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1 Corinthians 11

Chapters: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16

Commentary. Click on TOC in this page to return to here. Place mouse over Scripture references for pop up view. More comments on the Lord's supper here.

See New Testament Table of Contents, and please read the Introductory Notes here

1 Corinthians 11

1 Be ye followers of me, even as I also [am] of Christ. Neh. 4:3; Mt. 4:19; 9:9; 1Cor 4:16; Phil 3:17; 1Thess 1:6; 2Thess 3:9; 2 Now I praise you, brethren, that ye remember me in all things, and keep the ordinances, as I delivered [them] to you. Lv. 10:11; 18:4,30; Ezek. 11:20; Jn. 14:15,23; 15:10; 3 But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman [is] the man; and the head of Christ [is] God. Eph 5:23; Col. 3:24; John 13:13; 14:28; Gn. 3:16; 1Cor 3:23; 1Cor 15:27,28; 4 Every man praying or prophesying, having [his] head covered, dishonoureth his head. 5 But every woman that prayeth or prophesieth with [her] head uncovered dishonoureth her head: for that is even all one as if she were shaven. Deut 22:5; 6 For if the woman be not covered, let her also be shorn: but if it be a shame for a woman to be shorn or shaven, let her be covered. Dt. 21:12; Num 5:18; Is. 3:23; Gn. 24:65; 7 For a man indeed ought not to cover [his] head, forasmuch as he is the image and glory of God: but the woman is the glory of the man. Ezek. 44:20; Gen 1:26-27; Gen 5:1; Gen 9:6; Col 3:10; 8 For the man is not of the woman; but the woman of the man. Gen 2:21-23; 9 Neither was the man created for the woman; but the woman for the man. Gen 2:18; 10 For this cause ought the woman to have power on [her] head because of the angels. Is. 6:2; : Ecc. 5:6; 1Cor. 4:9) 11 Nevertheless neither is the man without the woman, neither the woman without the man, in the Lord. 12 For as the woman [is] of the man, even so [is] the man also by the woman; but all things of God. Gn. 4:1; 13 Judge in yourselves: is it comely that a woman pray unto God uncovered? 14 Doth not even nature itself teach you, that, if a man have long hair, it is a shame unto him? 2Sam.14:26; 15 But if a woman have long hair, it is a glory to her: for [her] hair is given her for a covering. Ex. 24:15,16; Num. 16:42; 16 But if any man seem to be contentious, we have no such custom, neither the churches of God. 1Tim 6:4;

17 Now in this that I declare [unto you] I praise [you] not, that ye come together not for the better, but for the worse. 18 For first of all, when ye come together in the church, I hear that there be divisions among you; and I partly believe it. 19 For there must be also heresies among you, that they which are approved may be made manifest among you. Matt 18:7; Luke 17:1; Acts 20:30; 1John 2:19; 20 When ye come together therefore into one place, [this] is not to eat the Lord's supper. 21 For in eating every one taketh before [other] his own supper: and one is hungry, and another is drunken. 22 What? have ye not houses to eat and to drink in? or despise ye the church of God, and shame them that have not? What shall I say to you? shall I praise you in this? I praise [you] not.

23 For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, That the Lord Jesus the [same] night in which he was betrayed took bread: Matt 26:26; Mark 14:22; Luke 22:19; 24 And when he had given thanks, he brake [it], and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me. 25 After the same manner also [he took] the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink [it], in remembrance of me. 26 For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord's death till he come. John 14:3; Acts 1:11; 27 Wherefore whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink [this] cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. Num 9:10; Num 9:13; 2Sam. 23:15-17; John 13:27; 1Cor 10:21; 28 But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of [that] bread, and drink of [that] cup. 2Cor 13:5; 29 For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord's body. 30 For this cause many [are] weak and sickly among you, and many sleep. 31 For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged. Ps 32:5; Prov 18:17; 32 But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world. 33 Wherefore, my brethren, when ye come together to eat, tarry one for another. 34 And if any man hunger, let him eat at home; that ye come not together unto condemnation. And the rest will I set in order when I come. TOC

Commentary:

1 Corinthians 11 - The apostle reprehends the Corinthians for several irregularities in their manner of conducting public worship; the men praying or prophesying with their heads covered, and the women with their heads uncovered, contrary to custom, propriety, and decency, 1Co. 11:1-6. Reasons why they should act differently, 1Co. 11:7-16. They are also reproved for their divisions and heresies, 1Co. 11:17-19. And for the irregular manner in which they celebrated the Lord’s Supper, 1Co. 11:20-22. The proper manner of celebrating this holy rite laid down by the apostle, 1Co. 11:23-26. Directions for a profitable receiving of the Lord’s Supper, and avoiding the dangerous consequences of communicating unworthily, 1Co. 11:27-34. Clarke

1 Corinthians 11 -

In this chapter the apostle blames, and endeavours to rectify, some great indecencies and manifest disorders in the church of Corinth; as, I. The misconduct of their women (some of whom seem to have been inspired) in the public assembly, who laid by their veils, the common token of subjection to their husbands in that part of the world. This behaviour he reprehends, requires them to keep veiled, asserts the superiority of the husband, yet so as to remind the husband that both were made for mutual help and comfort (v. 1-16). II. He blames them for their discord and neglect and contempt of the poor, at the Lord's supper (1Co. 11:17-22). III. To rectify these scandalous disorders, he sets before them the nature and intentions of this holy institution, directs them how they should attend on it, and warns them of the danger of a conduct to indecent as theirs, and of all unworthy receiving (1Co. 11:23 to the end). — Henry

1Co 11:1

The first verse of this chapter seems properly to be the close to the last. The apostle not only preached such doctrine as they ought to believe, but led such a life as they ought to live. Yet Christ being our perfect example, the actions and conduct of men, as related in the Scriptures, should be followed only so far as they are like to his.

1Co 11:2-16

Here begin particulars respecting the public assemblies, 1 Corinthians 14. In the abundance of spiritual gifts bestowed on the Corinthians, some abuses had crept in; but as Christ did the will, and sought the honour of God, so the Christian should avow his subjection to Christ, doing his will and seeking his glory. We should, even in our dress and habit, avoid every thing that may dishonour Christ. The woman was made subject to man, because made for his help and comfort. And she should do nothing, in Christian assemblies, which looked like a claim of being equal. She ought to have “power,” that is, a veil, on her head, because of the angels. Their presence should keep Christians from all that is wrong while in the worship of God. Nevertheless, the man and the woman were made for one another. They were to be mutual comforts and blessings, not one a slave, and the other a tyrant. God has so settled matters, both in the kingdom of providence and that of grace, that the authority and subjection of each party should be for mutual help and benefit. It was the common usage of the churches, for women to appear in public assemblies, and join in public worship, veiled; and it was right that they should do so. The Christian religion sanctions national customs wherever these are not against the great principles of truth and holiness; affected singularities receive no countenance from any thing in the Bible.

