1 Corinthians 8-11 Imitate Paul and Christ

­1 Corinthians 8-11 Imitate Paul and Christ


Psalm 136:1-26 Praising God's Hesed
Ps 136:1 “Give thanks to Yahweh, for he is good; for his hesed/loyal covenantal love endures forever. 2 Give thanks to the God of gods; for his hesed/loyal covenantal love endures forever. 3 Give thanks to the Lord of lords; for his hesed/loyal covenantal love endures forever: 4 To him who alone does great wonders; for his hesed/loyal covenantal love endures forever: 5 To him who by understanding made the heavens; for his hesed/loyal covenantal love endures forever: 6 To him who spread out the earth above the waters; for his hesed/loyal covenantal love endures forever: 7 To him who made the great lights...
10 To him who struck down the Egyptian firstborn...21 And gave their land as an inheritance; for his hesed/loyal covenantal love endures forever; 22 Even a heritage to Israel his servant; for his hesed/loyal covenantal love endures forever:
23 Who remembered us in our low estate; for his hesed/loyal covenantal love endures forever; 24 And has delivered us from our adversaries; for his hesed/loyal covenantal love endures forever: 25 Who gives food to every creature; for his hesed/loyal covenantal love endures forever. 26 Oh give thanks to the God of heaven; for his hesed/loyal covenantal love endures forever."

Observations: 136:1-26 In this responsive psalm, the psalmist exhorts Israel to give thanks to God for/because He is good, great, and does great things. The reason God acts as He does is to fulfill His promised/covenanted obligations or hesed. The general outline of the psalm parallels the previous one. The opening section focuses on the character, reputation, creation of God. The middle section on His saving acts toward Israel, fulfilling His covenantal promises to protect and bless. The last section looks at His loyalty to both Israel and all His creation.

Application: God always fulfills His covenanted promises, for His loyal love flows out of His eternal goodness and sovereignty. His promises to bless are not limited by any power greater than Himself, only by our loyal obedience to our covenantal responsibilities.

Prayer: God, You are good and great, and totally loyal; may I be in a position for You to bless me, and may I faithfully thank and praise You for Your hesed to me. Amen.


TMS Joshua 1:8 Implications for Applications
Joshua 1:8 “This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth,
but you shall meditate in it day and night,
that you may observe
to do
according to all that is written in it.
For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.
9 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.

Observations: 1:8-9 These are two of the most important verses for getting the most out of life, both materially and spiritually. Who doesn't want prosperity and success. Here God tells us how to get it: Do what He wants. Meditate means to “revolve in the mind” or look at from different angles. The purpose of meditation is application (do it). You think about how God's instructions can apply to different aspects of your life. See Truthbase.net or Digging Deeper (below) for Suggestions on Application. Then, as a consequence of obedience (doing what is right in His sight) you get blessing, prosperity, and success. This yields the mantra:
Meditation is thinking through implications for applicatons.
1:9 follows verse 8 for a reason. If God commands us, it's doable. He provides the resources to make it happen, foremost of which is His word.

Application: Whenever you encounter Scripture, think about how it applies, and then do what God wants. Better yet, memorize these verses, so the Holy Spirit can remind you about what He's said for your benefit.

Prayer: God, thanks that You are concerned about my prosperity and well being, and have given me instruction in Your word to achieve it; may I be faithful to do what You've said. Amen.


1 Corinthians 8-11 These chapters focus on the use of our liberty and freedom so that we reap blessing rather than judgment. Paul provides a model of limiting ourselves for the benefit of others (a kind of love), for the eternal reward of Christ. He also provides instruction on the role of women in the church, and the Lord's Supper.


