A few questions should be considered. We know Eve was taken from Adam’s rib, but Andrea (my wife) did not come from Caleb, did she? Did the man originate from Christ? How did God create the first man in Genesis? Should the Greek words in verse 3 be translated husband/wife or as man/woman? Are their any good textual or grammatical reasons to interpret the words more specifically as husband/wife over the more general terms man/woman? (note the NAS and the ESV here). Most importantly, what does the word “head” (“kephale”) mean in this particular context? Complementarian scholars believe it means “Authority.” Egalitarian scholars believe it means “Source/Origin”
Let’s examine how Paul uses this same word (head) in a similar context. Here the word is also used figuratively. More specifically it’s used in the context of husbands and wives. Observe Ephesians 5:22-24, 22 Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body. 24 But as the church is subject to Christ, so also the wives ought to be to their husbands in everything. Women should submit to their husbands (their God-ordained authority figures), as the church submits herself to Christ.
Let’s also observe the inspired words of Ephesians 1:20-23; 20 which He brought about in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead, and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, 21 far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age, but also in the one to come. 22 And He put all things in subjection under His feet, and gave Him as head over all things to the church, 23 which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all. Head (kephale) clearly means authority here. Jesus Christ is the leader of the Church. He is our glorious head. He has authority over the Church.
Before we move on let’s also check out a usage of this word in Colossians. Colossians 2:9-15, 9 For in Him all the fulness of Deity dwells in bodily form, 10 and in Him you have been made complete, and He is the head over all rule and authority; 11 and in Him you were also circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, in the removal of the body of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ; 12 having been buried with Him in baptism, in which you were also raised up with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead. 13 And when you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions, 14 having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us and which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross. 15 When He had disarmed the rulers and authorities, He made a public display of them, having triumphed over them through Him. The concept of Jesus’ authority and supremacy is clearly declared in this wonderful text.
The word “head” in I Corinthians 11:3 clearly implies “authority”. Let’s read this verse using “authority” in place of “HEAD”. But I want you to understand that Christ is the authority of every man, and the man is the authority of a woman, and God is the authority of Christ. (Note: A few of the good modern day English translations use husband and wife instead of man and woman).
Some of you lay theologians may object to this understanding: “I thought the members of the Trinity (Father, Son & Spirit) are totally equal in essence, nature, personhood, and being? Isn’t that true? If I answer ‘no’ here I would rightly be labeled a heretic. Why? Because the Bible clearly teaches us that the Father is God very God, the Son is God very God, and the Holy Spirit is God very God. I love to sing the following Christian song lyrics, “Praise the Father, praise the Son, praise the Spirit, three in one!” The doctrine of the Trinity is central to biblical Christianity. The Bible also says that though perfectly equal in nature and being the members of the Trinity have different functions and roles! This understanding is absolutely crucial. If you miss this point you won’t understand the gospels or the Trinity or Biblical manhood and womanhood.There are no “ontological” differences between Father and Son but they do have different roles. That qualification in no way undermines their fully equality. The Nicene Creed was 100% correct here. Jesus is of the same substance as God the Father. There are three members that make up one Godhead. Three distinct persons but just one God.A distinct role does not logically imply inferiority! The Son submits to the Father in various Bible passages (just observe I Cor. 15:28, Jn 3:17, 14:28). The Father commands and sends and the Son obeys and comes. Dr. Bruce Ware has done some wonderful research that further proves this point if you want a more detailed study of this.
The subordination the Bible talks about deals with order and relation not being or essence. God is the head over Christ yet He is not essentially greater than Christ. Generally speaking Christian women are under male authority but they are not inferior to men. God gave women different gender defined roles that in no way undermine their full equality with men. The same is true in regards to the Trinity. Christian feminists and radical feminists miss God’s mark when they try to promote equal roles in the church and the home. If you don’t believe me study the Holy Trinity! Carefully follow Paul’s logic in I Corinthians 11:3. Do an in depth research project on the role of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit has willingly taken on a role in which He eternally exists in the backdrop. The Spirit lives to bring glory to the Son and He seeks to bring about the will of the Father. What an amazing example of Divine humility and submission for all of us to consider. (Examine Bruce Ware’s wonderful book “Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.”)
When kephale (head) is used figuratively (speaking of people or relationships) it always conveys the idea of authority. Dr. Grundem adds this helpful comment, “Therefore there is no linguistic basis for proposing that the New Testament texts speak of Chirst as the head of the church or the husband as the head of the wife can be read apart from the attribution of authority to the one designated as ‘head.’” [For a more detailed article that supports this claim check out “Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood” Appendix 1, pp 425-468]
The holy Trinity proves that men and women can be totally equal yet they can also have different functions and roles that are gender defined by Divine design.