Monday, March 16, 2009


Warning...heavy reading. Not for children
or for those who have to read children's stories. It is
for those willing to put away childish things.

For a moment anyway. :)

Does 1 Cor. 11:3 actually say and mean that Christ is eternally subordinate to God the Father because that's what "head" means? Is the Son's will to be obedient to the Father's will in eternity to come? Is the Eternal Father over the Eternal Son in eternity future in terms of authority? Some say yes, yes, and yes.

I'm not so sure. I believe to be textually true and correct about this verse you would have to see what the meaning of the word 'head' really is and that is a difficult thing to do. "Kephale" [head] in 1 Cor. 11:3 has, I believe, the sense of referring to the origins or source of something and isn't referring to authority at all. If I'm correct, then it does NOT say what our present culture might think at first glance.

You see there are some perfectly good words in Greek [kuriotes, exousia, epitage] for authority but 'kephale' isn't one of them. I've examined every verse where Paul is speaking of "authority" or "rule" and a word other than 'kephale' is used. Add to that the Middle Eastern thought in the biblical culture of putting someone under your FEET as being a symbol of being above another in value or position [Still present in the Middle East as shown by the shoe thrown at Bush on his the Middle Eastern trip.] and you would have good reasons for believing the idea of "head" does NOT mean authority here or other places in scripture.

In fact, the 'head' in Greek culture was often times thought to be the souce of life. Just as the loins were thought of as the seat of emotions and the heart was the center or essence of being. So what we have in this verse is a word used that might make perfect sense to those of us living in the American culture who think of it as meaning "boss,"but it might not be the sense of that day at all.

This is NOT to say that in the incarnation moment there was not a submission of Jesus to the express will of the Father. He was. But always remember even then the word used is a Greek word "Hupo tasso" meaning one of equal value and voice choosing [middle voice] to serve another. That was, after all, the express PURPOSE of the incarnation [to live with perfect obedience as man] which culminated in the Cross where He became our substitute as the sinless Lamb of God.

That idea of submission is not the natural flow of this passage at all. Source is the natural flow. And, by the way, do you realize that no where in scripture is a husband told to lead his wife? [He is told to serve her.] The words lead, leader, servant-leader, spiritual leader are not there at all. Paul doesn't use them. Peter doesn't use them. And most of all Jesus never does. These words are only DERIVED logically from the word "head" used here and in Eph 5 meaning what our culture means by it. So if Paul had a different idea he wished to convey to that culture, we will really miss it thinking of "head" the way we do in our culture.

So back to our word "kephale." My favorite illustration of the natural meaning of this word to that culture is, as many of you who have heard me teach know, that of a river. When we speak of the 'head' waters of a river, we mean its "source" with no idea of authority at all bearing in mind what they thought "head" meant. That's the intention of Paul here I believe.

So what is being said is that we have God's only begotten Son coming from God who is the "source" referring to the incarnation. This verse was never intended to be a statement of his ]Jesus] ontological [nature] or functional [role] subordination to God the Father in either eternity past OR future. It was only speaking incarnationally as the Son takes on a human nature in which He ASSUMES a subordinate relationship to God the Father. So 1 Cor. 11:3 is referring to God [ The Father] who is the SOURCE of Jesus coming incarnately to accomplish His purpose and not the One who is 'BOSS' over Jesus pre-incarnation or post-incarnation.

Phil. 2.5-11 helps clarify this when it shows that the pre-existent Son of God had the condition and status of being equal to God. This means Jesus WAS God in pre-time eternity one in nature or essence or being with the Father who is God and the Spirit who is God. One God----not three gods with three wills or three minds but One God with one will or mind---- who is expressed in three unique persons. Relationally, I suppose you could say, as did Erick Sauer... "Father-is the Lover, Son-is the Beloved, Spirit-is the Spirit of love" because God IS love.

But God the Son CHOSE to not abide in that condition of equality, but rather humbled himself [REMEMBER..involving a choice, not an inherent condition or state of the divine Son] and took upon Himself human nature with a human body. This, while never less than God in His nature. He, thus, became the unique God-man and while living as man was submitted to God the Father as the Second Man or Last Adam.

Now the rest of the verse makes sense as this whole idea of 'kephale' in 1 Cor. 11:3 continues to substantiate the 'source' of the woman being the man and Christ being the 'source' of the man?

The man as"head" [Kephale-source] of the woman can certainly be seen by going back to the Genesis story in which the woman is literally brought out of man. [The rib thing.] But someone might ask "how does the 'man' have his source in Christ?" I'm glad you asked. I read one person who said it well when he said there are perhaps two possible answers to this. One is when we remember that Paul stated that Christ pre-existed and was involved in the creation of the first human-kind [Adam] in the beginning. Col. 1.16 is quite clear about that as is John 1.

But also, we should remember that Paul is the one who articulated the Adam Christology as it applied to Jesus and that he said in a biblical reality Jesus is to be seen as comparable to the historical Adam and who, as such, is the founder/source of a whole new kind of human beings [redeemed] made up of all those who are in Christ, both men and also women out of every nation, tribe, and race on earth. [Whew, long sentence read it again.]

Which one of these is correct? I lean toward the first but maybe both are true. Either one would cause the words in 1 Cor. 11:3 to make good sense. Verse 12 seems to pronounce a benediction on the source idea as well.

So I don't see how 1 Cor. 11.3 can be used as a proof at all for the idea that Christ is eternally subordinate to the Father. I don't see it as providing any proof for the idea that men are perpetually in authority over women either. That's not what kephale means in this verse from my understanding. I have the same view of the language when interpreting Eph. 5 as well.

My conclusion then, is that in eternity there are not three gods with three different wills and minds but one God Who has one will and mind expressed in three persons of equal nature or essence. The incarnation had a different purpose to be sure. Beyond this I have little understanding of the Trinity which is FAR beyond understanding with our finite minds anyway. So much more could be said but I had promised to give my two-cents and I wanted to do just that.

Excellent comments on the previous post on this subject. Comment away on this one if you would like.

