Tuesday, May 30th, 2023
the Week of Proper 3 / Ordinary 8
the Week of Proper 3 / Ordinary 8
Contending for the Faith Contending for the Faith
Contending for the Faith reproduced by permission of Contending for the Faith Publications, 4216 Abigale Drive, Yukon, OK 73099. All other rights reserved.
Contending for the Faith reproduced by permission of Contending for the Faith Publications, 4216 Abigale Drive, Yukon, OK 73099. All other rights reserved.
Editor Charles Baily, "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 11". "Contending for the Faith". https://studylight.org/
commentaries/ eng/ ctf/ 1-corinthians-11.html. 1993-2022.
Editor Charles Baily, "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 11". "Contending for the Faith". https://studylight.org/
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Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ.
Paul is not encouraging the Corinthians to be "followers" of him in the sense of following him as a "party leader"; instead he is instructing them to be "followers" (mimetes) or "imitators" (Thayer 415-1-3402) of him, just as he imitates Christ. Paul is using himself as an example for others to follow. The same instruction could be applied to following anyone who is faithful to the Lord. In writing to the Hebrews, Paul says, "That ye be not slothful, but followers of them who through faith and patience inherit the promises" (6:12). Contextually, Paul is speaking of following his example regarding liberties. In chapters eight, nine, and ten, he instructs that when liberties are involved, Christians should not please themselves by pursuing the liberties if they would lead others into sin. Paul says,
We then that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak, and not to please ourselves. Let every one of us please his neighbour for his good to edification. For even Christ pleased not himself; but, as it is written, The reproaches of them that reproached thee fell on me (Romans 15:1-3).
Headship and the Sign of Authority
Now I praise you, brethren, that ye remember me in all things, and keep the ordinances, as I delivered them to you.
Now I praise you, brethren, that ye remember me in all things: By the term "now," Paul makes a transition to another subject. Just as he issued compliments in 1 Corinthians 1:4-5, he appears to do so once again, but this time his "praise" is given with sarcasm. The word "praise" (epaineo) means "approval" (Thayer 227-2-1867), indicating that Paul approves of the Corinthians for remembering him in all things. This praise was stated with sarcasm because Paul does not praise them. In verse 17 he says, "Now in this that I declare unto you I praise you not, that ye come together not for the better, but for the worse." There is no contradiction between these two verses. The Corinthians did not remember Paul in all things, and certainly they were not keeping the ordinances as he delivered them. Apparently, they had told him they were in their letter to him. The entirety of this first letter was written because the Corinthians were not following his instructions.
and keep the ordinances, as I delivered them to you: The word "keep" (katecho) means "to hold fast, keep secure, keep firm possession of" (Thayer 340-1-2722). Paul sarcastically commends the Corinthians for securely holding to the "ordinances" (paradosis) or his "instructions...which is done by word of mouth or in writing" (Thayer 481-2-3862). The word "ordinances" is better translated "traditions"; a tradition is "something handed on from one to another" (Robertson, Vol. IV 159).
The instructions the Corinthians were not following were "committed to (Paul’s) trust" (1 Timothy 1:11) by the "revelation of Jesus Christ" (Galatians 1:12). If, in fact, the Corinthians had been keeping the ordinances, Paul would have approved of their action, not because they were following his personal instructions but because these instructions came from another--Christ. Later in this chapter Paul says, "I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you..." (11:23). The instructions Paul gives are the standard teaching of the church. This reference is made again when Paul says, "But if any man seem to be contentious, we have no such custom, neither the churches of God" (11:16).
But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God.
But I would have you know: It appears that Paul is now giving additional instructions to what he has previously taught about the headship. As noticed in verse 2, some of the Corinthians had not properly understood and obeyed these teachings; therefore, Paul teaches more about this crucial subject.
The words "would have" (thelo) mean to be "determined" (Thayer 285-2-2309). Paul is determined for everyone to understand the teaching found in this chapter about headship. The Revised Standard Version renders this passage: "But I want you to understand that the head of every man is Christ, the head of a woman is her husband, and the head of Christ is God."
that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God: Paul speaks of the headship three times by referring to the word "head" (kephale), which means "to rule over...has authority over...or is chief of" (Bratcher 103). The word "head" includes having dominion. In all areas of life, someone must have authority; therefore, others must be submissive. In verse 3, Paul speaks of three areas of life and the one who has authority in each:
1. In the family, man is the head.
2. In the church (which rules the family), Christ is the head.
3. In the universe (which rules all), God is the head.
The same relationship exists between man and woman as between Christ and man and between God and Christ. Paul clearly states that God’s ladder of authority shows that God is supreme, followed by Christ, then man, and finally woman. The fact that God is the head of Christ is documented by Paul:
For he hath put all things under his feet. But when he saith all things are put under him, it is manifest that he is excepted, which did put all things under him. And when all things shall be subdued unto him, then shall the Son also himself be subject unto him that put all things under him, that God may be all in all (15:27-28).
The fact that Christ is the head of every man is clearly seen in Ephesians 1:22, Ephesians 4:15, Colossians 1:18, and Colossians 2:19. Also, the undeniable fact that man is the head of woman is seen in Paul’s letter to the church in Ephesus: "For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body" (Ephesians 5:23).
It appears that some of the Christian women in Corinth were claiming equality with man in all areas of life (possibly from a misunderstanding of Paul’s words in Galatians 3:28 where he says, "There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus").
There is no contradiction between Paul’s words in Galatians 3:28 and 1 Corinthians 11:3. In 1 Corinthians, Paul is speaking of woman’s submissiveness in a social position, and in Galatians he is speaking of all people being one in the sense of being united in Jesus Christ.
The passage in Galatians denotes the unity, and not necessarily the equality, of man and woman. The nature of the apostle’s argument in that passage is not such as to involve any question of equality of condition. He starts with the difference between Jews and Gentiles, and shows that it is not such as will make the obtaining of salvation, or of the blessings of salvation, different in the two. Then he passes from this to the other distinctions of race, condition, and sex, showing the same thing in reference to them. All this would not affect the question here considered, of social position and relative rank (Gould 94).
Paul is now determined for everyone to understand the truth about this matter--man is the head of woman, and woman is to be submissive to man! Woman’s subjection to man does not mean that man has more intelligence or capabilities, nor that man is superior; but, instead, God placed man in authority over the woman because of the order of creation. Paul says, "For the man is not of the woman: but the woman of the man. Neither was the man created for the woman; but the woman for the man" (11:8-9). The subordination of the woman to man is rooted in creation and caused by Eve’s being deceived, as Paul teaches in 1 Timothy:
Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection. But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence. For Adam was first formed, then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression. Notwithstanding she shall be saved in childbearing, if they continue in faith and charity and holiness with sobriety (2:11-15).
This order of authority was originally set up in the beginning of time. "Unto the woman he said,...thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee" (Genesis 3:16). An example of a Godly woman’s subjection to her husband can be seen in the lives of Abraham and Sarah.
For after this manner in the old time the holy women also, who trusted in God, adorned themselves, being in subjection unto their own husbands: Even as Sara obeyed Abraham, calling him lord: whose daughters ye are, as long as ye do well, and are not afraid with any amazement (1 Peter 3:5-6).
Verse 3 establishes the order of authority. But this arrangement does not give man the right to abuse his wife physically or verbally. Paul says, "Husbands, love your wives, and be not bitter against them" (Colossians 3:19). Man should never take the "it’s my way or no way" attitude. Instead, he should always treat his wife as he desires Christ (his head) to treat him. Paul again says, "The husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church" (Ephesians 5:23). In the same way that Christ is head of the church, man is the head of woman.
It is important, in order to understand Paul’s teaching correctly, that we keep in mind that even though Christ is the "head" and is man’s supreme, His love has always been so great that He has never abused man, but on the contrary, He died for man. Paul, likewise, instructs man to follow this example of Christ: "Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it" (Ephesians 5:25). Man would never abuse his authority if he would commit to memory and practice Paul’s words as he says, "So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself" (Ephesians 5:28). On the other hand, it is just as important for the wife to respect her husband’s authority. Paul teaches, "As the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything" (Ephesians 5:24). Paul also says, "Wives submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as it is fit in the Lord" (Colossians 3:18).
Even though God’s order of authority has woman in subjection to man, Paul reminds them that they are both essential for future existence. Neither can exist without the other. Later in this chapter Paul says,
Nevertheless neither is the man without the woman, neither the woman without the man, in the Lord. For as the woman is of the man, even so is the man also by the woman; but all things of God (11:11-12).
Basically, verse 3 is the foundation of Paul’s teachings in verses 4-16. Everything that Paul has to say about men being uncovered and women being covered is spoken of in reference to headship.
Every man praying or prophesying, having his head covered, dishonoureth his head.
In verse 3, Paul establishes that "the head of every man is Christ." Christ, therefore, is the "head" (man’s supreme) whom man dishonors by having his physical head covered when "praying or prophesying." It is doubtful that the Corinthian church was having problems with men covering their heads while praying or prophesying. Men are probably mentioned here only for the sake of illustrating Paul’s teaching about the headship and the sign of it.
Every man: "Every man" refers to every Christian man as indicated in Paul’s introduction of this letter:
Unto the church of God which is at Corinth, to them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all that in every place call upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours (1:2).
praying or prophesying: The term "praying" (proseuchomai), as used here and in verses 5 and 13, means "to offer prayers" (Thayer 545-2-4336).
The word "prophesying" (propheteuo), both here and in verse 5, is defined as to "proclaim a divine revelation" (Bauer, Arndt and Gingrich 730) or "to teach, refute, reprove, admonish, (or) comfort others" (Thayer 553-1-4395). Contextually, the word "prophesying" is the act of "speaking by divine inspiration" (McGarvey 109); however, there is nothing in the word "prophesying" to indicate that it is limited to divine prophesying. Some in Corinth were blessed with spiritual gifts (14:26-31), and some were not; but the same teaching applied to both.
The term "or" indicates that both of these acts ("praying" and "prophesying") are not required at the same time; but, instead, at any time when either act is done, the man is not to be covered.
There is nothing here to indicate that the terms "praying or prophesying" are restricted only to the worship service; therefore, we must understand that Paul is instructing that man be uncovered any time (in or out of the worship service) he is praying or prophesying. Obviously, if Paul had wanted his readers to understand that he was speaking of actions only in the church, he could have easily done so. For example, he could have drawn attention to the church by saying, as he did in verse 18, "...when ye come together in the church..." or, as found in 1 Corinthians 14:34, "Let your women keep silence in the churches." A number of scholars (Vine, Thayer, Robertson, Wycliffe, Lipscomb, Meyer and others) understand that the phrase "praying or prophesying" has reference to the worship only. Their error, however, is obvious when we notice Paul’s words in verse 3 where he gives the order of authority or headship. Keeping in mind that verses 2-16 deal with headship, we can understand that these authoritative positions are true not only in the worship assembly but everywhere and at all times. Paul speaks of these authoritative positions in relation to the assembly because of the abuse of these things in the assembly; the same teaching would apply out of the assembly as well. As an everyday example, a child may be disrespectful to a teacher; therefore, the parents may tell the child: "Act like a Christian while at school." Would this statement indicate that they do not have to act like a Christian if they are not at school? Of course not! However, school is mentioned simply because school is the place where the violation took place. Likewise, "the assembly" is the place where men and women were dishonoring their heads according to the letter they had written to Paul.
