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1 Corinthians 11

September 9th, 2012 by Vic

1 Corinthians 11

“Respect in Worship”

September 9, 2011

 

Paul is writing this letter to a congregation that has no history.  No one can say, “We’ve always done it this way in our church.”  But they could say, “We’ve always done it this way in our Temple worship.”

 

In this chapter Paul talks about the bad attitude of some women and the abuse of the Lord’s Supper.  He goes back to the first woman and the first Lord’s Supper to give us some principles to correct our bad attitudes and behavior particularly in our worship.

11:1 Our word ‘imitator’ comes from the Greek word ‘mime’.  This is a summary of all that Paul has said.  Mimic me as I mimic Christ.  Follow me as I follow Christ.  Paul has committed himself to be an imitator of Christ.  He commands us to do the same.

 

11:2-3  Paul had previously told them of the teachings of Jesus and given them instructions about living a traditional Christlike life.  These new traditions were commonly held practices probably approved by the church in Jerusalem.  They were not just Paul’s opinion.  He could complement them for their behavior that was in harmony with the traditions, but in verse 17 there are some things he could not praise them for.  We’ll get there shortly.

 

Maybe some were trying to improve the worship style by introducing some things they really enjoyed in the idol worship.  Evil can creep in even with our best intensions.

 

Paul is going to base his opinions on the principle that Christ is the head of every man, the man is the head of a woman, and God is the head of Christ.  Jesus said, “I and the Father are one.”  Jesus is co-equal with the Father and also the subordinate, obedient Son.  The relationship of the Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit demonstrates a relationship that complements and completes one another without competing.  The Trinity is a model for human relationships.  There is equality, but functional subordination.  In some situations the one who submits has greater authority than the one he submits to.  Some great men submit to a local barber.

 

In the beginning God made man and woman with different rolls and He said, “That’s good.”  Peter says the woman is the more precious vessel.  She was made from a rib.  Adam was made from dirt.  So what does this mean in our public worship when we celebrate our freedom in Christ?  Paul had taught them that in Christ there is neither Jew nor Greek, bond or free, male or female,

 

11:4-7 So do I have to buy a ‘Christian’ uniform to worship in church?  No, but sometimes it is proper to have your head covered.  It could be a sign of subjection.  Jewish teaching required men to cover their heads in worship.  The Greeks and Romans did not cover their heads during worship unless they were slaves.  Paul felt the Christian man was a representative of Christ and an uncovered head was a better practice for Christian men.

 

All cultures of that day considered it proper for the woman to have her head covered in public.  The woman who dresses loosely disgraces her husband or her father.  She lacks modesty.  The prostitute or adulterous woman would dress loosely with disheveled hair.  The Christian woman was very sensitive about her hair because prostitutes were not.

 

If a woman is indifferent to modesty there is a problem in her family.  Either she is not honoring her father or she is not honoring her husband who is to reflect the glory of God.  When wives become feminists, husbands become chauvinists.  When husbands become chauvinists, wives become feminists.  That is contrary to God’s plan.

 

11:8-10 In the beginning man did not originate from woman, but since Creation man has been birthed by woman.  In the beginning woman did originate from man but since then woman has given birth to man.  In one sense man is superior to woman, but the woman is the crown and climax of all creation, being the last.

 

Paul states the fact that man was not created for the woman, but the woman for the man (9).  The unChristlike male chauvinist uses that statement to use and abuse woman contrary to the whole truth and plan of God.

 

The woman is free in Christ, but in public she ought to demonstrate honor to her husband with her appearance.  It should be a sign of submission and partnership.  If she does not wear a ring on her finger, a veil on her head, or a hat on her head she may distract and offend other worshippers.  She may be misjudged.  Even angels could be offended.  They recognize God’s authority and their place in God’s plan.  They veil their faces in worship (10).  For a woman to flaunt her freedom in public could be offensive to angels.

 

11:11-12 This is the key to understanding Paul.  A Christian is living ‘in the sphere of the Lord’.  This is the solution to all church problems.  We are citizens of the kingdom of heaven.  Man and woman were created to complement one another.  There is no hierarchy or levels of status.  Pay attention to God’s plan from the beginning.

 

Judge for yourselves (13).  What does your culture require for modesty and respect?

 

Look at nature (14-15).  When man has long hair on his head and face it is not naturally attractive.  The woman with long hair can be very attractive.  A woman with a shaved head is not natural.  Paul is not giving us hard and fast rules.  When a Jew took a Nazarite vow he let his hair grow and it was an honorable thing.  Paul is not discussing all the exceptions.

