1 Corinthians 11:30
For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep.
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(30) For this causei.e., because you do not regard these feasts, to which the Lord’s Supper is joined as gatherings in a common body, but eat and drink to excess, and so gain no spiritual advantage, but actually physical evil, many are weak and sickly.

And many sleep.—Better, and some die. Even death sometimes resulted from their drunken orgies, either naturally, or by God’s direct visitation.

11:23-34 The apostle describes the sacred ordinance, of which he had the knowledge by revelation from Christ. As to the visible signs, these are the bread and wine. What is eaten is called bread, though at the same time it is said to be the body of the Lord, plainly showing that the apostle did not mean that the bread was changed into flesh. St. Matthew tells us, our Lord bid them all drink of the cup, ch. Mt 26:27, as if he would, by this expression, provide against any believer being deprived of the cup. The things signified by these outward signs, are Christ's body and blood, his body broken, his blood shed, together with all the benefits which flow from his death and sacrifice. Our Saviour's actions were, taking the bread and cup, giving thanks, breaking the bread, and giving both the one and the other. The actions of the communicants were, to take the bread and eat, to take the cup and drink, and to do both in remembrance of Christ. But the outward acts are not the whole, or the principal part, of what is to be done at this holy ordinance. Those who partake of it, are to take him as their Lord and Life, yield themselves up to him, and live upon him. Here is an account of the ends of this ordinance. It is to be done in remembrance of Christ, to keep fresh in our minds his dying for us, as well as to remember Christ pleading for us, in virtue of his death, at God's right hand. It is not merely in remembrance of Christ, of what he has done and suffered; but to celebrate his grace in our redemption. We declare his death to be our life, the spring of all our comforts and hopes. And we glory in such a declaration; we show forth his death, and plead it as our accepted sacrifice and ransom. The Lord's supper is not an ordinance to be observed merely for a time, but to be continued. The apostle lays before the Corinthians the danger of receiving it with an unsuitable temper of mind; or keeping up the covenant with sin and death, while professing to renew and confirm the covenant with God. No doubt such incur great guilt, and so render themselves liable to spiritual judgements. But fearful believers should not be discouraged from attending at this holy ordinance. The Holy Spirit never caused this scripture to be written to deter serious Christians from their duty, though the devil has often made this use of it. The apostle was addressing Christians, and warning them to beware of the temporal judgements with which God chastised his offending servants. And in the midst of judgement, God remembers mercy: he many times punishes those whom he loves. It is better to bear trouble in this world, than to be miserable for ever. The apostle points our the duty of those who come to the Lord's table. Self-examination is necessary to right attendance at this holy ordinance. If we would thoroughly search ourselves, to condemn and set right what we find wrong, we should stop Divine judgements. The apostle closes all with a caution against the irregularities of which the Corinthians were guilty at the Lord's table. Let all look to it, that they do not come together to God's worship, so as to provoke him, and bring down vengeance on themselves.For this cause - On account of the improper manner of celebrating the Lord's Supper; see 1 Corinthians 11:21.

Many are weak - (ἀσθενεῖς astheneis). Evidently referring to prevailing bodily sickness and disease. This is the natural and obvious interpretation of this passage. The sense clearly is, that God had sent among them bodily distempers as an expression of the divine displeasure and judgment for their improper mode of celebrating the Lord's Supper. That it was not uncommon in those times for God in an extraordinary manner to punish people with calamity, sickness, or death for their sins is evident from the New Testament; see the 1 Corinthians 5:5 note; Acts 5:1-10; Acts 13:11 notes; 1 Timothy 1:20 note; and perhaps 1 John 5:16 note; and James 5:14-15 notes. It may possibly have been the case that the intemperance and gluttony which prevailed on these occasions was the direct cause of no small part of the bodily disease which prevailed, and which in some cases terminated in death.