1Co 11:17-22

The apostle rebukes the disorders in their partaking of the Lord's supper. The ordinances of Christ, if they do not make us better, will be apt to make us worse. If the use of them does not mend, it will harden. Upon coming together, they fell into divisions, schisms. Christians may separate from each other's communion, yet be charitable one towards another; they may continue in the same communion, yet be uncharitable. This last is schism, rather than the former. There is a careless and irregular eating of the Lord's supper, which adds to guilt. Many rich Corinthians seem to have acted very wrong at the Lord's table, or at the love-feasts, which took place at the same time as the supper. The rich despised the poor, and ate and drank up the provisions they brought, before the poor were allowed to partake; thus some wanted, while others had more than enough. What should have been a bond of mutual love and affection, was made an instrument of discord and disunion. We should be careful that nothing in our behaviour at the Lord's table, appears to make light of that sacred institution. The Lord's supper is not now made an occasion for gluttony or revelling, but is it not often made the support of self-righteous pride, or a cloak for hypocrisy? Let us never rest in the outward forms of worship; but look to our hearts.

1Co 11:23-34

The apostle describes the sacred ordinance, of which he had the knowledge by revelation from Christ. As to the visible signs, these are the bread and wine. What is eaten is called bread, though at the same time it is said to be the body of the Lord, plainly showing that the apostle did not mean that the bread was changed into flesh. St. Matthew tells us, our Lord bid them all drink of the cup, ch. Mat. 26:27, as if he would, by this expression, provide against any believer being deprived of the cup. The things signified by these outward signs, are Christ's body and blood, his body broken, his blood shed, together with all the benefits which flow from his death and sacrifice. Our Saviour's actions were, taking the bread and cup, giving thanks, breaking the bread, and giving both the one and the other. The actions of the communicants were, to take the bread and eat, to take the cup and drink, and to do both in remembrance of Christ. But the outward acts are not the whole, or the principal part, of what is to be done at this holy ordinance. Those who partake of it, are to take him as their Lord and Life, yield themselves up to him, and live upon him. Here is an account of the ends of this ordinance. It is to be done in remembrance of Christ, to keep fresh in our minds his dying for us, as well as to remember Christ pleading for us, in virtue of his death, at God's right hand. It is not merely in remembrance of Christ, of what he has done and suffered; but to celebrate his grace in our redemption. We declare his death to be our life, the spring of all our comforts and hopes. And we glory in such a declaration; we show forth his death, and plead it as our accepted sacrifice and ransom. The Lord's supper is not an ordinance to be observed merely for a time, but to be continued. The apostle lays before the Corinthians the danger of receiving it with an unsuitable temper of mind; or keeping up the covenant with sin and death, while professing to renew and confirm the covenant with God. No doubt such incur great guilt, and so render themselves liable to spiritual judgements. But fearful believers should not be discouraged from attending at this holy ordinance. The Holy Spirit never caused this scripture to be written to deter serious Christians from their duty, though the devil has often made this use of it. The apostle was addressing Christians, and warning them to beware of the temporal judgements with which God chastised his offending servants. And in the midst of judgement, God remembers mercy: he many times punishes those whom he loves. It is better to bear trouble in this world, than to be miserable for ever. The apostle points our the duty of those who come to the Lord's table. Self-examination is necessary to right attendance at this holy ordinance. If we would thoroughly search ourselves, to condemn and set right what we find wrong, we should stop Divine judgements. The apostle closes all with a caution against the irregularities of which the Corinthians were guilty at the Lord's table. Let all look to it, that they do not come together to God's worship, so as to provoke him, and bring down vengeance on themselves. — MHCC

1Co 11:1-16

Paul, having answered the cases put to him, proceeds in this chapter to the redress of grievances. The first verse of the chapter is put, by those who divided the epistle into chapters, as a preface to the rest of the epistle, but seems to have been a more proper close to the last, in which he had enforced the cautions he had given against the abuse of liberty, by his own example: Be ye followers of me, as I also am of Christ (1Co. 11:1), fitly closes his argument; and the way of speaking in the next verse looks like a transition to another. But, whether it more properly belong to this or the last chapter, it is plain from it that Paul not only preached such doctrine as they ought to believe, but led such a life as they ought to imitate. “Be ye followers of me,” that is, “Be imitators of me; live as you see me live.” Note, Ministers are likely to preach most to the purpose when they can press their hearers to follow their example. Yet would not Paul be followed blindly neither. He encourages neither implicit faith nor obedience. He would be followed himself no further than he followed Christ. Christ's pattern is a copy without a blot; so is no man's else. Note, We should follow no leader further than he follows Christ. Apostles should be left by us when they deviate from the example of their Master. He passes next to reprehend and reform an indecency among them, of which the women were more especially guilty, concerning which observe,

I. How he prefaces it. He begins with a commendation of what was praiseworthy in them (1Co. 11:2): I praise you, that you remember me in all things, and keep the ordinances as I delivered them to you. Many of them, it is probable, did this in the strictest sense of the expression: and he takes occasion thence to address the body of the church under this good character; and the body might, in the main, have continued to observe the ordinances and institutions of Christ, though in some things they deviated fRom. and corrupted, them. Note, When we reprove what is amiss in any, it is very prudent and fit to commend what is good in them; it will show that the reproof is not from ill-will, and a humour of censuring and finding fault; and it will therefore procure the more regard to it.

II. How he lays the foundation for his reprehension by asserting the superiority of the man over the woman: I would have you know that the head of every man is Christ, and the head of the woman is the man, and the head of Christ is God. Christ, in his mediatorial character and glorified humanity, is at the head of mankind. He is not only first of the kind, but Lord and Sovereign. He has a name above every name: though in this high office and authority he has a superior, God being his head. And as God is the head of Christ, and Christ the head of the whole human kind, so the man is the head of the tow sexes: not indeed with such dominion as Christ has over the kind or God has over the man Christ Jesus; but a superiority and headship he has, and the woman should be in subjection and not assume or usurp the man's place. This is the situation in which God has placed her; and for that reason she should have a mind suited to her rank, and not do any thing that looks like an affectation of changing places. Something like this the women of the church of Corinth seem to have been guilty of, who were under inspiration, and prayed and prophesied even in their assemblies, 1Co. 11:5. It is indeed an apostolical canon, that the women should keep silence in the churches (1Co. 14:34; 1Ti. 2:12), which some understand without limitation, as if a woman under inspiration also must keep silence, which seems very well to agree with the connection of the apostle's discourse, ch. 14. Others with a limitation: though a woman might not from her own abilities pretend to teach, or so much as question and debate any thing in the church yet when under inspiration the case was altered, she had liberty to speak. Or, though she might not preach even by inspiration (because teaching is the business of a superior), yet she might pray or utter hymns by inspiration, even in the public assembly. She did not show any affectation of superiority over the man by such acts of public worship. It is plain the apostle does not in this place prohibit the thing, but reprehend the manner of doing it. And yet he might utterly disallow the thing and lay an unlimited restraint on the woman in another part of the epistle. These things are not contradictory. It is to his present purpose to reprehend the manner wherein the women prayed and prophesied in the church, without determining in this place whether they did well or ill in praying or prophesying. Note, The manner of doing a thing enters into the morality of it. We must not only be concerned to do good, but that the good we do be well done.