Regardless of whether Paul’s teaching has reference to "worship only" or to all times while praying or prophesying, we still must be conscious of the fact that a specific situation is referred to--"praying or prophesying." If man is "praying or prophesying," he cannot be covered. To violate this teaching would dishonor Christ; however, if he is not "praying or prophesying" he can be covered since he would be able to "uncover" himself before he enters into the specific acts of "praying or prophesying" again.
having his head covered: The term "having" (echo) is used in the sense of "wearing" or "having a covering hanging down from the head, that is, having the head covered" (Thayer 266-1-2192). "Having his head covered" indicates "while he wears (a covering) on his head" (Bauer, Arndt and Gingrich 332).
The word "head" as used here refers to man’s physical head; therefore, Paul has reference to man’s having his physical head "covered" with anything. Having the head "covered" or something down (kata) the head is literally "having something on one’s head" (Bauer, Arndt and Gingrich 406). These words literally mean, "having something hanging down from his head" (Vincent, Vol. III 246). In his Critical Lexicon and Concordance, Bullinger says: "having [anything] depending from the head" (193). Therefore, in reference to man, Paul is not speaking of a specific covering; instead, he is teaching that if man has "anything" on his head while "praying or prophesying" he "dishonoureth his head (Christ)." Since the word "covered" indicates "anything" on the head, it would include any type of ornament, whether it is a man-made artificial covering (hat, shawl, etc.) or a God-given covering (long hair) (11:15). Man’s covering, therefore, is not limited to, nor does it exclude, something artificial. There is nothing to indicate that man would sin if he wears some type of ornament on his head if he is not praying or prophesying. For example, some jobs or sport activities may necessitate some fashion of a head covering (for example, a hat) and nothing is wrong with such since man is not praying or prophesying.
Since long hair is mentioned as a covering in verse 15, does this mean that man may have long hair if he is not praying or prophesying? NO! Such an act would be a violation of 1 Corinthians 11:14 "...if a man have long hair, it is a shame unto him?" "Long hair on the head is a disgrace to a man...because he regards it as a sign of human subjection" (Meyer, 193). In this context, Paul is referring to man’s action (being covered or uncovered) while praying or prophesying; however, the action of being covered or uncovered is not necessarily restricted to praying or prophesying.
dishonoureth his head: The term "dishonoureth" (kataischuno) means "to disgrace" (Thayer 331-1-2617) or "to shame" (Strong #2617). If man wears a covering--"anything"--on his head when praying or prophesying, he shames his authoritative head, Jesus Christ.
But every woman that prayeth or prophesieth with her head uncovered dishonoureth her head: for that is even all one as if she were shaven.
But every woman that prayeth or prophesieth with her head uncovered dishonoureth her head: As "every man" in verse 4 refers to every Christian man, "every woman" in verse 5 refers to every Christian woman. "The apostle treats not of wives alone, but of women in general, whether they were wives, virgins, or widows" (Lightfoot, Vol. IV 235).
(See verse 4 for explanation of the terms "prayeth or prophesieth" and for the phrase "dishonoureth her head.")
Paul is not teaching that woman may lead in prayer and prophesy (teach) in the church. This idea is totally ruled out by his words in 1 Corinthians 14:34: "Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience as also saith the law." "The meaning of 1 Corinthians 14:34 is quite unmistakable. Therefore, this statement (verse 5) cannot refer to the gatherings of an assembly" (Vine 147).
The first word "head" in this verse refers to woman’s physical head. Christian women dishonor their authoritative head, man, if they pray or prophesy with their physical head "uncovered."
The term "uncovered" (akatakaluptos) found in verses 5 and 13 is defined as "not covered, unveiled" (Thayer 21-2-177). An uncovered woman is "a woman without (a) head-covering" (Bauer, Arndt, and Gingrich 29). The idea of "anything on the head" is not found here as it is concerning the man in verse 4; therefore, a particular thing is under consideration and not just anything. "The Greek (for uncovered or covered concerning woman) is not the same as (man) at verse 4, which is literally, ’having (anything) on the head’" (Humphry 309).
Since the word "covered" in verse 4 does not come from the same Greek word translated "uncovered" in verse 5, what is the covering? Some believe Paul is referring to an artificial veil while others believe that Paul is speaking of long hair. Because of the context of 1 Corinthians 11:2-16, it seems better to understand that Paul has reference to long (uncut) hair. Notice that practically every statement having reference to women and their being "covered" or "uncovered" refers to "hair" within the same statement:
Verse 5 says, "Every woman that prayeth or prophesieth with her head uncovered dishonoreth her head: for that is even all one as if she were shaven." The object talked about is the object that is being shaved. Obviously, Paul is speaking about HAIR being shaved off.
Verse 6 says, "For if the woman be not covered, let her also be shorn: but if it be a shame for a woman to be shorn or shaven, let her be covered." Again, the object under consideration is the object referred to as being shorn or shaven off, that is, HAIR!
Verses 13-15 says, "Judge in yourselves: is it comely that a woman pray unto God uncovered? Doth not even nature itself teach you, that, if a man have long hair, it is a shame unto him? But if a woman have long hair, it is a glory to her: for her hair is given her for a covering." Being "not covered" and being "shorn or shaven" refer to the same object--HAIR.
Failing to keep this instruction in the proper context has led to many errors in understanding God’s truth here. If we keep the thoughts in context, however, how can we understand Paul to mean anything besides hair? Verse 15 not only states what the covering is, but it also defines the covering as "long" hair, thus strengthening Paul’s teaching.
for that is even all one as if she were shaven: Paul says that the "head uncovered" is "even all one" or "the same as" or "equal to" the head’s being shaven. The Greek term xurao translated "if she were shaven" is defined "to shear, shave" (Thayer 432-2-3587). When woman is "uncovered," that is, when her hair is not left as nature gives it (uncut), she shames man. Here Paul says that when a woman’s hair is not left as nature gives it, it is the same as having the hair cut close.
"The cutting off of the hair is used by Isaiah as a figure of the entire destruction of a people by divine retribution" (Vincent, Vol. III 247). Isaiah says,
In the same day shall the Lord shave with a razor that is hired, namely, by them beyond the river, by the king of Assyria, the head, and the hair of the feet: and it shall also consume the beard (7:20).
As noticed in verse 3, the subject under consideration is "headship." Verse 5, therefore, is teaching that if a woman prays or prophesies "with her head uncovered," is without a complete covering of long hair, she dishonors her "head" (man), and subsequently she disobeys God. Concerning verse 5, Meyer says:
A woman when praying was to honour her head by having a sign upon it of the authority of her husband, which was done by having it covered; otherwise she dishonoured her head by dressing not like a married wife, from whose head-dress one can see that her husband is her head (lord), but like a loose woman, with whose shorn head the uncovered one is on a par...for she is nothing else, nothing better, than she who is shorn. As the long tresses of the head were counted a womanly adornment among Jews and Gentiles, so the hair shorn off was a sign either of mourning (Deuteronomy 21:12) or of shamelessness, and was even the penalty of an adulteress. What Paul means to say then is: a woman praying with uncovered head stands in the eye of public opinion, guided as it is by appearances, on just the same level with her who has the shorn hair of a courtesan (249).
The question we are confronted with is: Why is the uncovered head the same as being shaved? How is the head uncovered? In the Greek Old Testament, the "head uncovered" always refers to removing the hair. A study of the word "uncovered" (akatakalupto) or grammatical forms of this word, as found in verse 5, from the Septuagint (Greek Old Testament) proves that it refers to cut hair or hair that has been shortened and that it does not refer to an artificial veil. For example in Leviticus,
Moses said unto Aaron, and unto Eleazar and unto Ithamar his sons, Uncover not your heads, neither rend your clothes; lest ye die, and lest wrath come upon all the people (10:6).
Later he says,
He that is the high priest among his brethren, upon whose head the anointing oil was poured, and that is consecrated to put on the garments, shall not uncover his head, nor rend his clothes (Leviticus 21:10).
The word "uncover," as used in these two verses, means "to make naked...specially by shaving, Leviticus 10:6; Leviticus 21:10" (Gesenius 690). Furthermore, some writers such as Barnes and Wycliffe say that the covered heads refer to the custom of the hair growing long and hanging loosely over the head. The Englishman’s Hebrew-English Old Testament, speaking of Leviticus 10:6, makes reference to hair by saying: "Your beads, you shall not let go loose, (footnote says ’Or grow long’)...." The American Standard Version also makes reference to hair by rendering: "Let not the hair of your head go loose...." Therefore, the "head uncovered" in the Greek refers to the hair being cut. Consequently, the hair as an "ornament" is a gift to woman from God. Possibly this could be the reason that Thayer says "hair" in verses 14-15 "differs from thrix (the anatomical or physical term) by designating the hair as an ornament" (354-1-2864). Thrix is defined as "the hair of the head" (Thayer 292-1-2359). Long hair that is not necessarily considered or used as an ornament (at the particular time) is found in Luke 7:44 of Mary’s wiping Jesus’ feet "with the hairs of her head." Certainly Mary had long hair, but at this time it was not used as an ornament because she was not praying or prophesying. However, while praying or prophesying, women must have that "ornament" or long hair as a sign of authority (verse 10). In order for woman not to dishonor man, she must preserve this ornament (long hair) by never removing any part of it. Concerning the woman’s head being uncovered, Hodge says,
She puts herself in the same class with women whose hair has been cut off. Cutting off the hair, which is the principal natural ornament of women, was either a sign of grief, Deuteronomy 21:12, or a disgraceful punishment. The literal translation of this clause is: she is one and the same thing with one who is shaven. She assumes the characteristic mark of a disreputable woman (209).
The reason the "head uncovered" is one and the same as being shaven is simply that they both refer to hair that has been cut. The Greek word katakalupto (covered, 11:6) is a compound word--made up of kata and kalupto. The prefix kata primarily means "down"; however, "when prefixed to a verb, its most usual meaning is ’completely’" (a study made at the South Africa Bible School). Also, in his Lexicon of New Testament Words, Hickie says that katakalupto (covered) means: "to completely cover" (97). God’s desire, therefore, is for woman to honor man by wearing her sign of authority--long (uncut) hair. When the hair is shortened even in the least measure, the head is no longer completely covered. For example: If I were to cover my house with roofing and then remove or cut away a small amount of the covering--during the first rain, I would quickly understand that my house is not properly or "completely covered." Likewise, when women remove or cut away part of their covering (hair), they are not properly or completely covered; hence, they are considered "uncovered."
I am aware of the contention of some women who try to defend their practice of cutting their hair by saying, "I only trim my hair; it’s not shorn; it’s not cut close to the scalp; therefore, I still have long hair." The point being misunderstood here is that the covering of hair has no reference to the length (in inches) of the hair but to the uncut hair as an ornament. Concerning this ornament, "the notion of length (is) only secondary and suggested" (Thayer 354-1-2864). If a woman can cut her hair and still have long hair, then man will have long hair when he cuts his hair. The consequence of this argument would require every man to be completely shaved. In order for woman to obey the apostle’s teaching and not dishonor man, she must keep this "ornament (long hair)." This is her "sign of authority," which nature teaches is a "glory" to her.
Oftentimes today, instead of cut hair, people understand the words "head uncovered" to refer to some foreign object (cap, hat, veil, etc.) being taken off the head. If we understand this subject properly, however, it is necessary for us to realize that every time the expression "uncover the head" occurs in the Greek Old Testament, it means to remove the hair. For example, in reference to the occasion of Nadab and Abihu’s death, Moses says,
"Uncover not your heads, neither rend your clothes lest ye die" (Leviticus 10:6).
The high priest was forbidden to remove his hair whenever a priest’s daughter was to die for her wrongdoings. The Lord says,
And he that is the High Priest shall not uncover his head nor rend his clothes. (Leviticus 21:10).
The same Hebrew word para is used of the woman accused of adultery.
