Wednesday, 12 November 2014
But if anyone seems to be contentious, we have no such custom, nor do the churches of God. 1 Corinthians 11:16
From verses 2 until 16, Paul has been addressing the issue of hierarchy within the church, within creation, and what is proper concerning the covering of one’s head. His argument has been with authority and he has written it as if his statements were obvious; they are a given. And so because this is true, then there is nothing else left to fall back on which would be proper. What he has written is the only right and acceptable view concerning the matter. With that he says, ” But if anyone seems to be contentious, we have no such custom, nor do the churches of God.”
Those who are contentious about the issue, or disagree with his conclusions, are left without any other acceptable custom or practice; this is how things should be. Modern scholars have tried to isolate this and other arguments made by Paul, saying they are merely cultural and applicable to the people in Corinth, but no longer apply in our modern and “enlightened” world. This is not case at all. Two reasons for this are made known:
1) His arguments not only covered the church, but they are understood from nature itself (as noted in verses 7:12).
2) In this verse, he says that there is no other custom to be found among either the apostles (we) or in any other established churches (the churches of God). The principle is to be universally applied and only those who are “contentious” will stand against it; they are the very people that necessitated his letter in the first place (see 1 Corinthians 1:10 concerning “divisions”).
Therefore, as this is in “all the churches of God” it cannot be a cultural issue isolated only to Corinth. Nor can this apply only at the time of Paul’s writing. It is authoritative doctrine for the Church in all locations and for all time.
Life application: It is tempting and easy to say that a difficult issue in the epistles was merely “cultural” or “temporary.” However, when the context of the entire passage is carefully reviewed, it is discovered that this is generally not the case. The words of the apostles, particularly Paul, are given to the church for all ages and in all times. We disregard them at the expense of proper doctrine and right living.
Lord God, I see Your hand everywhere I turn. When I look at the different grains in various types of wood, I can tell what the type of wood is. I can know what that particular wood is good to be used for, and I can anticipate a different delightful smell from each piece. If You have taken such immense care to give us such wonderful diversity in mere trees, then how much more wonder is there for me to seek out in a zillion different things. No matter where I look, I see Your greatness on display, and so I praise You! Amen.