1 Corinthians 11:20
When ye come together therefore into one place, this is not to eat the Lord's supper.
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(20) When ye come together therefore into one place, this is not to eat the Lord’s supper.—Better, Therefore, when you assemble in the same place, it is not to eat the supper dedicated to the Lord. Regarding 1Corinthians 11:19 as a parenthesis, the word “therefore” connects this with 1Corinthians 11:18. There being divisions among you, it is not possible for you when you assemble as a Church body (“in the same place” being equivalent to “in church” of 1Corinthians 11:18) to partake of that supper which is dedicated to the Lord. The whole meal, or “charity-feast” (Jude 1:12), was distinguished from other meals by being united with the Lord’s Supper. To these charity-feasts the Christians brought contributions of food—the rich of their abundance, the poor whatever they could afford—and the food thus provided was partaken of in common by all. The Greek words in this verse for “Lord’s Supper” are more general (kuriakon deipnon) than those used in 1Corinthians 11:27 and in 1Corinthians 10:16; 1Corinthians 10:21 (kuriou). The whole meal was dedicated to the Lord by virtue of its union with the sacramental Supper of the Lord.

1 Corinthians 11:20-22. When ye come together therefore — In such a manner as you do; into one place — Under pretence of celebrating the holy ordinance of the eucharist, and have such strife and contention among you, and act in the disorderly manner which I shall now mention; this is not to eat the Lord’s supper — That solemn memorial of his death; nor does it deserve to be called by that name, unless ye eat it in fellowship together, and in mutual love, as the disciples of one master. Instead of regarding it in a holy and religious point of view, you seem to confound it with a common meal; and do not indeed behave in the manner that decency would require, if it were no more than a common meal. For in eating it — Or when you eat it; every one taketh before other his own supper — Or, as Macknight renders εκαστος το ιδιον δειπνον προλαμβανει, every one taketh first his own supper; observing, that “what follows shows the apostle did not mean,” as in our translation, “that every one took before another his own supper; but that every one took his own supper before he ate the Lord’s supper. Christ having instituted his supper after he had eaten the passover, the disciples very early made it a rule to feast together before they ate the Lord’s supper. These feasts were called αγαπαι, charitates, love-feasts. They are mentioned, Jude, 1 Corinthians 11:12, as also by some of the ancient Christian writers. From Xenophon, (see Memorab., lib. 3. cap. 14,) we learn that the Greeks, when they supped together, brought each his own provisions ready dressed, which they ate in company together. Probably the Corinthians followed the same practice, in their feasts previous to the Lord’s supper.” And one is hungry, and another is drunken — Or rather, is filled, or plentifully fed, “as μεθυειν signifies here, being opposed to one is hungry. The word is used in this sense by the LXX., Psalm 35:9; Jeremiah 38:14; John 2:10; where it is rendered by our translators, when men have well drunk, drunk plentifully. According to the grammarians, μεθυειν literally signifies to eat and drink, μετα το θυειν, after sacrificing; on which occasions the heathen often drank to excess.” What? have ye not houses to eat and drink in — With your friends? Or despise ye the church of God — Which ye thus expose to contempt, and which you must greatly offend and grieve by such a conduct as this? That church of which the poor are both the larger and the better part; and shame — Expose to shame; them that have not — A supper to eat, while ye feast luxuriously? Do you act thus in designed contempt of them? What shall I say to you — On this occasion? Shall I praise you in this? — I wish I could fairly and honourably do it; but at present I praise you not — I must rather blame you, and exhort you to amend what is so grossly amiss.

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.When ye come together therefore ... - When you are assembled as a church, compare Hebrews 10:25, and see the note on Acts 2:1. Christians were constantly in the habit of assembling for public worship. It is probable that at this early period all the Christians in Corinth were accustomed to meet in the same place. The apostle here particularly refers to their "assembling" to observe the ordinance of the Lord's Supper. At that early period it is probable that this was done on every Lord's Day.

This is not ... - Margin, "Ye cannot eat." The meaning of this expression seems to be this. "Though you come together professedly to worship God, and to partake of the Lord's Supper, yet this cannot be the real design which you have in view. It cannot be that such practices as are allowed among you can be a part of the celebration of that supper, or consistent with it. Your greediness 1 Corinthians 11:21; your intemperance 1 Corinthians 11:21; your partaking of the food separately and not in common, cannot be a celebration of the Lord's Supper. Whatever, therefore, you may profess to be engaged in, yet really and truly you are not celebrating the Lord's Supper."

