Firm Foundations: The Controlling Key – The correct translation of the word ‘head’ in the NT (22 Nov 2020)

Read the previous posts HERE

The correct translation of the word ‘head’ in the NT (Greek word ‘kephale’) is the controlling key to unlocking doors of prejudice and ignorance. Most wonderfully, it returns Christ to His rightful place of authority in the lives of all believers as their Lord, Leader, and Teacher. God has given all authority, in heaven and earth to Jesus. Safe and secure in Jesus, we will find all of the protection we need.

We must learn how different scholars understand and use the word ‘head’, (‘kephale’). 1  How do their interpretations affect our relationships with one another in the church and home?  What is the effect on the body of Christ composed of all believers regardless of gender?  Importantly, does what we believe and practice mirror the glorious image of Christ and His bride as revealed in the body of Scripture?

The Freedom Papers No.1

When we decide to base our lives on a set of beliefs, we owe it to ourselves to ensure their accuracy. This is surely essential with biblical interpretation. The biblical scholars, A. B and A. M. Mickelsen give helpful guidelines for study. ‘…An honest examination…must begin with a basic understanding of how we interpret the Bible on any subject. Sound Bible interpretation demands that we ask two questions of every passage we read.

First, what was the Bible saying through God’s human servant to the first hearers or readers of that message? This often demands some understanding of the history and culture of the time as well as the specific situation of the original readers.

The second question follows naturally: how should we understand and apply the passage (if it should be applied) to people today? To answer the last question the Bible interpreter must understand that most of the teachings and commands in the Bible fall into two categories.

    1. ‘The highest ideals, norms, or standards are principles taught in the Bible that must take first place in our considerations and have top priority in all we do.
    2. ‘Regulations for people ‘where they were’ dealt with specific situations in a specific time and place and were not necessarily meant to apply to all people under all circumstances.’

The understanding and interpretation of ‘kephale’ are central to our understanding. In light of the above guidelines, we will now look at the explanation of ‘source’ from four scholars. We will be looking at interpretations of ‘kephale’ where it is translated ‘head’ in seven passages in the New Testament and dealt with figuratively.

We will review the work of the paper published in ‘Christianity Today’ by A. B and A. M. Mickelsen [i]; Richard C Cervin whose paper 2 contains a summary and critique of W Grudem’s: 3 assumptions and methodology: [ii] and Grudem’s treatment of the argument for the meaning of ‘source’.

The recent work by Dr Ann Nyland: [iii] ‘who notes the comment by Dr. L.S Fried, the University of Michigan that the ‘careful and exhaustive study of contemporary Greek papyri and inscriptions renders other New Testament translations obsolete’. Nyland develops this thought in her introduction.

(to be continued)


[i] THE ‘HEAD’ OF THE EPISTLES: Berkeley Mickelsen & Alvera M. Mickelsen.

[ii] Cervin’s answer to Grudem’s assumptions and methodology and Grudem’s treatment of the argument for the meaning of ‘source’

[iii] The Source New Testament with extensive notes on Greek word meaning Translated with notes by Dr Ann Nyland.


  1.  There are a number of ways to do this. For example, look up Strong’s Concordance, or Bible hub, on the web, etc. Type in the word ‘head’ and see how the scriptures read.

    I recommend you go to Amazon and purchase Dr A Nyland: The Source New Testament with Extended Notes. Ask your church bible teacher how they interpret this word ‘head’ where leadership in the church and home is involved.

    Ask if women are excluded from being the Senior Pastor/ minister, Financial Officer, Elder, etc. If so, ask the scriptural reason why. Bring the subject out in the open. Ask if it can be discussed publicly at bible study.

    If they require teachings, point them to my website or others such as Christians for Biblical Equality, CBE International, Marg Mowczko & many others. 

  2. Cervin, R. S. Does ‘kephale’ (head) mean ‘source’ or ‘authority over’ in Greek literature?  A rebuttal. Linguistics University of Illinois, Urbana, Champaign.

    Paper available from Christians for Biblical Equality Book Service. PO Box 7155, St Paul, MN 55107-9998 USA.

  3. Grudem, W.  Does ‘kephale’ (head) mean ‘source’ or ‘authority over’ in Greek literature? A paper written to refute the work of Mickelsen.