William Kelly Major Works Commentary
Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ.1 Corinthians Chapter 11
It is not without instruction for us that the apostle can praise in the midst of so much too justly merited reproof. He loved to approve all he could. In this too he surely was, as he had said, an imitator of Christ. So love wrought in Him who had not a particle of self. It left Him free to approve without reserve whatever was of God in those dear to Him, and none the less because they were themselves weak and faulty. But the apostle for the same reason was delivered from the fear of others imputing to him vanity or pride when he called the Corinthians to imitate him, as he too imitated Christ. Certainly in seeking the salvation of souls there was no self-pleasing on His part, but such suffering as could be borne only by One who was God judged, for the sins of those He was saving, according to the unsparing indignation and holy vengeance of God against that which is above all hateful to Him. This was His work and His suffering alone; but the apostle appreciated it profoundly; and such an appreciation forms the heart accordingly. The untiring and enduring devotedness of his life was the fruit. He desired that this should characterize the Corinthians, instead of the superficial abuse of knowledge, which in making light of idolatry lost sight of Christ and endangered souls precious to Him through the wiles of the enemy. Such had never been the apostle's way who loved others and cared for their true profit that they might be saved. He could ask the Corinthians to follow him in this, as he too followed Christ. Yet he could praise them also.
"Now I praise you* that in all things ye remember me, and hold fast the traditions according as I delivered [them] to you." (Ver. 2.) Tradition in scripture is used, not only for the added maxims of men, as in Matthew 15, but for what the apostles enjoined on the saints, first orally, then in inspired writings, as also in both ways, while the canon was in course and not yet complete. Compare also Romans 6:17; 2 Thessalonians 2:15.
* A B C P, some good cursives, and ancient versions, do not read ἀδελφοί, "brethren."
"But I wish you to know that the head of every man is the† Christ, and woman's head the man, and the‡ Christ's head God. Every man praying or prophesying with head covered [literally, having something] on [his] head] shameth his head. But every woman praying or prophesying with the head uncovered shameth her own§ head; for it is one and the same thing as if she were shaven. For if a woman is not covered, let her also be shorn; but if [it is] shameful for a woman to be shorn or shaven, let her be covered. For man indeed ought not to have his head covered, being God's image and glory; but the woman is man's glory. For man is not of woman, but woman of man. For also man was not created on account of woman, but woman on account of man. On this account ought the woman to have authority on the head on account of the angels. However, neither [is] woman without man, nor man without woman, in [the] Lord; for as the woman [is] of the man, so also [is] the man by the woman; but all things of God. Judge in yourselves: is it comely that a woman should pray to God uncovered? Doth not even nature itself teach you that, if man have long hair, it is a dishonour to him; but if woman have long hair, it is a glory to her? Because the hair hath been given her instead of a veil. But if any one seemeth to be contentious, we have no such custom, nor yet the assemblies of God." (Vers. 3-16.)
† ὁ Χ. X. A Bcorr. Dcorr. E K L P, most cursives, etc.; but some good witnesses omit.
‡ τοῦ A B D E, etc, the rest omitting the article.
§ ἑαυτῆς B Dcorr E K, etc.; very excellent authorities, αὐτῆς.
This is a most characteristic specimen of the apostle's dealing with a point of order. He deduces the solution from first principles involved in divine dealings from the beginning. It is an admirable way of settling questions, not by mere abstract authority, even where the highest lay, but by conveying to others the ways of God in creation and providence, which drew out the admiration as well as submission of his heart. It is no question of new creation. There difference disappears. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female; for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. But here on earth there is a relative order established of God; and as the man is woman's head, so the Christ is the head of every man, and God is the Christ's head. It were still more perilously false to use these words to disparage Christ than to turn aside their force to deny the subjection of woman to man. The Christ is viewed as such, not in His own intrinsic personal glory, or in the communion of the divine nature, but in the place He entered and took as the Anointed. God therefore is the head of the highest; and as woman is bound to own the place given her by God, so is man to fill suitably his own assigned relationship. The principle is applied to correct some christian women at Corinth who outstepped the limits of propriety. The apostle puts the entire case, and even a man's mistake as to it, though it would appear that it was as yet a question of the other sex. For a man to have his head covered would falsify his witness to Christ; so for a woman not to be. It is not argued on grounds of habit, modesty, or the like, but of the facts as revealed by God. It would be the sign of authority taken by the woman, of authority abandoned by the man. A woman without a veil is like a man, without being really so. It is to renounce, as far as the act goes, the subjection she owes to man; it is one and the same thing as if she were shaven. Let her also be shorn, says the indignant servant of the Lord; but if either be shameful for a woman, he adds, let her be covered. (Vers. 2-6.)
