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Godet's Commentary on Selected Books Godet on Selected Books
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These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Godet, Frédéric Louis. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 11". "Godet's Commentary on Selected Books". https://studylight.org/
commentaries/ eng/ gsc/ 1-corinthians-11.html.
Godet, Frédéric Louis. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 11". "Godet's Commentary on Selected Books". https://studylight.org/
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Vv. 10:33-11:1. “even as I please all men in all things, not seeking mine own profit, but the profit of the many, that they may be saved. 1 Corinthians 11:1. Become imitators of me, as I am of Christ.”
In chap. 9 the apostle had developed at length the example of self-denial, which he was constantly giving to the Church by submitting to the necessity of earning a livelihood for himself, and in general, by becoming subject, when it was necessary, to the legal observances, from which he felt himself set free by faith in Christ. In concluding this whole passage, in which he has asked the Corinthians to make many sacrifices which are painful to them, he once more refers to his example, because he knows that we are not at liberty to ask sacrifices from others except in proportion to those which we make ourselves.
The phrase to please others may denote a vice or a virtue. That depends on the object proposed, whether to gain our neighbour's good graces selfishly, or to gain the attachment of our neighbour so as to win him for God. These are the two cases Paul contrasts with one another in this verse, in order to exclude the first, in so far as his own conduct is concerned; comp. Galatians 1:10. The: in all things, comprehends of course only the things which belong to the province of Christian liberty. The many is opposed to Paul as an individual, and their salvation to his individual interest ( ἐμαυτοῦ , of myself).
Vv. 1 Corinthians 11:1 . Christ alone is the perfect model; each believer is a model to his brethren only in so far as he is a copy in relation to Christ.
Paul has in mind especially the absolute self-denial which was the basis of our Lord's earthly life, Romans 15:1-3.
It is only the fact expressed in the second part of the verse which gives the apostle the right and liberty to write the first. To be quite exact, we must understand in the second proposition not the verb be, but the verb become, used in the first.
The imitation in question is not a slavish one. As Paul was not in circumstances identical with those of Christ, so the Corinthians were not in circumstances altogether analogous to those of Paul. What he asks of the Church is, that it allow itself to be guided by the spirit of self-denial which animates himself, as he is guided by the spirit of self-sacrifice which was the soul of Christ's life.
We have already cast a glance over the course followed by the apostle in treating this delicate subject. It was needful to limit the use made of their liberty by many of the Corinthian Christians, and among them no doubt, by those who directed the opinion of the Church, without placing them again under the yoke of an external law, and while bringing them to understand themselves the necessity of the sacrifice. This sacrifice wounded their vanity as much as their love of pleasure. It is easy to see the extreme prudence with which the apostle required to conduct this discussion. He begins by stating the point about which all are agreed, the monotheism which excludes the reality of idols. He leaves aside for the moment the frequenting of idolatrous feasts, appealing only to charity for weak brethren. He encourages the strong by his example, deters them by that of the Israelites. After this preparation, he strikes the great blow. Then he concludes calmly with some simple and practical rules in regard to the eating of meats, rules which admirably establish harmony between the rights of liberty and the obligations of charity.
Justly does Rückert exclaim, as he closes the analysis of the passage: “Truly I could not conceive a more prudent or better calculated course; we have here a masterpiece of true eloquence.” Pity, only, that this eminent exegete does not stop there, but thinks he must ascribe to the apostle's eloquence, in this case, a certain character of craftiness. Evidently in the course followed by the apostle we are bound to recognise the wisdom of the serpent; but it does not for a moment exclude the simplicity of the dove. For prudence is throughout ever in the service of the love of truth and of zeal for the good of individuals and of the Church.
Vv. 2. “Now I praise you, that ye remember me in all things, and keep the ordinances, as I delivered them to you.”
The now is progressive; it is the transition to the new subject. Edwards takes it adversatively (in contrast to the expression imitators of me): “ But, if you do not imitate me in everything, I acknowledge that in these things you observe my instructions.” This connection does not seem to me natural.
The word παραδόσεις here certainly denotes the traditions relating to ecclesiastical customs, and not doctrinal instructions; these will come to be treated 1 Corinthians 15:3.
The μου , me, seems to me to be the complement of the μέμνησθε , ye remember; the πάντα is in that case an adverbial qualification: in all things, on all points. Rückert thinks he can make πάντα the direct object of the verb, and μου the complement of πάντα : “You remember all that proceeds from me.” But, not to speak of the usual construction of the verb (with the genitive), there would be something harsh in the expression πάντα μου ( all things of me). Finally, the other construction more delicately expresses the personal remembrance of which Paul feels himself to be the object on their part.
But there was a point on which the apostle had not expressly pronounced in his oral teaching, probably because the occasion had not occurred, no woman having made trial in his presence of the right of speaking, and that with her head uncovered. Things had changed since his departure.
VII. The Demeanour of Women in Public Worship. Chap. 11:2-16.
The apostle has just treated a series of subjects belonging to the domain of the Church's moral life, especially in connection with Christian liberty (chaps. 6-10). He now passes to various subjects relating to public worship, beginning with that which lies nearest the domain of liberty: the external demeanour of women in public worship. Then will follow the disorders which have crept into the celebration of the Holy Supper and into the administration of spiritual gifts. Such are the three subjects Paul conjoins in the closely connected chaps. 11-14.
The ancients in general laid down a difference between the bearing of men and that of women in their appearances in public. Plutarch ( Quaest. Rom. xiv.) relates that at the funeral ceremony of parents, the sons appeared with their heads covered, the daughters with their heads uncovered and their hair flowing. This author adds by way of explanation: “To mourning belongs the extraordinary,” that is to say, what is done on this occasion, is the opposite of what is done in general. What would be improper at an ordinary time becomes proper then. Plutarch also relates that among the Greeks it was customary for the women in circumstances of distress to cut off their hair, whereas the men allowed it to grow; why so? Because the custom of the latter is to cut it, and of the former to let it grow (see Heinrici, pp. 300, 301). According to several passages from ancient authors, while the long hair of the woman was regarded as her best ornament, the man who, by the care he bestowed on his hair, effaced the difference of the sexes, was despised as a voluptuary. The Greek slave had her head shaved in token of her servitude; the same was done among the Hebrews to the adulteress (Numbers 5:18; comp. Isa 3:17 ). In regard to acts of public worship there existed a remarkable difference between the Greeks and the Romans. The Greek prayed with his head uncovered, whereas the Roman veiled his head. The ancients explain these opposite usages in various ways. Probably in the Roman rite there was expressed the idea of the scrupulous reverence which should be brought into the service of the deity, while the Greek rite bespoke the feeling of liberty with which man should appear before the gods of Olympus. The Jewish high priest officiated with his mitre on his head, and the Jew of the present day prays with his head covered, no doubt in token of reverence and submission. It appears from all these facts what an intimate relation the feeling of the ancients established between the worshipper's demeanour, as regards the noblest part of his being, the head, and his moral and social position. “The point here was not only,” as Heinrici well says, “a matter of decorum.” His conduct in this respect corresponded to a profound religious feeling.
This is the point of view at which we must place ourselves to understand the following discussion. St. Paul was accustomed to say: “In Christ all things are made new; there is neither male nor female, neither bond nor free, neither Greek nor Jew.” How easy was it from this to jump to the conclusion: Then there is no longer any difference, especially in worship, where we are all before God, between the demeanour of the male and that of the female. If the male speaks to his brethren or to God with his head uncovered, why should not the female do so also? And with the spirit of freedom which animated the Church of Corinth, it is not probable that they had stopped short at theory. They had already gone the length of practice; this seems to be implied by 1 Corinthians 11:15-16. The apostle had learned it, not from the letter of the Corinthians, to which he does not here make any allusion (as in 1Co 8:1 ), but probably from the deputies of the Church.
He begins with a general commendation in regard to the manner in which the Church remains faithful to the ecclesiastical institutions he had established among them.
Vv. 3. “But I would have you know, that the head of every man is the Christ; and the man is [the] head of the woman; and God [the] head of the Christ.”
The δέ is adversative: but; Paul proceeds to a point to which the eulogy he has just passed does not apply.
One is tempted to ask, as he reads the following sentences, why the apostle thinks it necessary to take things on so high a level, and to connect what is apparently so secondary a matter with relations so exalted as those of man with Christ, and of Christ with God. To explain his method, we must bear in mind the pride of the Corinthians, who thought they knew everything, and whom the apostle wishes, no doubt, to teach that they have yet something to learn: “ I would have you know. ” It is likely enough, from 1 Corinthians 11:16, that the ultra-liberals of Corinth spoke with a certain disdain of the ecclesiastical prescriptions left by the apostle, and that in the name of the Spirit some claimed to throw his rules overboard. Paul would give them to understand that everything hangs together in one, both in good and in evil; that unfaithfulness to the Divine order, even in things most external, may involve an assault on the most sublime relations, and that the pious keeping up of proprieties, even in these things, is an element of Christian holiness. Hence he begins with placing this special point in the life of the Church under the light of the two holiest analogies that can be conceived, and in which he shows the revelation of a Divine order. Those who criticise him presumptuously will thus be able to understand whence he derives the rules which he lays down in the Church.
There exist three relations, which together form a sort of hierarchy: lowest in the scale, the purely human relation between man and woman; higher, the Divine-human relation between Christ and man; highest in the scale, the purely Divine relation between God and Christ. The common term whereby Paul characterizes these three relations is κεφαλή (hence our word chief), head. This figurative term includes two ideas: community of life, and inequality within this community. So between the man and the woman: by the bond of marriage there is formed between them the bond of a common life, but in such a way that the one is the strong and directing element, the other the receptive and dependent element. The same is the case in the relation between Christ and the man. Formed by the bond of faith, it also establishes a community of life, in which there are distinguished an active and directing principle, and a receptive and directed factor. An analogous relation appears higher still in the mystery of the Divine essence. By the bond of filiation, there is between Christ and God communiön of Divine life, but such that impulse proceeds from the Father, and that “the Son does nothing but what he sees the Father do” ( Joh 5:19 ).
The relation between Christ and the man is put first. It is, so to speak, the link of union between the other two, reflecting the sublimity of the one and marking the other with a sacred character, which should secure it from the violence with which it is threatened. The only question is whether, as has been thought by Hofmann, Holsten, etc., the point in question is the natural relation between Christ and man, due to the dignity of the pre-existing Christ as creator (Hofmann), or as the heavenly Man, the prototype of earthly humanity (Holsten), or whether, as is held by Meyer, Heinrici, etc., Paul means to describe the relation between Christ and men by redemption. The expression: every man, seems to speak in favour of the first sense; and the passages 1Co 8:6 and 1Co 10:4 might serve to confirm this meaning. Christ as having been the organ of creation, is the head of every man created in His image, believing or unbelieving. But 1Co 11:4-5 seem to me to prove that Paul is thinking not of man in general, but of the Christian husband. “Every man..., every woman who prays, who prophesies...,” this can only apply to believers. It is from 1Co 11:7 that Paul passes from the spiritual order to the domain of creation in general. What is true in the first sense, is that every man is ordained to believe in Christ and to take Him for his head, that is to say, to become a Christian husband.
The article ἡ is to be remarked with κεφαλή in the first proposition (it is wanting in the other two). This arises, no doubt, from the fact that the man may have many other heads than Christ; the article serves to point out Christ as the only normal head. In the other two relations, this was understood of itself.
