1 Corinthians 11:2-24, Psalm 64
Paul’s teaching on head coverings, not to mention gender expectations in the first extended section of 1 Corinthians 11 requires so much comment, I will just encourage the reader to read that section several to grasp Paul’s ideas there (1 Corinthians 11:2-15). Since I passed on the first section, I want to comment on the rest of the chapter. Much of this teaching is read all over the world on SUndays as the global church prepare to take communion. Two verses in particular are worth mentioning: “So then, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord. Everyone ought to examine themselves before they eat of the bread and drink from the cup.” (1 Corinthians 11:27-28). In isolation, many hearers imagine that this passage commands some measure of introspection on the nature of our hearts leading to confession of sin. Certainly this is a legitimate application of this verse. However, Paul’s original intent is clarified by the subsequent warning of judgement for failure in “discerning the body.” (1 Corinthians 11:29) The major problem Paul is addressing is a failure to recognize the realities of Christ’s bodily sacrifice as represented by bread and wine, for the people of God, also known as the body of Christ. Paul addresses a church’s failure while gathering to eat to consider the needs of one another above their own. Many have been eating their meals accompanying the Lord’s Supper without waiting for their brothers and sisters, so that some are left empty while others feast (1 Corinthians 11:21-22). Paul certainly wants us to consider sins of the heart, but more immediately wants us to remember when we eat and drink of the Lord’s body and blood symbolized in bread and wine, that we remember we have been made one in Christ. So to eat in an unworthy manner primarily means to do so without love for the family of God. Thus we do well to pause before we partake, seek reconciliation, pursue peace, and keep each other’s interests above our own.