1 Corinthians 11
Dress and Conduct in the Church.
SUMMARY.--Men in Church to Pray with Uncovered Heads.
Women to Be Veiled.
The Abuse of Love Feasts.
The Lord's Supper Profaned.
The Lesson from Christ's Appointment of the Ordinance.
Must Be Eaten with Solemn Reverence.
1, 2. Be ye followers of me, etc. This refers to
verse 33 of the 10th chapter.
Like him, they should not seek to "please themselves," but to so act as
to save others.
2. Now I praise you. This praise is preparatory to censure for
disorderly conduct among them.
Keep the ordinances. Those he had taught them while in
3-8. For I would have you to know, etc. The order of rank is
that Christ is the center, with the Father above and man below him; and
in the family the man is first and the woman second. That is nature's
4. Every man praying or prophesying. The last word means
speaking by inspiration.
With his head covered. He dishonors his head by covering what
God would have exposed. Some hold that the head dishonored is Christ. I
agree rather with Meyer and Schaff, that it is his own. Heathen priests
of Rome covered their heads. So do modern Jews.
5. Every one that prayeth, etc. With the customs and ideas which
existed in the East in that age it would be an unseemly act, and would
bring reproach. The veil was regarded as a badge of subordination, and
if not worn would imply that the woman did not yield deference to her
husband. Almost all women are still veiled in the presence of men in
All one as if she were shaven. For a woman's head to be shaven
was usually a sign of shamelessness (See Meyer). The uncovered head in
an assembly was also unbecoming.
6. For if the woman be not covered. If she defies decorum by an
uncovered head, let her go further, and be shaven.
7. A man ought not to cover his head, etc. In this whole passage
we must keep in mind the Eastern ideas of the relations of the sexes.
Paul bases these rules of propriety on the account of their creation.
The veil is a sign of subordination to others present. But man,
the image and glory of God, has no created superior. The woman,
the glory of the man, is subordinate to him, of which the veil
is the symbol.
8. For the man is not of the woman. In the creative act man was
first, and woman was made from man.
9-12. Neither was the man, etc. Woman was made for man because
he needed a helpmeet.
10. For this cause ought a woman to have power, etc. She ought
to have on her head the veil, the badge of submission to authority.
Because of the angels. This clause has puzzled the critics. The
idea probably is: "There should be no violation of decorum, such as a
bareheaded woman in a public assembly would be, lest it offend the
ministering angels which are always present, though unseen."
11. Neither is the man without the woman, etc. Neither sex is
independent of the other; each needs the other.
In the Lord. The Lord recognizes their mutual dependence upon
12. For as the woman is of the man, etc. As she was created for
man so man is born of woman. There is an equipoise. These relations are
all "of God."
13-16. Is it comely that a woman should pray, etc.? That is, in
the public assembly. Private prayer, or with her own sex or household,
is not meant. It was very unbecoming in view of the customs of the
East, nor would it generally be esteemed decorous in our times, and
with our ideas, that she should appear with no covering on her head at
14. Doth not even nature itself, etc.? It is nature's
arrangement that men should wear short hair, and a woman long. For a
man to have long hair and a woman to be shorn are violations of
16. But if a man seem to be contentious. If, in spite of
nature's lessons, a man contentiously opposes, let him know that no
such custom exists in the churches. Many suppose that
custom refers to being contentious. I think, rather, that it
refers to covering the head, etc. The lesson of this whole passage is
that we must not defy existing social usages in such a way as to bring
reproach on the church.
17-22. Now in this . . . I praise you not. That their
church assemblies were not orderly.
18. When ye come together in the church. In a meeting of the
There be divisions. He had spoken in chapters 1-3 of the
divisions in the congregation. He now tells them that he had heard that
these divisions were manifest at their church meetings.
19. There must needs be heresies. Heresies were false opinions
which led to divisions. In the state of the human mind they were
unavoidable, and would sift the church.
20. When ye come together, therefore. When they assembled these
heresies and divisions were manifest. There was a Paulite group, an
Apolloite group, and a Petrine group, who sat apart from each other.
It is not to eat the Lord's supper. Coming in such a spirit
they were in no fit mind to eat the Lord's supper.
21. For every one partaketh before others his own supper.
It was customary in Corinth to eat a meal together as did Christ and
his disciples the night of the Lord's supper.
After this came the Lord's supper. At this meal each party in Corinth
sat apart and ate when it was ready. The result was that some began
before the others. One would be hungry, and
another drunken. This last clause means that he
had eaten and was satisfied.
22. What! Have you not houses to eat and drink in? The practice
is rebuked. The place to eat their feasts was at home.
Despise ye the church of God? By a selfish feast, where some ate
luxuriously, and put to shame others, perhaps the poor, who had
23-26. For I have received of the Lord. While at Corinth he had
told the church the solemn history of the institution of the supper, an
account that he had received directly by inspiration from the Lord.
Such a sacred event was utterly inconsistent with strife, revelry or
disorder. The history is repeated to show this.
24. This is my body. Is this literal? "I am the true vine,"
"These women are the two covenants"
etc. are kindred expressions. The idea is: "This represents my body."
The eating of the bread is not to literally eat the Lord's flesh, but
is done in
remembrance. It is a token that reminds of his body.
25. This do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me. The
memorial design of the Lord's supper is reiterated. It is not a
"sacrifice of the mass," but a remembrance of Christ's sacrifice.
26. Ye do show forth the Lord's death till he come. The
observance points to two great facts--the Lord's death, and to his
second coming; one past, the other future. The observance is to
continue "till he come."
27-30. Shall eat . . . or drink . . .
unworthily. In a light, disorderly way, or with an unholy frame of
Shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. Profane the
body and blood by profanely eating the sacred tokens of these.
28. Let a man examine himself, etc. To see whether he can eat in
loving remembrance of the death of Christ.
29. Eateth . . . unworthily. With light, worldly
thoughts, as though eating common food. That this is a sin is shown in
Here it is added,
"he eateth and drinketh damnation;" that is, subjects himself to
Not discerning the Lord's body. Not distinguishing it, keeping
in mind that these are memorials.
30. For this cause many are weak, etc. Some have held that this
means that the improper observance of the supper has made many weak and
sickly Christians, and some had even died spiritually. Others hold that
physical judgments had been sent, and some sickened and others died.
The last view is most generally held.
31-34. If we would judge ourselves. If we would sit in judgment
on our spiritual condition, and correct ourselves, we would avert God's
32. We are chastened, etc. Judgments
are used to chasten and to bring to repentance and reformation. Compare
33. Wherefore, when ye come together to eat, etc. Let all wait,
and let all eat and partake of the Lord's supper together.
34. If any man is hungry, let him eat at home. This feast is not
in order to satisfy the cravings of the appetite.
The account given here of the institution of the Lord's supper is one
of the four in the New Testament.
is of an eye witness; those of
were received by them from witnesses who were present; that of
was "received from the Lord." Many regard it as the oldest written
account of the event.