III. The thing he reprehends is the woman's praying or prophesying uncovered, or the man's doing either covered, 1Co. 11:4, 1Co. 11:5. To understand this, it must be observed that it was a signification either of shame or subjection for persons to be veiled, or covered, in the eastern countries, contrary to the custom of ours, where the being bare-headed betokens subjection, and being covered superiority and dominion. And this will help us the better to understand,

IV. The reasons on which he grounds his reprehension. 1. The man that prays or prophesies with his head covered dishonoureth his head, namely, Christ, the head of every man (1Co. 11:3), by appearing in a habit unsuitable to the rank in which God has placed him. Note, We should, even in our dress and habits, avoid every thing that may dishonour Christ. The woman, on the other hand, who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonoureth her head, namely, the man, 1Co. 11:3. She appears in the dress of her superior, and throws off the token of her subjection. She might, with equal decency, cut her hair short, or cut it close, which was the custom of the man in that age. This would be in a manner to declare that she was desirous of changing sexes, a manifest affectation of that superiority which God had conferred on the other sex. And this was probably the fault of these prophetesses in the church of Corinth. It was doing a thing which, in that age of the world, betokened superiority, and therefore a tacit claim of what did not belong to them but the other sex. Note, The sexes should not affect to change places. The order in which divine wisdom has placed persons and things is best and fittest: to endeavour to amend it is to destroy all order, and introduce confusion. The woman should keep to the rank God has chosen for her, and not dishonour her head; for this, in the result, is to dishonour God. If she was made out of the man, and for the man, and made to be the glory of the man, she should do nothing, especially in public, that looks like a wish of having this order inverted. 2. Another reason against this conduct is that the man is the image and glory of God, the representative of that glorious dominion and headship which God has over the world. It is the man who is set at the head of this lower creation, and therein he bears the resemblance of God. The woman, on the other hand, is the glory of the man (1Co. 11:7): she is his representative. Not but she has dominion over the inferior creatures, as she is a partaker of human nature, and so far is God's representative too, but it is at second-hand. She is the image of God, inasmuch as she is the image of the man: For the man was not made out of the woman, but the woman out of the man, 1Co. 11:8. The man was first made, and made head of the creation here below, and therein the image of the divine dominion; and the woman was made out of the man, and shone with a reflection of his glory, being made superior to the other creatures here below, but in subjection to her husband, and deriving that honour from him out of whom she was made. 3. The woman was made for the man, to be his help-meet, and not the man for the woman. She was naturally, therefore, made subject to him, because made for him, for his use, and help, and comfort. And she who was intended to be always in subjection to the man should do nothing, in Christian assemblies, that looks like an affectation of equality. 4. She ought to have power on her head, because of the angels. Power, that is, a veil, the token, not of her having the power or superiority, but being under the power of her husband, subjected to him, and inferior to the other sex. Rebekah, when she met Isaac, and was delivering herself into his possession, put on her veil, in token of her subjection, Gen. 24:65. Thus would the apostle have the women appear In Christian assemblies, even though they spoke there by inspiration, because of the angels, that is, say some, because of the evil angels. The woman was first in the transgression, being deceived by the devil (1Ti. 2:14), which increased her subjection to man, Gen. 3:16. Now, believe evil angels will be sure to mix in all Christian assemblies, therefore should women wear the token of their shamefacedness and subjection, which in that age and country, was a veil. Others say because of the good angels. Jews and Christians have had an opinion that these ministering spirits are many of them present in their assemblies. Their presence should restrain Christians from all indecencies in the worship of God. Note, We should learn from all to behave in the public assemblies of divine worship so as to express a reverence for God, and a content and satisfaction with that rank in which he has placed us.

V. He thinks fit to guard his argument with a caution lest the inference be carried too far (1Co. 11:11, 1Co. 11:12): Nevertheless, neither is the man without the woman, nor the woman without the man in the Lord. They were made for one another. It is not good for him to be alone (Gen. 2:18), and therefore was a woman made, and made for the man; and the man was intended to be a comfort, and help, and defence, to the woman, though not so directly and immediately made for her. They were made to be a mutual comfort and blessing, not one a slave and the other a tyrant. Both were to be one flesh (Gen. 2:24), and this for the propagation of a race of mankind. They are reciprocal instruments of each other's production. As the woman was first formed out of the man, the man is ever since propagated by the woman (1Co. 11:12), all by the divine wisdom and power of the First Cause so ordaining it. The authority and subjection should be no greater than are suitable to two in such near relation and close union to each other. Note, As it is the will of God that the woman know her place, so it is his will also that the man abuse not his power.

VI. He enforces his argument from the natural covering provided for the woman (1Co. 11:13-15): “Judge in yourselves - consult your own reason, hearken to what nature suggests - is it comely for a woman to pray to God uncovered? Should there not be a distinction kept up between the sexes in wearing their hair, since nature has made one? Is it not a distinction which nature has kept up among all civilized nations? The woman's hair is a natural covering; to wear it long is a glory to her; but for a man to have long hair, or cherish it, is a token of softness and effeminacy.” Note, It should be our concern, especially in Christian and religious assemblies, to make no breach upon the rules of natural decency.

VII. He sums up all by referring those who were contentious to the usages and customs of the churches, 1Co. 11:16. Custom is in a great measure the rule of decency. And the common practice of the churches is what would have them govern themselves by. He does not silence the contentious by mere authority, but lets them know that they would appear to the world as very odd and singular in their humour if they would quarrel for a custom to which all the churches of Christ were at that time utter strangers, or against a custom in which they all concurred, and that upon the ground of natural decency. It was the common usage of the churches for women to appear in public assemblies, and join in public worship, veiled; and it was manifestly decent that they should do so. Those must be very contentious indeed who would quarrel with this, or lay it aside.

1Co 11:17-22

In this passage the apostle sharply rebukes them for much greater disorders than the former, in their partaking of the Lord's supper, which was commonly done in the first ages, as the ancients tell us, with a love-feast annexed, which gave occasion to the scandalous disorders which the apostle here reprehends, concerning which observe,

I. The manner in which he introduces his charge: “Now in this that I declare to you I praise you not, 1Co. 11:17. I cannot commend, but must blame and condemn you.” It is plain, from the beginning of the chapter, that he was willing and pleased to commend as far as he could. But such scandalous disorders, in so sacred an institution, as they were guilty of, called for a sharp reprehension. They quite turned the institution against itself. It was intended to make them better, to promote their spiritual interests; but it really made them worse. They came together, not for the better, but for the worse. Note, The ordinances of Christ, if they do not make us better, will be very apt to make us worse; if they do not do our souls good, they do us harm; if they do not melt and mend, they will harden. Corruptions will be confirmed in us, if the proper means do not work a cure of them.

