1 Corinthians 11:17
Now in this that I declare unto you I praise you not, that ye come together not for the better, but for the worse.
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(17) Now in this that I declare unto you . . .—Better, Now I give you this command, while not praising you that you come together not for the better, but for the worse. These words lead from the subject which has gone before to another and different abuse of liberty in public assemblies, of which the Apostle is now about to speak. There were evidently three great abuses which had crept into the Church:—1. The discarding by the women of the covering for their heads. This only concerned one sex, and has been treated of in the earlier part of this chapter. The other two affect both sexes. 2. The disorders at the Lord’s Supper. 3. The misuse of spiritual gifts. The former of these occupies the remainder of this chapter, while the latter is discussed in 1Corinthians 12:1-30. To render the Greek word “I declare,” as in the Authorised version, and so make it refer to what is about to follow, gives a more logical completeness to the passage, but it is scarcely allowable, as the Greek word elsewhere always means a distinct command (1Corinthians 7:10; 1Thessalonians 4:11; 2Thessalonians 3:6; 2Thessalonians 3:10; 2Thessalonians 3:12, et al.). Others have suggested that St. Paul anticipates in thought the practical direction which occurs in 1Corinthians 11:34, and alludes to it here in the words, “This I command you.” This view is open to the objections (1) that it completely isolates 1Corinthians 11:17 from 1Corinthians 11:16, while the Greek evidently intimates a connection between them; (2) that it is unnatural to separate the statement so far from the command to which it refers. It is better to regard these words as given above—forming a sort of intellectual isthmus connecting the two wide fields of thought which the earlier and later portions of the chapter embrace.

I praise you not.—This carries the thought back to 1Corinthians 11:2, and shows that the commendation expressed there is still the writer’s starting-point, or rather the point of departure from which he proceeds to censure.

That ye come together.—Although in the English version the word “you” is inserted (“I praise you not”), it does not occur in the Greek. The passage is not, “I do not praise you because, &c.,” but, “I do not praise your coming together not for the better, but for the worse.” These words introduce the new topic which follows.

1 Corinthians 11:17-19. Now in this that I am about to declare unto you, I praise you not — I cannot commend some, as I have done others, (1 Corinthians 11:2,) for other things; that ye come together — Frequently, and even on the most solemn occasions; not for the better — So as to gain any spiritual advantage by the increase of your faith and other graces; but for the worse — To the prejudice of your souls, by fomenting strifes and animosities, which produce factions. For first of all — Before I mention any other instance of your irregular and indecent conduct, I must observe, that when ye come together in the church Εν τη εκκλησια, in the public assembly, though it is evident that nothing but reverence to God, and love to each other, should reign on such occasions; I hear that there be divisions Σχισματα, schisms; among you, and I partly believe it — That is, I believe it of some of you. It is plain that by schisms is not meant any separation from the church, but uncharitable divisions in it. For the Corinthians continued to be one church, and notwithstanding all their strife and contention, there was no separation of any one party from the rest, with regard to external communion. And it is in the same sense that the word is used, 1 Corinthians 1:10, and 1 Corinthians 12:25, which are the only places in the New Testament, besides this, where church schisms are mentioned. Therefore, the indulging any temper contrary to this tender care of each other, is the true Scriptural schism. This is, therefore, a quite different thing from that orderly separation from corrupt churches which later ages have stigmatized as schism; and have made a pretence for the vilest cruelties, oppressions, and murders, that have troubled the Christian world. Both heresies and schisms are here mentioned in very near the same sense: unless by schisms be meant rather those inward animosities which occasion heresies; that is, outward divisions or parties: so that while one said, I am of Paul, another, I am of Apollos, this implied both schism and heresy. So wonderfully have later ages distorted the words heresy and schism from their Scriptural meaning. Heresy is not, in all the Bible, taken for “an error in fundamentals,” or in any thing else; nor schism, for any separation made from the outward communion of others. Therefore, both heresy and schism, in the modern sense of the words, are sins that the Scripture knows nothing of; but were invented merely to deprive mankind of the benefit of private judgment, and liberty of conscience. For there must also be heresies among you

Parties formed, as the word αιρεσεις properly signifies. These, in the ordinary course of things, must take place, in consequence of your contentions, and the declension of your love to one another: and God permits these divisions, that they which are approved may be manifest — That it may appear who among you are, and who are not, upright of heart.

