About Jesus    Steve Sweetman

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Chapters 11

ch. 11:2-16     ch. 11:17-33

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Propriety In Worship (ch.11:2 - 16)


I originally wrote this commentary on 1 Corinthians in 2004 and re-edited it in 2016.  It's now 2017 and I am rewriting parts of it again, including chapters 11 through 14.  We should all be improving our understanding of the Bible, and for this reason I am constantly rewriting my Bible commentaries.   


By now one might have the feeling that the Corinthians have strayed a long way from what Paul originally taught them, but not so.  In verse 2 Paul commends them "for holding to the teachings" that he "had passed on to them."  The church appeared to be doing many things right, yet at the same time they were in need of some exhortation and correction in some areas, primarily due to their pagan background and the pagan culture in which they lived.  


If you think of it, if the first century church, especially the church to which Paul is writing to here, didn't have any problems that needed correcting, then we would have less New Testament teaching to live by.  I suppose the Lord would have provided another way for us to learn

Paul says "I praise you" in verse 2.  It's always a good thing to give praise to someone before you clobber them with the truth.  It just makes the truth a bit easier to handle, or, that's the hope.


Paul praised these people for remembering him.  If you read Paul's second letter to these people it seems like this sentiment has changed.  In 2 Corinthians Paul makes it clear that there has been a disruption of his relationship with these believers, something is heart broken over.


Paul also said in verse 2 that he had passed on his teaching to these people before.  That would have been when he visited them in person.   


Paul continues in verse 3 by talking to the Corinthians about what in theological terms has been called "headship."  He states that the "head of every man is Christ."  We first must understand what Paul is talking about when he uses the word "head."  Obviously he's not talking about a physical head.  Men don't ware Christ as their head on their shoulders.  Paul is using the word "head" to mean the place where one receives direction for one's life.  It's the place of authority for the body.  Our body responds to signals from our brain.  In like manner, the signals directed towards men come from Christ, whether they catch the signals or not.


Some commentators suggest that Paul is talking about believing men, but I don't think so.  The text says "all men," not "believing men."  The simple point is that all men, whether they realize it or not, are under the headship of Jesus.  Some day they will know that for sure, and by then, it will be too late to take advantage of Jesus' headship. 


Paul then says something very culturally
incorrect these days.  "The head of every woman is man."  If we carry out the same logic concerning headship as we did in the last phrase, this tells us that women find their direction from men.  It has been debated for years and years whether Paul is speaking about husbands and wives here or just men and women in general.  He does not use the words husband and wives so I believe, at least for the moment, that he is saying that men, in whatever situation, including marriage, is the head over women.  Even as I write these words, they sound so very out of place in western culture today.   


What I am saying here in this paragraph is really not culturally correct these days.  You can consider what I am about to point out and come to your own conclusions.  If you read Isaiah 3, you will note that God will bring severe judgment on Israel for its sins.  In verse 12 we see that one of the judgments is that women will rule over the people.  There are a lot of women ruling nations these days.  I wonder how we should think about that in light of this verse. You can decide for yourself what that means.     

Now to be specific, a wife should find direction and input into her life from her husband.  This places a great responsibility on the husband, a responsibility that many husbands refuse to take seriously.  When men default on this responsibility, things fall apart, in the family, in the church, and in a culture, just as they are doing in our western world culture today.   


Paul then says that "the head of Christ is God."  This may sound confusing to some, but it's not.  Simply put, as we see throughout the New Testament gospel accounts, Jesus finds direction from God His Father.  He submits to the will of God the Father.


If Jesus has to submit to God His Father, what does this say to Him being God in human flesh?  What does this say to Jesus being one with God?  What does this mean about the Deity of Christ and Jesus and the Father being co-equal?  All of these  questions are valid questions.  God the Father and Jesus are one, but, the responsibilities are different.  Jesus is responsible to God the Father for direction.   


In Matthew 28:18 Jesus said that all authority was given unto Him.  Who gave Him that authority?  It would have been God His Father.  If you read 1 Corinthians 15:20 to 35, which I will comment on when we get there, you will see that right now Jesus rules the universe.  When everything is finally put under His feet, and that includes death, then He will hand all things back over to God His Father and be subject to Him.  So, although God the Father and Jesus are one, that is, in a Trinitarian way, both have their sphere of responsibility and authority.      


