interpret the meaning according to context.
Some say the metaphor in 1 Corinthians refers to authority. Some say it does not. But Jesus settled the question when He quoted the Psalmist who wrote of the Messiah as being the head of the corner. Jesus accused the Jews of not understanding that He was that cornerstone. The Bible Jesus read (the Bible of the early Church) was the Septuagint, a Greek translation of the Hebrew scriptures, and the Old Testament prophecy He quoted called Him the head of the corner—the kephale of the corner. The Spirit of the Lord, speaking through the prophets, and through Jesus Himself, used a building metaphor, “corner,” in reference to the headship of Christ. No one doubts that Christ is kephale of the corner, but how many understand what the corner itself is? And what does it mean to be the kephale of the corner? The apostle understood this perfectly. It is the English reader who often does not.
When a building metaphor is used in reference to Messiah as being the kephale of the corner, it means that Christ is a primary corner in a building. The word corner means angle.
Most structures have angles, but there is only one structure that can lay claim to a primary angle (head of the corner). And within that structure there can be only one head of the corner. A primary angle is an angle which connects directly with every other angle within the structure. That means every angle within that structure must originate and flow from a single angle. This is a critical concept to grasp in understanding relationship roles between all members of the Body of Christ. The Church of Christ is built of living stones with Jesus Christ Himself being the primary angle, better known as the Chief Cornerstone.
There are angles (cornerstones) in modern buildings, but no modern building has a place for a primary angle—a chief cornerstone. Therefore, most modern Christians have no concept of what a chief cornerstone is. The ancient Egyptians, however, knew exactly what a chief cornerstone was. They were experts at building structures in which the foundation was built from the ground up to finally connect with the primary angle at the top.
A primary angle is a capstone, and there is only one structure that utilizes a capstone, and that is a pyramid. A pyramid is a foursquare structure whose many angles (corners, cornerstones) flow upward to finally connect in a direct, unbroken, line to only one stone which sports four corners that connect with the entire structure into a one-of-a-kind unity found in no other structure on earth. The only kind of stone which can function as a primary angle or chief cornerstone is a capstone.
In Christ’s building, the sequence is reversed. The foundation begins with the primary angle—the capstone—who is Christ himself, and is built from the top down with each successive stone in direct connection with Christ who is the life of the entire building which is His body.
Ordinary structures have angles on each level just as a pyramid does, but ordinary structures have no capstone that connects each angle with every other angle creating the unbroken unity of structure found only in the pyramid. With its capstone, the only stone on earth which can be referred to as a chief cornerstone, the pyramid stands alone and majestic within the world of masonry.
Jesus Christ is the Chief Cornerstone of the Church of the Living God. In Him we live and move and have our being. Like all buildings, the Church of Jesus Christ has many cornerstones, and the scriptures identify daughters as comprising the cornerstones which contribute to the building, nourishing, and edifying of the living stones which comprise God’s building. And like the pyramid, God’s building has only one primary angle, only one Head of the corner (capstone), and that is Jesus Christ Himself, the Chief Cornerstone.
The Headship of Christ is a direct reference to his function as the Head of the Corner. That function of the “head” is described clearly in Ephesians 4:15-16 which describes a human body using a building metaphor. In this passage the head is seen building and edifying the body. There is no mention of ruling: “But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.” Ephesians 5:29 tells us that Christ’s Headship also includes nourishing the Church.
Christ as the Head of the corner is the only connection between the rest of the building/Bride/Church and the Godhead. And although there are many angles (corner stones) within the Body of Christ, there is only one Head (kephale) of the Corner. That is why Jesus said, “I am the way the truth and the life, no man comes to the Father but by me.” There is no human mediator between individual believers and God Himself except the man (human), Christ Jesus.
Christ’s “Headship” consists of his mediatorship as well as his function of building (fitly joining together) and nourishing his Church. No other human but Jesus can stand as mediator between any other human and his or her God. It is Christ alone who sanctifies and presents His Bride to Himself without spot or wrinkle. No human husband has the power to present his human wife to Christ at the resurrection. Those who claim this is possible align themselves with the Sadducees who asked Christ who a woman would be married to in the resurrection when she had been married to seven different men on earth. Jesus rebuked them for knowing neither the scriptures nor the power of God. He explained to them that there would be no marriage relationship between anyone after the resurrection. Who are we going to believe, Jesus, or those who claim that husbands will present and account for the actions of wives at the Judgment Seat of Christ? Wives are women men are married to, and Christ said no one would be married in the resurrection.
Christ is both our Head and our Lord. That is possible because He is God, but his Headship is not synonymous with his Lordship. Christ’s Headship is a direct reference to His function as the Head of the Corner in regards to building, nourishing, and edifying His Church. His Lordship is a reference to the universally encompassing authority that has been surrendered to the man, Christ Jesus.
