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Series Theme: FRAMEWORKS: Paul's FIRST letter to the Corinthians

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FRAMEWORKS: 1 Corinthians 11

In this ‘Framework' we use our usual text PLUS comment style to enable you, as simply as possible, to catch the sense of his writing.


FRAMEWORKS: 1 Corinthians 11: Rightly approaching the Lord's Supper


v.1-7 Recognition & Honouring

v.8-16 Paul's logic or theology

v.17-22 Abuse of the Lord's Supper

v.23-28 The Supper instituted by Jesus

v.29-34 Consequences of Abuse and right approach


[Chapter Synopsis: This chapter is all about attitudes. First it is about the attitude you have when you come together, whether in pride and division or in humility and unity, and the cultural norms of that time about had covering reveal that. Second, bad attitudes were revealed in the way they approached the Lord's Supper making it a free-for-all whereby in their cliques, some got everything and others got nothing. This, says Paul, shows you have completely forgotten the whole holy purpose of the supper – to remember the wonder of Jesus going to the cross and what he achieved through it. Because they has disdained and dishonoured God in the way they behaved, God had already brought disciplinary judgment to bear to bring them to their senses, so some were ill and others had died because of it. Changes needed to be made.]



v.1-7 Recognition & Honouring


v.1  (he seeks to follow Christ's example so it's all right to follow his example) Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.

v.2  (remember him and the traditions he passes on) I praise you for remembering me in everything and for holding to the traditions just as I passed them on to you.

v.3  (yet there is a hierarchy of honouring in the body of Christ) But I want you to realize that the head of every man is Christ, and the head of the woman is man, [Or of the wife is her husband] and the head of Christ is God.

v.4  (men covered their heads in normal affairs of life, so in God's presence they should seek to be different) Every man who prays or prophesies with his head covered dishonours his head.

v.5  (a woman in the affairs [probably of home] worked without head covered, so in God's presence seek to be different) But every woman who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonours her head—it is the same as having her head shaved.

v.6  (but in God's presence if she remains uncovered, she is being casual and that is dishonouring God) For if a woman does not cover her head, she might as well have her hair cut off; but if it is a disgrace for a woman to have her hair cut off or her head shaved, then she should cover her head.

v.7  (yet there is a relational order here – men to honour God uncovered, as they were born, women, not to compete with her man, to be covered) A man ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God; but woman is the glory of man.


[Passage Synopsis: Perhaps a key to understanding the historical and cultural context of this passage is in verse 2 with the reference to ‘traditions'. Observing customs and practices of that day meant heads being covered or uncovered were in accord with traditional behaviour for everyday life. This passage has created much speculation and debate amongst scholars and commentators and we have shown it with what we believe are reasonable assumptions, and these are clearly different for them in their culture from ours today. Yet Paul adds to what we have suggested with a gender theology based on scripture in what follows. Perhaps the most important thing to say is that in meeting together we seek, not to display ourselves and our glory or reputation but to be humble before God.]



v.8-16 Paul's logic or theology


v.8,9 (Paul now refers back to the Genesis order of gender creation) For man did not come from woman, but woman from man; neither was man created for woman, but woman for man.

v.10 (thus for a woman to take control of her head covering shows her concern to be humble before and worship God, which is seen by the watching angels) It is for this reason that a woman ought to have authority over her own [Or have a sign of authority on her] head, because of the angels.

v.11 (man and woman are not independent) Nevertheless, in the Lord woman is not independent of man, nor is man independent of woman.

v.12 (they come from each other, there is no superiority) For as woman came from man, so also man is born of woman. But everything comes from God.

v.13 (so is it right for a woman to turn up casually to pray) Judge for yourselves: Is it proper for a woman to pray to God with her head uncovered?

v.14,15 (her beauty is added to by her hair but handsome men don't need improving by long hair) Does not the very nature of things teach you that if a man has long hair, it is a disgrace to him, but that if a woman has long hair, it is her glory? For long hair is given to her as a covering.

v.16 (note the word ‘practice', the way they did then thing for the sake of decency as they saw it) If anyone wants to be contentious about this, we have no other practice—nor do the churches of God.


[Passage Synopsis: Some interesting points are made by Paul that are often missed. First (v.8,9), men and women are ‘equal' in God's sight, no superiority. Second, in their culture, what the woman decides to do, (v.10) conforming to cultural norms, shows her attitude towards God. Third (v.11,12) they are made by God to depend on each other, again with no superiority. Fourth, cultural norms of the age (v.13-15) have the ability to convey attitude towards God. Fifth (v.16) these were the practices of that day in that Jewish culture.]



v.17-22 Abuse of the Lord's Supper


v.17 (however there is a bigger disgrace in the church Paul has heard about) In the following directives I have no praise for you, for your meetings do more harm than good.

v.18 (I hear there are divisive cliques in the church which become apparent when you meet) 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.

v.19 (you disagree which of you us right) No doubt there have to be differences among you to show which of you have God's approval.

v.20,21 (so over the matter of the Lord's Supper it isn't really that because you share food and drink ahead of the rest so some get left with nothing) So then, when you come together, it is not the Lord's Supper you eat, for when you are eating, some of you go ahead with your own private suppers. As a result, one person remains hungry and another gets drunk.

v.22 (eat at home before you gather and stop humiliating those who have nothing.) Don't you have homes to eat and drink in? Or do you despise the church of God by humiliating those who have nothing? What shall I say to you? Shall I praise you? Certainly not in this matter!


[Passage Synopsis: The way the church meets for the Lord's Supper comes more fully under Paul's spotlight now and yet again it is their divisions that come to the fore. Some were hogging all the food and drink and others were getting left out and that was disgraceful!]



v.23-28 The Supper instituted by Jesus


v.23,24 (think how it came about: Jesus instituted it at the Last Supper speaking through the bead of his own body which was about to be broken or given up for them) For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, 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.”

v.25  (similarly with the wine he spoke of a new covenant his death would bring in) 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.”

v.26 (so when we come together like this we are honouring his death until he returns again) For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes.

v.27 (so if you do it disrespectfully you are disdaining what he did on the cross) So then, 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.

v.28 (so check out your attitudes before you do it!) Everyone ought to examine themselves before they eat of the bread and drink from the cup.


[Passage Synopsis: The reality of the supper originated in the Last Supper, when Jesus explained as they took the Passover bread and wine, that it pictured what was about to happen to him and what it would achieve.]



v.29-34 Consequences of Abuse and right approach


v.29 (so, if you disregard the meaning of the supper in the way you abuse it, you will be inviting God's judgment on your life) For those who eat and drink without discerning the body of Christ eat and drink judgment on themselves.

v.30 (indeed that is clearly seen to have already happened) That is why many among you are weak and sick, and a number of you have fallen asleep.

v.31 (if you were alert to this it wouldn't happen) But if we were more discerning with regard to ourselves, we would not come under such judgment.

v.32 (this is God's disciplinary judgment [to wake the rest of you up] not a sign of them being written off) Nevertheless, when we are judged in this way by the Lord, we are being disciplined so that we will not be finally condemned with the world.

v.33 (so make sure you eat together as the one body you are) So then, my brothers and sisters, when you gather to eat, you should all eat together.

v.34 (if you are hungry eat beforehand, to avoid this sort of thing happening) Anyone who is hungry should eat something at home, so that when you meet together it may not result in judgment. And when I come I will give further directions.


[Passage Synopsis: The bad divisive behaviour he noted earlier means they are failing to appreciate the wonder of what the supper is all about and in so doing, they have already incurred God's disciplinary judgment. They need to change to stop that happening.]