The Agora
Bible Commentary
1 Corinthians

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16

1 Corinthians 11

1Co 11:1

FOLLOW MY EXAMPLE, AS I FOLLOW THE EXAMPLE OF CHRIST: We are "followers of Paul" in pleasing others, and not ourselves (1Co 10:33)!

1Co 11:3

See Lesson, Sisters, the role of. See also Gen 3:16.

For context of "head-covering", see 1Co 10:16,17,21; 11:20-34.

1Co 11:4

HEAD (first): Literal.

HEAD COVERED: In OT, men cover heads in shame, sorrow: Jer 14:3,4; 2Sa 15:30; Est 6:12.

HEAD (second): Figurative: ie Christ.

1Co 11:5

HEAD (first): Literal.

HEAD (second): Her spiritual "head", ie her husband, who sig Christ.

AS THOUGH HER HEAD WERE SHAVED: "But if, contrary to local custom and tradition, they uncovered their heads to show equality with the men, what did they reveal but their long hair -- their most feminine characteristic? So (Paul suggests) why not complete their claims to masculine prerogatives by shaving their heads -- to look even more like men? But... of course not! They would be scandalized by such a thought. So... how empty was their professed contempt for tradition!" (WFB 119).

1Co 11:6

COVER: Katakalupto, a complete covering.

1Co 11:7

A MAN OUGHT NOT TO COVER HIS HEAD: Because the man represents Christ, he is to appear before God bareheaded. If he covered his head, he would be covering the glory of Christ and would thus dishonor his spiritual head (v 4).

1Co 11:10

BECAUSE OF THE ANGELS: Woman was first in transgression (1Ti 2:14), desiring to know good and evil, like the Elohim, ie the angels (Gen 3:5).

The angels were also witnesses to their meetings (cp 1Co 4:9).

A SIGN OF AUTHORITY: "Exousia", as in 1Co 7:37; 9:4-6,12,18. The head was to be covered in the presence of a superior. A wife is to be under her husband's authority (Num 5:19,20,29). Priests were to have heads covered when ministering (Exo 29:8; Lev 21:10). See Xd 116:5,6.

ON HER HEAD: The Gr is "epi", "upon, or on top of, or above". Consider //s Mat 8:9 (and Luke 7:8), where the centurion says to Jesus: "For I myself am a man UNDER authority [hupo exousia], with soldiers under me. I tell this one, 'Go,' and he goes; and that one, 'Come,' and he comes. I say to my servant, 'Do this,' and he does it." In this case, he isn't saying, I am a man who HAS authority of my own; rather, he is saying, I am a man UNDER authority: I have authority UPON me! And of course, the authority upon him is someone else's authority: he is under the authority of Rome. (Now, secondarily, his point is: 'When I tell my soldiers, "Do this", they better do as I say -- but not because of any authority I have inherently; rather, they better do as I say, because I am under a far greater authority, the Emperor!')

So, when in 1Co 11:10, the woman has "authority" ON (epi: on top of, above) her head, then this is not HER authority at all, but someone else's authority UPON her?

The woman, as representing the ecclesia, must show the need we all have for the covering provided by the sacrifice of Christ. When the ecclesia meets to worship God, it is like a microcosm of the Christ-Body, the sisters showing the covering needed by us all for our sins. This does not show woman's inferiority to man. When sisters wear a headcovering its primary function is to show the ecclesia's submission to Christ.

If the principle of headship is accepted -- that male and female believers together represent the Christ-Body and its subjection to the word of God -- it will be perceived that wearing a headcovering is a great privilege, for it symbolizes the righteous covering for sin provided by our Lord. If headcoverings were more often considered in this light, rather than a sign of being under the domination of men, then sisters (and brethren too) would expect them to be worn more, and not less often. That this is most appropriate when we meet together around the Lord's table cannot be denied. But other gatherings too -- such as when we meet to proclaim and consider God's word, and sing praises to His name -- are certainly not inappropriate occasions for ecclesias to show their understanding of the honor that must be accorded to our Saviour, and gratitude for his work on our behalf. "Let all things be decently and in order".

1Co 11:12

FROM MAN: Ek, out of.

OF WOMAN: Dia, through, by means of.

1Co 11:14

The contrasts between the hair lengths of males and females is part of the divinely intended distinction God has placed between the sexes. Males wearing very long hair, in effect, are appearing womanish, or effeminate. They are blurring God's guidelines. This conclusion ought not to be dismissed lightly. Men guilty of appearing like or acting like women -- effeminacy -- were regarded as an abomination in Israel (Deu 22:5). In the NT effeminacy is regarded as a sin so serious as to be placed alongside fornication and homosexuality (1Co 6:9).

1Co 11:15

Hair as a glory: see Dan 7:9; Rev 1:14.

COVERING: Gr "peribolaion" (only here and Heb 1:12), lit something "thrown around", like a mantle, veil, or the hair itself, wrapped around the head. Often used of a cloak or robe, wrapped around the body.

1Co 11:16

IF ANYONE WANTS TO BE CONTENTIOUS ABOUT THIS, WE HAVE NO OTHER PRACTICE -- NOR DO THE CHURCHES OF GOD: In other words, It was a doctrine that the early church followed -- and followed scrupulously. Paul is therefore saying that neither he nor the churches of God recognize the practice of women praying and prophesying with uncovered heads. Therefore, Paul could appeal to what other churches were doing as an appeal to the reasonableness and pragmatic outworking of this "tradition". So this verse is an argument from the collective wisdom of the church universal, "for Christians elsewhere have no other practice."