1 Corinthians 8 Love Builds
8:1 Now concerning things sacrificed to idols: we know that we all have knowledge. Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up. 2 But if anyone thinks that he knows anything, he doesn’t yet know as he ought to know. 3 But if anyone loves God, the same is known by him.
4 Therefore concerning the eating of things sacrificed to idols, we know that no idol is anything in the world, and that there is no other God but one. 5 For though there are things that are called "gods," whether in the heavens or on earth; as there are many "gods" and many "lords"; 6 yet to us
there is one God, the Father,
   of whom are all things,
       and we for him;
and one Lord, Jesus Christ,
   through whom are all things,
       and we live through him.
7 However, that knowledge isn’t in all men. But some, with consciousness of the idol until now, eat as of a thing sacrificed to an idol, and their conscience, being weak, is defiled. 8 But food will not commend us to God. For neither, if we don’t eat, are we the worse; nor, if we eat, are we the better. 9 But be careful that by no means does this liberty of yours become a stumbling block to the weak. 10 For if a man sees you who have knowledge sitting in an idol’s temple, won’t his conscience, if he is weak, be emboldened to eat things sacrificed to idols? 11 And through your knowledge, he who is weak perishes, the brother for whose sake Christ died. 12 Thus, sinning against the brothers, and wounding their conscience when it is weak, you sin against Christ. 13 Therefore, if food causes my brother to stumble, I will eat no meat forevermore, that I don’t cause my brother to stumble.

Observations: 8:1-3 Paul turns his attention to a question they asked about eating meat that was sold in the pagan temples after being offered to idols. Daniel refused to eat the kings meat because in the Ancient Near East the king's food was first “served” to the god, and then the king and his favorites. By “sharing a meal with the god,” one shared in its power. Daniel didn't want to be defiled by doing so (see comments on Daniel 1), and got blessed by the true God instead. Paul prefaces his response with what at first seems like a strange distinction between knowledge and love, which doesn't become clear until you read the entire chapter and realize he is focusing on the effects of the exercising “liberty” (eating) on others. Knowing something can lead to pride, for it can cause us to act in a self-centered manner. Love isn't about us, but about building up others. The important thing is not knowledge, but the application of it which causes us to be loved/known (play on words) by God.
8:4-6 Paul acknowledges the reality and power of demons in verse five and 10:20, but here asserts the the idols (the representations of the gods) are nothing. There is one God, who is the source (of/from whom) and goal (for whom, eis, all things exist -Rev 4:11). There is one Lord who is the means of our creation and spiritual life through whom, therefore we should live for God through Christ, who died for the weaker brother (verse 11).
8:7-13 Some of those raised in pagan Corinth didn't have correct knowledge of God and the world, so they thought that eating something that had been offered to an idol was wrong. Their conscience (sense of what is right and wrong and what governs decisions) is feeble and thus when they eat, they think they're doing wrong, and become defiled (Rev 3:4) disqualifying themselves from blessing. The “stronger” brother by his example emboldens the “weaker” brother who brings judgment upon himself by doing what he “knows” is wrong.
So Paul limits himself to act in love, and not cause the other to stumble. There are “professional weaker brothers” who cling to an erroneous belief, and then try to strong-arm everyone else into their “knowledge.” This happens with foods (all are clean) drinking (1Tim 5:23 but don't get drunk), Bible translations (only the original text is inspired), and clothing (skirts, shorts, sneakers, and ties).

Application: When around “weaker” believers, accommodate your behavior to their conscience to win a hearing to help them mature. It they refuse to move toward truth, hang around those who want to follow the Lord according to the revelation of the Scriptures.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, thanks for limiting Yourself for me, may I do so for others. Amen.