And many sleep - Have died. The death of Christians in the Scriptures is commonly represented under the image of "sleep;" Dan, 1 Corinthians 12:2; John 11:11-12; 1 Corinthians 15:51; 1 Thessalonians 4:14; 1 Thessalonians 5:10. Perhaps it may be implied by the use of this mild term here, instead of the harsher word "death," that these were true Christians. This sentiment is in accordance with all that Paul states in regard to the church at Corinth. Notwithstanding all their irregularities, he does not deny that they were sincere Christians, and all his appeals and reasonings proceed on that supposition, though there was among them much ignorance and irregularity. God often visits his own people with trial; and though they are his children, yet this does not exempt them from affliction and discipline on account of their imperfections, errors, and sins. The "practical lesson" taught by this is, that Christians should serve God with purity; that they should avoid sin in every form; and that the commission of sin will expose them, as well as others, to the divine displeasure. The reason why this judgment was inflicted on the Corinthians was, that there might be a suitable impression made of the holy nature of that ordinance, and that Christians might be led to observe it in a proper manner. If it be asked whether God ever visits his people now with his displeasure for their improper manner of observing this ordinance, we may reply:

(1) That we have no reason to suppose that he inflicts "bodily" diseases and corporeal punishments on account of it. But,

(2) There is no reason to doubt that the improper observance of the Lord's Supper, like the improper observance of any other religious duty, will be followed with the expression of God's displeasure, and with a spiritual blightling on the soul. This may be evinced in the following modes:

(a) In hardening the heart by an improper familiarity with the most sacred and solemn ordinances of religion.

(b) Increased coldness and deadness in the service of God. If the ordinances of the gospel are not the means of making us better, they are the means of making us worse.

(c) The loss of the favor of God, or of those pure, and spiritual, and elevated joys which we might have obtained by a proper observance of the ordinance.

There is no reason to doubt that God may make it the occasion of manifesting his displeasure. It may be followed by a lack of spiritual comfort and peace; by a loss of communion with God; and by a withholding of those comforts from the soul which might have been enjoyed, and which are imparted to those who observe it in a proper manner. The general principle is, that an improper discharge of any duty will expose us to his displeasure, and to the certain loss of all those favors which might have resulted from a proper discharge of the duty, and to the tokens of the divine displeasure. And this is as true of prayer, or of any other religious duty, as of an improper observance of the Lord's Supper.

30. weak … sickly—He is "weak" who has naturally no strength: "sickly," who has lost his strength by disease [Tittmann, Greek Synonyms of the New Testament].

sleep—are being lulled in death: not a violent death; but one the result of sickness, sent as the Lord's chastening for the individual's salvation, the mind being brought to a right state on the sick bed (1Co 11:31).

You, it may be, are not aware of it, but look upon other causes why so many amongst you are sick, and weak, and die immaturely; but I, as the apostle of Jesus Christ, (and so know the mind and will of God), assure you, that this your irreverent and irreligious profanation of this holy ordinance, is one great cause of so many among you being sick, and weak, and dying in unripe age. Some think that the word

sleep argues that they were godly, penitent Christians that so died, (for the death of wicked men is hardly called sleeping any where in holy writ), to let us know, that even good people, who yet may be saved, may bring judgments in this life upon themselves, as by the profanation of God’s name in other ordinances, so more especially by their profanation of it in this ordinance of the supper. For this cause many are weak and sickly,.... Because of their unworthy participation of the Lord's supper, many in the Corinthian church were attended with bodily infirmities and diseases; either by way of fatherly chastisement and correction in such who were truly the Lord's people, though they had behaved unworthily; or by way of punishment to such who were not, and had sinned very grossly:

and many sleep; that is, die a corporeal death, which is often in Scripture signified by sleep, and frequently used of the saints, and their death, and may intend and include some of them here; for though the Lord might resent so far their unworthy conduct and behaviour at his table, as to remove them out of this world by death, yet their souls may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.

{21} For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep.

(21) The profaning of the body and blood of the Lord in his mysteries is harshly punished by him, and therefore such wrongs ought diligently to be prevented by each one judging and correcting himself.

1 Corinthians 11:30. Proof of that κρῖμα ἑαυτῷπίνει from the present experience of the Corinthians themselves.

Paul knew that there were at this time many cases of sickness, and not a few of death (κοιμῶνται), among them; and he saw in this a divine chastisement for their unworthy use of the Lord’s Supper. The explanation which refers this to moral weakness and deadness (Valckenaer, Morus, Krause, Eichhorn) is not to be rejected (as by Rückert) on the ground that this moral sickness and deadness must have been represented as the cause of the unworthy participation (for, from the Pauline standpoint, they might quite as well be regarded as its consequence, see Romans 1:24 ff.). But it is to be set aside, because such a sense must have been suggested by the context, whereas there is not the remotest hint of it, either by itself or in connection with the physical interpretation (Olshausen).