 

The issue about hair is not worth arguing about.  You displease God more with an argumentive spirit than you do by accepting those with offensive hair styles.  All the Christian churches in Paul’s day followed this custom of short hair for men and long hair for women.  The drawings in the catacombs confirm this.  So let’s move on.

 

11:17-22 Paul can’t praise them for their ‘love feasts’.  Their potluck dinners did more harm than good.  They were not fellowshipping ‘in the sphere of the Lord’.  Their behavior revealed some bad attitudes.

 

Paul says (18) “I keep on hearing there are divisions among you.”  They had apparently treated The Lord’s Supper like a normal potluck, a regular meal, or like a Passover.  But at the first Lord’s Supper, Jesus set aside time after the Passover meal to teach the disciples that He was the fulfillment of the Passover meal they had just celebrated.

 

The Corinthians had changed the purpose of Communion (20).  They made it just ordinary.  However, Communion should symbolize fellowship, love, sacrifice, and unity.  Paul says he heard that the wealthy ‘take before others’ then the poor who could not bring food would eat what was left over.  The verb translated ‘take before’ suggests a grab fest.  This is no different than what the world does.

 

The evening meal was the main meal of the day when families sat down with no sense of hurry.  It was to be a meal where people enjoyed each other’s company.  After the meal they were to celebrate communion.  Probably because this teaching of Jesus was abused so much, the evening meal was separated from the Eucharist.  Paul says, “You have homes where you can eat your ordinary meals.”  When Christians come together with other families it should be special.  Instead the Corinthians were 1) despising the church and 2) shaming the poor.  How Christlike is that?  Jesus died for the church and had a loving compassion for the poor.

 

11:23-34  Here’s what Communion should look like.  The wording here is very similar to the account in Luke 22.  This letter was written before Luke’s gospel.

 

The Eucharistic bread and the wine were to be a type of paschal lamb sacrificed for them and the blood shed for them.  It is to be a reminder and a testimony of our faith in Jesus and our hope in His coming again.  It is interesting to note that the body of Christ was not broken (Jn 19:36), but the bread was.  We are all a part of One loaf.

 

Communion is a memorial.  “Do this in remembrance of Me.”

 

Communion is symbolic.  It teaches of our sin and need for a Savior.

 

Communion is social.  It is the Lord’s Supper, a meal He has prepared for His children to enjoy in unity.

 

It is a sacrament.  It is a means of growth in grace to those who receive it in faith believing that Christ is with us due to the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.  The grace we receive is from the influence of the Holy Spirit, not in the words, the ritual, or the elements.

 

A sinner will receive no benefit from receiving communion.  Spiritually he is dead and dead things do not receive nourishment.  You must be born again to have spiritual life.  Then Communion will give refreshment to your soul.  Communion should be a type of what every Christian meeting should be, having Christ in the midst.  It is a new covenant, a new kind of relationship with God in love more than in Law.

 

As your hands receive the bread and wine, may they be consecrated to bless the poor, do good to one another, show kindness to your neighbor and be diligent in work till Jesus comes again (26).

 

The word for unworthy (27) only occurs here (twice) in the NT.  It can be literally translated ‘unbalanced’.  Your action does not balance the seriousness of the situation.  You are irreverent in the presence of something very sacred.  Your attitude does not balance.  By dishonoring the symbol you dishonor what is symbolizes.

 

In another sense, none of us is worthy to draw near to God.  We’ve all sinned and come short of the glory of God.  But Paul says, “Don’t run away, but examine your motives (28).”  Jesus died for sinners.  Communion is for sinners saved by grace and made alive in Christ Jesus.  Don’t self-destruct with a bad attitude.  Your divisions and schisms will really hurt you.  Judge yourselves and avoid God’s corrective judgment (31).  If we do not judge ourselves God will judge us and discipline us (32) so we are not condemned in the final judgment of the world.

 

So what is the bottom line (33-34)?  Show some common courtesy.  The Lord’s Supper is not an ordinary meal.  It is not intended to be a party or festival.

 

What is Communion?

 

1. It is time to look back and reflect on the cross and the resurrection.  Remember His pain and His gain.  He did it for the joy set before Him.

 

2. It is a time to look ahead.  He is coming back.  We have a hope.

 

3. It is a time to look within.  We examine ourselves.  We are not worthy, but we must give worth to the Lord’s Table.  It is prepared for his children.  If there is sin in our heart we must confess our sin and receive Life.  The Communion becomes a growth in grace.

 

4.  It is a time to look around.  Don’t be self-centered.  Care for one another.  Wait for one another.

 

Eating together is important.  Unity in the Lord makes our potluck Christian.  Honoring God and giving thanks protects us from judgment.  Honoring God and giving thanks is worship.  Don’t flaunt your freedom in Christ.  Humble yourself before God and enjoy abundant life.

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