This relation belonging to the kingdom of God has for its counterpart in the family the relation between husband and wife. Paul is here thinking chiefly of the natural and social relation, in virtue of which the husband directs and the wife is in a position of subordination. But this natural relation is not abolished by the life of faith; on the contrary, it takes hold of it and sanctifies it. Must we conclude, from the term used by Paul, that the Christian wife has not also Christ for her head, in respect of her eternal personality? By no means; salvation in Christ is the same for the wife as for the husband, and the bond by which she is united to Christ does not differ from that which unites the man to the Lord. The saying: “Ye are branches, I am the vine,” applies to the one sex as much as to the other. But from the standpoint of the earthly manifestation and of social position, the woman, even under the gospel economy, preserves her subordinate position. There will come a day when the distinction between the sexes will cease ( Luk 20:34-36 ). But that day does not belong to the terrestrial form of the kingdom of God. As long as the present physical constitution of humanity lasts, the subordinate position of the woman will remain, even in the Christian woman. As the child realizes its communion with the Lord in the form of filial obedience to its parents, the Christian mother realizes her communion with the Lord in the form of subordination to her husband, without her communion being thereby less direct and close than his. The husband is not between her and the Lord; she is subject to him in the Lord; it is in Him that she loves him, and it is by aiding him that she lives for the Lord. If from the social standpoint she is his wife, from the standpoint of redemption she is his sister. Thus are harmonized these two sayings proceeding from the same pen: “In Christ there is neither male nor female,” and: “The husband is the head of the wife.”
These two relations, that of Christ to the man, and that of the man to his wife, rest on a law which flows from the nature of God Himself. In the oneness of the Divine essence there are found these two poles, the one directive, the other dependent: God and Christ. Paul evidently desires to rise to the highest point, above which we can conceive nothing. Some, like Heinrici, Edwards, etc., think that this expression: the head of Christ, can only apply to the Christ incarnate. But if the relation were thus understood, one of the two essential features would be wanting, indicated by the term head, and which characterize the two preceding relations: community of life and nature. We cannot, therefore, confine this saying to the Lord's human nature, and we think there is no ground for shrinking from the notion of subordination applied to the Divine being of Christ; see on 1 Corinthians 3:23. This idea of the subordination of Christ, conceived as a pre-existent being ( 1Co 8:6 , 1Co 10:4 ), springs out of the terms Son and Word, by which He is designated, as well as from the very passages where the divinity of Christ is most clearly affirmed (Colossians 1:15; Hebrews 1:2-3; John 1:1; John 1:18; Rev 1:1 ). Holsten thinks that he escapes all difficulty by bringing in here the idea of Christ as the heavenly Man, according to the discovery made by Baur by means of the passage 1Co 15:45 seq. It is very certain that had it not been found in that passage, nobody would have extracted it from the one we are explaining. For the examination of this conception ascribed to Paul, we shall therefore refer to the passage quoted.
Thus, then, in the apostle's view, the relation between husband and wife in marriage is a reflection of that which unites Christ and the believer, as this again reproduces the still more sublime relation which exists between God and His manifestation in the person of Christ. Paul certainly could not say more in the Epistle to the Ephesians to express a higher notion of marriage than these words. M. Sabatier, expounding the idea of marriage in the Epistle to the Ephesians, says: “Husband and wife form an indissoluble organic unity.” Exactly; but can this “indissoluble unity” be more forcibly expressed than by comparing it, as Paul does in our passage, to the unity of Christ with the believer and of God with Christ? M. Sabatier adds, still expounding the contents of Ephesians: “The one does not reach the fulness of existence without the other.” Certainly; but is not this exactly what Paul teaches here in 1 Corinthians 11:11-12: “The man is not without the woman in the Lord, nor the woman without the man.” And on such grounds a progress is alleged as having taken place in Paul's ideas on marriage, in the interval between the Epistle to the Corinthians and that to the Ephesians!
After recognising, as a principle which controls all community of life, Divine and human, that duality of factors, the one active, the other receptive, which forms the basis of marriage, the apostle passes by an asyndeton to the application which he wishes to make of it to the case in question at Corinth.
Vv. 4-6. “Every man praying or prophesying, having his head covered, dishonoureth his head. 5. 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. 6. 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.” Chrysostom has concluded from 1 Corinthians 11:4, as Edwards also does, that the men too, at Corinth, did violence to their proper dignity by being covered. But it is not probable that abuses arose in that direction, especially in Greece (see above, p. 104). The demeanour which becomes the man is only mentioned to bring out by contrast that which alone is becoming in the woman.
The two acts of prophesying and praying will be again brought together in chap. 14, where we shall speak of them more specially Let us only say here, that in chap. 14 (comp. especially 1Co 11:14-17 ) prayer is more or less identified with speaking in a tongue, a gift which is treated conjointly with prophecy. This observation leads us to suppose, as Baur has already done, that by the prayer of which Paul speaks, in our 1 Corinthians 11:4-5, he means chiefly a prayer in a tongue, that is to say, in ecstatic language. The phrase κατὰ κεφ . ἔχειν is elliptical: “having down from the head,” that is to say, wearing a kerchief in the form of a veil coming down from the head over the shoulders.
In the last words: dishonoureth her head, the word head has often been understood literally (Erasmus, Beza, Bengel, Neander, Meyer, etc.): By veiling the head made to appear uncovered, he covers it with shame. But why in this case prefix to 1Co 11:4 the reflection of 1 Corinthians 11:3: “The head of every man is Christ”? If this remark had a purpose, it should be to prepare for the idea of 1 Corinthians 11:4, and consequently to justify the application of the term head to Christ Himself; which does not prevent us from holding, with many critics, that there is here a delicately intended play on words: “By dishonouring his own head, the believer, who covers himself, dishonours Christ also, whose glory he ought to be.” Indeed, as Holsten says, every man who, in performing a religious act, covers his head, thereby acknowledges himself dependent on some earthly head other than his heavenly head, and thereby takes from the latter the honour which accrues to Him as the head of man. The head uncovered, the brow open and radiant, the look uplifted and confident, the noble covering of hair, like, as some one has said, “to a crown of extinct rays,” such are the insignia of the king of nature, who has no other head in the universe than the invisible Lord of all. If, then, he is not to impair the honour of his Lord, he must respect himself by not covering his head.
Vv. 5. But precisely because the woman is in a position contrasted with that of the man, in so far as she has here below a visible head, she would dishonour this head by affecting a costume which would be a symbol of independence. And since the woman does not naturally belong to public life, if it happen that in the spiritual domain she has to exercise a function which brings her into prominence, she ought to strive the more to put herself out of view by covering herself with the veil, which declares the dependence in which she remains relatively to her husband. As Heinrici says, it can only be to the shame of her husband if a wife present herself in a dress which belongs to the man. By uncovering her head (in the literal sense) she dishonours her head (in the figurative sense).
Here a difficulty arises. The apostle, by laying down for the woman the condition of wearing the veil, seems decidedly to authorize the act to which this condition applies, that is to say, he permits the woman to pray and to prophesy in public. Now in chap. 1Co 14:34 he says, absolutely and without restriction: “Let your women keep silence in the Churches.” This apparent contradiction has led Hofmann, Meyer, Beet, and others to the idea, that, in our chapter, Paul had in view only gatherings for family worship (Hofmann) or private meetings (Meyer), composed exclusively of women (Beet). But it is impossible to hold that the apostle would have imposed the obligation of the veil on a mother praying while surrounded by her husband and children. Neither is it possible to see how the idea of Meyer and of Beet could be reconciled with 1Co 11:10 of our chapter ( because of the angels). Besides, 1Co 11:16 naturally implies that Paul is thinking of public worship ( the Churches of God). Finally, in 1Co 14:34-35 he is not distinguishing between different kinds of assemblies; but he is contrasting assemblies in general with the time when husband and wife find themselves alone together at home: “Let the women keep silence in the Churches...” ( 1Co 14:34 ), “let them ask their husbands at home” ( 1Co 14:35 ).
Heinrici proposes to restrict the prohibition laid on women, in chap. 14, to the tokens of admiration which they liked to give to those who spoke in tongues, or also to the curious questions which they put to the prophets, thus of course disturbing the decorum of the assemblies. Some writers in England have even supposed that in chap. 14. Paul simply means to forbid women to indulge in the whisperings and private conversations which would break the stillness of worship. But it is impossible so to restrict the meaning of the word λαλεῖν , to speak, in chap. 14, applied as it is in that chapter to all the forms of public speaking. Besides, the prohibition, if it had one of these meanings, should have been addressed to men as much as to women. What the passage in chap. 14 forbids to women, is not ill-speaking or ill-timed speaking, it is speaking; and what Paul contrasts with the term speaking, is keeping silence or asking at home.
It might be supposed that the apostle meant to let the speaking of women in the form of prophesying or praying pass for the moment only, contemplating returning to it afterwards to forbid it altogether, when he should have laid down the principles necessary to justify this complete prohibition. So it was that he proceeded in chap. 6, in regard to lawsuits between Christians, beginning by laying down a simple restriction in 1 Corinthians 11:4, to condemn them afterwards altogether in 1 Corinthians 11:7. We have also observed the use of a similar method in the discussion regarding the participation of the Corinthians in idolatrous feasts; the passage, 1 Corinthians 8:10, seemed first to authorize it; then, afterwards, when the time has come, he forbids it absolutely ( 1Co 10:21-22 ), because he then judges that the minds of his readers are better prepared to accept such a decision. But this solution is unsatisfactory, because it remains true that one does not lay down a condition to the doing of a thing which he intends afterwards to forbid absolutely.
It has also been thought that the term λαλεῖν , speaking, should be taken in chap. 14 solely in the sense of teaching. Thus the woman might prophesy or pray in an unknown tongue; but she must never indulge in teaching. But it is impossible to accept so limited a meaning of the word λαλεῖν in a chapter where it is used all through to denote both prophetical speaking and speaking in tongues. This solution is not, perhaps, radically false, but it is impossible to deduce it from the word speaking in chap. 14 in contrast to the terms prophesying and praying in chap. 11
I rather think, therefore, that while rejecting, as a rule, the speaking of women in Churches, Paul yet meant to leave them a certain degree of liberty for the exceptional case in which, in consequence of a sudden revelation ( prophesying), or under the influence of a strong inspiration of prayer and thanksgiving ( speaking in tongues), the woman should feel herself constrained to give utterance to this extraordinary impulse of the Spirit. Only at the time when she thus went out of her natural position of reserve and dependence, he insisted the more that she should not forget, nor the Church with her, the abnormal character of the action; and this was the end which the veil was intended to serve. Moreover, Paul does not seem to think that such cases could be frequent. For in chap. 14 prophetesses are not once mentioned along with prophets, and yet the name προφῆτις was familiar in the Old Testament, and is not wanting in the New (Luke 2:36; Rev 2:20 ). Probably in making the concession which we find in this passage, the apostle was thinking only of married women. The question could hardly have been even raised as to young women. Reuss says: “In Greece a woman of character did not appear in public without a veil.” How much more must it have been so with unmarried persons! And if Paul had extended to the latter the permission implied in his words, he would still less have suppressed in their case the condition of the veil imposed on the former.
In the last words of 1 Corinthians 11:5, Paul likens the woman who appears in public with her head uncovered to one who has her head shaven. This was never found among the Greeks, except in the case of women who were slaves; among the Jews, only in the case of the woman accused of adultery by her husband ( Num 5:18 ). A similar usage seems to have prevailed among other nations besides. The subject of the proposition, according to most, is understood: every woman that speaketh with her head uncovered (see Meyer). But is it not simpler to make ἓν καὶ τὸ αὐτό , one and the same thing, the subject of ἐστί : “One and the same [condition] is the woman's who is shaven [as hers who is not veiled].” The verb ξυρέω , or ξυράω , or ξύρω , signifies to shave to the skin.
VV. 6. To impress the revolting character of such a course, the apostle supposes it pushed to extremity. There is something of indignation in his words: “If this woman has effrontery enough to do the first of these acts, well and good, better also do the second!” The repulsive character of the one should make that of the other felt. The word ξυρασθαι is usually accented, as if it were the present infinitive passive of ξυράω ( ξυρᾶσθαι ). But why should it not be regarded as the aorist infinitive middle, like κείρασθαι , of the form ξύρω ( ξύρασθαι )? See Passow. There is a gradation from the one of these verbs to the other: To cut the hair or even to shave the head.