II. He enters upon his charge against them in more particulars than one. 1. He tells them that, upon coming together, they fell into divisions, schisms - schismata. Instead of concurring unanimously in celebrating the ordinance, they fell a quarrelling with one another. Note, There may be schism where there is no separation of communion. Persons may come together in the same church, and sit down at the same table of the Lord, and yet be schismatics. Uncharitableness, alienation of affection, especially if it grows up to discord, and feuds, and contentions, constitute schism. Christians may separate from each other's communion, and yet be uncharitable one towards another; they may continue in the same communion, and yet be uncharitable. This latter is schism, rather than the former. The apostle had heard a report of the Corinthians' divisions, and he tells them he had too much reason to believe it. For, adds he, there must be heresies also; not only quarrels, but factions, and perhaps such corrupt opinions as strike at the foundation of Christianity, and all sound religion. Note, No marvel there should be breaches of Christian love in the churches, when such offences will come as shall make shipwreck of faith and a good conscience. Such offences must come. Note that men are necessitated to be guilty of them; but the event is certain, and God permits them, that those who are approved (such honest hearts as will bear the trial) may be set to view, and appear faithful by their constant adherence to the truths and ways of God, notwithstanding the temptations of seducers. Note, The wisdom of God can make the wickedness and errors of others a foil to the piety and integrity of the saints. 2. He charges them not only with discord and division, but with scandalous disorder: For in eating every one taketh before the other his own supper; and one is hungry, and another is drunken, 1Co. 11:21. Heathens used to drink plentifully at their feasts upon their sacrifices. Many of the wealthier Corinthians seem to have taken the same liberty at the Lord's table, or at least at their Agapai, or love-feasts, that were annexed to the supper. They would not stay for one another; the rich despised the poor, and ate and drank up the provisions they themselves brought, before the poor were allowed to partake; and thus some wanted, while others had more than enough. This was profaning a sacred institution, and corrupting a divine ordinance, to the last degree. What was appointed to feed the soul was employed to feed their lusts and passions. What should have been a bond of mutual amity and affection was made an instrument of discord and disunion. The poor were deprived of the food prepared for them, and the rich turned a feast of charity into a debauch. This was scandalous irregularity.

III. The apostle lays the blame of this conduct closely on them, 1. By telling them that their conduct perfectly destroyed the purpose and use of such an institution: This is not to eat the Lord's supper, 1Co. 11:20. It was coming to the Lord's table, and not coming. They might as well have staid away. Thus to eat the outward elements was not to eat Christ's body. Note, There is a careless and irregular eating of the Lord's supper which is as none at all; it will turn to no account, but to increase guilt. Such an eating was that of the Corinthians; their practices were a direct contradiction to the purposes of this sacred institution. 2. Their conduct carried in it a contempt of God's house, or of the church, 1Co. 11:22. If they had a mind to feast, they might do it at home in their own houses; but to come to the Lord's table, and cabal and quarrel, and keep the poor from their share of the provision there made for them as well as rich, was such an abuse of the ordinance, and such a contempt of the poorer members of the church more especially, as merited a very sharp rebuke. Such a behaviour tended much to the shame and discouragement of the poor, whose souls were as dear to Christ, and cost him as much, as those of the rich. Note, Common meals may be managed after a common manner, but religious feasts should be attended religiously. Note, also, It is a heinous evil, and severely to be censured, for Christians to treat their fellow-christians with contempt and insolence, but especially at the Lord's table. This is doing what they can to pour contempt on divine ordinances. And we should look carefully to it that nothing in our behaviour at the Lord's table have the appearance of contemning so sacred an institution.

1Co 11:23-34

To rectify these gross corruptions and irregularities, the apostle sets the sacred institution here to view. This should be the rule in the reformation of all abuses.

I. He tells us how he came by the knowledge of it. He was not among the apostles at the first institution; but he had received from the Lord what he delivered to them, 1Co. 11:23. He had the knowledge of this matter by revelation from Christ: and what he had received he communicated, without varying from the truth a tittle, without adding or diminishing.

II. He gives us a more particular account of the institution than we meet with elsewhere. We have here an account,

1. Of the author - our Lord Jesus Christ. The king of the church only has power to institute sacraments.

2. The time of the institution: It was the very night wherein he was betrayed; just as he was entering on his sufferings which are therein to be commemorated.

3. The institution itself. Our Saviour took bread, and when he had given thanks, or blessed (as it is in Mat. 26:26), he broke, and said, Take, eat; this is my body, broken for you; this do in remembrance of me. And in like manner he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the New Testament in my blood; this do, as oft as you drink it, in remembrance of me, 1Co. 11:24, 1Co. 11:25. Here observe,

(1.) The materials of this sacrament; both, [1.] As to the visible signs; these are bread and the cup, the former of which is called bread many times over in this passage, even after what the papists call consecration. What is eaten is called bread, though it be at the same time said to be the body of the Lord, a plain argument that the apostle knew nothing of their monstrous and absurd doctrine of transubstantiation. The latter is as plainly a part of this institution as words can make it. St. Matthew tells us, our Lord bade them all drink of it (Mat. 26:27), as if he would, by this expression, lay in a caveat against the papists' depriving the laity of the cup. Bread and the cup are both made use of, because it is a holy feast. Nor is it here, or any where, made necessary, that any particular liquor should be in the cup. In one evangelist, indeed, it is plain that wine was the liquor used by our Saviour, though it was, perhaps, mingled with water, according to the Jewish custom; vide Lightfoot on Mt. 26. But this by no means renders it unlawful to have a sacrament where persons cannot come at wine. In every place of scripture in which we have an account of this part of the institution it is always expressed by a figure. The cup is put for what was in it, without once specifying what the liquor was, in the words of the institution. [2.] The things signified by these outward signs; they are Christ's body and blood, his body broken, his blood shed, together with all the benefits which flow from his death and sacrifice: it is the New Testament in his blood. His blood is the seal and sanction of all the privileges of the new covenant; and worthy receivers take it as such, at this holy ordinance. They have the New Testament, and their own title to all the blessings of the new covenant, confirmed to them by his blood.

(2.) We have here the sacramental actions, the manner in which the materials of the sacrament are to be used. [1.] Our Saviour's actions, which are taking the bread and cup, giving thanks, breaking the bread, and giving about both the one and the other. [2.] The actions of the communicants, which were to take the bread and eat, to take the cup and drink, and both in remembrance of Christ. But the external acts are not the whole nor the principal part of what is to be done at this holy ordinance; each of them has a significancy. Our Saviour, having undertaken to make an offering of himself to God, and procure, by his death, the remission of sins, with all other gospel benefits, for true believers, did, at the institution, deliver his body and blood, with all the benefits procured by his death, to his disciples, and continues to do the same every time the ordinance is administered to the true believers. This is here exhibited, or set forth, as the food of souls. And as food, though ever so wholesome or rich, will yield no nourishment without being eaten, here the communicants are to take and eat, or to receive Christ and feed upon him, his grace and benefits, and by faith convert them into nourishment to their souls. They are to take him as their Lord and life, yield themselves up to him, and live upon him. He is our life, Col. 3:4.