1 Corinthians 9 All Things to All Men
9:1 Am I not free? Am I not an apostle? Haven’t I seen Jesus Christ, our Lord? Aren’t you my work in the Lord? 2 If to others I am not an apostle, yet at least I am to you; for you are the seal of my apostleship in the Lord.
3 My defense to those who examine me is this. 4 Have we no right to eat and to drink? 5 Have we no right to take along a wife who is a believer, even as the rest of the apostles, and the brothers of the Lord, and Cephas? 6 Or have only Barnabas and I no right to not work? 7 What soldier ever serves at his own expense? Who plants a vineyard, and doesn’t eat of its fruit? Or who feeds a flock, and doesn’t drink from the flock’s milk? 8 Do I speak these things according to the ways of men? Or doesn’t the law also say the same thing? 9 For it is written in the law of Moses, "You shall not muzzle an ox while it treads out the grain." Is it for the oxen that God cares, 10 or does he say it assuredly for our sake? Yes, it was written for our sake, because he who ploughs ought to plough in hope, and he who threshes in hope should partake of his hope. 11 If we sowed to you spiritual things, is it a great thing if we reap your fleshly things? 12 If others partake of this right over you, don’t we yet more? Nevertheless we did not use this right, but we bear all things, that we may cause no hindrance to the Good News of Christ. 13 Don’t you know that those who serve around sacred things eat from the things of the temple, and those who wait on the altar have their portion with the altar? 14 Even so the Lord ordained that those who proclaim the Good News should live from the Good News.
15 But I have used none of these things, and I don’t write these things that it may be done so in my case; for I would rather die, than that anyone should make my glorying void. 16 For if I preach the Good News, I have nothing to glory about; for necessity is laid on me; but woe is to me, if I don’t preach the Good News. 17 For if I do this of my own will, I have a reward. But if not of my own will, I have a stewardship entrusted to me. 18 What then is my reward? That, when I preach the Good News, I may present the Good News of Christ without charge, so as not to use up to the full my power in the Good News/gospel.
19 For though I was free from all, I brought myself under bondage to all, that I might gain the more. 20 To the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might gain Jews; to those who are under the law, as under the law, that I might gain those who are under the law; 21 to those who are without law, as without law (not being without law toward God, but under law toward Christ), that I might win those who are without law. 22 To the weak I became as weak, that I might gain the weak. I have become all things to all men, that I may by all means save some. 23 Now I do this for the sake of the Good News, that I may be a joint partaker of it.
24 Don’t you know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run like that, that you may win. 25 Every man who strives in the games exercises self-control in all things. Now they do it to receive a corruptible crown, but we an incorruptible. 26 I therefore run like that, as not uncertainly. I fight like that, as not beating the air, 27 but I beat my body and bring it into submission, lest by any means, after I have preached to others, I myself should be rejected.

Observations: 9:1-14 In illustrating the principle of limiting liberty for the benefit of other so you'll do well at the judgment seat, Paul turns to his own life. As the one who planted and tended the growth of the Corinthians, he would have the right to reap fruit from them. Using a half dozen arguments, he appeals to both secular principles and scriptural authority to establish his right (Dt 25:4; Mt 10:10; Lk 10:7). Just think where the Corinthians would have been without Paul.
9:15-18 However, Paul refrained from using his rights, and would even die, rather than make his glorying/rejoicing void. This makes no sense until you realize his glorying/rejoicing (sometimes translated boasting) is in his reward or share in the kingdom, whose good news he preached. He would rather die than diminish that, since it's eternal. Jesus had directly commissioned him to preach, so mere obedience (while it prevents one from being disqualified from loss of benefits) doesn't gain exceptional reward (see comments on Mt 5:47).
9:19-27 Paul articulates two key principles of those who want to reap maximum reward by serving like Christ did. First, although Paul had no obligations to anyone he became the servant of all, that he might gain the more (reward). This word for “gain” is used of temporal or eternal reward in the parables of the talents and calls to discipleship in the gospels (Mt 16; 25; Mk 8; Lk 9). See 1Thess 3:19-20 for the equation of people and reward in Paul's thinking. Since people are key in God's program, Paul did whatever it took to win them. He established commonality (to reduce threat, eliminate alienation, and enhance communication). Becoming all things to all men so that by any means he might save some. He does this so that he might (conditional purpose = hina+subjunctive) be a partaker of the good news (reward in the kingdom). Note this is not about justification (for clearly Paul was saved), nor guaranteed. This should cause pause for thought among those who want the most out of life.
The second principle is not disqualifying oneself from reward in the pursuit of glory. One needs to focus and work (as in run, sweat, compete and fight) in order to win. Run to win. This doesn't mean that only one person in the history of Christiandom gets reward, but only those who put in maximal effort. An athlete competes for a withering laurel wreath crown, but believers run for a crown or reward that endures forever (and no, we don't toss them at Jesus' throne -see context and comments at Rev 4:10; to do so is to acknowledge one rules under Jesus' authority. But even if you were going to “just give it to Jesus” why wouldn't you want to give Him the most precious and valuable thing you could?).
The pointers to gain the maximum in being all things to all men in saving some are:
don't be uncertain, but be focused on the goal of making reproductive disciples;
don't play around (shadow box) but fight/compete to win (Satan and those who've sold themselves out to the dark side are the opposition);
don't let yourself get out of spiritual shape so you'll be soft and succumb to temptation (including that of quitting), but do discipline yourself, learning how to subdue your passions (see Deadly Desires on Truthbase.net), so you don't find yourself disqualified or rejected from reward. This is the word usually translated “reprobate” in the KJV. Paul considered it a real possibility that he could not finish strong, so he disciplined himself daily, to do so. He succeeded (2Tim 4:7-8).