And the priest shall set the woman before the Lord, and uncover the woman’s head (Numbers 5:18).
The Septuagint translates Numbers 5:18 with apo-kalupto, the same root form (kalupto) we have in 1 Corinthians 11 for "uncover." In Numbers 5:18 the phrase "uncover the woman’s head" is from the word para meaning "to unbind the hair, not uncover the head. As one under suspicion, she was deprived of this sign of dignity; her hair was unbound" (Wycliffe 119). The word for uncovering the head is para, meaning "to make naked, especially by shaving" (Gesenius 690). It is also of interest and important to notice that the noun form of para is pehra and is defined as "hair." This noun is "from the idea of shaving (Leviticus 10:6; Leviticus 21:10; Numbers 5:18)" (Gesenius 691).
A comparison of the following translations shows the uncovered head has reference to the hair:
"Uncover not your heads" (KJV).
"Let not the hair of your heads go loose" (ASV).
"Do not uncover your heads" (footnote says "uncover" means "unbind") (NASV).
"Do not let your hair become unkept" (NIV).
"Uncover the woman’s head" (KJV).
"Let the hair of the woman’s head go loose" (ASV).
"Let the hair of the woman’s head go loose" (NASV).
"He shall loosen her hair" (NIV).
It cannot be denied that the phrase "uncover the head" from the verb para and the noun pehra refers to the hair when we realize that it is the same word used for uncovering the head in grief. The Old Testament teaches that the "hair" itself was removed at this time. In Deuteronomy 21:12, an Israelite is forbidden to take a captive woman for his wife until she has first shaven her head and mourned for her father and mother a full month. In Job 1:20, Job shaves his head upon hearing that his children are all dead. The words "uncover the head" (para) are "a primary root (meaning) to loosen; by implication to expose, dismiss...pera from para; the hair (as dishevelled):--locks" (Strong #6545). Speaking of pera, Young says, "Locks or other part of the hair of the head, Numbers 6:5; Ezekiel 44:20...Para To free, keep or make bare" (1013).
The grammatical forms of katakalupto (covered), as found in 1 Corinthians 11:5-6; 1 Corinthians 11:13, can and do refer to hair.
"And they shall not shave their heads, nor shall they pluck off their hair; they shall carefully cover their heads" (Ezekiel 44:20 --The Septuagint). Special attention should be given to the phrase: "they shall carefully cover their heads."
Notice again a comparison of the following translations in which the word "cover" has reference to hair:
"They shall carefully cover their heads" (Septuagint).
"They shall only poll their heads" (KJV).
"They shall only trim the hair of their heads" (RSV).
"They shall only cut off the hair of their heads" (ASV).
"Kaluptontes kalupsousi tas kephalas auton" (Greek Old Testament).
As can be seen from the spelling, "kaluptontes" and "kalupsosi" are grammatical forms of kalupto and katakalupto (covered) as found in 1 Corinthians 11:5-6; 1 Corinthians 11:13 and are translated as having reference to the hair, even though it is translated by the Septuagint as "cover." The point is when we read the word "cover" or "covered," it does not necessarily refer to a hat or other similar objects. The context must make the distinction. Notice the following comments from scholars:
Keil-Delitzsch (Vol. IX 315)
Concerning the word cover--"Kacam (Hebrew) only occurs here; but its meaning, to cut the hair, is obvious from the context."
Adam Clarke (Vol. IV 544)
To let the hair grow long would have been improper; therefore the Lord commands them to poll--cut the hair short, but not to shave.
The word kaluptontes, translated "poll" and "cover," is defined as "a primary root (indicating) to shear" (Strong #3697). Gesenius defines these terms as "to shave, to shear (the head); found once, Ezekiel 44:20" (408). Without a doubt, the meaning is that they shall "poll" or "cover" with reference to "hair."
For if the woman be not covered, let her also be shorn: but if it be a shame for a woman to be shorn or shaven, let her be covered.
For if the woman be not covered, let her also be shorn: The woman referred to in this verse no longer has her ornamental hair--she is "not covered" (same as "uncovered" in verse 5). Her hair is no longer as "nature" had it. She is "not covered," that is, she is not "completely covered" (Hickie 97) because she has removed a portion of her hair. She did not cut her hair enough to be shorn; she merely trimmed it, but Paul continues to show the sinfulness of this act by saying in order to be consistent "let her also be shorn."
Thayer defines the word "also" (kai) as "likewise," and then he comments,
It marks something added to what has already been said, or that of which something already said holds good....In this use it generally throws an emphasis upon the word which immediately follows it (Thayer 316-2-2532).
The following emphasized word is keiro ("be shorn") having reference to "sheared" hair (Strong #2751) or "hair cut close" (Vincent, Vol. III 247). Paul is teaching that if she is going to remove a small portion of her hair, if she is going to trim her hair, she may as well go further and be shorn or even a step further than that and be shaved. The words shorn or shaven mean "to have the hair cut close, or to be entirely shaved as with a razor" (Vincent, Vol. III 247). Hodge makes this point in his commentary: "These imperatives are not to be taken as commands, but rather as expressing what consistency would require" (209).
but if it be a shame for a woman to be shorn or shaven, let her be covered: Paul concludes this verse by referring to the fact that the Corinthians know that it is "a shame for a woman to be shorn or shaven." The word "shame" (aischron) means "dishonorable" or sin (Thayer 17-2-149). Jews and Gentiles, alike, knew that it was sinful for women to be "shorn or shaven"; therefore, Paul says, since this is the case, "let her be covered"--let her be completely covered (see verse 5 for study on "covered" and "uncovered").
In the first part of this verse, Paul teaches that if they consider it permissible to cut their hair a small amount, they may as well shave their heads. Just as a man today is to keep his hair cut, he may also shave his head, if he desires. In the last part of this verse, however, Paul says, "If" or "since you consider it a ’shame’ for a woman to be ’shorn or shave’ (as they all did), let her be covered"--let her retain her natural hair, that is, hair as nature gave it--uncut.
For a man indeed ought not to cover his head, forasmuch as he is the image and glory of God: but the woman is the glory of the man.
For a man indeed ought not to cover his head: In verse 4, when Paul first starts the teaching about the head being covered, he had man under consideration; then in verses 5 and 6, he gives instructions to women. Now, he returns to discuss the matter further about men.
The term "ought not" (opheilo) means "one must not" (Bauer, Arndt, and Gingrich 603). Man "must not" "cover his head." In verse 4, Paul’s message to man is that he could not have "anything" on his head while praying or prophesying. It seems now that he wants to make it clear that man cannot have "anything" covering his head, no, not even "long hair."
forasmuch as he is the image and glory of God: In this verse, as in the preceding verses, the ornamental long hair is clearly understood as Paul says, "a man indeed ought not to cover his head...." After clearing up this point, Paul continues to give reasons why man must not wear a "sign of subjection" on his physical head. It is important to understand that the reasons given for man not to be covered are the same reasons that women must be completely covered. The reasons given by the Apostle Paul are as follows:
1. Man is the image and glory of God: but the woman is the glory of man (11:7).
2. The man is not of the woman; but the woman of the man (11:8).
3. The man was not created for the woman; but the woman for the man (11:9).
It is essential that we consider these reasons given by inspiration because many today mistakenly believe that the long hair is no longer necessary because, they claim, "it was a custom of the day." And since it is no longer a custom, they believe it is no longer necessary. We notice, however, that the reasons given had nothing to do with "custom."
First, "man indeed ought not to cover his head, forasmuch (’since’--Thayer 638-2-5225) as he is the image and glory of God." Paul has reference to Genesis 1:27 where the writer records, "So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him." In writing to the Corinthians, the Apostle Paul uses the Greek term aner, which shows a "contrast to woman" (Bauer, Arndt and Gingrich 65). He speaks only of man (male) as being the "image and glory of God." Man is the "image and the glory" of God, in distinction from the woman, in the sense that he "represents" (Wycliffe 1247) the authority of God.
In Paul’s first letter to Timothy, he says, "Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection. I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence" (2:11-12). Man is God’s mouth-piece--he speaks the oracles of God. The reasons are given in the next two verses: "For Adam was first formed...and Adam was not deceived...." " (Man) was to be considered as a representative of Christ, and on this account his being veiled or covered would be improper" (Clarke 204). He must not be covered with "anything" when he comes before God in prayer or while teaching God’s word.
but the woman is the glory of the man: Woman is man’s glory because she was created as a helper for him and was "taken from (him)":
And the LORD God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him....And the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof; And the rib, which the LORD God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man. And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man (Genesis 2:18; Genesis 2:21-23).
For the man is not of the woman: but the woman of the man.
The second reason given for man to be uncovered and woman to be covered also has nothing to do with custom. Paul says that the man is not to wear a sign of subjection--cover his head while praying or prophesying--because "the man is not of the woman: but the woman of the man." Woman was created "of" the man because man was created first, and woman was created "for" the man to be an appropriate helper for him; this priority gives man certain superiorities over the woman. The two prepositions "of" and "for" reveal the place of the woman.
And the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof; And the rib, which the LORD God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man. And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man. Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh. And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed (Genesis 2:21-25:).
As we noticed in verse 3, the order of authority is given: 1. God, 2. Christ, 3. Prayer of Manasseh 1:4. Woman.
Neither was the man created for the woman; but the woman for the man. A third reason that man is to be uncovered and woman is to be covered is that "man was not created for the woman; but the woman for the man." Paul has reference to the account of the creation in Genesis 2:18; Genesis 2:21-23 again.
Man, being created as the origin of the human race, stands in the position of leadership, only under God and Christ. He is not to cover his head with anything because the covered head is "a sign of subjection." Woman was created for the man; but man was not created for anyone (earthly), showing that man is supreme in authority; therefore, he is not to wear the sign of subjection (long hair or any type of covering) while praying or prophesying.
For this cause ought the woman to have power on her head because of the angels.
For this cause ought the woman to have power on her head: The word "ought" is used here as in verse 7 to mean "must." Woman "must" have "power" on her head. The reasons given for woman to be covered are an essential point because of the mistakened idea that it was merely a custom. The reasons given by the Apostle Paul, however, had nothing to do with the custom of the day. Paul ties these three reasons (given in verses 7-9) together in verse 10 by saying: "For this cause ought the woman to have power on her head because of the angels." For what cause? Because of the order in which woman was created--because she was created both "of" and "for" the man. She is to be covered because of creation and not because of custom.
Verse 10 has been overlooked and omitted by many because of the difficulties surrounding it. It is, however, a verse that needs to be thought through carefully. Some of the key words of the verse provide a better insight into Paul’s meaning here.
The term "ought" (opheilo) tells women they are "under obligation, bound by duty or necessity, to do something" (Thayer 469-2-3784). The instructions given are not followed simply because the woman may desire to do so, or because of custom; instead they are to be followed because of the sense of "duty or necessity" in obeying the inspired scriptures.
What is the instruction now given for Christian women? The Apostle Paul says that she is "to have power on her head"--the "sign" of her subjection--long hair. The term "power" is a metonymy (a figure of speech where the name of one thing is used to suggest another). "Power" means "a sign of the husband’s authority over his wife" (Thayer 225-2-1849). The woman’s "head-cover" in this verse is called "power" (exousia). The American Standard Version renders: "a sign of authority." Paul instructs the woman to wear a "sign" to show subordination to man. For a woman to submit herself to her husband is not a sign of spiritual weakness; it is recognizing the fact that has existed since the creation, and she does so willingly.
