1 CORINTHIANS 11
RELATIONSHIPS IN THE BODY
11:2-10 The Chain of Command
I praise you for remembering me in everything and for holding to the teachings, just as I passed them on to you. 3Now I want you to realize that the head of every man is Christ, and the head of the woman is man, and the head of Christ is God. 4Every man who prays or prophesies with his head covered dishonors his head. 5And every woman who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head—it is just as though her head were shaved. 6If a woman does not cover her head, she should have her hair cut off; and if it is a disgrace for a woman to have her hair cut or shaved off, she should cover her head. 7A man ought not to cover his head,[b] since he is the image and glory of God; but the woman is the glory of man. 8For man did not come from woman, but woman from man; 9neither was man created for woman, but woman for man. 10For this reason, and because of the angels, the woman ought to have a sign of authority on her head.
First, the teaching about relationships, then the practical teaching of head coverings or veils during worship.
At the top is our Heavenly Father. He is the head of Christ.
-Jesus existed and worked with the Father in eternity past (John 1:1-3)
-the Father sent the Son (John 3:16;4:34;5:37;6:29)
-Jesus obeyed the Father (John 5:19-30;6:38)
- Jesus was equal to the Father, but humbled himself, to be exalted again (Philippians 2:6-8); Jesus and the Father are one (John 10:30)
Christ is the head of the man (he is head of all things)
-He is head of all things (Hebrews 2:6-8)
-Christ is head of the church (Ephesians 5:23; Colossians 1:18)
-The church submits to Christ (Ephesians 5:24), so the man also submits to Christ
-the man is the image and glory of God (verse 7)
The man is head of his wife
-the wife should submit to the husband as the church submits to Christ (Ephesians 5:24; Titus 2:4-5)
-woman is the glory of man and came from man (verse 7); (a wife of noble character is her husband’s crown in Proverbs 12:4)
-woman was created for man (verse 9); a helper (Genesis 2:26)
What does it mean to be the head?
-it means to have authority over, as shown by verse 10, and to lead
-those below the head should submit to it (Ephesians 5:22-24)
-it means to sacrifice for those below you (Ephesians 5:25-33)
-to provide for and to protect
What does it mean to submit? It means to obey and respect (recognize the authority). It means to obey (Romans 13:1-5). It means to respect (Ephesians 5:33).
So, the instruction that the woman’s head should be covered comes from the concept of authority and the chain of command from God the Father through to the woman. So, the question is, should women today cover their heads when they worship?
Curtis Vaughn pointed out that the wearing of a veil in Paul’s time was a symbol of authority, but the wearing of a hat or other covering today is not. Therefore, this is not a matter of Biblical mandate. The answer might be different in a Muslim country, however, where the practice still remains.
11:11-16 Our Dependence On Each Other
11In the Lord, however, woman is not independent of man, nor is man independent of woman. 12For as woman came from man, so also man is born of woman. But everything comes from God. 13Judge for yourselves: Is it proper for a woman to pray to God with her head uncovered? 14Does not the very nature of things teach you that if a man has long hair, it is a disgrace to him, 15but that if a woman has long hair, it is her glory? For long hair is given to her as a covering. 16If anyone wants to be contentious about this, we have no other practice—nor do the churches of God.
Although there is a chain of command, there is a dependence on each other, men and women. Each has their role, and there is a line of authority, but there is also dependence and equality.
There is equality in salvation (Galatians 3:26-29). Yet, equality and authority must co-exist. Even among men in the congregation, although there is equality before the Lord, there is authority, as the pastor, elder and deacon have God given authority in certain areas.
11:17-22 It’s Not About The Food
In the following directives I have no praise for you, for your meetings do more harm than good. 18In the first place, I hear that when you come together as a church, there are divisions among you, and to some extent I believe it. 19No doubt there have to be differences among you to show which of you have God's approval. 20When you come together, it is not the Lord's Supper you eat, 21for as you eat, each of you goes ahead without waiting for anybody else. One remains hungry, another gets drunk. 22Don't you have homes to eat and drink in? Or do you despise the church of God and humiliate those who have nothing? What shall I say to you? Shall I praise you for this? Certainly not!
