1Co 11:1-34. Censure on
Disorders in Their Assemblies: Their
Women Not Being Veiled, and Abuses at the Love-Feasts.
1. Rather belonging to the end of the tenth
chapter, than to this chapter.
of Christ—who did not please Himself
15:3); but gave Himself, at
the cost of laying aside His divine glory, and dying as man, for us
(Eph 5:2; Php 2:4, 5). We are to follow Christ first, and
earthly teachers only so far as they follow Christ.
2. Here the chapter ought to begin.
ye remember me in all things—in your
general practice, though in the particular instances
which follow ye fail.
that is, apostolic directions given by word of mouth or in writing
(1Co 11:23; 15:3; 2Th 2:15). The reference here is mainly to
ceremonies: for in 1Co 11:23,
as to the Lord's Supper, which is not a
mere ceremony, he says, not merely, "I delivered unto you," but
also, "I received of the Lord"; here he says only, "I delivered to
you." Romanists argue hence for oral traditions. But the difficulty is
to know what is a genuine apostolic tradition intended for all
ages. Any that can be proved to be such ought to be observed;
any that cannot, ought to be rejected (Re 22:18). Those preserved in the written word
alone can be proved to be such.
3. The Corinthian women, on the ground of the
abolition of distinction of sexes in Christ, claimed equality with the
male sex, and, overstepping the bounds of propriety, came forward to
pray and prophesy without the customary head-covering of females. The
Gospel, doubtless, did raise women from the degradation in which they
had been sunk, especially in the East. Yet, while on a level with males
as to the offer of, and standing in grace (Ga 3:28), their subjection in point of order,
modesty, and seemliness, is to be maintained. Paul reproves
here their unseemliness as to dress: in 1Co 14:34, as to the retiring modesty in
public which becomes them. He grounds his reproof here on the
subjection of woman to man in the order of creation.
the head—an appropriate expression,
when he is about to treat of woman's appropriate headdress in
of every man … Christ—(Eph 5:23).
of … woman … man—(1Co 11:8; Ge 3:16; 1Ti 2:11, 12; 1Pe 3:1, 5, 6).
head of Christ is God—(1Co 3:23; 15:27, 28; Lu 3:22, 38; Joh
14:28; 20:17; Eph 3:9).
"Jesus, therefore, must be of the same essence as God: for, since the
man is the head of the woman, and since the head is of the same essence
as the body, and God is the head of the Son, it follows the Son is of
the same essence as the Father" [Chrysostom]. "The woman is of the essence of the
man, and not made by the man; so, too, the Son is not made by the
Father, but of the essence of the Father" [Theodoret, t. 3, p. 171].
4. praying—in public (1Co 11:17).
prophesying—preaching in the Spirit
having—that is, if he were to have: a
supposed case to illustrate the impropriety in the woman's case.
It was the Greek custom (and so that at Corinth) for men in worship to
be uncovered; whereas the Jews wore the Talith, or veil, to show
reverence before God, and their unworthiness to look on Him (Isa 6:2); however, Maimonides [Mishna] excepts cases where (as
in Greece) the custom of the place was different.
dishonoureth his head—not as Alford, "Christ" (1Co 11:3); but literally, as "his head" is used
in the beginning of the verse. He dishonoreth his head (the
principal part of the body) by wearing a covering or veil, which is a
mark of subjection, and which makes him look downwards instead of
upwards to his Spiritual Head, Christ, to whom alone he owes
subjection. Why, then, ought not man to wear the covering in token of
his subjection to Christ, as the woman wears it in token of her
subjection to man? "Because Christ is not seen: the man is seen; so the
covering of him who is under Christ is not seen; of her who is under
the man, is seen" [Bengel]. (Compare
5. woman … prayeth …
prophesieth—This instance of women speaking in public worship
is an extraordinary case, and justified only by the miraculous gifts
which such women possessed as their credentials; for instance, Anna the
prophetess and Priscilla (so Ac 2:18). The
ordinary rule to them is: silence in public (1Co
14:34, 35; 1Ti 2:11, 12).