There is a still further opening of the ground as to man and woman in the verses which follow. "For man indeed ought not to have his head covered, being God's image and glory; but the woman is man's glory. For man is not of woman, but woman of man. For also man was not created on account of woman, but woman on account of man. On this account ought the woman to have authority on the head on account of the angels. However, neither [is] woman without man, nor man without woman, in [the] Lord; for as the woman [is] of the man, so also [is] the man by the woman; but all things of God." (Vers. 7-12.)
Thus the apostle points out man's standing directly as God's image and glory: woman is man's glory, having no such place of public representation for God. Whatever she has relatively is essentially mediate and derivative. Creation is the proof, not of course the ordinary course of things since. It is impossible, therefore, to form a right estimate without looking to the beginning. If verse 7 then refers to the origination of man and woman respectively, verse 8 sets forth the making of the woman for, and subsequently to, the man, as grounds of woman's subordination to man. It is easy to see that, where creation is denied, or even ignored, men naturally reason and labour for their equality. But there is another consideration, which only faith could admit - the testimony to divine order which should be given by man and woman to those spiritual beings whom scripture declares to have the most intimate connection with the heirs of salvation. (Compare 1 Corinthians 4:9; Eph. 3) "For this reason ought the woman to have power on the head on account of the angels" - a sentiment entirely mistaken by the mass of commentators, who have gone off, some into degrading thoughts about bad angels, others into lowering the word to the sense of the righteous themselves, the christian prophets, the presidents of the assemblies, the nuntii desponsationum or persons deputed to effect betrothals, or mere spies sent there by the unfaithful.
So also the expression, "authority on the head," has given rise to endless discussion. To have authority on the head unquestionably means to wear the sign of it in a covering or veil. On the other hand, in verses 11, 12, the apostle is careful to insist on the mutuality of man and woman, denying their independence of one another, affirming God the source of them respectively, and of all things.
Further, he appeals to the sense of propriety grounded on the constitution of both man and woman. "In your own selves judge: is it becoming that a woman uncovered should pray to God? Doth not even nature itself teach you," etc. If it be as natural for man to have short hair as for woman to have long, is it not a revolt against the nature of each to reverse this in practice? God's creation must govern where the word of His grace does not call to higher things, and this could not be pretended here.
Finally, the habitual usage of the churches, as regulated by apostolic wisdom, is no light thing to disturb, and this the apostle puts with great moral force. "But if any one seemeth to be contentious, we have no such custom, nor yet the churches of God." It is a contemptible sort of independence which sets itself up, not only against the spiritual feeling of all the public witness in God's assemblies, but above those endowed with heavenly wisdom to direct all. It is neither conscience nor spirituality, but a fleshly love of differing from others, and at bottom sheer vanity. The "custom" negatived was the Corinthian innovation, which confounded God's order in nature, not disputatiousness, as many ancients and moderns strangely conclude.
The apostle had settled the point of comely order as respects women. He now turns to a still graver matter, the Lord's mind about His supper. From this the Corinthians had sadly departed there and then, slipping into the grossest evils, as we shall see.
Yet is it important to take note before we go into detail that, according to the modern mode of administering the sacrament, such a disorder was impossible. The reason is beyond measure a grave one. Christendom has radically altered the supper - a more serious state of things than even the distressing and immoral levity which then disgraced the Corinthian assembly. The latter could be judged and rectified; the former demands a return to first principles which have been wholly given up, not merely as to the institution itself but as to the nature of both ministry and church, and their mutual relations.
What gave occasion to the grievous impropriety of the assembly in its then low and careless estate was apparently the mixing up the love-feast with the Lord's supper. The love-feast (or Agape) was a meal of which the early Christians partook in common, the aim being to cultivate social intercourse among those who are strangers and pilgrims called to suffer on earth and to spend eternity together in glory with the Lord. The Corinthians however had lost the sense of christian strangership, and as they had let in from the world the rivalry of the schools in zeal for favourite teachers, so they degraded even the Agape by holding to class distinctions, the rich feasting on their own contributions to the meal, while those who had nothing to give were made keenly to feel their poverty. Thus the principle of christian society was destroyed at the very meal which ought to have displayed it in practice; and as they thus selfishly forgot wherefore they thus came together, God gave them up to the deeper sin of degrading the Lord's supper, which was partaken of at the same time, by the effects of their licence in eating and drinking.