What I've just said about Jesus and God the Father apply to men and women, or, husbands and wives.  Paul clearly says in his letter to the Galatians and elsewhere that when it comes to salvation, both men and women are equal.  There is no distinction between men and women in the mind of God concerning their salvation.  Men don't have a leg up on the women.  That being said, the roll of men and women, their responsibilities, like God the Father and Jesus, are not the same.  As direction comes from God the Father to Jesus, so direction should come from man to woman, and, husband to wife.  To be clear, I don't believe Paul would say that the husband should be making arbitrary decisions by himself without asking input from his wife.  This is where many men go wrong.                


We see that Paul is talking about a chain of submission to authority.  Wife submits to husband; husband submits to Christ; and Christ submits to God His Father.  The Greek word "hypotasso" is translated as "submit" in the New Testament.  In Greek culture this was a cold harsh dictatorial word, but not so in the minds of New Testament writers concerning submission to God, submission to each other, submission to church authority, or submission to a husband by a wife.  If you study how the New Testament treats this Greek word, you'll note that submission is a simple yielding to another based on a loving, caring, and mutual relationship.  It's actually a soft word in New Testament thinking, not a cold harsh word.  Jesus loves us and gave His life for us and so we submit to Him.  The husband should love his wife and give himself to her, which makes it easy for her to submit to him as Paul says in Ephesians 5:25.  As a matter of fact, as you study this chapter, Ephesians 5:22 and following is another portion of Scripture to study along with this one.      


With all this submission in mind, I suggest that unlike Jesus, men are fallible.  We make mistakes.  So, practically speaking, a man should give consideration to his wife's input as one the Lord has placed alongside of him.  This is the picture of Adam and Eve at creation.  God gave Eve to Adam to be one alongside of him to help administer his job in taking dominion over the earth.   Genesis 2:20 states that Adam did not have a helper, so God created Eve for him to stand alongside him and help rule the earth.  That being said, the chain of authority as stated in the last paragraph still stands. 


The next couple of sentences are harder to understand and have been interpreted differently over the years.  In verse 4 Paul says that men should not cover their heads when they pray or prophesy.  First note the distinction between praying and prophesying.  Also note that men can and should prophesy.  If men do cover their heads, they "dishonour their head."  Paul's use of the word "head" here is not in reference to man's physical head but to Jesus, or so I presently believe.  So, the obvious question is, "how does praying with your head covered dishonour Jesus?"


I'm not sure that I can answer this question to anyone's satisfaction because people have differing opinions on the answer.  Historically speaking, Jewish men, who Paul was, covered their heads when praying.  We don't know how far back in history this goes.  In Greek culture, women didn't cover their heads when praying to their pagan gods.  If you get what I've just said, you'll note that Paul is switching things around here for his Gentile readers.  His culture tells him to cover his head when praying, but he's saying here that men shouldn't cover their heads; something Gentile men would have been used to.  It's the women who should cover their heads instead.   


Again, it is important to understand is that Paul is writing to predominately Gentile believers in Corinth .  He might well have their Roman culture in mind since he's writing to Romans.  Roman men for the most part wore their hair short.  Women had long hair.  They also covered their heads with the marriage veil while in public.  Paul might well being saying that even your Roman culture agrees to what I am saying.  


In verse 5 Paul says that if a woman prays or prophesies with her head uncovered she dishonours her head.  First of all, we see here that women can indeed pray and prophesy in a gathering of the saints.  They are not restricted from participating in this way.  To keep our thinking consistent here, the "head" spoken of here would be her husband.  Again, the same question is asked.  "How does Paul derive his logic?"  Again, I believe we can only speculate.  I know one thing, the culture Paul lived in and the culture he was speaking to, that is, Gentile Greek/Roman Christians, is very far removed from us.  For this reason, it's hard for us to follow Paul's logic. 


In some Christian circles today this tradition of head covering for women carries on.  The word "tradition" brings up one interpretation of these verses.  Some suggest that this was the early churches tradition and does not necessarily apply to us today.  Some might suggest that it was part, not all, of the early churches tradition.  Those holding this view suggest this was a localized tradition among Greek Christians. 


The intent of head coverings in Paul's thinking was to show honour and respect to authority.  I believe we should all be able to agree on that.  So, at least we can take this from Paul's teaching.  Wives should honour their husbands while husbands should honour Jesus. 