The word αἰσχρόν , shameful, includes the two notions of physical ugliness and moral indecency.
Vv. 7-9. “The man indeed, being the image and glory of God, ought not to cover his head: but the woman is the glory of the Man 1:8 . For the man is not taken from the woman; but the woman from the Man 1:9 . And the man indeed was not created for the woman; but the woman for the man.”
The γάρ , for, leads us to expect a confirmation drawn from a domain other than the preceding. The omission of the article before the words εἰκών , image, and δόξα , glory, gives these two substantives a qualitative significance.
The meaning of the first is that man, by his sovereignty over the terrestrial creation, visibly reflects the sovereignty of the invisible Creator over all things. We here find the idea of man's lordly position in nature, as it is expressed Genesis 1:26-28, and celebrated in Psalms 8:0
The second, glory of God, expresses the honour which is shed on God Himself from this visible image which He has formed here below, especially when man, carrying out his destiny, voluntarily renders Him homage for his high position, and adoringly casts at His feet the crown which God has put on his head. Analogous to this is the meaning in 2 Corinthians 8:23, where the deputies of the Churches are called the glory of Christ, because they make the Lord's work, in the Churches they represent, shine before the eyes of those to whom they are delegated.
The man existing in this double character ( ὑπάρχων ), as image and glory of God, ought not to veil this dignity by covering himself when he acts publicly. This would be in a way to tarnish the reflection of the Divine brightness with which God has adorned him, and which ought at such a time to shine forth in his person. But in virtue of the very same law, the woman ought to act in an opposite way. If, in the discharge of such an office, the veil is opposed to the man's sovereignty, it is from that very fact in keeping with the woman's condition. She, indeed, was created as the glory of the man, because, as is said in the following verses, she was taken from him and formed for him ( 1Co 11:8-9 ). It is an honour, the highest of all undoubtedly, for one being to become the object of another's love and devotion; and the more the being who loves and is self-devoted is exalted in talent and beauty, the more is this honour increased. Can there therefore be a greater glory to man than to possess, as a loving and devoted helpmeet, a being so admirably endowed as woman! All the perfection that belongs to her is homage rendered to the man, from whom and for whom she was made, especially when she consecrates herself freely to him in the devotion of love. Critics have been exercised, and justly, about the reason why the apostle has not in the second case repeated the term image. De Wette has thought that had he made woman the image of man, the apostle would have denied to her the possession of God's image. Meyer thinks that this expression would wrongly imply, on the part of the woman, a certain participation in the sovereignty of the man. The second ground seems to me truer and more in keeping with the context. The image of the husband in the family is not the wife, but the son. It is he who is heir of the paternal sovereignty.
The inference from this relation in regard to the woman's demeanour will be drawn in 1 Corinthians 11:10.
Vers. 8, 9 serve to prove the expression: glory of the man. In 1Co 11:8 the narrative of Genesis ( Gen 2:22-23 ) is referred to, according to which the man did not appear as proceeding from the woman; but inversely. And why so? For a reason ( γάρ ) which is at the same time a new proof ( καί ) of the expression: glory of man, in 1 Corinthians 11:7. The woman proceeded from the man because she was intended to serve as his helper, and to complete his existence.
The διά , on account of, alludes to the saying of Genesis ( Gen 2:18 ): “It is not good for man to be alone: let us make a helpmeet for him.”
The practical conclusion, 1 Corinthians 11:10:
Thus far the apostle has been arguing from the parallel between the subordinate position which Christian principle ascribes to the woman ( 1Co 11:3 ), and the receptive position of the man relatively to Christ, and of Christ Himself relatively to God. Now he shows that the conclusion he has drawn from this double analogy is confirmed by the mode of the woman's creation. For in the apostle's eyes the kingdom of nature does not proceed from another God than that of grace. On the contrary, it is in the sphere of redemption that the Divine thoughts, which are only sketched in the kingdom of nature, reach perfection.
Vv. 10. “For this cause ought the woman to have a sign of power on her head because of the angels.”
For this cause: because she was formed from him and for him.
Literally it is: “the woman ought to have on her head a power. ” This term power has been understood in many ways; but they are not worth the trouble of enumeration, the meaning is so clear and simple. Power is put here for a sign of power, and of power not exercised, but submitted to. The woman ought to wear on her head the sign of the power under which she has been placed. It is a frequent way of speaking in all languages, to use the sign of a thing to denote the thing itself, for example the sword for war, the crown for sovereignty. But it is rarer to find, as here, the thing itself put for the sign; but examples are also found of this other form of metonymy; thus when Diodorus, describing the statue of the mother of the Egyptian king Osimandias, says that she has three kingships on her head, he means, evidently: three diadems, symbols of three kingships; or when the same historian gives the name ἀλήθεια , truth, to the ornament which the Egyptian priests wore to symbolize their possession of this highest good.
The difficulty of the verse lies in the last words: because of the angels. Have we here a second reason? In that case it would require to be connected with the preceding (as was indicated by the word for this cause) by some such particle as: and, and also, or and besides. Is it, on the contrary, the same reason presented in another form? But in that case it is difficult to understand the relation between such different modes of expression to convey the same idea. Heinrici, who has thoroughly felt this difficulty, seeks to resolve it by maintaining that the angels are here mentioned because they were God's agents in the work of creation, of which mention was made 1 Corinthians 11:8-9, and therefore sure to be particularly offended by a mode of acting opposed to the normal relation established in the beginning between man and woman. This solution is certainly not far from the truth. Only it seems to us that we must set aside the idea of the intervention of angels in the work of creation. They no doubt beheld that work, according to Job 38:7, with songs of joy, but without any co-operation on their part being indicated. We are called rather to bear in mind, that, according to Luke 15:7; Luke 15:10, the angels in heaven hail the conversion of every sinner; that, according to Ephesians 3:10, they behold with adoration the infinitely diversified wonders which the Divine Spirit works within the Church; that, according to 1 Timothy 5:21, they are, as well as God and Jesus Christ, witnesses of the ministry of Christ's servants; finally, that, in this very Epistle ( 1Co 4:9 ), they form along with men that intelligent universe which is the spectator of the apostolical struggles and sufferings. Why, then, should they not be invisibly present at the worship of the Church in which are wrought so large a number of those works of grace? How could an action contrary to the Divine order, and offending that supreme decorum of which the angels are the perfect representatives, fail to sadden them? And how, finally, could the pain and shame felt by these invisible witnesses fail to spread a sombre shade over the serenity of the worship? In Christ heaven and earth are brought together (John 1:52). As there is henceforth community of joy, there is also community of sorrow between the inhabitants of these two spheres. The Jews had already a similar sentiment in their worship. This is what has led the Greek translators to say ( Psa 138:1 ): “I will praise Thee before the angels,” instead of: “I will praise Thee before Elohim.” This explanation is more or less that of Chrysostom and Augustine; it is that of Grotius and of most of the moderns (Rückert, de Wette, Meyer, Osiander, etc.). Edwards thinks it is as models of humility in general life, and not only in worship, that the angels are here proposed as an example to Christian women; but the preposition διά , because of, expresses a different relation from that of example. It is rather to the presence of the angels that it calls our attention. There has often been reproduced, in recent times, an idea which occurs so early as in Tertullian: Paul is held to be speaking here of the evil angels whose passions might be excited by the view of unveiled women. Or, thinking of angels in general, there has been found in our passage an allusion to Genesis 6:1-4 (Kurtz, Hofmann, Hilgenfeld). But if good angels are in question, they have many other opportunities of seeing woman unveiled than in Christian worship; and if evil angels, this temptation makes no change in their state. Besides, there is no special indication leading us to find here an allusion to Genesis 6:0
Storr, Flatt, etc., have taken the ἄγγελοι to be spies sent by the heathen to watch Christian worship ( Jam 2:25 ); Clement of Alexandria: the most pious members; Beza: the prophets of the Church; Ambrose: the pastors ( Rev 1:20 ). Such significations are now only mentioned as matters of history.
Baur and Neander, finding it impossible to connect with the reason indicated by the words: for this cause, the reason contained in these: because of the angels, have proposed to suppress the last words as a later interpolation. Holsten goes further; he extends this supposition to the whole of 1 Corinthians 11:10, but for a different reason. Giving to this verse a meaning almost the same as that of Hofmann (allusion to Genesis 6:0), he concludes therefrom, very logically, as it seems to me, that such a saying cannot be ascribed to the apostle. Only the premiss (the meaning ascribed by him to the verse) is false, consequently also the conclusion which he draws from it. As the documents present no variants, the authenticity of the verse may be regarded as certain.
After having thus declared the natural dependence of woman in relation to man, the apostle yet feels the need of completing the exposition of this relation by exhibiting the other side of the truth; this he does in 1 Corinthians 11:11-12.
Vv. 11, 12. “If, however, the woman is not without the man, neither is the man without the woman, in the Lord; 12. for as the woman is of the man, even so is the man also by the woman; and all things of God.”
The subordination of the wife to her husband is tempered in Christ by the oneness of the spiritual life which they both draw from the Lord. The one is not without the other, and that evidently as believers; there is community of prayer between them, the constant exchange of spiritual aid and active co-operation. The words in the Lord refer not to God, but, as usual in the New Testament, to Christ; the mention of God only comes later, in 1 Corinthians 11:12. It does not seem to me that there is sufficient reason for finding here, with Holsten, an allusion to the softening which the gospel has introduced into the wife's subordination, as it was laid down in Genesis; the reason alleged in 1Co 11:10 rather carries us back to the order of nature which is recognised and sanctioned by the gospel.
The order of the propositions followed by the T. R., contrary to the great majority of the Mjj., is evidently mistaken.
Vv. 12. The for indicates that the relative equality of the two sexes in Christ was already prefigured, so to speak, by a fact belonging to the order of natural life. So it was that the for of 1Co 11:7 served to give a reason for the wife's moral subordination by a fact drawn from the inferior domain. If, so far as creation goes, the woman is of the man, this is the proof of her dependence ( 1Co 11:8 ), on the other hand, as to the conservation of the race, the man is of the woman, and this decisive fact in the life of humanity, restores equality to a certain extent between the two sexes. The natural order makes woman not only man's spouse, but also his mother; therewith all is said. We see here with what wisdom the apostle could apply to the domain of spiritual life, not only the scriptural types, but also the hieroglyphics of nature. And thus are explained to us the last words of the verse: “ And all things are of God. ” He is the Author of nature as well as of grace, and He has laid in the first the outlines, so to speak, of the Divine thoughts, which he realizes perfectly in the second.
1 Corinthians 11:12-19 .
The idea of the whole passage is this: The denial of the resurrection of the dead draws with it that of Christ's resurrection, and thereby gives the lie to the apostolic testimony and to the whole of Christianity.
Vv. 13-15. “Judge in yourselves: Is it comely that a woman pray unto God uncovered? 14. Doth not nature itself teach you, that, if a man have long hair, it is a shame unto him? 15. but if a woman have long hair, it is a glory to her: for her hair is given her for a covering.”
After appealing to the sacred analogies mentioned in 1 Corinthians 11:3-6, and to the relation established by creation between the sexes ( 1Co 11:7-12 ), Paul finally takes to witness a fact nearer to us, inherent in the human person itself. We here come to a formula similar to that with which he had closed the previous discussion 1 Corinthians 10:15: “Judge of yourselves!” These words appeal to the instinct of truth which ought to exist in his readers themselves.
The following question finds its solution in 1 Corinthians 11:14-15, where the fact is stated which should serve as the basis of their judgment.
The addition of the words τῷ Θεῷ , to God, is difficult to explain; for it appears as if it were precisely in speaking to God that the woman could speak without impropriety unveiled. But let us remember that we are here in full public worship, and that it is at the moment when the woman's voice is uttering the deepest impressions and the holiest emotions of adoration and love, that a feeling of holy modesty ought to constrain her to secure herself from every indiscreet and profane look. For the very reason that she is speaking to God, she ought in this sacred act to veil her figure from the eyes of men. These words: to God, are therefore, whatever Holsten may say, perfectly in place.