Application: Learn how to forget about yourself and your desires so you can be all things to all people, establishing commonality, so you can communicate in a way they can understand and accept truth; you can't win them all, but you can win reward for being faithful in trying. See The Catacomb Church Blog for more discussion on ministry (starting this Fall).

Prayer: Lord, help me develop the perspective and practices that Paul displayed, so I can serve You like He did. Amen.


1 Corinthians 10 Victory Over Temptation
10:1 Now I would not have you ignorant, brothers, that our fathers were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea; 2 and were all baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea; 3 and all ate the same spiritual food; 4 and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank of a spiritual rock that followed/accompanied them, and the rock was Christ. 5 However with most of them, God was not well pleased, for they were scattered in the wilderness.
6 Now these things were our examples, to the intent we should not lust after evil things, as they also lusted.
7 Neither be idolaters, as some of them were. As it is written, "The people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play."
8 Neither let us commit sexual immorality, as some of them committed, and in one day twenty-three thousand fell.
9 Neither let us test the Lord, as some of them tested, and perished by the serpents.
10 Neither grumble, as some of them also grumbled, and perished by the destroyer.
11 Now all these things happened to them by way of example, and they were written for our admonition, on whom the ends of the ages have come.
12 Therefore let him who thinks he stands be careful that he doesn’t fall. 13 No temptation has taken you except what is common to man. God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted above what you are able, but will with the temptation also make the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it. 14 Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry.
15 I speak as to wise men. Judge what I say. 16 The cup of blessing which we bless, isn’t it a sharing of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, isn’t it a sharing of the body of Christ? 17 Because there is one loaf of bread, we, who are many, are one body; for we all partake of the one loaf of bread. 18 Consider Israel according to the flesh. Don’t those who eat the sacrifices participate in the altar? 19 What am I saying then? That a thing sacrificed to idols is anything, or that an idol is anything? 20 But I say that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to demons, and not to God, and I don’t desire that you would have fellowship with demons. 21 You can’t both drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons. You can’t both partake of the table of the Lord, and of the table of demons. 22 Or do we provoke the Lord to jealousy? Are we stronger than he?
23 "All things are lawful for me," but not all things are profitable. "All things are lawful for me," but not all things build up. 24 Let no one seek his own, but each one his neighbor’s good. 25 Whatever is sold in the butcher shop, eat, asking no question for the sake of conscience, 26 for "the earth is the Lord’s, and its fulness." 27 But if one of those who don’t believe invites you to a meal, and you are inclined to go, eat whatever is set before you, asking no questions for the sake of conscience. 28 But if anyone says to you, "This was offered to idols," don’t eat it for the sake of the one who told you, and for the sake of conscience. For "the earth is the Lord’s, and all its fulness." 29 Conscience, I say, not your own, but the other’s conscience. For why is my liberty judged by another conscience? 30 If I partake with thankfulness, why am I denounced for that for which I give thanks? 31 Whether therefore you eat, or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. 32 Give no occasions for stumbling, either to Jews, or to Greeks, or to the assembly of God; 33 even as I also please all men in all things, not seeking my own profit, but the profit of the many, that they may be saved.