Mental receptivity and activity in family life are recognized in
Christianity, as most accordant with the destiny of woman. This passage
does not necessarily sanction women speaking in public, even though
possessing miraculous gifts; but simply records what took place at
Corinth, without expressing an opinion on it, reserving the censure of
it till 1Co 14:34, 35. Even those women endowed with prophecy
were designed to exercise their gift, rather in other times and places,
than the public congregation.
dishonoureth … head—in that she
acts against the divine ordinance and the modest propriety that becomes
her: in putting away the veil, she puts away the badge of her
subjection to man, which is her true "honor"; for through him it
connects her with Christ, the head of the man. Moreover, as the
head-covering was the emblem of maiden modesty before man (Ge 24:65), and conjugal chastity (Ge 20:16); so, to uncover the head
indicated withdrawal from the power of the husband, whence a
suspected wife had her head uncovered by the priest (Nu 5:18). Alford takes "her head" to be man, her symbolical,
not her literal head; but as it is literal in the former clause, it
must be so in the latter one.
all one as if … shaven—As
woman's hair is given her by nature, as her covering (1Co 11:15), to cut it off like a man, all admit,
would be indecorous: therefore, to put away the head-covering, too,
like a man, would be similarly indecorous. It is natural to her
to have long hair for her covering: she ought, therefore, to add the
other (the wearing of a head-covering) to show that she does of her
own will that which nature itself teaches she ought to do,
in token of her subjection to man.
6. A woman would not like to be "shorn" or
(what is worse) "shaven"; but if she chooses to be uncovered (unveiled)
in front, let her be so also behind, that is, "shorn."
a shame—an unbecoming thing (compare
11:13-15). Thus the shaving
of nuns is "a shame."
7-9. Argument, also, from man's more immediate
relation to God, and the woman's to man.
he is … image … glory of
God—being created in God's "image," first and
directly: the woman, subsequently, and indirectly,
through the mediation of man. Man is the representative of God's
"glory" this ideal of man being realized most fully in the Son of man
5; compare 2Co 8:23). Man is declared in Scripture to be
both the "image," and in the "likeness," of God (compare Jas 3:9). But "image" alone is applied to the
Son of God (Col 1:15;
1:3). "Express image,"
Greek, "the impress." The Divine Son is not merely "like"
God, He is God of God, "being of one substance (essence) with the
Father." [Nicene Creed].
woman … glory of … man—He
does not say, also, "the image of the man." For the sexes
differ: moreover, the woman is created in the image of God, as
well as the man (Ge 1:26, 27). But as the moon in relation to the sun
37:9), so woman shines not so
much with light direct from God, as with light derived from man, that
is, in her order in creation; not that she does not in
grace come individually into direct communion with God; but
even here much of her knowledge is mediately given her through man, on
whom she is naturally dependent.
8. is of … of—takes his being
from ("out of") … from: referring to woman's original
creation, "taken out of man" (compare Ge 2:23). The woman was made by God mediately
through the man, who was, as it were, a veil or medium placed between
her and God, and therefore, should wear the veil or head-covering in
public worship, in acknowledgement of this subordination to man in the
order of creation. The man being made immediately by God as His glory,
has no veil between himself and God [Faber
Stapulensis in Bengel].
9. Neither—rather, "For also";
Another argument: The immediate object of woman's creation. "The
man was not created for the sake of the woman; but the woman for the
sake of the man" (Ge 2:18, 21, 22). Just as the Church, the bride, is made
for Christ; and yet in both the natural and the spiritual creations,
the bride, while made for the bridegroom, in fulfilling that end,
attains her own true "glory," and brings "shame" and "dishonor" on
herself by any departure from it (1Co 11:4, 6).
10. power on her head—the kerchief:
French couvre chef, head-covering, the emblem of "power on her
head"; the sign of her being under man's power, and exercising
delegated authority under him. Paul had before his mind the
root-connection between the Hebrew terms for "veil"
(radid), and "subjection" (radad).
because of the angels—who are present
at our Christian assemblies (compare Ps 138:1, "gods," that is, angels), and
delight in the orderly subordination of the several ranks of God's
worshippers in their respective places, the outward demeanor and dress
of the latter being indicative of that inward humility which angels
know to be most pleasing to their common Lord (1Co 4:9;
Eph 3:10; Ec 5:6). Hammond quotes Chrysostom, "Thou standest with angels; thou singest
with them; thou hymnest with them; and yet dost thou stand laughing?"
