Should it be “for a veil” or “instead of a veil” in I Corinthians 11:15?


Thank you for all of your bible study lessons and for all of the hard work you do!

Someone told me about the Greek Word: G473 Anti from I Corinthians 11:15 and said that the hair was given to a woman instead of the veil. Can you please explain to me if G473 anti means instead of or for, because that would change the meaning?

Strong's Greek G473

over against, opposite to, before
forinstead of, in place of (something)
instead of
for that, because
wherefore, for this cause

I Corinthians 11:15

(DARBY) But woman, if she have long hair, [it is] glory to her; for the long hair is given [to her] in lieu of a veil.

(EMTV)  But if a woman has long hair, it is a glory for her; because her long hair has been given to her in place of a covering.

(GW)  Doesn't it teach you that it is a woman's pride to wear her hair long? Her hair is given to her in place of a covering.

(ISV)  nor that hair is a woman's glory, for hair is given as a substitute for coverings.

(LITV)  But if a woman wears her hair long, it is a glory to her; because the hair has been given to her instead of a veil.

(MKJV)  But if a woman should have long hair, it is a glory to her; for her hair is given to her in place of a veil.

(YLT) and a woman, if she have long hair, a glory it is to her, because the hair instead of a covering hath been given to her;

Kehillah in Corinth I 11:15 Orthodox Jewish Bible

(OJB) But if an isha wears a long hairdo of a lady’s coiffure, it is her kavod (SHIR HASHIRIM 4:1)? Because the long hair has been given to her instead of the sterntichel (kerchief) or kesut rosh (head covering).

(VOICE) But doesn’t nature also teach that when a woman has long hair, it is her glory? It radiates her beauty and acts as a natural veil.

(YLT) and a woman, if she have long hair, a glory it is to her, because the hair instead of a covering hath been given to her;

(KJV+)  But G1161 if G1437 a woman G1135 have long hair, G2863 it is G2076 a glory G1391 to her: G846 for G3754 her hair G2864 is given G1325 her G846 for G473 a covering. G4018


When translating from one language to another, care has to be given in selecting words because some words have multiple meanings. For example, in English "let" means to allow but it also can mean to rent and in really old English it could also mean to hinder. Therefore, translating a word just one way doesn't always work.

The Greek word anti in very ancient literature meant to be in front of something ["anti," Online Etymology Dictionary]. Over time, it became used for when something is in front of another in opposition, but it also was sometimes used for something that was in front of another for the purpose of comparison. Thus, anti can take on a variety of meanings, some apparently contradictory. It can mean:

  • The reason for something: "And behold, you shall be silent and unable to speak until the day when these things take place, because you did not believe my words, which will be fulfilled in their proper time" (Luke 1:20).
  • A comparison of two things that are similar: "But if a woman has long hair, it is a glory to her? For her hair is given to her for a covering" (I Corinthians 11:15).
  • A contrast between two things: This meaning is usually given when anti is as a prefix in a compound word, such as antikathistemi (to stand against) or antilego (to speak against).
  • Retribution, where an equivalent thing is given or done: "Not returning evil for evil or insult for insult, but giving a blessing instead; for you were called for the very purpose that you might inherit a blessing" (I Peter 3:9).
  • A price paid for something: "That there be no immoral or godless person like Esau, who sold his own birthright for a single meal" (Hebrews 12:16).
  • When something takes the place of another or is used instead of another: "But when he heard that Archelaus was reigning over Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there. Then after being warned by God in a dream, he left for the regions of Galilee" (Matthew 2:22).

Thus, the question is whether I Corinthians 11:15 is a comparison between long hair and a covering, or is the long hair given in place of a covering. If we took I Corinthians 11:15 in isolation, we would not be able to tell which meaning is intended.

"Does not even nature itself teach you that if a man has long hair, it is a dishonor to him, but if a woman has long hair, it is a glory to her? For her hair is given to her for a covering" (I Corinthians 11:14-15).

Let us assume for the moment that nature teaches us that a woman's long hair is given instead of a covering. Does this concept work in the context it was given? I should be able to replace "covering" with "long hair" if this is the natural replacement:

Every man who has long hair while praying or prophesying disgraces his head. But every woman who has her head without long hair while praying or prophesying disgraces her head, for she is one and the same as the woman whose head is shaved. For if a woman is without long hair on her head, let her also have her hair cut off; but if it is disgraceful for a woman to have her hair cut off or her head shaved, let her have long hair on her head. For a man ought not to have his head with long hair, since he is the image and glory of God; but the woman is the glory of man.

We run into a problem because "long hair" and "a covering" are not exact replacements. Substituting one for the other causes Paul to say that if a woman doesn't have long hair she should cut it off or shave her head. But wait a minute, if you don't have long hair it is cut or shaved.

We also run into a problem of why Paul argues that a woman must cover her head while praying or prophesying, but then states she already has a natural covering that can be used instead.

If we assume that Paul was saying that long hair is similar to a covering, then he is saying that having a covering should not be seen as odd because women already have a natural one. The natural one exists for a woman's glory. The covering then is to cover that glory and show submission. If a woman refuses to cover her head while praying, then according to Paul, she might as well also remove her natural covering by cutting her hair or shaving her head.

Going back to what introduced this topic: "But I want you to understand that Christ is the head of every man, and the man is the head of a woman, and God is the head of Christ" (I Corinthians 11:3). God has placed an order of leadership: The Father is at the top, then comes the Son, then men, and finally women. However, to the woman, God gave long hair as a symbol of glory but she is asked to cover that symbol when she prays to God.

Of the two possible meanings for anti, only the meaning of "a comparison of two similar things" makes sense in the context. Interestingly, those who argue that anti should mean "in place of an equivalent" end up arguing for additional alterations in the context to match their selected meaning.


Thank you, Jeffrey,

That was the best explanation that I have ever heard and it makes perfect sense. You explained it so perfectly, easy to understand and comprehend

It is just amazing how God has blessed you with such great wisdom and knowledge. Praise God for giving you such a gift and so many talents to rightly divide His words of truth so clearly and easy to understand.

Thank you, thank you, thank you and may God continue to bless you always.

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