Observations: 10:1-14 I love this passage because it establishes the equivalence between OT and NT believers that only the most hardened spiritual dullards could deny (and they do). Paul didn't want his audience of NT believers to be ignorant of the parallel between themselves and OT Israel: redeemed, and on the way to the promised land (blessing/reward).
At the Red Sea all Israel put their faith in Moses and the Lord, and in the wilderness “ate and drank” (participated/fellowshiped with) Christ.
Ex 14:31 And Israel saw that great work which the LORD did upon the Egyptians: and the people feared the LORD, and believed the LORD, and his servant Moses. (KJV)
That makes them as much God's special/chosen people as we are (the indwelling of the Holy Spirit was lacking but the requirement to write God's word on their hearts wasn't -see Jer 31:31 New Covenant comments). But God wasn't pleased with them, only two (Joshua and Caleb) made it into the promised blessing.
If you don't know the significance of Kadesh-Barnea (see comments on Numbers 14 ) your knowledge of the Scripture is woefully inadequate, since this passage was written specifically for us. It's the event that precedes God scattering/strewing/overthrowing the nation in wilderness for forty years. In Numbers 14:17-25 God pardons the redeemed, faith exercising, Christ eating and drinking believers, and then punishes them for their disobedient distrust in refusing to face the giants in the promised land. This should be a watershed experience for slumbering Christians, and the false teachers who lure them into complacent carnality. Believers who have put their faith in Christ's death for them and are thus born again/regenerated, can not go into the lake of fire, but can suffer loss of reward and pain, as did the disobedient Israelites. Paul says this was written as an example for us. To the intent/purpose that we should not lust after evil things as they did. The evil things were the safety and security of themselves and their children. Not necessarily evil in itself, but evil when it causes them to not trust and obey God, who said, go kill the giants.
Paul then recounts other unfaithful acts of disobedience that resulted in discipline to show that his NT audience faced similar negative consequences. The idolatry of the golden calf (Ex 32:6); sexual immorality (Num 25:1-9 the plague got 23k, Phinehas got the rest); testing/trying the Lord (Num 21:6); murmuring/complaining (Num 14:2). Rejecting God's provision and doubting His goodness ranks up there with idolatry.
Therefore believers need to learn from their example and not make the same mistakes, and suffer the same fate. Anyone who thinks they're immune to judgment because they have Abraham as their father or Jesus as their Savior needs to take heed that he/she doesn't fall (from blessing). Any temptation we face is resistible and beatable, because God knows what we can endure, and always provides a way of escape. See “The Subway Named Desire”; and The “Exit Named the Delight of Denial” as well as “Sanctification: It Ain't Gonna Reign No More” on Truthbase.net. When we ignore the warning and exits that God provides we can pass the point of no victory, and lose, but God did provide the way to escape, we just didn't want to take it. Notice He doesn't pluck us away from temptation, but tell us to flee it (2Tim 2:22).
10:15-33 Having established that our bad behavior leads to bad consequences, Paul applies the lesson on the subject of exercising rights and liberties. He leads off with noting that participation in the Lord's supper is a participation in the unity of the Body, since they all ate from one loaf, and drank from one cup. Note that the cup is the Passover cup of blessing, for which we give thanks. See next chapter, and the Passover and The Lord's Supper. He broadens the argument to Israelite participation in the sacrificial system, and then the fellowship with demons implicit in pagan worship.
Having established the participation principle, now Paul establishes that one has freedom, but notes that what is lawful isn't always profitable. It is OK to eat meat offered to idols, but some don't have that knowledge (see comments on chapter 8). Therefore if someone stumbles over the fact that the meat is from a pagan sacrifice, then don't eat. Yes, our liberty is limited by another's weak conscience. We don't want to cause the weak to stumble, for God isn't glorified by their sin. Whatever one does, needs to be done to the glory of God. Failure to do so will result in failure to fulfill your purpose on earth and loss of reward.

Application: Since most folks can't even define glory, much less do their eating, work, leisure, sleep, relationships, etc to His glory, there is an outline page in TOYL which helps you do that, as well as a couple of sermons on Truthbase.net to help you do EVERYTHING to the Glory of God.

