WHEN WE COME TOGETHER
1 Corinthians 11:17-34
1. The problems of the church in Corinth serve as important lessons for us: What actions & attitudes to avoid & to have - cf. 1 Cor. 4:17; 7:17.
2. 1 Cor. 11:17-34 - Godly attitudes & conduct in their assemblies were in shambles. The Holy Spirit directs stern rebuke & correction of their sin.
3. This passage is used by some brethren to support the right of a church to have "shared meals" when they "come together" (v. 17, 20, 33).
4. This use of 1 Cor. 11 confuses the teaching of the text while it permits such meals as an expediency of brotherly love.
5. 1 Cor. 11:17-34: The problem(s) in Corinth; why we come together as a congregation & how to properly fulfill this work, what is not in the text, the effects of & the remedy for their sin.
I. OUR COMING TOGETHER IS TO PARTICIPATE IN & ACCOMPLISH SPIRITUAL SERVICE UNTO GOD.
A. Context: The Assembly Of The Saints, The Local Church - 11:17, 18, 20, 33, 34. They came together for:
1. Edification - 11:17; cf. 1 Cor. 14:23, 26.
2. Worship - 11:20; cf. Acts 20:7. (L.S., prayer, singing, giving, preaching - Acts 20:7; 1 Cor. 14:26; Eph. 5:19; 1 Cor. 16:2).
3. Eating a shared meal??? - Not in the text! - 1 Pet. 4:11; Gal. 1:6-9
B. Our Coming Together, Like Theirs, Must Be:
1. 11:17 - "For the better" (spiritual benefit of the saints).
2. 11:18 - Absent of division among us.
3. 11:20 - To eat the Lordís Supper.
4. 11:33 - Considerate of each other & our mutual worship needs.
5. 11:34 - Such that we do not fall under divine judgment.
II. TWO PROBLEMS IN CORINTH ARE DISCUSSED HERE:
A. "First Of All": Division Among Them Due To Unloving Attitudes (class distinctions) - 11:18, 21.
1. v. 18 - Class division into rich & poor - v. 21-22. Jas. 2:1-6
a. v. 20 - They were "in one place", yet division existed!
b. v. 21-22 - Division was revealing itself through acts of selfish indulgence by the rich & their contemptuous treatment of each other (rich disregarded the poor, & the poor despised the rich!).
c. v. 19 - Their division served to accentuate/define who was right. (In other words, bad attitudes will be seen in bad actions!)
2. Ans. v. 22 - Paul rebukes their divisive lack of brotherly affection & regard by eliminating the vehicle which was helping to magnify their division: eating shared meals! - v. 34
B. Second: Perversion Of The Lords Supper - 11:20-21.
1. The L.S. had lost its significance due to their divisive, selfish attitudes and practice.
2. At that point, it was not possible (ASV) for them to eat the Lordís Supper - v. 20.
3. Ans. Paul eliminates the very suggestion that their assembly was for the purpose of satisfying hunger (v. 22)!
4. With this command given and obeyed, he would now teach the saints how to properly partake of the Lords Supper. (11:23-32).
III. PROPERLY PARTAKE OF THE LORDS SUPPER - 11:23-32.
-(L.S. is not a supper which satisfies hunger, but one which satisfies a remembrance of our Lordís death! Suppers which satisfy hunger were to be eaten "at home" - not "when you come together" - v. 20-22.)
A. The Eating Which Occurs When We "Come Together" Was Instituted By The Lord - 11:23-26 (Matt. 26:26-28).
1. Note the eating we are commanded to do "when we come together."
2. A memorial (remembrance of Me), proclamation (v. 26), a communion with the body & blood of Christ (1 Cor. 10:16-17).
B. The Obligations Of Those Who Eat The Lordís Supper - 11:27-32.
1. v. 27 - Therefore: Eat in an "unworthy manner"......Guilty of His body & blood - cf. Heb. 10:29.
2. v. 28-29 - Examine yourself & eat in a worthy manner.
a. Examine (dokimazo): To scrutinize & thus approve oneself (heart) - with the purpose of eating & drinking L.S. in a worthy manner (v. 27). (v. 31, diakrino - distinguish, discriminate).
b. The worthy manner:
(1) In remembrance & proclamation - v. 24-25, 26.
(2) By discerning the (Lords) body - v. 29 (diakrino - "to separate, make a distinction, discriminate, to prefer"). How?....