Bengel explains, "As the angels are in
relation to God, so the woman is in relation to man. God's face is
uncovered; angels in His presence are veiled (Isa 6:2). Man's face is uncovered; woman in His
presence is to be veiled. For her not to be so, would, by its
indecorousness, offend the angels (Mt 18:10, 31). She, by her weakness, especially needs
their ministry; she ought, therefore, to be the more careful not to
11. Yet neither sex is insulated and
independent of the other in the Christian life [Alford]. The one needs the other in the sexual
relation; and in respect to Christ ("in the Lord"), the man and the
woman together (for neither can be dispensed with) realize the ideal of
redeemed humanity represented by the bride, the Church.
12. As the woman was formed out of
(from) the man, even so is man born by means of woman; but all
things (including both man and woman) are from God as their
source (Ro 11:36; 2Co 5:18). They depend mutually each on the
other, and both on him.
13. Appeal to their own sense of decorum.
a woman … unto God—By rejecting
the emblem of subjection (the head-covering), she passes at one leap in
praying publicly beyond both the man and angels [Bengel].
14. The fact that nature has provided woman,
and not man, with long hair, proves that man was designed to be
uncovered, and woman covered. The Nazarite, however, wore long hair
lawfully, as being part of a vow sanctioned by God (Nu 6:5). Compare as to Absalom, 2Sa 14:26,
and Ac 18:18.
15. her hair … for a covering—Not
that she does not need additional covering. Nay, her long hair shows
she ought to cover her head as much as possible. The will ought to
accord with nature [Bengel].
16. A summary close to the argument by appeal
to the universal custom of the churches.
if any … seem—The Greek
also means "thinks" (fit) (compare Mt 3:9). If any man chooses (still after
all my arguments) to be contentious. If any be contentious and
thinks himself right in being so. A reproof of the
Corinthians' self-sufficiency and disputatiousness (1Co 1:20).
we—apostles: or we of the Jewish
nation, from whom ye have received the Gospel, and whose usages in all
that is good ye ought to follow: Jewish women veiled themselves when in
public, according to Tertullian [Estius]. The former explanation is best, as
the Jews are not referred to in the context: but he often refers to
himself and his fellow apostles, by the expression, "we—us"
no such custom—as that of women
praying uncovered. Not as Chrysostom,
"that of being contentious." The Greek term implies a
usage, rather than a mental habit (Joh 18:39). The usage of true "churches (plural:
not, as Rome uses it, 'the Church,' as an abstract entity; but 'the
churches,' as a number of independent witnesses) of God"
(the churches which God Himself recognizes), is a valid argument in
the case of external rites, especially, negatively, for
example, Such rites were not received among them, therefore, ought not
to be admitted among us: but in questions of doctrine, or the
essentials of worship, the argument is not valid [Sclater] (1Co 7:17; 14:33).
neither—nor yet. Catholic usage is not
an infallible test of truth, but a general test of
17. in this—which follows.
I declare—rather, "I enjoin"; as the
Greek is always so used. The oldest manuscripts read literally
"This I enjoin (you) not praising (you)."
that—inasmuch as; in that you,
&c. Here he qualifies his praise (1Co 11:2). "I said that I praised you for keeping
the ordinances delivered to you; but I must now give injunction in the
name of the Lord, on a matter in which I praise you not; namely, as to
the Lord's Supper (1Co 11:23; 1Co 14:37).
not for the better—not so as to
progress to what is better.
for the worse—so as to retrograde to
what is worse. The result of such "coming together" must be
"condemnation" (1Co 11:34).