One thing we should note from verse 5 is that if a woman does cover her head then she can pray or prophesy in a meeting of the saints.  Ultra conservative groups today who are strong on head coverings for women also are strong on the idea that women cannot speak in a meeting of the saints.  That's not what Paul is saying here.  He says here that women can speak in gatherings, but only if their head is covered.  I would suggest that in our Christian circles today, women can speak in meetings of the saints, if they have proper respect and honour for their husbands and the male leadership in the church.  If they don't have such honour, they should be silent in the church.     


In the Greek Roman culture of Paul's day women were gaining more independence than what they had in time past.  Of course, their independence looks nothing like the independence women have in our modern day western world.  On the other hand, women were not educated to the same degree as men and this becomes important when you read chapter 14.  The point is clear here.  Women were allowed to pray and prophesy in the Corinth Community of believers.    


One thing we see here is that Paul is going against his own Jewish tradition when it comes to head coverings.  Jewish tradition always had men cover their heads in praying.  Now he says just the opposite, and the reason for this switch, has been highly debated. 


In verse 6 Paul says that if a woman doesnít wear something on her head when she prays or prophesies it is like having no hair at all to cover her head.  Some suggest that among Greek prostitutes back then they were either bald or have short hair, but most modern scholars don't believe that since there seems to be no historical proof for this thinking.  Paul seems to be suggesting that it's natural for women to have long hair and it's unnatural for women to be bald, which to me, is understandable.


There is some historical evidence according to some scholars that in Tarsus, where Paul grew up, it was a shameful thing for women to be bald.  Maybe this has something to do with Paul's thinking.    


Another thing to consider here is that culturally speaking Gentile women wore veils in public, but when they were at home, even when entertaining at home in a social context, they did not cover their heads.  Some scholars suggest what Paul was getting at here was the women were treating gathering together in Christian worship similar to how they would gather in any kind of home social gathering, thus reducing the importance of the gathering.              


In verse 7 Paul says that a man should not cover his head because "he is the image and glory of God."  God created man in His likeness and image so in one sense of the word man is the glory of God, or at least was at creation, not so much now.  Paul then says that woman was made from man and therefore woman is the glory of man.  Some wonder what Paul is saying here.  In Genesis 1:26 the text states that God created "man" in His likeness and in His image.  Paul is interpreting the word "man" in Genesis to be men, not "mankind," as in both men and women, as some scholars suggest it should be interpreted.  So again, we have a bit of a problem that needs further thought.


In verse 8 we see Paul's logic.  Woman came from man.  Man didn't come from woman.  He is clearly right on this count.  Throughout Jewish history it is understood that the first born should be in the place of authority in the family structure.  It was not that the first born was better than those born afterwards.  It was just that the first born, maybe because he is the oldest, should be in charge.  So, Adam came first, while Eve came second.  It's only logical for a Jewish man to conclude that the man should be in charge.          


In verse 9 Paul makes a statement that is far from political correctness in our day.  He says, that "man was not made for woman, but woman for man."  This is clearly seen in the creation account.  God thought that it was important that the man He created was not alone.  He, therefore, made from Adam's own body a woman for him.  Some modern people might suggest that Paul's words here are more tradition than God's will, but I don't think so.  Paul isn't talking about wearing hats or having long hair in this verse.  He's talking about what really happened at creation.  In Genesis 2:20 God saw that Adam did not have a helper like the animals had so He created Eve.  In this sense of the word Eve was indeed created for Adam.    


In verse 10 Paul says "for this reason the women ought to have a sign of authority on her head."  The Greek word translated as "head" here means "rights."  If a woman wares a covering on her head, in the new Christian way of doing things, she can honour her authority, both her husband and Jesus, when she prays or prophesies.  Again, I see Paul giving women rights here in the gathering of the saints; rights that women didn't have in Judaism. 


Paul gives another reason why women should have a sign of authority on their heads in verse 10 and that is "because of the angels."  This is a tough one.  There has been much speculation over the years to what Paul is saying here, but we may simply not really know for sure what he is getting at.  Maybe our understanding will become clearer as we learn more about Greek culture and New Testament times.   One common position is that when things are done decently and in order in a meeting of the saints, it actually honours the angels of God who may be present in the gathering.  I can't say for sure this is what Paul is speaking of.