It is common to hear the word “headship” used in regards to the relationship between men and women and most especially between husbands and wives. But to use the term headship as a term denoting authority synonymously with lordship in regards to any human relationship is heresy and blasphemy. Every Christian has only one Lord and that is the Lord Christ, our Head, from whom the whole body originates and is fitly joined together and nourished. It is no accident that the Headship of Christ is used in conjunction with building and body metaphors, because His Headship has everything to do with adding to, nourishing, and edifying the living stones that comprise His Building.
Both the Headship and the Lordship of Christ entail authority—because he is Jehovah. And although his Headship and Lordship are not synonymous, they are intrinsically linked. Separating the two would be as difficult as separating the soul and the spirit, but there is no scriptural evidence that the Headship of Christ has to do with anything save the creation of, building, and nourishment of his Body—which is the Church.
The Headship of Christ in creation is an immutable fact. It is not something we choose to submit to or not. It just is. Concerning His Lordship, during this age of grace, this time of favor, this time of “acceptance…,” at this point in time, we are given a voluntary choice as to whether or not we will submit to the Lordship of Christ. That will change in the future when every knee will bow, by compulsion, to acknowledge His Lordship and His identity as the Almighty—Jehovah, but the acknowledgement of the Lordship of Christ at that time will not necessarily result in eternal life.
Both the Lordship and the Headship of Christ are immutable facts. There is no salvation apart from him. He is the source of all life. He is the resurrection and the life. Jesus did not come to show the way. He came because He is the way. It is a blasphemous usurpation for any human to claim personal headship or personal lordship over any other human. Christ Himself initiated the act of his Headship in both creation and salvation. In creating and building His Church, he both initiated and continues to participate in the process of His “Headship.”
Can any man aside from Christ claim initiation or active participation in any act of headship? The kephale of the woman is the man. This is a simple fact of existence. This is simply information about the prepositional sequence which led to the wounding of the first human male’s body in order to form the human female. The fact that the man is the head of the woman is an immutable fact of creation, not something that can or should be play-acted out. The man had nothing to do with forming the woman. He did not initiate the act, nor did he participate in it. He knew nothing of his counterpart until woman was introduced to him by their creator.
In addition to being an immutable fact of creation, the Headship of Christ is also an ongoing, active process of salvation in the building and nourishment of his Church. No human, therefore, can claim “headship.” The fact that men are called “the head” of women in no way confers a position of “headship” upon them. That position is reserved for Christ alone. Men who lay claim to headship are usurpers striving to replace Christ in the lives of women. They are men who would be God.
Man is the head of woman only in terms of the origins of the human race at creation—the prepositional sequence of creation—not in terms of authority or even nourishment. Woman was an immediate creation of God just as the man was, but instead of forming her from the dust of the earth, she was formed from a portion of Adam’s physical anatomy. The reason for that lies in fact that the creation of the first man and the first woman was a type of the creation of Christ and His Church. Just as Christ had to die and sleep in death in order for the Church, His Bride, to be formed, so God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam while his bride was formed. This was a type of Christ’s death. Just as Christ had to be wounded for our transgressions in order for His redeemed Church to come into being, the first man had to be wounded in order for his bride to be created (the obvious difference being that the man had no power to redeem the woman. Therefore, there is no ground for a literal parallel to be made between Christ and all husbands).
The type presented in Genesis also explains 1 Corinthians 11:9, “Neither was the man created for the woman; but the woman for the man.” This verse literally reads, “Neither was the man created because of the woman but the woman because of the man.” The word translated “for” is a simple preposition, and the literal translation is clear that the verse is speaking of time and direction—chronological flow—with no connotation of authority. If chronological order denoted authority, then mankind would be at the bottom of the earthly pecking order, because he was created last.
The woman was created because of the man for the simple fact that she was taken out of man. If the man had not already been created, God could not have caused a deep sleep to fall upon him, open up his side, and form the woman. She was not created for the man, in the possessive sense. She was created because of the man in the prepositional sense (denoting movement, time, or direction). The man was created before the woman. Therefore he could not have been created because of her. Time and direction rather than possession and authority are the focus of 1 Corinthians 3:9.
It is the same with 1 Corinthians 11:3, The man is the head of the woman, Christ is head of the man, and God is the head of Christ, only in terms of prepositional flow (movement, time, and direction), not in terms of any authority or submission structure within the Godhead or marriage relationship.
The reference to God as being the head of Christ is a prepositional reference to his incarnation as a man. It is a reference to the human Son of God. It is not a reference to Jesus as Jehovah or to any chain of command within the Godhead. Jehovah was always the redeemer, and the books of Psalms and Hebrews record the time He became the Son. All the fullness of the Godhead dwells physically in our Lord Jesus. As God, Jesus Christ does not need a God. He is God. But excepting the stain of Adam’s sin, God became human, exactly like us, in order to redeem us. And that has everything to do with his Headship in the creating, building, and nourishing of his Church.