The Lord's supper - That which the Lord Jesus instituted to commemorate his death. It is called "the Lord's," because it is his appointment, and is in honor of him; it is called "supper" (δεῖπνον deipnon), because the word denotes the evening repast; it was instituted in the evening; and it is evidently most proper that it should be observed in the after part of the day. With most churches the time is improperly changed to the morning - a custom which has no sanction in the New Testament; and which is a departure from the very idea of a supper.

20. When … therefore—Resuming the thread of discourse from 1Co 11:18.

this is not to—rather, "there is no such thing as eating the Lord's Supper"; it is not possible where each is greedily intent only on devouring "HIS OWN supper," and some are excluded altogether, not having been waited for (1Co 11:33), where some are "drunken," while others are "hungry" (1Co 11:21). The love-feast usually preceded the Lord's Supper (as eating the Passover came before the Lord's Supper at the first institution of the latter). It was a club-feast, where each brought his portion, and the rich, extra portions for the poor; from it the bread and wine were taken for the Eucharist; and it was at it that the excesses took place, which made a true celebration of the Lord's Supper during or after it, with true discernment of its solemnity, out of the question.

The Greek words do not necessarily signify into one place, they may as well be translated, for the same thing, and possibly that were the better translation of them in this place; divisions appearing the worse amongst persons that met as one and the same body, and for one and the same grave action, and that such an action as declared them one body, and laid upon them the highest obligation to brotherly love imaginable.

This is not to eat the Lord’s supper: some words must be here supplied to complete the sense.

This is not to eat; that is, as you do it is indeed not to do it; to eat the Lord’s supper in an unlawful manner, is not to eat it. It is called the Lord’s supper, either because he ordained and instituted it, or because it was instituted for the remembrance of his death, 1 Corinthians 11:26 Luke 22:19. Some think that the sacrament of the Lord’s supper is here meant, and so one would think, by comparing what is here with 1 Corinthians 11:23,24. Others say, that the love feast is here intended, which ordinarily preceded the Lord’s supper; the reason they give is, because the abuses here mentioned, viz. not staying one for another till the whole church were met, one eating plentifully, another sparingly, some being hungry while others had ate and drank enough, could not be at the Lord’s supper, where the minister beginneth not till the whole church be assembled, and where there is no such liberal eating and drinking. To this purpose we are told, that by an ancient custom in Greece (within which Corinth was) the rich men offered some things to their idols, (which after that action the poor had for their relief), and made feasts in the idol’s temples, of which all had a liberty to eat. That the Christians imitated this practice of theirs, and the rich amongst them upon the Lord’s days made feasts, at which both poor and rich Christians might be, and the poor carried away what was left. But this church growing corrupt every way, and having got teachers to their humours, they at these feasts neglected the poor, inviting only the rich to them, and also exceeding in their provision for their rich guests. These feasts were called feasts of love, or love feasts, either because:

1. Love to God was that which (pretendedly at least) caused them.

2. Or because they were representations of our Lord’s last supper, in which he first ate the paschal lamb, then instituted what we call the Lord’s supper; or because they immediately preceded or followed the administration of the Lord’s supper, from whence the love feast, being immediately before or after it, had also the same name. But if we allow this, we must make the love feasts also Christ’s institution, and instituted in remembrance of him, neither of which can be proved. The meaning must be: You cannot rightly communicate at the Lord’s table, when immediately before or after that table, at your love feast, you are guilty of such disorderly actions. In the mean time, only what Christ instituted for remembrance of his death is what the apostle calls the Lord’s supper.

When ye come together therefore into one place,.... Though does not signify so much the unity of the place, as of the persons meeting together, and their conjunction; so the phrase is used by the Septuagint, in Deuteronomy 25:11, yet it supposes a place where the church were wont to assemble for divine worship;

this is not to eat the Lord's supper: their view in coming together was not so much to celebrate the supper of the Lord, as to partake of their own supper, which was either the paschal supper, or something like it; which many of them "judaizing" observed before the Lord's supper, in imitation of Christ, as they pretended, who first ate the passover, and then instituted the supper. Now there being a great deal of good eating and drinking in this ante-supper, many of them came together for no other end but to partake of that, at least this was their chief view, and not the Lord's supper; or when they did meet together on this account, it was in such an irregular and disorderly manner, and they confounded these suppers together, and behaved so ill at them, and ate the Lord's supper so unworthily, that it could not be rightly called eating of it; or when they had eaten their ante-supper in such an indecent way, neither staying for one another, nor keeping within the bounds of temperance and sobriety; at least having indulged their carnal appetites to such a degree, and raised themselves to such a pitch of gaiety and cheerfulness; it was not fit for them to eat the Lord's supper, to go from such a full meal to the table of the Lord. This was called the Lord's supper, because he was the author of it; and he is the subject of it; and for him, the remembrance of him, it is appointed, kept up, and continued. The Syriac version understands it of the Lord's day, and reads it thus, "when therefore ye meet together, not as is fit for", or becomes, , "the day of our Lord, do ye eat and drink".

