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Bible Commentaries

Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary
1 Corinthians 11

 

 

Other Authors
Verse 1

1 Corinthians 8:1 to 1 Corinthians 11:1.] ON THE PARTAKING OF MEATS OFFERED TO IDOLS, AND ASSISTING AT FEASTS HELD IN HONOUR OF IDOLS.


Verse 23

23–11:1.] Now that he has fully handled the whole question of partaking in idol feasts, and prepared the way for specific directions as about a matter no longer to be supposed indifferent, he proceeds to give those directions, accompanying them with their reasons, as regards mutual offence or edification.


Verse 31

31–11:1.] General conclusion of this part of the Epistle,—enforced by the example of himself.


Verse 1

1 Corinthians 11:1.] κἀγώ, scil. μιμητὴς γέγονα. Compare on the sense, Philippians 2:4-5.


Verse 2

2.] δέ, implying a distinction from the spirit of the last passage, which was one of blame, and exhortation to imitate him. He praises them for the degree in which they did this already, and expresses it by the slighter word μέμνησθε.

πάντα, see above, on ch. 1 Corinthians 10:33.

And ye keep (continue to believe and practise) the traditions (apostolic maxims of faith and practice, delivered either orally or in writing, 2 Thessalonians 2:15), according as (according to the words in which) I delivered (them) to you. This was their general practice: the exceptions to it, or departures at all events from the spirit of those παραδόσεις, now follow.


Verses 2-16

2–16.] The law of subjection of the woman to the man (2–12), and natural decency itself (13–16), teach that women should be veiled in public religious assemblies.


Verses 2-34

1 Corinthians 11:2-34.] REPROOFS AND DIRECTIONS REGARDING CERTAIN DISORDERS WHICH HAD ARISEN IN THEIR ASSEMBLIES: viz. (1) THE NOT VEILING OF THEIR WOMEN IN PUBLIC PRAYER (1 Corinthians 11:2-16): (2) THE ABUSE OF THE ἀγάπαι (17–34).


Verse 3

3.] “It appears, that the Christian women at Corinth claimed for their sex an equality with the other, taking occasion by the doctrine of Christian freedom and abolition of sexual distinctions in Christ (Galatians 3:28). The gospel unquestionably did much for the emancipation of women, who in the East and among the Ionian Greeks (not among the Dorians and the Romans) were kept in unworthy dependence. Still this was effected in a quiet and gradual manner; whereas in Corinth they seem to have taken up the cause of female independence somewhat too eagerly. The women over-stepped the bounds of their sex, in coming forward to pray and to prophesy in the assembled church with uncovered heads. Both of these the Apostle disapproved,—as well their coming forward to pray and to prophesy, as their removing the veil: here however he blames the latter practice only, and reserves the former till ch. 1 Corinthians 14:34. In order to confine the women to their true limits, he reminds them of their subjection to the man, to whom again he assigns his place in the spiritual order of creation, and traces this precedence up to God Himself.” De Wette.

παντὸς ἀνδρός] ‘of every Christian man’ (as Chrys., al., Meyer, De W.), certainly,—and for such the Apostle was writing: but not only of every Christian man: the Headship of Christ is over all things to His Church, Ephesians 1:22, and thus He is Head of every man. The word κεφαλή in each case means the head next above. This must be borne in mind, for Christ is THE HEAD of the Christian woman, as well as of the Christian man. God is the Head of Christ, not only according to His human Nature: the Son is, in his Sonship, necessarily subordinate to the Father: see ch. 1 Corinthians 3:23, note, and ch. 1 Corinthians 15:28. From χριστός, the order descends first: then, in order to complete the whole, ascends up to God.

Observe that though (Galatians 3:28) the distinction of the sexes is abolished in Christ, as far as the offer of and standing in grace is concerned, yet for practical purposes, and for order and seemliness, it subsists and must be observed.


Verse 4

4.] The case of the man here treated, was regarded by the ancient Commentators, Chrys., Theodoret, Theophyl., Œc(45), and Grot., Mosh., al., as an actually occurring one among the Corinthians:—but by recent ones, since Storr and Bengel, as hypothetically put, to bring out that other abuse which really had occurred. Had it been real, more would have been said on it below: but from 1 Corinthians 11:5 onwards, attention is confined to the woman.

προσευχ. praying in public:

προφ. discoursing in the spirit; see on ch. 1 Corinthians 12:10.

κατὰ κεφ. ἔχων] scil. τι. The Jews when praying in public put over their heads a veil, called the Tallith, to shew their reverence before God and their unworthiness to look on Him: Lightf., Hor. Heb. in loc. Grotius’s note on the Greek and Roman customs is important:—“Apud Græcos mos fuit sacra facere capite aperto. Legendum enim apud Macrob. i. Saturn. 8, Illic Græco ritu capite aperto res divina fit, apparet ex loco ejusdem libri c. 10, ubi itidem de Saturno agitur, et sacrum ei fieri dicitur aperto capite ritu peregrino; et ex loco iii. 6, ubi Varronem ait dicere, Græci hoc esse moris, aperto capite sacrificare. ἀπαρακαλύπτῳ κεφαλῇ ait de ejusdem Saturni sacris agens Plutarchus in Romanis quæestionibus. Lucem facere id dici solitum Festus testatur. Eodem modo, id est aperto capite, etiam Herculi in ara maxima sacrum fieri solere testatur, præter Macrobium dicto libro iii. 6, Dion. Hal. lib. i., nimirum quia id sacrum institutum erat ab Evandro homine Græco. Sed Æneas (?) contrarium morem in Italiam intulit sacra faciendi velato capite, ne quod malum omen oculis aut auribus obveniret: ut Virg. nos docet Æn. iii. et ad eum Servius, et in Breviario Aurelius Victor: sed et Plutarchus in Romanis quæstionibus. Et ejus moris etiam Plautus meminit in comœdiis quibusdam: ut solet admiscere Romana Græcia. Paulus Græcis Corinthiis scribens Græcum præfert morem, et causas adfert quales ferebat negotii natura. Ex Pauli præscripto perpetuo hunc morem tenuere Christiani veteres. Tertul. Apologetico: ‘Illuc suspicientes Christiani manibus expansis, quia innocui: capite nudo, quia non erubescimus: denique sine monitore, quia de pectore oramus,’ &c. Nihil huc pertinet mos Septentrionis in reverentiæ signum caput velandi, qui quanquam per Germanicas nationes late manavit, et Judæis tamen et Græcis, et veteri Italiæ fuit incognitus.”