Prayer: God, may I fulfill the purposes for which You created me, living victoriously for Your glory. Amen.


1 Corinthians 11 Imitate Christ
11:1 Be imitators of me, even as I also am of Christ. 2 Now I praise you, brothers, that you remember me in all things, and hold firm the traditions, even as I delivered them to you. 3 But I would have you know that the head of every man is Christ, and the head of the woman is the man, and the head of Christ is God.
4 Every man praying or prophesying, having his head covered, dishonors his head. 5 But every woman praying or prophesying with her head unveiled dishonors her head. For it is one and the same thing as if she were shaved. 6 For if a woman is not covered, let her also be shorn. But if it is shameful for a woman to be shorn or shaved, let her be covered. 7 For a man indeed ought not to have his head covered, because he is the image and glory of God, but the woman is the glory of the man. 8 For man is not from woman, but woman from man; 9 for neither was man created for the woman, but woman for the man. 10 For this cause the woman ought to have authority on her head, because of the angels. 11 Nevertheless, neither is the woman independent of the man, nor the man independent of the woman, in the Lord. 12 For as woman came from man, so a man also comes through a woman; but all things are from God. 13 Judge for yourselves. Is it appropriate that a woman pray to God unveiled? 14 Doesn’t even nature itself teach you that if a man has long hair, it is a dishonor to him? 15 But if a woman has long hair, it is a glory to her, for her hair is given to her for a covering. 16 But if any man seems to be contentious, we have no such custom, neither do God’s assemblies.
17 But in giving you this command, I don’t praise you, that you come together not for the better but for the worse. 18 For first of all, when you come together in the assembly, I hear that divisions exist among you, and I partly believe it. 19 For there also must be factions among you, that those who are approved may be revealed among you. 20 When therefore you assemble yourselves together, it is not the Lord’s supper that you eat. 21 For in your eating each one takes his own supper first. One is hungry, and another is drunken. 22 What, don’t you have houses to eat and to drink in? Or do you despise God’s assembly, and put them to shame who don’t have? What shall I tell you? Shall I praise you? In this I don’t praise you.
23 For I received from the Lord that which also I delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night in which he was betrayed took bread. 24 When he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, "Take, eat. This is my body, which is broken for you. Do this in memory of me." 25 In the same way he also took the cup, after supper, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink, in memory of me." 26 For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.
27 Therefore whoever eats this bread or drinks the Lord’s cup in a way unworthy of the Lord will be guilty of the body and the blood of the Lord. 28 But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of the bread, and drink of the cup. 29 For he who eats and drinks in an unworthy way eats and drinks judgment to himself, if he doesn’t discern/prefer the Lord’s Body. 30 For this cause many among you are weak and sickly, and not a few sleep. 31 For if we discerned ourselves, we wouldn’t be judged. 32 But when we are judged, we are punished by the Lord, that we may not be condemned with the world. 33 Therefore, my brothers, when you come together to eat, wait for one another. 34 But if anyone is hungry, let him eat at home, lest your coming together be for judgment. The rest I will set in order whenever I come.

