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.
18. first of all—In the first place. The "divisions" (Greek, "schisms") meant, are not merely those of opinion (1Co 1:10), but in outward acts at the love-feasts (Agapæ), (1Co 11:21). He does not follow up the expression, "in the first place," by "in the second place." But though not expressed, a second abuse was in his mind when he said, "In the first place," namely, THE ABUSE OF SPIRITUAL GIFTS, which also created disorder in their assemblies [Alford], (1Co 12:1; 14:23, 26, 33, 40).
in the church—not the place of worship; for Isidore of Pelusium denies that there were such places specially set apart for worship in the apostles' times [Epistle, 246.2]. But, "in the assembly" or "congregation"; in convocation for worship, where especially love, order, and harmony should prevail. The very ordinance instituted for uniting together believers in one body, was made an occasion of "divisions" (schisms).
partly—He hereby excepts the innocent. "I am unwilling to believe all I hear, but some I cannot help believing" [Alford]: while my love is unaffected by it [Bengel].