This doubtless was a scandalous irreverence; but the sacrament as now observed is the deliberate and systematic abandonment even of the form of the supper, the change of it into a superstitious ordinance from the thanksgiving of God's family in view of the deepest solemnity in time, nay for eternity, the death of our Lord on which it is based with the remembrance of Himself in infinite love, humiliation, and suffering for our sins. Nothing but the appreciation of its spiritual aim preserved it from becoming a scene of shame; if not kept in the Spirit, it quickly passed into fleshly lightness; and this is the will of God in order that it may necessitate the looking to the Lord who promises His presence to those gathered to His name. It is with the supper as with all other parts of christian worship and service. They are nothing if not sustained by the Spirit according to the word of God. Change their principle in order to secure appearances, and all is ruined. This is precisely what tradition has done in the Lord's supper as elsewhere. From the sacramental eucharist of post-apostolic times the Corinthian excesses were excluded, but so was the Holy Spirit from guiding the saints according to the word. Clericalism was introduced to preside, formalism and distance imposed on the rest, and the rite made more or less a saving ordinance, instead of the communion of Christ's body and blood enjoyed by His members in His presence.
But let us weigh the apostle's words. "Now in enjoining this I praise* [you] not, because ye come together not for the better but for the worse. For first, when ye come together in an assembly, I hear that divisions exist among you, and in some measure I believe [it]; for there must be even sects among you that the approved may become manifest among you." (Vers. 18, 19.) We have here important help toward deciding the difference between these terms as well as the precise nature of each. Schism is a division within the assembly, while they all still abide in the same association as before, even if severed in thought or feeling through fleshly partiality or aversion, Heresy, in its ordinary scriptural application as here (not its ecclesiastical usage), means a party among the saints, separating from the rest in consequence of a still stronger following of their own will. A schism within if unjudged tends to a sect or party without, when on the one hand the approved become manifest, who reject these narrow and selfish ways, and on the other the party-man is self-condemned, as preferring his own particular views to the fellowship of all saints in the truth. (Compare Titus 3:10-11.)
* The readings here are singularly conflicting. Lachmann and Tregelles read τοῦτο δέ παραγγέλλω οὐκ ἐπαινῶν, "This I enjoin, not praising [you]" on the authority of A Cp.m. F G, some cursives, the Vulgate, Pesch. Syr., and other ancient versions. Tischendorf had adopted this, but in his eighth edition he returns to the common text, παραγγέλλων οὐκ ἐπαινῶ supported by and the mass of uncials and cursives, etc. The Vatican strangely gives παραγέλλων οὐκ ἐπαινῶν, which can hardly be said to have any just sense and is probably a mere slip, one or other only being a participle, not both.
They met in one place. "When ye come together therefore into the same [place], it is not to eat [the] Lord's supper. For each in eating taketh his own supper before [others], and one is hungry, and another drinketh excessively. Have ye not then houses for eating and drinking? or despise ye the church of God, and put shame on those that have not? What shall I say to you? shall I praise you? In this I do not praise." (Vers. 20-22.) They had not as yet broken up into sects: this evil was reserved for a later and worse day. If however they did come together into one place, the apostle will not allow that it was to eat the Lord's supper, but each their own: so utterly were they losing the truth of things while the form lingered on. Not only was Christ gone, but even the social element. They were a spectacle of greed; and, what made it more flagrant, those who had means were the worse, despising the church of God and putting to shame the poor. With all his desire to praise the Corinthians, in this the apostle could not.*
* No wonder that Dr. C. Hodge remarks, "If within twenty years of its institution, the Corinthians turned the Lord's Supper into a disorderly feast, although the apostles were then alive, we need not wonder at the speedy corruption of the church after their death." The case is yet stronger; for the corruption began almost immediately after the apostle had planted the church at Corinth. It is only as walking in the Spirit that anything goes aright in the church. And so would God have it who has for us judged and ended forms in the cross of Christ.
