1 Corinthians Chapter 11

January 12, 2012

This Preaching in Shorts Bible study is on 1 Corinthians. Each chapter is read verse by verse with the major points highlighted and discussed.

You can listen to the study by clicking here

There are two main subjects to look at in 1 Corinthians Chapter 11, both of which have to do with public worship. The first has to do with the Christian women in Corinth who want to attend public worship services with uncovered heads, to symbolize their equality with men. Apparently, some of them were trying to make their point by noisily challenging those who taught. The second subject is about communion.

1 Corinthians 11:1-34 (NIV)
1 Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ. 2 I praise you for remembering me in everything and for holding to the teachings, just as I passed them on to you. 3 Now I want you to realize that the head of every man is Christ, and the head of the woman is man, and the head of Christ is God. 4 Every man who prays or prophesies with his head covered dishonors his head. 5 And every woman who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head–it is just as though her head were shaved. 6 If a woman does not cover her head, she should have her hair cut off; and if it is a disgrace for a woman to have her hair cut or shaved off, she should cover her head. 7 A man ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God; but the woman is the glory of man. 8 For man did not come from woman, but woman from man; 9 neither was man created for woman, but woman for man. 10 For this reason, and because of the angels, the woman ought to have a sign of authority on her head. 11 In the Lord, however, woman is not independent of man, nor is man independent of woman. 12 For as woman came from man, so also man is born of woman. But everything comes from God. 13 Judge for yourselves: Is it proper for a woman to pray to God with her head uncovered? 14 Does not the very nature of things teach you that if a man has long hair, it is a disgrace to him, 15 but that if a woman has long hair, it is her glory? For long hair is given to her as a covering. 16 If anyone wants to be contentious about this, we have no other practice–nor do the churches of God. 17 In the following directives I have no praise for you, for your meetings do more harm than good. 18 In the first place, I hear that when you come together as a church, there are divisions among you, and to some extent I believe it. 19 No doubt there have to be differences among you to show which of you have God’s approval. 20 When you come together, it is not the Lord’s Supper you eat, 21 for as you eat, each of you goes ahead without waiting for anybody else. One remains hungry, another gets drunk. 22 Don’t you have homes to eat and drink in? Or do you despise the church of God and humiliate those who have nothing? What shall I say to you? Shall I praise you for this? Certainly not! 23 For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, 24 and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.” 25 In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.” 26 For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes. 27 Therefore, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord. 28 A man ought to examine himself before he eats of the bread and drinks of the cup. 29 For anyone who eats and drinks without recognizing the body of the Lord eats and drinks judgment on himself. 30 That is why many among you are weak and sick, and a number of you have fallen asleep. 31 But if we judged ourselves, we would not come under judgment. 32 When we are judged by the Lord, we are being disciplined so that we will not be condemned with the world. 33 So then, my brothers, when you come together to eat, wait for each other. 34 If anyone is hungry, he should eat at home, so that when you meet together it may not result in judgment. And when I come I will give further directions.

As we look into the first issue, women having their heads covered, we need to consider what the veil they are talking about represented in 1 century Corinth.

The following is attributed to Sir William Anderson and cited by Robertson and Plummer in the commentary, Corinthians One, International Critical Commentary, p 311:

In Oriental lands the veil is the power and the honor and the dignity of the woman. With the veil on her head she can go anywhere in security and profound respect. She is not seen; it is a mark of thoroughly bad manners to observe a veiled woman on the streets. She is alone. The rest of the people around her are nonexistent to her, and she is to them. She is supreme in the crowd. . . . But without the veil the woman is a thing of nought, whom any man may insult. . . . A woman’s authority and dignity vanish along with the all-covering veil that she discards

The veil in the time of 1 Corinthians was used to affirm the woman’s dignity as a woman. Why would the Christian women in Corinth want to remove their cultural symbol of dignity? Because, they thought that with their new status as full participants in the body of Christ, they should worship unveiled, like the men, because they were equal.

Paul’s response that they should keep their veils is not a put down, it is saying that women have value, worth, and dignity as women. Equality doesn’t mean sameness.

Paul is saying that while men and women are equal, they are different. And there is no disgrace in recognizing the differences. Women are supposed to be the best women they can be, men are supposed to be the best men they can be. One is not better than the other. Men and women are different and have different roles but are both full participators in the Kingdom of God.

The differences between men and women are to make them interdependent, not to make one gender of less importance than the other.

As for communion, there were usually two stages, the first was a communal meal, which was called a love feast, followed by the bread and cup which was called the Eucharist. Paul is taking issue with the Corinthians, that the love feast, which was to be an occasion to demonstrate love for one another in the fellowship of a meal, had become all about eating and drinking. The Lord’s supper is supposed to be a remembrance of the ultimate act of selflessness, Christ dying on behalf of others, and yet the Corinthians had missed the point and had become focused on their own selfish needs.

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