Now after saying the above, in verses 11 and 12 Paul adds a balancing thought that should help the women feel a little better after what he has just said.  He says, "in the Lord" woman is not independent of man and neither is man independent of woman."  Even though woman was originally made for man, as Christians we depend on, and need each other.  There is an element of working together, relating to each other on the same level.  Why is this so?  Although woman was made from man, man is born of woman, so these two thoughts complement each other, and to sum it up, Paul says that in the long run "everything comes from God" anyway.


The fact of the matter is that in New Testament terms, there is no difference between men and women when it comes to salvation.  All have equal rights to be saved and participate in the will of God.  What Paul is saying here is a dramatic departure from both Judaism and paganism.  This does not discount order within the home and within the church.  Issues concerning order and authority are different issues.


In verse 13 Paul asks, "judge for yourself, is it proper for a woman to pray to God with her head uncovered?"  Paul is asking a question that few of us seem to be able to answer today, but again, we may have a cultural issue here.  It was not proper for a woman to view a Christian gathering in the same way they would view a civic or social gathering where they did not cover their heads.  The Roman tradition was for women to cover their heads with their wedding veils when out in public as a matter of respect for their husbands.  Paul might well be suggesting that women have the same attitude in a gathering of the saints.  He might be making a point by using the customs of his reader's culture. The custom would concern head covering.  The point would be headship in Christ for both men and women.        


In verse 14 we see another hard statement that Paul makes.  He says that nature tells us that it is a disgrace for men to have long hair. What Paul doesn't say here is that Jewish tradition, and this one goes back to the Law of Moses, states that long hair is a sign of a commitment to God.  It's the Nazirite vow.  The Law of Moses stated that if a man made a covenant to God, he should let his hair grow long until the covenant was fulfilled.  Samson had long hair. John the Baptist was a Nazirite, so he had long hair.  Again, Paul might well be using Gentile customs to make his point to his Gentile readers.      


Many people believer that Jesus lived under a Nazirite vow and that is why they picture Him with long hair.  The rules set down for those who commit themselves to a Nazirite vow are found in Deuteronomy 6.  They include not drinking wine or any alcoholic drink.  One could not eat any thing with grapes in it and one could not touch a dead body.  It is clear from the Gospel accounts that Jesus drank wine.  One time was at the Last Supper.  Jesus also touched a dead body as seen in Matthew 9:24 and 25.  Matthew 2:23 says that Jesus would be called a Nazarene.  A Nazarene is not one who is under a Nazirite vow.   Jesus was called a Nazarene because He was raised in a village call Nazareth .         


The only possible thing I can think of concerning Paul's statement here is that he is speaking to Greeks, and for the most part, Greeks had short hair.  Again, he might well be using Greek logic to make his point.  Greco Roman culture said that it was unnatural for men to have long hair.  Paul might be building an argument based on the Corinthian culture as he often does. 


I once had long hair in the early 1970's.  Some traditional Christians criticized me for that because of this very verse.  I really don't think we can build a doctrinal case on one verse, especially a verse that is so very hard to understand in light of the rest of the Bible.  I donít believe this destroys the doctrine of the inspiration of Scripture.  I simply think that we don't have all the information we need to properly understand Paul's point here. 


If a Nazirite Vow, part of the Law of Moses, was confirmed through long hair, I suggest that there is nothing wrong with long hair on a man.  You can read Numbers 6:1 to 21 to learn about the Nazirite Vow.   


In verse 15 Paul says that "if a woman has long hair, it is her glory."  Being a man, I do understand this statement, as I think most men would.  What I don't totally understand is Paul's reasoning in verse 15.  "For long hair given to her as a covering."   Maybe Paul is simply saying that hair covers baldness, and baldness isn't all that attractive on women.   


Paul concludes this section in verse 16 by saying, "if anyone wants to be contentious about this, we have no other practice Ė nor do the churches of God".  Could the word "practice" suggest the answer to the questions we have about this passage?  Was this just the early churches practice?  Was it their tradition?  At the moment, I believe it was.  If what Paul teaches here was a practice or a tradition, I suggest we should be careful how we apply these instructions today.  I don't believe we can make dogmatic doctrinal statements about head coverings on women or long hair on men.  


Paul was a Christian Jew speaking to a specific Greek Christian community that is very far removed from us today.  I don't believe we have all the information or insight into what was really going on in Corinth to make a doctrinal position on these things.