κοιμῶνται] dormiunt, i.e. are dead. Comp., regarding this euphemistic allusion, what is said on 1 Corinthians 15:18. Elsewhere in the N. T. we find the perfect or aorist. But comp Lachmann’s reading in 1 Thessalonians 4:13.

It is impossible to establish a definite distinction of idea between ἈΣΘΕΝΕῖς and ἌῤῬΩΣΤΟΙ. Grotius and Bengel hold the latter to mean more than the former; Wetstein and Tittmann again (Synon. p. 76) differ from them in this. Both words denote want of strength from sickness.1 Corinthians 11:30. In evidence of the “judgment” which profanation of the Lord’s Table entails, the Ap. points to the sad fact that “amongst you many are sick and weakly, and not a few are sleeping”.—ἀσθενεῖς applies to maladies of any kind, ἄρρωστοι to cases of debility and continued ill-health—ægroti et valetudinarii (Bz[1790]). The added κοιμῶνται (the Christian syn[1791] for ἀποθνήσκουσιν) shows that P. is speaking not figuratively of low spiritual conditions, but literally of physical inflictions which he knows to be their consequence (διὰ τοῦτο). We must be careful not to generalise from this single instance (see John 9:3). The mere coincidence of such afflictions with the desecration of the Eucharist could not have justified P. in making this statement; he must have been conscious of some specific revelation to this effect. For ἱκανοί (a sufficient number—something like our “plenty of you”), see parls.; “something less than πολλοί, though sufficiently numerous to arouse serious attention” (El[1792]). The “sleepers” had died in the Lord, or this term would not have been used of them; it does not appear that this visitation had singled out the profaners of the Sacrament; the community is suffering, for widely-spread offence. Both in the removal and infliction of physical evil, the inauguration of the New Covenant, as of the Old, was marked by displays of supernatural power.

[1790] Beza’s Nov. Testamentum: Interpretatio et Annotationes (Cantab., 1642).

[1791] synonym, synonymous.

[1792] C. J. Ellicott’s St. Paul’s First Epistle to the Corinthians.30. For this cause many are weak and sickly among you] If the body be the temple of the Lord (ch. 1 Corinthians 6:19), we can well understand how a crime against His Body and Blood (1 Corinthians 11:27) would deprive the body of any Christian who committed it of His presence, and predispose it to sickness and even death. This is the judgment of which the Apostle speaks in 1 Corinthians 11:29. Cf. also St John 5:14.

and many sleep] Literally, a considerable number, even more than the number of those who are weak and sickly. For sleep, see ch. 1 Corinthians 7:39.1 Corinthians 11:30. Διὰ τοῦτο, for this cause) The Corinthians had not observed this cause; but in our day it is proper to attend to it.—ἀσθενεῖς καὶ ἄῤῥωστοι, weak and sickly) weak from slighter distempers; sickly from more serious diseases; comp. Revelation 2:22.—κοιμῶνται, sleep) A word in a middle sense, [μέσον, midway between good and bad] as distinguished from the state after death. It does not denote here however a dreadful death.Verse 30. - Many are weak and sickly among you. St. Paul directly connects this general ill health with the abuse of the Lord's Supper. It is not impossible that the grave intemperance to which he alludes in ver. 21 may have had its share in this result; but apart from this, there is an undoubted connection between sin and sickness in some, though not, of course, in all cases (John 5:14). Many. The word is different from the previous word for "many," and means a larger number - " not a few," "a considerable number." Sleep; i.e. are dying. Weak and sickly

Physical visitations on account of profanation of the Lord's table.

Many sleep (κοιμῶνται ἱκανοί)

The word for many means, primarily, adequate, sufficient. See on Romans 15:23. Rev., not a few hardly expresses the ominous shading of the word: quite enough have died. Sleep. Better, are sleeping. Here simply as a synonym for are dead, without the peculiar restful sense which christian sentiment so commonly conveys into it. See on Acts 7:60; see on 2 Peter 3:4.

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