When ye come together therefore into one place, this is {g} not to eat the Lord's supper.

(g) This is a usual metaphor by which the apostle flatly denies that which many did not do well.

1 Corinthians 11:20. Οὖν] resuming after the parenthesis; see on 1 Corinthians 11:18.

ἐπὶ τὸ αὐτό] to the same place. See on Acts 1:15.

οὐκ ἔστι κυριακ. δεῖπν. φαγ.] there does not take place an eating of a Lord’s Supper, i.e. one cannot eat a Lord’s Supper in that way; it is morally impossible, since things go on in such fashion as 1 Corinthians 11:21 thereupon specifies by way of proof. We have here the very common and familiar use of ἔστι with the infinitive, in the sense of: it is possible, one can, as in Hebrews 9:5. So e.g. the passages from Plato given by Ast, Lex. I. p. 622; Hom. Il. xxi. 193, al[1832]; Thuc. viii. 53; Soph. Phil. 69; Aesch. Pers. 414; Polyb. i. 12. 9, v. 98. 4. It occurs in the classics also for the most part with the negative. See generally, Valckenaer on Eurip. Hippol. 1326. Beza, Estius, Zachariae, de Wette, Ewald, Maier, Winer, al[1833], render it otherwise, as if there were a ΤΟῦΤΟ in the text: this is not, etc. And even if there were such a τοῦτο, it would have nothing here to connect itself with.

ΚΥΡΙΑΚῸΝ ΔΕῖΠΝΟΝ] a meal belonging to the Lord, consecrated to Christ; comp 1 Corinthians 11:27; 1 Corinthians 10:21. The name was given to the love-feasts (Agapae, Judges 1:12), at which the Christians ate and drank together what they severally brought with them, and with which was conjoined the Lord’s Supper properly so called (1 Corinthians 10:16; 1 Corinthians 10:21; comp on Acts 2:42), so that the bread was distributed and partaken of during the meal and the cup after it, according to the precedent of the original institution. Comp Tertullian, Apol. 30. Chrysostom, indeed, and Pelagius held that the Lord’s Supper came first; but this is contrary to the model of the first institution, came into vogue only at a later date, and rests purely upon the ascetic idea that it was unbefitting to take the Eucharist after other food. To understand here, as Hofmann does, not the whole meal, but merely the celebration of the Lord’s Supper, which was conjoined with it, is not in keeping with the phrase δεῖπνον, the precise scope of which is determined by the meal so originally instituted (John 13:2) to which it points.

[1832] l. and others; and other passages; and other editions.

[1833] l. and others; and other passages; and other editions.

