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Wednesday, October 4th, 2023
the Week of Proper 21 / Ordinary 26
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1 Corinthians 11

Dunagan's Commentary on the BibleDunagan's Commentary

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I. Commendation: 11:2

II. Women (and Men) and the Head Covering: 11:3-16

III. Selfishness/Division/Abuse of the Lord's Supper: 11:17-34


Chapters 11-14 discuss a variety of topics related to the public assembly of the Church. (a) 11:2-16: Praying, Prophesying and the Covering. (b) 11:17-34: Abuses of the Lord's Supper. (c) 12:1-14:40: The misuse of Spiritual Gifts.


'The Cor. Church had written self-complacently, expecting the Apostles commendation upon its report (11:2). In reply Paul has just pointed out one serious irregularity, which might indeed be put down to ignorance (11:3,16). No such excuse is possible in regard to the disorders he has now to speak of, which are reported to him on evidence that he cannot discredit. (11:18)...Such behaviour he certainly cannot praise.' (Gr. Ex. N.T. p. 876)

Verse 1

1Co_11:1 Be ye imitators of me, even as I also am of Christ.

This passage really belongs to the closing argument which is found in Chapter 10. Especially verses 31-33.

'imitators' -'Pattern after me as I pattern after Christ.' (Ber)

-3402. mimetes mim-ay-tace'; from 3401; an imitator: -follower.

Points to Note:

1. Our own personal example can either strengthen or undermine our defense of the truth. 'Paul's personal example played a large part in his argument; it is fitting he should refer to it in summing up.' (Gr. Ex. N.T. p. 869)

2. Christians not only need "teaching", they need "examples"; they need visible demonstrations of Christianity put into practice. ( Tit_2:7 ; 1Ti_4:12 ; 1Ti_4:16 )

3. Christ is the ultimate "role model".

4. Following and imitating Christ, isn't an impossible or unrealistic task. 'Those who imitate Christ have a right to call upon others to imitate them.' (Lenski p. 428)

Verse 2

1Co_11:2 Now I praise you that ye remember me in all things, and hold fast the traditions, even as I delivered them to you.

'Now I praise you' -'I must give you credit' (Phi) Paul was a man ever ready to praise when he honestly could.

Point to Note:

Since so much of this letter is filled with rebuke and criticism, this has lead some writers to reexamine this word of praise. A popular view is expressed as follows: "The praise here given is so little suggested by the context, and to little accords with the tone of the Epistle...that one conjectures the Apostle to be quoting professions made in the Letter from Cor. rather than writing simply out of his own mind: 'Now I praise you that (as you say) in all things you remember me, and hold fast the instructions as I delivered them to you.'" (Gr. Ex. N.T. pp. 870-871)

In contrast Fee offers another point of view: "Thus, even though he may very well be picking up language from their letter, and perhaps in the first instance (vv 3-16) speaking to something they are advocating, this opening sentence most likely serves to introduce the whole of chaps. 11-14. Even thou they remember him in everything, there are some areas with regard to the "traditions" where praise is not in order . They may be following the "traditions" all right, but not in proper ways. " (p. 500)

'that ye remember me in all things' -'the word "in everything" makes one think he is quoting them. They would tend to have a higher view of their obedience than is realistic.' (Fee p. 500)

'remember me' -Paul then specifies what "remembering him" means.

'and hold fast the traditions, even as I delivered them to you' -i.e. they had remembered what Paul had taught them. 'Hold firmly to the traditions, just as I delivered them to you.' (NASV)

'traditions' -lit., to give over, 'is an old word and merely something handed on from one to another. The thing handed on may be bad as in Mat_15:2 f..and contrary to the will of God ( Mar_7:8 f) or it may be wholly good as here.' (Robertson p. 159)

Points to Note:

1. The teaching of the apostles can be rightly labeled as "traditions", because it was "handed down to them", i.e. they didn't invent it and neither did it originate with them. ( Mat_28:19-20 ; Eph_3:3-5 ; 1Co_11:23 '.. I received of the Lord ..'; 2Th_2:15 ; 2Th_3:16 )

2. Jesus Himself perceived the gospel message being "handed down" from one generation to another. ( Mat_28:19-20 ) Therefore any argument that seeks to undermine the accuracy of the Biblical record based on the "distance and time" from it's point of origin, must in turn question the "wisdom" of Jesus (for this is the very method that He chose to spread the gospel from nation to nation and from generation to generation- 2Ti_2:2 )

3. All "traditions" aren't bad. If it originated with Jesus, then no matter "how long we have done it this way", we still need to do in that way.

4. Note: In this letter when the Corinthians had sought to "improve" upon what Paul had taught them, they are rebuked for it. (11:17ff) Innovation isn't always a good thing.

Increasingly the Church is being faced with the complaint that our worship services are dull and boring. It is interesting to note, that God never rebuked His people for "the failure to innovate, improvise and jazz up the worship services (in OT or NT)." Jesus didn't rebuke His generation for the failure to change the synagogue or temple worship and Paul didn't rebuke the Corinthians for "doing the same old thing". Rather, God often rebukes His people for worshipping Him without their hearts. ( Mat_15:8-9 ) And innovation in the worship of God, has a very poor track record in the Scriptures. ( Gen_4:3-7 ; Lev_10:1-3 ; 1Sa_15:1-35 ; 2Sa_6:1-8 ; 2Ch_26:16-23 )

Verse 3

1Co_11:3 But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God.

'But I would have you know' -'I want you to understand.'(NASV); 'But there is one matter I want to remind you about.' (Tay)

Points to Note:

1. Lenski feels that in reference to the head-covering the Corinthians were in perfect agreement with Paul. This was one "tradition" they were keeping. And that Paul in verses 3-16, simply states the reasons why they should continue in the practice. He believes that the "contentious" ones referred to in 11:16..'is the thought that a few contentious voices had been raised in Corinth which either merely questioned the necessity of the women covering their heads or advocated that they leave them uncovered. The congregation and the body of the women in it were not yet disturbed.' (p. 430)

2. Others place quite a bit of emphasis on the first word of 11:3, "but" (even though the NIV translates this Greek word, 'now'). Fee says, 'the "but" with which this argument begins suggests that some things are not quite as the Corinthians had portrayed them.' (p. 501)

3. Willis feels.."I suggest that some among the women in Corinthians church had decided that they could cast aside all symbols of subjection to men since 'there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ." ( Gal_3:28 )...From what I can gather, the women must have been in the midst of a small women's liberation movement there in Corinth..Thus, the primary thrust of this passage pertains to subjection. To persuade the women not to cast aside their symbol of subjection, Paul made six arguments.' (p. 354)

In support of the view that some women in Corinth misinterpreted "all one in Christ", the following points could be offered: (1) Another problem/misunderstanding or abuse fits into the overall context of the letter. (2) The basic premise that Paul lays down as he starts this section (11:3), which includes 'the man is the head of a woman'. (3) The instruction to a certain group of women in 14:34-35.

***While we need to discuss various side issues in this section, especially concerning the covering, I hope we won't lose sight of the main points in this section.**** McGuiggan reminds us, 'In this whole section the wearing of a veil is a secondary issue . It becomes important only because at that time and in that place it was related to a foundational and permanent truth: the subjection of woman to man .' (p. 143)***

'that the head of every man is Christ' -

'head' -'Headship stresses leadership, prior authority..It seems clear that the passage is teaching the subordination principle. Men are subordinate to Christ. Women are subordinate to men. Christ is subordinate to his Father. No one is suggesting that the subordination of each one is of exactly the same kind, degree or expression. But surely, we mustn't go so deep into the text so that when we come out we have nothing whatever to say about it .' (McGuiggan p. 146)

'every man' -every man is subject to Christ, whether he recognizes that fact or not. ( Eph_1:20-22 ; 1Co_15:27 ; Php_2:9-11 )

'It is entirely contrary to fact that women should seek to be like men on the supposition that men are independent . The men are not at all independent--their head is Christ.' (Lenski p.433)

Point to Note:

Recently some have tried to argue that the word "head" means "source" or "origin". While Christ is the source of man ( Joh_1:3 ; Col_1:15 ), and man could be viewed as the source of woman ( 1Co_11:8 ); it would be false teaching to claim that "God is the source/origin of Christ". For Christ is God ( Joh_1:1 ), and is thereby eternal.

