The apostle, after an exhortation to follow him, (1) corrects some abuses. (2-16) Also contentions, divisions, and disorderly celebrations of the Lord's supper. (17-22) He reminds them of the nature and design of its institution. (23-26) And directs how to attend upon it in a due manner. (27-34)
Verse 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.
Verses 2-16 Here begin particulars respecting the public assemblies, ( 1 Corinthians 14 ) 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.
Verses 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.
Verses 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. ( Matthew 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.
1 Corinthians 11:1-34 . CENSURE ON DISORDERS IN THEIR ASSEMBLIES: THEIR WOMEN NOT BEING VEILED, AND ABUSES AT THE LOVE-FEASTS.
1. Rather belonging to the end of the tenth chapter, than to this chapter.
of Christ--who did not please Himself ( Romans 15:3 ); but gave Himself, at the cost of laying aside His divine glory, and dying as man, for us ( Ephesians 5:2 , Philippians 2:4 Philippians 2:5 ). We are to follow Christ first, and earthly teachers only so far as they follow Christ.
2. Here the chapter ought to begin.
ye remember me in all things--in your general practice, though in the particular instances which follow ye fail.
ordinances--Greek, "traditions," that is, apostolic directions given by word of mouth or in writing ( 1 Corinthians 11:23 , 15:3 , 2 Thessalonians 2:15 ). The reference here is mainly to ceremonies: for in 1 Corinthians 11:23 , as to the LORD'S SUPPER, which is not a mere ceremony, he says, not merely, "I delivered unto you," but also, "I received of the Lord"; here he says only, "I delivered to you." Romanists argue hence for oral traditions. But the difficulty is to know what is a genuine apostolic tradition intended for all ages. Any that can be proved to be such ought to be observed; any that cannot, ought to be rejected ( Revelation 22:18 ). Those preserved in the written word alone can be proved to be such.
3. The Corinthian women, on the ground of the abolition of distinction of sexes in Christ, claimed equality with the male sex, and, overstepping the bounds of propriety, came forward to pray and prophesy without the customary head-covering of females. The Gospel, doubtless, did raise women from the degradation in which they had been sunk, especially in the East. Yet, while on a level with males as to the offer of, and standing in grace ( Galatians 3:28 ), their subjection in point of order, modesty, and seemliness, is to be maintained. Paul reproves here their unseemliness as to dress: in 1 Corinthians 14:34 , as to the retiring modesty in public which becomes them. He grounds his reproof here on the subjection of woman to man in the order of creation.
the head--an appropriate expression, when he is about to treat of woman's appropriate headdress in public.
of every man . . . Christ--( Ephesians 5:23 ).
of . . . woman . . . man--( 1 Corinthians 11:8 , Genesis 3:16 , 1 Timothy 2:11 1 Timothy 2:12 , 1 Peter 3:1 1 Peter 3:5 1 Peter 3:6 ).
head of Christ is God--( 1 Corinthians 3:23 , 1 Corinthians 15:27 1 Corinthians 15:28 , Luke 3:22 Luke 3:38 , John 14:28 , 20:17 , Ephesians 3:9 ). "Jesus, therefore, must be of the same essence as God: for, since the man is the head of the woman, and since the head is of the same essence as the body, and God is the head of the Son, it follows the Son is of the same essence as the Father" [CHRYSOSTOM]. "The woman is of the essence of the man, and not made by the man; so, too, the Son is not made by the Father, but of the essence of the Father" [THEODORET, t. 3, p. 171].
4. praying--in public ( 1 Corinthians 11:17 ).
prophesying--preaching in the Spirit ( 1 Corinthians 12:10 ).
having--that is, if he were to have: a supposed case to illustrate the impropriety in the woman's case. It was the Greek custom (and so that at Corinth) for men in worship to be uncovered; whereas the Jews wore the Talith, or veil, to show reverence before God, and their unworthiness to look on Him ( Isaiah 6:2 ); however, MAIMONIDES [Mishna] excepts cases where (as in Greece) the custom of the place was different.
dishonoureth his head--not as ALFORD, "Christ" ( 1 Corinthians 11:3 ); but literally, as "his head" is used in the beginning of the verse. He dishonoreth his head (the principal part of the body) by wearing a covering or veil, which is a mark of subjection, and which makes him look downwards instead of upwards to his Spiritual Head, Christ, to whom alone he owes subjection. Why, then, ought not man to wear the covering in token of his subjection to Christ, as the woman wears it in token of her subjection to man? "Because Christ is not seen: the man is seen; so the covering of him who is under Christ is not seen; of her who is under the man, is seen" [BENGEL]. (Compare 1 Corinthians 11:7 ).