(a) Not "the church" - see immediate context of "body" (v. 24, 26, 27, 28, 29). (Remembering Christ, not the church!)
(b) It means to discern the proper nature & design of the Lords Supper (by discriminating & distinguishing between the L.S. & meals which satisfy hunger.....prefer the L.S. to divisive & condemning conduct!).
3. v. 30-32 - Spiritual weakness, sickness & death result from not properly partaking of the Lords Supper (thus the need to examine self & discern the body of Christ!):
a. Virtually all commentators say this is physical, not spiritual sickness & death. Reject this explanation because:
(1) Godís judgment (v. 29) against sin is not physical weakness, sickness or death - Job; Jno. 9:2-3.
(2) The result of partaking of the L.S. in an unworthy manner is not defined physically (weakness, sickness or death) but spiritually (guilty of His body & blood, v. 27).
(3) Due to his sin, the Christian who partakes of the L.S. unworthily is "judged" to be spiritually weak, sick or dead! - v. 31 [To avoid such judgment....partake worthily - v. 27-28!]
(4) If "weak" & "sick" are physical, so is "sleep!" Therefore, slumber is Godís chastisement against sin!! - v. 32)
b. v. 31 - To avoid spiritual weakness, sickness & death - Habitually judge (examine) ourselves (our attitudes toward our brethren & our conduct in eating the L.S.).
c. v. 32 - When we are judged (krino, determined, decreed) to be spiritually weak, sick or dead, the Lord disciplines us so that we will not be condemned (katakrino, worthy of condemnation) with the world.
(1) By His word of truth (cf. Paulí letter) - 2 Tim. 3:16-17 - with exposes our spiritual illness/death.
(2) By church discipline - (1 Cor. 5:4-5).
IV. THE SOLUTION FOR FACTIOUS, FLESHLY EMPHASIS WHEN BRETHREN "COME TOGETHER" - 11:33-34.
A. First: Cease Every Divisive Attitude And Action & Practice Brotherly Love - v. 33; Rom. 12:9-10.
1. The division of the church into social classes had to stop! "Tarry (wait) for one another". When we eat the Lordís Supper, we are to be careful to help each other properly partake, not neglect or otherwise ignore each other (cf. v. 20-21).
2. Repent of their wrong attitudes toward each other!
3. "Eat" in v. 33 is the Lords Supper: Paul does not command in v. 33 what he forbade in v. 22!
B. Second: Cease Eating Meals When You "Come Together" - v. 22, 34.
1. Separate physical eating & assembled worship.
2. "Eat" in v. 34 is a meal which satisfies hunger (a common meal, not a spiritual meal) - v. 22.
3. Distinguish the difference between assembled worship (spiritual eating -- the Lords Supper) and eating a meal which addresses physical hunger!
4. To "come together" as the church to eat a common meal is to bring condemnation upon us!
V. WHAT IS NOT MENTIONED IN 1 CORINTHIANS 11:17-34:
A "love feast" or "fellowship meal."
-To insert it is an addition to the text....going beyond what is written - 1 Cor. 4:6; Gal. 1:8-9.
Authority to "come together" for a "shared meal" (other than Lordís Supper & the "feast" of Christís word, Jno. 6:57, 63, 68).
-No command to have "shared meals" when the church "come together."
-No example of the church "coming together" in their assembly to eat a meal in addition to partaking of the Lords Supper.
-No necessary implication which forces us to conclude we must have "shared meals" when we "come together."
-But, it was this very activity which Paul rebuked and prohibited! - 11:22, 34
-With no "pattern of sound words" to hold fast, we must reject this human innovation - 2 Tim. 1:13.
A "shared meal" which was eaten outside the worship assembly, yet not eaten "at home."
-An attempt to harmonize church support, promotion & provision of present-day pot-lucks, etc. with 1 Cor. 11 is to separate the worship assembly from the "shared meal."
-However, in 1 Cor. 11, instructions are given for conduct in the assembly of the saints! - 11:17, 18, 20, 33, 34 ("come together")
Church kitchens, fellowship halls, pot-luck dinners, eating in the basement after services, etc.
-We eat a spiritual feast in a hall designed for spiritual food!
By adding "shared meals" to the work of the local church we add to the silence of Godís word! - Col. 3:17; 1 Cor. 4:6; Rev. 22:18