(3.) We have here an account of the ends of this institution. [1.] It was appointed to be done in remembrance of Christ, to keep fresh in our minds an ancient favour, his dying for us, as well as to remember an absent friend, even Christ interceding for us, in virtue of his death, at God's right hand. The best of friends, and the greatest acts of kindness, are here to be remembered, with the exercise of suitable affections and graces. The motto on this ordinance, and the very meaning of it, is, When this you see, remember me. [2.] It was to show forth Christ's death, to declare and publish it. It is not barely in remembrance of Christ, of what he has done and suffered, that this ordinance was instituted; but to commemorate, to celebrate, his glorious condescension and grace in our redemption. We declare his death to be our life, the spring of all our comforts and hopes. And we glory in such a declaration; we show forth his death, and spread it before God, as our accepted sacrifice and ransom. We set it in view of our own faith, for our own comfort and quickening; and we own before the world, by this very service, that we are the disciples of Christ, who trust in him alone for salvation and acceptance with God.

(4.) It is moreover hinted here, concerning this ordinance, [1.] That it should be frequent: As often as you eat this bread, etc. Our bodily meals return often; we cannot maintain life and health without this. And it is fit that this spiritual diet should be taken often tool The ancient churches celebrated this ordinance every Lord's day, if not every day when they assembled for worship. [2.] That it must be perpetual. It is to be celebrated till the Lord shall come; till he shall come the second time, without sin, for the salvation of those that believe, and to judge the world. This is our warrant for keeping this feast. It was our Lord's will that we should thus celebrate the memorials of his death and passion, till he come in his own glory, and the Father's glory, with his holy angels, and put an end to the present state of things, and his own mediatorial administration, by passing the final sentence. Note, The Lord's supper is not a temporary, but a standing and perpetual ordinance.

III. He lays before the Corinthians the danger of receiving unworthily, of prostituting this institution as they did, and using it to the purposes of feasting and faction, with intentions opposite to its design, or a temper of mind altogether unsuitable to it; or keeping up the covenant with sin and death, while they are there professedly renewing and confirming their covenant with God. 1. It is great guilt which such contrActs They shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord (1Co. 11:27), of violating this sacred institution, of despising his body and blood. They act as if they counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith they are sanctified, an unholy thing, Heb. 10:29. They profane the institution, and in a manner crucify their Saviour over again. Instead of being cleansed by his blood, they are guilty of his blood. 2. It is a great hazard which they run: They eat and drink judgment to themselves, 1Co. 11:29. They provoke God, and are likely to bring down punishment on themselves. No doubt but they incur great guilt, and so render themselves liable to damnation, to spiritual judgments and eternal misery. Every sin is in its own nature damning; and therefore surely so heinous a sin as profaning such a holy ordinance is so. And it is profaned in the grossest sense by such irreverence and rudeness as the Corinthians were guilty of. But fearful believers should not be discouraged from attending at this holy ordinance by the sound of these words, as if they bound upon themselves the sentence of damnation by coming to the table of the Lord unprepared. Thus sin, as well as all others, leaves room for forgiveness upon repentance; and the Holy Spirit never indited this passage of scripture to deter serious Christians from their duty, though the devil has often made this advantage of it, and robbed good Christians of their choicest comforts. The Corinthians came to the Lord's table as to a common feast, not discerning the Lord's body - not making a difference or distinction between that and common food, but setting both on a level: nay, they used much more indecency at this sacred feast than they would have done at a civil one. This was very sinful in them, and very displeasing to God, and brought down his judgments on them: For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep. Some were punished with sickness, and some with death. Note, A careless and irreverent receiving of the Lord's supper may bring temporal punishments. Yet the connection seems to imply that even those who were thus punished were in a state of favour with God, at least many of them: They were chastened of the Lord, that they should not be condemned with the world, 1Co. 11:32. Now divine chastening is a sign of divine love: Whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth (Heb. 12:6), especially with so merciful a purpose, to prevent their final condemnation. In the midst of judgment, God remembers mercy: he frequently punishes those whom he tenderly loves. It is kindness to use the rod to prevent the child's ruin. He will visit such iniquity as this under consideration with stripes, and yet make those stripes the evidence of his lovingkindness. Those were in the favour of God who yet so highly offended him in this instance, and brought down judgments on themselves; at least many of them were; for they were punished by him out of fatherly good-will, punished now that they might not perish for ever. Note, It is better to bear trouble in this world than to be miserable to eternity. And God punishes his people now, to prevent their eternal woe.

IV. He points out the duty of those who would come to the Lord's table. 1. In general: Let a man examine himself (1Co. 11:28), try and approve himself. Let him consider the sacred intention of this holy ordinance, its nature, and use, and compare his own views in attending on it and his disposition of mind for it; and, when he has approved himself to his own conscience in the sight of God, then let him attend. Such self-examination is necessary to a right attendance at this holy ordinance. Note, Those who, through weakness of understanding, cannot try themselves, are by no means fit to eat of this bread and drink of this cup; nor those who, upon a fair trial, have just ground to charge themselves with impenitency, unbelief, and alienation from the life of God. Those should have the wedding-garment on who would be welcome at this marriage-feast-grace in habit, and grace in exercise. 2. The duty of those who were yet unpunished for their profanation of this ordinance: If we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged, 1Co. 11:31. If we would thoroughly search and explore ourselves, and condemn and correct what we find amiss, we should prevent divine judgments. Note, To be exact and severe on ourselves and our own conduct is the most proper way in the world not to fall under the just severity of our heavenly Father. We must not judge others, lest we be judged (Mat. 7:1); but we must judge ourselves, to prevent our being judged and condemned by God. We may be critical as to ourselves, but should be very candid in judging others.

V. He closes all with a caution against the irregularities of which they were guilty (1Co. 11:33, 1Co. 11:34), charging them to avoid all indecency at the Lord's table. They were to eat for hunger and pleasure only at home, and not to change the holy supper to a common feast; and much less eat up the provisions before those who could bring none did partake of them, lest they should come together for condemnation. Note, Our holy duties, through our own abuse, may prove matter of condemnation. Christians may keep Sabbaths, hear sermons, attend at sacraments, and only aggravate guilt, and bring on a heavier doom. A sad but serious truth! O! let all look to it that they do not come together at any time to God's worship, and all the while provoke him, and bring down vengeance on themselves. Holy things are to be used in a holy manner, or else they are profaned. What else was amiss in this matter, he tells them, he would rectify when he came to them. — Henry

1Cor. 1:1-3: Here the apostle uses his manifestly God-ordained authority to lay down a disciplinary rule for the churches which was not specifically set forth before, but which is firmly grounded in principle. The positional headship of man over the women is abundantly established in the Old Testament beginning in Genesis with the creation of man and women (Gn. 1:26; 2:18-24; 3:16) and is affirmed in the New, and Paul's affirmation of it here is not based upon cultural considerations but creation distinctions patterned after the Godhead. More on this can be seen here.