The term "power" is "used here of the symbol of power, that is, the covering upon the head as a sign of her husband’s authority" (Vincent, Vol. III 248). In reference to the word "power," Grosheide says, "This ornament of the woman, is the sign of her subjection to the man" (257). Therefore, the Christian woman is under obligation of the scriptures "to have power (the sign of authority) on her head because of the angels." The question that concerns us at this time is: "What is this ’sign’?" John records in Revelation 9:8: "They had hair as the hair of woman...." This point indicates that the woman’s hair is different from the man’s hair.
The long hair of the spirit-beings described as locusts in Revelation 9:8 is perhaps indicative of their subjection to their Satanic master (compare 11:10, RV) (Vine, Unger, White 287).
Vine says that this "power," the "sign of subjection" in 1 Corinthians 11:10, has reference to "the hair as the hair of woman" or "long hair" as referred to in Revelation 9:8. Concerning this word "power" (exousia), Farrar says it refers to a statement of "Callistratus (who) twice uses exousia of ’abundance of hair’...resembling the Irish expression ’a power of hair’" (The Pulpit Commentary 362). Bloomfield quotes commentators who "regard the (’power’) exousia as the name of a female ornament for the head, formed of braids of hair set with jewels" (525).
Many scholars teach that the word "power" refers to a veil. It is important to understand that the words "hair" and "veil" are used interchangeably at times; therefore, the distinction between the two words is not always clear. For example, the Hebrew word tsammah, which is the Greek word katakalumma (this is a Greek noun form of the verb katakalupto in 1 Corinthians 11), is translated as "hair" and "veil" by the translators. Examples can be found in Isaiah where the King James Version translates "uncover thy locks" (47:2) while the American Standard Version translates "remove thy veil." The phrase "uncover thy locks" or "remove thy veil" means "to make naked; hence, to disclose, reveal, to uncover; to make bare, to uncover any one’s ear by taking away the hair" (Gesenius 170).
This same word is also used in Song of Solomon 4:1; Song of Solomon 4:3; Song of Solomon 6:7. The following verses are from the King James Version and the American Standard Version.
"Thou hast doves’ eyes within thy locks" (KJV).
"Thine eyes are as doves behind thy veil" (Footnote beside "veil" says "or locks") (ASV).
"Thy temples are like a piece of a pomegranate within thy locks" (KJV).
"Thy temples are like a piece of pomegranate Behind thy veil" (Footnote 3 beside "veil" says "or locks") (ASV).
"As a piece of a pomegranate are thy temples within thy locks" (KJV).
"Thy temples are like a piece of a pomegranate Behind thy veil" (ASV).
In every case, the King James Version says, "locks"; and the American Standard Version, "veil." Has either mistranslated the word? No, it just appears that the two words were used interchangeably since the hair was considered to be a veil. "Locks" or "veil" is defined by Gesenius as: "tsammah fem. a woman’s vail" (712). Sometimes tsammah is called a veil and other times it is called locks (hair). Young’s Analytical Concordance says, tsammah is "a lock of hair, veil," Solomon 4:1,3; 6:7; Isaiah 47:2 (613).
There are some who will argue that, in today’s society, the "sign" of authority is not the same thing as it was in the days of Paul. Some believe the wedding ring on their finger is the "sign" today and conclude that the covering on the head, the ornamental hair, is not necessary. We must, however, realize that just because the world or even members of the church do not believe what God has commanded does not do away with the command. For example, just because some people do not recognize immersion as a picture of the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ, does not do away with the commandment to be immersed in baptism. Likewise, just because people may not recognize the covered head or long hair as a "sign of subjection," does not do away with the command, "let her be covered" (11:6, RSV).
because of the angels: The word "angels" (aggelos) means "messenger" or "one who is sent" (Thayer 5-2-32). It is difficult to know the exact purpose of the angels. There are many mysteries concerning what part they may have in our lives; however, it appears from Paul’s teachings that angels are in some way associated with Christians while in the acts of praying or prophesying. The Psalmist says that angels were present during worship: "I will praise thee with my whole heart: before the gods (angels) will I sing praise unto thee" (Psalms 138:1). Worship, however, is not the only place where angels are found, for Paul speaks of them as being a witness of the sufferings that both he and other apostles had faced (4:9).
Paul charges Timothy not only before God and Jesus Christ but also before the "elect angels" to "observe these things without preferring one before another, doing nothing by partiality" (1 Timothy 5:21).
There are different views about who these angels are. Some understand that Paul is referring to evil angels or to devils who are called angels: "Know ye not that we shall judge angels? how much more things that pertain to this life" (6:3). This logic contends that the evil angels will lust after women when they do not have their God-given covering.
A second view is that the angels refer to ministers. This is a view often taken by those who believe that the terms "praying or prophesying" in verses 4 and 5 refer only to worship. The contention is that a woman is to be covered in front of ministers so that they may know that the woman considers herself under subjection to man.
A third view is that angels are good angels. This view seems correct because every time the scriptures mention angels without specifying "good" or "bad," they refer to good angels. There is still much confusion, however, about why Paul would make reference to the angels. In his comments, Thayer supposes that Paul has reference to good angels "invisibly present in the religious assemblies of Christians"; and, therefore, women are to be covered where they will "not displease them" (5-2-32).
Another possibility is that the angels were known to have been an example of covering their faces when they were before God:
In the year that king Uzziah died I saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple. Above it stood the seraphims: each one had six wings; with twain he covered his face, and with twain he covered his feet, and with twain he did fly (Isaiah 6:1-2).
Nevertheless neither is the man without the woman, neither the woman without the man, in the Lord.
Nevertheless neither is the man without the woman, neither the woman without the man: These words are said in order to correct any misunderstanding of Paul’s teaching. Man is indeed the "head" of, in an authoritative position over, the woman; however, this position does not give man the right to mistreat the woman because both are necessary for God’s plan for man’s existence to be carried out. Meyer says,
There subsists such a relation between the two in the sphere of the Christian life that neither does the woman stand severed from the man, i.e. independent of, and without bond of fellowship with, him, nor vice versa. They are united as Christian spouses in mutual dependence, each belonging to the other and supplying what the other lacks; neither of the parties being a separate independent person (254).
in the Lord: The phrases, "in the Lord" here and "all things of God" in verse 12, strengthen Paul’s words. He would have both man and woman realize that all things are as they are, not because of them but because of God.
For as the woman is of the man, even so is the man also by the woman; but all things of God.
For as the woman is of the man, even so is the man also by the woman: Man is cautioned here to understand that he is incomplete without the woman, just as the woman is without the man. Paul gives an example of this concerning reproduction. In the beginning woman was made from man (Genesis 2:21-23); however, now man is taken from woman through birth.
but all things of God: Both man and woman are dependent upon each other because, as Paul concludes, "all things (are) of God," that is, "all is by His counsels" (Vine 150). God, through His mighty wisdom, created the human race in such a way that both man and woman are dependent upon the other. Proper respect is essential between men and women as Paul teaches when he says,
Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing. Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself. For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church: For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones. For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church. Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband (Ephesians 5:22-33).
Judge in yourselves: is it comely that a woman pray unto God uncovered?
Judge in yourselves: Paul has already explained that, based upon creation, women should wear a sign of subjection. Now he is asking for their consideration or opinion. The term "judge" (krino) means "to be of opinion, deem, think" (Thayer 360-2-2919).
is it comely that a woman pray unto God uncovered: The word "comely" (prepo) means "becoming, seemly, (or) fit" (Thayer 535-2-4241). Paul is asking them to consider the sign of authority based upon creation, and not custom, and to give their honest opinion whether or not it is becoming for women to be "uncovered." Their honesty would cause them to realize that by being uncovered (having their hair cut) women would be putting themselves on the same level of authority as man.
What are women to be "covered" with--what is this "sign of authority?" In this verse Paul asks, "Is it comely that a woman pray unto God uncovered?" It seems that even before they had a chance to answer the question, Paul answers:
Doth not even nature itself teach you, that, if a man have long hair, it is a shame unto him? But if a woman have long hair, it is a glory to her: for her hair is given her for a covering (11:14-15).
A woman is covered only if she has what is "a glory to her," her "long hair." Her hair is given to her by God to serve as her veil. Alford says, it is "the mere fact of one sex being by nature unveiled, that is, having short hair,--the other, veiled, that is, having long hair" (Vol. VI 568).
Doth not even nature itself teach you, that, if a man have long hair, it is a shame unto him? But if a woman have long hair, it is a glory to her: for her hair is given her for a covering.
Doth not even nature itself teach you: These two verses teach that "nature itself" teaches that man is to be uncovered and woman covered. The word "nature" (phusis) means "natural sense, native conviction or knowledge" (Thayer 660-2-5449). Paul is now asking the Corinthians to use their common sense based upon their knowledge of creation to determine whether or not it is sinful for man to have long hair or for woman not to have long hair.
that, if a man have long hair, it is a shame unto him? But if a woman have long hair: As indicated here, woman is covered in the same way that a man is uncovered, and that is by having or not having "long hair." Paul says that violation of this command is a "shame" (atimia) or "dishonor...disgrace" for man (Thayer 83-1-819).
How Long Is Long Hair?
If a woman have long hair: The question that is asked by some is "How long is long?" The answer to this question is of most importance because man must not have this covering of long hair or else he "dishonors" Christ. On the other hand, woman must have this covering or else she "dishonors" her head--man. The answer is simply, hair that is not shortened.
The term "long hair" is translated from the Greek word komao, which means "to let the hair grow, have long hair" (Thayer 354-1-2863). When women (or men) do not let their hair grow, but instead shorten it by cutting, trimming, breaking, burning, or using any other method--it is not long. Some women will say, "When I trim the ’dead ends,’ my hair will grow longer." The truth of this statement is immaterial. It does not matter if it will grow longer once it is shortened. "The notion of length (is) only secondary and suggested" (Thayer 354-1-2863). The proper question to be asked is: When the hair is cut has it been shortened? Yes; therefore, it is not long; woman loses her "glory."
it is a glory to her: In this context, the term "glory" is found three times:
1. God’s glory is man (verse 7);
2. Man’s glory is woman (verse 7); and
3. Woman’s glory is long hair (verse 15).
We should consider the fact that if woman has the right to do away with her "glory" (long hair), then man would be just as right to do away with his "glory" (woman); and God to do away with His "glory" (man).
for her hair is given her for a covering: The word "hair" is translated from the Greek word kome, meaning "hair, head of hair...it differs from thrix (the anatomical or physical term) by designating the hair as an ornament" (Thayer 354-1-2864). "Hair" refers to the "ornamental hair." This hair as an ornament is given for (instead of or answering to) a covering (peribolaion). That this "hair" has reference to the "sign of subjection" in verses 1-10 is clear from the words of Vine as he says:
The word (kome, hair) is found in 1 Corinthians 11:15, where the context shows that the ’covering’ provided in the long hair of the woman is as a veil, a sign of subjection to authority, as indicated in the headship spoken of in verses 1-10 (Vine, Unger, White 189).
Objections are sometimes made with respect to the idea that the verbs katakalupto and akatakalupto ("covered" and "uncovered" in verses 5-7 and 13) cannot be correctly used with the noun peribolaion ("covering" in verse 15.) This objection is not based upon fact but upon theory. Concerning these two words, Leon Crouch from Lubbock Christian College says:
They are certainly never used together in the New Testament. However, a study of the use of the words in those sources indicates that they could possibly be used together (Letter).
While it may be correct to say the verb and the noun cannot specifically be found being used together in the New Testament, it is of interest to note that in the Septuagint (Greek Old Testament), in Genesis 38:14-15, forms of the two verbs (katakalupto and periballo) are used interchangeably:
Verse 14Tamar "covered (periebale) her with a vail...."
Verse 15 Judah thought she was a harlot because "she had covered (katekalupsato) her face."
Verse 6"Thou coveredst (peribolaion) it with the deep as with a garment...."