"If any one is disposed to be contentious, we recognize no other practice, nor do the churches of God" (RSV). "But if anyone wants to be argumentative about it, I can only say that we and the churches of God generally hold this ruling on the matter" (JBP). "If anyone intends to quarrel about this, we have no other practice, nor do the churches of God" (NET).

1Co 11:17

Vv 17-34: The Lord's supper. (Priests partook of shewbread every sabbath.)

1Co 11:22

THOSE WHO HAVE NOTHING: As slaves, which evidently were members in Corinth (1Co 7:23).

1Co 11:23

PASSED ON: Gr "paradidomai" = "to hand over", sw "betrayed" (this v).

1Co 11:24

Breaking of bread, like Passover, is a very personal rite: "for ME" (Exo 13:8).

The Lord's supper: a memorial of Christ (Mat 26:26,27); a feast of remembrance (1Co 11:24); a banquet of victory (Act 20:7); a token of fellowship (1Co 10:16); and a confession of hope (1Co 11:26).

THIS IS MY BODY: This (bread) is (represents) my body, which is broken (continuous: being broken). "Broken" is omitted by some texts, but see Mat 26:26; Mar 14:22; Luk 22:19. Body broken, but not a bone broken (Joh 19:36).

Five broken things in the Bible and the results achieved by them: (1) broken pitchers (Jdg 7:18-20), causing the light to shine forth; (2) a broken jar (Mark 14:3), causing the ointment to be poured out; (3) broken bread (Mat 14:20), causing the hungry to be fed; (4) a broken body (1Co 11:24), causing the world to be saved; and (5) a broken will (Psa 51:17), leading the sinner back to God.

DO: Continuous verb: indefinite continuance.

REMEMBRANCE: It may seem almost impossible that those who have been redeemed by the blood of the Lamb, and loved with an everlasting love by the Son of God, should forget that gracious Savior; but it is, sadly, too apparent to allow us to deny the crime -- of which each and every one of us is at one time or another guilty.

1Co 11:25

'I am the covenant-victim,' Jesus says. 'And if you want to be a part of this covenant between my Father and Abraham, the eternal covenant -- involving the forgiveness of sins, freely provided by the Father through me, and resurrection from the dead to a Kingdom inheritance -- then you must partake of the covenant-victim. You must meet with the Father between the pieces of the sacrifice, and eat of my flesh, and drink of my blood.' See Lesson, Covenant-victim, the.

WHENEVER: Frequency of commemoration could easily lead to forgetfulness, not remembrance (which is the true purpose).

1Co 11:26

"At the Breaking of Bread, there is as it were a door opened in Heaven. To the left, against a sombre background, the modern disciple sees his Lord, praying in Gethsemane, suffering in Golgotha. To the right he sees a great glory, the Kingdom of God set up upon the earth, when God's King reigns in righteousness, and His princes rule in judgment. In the centre he perceives two miniatures. The first is of a candidate for divine honour and immortality descending into the waters of baptism, over which waters there is this seal of the Spirit: 'For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.' The second miniature is of a table, on which are set bread and wine; all around is wilderness. Over the table the Spirit hath set this seal: 'For as often as ye eat this bread and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord's death till he come' " (FCE 172).

The Lord's Supper: a memorial of Christ (Mat 26:26,27); a feast of remembrance (1Co 11:24); a banquet of victory (Act 20:7); a token of fellowship (1Co 10:16); and a confession of hope (1Co 11:26).

UNTIL: See Lesson, AN, Conditional deferment.

"Until I come": put this money to work (Luk 19:13); judge nothing (1Co 4:5); proclaim Lord's death (1Co 11:26); be sincere, without offence (Phi 1:6,10); listen to word (2Pe 1:19); hold fast (Rev 2:25).

1Co 11:27

Cleansing from defilement before Passover: Num 9:6-11.

1Co 11:28

See Lesson, "Let a man examine himself".

Preparation of self to meet God: Lesson of OT: Peace offering: Lev 7:1-21; cp 2Ch 35:4; 1Sa 7:3; Ezr 7:10; Job 11:13; Jer 46:14. Preparation for Passover: Mat 27:62; Joh 19:14. Sanctify self: Exo 19:10; Lev 8:30; Jos 7:13; 2Ch 29:5.

EXAMINE HIMSELF: "Lord, is it I?" (Mat 26:22). "A most pressing and urgent consideration -- a complete transformation of character" (GVG, Ber 60:338). Cp same idea, 1Co 3:13: to test the quality of our work.

1Co 11:29

ANYONE WHO EATS AND DRINKS: The KJV has "unworthily", but omitted in many mss.

Those who look too much at the faults, or supposed faults, of their brethren are in danger of doing this very thing. In looking at others rather than themselves and Christ, they are first of all missing the point of the ordinance, and nullifying in their heedlessness the benefit to themselves of the offering of Christ's literal body. And in so judging others, they may also be tearing the Lord's spiritual "body" to pieces. He who cannot discern the Lord's "body" all around him, who sees his brethren and sisters only as so many potential problems of doctrine and practice, is in danger of cutting himself off from them. His "careful" eating and drinking in solitude will then degenerate into a silly smugness, a self-satisfaction that may remove him from the very benefit he thought was exclusively his. "I thank thee, Lord, that I am not as these other men." But you are like them, and the sooner you realize it the better!

1Co 11:34

I WILL GIVE FURTHER DIRECTIONS: Or "set in order". Setting "in order" is a significant thing in the service of God (particularly in the area of offering sacrifices): Gen 22:9; Exo 26:17; 39:37; 40:4,23; Lev 1:7,8,12; 6:12; 24:8; 1Ki 18:33; 2Ki 20:1; 2Ch 13:11; 29:35; Eze 41:6; Acts 18:23; 1Co 11:34; 14:40; Tit 1:5.

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