Paul B.


Aussie John said...


"Amen" to that! No! "AMEN! to that. "All I can say is that you and I must read the same Bible :)

Paul Burleson said...

Aussie John,

Would you PLEASE set your alarm notification and ALWAYS be the first to comment on my posts? :)

Anonymous said...

Paul, your posts are as good as hearing you speak. I learned so much from this post and will be using it as a reference frequently. I did not know the many words for head. But, in my finite understanding of the Trinity, your conclusion has always been mine.

Eternal Subordination lessens Christ in my opinion, although I'm sure that isn't the intention, it's the result of this doctrine, the purpose being to show why women should be subordinate. If Egalitarians would try and lessen Christ I couldn't buy that either.

Ramesh said...


I did fully understand your post and it makes good sense. I do enjoy reading children's books too. :-)

Strider said...

As a cross-cultural worker I completely endorse your exegesis and your reasoning of this passage and this issue. Thanks Paul!

Kathy said...

Okay Paul, I get to point out a disagreement! I'm good at that!

In 11:3 It says 'God' is the head of Christ (Messiah). You've taken 'God' to mean the Father. I'm not so sure that is the case. I've taken it to mean the Godhead. The HS and the Father were both involved in the conception of Jesus. And since God is one, there is only one will and that will had to also be Christ's from eternity past. So somehow though I couldn't put it in words, all of God is the kephale of Christ. What I'm saying is that somehow the other persons of the eternal Trinity, I don't think can be excluded from being the source of our Savior, Christ. Make sense?

Okay, that's all! Peace.

Paul Burleson said...


Thanks for stopping by. I REALLY appreciate your commitment to truth. I've read one who seemed to say you are a "lacky" for whatever your pastor believes. Boy did he evidence his lack of grace AND knowledge of who you really are. Again, thanks for your love of Truth.

Thy Peace,

I'm enjoying your comments and research on several blogs. Keep it up.


Thanks again for your ministry.


Oops, I think you are correct about that particular verse AND the fact that the Godhead is involved in all the workings of redemption including the incarnation. My bad.

I think in my zeal to evidence the uniqueness of the incarnation moment and that there is no heirarchy in eternity I let other references to the Father being linked to Jesus cloud my dealing with this particular verse. Your comment is further evidence by the John 13 passage where it is said..."Jesus, knowing He had come from God and was to return to God..." Even the famous John 3:16 says for God so loved...He gave.." [Though I do think the idea of the Father may be implied here.]

There are good verses that show Jesus submitted to His Father but not 1 Corinthians 11:3. It is being used to try to show His eternal submission which does not as I've tried to show. But the Father isn't specifically mentioned either.

Good words. Thanks. said...


It would seem to me that the two natures of Christ, God and man, is the best way to understand the "submission" of Christ to God the Father. Jesus died as "our kinsman redeemer." In other words, Jesus died as the perfect Man he was. God cannot die.

When the Bible speaks of the submission of God the Son to the will of the Father, I think you will see each and every text is referring to the obedience of Christ the Man in fulfilling His role of redemption, even unto the obedience of death. This Man nature of Christ, though perfect, is inherently inferior to the nature of God.

But the nature of God transcends, is superior to, and has infinite authority over the nature of man. Jesus Christ has BOTH natures. Thus, it the nature of man in God the Son that is submitting to the will of God the Father.

Jesus, the Son of God, and nobody else, has these two natures. As the old evangelcial confessions state, "Jesus Christ is perfect in Godhead and also perfect in Manhood, truly God and truly man . . . to be acknwoledged in two natures, inconfusedly, unchangeably, indivisibly, inseparably, the distinction of natures being by no means taken away by the union, but rather the property of each nature being preserved, and concurring in one Person.

So, yes, you are precisely accurate when you speak of the submission of the human nature of Christ to the will of Deity. Jesus suffered as a Man. He prayed "Not my will but thine be done" as a Man. He died as a Man. He submitted as a Man.

The problem of speaking of "the eternal subordination of the Son" is two-fold. (1). First, it smacks of the error of continuing redemption, the mistake our Roman Catholic friends make when they leave Jesus on the cross. The work is finished. The Man has been exalted to His rightful place as King of Kings, Lord of Lords - the God of the Universe. (2). To base a woman's submission to man on the submission of Christ to the Father requires a belief that the woman's natures is similar to the lowly human nature of Christ, and the male's nature is similar in authority to that of the Divine nature. That is precisely OPPOSITE of what Scripture teaches. There is no "heirarchy" of authority between males and females.

In terms of "authority" in the New Covenant, we are all equal. There is neither Jew nor Greek, male nor famele, bond or free. We are to "serve" one another.

So, in summation, when one is reading texts of Scripture in regards to the nature of Christ, one must realize that his Divine nature is equal to, and never 'subordinate' to God the Father - because Christ is God. But His human nature, necessary for our redemption (kinsman-redeemer) was always subordinate to the Divine Nature (i.e. "God).

In my opinion, much error can be avoided when understanding the uniqueness of the two natures of Christ.

In His Grace,


Anonymous said...

Thank you for this wonderful post. I will subscribe to your blog from now on, just as I subscribe to Wade's blog. =)

Chinatown, NYC

Paul Burleson said...


Well said and I totally agree. [No surprise there is there...:)]

It is often forgotten that it was living in the authority/power of His divine nature that Jesus chose to not grasp or hold on in the incarnation. So that ALL he did in those thirty-three years was done as man submitted to God. The PERFECT one to be our substitute on the cross.

What He experienced when he returned to His previous glory was living in that same authority/power as God He had laid aside for the incarnation moment. [No hierarchy there.]

What Grace.



Anonymous said...


Are you eternally subordinate to the Father?

Are you a Son of God?

Is Christ the Son of God?

Are you and Christ Co-Heirs?

Since I'm a biological child and my siblings are adopted does that make me them subordinate and me not?

Donald D

Paul Burleson said...


With respect, your human logic is wonderful but two things...One, you and I are NOT God and never will be so there is an element there that logic can't deduce.