Verse 9"Thou hast set a bound that they may not pass over; that they turn not again to cover (kalupsai) the earth."
"Peribolaion, something thrown round one, a covering in general, has here a special reference to the veil (kaluptra, kalumma) spoken of in the context." Therefore, as Meyer continues to say, "Ground for long hair being an ornament to a woman: because it is given her instead of a veil, to take its place, to be, as it were, a natural veil" (Meyer 256).
For Christian women to violate the instructions of the Apostle Paul by refusing to wear long (uncut) hair is of serious consequence. The Apostle Paul has taken the time to give several reasons for the necessity of long hair. As a very brief review, the reasons given are:
1. Cut hair (any length) is the same as being "shorn or shaven" (11:6).
2. Long hair is a "sign" of subjection (11:10).
3. Nature teaches long hair is a glory to women (11:14-15).
4. Long hair (ornamental hair) is a substitute for the peribolaion ("covering") (11:15).
Long hair on women is a "sign of subjection" and is essential today. It must be accepted and should be worn with pride for "her hair is given her for a covering."
But if any man seem to be contentious, we have no such custom, neither the churches of God.
But if any man seem to be contentious: Many people will attempt to use this verse to erase all the teachings of the Apostle Paul in the last fifteen verses. As we have already noticed, however, Paul is not speaking about the "custom" of the day concerning the "sign of authority." These words are spoken because of Paul’s foresight in realizing that some of the Corinthians were being contentious about many matters; therefore, he says if they "seem" to be contentious. The term "seem" "strengthens and increases the sense" (Clarke 209). They must not be contentious about any of Paul’s divine words. Paul is certainly not teaching that if they are having contention over his teaching, they can forget that he wrote the words. Instead his message here is that his spoken words are truth and cannot be altered. He later writes, "I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you" (11:23).
we have no such custom: The pronoun "we" refers to " (Paul) and the other Apostles" (Bloomfield, Vol. VI 533). "Such" (toioutos) means "such as this, of this kind or sort" (Thayer 627-2-5108). Paul is saying none of the apostles share in this custom the Corinthians practiced. There are three views concerning what kind of "custom" Paul has in mind:
1. Some say that Paul was referring to women’s not being covered when praying or prophesying. The problem with this view is that the pronoun "we" does not include women but refers only to the apostles.
2. Some say that Paul has reference to the custom of being contentious. In other words, none of the apostles maintained a contentious spirit. This view is very likely and should not be ruled out.
3. A third view (which seems to be correct) is that verse 16 applies to the subject which follows and not to verses 2-15.
neither the churches of God: By this phrase Paul indicates that not only the apostles but neither the "churches of God" practice this custom. Possibly he is referring to his words in verse 2: "Now I praise you, brethren, that ye remember me in all things, and keep the ordinances, as I delivered them to you."
The generally accepted view is that the "contention" is the disagreement over the headship, but it may also include the Lord’s Supper.
Abuses of The Lord’s Supper
Now in this that I declare unto you I praise you not, that ye come together not for the better, but for the worse.
Now in this that I declare unto you I praise you not: Paul now returns to the main subject: obeying the ordinances, specifically the communion. Furthermore, by the expression "in this that I declare unto you," Paul is referring to the subject matter that he is about to address, beginning in verse 20, about the Lord’s Supper. The term translated "declare" (paraggello) in the King James Version indicates a "charge" (Cambridge Greek Testament 163) given by Paul and is better translated "command" (Thayer 479-2-3853); therefore, he establishes that the things he is about to say are a command from the Lord. Paul says, "For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you" (11:23).
that ye come together not for the better, but for the worse: Paul now addresses some acts of rebellion taking place as the church gathers. The words "come together" (sunerchomai) refer to the time the Corinthians "assemble" (Thayer 604-1-4905) to partake of the Lord’s Supper and literally mean to "assemble for public worship" (Bloomfield, Vol. VI 534). Paul says, however, that when they assemble, it is "not for the better, but for the worse."
He is not indicating that the Corinthians came together for the purpose of not being "better" or for the purpose of being "worse"; instead, he is saying that the result of their gathering together was detrimental to their unity. Christian worship is designed to draw the followers of Christ closer in union to Him and to each other; however, instead of drawing closer to one another, the Corinthians’ worship divided them further from one another. They held their "meetings in such a way that they turned out not to (their) advantage, but to (their) disadvantage" (Bauer, Arndt, and Gingrich 795). Bratcher translates this verse: "In what I say to you now, however, I do not praise you. This is because your worship services do not make you better Christians but worse" (108).
For first of all, when ye come together in the church, I hear that there be divisions among you; and I partly believe it.
For first of all, when ye come together in the church: The word "For" (gar) indicates that Paul is about to give the reason that he cannot "praise" the Corinthians and also the reason that their gathering together with one another was a hindrance rather than a benefit. The words, "For first of all," (proton), or "firstly" (Strong #4412), imply that Paul will be "enumerating several particulars" (Thayer 555-2-4412), indicating that there are other reasons why he cannot praise the Corinthians. Various ideas are given by other commentators about what a second reason is. Some say it is the teaching in verse 20 about the love feast; however, this theory cannot be true because the word "therefore" (in verse 20) "speaks about the same point as the preceding verses" (Grosheide 265). Others say that he has reference to the spiritual gifts discussed in chapter twelve. And still others claim Paul has reference to speaking in tongues. It appears more likely, however, that Paul does not actually name the second reason but decides to deal with "the rest"--the second and all other reasons--when he returns to Corinth. In verse 34 Paul says, "And the rest will I set in order when I come."
The words "come together" mean "to convene in company with" (Strong #4905) the church. The word "church" (ekklesia) does not indicate a building but an "assembly" (Vine 152) or a "congregation" (RV margin).
I hear that there be divisions among you: By the words "I hear," Paul has reference to the report from Chloe’s family (see notes on 1:11). Possibly, Paul names "divisions" first because if the Corinthians would clear up points on which they were divided, other matters would also be solved.
The "divisions" (schisma) or the "dissension" (Thayer 610-1-4978) Paul is speaking of concerns actions taking place "when (the Corinthians) come together in the church." This is not a physical division where one group goes one way and a second group goes another way, but instead they were "contentious" (11:16) with one another. The Corinthians were still meeting together for worship, but they were spiritually divided because of a contentious spirit. They were not following Paul’s instructions when he says,
Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment (1:10).
They were together physically, but they were contentious with one another because they did not have the "same mind." They did not think alike on certain issues (see comments on 1:10).
They were cliques, not sects, but parties, separated from each other by alienation of feeling. It is evident that the rich formed one of these parties, as distinguished from the poor. And probably there were many other grounds of division. The Jewish converts separated from the Gentiles; those having one gift exalted themselves over those having another. It is not outward separation, but inward alienation, which is here complained of (Hodge 217).
and I partly believe it: By these words Paul is saying, "I am unwilling to believe all I hear concerning the point, but some I cannot help believing" (Alford, Vol. II 570).
For there must be also heresies among you, that they which are approved may be made manifest among you.
For there must be also heresies among you: The term hairesis, translated "heresies" here and in Acts 24:14, Galatians 5:20, and 2 Peter 2:1, is translated "sect" in Acts 5:17; Acts 15:5; Acts 24:5; Acts 28:22. The word "heresies" does not necessarily refer to erroneous doctrines but to "dissensions arising from diversity of opinions and aims" (Thayer 16-1-139). The divisions in Corinth, therefore, arose from the self-willed opinions or the deliberate choices made by the ones causing the separations. Paul is referring to those who are "taking sides (and) holding views of one party" (Robertson, Vol. IV 163) as is discussed in depth in chapters one through six. This serious situation is mentioned again when Paul writes to Timothy saying, "Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils" (1 Timothy 4:1). The same warning is also given by Peter when he says,
But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction (2 Peter 2:1).
Concerning the term "heresies" or "factions," McGarvey says:
The word ’division’ used in (verse 18) was a milder term than ’factions’ ("heresies") found here. The former represented parties separated by present or at least very recent dissensions, while the latter described matured separating and looked toward permanent organizations. If the former might be regarded as a war of secession, the latter would describe that condition when the war was practically ended, and the two parties were almost ready to establish themselves as separate, independent and rival governments (115).
that they which are approved may be made manifest among you: The word "approved" (dokimos) signifies those who stand the strain of trial and means "proved (or) tried" (Thayer 155-1-1384). Paul indicates that, though there be heretics in the Corinthian church, there are also those who "are approved." They have withstood the temptations and are, therefore, "manifest" (phaneros) or made "known" (Thayer 648-1-5318) for standing fast in their Christian faith.
It seems that Paul is warning the righteous in Corinth by telling them that these evil acts of heresies among them will be used by God as a way to try their faith. James says,
My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing (1:2-3).
James concludes this teaching by saying,
Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him (1:12).
When ye come together therefore into one place, this is not to eat the Lord’s supper.
When ye come together therefore into one place: In this verse Paul refers to verse 18 and continues his thoughts about the gathering of the Corinthians. The statement "come together in the church" (verse 18, see comment) means the same as "come together...into one place," found here. Both statements refer to the same gathering of people for the purpose of observing the communion.
this is not to eat the Lord’s supper: The term "Lord’s" (kuriakos) is an adjective and means "of or belonging to the Lord" (Thayer 365-1-2960). The only time the term is found in the scriptures is here and in Revelation 1:10, referring to John’s being in the spirit on "the Lord’s day." The "Lord’s supper" is a meal belonging to the Lord. The Lord is the one who instituted the "supper" and, therefore, it must be observed by His instructions.
It was necessary for the celebration of the Lord’s Supper that all should eat of the same bread and drink of the same cup; and in all probability, that a prayer should be offered, and words of consecration said, by the appointed minister (Alford, Vol. II 571).
The "Lord’s Supper" is the communion and not a love-feast or some other common meal shared by the church. Paul is showing that the contentious spirit and the dissension among the Corinthians were so great that it was impossible to partake of the communion service in an acceptable way.
Vincent translates the phrase "this is not" to eat the Lord’s Supper as "it is not possible" to eat the Lord’s Supper (Vol. III 249). The wording of the King James Version is somewhat misleading.
The Authorized Version’s translation is incorrect: ’this is not to eat the Lord’s Supper’; for ouk esti with the infinitive means ’it is impossible’ to eat and ’this’ cannot be supplied since coming together and eating are not identical (Lenski 458).
"One cannot eat a Lord’s Supper in that way; it is morally impossible, since things go on in such fashion as verse 21 thereupon specifies by way of proof" (Meyer 259). The Revised Version renders this verse: "When therefore ye assemble yourselves together, it is not possible to eat the Lord’s supper."
The emphasis of this verse is on the word "Lord’s." They ate a "supper" (deipnon) or "a formal meal" (Thayer 127-1-1173), which was intended to be the "Lord’s Supper"; but because of their actions, the Lord did not recognize it as such. At the Lord’s Supper every Christian, regardless if he were rich or poor, wise or ignorant, Jew or Gentile, would partake of the body and blood of Christ in a joint participation with one another. The supper the Corinthians partook of, however, looked as though they were eating a common meal at their own table instead of eating at the Lord’s table since they were divided into separate party-groups (see 1:12). The Corinthians were not waiting for one another before partaking of the communion. The communion, then as well as today, is not a private act of worship; instead, it is a congregational activity--it is something done by the entire congregation and not by an individual alone.