Jesus Christ, Yahweh Elohiym, the Jehovah of the Old Testament, who is revealed in John 1:1 as, THE WORD, is the creator of all things. And he created both the man and the woman with his own hands. That was an act of headship. The man had no active participation in Christ’s acts of headship in either his creation or that of the woman. And man has no part in any subsequent acts of headship either. Mankind, both male and female, is a direct creation of God alone. The fact that God choose to bring the woman into being through the man does not make her an indirect, or secondary, creation of God. Jesus created her with his own hands as well as He did the man. Her source of origin is Christ—not man, and she is, in every way—not just in her “feminine” aspects—created wholly in the image of God just as man is. There is no scripture that substantiates the heretical teaching that males reflect only male aspects of image of God while females reflect only female aspects.
The creation of male, female and the marriage relationship are types of the creation of, and the mystical union between Christ and his Church. Christ’s redemption and the creation of his Church was not an afterthought in the mind of God, or an “Oops they messed up. What can I do to back-peddle and fix things?” Our redemption was part of the cosmic plan from before the foundation of the earth. Although each human-being, individually, is a type of the plural Godhead (one of the ways we are each created wholly in God’s image is that we are plural beings), the creation of the marriage relationship and the physical, mental, and emotional differences between the sexes has to do with the mystery of Christ and his Church, and has no bearing whatsoever on our being created in the image of God.
This is worth repeating, the “types” represented by the man and woman provided in the creation account foreshadow Christ’s redemption. They have nothing to do with how mankind is created in the image of God.
When God said, “It is not good that man should be alone,” he was giving us a type of the longing of Christ for his bride. We read of that, prophetically, in the Song of Solomon. As previously stated, the deep sleep Adam fell into during the creation of his bride was a type of Christ dying for our sins. The Church could never have come into being without His atoning death. Adam’s awakening out of sleep was a type of the resurrection of Christ. The fact that the bride was taken from Adam’s flesh is a type of the creation of the church through the suffering of Christ’s flesh during his crucifixion. The woman being presented to the man was a type of Christ presenting his bride to himself without spot or wrinkle. The human husband will not present his wife to Christ. She will not be his wife in the resurrection. The woman being bone of his bone and flesh of his flesh is a type of Christ not only giving His own physical life but of imparting a part of himself (His Holy Spirit) as the very basis of her formation. If a person does not possess the Spirit of Christ, that person is not a part of His Body—is not “bone of His bone and flesh of His flesh, and therefore does not possess eternal life.
The fact that the woman was created from the flesh of the man (that being a type of the creation of the Church through the suffering, death and resurrection of Christ), confers no authority upon men over women and gives man no legal claim to ownership of woman or primacy over her. This is a type of a unilaterally divine, and completely volunteer, cosmic love relationship, not a prescription for a bizarre, life-long, human role-play, which could only be shabby at best, between church-woman and her god-man.
The apostle connected the mystery of marriage with the “bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh” relationship between Christ and his Church. Humans simply cannot grasp or portray this mystical relationship in its fullness. Therefore, it is useless to attempt to flesh it out. It remains a mystical, completely voluntary on both sides, one flesh relationship which confers on no man a divine prescription of “headship/lordship over woman. That privilege is reserved for Christ alone. We have one master, even the Lord Christ, and all we are brethren.
Only the Headship of Jesus Christ could have brought mankind into existence at creation and then redeem the fallen race. If Christ is not our Head, not only would we not exist, but we could not continue existing. If Christ is not our Head; we can have no assurance of eternal life. If Christ is not our Head, we can have no access to the presence and power of God. No one but Christ can lay claim to Headship, certainly not puny men.
Jesus Christ, the Kephale of the Corner—of which there can be only one—builds his Church, one stone (soul) at a time. He adds cornerstones at each level—as He sees fit (He builds His Church. We do not), and the scriptures tell us that women will be cornerstones in His Church as well as men.
Saying that the man is the head of the woman is not the same as saying the man has “headship over” the woman. The first is correctly prepositional, the second heretically authoritative and possessive. Mankind has been given no authority that can remotely be referred to as “headship.” The 1 Corinthians reference to the man as the head of the woman is a direct reference to the manner and prepositional order of their creation which was a type of the great mystery of marriage having to do with Christ and his Church. It is not a reference to any authority/submission, “lordship,” structure between husbands and wives.
Concerning the chronological appearance of man, woman, and Messiah, the prepositional sequence of 1 Corinthians 11:3 is correct. And does the Bible say that any particular member of the Godhead is called the head of Christ? Isaiah tells us it was Jehovah who laid the Head of the Corner, and at no time in history has it ever been suggested that the name Jehovah applies only to “the Father.”
Therefore thus saith Adonay Jehovah Behold I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone a tried stone a precious corner stone a sure foundation he that believeth shall not make haste