Two, I'm willing to rest in the scriptural words that say that "Eye hath not seen nor ear heard, neither has it entered into the heart of man what has been pepared for ......."

So our humanity will NEVER fit into the eternal without some drastic changes that our humanity cannot define or reflect and human logic will not solve. But, as I said, your logic is wonderful.

Thatks for stopping by.

Paul Burleson said...

Make that "thanks." :)

Anonymous said...

Thanks Paul.

That is exactly how I thought you would respond. I don't even agree with the logic I used :).

I made at least one false assumption. That is that because Christ and I share in some qualities we are therefore equal in all qualities. Definitely not true.

I am still trying to figure out this whole eternal subordination thing. (Just recently was exposed to it)

Even if it were true. I am not getting the connection between Women being eternally subordinate to men. I can see the comparison, but not the definite correlation. Could you shed some light on that for me?

Donald D

Paul Burleson said...

By the way Donald.... the rest of that verse says.."but His Spirit hath revealed them to us..." isn't refering to eternity since John said in his first epistle that.. "We are now the sons of God and it doeth not yet appear what we shall be but we know that when He shall appear we shall be like Him for we shall see Him as He really is..." and that should cause us to leave off the human logic altogether if we're wise. Scripture doesn't show us what will be so it is best to not make it an heirarchial eternal system just because it is in the present fallen human system.

But we're in good hands aren't we! And it isn't Allstate. :)

Anonymous said...

It is good to know that there are writers and thinkers out there that can do both in an academically astute way, as well as in faith. This is an excellent post.

I also am glad that you aren't of a mind to separate from those who don't agree with you. The Body needs men and women like you to use their gifts to edify. Kinda reminds me of something said to the church at Ephesus.

Very refreshing stuff indeed.

Paul Burleson said...


Thanks for the kind words. It's good to hear from you again. Let me know where your ministry is going at the present if you will. You've got my e-mail address.

WatchingHISstory said...


Amen! If Christ was eternally subordinate then there could not be a trinity but three gods in 'unity' or one God in three (two) modes.

If I am the head of my wife then why did I have to restack all the Christmas decorations in the attic tonite. I could have told her that was her job and I had more important things to do, like comment to Paul Burelson!

I just finished the restacking! My wife said I could go back to the computer.

Paul Burleson said...


If I were a betting baptist I'll bet you did it in the "middle voice" so to speak. Deep down you chose to because you're a serving kind of guy. :)

WatchingHISstory said...

thought all day on this post at work today.

Several weeks ago I was talking with a young relative on facebook and he suddenly ask me what was a Calvinist? I'm sure he must have heard his parents discuss my calvinism. His mother's father is a wesleyan pentecostal pastor and my Calvinism is taboo.

I told him that was someone who believes that God is sovereign in salvation. His reply was Jesus saved me and not God.

I replied back, "God was in Chrisr saving us." He replied, "Christ saved me, God gave him the permission to do it."

I'm sure this young man's understanding will improve over time, hopefully. Really a lot of people have this understanding. I witness by telling strangers five words, "Jessus is Lord and God!" I told several thousand strangers this over the last three years. Strangely some Christians look at me strange when I say Jesus is God!
One lady said "well yes he is Lord but I'm not sure about being God."

David on the other post said that if Christ was not subordinate then there was no trinity. All these people believe that Christ was the Word with God but do not comprehend the word being God.

If Christ is eternally subordinate to the Father he is with God but not God. As the JW say Christ is a created 'god'. A representative of God, Jehovah. That is unitarianism with Jehovah as almighty God.

David and my young relative along with many christians are heading toward a sentimental Christ, a sweet Jesus, a saving Jesus.

Monarchianism takes two forms of anti-trinitarianism, usuall based in the belief in the deity of Christ. If Christ is God then modalistic monarchian, Sabellianism evolves with the Father and Holy Spirit being modes of the Godhead. ie. TD Jakes If Christ is not God, divine then unitarianism evolves with an impersonal Father being God. ie. much of liberal theology and JWs

The danger that modern evangelicals will drift into unitarians is not likely but the danger that there is a drift toward a sabellian Christ is a possibility. The current trends of sentimental worship is heading toward that way and if there is not good theology introduced into our churches which in my opinion is not happening there will be a future generation of emergent sabellians in America in large numbers!

If you call Christ Lord you have to call him God! This discussion of subordination is a good subject. Christ is eternally equal with the Father. Each person of the trinity has a unique function not replicated by the other. Yet each is God fully.

Paul Burleson said...


A very thoughtful comment. Especially..."If you call Christ Lord you have to call him God! This discussion of subordination is a good subject. Christ is eternally equal with the Father. Each person of the trinity has a unique function not replicated by the other. Yet each is God fully."

I couldn''t agree more.

D.R. said...


I have no desire to debate the eternal subordination of Christ with you. However, your foundation for rejecting this: that "kephale" means "source" and not "authority over" has been roundly critiqued and rejected numerous times by many different scholars.

The most famous of these is Wayne Grudem. His articles even led to the correction and rejection of the meaning 'source' by the editor of the Liddell-Scott Greek Lexicon (see the article here)Below are the links to Grudem's articles on this:

1) Does Kephale (“Head”) Mean “Source” Or
“Authority Over” in Greek Literature?
A Survey of 2,336 Examples (1985 Trinity Journal)

2) The Meaning of Kephale ("Head"):
A Response to Recent Studies (in the Appendix to Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood - 1991)

3) The Meaning Of kefale (“Head”):
An Evaluation Of New Evidence, Real And Alleged (Journal of ETS - March 2001)

Paul, Grudem counters all of your points about kephale meaning source. In fact, the evidence is overwhelming.

On the idea of the 'source' of a river, know that Grudem shows that "kephale" is only used in referring to the mouth of a river in the singular (not the source, but the emptying point) and the "source" only when it is used in the plural ("sources" - which clearly doesn't make sense because there is only once source of a river - even the Greeks understood this). Thus Grudem shows that this meaning should be translated "ends" not "sources". And as I said earlier, the editor of the Liddell-Scott Lexicon agreed and changed the entry to reflect this.