'When I first heard the argument..that the primary meaning of "head"..is source, my immediate reaction was, "If that be true, then, according to 1Co_11:3 , the Son of God is a created being! ' [Note: _ 'Man is the "Head" of Woman. Gene Frost. Gospel Anchor. July 1993 p. (203) 3. Brother Frost then cites quite a number of Greek authorities that conclusively prove the point, that the Greek word (kephale'), as a metaphor, is consistently defined by lexicographers as meaning "superior rank, supreme, chief, prominent." His article is quite extensive, see Mark if you want a copy.]

Other passages that would reveal that the mere definition of "source" (a definition stripped of any idea of subordination or subjection) is inadequate for the word "head" are: ( Eph_1:22 '..gave him to be the "head" over all things to the church.'; 4:15; 5:23 'For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church.') In the last passage, if the word "head" carries absolutely no hint of "leadership", then the Church is simply the product of Christ, but in no way is it "subject" to Christ. Unwittingly then, the feminist movement among religious women has the bible teaching that the church and Christ are equals . You see, any time you tinker with the relationship between husbands and wives, your going to have to (for consistency sake) tinker with the relationship between Christ and the Church, seeing that Paul himself paralleled them for all time. ( Eph_5:22-33 )

'and the head of the woman is the man' -Christianity didn't dissolve this fact. Neither did it dissolve subjection and authority in the realms of citizenship ( Rom_13:1 ff); employment ( Eph_6:5-9 ) or the family ( Eph_6:1-4 ).

While a woman is subject to his own husband ( Eph_5:23 ). It is also true that in a more general sense, this subjection applies to other man as well. For example, a woman isn't to teach or exercise authority over a man ( 1Ti_2:12 ). This truth would apply to single women as well as married, and therefore must also apply to other men besides one's own husband. And this seems to be the crucial issue at the heart of the covering question.

"There were women..who were dismissing the token of their womanhood (in that society) and denying their place of subjection to men." (McGuiggan p. 145)

Point to Note:

"Headship" doesn't imply or demand that the one in subjection is necessarily inferior (Christ isn't inferior to God- Joh_5:18 ; Joh_5:23 ).

'The principle involves no humiliation, no injustice, no wrong. It recognizes a difference of function and responsibility, but it precludes selfishness, harshness, and unkindness.' (Erdman p. 112)

'and the head of Christ is God' -no inferiority implied. 'The fact that Jesus is subject to God does not deny the deity of Christ anymore than the fact that women is subject to man denies the humanity of woman.' (Willis p. 362) In order to save man, Christ has voluntarily assumed a servants role. ( Php_2:6-11 )

Verse 4

1Co_11:4 Every man praying or prophesying, having his head covered, dishonoreth his head.

'praying or prophesying' -'the two verbs "pray and prophesy" make it certain that the problem has to do with the assembly at worship . One may pray privately; but not so with prophecy. This was the primary form of speech, directed towards the community (congregation) for its edification and encouragement (cf. 14:1-5).' (Fee pp. 505-506)

'praying' -inspired (14:15), or uninspired prayer. 'There is no grammatical reason for believing that "praying" is limited in meaning to inspired prayer or for believing that the one prophesying is the same person as the one who is praying.' (Willis p. 363)

'prophesying' -'to speak forth by divine inspiration. The idea of inspiration is inherent in the word.' (Willis p. 362)

'having his head' -physical head.

'covered' -'wearing down the head' (Gr. Ex. N.T. p. 872); 'Lit., having something hanging down from his head.' (Vincent p. 246); 'Lit., having a veil..down from the head.' (Robertson p. 159)

'The covering was the veil, that which hanged down from the head and covered the head. The modern hat, shawl, scarf, bonnet, doily or mantilla will not do...One cannot substitute a hat, net, ribbon, scarf, etc.., for the veil, the covering of 1Co_11:2-16 ..' [Note: _ The Woman And Her Covering. Bill Cavender pp. 5-6]

'Paul has in mind a veil which covers the whole head and in particular conceals all the hair; something worn on top of the head like a present-day cap or hat does not really come with the scope of his argument.' (F.F. Bruce p. 104)

Points to Note:

1. 'Veils came in all shapes and sizes. There were those which were suspended so as to cover the face. Some were on the head and flowed backward down over the shoulders. Some completely hid the woman's head and shoulders. Some hid the whole woman from head to foot. Many were like shawls which were placed on the head and wrapped around the shoulders...There were veils designed for different times of the day and for different occasions. The one thing on which all the authorities unite is this: Veils were "an essential article of female attire."' (McGuiggan p. 143)

2. 'Paul..did not bring the veil to Corinth. It was there when he arrived. It already had the significance it had before Paul was around to have any say in the matter.' (McGuiggan p. 143)

3. As I look at these verses the following considerations force me to conclude that Paul is dealing with a custom in Corinthian society. And the important thing was not so much the veil, but the significance and meaning that Corinthian society had placed upon it, i.e. this society viewed it as a sign of femininity and subjection. Paul's argument is, respect the significance that your society attaches to this custom, for behind it (and many other "customs", i.e. hair length, clothing, makeup, jewelry, etc..) lies a biblical truth-i.e. men and women have different roles, and women are to recognize their proper role of being in subjection to men. Having said all that, here are the factors that lead me to conclude that this was a "custom" in Corinthian society.

a. It wasn't inherently immoral for men to pray with something on their heads. The Jewish High Priest wore a turban ( Exo_28:4 ; Exo_39:28 Lev_16:23 ), while ministering before the Lord. 'At times such ministering, as you very well know, there were prayers connected with the sacrifices and offerings.' (McGuiggan p. 144)

Note: 'Since at some point in time the cloak of Deu_22:12 , mentioned by Jesus in Mat_23:5 , came to be used by Jewish men as the tallith ("prayer shawl"), it is tempting to see in this another disavowal by Paul of Jewish customs...But the greater problem is that the evidence for the use of the tallith in prayer is much too late to be helpful for Jewish customs in the time of Paul.' (Fee p. 507)

b. Some of the arguments that Paul will give in this chapter, aren't based on Scripture. (1) 11:6: 'The Scriptures nowhere to my knowledge forbid the shaving of one's head except on the basis of its violation of the customs of a given society.' (Willis p. 356) (2) 11:14: Paul appeals to 'nature', i.e. those things agreed to by sane and orderly society. (3) 11:14: Long hair on men wasn't inherently evil. ( Num_6:13 ff; Jdg_13:5-7 )

Note: In fact, all societies of the past didn't consider "long hair" on men to be shameful. 'Throughout history we have the testimony of nations whose men wore their hair long without anyone having the impression they were womanish for doing so. The Spartans (and we won't accuse them of being effeminate) wore their hair longer than shoulder length.' (McGuiggan p. 151)

c. As was said previously: Paul didn't introduce the veil into Corinthian society, and neither had he given it it's present significance. Neither had the OT commanded it of women.

