1 Corinthians Chapter 11

1 Corinthians Chapter 11

Read 1 Corinthians Chapter 11. After Reading the Chapter, read the below to help you dive deeper. Conclude in Prayer. 

"Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ." (1 Cor 11:1) 

St. Paul here exemplifies the true servant. In our Church, all can be traced back to Christ Himself. This is the Apostolic succession. As the Father sent the Son as the teacher and author of life, so Christ sent the apostles to be teachers, and so did the apostles send the Church fathers and mothers to be our teachers and so on. Our identity is Christ. Thus each servant should imitate Christ, by imitating His humility and His Love. This is what St. Paul is exhorting us to see in him.  Oh that we would all strive to say with St. Paul that we imitate Christ. 

Guiding Others in the Humility of the Incarnate Lord -  If indeed, the goal of Christianity is the imitation of Christ according to the measure of his incarnation, in so far as is comformable with the vocation of each individual, they who are entrusted with the guidance of many others are obliged to anumate those still weaker than themselves, by their assistance, to the immitation of Christ. - St. Basil

The Precise Landmark - This is the rule of the most perfect Christianity, a landmark exactly laid down, the point that stands highest of all. Nothing can make a person like Christ more than caring for one's neighbors. - St. John Chrysostom

"But I want you to know that the head of every man, is Christ, the head of woman is man, and the head of Christ is God." (1 Cor 11:3) 

Now some take these verses to explain that man is higher than woman. If we search what St. Paul is saying, we will see that he does not say this, but rather he provides the example of God the Father and God the Son to explain the relationship. 

To say that the head of Christ is God, is not to say that God the Father is higher than God the Son. For even Christ himself says, "I and the Father are One" (Jn 10:30) It is true, God the Father and the Son are one in essence; for as we say daily; In the Beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God." (Jn 1:1) Yet unique to the Son is that He is the Begotten of the Father. It is to this point that St. Paul speaks when he says that the head of Christ is God. Being Begotten does not make Him lesser, but He is equal to the Father. 

Now man and woman are also equal in that they share the same human essence. As the Son was begotten from the Father, so was women begotten of the rib of man. As the Godhead is fully in the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, so is humanity fully in man and woman, for it is written "So God created mean in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them." (Gen 1:27) Thus man and woman are equal, and neither lords over the other, but rather, woman came from man, thus man is the head of the woman. Thus, the difference between man and woman lies not in their nature but in their relationship. 

The Ordering of Father, Son, Man and Woman - God is the head of Christ because He begat Him; Christ is the head of man because he created him, and the woman because she was taken from his side. Thus, one expression has different meanings, according to the difference of person and substantive relationship - Ambrosiaster

Equally Substantially, Different Relationally - The word head is used in two different senses here, since otherwise absurdity would result. The distance between Christ and man is far greater than between man and woman, on the other hand, or between Christ and God on the other, and is of a different kind. Christ and God are equal in substance but different in relationship, and the same applies to man and woman. But between God and Christ the Son on the one hand man [and woman] on the other there is a vast difference of substance as well as relationship. - St. John Chrysostom

"Nevertheless, neither man is independent of woman, nor woman independent of man, in the Lord. For as woman came from man, even man also comes through woman; but all things are from God." (1 Cor 11:11)

Both man and woman are created beings from God. Though man was created first, and woman created from man, all were created by God. It is His design, for He saw man and desired a helpmate for him, and thus created woman. Are we to think that God did not know that man would need woman? God knows all things! His creation was not complete until both men and woman were created. 

The Relation to God - "Yet whatever excellencies belong to man, they belong ultimately to God." - Chrysostom 

Conduct at the Lord's Supper  (v 17 - 22) 

St. Paul returns to the issue of division in the Church of the Corinthians; however, in these verses as it relates to the Lord's supper and the agape meal. You can see how strongly St. Paul rebukes the Corinthians regarding these divisions. The agape meal, which would have been held before or after the Lord's Supper was intended to build and unify the church community in Christ. It gave the opportunity for the rich to serve the poor. However, when the Corinthians cam together, it did not become about any of those people, but people sought to please themselves through gluttony and drunkenness.  This meal connected to the Eucharist, should have been held to the same dignity. 

A Sacrifice of Thanksgiving: Paul reminds us that the Master gave up everything, including himself, for us, whereas we are reluctant even to share a little food with our fellow believers. But if you come for a sacrifice of thanksgiving, do not do anything unworthy of that sacrifice. Do not dishonor your brothers or neglect them in their hunger, do not get drunk, and do not insult the church. When you come, give thanks for what you have enjoyed, and do not cut yourselves off from your neighbors. - St. John Chrysostom

Institution of the Lord's Supper (v. 23 -26)

See how St. Paul seeks to remind them of the glory of the Eucharist. First, he establishes that the Lord's supper was not contrived by him, but rather given to him from Christ Himself. He then reminds them, that the Divine Liturgy is not just merely to remind us of what Christ did, but it is full participation in that same night.(Gr. anamnesis)  We are present with Christ, His body and His blood.  How Glorious indeed for us to be sitting at the table with the Lord, as He invites us to proclaim His death, by sharing His Body and Blood! 

It is then quite obvious why St. Paul begins to tell the people to be careful about how they approach the body and blood of Christ. What about me? How do I approach Him? Surely, I am a sinner, and I need the body and blood of Christ to be cleansed, and to be unified. So then what is the unworthy manner of which St. Paul speaks? It is to  approach with a hidden immorality, a heart set on sin, disunity, heresy. Being worthy does not mean being sinless, but rather being cleansed. We are cleansed through confession and repentance. Let us seek cleansing of our hearts, minds, bodies and spirits, so that we can fully and worthily receive Christ.