Barry Newman's Blog

October 7, 2009

Christ Centred Communion (part XI)

Filed under: Christ Centred Communion,Christian Community Meals — barrynewman @ 7:19 am

The Christian Corinthian Community Meals: 1 Corinthians 11: 17 – 34

Chapter 11 begins with an issue entirely unrelated to eating and drinking – the matter of head coverings.  However verses 17 – 34 return to the subject of meals – the meals that the Christian Corinthians had as a Christian community.  But what Paul writes here has nothing to do with idolatry.  (Commentators, who see the “Lord’s Supper” of chapter 11 in chapter 10, do so in spite of a distinct change in subject matter.)  These Christian Corinthians had meals together because that is what Corinthians did, whatever their allegiances.  However what bound the Christians together in their meals was the Lord Jesus who had died for them.  Sharing a meal with each other would have provided a social benefit as well, given that having meals with non-believers would have become less frequent.

Those who attended these meals came from a large variety of backgrounds. Most might have been reasonably well off but some would have been poor.  Adopting the common convention, the well to do would have brought along fine meals and consumed them.  The poor would have brought along meagre meals and except for any basics supplied by the host that is all that they would have to eat.  Paul is deeply disturbed. He is scathing in his attack on what is happening.  Rightly, they came together because of the Lord – they were one in Christ. Consequently, however, such appalling differences should not be occurring. Paul accuses them of not recognising the body of Christ, that is, his corporate people, for what they really were.  He charges them with not treating the death of Christ as the death for all, which makes them one. They are treating the death of Christ in a despicable manner. The judgement of God is called for.  Paul has the simple solution.  When you come together, share with one another (not “wait for one another” – a common translation) and so avoid the judgement of God (vv. 27 – 33). As a final word he seems to say, “If you rich think you will not obtain enough to eat by this procedure, go and eat at home.” It was the rich who ate in their houses, not the poor who ate outside or at a type of fast food outlet.

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