5. woman . . . prayeth . . . prophesieth--This instance of women speaking in public worship is an extraordinary case, and justified only by the miraculous gifts which such women possessed as their credentials; for instance, Anna the prophetess and Priscilla (so Acts 2:18 ). The ordinary rule to them is: silence in public ( 1 Corinthians 14:34 1 Corinthians 14:35 , 1 Timothy 2:11 1 Timothy 2:12 ). Mental receptivity and activity in family life are recognized in Christianity, as most accordant with the destiny of woman. This passage does not necessarily sanction women speaking in public. even though possessing miraculous gifts; but simply records what took place at Corinth, without expressing an opinion on it, reserving the censure of it till 1 Corinthians 14:34 1 Corinthians 14:35 . Even those women endowed with prophecy were designed to exercise their gift, rather in other times and places, than the public congregation.
dishonoureth . . . head--in that she acts against the divine ordinance and the modest propriety that becomes her: in putting away the veil, she puts away the badge of her subjection to man, which is her true "honor"; for through him it connects her with Christ, the head of the man. Moreover, as the head-covering was the emblem of maiden modesty before man ( Genesis 24:65 ), and conjugal chastity ( Genesis 20:16 ); so, to uncover the head indicated withdrawal from the power of the husband, whence a suspected wife had her head uncovered by the priest ( Numbers 5:18 ). ALFORD takes "her head" to be man, her symbolical, not her literal head; but as it is literal in the former clause, it must be so in the latter one.
all one as if . . . shaven--As woman's hair is given her by nature, as her covering ( 1 Corinthians 11:15 ), to cut it off like a man, all admit, would be indecorous: therefore, to put away the head-covering, too, like a man, would be similarly indecorous. It is natural to her to have long hair for her covering: she ought, therefore, to add the other (the wearing of a head-covering) to show that she does of her own will that which nature itself teaches she ought to do, in token of her subjection to man.
6. A woman would not like to be "shorn" or (what is worse) "shaven"; but if she chooses to be uncovered (unveiled) in front, let her be so also behind, that is, "shorn."
a shame--an unbecoming thing (compare 1 Corinthians 11:13-15 ). Thus the shaving of nuns is "a shame."
7-9. Argument, also, from man's more immediate relation to God, and the woman's to man.
he is . . . image . . . glory of God--being created in God's "image," first and directly: the woman, subsequently, and indirectly, through the mediation of man. Man is the representative of God's "glory" this ideal of man being realized most fully in the Son of man ( Psalms 8:4 Psalms 8:5 ; compare 2 Corinthians 8:23 ). Man is declared in Scripture to be both the "image," and in the "likeness," of God (compare James 3:9 ). But "image" alone is applied to the Son of God ( Colossians 1:15 ; compare Hebrews 1:3 ). "Express image," Greek, "the impress." The Divine Son is not merely "like" God, He is God of God, "being of one substance (essence) with the Father." [Nicene Creed].
woman . . . glory of . . . man--He does not say, also, "the image of the man." For the sexes differ: moreover, the woman is created in the image of God, as well as the man ( Genesis 1:26 Genesis 1:27 ). But as the moon in relation to the sun ( Genesis 37:9 ), so woman shines not so much with light direct from God, as with light derived from man, that is, in her order in creation; not that she does not in grace come individually into direct communion with God; but even here much of her knowledge is mediately given her through man, on whom she is naturally dependent.
8. is of . . . of--takes his being from ("out of") . . . from: referring to woman's original creation, "taken out of man" (compare Genesis 2:23 ). The woman was made by God mediately through the man, who was, as it were, a veil or medium placed between her and God, and therefore, should wear the veil or head-covering in public worship, in acknowledgement of this subordination to man in the order of creation. The man being made immediately by God as His glory, has no veil between himself and God [FABER STAPULENSIS in BENGEL].
9. Neither--rather, "For also"; Another argument: The immediate object of woman's creation. "The man was not created for the sake of the woman; but the woman for the sake of the man" ( Genesis 2:18 Genesis 2:21 Genesis 2:22 ). Just as the Church, the bride, is made for Christ; and yet in both the natural and the spiritual creations, the bride, while made for the bridegroom, in fulfilling that end, attains her own true "glory," and brings "shame" and "dishonor" on herself by any departure from it ( 1 Corinthians 11:4 1 Corinthians 11:6 ).
