Wednesday, 29 October 2014
Now I praise you, brethren, that you remember me in all things and keep the traditions just as I delivered them to you. 1 Corinthians 11:2
This verse begins a section which will continue through 1 Corinthians 11:16. It will take thoughtful care to properly evaluate and it is an area which is greatly misunderstood and has been often misinterpreted, leading to some divergent traditions within the church. He begins with “Now I praise you, brethren.” Paul is very good about giving praise where praise is due and also calling out wrong doctrine or attitudes when necessary as well. By beginning this with a note of praise, he is ensuring that they will perceive his words with the proper mental attitude which should only solidify their continued right performance.
It should be remembered that Paul has been addressing items which were submitted to him in writing. This is one of the reasons for his letter to them in the first place. In 1 Corinthians 7:1, he said, “Now concerning the things of which you wrote to me…” He has been going through this list and answering their questions. This section will be no different. There must have been an issue concerning something he said to them of which they are asking further clarification. Understanding this, he continues with “that you remember me in all things and keep the traditions just as I delivered them to you.”
This is his compliment and this is what sets the tone for the further instruction which will now be presented. In his statement, the word translated as “traditions” indicates something which had been delivered to them by the instruction of the apostles, not a tradition of the past which was of a cultural nature. These are issues which stem from the church itself and not something which he or another apostle brought along from their own pre-existing traditions.
Lastly, in 1 Corinthians 11:17, we will read Paul’s words which say, “Now in giving these instructions I do not praise you, since you come together not for the better but for the worse.” This rebuke will in no way contradict his words of verse 2. Though the Corinthians had kept the traditions as they had received them, they will need correction concerning the issues of liberty and brotherhood. After he completes the thought he is now addressing, Paul will deal with those issues to ensure the church functions well within those parameters.
Life application: As with all things, we need to have a clear understanding of the context of a teaching in order to understand if it applies to us or not. In the case of the church, our teachings are those which come from the epistles, particularly the letters of Paul. His words have been given to us in order for us to have sound, healthy churches. All of Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for our understanding of God’s redemptive plans for man, but not all of Scripture is applicable at the same time in the same way.
Lord, the more I read Your word, the clearer it becomes to me. I can see why the words of the apostles are so important to read and understand. You have given us the church for a set period of time in history and You have given us the words of these men to guide the church during that time. Help me to properly evaluate these instructions and to then live according to what they say. My Christian walk is made so much easier understanding this! Thank You and Amen.