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Bible Commentaries

The Bible Study New Testament
1 Corinthians 11

 

 

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Verse 1

Just as I imitate Christ. Christ alone is the perfect model. This ties in with 1 Corinthians 11:33 of chapter 10.


Verse 2

I praise you. Paul's praise for them is sincere and truthful. But there may be some irony in it, and he may be quoting something which they said in their letter to him. In the next verses, he scolds them strongly. [From the things Paul writes, it seems that some of the Corinthian women prayed and spoke God's message as teachers, in the Christian assemblies. MacKnight thinks they only pretended to be inspired, but compare Acts 2:17; Acts 21:9 and notes. At Corinth, decent women wore a face-veil which covered both their head and face. (Among the Jews, it was usually only prostitutes who did this. See Genesis 38:14-15.) While teaching in public, these women had thrown off their face-veils, like the prostitute-priestesses in the idol temples. This caused trouble (see Paul's instruction in 1 Corinthians 10:32).]


Verse 3

Christ is supreme. He is the "one Lord" of created nature (1 Corinthians 8:6), therefore superior to every created thing, including the man (male). The husband is supreme. This is God's decree: "And he will rule over you" (Genesis 3:16). However, notice that both are one in Christ (Galatians 3:28). The order of rank stands: God / Christ / man / woman.


Verse 4

So a man. At Corinth, a man who prayed or spoke God's message with his head covered (with a face-veil) would disgrace Christ. Pagan priests covered their heads. [However, Jewish priests did too. See Exodus 28:40.] Both men and women ought to dress in such a way that they do not violate the customs and standards of decency in whatever country they live in.


Verse 5

And any woman. Paul does not forbid their praying or speaking in public worship, but he does say they disgrace their husbands by doing it unveiled, when they live in Corinth. There is no difference. Eastern women were very proud of their long hair. It would be a disgrace to shave their head.


Verse 6

If the woman does not cover her head. "If a woman prefers to have her head bare, she should remove her hair also. If doing that would disgrace her, then she should wear the face-veil." At Corinth, women wore TWO coverings on their heads: their hair (1 Corinthians 11:15) and a face-veil (1 Corinthians 11:5). Jewish women wore only the covering of hair. [See C. R. Nichol's book: God's Woman.]


Verse 7

A man has no need. At Corinth, the face-veil was symbolic of being lower in rank. In this whole section, we must remember Paul deals with Eastern ideas of the relationship of men and women. At Corinth it would be as wrong for a man to have his head veiled, as it would be for a woman to have hers unveiled. [Yet Jewish men covered their heads at prayer (compare 2 Corinthians 3:14-16), and it is probable that some Christian Jews continued to do this.]


Verse 8

But woman from man; In Creation, the male was first and the female was made from him, Paul also says this in 1 Timothy 2:13-14. [Yet BOTH are in the image of God (Genesis 1:26-27).]


Verse 9

9. But woman was created for man's sake. "And God the Eternal said: It is not good, that the man is alone: I will create to him a compainion-counterpart to him." (Zamenhof's version of Genesis 2:18) Compare also 1 Corinthians 7:3-5 and notes.


Verse 10

On account of the angels. This phrase has puzzled scholars. It may mean: (1) Because Eve was seduced to sin by evil angels (1 Timothy 2:14). [MacKnight.] (2) To show respect to the preacher/church leader - who is called the angel in Revelation 1:20. (3) Because the good angels watch with interest all that is done by Christ's servants (1 Corinthians 4:9). (4) If we change AGGELOUS to AGGELIAS, the phrase would read during the preaching. But there is no authority to do this! That she is under her husband's authority. At Corinth, a woman wore a face-veil everywhere (except the privacy of her own home) to show she was under the man's authority. This custom has been kept up in Arab lands until just recently.


Verse 11-12

In our life in the Lord. By God's decree, the one cannot exist without the other. Woman is subordinate, but not inferior. In the pagan world, woman was a slave, often not much better off than an animal. In Christ she is raised to her rightful place and stands with man as his counterpart. See note on 1 Timothy 2:15. The terms of salvation are the same for both!


Verse 13

Judge for yourselves. "You are sensible people. Think how this looks to others." Is it proper? By your own standards of conduct and custom. [Note that Hannah prayed in the temple without a face-veil (1 Samuel 1:12-13).]


Verse 14

Why, nature itself teaches you. PHUSIS - nature - is translated own free will in Romans 2:14. Thayer says it means here: the native sense of propriety [decency]. Short and long are relative terms, but it is universal that men wear their hair shorter and women longer. [Some think the homosexual prostitutes (male) at Corinth wore long, flowing hair. But so did the Nazarites in the Jewish world (Numbers 6:5).] At Corinth, it would have violated 1 Corinthians 10:32 for a man to wear long hair, or a woman to go outside her house without wearing a face-veil.