10. power on her head--the kerchief: French couvre chef, head-covering, the emblem of "power on her head"; the sign of her being under man's power, and exercising delegated authority under him. Paul had before his mind the root-connection between the Hebrew terms for "veil" (radid), and "subjection" (radad).
because of the angels--who are present at our Christian assemblies (compare Psalms 138:1 , "gods," that is, angels), and delight in the orderly subordination of the several ranks of God's worshippers in their respective places, the outward demeanor and dress of the latter being indicative of that inward humility which angels know to be most pleasing to their common Lord ( 1 Corinthians 4:9 , Ephesians 3:10 , Ecclesiastes 5:6 ). HAMMOND quotes CHRYSOSTOM, "Thou standest with angels; thou singest with them; thou hymnest with them; and yet dost thou stand laughing?" 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 ( Isaiah 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 ( Matthew 18:10 Matthew 18:31 ). She, by her weakness, especially needs their ministry; she ought, therefore, to be the more careful not to offend them."
11. Yet neither sex is insulated and independent of the other in the Christian life [ALFORD]. The one needs the other in the sexual relation; and in respect to Christ ("in the Lord"), the man and the woman together (for neither can be dispensed with) realize the ideal of redeemed humanity represented by the bride, the Church.
12. As the woman was formed out of (from) the man, even so is man born by means of woman; but all things (including both man and woman) are from God as their source ( Romans 11:36 , 2 Corinthians 5:18 ). They depend mutually each on the other, and both on him.
13. Appeal to their own sense of decorum.
a woman . . . unto God--By rejecting the emblem of subjection (the head-covering), she passes at one leap in praying publicly beyond both the man and angels [BENGEL].
14. The fact that nature has provided woman, and not man, with long hair, proves that man was designed to be uncovered, and woman covered. The Nazarite, however, wore long hair lawfully, as being part of a vow sanctioned by God ( Numbers 6:5 ). Compare as to Absalom, 2 Samuel 14:26 , and Acts 18:18 .
15. her hair . . . for a covering--Not that she does not need additional covering. Nay, her long hair shows she ought to cover her head as much as possible. The will ought to accord with nature [BENGEL].
16. A summary close to the argument by appeal to the universal custom of the churches.
if any . . . seem--The Greek also means "thinks" (fit) (compare Matthew 3:9 ). If any man chooses (still after all my arguments) to be contentious. If any be contentious and thinks himself right in being so. A reproof of the Corinthians' self-sufficiency and disputatiousness ( 1 Corinthians 1:20 ).
we--apostles: or we of the Jewish nation, from whom ye have received the Gospel, and whose usages in all that is good ye ought to follow: Jewish women veiled themselves when in public, according to TERTULLIAN [ESTIUS]. The former explanation is best, as the Jews are not referred to in the context: but he often refers to himself and his fellow apostles, by the expression, "we--us" ( 1 Corinthians 4:9 1 Corinthians 4:10 ).
no such custom--as that of women praying uncovered. Not as CHRYSOSTOM, "that of being contentious." The Greek term implies a usage, rather than a mental habit ( John 18:39 ). The usage of true "churches (plural: not, as Rome uses it, 'the Church,' as an abstract entity; but 'the churches,' as a number of independent witnesses) of God" (the churches which God Himself recognizes), is a valid argument in the case of external rites, especially, negatively, for example, Such rites were not received among them, therefore, ought not to be admitted among us: but in questions of doctrine, or the essentials of worship, the argument is not valid [SCLATER] ( 1 Corinthians 7:17 , 14:33 ).
neither--nor yet. Catholic usage is not an infallible test of truth, but a general test of decency.
17. in this--which follows.
I declare--rather, "I enjoin"; as the Greek is always so used. The oldest manuscripts read literally "This I enjoin (you) not praising (you)."
that--inasmuch as; in that you, &c. Here he qualifies his praise ( 1 Corinthians 11:2 ). "I said that I praised you for keeping. the ordinances delivered to you; but I must now give injunction in the name of the Lord, on a matter in which I praise you not; namely, as to the Lord's Supper ( 1 Corinthians 11:23 , 1 Corinthians 14:37 ).
not for the better--not so as to progress to what is better.
for the worse--so as to retrograde to what is worse. The result of such "coming together" must be "condemnation" ( 1 Corinthians 11:34 ).