The next problem that Paul points to in the worship of the Corinthian church is their observance of the Lord’s Supper.
Just as a refresher, let’s look briefly at how we received the Lord’s Supper. The gospels record that Jesus celebrated the Passover meal with the disciples and gave the observance to them at the end of the meal. In Leviticus 23:6, the Lord had said on the fifteenth day of the first month of the Jewish calendar, the Jews were to celebrate the beginning of the Feast of Unleavened Bread. Jesus’ observance is recorded in Matthew 26:17-30, where it says on the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, the disciples came to Jesus and asked where he wanted them to prepare to eat the Passover. During the meal, Jesus took bread, gave thanks and broke it, saying take and eat, this is my body. Then he took the cup, gave thanks and offered it to them saying “drink from it, all of you. This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. It is also recorded in Mark 14:12-26 and Luke 22:20. Luke adds this instruction from Jesus: do this in remembrance of me. Luke is the only one of the 4 gospel writers who records this command. (John records the Passover meal but not the Lord’s Supper in John 13.) Remember, though, that 1 Corinthians may well have been written before any of the Gospels, so our present passage might be the first written record of the Lord’s Supper.
The church observed the Lord’s Supper from the beginning. The reference in Acts 2:42 to “the breaking of bread” is thought by many to be a reference to the Lord’s Supper. The common way to celebrate it at that time was in the context of a meal. It may have been called a Love Feast, as mentioned in Jude 12. That is what the Corinthians were doing. Paul said they were coming together as a church, they were having a meal, and they were celebrating the Lord’s Supper as part of it.
But there were problems and Paul wanted to correct them. The first problem was divisions. He said they were coming together as a church, which means they should have been in unity, but they were not. There were groups that kept together, maybe even by social class or wealth. The second problem was the free for all that took place at the meals. Whoever got there first went ahead and ate the food, so the late arrivers might go hungry. Some got drunk. (Thus we know that they used real wine in the observance.) Paul says this shows they despise the church and humiliates the poor members, who were counting on being fed at the meal. In effect, their bad behavior meant to Paul that they were not celebrating the Lords’ Supper at all.
11:23-26 Explaining the Observance
In these verses, Paul reiterates his teaching on the observance. He said he received it from the Lord, which seems to be a claim of direct revelation from Christ. He made this same claim with regard to the gospel in Galatians 1:12.
Jesus said the bread represented his body and the cup represented the new covenant in his blood. Notice that none of the scriptures says Jesus’ body was broken for us. This is only from the KJV and they spilt over into some songs. The Bible, in John 19:33, records that they did not break Jesus’ legs since he was already dead. Paul says Jesus’ body was given for us. One thing we miss in the way we celebrate is the sense of unity that comes from taking from one loaf.
After describing the bread and the cup, he adds that in observing the supper, we proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes. When we take the bread and the cup, we declare our belief in his death for us, and witness to it for others.
Paul said we do it until the Lord comes. I usually think of the Lord’s Supper as looking back at the sacrifice of Christ, but it is also looking forward to his return. When he returns, we will trade the Lord’s Supper for the Wedding Banquet.
Paul says there is judgment for those who abuse the observance. Whoever takes part in an unworthy manner sins against the body and blood of the Lord. He even say some of the have become sick and some have died. Paul said we should examine ourselves before we partake. He suggested that we judge ourselves so the Lord will not do it. I agree with that approach.
Since we do not usually combine the Lord’s Supper with a meal, we do not have the problem described here in verse 21. But we can still participate in an unworthy fashion if we are distracted and not remembering Christ with the observance, or if we are living in a sinful state, we dishonor him. A sense of reverence and faith is necessary.
Paul also says we cannot partake without recognizing the body of the Lord. Given the problems he addressed, this seems to mean the church as Christ’s body. Those who were greedy or drunk did not understand their corporate unity in Christ. Many of us have taken the Lord’s Supper without recognizing this corporate unity, thinking only of ourselves.