The term "supper" does not refer to an evening meal as we often use the term. The first century Christians met on the first day of the week to "break bread" or partake of the Lord’s Supper (Acts 20:7) just as we do today. The time of day is not under consideration but the day itself, the first day of the week. Concerning the word "supper," Barnes incorrectly says,
It is called supper, indicting the evening repast; it was instituted in the evening; and it is most proper that it should be observed in the after part of the day. Churches have improperly changed to the morning...a custom which has no sanction in the New Testament (211).
In response to this quote, Coffman quotes Bettenson’s Documents of the Christian Church where he says that Christians were "accustomed to meet before daybreak" (181). It is sometimes thought, and possibly correctly, that the communion is referred to as a "supper" because of the time that it was instituted during the passover and not because of the hour that it is observed. Another view is that the term "supper" is used because supper was considered to be the most important meal of the day; thus, the term "supper" is used as a way to indicate its importance.
For in eating every one taketh before other his own supper: and one is hungry, and another is drunken.
For in eating every one taketh before other his own supper: Paul is explaining that the first major abuse of the communion was in the fact that it was impossible for them to "eat the Lord’s Supper" because of their manner of doing so. They made the Lord’s supper a common meal by not waiting for each other to be present. The words "taketh before" (prolambano) are defined as "to take in advance" (Strong #4301). Another translation says, "You start eating before everybody gets there" (Bratcher 109).
The term translated "his own" (idios) is defined as "pertaining to one’s self (that is) one’s own" (Thayer 296-2-2398). The term "his own" indicates an individual’s personal property just as Paul refers to "his own reward" (3:8), "his own body" (15:38), "his own will" (7:37), "his own charges" (9:7). These are things that belong to each individual. Paul is saying that the Corinthians were not eating the "Lord’s supper"; instead (because they did not wait for one another), they changed what was to be the Lord’s supper into their "own supper."
The "Lord’s Supper" is a communion, not only between Christ and Christians but also between Christians and fellow-Christians. Paul refers to this point earlier: "The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ" (10:16). This is not a communion because they were not eating together. In this process of eating, the consequences are that while one has eaten and another is "hungry" (peinao) and "suffers want" (Thayer 498-1-3983).
and one is hungry, and another is drunken: The term "drunken" (methuo) is used here as in John 2:10 and does not mean that he is intoxicated but he has been filled--he had the opportunity to partake and drink so much that others did not have the opportunity.
It is not, however, necessary to suppose any excess of drinking, but merely drinking to satiety; as at John 2:10, and often in the Old Testament (Bloomfield, Vol. VI 539).
Because some Corinthians were not able to commune, Paul says, "Wherefore, my brethren, when ye come together to eat, tarry one for another" (11:33). McGarvey says,
...there could be no communion supper when: 1. The parties did not eat at the same time, but some before and some after; 2. when each ate his own meal, instead of sharing in ’the one bread’ (10:17); 3. when some ate to the full and others ate nothing at all, because there was nothing left (115).
What? have ye not houses to eat and to drink in? or despise ye the church of God, and shame them that have not? What shall I say to you? shall I praise you in this? I praise you not.
What? have ye not houses to eat and to drink in? or despise ye the church of God, and shame them that have not: The term "What" (gar) forms a question that "assigns a reason" (Strong #1063)--in other words, "What! since ye are so eager to eat and drink, have ye not houses to eat and to drink in" (Thayer 109-2-1063). Paul is not giving permission to eat the Lord’s supper by themselves in their individual houses; instead, he is saying that by the way they were observing the Lord’s Supper, they may as well eat at home because it had become a common meal anyway. Paul then gives two possible reasons for their actions:
1. Do you make the Lord’s Supper a common meal because you do not have houses to eat and to drink in?
2. Are you making the Lord’s Supper a common meal because you despise (kataphroneo), or "think little or nothing of" (Thayer 338-2-2706) the church of God (the people) and attempt to make those who are left without feel ashamed?
Paul is not disapproving of brethren and sisters coming together before or after the worship services to eat a meal with one another at or near the building. Two facts prove this point:
1. Common meals are not the subject under consideration of this context--the Lord’s Supper is. Paul is speaking of his disapproval of eating a common meal together during the worship service.
2. The words "the church of God" are not referring to the material building but to Christians. In the New Testament, the word "church" never refers to a material building but to a congregation of believers. Paul, therefore, is asking: "Do you fail to wait on one another for the Lord’s Supper because you despise each other?"
Furthermore, it should be remembered that many worship services, both then and now, are held in private houses (Philemon 1:2). Certainly, no one would condemn eating in private houses after the worship service is concluded. However, there is condemnation here in eating common meals during worship services regardless of whether the service is held in a separate church building or in an individual’s home.
What shall I say to you? shall I praise you in this? I praise you not: Paul concretely states that he does not "praise" (epaineo) or "approve" (Thayer 227-2-1867) of the way the Corinthians are handling the Lord’s Supper; instead, he disapproves.
How to Observe the Lord’s Supper Properly
For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, That the Lord Jesus the same night in which he was betrayed took bread:
For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you: Paul has the authority not to praise the Corinthians in their way of observing the Lord’s Supper. He delivers the instructions about the Lord’s Supper as he received them from the Lord. Even though Paul was not present with the Lord when He originally instituted the Lord’s Supper with the apostles, he knew what took place because he "received (this knowledge) of the Lord" and in return he "delivered" the same message to the Corinthians.
That the Lord Jesus the same night in which he was betrayed took bread: Paul now relates, in detail, exactly how the Lord’s Supper was originally instituted so that the Corinthians, and Christians today, can follow the same pattern. He states that the institution of the Lord’s Supper took place the "same night" in which Jesus was betrayed by Judas (see comments about the term "supper" in verse 20 for explanation of "night").
When instituting the communion, Jesus’ first step was that he "took bread." The term "bread" (artos) is "food composed of flour mixed with water and baked" (Thayer 75-2-740). It must be unleavened bread as was always used during the Passover (see Exodus 12:15; Exodus 13:3; Exodus 13:7); to use leavened bread is a perversion of this sacred feast. The Lord "took bread" or "a loaf or cake" (Cambridge Greek Testament 167). The Lord took "one of the flat and brittle unleavened cakes of the Passover Table" (The Expositor’s Greek Testament, Vol.II 880). Vine says that the Lord "took a loaf, one of the thin cakes of bread brought for the Passover meal" (155). Since Paul, in explaining how to partake of the Lord’s Supper properly, explains that Jesus took one unleavened loaf, we must also take one unleavened loaf.
And when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat; this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me.
And when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat; this is my body, which is broken for you: Jesus’ second step in instituting the Lord’s Supper was to "give thanks" for the unleavened bread that he took. "Given thanks" (eucharisteo) means "return(ing) thanks...especially of grace before meals" (Bauer, Arndt and Gingrich 328). Instead of "given thanks," Matthew and Mark say that Jesus "blessed it." These words mean the same thing and refer to the act of consecration.
Jesus’ third step was to "brake it." The pronoun "it" is singular and refers to the one unleavened bread that he took and gave thanks for. The Apostle Paul indicates that this same practice was followed by the church in Ephesus when he says, "The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ?" (10:16).
Use of "the bread" (singular) which "we" (plural) break is conclusive proof that the bread was not "broken into pieces" or individually distributed by one individual as is done by the practice of using individual wafers; instead each participant is to break what he eats. The words "brake it" "involve the idea of distribution...and also includ(e) the eating of it" (Bloomfield, Vol. VI 542). After the third step of breaking the bread, Jesus commanded His disciples to "take (and) eat." They did not have individual pieces of bread (loaves), but instead they were told to "take (and) eat" what Jesus had taken. With this action, Jesus says, "this is my body, which is broken for you." The pronoun "this" is singular and refers to the one unleavened loaf that Jesus took and instructed the disciples to take and eat. The phrase "which is broken for you" does not refer to the one unleavened loaf being broken into pieces, but instead Jesus is saying that the one unleavened loaf denotes His "body, which is broken for you."
Broken of the Textus Receptus (King James Version) is clearly not genuine, Luke (22:19) has didomenon (given) which is the real idea here. As a matter of fact the body of Jesus was not broken (John 19:36). The bread was broken, but not the body of Jesus (Robertson, Vol. IV 164).
While it is true that the term "broken" is not in many manuscripts, the meaning is still true. Objection is sometimes made to this view because John says, "A bone of him shall not be broken" (John 19:36). Even though the bones were not broken, Jesus’ body was broken when His side was pierced with a spear when He was crucified and, in a figurative sense, it was broken by death. Therefore, by referring to Jesus’ body being "broken," Paul refers to the death of Jesus. This fact accounts for Luke’s (Luke 22:19) quoting Jesus as saying, "...This is my body which is given for you...."
The expression "this is my body" does not teach the doctrine of transubstantiation--that the unleavened loaf becomes Jesus’ literal body--instead it means that the one loaf represents the one body of Christ. "The bread, standing for the body, ’is the body’ representatively" (Expositor’s Greek Testament, Vol. II 880). This scholarly work, concerning the word "is," says, " (’is’ estin) is here the copula of symbolic being" (Vol. II 880). The disciples could not have understood Jesus as saying that the loaf was His literal body, or that the fruit of the vine was His literal blood, because Jesus’ literal body and blood were still present when He instituted the Lord’s Supper. Concerning why the term "body" is applied to the "bread," the following observation is made:
...it is for the same reason that John calls the Holy Spirit a dove. (John 1:32.)...Now the reason why the Spirit was so called was this--that he had appeared in the form of a dove. Hence the name of the Spirit is transferred to the visible sign. Why should we not maintain that there is here a similar instance of metonymy, and that the term body is applied to the bread, as being the sign and symbol of it?...hence the bread is Christ’s body, because it assuredly testifies, that the body which it represents is held forth to us, or because the Lord, by holding out to us that symbol, gives us at the same time his own body; for Christ is not a deceiver, to mock us with empty representations (Calvin 377).
Jesus uses the expression, "this bread is my body," indicating the bread represents the body in the same way that He says, "I am the vine, ye are the branches," indicating that Jesus represents the vine and Christians represent the branches.
this do in remembrance of me: Paul reminds the Corinthians that in His fourth step Jesus concluded His instructions about the one unleavened loaf by commanding His disciples "this do" or "do this" in remembrance of me. The word "do" means to "be doing or continue doing" (Vincent, Vol. III 251) as He had done by imitating Him. Christ was instructing His disciples about how they were to remember Him once He returned to the Father. The term "remembrance" (anamnesis) does not mean "in memory of me" (Vine 157), but it means "a remembering (or) recollection" (Thayer 40-1-364) of His death. Jesus is saying, "Do as I have done so that you will always remember my suffering."
After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me.
After the same manner also he took the cup: The phrase "After the same manner" (hosautos) means "in the same way" (Strong #5615) or "likewise" (Thayer 682-2-5615). Jesus’ fifth step was that just as He took the one unleavened bread (loaf), He also "took the cup." The word "cup" (poterion) literally means "a drinking vessel" (Thayer 533-1-4221). The word cup, as it is used here, is a "metonomy of the container for the contained, the contents of the cup, what is offered to be drunk" (Thayer 682-2-5615). The container was not empty--it contained something that was consumed, indicating a participation (Jesus’ sixth step), that is, there was something to be drunk--a liquid. The cup in the communion contains the fruit of the vine. Jesus says,
And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it; For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins (Matthew 26:27-28).
An everyday example of this type of metonomy is: "The kettle is boiling." Such a statement includes, first, one kettle and, second, a boiling liquid. Likewise, when using the word "cup," two things must be included: one cup and the liquid that is drunk. The absence of either does away with the figure called metonomy. In the example "the kettle is boiling," there is no metonomy if there is no kettle, or if there is a kettle but no liquid--both must be present.