καταισχ. τ. κεφ. αὐτοῦ] dishonours his Head, i.e. Christ: not, his own head literally,—except in so far as the literal and metaphorical senses are both included,—the (literal) head of the man being regarded as the representative of his spiritual Head. See this brought out in Stanley’s note: for the head of the man in this respect of honouring or dishonouring, has been, 1 Corinthians 11:3, explained to be CHRIST. Him he dishonours, by appearing veiled before men, thus recognizing subjection to them in an assembly which ought to be conformed to Christian order.


Verse 5

5.] The case of the woman is just the converse. She, if she uncovers herself (on the manner of covering, see below 1 Corinthians 11:15, note) in such an assembly, dishonours her head (the man; not, as Meyer and many others, literally, her own head (but see above): of this kind of dishonour there is no mention at all in our passage, and 1 Corinthians 11:3 has expressly guarded us against making the mistake) by apparently casting off his headship: and if this is to be so, the Apostle proceeds, why not go further and cut off her hair, which of itself is a token of this subjection? But if this be acknowledged to be shameful (it was a punishment of adulteresses, see Wetst. in loc. and Tacit. Germ. 19), let the further decency of the additional covering be conceded likewise.

The reading ἑαυτῆς may have arisen from fancying that her own head is meant.

ἓν ἐστιν κ. τὸ αὐτό] she: not it, τὸ ἀκατακάλυπτον εἶναι. The neut. is used because the identity is generic, not individual: cf. Eur. Med. 928,— γυνὴ δὲ θῆλυ κἀπὶ δακρύοις ἔφυ, and other examples in Kühner, ii. 45 (§ 421).


Verse 6

6.] the argument see above.

οὐ κατ.,—is to be unveiled, the pres. indicating the normal habit.

καὶ κειρ., let her ALSO, besides being unveiled, &c.

κείρ. ἢ ξυρ.] ‘plus est radi quam tonderi,’ Grot.


Verse 7

7.] γάρ refers back to and gives a reason for κατακαλυπτέσθω, the difference between the sexes being assumed,—that one should be and the other should not be veiled. The emphasis is accordingly on ἀνήρ.

οὐκ ὀφείλει, should not, ought not: see reff.

εἰκὼν θεοῦ, ref. Gen. This the man is, having been created first,—directly, and in a special manner: the woman indirectly, only through the man.

κ. δόξα θ.] And the (representative of the) glory of God: on account of his superiority and godlike attributes among other created beings. This is obviously the point here brought out, as in Psalms 8:6; not, that he is set to shew forth God’s glory ( εἰς γὰρ δόξαν θεοῦ ὀφείλει ὁ ἀνὴρ ὑποτετάχθαι τῷ θεῷ, Phot(46) in Œcum.), however true that may be: nor, as Estius, from Augustine, ‘quia in illo Deus gloriatur:’ nor is δόξα the representative of the Heb. דְּמוּת, Genesis 1:26 ( ὁμοίωσις), as R ϋckert, al., suppose, because the LXX have rendered תְּמוּנָה, Numbers 12:8; Psalms 17:15, by δόξα: for, as Meyer observes, in so well-known a passage as Genesis 1:26, the Apostle could hardly fail to have used the LXX word ὁμοίωσις.

Man is God’s glory: He has put in him His Majesty, and he represents God on earth: woman is man’s glory: taken (1 Corinthians 11:8) from the man, shining (to follow out Grotius’s similitude, “minus aliquid vero, ut luna lumen minus sole”) not with light direct from God, but with light derived from man, “ τὸ θῆλυ, ἄῤῥεν ἀτελές, philosophis. Imperat materfamilias suæ familiæ, sed viri nomine.” Grot. This of course is true only as regards her place in creation, and her providential subordination, not in respect of the dependence of every woman’s individual soul directly on God, not on man, for supplies of grace and preparations for glory. The Apostle omits εἰκών, because anthropologically the woman is not the image of the man, on account of the difference of the sexes: and also perhaps because thus he would seem to deny to the woman the being created in the divine image, which she is as well as the man, Genesis 1:26-27. The former reason appears the more probable: and so De W. and Meyer. “It may be observed that, whereas in Genesis the general character of man under the Hebrew name answering to ἄνθρωπος is the only one brought forward, here it is merged in the word ἀνήρ, which only expresses his relation to the woman.” Stanley.


Verses 7-9

7–9.] A second reason for the same,—from the dependence of the man on God only, but of the woman on the man.


Verse 8

8.] γάρ gives the reason of the former assertion γυνὴ δόξα ἀνδρός,—viz. that the man is not (emphasis on ἐστιν, which prevents the ἐκ having a figurative sense, of dependence:—‘takes not his being,’ in the fact of his original creation. The propagation of the species is not here in view) out of the woman, but the woman out of the man (compare Genesis 2:23, κληθήσεται γυνή, ὅτι ἐκ τοῦ ἀνδρὸς αὐτῆς ἐλήφθη).


Verse 9

9.] For also (parallel with 1 Corinthians 11:8another reason: not subordinate to it, as Meyer, who renders ἐκ in 1 Corinthians 11:8, ‘dependent on,’ and regards this verse as giving the reason) the man was not created (emphasis on ἐκτίσθη, as before on ἐστιν) on account of the woman, &c. In this verse, besides the manner of creation, ἐκ τοῦ ἀνδρός, the occasion of creation, διὰ τὸν ἄνδρα, is insisted on; see Genesis 2:18 ff.


Verse 10

10.] διὰ τοῦτο, on account of what has just been said, by which the subordination of the woman has been proved:—refers to 1 Corinthians 11:7-9, not as Meyer, to 1 Corinthians 11:9 only: for 1 Corinthians 11:8-9, give two parallel reasons for γυνὴ δόξα ἀνδρός, the inference from which proposition has not get been given, but now follows, with ὀφείλει answering to οὐκ ὀφείλει above.