It is still my thinking that the bottom line to the practice of head covering is all about the proper and godly place of both men and women relating properly and orderly to each other as husbands and wives, both in gatherings of the saints and in the home.  I believe, whether right or wrong, at least at the moment, this is not a matter of externals, as in hair and head coverings, but a matter of of internals, as in heart felt love and respect.  It's a matter of loving respect for all, including the Lord Jesus Christ Himself.  


In all Biblical passages where we must consider cultural influences in the process of interpretation, we must dig deep beneath the cultural aspect to the text.  As here, Paul was addressing a specific matter in a specific cultural community that is quite foreign to us today.  As we dig deep beneath the culture, there is always a godly Biblical principle that applies to Christians in all cultures and in all generations.  Let's not get hung up on the culture.  Let's do the will of God expressed in the godly Biblical principles expressed in the text.      


I have just one warning as I close this section.  We should be very careful about using culture in interpreting the Bible.  I can easily see here that there is a cultural sense in which we can or maybe should understand what Paul is saying in this section.  However, we should be not to culturalize the true meaning of Scripture out of  existence.


The Lordís Supper (ch. 11:17 - 33)


This section of 1 Corinthians 11 concerns what is commonly called the Lord's Supper, the Table of the Lord, or Communion, depending on what segment of the church you find yourself in.  One thing to consider prior to the study of this section is that what Paul writes here was written prior to the gospel accounts, as many Bible teachers believe.  So, what Paul writes about the Lord's Supper is most likely, as far as we know, the first written commentary on the subject, even before it is documented in the gospel accounts. 


Traditionally speaking, much of our thinking about the Lord's Supper concerns our, what I call, vertical relationship with Jesus.  What you will see Paul doing in this section is balancing our personal vertical relationship with Jesus with our horizontal relationships with those to whom Jesus has joined us in the Body of Christ.    


Paul is not very happy with the Corinthian believers in regards to the way they gather for their meetings which includes what we call the Lordís Supper.  He goes as far to say in verse 17 that he "has no praise for you, for your meetings do more harm than good."  Now that doesnít sound too encouraging.  I wonder what Paul might say about some of our church meetings today.


Notice the word "directive" in verse 17.  This specifically tells us that what Paul is about to say is instructive.  It is a teaching for these believers, and I might add, for all believers of all time. 


We see one problem in verse 18 that Paul has with these people concerning their meetings.  There are divisions among these people.  We saw this before in chapter 1, verses 12 and 13, where Paul pointed out that these people had divided themselves into sects under certain leaders, but here, he speaks of a different kind of division. 


Notice Paul speaks of the believers coming together as a church.  It's not "the" church but "a" church.  We should understand church here to mean an assembly of the community of those belonging to Jesus.  Church is people.  It's not a place or a meeting.  When these people gather, they as people constitute church.  When they leave wherever they are, there is no church where they once were.  


In trying to think of some kind of positive aspect to this problem Paul says in verse 19 that the differences would show who has Godís approval.  Those who are in the right should be clearly evident, or so one would think. 


The next problem is concerning the Lordís Supper itself and how they are participating in it.  First of all in the first generation church, the Lord's Supper, or communion, as some call it today, was a part of a larger corporate meal.  This is important to know when understanding what Paul is saying here.  This is why Paul in verses 20 and 21 says that some people start eating before everyone gets there.  By the time everyone is there most of the food is gone and some go hungry.  Then, on top of that, some people actually get drunk by drinking too much wine.  Remember, this is in a gathering of the church.  It is obvious that these people were not drinking grape juice.  You don't get drunk by drinking grape juice.  Paul, nor Jesus, did not have any problem with the consumption of wine.  Paul says nothing about that here.  He only warns his readers not to get drunk with wine in Ephesians 5:18.  Paul did not tell these people to stop drinking wine but drink grape juice instead.  He had other instructions as you will see.     


In verse 22 Paul asks "donít you have homes to eat and drink in?"  By this he is implying that getting together for a meeting of the saints which included the Lordís Supper is not really about eating and drinking.  It is about fellowship with one another and with the Lord. 


In verse 22 Paul says that "you despise the churc of God" when you eat in such a way.  The Greek word "kataphroneo" is the word that is translated as despise in this verse.  This word is made up of two words, "kata," meaning down, and "phroneo," meaning mind.  Thus the two words together are translated "to think down," suggesting a looking down on someone.  Therefore, when the Corinthians think of their own selves and their own stomachs ahead of their brothers and sisters in Christ, they are looking down, or even despising, those people, who are the church.  They are despising the people of God.  I'd think this is a serious issue. 


