screen reading software, go to Headings with QuickKeys.

New Testament Letters

1 Corinthians, Chapters 11-12, Paul Addressed Issues at Corinth

INTRODUCTION: Paul began this part of his letter with some positive and negative remarks regarding information he had received ABOUT the church at Corinth. As he addressed some details about distinctions for the role of men and women in the local church, the strong emphasis about the length of hair and covering for the head may have been most appropriate for the culture in that part of the world in that era. His review of how to properly conduct the Lord's Supper, and the things to be avoided, is the most complete single source in the New Testament. When he described the various parts of the body of Christ, and how they work together to the glory of God, that teaching has application throughout the ages.

NOTE: All scripture is from the Bible in Basic English unless otherwise designated.


A - PAUL WANTED TO BE AN EXAMPLE, AS Christ WAS HIS EXAMPLE

1 Corinthians 11 "1 So take me for your example, even as I take Christ for mine. 2 Now I am pleased to see that you keep me in memory in all things, and that you give attention to the teaching which was handed down from me to you. 3 But it is important for you to keep this fact in mind, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man, and the head of Christ is God. 4 Every man who takes part in prayer, or gives teaching as a prophet, with his head covered, puts shame on his head. 5 But every woman who does so with her head unveiled, puts shame on her head: for it is the same as if her hair was cut off. 6 For if a woman is not veiled, let her hair be cut off; but if it is a shame to a woman to have her hair cut off, let her be veiled. 7 For it is not right for a man to have his head covered, because he is the image and glory of God: but the woman is the glory of the man. 8 For the man did not come from the woman, but the woman from the man. 9 And the man was not made for the woman, but the woman for the man. 10 For this reason it is right for the woman to have a sign of authority on her head, because of the angels. 11 But the woman is not separate from the man, and the man is not separate from the woman in the Lord. 12 For as the woman is from the man, so the man is through the woman; but all things are from God. 13 Be judges yourselves of the question: does it seem right for a woman to take part in prayer unveiled? 14 Does it not seem natural to you that if a man has long hair, it is a cause of shame to him? 15 But if a woman has long hair, it is a glory to her: for her hair is given to her for a covering. 16 But if any man will not be ruled in this question, this is not our way of doing things, and it is not done in the churches of God."

COMMENTS: Paul was pleased to know that the Corinthians were following teaching that he had given to them, and he wanted them to also make Christ their primary example for everyday life which was his own goal. As part of His further instruction now he wanted to give some specific direction about male and female decorum when the church gathered together. His foundational point was God's design for man and woman in the Garden of Eden, and even that the head of Christ is God the Father. The order of distinction between man and woman does not prevent them from being equal before God, just as Christ has equality with God the Father. It is not demeaning for the woman to have a symbol of the authority of man over her. Following Paul's outline of God's design, the man should not have a symbol of the authority of woman over him while in the assembly of the church.

The woman is from the man, and man is given birth through the woman; but all things are from God through His design. Paul then put the question to the Corinthians to judge for themselves whether it seemed right for a woman to take part in prayer unveiled. Paul asked if it seemed unnatural to them for men to have long hair, whereas they accept long hair on a woman as normal. Paul wrote if men could not accept the rule in this question, it was not his way of doing things; and being contentious about these matters should not take place in the churches of God.


B - THERE SHOULD NOT BE DIVISIONS WHEN YOU COME TOGETHER IN THE CHURCH

1 Corinthians 11 "17 But in giving you this order, there is one thing about which I am not pleased: it is that when you come together it is not for the better but for the worse. 18 For first of all, it has come to my ears that when you come together in the church, there are divisions among you, and I take the statement to be true in part. 19 For divisions are necessary among you, in order that those who have God's approval may be clearly seen among you. 20 But now, when you come together, it is not possible to take the holy meal of the Lord: 21 For when you take your food, everyone takes his meal before the other; and one has not enough food, and another is the worse for drink. 22 What? have you not houses to take your meals in? or have you no respect for the church of God, putting the poor to shame? What am I to say to you? am I to give you praise? certainly not."

COMMENTS: Paul has heard about some very disturbing conduct when the church comes together for the Lord's supper. It is important to avoid divisions at an observance of the sacrifice made by the Savior to bring all together as one in Christ. The only division that should be apparent is to set apart those who have God's approval from those who have not yet accepted the grace gift of salvation of the soul. But in the meal before communion there is separation between those who have much food and beverage, and those who have little. This distinction should not take place in a gathering, though it may be what happens in homes. Paul can not praise them for observing communion when these offences take place at the church, which shows a lack of respect for God.