ὀφ. ἡ γ. ἐξουσίαν ἔχ. ἐπὶ τῆς κεφ.] The woman ought to have power (the sign of power or subjection; shewn by the context to mean a veil). So Diodor. Sic. i. 47: εἰκόναεἴκοσι πηχῶν, μονόλιθον, ἔχουσαν τρεῖς βασιλείας ἐπὶ τῆς κεφαλῆς, ἃς διασημαίνειν ὅτι καὶ θυγάτηρ καὶ γυνὴ καὶ μήτηρ βασιλέως ὕπηρξε, where βασίλειαι evidently are crowns, the tokens of kingdom. And as there from the context it is plain that they indicated participation in the glory of the kingdoms, so here it is as evident from the context that the token of ἐξουσία indicates being under power: and such token is the covering. So Chrys. ( τὸ καλύπτεσθαι, ὑποταγῆς κ. ἐξουσίας), Theodoret, Theophyl. ( τὸ τοῦ ἐξουσιάζεσθαι σύμβολον), Œcum., Beza, Grot., Est., Bengel, Wolf, al., Billroth, R ϋckert, Olsh., Meyer, De Wette. To enumerate the various renderings would be impossible. Some of the principal are, (1) a sign of power to pray and prophesy in public, bestowed on her by her husband. So Schrader, iv. 158: but this would be quite irrelevant to the context. (2) Some suppose ἐξουσίαν actually to mean a veil, because the Heb. רָדִיד, ‘a veil,’ comes from the root רָדַד, ‘subjecit.’ So Hammond, Le Clerc, al. But (see Lexx.) ‘subjecit’ is not the primary, only a tropical meaning: the primary meaning, ‘extendit, diduxit,’ is much more likely to have given rise to the substantive. It is certainly a curious coincidence that the Heb. terms should be thus allied,—and that alliance may have been present to the Apostle’s thoughts: but this does not shew that he used ἐξουσία for a veil. (3) Kypke would put a comma after ἐξους., and render ‘propterea mulier potestali obnoxia est, ita ut velamen (see 1 Corinthians 11:4) in capite habeat.’ But the sense of ὀφείλειν τι would require (see Lexx.) ὑπακοήν, not ἐξουσίαν. (4) Pott renders, ‘mulierem oportet servare jus (sive potestatem) in caput suum, sc. eo, quod illud velo obtegat.’ But this, though philologically allowable (see Revelation 11:6; Revelation 20:6; Revelation 14:18; and with ἐπάνω, Luke 19:17), is entirely against the context, in which the woman has no power over her own head, and on that very account is to be covered. (5) Hagenbach (in the Stud. und Krit. 1828, p. 401) supposes ἐξουσία here to mean her origin, ἐξ- οὐσία from ἐξ- εἰμι, as παρ- οὐσία from παρ- εἰμι:—to shew that she (1 Corinthians 11:8) ἐστιν ἐξ ἀνδρός. But apart from other objections to this, it must thus be, τὴν ἐξ. or τὴν ἐξ. αὐτῆς. Other renderings and conjectures may be seen in Meyer’s note, from which the above is mainly taken: and in Stanley’s.

διὰ τοὺς ἀγγέλους] On account of the angels: i.e. because in the Christian assemblies the holy angels of God are present, and delighting in the due order and subordination of the ranks of God’s servants,—and by a violation of that order we should be giving offence to them. See ref. So Chrys. ( οὐκ οἶδας ὅτι μετʼ ἀγγέλων ἕστηκας; μετʼ ἐκείνων ᾄδεις, μετʼ ἐκείνων ὑμνεῖς, καὶ ἕστηκας γελῶν; cited by Hammond, but from what work of Chrys. I have not been able to find. In his commentary on this passage he is not clear, but seems to take this view,— εἰ γὰρ τοῦ ἀνδρὸς καταφρονεῖς, φησί, τοὺς ἀγγέλους αἰδέσθητι, Hom. xxvi. p. 234. In the Hom. on the Ascension, vol. ii. pt. ii. p. 443 (Migne), he says, εἰ βούλει ἰδεῖν κ. μάρτυρας κ. ἀγγέλους ἄνοιξον τῆς πίστεως τοὺς ὀφθαλμούς, κ. ὄψει τὸ θέατρον ἐκεῖνο· εἰ γὰρ πῶς ὁ ἀὴρ ἀγγέλων ἐμπέπλησται, πολλῷ μᾶλλον ἡ ἐκκλησίαὅτι γὰρ ἅπας ὁ ἀὴρ ἀγγέλων ἐμπέπλησται, ἄκουσον τί φησιν ὁ ἀπόστολος, ἐντρέπων τὰς γυναῖκας ὥστε ἔχειν κάλυμμα ἐπὶ τῆς κεφαλῆς· “ ὀφείλουσιν κ. τ. λ.”), Grot. (whose note see in Pool), Estius, Wolf, Rückert, Meyer, De Wette. (1) Others, with a modification of this rendering, take τοὺς ἀγγέλους as the guardian angels, appointed, one to take charge of each Christian. So Theophyl. ( τὸ ἀνακεκαλύφθαι ἀναισχυντίαν ἐμφαίνει· ἣν καὶ οἱ τοῖς πιστοῖς παρεπόμενοι ἄγγελοι βδελύσσονται), Jerome (not Aug(47) de Trin. xii. 7, as Meyer, see below), Tbeodoret. But, though such angels certainly do minister to the heirs of salvation,—see Matthew 18:10, and note,—there does not appear to be any immediate allusion to them here. (2) Others again understand ‘bad angels,’ who might themselves be lustfully excited; so Tertull. de Virg. Vel. 7, vol. ii. p. 899, “propter angelos: scilicet quos legimus a Deo et cœlo excidisse ob concupiscentiam fœminarum.” See also cont. Marcion. 1 Corinthians 11:8, p. 488,—or might tempt men so to be,—Schöttgen, Mosh, al.,—or might injure the unveiled themselves: so, after Rabbinical notions, Wetst. But οἱ ἄγγελοι, absol., never means any thing in the N. T. except the holy angels of God. See, in Stanley’s note, a modification of this view, which is consistent with that meaning. (3) Clem(48) Alex. fragm. ix. ὑποτυπ. lib. iii. (p. 1004 P.) says, ἀγγέλους φησὶ τοὺς δικαίους, κ. ἐναρέτους. (4) Beza, the Christian prophets, “in cœtu loquentes ut Dei nuncios et legatos.” (5) Ambrose, the presidents of the assemblies. (6) Lightf., the angeli or nuntii desponsatiomum, persons deputed to bring about betrothals. (7) Rosenm., Schrader, and many others,—exploratores vel speculatores: “Poterat nempe novæ consuetudinis notitia per ἀπίστους speculatores in publicum emanare, christianasque uxores tum Judæis, de isto mulierum habitu pessime existimantibus, tum Græcis quoque in suspicionem rei christianæ probrosissimam adducere.” Rosenm.