1 Corinthians 11:13-16 .
The apostle concludes by appealing to the natural impression which ought to follow from a particular feature in the physical conformation of the man and the woman. This last argument is strictly connected with the last words of 1 Corinthians 11:12.
Vv. 14 must therefore be regarded as directly answering the question put in 1 Corinthians 11:13: “After all I have said to resolve the question, is there not another master whose voice you ought of yourselves to hear, and who will teach you that...?” This master is nature, ἡ φύσις , a word which here can neither signify moral instinct nor established usage. It follows indeed from 1Co 11:15 that Paul is thinking of the physical organization of woman. If we receive the reading of the T. R., αὐτὴ ἡ φύσις , even nature, the idea is: “That which seemed unable to teach us anything in such a domain.” But if we follow the other reading, ἡ φύσις αὐτή , nature itself, the meaning is rather: “itself, without me, without my teaching.”
Hofmann and Heinrici understand the following ὅτι in the sense of because, and make the διδάσκει an intransitive verb: “Does not nature itself instruct you?” But the ὅτι after such a verb as διδάσκειν naturally signifies that, and all the more because the ὅτι at the end of 1Co 11:15 really signifies because, and serves to explain the bearing of the two preceding ὅτι : “Does not nature itself show you that...and that..., seeing that...?” By not giving the man long hair, like the woman's, nature itself has shown that an uncovered head, and an open brow, suit his dignity as king of creation. The hair of the man is a crown, while, as the following verse adds, that of the woman is a veil.
Vv. 15. By giving to the woman a covering of hair, which envelopes her, in a manner, from head to foot, nature itself has shown that it is suitable to her to withdraw as much as possible from view, and to remain concealed. This long and rich hair is given to her ἀντὶ περιβολαίου , in place of a veil. This substantive does not merely denote, as κάλυμμα would do, an ornament for the head; it is a vestment enveloping the whole body, a sort of peplum. It is a natural symbol of reserve and modesty, woman's most beautiful ornament.
It has been objected, not without a touch of irony, that for the very reason that nature has endowed woman with such a covering, she does not need to add a second and artificial one (Holsten). But this is to mistake the real bearing of the apostle's argument. All is spiritual in his view. He means that nature, by constituting as it has done each of the two sexes, has given both to understand the manner in which they will fulfil their destiny; for man, it will be public and independent action; for woman, life in domestic retirement and silence. Whoever has the least appreciation of the things of nature, will recognise the profound truth of this symbolism.
The Greco-Lat. and Byz. reading omits the αὐτῇ at the end of the verse. The meaning is not affected by the omission (contrary to Holsten).
Notwithstanding the unanimity of the Mjj. and Vss. in favour of the text of this passage, Holsten has thought right to propose a whole list of rejections; that, for example, of 1 Corinthians 11:5 b and 6, of 1 Corinthians 11:10, and even of 1 Corinthians 11:13-15. We have refuted this critic's objections when it seemed to us necessary. They arise from certain general ideas about the passage, which we think false; the first: that Paul has in view only husbands and wives who are Christians; the second: that if the wife is bound to speak veiled it is only in presence of her own husband, to whom she ought to show, that while fulfilling this function, she does not forget her dependence on him; the third: that on reaching the last section ( 1Co 11:13-15 ), the text passes, in a far from logical way, from the domain of moral obligation which is Paul's true standpoint to that of social propriety, which, according to Holsten, is the interpolator's standpoint. But (1) from the outset, and even in 1 Corinthians 11:3, it is of the difference of the sexes as such that the apostle is thinking. He is speaking of man and woman in general, regarding young men and young women as naturally destined for marriage. The whole female sex is in his eyes created with a view to its subordination to the male sex, as Tertullian well says (see Heinrici): “ Si caput mulieris vir est, utique et virginis, de quâ fit mulier quoe nupsit. ” (2) It is not because of her husband only that the woman who speaks in public ought to continue veiled; it is as a woman, and to maintain in her own consciousness and in that of the Church her permanent character of dependence. (3) The passage 1Co 11:13-15 does not give a reason which lies outside of moral obligation. Woman's physical constitution is a revelation of the Creator's will regarding her. Not to conform to this indication, is not merely to offend social propriety, it is to transgress the will of the Creator. Thus fall all Holsten's objections against the authenticity of the text of our passage.
The apostle closes with a sentence which seems to say: Now, enough of discussion; let us have done with it.
Vv. 16. “But if any man seem to be contentious...we have no such custom, neither the Churches of God.”
Holsten and others regard this saying as a kind of confession that the apostle feels the insufficiency of the proofs which he has just alleged. But such a supposition would do violence to his moral character, and Paul's words do not really signify anything of the kind. They simply prove that there are at Corinth controversial spirits, who, on such a subject, will never tire of arguing and raising objections indefinitely. That does not mean that, as to himself, he does not regard the question as solved and well solved. The word δοκεῖν is used here in the same sense as 1 Corinthians 3:18, 1 Corinthians 10:12, Galatians 6:3, to denote a vain pretence. Undoubtedly nobody takes glory from a fault, such as love of disputation ( φιλόνεικος ); but Paul means to say: “If any one wishes to play the part of a man whom it is impossible to reduce to silence, who has always something to answer...” This was one of the natural features of the Greek character.
The principal proposition does not correspond logically to the subordinate one beginning with if; we must understand a clause such as this: “Let him know that...” or: “I have only one thing to say to him, namely, that...” I cannot understand how eminent critics, such as the old Greek expositors, then Calvin, de Wette, Meyer, Kling, Reuss, Edwards, could imagine that the custom of which the apostle speaks is that of disputing! The love of disputation is a fault, a bad habit, but not a custom. To call the habit of discussion an ecclesiastical usage! No. The only custom of which there can be any question here is that on which the whole passage has turned: women speaking without being veiled. Paul means that neither he, nor the Christians formed by him, nor in general any of the Churches of God, either those which he has not founded or those properly his own, allow such procedure in their ecclesiastical usages; comp. 1 Corinthians 14:36-37, where the idea simply indicated here is developed.
The material proof of this assertion of Paul's is found in the Christian representations which have been discovered in the Catacombs, where the men always wear their hair cut short, and the women the palla, a kerchief falling over the shoulders, and which can be raised so as to conceal the face (Heinrici, p. 324).
The complement of God is intended to bring out the dignity and holiness of all these Churches, and consequently the respect due to their religious sentiment, which contrasts with the presumptuous levity of the Corinthians.
We hope we have justified the thought expressed by the apostle regarding the social position of woman, as well as the particular application which he deduces from it. Holsten thinks that whatever may be said, the apostle thereby puts himself in contradiction to the principle so often enunciated by him: “In Christ there is neither male nor female,” and on this account when he came to the end of the passage, he felt, as it were, the ground going from under him. But the apostle's personal conviction, as he expresses it here, was certainly very deliberate; the loyalty of his character forbids us to doubt it. Was this conviction solely a matter of time and place, so that it is possible to suppose, that if he lived now, and in the West, the apostle would express himself differently? This supposition is not admissible; for the reasons which he alleges are taken, not from contemporary usages, but from permanent facts, which will last as long as the present earthly economy. The physical constitution of woman ( 1Co 11:13-15 ) is still the same as it was when Paul wrote, and will continue so till the renewing of all things. The history of creation, to which he appeals ( 1Co 11:8-12 ), remains the principle of the social state now as in the time of the apostle; and the sublime analogies between the relations of God to Christ, Christ to man, and man to woman, have not changed to this hour, so that it must be said either that the apostle was wholly wrong in his reasoning, or that his reasons, if they were true for his time, are still so for ours, and will be so to the end. As to the parity of man and woman in Christ, it is clear, and that from this very passage, that Paul means to speak of their relation to Christ in redemption, and not of the social part they are called to play.
Vv. 17. “Now in this that I command you I praise you not, that ye come together, not for the better, but for the worse.”
There is evidently a contrast between this preface and the preamble to the foregoing passage ( 1Co 11:2 ). There the apostle praised the Corinthians for their general fidelity to the ecclesiastical institutions he had transmitted to them; there was, however, an exception to be made of the special subject which he was about to treat, 1 Corinthians 11:4-16. Here the tone becomes that of positive blame. This blame is not in contradiction to the preceding eulogium; for it does not bear on their neglect or corruption of an institution, but on the profane spirit brought to the celebration of one of the most important acts of worship. Of the four readings given in the note, two may be set aside without hesitation, that of B, which puts the two verbs in the participle, and that of D, which puts them both in the indicative; these readings have no meaning. That of four Mjj.: “This I command you while not praising you for that...,” can only be maintained by referring τοῦτο , this, to what follows, and in particular, as Heinrici thinks, to the historical proof which is about to be given of the importance of the Holy Supper ( 1Co 11:23-24 ). But the principal idea is the contrast between the blame now expressed and the eulogium of 1 Corinthians 11:2, and this contrast leads us more naturally to make the verb praise the principal verb ( οὐκ ἐπαινῶ , I do not praise), and the verb command the secondary verb (participle παραγγέλλων , commanding you); thus the meaning is: “While simply recommending you to take account of the direction I have just given ( 1Co 11:1-16 ), I cannot praise you in the matter of which I am about to speak.” Holsten objects that we should in this case require the aor. παραγγείλας , after having enjoined this on you; and he is disposed to make the word παραγγέλλων an interpolation, which is wholly arbitrary, for all the MSS. read the two verbs. And why could not Paul use the present when speaking of the injunction which he has just given at that very time? Does it not remain in his letter for the moment when it shall be read at Corinth? We must therefore also refer τοῦτο , this, not to 1 Corinthians 11:16, as Edwards will have it, but to the important command contained in the preceding passage, in regard to women, and to translate nearly as Reuss does: “While giving you this warning, I cannot praise you in the matter of which I now proceed to speak.”
The apostle thus characterizes the transition from a simple recommendation to positive blame: I do not praise you. This is an evident litotes, as in 1 Corinthians 11:22.
Then comes a rebuke which relates to all the meetings for worship held by the Church of Corinth: “In general your assemblies are not blessed; from the way in which you hold them, they throw you back rather than help you forward; they are the opposite of what they should be.”
VIII. Disorders in the Celebration of the Lord's Supper. 11:17-34.
The disorder which Paul has just described and combated was a small matter in comparison with that to which he now passes. The style of his language, too, becomes more severe. The apostle begins by applying to the assemblies for worship what he said about the prevailing discussions at Corinth, in the first four chapters ( 1Co 11:17-19 ); then he passes to the principal ground of rebuke, that which refers to the celebration of the Holy Supper ( 1Co 11:20-34 ).
Vv. 18, 19. “For first of all, when ye come together in the Church, I hear that there be divisions among you; and I partly believe it. 19. For there must even be sects among you, that they which are approved may be made manifest among you.”
