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Bible Commentaries

Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible

1 Corinthians 11

Verse 1

1 Corinthians 10:23 to 1 Corinthians 11:1. From the meal in the idol's temple Paul passes to the question as it arose in daily life. He repeats that while all might be lawful all was not expedient (1 Corinthians 6:12) or tended to edify. Each must study his brother's interest rather than his own. What was exposed for sale in the meat market might be freely bought without question as to its antecedents, for it belonged to God. If they accepted a heathen's invitation (Paul does not encourage them to do so), they should similarly eat without question. But if anyone volunteers the information that certain food has been offered in sacrifice, they should abstain. Perhaps the weak brother is the informer, though he would not be likely to accept the invitation or be in a position to make this definite statement. It may quite well be a heathen, possibly the host who would best know the origin of the meat. If so, he saves his Christian guest from violating his principles. He assumes that he will have a conscientious objection to such food. The Christian may really have no such scruples, and could, therefore, take the meat freely. But the heathen would inevitably regard him as untrue to his convictions and playing fast and loose with religion. And this will prejudice him against Christianity, but it may also blunt his own conscience to see conscience thus apparently flouted. Another's conscience must not be made the measure of one's own, nor can one be censured for eating food over which thanks has been pronounced. All must be done to God's glory without placing a hindrance before the Jews, heathen, or Christians, just as Paul seeks the profit of others for their salvation, so they should make him their pattern, as he makes Christ his own.

Verses 2-16

. Women must be Veiled in the Christian Assemblies.—It is not clear whether this subject was discussed in the church letter.

Verses 7-34

. The Desecration of the Lord's Supper.—Paul feels that in one respect he must restrict his praise. Their meetings damage rather than profit them. He cannot help believing part of what he hears about their divisions. To be sure they must have their factions, or their best men would get no chance of displaying their qualities! When they meet they have supper, it is true, but it is out of the question to eat the Lord's Supper. Possibly the poorer members could not come early being detained by their work. The wealthier members could therefore eat and drink all they had brought, so that the poor, who could bring little, and that perhaps coarse food, had insufficient for a meal and had to eat this under the critical stare of the well-to-do. So that some were hungry, and naturally discontented and envious, while others became intoxicated. What a religious atmosphere for the most sacred rite, the remembrance of their Master's selfless sacrifice! The communal element which made it a church feast had disappeared and given place to a number of cliques. The members shared their food with their own coterie, not with the church at large, and thus accentuated their mutual exclusiveness. What a love-feast! As if they had no houses where they could sate themselves in privacy! that they must put this affront on God's congregation, and, coarsely indifferent to the feelings of the sensitive, expose the poverty of those who have nothing! They cannot plead ignorance as to the true nature of the rite, for Paul had told it them, as it had come down to him from the Lord Himself through eyewitnesses of the scene. But he will tell them again. The account which follows (1 Corinthians 11:23-25) is very important as our earliest record, and should be compared with that in Mt., Mk. The comparison with Lk. is rendered more difficult by the uncertainty of the text. The reference to the betrayal is a very early piece of evidence corroborating the gospel account, and its incidental character suggests that Paul had related the Passion story in considerable detail. The Lord Jesus took bread, gave thanks, and broke the bread saying, "This is my body, which is for you: this do in remembrance of me." When supper was over He took the cup similarly, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in my blood: this do, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me." This means, Paul comments, that whenever the command of repetition is fulfilled, they set forth, as in a sacred drama, the Lord's death till He returns. Whoever then, does either of the acts in an unworthy manner or temper, is guilty of a profane indignity to the Lord's body and blood. Let no one presume to participate save after self-examination. For, unless he recognises that it is Christ's body which is involved, and not the mere bread and wine, he partakes to his own condemnation. That is why sickness is so prevalent among them and not a few deaths have occurred. Self-examination would prevent such judgments. Yet let them not miss their merciful intention; it is the Lord's chastening of His people that they may not share in His condemnation of the world. So at the meeting for the common meal, let them wait for each other, and if necessary take the edge off their hunger before they come, so that they may no longer, by their disorderly and selfish conduct, draw down the Divine judgment. The regulation of other matters can stand over till Paul arrives.

1 Corinthians 11:19. The language may be ironical, or may mean that these factions are necessary to sift the good from the bad.

1 Corinthians 11:23. betrayed: "delivered up" (i.e. to death, Romans 4:25) is a possible rendering, but this does not suit "in the night" so well.

1 Corinthians 11:24. this do: the words do not mean "offer this sacrifice."

1 Corinthians 11:29. discern not the body: possibly "the body" may mean the Church, "the Lord's body" (see Exp., Aug. 1915).

1 Corinthians 11:30. sleep: the use of the Christian term for death in a context which speaks of death as a judgment is very striking.

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Bibliographical Information
Peake, Arthur. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 11". "Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible ". 1919.