This leads to the revelation on the subject vouchsafed by the Lord. "For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus, in the night in which he was being delivered up, took bread, and, having given thanks, brake [it] and said†, This is my body which [is] † for you: this do in remembrance of me; in like manner also the cup after having supped, saying, This cup is the new covenant in my blood: this do, as often as ye drink [it], in remembrance of me. For as often as ye eat this bread and drink the cup, ye announce the death of the Lord till he come." (Vers. 23-26.)
† The Alexandrian, Vatican, Sinaitic, and Palimpsest of Paris, with other authorities, have not κλώμενον "broken" as in most followed by Tex. Rec. Still more largely do the witnesses reject λάβετε, φάγετε, "take, eat."
It is interesting to notice that to Paul was given a revelation of the supper, not of baptism. He was baptized like another himself, not by an apostle even, lest this might be perverted to make him dependent on the twelve, but by a simple disciple, Ananias. Baptism attaches to the individual confessor and would have its place as the sign of the great christian basis, the death and resurrection of Christ, if there had been no such thing as the baptizing believers by the Spirit into one body, the church. But the supper, besides being the memorial of Christ and emphatically of His death, is now bound up with the body of Christ, as we have seen in 1 Corinthians 10:16-17. This is so true that he who wilfully or under an act of discipline does not partake of that one loaf ceases to enjoy the privileges of God's assembly on earth; he who partakes of it cannot free himself from the responsibilities of that holy fellowship. And as Paul was the chosen vessel by whom was to be revealed the mystery of Christ and the church, so did it seem good to the Lord that he should receive a special revelation of His supper, the standing sign of its unity and public witness of its communion.
It is striking to observe that, plainly as the Lord has revealed His mind here, even the Protestant Reformers failed to recover its lineaments. They have individualised the Lord's supper. They make it "for thee." "Take thou," etc. This is consistent. They had not seen the one body and one Spirit. Even if they had limited it to those who were believed to be justified by faith, still this would have been only an aggregate of individuals. They never received the truth of the church as Christ's body on earth. On the contrary they began the system of distinct or independent national churches on earth; they relegated the unity of the church to heaven. The one body, as an existing relationship to which the Christian belongs now, and on which he is bound to act continually, was unknown as a present reality; and this ignorance betrayed itself even in their mode of celebrating the sacrament, as it does to this day.
Even where there is no such form of individuality, there is as little sense or expression of the one body.* The reason is obvious. They do not contemplate all the faithful, being avowedly associations of certain souls on the ground of points of difference (that is, sects), or embracing the world as well as believers. In either way dissenting or nationalist, being off the basis of God's church, they naturally drop the words as they are revealed for God's order of things, and change them, perhaps unconsciously, into what suits their own condition. Communion there cannot be but in the Spirit, who exalts Christ, not opinions, and goes out toward all saints, not some only, nor the world at all in such worship.
* Early, in the Catholic days of Gregory, so little was the unity of Christ's body apprehended that we find the form, "the body of our Lord Jesus Christ preserve thy soul," enlarged before the time of Alcuin and Charlemagne to "the body of our Lord Jesus Christ preserve thy soul unto everlasting life." The grace of the gospel had then also faded greatly, as one can see.
It is the holy, gracious, and deep meaning of the Lord's supper, and in no way the elements or the ministrant, which invests it with such value and blessing. He is in the midst of His own to give them the enjoyment of His love in present power, but as recalling their hearts to the sacrifice of Himself for their sins to place them without charge or question before God. The bread remains bread, and so does the wine; the thanksgiving, or blessing, we find as at all times of ordinary life in receiving the creatures of God; of miracle at this time the word of God whispers not a word. The Lord breaks the bread and says, This is My body which is on your behalf: this do in remembrance of Me; in like manner the cup after supper, saying, This cup is the new covenant in My blood: this do as often as ye drink it in remembrance of Me.
The Lord's supper then is to remind us of Christ, of His death; not of our sins but of our sins remitted and ourselves loved. It is in no wise the old covenant of condemnation, but the new covenant (God known in grace, iniquity forgiven, and sins remembered no more); not yet made with the houses of Israel set for ever the land under the reign of Messiah, but the blood shed which is its foundation, and we who believe, Jew or Gentile, having it in spirit, not in letter. (See 2 Cor. 3) Of this the cup especially is the pledge.
