SUMMARY.--Men in Church to Pray with Uncovered Heads. Women to Be Veiled. Disorderly Assemblies. The Abuse of Love Feasts. The Lord's Supper Profaned. The Lesson from Christ's Appointment of the Ordinance. Must Be Eaten with Solemn Reverence.
17-22. Now in this . . . I praise you not. That their church assemblies were not orderly. 18. When ye come together in the church. In a meeting of the church. There be divisions. He had spoken in chapters 1-3 of the divisions in the congregation. He now tells them that he had heard that these divisions were manifest at their church meetings. 19. There must needs be heresies. Heresies were false opinions which led to divisions. In the state of the human mind they were unavoidable, and would sift the church. 20. When ye come together, therefore. When they assembled these heresies and divisions were manifest. There was a Paulite group, an Apolloite group, and a Petrine group, who sat apart from each other. It is not to eat the Lord's supper. Coming in such a spirit they were in no fit mind to eat the Lord's supper. 21. For every one partaketh before others his own supper. It was customary in Corinth to eat a meal together as did Christ and his disciples the night of the Lord's supper. After this came the Lord's supper. At this meal each party in Corinth sat apart and ate when it was ready. The result was that some began before the others. One would be hungry, and another drunken. This last clause means that he had eaten and was satisfied. 22. What! Have you not houses to eat and drink in? The practice is rebuked. The place to eat their feasts was at home. Despise ye the church of God? By a selfish feast, where some ate luxuriously, and put to shame others, perhaps the poor, who had nothing.
23-26. For I have received of the Lord. While at Corinth he had told the church the solemn history of the institution of the supper, an account that he had received directly by inspiration from the Lord. Such a sacred event was utterly inconsistent with strife, revelry or disorder. The history is repeated to show this. 24. This is my body. Is this literal? "I am the true vine," "These women are the two covenants" ( Gal. 4:24 ), etc. are kindred expressions. The idea is: "This represents my body." The eating of the bread is not to literally eat the Lord's flesh, but is done in remembrance. It is a token that reminds of his body. 25. This do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me. The memorial design of the Lord's supper is reiterated. It is not a "sacrifice of the mass," but a remembrance of Christ's sacrifice. 26. Ye do show forth the Lord's death till he come. The observance points to two great facts--the Lord's death, and to his second coming; one past, the other future. The observance is to continue "till he come."
27-30. Shall eat . . . or drink . . . unworthily. In a light, disorderly way, or with an unholy frame of mind. Shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. Profane the body and blood by profanely eating the sacred tokens of these. 28. Let a man examine himself, etc. To see whether he can eat in loving remembrance of the death of Christ. 29. Eateth . . . unworthily. With light, worldly thoughts, as though eating common food. That this is a sin is shown in verse 27 . Here it is added, "he eateth and drinketh damnation;" that is, subjects himself to condemnation. Not discerning the Lord's body. Not distinguishing it, keeping in mind that these are memorials. 30. For this cause many are weak, etc. Some have held that this means that the improper observance of the supper has made many weak and sickly Christians, and some had even died spiritually. Others hold that physical judgments had been sent, and some sickened and others died. The last view is most generally held.
31-34. If we would judge ourselves. If we would sit in judgment on our spiritual condition, and correct ourselves, we would avert God's judgments. 32. We are chastened, etc. Judgments are used to chasten and to bring to repentance and reformation. Compare Heb. 12:5-8 . 33. Wherefore, when ye come together to eat, etc. Let all wait, and let all eat and partake of the Lord's supper together. 34. If any man is hungry, let him eat at home. This feast is not in order to satisfy the cravings of the appetite.
The account given here of the institution of the Lord's supper is one of the four in the New Testament. Matthew's is of an eye witness; those of Mark and Luke were received by them from witnesses who were present; that of Paul was "received from the Lord." Many regard it as the oldest written account of the event.