The apostle now gives the reason for the severe words: “I do not praise you.” The: for first of all, announces a first rebuke in regard to the divisions in their assemblies ( 1Co 11:18-19 ), and leads us to expect a second to be indicated by a: then again; but this formula, corresponding to the first of all, is found nowhere in the sequel. Where does this second rebuke begin? Meyer, Osiander, heinrici think that it points to the abuses in the exercise of spiritual gifts treated in chaps. 12-14; that if there is not found at the beginning of chap. 12 the ἔπειτα δέ , then again, which should correspond to our πρῶτον μέν of 1 Corinthians 11:18, this may arise from the fact that the long development of chap. 11 had made the apostle forget the form used at the beginning of the passage ( 1Co 11:18 ). Edwards prefers to place the expected secondly in 1 Corinthians 11:34, where, according to him, it is logically implied in the τὰ δὲ λοιπά , the rest. Hofmann thinks that there is no secondly to be sought in the sequel, since πρῶτον signifies here, as often, not firstly, but principally; comp. Romans 3:2. This last assertion might be established if πρῶτον stood alone; with the μέν it is less easily admissible. And how should the divisions be represented as the essential point in what follows? The meaning of Edwards can as little be admitted. The words: “The rest will I set in order when I come,” do not contain any threatening, any announcement of rebukes to be addressed to them. Meyer's meaning falls to the ground for this reason: that the divisions, σχίσματα , mentioned 1 Corinthians 11:18-19, are not put by the apostle in any connection with the disorders in the Holy Supper, which are explained by a wholly different cause. Consequently the two subjects cannot have been combined in one by Paul, and both embraced in the πρῶτον μέν of 1 Corinthians 11:18. We have therefore simply, with Olshausen, de Wette, Rückert, to place the understood then again at 1 Corinthians 11:20, where the rebukes begin relating to the celebration of the Supper. And such is the meaning to which we are led by the close study of the relation between the three terms συνέρχεσθε , ye come together ( 1Co 11:17 ), συνερχομένων ὑμῶν , when ye come together ( 1Co 11:18 ), and συνερχομένων οὖν ὑμῶν , when therefore ye come together ( 1Co 11:20 ). Meyer thinks that the second συνερχομένων ( 1Co 11:20 ) is the repetition of the συνερχομένων ( 1Co 11:18 ). Hence it is he combines in one and the same rebuke the blame bearing on the divisions and that which applies to the profanation of the Supper. This is his error. The second συνερχομένων is not the repetition of the first, but of the συνέρχεσθε , ye come together, of 1 Corinthians 11:17: “You come together for the worse, and that chiefly because of your divisions ( 1Co 11:18-19 ), then again because of the way you celebrate the Supper.” Here is the second rebuke, developed from 1Co 11:20 to 1 Corinthians 11:34. Meyer asks why, if it is so, the first rebuke is found so briefly treated? Quite simply, because this matter of divisions had already formed the subject of the whole first part, chaps. 1-4, and Paul needs only here to refer to it, while applying to their meetings for worship what he had said of the malign influence exercised by such divisions over the life of the Church in general.
The two συνερχομένων are therefore parallel to one another, and both rest on the συνέρχεσθε of 1 Corinthians 11:17. Only the first of these participles points to their assemblies merely in a passing way, while the second, referring as it does to the subject about which the apostle is now most seriously concerned, the profanation of the holy table, is emphasized by the οὖν , therefore; this particle shows that he is returning to the thought which had mainly suggested to him the εἰς τὸ ἧττον συνέρχεσθε , ye come together for the worse ( 1Co 11:17 ).
The first thing which Paul has to blame in their assemblies for worship, is the divisions which break out among them.
The τῇ before ἐκκλησίᾳ in the T. R. should be rejected. The meaning is not: in the church, but: in church: “when you come together in a general assembly of the Church.” The point in question is the manner, not the place; comp. 1 Corinthians 14:23. The form of the phrase seems incorrect; for it is not at the time when their divisions break out that the apostle hears of them. This finds its explanation the instant we refer the present participle συνερχομένων , not to the time, but to the manner of meeting.
The news might have reached him either by the house of Chloe ( 1Co 1:11 ), or by the deputies of the Church ( 1Co 16:15 ).
The: and I partly believe it, is very delicate. Paul would admit that the state of things has been described to him in certain respects worse than it is. But when a Church is in the moral state in which that of Corinth is, it must inevitably become a theatre of discord. This necessity is of the same kind as that indicated by Jesus when He said: “It must needs be that offences come” ( Mat 18:7 ), that is to say: given such a world as ours.
In the following verse the moral reason is explained which renders these discussions providentially necessary.
Vv. 19. When a Church is forming, or when in a Church already established a revival takes place, there is a sort of fascination exercised over a great number of individuals who adopt the gospel preaching, or the new ideas, less from a serious and personal moral need than from a spirit of opposition or innovation, or from a proneness to imitation. Hence, at the end of a certain time, the necessity for a process of purifying; this is carried out by a separation due to the fermentation which follows from the contact of the heterogeneous elements within the same mass. The effect of this action is to show in clear light those members of the Church who are serious and genuine, and to separate them definitely from those who have believed only superficially and temporarily. This experience, made over and over again since then by the Church, is that which the apostle foresaw as an inevitable phase in the development of the flock at Corinth. The δεῖ , there must, is a heightening of the ὑπάρχειν , the existence as matter of fact ( 1Co 11:18 ); see on 1 Corinthians 7:26. The apostle thinks that the fact is, because he knows that it must be. He knows even that there is something graver to be expected. For the καί , even, which follows the δεῖ , it must be that, intimates a second gradation strengthening the first. This new gradation bears, as is proved by the position of the καί , on the substantive αἱρέσεις , in its relation to the σχίσματα , divisions, of 1 Corinthians 11:18. Indeed, it is wholly in vain that Meyer seeks to identify these two terms. No doubt the word αἵρεσις may have a very softened sense, in respect of its etymological signification: choice, preference (from αἱρεῖσθαι ). But in the New Testament it has always a very forcible meaning; so Galatians 5:20, where it is placed after διχοστασίαι , dissensions, and that evidently as a gradation above this already strong enough term; so also Acts 5:17; Acts 15:5, where it denotes the opposite parties of the Sadducees and Pharisees among the Jewish people; finally, Act 24:5 and Acts 27:28, where the Christian community is designated by this term as a special party in the midst of this same people. In all these cases the external division evidently rests on internal opposition, on profound and trenchant doctrinal differences. And it is also in this sense that the word αἵρεσις ought to be taken here, as has been recognised by Calvin, Beza, Rückert, Edwards. The context also imperatively demands this forcible meaning. To the simple divisions which arise from personal preferences or aversions, Paul foresees that there will succeed divisions of a far more profound nature, founded on opposite conceptions of Christian truth. He believes what is told him of the first, because he even expects the second. There will arise among them false doctrines, heresies, according to the meaning which the Greek term has taken in later ecclesiastical language, and thence will follow much graver disruptions than the present divisions. The σχίσματα resemble simple rents in a piece of cloth; but the αἱρέσεις are rendings which remove the fragment and break the unity of the piece. The Second Epistle to the Corinthians shows in how brief a period this anticipation of the apostle was realized.
The καί , which is read in B D after ἵνα , that, and which could only be rendered by also, gives no precise meaning, and should be rejected.
Of the two ἐν ὑμῖν , among you, the first is omitted by D F G, the second by C. They ought to be preserved, both of them. The first applies to the Corinthians the consequence from the moral necessity affirmed in this first proposition; the second puts to them, as it were, a question: “How many will there be found in your Church of these δόκιμοι ?”
The δόκιμοι are those who at such crises prove their Christian character by a wisdom and maturity of judgment which mark them in the eyes of all with the seal of Divine approbation; comp. 1 Corinthians 9:27. It is with a view to the manifestation of such genuine Christians, that the whole crisis has been permitted ( ἵνα , that). The apostle passes to the second subject of rebuke:
Vv. 20, 21. “When ye come together therefore into one place, this is not to eat the Lord's Supper. 21. For in eating every one taketh before other his own supper: and one is hungry, while the other is full.”
On the connection with what precedes, see on 1 Corinthians 11:18. Here would stand the ἔπειτα δέ , but next, if Paul had expressed it. This preamble, 1 Corinthians 11:20, is not without solemnity. The very first words make us feel that we are coming to a grave matter.
The term ἐπὶ τὸ αὐτό , into the same place, denotes, like the words ἐν ἐκκλησίᾳ , in Church ( 1Co 11:18 ), a meeting of the whole Church gathered together in the same place; comp. 1 Corinthians 14:23. So it assembled to celebrate the Supper. This rite was preceded by a feast in common, called δεῖπνον , supper, a term from which it follows that the celebration took place in the evening. It was thus wished to reproduce, as faithfully as possible, that feast of the Lord at which He instituted the Supper, and which took place on the last evening of His life. Those feasts, of which the Holy Supper formed the close, were called agapoe, that is to say, love-feasts (Jude, 1Co 11:12 ). Each one brought his quota. And certainly, according to the idea of this institution, all the provisions should have been put together and eaten in common by the whole Church. But selfishness, vanity, sensuality had prevailed in this usage, and deeply corrupted it. These agapae had degenerated at Corinth into something like those feasts of friends in use among the Greeks, where men gave themselves up to drinking excesses, such as we find sketched in the Symposium of Plato. And what was still graver, and which had certainly not been witnessed even at heathen banquets, each was careful to reserve for himself and his friends the meats which he had provided; hence it was inevitable that an offensive inequality should appear between the guests, becoming to many of them a source of humiliation, and contrasting absolutely with the spirit of love of which such a feast should have been the symbol, as well as with the rite of the Supper which formed its close. Chrysostom supposes that the agape took place after the Holy Supper; evidently a mistake. It was not till later that this different order was introduced, till at length the meal itself was totally abolished.
This is not to eat the Lord's Supper, says Paul. We need not here take ἐστί , as many have done, in the sense of ἔξεστι , it is allowed, it is possible, as if Paul meant that in these circumstances it is no longer morally possible to celebrate the communion rightly. It is simpler to understand the words in this sense: “To act as you do ( 1Co 11:21 ), can no more be called celebrating the Supper; it is indeed to partake of a feast, but not that of the Lord.” The adj. κυριακόν , the Lord's, reminds us that it was He who founded the feast, who gives it, who invites to it, who presides over it.
The following verse explains the severe judgment which has just been expressed regarding this way of celebrating the agape.
Vv. 21. By the way in which they act, they change the sacred feast into an ordinary supper, which has no longer anything in common with the sacred feast which it should recall. It is on the προ , before, in the verb προλαμβάνειν , that the emphasis lies: “You make haste to take the provisions you have brought before it has become possible to make a general distribution of them, and without sharing them with your neighbours.” The epithet ἴδιον , his own, expresses the right in virtue of which the owner thinks he can act thus.
The words ἐν τῷ φάγειν indicate the moment when the feast begins, following the act of worship which had certainly preceded: when the feasting is reached, including the supper, and then the holy sacrament.
The words: one is hungry, refer to the poor who are present.
The verb μεθύειν usually signifies to be intoxicated; but it may also be applied to eating, in the sense in which we say to eat his fill, and so to form a contrast, as is the case in this passage, to πεινᾷν , to be hungry. The word μεθύειν certainly shows that the pleasure of good cheer and drinking went the length of intemperance, just as in those friendly feasts at which Greek gaiety and frivolity took free course. Now follow the rebukes which such conduct deserves.
Vv. 22. “Have ye not then 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 point, I praise you not.”
One feels in the lively succession of these accumulated questions the indignant emotion which fills the apostle as he calls up the scene before him. The γάρ , for, refers to an idea which is understood: “It ought not so to be, for have you not...?” Paul points out three principal sins in this conduct. First, the feast itself so celebrated; the agape, with the Holy Supper terminating it, is not a meal taken for support; it is a religious rite expressly instituted, and that for a religious purpose. If any one wishes to satisfy his hunger, he has the means of doing so otherwise. We learn from this first rebuke how thoroughly distinct in the apostle's eyes was the feast of the Supper from a common feast, even when taken in the most Christian spirit and hallowed by thanksgiving. To hold, as Vinet somewhere has done, that every Christian meal should become a Holy Supper, is an ultra-spiritualistic error, the thoroughgoing application of which would inevitably compromise the existence, first, of the ministry, then of the Church itself. The second rebuke refers to the want of respect to an assembly like the Church; the third to the offence in particular given to a portion of its members, the poor who are humiliated.
The formula μὴ ... οὐκ signifies: “It is not so however that you have not?” The other two questions, closely connected as they are, might contain only one rebuke, in the sense that the dishonour to which the Church was subjected consisted precisely in the humiliation of its poor members; for the whole body feels the contempt with which one of its members is treated. But it is better to regard the two ideas as distinct. There is first contempt inflicted on the Church, as such, in this transformation of one of the most solemn acts of its worship into a means of gross and sensual enjoyment; the complement of God brings out the gravity of this profanation more forcibly. Then comes the humiliation inflicted on the poor; it appears in all its force if we take the expression μὴ ἔχειν , not only in the sense of poverty in general, but as having a direct application to the present case: Those who have nothing, that is to say, no food with them.