Additonally, as for the only other time in all of history when kephale could have been used to mean "source" which is in the Orphic Fragments and refers to Zeus, Grudem carefully shows that this is not a solid translation either, with kephale more likely meaning "beginning" (not the same as 'source') and possibly even "ruler".

As to your contention that you've "examined every verse where Paul is speaking of "authority" or "rule" and a word other than 'kephale' is used", you have apparently limited yourself first to the NT and secondly only to passages where there is direct implication of ruler and not by means of metaphor (see the BAGD - more below - for metaphoric usages of kephale as "authority" in the NT).

Additionally, you have not dealt with clear examples that are found throughout Greek literature, especially those in the Septuagint, Paul's main source of OT quotations and the most widely read Greek document among the Jews and Early Christians.

First, we find 4 entries in Judges where kephale clearly means "authority over" (10:18, 11:8, 11:9, 11:11). Then in 2 Kings 22:44; Psalm 18:43; Isaiah 7:8-9, 9:14-16.

Finally, both the Liddell-Scott Classical Greek Lexicon, and the Bauer-Arndt-Gingrich-Danker (BAGD) Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament claim that the use of kepahle to mean "authority over" is not only legitimate, but used enough that the BAGD lists it as the 2nd most common usage ("fig.-a. in the case of living beings, to denote superior ranks"). They go on to list at least five non-NT usages in this regard.

In light of this stark evidence, I would say that if you are serious about knowing the meaning of this word, you cannot hold your view unless you can clearly show Grudem, the Liddell-Scott, and the BAGD to be wrong, and explain away the 49 examples from Greek (out of 2000+) Grudem surveys in the first paper listed in order to continue to hold your view, as well as the ones from the OT listed above.

So far, no egalitarian scholar has been able to explain away Grudem's analysis or give the lexicons legitimate evidence to warrent a change in their positions.

Paul Burleson said...


Thanks for stopping by. You're right. I do share the lack of desire you've expressed for no debate. I prefer discussing respectfully as you've done. Thank you for that also. I would only suggest you not assume if I had just read Grudem I would have a different position. :)

I did. Years ago. I've even read ALL the articles you've referenced multiple times. I use to hold to that position myself because of men like Grudem whom I appreciate greatly as a fellow believer.

That said..I could put up the research of people like Giles and Stackhouse and others who have also done good work and have come to a different conclusion.

For example one of the best research papers that presents the view I now hold to is an article found here... the Jon Zens web site.

Other researchers such as the Elders at Church of the Open Door in Minneapolis Minn. have done some great textual work also.

All this is to simply say that my personal conviction is when you have good people on both sides of an interpretive issue [non-salvation] it is best to hold lightly to whatever you've come to in your study. I'm doing that and am open to any light that God gives me. I'm sure you are too.

Let's just keep searching the SCRIPTURES and trust the Holy Spirit to give direction. I will teach as I see it with conviction but not as though everyone who disagrees is wrong. Just unenlightened at the moment. :) I'm sure you would agree. Thanks again for stopping by.

Paul Burleson said...


For reference sake I need to say that David Johnson is Senior teaching Elder at the Church of the Open Door in Minn. and David's Dad is a Southern baptist Pastor/Evangelist living in Florida. Great guys both.

Also the above removed comment is mine. I made a mistake in spelling that I couldn't get to for change and my pride wouldn't allow it to stand . [Smile]

Finally, one of the better blogs with reference to women in ministry and the Body of Christ in general go the one by Cheryl Schatz at... Be sure to check her archives. [She deals with such words as "Kephale" there also. Enjoy.

D.R. said...


I appreciate your response. I do have a problem, however. When you say, "I have read it the evidence" and "there are two sides" it leads me to ask, "on what basis did you make your final conclusion?"

To me, the evidence is stacked up on Grudem's side. So, how did you come to your conclusion based on that evidence? How do you deal with Grudem's 2000+ examples in light of the Biblical Equality claims that "no where" is kephale used in metaphorical sense as "authority over"?

And how do you square Grudem's evidence in the face of your claim, "the 'head' in Greek culture was thought to be the souce of life" and that "When we speak of the 'head' waters of a river, we mean its 'source' with no idea of authority at all bearing in mind what they thought 'head' meant. That's the intention of Paul here I believe"?

Grudem seems to show clear evidence that both of these statements are untrue. How do you explain the vast difference in your views and argue against Grudem's take?

Finally, how do you square your views with those of the Early Church Fathers, who used the Eph. 5 text in particular to teach that men had authority over their wives? Clearly they had a better command of Greek than we do, yet they viewed "head" as meaning "authority over". For instance, how do you explain your differing views from Chrysostem (Homily 26 on 1 Cor., Homily 5 on 1-2 Thess., Homilies 3, 6, 13, 15, 20) on these meanings?

Paul, my hope here is to show that there is overwhelming evidence for rejecting your view. As you know, much of Biblical interpretation comes down to examining two (or more) diverse (and sometimes opposing) views. The key in choosing is in looking at all the evidence, and like a jury would, decide based on where the evidence is most clear. Here, I think the evidence most clearly falls in the favor of Grudem. I would like to see you make a stab at articulating a case against him. And I hope you would do so, given that much of your argument rests on this particular word.

Paul Burleson said...


I could go to my favorite resources and put up things like...

"One can certainly find an abundance of sources that IMPUTE the meaning of “authority over” to the Greek word kephale. However, it would appear that they do this in the face of compelling evidence to the contrary. All the sources I could find used the passages containing the word kephale with their own definition of “authority” assumed and thus read into it to prove their definition. Some even went against the meaning of the word in context to give it the definition they desired. The following is an example: [One is given]

'The most common lexicon used by pastors and teachers of the Bible in our day is the koine Greek lexicon by Arndt and Gingrich, commonly known as Bauer’s. This lexicon is less than half the size of Liddell, Scott, Jones and McKenzie. The following is a basic condensation of the entry for kephale in Bauer:" [Many are given which show the legitimacy of my thinking.]