That women are under the headship of the man is established from the beginning, being patterned after the order within the Godhead. (1Cor. 11:3) God created the women after man, from man and for man, (Gn. 1:26; 2:18-23) as God made male and female genders uniquely compatible and complementary (both physically and functionally), and only joined them (not same genders) in marriage, which is the only context which sexual relations are legal and blessed. The functional headship of man was intensified after the fall, (Gn. 3:16b) and while Paul reaffirms the positional headship of the male, partly due to what the fall revealed, (1Tim. 2:11-14) he also affirms the interdependence of the male and the female and functional compatibility in the Lord. (1Cor. 11:1,12) While spiritually in Christ there are no ontological distinctions as to acceptance and rewards, etc., (Gal. 2:28) this does not negate positional distinctions (which the Godhead also manifests) in this life according to gender and offices, with leadership over men being restricted to males. Thus, as with the priesthood in the Old Testament, Jesus choose no female apostles, and only males are chosen to be bishops/elders and formally ordained deacons. (1Tim. 1:1-12; Acts 6:3)

1Cor. 11:4-16: Long hair on men may be seen as associated with the rebel Absalom, (2Sam. 14:26) and is basically contrary in nature to his position, thus to cover ones head artificially signified abasement, and in cases of expressing that it was sanctioned, (2Sam. 15:30; 19:4; 2Ki. 19:1; Esth. 6:12; Job 1:20; Jer. 14:3,4) which included the Levites, Lv. 10:6; 21:10) though pâra‛ (uncover) may refer to disheveled hair. (Barnes) Long hair was also an expression of the total commitment of one under a vow, as with the Nazarites, as part of his temporary abandonment of temporal things to serve God. (Num. 6:5; cf. Lv. 25:5) But afterward such would shave his head, (Num. 6:18) and which Paul is recorded to have done, (Acts 18:18; 21:24) and which a leper would also do in signifying his defilement and later his purification. (Num. 13:45; 14:8) Levites also did so in consecrating them for service, (Lv. 8:6,7) but normally regular “haircuts” were mandated, (Ezek. 44:20) and baldness is indicated to be a blemish, (Lv. 13:40; 2Ki. 2:23) and making baldness upon their head as the pagans did was disallowed. (Lv. 21:5) That men are not to pray or preach with covered head is why they are to take hats off in church, but as we are to pray always this does not forbids hats at all, and to pray and preach everywhere often can require one in colder climates, but in formal gatherings this rule should be observed.

1Cor. 11:5,13: Two things are at issue here, the one being whether this question affirms that women could vocally pray and prophesy in public services, and the other being what does “uncovered” means. As regard the first, together with Acts 2:17; 1Cor. 14:34,35 and 1Tim. 2:11-15 and other texts, it would seem to allow vocal prayer and inspired utterances such as Miriam was given, (Ex. 15:20,21) among women or in settings as in Acts 21:8,9, with male headship manifest, but not teaching in a mixed assembly, more is surmised here.

As for the second, Gill comments, in part,

1Cor. 11:5: “with her head uncovered.” It may seem strange from whom the Corinthian women should take up this custom, since the Jewish women were not allowed to go into the streets, or into any open and public place, unveiled (u). It was a Jewish law, that they should go out no where bare headed (w): yea, it was reckoned scandalous and ignominious to do so. Hence it is said, (x) שגלוי הראש גנאי להם, "that uncovering of the head is a reproach" to the daughters of Israel: and concerning the adulterous woman, it is represented as said by the priest (y),

"thou hast separated from the way of the daughters of Israel; for the way or custom of the daughters of Israel is להיות מכוסות ראשיהן, "to have their heads covered"; but thou hast gone "in the ways of the Gentiles", who walk with head bare.''

So that their it should seem that these Corinthians followed the examples of the Heathens: but then, though it might be the custom of some nations for women to go abroad bare headed; yet at their solemnities, where and when they were admitted, for they were not everywhere and always, they used to attend with their heads veiled and covered (z). Mr. Mede takes notice indeed of some Heathen priestesses, who used to perform their religious rites and sacrifices with open face, and their hair hanging down, and locks spreading, in imitation of whom these women at Corinth are thought to Acts However, whoever behaved in this uncomely manner, whose example soever she followed, the apostle says,

dishonoureth her head; not her husband, who is her head in a figurative sense, and is dishonoured by her not being covered; as if she was not subject to him, or because more beautiful than he, and therefore shows herself; but her natural head, as appears from the reason given:

for that is even all one as if she were shaven; to be without a veil, or some sort of covering on her head, according to the custom of the country, is the same thing as if her head was shaved; and everyone knows how dishonourable and scandalous it is for a woman to have her head shaved; and if this is the same, then it is dishonourable and scandalous to her to be without covering in public worship. And this shows, that the natural head of the man is meant in the preceding verse, since the natural head of the woman is meant in this.

(u) Maimon. Hilch. Ishot, c. 24. sect. 12. (w) T. Bab. Cetubot, fol. 72. 1. (x) R. Sol. Jarchi in Numb. v. 19. (y) Bemidbar Rabba, sect. 9. fol. 193. 2. (z) Alex. ab Alex. Genial. Dier. l. 4. c. 17.

1Cor. 11:6: For if the woman be not covered,.... That is, if her head is not covered with some sort of covering, as is the custom of the place where she lives, let her also be shorn; let her hair be cut short; let her wear it as men do theirs; and let her see how she will look, and how she will like that, and how she will be looked upon, and liked by others; everybody will laugh at her, and she will be ashamed of herself:

Gill (abridged)

Bible.org opinions that,

It cannot be unequivocally asserted, but the preponderance of evidence points toward the public head covering [by clothing] of women as [being] a universal custom in the first century in both Jewish culture ([apocryphal] 3 Maccabees 4:6; Mishnah, Ketuboth 7. 6; Babylonian Talmud, Ketuboth 72a-b) and Greco-Roman culture (Plutarch Moralia 3. 232c; 4. 267b; Apuleius The Golden Ass 11. 10). The nature of the covering varied considerably (Ovid The Art of Love 3:135-65), but it was commonly a portion of the outer garment drawn up over the head like a hood.