11:17-22 The apostle rebukes the disorders in their partaking of the Lord's supper. The ordinances of Christ, if they do not make us better, will be apt to make us worse. If the use of them does not mend, it will harden. Upon coming together, they fell into divisions, schisms. Christians may separate from each other's communion, yet be charitable one towards another; they may continue in the same communion, yet be uncharitable. This last is schism, rather than the former. There is a careless and irregular eating of the Lord's supper, which adds to guilt. Many rich Corinthians seem to have acted very wrong at the Lord's table, or at the love-feasts, which took place at the same time as the supper. The rich despised the poor, and ate and drank up the provisions they brought, before the poor were allowed to partake; thus some wanted, while others had more than enough. What should have been a bond of mutual love and affection, was made an instrument of discord and disunion. We should be careful that nothing in our behaviour at the Lord's table, appears to make light of that sacred institution. The Lord's supper is not now made an occasion for gluttony or revelling, but is it not often made the support of self-righteous pride, or a cloak for hypocrisy? Let us never rest in the outward forms of worship; but look to our hearts.Now in this that I declare - In this that I am about to state to you; to wit, your conduct in regard to the Lord's Supper. Why this subject is introduced here is not very apparent. The connection may be this. In the subjects immediately preceding he had seen much to commend, and he was desirous of commending them as far as it could be done. In 1 Corinthians 11:2 of this chapter he commends them in general for their regard to the ordinances which he had appointed when he was with them. But while he thus commended them, he takes occasion to observe that there was one subject on which he could not employ the language of approval or praise. Of their irregularities in regard to the Lord's supper he had probably heard by rumor, and as the subject was of great importance, and their irregularities gross and deplorable, he takes occasion to state to them again more fully the nature of that ordinance, and to reprove them for the manner in which they had celebrated it.

That ye come together - You assemble for public worship.

Not for the better, but for the worse - Your meetings, and your observance of the ordinances of the gospel, do not promote your edification, your piety, spirituality, and harmony; but tend to division, alienation, and disorder. You should assemble to worship God, and promote harmony, love, and piety; the actual effect of your assembling is just the reverse. In what way this was done he states in the following verses. These evil consequences were chiefly two, first, divisions and contentions; and, secondly, the abuse and profanation of the Lord's Supper.

17. in this—which follows.

I declare—rather, "I enjoin"; as the Greek is always so used. The oldest manuscripts read literally "This I enjoin (you) not praising (you)."

that—inasmuch as; in that you, &c. Here he qualifies his praise (1Co 11:2). "I said that I praised you for keeping the ordinances delivered to you; but I must now give injunction in the name of the Lord, on a matter in which I praise you not; namely, as to the Lord's Supper (1Co 11:23; 1Co 14:37).

not for the better—not so as to progress to what is better.

for the worse—so as to retrograde to what is worse. The result of such "coming together" must be "condemnation" (1Co 11:34).

Now in this that I declare unto you I praise you not; I come now to another thing of greater consequence, as to which I must much blame you; I am so far from being able to commend or approve of what you do, that I must for it smartly reflect upon you.

That ye come together not for the better, but for the worse; that when you meet in your church assemblies, for the performance of your religious duties, to pray, preach, hear, or receive the holy sacrament, you so meet and behave yourselves, as your meeting tends to the increase of your sin, rather than to the increase of your grace, and the promoting the work of God in yourselves and the souls of others.

Now in this that I declare unto you,.... The Syriac version reads, "this is what I command"; which some refer to what he had been discoursing of, adding to his arguments, and the examples of the church, his own orders and command, that men should worship God publicly, uncovered, and women covered; though it seems rather to respect what follows, what the apostle was about to declare unto them; concerning which he says,

I praise you not; as he did in 1 Corinthians 11:2 that they were mindful of him, remembered his doctrines, and kept the ordinances in the manner he had delivered them to them: and it should seem by this, that the greater part of them were not to be blamed, though some few were, for their irregular and indecent appearance in public worship, men with a covering on their heads, and women without one; but in what he was about to say, he could not praise them at all:

that you come together; to the house of God, to pray unto him, to sing his praises, to hear his word, and attend his ordinances, particularly the Lord's supper:

not for the better; for edification and instruction, for the quickening and comforting of your souls; that you may grow in grace and knowledge, become more holy, zealous, fruitful, and useful:

but for the worse; to indulge luxury and intemperance, to encourage heresies, schisms, and divisions, and so grow more carnal, scandalous, and useless.

{14} Now in this that I declare unto you I praise you not, that ye come together not for the better, but for the worse.

(14) He passes now to the next treatise concerning the right administration of the Lord's supper. And the apostle uses this harsher preface, that the Corinthians might understand that whereas they generally observed the apostle's commandments, yet they badly neglected them in a matter of greatest importance.