My point is I've stated I have no desire to debate and certainly have no desire to refute Grudem or you for that matter.

Add to that the fact that this is a post written to express how and why I hold the view I hold about a verse of scripture and why in context I see a word to mean something a little differently than some but am open to how and why others have come to a different view and you will see it is not a site for the scholarly response you've requested.

In fact, I would request YOU forget Grudem [He has not shown up to comment] for a moment and give a brief [which comments are intended to be] statement as to why you think differently about 1 Corthians 11:3 in context. That would be nice. I would certainly be open to hear you about what you think about this verse and word. [I now know what you think about Grudem. I like him too.] :)

D.R. said...


I am glad you brought up some quotes from Laurie Fasullo's article. Please allow me to deal with this article for a moment.

First, let me state the most of the evidence for her article is based on the 1940 edition of Liddell-Scott, which first and foremost is a Classical Greek lexicon, not one that deals with Koine.

Additionally, Fasullo either seems unaware or disinterested in the fact that the most recent edition of the Liddell-Scott Lexicon deletes the translation "d. In plural, source, origin of a river, but singular, mouth; generally, source, origin, starting point." Thus, much of her article is now on shaky ground, having been overruled by the very lexicon she holds up over the BAGD.

Her point regarding the L-S is now absolutely moot.

This criticism: "The most common lexicon used by pastors and teachers of the Bible in our day is the koine Greek lexicon by Arndt and Gingrich, commonly known as Bauer’s. This lexicon is less than half the size of Liddell, Scott, Jones and McKenzie" falls short since again, L-S is a Classical Greek Lexicon, and legitimately should be twice as long, given that there is much more classical Greek writings than there are New Testament writings, the BAGD's focus (in fact, it's title!). This is simply a thinly veiled ad hominem attack against the most well-respected Greek Lexicon in all of Biblical scholarship.

Furthermore, Fasullo implies that the one citation that the BAGD makes is all there is that shows kephale to mean "superior rank". Such is not the case, and yet she ignores the 49 other examples that Grudem cites. Here are a few examples:

Notice both Philo and Plutarch are contemporaries of Paul, writing around 40-50 A.D. Thus, their writings are probably, by far, the most important to this discussion.

Philo On Dreams 2.207: ‘“Head’ we interpret allegorically to mean the ruling part of the soul.”
Philo Moses 2.30: “As the head is the ruling place in the living body, so Ptolemy became
among kings.”
Philo Moses 2:82: “The mind is head and ruler of the sense-faculty in US.”
Plutarch Pelopidas 2.1.3: In an army, “the light-armed troops are like the hands, the
cavalry like the feet, the line of men-at-arms itself like chest and breastplate, and the general
is like the head.”
Plutarch Table Talk 7.7 (692.E.1): “We affectionately call a person ‘soul’ or ‘head’
from his ruling parts.” Here the metaphor of the head ruling the body is clear, as is the fact
that the head controls the body in Table Talk 3.1 (647.C): “For pure wine, when it attacks the
head and severs the body from the control of the mind, distresses a man.”

My question is "Why doesn't Fasullo show any of these examples, since surely if she has read Grudem, she is aware of these?" How would you deal with these, Paul?

Fasullo goes on to attempt to disprove the metaphorical examples of kepale in the Septuagint. She lists a few:

Judges 11:11 - NIV - "So Jephthah went with the elders of Gilead, and the people made him head and commander over them. And he repeated all his words before the LORD in Mizpah."

Both in the NIV and in 11 other reputable translations (see here), this word is translated "head" with clear meaning of "authority over". The Hebrew construction suggests that "head" is to be read as a synonym to "commander".

Yet Fasullo suggest one read it as "cap, crown". In the Liddell-Scott Lexicon entry she lists, the full entry on this metaphorical use is "Crown, completion, consummation." Now, if you insert this meaning into this passage, it makes absolutely no sense.

The same is true in Ps. 18:43 and in Isaiah 7:8-9. And in no translation is this sort of wording given. No legitimate Greek scholar agrees with her!

So, now, on the basis of no clear example of kephale meaning "source, origin" (she never cites even one clear example from Classical or Koine Greek), and without dealing with any positive examples that Grudem, or any other NT scholar gives for "authority over" she adopts the meaning of "source" and plugs it into her Pauline formula.

That, to me, is astounding. If you have no positive examples anywhere of kephale meaning "source, origin" and you haven't been even remotely convincing that one should read "cap, crown, completion" into the OT Septuagint passages, if you haven't dealt with clear examples of kephale meaning "authority over" from those living at the same time as Paul, and you don't deal with the Early Church Fathers and their clear teaching that they believed "head" to mean "authority over", then on what basis can you pronounce kephale to mean "source"?

In poker, she would have no more outs! She is drawing dead!

So, that's what is frustrating to me as a person who strongly desires to exegete correctly the Scriptures. If the evidence staring you in the face says that there is no basis for kephale meaning "source, origin" and there is evidence that kephale is indeed used for this meaning, then how can you choose to continue to teach (and base interpretation) on such faulty reasoning?

And Paul, I am not asking necessarily for a debate, just some attempt to reconcile the evidence. So far, the only thing you have provided was the link and a couple of quotes, which, as I've shown, not only has Grudem clearly dealt with, but now, so have I.

I honestly am trying to understand how you can hold to your view in the face of such mounting evidence against it.

Finally, as for forgetting Grudem, that's fine, but neither you or I can ignore the evidence he presents, can we? I would be glad to present a case for my view of 1 Cor. 11:3, but since this discussion is so absoultely foundational for your argument here, shouldn't you at least present a case, citing examples of the use of kephale to mean "source" in ancient Greek (koine and Classical) as well?

Again, Paul, I don't mean any disrespect and I appreciate your willingness to even engage me on this topic, but I find an intellectual disconnect between seeking to be faithful and truthful with the Word of God and that same vigor when it comes to the evidence presented, when your view of the Scriptures is so dependent upon it. As a young pastor and exegete, that is honestly frustrating for me. I hope you understand my need to address this faithfully, especially when so many of those I have benefited from (like Bruce Ware) have been treated in such an unChristlike manner by so many over at your son's site.