C - COMMUNION WAS INSTITUTED BY THE LORD JESUS

1 Corinthians 11 "23 For it was handed down to me from the Lord, as I gave it to you, that the Lord Jesus, on the night when Judas was false to him, took bread, 24 And when it had been broken with an act of praise, he said, This is my body which is for you: do this in memory of me. 25 In the same way, with the cup, after the meal, he said, This cup is the new testament in my blood: do this, whenever you take it, in memory of me. 26 For whenever you take the bread and the cup you give witness to the Lord's death till he comes. 27 If, then, anyone takes the bread or the cup of the Lord in the wrong spirit, he will be responsible for the body and blood of the Lord. 28 But let no man take of the bread and the cup without testing himself. 29 For a man puts himself in danger, if he takes part in the holy meal without being conscious that it is the Lord's body. 30 For this cause a number of you are feeble and ill, and a number are dead. 31 But if we were true judges of ourselves, punishment would not come on us. 32 But if punishment does come, it is sent by the Lord, so that we may be safe when the world is judged. 33 So then, my brothers, when you come together to the holy meal of the Lord, let there be waiting for one another. 34 If any man is in need of food, let him take his meal in his house; so that you may not come together to your damage. And the rest I will put in order when I come."

COMMENTS: Paul stated that his instruction about communion as a holy reminder of the Lord's sacrifice was given to him directly by the Lord. Christ Jesus established this remembrance with his disciples on the night he was betrayed by Judas Iscariot. Paul did not become a believer until he was approached by the risen Christ who set Paul apart for ministry even as Paul was in the process of persecuting followers of Christ. Now Paul earnestly reminds the Corinthians that he had instructed them for a sacred practice intended only for believers, and it is a serious matter that non-believers should not participate in a symbol of the Lord's sacrificial death until he comes again. Paul said It is a danger for anyone who takes the bread or the cup of the Lord without being conscious that it is the Lord's body.

I believe Paul wanted his readers to understand that even the believer must take time to examine the way in which they have prepared their heart to receive the Lord's supper, and never be casual about it. Participating in the recognition of the sacrificial death of the Lord should always include a willingness to follow scripture in thankfulness for His mercy and grace. Part of the preparation for communion is to wait until all are ready to participate together. Having a complete meal should be done in homes so as not to interfere with the respectful sharing of the remembrance. . Paul said he would set in order any other matters when he came to them again.

The apostle John wrote some verses useful to think about with prayer before taking communion. John 14 "15 If ye love me, keep my commandments." AV) 1 John 1 "9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us [our] sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." (AV)


D - DIFFERENT QUALITIES ARE GIVEN BY ONE SPIRIT

1 Corinthians 12 "1 But about the things of the spirit, my brothers, it is not right for you to be without teaching. 2 You are conscious that when you were Gentiles, in whatever way you were guided, you went after images without voice or power. 3 So it is my desire for you to be clear about this; that no one is able to say by the Spirit of God that Jesus is cursed; and no one is able to say that Jesus is Lord, but by the Holy Spirit. 4 Now there are different qualities given to men, but the same Spirit. 5 And there are different sorts of servants, but the same Lord. 6 And there are different operations, but the same God, who is working all things in all. 7 But to every man some form of the Spirit's working is given for the common good. 8 For to one are given words of wisdom through the Spirit; and to another words of knowledge through the same Spirit: 9 To another faith in the same Spirit; and to another the power of taking away disease, by the one Spirit; 10 And to another the power of working wonders; and to another the prophet's word; and to another the power of testing spirits; to another different sorts of tongues; and to another the power of making clear the sense of the tongues: 11 But all these are the operations of the one and the same Spirit, giving to every man separately as his pleasure is."

COMMENTS: Paul wanted to provide some written teaching about matters regarding the Holy Spirit because without knowledge of the true God, it is possible to be guided into devotion to worthless idols. Paul had a clear desire as he wrote: no one who has the Spirit of God is able to deny that Jesus is Lord; and no one can truthfully say that Jesus is Lord. , unless they have the Holy Spirit. These two points are essential to keep in mind as Paul described various gifts given to members in the body of Christ.

