Warning...heavy reading. Not for children or for those who like to read only children's stories. It is for those willing to put away childish things. For a moment anyway. :)
Does 1 Corinthians 11:3, which says, "But I want you to realize that the head of every man is Christ, and the head of the woman is man, and the head of Christ is God." actually say and mean that Christ is eternally subordinate to God the Father because "head" means subordination? Is the Son's will to be OBEDIENT to the Father's will in eternity to come? Was it SUBORDINATE in eternity PAST? Is the Eternal Father over the Eternal Son in eternity future OR past in terms of authority? Some say yes, yes, yes, and yes.
But I don't think so! I believe to be TEXTUALLY true and correct about this verse you would have to SEE what the meaning of the word 'head' really had for the generation that received it and that is a different thing than for us today. The word "head" "Kephale" in 1 Cor. 11:3 really had for them the idea of referring to the origins or source of something and didn't refer to authority at all. If I'm correct on this, then it does NOT say what our present culture might think it says.
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" in scripture 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 authority over another in value or position [Still present in the Middle East if you'll remember the people beating the fallen statue of Saddam Hussain with THEIR SHOES.] and you would have good reasons for believing the idea the Greek word for "head" [Kephale] does NOT mean authority here or other places in scripture. Here is one of the BEST articles on "head' or "kephale" that you'll ever find.
In fact, the word 'head' [Kephale] 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 SEEMS to make perfect sense to those of us living in the American culture who think of it as meaning "boss,"but THAT wasn't the sense of the word in 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. There was and He did. But always remember even then the word used for "obey" when referring to Christ to the Father 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 to God as man] which culminated in the Cross where He became our substitute as the sinless Lamb of God.
That idea of submission is CERTAINLY 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 NEVER used 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 when it is interpreted with the meaning our culture has for it. So what Paul wished to convey to that culture we will COMPLETELY miss when thinking of "head" the way we do in our culture.
Now, back to our word "kephale." [Head] 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 JESUS ontologically [nature] or functionally [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 as a fully human person. 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, mind, will, and purpose and 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 one 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 there is no HIERARCHY here as to authority. THAT"S read INTO the text.
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 being as the divine Son] and took upon Himself human nature with a human body. Doing this, while never less than God in His nature. He, thus, became the unique God-man and, while living as man, He was submitted to God the Father as the Second Man or Last Adam, all the way to the Cross. Remember, He said he COULD have called for angels and be released. The question I ask is simply, COULD HE HAVE? As God He could have and NEVER been disobedient in doing so. As Man He DID NOT and obeyed God's will.
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 one mind expressed in three persons of equal nature or essence. The INCARNATION had a purpose of its own 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.