Verse 15

But is a woman's pride. This is in contrast to what he says in 1 Corinthians 11:14. While long hair would disgrace a Prayer of Manasseh, it is a source of pride to a woman. As a covering. To identify her as a woman and to show her relationship to man. C. R. Nichol writes: "Custom today calls for shorter hair than it did in the days of my boyhood; yet women's hair dressed in the style of today is as identifying and serves as a covering as it did when women wore it long. In Corinth there were some who would dictate the length of woman's hair, and today there are some who speak as though they were authority, and dictate the length necessary for a woman to have her hair, else she will never enter heaven." [This whole question of woman's role in Christianity is discussed in C. R. Nichol's book, God's Woman. ]


Verse 16

But if anyone wants to argue about it. Paul says this to the false teacher and his party. They argued that Christian freedom allowed the women who prayed and spoke God's message in public worship to do this without wearing the face-veil. John Wesley writes: "The several churches that were in the apostles' time had different customs in things that were not essential; and that under one and the same apostle, as circumstances, in different places, made it convenient. And in all things merely indifferent the custom of each place was of sufficient weight to determine prudent and peaceable men. Yet even this cannot overrule a scrupulous conscience, which really doubts whether the thing be indifferent or not. But those who are referred to here by the apostle were contentious, not conscientious, persons."


Verse 17

In the following instructions, however. He cannot praise their attitude. Actually do more harm. One purpose of their church meetings was to unite them more closely to the Lord, and to each other. But their church meetings were disrupted by "feuding and fussing"


Verse 18

In the first place. First was "opposing groups in your church meetings;" second was misuse of spiritual gifts (chapter 12). Opposing groups. This is the key to what he says about the Lord's Supper. It also helps if we will remember that the church of the first few centuries ate the Lord's Supper (Holy Meal) in the context or setting of a fellowship meal (see note on Acts 20:7). Tertullian describes these ancient fellowship meals (love suppers). MacKnight says: "Christ having instituted his Supper after he had eaten the passover, his disciples very early made it a rule to feast together before they ate the Lord's Supper. The feasts were called (AGAPAI, Charitates) Love feasts. They are mentioned in Jude 1 Corinthians 11:12, and also by some of the ancient Christian writers." These fellowship meals were continued in the church until the middle of the fourth century. At that time they were prohibited. The Roman Catholic church developed the idea of "fasting communion" (no food between midnight and the taking of the Communion).


Verse 19

(No doubt there must be divisions.) Because of human nature, such things could not be avoided, but this did not make them right. However, by our reaction to such things, we demonstrate our faith and love for God and our fellow Christians to clearly see! Compare 1 Corinthians 1:10-17 and notes.


Verse 20

As a group. In scripture, the church is NEVER the building, but always the group of people. You do not come. When they came together as a group, normally they would first eat their fellowship meal; then later they would eat the Lord's Supper (Holy Meal) as part of their worship (see note on 1 Corinthians 11:18). You do not come. This can mean: (1) They omitted the Lord's Supper; (2) Their conduct disqualified their eating the Lord's Supper.


Verse 21

For as you eat. Johnson says: "It was customary in Corinth to eat a meal together as did Christ and his disciples the night of the Lord's Supper. After this came the Lord's Supper. At this meal each party in Corinth sat apart and ate when it [the party] was ready. The result was that some began before others. One would be hungry and another drunken. This last phrase means that he had eaten and was satisfied." This distorted the very purpose of the fellowship meal. Benson writes: "They were called love feasts or suppers, because the richer Christians brought in a variety of provisions to feed the poor, the fatherless, the widows, and strangers, and ate with them to show their love to them." Due to conditions in the first century, the fellowship meal would be the only "square meal" many of the poor would have during the week!


Verse 22

Don't you have your own homes? It is plain from Jude 1:12 that Paul is not here condemning "eating in the church building." What he condemns is the fact that they split up into groups and so distort the very purpose of the fellowship meal and the Lord's Supper. Despise the church of God. This causes problems only because our English language uses church to mean "the building in which you worship." If you will substitute group for church, you will get the correct meaning. Lipscomb says: "If they had a feast in public, brotherly love for each other would have suggested a common table at which all would have fared alike, and as a consequence those without food at home would have had their wants supplied. The course pursued caused shame to the poor and left them hungry." See note on 1 Corinthians 11:33.


Verse 23

For from the Lord. Paul repeats this account of the Lord's Supper (Holy Meal) to show that their competitive spirit (1 Corinthians 11:19) was out of harmony with the holy purpose of this rite. That I passed on to you. He had told them this while he was at Corinth. That the Lord Jesus. He himself founded this rite. Was betrayed. Compare Luke 9:31. Took the bread. Both the bread and the wine commonly used in Passover formed the elements of this new rite.