1 Corinthians 11:20-21 resume with emphasis the circumstantial clause of 1 Corinthians 11:18 and draw out, by οὖν, the disastrous issue of the σχίσματα: they produce a visible separation at the common meal of the Church, destroying the reality of the Lord’s Supper. Ch. 1 Corinthians 1:12, 1 Corinthians 3:3 f., 1 Corinthians 4:6, showed that the Cor[1697] divisions were of a partisan character, and 1 Corinthians 1:19 that intellectual differences entered into them (cf. 1 Corinthians 8:1-7); but distinctions of wealth contributed to the same effect. The two latter influences conspired, the richer and more cultivated Cor[1698] Christians leaning to a self-indulgence which they justified on the ground of enlightenment; the αἱρέσεις sloped down toward κραιράλη καὶ μέθη.—ἐπὶ τὸ αὐτό, “to the same (spot)”.—οὐκ ἔστιν κ.τ.λ. can hardly mean, “it is not to eat the Lord’s Supper” (so Al[1699] and others)—for the Cor[1700] intended this, but by unworthy behaviour (1 Corinthians 11:26 f.) neutralised their purpose: P. says either “it (sc. your feast) is not an eating of the Lord’s Supper” (A.V., Bz[1701], Est., D.W[1702], Bt[1703], Hn[1704], EL[1705], Gd[1706]: “ce n’est pas là manger, etc.”); or, “it is not (possible) to eat the Lord’s Supper” (R.V., Bg[1707], Mr[1708], Hf[1709], Ed[1710], Ev[1711])—such eating is out of the question. 1 Corinthians 11:21 bears out the last interpretation, since it.describes a state of things not merely nullifying but repugnant to any true κυριακὸν δεῖπνον; οὐκ ἔστιν carries this strong sense, negativing the idea as well as fact, in Hebrews 9:5, and often in cl[1712] Gr[1713]—The adj[1714] κυριακὸν (= τοῦ Κυρίου) stands in emphatic contrast with ἴδιον, the termination -κὸς signifying kind or nature: “It is impossible to eat a supper of the Lord, for each man is in haste to get (προλαμβάνειprœoccupat, Bz[1715]) his own supper when he eats,”—or “during the meal” (Ev[1716]; ἐν τῷ φαγεῖν, in edendo, Bz[1717]; not ad manducandum, as in Vg[1718]). Instead of waiting for one another (1 Corinthians 11:33), the Cor[1719], as they entered the assemblyroom bringing their provisions, sat down at once to consume each his own supply, like private diners at a restaurant; προ- suggests, in view of 1 Corinthians 11:22, that the rich even hurried to do this, so as to avoid sharing with slaves and low people at a common dish (1 Corinthians 11:22).—The κυρ. δεῖπνον was a kind of club-supper, with which the evening meeting of the Church commenced (18a, 20a), taking place at least once a week on the Lord’s Day (cf. Acts 20:7 ff.). This Church-supper, afterwards called the Agapé (see Dict. of Christian Antiq. s.v.; also Ed[1720] ad loc[1721]) was analogous to the συσσίτια and ἔρανοι held by the guilds and friendly societies then rife amongst the Greeks. Originating as a kind of enlarged family meal in the Church of Jerus. (Acts 2:46), the practice of the common supper accorded so well with social custom that it was universal amongst Christians in the first century (see Weizsäcker’s Apost. Age, vol. ii., pp. 279–286). Gradually the Eucharist was separated from the Agapé for greater decorum, and the latter degenerated and became extinct; here they are one, as in the Last Supper itself. The table was provisioned at Cor[1722] not from a general fund (as was usual in the ἔρανοι or collegia), but by each guest bringing his contribution in kind, a practice not uncommon in private parties, which had the disadvantage of accentuating social differences. While the poor brought little or nothing to the feast and might be ashamed to show his fare, the rich man exhibited a loaded basket out of which he could feed to repletion. All κοινωνία was destroyed; such vulgarity would have disgraced a heathen guild-feast. The Lord, the common Host, was forgotten at His table. ὅς μὲν πεινᾷsc. the poor man, whose small store was insufficient, or who arriving late (for his time was not his own) found the table cleared (cf. προλαμβάνει). ὃς δὲ μεθύει, “but another is drunk!” or in the lighter sense suggested by πεινῷ, plus satis bibit (Gr[1723], Hn[1724]), “drinks to the full” (cf. John 2:10); the scene of sensual greed and pride might well culminate in drunkenness. Of all imaginable schisms the most shocking: hunger and intoxication side by side, at what is supposed to be the Table of the Lord! This is indeed “meeting for the worse”.—For the demonstr. use of the rel[1725] pron[1726] with μὲν and δέ, see Wr[1727], p. 130.

[1697] Corinth, Corinthian or Corinthians.

[1698] Corinth, Corinthian or Corinthians.

[1699] Alford’s Greek Testament.

[1700] Corinth, Corinthian or Corinthians.

[1701] Beza’s Nov. Testamentum: Interpretatio et Annotationes (Cantab., 1642).

[1702].W. De Wette’s Handbuch z. N. T.

J. A. Beet’s St. Paul’s Epp. to the Corinthians (1882).

[1704] C. F. G. Heinrici’s Erklärung der Korintherbriefe (1880), or 1 Korinther in Meyer’s krit.-exegetisches Kommentar (1896).

[1705] C. J. Ellicott’s St. Paul’s First Epistle to the Corinthians.

[1706] F. Godet’s Commentaire sur la prem. Ép. aux Corinthiens (Eng. Trans.).

[1707] Bengel’s Gnomon Novi Testamenti.

Meyer’s Critical and Exegetical Commentary (Eng. Trans.).

[1709] J. C. K. von Hofmann’s Die heilige Schrift N.T. untersucht, ii. 2 (2te Auflage, 1874).

[1710] T. C. Edwards’ Commentary on the First Ep. to the Corinthians.2

[1711] T. S. Evans in Speaker’s Commentary.

[1712] classical.

[1713] Greek, or Grotius’ Annotationes in N.T.


[1715] Beza’s Nov. Testamentum: Interpretatio et Annotationes (Cantab., 1642).

