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Bible Commentaries

Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament
1 Corinthians 11



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Verse 1

Imitators of me (μιμηται μουmimētai mou). In the principle of considerate love as so clearly shown in chapters 1 Corinthians 8-10 and in so far as (κατωςkathōs) Paul is himself an imitator of Christ. The preacher is a leader and is bound to set an example or pattern (τυποςtupos) 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 κατεχετεtas paradoseis katechete). Hold down as in 1 Corinthians 15:2. ΠαραδοσιςParadosis (tradition) from παραδιδωμιparadidōmi (παρεδωκαparedōka 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 (τελω δε υμας ειδεναιthelō de humas eidenai). But I wish you to know, censure in contrast to the praise in 1 Corinthians 11:2.

The head of Christ is God (κεπαλη του Χριστου ο τεοςkephalē tou Christou ho theos). Rather, God is the head of Christ, since κεπαληkephalē is anarthrous and predicate.

Verse 4

Having his head covered (κατα κεπαλης εχωνkata kephalēs echōn). Literally, having a veil (καλυμμαkalumma understood) down from the head (κεπαληςkephalēs ablative after καταkata as with καταkata 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 (ακατακαλυπτωι τηι κεπαληιakatakaluptōi tēi kephalēi). 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 εταιραιhetairai 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 και το αυτο τηι εχυρημενηιhen kai to auto tēi exurēmenēi). 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 χυραωxuraō later form for the old χυρεωxureō 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 (και κειραστωkai keirasthō). Aorist middle imperative of κειρωkeirō to shear (as sheep). Let her cut her hair close. A single act by the woman.

If it is a shame (ει δε αισχρονei de aischron). Condition of first class assumed to be true. ΑισχρονAischron is old adjective from αισχοςaischos 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 κειρασται και χυρασταιto keirasthai kai xurasthai). Articular infinitives subject of copula εστινestin understood, κειρασταιkeirasthai first aorist middle, χυρασταιxurasthai present middle. Note change in tense.

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

Verse 7

The image and glory of God (εικων και δοχα τεουeikōn kai doxa theou). Anarthrous substantives, but definite. Reference to Genesis 1:27 whereby man is made directly in the image (εικωνeikōn) of God. It is the moral likeness of God, not any bodily resemblance. Ellicott notes that man is the glory (δοχαdoxa) of God as the crown of creation and as endowed with sovereignty like God himself.

The glory of the man (δοχα ανδροςdoxa andros). Anarthrous also, man‘s glory. In Genesis 2:26 the lxx has αντρωποςanthrōpos (Greek word for both male and female), not ανηρanēr (male) as here. But the woman (γυνηgunē) was formed from the man (ανηρanēr) and this priority of the male (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 γυναικαdia tēn gunaika). Because of (διαdia with accusative case) the woman. The record in Genesis gives the man (ανηρanēr) as the origin (εκek) of the woman and the reason for (διαdia) the creation (εκτιστηektisthē first aorist passive of κτιζωktizō old verb to found, to create, to form) of woman.

Verse 10

Ought (οπειλειopheilei). Moral obligation therefore (δια τουτοdia touto rests on woman in the matter of dress that does not (ουκ οπειλειouk opheilei in 1 Corinthians 11:7) rest on the man.

To have a sign of authority (εχουσιαν εχεινexousian echein). He means σημειον εχουσιαςsēmeion exousias (symbol of authority) by εχουσιανexousian 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 (ψποταγηςhypotagēs 1 Timothy 2:10) than of authority (εχουσιαςexousias).

Because of the angels (δια τους αγγελουςdia tous aggelous). 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; Psalm 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 (πληνplēn). This adversative clause limits the preceding statement. Each sex is incomplete without (χωριςchōris apart from, with the ablative case) the other.

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

Verse 12

Of (εκek)

- by (διαdia). Ever since the first creation man has come into existence by means of (διαdia 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 εστινprepon estiṉ). Periphrastic present indicative rather than πρεπειprepei See note on Matthew 3:15. Paul appeals to the sense of propriety among the Corinthians.

