1 Corinthians 11 – 2019-12-05
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1 CORINTHIANS 11 – COMMENTARY
vv.3-16 “This section focuses primarily on proper attitudes and conduct in worship, not on the marriage relationship or on the role of women in the church[…] If a believer’s actions offend members and could divide the church, then the believer should change his or her ways to promote church unity. Paul told the women who were not wearing head coverings to wear them, not because it was a scriptural command, but because it kept the congregation from dividing over a petty issue that took people’s focus off Christ.”
vv.4-5 “The covering or uncovering of the head is not merely a sign of individual freedom, Paul insists; rather, it signifies either respect or disrespect for one’s superior in the hierarchy. Consequently, to display the literal head inappropriately attired in worship is to bring shame upon one’s figurative ‘head’. If this seems off to modern readers, we might well remember that analogous customs persist in our social world. For a man to show up at a formal dinner—or in church—wearing a baseball cap would be widely perceived as rude and irreverent. In ancient Mediterranean culture such a breach of etiquette would bring disgrace not only on the perpetrator of the act but also on the ‘head’ to whom that person was responsible. Thus, one of Paul’s concerns is that women who pray and prophesy with ‘uncovered’ heads are in effect shaming the men of the congregation.”
v.5 “The very mention of the word ‘veil’ by Paul would automatically indicate to the Corinthians that the females under discussion in this passage were married. The veil indicated the women’s marital status.”
“Paul promulgates his teaching about head coverings for women not in order to restrict their participation in prayer and prophecy but rather to enable them to perform these activities with dignity, avoiding distractions for people whose cultural sensibilities were formed by the social conventions of the ancient Mediterranean world.”
“For women to have loose hair in public, however, was conventionally seen as shameful, a sign associated either with prostitutes or—perhaps worse from Paul’s point of view—with women caught up in the ecstatic worship practices of the cults associated with Dionysius, Cybele, and Isis. Paul is concerned that the practice of Christian prophecy be sharply distinguished from the frenzied behavior of prophetesses in pagan worship (cf. 14:26-33, 37-40). The symbolic confusion introduced by women with loose, disheveled hair in the Christian assembly would therefore be, from Paul’s point of view, shameful[…].”
v.10 “What does the idiom ‘to have authority upon her head’ mean, and what do ‘angels’ have to do with the argument? […] By telling the women to ‘take charge’ of their own heads, Paul seeks to transform the symbolic connotations of the head covering: the bound hair becomes a fitting symbol of the self-control and orderliness that Paul desires for the community as a whole. But what about the angels? […]More likely is the hypothesis that Paul thinks of the angels as present with the worshipping community as guardians of order and as participants in the church’s praise to God; parallels to this idea can be found in the Dead Sea Scrolls. Presumably, then, Paul means that the community ought to behave in a decorous manner because of the presence of these heavenly ‘dignitaries’ in their midst.”
vv.11-12 “But lest he be misunderstood as wanting to demote women, Paul now argues that man and woman are equal in the Lord and mutually dependent.”
v.11 “Even though social decorum requires women and men to maintain symbolic distinctions, and even though Paul contends that such distinctions have a basis in creation itself, nevertheless ‘in the Lord’ things are different. Men and women live in mutual interdependence. This does not mean that the differences between the sexes are abolished; it does mean, however, that they are both radically dependent on God and that they are called to livr4 e as complementary partners in Christ. These statements do not, as is sometimes claimed, contradict or revoke the position that Paul articulated in verses 3-10; rather, they render it more complex. The hierarchical order that Paul sketched in verses 3 and 7-9 is counterbalanced by other considerations. For example, the earlier statement that woman is ‘from man’ is now balanced by the argument that ‘man comes through woman’ in childbirth. The result is that Paul supports a functional equality of men and women in the church. Women are free to pray and prophesy and exercise leadership of all sorts through the guidance of the Spirit, so long as they maintain the external markers of gender difference, particularly with regard to head coverings.”
“A second abuse of worship existed in the Corinthian church regarding how to celebrate the Lord’s Supper. Apparently, there was a division between the rich and the poor during the celebration of Communion itself. This lack of unity caused the believers to lose the real meaning behind what they were remembering—the sacrifice of Jesus’ body on the cross.”
vv.20-22 “We must bear in mind that the Christian gatherings were held in private homes, not in large public places[…] The host of such a gathering would, of course, be one of the wealthier members of the community. It is reasonable to assume, therefore, that the host’s higher-status friends would be invited to dine in the triclinium (dining room), while the lower-status members of the church (such as freedmen and slaves) would be placed in the larger space outside. Furthermore, under such conditions it was not at all unusual for the higher-status guests in the dining room to be served better food and wine than the other guests[…] This is the sort of hospitality that was being provided to the church by the wealthier Corinthian Christians. They may have considered themselves patrons of the community because they were hosting the gatherings, but they were continuing to observe status distinctions in the fare that was served.”