It seems that the Corinthian slogan, “everything is permissible,” had been applied to meetings of the church as well, and the Corinthian women had expressed that principle by throwing off their distinguishing dress. More importantly they seem to have rejected the concept of subordination within the church (and perhaps in society) and with it any cultural symbol (e.g., a head-covering) which might have been attached to it. According to Paul, for a woman to throw off the covering was an act not of liberation but of degradation. She might as well shave her head, a sign of disgrace (Aristophanes Thesmophoriazysae 837). In doing so, she dishonors herself and her spiritual head, the man.”

However, a more extensive examination by bible-researcher.com of the issue indicates that the headcovering among Roman women may not have been that universal, but as for Jews,

Only in her wedding procession was a bride seen with uncovered head, and then only if she were a virgin, not a widow.”

And regarding the procedure followed by priests who examined women accused of adultery (cf. Num. 5:18) Philo of Alexandria (20 B.C to A.D. 50) writes,

"And the priest shall take the barley and offer it to the woman, and shall take away from her the head-dress on her head, that she may be judged with her head bare, and deprived of the symbol of modesty, which all those women are accustomed to wear who are completely blameless.The Greek word translated "modesty" here is αιδους, the genitive of αιδως (aidos), for which we have no exact equivalent in modern English. It denotes an attitude of humility and a capacity to feel shame, in a good sense, as opposed to shamelessness or impudence. In the writings of ancient moralists this quality of αιδως (or its Latin equivalent verecundia) was often mentioned as being one of the most important feminine virtues. The same word is used by Paul in his instruction concerning women's clothing in 1 Timothy 2:9, where it is translated "shamefastness" in the KJV.

This page should be read as regarding men covering their head as well.

Today certain Christian groups still follow this custom.

1Cor. 11:10: Angelic beings covered their faces (and bodies: Ezek. 1:11) in reverence of God, (Is. 6:2; cf. Ex. 3:6) as women would, (Gn. 24:65; Song. 5:7) and which covering of face also signifies humility, (2Sam. 19:4) But nothing is said of such being covering their heads, though it is reported that The Greek lexicon BAGD indicates that in the middle voice f the Greek word for covering (the form in which the 1 Cor. 11 verbs occur), had a prevalent secular usage which meant to put on a veil which covered the whole face. Otherwise it seems likely that this refers to angels who are watching over the affairs of Christians, inferred by such text as Eccl. 5;6; 1Cor. 4:9; Eph. 3:10.

Another key word is “power,” which signifies authority, with the idea being that the women needs to signify submission to the male via a head covering, which some think refers to her hair in the light of 1Cor. 11:15, while others think it means a type of veil which covers the forepart of the head and the face. It is seen in the Bible that a women would veil herself in certain situations. (Gn. 24:65)

Barnes states, in part,

For this cause ... - There is scarcely any passage in the Scriptures which has more exercised the ingenuity of commentators than this verse. The various attempts which have been made to explain it may be seen in Pool, Rosenmuller, Bloomfield, etc. After all the explanations which have been given of it, I confess, I do not understand it. It is not difficult to see what the connection requires us to suppose in the explanation. The obvious interpretation would be, that a woman should have a veil on her head because of the angels who were supposed to be present, observing them in their public worship; and it is generally agreed that the word “power” (ἐξουσίαν exousian) denotes a veil, or a covering for the head. But the word power does not occur in this sense in any classic writer. Bretschneider understands it of a veil, as being a defense or guard to the face, lest it should be seen by others. Some have supposed that it was the name of a female ornament that was worn on the head, formed of braids of hair set with jewels. Most commentators agree that it means a “veil,”...The most natural interpretation seems to me to be this: “A woman in the public assemblies, and in speaking in the presence of people, should wear a veil - the usual symbol of modesty and subordination - because the angels of God are witnesses of your public worship Heb. 1:13, and because they know and appreciate the propriety of subordination and order in public assemblies.”

Jamieson, Fausset and Brown, states in part,

Bengel explains,

As the angels are in relation to God, so the woman is in relation to man. God’s face is uncovered; angels in His presence are veiled (Isa. 6:2). Man’s face is uncovered; woman in His presence is to be veiled. For her not to be so, would, by its indecorousness, offend the angels (Mat. 18:10, Mat. 18:31). She, by her weakness, especially needs their ministry; she ought, therefore, to be the more careful not to offend them.” JFB

1Co 11:13 Judge of yourselves - For what need of more arguments if so plain a case? Is it decent for a woman to pray to God - The Most High, with that bold and undaunted air which she must have, when, contrary to universal custom, she appears in public with her head uncovered? — Wesley

1Cor. 11:14: “Nature.” Female animals then and now do not necessarily have longer hair than males, though in humans the female is less likely to lose hair, percentage wise, and perhaps is typically able to grow longer hair than the male. But “nature” here seems to refer to the innate sense of morality which Paul refers to in Rm. 2:14, in which the God-fearing Gentiles “do by nature the things contained in the law,” and here, while this sense of basic morality can become progressively darkened by acting contrary to it (see Rm. 1), the more moral Gentiles would hold to male leadership and their cultural norm was that men did not have long hair as women did. But what constitutes “long” is open to some interpretation, as the word only occurs in the Bible in this chapter, and denotes “to wear tresses of hair”. (Strongs) In Lk. 7:38 the penitent women began to wash Jesus feet with tears, and did wipe them with the hairs of her head. Some, relating this to covering, have defined long hair as anything covering the shoulders.

1Tim. 2:9 forbids “broided hair,” that of plaiting the hair (1Pt. 3:3) or gold, pearls or costly array, as part of the gaudy, showy manner of the lost, (2Kgs. 9:30; Is. 3:16-23) in contrast to modest simplicity, and the same restraint of showy array would apply to men, and the spirit of the command is what determines what one allows in the fear of God.

1Cor. 11:15: Here long hair is said to be a women's glory and her covering. God's glory covered both mount Sinai in the form of a cloud, (Ex. 24:15,16) as well as the tabernacle of the congregation. (Num. 16:42) As long hair on men is not befitting of his position, except in certain situations in which shame is to be expressed, so also short hair is not to be normative on the women. This of course does not necessarily reflect the heart, any more that kneeling in prayer assuredly denotes the attitude of the heart, but it is to be consistent with it, and it is revealing that typically morally rebellious movements are characterized by the opposite of these Biblical norms. But is seems that something more than a women's long hair is in view in other verses.

1Cor. 11:16: “Custom.” The principle of male headship is transcendent of time and culture, and at the least women should normally have long hair, outside medical or other special circumstances, and it would seem that women should yet have a modest head veil in public and in worship, which also enhances her femininity. And although fashion may change, clothing is required versus nudity and sexually revealing clothing.

1Cor. 11:19: Unity itself is not a goal of Godliness. Hell is unified against God, and division because of truth is better than unity in error. The early church was of “one heart and of one soul” (Acts 4:32) but absolute comprehensive unity in all things that can be know has never been realized. The essential oneness that born again believers who walk in faith do realize is that of the unity of the Spirit, (Eph. 4:3) and the more they have the heart of Christ in truth and in attitude then the more that unity is, and has practical manifestation.