Verse 24

Gave thanks to God. EUCHARISTESAS = gave thanks. Eucharist is a good Bible word. It appears some fifty-five times in its various forms in the Greek Testament. Applied to the Lord's Supper, it paints a picture of "looking up to Christ in praise and thanksgiving for what He has done!" This is my body. Jesus says this as he stands before them. Therefore we take these words as symbolic (see 1 Corinthians 11:26). See notes on John 6:53-56. Which is for you. See Hebrews 10:20. Do this in memory of me. The Holy Meal (Lord's Supper) is a living memorial to Christ on the cross! We should also think of it as a "fellowship meal WITH CHRIST" in much the same sense as the meal of John 21:12-13. It is also a VICTORY CELEBRATION!


Verse 25

This cup is God's new covenant. Jesus says this as he stands before them. Therefore we take these words as symbolic (see 1 Corinthians 11:26). Sealed with my blood. See Hebrews 9:15. MacKnight says: "Our Lord did not mean, that the new covenant was made at the time he shed his blood; it was made immediately after the fall, on account of the merits of his obedience to the death, which God then considered as accomplished, because it was certainly to be accomplished at the time determined." Compare Romans 5:18 and note.


Verse 26

For until the Lord comes. Christians are to share in the Lord's Supper (Holy Meal) PERPETUALLY until Jesus comes and the dead are raised to life! You proclaim his death. Christ on the cross is the center of Christianity (see note on 1 Corinthians 1:23). The bread symbolizes his body of flesh; the fruit of the grape symbolizes his blood.


Verse 27

It follows, then. "Because this is a holy rite." In a way that dishonors him. We can do this by: (1) eating it as a common meal; (2) eating it as the bond of a faction (party, schism); (3) eating it to promote some worldly purpose. He is guilty of sin. To share in this rite with an unholy frame of reference is to profane or blaspheme the Lord's body and blood!


Verse 28

Everyone should examine himself first. To be certain that his frame of reference is holy. MacKnight says: "First, whether he comes to this service [rite] to keep up the memory of Christ: Secondly, whether he is moved to do so by a grateful sense of Christ's love in dying for men: Thirdly, whether he comes with a firm purpose of doing honor to Christ, by living in all respects conformably to his precepts and example."


Verse 29

For if he does not recognize. If he is not aware of the true religious meaning of Christ on the cross memorialized in the bread and wine. He brings judgment on himself. Punishment. See 1 Corinthians 11:30.


Verse 30

That is why. The judgment mentioned in 1 Corinthians 11:29. MacKnight and others think that God was bringing physical punishments on them because of their unholy attitude (such as Acts 5:5). Lipscomb says: "Some commentators have applied the expression to physical disease and death; but spiritual neglect must bring spiritual penalties. Many had grown indifferent and some had lost interest in Christ and their duties to him."


Verse 31

If we would examine ourselves first. As sensible people we can each examine ourselves, using God's Word as the yardstick. In this way we can correct our own lives and avoid God's judgement.


Verse 32

But we are judged and punished. Because God does love us and wants us to succeed in the Christian life, he judges and punishes us in many ways. This certainly sounds like physical punishments (see note on 1 Corinthians 11:30), and we can find a parallel in Paul's own life (2 Corinthians 12:7). But be careful that you understand this is God's love in action, not his wrath. Compare Hebrews 12:5-11; 1 Thessalonians 3:3 and notes. "I know that your rules are righteous, Lord, and that you punished me because you are faithful" (Psalm 119:75).


Verse 33

So then, my brothers. The Lord's meal includes both the fellowship meal and the Lord's Supper. Although they were separate and distinct from each other, both were holy. The Expositor's Greek Testament says: "TO PHAGEIN embraces the entire Church Supper." Wait for one another. As soon as they entered the meeting-place with their food, they immediately began to eat it, like diners in a restaurant; and the rich (1 Corinthians 11:22) ate as fast as they could to avoid sharing with the poor! This means: (1) do not split up into competing groups; (2) the fellowship meal is for fellowship, and is holy as it unites the group; (3) you should unite in eating the Lord's Supper to memorialize Christ. See notes on 1 Corinthians 11:18; 1 Corinthians 11:22.


Verse 34

And if anyone is hungry. The Expositor's Greek Testament says: "The Church Supper is for good-fellowship, not for bodily need; to eat there like a famished Prayer of Manasseh, absorbed in one's food - if nothing worse happens - is to exclude Christian and religious thoughts." As for the other matters. MacKnight takes this as other problems about the Lord's Supper (Holy Meal). Edwards thinks these were other different matters (points of external order?) which could wait until Paul came there in person.

 


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These files are public domain.

Bibliography Information
Ice, Rhoderick D. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 11:4". "The Bible Study New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ice/1-corinthians-11.html. College Press, Joplin, MO. 1974.

Lectionary Calendar
Wednesday, September 18th, 2019
the Week of Proper 19 / Ordinary 24
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