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We continue our study of Paul’s letters this week with 1 Corinthians 11.
Paul begins exhorting the Corinthians to imitate him as he is of Christ. He then uses an example of the customs of their time (hair length and head coverings) to clarify that they are to honor and give glory to Christ, not to him or anyone else. He corrected them for this earlier in 1 Corinthians 3 when they were arguing about who they would follow. Paul’s telling them to follow his example in following Christ.
Be imitators of me, just as I also am of Christ.
Now I praise you because you remember me in everything and hold firmly to the traditions, just as I delivered them to you. But I want you to understand that Christ is the head of every man, and the man is the head of a woman, and God is the head of Christ. Every man who has something on his head while praying or prophesying disgraces his head. But every woman who has her head uncovered while praying or prophesying disgraces her head, for she is one and the same as the woman whose head is shaved. For if a woman does not cover her head, let her also have her hair cut off; but if it is disgraceful for a woman to have her hair cut off or her head shaved, let her cover her head. For a man ought not to have his head covered, since he is the image and glory of God; but the woman is the glory of man. For man does not originate from woman, but woman from man; for indeed man was not created for the woman’s sake, but woman for the man’s sake. Therefore the woman ought to have a symbol of authority on her head, because of the angels. However, in the Lord, neither is woman independent of man, nor is man independent of woman. For as the woman originates from the man, so also the man has his birth through the woman; and all things originate from God. Judge for yourselves: is it proper for a woman to pray to God with her head uncovered? Does not even nature itself teach you that if a man has long hair, it is a dishonor to him, but if a woman has long hair, it is a glory to her? For her hair is given to her for a covering. But if one is inclined to be contentious, we have no other practice, nor have the churches of God.
v. 1-16 (NASB)
God has created a certain order of authority for the proper order of things to work. He is the head of Christ. Christ is the head of man. And man is the head of a woman. The Greek word for “man” is “anér” which means: “a male human being; a man, husband.” The Greek word for “woman” is “guné” which means: “a woman, wife, my lady.” Paul was saying that it is the husband’s job to be the head of his wife. A husband should be the spiritual leader in his home.
But in giving this instruction, I do not praise you, because you come together not for the better but for the worse. For, in the first place, when you come together as a church, I hear that divisions exist among you; and in part I believe it. For there must also be factions among you, so that those who are approved may become evident among you. Therefore when you meet together, it is not to eat the Lord’s Supper, for in your eating each one takes his own supper first; and one is hungry and another is drunk. What! Do you not have houses in which to eat and drink? Or do you despise the church of God and shame those who have nothing? What shall I say to you? Shall I praise you? In this I will not praise you.
For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus in the night in which He was betrayed took bread; and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, “This is My body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” In the same way He took the cup also after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood; do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.” For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes.
Therefore whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner, shall be guilty of the body and the blood of the Lord. But a man must examine himself, and in so doing he is to eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For he who eats and drinks, eats and drinks judgment to himself if he does not judge the body rightly. For this reason many among you are weak and sick, and a number sleep. But if we judged ourselves rightly, we would not be judged. But when we are judged, we are disciplined by the Lord so that we will not be condemned along with the world.
So then, my brethren, when you come together to eat, wait for one another. If anyone is hungry, let him eat at home, so that you will not come together for judgment. The remaining matters I will arrange when I come.
v. 17-33 (NASB)
With Easter coming up, we remember what Christ has done for us. The Lord's Supper is meant to continually remind us of Christ’s sacrifice, and remind us that we have been forgiven and redeemed. Paul said that “whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord ” (v. 27 KJV).
This doesn’t mean when we feel unworthy we are not to take communion. I remember struggling with something and feel beat down. I went to church praying that it wouldn’t be the week they had communion, because I felt unworthy to receive it. When I walked into the sanctuary to sit down, I saw the bread tray out and wanted to get up and leave. As I was praying for God to forgive me and change me, my pastor said if someone is feeling unworthy to receive communion he wants them to know that God’s grace is with them.
The only ones who would be unworthy would be those who have not received Christ’s atonement for their sins. We are only worthy because Christ was worthy. Our worthiness is not based on works. When my husband and I were engaged, we spoke to a priest I had asked to marry us. The priest told me that my husband and his family would not be allowed to receive communion at our wedding because they were not part of that religion. My husband and his family received Christ’s atonement for their sins. They were saved. They should’ve been worthy to receive communion because of Christ, not because of adhering to man-made rules and religion.
In verse 29 above, “For he who eats and drinks, eats and drinks judgment to himself,” the Greek word translated “judgment” is “krima,” which means: “a judgment, a verdict; sometimes implying an adverse verdict, a condemnation.”
The Bible says that there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1). When the teachers of the law and Pharisees were going to stone the woman caught in adultery, Jesus said, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” Then Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”
“No one, sir,” she said.
“Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”
John 8:7-11 (NIV)
When Jesus met the Samaritan woman at the well, who was married five times and living with a man who was not her husband, Jesus told her all that she had done, not to condemn her, but to forgive her. If He had condemned her, she wouldn’t have run back to her people excited to tell them about meeting Him.
Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, “He told me everything I ever did.”
John 4:39 (NIV)
We praise You that we have been redeemed in Christ and made worthy because of His sacrifice. May He be honored and glorified in our lives. As we celebrate the sacrifice and redemption of Jesus this Easter, reveal Your love to those who don’t know You. Let them know that by Jesus’ stripes they have been forgiven, saved, healed and restored.
In Jesus’ holy name, we pray. Amen!
Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.
John 4:13-14 (NIV)
*This series will continue next week as we study 1 Corinthians 12. Have a blessed Easter remembering the sacrifice Jesus made to redeem you!
I am a wife of seventeen years, mother of four children, and author of “You Can Have a Happy Family: Steps to Enjoying Your Marriage and Children” and two devotionals: “The LOVE Walk: A 15-Week Devotional on 1 Corinthians 13:4-8” and “Armor of Light: A 7-Week Devotional on Ephesians 6:10-18.” God has done an amazing work in me and my family since He rescued me thirteen years ago. Because of His unfailing love, I am passionate about sharing His love with others. You can learn more about my testimony and writings on my blog (SharingTruths.com) and my website (AmandaBeth.net).