The question: What shall I say? indicates the embarrassment the apostle feels when he would characterize such conduct without using terms too severe. There is a litotes full of irony in the last words: Shall I praise you? Then returns the tone of the most sorrowful earnestness: “ In this I praise you not. ” We think, with Meyer and Holsten, that the words ἐν τούτῳ , in this, must be connected with the following verb I praise you not, rather than with the preceding, shall I praise you? as is done by Heinrici and many others. “On other points I can praise you ( 1Co 11:2 ), but on this, not!”
To make the Corinthians blush at their profane spirit, the apostle brings them face to face with the scene of the institution of the sacrament. But his object, in relating this solemn event, is not merely to contrast with their selfish and frivolous disposition the spectacle of Christ's sufferings and devotion. Paul, in going back on the solemn institution of the Supper by the Lord, wishes above all to bring home to them the difference between this feast and a feast intended to satisfy bodily wants. Here is a religious rite, a true ceremony, for it was positively instituted.
Vv. 23-25. “For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, That the Lord Jesus, the night in which He was betrayed, took bread: 24. and when He had given thanks, He brake it, and said, This is My body [which is] for you; this do in remembrance of Me. 25. 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.”
The for shows that the account of the institution, which follows, is meant to justify the various rebukes expressed in 1 Corinthians 11:22. First of all, Paul establishes on an immovable foundation the authority of his narrative. It comes from the Lord, and without any other middle party than the apostle himself.
The ἐγώ , I, is put at the head to give the readers an assurance of the truth of the narrative: This is what I hold, I from a good source, from the Lord Himself.
But it is asked in what way this account could have been delivered by the Lord to the Apostle Paul, who was not of the number of the Twelve present at the institution of the Supper. The usual answer is this: The apostle had knowledge of the fact from the apostolical tradition; and to prove this mode of transmission, reliance is placed on the use of the preposition ἀπό , which does not denote, as παρά would do, direct transmission, but which simply points to the first source from which the account proceeded. Thus, according to Reuss, “Paul here speaks of a communication made to him by older disciples, but not of an immediate revelation.” But the question arises in this case, what means the I placed first in the sentence: “ I, even I have received of the Lord”? If he is speaking of no other communication from the Lord than that which he gave as the author of the rite in question, or that which, through the apostles as its channels, conveyed this account to Paul, thousands of Christians, and hundreds of evangelists, might have said as much as St. Paul; and instead of saying: “ I have received,” Paul, if he was not to be guilty of charlatanism, ought simply to have said: “We have received of the Lord.” In the passage 1 Corinthians 15:3, where he is really summing up the apostolical tradition, he avoids using the pronoun ἐγώ which characterizes our passage. If the account of the institution of the Supper really came to Paul from the Lord, it could only be in the way of direct revelation. The preposition ἀπό , which strictly denotes the first origin, is not opposed, as is constantly repeated, to this interpretation; comp. Colossians 1:7; Colossians 3:24; 1 John 1:5, where the communication implied in the ἀπό is as direct and personal as possible. And if it is objected, that to express this last idea παρά would have been necessary, which specially denotes direct transmission, it is forgotten that this preposition is virtually found in the verb παρέλαβον , I received from. By using the two prepositions ἀπό and παρά the apostle brings out at once the purity of the origin and the purity of the transmission of his account. Heinrici quotes several passages in which the term παραλαμβάνειν is applied to initiation into the mysteries, for example in Porphyry: παραλαμβάνειν τὰ Μιθριακά , to be initiated into the mysteries of Mithras. This meaning would certainly suit here. The apostle then would say that the Lord Himself initiated him into the knowledge of this important act of his life. But we have no need of such a comparison to account for the choice of the term used by the apostle.
Bengel, Olshausen, Rückert, Meyer, de Wette, Osiander, have recognised that the only possible meaning of the passage was that of direct instruction given to the apostle by the Lord; comp. Galatians 1:12. It is objected that revelation bears on doctrines, not on historical facts, and it is asked what purpose such a miracle would have served, since Paul could know from ecclesiastical tradition the fact which he here relates. But we find in the Acts a revelation, containing at least the sketch of a historical fact ( Act 9:12 ), and several visions in which the Lord conversed with Paul, as friend with friend ( Act 22:17 seq., Act 23:11 ). If these accounts are not mere tales, we should conclude from them that revelation may also bear on particular historical facts. Now in the present case such a communication was a necessary condition of the apostle's independence and dignity. For he was not a simple evangelist, delegated by men ( Gal 1:1 ), but a founder of Churches, the apostle chosen for the heathen world, as the Twelve were for the Jewish people, and consequently dependent only on the Lord; and when he instituted in his Churches a rite of such decisive importance as the Supper was, he required to be able to do so without appealing to any human authority, but supported, like the Twelve, by the Lord Himself. As we study the account immediately following, we shall prove the truth of this observation. The manner in which the Lord communicated this fact to him, we know not, and can only refer to Galatians 1:11-12.
The words: that which also I delivered unto you, guarantee the purity of transmission. The καί , also, expresses the identity between the accounts of Jesus to Paul, and of Paul to the Corinthians.
As he enters on the narrative, Paul adds to the title Lord the name Jesus, to carry back the thought of his readers to His earthly person, and so call up the scene of the institution.
If Paul mentions the detail, that it was night when Jesus instituted the Supper, it was no doubt to compare with that time the hour when the Church celebrated the rite. Every similar night which shall follow should reproduce the emotions of that original night, and borrow from it something of its deep solemnity. The sad character of that night is brought out by the words: in which He was betrayed. Nine Mjj., belonging to the three families, read the verb in the form of παρεδίδετο , which is adopted by Tischendorf. In fact, the later Greek writers tended more and more to assimilate the conjugation of the other classes of verbs in μι to the conjugation of verbs in ημι ; or should we see in this strange form the imperfect of a compound of δίδημι (formed from δέω , to bïnd), a word which appears once in the Anabasis? The sense would be: “on the night on which they bound Him.” But neither the imperfect nor the preposition παρά agrees with such a meaning.
The article introduced by the Greco-Lat. reading before ἄρτον must be rejected. The word literally signifies a bread; one of the cakes of unleavened bread placed on the table.
Vv. 24. The thanksgiving of the father of the family at the Paschal feast, referred to the blessings of creation and to those of the deliverance from Egypt. That of Jesus no doubt referred to the blessings of salvation, and the founding of the New Covenant.
Though the breaking of the bread was necessary to its distribution, Jesus nevertheless performed this act as a symbol of what awaited Himself.
The words of the T. R.: λάβετε , φάγετε , take, eat, are an interpolation taken from the accounts of Matthew and Mark. This order is here implied in the act of breaking the bread and holding out the piece.
The τοῦτο , this, denotes the piece which He has in His hand. What is the relation between this bread and the body of Jesus? Does the word is denote homogeneity of substance, so that the material of bread gave place at that moment to that of the body of Jesus, as Catholics understand it? But if it is the earthly body of Jesus which is in question, it is difficult to conceive how the bread could have become the very substance of the hand which offered it. Or might it be His glorified body? But this body was not yet in existence. It must therefore be said, on this view, that the first Holy Supper was as yet only the institution of the rite, not the real rite, and that now it is the invisible and glorified body of the Lord which takes the place of the bread, or, according to the Lutheran idea, accompanies the bread. But how is it possible to apply either of these two notions to the blood of the Lord? We know from 1Co 15:50 that blood is not an element which can belong to a spiritual and glorified body, whether the Lord's or ours ( 1Co 15:49 ). In any case the Lord would have required to say, not: This is, but: “ This will be My body, when the time comes.” And even so the Lutheran conception would not be justified, for being, in the present or future, does not signify accompanying. The simplest explanation is this: Jesus takes the bread which is before Him, and presenting it to His disciples, He gives it to them as the symbol of His body which is about to be given up for them on the cross, and to become the means of their salvation; the verb be is taken in the same sense as that in which we say, as we look at a portrait: it is so and so!
The reading of the T. R. κλώμενον , broken, which is found in the Greco-Lats. and the Byzs., seems at first sight probable; it is defended by Hofmann. In the other reading: My body which is for you, τὸ ὑπὲρ ὑμῶν , there is something extremely bare. But is it not probable that this very bareness, which is more tolerable moreover in Aramaic than in Greek, is that which occasioned the interpolation of the participle? It was so natural to borrow it from the preceding verb ἔκλασε . This view is confirmed by the readings διδόμενον , given, and θρυπτόμενον , bruised, which are found in some documents. There has evidently been a wish to supply either from Luke ( διδόμενον ), or freely ( θρυπτόμενον ), the participle which seemed to be wanting.
If the Alex. reading is adopted, the meaning is this: “My body, which is there for you,” for your salvation, like this bread placed on the table for your nourishment.
The following words: This do in remembrance of Me, are only found in Luke's account of the institution; they are wanting in Matthew and Mark. But these words are of great importance, for it is really on them alone that the idea of the Holy Supper, as a permanent rite, is based. Without them this act might be regarded as having been done by Jesus once for all. Evidently the apostles did not so understand it, for from the first they introduced the regular celebration of the sacrament ( Act 2:42 ). We do not the less on that account maintain the importance of Paul's independence, and of the originality of his narrative. The τοῦτο , this, cannot refer, like the previous one, to the piece of bread; what would be meant by the ποιεῖτε , do? It embraces the whole preceding action: the breaking of the bread on the part of Jesus, and the eating on the part of the disciples. This act in its entirety is to be constantly repeated in the gatherings of believers.
The word do applies to the apostles, not merely as apostles, but also as believers; they are present both as founders of the Church, commissioned to give over this ceremony to it, and as its representatives, who shall soon be called to celebrate the feast with it.
The words: in remembrance of Me, certainly contain an allusion to the lamb slain in Egypt, the blood of which had saved the people, and in memory of which the Passover was celebrated. In Exodus 12:14, it was said: “This day shall be to thee for a memorial (lezikkaron). ” Jesus therefore means: “When you shall hereafter celebrate this sacred feast, do it no longer in memory of the lamb whose blood saved your fathers, but in memory of Me and of the sacrifice which I am about to make for your salvation.” There is ineffable tenderness in the expression of Jesus: in remembrance of Me. As Darby finely observes (in his little work on Public Worship), the expression: memory of Me, twice repeated, makes the Holy Supper still more a memorial of our Saviour than of our salvation. Each time this feast is celebrated, the assembly of the disciples of Jesus anew presses around His beloved person. It is clear that the Holy Supper is, as Zwingle thought, a commemorative feast, and that it was most unjust on Luther's part to pronounce on him a moral judgment of condemnation for this view, which might be perfectly sincere. The believing and grateful remembrance of Jesus is most certainly the part of man in this feast. His ποιεῖν , His doing, in this holy action, is the inward disposition of grateful remembrance. This is what was wanting in the frivolous and empty religious demonstrations of the Corinthians. But while recognising this side of the truth in Zwingle's idea, we at the same time put our finger on his error. Side by side with the human doing, there is in the Holy Supper the Divine doing. In the religion of spirit and life, a ceremony of pure commemoration cannot exist. Every rite celebrated according to its spirit must contain a grace, a Divine gift. And what could be the gift bestowed on the believer in the Holy Supper, if not that which the rite so strikingly symbolizes, the most intimate union with the Lord Himself? How could He who said: “Where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am in the midst of them,” fail to communicate Himself spiritually to His own in a feast which so sensibly represents the indissoluble union formed by redemption between Him and them? I say: spiritually; but the word implies the whole fulness of His person; for His person is indivisible. If the fulness of the Godhead dwells in Christ bodily, σωματικῶς ( Col 2:9 ), His spiritual body cannot be separated from His Spirit; comp. 1 Corinthians 15:49.