18. first of all--In the first place. The "divisions" (Greek, "schisms") meant, are not merely those of opinion ( 1 Corinthians 1:10 ), but in outward acts at the love-feasts (Agapæ), ( 1 Corinthians 11:21 ). He does not follow up the expression, "in the first place," by "in the second place." But though not expressed, a second abuse was in his mind when he said, "In the first place," namely, THE ABUSE OF SPIRITUAL GIFTS, which also created disorder in their assemblies [ALFORD], ( 1 Corinthians 12:1 , 1 Corinthians 14:23 1 Corinthians 14:26 1 Corinthians 14:33 1 Corinthians 14:40 ).
in the church--not the place of worship; for ISIDORE OF PELUSIUM denies that there were such places specially set apart for worship in the apostles' times [Epistle, 246.2]. But, "in the assembly" or "congregation"; in convocation for worship, where especially love, order, and harmony should prevail. The very ordinance instituted for uniting together believers in one body, was made an occasion of "divisions" (schisms).
partly--He hereby excepts the innocent. "I am unwilling to believe all I hear, but some I cannot help believing" [ALFORD]: while my love is unaffected by it [BENGEL].
19. heresies--Not merely "schisms" or "divisions" ( 1 Corinthians 11:18 ), which are "recent dissensions of the congregation through differences of opinion" [AUGUSTINE, Con. Crescon. Don. 2.7, quoted by TRENCH, Greek Synonyms of the New Testament], but also "heresies," that is, "schisms which have now become inveterate"; "Sects" [CAMPBELL, vol. 2, pp. 126, 127]: so Acts 5:17 , 15:5 translate the same Greek. At present there were dissensions at the love-feasts; but Paul, remembering Jesus' words ( Matthew 18:7 , Matthew 24:10 Matthew 24:12 , Luke 17:1 ) foresees "there must be (come) also" matured separations, and established parties in secession, as separatists. The "must be" arises from sin in professors necessarily bearing its natural fruits: these are overruled by God to the probation of character of both the godly and the ungodly, and to the discipline of the former for glory. "Heresies" had not yet its technical sense ecclesiastically, referring to doctrinal errors: it means confirmed schisms. ST. AUGUSTINE'S rule is a golden rule as regards questions of heresy and catholicity: "In doubtful questions, liberty; in essentials, unity; in all things, charity."
that . . . approved may be made manifest--through the disapproved (reprobates) becoming manifested ( Luke 2:35 , 1 John 2:19 ).
20. When . . . therefore--Resuming the thread of discourse from 1 Corinthians 11:18 .
this is not to--rather, "there is no such thing as eating the LORD'S Supper"; it is not possible where each is greedily intent only on devouring "HIS OWN supper," and some are excluded altogether, not having been waited for ( 1 Corinthians 11:33 ), where some are "drunken," while others are "hungry" ( 1 Corinthians 11:21 ). The love-feast usually preceded the Lord's Supper (as eating the Passover came before the Lord's Supper at the first institution of the latter). It was a club-feast, where each brought his portion, and the rich, extra portions for the poor; from it the bread and wine were taken for the Eucharist; and it was at it that the excesses took place, which made a true celebration of the Lord's Supper during or after it, with true discernment of its solemnity, out of the question.
21. one taketh before other--the rich "before" the poor, who had no supper of their own. Instead of "tarrying for one another" ( 1 Corinthians 11:33 ); hence the precept ( 1 Corinthians 12:21 1 Corinthians 12:25 ).
his own supper--"His own" belly is his God ( Philippians 3:19 ); "the Lord's Supper," the spiritual feast, never enters his thoughts.
drunken--The one has more than is good for him, the other less [BENGEL].
22. What!--Greek, "For."
houses--(compare 1 Corinthians 11:34 )--"at home." That is the place to satiate the appetite, not the assembly of the brethren [ALFORD].
despise ye the church of God--the congregation mostly composed of the poor, whom "God hath chosen," however ye show contempt for them ( James 2:5 ); compare "of God" here, marking the true honor of the Church.
shame them that have not--namely, houses to eat and drink in, and who, therefore, ought to have received their portion at the love-feasts from their wealthier brethren.
I praise you not--resuming the words ( 1 Corinthians 11:17 ).