18. first of all—In the first place. The
"divisions" (Greek, "schisms") meant, are not merely
those of opinion (1Co 1:10),
but in outward acts at the love-feasts (Agapæ), (1Co 11:21). He does not follow up the
expression, "in the first place," by "in the second place." But though
not expressed, a second abuse was in his mind when he said, "In
the first place," namely, THE ABUSE OF
SPIRITUAL GIFTS, which also created disorder in their
assemblies [Alford], (1Co
12:1; 14:23, 26, 33, 40).
in the church—not the place of
worship; for Isidore of Pelusium denies
that there were such places specially set apart for worship in the
apostles' times [Epistle, 246.2]. But, "in the assembly" or
"congregation"; in convocation for worship, where especially love,
order, and harmony should prevail. The very ordinance instituted for
uniting together believers in one body, was made an occasion of
partly—He hereby excepts the innocent.
"I am unwilling to believe all I hear, but some I cannot
help believing" [Alford]: while my love
is unaffected by it [Bengel].
19. heresies—Not merely "schisms" or
"divisions" (1Co 11:18),
which are "recent dissensions of the congregation through
differences of opinion" [Augustine,
Con. Crescon. Don. 2.7, quoted by Trench, Greek Synonyms of the New Testament],
but also "heresies," that is, "schisms which have now become
inveterate"; "Sects" [Campbell,
vol. 2, pp. 126, 127]: so Ac 5:17; 15:5 translate the same Greek. At
present there were dissensions at the love-feasts; but Paul,
remembering Jesus' words (Mt 18:7; 24:10, 12; Lu 17:1) foresees "there must be (come)
also" matured separations, and established parties in secession,
as separatists. The "must be" arises from sin in professors necessarily
bearing its natural fruits: these are overruled by God to the probation
of character of both the godly and the ungodly, and to the discipline
of the former for glory. "Heresies" had not yet its technical sense
ecclesiastically, referring to doctrinal errors: it means confirmed
schisms. St. Augustine's rule is a
golden rule as regards questions of heresy and catholicity: "In
doubtful questions, liberty; in essentials, unity; in all things,
that … approved may be made
manifest—through the disapproved (reprobates) becoming
manifested (Lu 2:35; 1Jo 2:19).
20. When … therefore—Resuming the
thread of discourse from 1Co 11:18.
this is not to—rather, "there
is no such thing as eating the Lord's
Supper"; it is not possible where each is greedily intent only
on devouring "HIS OWN supper," and some
are excluded altogether, not having been waited for (1Co 11:33), where some are "drunken," while others
are "hungry" (1Co 11:21).
The love-feast usually preceded the Lord's Supper (as eating the
Passover came before the Lord's Supper at the first institution of the
latter). It was a club-feast, where each brought his portion, and the
rich, extra portions for the poor; from it the bread and wine were
taken for the Eucharist; and it was at it that the excesses took place,
which made a true celebration of the Lord's Supper during or
after it, with true discernment of its solemnity, out of the
21. one taketh before other—the
rich "before" the poor, who had no supper of their own. Instead of
"tarrying for one another" (1Co 11:33);
hence the precept (1Co 12:21, 25).
his own supper—"His own" belly is his
3:19); "the Lord's
Supper," the spiritual feast, never enters his thoughts.
drunken—The one has more than is good
for him, the other less [Bengel].
22. What!—Greek, "For."
houses—(compare 1Co 11:34)—"at home." That is the place to
satiate the appetite, not the assembly of the brethren [Alford].
despise ye the church of God—the
congregation mostly composed of the poor, whom "God hath chosen,"
however ye show contempt for them (Jas 2:5); compare "of God" here, marking the
true honor of the Church.
shame them that have not—namely,
houses to eat and drink in, and who, therefore, ought to have
received their portion at the love-feasts from their wealthier
I praise you not—resuming the words
23. His object is to show the unworthiness of
such conduct from the dignity of the holy supper.
I—Emphatic in the Greek. It is
not my own invention, but the Lord's institution.
received of the Lord—by immediate
revelation (Ga 1:12;
compare Ac 22:17, 18; 2Co 12:1-4). The renewal of the institution of the
Lord's Supper by special revelation to Paul enhances its solemnity. The
similarity between Luke's and Paul's account of the institution, favors
the supposition that the former drew his information from the apostle,
whose companion in travel he was. Thus, the undesigned coincidence is a
proof of genuineness.
night—the time fixed for the Passover
12:6): though the time for
the Lord's Supper is not fixed.
betrayed—With the traitor at the
table, and death present before His eyes, He left this ordinance as His
last gift to us, to commemorate His death. Though about to receive such
an injury from man, He gave this pledge of His amazing love to man.
