Tuesday, 18 November 2014
What! Do you not have houses to eat and drink in? Or do you despise the church of God and shame those who have nothing? What shall I say to you? Shall I praise you in this? I do not praise you. 1 Corinthians 11:22
This verse, coupled with the previous verse, is intended as one very strong rebuke of this particular practice of the Corinthians. They were meeting at their observance in a way which disregarded the holy nature of the meal. In his astonishment at their conduct towards one another, he says “What! Do you not have houses to eat and drink in?” In other words, “If you want to engage in a feast, isn’t that a better place to do it? Why would you bring food to this gathering and then sit and gobble it up in front of those you are supposed to be fellowshipping with?”
This then leads to the next obvious thought, “Or do you despise the church of God and shame those who have nothing?” The intent of the gathering was first and foremost to remember the work of the Lord. Secondly, if there was to be a meal, it was intended that those with much should bring something along for those who had little or nothing. These poorer brethren probably didn’t even have their own homes, making the contrast all the more poignant. But instead of sharing, people would sit down and eat and drink what they had brought. If this was the attitude, then they should just stay home and eat and drink.
Based on this, his obvious questioning comes forth – “What shall I say to you? Shall I praise you in this? I do not praise you.” Their actions could not be condoned. Christ came to serve others and left the example for us to follow. This concept of serving and sharing was lost during their feasts and left Paul with no choice but to write his words of correction concerning the matter.
As a side issue which is necessary for proper doctrine on an important topic, it should be noted in this verse that Paul never rebukes the gatherers for the notion that “another is drunk” which he stated in the previous verse. In other words, the fact that they had consumed alcohol isn’t even addressed. Instead, he tells them to simply eat and drink at home if they were to handle the other issue (that of over-indulging at the expense of others) in an inappropriate manner. If one were to find fault in this verse for drinking alcohol (as many scholars attempt to do) then they must also find fault for them eating food as well, which would be ludicrous.
The subject of drinking has divided many churches. However, if it is looked at from an objective viewpoint, there can be only one obvious conclusion as to whether it is acceptable or not. Unfortunately, personal passions about subjects such as this inevitably lead to false interpretations of Scripture.
Life application: Whatever you do, do it to the glory of God and without harming others in the process.
Lord, who am I to decide matters of faith and religion? Certainly I am not the one for such things. But You are! And You have given Your word for this very reason. In standing on Your word, it is You who are the ultimate Judge. And so, with all confidence in what is right and holy, I can make sound decisions about the all-important issues which affect a right relationship with You. Thank You for Your word which allows this certainty. Amen.