But Romanism takes away the cup from its votaries, and consistently enough; for as a system it supposes sacrifice going on, not finished, and consequently it administers a sacrament of non-redemption. The bread, say they, contains the blood, flesh, soul, divinity, all in the body; that is, the blood is not shed, and therefore no remission of sins, no perfecting of the sanctified, for the one offering is always going on and not yet accomplished or accepted. Romanism therefore stands in contrast with Christianity in the capital truth of the efficacy of Christ's death, indispensable both to God's glory and to the cleansing of the conscience of the Christian.
But Protestantism has infringed on Christ's institution, not only by impairing the grace of God in the Lord's supper, but by letting in the world as we have seen and by insisting for the most part on an authorised official to administer it. All these ruin its simple, profound, and most affecting significance. Not that one denies for a moment ministry or rule; they are of exceeding moment and will be treated of in their place according to scripture. Yet in the Lord's supper, not only as He instituted it at first but as it was revealed by Him to the apostle in its final shape, none of these things appear. It is essentially as members of the one body that we communicate. Even the gifts are introduced separately and afterwards. Elders, if any, are ignored; and this is the more remarkable, as the occasion might have seemed exactly one to have reminded them of the disorder allowed at Corinth, if it had really been their duty to preside at the supper. But, instead of reprehending any one's neglect as specially responsible, the apostle deals with the hearts and consciences of all the saints and brings out its true meaning, object, and guard for the instruction of the entire church of God. To discern the body, to appreciate the unfathomable grace of our Lord in His death for our sins, is the true corrective for all that have faith in Him who deigns to be in their midst as thus gathered to His name. To introduce a human order however reverent in appearance, without divine warrant, for the purpose of shutting out the Corinthian excesses or any others, is more offensive to him that trembles at the word of the Lord than any abuse of His supper as it was instituted. Even under such circumstances as those of Corinth the apostle adds nothing, takes away nothing, corrects nothing of that institution; in which we are called to announce the death of the Lord until He shall have come.
These last words convict of a great, perilous, and irreverent error those who count the Lord's supper a relic of Judaism and argue for its disuse among Christians like the community of goods practised only for a brief space after Pentecost. A fresh revelation to the apostle of the Gentiles ought to have put such a notion to the rout, even apart from words such as those of verse 26 which suppose the constant and frequent observance of the supper till Christ returns in glory. And in fact the history of such theorists as the Society of Friends is the strongest proof of their error; for no christian sect has more thoroughly lost the force of the truth of redemption in discarding its signs. As is well known, they refuse as a whole (I speak not of evangelical individuals) both baptism and the Lord's supper. In accordance with this they do not see death Healed on the race, nor the efficacy of Christ's death in grace for the believer. They think of Christ as putting all mankind into a state of indefinite improvableness and so of saving those who do their best, Jew, Turk, or heathen; they repudiate therefore both institutions which set forth objectively that one can have no part with Christ risen but through His death. Subject to the word, we were buried with Him by baptism to death; and now continually announce His death till He come. Self is thus judged, yet are we kept in the constant sense of His grace. Is it not the truth as to ourselves, and due to Him? Is it not in perfect harmony with the gospel, which combines peace and salvation in Him with the confession of good-for-nothingness in those who are thus blessed to the praise of God's mercy in Christ? Worship and even discipline only confirm this.
Such is the institution and the aim of the Lord's supper. Let us pursue the consequences pressed by the apostle with his wonted fulness, depth, and solemnity.
"Wherefore whoever eateth* the bread or drinketh the cup of the Lord unworthily† shall be guilty as to the body and the‡ blood of the Lord. But let a man prove himself, and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For he that eateth and drinketh§ eateth and drinketh judgment to himself, not discerning the body."" For this cause many [are] weak and sickly among you, and pretty many are falling asleep. But** if we were discerning ourselves, we should not be judged; but when judged we are chastened by the Lord, that we may not be condemned with the world. Wherefore, my brethren, when coming together to eat, wait for each other. If†† any one is hungry, let him eat at home, that ye may not come together for judgment. But the rest will I arrange when I come." (Vers. 27-34.)
* τοῦτον K L P, most cursives, several ancient versions, and so Text. Rec., contrary to AB1CDEFG, several cursives and ancient versions.
† Dcorr. L and twenty cursives, add τοῦ κυρίου "of the Lord."
Text. Rec., with some cursives, omits τοῦ.
§ Text. Rec. adds ἀναξίως and κυρίου with many MSS and versions, contrary to A B C, etc.
"" δέ p.m. A B D E F G, etc.; γάρ corr. C K L P, etc. Text. Rec.