Verse 14

Nature itself (η πυσις αυτηhē phusis autē). He reenforces the appeal to custom by the appeal to nature in a question that expects the affirmative answer (ουδεoude). ΠυσιςPhusis from old verb πυωphuō 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 (κομαιkomāi). Present active subjunctive of κομαωkomaō (from κομηkomē hair), old verb, same contraction (αηιαι̇aēîāi) as the indicative (αει αιaei ̂ āi), but subjunctive here with εανean 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 (αντι περιβολαιουanti peribolaiou). Old word from περιβαλλωperiballō 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 (αντιanti in the sense of αντιanti in John 1:16), as a permanent endowment (δεδοταιdedotai perfect passive indicative).

Verse 16

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

Custom (συνητηςsunētheian). Old word from συν ητοςsunēthēs (sunēthos), 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 (τουτοtouto). Probably the preceding one about the head-dress of women, and transition to what follows.

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

For the better (εις το κρεισσονeis to kreisson). Neuter articular comparative of κρατυςkratus but used as comparative of καλοςkalos good. Attic form κρειττονkreitton

For the worse (εις το ησσονeis to hēsson). Old comparative from ηκαhēka softly, used as comparative of κακοςkakos bad. In N.T. only here and 2 Corinthians 12:15.

Verse 18

First of all (πρωτον μενprōton men). There is no antithesis (δευτερον δεdeuteron de secondly, or επειτα δεepeita de 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 εκκλησιαιsunerchomenōn hēmōn en ekklēsiāi). Genitive absolute. Here εκκλησιαekklēsia has the literal meaning of assembly.

Divisions (σχισματαschismata). Accusative of general reference with the infinitive υπαρχεινhuparchein in indirect discourse. Old word for cleft, rent, from σχιζωschizō Example in papyri for splinter of wood. See note 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 τιmeros ti). Accusative of extent (to some part) like πανταpanta in 1 Corinthians 10:33. He could have said εκ μερουςek merous as in 1 Corinthians 13:9. The rumours of strife were so constant (I keep on hearing, ακουωakouō).

Verse 19

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

Heresies (αιρεσειςhaireseis). The schisms naturally become factions or parties. Cf. strifes (εριδεςerides) in 1 Corinthians 1:11. See Acts 15:5 for haireseis 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 (hina). God‘s purpose in these factions makes the proved ones (αιρεσειςhoi dokimoi) become manifest (ιναphaneroi). “These οι δοκιμοιhaireseis 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 παγεινKuriakon deipnon phagein). ΚυριακοςKuriakos adjective from ΚυριοςKurios 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 ΑγαπηAgapē 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. ΔειπνονDeipnon 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 (προλαμβανειprolambanei). 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 δειπνονKoinéon deipnon), not to say a Lord‘s δειπνονdeipnon It was a mere grab-game.

This one is hungry (ος δε πειναιhos de peināi). Demonstrative οςhos Nothing is left for him at the love-feast.

Another is drunken (ος δε μετυειhos de methuei). 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 μετυωmethuō to be drunk, see Matthew 24:49; Acts 2:15.

Verse 22

What? Have ye not houses? (Μη γαρ οικιας ουκ εχετεMē gar oikias ouk echete̱) The double negative (μηουκmē̇̇ouk) in the single question is like the idiom in 1 Corinthians 9:4. which see. ΜηMē expects a negative answer while ουκouk negatives the verb εχετεechete “For do you fail to have houses?” Paul is not approving gluttony and drunkenness but only expressing horror at their sacrilege (despising, καταπρονειτεkataphroneite) of the church of God.

That have not (τους μη εχονταςtous mē echontas). Not those without houses, but those who have nothing, “the have-nots” (Findlay) like 2 Corinthians 8:12, in contrast with οι εχοντεςhoi echontes “the haves” (the men of property).

What shall I say to you? (τι ειπω υμινti eipō humiṉ) Deliberative subjunctive that well expresses Paul‘s bewilderment.

Verse 23

For I received of the Lord (εγο γαρ παρελαβον απο του Κυριουego gar parelabon apo tou Kuriou). 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 1 Corinthians before he wrote his Gospel. See note on 1 Corinthians 15:3 for use of both παρελαβονparelabon and παρεδωκαparedōka Note παραpara in both verbs. Paul received the account from (παρααποparȧ̇apo) the Lord and passed it on from himself to them, a true παραδοσιςparadosis (tradition) as in 1 Corinthians 11:2.