vv.23-26 “Thus, in Paul’s rendering of the tradition, two closely linked themes stand out: the sharing of the Supper calls the community to think of Jesus’ death for others, and that death is understood to initiate a new covenant. To be in covenant relation with God is to belong to a covenant people bound together by responsibilities to God and to one another; the character of this new covenant should be shown forth in the sharing of the meal. The trouble with the Corinthians is that they are celebrating the Supper in a way that disregards this structure of covenant obligations and demonstrates an odd amnesia about Jesus’ death. By showing contempt for those who have nothing, they are acting as though his death had not decisively changed the conditions of their relationship to one another. Paul therefore retells the story so as to spotlight the death of Jesus as the central meaning of the Supper.”
v.27 “The problem is not desecration of the sacred elements but rather offense against Christ himself. The thought is similar to the idea expressed in 8:12: ‘When you sin against your brothers in this way…, you sin against Christ.’ By mistreating other members of the church, the Corinthians repeat the sort of sin that made the death of Christ necessary[…].”
v.30 “Insofar as we find this conception disturbing, we reveal our more fundamental discomfort with the very notion of God’s judgment. Paul’s assertion stands in continuity with Israel’s prophetic tradition from Amos onward, and particularly with the theology of Deuteronomy, which proclaims that curses and misfortunes will fall upon Israel if they disregard the covenant that God has made with them[…]. [Paul] believes that God takes human sin seriously and sometimes acts to discipline those who defy his will.”
 Bruce B. Barton, et al., 1 Corinthians, Life Application Bible Commentary (Wheaton, IL: Tyndale, 1994) 680.
 Richard B. Hays, First Corinthians, Interpretation: A Bible Commentary for Teaching and Preaching (Louisville, KY: John Knox Press, 1997) 184-85.
 David E. Garland, 1 Corinthians, Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 2003) 514.
 Richard B. Hays, First Corinthians, Interpretation: A Bible Commentary for Teaching and Preaching (Louisville, KY: John Knox Press, 1997) 191.
 Richard B. Hays, First Corinthians, Interpretation: A Bible Commentary for Teaching and Preaching (Louisville, KY: John Knox Press, 1997) 187-88.
 Frank E. Gaebelein, Gen. Ed. Expositor’s Bible Commentary CD, (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1992) notes for 1 Corinthians.
 Richard B. Hays, First Corinthians, Interpretation: A Bible Commentary for Teaching and Preaching (Louisville, KY: John Knox Press, 1997) 188-89.
 Bruce B. Barton, et al., 1 Corinthians, Life Application Bible Commentary (Wheaton, IL: Tyndale, 1994) 682.
 Richard B. Hays, First Corinthians, Interpretation: A Bible Commentary for Teaching and Preaching (Louisville, KY: John Knox Press, 1997) 196.
 Richard B. Hays, First Corinthians, Interpretation: A Bible Commentary for Teaching and Preaching (Louisville, KY: John Knox Press, 1997) 199.
 Richard B. Hays, First Corinthians, Interpretation: A Bible Commentary for Teaching and Preaching (Louisville, KY: John Knox Press, 1997) 201.
 Richard B. Hays, First Corinthians, Interpretation: A Bible Commentary for Teaching and Preaching (Louisville,KY: John Knox Press, 1997) 205-6.
1 Corinthians 11:1-16 (ESV)
1 Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.
2 Now I commend you because you remember me in everything and maintain the traditions even as I delivered them to you. 3 But I want you to understand that the head of every man is Christ, the head of a wife is her husband, and the head of Christ is God. 4 Every man who prays or prophesies with his head covered dishonors his head, 5 but every wife who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head, since it is the same as if her head were shaven. 6 For if a wife will not cover her head, then she should cut her hair short. But since it is disgraceful for a wife to cut off her hair or shave her head, let her cover her head. 7 For a man ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God, but woman is the glory of man. 8 For man was not made from woman, but woman from man. 9 Neither was man created for woman, but woman for man. 10 That is why a wife ought to have a symbol of authority on her head, because of the angels. 11 Nevertheless, in the Lord woman is not independent of man nor man of woman; 12 for as woman was made from man, so man is now born of woman. And all things are from God. 13 Judge for yourselves: is it proper for a wife to pray to God with her head uncovered? 14 Does not nature itself teach you that if a man wears long hair it is a disgrace for him, 15 but if a woman has long hair, it is her glory? For her hair is given to her for a covering. 16 If anyone is inclined to be contentious, we have no such practice, nor do the churches of God.
God [What truths about God’s person, activity or character does the text reveal?]
Apply and obey [How does today’s text apply to me? How will I obey or respond to the truths from today’s text?]