Aussie John said...


It took me far too long (many years) to change my view to that which agrees with you on this issue, and I was quite shocked when I realised that many who take the view I once held, did so for the wrong reasons, as I did.

As I read D.R.s comment I thought of the words of a student of Professor of New Testament and Greek,Dave Black, about whom Dave commented thus:

"Several of my students have graciously agreed to read over an essay I've written for publication. It's called "Exegesis and the Text Driven Sermon." I've been receiving some very helpful criticisms.
"One student wrote:
'The proper role of resources - you have helped me recognize the proper role of resources in exegesis and that we should not be dependent on the commentaries. I haven't done away with buying commentaries, but am now more likely to buy those that are more technical that will help me interpret the text rather than interpret it and preach it for me. I am also more likely to use those commentaries as a resource to which I can compare my own ideas rather than use them as a crutch. I felt like this was the one area that wasn't as explicit in your chapter, although you mentioned the importance of the preacher hearing before speaking (p. 1). I think the problem is that many preachers would completely agree with you, but in the back of their minds still think that reading MacArthur or Wiersbe is necessary if they're going to hear from the text.'

I have become very tired, over the years, of hearing the regurgitated opinions of "scholars" rather than the product of careful study of ones own.

D.R. said...


I wonder if you are suggesting that I have done little or no research on my own on this, as if that is some sort of thinly veiled ad hominem attack on me?

If you are, then first, I feel honestly insulted, and second you should know that I have spent countless hours looking up the references, researching the Church Fathers, and researching the Septuagint's usages of this word. I honestly don't know many others who have. I have read articles by Catherine Kroeger, Rebecca Groothius, the Michelson's, books by Kevin Giles and the other CBE writers, and even those egalitarians who have blogged on this.

What I haven't done is spend 1000 hours researching the word kephale. That's what Wayne Grudem has done. Hence, not using his research would be unconscionable. But that doesn't mean I am absolutely tied to it, nor that all I can do is regurgitate it. I can translate for myself and am fully capable of reading the Church Fathers in the original Greek. And more importantly, I feel I can assess arguments and make a decision based on my own conscience.

If this isn't what you meant by this post, perhaps explain to me what your intention is and certainly I will apologize for any misreading of it.

Anonymous said...

"especially when so many of those I have benefited from (like Bruce Ware) have been treated in such an unChristlike manner by so many over at your son's site."

Please permit me to use your previous statement as an example of my previous post. Lets assume Bruce Ware was treated unfairly as you suggest. This would be unjust suffering. But unjust suffering is our calling as Christians (1Pet 2:21). In the passages 1 Pet 2:18-25 we see that we are to respond the way Jesus did. He never did anything wrong so anything He suffered was unjust v.22. Verse 23 says He never retaliated. He had complete authority but He refused to use it. He did however commit the ones under His authority to His Father v.23. It is in this humbling of Himself, giving up His very body on the tree that we were healed by His stripes. It is this surrendering of whatever power He had at His own disposal that we returned to our Shepherd. v.24,25 I think this is the same way a husband is live with his wife. What would have been the consequence of His exercising whatever power He had at His disposal and letting them know who was Boss?

Anonymous said...

Sorry this is my 1st post. For some reason it did not get posted.

I am not capable of this level of debate certainly but I would like to say a word. Even if we assume that the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church. For me authority in Christianity is much different than authority in the military. In the kingdom authority means more responsibility to serve. A elder cannot rule by constraint. I don't think a husband can either. The husband is to love his wife, even as Christ loved the church, and gave Himself for it in the hope of making his wife more glorious and perfect. Authority for the Christian means giving up power and rule humbling ones self in service in the hope of making others better. In the case of Christ being head of the church where did He ever rule by constraint? He lavished us with grace, love and service in the hope that we would follow. And even when we don't He patiently waits displaying more grace in the hope that we will.

Paul Burleson said...

Aussie John,

As you would understand I'm sure, I have researched Grudem and others ad-nauseam and enjoyed it all while disagreeing with the linquistics to some degree.

But my purpose is to look at the language in context and as such I find, along with others, that of the seven times "kephale" is used in the NT figuratively the word makes more sense as originator or source as Liddel Scott and other lexicons say [even Bauer agrees on two of them] BECAUSE of the context.

My final conclusion is made about 1Cor 11:3 especially because of the fact that Jesus is NOT the head of all men [present tense] at the present. He is of the believers in the church at Corinth however. But He is if source is intended. I think it makes better sense. I'll go with that.

All this, especially after the study of my resources has found that "kephale" does not appear in the secular greek of the day with repects to those who try to say otherwise.


I find you to be able to hold your own in any discussion. Your statement about bearing unjust suffering is on target. I wonder if but just a of us in the American part of His Body know what it is to really suffer for Him anyway. Most of us bring down on our own head a lot of the reactiveness from that we sometimes experience don't you think? :)

I'm also aware of the tremendus impact you are having with that group of 30-40 business men every Wenesday morning in your home town in Texas teaching them the scriptures with no knowledge of the Greek but a real knowledge of the Lord and His word. You do know how to research passages, verses, and words along with a study of biblical cultural history and human nature as you share with those guys...and you do. Keep at it.


I hate to be the source of frustration for anyone but, at the risk of doing that, I'll let stand a lack of any attempt to disprove your point about Grudem's point or anyones's point for that matter.

For some reason I'm not getting a share time atmosphere here but an effort to do something else for whatever reason. I could be wrong, but, I find myself getting defensive to an argumentative atmosphere here and since it takes two to argue as it does to dance I'll just opt out and there goes the argument.

I've read what you say Grudem says. I disagree and don't care to prove one right and the other wrong either way. Sorry.

I would STILL like to hear your contextual rendition of !Cor 11:3. [Remember in a short comment. :)

D.R. said...


