My Thoughts. . .

Monday, April 1, 2019

“I am not praising you with the following instructions: Your meetings are hurting you instead of helping you! First, when you come together as a congregation of people who have answered God’s call, I hear that there are divisions among you, so that it will become plain which of you are ‘true’ believers. So, when you gather together, you are not eating the Lord’s supper, because each person takes his own supper. He does not wait for others; he just goes ahead and eats. So, one stays hungry and another gets drunk. You have houses where you can eat and drink. Do you look down on God=s group of called-out people? What should I say to you!? Do you want to humiliate poor people? What should I say to you? Should I praise you in this matter!? I most certainly do not!” (1 Corinthians 11:17-22 IEB).

Paul informs the congregation that Cloe’s family had notified him about their disagreements. Each “is saying, ‘I belong to Paul’; ‘I belong to Apollos’; ‘I belong to Cephas’; or ‘I belong to Christ.'” Even their participation in the Lord’s supper was being affected by this problem. Paul declared, “You are not eating the Lord’s supper.” Today, some read things into Paul’s statements that are not there. Modern practices in the name of “expediency” or “saving time,” have reduced the supper to a minimum so it fits into our sixty minutes of worship.

When Paul wrote, “What? Have ye not houses to eat and to drink in?” (KJV), some believe he was criticizing them for eating “a common meal” in the church building. If they were eating a spaghetti supper and referring to it as “the Lord’s supper,” I too would be critical. That is not what they were doing. They were inappropriately partaking of the communion with the items authorized by Jesus. First, there was no such thing as a “church building” paid for out of the 1 Corinthians 16:1-3 collection in the first century. So, how could Paul be concerned about what they were or were not doing “in the church building”? Rather than meeting in a “church building,” they were meeting “from house to house” (Acts 2:2, 46; 5:42; 12:12; 16:40; 18:8; 20:20; Romans 16:5; 1 Corinthians 16:19; Colossians 4:15; Philemon 1:2). Since it was from “house to house,” some would be meeting in their own home (Acts 12:12). Paul tells them that if they are not going to wait on one another, the unleavened bread and fruit of the vine would not be the Lord’s supper. Their division destroyed it as such! Do our divisions today produce the same results?

Paul states that because they are not waiting on one another and sharing:

1). They are divisive (v. 18).
2). They are not engaged in the Lord=s supper (v. 20).
3). They are causing some to go away hungry (v. 21).
4). And, those who do not share the fruit of the vine are getting drunk on it (v. 21).

Because of their incorrect spirit they were guilty of producing the following results:
1). They could not be praised (v. 22).
2). They partake with the wrong attitude (v. 27).
3). They sin against the body and blood of Jesus (v. 27).
4). They condemn themselves by eating in this manner (v. 29).
5). And, this makes them weak, sick, and dead (v. 30).

Paul wanted them to understand what the communion was about. He closes this section with this admonition, “And if any man hunger, let him eat at home; that ye come not together unto condemnation” (v. 34 KJV). A clearer translation is, “If someone comes only for the food, then he should stay home and eat there! Meeting together should not bring condemnation on you” (International English Bible).

Are we eating the Lord’s supper?

Do our twenty-five or more divisions not put us in the same category as Corinth? They had four divisions, we’ve lost count of ours! We believe we are partaking of the Lord’s supper, as did they, yet we are more divided than Corinth was. They were still one congregation in their city, are we (1 Corinthians 1:2)? They would not wait on one another, but we exceed that by partaking within our group but have no fellowship with the others! We use unleavened bread and fruit of the vine on the first day of the week, but not in harmony with Jesus’ “one” (John 17:20-23). According to Paul, shouldn’t we “stay home and eat there”? Would the unleavened bread and the fruit of the vine not be “a common meal” under those circumstances?