Thus to man's part in the sacrament, as it is expressed in the words: in remembrance of Me, there necessarily corresponds the part of God, which is not referred to here, but which is pointed out in other passages, such as 1 Corinthians 10:16, John 6:53-58, and Ephesians 5:30-32; not that these last two refer specially to the Holy Supper, they concern at the same time the believer's whole life.
Vv. 25. The first words reappear literally in Luke's account. The two narratives prove that a certain interval separated the two acts of institution. The bread was distributed while they were eating; ἐσθιόντων αὐτῶν , say Matthew and Mark, thus positively expressing what is implied by the accounts of Luke and Paul. The words: after they had supped, in Paul and Luke, complete the view of what was done. The feast was therefore closed when the Lord took the cup. The interval which separated the two acts no doubt explains the term: in like manner also, ὡσαύτως καί , in Paul and Luke. After the distribution of the bread, Jesus had for a few moments given up the solemn attitude which befitted the institution of a rite, and familiar conversation had resumed its course. Supper ended, at the time of distributing the cup, He resumed the same attitude as in the preceding action.
This cup which Jesus now passes round, certainly corresponds to that which in the Paschal ritual bore the name of Cos Haberakia ( 1Co 10:16 ), the cup of blessing, which the father of the family circulated to close the feast.
The article τό , the, designates the cup as the one which stood there before Him, but at the same time as becoming from that moment the type of those which shall afterwards figure in all the celebrations of the Supper.
The first words of the formula of institution are the same as in Luke; only he adds after the expression ἐν τῷ αἵματί μου , in My blood, the determining clause τὸ ὑπὲρ ὑμῶν ἐκχυνόμενον , which is shed for you, thus making his formula parallel to that of the other two synoptics: “This is My blood, that of the covenant shed for many.” The formula of Paul and Luke: This cup is the New Testament, has something more spiritual about it than that of the other two synoptics. In fact, what, according to this formula, corresponds to the cup, or the wine contained in the cup, is not the blood itself, but the covenant entered into over the blood. Hence it is easy to see what elasticity is demanded in the interpretation of the word est ( is), and how thoroughly mistaken Luther was when he sought at Marburg to crush Zwingle with this one word.
The term new covenant alludes to the covenant made at Sinai over the blood of the victim which Moses offered for all the people. Indeed it is related, Exodus 24:8, that Moses took the blood and said: “Behold the blood of the covenant which the Lord hath made with you.” This old covenant was recalled every year by the Paschal feast; but Jeremiah had already contrasted it with another, a future and more excellent one, when he uttered the promise: “Behold, the days come that I will make a new covenant with you, not according to the covenant that I made with your fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of Egypt, which My covenant they brake; but this is the covenant that I will make after those days: I will put My law in their inward parts...for I will forgive their iniquity, and their sins will I remember no more” ( Jer 31:31-34 ).
Matthew and Mark, at least according to the most probable reading, omit the word new. According to them, Jesus said: “This is My blood, the blood of the covenant shed...” Strange to say, Holsten alleges that Paul has here preserved the true formula adopted in the primitive apostolical Church; for, he says, in view of the Judaizing adversaries whom Paul had before him at Corinth, he would not have dared to modify the original formula. It was Matthew, according to him, who, seeking to efface every trace of opposition between the old and the new covenant in favour of a strict Jewish Christianity hostile to Paul, deliberately rejected the term new. But Mark? What of him, independent as he certainly is of Matthew in his whole account, and betraying not the slightest tendency hostile to Paul? What is more curious still, if possible, is the entirely opposite opinion of Meyer, who thinks that the designation of the covenant as new, can only be of Pauline origin. There is here a description added at a later time to the authentic words of Jesus. But what! Jeremiah, six centuries before, had already characterized the Messianic covenant by this epithet; and Jesus could not have used the same expression, either at His own hand, or in imitation of the prophet! The absence of the word in the Gospels of Mark and Matthew proves nothing. They both reproduce the formula in use in the Jewish Christian Churches, where the expressions relating to the bread and wine were gradually identified: “This is My body..., this is My blood. ” As to Luke, he depends on Paul, and Paul himself gives us the formula as he “received it of the Lord.” It is obvious why he had from the beginning rested his argument on that personal revelation which had been granted to him; otherwise, indeed, and this is the truth in Holsten's remark, he could not in opposition to his adversaries have enunciated a different formula from that which prevailed in the apostolic Churches.
The words: in My blood, depend, according to Meyer and Hofmann, on the verb is: “This cup is, in virtue of the blood which it contains, the new covenant.” But it would be far from natural to say that the blood is the means in virtue of which the cup establishes the covenant. It is simpler, as is admitted by Heinrici and Holsten, to refer the regimen in My blood to the notion of the substantive covenant itself: the covenant in My blood, for: the covenant concluded in My blood. The absence of the article ἡ is objected, which would be required, it is alleged, to connect the substantive with the regimen; but the omission of the article is easily explained by the verbal meaning of the word διαθήκη , contract; from this substantive there is easily taken the understood participle διατιθεμένη , contracted. As the blood of the Paschal lamb, and afterwards that of the offered victim (Exodus 24:0), were the foundation of the covenant agreement passed in Egypt and at Sinai between the Lord and His people, so the blood of Christ, represented by the wine contained in the cup, is the foundation on which the new covenant rests, which is concluded in Christ between God and mankind. For the old contract, which had for its object, on the one side, the promise of the Divine protection, on the other, the engagement to obey the law of Sinai, there is substituted the new covenant, which has for its contents, on the one side, the pardon of sins, on the other, free obedience to the Divine will through the Holy Spirit.
The last words: Do this in remembrance of Me, express once more the idea of the institution of a rite which is to continue to be celebrated in the Church. Here they do not occur even in Luke. But in Mark and Matthew there are found words which have some analogy to this command: “Drink ye all of it.”
In the injunction: Do this, the word this denotes what Christ is now doing when He holds out the cup to them, and what they themselves do when partaking of it; such is the act which is always to be repeated anew in the assembly of believers. When so? Jesus says: as often as ye drink. Evidently this cannot be understood: as every time ye drink, in general, or when ye take any meal whatever. The following verse is opposed to this; for there Paul says: “As often as ye drink this cup; ” comp. also 1 Corinthians 11:22, where the Lord's Supper has been positively distinguished from common meals. Meyer understands: Every time that at a love-feast you come to this final cup. Hofmann and Osiander almost the same: Every time you assemble for a love-feast. But these ellipses are very arbitrary. The thought of the Lord is better explained, as it seems to me, if it is qualified by connecting it with the words: in remembrance of Me, and by the evident allusion to the remembrance of the Paschal lamb: “Every time you celebrate, as members of the new covenant, the religious feast corresponding to the Paschal feast of the old, distribute the cup and drink of it in remembrance of Me.” The memory of Jesus is to be substituted in their heart for that of the lamb, every time they celebrate the new Paschal feast.
This very indefinite expression ὁσάκις ἄν , every time it shall happen that, shows that henceforth this ceremony will no longer be bound to a fixed day of the year, like the Paschal feast, but that it is put at the discretion of the Church. Again we see in this how important it was for St. Paul's apostleship that he should possess an independent and original acquaintance with the mode in which this ceremony was instituted. Langen, in his monograph on the narrative of the Passion, has sought to combine in one sentence the formulas of Paul and Luke on the one hand, and of Mark and Matthew on the other; but the proposition thus reached is very complicated and clumsy, far from suitable to the sharply cut form which should characterize the institution of a rite. Meyer gives the preference to the formula presented in the two first synoptics as more concise and striking. It seems to me, on the contrary, that Paul's form, independently even of his testimony, deserves the preference. Tradition and ecclesiastical usage must naturally have inclined to assimilate more and more to one another the two formulas relating to the bread and the wine, and consequently to simplify the second as much as possible, to bring it nearer the first, originally the more simple. Paul was put in a position to restore the original difference; and it is from him that Luke has taken his formula, so like Paul's own.
It is singular that Paul, who, agreeably to the historical order, here puts the bread before the cup, has done the opposite in chap. 10. No doubt it is because in the last passage, where the matter in question was not the narrative of the fact as such, he has followed the order which corresponds to the assimilation of faith. The believer first appropriates the pardon which is connected with the shedding of the blood, then he receives the life and strength which are represented by the eating of the body. Here he simply reproduces the fact. His sole aim is to contrast the seriousness of the action with the manner in which it is treated by the Corinthians.
He now draws the practical consequences of the description which he has just given ( 1Co 11:26-32 ).
Vv. 26. “For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink the cup, ye do show the Lord's death till He come.”
It seems that in order to connect this verse with the foregoing, therefore or so that would be required, and not for or indeed. To explain the difficulty, Ewald has taken 1Co 11:26 as the continuation of the discourse of Jesus, which is, of course, inadmissible. Hofmann applies the for to the words of 1 Corinthians 11:22: “I praise you not,” which is equally inadmissible. Meyer, usually so rigorous, suffers here from a sort of philological faint; as the German word denn has sometimes the meaning of therefore, he translates: “in consequence of this institution by the Lord, see therefore what you do when you celebrate the communion.” But what so great difficulty is there in preserving the literal sense of γάρ ? All that is needed is to connect it with the words: in remembrance of me: “If Jesus so expressed Himself, it is because in fact the action you perform every time you celebrate the Supper is a memorial of His person. For the meaning of the action is to show His death. ” The idea of the action thus stated is really the reason of the manner in which Jesus instituted it.
In spite of all Holsten may say, the verb καταγγέλλετε is indicative: Ye show, not imperative: Show! For it is the essence of the action which is thus expressed. If καταγγέλλετε were the imperative, the γάρ would be inexplicable; οὖν or ὥστε would have been required, therefore or so that. With the practice which was becoming established at Corinth of making this feast a social act, a supper seasoned with agreeable conversation, Paul contrasts the moving memory, the celebration of the death.
The term show, καταγγέλλειν , vividly recalls the word Haggadah, which denoted in the Jewish Passover the historical explanation of the meaning of all the rites of the Paschal feast which the father, in answer to the eldest son's ritual question, gave to his family. Perhaps the narrative of the Lord's death was similarly rehearsed at the Holy Supper. In any case, every believer celebrated its efficacy in his heart, and his grateful cry mingled in the hymns of the assembly with that of his fellow-believers. The Doctrine of the Twelve Apostles implies that free course is left at this juncture for the words of the prophets present at the assembly. Paul therefore understands by the καταγγέλλειν , announce, the individual and collective proclamation of Christ's love in His sacrifice, and of the glorious efficacy of this act. Each one confesses that he owes his salvation to this bloody death.
The τοῦτο , this, of the Greek text after ποτήριον , is to be rejected according to the Alex. and Greco-Lats. The words: till He come, are connected with the idea of the ἀνάμνησις , remembrance. Remembrance ceases when the Lord reappears. Holsten here finds the idea: that then the Lord's death will have brought to an end the exercise of its salutary efficacy. I see in the text no trace whatever of this thought. Paul means that the Holy Supper is the Church's compensation for the visible presence of Christ. It is, so to speak, the link between His two comings: the monument of the one, the pledge of the other. Thus Paul simply reproduces the meaning of the words of Jesus preserved by Luke ( Luk 22:18 ): “I say unto you, I will not drink from henceforth of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God shall come.” If we read ἄν , it indicates the uncertainty of the time when Jesus shall come.
Vv. 27. “Wherefore, whosoever shall eat this bread, or drink the cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord.” From the essential character of the Supper, expounded in 1 Corinthians 11:26, there follows the gravity of its profanation. The ἤ , or, should be remarked, instead of which we should rather expect καί , and, as in 1 Corinthians 11:26. But here, no doubt, is the reason of this ἤ , or. Though one may not eat the bread unworthily, there is still the possibility of profaning the use of the cup, which did not come till later, at the end of the feast. And the danger was greater, not only because it increased as the feast was prolonged, but especially because it was drink that was in question. The Catholics have therefore sought in vain to justify communion in one kind by this or. The argument would have had a certain show of reason if the ἤ were found in 1Co 11:26 instead of καί .