He was betrayed (παρεδιδετοparedideto). Imperfect passive indicative (irregular form for παρεδιδοτοparedidoto Robertson, Grammar, p. 340). Same verb as παρεδωκαparedōka (first aorist active indicative just used for “I delivered”).

Verse 24

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

Which is for you (το υπερ υμωνto huper humōn). ΚλωμενονKlōmenon (broken) of the Textus Receptus (King James Version) is clearly not genuine. Luke (Luke 22:19) has διδομενονdidomenon (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 αναμνησινeis tēn emēn anamnēsin). The objective use of the possessive pronoun εμηνemēn Not my remembrance of you, but your remembrance of me. ΑναμνησιςAnamnēsis from αναμιμνησκωanamimnēskō 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 δειπνησαιmeta to deipnēsai). ΜεταMeta and the articular aorist active infinitive, “after the dining” (or the supping) as in Luke 22:20.

The new covenant (η καινη διατηκηhē kainē diathēkē). For διατηκηdiathēkē see note on Matthew 26:28. For καινοςkainos see Luke 5:38 and note on Luke 22:20. The position of εστινestin before εν τωι αιματιen tōi haimati (in my blood) makes it a secondary or additional predicate and not to be taken just with διατηκηdiathēkē (covenant or will).

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

Verse 26

Till he come (αχρι ου ελτηιachri hou elthēi). Common idiom (with or without ανan) with the aorist subjunctive for future time (Robertson, Grammar, p. 975). In Luke 22:18 we have εως ου ελτηιheōs hou elthēi The Lord‘s Supper is the great preacher (καταγγελλετεkataggellete) of the death of Christ till his second coming (Matthew 26:29).

Verse 27

Unworthily (αναχιωςanaxiōs). Old adverb, only here in N.T., not genuine in 1 Corinthians 11:29. Paul defines his meaning in 1 Corinthians 11:29. He does not say or imply that we ourselves must be “worthy” (αχιοιaxioi) 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 εσταιenochos estai). 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 αντρωπος εαυτονdokimazetō anthrōpos heauton). 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 1 Corinthians 11:20.

Verse 29

If he discern not the body (μη διακρινων το σωμαmē diakrinōn to sōma). So-called conditional use of the participle, “not judging the body.” Thus he eats and drinks judgment (κριμαkrima) on himself. The verb διακρινωdiȧkrinō 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 (και κοιμωνται ικανοιkai koimōntai hikanoi). Sufficient number (ικανοιhikanoi) 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 (ει δε εαυτους διεκρινομενei de heautous diekrinomen). This condition of the second class, determined as unfulfilled, assumes that they had not been judging themselves discriminatingly, else they would not be judged (εκρινομεταekrinometha). Note distinction in the two verbs.

Verse 32

Ye are chastened of the Lord (υπο του Κυριου παιδευομεταhupo tou Kuriou paideuometha). On this sense of παιδευωpaideuō from παιςpais child, to train a child (Acts 7:22), to discipline with words (2 Timothy 2:25), to chastise with scourges see note on Luke 23:16 (Hebrews 12:7), and so by afflictions as here (Hebrews 12:6). υπο του ΚυριουHupo tou Kuriou can be construed with κρινομενοιkrinomenoi instead of with παιδευομεταpaideuometha

With the world (συν τωι κοσμωιsun tōi kosmōi). Along with the world. Afflictions are meant to separate us from the doom of the wicked world. Final use of ινα μηhina mē here with κατακριτωμενkatakrithōmen (first aorist passive subjunctive).

Verse 33

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

Verse 34

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

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

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

Whensoever I come (ως αν ελτωhōs an elthō). Common idiom for temporal clause of future time (conjunction like ωςhōs with ανan and aorist subjunctive ελτωelthō).


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)

Bibliography Information
Robertson, A.T. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 11:4". "Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament". Broadman Press 1932,33. Renewal 1960.

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