1Cor. 11:17-33: See here and below. The context here is that of people commemorating the unselfish sacrificial death of the Lord in a very selfish hypocritical manner, thus eating and drinking damnation to themselves. Jesus gave Himself for the church, purchasing it with his own blood, (Acts 20:28; 1Cor. 6:20) and the disobedient here let others go hungry while they feasted, a communal meal which was supposed to signify oneness with Christ and each other. Thus they failed to recognize the corporate body of Christ for what it was. (1Tim. 5:8)

1Cor. 11:32: Salvation is by faith, and believers are kept by such, and saving faith is one that abides in Christ by walking in obedience to the known will of God, and repenting when convicted of sin, and thus God chastises believers that they may repent and remain in the grace of God. (1Cor. 5:5) If this does not take place, but we walk in disobedience and remains impenitent, we must be condemned with the rest of the world. TOC

1Cor. 11:17-33

While i do not see holding to a literal view of the elements of the Lord supper as being a salvific issue in and of itself, yet to resort to attempting to invoke texts such as 1Cor. 11:17-33 to support it is such a wresting of Scripture that it is an argument against it and sound exegesis.

1 Cor. 11:17-33 is the only time the Lord’s supper is manifestly described after the gospels, and in this description the "body" is that of the church as the body of Christ, with the censure and correction not being about bread and wine becoming Jesus actual body and blood, but instead they are about the members of the body of Christ being Christ-like, by unselfishly observing the Lord’s supper in a manner consistent with His unselfish death which they were supposed to be commemorating, but were actually not.

This section begins with Paul's words in vs, 17, 18: “Now in this that I declare unto you I praise you not, that ye come together not for the better, but for the worse. For first of all, when ye come together in the church, I hear that there be divisions among you; and I partly believe it.” He then (1Cor. 11:19) then affirms that divisions manifest who is approved and who is not, and in the next verse (20) reveals an issue that manifests divisions: “When ye come together therefore into one place, this is not to eat the Lord's supper. For in eating every one taketh before other his own supper: and one is hungry, and another is drunken. What? have ye not houses to eat and to drink in? or despise ye the church of God, and shame them that have not? What shall I say to you? shall I praise you in this? I praise you not.” (v. 20-22)

Notice that Paul actually denies that they were validly celebrating the Lord's Supper, and the reasons which he proceeds to give is that in the feast of charity, (cf. Jude 1:12) rather than waiting for the other members to arrive and eat the communal meal, and sharing food with one another, instead some members of the body were coming in and filling their faces while others were hungry, being ignored treated something akin to being lepers ( shaming them that have not).

The selfish manner in which some were supposedly remembering the Lord's death, eating food up while leaving others to go hungry, was a practical denial of the Lord's death for the body and the care each are to have as members of that body. As Paul states in his continuance of this theme, the members are to have “the same care one for another, And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it. (1Cor. 12: 25,26) To do otherwise is inconsistent with the Lord's death, by which He purchased the church with His own sinless shed blood. (Acts 20:28) .

The apostle thus reminds them of the instructions given in instituting the supper, (1Cor. 11:23-25) including that "as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew [manifest] the Lord's death till He come." (v. 26) Christians manifest His death for them by dying to self in serving God and therefore serving others. Paul “died daily,” and wrote, “the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead: And that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again.” (2Cor. 5:14,15) and “use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another.” (Gal. 5:13) In contrast, these selfish Corinthians were not manifesting recognition of Jesus death for them because they were not mindful and caring for the valid need of others. And because “as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord's death till he come," and by their hypocrisy they were not doing so, therefore the next verses states,

”Wherefore whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. {28} But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup. For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord's body. Wherefore whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. {28} But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup. For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord's body. " (1 Cor. 11:27-29)

Examining oneself in this context primarily concerns how you were treating each other, which recalls Jesus words about being reconciled before offering sacrifice. (Mt. 5:23,24) However, contrary to Catholicism in which the focus is on a piece of bread and a cup of wine which they suppose is literally the Lord, there is no censure here of failing to discern bread and wine as literally being the Lord's body, and instead the focus is how communally partaking of the Lord's supper is to remember this act of love for the body, with “not discerning the body" referring to their selfishness in effectively failing to recognize other members as part of the body and treating them according, thus denying its unity.

Paul next reveals that this hypocritical miscelebration was the reason that they were being chastened and judged, including unto death, “For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep.” (v. 30) And capital punishment for lack of care is consistent with the O.T. penalty about not caring for the poor. (Ex. 22:22-24)

Therefore Paul provides correction needed to avoid chastening, which was not by recognizing that a piece of bread was really the flesh of Jesus, but by rightly judging what the sacrifice of Christ which they commemorated represented and acting accordingly. Practical instruction to this end was that, "Wherefore, my brethren, when ye come together to eat, tarry one for another. And if any man hunger, let him eat at home; that ye come not together unto condemnation. And the rest will I set in order when I come. " (1 Corinthians 11:33,34) "

By eating a home they were less likely to be driven by hunger and focus on food and indulge themselves to the neglect of others, rather than focusing on the Lord and each other and sharing a communal meal as the apostles did with the Lord.

In the Jewish context a meal was a way of signifying oneness, and corresponds to what Paul said in the previous chapter, "For we being many are one bread, and one body: for we are all partakers of that one bread." (1 Corinthians 10:17) To be in communion with Jesus broken body and shed blood in His death is to be communally consistent with Him who died for us and purchased us with His blood.

"For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead: {15} And that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again. " (2 Corinthians 5:14-15)

Note also in regards to caring for others that one who does not provide for the legitimate (not selfish, or as a result of indolence) needs of his own family has denied the faith. (1Tim. 5:8)

In summation, what “not discerning the body” refers to in 1Cor 11 is not that they failed to recognize what is supposed to happen in transubstantiation, but that of members of the body of Christ supposedly commemorating the unselfish sacrificial death of the Lord in a very selfish hypocritical manner, thus eating and drinking damnation to themselves. Jesus gave Himself for the church, purchasing it with his own blood, (Acts 20:28; 1Cor. 6:20) and the disobedient here let others go hungry while they feasted, a communal meal which was supposed to signify oneness with Christ and each other. Thus they failed to recognize the corporate body of Christ for what it was, and which interdependence (in codependency upon God) the next chapter logically deals with. Glory be to God who gave His Son and who gave Himself and cares for His body.

Related to this and in application, while we are commanded to, “Remember them that are in bonds, as bound with them; [and] them which suffer adversity, as being yourselves also in the body,” (Heb. 12:3) yet we seldom seem to remember the persecuted church and perhaps may try to put them out of mind. Those who are born again by faith (not being by sprinkling as an infant) are to pray for them (see Ps. 70) and here is one organization (not affiliated with me except spiritually) that such can give to as the Lord leads. TOC

Chapters: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16

See New Testament Table of Contents, and please read the Introductory Notes here