But just like society had attached significance to anointing the head with oil and washing the feet (signs in that society of being hospitable); a kiss of greeting (a sign of friendship); to this culture the veil signified being feminine and in subjection. And Paul tells the women, respect the significance given by your society to this article of clothing and don't needlessly offend (9:19-23).

'In NT times..among both Greeks and Romans, reputable women wore a veil in public..and to appear without it was an act of bravado (or worse); Tarsus, ..Paul's home city, was especially noted for strictness in this regard.' (ISBE. 'Veil'. Vol. 5, p. 3047)

'dishonoreth his head' -'to disgrace, to bring to shame.' (Willis p. 364)

The question is: Does the phrase "his head" refer to the man himself--'By covering his head he makes a woman of himself.' (Lenski p. 438) Or, Christ, his spiritual head? Probably both are true. When we disgrace ourselves, we do bring reproach upon the cause of Christ. ( Rom_2:24 ; 1Ti_5:14 )

Point to Note:

'Were any men doing this? Probably not, but I think Paul is just setting up his case, proposing a veiled man, to make a point for the ladies..In verse 14 he scathes the idea of a "long-haired" male. There is no need to conclude that some of the males were appearing "long haired". He just wishes the woman to see how bizarre her conduct is if she rejects her femaleness . What would you think of a man praying or prophesying with a woman's attire on? he is asking.' (McGuiggan p. 147)

Verse 5

1Co_11:5 But every woman praying or prophesying with her head unveiled dishonoreth her head; for it is one and the same thing as if she were shaven.

'praying or prophesying' -the hot question is "where"? If we say "in the assembly", then doesn't this contradict Paul's command of 14:34-35?

Points to Note:

1. 'Some suggest that Paul passes over the problem of women speaking in the public assembly until 14:34; in this section, he is concerned with the impropriety of them removing their veils in worship. Probably some women in Corinth were urging that if the Spirit moved them to speak they must speak and how could they speak with their faces veiled....Others dismiss this view by saying that Paul could have handled both problems at once..' (Wills p. 365)

Observation: The above grounds stated that some use to dismiss this view don't square with how Paul argued in other parts of this letter. For example: In dealing with their eating in the temples of idols, Paul first considers the impact of such activity on the souls of the weak ( 1Co_8:10-13 ) and then in (10:14-22) he will forbid it. Concerning this issue, Paul didn't handle both problems at once.

2. Lenski offers a good comment when he says, 'It is quite essential to note that no modifier is attached to the participles to denote a place where these activities were exercised. So we on our part should not introduce one...By omitting reference to a place Paul says this: "Wherever and whenever it is proper and right for a man or for a woman to pray or to prophesy, the difference between sex should be marked ..' (p. 436)

3. McGuiggan breaks down these verses well when he says, 'The female is not to act so as to deny the place God has given her. She can do this by: A. Rejecting attire that is an essential article to female attire (5,13). B. Taking the lead in mixed assemblies gathered for corporate worship. (14:34,35)' (pp. 147-148)

4. Others contend that the women in chapter 11 were praying and prophesying in public groups smaller than or other than the congregational assembly on the first day of the week.

Note: Women did have the gift of prophecy in the N.T. Church. ( Act_2:17 ; Act_21:9 ) And scriptural opportunities for it's use were present. ( Tit_2:3-4 )

'dishonoreth her head' - does 'her head', mean 'herself' or does the phrase mean-- by casting off this recognized sign of femininity and subjection, she is showing disrespect to men, the "head' mentioned previously (11:3) (or her husband). Again, both would be true.

'for it is one and the same thing' -'she is no better than' (Knox); 'for that is to make herself like one of the shameless women..'(TCNT)

'if she were shaven' -'who has her head shaved' (Knox). 'to be shaven, does not refer to merely cutting one's hair but to shaving one's head.' (Willis p. 366) 'To have the hair cut close, or to be entirely shaved as with a razor.' (Vincent p. 247)

Points to Note:

1. 'It was commonly suggested that short hair or a shaved head was the mark of the Corinthian prostitutes..But there is no contemporary evidence to support this view..' (Fee p. 511)

2. Lenski adds, 'As far as prostitutes are concerned, all the evidence that has been discovered proves that only a few of the very lowest type had shorn or shaven heads. As a class these women endeavored to make themselves as attractive as possible and did their utmost to beautify also their hair.' (p. 439)

3. Willis puts it in good perspective when he adds, 'Women with shaven heads were held in greater contempt...though the precise type of degradation conveyed by shaving one's head is ambiguous (various commentators say that it denoted mourning, slavery, immorality, or mannishness), the obvious meaning in this text is that shorn hair was disgraceful in Corinthian society...The second point to be observed is that to be unveiled in Corinth conveyed about the same meaning in that society as having a shaved head...The veil in all eastern countries was, and to a great extent still is, the symbol of modesty and subjection ...Paul is not formulating a rule that a woman, when praying or prophesying, must cover her head. His point is that a woman, WHO ORDINARILY HAS HER HEAD COVERED WHEN APPEARING IN PUBLIC, must also have it covered when she prays or prophesies..Hence, Paul was not formulating a divine law to be observed under special circumstances; instead, he was commanding Christians to recognize the social customs of their day and not to obnoxiously violate these customs..'(pp. 367-368)

Paul's argument is that since a woman is going to cast off one "sign" of her femininity and subjection, then, why not really demonstrate independence from her husband (or men in general) and discard another "sign", i.e. her long hair--for that was sometimes done by women who disregarded the sacredness of marriage. (And still is.)

McGarvey makes a good comment when he says, 'Paul, therefore, demands that those who voluntarily seek a low level, consent to wear all the signs and badges of that level ..' (p. 111)

Verse 6

1Co_11:6 For if a woman is not veiled, let her also be shorn: but if it is a shame to a woman to be shorn or shaven, let her be veiled.

'This is a sample of Paul's consistent thinking. We have seen that he always goes to the bottom of a question, to the plain and decisive principle that is key to that question.' (Lenski p. 441)

'One kind of action (being uncovered) is just like another (having mannish hair). If the latter is shameful, so too is the former.' (Fee p. 512)

These woman wanted to take a "half-way" position, and Paul wouldn't allow such. Paul says, in the eyes of Corinthian society, to be unveiled means the same thing as being shaven. Both are viewed as insubordination and being "mannish".

'If the veil speaks of subjection (and it does--verse 10) then it is the female rather than the male who should wear it. The divine arrangement is that the woman is subject to man and the veil of the female at that time and in that area proclaimed that.' Man (the male) cannot wear such a token of subjection.' (McGuiggan p. 148)

Verse 7

1Co_11:7 For a man indeed ought not to have his head veiled, forasmuch as he is the image and glory of God: but the woman is the glory of the man.

'For' -explaining the reasoning behind the statements made in verses 4-6.

'ought not' -moral necessity.

'forasmuch as' -the reason the man is not wear the veil.

'the image and glory of God' -'he represents the likeness and supremacy of God.' (Mof)

'image' -1504. eikon i-kone'; from 1503; a likeness, i.e. (literally) statue, profile, or (figuratively) representation, resemblance: -image.

Points to Note:

1. The 'image' of God that man bears isn't a physical likeness to God. For God is a Spirit. ( Joh_4:24 ; Luk_24:37-39 )

2. Even after the fall, man still bears the 'image' of God. ( Gen_1:26-27 ; Gen_9:6 ; Jam_3:9 )

3. While our physical bodies share the 'image' of the physical creation, our spirit's are "like" God.

4. Woman too, was made in the image of God. ( Gen_1:27 )

'It is often pointed out that in Gen_1:1-31 man and woman together are in God's image and likeness, a point with which Paul certainly would not disagree--after all, he carefully avoids saying that the woman is man's image.' (Fee p. 515)

'and glory of God' -something that is not said of the woman. 'Man has no created superior' (McGarvey p. 111) 'Ellicot notes that man is the glory of God as the crown of creation and as endowed with sovereignty like God Himself.' (Robertson p. 160)

'but the woman is the glory of the man' -'The female is the image of God ( Gen_1:27 ; Gen_5:1 ) and the glory of man.' (McGuiggan p. 148) The next verse explains how woman is the glory of man.