23. His object is to show the unworthiness of such conduct from the dignity of the holy supper.
I--Emphatic in the Greek. It is not my own invention, but the Lord's institution.
received of the Lord--by immediate revelation ( Galatians 1:12 ; compare Acts 22:17 Acts 22:18 , 2 Corinthians 12:1-4 ). The renewal of the institution of the Lord's Supper by special revelation to Paul enhances its solemnity. The similarity between Luke's and Paul's account of the institution, favors the supposition that the former drew his information from the apostle, whose companion in travel he was. Thus, the undesigned coincidence is a proof of genuineness.
night--the time fixed for the Passover ( Exodus 12:6 ): though the time for the Lord's Supper is not fixed.
betrayed--With the traitor at the table, and death present before His eyes, He left this ordinance as His last gift to us, to commemorate His death. Though about to receive such an injury from man, He gave this pledge of His amazing love to man.
24. brake--The breaking of the bread involves its distribution and reproves the Corinthian mode at the love-feast, of "every one taking before other his own supper."
my body . . . broken for you--"given" ( Luke 22:19 ) for you (Greek, "in your behalf"), and "broken," so as to be distributed among you. The oldest manuscripts omit "broken," leaving it to be supplied from "brake." The two old versions, Memphitic and Thebaic, read from Luke, "given." The literal "body" could not have been meant; for Christ was still sensibly present among His disciples when He said, "This is My body." They could only have understood Him symbolically and analogically: As this bread is to your bodily health, so My body is to the spiritual health of the believing communicant. The words, "Take, eat," are not in the oldest manuscripts.
in remembrance of
25. when he had supped--Greek, "after the eating of supper," namely, the Passover supper which preceded the Lord's Supper, as the love-feast did subsequently. Therefore, you Corinthians ought to separate common meals from the Lord's Supper [BENGEL].
the new testament--or "covenant." The cup is the parchment-deed, as it were, on which My new covenant, or last will is written and sealed, making over to you all blessings here and hereafter.
in my blood--ratified by MY blood: "not by the blood of goats and calves" ( Hebrews 9:12 ).
as oft as--Greek, "as many times soever": implying that it is an ordinance often to be partaken of.
in remembrance of me--Luke ( Luke 22:19 ) expresses this, which is understood by Matthew and Mark. Paul twice records it ( 1 Corinthians 11:24 and here) as suiting his purpose. The old sacrifices brought sins continually to remembrance ( Hebrews 10:1 Hebrews 10:3 ). The Lord's Supper brings to remembrance Christ and His sacrifice once for all for the full and final remission of sins.
26. For--in proof that the Lord's Supper is "in remembrance" of Him.
show--announce publicly. The Greek does not mean to dramatically represent, but "ye publicly profess each of you, the Lord has died FOR ME" [WAHL]. This word, as "is" in Christ's institution ( 1 Corinthians 11:24 1 Corinthians 11:25 ), implies not literal presence, but a vivid realization, by faith, of Christ in the Lord's Supper, as a living person, not a mere abstract dogma, "bone of our bone, and flesh of our flesh" ( Ephesians 5:30 ; compare Genesis 2:23 ); and ourselves "members of His body, of His flesh, and of His bones," "our sinful bodies made clean by His body (once for all offered), and our souls washed through His most precious blood" [Church of England Prayer Book]. "Show," or "announce," is an expression applicable to new things; compare "show" as to the Passover ( Exodus 13:8 ). So the Lord's death ought always to be fresh in our memory; compare in heaven, Revelation 5:6 . That the Lord's Supper is in remembrance of Him, implies that He is bodily absent, though spiritually present, for we cannot be said to commemorate one absent. The fact that we not only show the Lord's death in the supper, but eat and drink the pledges of it, could only be understood by the Jews, accustomed to such feasts after propitiatory sacrifices, as implying our personal appropriation therein of the benefits of that death.
till he come--when there shall be no longer need of symbols of His body, the body itself being manifested. The Greek expresses the certainly of His coming. Rome teaches that we eat Christ present corporally, "till He come" corporally; a contradiction in terms. The showbread, literally, "bread of the presence," was in the sanctuary, but not in the Holiest Place ( Hebrews 9:1-8 ); so the Lord's Supper in heaven, the antitype to the Holiest Place, shall be superseded by Christ's own bodily presence; then the wine shall be drunk "anew" in the Father's kingdom, by Christ and His people together, of which heavenly banquet, the Lord's Supper is a spiritual foretaste and specimen ( Matthew 26:29 ). Meantime, as the showbread was placed anew, every sabbath, on the table before the Lord ( Leviticus 24:5-8 ); so the Lord's death was shown, or announced afresh at the Lord's table the first day of every week in the primitive Church. We are now "priests unto God" in the dispensation of Christ's spiritual presence, antitypical to the HOLY PLACE: the perfect and eternal dispensation, which shall not begin till Christ's coming, is antitypical to the HOLIEST PLACE, which Christ our High Priest alone in the flesh as yet has entered ( Hebrews 9:6 Hebrews 9:7 ); but which, at His coming, we, too, who are believers, shall enter ( Revelation 7:15 , 21:22 ). The supper joins the two closing periods of the Old and the New dispensations. The first and second comings are considered as one coming, whence the expression is not "return," but "come" (compare, however, John 14:3 ).