Beyond despising the church Paul says that you "humiliate those who have nothing."  These people humiliate the poor amongst them, and Paul will not praise them for such actions.  This tells us that within the Corinthian community of believers there were both the rich and the poor.  It also tells me that the poor should be looked after, and in times of eating, the poor should be fed.  


What's going on in the Corinthian church here is simply selfishness.  People, including Christians, just have a hard time putting self in its place.  You might say it's the original sin when Adam and Eve put themselves ahead of God and His command. 


You can see Paul's disgust with these people.  He asks if he can praise them for their actions.  His answer is an emphatic "no!"  I certainly believe that Paul speaks on the behalf of God on this matter.          


In verse 23 Paul said that what he heard from the Lord he passed on to these saints.  This is interesting.  What Paul is about to pass on concerns the Lord's Supper.  Paul was not at that supper.  He was not even a believer at the time.  So, what did he mean that he received the following instruction from the Lord?  It must have been through a revelation, one of the many revelations he had after giving his life to Jesus.  It was the risen Lord that Paul is now going to quote.


In verses 23 and 24 Paul says that Jesus, on the very night that He was betrayed, sat down with the disciples.  He took the bread, gave thanks for it, and shared it with His disciples who were present with Him.  Jesus them said that "this is my body that is for you, do this in remembrance of me."  Jesus is clearly saying that the bread He was passing around represented his physical body that would be massacred for them.  


In Greek, the verb "which is broken" is a Greek present passive participle.  A passive verb or participle is an action that is being done to you as a person.  This means that the breaking of Jesus' body, although done to Him, was an action that eventually affected the disciples, and it was doing so in present time.  It is interesting to note that as Jesus was saying these words, he was speaking in the present tense as if His body was presently being broken, when in reality, it had yet to be broken.  This is typical Jesus.  He often spoke in terms of a future even as being present.  I think this is important for us today.  When we take the bread and eat it in a communion service, the literal broken body of Jesus is a past event, but it is a past event that had present implications for us today.  In other words, the breaking of His body in the past is an action that has a present day reality wit us.  When I say this I am not alluding to Catholic doctrine that states the very bread becomes the literal body of Jesus within us.  I am saying the once broken body of Jesus has significant present day implications for us.       


If you read verse 24 in the NIV and then read it in the KJV you will notice there is a difference in translation.  The NIV reads "given for you" while the KJV reads "broken for you."  The reason for the difference is that some Greek manuscripts have the corresponding Greek word for our English word "broken" in its text.  It is for this reason that the KJV has chosen to use the word "broken" in its version of the New Testament.   

In verse 25 Paul says that then after the supper, that same night, Jesus took a cup of wine and said, "this cup is the new covenant in my blood."  Jesus also said that when you drink of the cup of wine, remember me.  We remember the historical event when Jesus shed His blood for us.  The cup of wine represents the blood of Jesus which is the New Covenant.  The old covenant, the Law of Moses, with the sacrifices of animals has been laid aside forever.  There is now a new covenant that is based completely on the blood of Jesus.  No other sacrifice is needed, nor should be attempted at.   


If you read Jeremiah 31 and surrounding chapters where the prophet speaks of this New Covenant, you will notice that it specifically applies to the Jews, not to Gentiles.  If you did not have the New Testament, you would not have any New Testament understanding of the New Covenant to include Gentile believers.  What most Evangelicals miss is that the New Covenant is first and foremost a covenant for the Jews and will find its ultimate fulfillment when Jesus returns to earth and the remaining Jews who have survived the Great Tribulation will be saved.


In verse 26 Paul says that "whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lordís death until He comes."  This clearly states the reason why we share in the Lordís Supper.  The Lordís Supper is a proclamation of the death of Jesus, and we should proclaim His death in the Lordís Supper until Jesus returns.  So, eating of the Lord's Supper is also a proclamation of the return of Jesus to earth. 


In verse 27 Paul gets back to the problem at hand.  He says that when we eat of the Lordís Supper in the wrong way, as these people had been doing, we are sinning against the body and blood of the Lord.  The improper way is not how we actually go about eating the Lord's Supper.  It's not about whether we should drink wine or grape juice.  It's not about what kind of bread to use.  It's not about how many times a year we should eat the Lord's Supper.  Eating the wrong way in this context is all about relational problems in the Body of Christ.  It is this problem that Paul says needs to be addressed each time we partake in this sacred meal.


