Pulpit Commentary - 1 Corinthians 11:1 - 11:34

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Pulpit Commentary - 1 Corinthians 11:1 - 11:34

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This Chapter Verse Commentaries:



Followers of me; rather, imitators of me; follow herein my example, as I follow Christ's. What Christ's example was, in that he too "pleased not himself," he sets forth in Rom_15:1-3; and the general principle of self abnegation for the sake of others in Php_2:4-8. This verse ought to be included in ch. 10. It sums up the whole argument, and explains the long digression of ch. 9. As I also am of Christ. This limits the reference to his own example. I only ask you to imitate me in points in which I imitate Christ.


Rules and principles respecting the covering of the head by women in Church assemblies.


rather, but, on the other hand. That ye remember me in all things, and keep, etc. This is probably a quotation from their letter. He thanks them for this kind message, but points out one particular in which their practice was not quite commendable. The ordinances. The word literally means traditions, but is here rightly applied to rules which he had delivered to them. The Vulgate has praecepta. The word is used in Mat_15:2 of the rules and precedents laid down by the rabbis.


But I would have you know;
rather, but I wish you to know. That the head of every man is Christ. St. Paul, as was customary with him, applies the loftiest principles to the solution of the humblest difficulties. Given a question as to what is right or wrong in a particular instance, he always aims at laying down some great eternal fact to which the duty or decision is ultimately referable, and deduces the required rule from that fact. The headship of Christ is stated in Eph_1:22; Eph_4:15; and its application to the superiority of man is laid down also in Eph_5:23. The subordinate position of the woman is also stated in 1Ti_2:11, 1Ti_2:12; 1Pe_3:1, 1Pe_3:5, 1Pe_3:6, etc. This, however, is merely an ordinance of earthly application. In the spiritual realm "there is neither male nor female" (Gal_3:28). The head of the woman is the man. In Christ the distinctions of the sexes are done away. It was, perhaps, an abuse of this principle which had led the Corinthian women to assert themselves and their rights more prominently than decorum warranted. The head of Christ is God. That Christ is "inferior to the Father as touching his manhood," that his mediatorial kingdom involves (so far) a subordination of his coequal Godhead, has been already stated in 1Co_3:23, and is further found in 1Co_15:27, 1Co_15:28. This too is the meaning of Joh_14:28, "My Father is greater than I."


; that is, preaching. Having his head covered. This was a Jewish custom. The Jewish worshipper in praying always covers his head with his tallith. The Jew (like Orientals generally) uncovered his feet because the place on which he stood was holy ground; but he covered his head by way of humility, even as the angels veil their faces with their wings. AEneas is said by Servius to have introduced this custom into Italy. On the other hand, the Greek custom was to pray with the head uncovered. St. Paul—as some discrepancy of custom seems to have arisen—decided in favour of the Greek custom, on the high ground that Christ, by his incarnation, became man, and therefore the Christian, who is" in Christ," may stand with unveiled head in the presence of his Father. Dishonoureth his head. He dishonoureth his own head, which is as it were a sharer in the glory of Christ, who is Head of the whole Church. "We pray," says Tertullian, "with bare beads because we blush not." The Christian, being no longer a slave, but a son (Gal_4:7), may claim his part in the glory of the eternal Son. The head was covered in mourning (2Sa_15:30; Jer_14:13), and the worship of the Christian is joyous.


Or prophesieth.
Although St. Paul "thinks of one thing at a time," and is not here touching on the question whether women ought to teach in public, it appears from this expression that the rule which he lays down in 1Co_14:34
, 1Co_14:35, and 1Ti_2:12 was not meant to be absolute. See the case of Philip's daughters (Act_21:9 and Act_2:17). With her head uncovered. For a woman to do this in a public assembly was against the national custom of all ancient communities, and might lead to the gravest misconceptions. As a rule, modest women covered their heads with the peplum or with a veil when they worshipped or were in public. Christian women at Corinth must have caught something of the "inflation" which was characteristic of their Church before they could have acted with such reprehensible boldness as to adopt a custom identified with the character of immodest women. Dishonoureth her head. Calvin, with terse good sense, observes, "As the man honours his head by proclaiming his liberty, so the woman by acknowledging her subjection."


Let her also be shorn.
Not a command, but, a sort of scornful inference, or reductio ad absurdum. If it be a shame for a woman to be shorn or shaven. When a woman was tried by "the ordeal of the water of jealousy," her head was uncovered by the priest (Num_5:18). To be shorn or shaven was a sign of mourning (Deu_21:12), and was a disgrace inflicted on adulteresses.


