Sunday, 30 November 2014
But if anyone is hungry, let him eat at home, lest you come together for judgment. And the rest I will set in order when I come. 1 Corinthians 11:34
As is evidenced here, the gathering at Corinth was one which eventually evolved into something like a pot-luck supper. The term for it was an agape or “love” feast. But as the ceremony evolved, it quickly left behind the very purpose that the Lord’s Supper was intended to convey. Instead of remembering the Lord and His work, it was a chance to eat and be merry. To avoid this, Paul’s words of instruction are specific that “if anyone is hungry, let him eat at home.”
A regular meal belongs in a regular place. The Lord’s Supper belongs among the Lord’s people. Paul wanted the two kept separate in order to maintain the dignity of the occasion. He had already noted the consequences of having not treated the ceremony in a dignified way (in that some were weak, sick, or even dead) and he didn’t want that to continue lest they also “come together for judgment.”
Again, Paul’s words here imply that it is a temporal, not a spiritual judgment. Some translations incorrectly say “condemnation” here. It is a bad choice of words because as Paul says elsewhere, “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus…” (Romans 8:1). Paul has the best intent for those in Corinth concerning both their continued earthly health and prosperity as well as their spiritual growth in Christ. And his words are recorded to help us in this same manner as well.
In closing out chapter 11 he finishes with, “And the rest I will set in order when I come.” There were other instructions, probably unique to the situation at Corinth, that needed to be set in order. However, they either weren’t pressing or maybe they were of a delicate nature that he didn’t want included in a public letter. What is apparent is that he fully intended to go to Corinth to meet with them in person.
Life application: The directions for the Lord’s Supper are given in 1 Corinthians 11 and are based on the words of the Lord as found in the gospels. There is specific instruction and yet there is much detail which is left open to individual choice for the arrangement of the rite. Adhering to what is given and not trifling over things that are left unstated will lead to a sound and healthy memorial which will also be accommodating to time, place, culture, and personal choice.
Lord, I’m so thankful for the freedom we have to arrange churches in a way which accommodates our style of worship, cultural preferences, and spiritual needs. And yet, there is also a given amount of order and structure in Your word to keep us from devolving into something not pleasing to You. Thank You for the freedom to worship You in a way which fits who we are as individuals. May our hearts be united in a worship of spirit and truth regardless of the externals. Amen.