1 Corinthians 11:17. Transition to the censure which follows. Now this (what I have written up to this point about the veiling of the women) I enjoin,[1810] while I do not praise (i.e. while I join with my injunction the censure), that ye, etc. The “litotes” οὐκ ἐπαινῶν glances back upon 1 Corinthians 11:2. Lachmann’s view, according to which the new section begins at 1 Corinthians 11:16, so that φιλόνεικος would relate to the σχίσματα in 1 Corinthians 11:18, has this against it, that παραγγέλλω always means praecipio in the N. T. (1 Corinthians 7:10; 1 Thessalonians 4:11; 2 Thessalonians 3:4; 2 Thessalonians 3:6; 2 Thessalonians 3:10; 2 Thessalonians 3:12, al[1811]), not I announce, and that no injunction is expressed in 1 Corinthians 11:16. Moreover, we should desiderate some conclusion to the foregoing section, and, as such, considering especially that the matter in question was such a purely external one, 1 Corinthians 11:16 comes in with peculiar appropriateness. Other expositors, such as Lyra, Erasmus, Piscator, Grotius, Calovius, Hammond, Bengel, Rückert, also Ewald and Hofmann (comp his Schriftbeweis, II. 2, p. 235 f.), refer τοῦτο, after the example of the Greek Fathers, to what follows, inasmuch, namely, as the exposition now to begin ends in a command, and shows the reason why the church deserves no praise in this aspect of its church-life. Paul has already in his mind, according to these interpreters, the directions which he is about to give, but lays a foundation for them first of all by censuring the disorders which had crept in. Upon that view, however, the τοῦτο παραγγ. would come in much too soon; and we must suppose the apostle, at the very beginning of an important section, so little master of his own course of thought, as himself to throw his readers into confusion by leaving them without anything at all answering to the τοῦτο παραγγ.

ὅτι οὐκ εἰς τὸ κρεῖττον κ.τ.λ[1813]] does not give the reason of his not praising, but—seeing there is no ὑμᾶς with ἘΠΑΙΝ., as in 1 Corinthians 11:2—states what it is that he cannot praise. Your coming together is of such a kind that not the melius but the pejus arises out of it as its result; that it becomes worse instead of better with you (with your Christian condition). Theophylact and Billroth make τὸ κρεῖττ. and ΤῸ ἯΤΤΟΝ refer to the assemblies themselves: “that you hold your assemblies in such a way that they become worse instead of better.” A tame idea!

[1810] Hofmann irrelevantly objects to our making τοῦτο refer to the preceding passage, that Paul has previously enjoined nothing. He has, in fact, very categorically enjoined that the women should be veiled (comp. esp. vv. 5, 6, 10), and not simply expressed his opinion upon a custom that displeased him.

[1811] l. and others; and other passages; and other editions.

[1813] .τ.λ. καὶ τὰ λοιπά.

1 Corinthians 11:17-22. § 37. THE CHURCH MEETING FOR THE WORSE. The Cor[1665] Church had written self-complacently, expecting the Apostle’s commendation upon its report (1 Corinthians 11:2). In reply P. has just pointed out one serious irregularity, which might indeed be put down to ignorance (1 Corinthians 11:3; 1 Corinthians 11:16). No such excuse is possible in regard to the disorders he has now to speak of, which are reported to him on evidence that he cannot discredit (1 Corinthians 11:18)—viz., the divisions apparent in the Church meetings (1 Corinthians 11:19), and the gross selfishness and sensuality displayed at the common meals (1 Corinthians 11:20 ff.). Such behaviour he certainly cannot praise (1 Corinthians 11:17; 1 Corinthians 11:22).

[1665] Corinth, Corinthian or Corinthians.

17–34. Disorders at the Lord’s Supper

17. Now in this that I declare unto you I praise you not] St Paul was able to praise the Corinthians (1 Corinthians 11:2) for their attention to the injunctions he had given them. He could not praise them for their irregularities in a matter on which their Christian instincts ought to have enlightened them. The disorders at the administration of the Eucharist were such as ought not to have needed correction.

that you come together not for the better, but for the worse] Literally, unto the better and unto the worse, i.e. they were the worse, not the better, for meeting together for worship.

1 Corinthians 11:17. Τοῦτο) this, which follows.—παραγγέλλω, [Engl. Vers. I declare] I command) in the name of the Lord, 1 Corinthians 11:23; 1 Corinthians 14:37.—οὐκ ἐπαινῶν, not praising) the opposite is, I praise, 1 Corinthians 11:2. The two parts into which this chapter is divided, are closely connected by this antithesis; in the one the Corinthians were regarded as well-disposed, in the other, as committing sin.—εἰς τὸ κρεῖττον, for the better) An assembly of believers ought always to be progressing towards that, which is better.—εἰς τὸ ἥττον, for the worse) and therefore for condemnation, 1 Corinthians 11:34. At first Paul speaks more gently. κρεῖττον, ἥττον, form a paranomasia.[96]

[96] See App. The two words by the similiarity of sound forming the more striking contrast.—ED.

Verses 17-34. - Discreditable irregularities at the Eucharist and the agapae. Verse 17. - Now in this that I declare unto you I praise you not; rather, as in the Revised Version, But in giving you this charge, I praise you not. A reference to the "I praise you" of ver. 2. Ye come together. As he advances, his rebukes become more and more serious; for the present reproach does not affect a few, but the Church assembly in general. 1 Corinthians 11:17I declare (παραγγέλλω)

Wrong. It means in the New Testament only command. See on Luke 5:14; see on Acts 1:4.

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