Saturday

Now in the following instructions I do not commend you, because when you come together it is not for the better but for the worse. (v. 17)

1 Corinthians 11:17-22 Saturday 21 March 2020

Psalm: Psalm 21:1-7

Background

The church in Corinth would have had among its members people from all walks of life. There would be those converted from Judaism, and those converted from paganism. There would be well-off tradespeople, those who were free and those who were slaves.

In the church of Christ all were equal but it seems that at their communal meals, Love Feasts, this equality was being eroded.

Coming together to eat was an integral part of the culture of the time. This sociability and all the benefits in terms of relationships, mutual support, trade and so on was one that the church in Corinth would have taken part in, meeting as a Christian fellowship. This was in theory undoubtedly a good thing. However, these communal meals had become events where social differences in particular were being emphasised.

It seems that the Love Feast was something like the ‘faith lunch/ supper’ that is common in many churches today. Each person would bring their food, however much or little they could manage, and it would all be put out for all to enjoy equally. Some people, however, were eating before some others had arrived and some were eating ‘privately’, in cliques perhaps. It was the poorer members of the fellowship who were being excluded because they, particularly if they were slaves, would not have the flexibility to arrive at the meal as early as some others would.

Paul says that those behaving like this "… show contempt for the church of God and humiliate those who have nothing" (v.22b).

This is really strong language showing how very deeply Paul is horrified by this undermining of Christian equality and Christian fellowship.

 

To Ponder:

  • In your experience do local churches include people of different back grounds and lifestyles or do they tend to be homogeneous?
  • Do you feel that all are treated equally in the local church?
  • Paul concedes that some of the divisions may be due to differences of opinion. How do you think church fellowships should deal with genuine differences of opinion?
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