Wednesday, 26 November 2014
For this reason many are weak and sick among you, and many sleep. 1 Corinthians 11:30
Because of the “unworthy manner” in which the congregants at Corinth had taken the Lord’s Supper, Paul says that “many are weak and sick among you, and many sleep.” In other words, he directly equates their weakness, sickness, and deaths to their conduct at the meal. There are a couple things to note about this:
1) As he wrote this letter directly to those at Corinth, then his words about the sickness and death must be true, regardless of the reason for it.
2) As this letter specifically addresses their improper conduct at the Lord’s Supper, this certainly happened.
3) Because he is tying their health to the improper observance of the Lord’s Supper, he is fully convinced that this is the cause of the ill-health and death; it is a spiritual connection between two physical concepts.
Concerning the third point, scholars have attempted to equate the physical aspect of the meal (overindulgence) with the ill-health and death, but if that were the case then why would Paul only call them out for their overindulgence and improper attitude during the Lord’s Supper? In fact, he rhetorically asked them, “Do you not have houses to eat and drink in?” If he was concerned about their portly appearance or their over-indulgence in wine, he would have said, “You are living in an unhealthy way and you will keel over from it some day.” But instead, he ties these things directly to the Lord’s Supper.
Their weakness, sickness, and “sleep” (meaning death; it is an idiom for death to a follower of the Lord) is a direct result of improper conduct during the Lord’s Supper. Although this may have been an occurrence unique to the Apostolic period of the church, there is nothing to suggest that. If there is ill health or even premature death in a congregation, the conduct of the Lord’s Supper should be evaluated. What God chooses to use as a form of chastisement and judgment is up to Him. The fact that this is recorded in the Bible shows us that this may occur if the observance is improperly conducted.
Life application: How God judges is up to God. It is our duty to learn His word, adhere to it, and render to Him submission and obedience with a right and holy attitude.
O God, when things go bad, how can I know if it is simply the course of life or your judgment on me? At what point do I say, “This is unfair”? Lord, no matter what, I will trust that in anything that happens, there is nothing unfair in it and I will praise you through the storm. And I will also review my life and make sure that I’m following Your word as I should. If I am, then whatever happens must not be because of discipline. I will accept even the trials as grace if I am living as I should. How I love You, so be with me and strengthen me O God. Amen.