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Sunday, April 14th, 2024
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Bible Commentaries
1 Corinthians 11

Godbey's Commentary on the New TestamentGodbey's NT Commentary

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Verse 1

1. Be ye imitators of me as I am of Christ.” Not even an apostle enjoyed a right to human leadership, only so far as he was in harmony with Christ. Hence the utter futility and glaring preposterosity of all human leadership. All we can do is to walk in the footprints of Jesus, and shout aloud:

“Follow me as I follow the Lord.” The clergy men in the fallen churches have in all ages sought to lead the people, and demanded their obedience. Entire sanctification saves us all from human leadership. Hence it has been antagonized by the ruling clergy, who have usurped the prerogative of the Holy Ghost and constituted themselves leaders in all ages.

Verse 2

2. I praise you because you imitate me in all things, and hold fast the instructions as I delivered them to you.” The original word here is not “ordinances,” as in E.V., but “traditions,” which really means everything transmitted to the people by the Savior and apostles, both written and unwritten. I use the word “instructions” as the more comprehensive and the freer from ambiguity.

Verses 3-15


4. Every man praying or prophesying having something on his head dishonors his head.

5. Every woman praying or prophesying with her head uncovered dishonors her head

7. For the man indeed ought not to cover his head, being the image and glory of God, but the woman is the glory of the man

10. On this account the woman ought to have authority on her head on account of the angels.”

Verse 16

16. If any one seem to be contentious, we have no such custom, neither do the churches of God.” During Paul’s absence of three years in Asia many changes had taken place among them. A multitude of preachers from Judea, and other countries, had been there preaching; Peter, Apollos and other godly heralds of truth and righteousness, and still others whose Christian character was probably to be discounted. Many had backslidden. The church was racked with controversies on many different lines. Among other things, they wrote to Paul in reference to the women who were preaching among them bareheaded, like men, raising no controversy about their preaching and praying and taking an active part in the public worship, as Priscilla and others had done while Paul was with them. But there was quite a criticism against the habit of some of their women preaching and praying bareheaded, like men, the costume at that day being so identical among men and women that the veil of the latter and the shorn locks of the former became the ordinary designation of the sexes. While Paul is disposed to lay no emphasis on the latter, stating to them that it is unworthy of controversy, because the churches have no fixed custom requiring the woman to have something on her head when she exercises in public, yet, for the sake of harmony and to obviate unprofitable criticism, he advises all of the sisters to put something on their heads when they pray and preach in the meetings, setting forth a beautiful concatenation, beginning with God, then Christ, then the husband and then the wife. God is over Christ, and Christ over the husband, and the husband over the wife in the domestic government, which is the basis of all civil society and state government. The man is to have nothing on his head, indicative of the fact that he is king in the home government, no earthly authority being over him; while the woman is to have something on her head, symbolic of her husband’s authority over her. The apostle reminds them that the angels are present in their meetings, which is a beautiful and consolatory truth. We should remember that a portion of our congregations is unseen by mortal eyes, and yet present, i. e., “ministering angels hovering round.” As we fix up to go out in company, we ought to be decorous in the presence of the angels. Hence he advises the women to extend courtesy not only to the human portion of the audience, but to the angels present, by putting something on their heads so they wouldn’t look odd nor uncouth. While he thus answers their questions, advising the women praying and preaching to wear something on their heads by way of decorum, relieving them of unnecessary criticism, at the same time he attaches no gravity to it, as there is no such principle settled in the churches.

Verses 18-19


We must remember that the Lord’s Supper’ was instituted by our Savior immediately after the last meal He ate with His apostles. During the apostolic age they perpetuated that custom of having a social, religious meal, and eating together in commemoration of the last Supper of our Lord and His apostles and exhibitory of their love to one another. For this reason, John Wesley revived the love feast. In connection with this love feast, which preceded the Eucharist, they had run into some irregularities which the apostle here endeavors to correct, stating to them that their coming together is “not for the better, but for the worse.”

18-19. For in the first place, indeed your coming together in the church, I hear there are schisms among you, and I partially believe it. For it behooveth that there be heresies among you in order that the approved among you may be made manifest.” Darkness prepares us to appreciate the light of day. Adversity qualifies us for prosperity, and the world is made up of antitheses. Everything has its antithetical counterpart. Hence “all things work together for good to them that love God” (Romans 8:38); i. e., everything in the universe, in the wonderful redemption of Christ, is made a blessing to His true people. Even the schisms and heresies with which He sees fit to inflict the church become a great source of blessing to the truly humble, meek and lowly by way of profitable illustration and admonition. The prevailing worldliness and wickedness in the churches today are ousting the true hearts from the incantations of Satan’s oblivious lullabies, and stirring them out to wake up and appreciate the glorious gospel of entire sanctification.

Verse 21

21. He here alludes to the fact that in this meal which preceded the sacrament, and in its original institution was simple and frugal, demonstrative of their love to one another some of them have gone to excess, actually eating to gluttony and drinking to drunkenness. This was not the sacrament, but the meal which preceded it, called the agapee, i. e., the love feast.

Verse 22

22. For have you not houses in which to eat and drink, or do you look down with contempt on the church of God, and shaming those not having? What do I say to you? Shall I praise you? In this I do not praise you.” This is a withering rebuke to the church festivals of our day, setting forth the fact that they are utterly inappropriate in the house of God, because they are even much more extravagant and luxuriant and hilarious than these Corinthian festivals.