Against all these ingenious interpretations is the plain sense of οἱ ἄγγελοι (Matthew 13:49. Mark 1:13. Luke 16:22. chap. 1 Corinthians 13:1. Colossians 2:18. Hebrews 1:4-5; Hebrews 1:7; Hebrews 1:13, al.), which appears to me irrefragable.

But still a question remains, WHY should the Apostle have here named the angels, and adduced them as furnishing a reason for women being veiled in the Christian assemblies? Bengel has given an acute, but not I believe the correct answer: “mulier se tegat propter angelos, i.e. quia etiam angeli teguntur. Sicut ad Deum se habent angeli: sic ad virum se habet mulier. Dei facies patet: velantur angeli: Esa. 1 Corinthians 6:2. Viri facies patet: velatur mulier.” Surely this lies too far off for any reader to supply without further specification. Aug(49) de Trin. xii. 7 (10), vol. viii. p. 1004, gives an ingenious reason: “Grata est enim sanctis angelis sacrata et pia significatio. Nam Deus non ad tempus videt, nec aliquid novi fit in Ejus visione atque scientia, cum aliquid temporaliter aut transitorie geritur, sicut inde afficiuntur sensus vel carnales animalium et hominum, vel etiam cœlestes angelorum.” (He makes no mention,—see above,—of guardian angels.) I believe the account given above to be the true one, and the reason of adducing it to be, that the Apostle has before his mind the order of the universal church, and prefers when speaking of the assemblies of Christians, to adduce those beings who, as not entering into the gradation which he has here described, are conceived as spectators of the whole, delighted with the decency and order of the servants of God. Stanley thinks the most natural explanation of the reference to be, that the Apostle was led to it by a train of association familiar to his readers, but lost to us: and compares the intimations of a similar familiarity on their part with the subjects of which he was treating in 2 Thessalonians 2:5-7.


Verse 11

11.] Yet is neither sex insulated and independent of the other in the Christian life. ἐν κυρίῳ is not the predicate (as Grot., &c.),—‘neque viri exclusis mulieribus … participes sunt beneficiorum per Christum partorum:’ nor does it mean according to the ordinance of God, as Chrys., Beza, Olsh.,—for the phrase ἐν κυρίῳ is well known as applying to the Christian state, in the Lord. See e.g. Romans 16:2; Romans 16:8; Romans 16:11-12 (bis), &c.


Verse 12

12.] And in this, the Christian life accords with the original ordinance of God. For (proof of 1 Corinthians 11:11) as the woman is (was taken, Genesis 2:21 f.) out of the man, so the man is (is born, in the propagation of the human race) by means of the woman; but all things (both man and woman and all things else: a general maxim, see 2 Corinthians 5:18) are of (as their source,—thus uniting in one great head both sexes and all creation) God. They are dependent on one another, but both on HIM: the Christian life therefore, which unites them in Christ, is agreeable to God’s ordinance.


Verse 13

13.] Appeal to their own sense of propriety: cf. ch. 1 Corinthians 10:15.

ἐν ὑμῖν αὐτ.] Each man within himself, in his own judgment.


Verse 14

14.] ἡ φύσις αὐτή, nature herself: i.e. the mere fact of one sex being by nature unveiled, i.e. having short hair,—the other, veiled, i.e. having long hair. This plainly declares that man was intended to be uncovered,—woman, covered. When therefore we deal with the proprieties of the artificial state, of clothing the body, we must be regulated by nature’s suggestion: that which she has indicated to be left uncovered, we must so leave: that which she has covered, when we clothe the body, we must cover likewise. This is the argument. φύσις is not sense of natural propriety, but NATURE,—the law of creation.

κομᾷ] So Eustathius, Il. γ. 288, in Wetst., κόμην δὲ ἔχειν, καὶ εὔκομον εἶναι, γυναικώτερόν ἐστιν. διὸ καὶ ὁ πάρις ὀνειδίζεται ὡς κόμην ἔχων. On φύσις and κομᾷ Pool observes, ‘locus est vexatissimus doctorum sententiis;’ and gives a note of four folio columns; and Bengel has a long discussion on the lawfulness of wigs.

The Apostle (see above) makes no allusion to the customs of nations in the matter, nor is even the mention of them relevant [: he is speaking of the dictates of nature herself.]


Verse 15

15.] See on 1 Corinthians 11:14; compare Milton, Par. Lost. iv. 304 ff.

περιβόλαιον, properly a wrapper, or enveloping garment: see reff., and Eurip. Herc. fur. 549, and in a metaphorical sense, 1269. “In this passage,” says Stanley, “the Apostle would refer to the ‘peplum,’ which the Grecian women used ordinarily as a shawl, but on public occasions as a hood also, especially at funerals and marriages,” See a woodcut in Smith’s Dict. of Antt. art. ‘peplum.’


Verse 16

16.] Cuts off the subject, already abundantly decided, with a settlement of any possible difference, by appeal to universal apostolic and ecclesiastic custom. But if any man seems to be contentious (i.e. ‘if any arises who appears to dispute the matter, who seems not satisfied with the reasons I have given, but is still disputatious;’—this is the only admissible sense of δοκεἶ in this construction: see reff.:—for the meaning, ‘if it pleases any one,’ &c. would require τινι δοκεῖ: and ‘if any one thinks that he may,’ &c. would not agree with φιλονεικεῖν, which is in itself wrong).

ἡμεῖς] declarative: let him know that …; so, εἰ δὲ κατακαυχᾶσαι, οὐ σὺ τὴν ῥίζαν βαστάζεις, ἀλλʼ ἡ ῥίζα σέ, Romans 11:18. We,—the Apostles and their immediate company,—including the women who assembled in prayer and supplication with them at their various stations, see Acts 16:13.

