What I have proposed in this discussion is the Greek word kephalé rendered head has the intended meaning in a literal sense as the head of a body or in the metaphorical sense as ‘source.’ Applying it this way in 1Cor. 11 shows us a dynamic face-to-face relationship between God, Christ, man and the women in a circular fashion rather than a subordinate fashion. It truly reflects perichoresis in eternity right here on earth. When interpreted this way, the pattern of the relationships in the Trinity is also expressed in the relationship between God, Christ, male and female. What we must do now is further explore the application of this meaning in another context in another passage to see if it can be consistent.
Before we go further I want to lay down my approach to Biblical interpretation. We all come to the Bible with a filter. This filter is what weighs heavily in how we read and interpret the Bible. My particular bias is objective union. If you are interested in learning in detail about what this means, then Click Here for a detailed video by Dr Bruce Wauchope. How I interpret and translate is through the filter of the union of beings between the Father, Son and humanity. Here we have the great exchange where Jesus Christ takes on all that we are in our fallen, dark and depraved flesh so that we have the real chance of becoming what He is. In Him, He rectifies our beings so that we can participate in the very being of God as true human beings. God’s righteousness and justice is that He rectifies our beings so that we actually share in His being. This reality must come through our biblical interpretation and exegesis. If we hold this to be true, then we must endeavour to revamp our ideas about relationships, especially between men and women, and husbands and wives. The truth of the matter is the outcry of injustices against women throughout our community is the cry for justice from the very heart of God. To continue with the subordination of women and have men in a position of having authority over is placing a huge stumbling block to the gospel.
Let us turn to Ephesians 5 where Christ is defined as the kephalé or ‘head’ of the church. For a consistent exegesis, the question must be asked is this: Can the ‘source’ imagery used in 1Cor. 11 be applied in Ephesians 5? This question can be answered by addressing another question: What has Christ done for the church? The church has come into being through the saving Person and work of Jesus Christ. The church cannot save itself but can only participate in the saving work of Christ by the Spirit. Christ as the head is the Saviour of the body. 2Cor 5:17 tells is that Jesus has brought forth a ‘new creation’ bringing the church into existence ‘in Christ’. We can draw a clue from a contemporary Greek writer Artemidorus to see how kephalé is applied.
The kephalé is the source of light and life for the whole body.
When the Scriptures were written, the writers did not have a monopoly on the Greek language. They used the vernacular in such a way as to express the truth of what they had in mind would also be imprinted in the minds of the readers. The letters were not delivered with lexicons and dictionaries. In the case of kephalé Christ is the source of the church’s existence bringing light and life to the whole body. Paul uses kephalé in the same way in Ephesians 4 when he talks about the origin of the gifts. Of course we know that the gifts have their origin and source in Jesus Christ. The purpose of the gifts is to bring the whole of the body into a unified understanding of the kephalé or the head. Jesus Christ is not only the source of church’s life but is also the source of its continuing existence.
We now turn to Colossians 1:18 (And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy) where Christ is described as the kephalé of the body, the church. To understand this passage, there are key words that must be held together. They are head, beginning and firstborn or kephalé, arche and protokos. We have noted previously that kephalé and arche are often used interchangeably. We can say that Jesus Christ is the source of the church and its origin and He is the first born from among the dead which also points to the victorious resurrection.
In other texts in the Pauline writings, there is no doubt that the intended meaning of kephalé is ‘source’ when comes to the relationship between Christ and the church and the wives to their husbands. To maintain a position of authority over is not consistent with its application in the wider contemporary communities in the ancient world.