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THE FIRST EPISTLE OF PAUL THE APOSTLE TO THE CORINTHIANS - Chapter 11 - Verse 30

Verse 30. For this cause. On account of the improper manner of celebrating the Lord's Supper. See 1 Co 11:21.

Many are weak. asyeneiv. Evidently referring to prevailing bodily sickness and disease. This is the natural and obvious interpretation of this passage. The sense clearly is, that God had sent among them bodily distempers as an expression of the Divine displeasure and judgment for their improper mode of celebrating the Lord's Supper. That it was not uncommon in those times for God in an extraordinary manner to visit men with calamity, sickness, or death, for their sins, is evident from the New Testament.

 See Barnes "1 Co 5:5"; See Barnes "Ac 5:1"

and Ac 5:2-10. See Barnes "Ac 13:11"; See Barnes "1 Ti 1:20, and, perhaps, See Barnes "1 Jo 5:16, and See Barnes "Jas 5:14,15.

It may possibly have been the case, that the intemperance and gluttony which prevailed on these occasions was the direct cause of no small part of the bodily disease which prevailed, and which in some cases terminated in death.

And many sleep. Have died. The death of Christians, in the Scriptures, is commonly represented under the image of sleep, Da 12:2; Joh 11:11,12; 1 Co 15:51; 1 Th 4:14; 5:10.

Perhaps it may be implied by the use of this mild term here, instead of the harsher word death, that these were true Christians. This sentiment is in accordance with all that Paul states in regard to the church at Corinth. Notwithstanding all their irregularities, he does not deny that they were sincere Christians, and all his appeals and reasonings proceed on that supposition, though there was among them much ignorance and irregularity. God often visits his own people with trial; and though they are his children, yet this does not exempt them from affliction and discipline on account of their imperfections, errors, and sins. The practical lesson taught by this is, that Christians should serve God with purity; that they should avoid sin in every form; and that the commission of sin will expose them, as well as others, to the Divine displeasure. The reason why this judgment was inflicted on the Corinthians was, that there might be a suitable impression made of the holy nature of that ordinance, and that Christians might be led to observe it in a proper manner. If it be asked whether God ever visits his people now with his displeasure for their improper manner of observing this ordinance, we may reply,

(1.) that we have no reason to suppose that he inflicts bodily diseases and corporeal punishments on account of it. But,

(2.) there is no reason to doubt that the improper observance of the Lord's Supper, like the improper observance of any other religious duty, will be followed with the expression of God's displeasure, and with a spiritual blighting on the soul. This may be evinced in the following modes:

(a.) In hardening the heart by an improper familiarity with the most sacred and solemn ordinances of religion.

(b.) Increased coldness and deadness in the service of God. If the ordinances of the gospel are not the means of making us better, they are the means of making us worse.

(c.) The loss of the favour of God, or of those pure, and spiritual, and elevated joys which we might have obtained by a proper observance of the ordinance. There is no reason to doubt that God may make it the occasion of manifesting his displeasure. It may be followed by a want of spiritual comfort and peace; by a loss of communion with God; and by a withholding of those comforts from the soul which might have been enjoyed, and which are imparted to those who observe it in a proper manner. The general principle, is, that an improper discharge of any duty will expose us to his displeasure, and to the certain loss of all those favours which might have resulted from a proper discharge of the duty, and to the tokens of the Divine displeasure. And this is as true of prayer, or of any other religious duty, as of an improper observance of the Lord's Supper.

{*} "sleep" "are dead"

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