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Bible Commentaries
1 Corinthians 11

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Headship And Worship First Corinthians Eleven

Paul encouraged the brethren to follow him in faithful service to the Christ. This life would involve keeping the ordinances as delivered by Paul to these brethren. Even though men and women are mutually dependent upon each other in following God there is a recognized headship. The order of headship is God, Christ, man and woman.

God instructed men that they are not to pray or prophesy with their head covered. Neither are they to grow long hair. He instructed the woman to have her head covered when she prays or prophesies. But he also said her hair was given to her for a covering. Concerning the artificial or cloth head covering Paul was dealing with a custom of the Corinthian society, not a custom commanded by God for the church.

Sadly the church at Corinth was divided and confused about many things including the Lord's Supper. They were attempting to observe the Supper (1) In the midst of division ( 1Co_11:17-18 ), and (2) With heresies among them. It was impossible to properly commune under those circumstances. They had desecrated the Holy Supper of the Lord. The text said, "in eating every one taketh before other his own supper: and one is hungry, and another is drunken." ( 1Co_11:21 )

Paul took a quick look back at the Lord's Supper as to how it should be observed. The bread represented our Lord's body that was broken for us. As we eat the bread we are do this in remembrance of Him. The cup represented His blood that was shed for us. In proper observance of the Supper we look backward to His death and forward to His coming!

Verses 1-16

The matter of the head covering 1Co_11:1-16 : One issue that has been in the forefront of discussion from the late 20th century until now has been the role of women in society and in the church. Those that study the scriptures know that God says, "There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus." ( Gal_3:28 ) Some try to reason from this verse to prove that there is equality, and not headship.

I am not sure where the idea that the veil had to do with worship came from. The text seems clear in showing that Paul was dealing with the demeanor of Christian men and women in public. Women would never be prophesying in the church. Paul was simply dealing with a custom of his day and it was temporary, not permanent. Paul reasoned, "If it be a shame for a woman to be shorn or shaven, let her be covered." ( 1Co_11:6 ) He is obviously dealing with society attitudes of his day! Headship must always be respected and it never changes. Society customs should be respected and they may change through the years or be different in different societies. Paul encouraged the brethren to act in harmony with the customs that were in harmony with the principles of headship and subjection.

Verses 17-22

The Lord's Supper made into a common meal 1Co_11:17-22 : The main thing in the Christian life is to keep our focus on the sacrifice of Jesus for our sins. This is accomplished through the Lord's Supper. Divisions and heresies in the church at Corinth were hindering the proper observance of the Lord's Supper. Instead of making each other better by their assemblies the divisions in the church at Corinth were actually making things worse. Paul would not praise them because their coming together was for the worse, not the better.

Paul believed that some of the brethren in Corinth were acting just as the report had indicated. Others were approved because of their opposition to the heresies. Paul did not deny that the brethren had come together to commune, but under the present conditions it was impossible for them to do so. The brethren had mixed the Lord's Supper with a common meal. They would eat before others did and also leave others out of the meal and communion. The phrase "one is hungry, and another is drunken" is a contrast of fullness and hunger. The ones that felt like they would starve if they did not eat should have eaten at home before coming to the assembly. But instead of doing that they put to shame the poor among the brethren that had nothing to eat. They had forgotten what real love was all about.

Verses 23-26

The Lord's Supper observed correctly 1Co_11:23-26 : These brethren had so corrupted the communion that Paul reviewed the institution and purpose of the Supper. Jesus took bread and said, "Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me." Communion remembers the violent death of Jesus for our sins. "After the same manner also he took the cup" or for the same purpose he took the cup. Jesus said, "This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me." The New Covenant required the shedding of blood. The partaking of the cup is for the same purpose as the partaking of the bread, to remember the violent death of Jesus for our sins. The Lord's Supper is to be a memorial to the Christ.

The frequency of observance of the Supper was expressed in the phrase, "For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord's death till he come." ( 1Co_11:26 ) The Communion is to be observed once each week. ( Act_20:7 , 1Co_16:1-2 ) Communion is to continue till the end of the world, or until Christ comes again.

Verses 27-34

The Lord's Supper observed incorrectly 1Co_11:27-34 : The character of the person partaking is not under consideration but the manner in which it is done. The message is, "whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord." When we ask ourselves why we are communing we are examining ourselves in the sense of this text.

If we eat the Lord's Supper without our minds being on the fact that Christ's body and blood were separated for us or without understanding that He died a violent death for us we are "eating and drinking damnation to ourselves, not discerning the Lord's body." We must have out heart focused on Jesus' death as we commune, otherwise we become weak, sick and dead spiritually. If we will judge and correct ourselves in these matters it will not be necessary for us to come under the condemnation of God's judgment. Communion is so important that all are to commune together. Having set in other things concerning the Lord's Supper Paul reminded the brethren that other matters would be corrected later. It just makes sense that if we get communion right many of the other things take care of themselves!

Bibliographical Information
Box, Charles. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 11". "Box's Commentaries on Selected books of the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/box/1-corinthians-11.html. 2014.
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