The simple Biblical fact is that when we partake of the Lord's Supper and we know that we have broken relationships with those we are sharing the meal with, we are actually despising the very body and blood of Jesus who gave His life for us.  Paul says that we are sinning against the blood and body of Jesus.  I would suggest that this is a serious matter.  The ripping apart of His body was meant to bring together His new and replacement body, that is, the Body of Christ, the church.   


Before we eat the Lordís Supper Paul tells us that we should "examine ourselves" to see if we have the right attitude of mind and heart.  If we eat with the wrong motives we ďbring judgmentĒ on ourselves.  Paul, in verse 30 goes as far to say that the reason why many of the Corinthians are weak and sick and even have died, is because they are abusing the Lordís Supper.  They are making a mockery out of something that is very serious by not fixing their broken relationships.


Verse 29 is both hard to understand and it has been debated for years.  Paul says that anyone who eats and drinks without recognizing the body of the Lord eats and drinks themselves into judgment.  There are two ways of looking at what body Paul is talking about.  It's either the literal body of Jesus or the Body of Christ, the church.  You can decide what view you think is best.  I think, at least at the moment, Paul is talking about the Body of Christ the church.  One reason for this is because Paul is talking about relational issues here.  That being said, I realize that in verse 27 the word "body" was connected with the word "blood" and there the word "body" must be talking about Jesus' physical body in verse 27.  


We should note that many versions of the Bible say something like "body of the Lord" or "body of Christ" in verse 29.  However, the Greek text simply says "the body."  There is no corresponding word for "of the Lord" or "of Christ."  If your Bible has those words, the translators have inserted them.


However you view the word "body" in verse 29 the word "judgment" applies.  If, when we eat the Lord's Supper and we have relational problems with those we are sharing the cup and the bread with, there will be consequences that Paul calls a judgment.  A judgment is a simple proclamation of guilt.  What God does about His proclamation of guilt is up to Him.  That is why in verse 30 Paul says that many of the Corinthian believers, were weak, sick, and have even died.  That seems like a pretty drastic form of judgment on God's part.  Nevertheless, whatever the sentence of judgment is, there are consequences to eating and drinking the Lord's Supper when you have relational problems with some of those you are sharing the bread and wine with.   


The way in which most churches eat the Lord's Supper these days is more of an individual thing.  It's not a corporate thing where we actually share the bread and wine with those who are with us.  For this reason, we don't think much of the Lord's Supper as being a relational thing between brothers and sisters in Christ.  We think of it in terms of the relationship between us and the Lord.  I think this is to our detriment.           


In verse 31 Paul says that we should judge ourselves concerning our personal relationships in the Body of Christ.  The reason for this is simple.  If we judge ourselves and correct our situation we will not be judged and sentenced by the Lord, which by the way, could be a pretty severe judgment as Paul says in verse 32.


Also in verse 32 Paul says that this judgment is God disciplining us.  That means it is quite different than the judgment of wrath as seen in the book of Revelation. 


In verse 32 Paul says that if we judge ourselves we will not be condemned as the world is condemned.  This is yet another tough statement to figure out.  If our sins have all been stricken from God's records, how could it even be possible to be judged in like manner of the world?  At the moment, the only way I can understand this verse is that if we continue to eat the Lord's Supper in an improper way, the sin that is causing us to eat improperly might well lead us to forsake the Lord altogether, and in my theology, that would mean you lose your salvation and thus would be judged along with the world.         


Paul closes this section in verses 33 and 34 by saying that when these people come together they should wait for one another and if you are really hungry, they should eat at home.  He wants these people to gather together in the proper way so that they will not bring Godís judgment on themselves.  I would dare say that many churches and denominations over the years have fallen into God's judgment due to such sins as we see in the Corinthian church.  This is most likely why some churches are in decline and have actually fallen from existence.    


Concerning the idea of judgment in this passage.  I see this judgment as God disciplining His people.  We do know that God does discipline those He loves as seen in Revelation 3:19.


This is all Paul was prepared to say about this matter in this letter.  He closes by saying, "when I come I will give further instructions."  I wonder what else Paul could have said on this subject.  I would love to have been there to hear Paul's further instruction.    


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