The word ἀναξίως , unworthily, has been explained in a host of ways: with a bad conscience, and without repentance (Theodoret, Olshausen); with contempt of the poor (Chrysostom, Billroth); without faith in the words: given for you (Luther); without self-examination (Bengel), etc. etc.; see Meyer. The explanation to which the context naturally leads is this: Without the grateful memory of Christ's sufferings, a memory which necessarily implies the breaking of the will with sin. The apostle is thinking of the light and frivolous way of communicating whereby the Corinthians made this sacred feast a joyous banquet, like those which the Greeks loved to celebrate, either in the family, or in a select society, or at a club meeting. The unworthiness of the communicating does not therefore arise from that of the communicant, for by repentance he may always render himself fit to receive Jesus; it arises from his mode of conducting himself inwardly and outwardly. As Bengel well puts it: Alia est indignitas edentis, alia esûs.
The term ἔνοχος , from ἐνέχεσθαι , to be held in or by, denotes the state of a man bound by a fault he has committed. The regimen may be, either the law which has been violated ( Jam 2:10 ), or the judge charged with applying the law ( Mat 5:21-22 ), or the penalty incurred (Matthew 26:66; Mar 3:29 ), or the person or object in respect of whom the violation has taken place; it is in this last sense that the term is used in our passage.
The object to which offence has been given is the body and blood of the Lord. The apostle's expression finds a very natural explanation on the supposition of the real presence of the body and blood (the Catholic and Lutheran opinions). But it can be justified also on the symbolical interpretation of the Holy Supper; for to sin against the object which has been solemnly consecrated and recognised as the sign of a thing, is to sin against the thing itself. He who tramples the crucifix under foot, morally tramples under foot the crucified Himself.
If such is the gravity of the offence implied in a profane communion, the believer, before communicating, ought to do everything to prevent such a danger. This is what the apostle impresses in 1 Corinthians 11:28-29.
Vv. 28, 29. “But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup. 29. For he that eateth and drinketh, eateth and drinketh judgment to himself, if he discern not the body.”
The δέ , but, is progressive: “But if it is so, here is what is to be done.” The term δοκιμάζειν , examine, denotes a moral exercise whereby a man puts his heart to the proof, in order to judge of his feelings as to the person of Jesus; he is to examine whether in communicating he will bring to the action that reverential memory of Jesus, which, like an impenetrable barrier, will henceforth interpose between his heart and sin.
Usually the word ἄνθρωπος , man, is explained as synonymous with ἕκαστος , each ( 1Co 6:1 ); but the term seems here to include at the same time the ideas of weakness and responsibility. The words: and so, signify: “And this examination once accomplished, let him eat...”
Vv. 29 returns once more to the idea of 1Co 11:27 to impress more forcibly the necessity of this previous examination, by showing in all its gravity the danger indicated by the word ἔνοχος , answerable. The danger is of eating and drinking condemnation, while the man thinks he is appropriating the pledges of salvation.
It seems at first sight impossible with the Alex. to suppress the word ἀναξίως , unworthily, which in the T. R. qualifies the two verbs of the conditional proposition. But this difficult reading may be defended in two ways: either by taking from the beginning the idea of eating and drinking in an unfavourable sense, according to 1 Corinthians 11:27, which is unnatural when 1Co 11:28 has intervened; or by seeking the indispensable limitation in the last words of the verse, μὴ διακρίνων , and translating them thus: “ If or when he discerns not...” No doubt this turn of expression is somewhat harsh; but it is more probable that the word ἀναξίως has been added to the text, as an explanation, than that it would have been rejected if it had been authentic. When he says κρίμα , a judgment, the apostle certainly does not mean eternal condemnation; for in that case he would have put the article τό , and the following verses positively prove the contrary. He is speaking of some chastisement or other inflicted by God. But yet he gives us to understand that this first judgment, unless it is followed by repentance and conversion, is the prelude of eternal perdition ( 1Co 11:32 ). There is something tragical in the ἑαυτῷ , to himself ( his own): He incorporates with himself his own condemnation by that eating and drinking which should have aided in his salvation!
Critics are divided in regard to the meaning of the word διακρίνειν . It may signify to distinguish or appreciate; in the first sense: to distinguish a thing from all others; in the second: to understand its nature, and to measure its full grandeur. From the Lutheran viewpoint the natural inclination is to prefer the first meaning: “Not discerning with the eyes of faith the body and blood of Christ, which invisibly accompany the visible signs of bread and wine,” or, as Hofmann explains: “Not distinguishing from the simple material bread the body which is appropriated by him who eats the bread.” From the Reformed viewpoint, the second meaning seems the more natural: “Not surrounding with the respect due to the body of Christ the bread and wine consecrated to represent it.” Heinrici cites several passages from the Talmud in which the word discern, to distinguish the holy from the profane, evidently includes this idea: to respect the holy, to appreciate it at its full value. It is easy to understand, however, how this word of St. Paul will always remain that to which the Lutheran conception will appeal most confidently. But, on the other hand, it is impossible to set aside as inadmissible this explanation: “not distinguishing, by the feeling of reverence with which the sacrament is celebrated, the body of Christ, represented by the bread, from ordinary food.” See on the question of the Holy Supper, at 1 Corinthians 11:25.
The words τοῦ κυρίου , the Lord's, in the T. R., are probably a gloss.
Vv. 30-32. “For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep. 31. Now, if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged. 32. But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world.”
The apostle had just spoken in a general way of the judgments which profane communion may bring down. He now appeals to the experience of the Corinthians themselves, who are at the moment visited with a sickness of which many have even died.
Διὰ τοῦτο , for this cause: “I am not using vain words when I speak thus to you” ( 1Co 11:29 ).
The word ἀσθενής , weak, rather denotes the sickness, and ἄῤῥωστος , infirm, the weakening which issues in decay, as if an invisible blow had suddenly blighted the forces of life.
Some, like Eichhorn, have taken the three terms sickly, infirm, and dead, in the spiritual sense. But the simultaneous use of the two words sickly and weak could not be easily explained morally; and instead of the verb κοιμᾶσθαι , which is never used in the New Testament, except in the sense of physical sleep or death, the apostle would rather have said νεκρὸς εἶναι ( Rev 3:1 ). Besides, a purely spiritual fact would not have been of a nature to strike his readers sufficiently, and the more because the spiritual weakening had preceded the profanation of the Supper, and was the cause of it as much as the effect. Finally, as Stockmayer well says ( La maladie et l'Evangile, p. 29): “It is not by spiritual decay that the Lord snatches us from a false position and preserves us from condemnation; it is by judgments suffered in the flesh.” Comp. 1 Corinthians 5:5; 1 Timothy 1:20. No doubt we must guard here against the faintest materialistic notion, as if the eating of the Supper itself, physically speaking, had produced the sickness, and as if the consecrated food had been changed into poison. It was a warning judgment, specially inflicted by God, such as He sends to awaken a man to salvation.
Vv. 31. And when does such a judgment overtake the Christian? When he has not voluntarily judged himself. God then comes to his help, awaking his sleeping vigilance by a stroke of His rod. This applies to Churches as well as to individuals.
The true reading is undoubtedly δέ and not γάρ . The δέ may indicate the logical progress of the argument ( now then), or a contrast between the fact of the chastisement ( 1Co 11:30 ) and what would have happened if the Corinthians had behaved differently ( but). The first connection is the more natural.
The verb διακρίνειν here signifies to discern, analyse, and so to appreciate; with the pronoun ἑαυτόν , himself; to discern one's own moral state by appreciating what within him pleases or displeases the Lord. By such a judgment, that of the Lord would be anticipated.
Vv. 32. This verse brings back the readers from the favourable supposition to the sad reality ( δέ , but). Yet the present judgment, severe as it may be, is also an act of mercy on the Lord's part. It is not yet eternal condemnation; it is, on the contrary, a means of preventing it. Here we must distinguish with the apostle three degrees which he denotes by the analogous terms διακρίνεσθαι , to judge oneself ( 1Co 11:31 ), κρίνεσθαι , to be judged ( 1Co 11:32 ), and κατακρίνεσθαι , to be condemned (same verse). The believer ought constantly to judge himself; such is the normal state. If he fails in this task, God reminds him of it by judging him by some chastisement which He sends on him, he is judged; and if he does not profit by this means, nothing remains for him but to suffer in common with the world the final judgment from which God sought to preserve him, to be condemned.
The world denotes unconverted and lost humanity. These same three degrees may be found in Mark 9:47-50.
After this complete development of the subject, the apostle concludes, as he usually does, with some very simple words, in which he states the practical result of his whole previous argument.
Vv. 33, 34. “Wherefore, my brethren, when ye come together to eat, tarry one for another. 34. If any man hunger, let him eat at home, that ye come not together to incur judgment. The rest will I set in order when I come.”
This conclusion reminds us of the passage 1 Corinthians 10:23-33. Here, as there, Paul, after starting from an outward fact (the disorders in the love-feast), enters on a complete development, intended thoroughly to enlighten the conscience of the Church; then he winds up with some rules of conduct, apparently external, but in which there is concentrated the whole moral quintessence of the preceding exposition.
The affectionate address, my brethren, following warnings so serious, has in it something familiar and genial, fitted to open the hearts of his readers to the counsel with which he is about to close. The regimen εἰς τὸ φαγεῖν , to eat, might be connected with the following verb, tarry: “Tarry for one another to begin the feast.” But it is simpler to make it dependent on the verb come together: “When you come together, not for ordinary worship simply, but for a love-feast and the celebration of the Supper, tarry one for another to partake of the feast.” The verb ἐκδέχεσθαι signifies to wait and to welcome. The first meaning is the only one found in the New Testament. It is also that which is most suitable here; for the word forms an antithesis to προλαμβάνειν , to precede in eating, 1 Corinthians 11:21. The apostle wishes, that all seating themselves to eat together, the supper of each may become that of his neighbours; thereby it is that the feast becomes a true agape.
Vv. 34. The first words correspond exactly to the question of 1 Corinthians 11:22: “Have ye not houses to eat and to drink in?” In this feast the object is not in reality to take nourishment, but to eat together.
A judgment, such as that instanced by the apostle in 1 Corinthians 11:29.
The term: the other points, the rest, τὰ λοιπά , no doubt embraces a number of questions of detail relating to the celebration of the Supper, such as the frequency, the days, the time of day, the mode of the feast, etc. The Catholics have supposed that the matter in question here was the institution of the Mass, which, they say, became from that time the subject of an Episcopal tradition. But that would not have been a detail of secondary importance, like those which are evidently in the mind of the apostle.
In the representations of the agapae which are found in the Catacombs, there is seen a company of seven or eight persons grouped round the same table (Heinrici, p. 342). If it was so at Corinth, one can very easily understand the possibility of the abuse pointed out by the apostle; every company of friends might have gathered in a group separate from the rest of the Church. But did such a practice prevail at Corinth? Of this we have not the slightest proof.
The agapae of which Paul speaks have been compared to the feasts which were celebrated from time to time in Greece by the corporations which then existed in great number, with a view to certain common interests. But however that may be, the origin of the agapae is Jewish and not Greek. This feast indeed represented the last supper of Jesus with His apostles, in the course of which He instituted the Holy Communion. Besides, in the feasts of those Greek colleges, it was the common fund of the society which paid the banquet, while our chapter itself proves that in the agapae every family furnished its own provisions.
From certain notices, for which we are indebted to the historian Sozomenes (5th cent.), it appears that in some Churches (that of Alexandria, for example) the agape preceded the Holy Supper; according to Augustine, and no doubt in all the Churches of the West, it was the opposite: the Supper introduced the agape. Usage might vary according to place, and it certainly varied according to time, till the date when the agape was completely suppressed because of the abuses to which it gave rise.