[1716] T. S. Evans in Speaker’s Commentary.

[1717] Beza’s Nov. Testamentum: Interpretatio et Annotationes (Cantab., 1642).

[1718] Latin Vulgate Translation.

[1719] Corinth, Corinthian or Corinthians.

[1720] T. C. Edwards’ Commentary on the First Ep. to the Corinthians.2

[1721] ad locum, on this passage.

[1722] Corinth, Corinthian or Corinthians.

[1723] Greek, or Grotius’ Annotationes in N.T.

C. F. G. Heinrici’s Erklärung der Korintherbriefe (1880), or 1 Korinther in Meyer’s krit.-exegetisches Kommentar (1896).

[1725] relative pronoun.

[1726]ron. pronoun.

[1727] Winer-Moulton’s Grammar of N.T. Greek (8th ed., 1877).

20. into one place] Literally, to (or at) the same place. See Acts 1:15; Acts 2:1; Acts 3:1, and ch. 1 Corinthians 7:5 of this Epistle. It is the only phrase which we find applied to the place of the Christian assembly. See note on 1 Corinthians 11:18.

this is not to eat the Lord’s supper] Better, perhaps, it is not to eat a supper of the Lord’s Institution. The absence of the article, the apparent antithesis between a supper of Christ’s and a supper of one’s own devising, and the presence of the article in Revelation 1:10 (the Lord’s Day), confirm this rendering. It is not merely that the conduct of the Corinthian Christians was inconsistent with taking’ part in the Sacrament of Christ’s Body and Blood, but that it was in no sense a supper of Christ’s institution of which they partook. “The question arose,” says Dean Stanley, “whether the majesty, the tenderness, the awe of the feast should be lost in a senseless orgy.”

1 Corinthians 11:20. Συνερχομένων οὖν ὑμῶν, when ye come together therefore) The therefore has the effect of resuming the discourse, 1 Corinthians 11:18.—οὐκ ἔστι φαγεῖν) there is not aught to eat, i.e. it does not fall to you to eat; eating is prevented, viz. because the bread is withdrawn;[98] he therefore pointedly says, to eat. It is an indefinite expression. [Man kommt nicht dazu, wegen Abgang des Brots und Weins, “we come not for that purpose, on account of the want of bread and wine.”—Not. crit.] Sometimes they came in for the privilege of eating the Lord’s Supper itself, 1 Corinthians 11:26. Sometimes, they were excluded, some at least, who came too late, and had not been waited for, 1 Corinthians 11:33. So ἐστὶ with the infinitive, Hebrews 9:5. So not merely on one occasion Chrysostom.—See 1. 2 de Sacerd., p. 388. There is a similar use of the verb γίνεται, Acts 20:16. So אין לשמור, 2 Chronicles 5:11; אין לבוא, Esther 4:2; οὐκ ἔστιν ἆραι, LXX., 1 Chronicles 15:2; οὐκ ἔστι πρός σε ἀντιστῆναι, 2 Chronicles 20:6, and decidedly Genesis 6:21, καὶ ἔσται σοὶ καὶ ἐκείνοις φαγεῖν.—Κυριακὸν, the Lord’s) An antithesis to his own, (ἴδιον) supper, next verse.

[98] Those who came first consumed it all, and left none for those who came late.—ED.

Verse 20. - Into one place. There were as yet no churches. The Lord's Supper was held in private houses. This is not; or perhaps, it is not possible. The Lord's Supper. The fact that there is no article in the Greek shows the early prevalence of this name for the Eucharist. 1 Corinthians 11:20This is not (οὐκ ἔστιν)

Rev., correctly, it is not possible.

The Lord's Supper (κυριακὸν δεῖπνον)

The emphasis is on Lord's. Δεῖπνον supper, represented the principal meal of the day, answering to the late dinner. The Eucharist proper was originally celebrated as a private expression of devotion, and in connection with a common, daily meal, an agape or love-feast. In the apostolic period it was celebrated daily. The social and festive character of the meal grew largely out of the gentile institution of clubs or fraternities, which served as savings-banks, mutual-help societies, insurance offices, and which expressed and fostered the spirit of good-fellowship by common festive meals, usually in gardens, round an altar of sacrifice. The communion-meal of the first and second centuries exhibited this character in being a feast of contribution, to which each brought his own provision. It also perpetuated the Jewish practice of the college of priests for the temple-service dining at a common table on festivals or Sabbaths, and of the schools of the Pharisees in their ordinary life.

Indications of the blending of the eucharistic celebration with a common meal are found here, Acts 2:42; Acts 20:7, and more obscurely, Acts 27:35.

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