24. brake—The breaking of the
bread involves its distribution and reproves the Corinthian mode
at the love-feast, of "every one taking before other his own
my body … broken for you—"given"
22:19) for you (Greek,
"in your behalf"), and "broken," so as to be distributed among you. The
oldest manuscripts omit "broken," leaving it to be supplied from
"brake." The two old versions, Memphitic and Thebaic, read from Luke,
"given." The literal "body" could not have been meant; for Christ was
still sensibly present among His disciples when He said, "This is My
body." They could only have understood Him symbolically and
analogically: As this bread is to your bodily health, so My body is to
the spiritual health of the believing communicant. The words, "Take,
eat," are not in the oldest manuscripts.
in remembrance of me—(See on 1Co 11:25).
25. when he had supped—Greek,
"after the eating of supper," namely, the Passover supper which
preceded the Lord's Supper, as the love-feast did subsequently.
Therefore, you Corinthians ought to separate common meals from the
Lord's Supper [Bengel].
the new testament—or "covenant." The
cup is the parchment-deed, as it were, on which My new covenant, or
last will is written and sealed, making over to you all blessings here
in my blood—ratified by MY blood: "not by the blood of goats and calves"
as oft as—Greek, "as many times
soever": implying that it is an ordinance often to be partaken
in remembrance of me—Luke (Lu 22:19) expresses this, which is
understood by Matthew and Mark. Paul twice records it (1Co 11:24 and here) as suiting his purpose. The
old sacrifices brought sins continually to remembrance (Heb 10:1,
3). The Lord's Supper brings
to remembrance Christ and His sacrifice once for all for the
full and final remission of sins.
26. For—in proof that the Lord's Supper
is "in remembrance" of Him.
show—announce publicly. The
Greek does not mean to dramatically represent, but "ye
publicly profess each of you, the Lord has died FOR ME" [Wahl]. This
word, as "is" in Christ's institution (1Co 11:24, 25), implies not literal presence,
but a vivid realization, by faith, of Christ in the Lord's
Supper, as a living person, not a mere abstract dogma, "bone of our
bone, and flesh of our flesh" (Eph 5:30; compare Ge 2:23); and ourselves "members of His body, of
His flesh, and of His bones," "our sinful bodies made clean by His body
(once for all offered), and our souls washed through His most precious
blood" [Church of England Prayer Book]. "Show," or "announce,"
is an expression applicable to new things; compare "show" as to
the Passover (Ex 13:8). So
the Lord's death ought always to be fresh in our memory; compare in
5:6. That the Lord's Supper
is in remembrance of Him, implies that He is bodily absent,
though spiritually present, for we cannot be said to commemorate one
absent. The fact that we not only show the Lord's death in the supper,
but eat and drink the pledges of it, could only be
understood by the Jews, accustomed to such feasts after propitiatory
sacrifices, as implying our personal appropriation therein of
the benefits of that death.
till he come—when there shall be no
longer need of symbols of His body, the body itself being manifested.
The Greek expresses the certainly of His coming. Rome
teaches that we eat Christ present corporally, "till He come"
corporally; a contradiction in terms. The showbread, literally, "bread
of the presence," was in the sanctuary, but not in the Holiest Place
9:1-8); so the Lord's Supper
in heaven, the antitype to the Holiest Place, shall be superseded by
Christ's own bodily presence; then the wine shall be drunk "anew" in
the Father's kingdom, by Christ and His people together, of which
heavenly banquet, the Lord's Supper is a spiritual foretaste and
specimen (Mt 26:29).