Observations: 11:1 I really like this verse (it makes up for the difficulties in the rest of the chapter) because it encapsulates a great evaluative tool. Paul was able to say imitate/follow him, as he imitates/follows Christ. Our lives need to be capable of being reproduced. If all Christians in the world were just like you, what kind of world would we have? What kind of churches would exist? Would God be pleased? If your mantra is, “Oh, I'm not a model of godliness, I'm just a sinner saved by grace.", the odds are that the Lord Jesus won't be pleased when you crawl in front of His judgment seat (2Cor 5:9-10).
11:2-3 Paul praises the Corinthians for following the traditions he passed on to them, but chastises them for how they were exercising their liberty and rights in worship. He first establishes the principle of headship and submission. People have trouble with this because they erroneously think that worth and value come from being better than others. It comes from doing what is pleasing in the sight of God, which frequently involves submitting to unjust authorities (1Pt 2), or become the slave of others to win them (above), which are meritorious. If you have issues with what's written below, study The S-word Submission on Truthbase.net, and listen to the sermon which gives more depth than here. Everyone is required by God to be in submission, on a number of levels. Even Christ is in submission to the Father, and that says nothing about Jesus' worth and value. Servant leadership yields both secular and spiritual success (See Catacomb Church Blog), which requires a form of submission to the needs of subordinates. So rather than give an apologetic for submission here, see The S-word.
In Corinth, the women were apparently a little wild (see chapter 14 too) and causing disruption in the assembly of the church. So Paul says they need to not exercise their freedom in Christ in an improper manner, but need to be under authority. See The Role of Women in the Church on Truthbase.net. He appeals to the Creation order as well as cultural values in giving this command, so some people have difficulty understanding the distinction. He also uses head in different senses, to make his audience scratch theirs, and ingrain his points. As God is the functional head over Christ, who is the head over man, so man is the functional head over women. This says nothing about worth and value, but like an organizational chart at work or the military, it's about responsibility, function, and order.
11:4 Covering one's head was usually a sign of mourning. The Jews developed a custom, probably from God's requirement that the priests cover their humanity and unworthiness as they performed their service in the sanctuary, of covering themselves with a shawl when they prayed. But in Christ, we are made worthy; so a man who covers his head dishonors himself or Christ, who made him worthy. This could have been a polemic against Jewish custom. But it was different for a woman. She dishonored herself or her husband by being uncovered. In the Greco-Roman culture as in much of the Middle East, women wore veils or shawls in public, to not advertise their beauty and attract unwanted attention. Those who didn't cover themselves were often promiscuous or prostitutes, which would be a cause for shame or disgrace. Some have said that female prostitutes, or those who repudiated their femininity wore their hair like a man, which might have been the case. In any event the cultural perception of a woman with her head uncovered or with short hair was not positive.
Paul then appeals to Creation to say that man is the image and glory of God, reflecting His greatness, while woman is the glory of man. Paul seems to be focusing only on the middle phrase of Genesis 1:27 which states man was made in the image of God, and not applying the glory statement to the last “male and female” phrase. He then says women is reflective of man's glory, who is reflective of God's glory. So indirectly she too is made in the image of God. The aspect of the image of God (see comments in Gen 1) that Paul is keying in on, is the dominion/rulership part, which are reflective of God's glory. In the OT (Ezek 1) the angels around God's throne covered themselves with their wings, so only the glory of God would be seen. Angels are usually portrayed as pretty bright and shiny (glorious) in their own right, but they would veil their glory in the presence of God. In a similar fashion, women in worship would veil their glory, by their submission. That's why Paul says women should have authority on her head (ie, be under authority). The translations that insert a “symbol” of authority, miss the point. An outward symbol is not a substitute for a willingly yielded submission. Paul states this is the custom in the churches. In cultures where the cultural custom or outward expression of a veil or hair length is meaningless, the principle of headship and submission would still apply, since the appeal to creation order is universal.
Paul qualifies his statement in verse 11 to emphasize the interdependence of the men and women, who are ultimately both under God's authority. His argument from “nature” might not mean biology, since God is the Creator, but rather the “nature of things” (see Thayer's Lexicon on #5449 phusis).
11:17 Now Paul turns his attention to the Lord's Supper, which in it's original context was a Passover Meal (see comments in the gospels, and the outline The Passover and the Lord's Supper, as well as the sermon on Truthbase.net). People have a hard time shifting from emotionally held beliefs to biblical beliefs because emotions anchor things into our brains. However, the Passover was a joyous time of celebration and declaring the saving acts of God. Even today we talk of Celebrating the Lord's Supper, although it's more like a wake or funeral service for those who don't understand the Biblical teaching. Four cups of wine (see outline and the reference to one of them in the last chapter) made for a happy time. So much so, that people were getting drunk, and thinking only about themselves. The Didache sheds some more light on early church practice, which matches the Passover meal, at the end of which they would pass around a piece of bread in memory of the Passover lamb, who was sacrificed at their deliverance from bondage in Egypt. Similarly, Christ was sacrificed for our sins, which marks the beginning of our deliverance from bondage from sin. The Lord's Supper was not only commemorative, but anticipatory of the Messiah's return, just like the Passover was. It was also a time of Praise for the ways God had worked in the nation in giving them victory, deliverance, and prosperity. It bound the nation together as God's people. The word “communion” (1Cor 10:16) is fellowship or participation, which Paul explained in the last chapter references our unity in Christ, with each other. Therefore to engage in self-centered behavior is the antithesis of celebrating the corporate unity of the believers freed from sin. The New Covenant blessing of the Spirit writing the law in one's heart enabled victorious choices, for which there should be praise. Unfortunately the carnal Corinthians were doing just the opposite, disrupting unity by self-centered behavior, eating and drinking without regard for the needs of others in the Body. Paul tells them they need to stop focusing on themselves, and consider the needs of others in the Body.
This is the behavior Paul says the Corinthians should examine themselves about: are they being self-centered like pagans, or other-centered, like Jesus? Are they modeling self-love or agape love? They needed to prefer (better translation of discern) the Lord's Body, or face judgment. Those who spend their week or month sinning, use the Lord's Supper to feel badly for having to have Jesus die for their sins, and perhaps confess their sin, and gain release from guilt, temporarily. But they actually bring additional judgment upon themselves, because they are not related properly to the fellowship of believers. Paul said examine oneself to correct self-centered behavior, not “celebrate” by confessing sin. Paul said God was already in the process of judging the self-centered behavior with sickness and death (sleep) for their carnality. A person who dependently walks with God every day, doesn't sit morbidly thinking about how bad they've been, because they've been walking in the light, confessing and forsaking sin as soon as God's Spirit points it out throughout their days, and are becoming more like Christ so their interaction in the Body is other-centered. The hijacking of the joy of the Lord's Supper, turning it into Penance can only be demonic. God intended it to be a reminder of His saving acts, of His sacrificial love, His other-centered love – which we are to model, and a fuel to stimulate additional trust and praise as the Passover did. It's not supposed to be selfish emotional catharsis of carnal Christians who have no abiding relationship with the Vine. See the Catacomb Church Blog for more on this topic.