'The woman serves in the sphere related to her husband. If he is a king, she is a queen; if he is poor, so is she. She reflects the station of her husband in life.' (Willis p. 370)

Verse 8

1Co_11:8 For the man is not of the woman; but the woman of the man:

Note: Paul agrees with the creation account of Genesis. 'The woman of the man'-Paul didn't believe that Gen_2:1-25 was myth. Yes, Eve was created from Adam's rib, and New Testament Christians believed it.

Verse 9

1Co_11:9 for neither was the man created for the woman; but the woman for the man:

'but the woman for the man' -to be a helpmeet ( Gen_2:18 )

Points to Note:

1. 'We mustn't understand the passage in Genesis, or Paul's use of it, to suggest the woman is man's possession or God's afterthought.' (McGuiggan p. 149)

2. In Gen_2:1-25 , when the man sees the woman, he "glories" in her by bursting into song ( Gen_2:23-24 ). 'It follows that he who degrades a woman sullies his manhood, and is the worst enemy of his race; the respect shown to women is the measure and safeguard to human dignity.' (Gr. Ex. N.T. p. 873)

I think a great truth exists here that we cannot overlook. How many wives or brides to be have grasped the fact that they exist not only to bring honor to God, but to bring honor to the man who is or will be in their life. ( Pro_12:4 'An excellent wife is the crown of her husband..') And how many men have grasped the truth, that woman was created out of man and for man--and that means that as a man I need to prize and cherish what God created specifically for me? ( Eph_5:29 'but nourishes and cherishes it..'; 1Pe_3:7 )

3. Man glorifies God, when man serves God in his recognized role (man, not God). Woman brings glory to man (esp. her husband) when she serves in her recognized role. Therefore, to cast off the veil, a recognized symbol of femininity and subjection in Corinthian society, was a sign of disrespect to the order established at creation, and esp. to one's husband. 'In so doing she brings shame on him by trying to dissolve the rightful male/female relationship..' (Fee p. 518)

4. The facts of creation abide forever. Thousands of years after Gen_2:1-25 , God still felt that the text was relevant to first century Christians.

Verse 10

1Co_11:10 for this cause ought the woman to have a sign of authority on her head, because of the angels.

'for this cause' -'Because these indisputable facts remain, all customs that truly symbolize these facts will meet approval on the part of all who bow fully to God.' (Lenski p. 444)

Point to Note:

What is often forgotten is that a double obligation exists in these verses. Because of these facts, both men and women are under obligation. (11:7 'ought not'; 11:10 'ought') Women are not allowed to cast off the recognized customs of society that express a biblical truth (i.e. their subjection or femininity). In addition (what at times is forgotten in this whole discussion), men are not allowed to cast off the customs that express their rule or masculinity. Women weren't to rid themselves of the veil, but neither were men wear something that was considered "an article of woman's clothing."

'sign of authority' -'a sign that she is under man's authority' (Tay); 'an outward sign of man's authority.' (Phi)

Considering the context, the only "sign of authority" present is the veil. In Corinthian culture, the veil symbolized the authority of men over women.

'because of the angels' -'She is to keep the place God has given to her . There were angels who were given position and rank but who refused to keep that rank and they were punished for their rebellion. Jud_1:6 ...I think Paul is reminding the women of the danger they play with when they reject their "own domain" and "proper sphere."' (McGuiggan p. 149)

Verse 11

1Co_11:11 Nevertheless, neither is the woman without the man, nor the man without the woman, in the Lord.

'Nevertheless' -The following two verses are meant to qualify what Paul has just said, lest anyone get the wrong idea.

'nor the man without the woman' -each sex is incomplete without the other, and neither sex can claim "independence" from the other.

'But for all that, in the scheme of God, there is a mutual dependence between male and female. It is true that the male was the first phase of creation. But by the will of God, not only did the male need the female to complete the creation of Man, he needed her for the continued life of males and females. It was the prior choice of God that decided the "role" of each and not some inherent superiority of the male.' (McGuiggan pp. 149-150)

'in the Lord' -by divine appointment.

Verse 12

1Co_11:12 For as the woman is of the man, so is the man also by the woman; but all things are of God.

'so is the man also by the woman' -i.e. all men since Adam were born of women.

'but all things are of God' -"roles" are not based on inherent inferiority or superiority, but rather on God's choice. God made woman from man's rib, not man! To Whom both men and women owe reverence.

A great lesson here exists for those "movements" among both men and women which try to establish that one gender "doesn't need the other."


Verse 13

1Co_11:13 Judge ye in yourselves: is it seemly that a woman pray unto God unveiled?

'Judge ye in yourselves' -'Judge for yourselves' (NASV); 'Judge of this matter by your own feeling' (Con) 'Also as in 10:15-16, the appeal to their good sense is followed by a rhetorical question.' (Fee p. 525)

'Is appeal to common sense. It is asking common sense to corroborate what is the prior declaration of revelation. "Ask yourselves! You don't need me to labor this point." (McGuiggan p. 150)

'is it seemly' -'The issue is one of propriety: "Is it proper?.." (Fee p. 525) 'An appeal to social sentiment' (Gr. Ex. N.T. p. 875)

Note: In none of this discussion is Paul saying that pure religion consists or that inherent spirituality resides in merely wearing the veil. A bigger issue is at sake, i.e. female subordination, 'The veil is an issue only because in that time and that place it was the visible mark of that femaleness and consequent subordination.' (McGuiggan p. 150)


Verse 14

1Co_11:14 Doth not even nature itself teach you, that, if a man have long hair, it is a dishonor to him?

'nature' -'The recognized constitution of things.' (Vincent p. 248) 'That is another way of saying, "the way things are" equals "nature"..' (McGuiggan p. 150) 'The nature of things.' (NIV) 'To the "natural feeling" that they shared together as part of their contemporary culture.' (Fee p. 527)

Points to Note:

1. The physical laws that govern the natural world don't really teach us that long-haired males are a disgrace. For a many men can grow long hair and some can grow it in abundance. ( 2Sa_14:26 )

2. Long hair on males isn't inherently sinful. ( Num_6:1-5 ; Act_18:18 ) And yet Fee adds, 'But the very nature of the vow--both letting the hair grow long and cutting it again--demonstrates the " normalcy " of shorter hair on men, as it also evidenced by thousands of contemporary paintings, reliefs, and pieces of sculpture.' (p. 527)

And yet, in most societies, short-hair was the "norm" for men and long-hair for women. 'The Athenian youth cropped his head at 18, and it was a mark of foppery or effeminacy..to let the hair afterwards grow long. This feeling prevailed in ancient as it does in modern manners.' (Gr. Ex. N.T. p. 875)

3. Hence "nature" seems to mean the "nature of things" in society.

Paul seems to be arguing: (1) The Corinthians could "tell" that society frowned upon long-haired males. Society viewed such as "effeminate". (2) Women, even the Corinthian women arguing for the removal of the veil, took pride in their natural covering, i.e. their long hair. (3) So everyone could see that there existed things that were viewed as distinctly "feminine (under normal circumtances), i.e. belonging to women.' (4) If they could see this in reference to a "natural covering", then while can't they see that their society placed the same type of meaning on a artificial covering. (5) Respecting the use of the veil, was just like respecting the fact that certain hairstyles belonged to women and others to men.

4. McGuiggan argues that, 'He wasn't speaking of simple length, he was speaking of being womanish.' (p. 151)

Verse 15

1Co_11:15 But if a woman have long hair, it is a glory to her: for her hair is given her for a covering.

'it is a glory to her' -'that is her pride.' (Nor); 'It gives her that womanly distinction.' (Lenski p. 449) 'Glory in this instance, since it is the opposite of dishonor, must mean something like distinction or honor..it functions as something that distinguishes the splendor of the woman.' (Fee pp. 527-528)

'The ancients, in orderly and honorable society, regarded long hair in women to be praiseworthy. (There are always dissidents, of course.) So when women were punished (for one thing or another) if often took the form of shearing her hair or shaving her head...According to Tacitus, among the Germans an adulteress was driven from her husband's home with her head shaved; and the Justinian code prescribed this penalty for an adulteress, whom, at the expiration of two years, her husband refused to receive again.' (McGuiggan p. 153)

'is given her for a covering' -'woman is obviously proud of her natural covering given her by God; hence, she should see no shame in the artificial covering which the women in Corinth customarily wore.' (Willis p. 376)

While Corinthian society, and for that fact most societies in general have attached "femininity" to long-hair, and have considered the long-hair on women to be attractive and a source of pride. In the final analysis, God did create the capacity for such long and beautiful hair.

'for' -some have suggested that Paul here means that the woman's long hair was given her "instead" of the veil, hence she need not wear the customary artificial covering. On the surface such sounds good, the only problem being that this view would basically make this whole section, esp. verses 4-6 meaningless. Why go through with all this argumentation if what the Corinthian women (who had cast off the veil) had on their heads already (long-hair) was sufficient?

Verse 16

1Co_11:16 But if any man seemeth to be contentious, we have no such custom, neither the churches of God.

'seemeth to be contentious' -'seems anxious to dispute the matter' (Ber); 'still thinks it right to contest the point.' (TCNT) Indicating that some were resisting Paul's instruction.

'contentious' -5380. philoneikos fil-on'-i-kos; from 5384 and neikos (a quarrel; probably akin to 3534); fond of strife,

i.e. disputatious: -contentious. 'Loving contention'.

'Those in the first century who refused to accept what Paul said about submitting to the customs of the day which did not interfere with one's service to God were troublemakers--men and women who have to be different for the sake of being different...Christians should not be people who are fond of strife.' (Willis p. 377)

'we have no such custom' -'The words "such practice", therefore, must refer to that which the "contentious" are advocating, and which this argument has been combating.' (Fee p. 530) 'That is not how it is done in the Church of God! Women don't pray or prophesy unveiled.' (McGuiggan p. 154)

'custom' -4914. sunetheia soon-ay'-thi-ah; from a compound of 4862 and 2239; mutual habituation, i.e. usage: -custom.

Only used here and in Joh_18:39 , 'an established custom, usage or habit.' In Joh_18:39 it is used of the general practice (custom) of the Roman governor to release one of the Jewish prisoners on the Passover.

This seems to add the final proof that the veil was a "custom" and not a divine regulation. And as long as Corinthian society attached the meaning of femininity and subjection to the veil, the Christians here were to respect the custom.

'neither the churches of God' -'This is now the third time that Paul had tired to correct the Corinthian behavior by appealing to what is taught or practiced in the other churches.' (Fee p. 530) (4:17; 7:17)


1. 'It is the fashion to decry convention; but a man should always think twice before he defies the conventions and shocks others. True, he must never be the slave of convention, but conventions did not arise for nothing.' (Barclay p. 110)

2. Christians are to respect the morally neutral "customs" of the society in which they live. ( 1Co_9:19-23 )

3. A distinction between the sexes is healthy for any society.

4. The male-female relationship established at creation still stands.

5. When it comes to "custom", what people "think" must be considered. If something is viewed as "belonging to a women", then Christian men need to avoid it. It something is viewed as being "mannish", then Christian women need to avoid it. Our task isn't to "shock" society, rather it is to save souls.

6. The main point isn't that Christian women today in the West don't need to wear the veil, because our society doesn't attach the same significance to it. The point is rather: What sort of things DOES OUR SOCIETY attach "femininity and subjection" to, and what sort of things does our society attach "dominance, masculinity and mannishness" to. And then, in view of that, Christian men and women need to "keep their place."

7. Christian men and women are never to be on the cutting edge of getting rid of a morally neutral custom, that does reflect a biblical truth.

Verse 17

1Co_11:17 But in giving you this charge, I praise you not, that ye come together not for the better but for the worse.

'in giving you this charge' -'this instruction' (NASV). 'It can refer to the instructions found in 11:2-16 or what follows.' (Willis p. 389) 'And, while instructing you, let me mention one thing about which I cannot give you praise.' (Nor)

'I praise you not' -frank and to the point. Paul refuses to hand out praise which doesn't reflect the reality of the situation. Paul and Jesus both realized that there is a time when "encouragement" won't work and when "rebuke" is needed. ( 2Ti_4:2 ; Revelation Chapters 2-3)

'that ye come together' -often mentioned in this context. (11:18,20,33) When the Church assembles. 'The Corinthian problem was not their failure to gather, but their failure to truly to be God's new people when they gathered.' (Fee p. 536)

Point to Note:

If Paul sternly rebukes Christians that were 'gathering together', and so does Jesus (Revelation Chapters 2-3). Then how does God feel about those Christians that don't even have enough motivation to 'gather' on a regular basis? At least the Corinthians were gathering! And yet, they were sternly rebuked.

'not for the better but for the worse' -i.e. in such a way that they were doing more harm than good.

Points to Note:

1. This is not the first time that the public worship of God because of human "tinkering" and "abuse" has resulted in more harm than good. ( Gen_4:3 ff; Lev_10:1-3 ; Mal_1:6-14 ; Ecc_5:1-5 )

2. Some are under the mistaken impression that no possible evil or harm can be found in a worship service. Such is false. In fact, worshipping God can be hazardous to your health. If you are ignoring His instructions, stubbornly holding to sin at the same time ( Pro_15:8 ; Pro_28:9 ); simply going through the motions ( Mat_6:7 ; Mat_15:8-9 ); from wrong motives ( Mat_6:1-5 ); or following the rules of men instead of the will of God. ( Mat_15:9 ) Sin can be committed in the very act of worshipping God. ( 1Co_11:27-29 ) Religious people can assemble to worship God and instead of gaining God's favor, they can bring upon themselves condemnation. (11:34)

3. God is not obligated to accept everything that man deems to be worship!

4. The worship services of the local congregation should result in "good". Something is wrong if the assemblies of the Church are failing to "edify", i.e. spiritually build up it's members. ( Heb_10:22-25 ; 1Co_14:26 )

A word of warning here exists for congregations which are so caught up in strife, that the service times are dreaded instead of cherished.

Paul now will explain "how" the assemblies of the church in Corinth were resulting in more harm than good.

Verse 18

1Co_11:18 For first of all, when ye come together in the church, I hear that divisions exist among you; and I partly believe it.

'first of all' -'in the first place' (NASV) 'Paul did not follow up his form "first of all" with a "secondly". Hence, there is some discussion regarding what the "secondly" is. Some consider that it refers to the "rest" of v. 34...A more likely explanation is that the second matter is the problem of spiritual gifts which begins in 12:1'. (Willis p. 390)

'when ye come together in the church' -i.e. assemble.

'I hear' -'The rumors of strife were constant (I keep on hearing)' (Robertson p. 163) 'The pr. "I am hearing" suggests..continued information from various quarters.' (Gr. Ex. N.T. p. 877)

'divisions exist among you' -not necessarily the divisions of 1:11-13, but rather divisions that were happening during the assembly and specifically surrounding the partaking of the Lord's Supper. Divisions that he will define for us.

'divisions' -4978. schisma skhis'-mah; from 4977; a split or gap ("schism"), literally or figuratively: -division, rent, schism.

'and I partly believe it' -'and I think there must be truth in what I hear.' (Phi) This statement makes the Corinthians know that Paul isn't blindly believing every rumor about them, and yet at the same time, Paul's sources are credible, trustworthy and very concerned about the church in Corinth. There comes a point that so much evidence has added up that you can't ignore it.

Point to Note:

A great lesson is here to be learned. This abuse didn't take Paul by surprise, seeing all the other problems and abuses the Corinthians were involved in. At times we are our own worst enemy. If your not living right, if your life is inconsistent, if your having personal problems, it is very logical that people (yes, even members of the church) will tend to believe or place more credit in an accusation against you, than, if your life had been consistent before the accusation.

The best way to protect yourself against unfounded accusations, is to live a consistent life! A track record that includes an inconsistent life, virtually condemns you, even if the specific accusation happens to be false.

In that situation, you must recognize the fact that your past life of inconsistency and spiritual weakness is the worst possible evidence against you, and in a sense you happen to be your own worst critic and accuser.

Verse 19

1Co_11:19 For there must be also factions among you, that they that are approved may be made manifest among you.

'For there must be' -'Paul isn't suggesting that God has determined that there be divisions in the assembly.' (McGuiggan p. 156)

'must' -the necessity of these divisions, lies in the moral conditions that have been allowed to exist in this congregation. (Chapters 1-6)

**WARNING: Congregations often create their own woes. Sin that isn't dealt with, subjects that aren't preached upon, brothers or sisters that refuse to reconcile, ALL ADD UP AND LEAD TO FURTHER PROBLEMS.**

'factions' -referring to the 'divisions' of the previous verse.

But someone might argue, then why does God allow such things among His people?

'they that are approved' -'those who have God's approval' (Bas); 'that those who are genuine' (RSV)

'approved' -1384. dokimos dok'-ee-mos; from 1380; properly, acceptable (current after assayal), i.e. approved: -approved, tried.

'When ungodliness manifests itself as division, keep your eyes open and the righteous will shine forth...So, the divisions act as a black velvet background..against which people approved of God are highlighted.' (McGuiggan p. 156)

'Such "divisions" have the net effect of revealing those who are genuinely Christ's.' (Fee p. 539)

'They serve to sift the loyal from the disloyal.' (Gr. Ex. N.T. p. 877)

'manifest' -'clearly seen' (Bas); 'recognized' (RSV); 'distinguished from the rest.' (Knox)

God expects Christians to maintain godly attitudes and behavior, even in the midst of congregational division.

Verse 20

1Co_11:20 When therefore ye assemble yourselves together, it is not possible to eat the Lord's supper:

'it is not possible' -'it is not to eat the Lord's Supper' (NASV)

They would of claimed that they were eating the Lord's Supper. What Paul means by "not possible", is that in an environment which fosters strife and division and the abuses cited in the following verses, truly partaking of the Lord's Supper was a moral impossibility.

Points to Note:

1. 'When therefore ye assemble yourselves together': In the NT we always find the Lord's Supper in an assembly context. ( Act_2:42 ; Act_20:7 ) Indicating that God doesn't want Christians partaking of it on a private basis outside of the assembly.

2. 'Lord's Supper'-i.e. belonging to the Lord. ( Rev_1:10 ) 'The word "supper" is used because the evening meal was the most important meal of the day and not because of the time at which it was observed.' (Willis p. 393)

3. A clear warning exists here for Christians: A local congregation of God's people can so behave, that it becomes "impossible" for them to partake of the Lord's Supper.

Verse 21

1Co_11:21 for in your eating each one taketh before other his own supper; and one is hungry, and another is drunken.

'for' -Paul's last statement is justified. No, what they were eating was not the Lord's Supper. He now explains the abuse.

Points to Note:

1. In most commentaries, at this point you will run into what has been called "the love feast." The following explanation is typical:

'They had their occasion in the custom of uniting the sacrament (Lord's Supper) with a "love feast" or common meal of which the Christians usually partook at the beginning of their assemblies. According to the custom, each person brought with him provisions according to his ability. The rich brought much, while the poor brought little or nothing. Thus provision was made for all...However, as the meal was begun, or sometimes at its close, the participants observed in simplest manner the memorial Supper which Christ had instituted.' (Erdman p. 115)

2. The following passages are offered to support the idea that God approved of such common meals in the assembly.

Act_2:42 : Yet "breaking of bread" in this passage refers to the Lord's Supper. Notice the other spiritual items in the same passage.

Act_2:46 : This is a common meal. But note, such a meal is partaken by Christians 'from house to house'. In fact this verse seems to place a division between their spiritual activities ('in the temple') and their social activities.

Act_6:1-2 : This is a benevolent activity, not a social or recreational one. In addition, the church didn't feed every member, the feast mentioned here was solely for widows/poor.

Act_20:7-11 : 'Break bread' in verse 7 is the Lord's Supper. "Broken the bread" in 20:11 seems to be a common meal, and yet nothing is said about the whole congregation joining in. What seems more likely is that since Paul must leave that morning, he himself has taken some nourishment.

Verse 22

1Co_11:22 What, have ye not houses to eat and to drink in? or despise ye the church of God, and put them to shame that have not? What shall I say to you? shall I praise you? In this I praise you not.

'What, have ye not houses to eat and to drink in?' -'brings an ironical excuse: "For I suppose you act thus because you are houseless, and must satisfy your appetite at church!"...If this voracity cannot be excused by a physical need which the offenders had no other means of supplying....' (Gr. Ex. N.T. p. 879)

'or despise ye the church of God' -'Or do you mean to show your contempt for the church of God.' (Gspd) 'The behavior indicates that the church counts for nothing in their eyes..' (Fee p. 544)

'In the question: "Why do you not use your houses?" there lies the graver one : "Why do you so use the church?" This is the graver, for to use the church in this manner is to degrade it, hence to look down on it, to despise it..Has the congregation forgotten so completely that this is "God's gathering?" (Lenski p. 460)

Points to Note:

1. We despise the church of God, when we make it into what we want it to be, i.e. a place of recreation and socializing.

2. These verses present serious questions for many modern religious bodies:

'He is not only condemning the refusal of the rich to share with the poor, he is forbidding altogether the practice of eating a common meal at the public assembly. I wonder why this verse does not say as much to those who have "fellowship dinners" in the twentieth century as it said to those in the first century.' (Willis p. 395)

3. In fact, many religious bodies have even "gone beyond" what the Corinthians were doing. The Corinthians were simply bringing their own meals to services with them, meals that they had purchased with their own money. What would Paul say about congregations which have spent the Lords money (not their own)..to build a place of worship that is equally a place of recreation? If Paul condemned the Corinthians for bringing their meals (bought with their own money) into the assembly, what would Paul say about congregations that deliberately spend the Lord's money to build a kitchen to cook such meals, to buy all the food consumed at such meals, to build the room to eat such meals, and then build a gym that members can then go and "run off" such meals????

'and put them to shame that have not?' -'shame those who have nothing?' (NASV) Hence we have a division in social and economic classes happening in the church in Corinth. 'It seems obvious from the description of this common meal at Corinth that it was not a means of charity; rather, its sole purpose appears to have been recreational.' (Willis p. 396)

It appears that "pride" was also behind these divisions. These improvised common meals, gave the rich a chance to flaunt their prosperity, and to use the place in which the church assembled as a dining hall.

'What shall I say to you?' -Paul shows amazing restraint. 'Am I to commend this sort of conduct?' (Phi)

Point to Note:

We determine whether we get praise or condemnation.


'With calm patience Paul sets to work to repeat his original instruction to these disorderly Corinthians.' (Lenski p. 461)

Verse 23

1Co_11:23 For I received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, that the Lord Jesus in the night in which he was betrayed took bread;

'I received of the Lord' -the original source for all his teaching. ( Joh_14:26 ; Joh_16:13 ; 1Co_2:9-13 ; Eph_3:3-5 ) Here is a claim to inspiration. ( Gal_1:11-12 )

'that which also I delivered unto you' -Paul had taught them (in the past), exactly what Jesus had revealed to him. Paul had not been presumptuous to alter it, but the Corinthians had. Of the "traditions" that they claimed to be keeping, this was not one of them. (11:2)

Points to Note:

1. The only way to correct the abuse of a biblical practice, is to get back to the original instruction. The restoration of NT Christianity can only happen by "going back to the Bible." This was Paul's method!

2. Paul doesn't correct the "common meal". He has placed all such meals outside the assembly. He presents the correct view of the Lord's Supper, indicating that the only meal which the congregation is to sponsor, which Christians are to partake of when assembled for worship, is the Lord's Supper.

3. Paul, an apostle of the Lord, refused to improvise or alter the original instruction given by Jesus.

'the night in which he was betrayed' -'The Master, knowing of the betrayer, still offered himself! ' (McGuiggan p. 158)

Being sold out by others, being forsaken and abandoned, being stabbed in the back by a professed friend, being let down by "brethren", didn't stop Jesus from doing God's will! How can we let it stop us? He instituted the Lord's Supper while His betrayal was going on.

There is a great contrast here between the serious and solemn occasion when Jesus instituted this feast and the careless manner in which the Corinthians were handling it. As we partake of the Lord's Supper, let us remember not only the death of Christ, but the circumstances and the various trials He was facing in instituting the Supper itself.

Verse 24

1Co_11:24 and when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, This is my body, which is for you: this do in remembrance of me.

'he brake it' -the only bread available to Jesus during the Passover, would of been unleavened bread. ( Mat_26:17-19 ; Exo_12:15 ff)

'This is my body' -'There is one simple fact which precludes us from taking this with crude literalism. When Jesus said this He was still in the body ; and there was nothing clearer than that His body and the bread at the moment He said this were quite different things.' (Barclay p. 115)

'which is for you' -i.e. given as a sacrifice for your sins.

'do' -'be doing and continue doing' (Vincent p. 251) A divine command from Jesus Himself. The Lord's Supper isn't an option.

'in remembrance of me' -'Do this to remember me' (Beck) 'In the biblical sense "remembrance" is more than a mental exercise; it involves a realization of what is remembered.' (F.F. Bruce p. 111)

Points to Note:

1. This statement at the Last Supper implied that Jesus' presence among His disciples in bodily form wasn't to be permanent.

2. This statement also implies that Jesus expected His disciples to partake on a regular basis. ( Act_2:42 ; Act_20:7 )

Verse 25

1Co_11:25 In like manner also the cup, after supper, saying, This cup is the new covenant in my blood: this do, as often as ye drink it, in remembrance of me.

'In like manner' -in the same way, i.e. the Lord also gave thanks before the cup. ( Mar_14:23 )

'after supper' -i.e. after the Passover Supper. ( Luk_22:20 )

'this cup' -not the container, but what was in the cup. For one "drinks" the contents, not the actual cup.

'is the new covenant in my blood' -

Points to Note:

1. Therefore, the new covenant was not established until Jesus shed His blood, i.e. gave His life. ( Heb_9:15-17 )

2. Which also means that the First Covenant has been removed. ( Heb_8:6-13 ; Heb_9:1-4 )

3. A covenant that would offer forgiveness of sins. ( Mat_26:28 ; Jer_31:31-34 ) And seeing that forgiveness was offered on the day of Pentecost ( Act_2:38 ), therefore we know that the NT was in force. And salvation for all that live this side of the cross, is conditioned upon faith, repentance, confession and baptism. ( Act_2:38 ; Act_8:35-38 ; Mar_16:16 )

'this do' -note: All Christians partook of both elements, the cup wasn't withheld from any Christian in the first century. We are commanded to partake of the cup, just as much as we are commanded to partake of the bread.

'as often as ye drink it' -again, indicating frequency.

Verse 26

1Co_11:26 For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink the cup, ye proclaim the Lord's death till he come.

'proclaim' -2605. kataggello kat-ang-gel'-lo; from 2596 and the base of 32; to proclaim, promulgate: -declare, preach, shew, speak of, teach.

-'you are heralding' (Knox); 're-telling the message' (Tay). This is the only memorial that Jesus gave us for remembering His death. 'For as often as' and 'till he come', indicates that no other memorial will be given. Hence the Easter celebration, which basically celebrates the same thing, finds itself as an addition to the Scriptures. ( 2Jn_1:9 )

Therefore, a congregation that doesn't offer the Lord's Supper "often" ( Act_20:7 ); or offers it, but members don't partake (Jehovah Witnesses), doesn't "proclaim" the Lord's death.

'till he come' -

'SO HE DIDN'T STAY DEAD!)..It wasn't a memorial to some "dear departed"' (McGuiggan p. 159) In addition, 'till he come' suggests that the Lord's Supper includes a remembrance of His resurrection and Second Coming also. For without either event, His death becomes rather meaningless.

Note: The bread and the cup TOGETHER signify the Lord's death.


Verse 27

1Co_11:27 Wherefore whosoever shall eat the bread or drink the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner, shall be guilty of the body and the blood of the Lord.

'Wherefore' -In view of the serious realities that this supper represents. (11:23-26) Seeing that this supper reflects the very foundation of Christianity.

'whosoever' -God is no respecter of persons. Rich or poor, slave or free, male or female.

'in an unworthy manner' -'in a wrong spirit' (Bas); 'in an unworthy way' (Wms). 'The unworthiness of the participant is one thing; the unworthy manner of participation is quite another.' (Erdman p. 117)

'Though we may be unworthy (and all are unworthy of the death of Christ- Rom_3:23 ; Rom_5:8-9 ) we may still eat worthily, i.e. in a prayerful, reverent, repentant spirit.' (McGarvey p. 118)

In the context we have an example of what an "unworthy manner" would be, i.e. treating the Lord's Supper as a common meal. (11:21)

'shall be guilty' -'the adjective "guilty" is a technical legal term to express liability...either "guilty of sinning against the Lord" in some way, or "to be held liable for his death" which the body and blood represent.' (Fee p. 560)

Therefore disrespect shown towards the Lord's Supper, is disrespect shown towards the death of Christ, and places one in the same moral category as those who crucified Him in the first place. ( Heb_10:29 )

Verse 28

1Co_11:28 But let a man prove himself, and so let him eat of the bread, and drink of the cup.

'prove himself' -'have self-examination' (Ber); 'test himself' (Mof); 'Let each man look into his own heart.' (TCNT)

Points to Note:

1. Each individual examines their own life. There is no instruction given here for the congregation to close this supper to those that the congregation feels are not worthy.

2. This "proving" isn't to determine if you are worthy or not (for none are- 1Jn_1:8 ). Rather the purpose for it is to avoid eating in an "unworthy manner", i.e. partaking in a careless or flippant manner.