Meantime, as the showbread was placed anew, every sabbath, on
the table before the Lord (Le 24:5-8);
so the Lord's death was shown, or announced afresh at the
Lord's table the first day of every week in the primitive Church. We
are now "priests unto God" in the dispensation of Christ's spiritual
presence, antitypical to the HOLY PLACE:
the perfect and eternal dispensation, which shall not begin till
Christ's coming, is antitypical to the HOLIEST
PLACE, which Christ our High Priest alone in the flesh as yet
has entered (Heb 9:6, 7);
but which, at His coming, we, too, who are believers, shall enter
7:15; 21:22). The supper
joins the two closing periods of the Old and the New dispensations. The
first and second comings are considered as one coming, whence
the expression is not "return," but "come" (compare, however, Joh 14:3).
27. eat and drink—So one of the oldest
manuscripts reads. But three or four equally old manuscripts, the
Vulgate and Cyprian, read, "or."
Romanists quote this reading in favor of communion in one kind. This
consequence does not follow. Paul says, "Whosoever is guilty of
unworthy conduct, either in eating the bread, or in
drinking the cup, is guilty of the body and blood of Christ."
Impropriety in only one of the two elements, vitiates true
communion in both. Therefore, in the end of the verse, he says,
not "body or blood," but "body and blood." Any who takes the
bread without the wine, or the wine without the bread,
"unworthily" communicates, and so "is guilty of Christ's body
and blood"; for he disobeys Christ's express command to partake of
both. If we do not partake of the sacramental symbol of the Lord's
death worthily, we share in the guilt of that death. (Compare "crucify
to themselves the Son of God afresh," Heb 6:6). Unworthiness in the person, is
not what ought to exclude any, but unworthily communicating:
However unworthy we be, if we examine ourselves so as to find that we
penitently believe in Christ's Gospel, we may worthily communicate.
28. examine—Greek, "prove" or
"test" his own state of mind in respect to Christ's death, and his
capability of "discerning the Lord's body" (1Co 11:29, 31). Not auricular confession to a
priest, but self-examination is necessary.
so—after due self-examination.
of … of—In 1Co 11:27, where the receiving was
unworthily, the expression was, "eat this bread, drink …
cup" without "of." Here the "of" implies due circumspection in
let him eat—His self-examination is
not in order that he may stay away, but that he may eat, that is,
29. damnation—A mistranslation which has
put a stumbling-block in the way of many in respect to communicating.
The right translation is "judgment." The judgment is described
11:30-32) as temporal.
not discerning—not duty judging:
not distinguishing in judgment (so the Greek: the sin and
its punishment thus being marked as corresponding) from common food,
the sacramental pledges of the Lord's body. Most of the oldest
manuscripts omit "Lord's" (see 1Co 11:27). Omitting also "unworthily," with most
of the oldest manuscripts, we must translate, "He that eateth and
drinketh, eateth and drinketh judgment to himself, IF he discern not
the body" (Heb 10:29).
The Church is "the body of Christ" (1Co 12:27). The Lord's body is His literal
body appreciated and discerned by the soul in the faithful
receiving, and not present in the elements themselves.
30. weak … sickly—He is "weak" who
has naturally no strength: "sickly," who has lost his
strength by disease [Tittmann,
Greek Synonyms of the New Testament].
sleep—are being lulled in death: not a
violent death; but one the result of sickness, sent as the Lord's
chastening for the individual's salvation, the mind being brought to a
right state on the sick bed (1Co 11:31).
31. if we would judge ourselves—Most of
the oldest manuscripts, read "But," not "For." Translate also literally
"If we duly judged ourselves, we should not be (or not have
been) judged," that is, we should escape (or have escaped)
our present judgments. In order to duly judge or "discern
[appreciate] the Lord's body," we need to "duly judge ourselves." A
prescient warning against the dogma of priestly absolution after full
confession, as the necessary preliminary to receiving the Lord's
32. chastened—(Re 3:19).
with the world—who, being bastards,
are without chastening (Heb 12:8).
33. tarry one for another—In contrast to
11:21. The expression is not,
"Give a share to one another," for all the viands brought to the feast
were common property, and, therefore, they should "tarry" till
all were met to partake together of the common feast of fellowship
34. if any … hunger—so as not to
be able to "tarry for others," let him take off the edge of his hunger
at home [Alford] (1Co 11:22).
the rest—"the other questions you
asked me as to the due celebration of the Lord's Supper." Not other
questions in general; for he does subsequently set in order
other general questions in this Epistle.