Application: Next time you celebrate the Lord's Supper, praise Him for His forgiveness, deliverance, grace and power over sin, as well has His saving acts in answering your prayers and pouring out His blessings upon His children; it's just of foretaste of what will happen when He returns.

Prayer: Lord, thanks for delivering me from the penalty and practices of sin, so I can enjoy my relationship with You every day, until I am in Your physical presence in the Kingdom. Amen.



Digging Deeper

Although application is a natural outcome of Bible study, there are some specific areas to consider as you seek to make your study more personal and meaningful. The following questions could be used in applying Scriptural truths to your life:
1. FAITH - What does the Bible passage teach me about personal faith? What do I learn about God, Jesus Christ, Holy Spirit and my relationship to them? What specific truths should I believe? Why should I believe them?
2. ATTITUDES - What do I learn about good or bad attitudes? What are the results of each kind? What should be my attitude? How can I change negative ones? What do I learn about emotions? Is there help suggested for release from destructive emotions such as fear, worries, anxieties, hates resentments, jealousies?
3. ACTIONS - What should be my actions? Are there errors to avoid? Are there any actions which I need to change?
4. SINS - What sins are pointed out in my life? Are there some which I need to confess to God? To others? Which I need to forsake? What safeguards should I build?
5. EXAMPLES - What examples are there to follow? Not to follow? Why?
6. CHALLENGES - What are some admonitions/warnings which I should make my own? How can I follow these admonitions in a concrete way: In my relationships in my home? In school? In work? With others? With friends?
7. PROMISES - What promises can I claim for my own? Are there any conditions which I must fulfill in order to claim these promises? Are there any specific prayer promises to claim?



God in a nutshell: God clearly judges OT and NT saints for disloyal disobedience and sin, so don't do it.

Build-a-Jesus: Jesus is the one who sustained Israel in the wilderness, and does the same for us today.

Us in a nutshell: We need to limit our liberty for the benefit of others if we wish blessings in this life, and eternal reward.


Where to Go for More: