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Bible Commentaries

Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament

1 Corinthians 11

Verse 1

Imitators of me (μιμητα μου). In the principle of considerate love as so clearly shown in chapters 1 Corinthians 11:1 and in so far as (καθως) Paul is himself an imitator of Christ. The preacher is a leader and is bound to set an example or pattern (τυπος) for others (Titus 2:7). This verse clearly belongs to the preceding chapter and not to chapter 11.

Verse 2

Hold fast the traditions (τας παραδοσεις κατεχετε). Hold down as in 1 Corinthians 15:2. Παραδοσις (tradition) from παραδιδωμ (παρεδωκα, first aorist active indicative) is an old word and merely something handed on from one to another. The thing handed on may be bad as in Matthew 15:2 (which see) and contrary to the will of God (Mark 7:8) or it may be wholly good as here. There is a constant conflict between the new and the old in science, medicine, law, theology. The obscurantist rejects all the new and holds to the old both true and untrue. New truth must rest upon old truth and is in harmony with it.

Verse 3

But I would have you know (θελω δε υμας ειδενα). But I wish you to know, censure in contrast to the praise in verse 1 Corinthians 11:2.

The head of Christ is God (κεφαλη του Χριστου ο θεος). Rather, God is the head of Christ, since κεφαλη is anarthrous and predicate.

Verse 4

Having his head covered (κατα κεφαλης εχων). Literally, having a veil (καλυμμα understood) down from the head (κεφαλης ablative after κατα as with κατα in Mark 5:13; Acts 27:14). It is not certain whether the Jews at this time used the tallith, "a four-corned shawl having fringes consisting of eight threads, each knotted five times" (Vincent) as they did later. Virgil (Aeneid iii., 545) says: "And our heads are shrouded before the altar with a Phrygian vestment." The Greeks (both men and women) remained bareheaded in public prayer and this usage Paul commends for the men.

Verse 5

With her head unveiled (ακατακαλυπτω τη κεφαλη). Associative instrumental case of manner and the predicative adjective (compound adjective and feminine form same as masculine), "with the head unveiled." Probably some of the women had violated this custom. "Amongst Greeks only the εταιρα, so numerous in Corinth, went about unveiled; slave-women wore the shaven head--also a punishment of the adulteress" (Findlay). Cf. Numbers 5:18.

One and the same thing as if she were shaven (εν κα το αυτο τη εξυρημενη). Literally, "One and the same thing with the one shaven" (associative instrumental case again, Robertson, Grammar, p. 530). Perfect passive articular participle of the verb ξυραω, later form for the old ξυρεω. It is public praying and prophesying that the Apostle here has in mind. He does not here condemn the act, but the breach of custom which would bring reproach. A woman convicted of adultery had her hair shorn (Isaiah 7:20). The Justinian code prescribed shaving the head for an adulteress whom the husband refused to receive after two years. Paul does not tell Corinthian Christian women to put themselves on a level with courtesans.

Verse 6

Let her also be shorn (κα κειρασθω). Aorist middle imperative of κειρω, to shear (as sheep). Let her cut her hair close. A single act by the woman.

If it is a shame (ε δε αισχρον). Condition of first class assumed to be true. Αισχρον is old adjective from αισχος, bareness, disgrace. Clearly Paul uses such strong language because of the effect on a woman's reputation in Corinth by such conduct that proclaimed her a lewd woman. Social custom varied in the world then as now, but there was no alternative in Corinth.

To be shorn or shaven (το κειρασθα κα ξυρασθα). Articular infinitives subject of copula εστιν understood, κειρασθα first aorist middle, ξυρασθα present middle. Note change in tense.

Let her be veiled (κατακαλυπτεσθω). Present middle imperative of old compound κατα καλυπτω, here alone in N.T. Let her cover up herself with the veil (down, κατα, the Greek says, the veil hanging down from the head).

Verse 7

The image and glory of God (εικων κα δοξα θεου). Anarthrous substantives, but definite. Reference to Genesis 1:28; Genesis 2:26 whereby man is made directly in the image (εικων) of God. It is the moral likeness of God, not any bodily resemblance. Ellicott notes that man is the glory (δοξα) of God as the crown of creation and as endowed with sovereignty like God himself.

The glory of the man (δοξα ανδρος). Anarthrous also, man's glory. In Genesis 2:26 the LXX has ανθρωπος (Greek word for both male and female), not ανηρ (male) as here. But the woman (γυνη) was formed from the man (ανηρ) and this priority of the male (verse 1 Corinthians 11:8) gives a certain superiority to the male. On the other hand, it is equally logical to argue that woman is the crown and climax of all creation, being the last.

Verse 9

For the woman (δια την γυναικα). Because of (δια with accusative case) the woman. The record in Genesis gives the man (ανηρ) as the origin (εκ) of the woman and the reason for (δια) the creation (εκτισθη, first aorist passive of κτιζω, old verb to found, to create, to form) of woman.

Verse 10

Ought (οφειλε). Moral obligation therefore (δια τουτο, rests on woman in the matter of dress that does not (ουκ οφειλε in verse 1 Corinthians 11:7) rest on the man.

To have a sign of authority (εξουσιαν εχειν). He means σημειον εξουσιας (symbol of authority) by εξουσιαν, but it is the sign of authority of the man over the woman. The veil on the woman's head is the symbol of the authority that the man with the uncovered head has over her. It is, as we see it, more a sign of subjection (ψποταγης, 1 Timothy 2:10) than of authority (εξουσιας).

Because of the angels (δια τους αγγελους). This startling phrase has caused all kinds of conjecture which may be dismissed. It is not preachers that Paul has in mind, nor evil angels who could be tempted (Genesis 6:1), but angels present in worship (cf. 1 Corinthians 4:9; Psalms 138:1) who would be shocked at the conduct of the women since the angels themselves veil their faces before Jehovah (Isaiah 6:2).

Verse 11

Howbeit (πλην). This adversative clause limits the preceding statement. Each sex is incomplete without (χωρις, apart from, with the ablative case) the other.

In the Lord (εν Κυριω). In the sphere of the Lord, where Paul finds the solution of all problems.

Verse 12

Of (εκ)

--by (δια). Ever since the first creation man has come into existence by means of (δια with genitive) the woman. The glory and dignity of motherhood. Cf. The Fine Art of Motherhood by Ella Broadus Robertson.

Verse 13

Is it seemly? (πρεπον εστιν;). Periphrastic present indicative rather than πρεπε. See on Matthew 3:15. Paul appeals to the sense of propriety among the Corinthians.

Verse 14

Nature itself (η φυσις αυτη). He reenforces the appeal to custom by the appeal to nature in a question that expects the affirmative answer (ουδε). Φυσις, from old verb φυω, to produce, like our word nature (Latin natura), is difficult to define. Here it means native sense of propriety (cf. Romans 2:14) in addition to mere custom, but one that rests on the objective difference in the constitution of things.

Verse 15

Have long hair (κομα). Present active subjunctive of κομαω (from κομη, hair), old verb, same contraction (-αηι) as the indicative (αε = α), but subjunctive here with εαν in third class condition. Long hair is a glory to a woman and a disgrace to a man (as we still feel). The long-haired man! There is a papyrus example of a priest accused of letting his hair grow long and of wearing woollen garments.

For a covering (αντ περιβολαιου). Old word from περιβαλλω to fling around, as a mantle (Hebrews 1:12) or a covering or veil as here. It is not in the place of a veil, but answering to (αντ, in the sense of αντ in John 1:16), as a permanent endowment (δεδοτα, perfect passive indicative).

Verse 16

Contentious (φιλονεικος). Old adjective (φιλοσ, νεικος), fond of strife. Only here in N.T. If he only existed in this instance, the disputatious brother.

Custom (συνηθειαν). Old word from συνηθης (συν, ηθος), like Latin consuetudo, intercourse, intimacy. In N.T. only here and 1 Corinthians 8:7 which see. "In the sculptures of the catacombs the women have a close-fitting head-dress, while the men have the hair short" (Vincent).

Verse 17

This (τουτο). Probably the preceding one about the head-dress of women, and transition to what follows.

I praise you not (ουκ επαινω). In contrast to the praise in 1 Corinthians 11:2.

For the better (εις το κρεισσον). Neuter articular comparative of κρατυς, but used as comparative of καλος, good. Attic form κρειττον.

For the worse (εις το ησσον). Old comparative from ηκα, softly, used as comparative of κακος, bad. In N.T. only here and 2 Corinthians 12:15.

Verse 18

First of all (πρωτον μεν). There is no antithesis (δευτερον δε, secondly, or επειτα δε, in the next place) expressed. This is the primary reason for Paul's condemnation and the only one given.

When ye come together in the church (συνερχομενων ημων εν εκκλησια). Genitive absolute. Here εκκλησια has the literal meaning of assembly.

Divisions (σχισματα). Accusative of general reference with the infinitive υπαρχειν in indirect discourse. Old word for cleft, rent, from σχιζω. Example in papyri for splinter of wood. See on 1 Corinthians 1:10. Not yet formal cleavages into two or more organizations, but partisan divisions that showed in the love-feasts and at the Lord's Supper.

Partly (μερος τ). Accusative of extent (to some part) like παντα in 1 Corinthians 10:33. He could have said εκ μερους as in 1 Corinthians 13:9. The rumours of strife were so constant (I keep on hearing, ακουω).

Verse 19

Must be (δε εινα). Since moral conditions are so bad among you (cf. chapters 1 to 6). Cf. Matthew 18:7.

Heresies (αιρεσεις). The schisms naturally become

factions or

parties . Cf. strifes (εριδες) in 1 Corinthians 1:11. See on Acts 15:5 for αιρεσεις, a choosing, taking sides, holding views of one party, heresy (our word). "Heresy is theoretical schism, schism practical heresy." Cf. Titus 3:10; 2 Peter 2:1. In Paul only here and Galatians 5:20.

That (ινα). God's purpose in these factions makes

the proved ones (ο δοκιμο) become

manifest (φανερο). "These αιρεσεις are a magnet attracting unsound and unsettled minds" (Findlay). It has always been so. Instance so-called Christian Science, Russellism, New Thought, etc., today.

Verse 20

To eat the Lord's Supper (Κυριακον δειπνον φαγειν). Κυριακος, adjective from Κυριος, belonging to or pertaining to the Lord, is not just a biblical or ecclesiastical word, for it is found in the inscriptions and papyri in the sense of imperial (Deissmann, Light from the Ancient East, p. 358), as imperial finance, imperial treasury. It is possible that here the term applies both to the Αγαπη or Love-feast (a sort of church supper or club supper held in connection with, before or after, the Lord's Supper) and the Eucharist or Lord's Supper. Δειπνον, so common in the Gospels, only here in Paul. The selfish conduct of the Corinthians made it impossible to eat a Lord's Supper at all.

Verse 21

Taketh before (προλαμβανε). Before others. Old verb to take before others. It was conduct like this that led to the complete separation between the Love-feast and the Lord's Supper. It was not even a common meal together (κοινον δειπνον), not to say a Lord's δειπνον. It was a mere

grab-game .

This one is hungry (ος δε πεινα). Demonstrative ος. Nothing is left for him at the love-feast.

Another is drunken (ος δε μεθυε). Such disgusting conduct was considered shameful in heathen club suppers. "Hungry poor meeting intoxicated rich, at what was supposed to be a supper of the Lord" (Robertson and Plummer). On μεθυω, to be drunk, see on Matthew 24:49; Acts 2:15.

Verse 22

What? Have ye not houses? (Μη γαρ οικιας ουκ εχετε;) The double negative (μη--ουκ) in the single question is like the idiom in 1 Corinthians 9:4 which see. Μη expects a negative answer while ουκ negatives the verb εχετε. "For do you fail to have houses?" Paul is not approving gluttony and drunkenness but only expressing horror at their sacrilege (despising, καταφρονειτε) of the church of God.

That have not (τους μη εχοντας). Not those without houses, but those who have nothing, "the have-nots" (Findlay) like 2 Corinthians 8:12, in contrast with ο εχοντες "the haves" (the men of property).

What shall I say to you? (τ ειπω υμιν;) Deliberative subjunctive that well expresses Paul's bewilderment.

Verse 23

For I received of the Lord (εγο γαρ παρελαβον απο του Κυριου). Direct claim to revelation from the Lord Jesus on the origin of the Lord's Supper. Luke's account (Luke 22:17-20) is almost identical with this one. He could easily have read I Corinthians before he wrote his Gospel. See 1 Corinthians 15:3 for use of both παρελαβον and παρεδωκα. Note παρα in both verbs. Paul received the account from (παρα--απο) the Lord and passed it on from himself to them, a true παραδοσις (tradition) as in 1 Corinthians 11:2.

He was betrayed (παρεδιδετο). Imperfect passive indicative (irregular form for παρεδιδοτο, Robertson, Grammar, p. 340). Same verb as παρεδωκα (first aorist active indicative just used for "I delivered").

Verse 24

When he had given thanks (ευχαριστησας). First aorist active participle of ευχαριστεω from which word our word Eucharist comes, common late verb (see on 1 Corinthians 1:14).

Which is for you (το υπερ υμων). Κλωμενον (broken) of the Textus Receptus (King James Version) is clearly not genuine. Luke (Luke 22:19) has διδομενον (given) which is the real idea here. As a matter of fact the body of Jesus was not broken (John 19:36). The bread was broken, but not the body of Jesus.

In remembrance of me (εις την εμην αναμνησιν). The objective use of the possessive pronoun εμην. Not my remembrance of you, but your remembrance of me. Αναμνησις, from αναμιμνησκω, to remind or to recall, is an old word, but only here in N.T. save Luke 22:19 which see.

Verse 25

After supper (μετα το δειπνησα). Μετα and the articular aorist active infinitive, "after the dining" (or the supping) as in Luke 22:20.

The new covenant (η καινη διαθηκη). For διαθηκη see on Matthew 26:28. For καινος see on Luke 5:38; Luke 22:20. The position of εστιν before εν τω αιματ (in my blood) makes it a secondary or additional predicate and not to be taken just with διαθηκη (covenant or will).

As oft as ye drink it (οσακις αν πινητε). Usual construction for general temporal clause of repetition (αν and the present subjunctive with οσακις). So in verse 1 Corinthians 11:26.

Verse 26

Till he come (αχρ ου ελθη). Common idiom (with or without αν) with the aorist subjunctive for future time (Robertson, Grammar, p. 975). In Luke 22:18 we have εως ου ελθη. The Lord's Supper is the great preacher (καταγγελλετε) of the death of Christ till his second coming (Matthew 26:29).

Verse 27

Unworthily (αναξιως). Old adverb, only here in N.T., not genuine in verse 1 Corinthians 11:29. Paul defines his meaning in verse 1 Corinthians 11:29. He does not say or imply that we ourselves must be "worthy" (αξιο) to partake of the Lord's Supper. No one would ever partake on those terms. Many pious souls have abstained from observing the ordinance through false exegesis here.

Shall be guilty (ενοχος εστα). Shall be held guilty as in Matthew 5:21 which see. Shall be guilty of a crime committed against the body and blood of the Lord by such sacrilege (cf. Hebrews 6:6; Hebrews 10:29).

Verse 28

Let a man prove himself (δοκιμαζετω ανθρωπος εαυτον). Test himself as he would a piece of metal to see if genuine. Such examination of one's motives would have made impossible the disgraceful scenes in verses 1 Corinthians 11:20.

Verse 29

If he discern not the body (μη διακρινων το σωμα). So-called conditional use of the participle, "not judging the body." Thus he eats and drinks judgment (κριμα) on himself. The verb δια κρινω is an old and common word, our

dis-cri-minate , to distinguish. Eating the bread and drinking the wine as symbols of the Lord's body and blood in death probes one's heart to the very depths.

Verse 30

And not a few sleep (κα κοιμωντα ικανο). Sufficient number (ικανο) are already asleep in death because of their desecration of the Lord's table. Paul evidently had knowledge of specific instances. A few would be too many.

Verse 31

But if we discerned ourselves (ε δε εαυτους διεκρινομεν). This condition of the second class, determined as unfulfilled, assumes that they had not been judging themselves discriminatingly, else they would not be judged (εκρινομεθα). Note distinction in the two verbs.

Verse 32

Ye are chastened of the Lord (υπο του Κυριου παιδευομεθα). On this sense of παιδευω, from παις, child, to train a child (Acts 7:22), to discipline with words (2 Timothy 2:25), to chastise with scourges see on Luke 23:16 (Hebrews 12:7), and so by afflictions as here (Hebrews 12:6). Hυπο του Κυριου can be construed with κρινομενο instead of with παιδευομεθα.

With the world (συν τω κοσμω). Along with the world. Afflictions are meant to separate us from the doom of the wicked world. Final use of ινα μη here with κατακριθωμεν (first aorist passive subjunctive).

Verse 33

Wait one for another (αλληλους εκδεχεσθε). As in John 5:3; Acts 17:16. That is common courtesy. Wait in turn. Vulgate has invicem expectate.

Verse 34

At home (εν οικω). If so hungry as all that (verse 1 Corinthians 11:22).

The rest (τα λοιπα). He has found much fault with this church, but he has not told all.

I will set in order (διαταξομα). Not even Timothy and Titus can do it all.

Whensoever I come (ως αν ελθω). Common idiom for temporal clause of future time (conjunction like ως with αν and aorist subjunctive ελθω).

Copyright Statement
The Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament. Copyright © Broadman Press 1932,33, Renewal 1960. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Broadman Press (Southern Baptist Sunday School Board)
Bibliographical Information
Robertson, A.T. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 11". "Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/rwp/1-corinthians-11.html. Broadman Press 1932,33. Renewal 1960.