Reading your posts I wonder if you have a misunderstanding of how "headship" functions in Complementarianism. Certainly I would say that any man ought to serve his wife and clearly Scripture teaches that men should lay down their lives for their wives. But, it seems you believe that Complementarians take this passage and assert that they should exercise "rule by constraint".

First, I would say that no consistent, Spirit-filled Complementarian (and certainly not Bruce Ware or Wayne Grudem) would advocate forcing their wives to obey them. The ability to lead should be earned by the man through his willingness to adhere to his part of Ephesians 5 - loving her like Christ loved the Church, laying down his life for her. In this way, headship in no way implies coercion, but merely organization and order in the home and church. Organization and order is clearly taught in Scripture from Genesis to Revelation. And headship in marriage is an extension of this design by God in the roles men and women fill.

Second, forced submission is no submission at all. Ephesians 5 teaches voluntary submission - out of love and respect for one's husband and the role God has called him to. Thus, again, this type of organization in the home could never be accurately fulfilled in a "rule by constraint" relationship.

I hope you see the difference here.

D.R. said...


Let me say that I am disappointed that you feel that you should not defend your position in the face of mounting evidence against it.

So far you have offered absolutely no passages that clearly communicate in any ancient Greek manuscript the rendering of "source, origin" for kephale. And you refuse to even offer an explanation for the evidence I presented of quotes by Philo and Plutarch (contemporaries of Paul) where clearly they use kephale in the metaphorical sense of "ruler." Yet, again, you say, "All this, especially after the study of my resources has found that 'kephale' does not appear in the secular greek of the day with repects to those who try to say otherwise."

This is honestly incredulous to me. What about the quotes by Philo and Plutarch?? Don't they count?? How can you dismiss these so easily?? This is why I am frustrated.

I don't understand how you can continue to define a word against the backdrop of no evidence supporting your definition and plenty supporting the opposing view.

The fact is that if kephale has never meant "source" which the Liddell-Scott Lexicon now clearly agrees, despite your strange reference to it as supportive (when it is not - again see the article I linked to earlier where the editor deleted "source, origin" from the list of possible definitions of kephale in the latest edition of Liddell-Scott), and if there is clear evidence (from Philo and Plutarch, writing at the same time as Paul), that kephale was indeed used as a metaphor for "authority over", then you absolutely have no basis for your view.

You simply can't make words mean what you would like for them to. That's absurd. Why even have Greek Lexicons or even English translations if we can just take the Bible and read it the way we want to, changing words to mean what we think it best?

And it's frustrating to me because there are rules to interpretation - and without adhering to these rules, how can I as a young preacher have any authoritative thing to say to my congregation? How can you? If we don't respect the rules of interpretation, then we might as well throw them out. The liberals already have. That is why they have moved toward affirmative views on homosexuality. They changed the rules, which is why Grudem wrote his book, "Evangelical Feminism: A New Path to Liberalism?" There he shows how the same arguments used here to dismiss clear meanings have led to much more disasterous interpretations of other texts.

My hope in writing all this is to head off that disaster. I hope you will see this Paul and sincerely review the evidence more closely. I honestly don't think you have. I apologize if this offends you, but your unwillingness to state your case coupled with the lack of sheer evidence on your side and the mountain on my side (to which you have had no answer) leads me to this conclusion.

And because of that I do agree that we are done with our discussion (unless of course you still want me to post my interpretaion of 1 Cor. 11:3, which I would certainly do). I just pray that others will learn from it.

Thanks for allowing me to present my views, and may God bless you as you seek to follow Him.

WatchingHISstory said...

My first church out of college was as an associate pastor in Ohio. We were singing an old song which I can't remember now but the words "God my Savior" were sung all my life and I knew the song by heart. The singing was loud and boisterous and naturally I belted out "God my Savior" the man standing beside me quickly informed me that the pastor had changed the phrase to "Christ my Savior" to avoid the "Jesus only" mentality!

The pastor had the Son and the Father as separate. It was a large church but the pastor was uneducated with only a third grade education. I was walking on eggshells for the time I was there.

It does seem to me that if we let the relationship of husband and wife interfere with our view of the trinity then we may do an injustice to the Godhead.

Our focus should be on getting the theology of the trinity straight first then go to work on social relationships second. IMO we have not properly resolved the trinitarian concept yet because of the greater delimma of the function of the persons of the Godhead in salvation. How can we fix the marriages if we have no view of the trinity?

Paul Burleson said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Aussie John said...


I have found in my visits to USA that we Aussies occasionally speak a "different" English to that spoken in the U.S.A., so forgive me if I haven't been as clear as I ought to have been in what I say.

I am of the same opinion as you on these matters, and came to that position after many years of holding the alternate view. I have to confess that I didn't want to really believe the evidence which showed my earlier opinion to be faulty.

What I was trying to point out in my recent post was that, I too, have spent far too many hours (as you say "ad nauseum")studying what "scholars", and commentators have said, rather than studying the Scriptures for myself, using the available helps for what they are, simply helps; NOT authoritive documents (hence my quoting the students words).

In recent times I have come to electronically "know" some men and women who are earnest for Biblical truth who are challenging some of my long held attitudes on many things ecclesiastical.

And, "Ouch!" these challenges and changes don't come without some ego bruising !

Do you know something? Even after preaching and teaching for more than fifty years, I'm learning things which would have improved my ministry.

Paul Burleson said...


I appreciate your concern for my lack of whatever it is you think I lack for not trying to answer every one of the multitude of references you've listed that someone else has postured. But your disappointment will continue.

I don't know whether you have been offended or wounded by someone who holds a differing view than do you about some doctrinal issue or what but your words and statements of frustration indicate to me a far too strong of a need to be declared right about something we will just have to disagree on.

I've always believed it respectful to share what I think, hear the other person's thinking and be willing to agree to disagree without declaring the other to be a failure for not agreeing with my view. I have found this is best with congregations and even with blogs. I don't feel a need to defend any position when it appears to me that it is demanded that I do so.