τοιαύτην συνήθειαν] The best modern Commentators, e.g. Meyer and De Wette, agree with Chrys. in understanding this, τοιαύτ. συνήθ., ὥστε φιλονεικεῖν κ. ἐρίζειν κ. ἀντιτάττεσθαι. p. 235. And so Ambrose, Beza, Calvin, Estius, Calov., al. But surely it would be very unlikely, that after so long a treatment of a particular subject, the Apostle should wind up all by merely a censure of a fault common to their behaviour on this and all the other matters of dispute. Such a rendering seems to me almost to stultify the conclusion:—‘If any will dispute about it still, remember that it is neither our practice, nor that of the Churches, to dispute.’ It would seem to me, but for the weighty names on the other side, hardly to admit of a question, that the συνήθεια alludes to the practice (see ref. John) of women praying uncovered. So Theodoret, Grot. Michaelis, Rosenm., Billroth, Olsh., al., and Theophyl. altern. He thus cuts off all further disputation on the matter by appealing to universal Christian usage: and to make the appeal more solemn, adds τοῦ θεοῦ to αἱ ἐκκλ.,—the assemblies which are held in honour of and for prayer to God, and are His own Churches. Obs. αἱ ἐκκλησί αι, not ἐκκλησί α. The plurality of independent testimonies to the absence of the custom, is that on which the stress is laid. This appeal, ‘to THE CHURCHES,’ was much heard again at the Reformation: but has since been too much forgotten. See, on the influence of this passage on the Christian church, the general remarks of Stanley, edn. 2, pp. 198–200.


Verse 17

17.] Refers back to what has been said since 1 Corinthians 11:2, and forms a transition to what is yet to be said. But this (viz. what has gone before, respecting the veiling of women; not, as Chrys., Theophyl, Grot., Bengel, al., that which follows: see below) I command you (not ‘announce to you,’ nor ‘declare to you from report,’ which are senses of παραγγ. unknown to the N. T., where it only means ‘to command,’—‘to deliver by way of precept:’ see reff., and ch. 1 Corinthians 7:10; 1 Thessalonians 4:11; 2 Thessalonians 3:4; 2 Thessalonians 3:6; 2 Thessalonians 3:10; 2 Thessalonians 3:12. This makes it hardly possible to refer τοῦτο to what follows; for if so, some definite command should immediately succeed) not praising (refers to the ἐπαινῶ of 1 Corinthians 11:2, and excepts what has been said since from that category); because you come together not for the better (so that edification results) but for the worse (so that propriety is violated, and the result is to the hindering of the faith). These last words ὅτισυνέρχ, are introduced with a manifest view to include more than the subject hitherto treated, and to prepare the way for other abuses of their assemblies to be noticed.


Verses 17-34

17–34.] Correction of abuses regarding the Agapæ and the partaking of the Supper of the Lord.


Verse 18

18.] πρῶτον—where is the second particular founda, nswering to this πρῶτον? Ordinarily, it is assumed that the σχίσματα are the first abuse, the disorders in the Agapæ (beginning with 1 Corinthians 11:20), the second. But I am convinced, with Meyer, that this view is wrong. For (1) neither special blame, nor correction of abuse, is conveyed in 1 Corinthians 11:18-19; nor is it so much as intimated, on the ordinary hypothesis, what the character of these σχίσματα was. And (2) the words of 1 Corinthians 11:22, ἐπαινέσω ὑμᾶς ἐν τούτῳ; οὐκ ἐπαινῶ, plainly refer back to 1 Corinthians 11:17, and shew that the whole is continuous. Again (3) the οὖν of 1 Corinthians 11:20, as so frequently,—see ch. 1 Corinthians 8:4, and Hartung, Partikellehre, ii. 22,—resumes the subject broken off by καὶ μέροςγέν. ἐν ὑμῖν. The σχίσματα before the Apostle’s mind are, specifically, those occurring at the Agapæ,—but on the mention of them, he breaks off to shew that such divisions were to be no matters of surprise, but were ordained to test them,—and in 1 Corinthians 11:20 he returns with the very words, συνερχομένων ὑμῶν,—to the immediate matter in hand, and treats it at length. See more on 1 Corinthians 11:21 ff.

But the question still remains, where is the second point, answering to this πρῶτον? Again with Meyer (and Macknight) I answer,—at ch. 1 Corinthians 12:1. The ABUSE OF SPIRITUAL GIFTS, which also created disorder in their assemblies, ch. 1 Corinthians 14:23 al., and concerning which he concludes, 1 Corinthians 14:40, πάντα εὐσχημόνως κ. κατὰ τάξιν γινέσθω,—was the other point before his mind, when he wrote this πρῶτον. That he takes no notice in ch. 1 Corinthians 12:1, by any ἔπειτα δέ or the like, of what has gone before, will be no objection to the above view to any one but the merest tiro in our Apostle’s style.

There is a trajection of the ἀκούω, which, in the sense, precedes συνερχ., &c.

ἐν ἐκκλ.] in assembly; not local, as E. V., ‘in the church,’ but = ἐπὶ τὸ αὐτό, 1 Corinthians 11:20. [In 1 Corinthians 11:16, where the word is used of distinct bodies of Christians, it was not possible to keep the word assemblies, but it should be done whenever the sense admits it, and it suits the matter in hand].

σχίσματα] of what sort, is specified below; viz. that he does not here refer to the party dissensions of ch. 1 Corinthians 1:10, nor could he say of them μέρος τι πιστεύω, but strictly to σχίσματα which took place at their meetings together, viz. that each takes before other his own supper, &c. So Chrys.: οὐ λέγει, ἀκούω γὰρ μὴ κοινῇ ὑμᾶς συνδειπνεῖν· ἀκούω κατʼ ἰδίαν ὑμᾶς ἑστιᾶσθαι, καὶ μὴ μετὰ τῶν πενήτων· ἀλλʼ ὃ μάλιστα ἱκανὸν ἦν αὐτῶν διασεῖσαι τὴν διάνοιαν, τοῦτο τέθεικε, τὸ τοῦ σχίσματος ὄνομα, ὃ καὶ τούτου ἦν αἴτιον, Hom. xxvii. p. 241; and Theophyl., Œc(50), Est., Pise., Grot., which last remarks, ‘Accidebat jam illis temporibus, quod nostris multo magis evenit, ut res in stituta ad concorporandos fideles in vexillum schismatis verteretur.’

κ. μέρος τι πιστ.] Said in gentleness: q. d. “I am unwilling to believe all I hear concerning the point, but some (hardly ‘much,’ ‘in great part,’ as Stanley: nor do his testimonies from Thucyd. i. 23; vii. 30, bear out this meaning. It might, of course, lie beneath the surface, but is not given by μέρος τι) I cannot help believing.”


Verse 19

19.] δεῖ, in the divine appointment, the ἵνα which follows expressing God’s purpose thereby. Our Lord had said ἀνάγκη ἐλθεῖν τὰ σκάνδαλα, Matthew 18:7 :—and Justin Martyr, Tryph. 35, p. 132, quotes among His sayings prophetic of division in the church, ἔσονται σχίσματα κ. αἱρέσεις. From the pointed manner in which δεῖ γὰρ καὶ αἱρέσεις is said, I should be inclined to think that the Apostle tacitly referred to the same saying of our Lord: for there must be (not only dissensions, but) even heresies (not in the ecclesiastical or doctrinal sense,—as Pelag., Est., Calv., Beza,—see reff., but indicating a further and more matured separation, where not only is there present dissension, as in the Agapæ, but a deliberate choice and maintenance of party distinction. It does not appear, in spite of all that has been written in Germany on the supposed parties of ch. 1 Corinthians 1:10, that such separations had yet taken place among the Corinthians. Nor even in Clement’s Epistle, forty years after this, do we find any allusion to such, but only, as here, to a general spirit of dissension and variance, see chaps, 3 and 14, pp. 213, 257. Chrys. would refer αἱρ. only to the Agapæ: οὐ ταύτας λέγων τὰς τῶν δογμάτων, ἀλλὰ τὰς τῶν σχισμάτων τούτων, p. 242,—and so Theophyl., Œc(51) But this hardly justifies the climax, δεῖ γὰρ καὶ αἱρ.) among you, that the approved [also] (i.e. as well as the other party, who would become manifest by their very conduct) may be made manifest among you; viz. through a better and nobler spirit being shewn by them, than by the contentious and separatists.


Verse 20

20.] The same subject—resumed from the συνερχ. of 1 Corinthians 11:18; see notes on πρῶτον. When then ye come together (are assembling, pres. and perhaps here, where he deals with particulars, to be pressed,—as their intention in thus assembling is blamed) to one place (reff. Acts) it is not to eat (with any idea of eating [or, there is no eating]. But Meyer, Bengel, and many others, render οὐκ ἔστιν here, ‘non licet,’ as in οὐκ ἔστιν εἰπεῖν and the like: De Wette, after Estius, al., as E. V., ‘this is not,’ ‘cannot be called,’—‘id quod agitis, non est.’ But the greediness which is blamed, seems to refer οὐκ ἔστιν to the συνέρχεσθαι, and φαγεῖν to the motive = ἵνα φαγῆτε) the Supper of the Lord (emphasis on κυριακόν, as opposed to ἴδιον below).

κυρ. δεῖπν.] ‘the Supper instituted by the Lord.’ This was an inseparable adjunct, in the apostolic times, to their agapæ or feasts of love. Chrys. on 1 Corinthians 11:17, and Tertull. Apol. § 39, vol. i. pp. 474 ff., give an ample description of these feasts, which were of the nature of ἔρανοι, or mutual contributions, where each who was able brought his own portion,—and the rich, additional portions for the poor. See Xen. Mem. iii. 14, in which the circumstances bear a remarkable similarity to those in the Corinthian church. Not before this feast, as Chrys. ( μετὰ τὴν τῶν μυστηρίων κοινωνίαν ἐπὶ κοινὴν πάντες ᾔεσαν εὐωχίαν, p. 240), al.,—but during and after it, as shewn by the institution, by the custom at the Passover, by the context here, and by the remnants of the ancient custom and its abuse until forbidden by the council of Carthage,—the ancient Christians partook of the Supper of the Lord. The best account of this matter is to be found in the note in Pool’s Synopsis on Matthew 26:26. It was necessary for the celebration of the Lord’s Supper that all should eat of the same bread and drink of the same cup; and in all probability, that a prayer should be offered, and words of consecration said, by the appointed ministers. Hence cessation of the feast itself, and solemn order and silence, would be necessitated even by the outward requirements of the ordinance. These could not be obtained, where each man was greedily devouring that which he had brought with him: where the extremes were seen, of one craving, and another being drunken. This being their practice, there could be [no possibility, and at the same time] no intention of celebrating the Lord’s Supper,—no [provision for it, nor] discernment of the solemnity of it. On the whole subject, see Stanley’s note.


Verse 21

21.] προλ., as in E. V., takes before another, viz. during the feast ( ἐν τῷ φ.), not, at home, before coming. Obviously the ἕκαστος must be limited to the rich: the poor had no ἴδιον δεῖπνον to take, and were the losers by the selfishness of the rich.

πεινᾷ] one is craving (the poor), another is drunken (the rich. There is no need to soften the meaning of μεθύει: as Meyer says, “Paul draws the picture in strong colours, and who can say that the reality was less strong?”).


Verse 22

22.] For (a reason for the blame in the foregoing: this should not be: for) have you no houses, to eat, &c.: meaning, ‘at home is the place to satiate the appetite, not the assembly of the brethren.

Or do ye shew your contempt for (pres.) the congregation of God ( θεοῦ to express, as Bengel, ‘dignitatem ecclesiæ.’ This contempt was expressed by their not sharing with the congregation the portion which they brought),—and put to shame those who have not (houses to eat and to drink in, and therefore come to the daily ἀγάπαι to be fed. There is no reason for rendering with the majority of Commentators τοὺς μὴ ἔχοντας, ‘the poor;’ the μὴ ἔχοντας has a distinct reference to the ἔχετε before. Meyer refers in support of the meaning, ‘the poor,’ to Wetst. on 2 Corinthians 8:13, where nothing on the subject is found: De Wette, to Luke 3:11, where the case is as here, the preceding ἔχων being referred to. The meaning is allowable, e.g. πρὸς γὰρ τὸν ἔχονθʼ ὁ φθόνος ἕρπει, Soph. Aj. 157: πρὸς τῶν ἐχόντων, φοῖβε, τὸν νόμον τίθης, Eurip. Alc. 57: πότε μὲν ἐπʼ ἦμαρ εἶχον, εἶτʼ οὐκ εἶχον ἄν, where however it is qualified by ἐπʼ ἦμαρ)? What must I say to you? Shall I praise you in this matter? I praise you not. (See 1 Corinthians 11:17.)


Verse 23

23.] For I (see ch. 1 Corinthians 7:28; Philippians 4:11) received from the Lord (by special revelation, see Galatians 1:12. Meyer attempts to deny that this revelation was made to Paul himself, on the strength of ἀπό meaning ‘indirect,’ παρά ‘direct’ reception from any one: but this distinction is fallacious: e.g. 1 John 1:5, αὕτη ἐστὶν ἡ ἐπαγγελία ἣν ἀκηκόαμεν ἀπʼ αὐτοῦ. He supposes that it was made to Ananias or some other, and communicated to Paul. But the sole reason for this somewhat clumsy hypothesis is the supposed force of the preposition, which has no existence. If the Apostle had referred only to the Evangelic tradition or writings (?) he would not have used the first person singular, but παρελάβομεν. I may remark, that the similarity between this account of the Institution and that in Luke’s Gospel, is only what might be expected on the supposition of a special revelation made to Paul, of which that Evangelist, being Paul’s companion, in certain parts of his history availed himself) that which I also delivered (in my apostolic testimony) to you, (viz.) that the Lord Jesus, &c.

παρεδίδετο] the imperf.: He was being betrayed. “There is an appearance of fixed order, especially in these opening words, which indicates that this had already become a familiar formula.” Stanley.

ἄρτον] not, as Meyer, ‘a loaf,’ but bread: cf. the common expression, φαγεῖν ἄρτον.


Verses 23-25

23–25.] To shew them the solemnity of the ordinance which they thus set at nought, he reminds them of the account which he had before given them, of its INSTITUTION BY THE LORD. Matthew 26:26-29, Mark 14:22-25. Luke 22:19-20.


Verse 24

24.] On εὐχ. ἔκλασεν, see note, Matthew 26:26. Meyer well remarks, that “the filling up of τὸ ὑπὲρ ὑμῶν is to be sought in the foregoing ἔκλασεν.” Hence the insertion of κλώμενον.

τοῦτο ποι] See note on Matt. ut supra.


Verse 25

25.] See Luke 22:20.

ὡσαύτ. καὶ τὸ π.] “viz. ἔλαβεν καὶ εὐχ. ἔδωκεν αὐτοῖς. These last words are implied in ἔκλασεν above.” Meyer.

ἡ καιν. δ. ἐστὶν ἐν τῷ ἐμῷ αἵμ. is the new covenant in (ratified by the shedding of, and therefore standing in, as its conditioning element) my blood: = ἐστὶν ἡ καιν. δ. ἡ ἐν τῷ ἐμῷ αἵμ. The position of ἐστιν is no objection to this, nor the omission of the art. Meyer would render it, ‘is the N. C. by means of my blood:’ i.e. by virtue of its contents, which are my blood: and this solely on account of the position of ἐστιν. But the meaning is as harsh, as the rendering is unrequired.

ὁσάκις ἐὰν πίν.] Not a general rule for all common meals of Christians; but a precept that as often as that cup is drunk, it should be in remembrance of Him: on these last words is the emphasis: see below.


Verse 26

26.] γάρ gives an explanatory reason for εἰς τ. ἐμὴν ἀνάμν., viz. that the act of eating and drinking is a proclamation of the death of the Lord till His coming. The rendering of καταγγέλλετε imperative, as Theophyl.?, Luth., Grot., Rückert, is evidently wrong. The Apostle is substantiating the application of the Lord’s words by the acknowledged nature of the rite. It is a proclamation of His death: and thus is a remembrance of Him. It is so, by our making mention of in it, and seeing visibly before us and partaking of, His body broken, and His blood shed.

ἄχρις οὗ ἔλθῃ] The καταγγ. is addressed directly to the Corinthians, not to them and all succeeding Christians; the Apostle regarding the coming of the Lord as near at hand, in his own time, see notes on 2 Corinthians 5:1-10. Thdrt. remarks, μετὰ γὰρ τὴν αὐτοῦ παρουσίαν, οὐκέτι χρεία τῶν συμβόλων τοῦ σώματος, αὐτοῦ φαινομένου τοῦ σώματος· διὰ τοῦτο εἶπεν, ἄχρις οὗ ( ἂν) ἔλθῃ.

The ἄν has been inserted from not being aware that its absence implies the certainty of the event. See examples in Lobeck on Phrynichus, pp. 15, 16, note.


Verse 27

27.] A consequence, from the nature of the ordinance being, to proclaim the death of the Lord: the guilt of the unworthy participation of either of the elements. The death of the Lord was brought about by the breaking of His body and shedding His blood: this Death we proclaim in the ordinance by the bread broken—the wine poured out, of which we partake: whoever therefore shall either eat the bread or drink the cup of the Lord unworthily (see below 1 Corinthians 11:29) shall be guilty of the Body and Blood of the Lord: i.e. “crimini et pœnæ corporis et sanguinis Christi violati obnoxius erit:” Meyer. Such an one proclaims the death of Christ, and yet in an unworthy spirit—with no regard to that Death as his atonement, or a proof of Christ’s love: he proclaims that Death as an indifferent person: he therefore partakes of the guilt of it. Chrysostom strikingly says, σφαγὴν τὸ πρᾶγμα ἀπέφηνεν, οὐκέτι θυσίαν, p. 247. But the idea ὡς καὶ αὐτὸς ἐκχέας τὸ αἷμα, Theophyl. (and Chrys., τί δήποτε; ὅτι ἐξέχεεν αὐτό, καὶ σφαγ., &c., as above), is irrelevant here, see 1 Corinthians 11:29. The Romanists absurdly enough defend by this (the meaning of which is not to be changed to καί, as is most unfairly done in our E. V., and the completeness of the argument thereby destroyed) their practice of communicating only in one kind. Translated into common language, and applied to the ordinary sustenance of the body, their reasoning stands thus: ‘Whoever eats to excess, or drinks to excess, is guilty of sin: therefore eating, without drinking, will sustain life.’


Verse 28

28.] The δέ implies an opposition to, and wish to escape from, the ἔνοχος ἔσται.

δοκιμ. ἑαυτ.] prove himself—examine τὴν διάνοιαν ἑαυτοῦ, as Theodor.-mops(52), in loc.: ascertain by sufficient tests, what his state of feeling is with regard to the death of Christ, and how far this feeling is evinced in his daily life—which are the best guarantees for a worthy participation.

καὶ οὕτως] i.e. ‘after examination of himself.’ The case in which the self-examination ends in an unfavourable verdict, does not come under consideration, because it is assumed that such a verdict will lead to repentance and amendment.


Verse 29

29.] For he who eats and drinks (scil. of the bread and of the cup: certainly not, as Meyer, ‘the mere eater and drinker, he who partakes as a mere act of eating and drinking,’ which is harsh to the last degree, and refuted by the parallel, 1 Corinthians 11:27. ἀναξίως is spurious, see var. readd.) eats and drinks judgment to himself (i.e. brings on himself judgment by eating and drinking. κρῖμα, as is evident by 1 Corinthians 11:30-32, is not ‘damnation’ ( κατάκριμα), as rendered in our E. V., a mistranslation, which has done infinite mischief), not appreciating (dijudicans, Vulg. μὴ ἐξετάζων, μὴ ἐννοῶν ὡς χρή, τὸ μέγεθος τῶν προκειμένων, μὴ λογιζόμενος τὸν ὄγκον τῆς δωρεᾶς. Chrys. Hom. xxviii. p. 251) the Body (scil. of the Lord: here standing for the whole of that which is symbolized by the Bread and the Cup, the Body and Blood. The mystery of these, spiritually present in the elements, he, not being spiritual, does not appreciate: and therefore, as in 1 Corinthians 11:27, falls under the divine judgment, as trifling with the death of Christ. The interpretation of Stanley, “not discerning that the body of the Lord is in himself and in the Christian society, and that it is as the body of the Lord, or as a member of that body, that ha partakes of the bread,” is surely somewhat farfetched, after τοῦτό μου ἐστὶν τὸ σῶμα, 1 Corinthians 11:24).


Verse 30

30.] Experimental proof of the κρῖμα ἑαυτῷ, from the present sicknesses and frequent deaths among the Corinthian believers.

Meyer distinguishes ἀσθενεῖς, weaklings, persons whose powers have failed spontaneously, from ἄῤῥωστοι, invalids, persons whose powers are enfeebled by sickness; and cites Tittmann, Synon. p. 76.

ἀσθ. and ἄῤῥ. refer to physical, not (as Olsh., altern.) moral weaknesses.


Verse 31

31.] δέ contrasts with this state of sicknesses and deaths: it might be otherwise. This διεκρινόμεθα (parallel with δοκιμαζέτω before) should be rendered by the same word as διακρίνων before, the idea being the same. ‘Appreciate,’ if etymologically understood, is the nearest to the meaning: in Latin dijudico, which the Vulg. has, is an excellent rendering,—preserving also the ‘judico,’so essential to the following clause. In the E. V. ‘If we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged,’ the tenses are wrong: it should be, ‘If we had judged ourselves, we should not have been judged:’ ‘no such punishments would have befallen us.’

Thus I wrote in some former editions: and so also Stanley. But this collocation of the (imperfect) tenses may be rendered either way. Donaldson, Gr. Gr., p. 204, renders εἴ τι εἶχεν, ἐδίδου ἄν, ‘si quid haberet, daret:’ and so we have it in Æschyl. Suppl. 244, καὶ τἄλλα πόλλʼ ἐπεικάσαι δίκαιον ἦν, εἰ μὴ παρόντι φθόγγος ἦν ὁ σημανῶν: Æschin. Ctes. p. 86, εἰ δʼ ἦν ἀναγκαῖον ῥηθῆναι, οὐ δημοσθένους ἦν ὁ λόγος: and other places (Bernhardy, p. 376). But as certainly, we find the other sense: e.g. Herod. iii. 25, of Cambyses, εἰἀπῆγε ὀπίσω τὸν στρατὸνἦν ἂν σοφὸς ἀνήρ. So that the E. V. may here be kept, if thought desirable. In John 5:46, our translators have adopted the other rendering: ‘Had ye believed Moses, ye would have believed me:’ but in ib. John 8:39; John 8:42, have rendered as here.


Verse 32

32.] But now that we are judged, it is by the Lord (emph.) that we are being chastised (to bring us to repentance), that we may not be (eternally) condemned with the (unbelieving) world.


Verse 33

33.] General conclusion respecting this disorder. So then (‘quæ cum ita sint’), my brethren (milder persuasive: as has been the assumption of the first person, 1 Corinthians 11:31-32), when ye are coming together to eat, wait for one another (contrast to ἕκαστοςπρολαμβάνει, 1 Corinthians 11:21; as Theophyl.: οὐκ εἶπεν, ἀλλήλοις μετάδοτε, ἀλλʼ, ἐκδέχεσθε· δεικνύων ὅτι κοινά εἰσι τὰ ἐκεῖσε εἰσφερόμενα. καὶ δεῖ ἀναμένειν τὴν κοινὴν συνέλευσιν).


Verse 34

34.] The ἀγάπαι were not meals to satiate the bodily appetites, but for a higher and holier purpose: let the hungry take off the edge of his hunger at home: see 1 Corinthians 11:22.

τὰ δὲ λοιπά] viz. things omitted (probably matters of detail) in the above directions. Perhaps they had asked him questions respecting the most convenient time or manner of celebration of the Lord’s supper: points on which primitive practice widely differed.

ὡς ἂν ἔλθω, see reff., whenever I shall have come. ὡς ἄν, as ὅτʼ ἄν, implies uncertainty as to the event anticipated: see Kühner, vol. ii. p. 535, § 807.

 


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Bibliography Information
Alford, Henry. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 11:4". Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hac/1-corinthians-11.html. 1863-1878.

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