3. There is no instruction given here for the congregation to have a "preparatory or confessional service" prior to communion.

'But no one need be guilty of this. Self-examination is the answer. What do I mean by this action? What does the Supper say of me? How am I responding to the selfless giving of the Lord? What difference does this make to me? What am I remembering when I eat and drink?' (McGuiggan p. 159)

'so let him eat' -'and only then should he eat' (Phi)

This verse demands that individual Christians must take the initiative to prepare themselves for the worship of God! This is something that the congregation can't do for you.

Verse 29

1Co_11:29 For he that eateth and drinketh, eateth and drinketh judgment unto himself, if he discern not the body.

'judgement' -2917. krima kree'-mah; from 2919; a decision (the function or the effect, for or against ["crime"]): -avenge, condemned, condemnation, damnation, + go to law, judgment.

'unto himself' -'brings a judgement upon himself' (TCNT)

'discern' -1252. diakrino dee-ak-ree'-no; from 1223 and 2919; to separate thoroughly, i.e. (literally and reflexively) to withdraw from, or (by implication) oppose; figuratively, to discriminate (by implication, decide), or (reflexively) hesitate: -contend, make (to) differ(-ence), discern, doubt, judge, be partial, stagger, waver.

-'to distinguish, to judge correctly' (Willis p. 404) 'Failure to recognize the Lord's body, that is, reflect on his death, as they eat.' (Fee p. 563) Part of this discerning, would be, distinguishing between this "supper" and all other suppers. (11:21)

Verse 30

1Co_11:30 For this cause many among you are weak and sickly, and not a few sleep.

'For this cause' -relates the conditions that follow to the improper partaking of the previous verses. Because of their abuse of the Lord's Supper the following conditions are present among them.

'many' -'It is this careless participation which is the reason for the many..' (Phi) 'A sufficient number--something like our " plenty of you ".' (Gr. Ex. N.T. p. 883)

'are weak and sickly' -the vast majority of commentators take this verse to refer to physical aliments, diseases and even physical death ("sleep") that has come upon many in the Corinthian church because they have abused the Lord's Supper.

Points to Note:

1. In the New Testament we do find that some diseases and some deaths were the consequence of sin. ( Act_5:1-11 ; Act_13:9-11 ; Rom_1:27 ; Gal_6:8 )

2. The key verse in this section in determining whether these passages refer to physical disease brought on because of sin or spiritual weakness...is verse 32. Paul seems to be saying that what has happened to the Corinthians is "chastening" from the Lord (31-32), with the hope that such "chastening" will turn them around, so they don't end up condemned with the rest of the world. Willis makes a good point when he says:

'How can physical death lead one to repentance? Will the soul which was stricken dead because it took of the Lord's Supper unworthily be saved?' (p. 405)

'and not a few sleep' -i.e. are spiritually dead. Not hard to believe at this point in the letter.

Verse 31

1Co_11:31 But if we discerned ourselves, we should not be judged.

'discerned ourselves' -'If you carefully examine yourselves before eating.'(Tay) (11:28) If they had only practiced what Paul had taught them! Following the Bible the first time around can save you a lot of trouble. In fact, in can keep you in fellowship with God. ( 2Jn_1:9 )

'we should not be judged' -this implies that the Corinthians are not properly examining themselves and thus are suffering the consequences cited in verse 30. How much pain and heartache do we bring upon ourselves because of our own selfish choices and our refusal to obey?

Verse 30 also reveals the truth that spiritual weakness is one's own fault. It is the result of making foolish and selfish choices.

Verse 32

1Co_11:32 But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we may not be condemned with the world.

'when we are judged' -the judgements of verse 30 are not designed to result in their eternal loss; but rather are to be viewed as "discipline" from God, with the hope that these Christians will "wake up" and escape eternal ruin.

'chastened of the Lord' -'he is discipling us' (NEB) ( Heb_12:7 )

'that we may not be' -note the 'may not'. This is the hope behind such discipline. But the individual Christian must decide if they will respond or not. ( Heb_12:5-6 )

'condemned with the world' -

Points to Note:

1. God won't save everyone. Paul didn't see any hope for unbelievers that refuse to repent. ( 2Th_1:7-9 ) Neither did Jesus. ( Mar_16:16 ; Joh_3:17 )

2. Again, we are faced with the reality that Christians can lose their salvation.

3. Every Christian doesn't profit from the "chastening" that God brings upon him or her. Again, the choice to profit from such discipline or ignore it is left up to the choice of the individual ( Jam_1:2-4 ). Hence, if we end up lost, we made that choice, not God. ( 2Pe_3:9 )

Verse 33

1Co_11:33 Wherefore, my brethren, when ye come together to eat, wait one for another.

'Wherefore' -the conclusion, 'applying the results of this argument in a very specific way to their situation.' (Fee p. 567)

'my brethren' -affection in the midst of severe rebuke.

'when ye come together to eat, wait one for another' -clearly this is not referring to their practice of common meals. Paul placed that practice outside the assembly. (11:22) Paul is here referring to the Lord's Supper. This is an 'eating' that is placed in contrast to a 'eating' that is caused by hunger (11:34).

'wait one for another' -'Possibly, the poor were slaves who had to work late.' (Willis p. 408)

Verse 34

1Co_11:34 If any man is hungry, let him eat at home; that your coming together be not unto judgment. And the rest will I set in order whensoever I come.

'If any man is hungry' -any feast that was to satisfy hunger is to be observed at home first.

'any man' -this applied to all, rich and poor. Therefore, the apostle Paul did not recognize the idea that the early church was supposed to have a meal during services at which the rich shared their food with the poor. Which means that the statment, "wait for another" in 11:33 cannot be interpreted as meaning, "you rich people wait for the poor until you begin the potluck."

'let him at home' -i.e. wherever home was. This didn't apply only to those who owned homes. The slave was to eat at home first also, i.e. in the home of his master.

'that' -the purpose for this instruction.

'your coming together' -when you assemble.

'be not unto judgement' -'you must not gather, only to incur condemnation.' (Mof)

Point to Note:

In view of this last statement, why would any Christians advocate that the church should build kitchens and banquet rooms in the structure that it uses to hold it's worship services, including the Lord's Supper?

'And the rest I will set in order whensoever I come' -'he has found much fault with this church, but he has not told all.' (Robertson p. 166) 'There are other questions which I shall try to settle in person when I come.' (Nor)


1. Those that try to use the "love feast" which many commentators refer to, in order to justify "fellowship meals or fellowship halls" find themselves with many problems.

a. This chapter removes whatever was going on at Corinth (whether a meal which the Lord's Supper followed or the Lord's Supper that had been made into a meal) from the assembly. (11:22,34)

b. Supposedly the "love feast" was a meal in which the wealthier members of the congregation brought enough portions for themselves and the poor, i.e. a meal that was more benevolent than recreational. Most modern fellowship meals fail to find a parallel, seeing that most of them serve no benevolent purpose. And in other cases, either the church picks up the tab for the meal, or actual admission is charged, i.e. the meal is used to raise funds for some church project.

2. And conservative members of the Church of Christ, haven't been the first individuals to see this:

'Years ago, John Calvin commented, "We know what the Church ought to meet together to do; to hear teaching; to pour out prayers and sing hymns to God; to celebrate the mysteries (the Lord's Supper); to make confession of our faith; to take part in religious rites and other godly exercises. Anything else that is done there is out of place. Each person has a home of his own, which is intended for him to eat in and drink in; it is therefore improper to do these things in the gathering for worship."' (Willis pp. 408-409)

Bibliographical Information
Dunagan, Mark. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 11". "Dunagan's Commentaries on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/dun/1-corinthians-11.html. 1999-2014.
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