Verses 23-25


Mark 14:22-25 ; Luk 22:19-20 ; 1 Corinthians 11:23-25 ; Matthew 26:26-29 . “And while they were eating, Jesus taking bread and blessing it, broke it, and gave it to His disciples, and said, This is My body;” i. e., our Lord’s body in symbol, there being no argument here either for the Romish transubstantiation or the Lutheran consubstantiation. Joseph said, in the interpretation of the dreams of Pharaoh’s chief baker and chief butler, “The three vines are three days,” “The three baskets are three days,” simply signifying that they represent three days. “And taking the cup, and blessing it, He gave to them, saying, Drink you all from this; for this is My blood of the New Covenant, which is poured out for many unto the remission of sins. And I say unto you, that I shall no more drink of this fruit of the vine, until that day when I may drink it new with you in the kingdom of My Father.” Here you see that the Eucharist, on this occasion instituted by our Lord, was prospective as well as retrospective, looking forward to our Lord’s return in His glorious kingdom, when it will actually be celebrated through all the millennial centuries down to the end of time, our glorified Lord being here with us. Hence you see the deep and thrilling interest of this institution, which our Savior established at this memorable epoch, the very night of His betrayal and arrest; not only retrospecting the tragical scene of Calvary, when He gave His body and His blood a vicarious offering to redeem the whole world, and sustain the spiritual life of the saints by faith drinking His blood i. e., appropriating perpetually its cleansing and sanctifying efficacy, and feeding on His body each fleeting moment and by faith apprehending and appropriating the wonderful promises of the resurrection, translation, transfiguration, and assimilation of our mortal bodies to His glorious body; but sweeping on beyond His second advent into the happy centuries of the glorious Millennial Theocracy, when our Lord will again abide with His saints on the earth, enveloping the globe with the glory of His kingdom, Satan having been ejected and imprisoned, and will, as He here says, again celebrate this wonderful Eucharist with His disciples, this memorial institution running on down to the end of time. Now, you must not confound the Passover meal, which they all ate while Judas was with them, with the Eucharist, which our Lord instituted after the supper, Judas having gone away and joined His enemies, the former being the closing out of the memorable Passover, which they had celebrated fifteen hundred years, now normally evanescing, as all the emblematic lambs are verified in the great Antitype the Lamb of God, that taketh away the sin of the world; the latter being a new institution, vividly commemorative of bloody Calvary, and equally and lucidly pointing down to our Lord’s glorious return to this world, when, as He here says, He will again join with His saints in the celebration of this institution, a perpetual and vivid reminder of the stupendous redemption of the whole human race.

Verse 26

26. As often as you may eat this bread and drink this cup, you do show forth the death of the Lord until He may come.” Hence we see the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper is to be perpetuated until He returns to the earth, since it is a memento of our absent Lord. It is a valuable means of grace, perpetuatory of our membership in the visible church, as our baptism is initiatory.

Verse 27

27. So whosoever may eat the bread or drink the cup unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord.” What an awful responsibility! How consummate the delusions of the devil, which have long ago girdled the world with wicked carnal communicants, thus involving themselves in the guilt of the Lord’s innocent blood, shed by the diabolical rabble led on by the fallen clergy.

Verse 28

28. Let a man examine himself and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup.” Here the close communionists make the sad mistake of examining the communicant themselves, which they have no right to do. Every tub stands on its own bottom. This is a matter which every soul is to settle with God alone.

Verse 29

29. For he that eateth and drinketh not discerning the body, eateth and drinketh condemnation to himself.” We need the light and truth of the Holy Ghost to enable us spiritually to discern the Lord’s body broken in the bread and His blood flowing in the wine. “Damnation,” as in E.V., does not occur in this life. The Greek krima means “condemnation” here and “damnation” hereafter. Oh! What a wholesale damnation work Satan is doing! Deluding millions of poor unsaved, wicked, worldly, carnal people, to crowd the sacramental board, without the light of the Holy Ghost shining in their hearts, to discern the Lord’s body in the holy sacrament, and thus eating condemnation now and damnation in the world to come. Thus multitudes of proud, carnal church members, who in their hearts despise the humiliation of the cross, and could not be induced to come to the altar to consecrate themselves to God and get His blessing in their poor lost souls, are ready to crowd around the chancel and partake of the holy sacrament.

Verse 31

31. On this account many among you are weak and sickly and some sleep,” i. e., sleep the sleep of spiritual death. In this age of apostasy and worldliness, this sad truth is simply appalling.

Verses 32-34

32-34. He here states the utter futility of human judgment, hence the vanity of all attempts to evade the voice of Divine truth, at the same time the wisdom of humble acquiescence in the verdict of the Holy Ghost, as “being judged by the Lord we are disciplined, so that we may not be condemned along with the world in the great day.” Oh! that the carnal millions in the popular churches would thus heed this warning; receive the needed discipline and be corrected thereby, repent and fly to God, and get ready for the Judgment Day! Writing all of these castigatory criticisms against them, he hopes for a great reform in his absence, assuring them that when he comes, he will not only correct all of these but others.

Bibliographical Information
Godbey, William. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 11". "Godbey's Commentary on the New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ges/1-corinthians-11.html.
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