It should also be noted that Paul says Jesus took "the cup." The article "the" is singular, indicating that He took only one cup (drinking vessel) containing the fruit of the vine. If multiple cups (drinking vessels) had been used, Jesus would have had to say, "he took the cups; but instead, Jesus "took the cup." Matthew records, "And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it" (Matthew 26:26). Jesus took one cup (containing the fruit of the vine), gave thanks for this one cup (containing the fruit of the vine), and gave the one cup (containing the fruit of the vine) to His disciples, and then commanded them to "drink ye all of it." The disciples did exactly what Jesus commanded, "And he took the cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them: and they all drank of it" (Mark 14:23). They drank the liquid (fruit of the vine) in the one container (cup).
when he had supped: The words "when he had supped" (deipneo) do not mean when he had drunk, but "after supper" or after he had eaten the Passover supper. Luke says, "Likewise also the cup after supper, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you" (22:20).
saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood: "This cup" is the same cup mentioned in the first phrase of this verse and refers to the cup containing the fruit of the vine. Therefore, Jesus says the cup containing the fruit of the vine "is the new testament in my blood." Jesus is not saying that this cup is the literal New Testament; but just as the bread represents the body of Christ and the fruit of the vine represents the blood of Christ, the cup containing the fruit of the vine represents the New Testament "in my blood."
The expression "in my blood" means "ratified and sealed by His blood" (Vine 157). The New Testament was made possible by the shedding of Jesus’ blood. Jesus is the testator of the New Testament; therefore, had He not shed His blood (died), the New Testament would not have come into effect. Paul says,
And for this cause he is the mediator of the new testament, that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first testament, they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance. For where a testament is, there must also of necessity be the death of the testator. For a testament is of force after men are dead: otherwise it is of no strength at all while the testator liveth (Hebrews 9:15-17).
In order for a testament to be in force, there had to be a blood sacrifice. This fact was also true about the Old Testament. Paul says,
Whereupon neither the first testament was dedicated without blood. For when Moses had spoken every precept to all the people according to the law, he took the blood of calves and of goats, with water, and scarlet wool, and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book, and all the people, Saying, This is the blood of the testament which God hath enjoined unto you (Hebrews 9:18-20).
this do ye, as oft as ye drink it: Just as Jesus instructs about the one loaf, He also gives the seventh step by commanding the disciples to "do" as He did, "drink it" (singular)--the one cup containing the fruit of the vine. Jesus explains that this pattern is to be followed "as oft as ye drink it," meaning follow this example, not when you choose to do so, but every time you commune. "The words (this do) seem to refer to the whole action with the cup, the taking, blessing and passing round" (Cambridge Greek Testament 170).
in remembrance of me: (see verse 24 for explanation).
Paul "received of the Lord" (verse 23) seven steps and "delivered (them) unto (the disciples)" (verse 23):
Step #1 Jesus took one unleavened loaf (verse 23).
Step #2 Jesus gave thanks for one unleavened loaf (verse 24).
Step #3 Jesus broke the one unleavened loaf (involves eating) (verse 24).
Step #4 Jesus instructed disciples to "take (and) eat" (verse 24).
Step #5 Jesus took the cup (verse 25).
Step #6 Jesus drank (verse 25).
Step #7 Jesus instructed disciples "this do" (verse 25).
How Are Jesus’ Steps (Mentioned Above) Violated?
The Corinthians could not have made the Lord’s Supper a common meal if they had not violated the example left by Jesus. They violated the "fourth step" by not waiting for all the participants; and, therefore, some had to go without the Lord’s Supper. Today, people are violating the pattern given by the Lord by not following each step mentioned above. For example:
Step #1: Jesus took one unleavened loaf (verse 23). This example is violated in one of two ways:
1) If the participants take more than one loaf. The King James Version uses the term "bread"; however, it is defined as "a loaf" (see verse 23). Every example of the Lord’s Supper clearly uses a singular number--"bread" not "breads."
2) If the participants use a leavened loaf. That the Lord’s Supper was instituted after the Passover proves that the bread was unleavened. Moses says,
a. Seven days shall ye eat unleavened bread; even the first day ye shall put away leaven out of your houses: for whosoever eateth leavened bread from the first day until the seventh day, that soul shall be cut off from Israel. And in the first day there shall be an holy convocation, and in the seventh day there shall be an holy convocation to you; no manner of work shall be done in them, save that which every man must eat, that only may be done of you. And ye shall observe the feast of unleavened bread; for in this selfsame day have I brought your armies out of the land of Egypt: therefore shall ye observe this day in your generations by an ordinance for ever. In the first month, on the fourteenth day of the month at even, ye shall eat unleavened bread, until the one and twentieth day of the month at even. Seven days shall there be no leaven found in your houses: for whosoever eateth that which is leavened, even that soul shall be cut off from the congregation of Israel, whether he be a stranger, or born in the land. Ye shall eat nothing leavened; in all your habitations shall ye eat unleavened bread. Then Moses called for all the elders of Israel, and said unto them, Draw out and take you a lamb according to your families, and kill the passover (Exodus 12:15-21).
Step #2: Jesus gave thanks for one unleavened loaf (verse 24). This example is violated by the participants’ failing to pray and thank God for the bread/loaf.
Step #3: Jesus broke the one unleavened loaf (involves eating) (verse 24). This example is violated by the participants’ failing to break (which involves eating) the loaf. The brother serving at the table is not to break the bread for others; instead, he is to break off the part that he consumes and then pass the remainder to the other participants, and they do likewise.
Step #4: After Jesus took the bread and gave thanks, He instructed the assembled disciples to "take (and) eat" (verse 24). The Corinthians violated this instruction by not communing together. Instead, they would partake before others were present. This example is violated today when Christians do not commune together. Christians must "...tarry one for another" (11:33) and not commune in individual groups before the congregation meets. Also, they must "...tarry one for another" by not leaving the worship service before everyone has communed.
Step #5: Jesus took the cup (verse 25). This example is violated by Christians’ taking more than one cup.
Step #6: Jesus drank (verse 25). The fact that Jesus had eaten (verse 24) indicates He also drank of the fruit of the vine that was in the cup. This example is violated by Christians’ failing to partake of the one cup.
Step #7: Jesus instructed His disciples "this do" (verse 25). Finally, after partaking of the one cup containing the fruit of the vine, Jesus commanded the assembled disciples to "do this," that is, "Do as I have done." Today, Christians violate Jesus’ command of "this do" by refusing to drink of one cup containing the fruit of the vine.
The purpose of the assembled disciples’ drinking from the one cup ("the cup of blessing") is clearly stated by Paul when he says, "The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ?" (10:16). Paul refers to "The cup (singular) of blessing which we (plural) bless" as the communion of the blood of Christ. There is no communion (joint participation) if the assembly does not drink of one "cup of blessing." The following explanations from scholars explain how the Lord’s Supper was conducted:
1. "The cup was handed round--being designated the ’cup of blessing’ (10:16)--the contents of the cup are specifically described by our Lord as ’the fruit’ of the vine (Matthew 26:29; Mark 14:25; Luke 22:18)" (Smith’s Bible Dictionary 185).
2. A communion cup is: "1. The cup used in common by all the communicants at the celebration of the Lord’s Supper" (Funk and Wagnalls New Standard Dictionary 1961).
3. Speaking of "the cup of blessing" in 10:16: "The Master of the feast took a cup of wine in his hand, and solemnly blessed God for it....it was then passed to all the guests, each of whom drank of it in his turn" (The Union Bible Dictionary 1855).
The History of Individual Cups
The following is the "History of Individual Cups" as clearly explained and documented by Ronny F. Wade, evangelist, writer, and debater.
The Bible accounts of the institution of (the Lord’s Supper) all indicate that in the original observance Jesus took a loaf of unleavened bread and a cup (one) containing fruit of the vine (Matthew 26:26-28; Mark 14:22-24). Just how long the New Testament church observed the communion in that fashion is unknown. We do know that about two hundred years after the establishment of the church there is a record indicating that more than one container was used in the Lord’s Supper. That record also indicates that there were other additions and changes being made in the divine pattern. Individual cups, however, are of rather recent origin. Rev. J.G. Thomas, a minister, who was also a physician, claims credit for inventing the first individual communion set. Their first use occurred in the Vaughnsville Congregational Church located in Putnam County, Ohio, sometime during the year of 1893. The idea became very popular and spread rapidly throughout the country. As people became more conscious of germs and the possible transmission of disease by several people drinking out of the same container, more and more churches adopted the practice. There were some, however, who felt that the sanitation feature was being overplayed and even ridiculed the necessity of individual drinking cups. In fact, there were a number of denominations that refused to accept them because they viewed them as an addition to the teaching of the scripture.
In the early days of the restoration movement, many churches used one cup. Alexander Campbell was in attendance at a congregation where such was the case, and he described it as one of the most beautiful services he ever attended. I quote:
’He then took the cup in a similar manner, and returned thanks for it, and handed it to the disciple sitting next to him, who passed it round; each one waiting upon his brother, until all were served.’
During the same time period, there were some churches who used two, or perhaps four cups to serve the congregation the fruit of the vine. One popular practice was to have all men sit on one side of the meeting house with the women sitting on the other side; a cup was then passed down each side. Eventually it would be the use of more than one cup that made the adoption of individual cups all the easier to accept. For after all, as the argument was made, if you can use more than one, then you can use as many as you might like to use, and that certainly became the case.
One of the early preachers, in the church, to oppose individual cups was the honored and revered J.W. McGarvey. In February 1910 he received a query about the use of cups. His reply is as follows:
’A brother in Pensacola, Florida asked me what authority have we for using the single cup in the communion service, as has been the custom of the Christian churches, other than it is implied in the narratives of the three gospels? We have none, but that is enough. On the other hand, we have no authority for doing otherwise. Every divinely appointed ordinance would be observed precisely as divine wisdom has appointed it.’
How then did the individual cups find their way into the church of Christ? Brother C.E. Holt of Florence, Alabama, may well have been the first non-instrument preacher to come out in favor of individual cups. His article in the June 11, 1911, Gospel Advocate claimed that the use of individual cups was probably much cleaner and more sanitary than several people drinking from the same cup. David Lipscomb, then editor of the paper, was not so easily convinced. In fact he steadfastly opposed the use of the individual communion cups for a rather lengthy period of time. It was only after a visit from G.C. Brewer that Lipscomb began to weaken somewhat and say that he was about to reach the conclusion that the cups were in no way a violation of scripture teaching. Soon after this, Brewer introduced the individual cups into the Central Church of Christ in Chattanooga, Tennessee. A short time later Lipscomb wrote in the Advocate that he no longer felt that individual cups were a violation of New Testament teaching. From this point forward, churches began adopting them throughout the country.
The above is a brief history of the changes that resulted in the introduction of individual cups into churches of Christ in America. Divisions came, as they always do, when innovations find their way into the church. It is noteworthy that this addition was not the result of what Jesus or Paul said but rather what men like C.E. Holt and G.C. Brewer said. It is rather sobering when one realizes that there is no higher authority for the use of individual cups in the communion than these mortal men (Wade 10).
For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord’s death till he come.
For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup: In this verse Paul explains why the Corinthians must partake of the Lord’s Supper in the specific way he has given.
The words "For as often" do not mean "when they desire" to commune. The Lord’s Supper is to be observed on the first day of every week. If it is taken on any day other than the first day of the week, it is not actually the Lord’s Supper but a common meal. Acts 20:7 gives us an example of the Lord’s Supper’s being observed: "And upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul preached unto them...."