27. eat and drink--So one of the oldest manuscripts reads. But three or four equally old manuscripts, the Vulgate and CYPRIAN, read, "or." Romanists quote this reading in favor of communion in one kind. This consequence does not follow. Paul says, "Whosoever is guilty of unworthy conduct, either in eating the bread, or in drinking the cup, is guilty of the body and blood of Christ." Impropriety in only one of the two elements, vitiates true communion in both. Therefore, in the end of the verse, he says, not "body or blood," but "body and blood." Any who takes the bread without the wine, or the wine without the bread, "unworthily" communicates, and so "is guilty of Christ's body and blood"; for he disobeys Christ's express command to partake of both. If we do not partake of the sacramental symbol of the Lord's death worthily, we share in the guilt of that death. (Compare "crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh," Hebrews 6:6 ). Unworthiness in the person, is not what ought to exclude any, but unworthily communicating: However unworthy we be, if we examine ourselves so as to find that we penitently believe in Christ's Gospel, we may worthily communicate.
28. examine--Greek, "prove" or "test" his own state of mind in respect to Christ's death, and his capability of "discerning the Lord's body" ( 1 Corinthians 11:29 1 Corinthians 11:31 ). Not auricular confession to a priest, but self-examination is necessary.
so--after due self-examination.
of . . . of--In 1 Corinthians 11:27 , where the receiving was unworthily, the expression was, "eat this bread, drink . . . cup" without "of." Here the "of" implies due circumspection in communicating [BENGEL].
let him eat--His self-examination is not in order that he may stay away, but that he may eat, that is, communicate.
29. damnation--A mistranslation which has put a stumbling-block in the way of many in respect to communicating. The right translation is "judgment." The judgment is described ( 1 Corinthians 11:30-32 ) as temporal.
not discerning--not duty judging: not distinguishing in judgment (so the Greek: the sin and its punishment thus being marked as corresponding) from common food, the sacramental pledges of the Lord's body. Most of the oldest manuscripts omit "Lord's" (see 1 Corinthians 11:27 ). Omitting also "unworthily," with most of the oldest manuscripts, we must translate, "He that eateth and drinketh, eateth and drinketh judgment to himself, IF he discern not the body" ( Hebrews 10:29 ). The Church is "the body of Christ" ( 1 Corinthians 12:27 ). The Lord's body is His literal body appreciated and discerned by the soul in the faithful receiving, and not present in the elements themselves.
30. weak . . . sickly--He is "weak" who has naturally no strength: "sickly," who has lost his strength by disease [TITTMANN, Greek Synonyms of the New Testament].
sleep--are being lulled in death: not a violent death; but one the result of sickness, sent as the Lord's chastening for the individual's salvation, the mind being brought to a right state on the sick bed ( 1 Corinthians 11:31 ).
31. if we would judge ourselves--Most of the oldest manuscripts, read "But," not "For." Translate also literally "If we duly judged ourselves, we should not be (or not have been) judged," that is, we should escape (or have escaped) our present judgments. In order to duly judge or "discern [appreciate] the Lord's body," we need to "duly judge ourselves." A prescient warning against the dogma of priestly absolution after full confession, as the necessary preliminary to receiving the Lord's Supper.
32. chastened--( Revelation 3:19 ).
with the world--who, being bastards, are without chastening ( Hebrews 12:8 ).
33. tarry one for another--In contrast to 1 Corinthians 11:21 . The expression is not, "Give a share to one another," for all the viands brought to the feast were common property, and, therefore, they should "tarry" till all were met to partake together of the common feast of fellowship [THEOPHYLACT].
34. if any . . . hunger--so as not to be able to "tarry for others," let him take off the edge of his hunger at home [ALFORD] ( 1 Corinthians 11:22 ).
the rest--"the other questions you asked me as to the due celebration of the Lord's Supper." Not other questions in general; for he does subsequently set in order other general questions in this Epistle.