** τοῦ B C, etc., which Text. Rec. omits with most.
†† Text. Rec. adds δέ with most, contrary to p.m. A B C Dp.m. F G, etc.
But the more precious the Lord's supper is, as the gathering of christian affection to a focus in the remembrance of His death, the greater the danger, if the heart be careless, or the conscience not before God. It is not a question of allowing unworthy persons to communicate. Low as the Corinthians might be through their unjudged carnal thoughts and worldly desires, they had not fallen so grievously as that; they had not yet learned to make excuses for admitting the unrenewed and open enemies of the Lord to His table. But they were in danger of reducing its observance to a form for themselves, of partaking in the supper without exercise of soul, either as to their own ways, or as to His unspeakable love who was thus reminding them of His death for them. Hence the solemn admonition of the apostle, "Wherefore whosoever eateth the bread (for the added emphasis of the common text is uncalled for) or drinketh the cup of the Lord unworthily shall be guilty of the body and the blood of the Lord." To eat or drink it as an ordinary meal, or a common thing, without reflection or self-judgment, is to eat and drink "unworthily;" and the more so because it is a Christian who does so; for of all men he should feel most what he owes the Lord, and what the Lord expressly brings to his remembrance at that serious moment. It is to be guilty of an offence, not merely against Himself in general, but in respect of His body and His blood, if he treat their memorials with indifference. There meet together the extremity of our need and guilt, the fulness of suffering in Christ, the deepest possible judgment of sin, yet withal grace to the uttermost, leaving not a sin unforgiven: what facts, feelings, motives, results, surround the cross of the Lord Jesus! For this reason it appeals, as nothing else can, to the believer's heart as well as to his conscience, and therefore does the apostle censure and stigmatize the Corinthians' fault so strongly. How much for their and our profit!
"But let a man prove himself, and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For he that eateth and drinketh eateth and drinketh judgment to himself, not discerning the body." Grace is thus maintained, but through righteousness, as ever. Each is to put himself to the proof, and so to eat and drink. The Lord would have His own to come, but not with negligence of spirit or levity; this were to be a party both to His own dishonour, and the deeper evil of his followers. Still He invites all, if He urges the trying of our ways. Self-judgment is with a view to coming, not to staying away. For it is a question of those whom grace counts worthy; whatever their past or personal unworthiness, they are washed, they are sanctified, they are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God. Having the Spirit, not of fear, but of power and love and a sound mind, they are assumed to be in peace with God, and delivered from the law of sin; they are contemplated as jealous for the Lord's glory, and hating what grieves the Holy Spirit of God, whereby they are sealed unto the day of redemption.
It is not supposed that they could persevere in evil that they discover themselves exposed to, or that they confess sin in which they begin again to indulge, as if God were mocked by an acknowledgment which would thus aggravate their wickedness. Grace strengthens the man who tries himself with integrity, and it emboldens him to come. Where there is lightness on the other hand, the Lord shows Himself there to judge. "For he that eateth and drinketh (most add "unworthily," but the most ancient omit) eateth and drinketh judgment to himself, not discerning the body," that is, the Lord's body, as the mass add, in both cases needlessly, though right enough for the sense which is implied. To bring in the church would falsify the thought: the wrong was forgetfulness of the Lord's self-sacrificing love. He instituted the supper to remind us of it continually.
But there is another error still more prevalent, and even long and widely consecrated, which has wrought as much mischief as almost any other single mistranslation of a scripture. It is not "damnation" of which verse 29 speaks, but in contrast with it judgment, κρίμα. Yet all the celebrated English versions, from Wiclif downward, have sanctioned the grievous mistake, save the worst of them, the Rhemish, through its servile adherence to the Vulgate, which here happens to give judicium rightly. The curious fact however is, that of all systems none is really so tainted with the unbelief which led to the mistranslation as the Romanist. For it naturally regards with the utmost superstition the Lord's supper, and with it interweaves its idolatry of the real presence. Hence its interpretation of guilt as to the body and the blood of the Lord. Hence its notion of "damnation" attaching to a misuse of the sacrament, followed by almost all the Protestant associations. But the Protestant is misled by his version, while the Romanist is the less excusable, inasmuch as his Vulgate and vernacular versions are so far right, yet he is even more deeply under the delusion which denies christian relationship and an atom of grace in God, as a fact now know to the heart by faith.