The bread mentioned here is the one unleavened bread spoken of in verses 23-24, which the assembled disciples are to share; likewise, the cup mentioned here is the same "cup of blessing" mentioned in verse 16. The expression "drink this cup" means to drink the contents of the cup or the fruit of the vine. In Matthew 26:27 Jesus gives the cup, which He took, to his disciples and instructs them: "Drink ye all of it." How they drank the cup is answered for us in Mark 14:23 "...they all drank of it." The word "of" found in Matthew 26:27 and Mark 14:23 refers to "the thing out of which one drinks" (Thayer 189-1-1537). The "thing" mentioned is a cup; therefore, we drink a cup by drinking "out of" the cup.
ye do shew the Lord’s death till he come: The word "shew" (kataggello) is a present tense verb, indicating a continual or habitual practice and means "to announce, declare, promulgate, make known; to proclaim publicly, publish" (Thayer 330-2-2605). The term "shew" "includes the idea of celebrating, commending, openly praising" (Thayer 330-2-2605). The word "shew" clearly means to "proclaim" or to tell thoroughly. In other words, every time we commune we are proclaiming the "death of Jesus Christ until He comes again." For this reason, it becomes critical for each of us to commune and to do so in the right way. We should notice that the communion proclaims not only the death of Christ but also His resurrection, as indicated by the words: "until He comes again." Jesus says, "I was dead, and behold, I am alive for evermore" (Revelation 1:18). When we, as Christians, receive the bread and cup, we are teaching others the meaning of these emblems. By our participation and communing with each other, we are teaching others about the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ. The communion also proclaims the second coming of Christ.
Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven (Acts 1:11).
From this time forward, the second coming of Christ became a highly preached theme by the apostles. Today, we teach the same as we commune, for the communion looks back to the death of Christ and forward to the return of Christ (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18). The return of the Lord will bring the communion service, as we know it now, to an end. When He comes again, we will have no need to "remember" because then we will be with Him throughout eternity. Paul is saying every time Christians assemble and properly "eat this bread" (the bread mentioned in verses 23-24) and "drink this cup" (the one cup mentioned in verse 25), they continue to proclaim (RV) publicly the death of Jesus till He comes again. This "shew(ing)" is not an exhibition or demonstration; instead, it "is used of preaching" (Vine 159). Instead of the term "shew," the King James Version translates kataggello as "preached" in Acts 4:2; and "preach" in 1 Corinthians 9:14. We see, therefore, that the act of breaking bread and drinking the cup is a silent way of teaching that Jesus has died for our sins, but that He will come again.
Wherefore whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord.
Wherefore whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord: Paul begins with the word "Wherefore" to draw our minds back to the last statement of verse 26 about "the Lord’s death" (see verses 23-26 for explanation of eating "this bread" and drinking "this cup"). Paul uses the expression this cup "of the Lord" as a way to separate it from "the cup of devils" mentioned in 1 Corinthians 10:21.
unworthily: The Apostle Paul warns against communing "unworthily" (anaxios), or as Strong says, "irreverently" (#371) or "in an unworthy manner" (Thayer 40-2-371). The American Standard Version and the Revised Standard Version render this verse as "Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner...." This warning is against making a mockery out of the Lord’s Supper. It became a mockery by becoming a common meal because of the Corinthians’ not waiting for each other. This verse does not imply that some Christians are worthy and some are unworthy to partake of the Lord’s Supper. No one is actually worthy enough that Christ should have died for them! The idea of being worthy or unworthy is not under consideration. Paul is teaching that anyone who partakes of the Lord’s Supper in any way other than the way it should be--by remembering Jesus Christ--is eating and drinking unworthily. Paul is actually talking here about the manner in which we eat and drink the Lord’s Supper.
The word "unworthily" is not an adjective, describing a communicant; instead, it is an adverb, telling how he is eating and drinking the body and blood of the Lord. The Corinthians were doing so "unworthily" by changing the Lord’s Supper into an ordinary feast for the purpose of satisfying their own appetites. They were not having a joint participation with each other. Paul says,
When ye come together therefore into one place, this is not to eat the Lord’s supper. For in eating every one taketh before other his own supper: and one is hungry, and another is drunken. What? Have ye not houses to eat and to drink in? Or despise ye the church of God, and shame them that have not? What shall I say to you? Shall I praise you in this? I praise you not (11:20-22).
shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord: We understand the importance of eating and drinking worthily when we consider the consequences of failing to do so. Paul concludes verse 27 by saying that those guilty of eating and drinking unworthily "shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord." Being "guilty" (enochos) implies being "guilty of a crime committed against the body and blood of the Lord" (Thayer 217-2-1777). Whenever Christians do not partake of the Lord’s Supper in the way and manner instructed by the Lord, they are guilty of crucifying the Lord again.
But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup.
In order for Christians not to eat and drink unworthily, Paul says "let a man examine himself." This is a self-examination, not an examination by others. The word "examine" (dokimazo) means "to test, prove (or) scrutinize" (Thayer 154-2-1381). We must prove ourselves, our actions, our motives. Our responsibility is to prove to ourselves whether we are partaking in an acceptable manner.
As Christians we should always be interested in ways we can better ourselves. With this honest personal examination, we can learn our good points as well as our bad points. We should examine ourselves to see if we are committed to Christ. Is He first in our lives? Is He our first consideration? Examining ourselves, concerning the Lord’s Supper, is similar to the instruction given in Paul’s second letter as he says,
Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates? (2 Corinthians 13:5).
The problem with such examinations is in accepting the fact that there are only two conditions. Jesus Christ is either "in" us or else we are "reprobates." The idea being presented is that we are to examine ourselves to make sure that we are approved before God. Those who are approved, Paul says, "Let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup."
For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body.
For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself: A failure to "examine" ourselves may cause us to be "guilty of the body and blood of the Lord" (verse 27) by "eating and drinking damnation to himself." The term "damnation" (krima) means "condemnatory sentence, penal judgment, a sentence" (Thayer 360-2-2917). By eating and drinking damnation to himself, a person is calling for the punishment of God because God will punish him. "Eating and drinking damnation to himself" means that he "passes sentence upon himself" (Cambridge Greek Testament 171).
not discerning the Lord’s body: Paul explains that eating and drinking damnation is caused by a person’s "not discerning the Lord’s body." The word "discerning" (diakrino), means "to separate thoroughly" (Strong #1252).
In communion, if we fail to separate from our minds all things except for Jesus Christ and Him crucified, we are then eating and drinking damnation to ourselves because we are then making a common meal of the Lord’s Supper. The one who fails to discern the Lord’s body is "the eater and drinker, who turns the Supper, as was actually done at Corinth, into a banquet and carousal" (Meyer 269). The Corinthians were not thinking only of Christ; they were thinking of ways that they could eat the Lord’s Supper without having to share it with those with whom they were having contention.
"The body" "stands for the whole of that which is symbolized by the Bread and the Cup, the Body and the Blood" (Alford, Vol. II 574). The phrase "not discerning the Lord’s body" also implies that we must understand what the "eating and drinking" symbolize. In verse 24, Jesus tells us that the "bread" represents "His body" that was crucified for us. There being only one body indicates that there is to be only one bread to represent it. Likewise, in verse 25 Jesus tells us that the "cup" containing the fruit of the vine represents the New Testament. There is only one New Testament; therefore, there is to be only one cup (vessel) containing the fruit of the vine to represent it. Jesus tells us that what they "drink" "is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins" (Matthew 26:27-28). Without these facts clearly in our minds we, today, cannot eat and drink worthily; instead, we are "eating and drinking damnation to ourselves, not discerning the Lord’s body."
For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep.
By "not discerning the Lord’s body," the Corinthians were eating and drinking damnation (verse 29) to themselves. Paul explains what their punishment is: he says that many are "weak" (astheneo) or "feeble" (Thayer 80-2-772), and "sickly" (arrhostos) or "without strength" (Thayer 75-1-732). These two adjectives seem to be synonyms denoting ailments. This action has also caused many to "sleep" (koimesis). The term "sleep" is used metaphorically meaning "to die" (Thayer 351-2-2837). "Paul is speaking not figuratively of low spiritual conditions, but literally of physical inflictions which he knows to be their consequence" (Expositor’s Greek Testament, Vol. II 883). This idea is to be rejected because "spiritual neglect must bring spiritual penalties" (Lipscomb 176).
Those referred to as being "weak and sickly" are Christians who have grown weak in Christ, or, as we may say, "weak in the church" because they have repeatedly transgressed the Lord’s instructions. Likewise, while some were only spiritually weak, others were dead spiritually, possibly meaning that they had left God totally. It would be difficult to explain the Lord’s chastening of Christians if these acts ("weak," "sickly," and "sleep") refer to physical actions.
For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged.
The words found here are teaching the opposite of verse 29. Failing to judge ourselves by eating and drinking unworthily leads to damnation; however, judging ourselves leads away from damnation. The word translated "judge" (diakrino) in verse 31 is the same as the one translated "discerning" in verse 29 and means to "judge (yourself) correctly" (Bauer, Arndt and Gingrich 184). Paul is saying that if the Corinthians had been in the habit of distinguishing between what they are and what they ought to be before coming to the Lord’s Supper, they would not have had to be judged by the Lord. In other words, they were being "judged" (krino), which is being "punished on the basis of the law...which God brings upon sinners" (Bauer, Arndt, and Gingrich 452) because they failed to judge their own behavior and attitude correctly before coming to the Lord’s Supper.
It is likely that Paul is making reference to church discipline in 1 Corinthians 5. This is certainly one positive way that the Lord has instructed sinful Christians to be disciplined with the hope that they might be saved. Paul says, "To deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus" (5:5).
But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world.
Christians are "chastened of the Lord" (by becoming "weak" and "sickly" and "sleep(ing)" as stated in verse 30) that they "should not be condemned with the world." The term "chastened" (paideuo) means "to chasten by the infliction of evils and calamities" (Thayer 473-1-3811). Being chastened does not signify eternal punishment, but it simply has the idea of being "disciplined" (Bauer, Arndt, and Gingrich 608) or "discipline with word" (Robertson, Vol. IV 166) by the Lord.
The purpose of the Lord’s disciplining Christians is that they "should not be condemned with the world." Discipline is for the purpose of correcting errors in the lives of those who have sinned so they will not be eternally punished with the world. This idea is proof that the words "weak," "sickly," and "sleep" must refer to spiritual acts and not physical acts; how could a physical death correct a person’s errors? The same idea is taught by Paul again when he says,
For they verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure; but he for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness. Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby (Hebrews 12:10-11).
Wherefore, my brethren, when ye come together to eat, tarry one for another.
Paul refers to the Corinthians as "my brethren" as a way to tone down his criticism of them. The term "tarry" (ekdechomai) means "to wait for (that is) wait for one another until each shall have received his food" (Thayer 193-2-1551). In failing to "tarry" or wait for one another, they were not communing together but were making this sacred communion, not a joint participation, but a common meal. Paul, therefore, gives instructions about how to avoid being disciplined by the Lord: when coming together for the Lord’s Supper, they should "tarry one for another." Possibly this instruction would involve not eating the Lord’s Supper before others are present and not leaving before others conclude the Supper. Paul is teaching that "no one must begin supper till the Church is gathered, so that all may commence together and share alike" (The Expositor’s Greek Testament, Vol. II 884).
And if any man hunger, let him eat at home; that ye come not together unto condemnation. And the rest will I set in order when I come.
And if any man hunger, let him eat at home: Paul is teaching that "any man" should eat his common meal at home. The eating of the common meal must not be connected with the eating of the Lord’s Supper wherever they are eaten.
And the rest will I set in order when I come: The matters to which Paul alludes by the term "rest" most likely deal with other problems about the Lord’s Supper. It is not likely that he was referring to another subject because he continues and speaks of other problems they faced.