One Spirit gives the various personal qualities to each person, then there are different ways to be a servant to the one true Lord, and there are different operations to take place as the same God is working all things together. So, every person has some form of the Holy Spirit working within, that is given for the common good, not for personal benefit! The Spirit of God may give variously to those who have faith: words of wisdom, words of knowledge, the power of healing disease, the power of working wonders, the prophet's word, the power of testing spirits, different languages with ability of making clear the sense of the languages. But all these are the operations of the one and the same Spirit, given to each person separately by God's design and purpose.


E - HOLY SPIRIT BAPTISM PLACES ALL INTO ONE BODY

1 Corinthians 12 "12 For as the body is one, and has a number of parts, and all the parts make one body, so is Christ. 13 For through the baptism of the one Spirit we were all formed into one body, Jews or Greeks, servants or free men, and were all made full of the same Spirit. 14 For the body is not one part, but a number of parts. 15 If the foot says, Because I am not the hand, I am not a part of the body; it is no less a part of the body. 16 And if the ear says, Because I am not the eye, I am not a part of the body; it is a part of the body all the same. 17 If all the body was an eye, where would be the hearing? if all was hearing, where would be the smelling? 18 But now God has put every one of the parts in the body as it was pleasing to him. 19 And if they were all one part, where would the body be? 20 But now they are all different parts, but one body. 21 And the eye may not say to the hand, I have no need of you: or again the head to the feet, I have no need of you. 22 No, those parts which seem to be feeble are the more necessary; 23 And to those parts of the body which seem to have less honour we give all the more honour; and to those parts of the body which are a cause of shame to us we give the greater respect; 24 But those parts of the body which are beautiful have no need of such care: and so the body has been joined together by God in such a way as to give more honour to those parts which had need of it; 25 So that there might be no division in the body; but all the parts might have the same care for one another. 26 And if there is pain in one part of the body, all the parts will be feeling it; or if one part is honoured, all the parts will be glad."

COMMENTS: Paul used the human body to illustrate the way in which believers with different gifts from God are to be selfless as they exercise each gift acknowledging they are part of one unified body in Christ. Just as the LORD has designed the human body with purpose throughout, any separation or rejection of a part of the body of Christ so designed is an affront to God. Paul made specific points about major parts well known to all people; and also emphasized that there are other functions not as evident, yet serving the body as a whole. Paul wrote that through the baptism of the one Spirit we were all formed into one body, Jews or Greeks, servants or free men, and were all made full of the same Spirit. Just as the human body has parts that regularly receive more attention than other parts, God has joined the body of believers together so the less prominent members who have special need of care should receive it. So that there might be no division in the body; but all the parts might have the same level of care for one another.


F - TURN YOUR ATTENTION TO YOUR POWER GIVEN BY THE HOLY SPIRIT

1 Corinthians 12 "27 Now you are the body of Christ, and every one of you the separate parts of it. 28 And God has put some in the church, first, Apostles; second, prophets; third, teachers; then those with wonder-working powers, then those with the power of taking away disease, helpers, wise guides, users of strange tongues. 29 Are all Apostles? are all prophets? are all teachers? have all the power of working wonders? 30 Are all able to take away disease? have all the power of tongues? are all able to give their sense? 31 But let your desires be turned to the more important things given by the Spirit. And now I am pointing out to you an even better way."

COMMENTS: Those who have received the gracious baptism of the Holy Spirit by faith are now the body of Christ, and every one of them is a separate part of it, together even over the centuries of time. Paul began his list of categories in the "church" with Apostles, prophets, and teachers. Paul said that not everyone in the church fit into all of his categories, and that is a key point for all who continue to read his letter. Paul closed this segment with an invitation to let our desires be turned to an even better way of the more important things given by the Spirit of God.

--- REFLECTIONS IN PRAYER ---

Lord, I thank you for the miraculous change you made in Paul's life, and the many local churches he nurtured as he desired to grow more in your likeness. As I consider the need to work within my local church, may I keep in mind that Paul wrote that there should be no divisions as the members gather together. I give you praise Lord that you provided Paul with such a beautiful description of the practice of communion, and the importance of it being done in the proper spirit every time. Help me Lord to enjoy the different qualities and gifts given to believers by your Holy Spirit as they are exercised for the benefit of the whole body. I believe Paul was guided by the Holy Spirit when he wrote that all believers are placed into one body with Christ by Holy Spirit baptism. I am not my own since I have been purchased by the sacrifice of Christ Jesus, so I ask for continual strength and direction to turn my attention to the power given in my particular gifts for the furtherance of the Kingdom of God. All praise, honor, and glory to my Savior. Amen.

Published 6 July 2018