Then to play the liberal theology and homosexual acceptance card as the danger I face because you assume I don't know my principles of biblical interpretation since I hold the view I do about a single word that relates to the equality of men and women in Christ instead of an hierarchical one is beyond the pale. You say you hope I see it. I don't and what I do see is an air of condescension that isn't appreciated by the host of this blog. You are a guest here and you have not shown yourself to be a very respectful one.

I'd much rather be willing to trust the Spirit to give light along the way and believe the best about someone who is a believer that perhaps, just perhaps, they may be thoughtful, able to study, and even open to whatever the Spirit might say when they are led by Him a certain direction all the while able to hammer out good sound rules of interpretation of holy sripture.

I assure you I, and I'll bet Aussie, Charles, bobby, and others who have commented here with differing views than yours will attempt to be just that kind of bible student.

I know this may sound strong. It is. But it is much kinder than the one I deleted just above. I would have had to ask forgiveness for anger and sharpe words that were not edifying. I chose to correct it myself. I think your part of the conversation has run it's limit and I would appreciate it if you would abide by that fact.

Paul Burleson said...

Aussie John,

Boy do I hear you on this. I sometimes think I've learned more the last decade or so than all the previous years put together. [Just a little bit of an overstatement] Most of it because prior to that I'd had a major fault of believing the systematic theology I'd studied rather than a genuine examination of the biblical text. I have to confess, if we let it speak with genuine research of the language with it's historical context the bible will help some of the commentaries make a lot of sense.

I understand that "bruising of the ego" thing too Aussie John. Again, thanks for stopping by.

Anonymous said...


I must not have a good address for you because I thought you were on our mailing address. I'll send you the last few newsletters via email! Sorry about that!

Anonymous said...

I'm going to ask a very simple question about all the discussion around this topic. Does someone have to be a studied academic and master of several archaic languages to be able to understand God?

If your answer is yes, then I don't worship the same God as you.

If your answer is no, then perhaps if it requires a serious academic defense to prove your point, you should reconsider your conclusions.

Is this a fair thought process? It is a bit of the process that took me away from traditional Baptist thought on this issue.

Paul Burleson said...


I like the way you think.

Anonymous said...

Well I will have to admit I had to look up Complementarianism. That is a Howard Cosell word. I tried to get a hold of Howard but someone said he died. So I got on Wikipedia and now I know what it means. Furthermore I now also know what Egalitarianism is! Wow! Before I was converted I was a male chauvinist and after conversion a Complementarian and lately challenged to be a Egalitarian. I hope I said it right. I know one thing for sure I treat my wife a lot better than I once did and give her a lot more respect than I once did. I need to improve and am working on it from here. I also no longer have a desire to be the boss of my wife, children, employees or for that matter anyone, even though I may have the right to do so. On a simpler note while once teaching a children's bible study; you see they don't get into these Howard Cosell words, but sometimes have a word of wisdom, I made the remark that I did not understand the Trinity, how 3 could be 1 and 1 could be 3! A young grade school age lady replied, "that is easy Mr. Brown, it is like H20, sometimes a liquid, sometimes a gas, and sometimes a solid but in any case always H20!" In response to someones post you do not have to have a Phd in Greek and Hebrew to know who God is. I am sure there is some little cleaning lady somewhere without a high school education that knows God better than any of us.

Paul Burleson said...


You crack me up. What;s almost as funny is I've watched you on most of the journey. Sometimes one step ahead and sonetimes one step behind. But what are friends and brothers for after all. :)

For an insurance guy you know you're stuff theologically and don't try to pretend otherwise.

I wish the preachers I know knew the doctrines of Grace half as well as you do. In fact you could be the resident Spurgeon expert in most places. Good words.

By the way, my comment approval button is on as per stated in the post I just put up.

Lin said...

Bryan, Thanks. I agree since I am not of noble birth. :o)

Hi DR. We have had a few rounds in the past.

One thing we have to consider is that the Holy Spirit, in these specific passages, did not communicate a clear Greek Word for authority. And there are several that are quite clear. That right there should give us pause to build an entire doctrine around this word that would limit believers in the Body and Christian marriage.

None of the passages are about authority which is why the 1 Corin 3"authority over" is negated by the entire passage when interpreted correctly. It is about head coverings and if we take out the added word of symbol of in verse 10, we find that women have authority over their own 'head'!

For some interesting points and further research on Kephale and what Grudem and others leave out, go here:

Paul Burleson said...


Good to see you again. Welcome and I'm going to chrck the site out right now myself.

Anonymous said...

The sight that Lin refers to makes a very valid point about Grudem's work. He often takes phrases out of context to make his point. Grudem's research was an effort to establish that kephale did not mean source. I am almost convinced it does not. But Grudem himself acknowledges that of the 2336 extra-biblical examples of the use of kephale only 2% actually might mean rule or authority. The fact he takes some out of context would reduce that percentage even further. 98% of the time kephale means a literal or metaphorical head, as in head of a body without any connotation of rule or authority. As you point out correctly, Paul, this is a modern concept in the English language, not an ancient concept.

So, there are some who would suggest that in 1 Corinthians 11 and Ephesians 5 Paul is using a metaphor of the physical body with a head. For an excellent exposition of this idea see "Men and Women in the Church" by Sarah Sumner, who was a PhD student under Wayne Grudem at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School.

Paul Burleson said...



I have seen where the word could mean "beginnings." Even Grudem admits this as shown by one souce I have. But were that to be true it would lend itself to the idea of 'headwaters' as an apt illustration it seems to me.

Regardless, the context militates against our modern concept of head. This would couse all the other passages to make sense as well. It would keep them in the vein of New Covenant being new in that it isn't race, gender, or age based as the Old Covenant certainly was.

So for me, even if Paul introduced a new metaphor, which he could have, it isn't hierarchical in nature. That could have so simply stated using words meaning authority. But then the rest of the chapter wouldn't make any sense would it.

Good input. I'll check out the young woman's material.

Paul Burleson said...


You could be right. But I still desire to keep the tone of this blog positive on a personal basis and edifying in it's words.