Here the Spirit really teaches us that, where the true and holy aim of the Lord's supper is slighted, and the communicant does not discern the body (that is, does not discriminate between the memorial of Christ and an ordinary meal), he eats and drinks judgment as a present thing. He brings on himself the chastening hand of the Lord in vindication of His honour and His love. Hence it is added, "For this cause [are] many weak and sick among you, and a considerable number are falling asleep." There sin, sickness, was to death, And there is still further instruction: "For if we discerned ourselves, we should not be judged; but when judged we are chastened by the Lord, that we may not be condemned with the world." This is conclusive. The express aim of the Lord in inflicting these bodily sufferings at the present is in order that His faulty saints may escape damnation. Condemnation awaits the world because, rejecting the Lord, it must bear its own doom. He has borne the sins of the faithful; but if they are light about His grace, they come under His rebukes now, that they may be spared condemnation by and by with the world which they so far resemble. If they discerned the evil in its working within, they would avoid, not only its manifestation without, but His chastening; if they fail in this self-judgment, He does not fail in watchful care, and deals with them; but even such judgment flows from His love, and takes the shape of chastening, that they may not perish in the condemnation yet to fall on the guilty world. How grievous on the part of the saints; how gracious and holy on His part! But it is evidently and only present judgment that they may not fall into future condemnation; that is, it is in contrast with "damnation."
The apostle closes his grave censure and instruction with the exhortation to wait for each other when coming together to eat; self would thus be judged, and love in active exercise. "If any one is hungry, let him eat at home, that ye may not come together for judgment." The indulgence of flesh in one provokes flesh in another, and the Lord must then judge more than the one who first dishonoured Him.
The apostle manifestly did not say all he might. "The rest will I arrange when I come." It would not be for the best interests of the assembly if all were laid down formally. The Spirit in living power is the true supplement to the written word as the unerring standard, not tradition. We need and have the Holy Ghost as well as scripture; but scripture is the rule, not the Spirit, though we cannot use it aright without Him. This keeps up practical dependence on God, who would not have us to act either alone or together without the distinct light of His word, for which, if we have it not, we ought to wait. And waiting on God for light which we have not, though humbling, is ever wholesome, as God Himself is faithful who has called us to the fellowship of His Son. But it is evident that what despises the plain word of God cannot be His light, however high be the pretensions of those who are beguiled by it. No lie is of the truth, which surely hangs together as a whole. So it is in Christ; and not otherwise with the written word. It refuses the admixture of that which is not of God; and those who are led of the Spirit will prove the divine energy which works in them, not by presuming to bring in any thoughts of their own, as if scripture were at fault, but by a juster and fuller application of scripture than others could have seen till it was thus pointed out there.
Now I praise you, brethren, that ye remember me in all things, and keep the ordinances, as I delivered them to you.
But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God.
Every man praying or prophesying, having his head covered, dishonoureth his head.
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.
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.
For a man indeed ought not to cover his head, forasmuch as he is the image and glory of God: but the woman is the glory of the man.
For the man is not of the woman; but the woman of the man.
Neither was the man created for the woman; but the woman for the man.
For this cause ought the woman to have power on her head because of the angels.
Nevertheless neither is the man without the woman, neither the woman without the man, in the Lord.
For as the woman is of the man, even so is the man also by the woman; but all things of God.
Judge in yourselves: is it comely that a woman pray unto God uncovered?
Doth not even nature itself teach you, that, if a man have long hair, it is a shame unto him?
But if a woman have long hair, it is a glory to her: for her hair is given her for a covering.
But if any man seem to be contentious, we have no such custom, neither the churches of God.
Now in this that I declare unto you I praise you not, that ye come together not for the better, but for the worse.
For first of all, when ye come together in the church, I hear that there be divisions among you; and I partly believe it.
For there must be also heresies among you, that they which are approved may be made manifest among you.
When ye come together therefore into one place, this is not to eat the Lord's supper.
For in eating every one taketh before other his own supper: and one is hungry, and another is drunken.
What? have ye not 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? I praise you not.
For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, That the Lord Jesus the same night in which he was betrayed took bread:
And when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me.
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.
For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord's death till he come.
Wherefore whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord.
But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup.
For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord's body.
For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep.
For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged.
But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world.
Wherefore, my brethren, when ye come together to eat, tarry one for another.
And if any man hunger, let him eat at home; that ye come not together unto condemnation. And the rest will I set in order when I come.