He is the image and glory of God.
Because he reflects and partakes in the glory of Christ, who is the effulgence of God and the impress of his substance (Gen_1:27
; Psa_8:6; Heb_1:2). The woman is the glory of the man. As moonlight is to sunlight, or as the earthshine is to the moonshine. Man reflects God; woman, in her general nature in this earthly and temporal dispensation, reflects the glory of man.


But the woman of the man.
An allusion to Gen_2:21
, Gen_2:22.


But the woman for the man.
As is expressly stated in Gen_2:18


have power on her head. A great deal of irrelevant guesswork has been written on this verse. Under this head must be classed the idle attempts to twist the word exousia, power, or authority, into some other reading—an attempt which may be set aside, because it is not sanctioned by a single manuscript. We may also dismiss the futile efforts to make exousia have any other primary meaning than "authority." The context shows that the word has here a secondary sense, and implies some kind of covering. The verse, therefore, points the same lessons as Gen_24:64
, Gen_24:65. This much may be regarded as certain, and this view is adopted by the steadfast good sense of our English translators, both in the Authorized and Revised Versions. The only question worth asking is why the word exousia had come at Corinth, or in the Corinthian Church, to be used for "a veil," or "covering." The simplest answer is that just as the word "kingdom" in Greek may be used for "a crown" (comp. regno as the name of the pope's tiara), so "authority" may mean "a sign of authority" (Revised Version), or "a covering, in sign that she is under the power of her husband". The margin of the Revised Version, "authority over her head," is a strange suggestion. Some have explained the word of her own true authority, which consists in accepting the rule of her husband; but it probably moans a sign of her husband's authority over her. Similarly the traveller Chardin says that in Persia the women wear a veil, in sign that they are "under subjection." If so, the best comment on the word may be found in the exquisite lines of Milton, which illustrate the passage in other ways also—

"She, as a vei1, down to the slender waist

Her unadorned golden tresses wore…

As the vine curves her tendrils, which implied

Subjection, but required with gentle sway,

And by her yielded, by him best received."

The fact that Callistratus twice uses exousia of "abundance of hair" is probably a mere coincidence, resembling the Irish expression "a power of hair." Nor can there be any allusion to the isolated fact that Samson's strength lay in his hair. The very brief comment of Luther sums up all the best of the many pages which have been written on the subject. He says that exousia means "the veil or covering, by which one may see that she is under her husband's authority" (Gen_3:16). Because of the angels. In this clause also we must set aside, as idle waste of time, the attempts to alter the text, or to twist the plain words into impossible meanings. The word "angels" cannot mean "Church officials," or "holy men," or "prophets," or "delegates," or "'bridegroom's men," or anything but angels. Nor can the verse mean, as Bengel supposes, that women are to veil themselves because the angels do so (Isa_6:2), or because the angels approve of it. The only question is whether the allusion is to good or bad angels. In favour of the latter view is the universal tradition among the Jews that the angels fell by lust for mortal women, which was the Jewish way of interpreting Gen_6:1, Gen_6:2. This is the view of Tertullian ('De Virg. Vel.,' 7) in writing on this subject. A woman, in the opinion and traditions of Oriental Jews, is liable to injury from the shedim, if she appears in public unveiled; and these evil spirits are supposed to delight in the appearance of unveiled women. The objection to this view, that angeloi alone is never used of evil but always of good angels, is not perhaps decisive (see 1Co_6:3). The verse may, however, mean (in accordance with the Jewish belief of those days) that good angels, being under the possibility of falling from the same cause as their evil brethren, fly away at once from the presence of unveiled women. Thus Khadijah tested that the visitant of her husband Mohammed really was the angel Gabriel, because he disappeared the moment she unveiled her head. On the whole, however, the meaning seems to be, out of respect and reverence for the holy angels, who are always invisibly present in the Christian assemblies.. "Reverence the angels" is St. Chrysostom's remark.


The verse is meant to correct any tendency on the part of men to domineer. Man and woman are "all one in Christ Jesus" (Gal_3:28

"The two-celled heart, beating with one full stroke—Life."


By the woman;
that is, "born of a woman" (Job_14:1
). But all things of God. And all things also "through him and to him," made by him, and tending to him as their end (Rom_11:1-36 :56).


Is it comely,
etc.? An appeal to the decision of their instinctive sense of propriety.


Doth not even nature itself teach you?
"Nature" here has much the lame sense as "instinct."

"His fair large front and eye sublime declared

Absolute rule; and hyacinthine locks

Round from his parted forelock manly hung

Clustering, but not beneath his shoulders broad:

She, as a veil, down to the slender waist

Her unadorned golden tresses wore."

(Milton, 'Paradise Lost,' 4:304.)


It is a glory to her.
Because it is at once beautiful and natural; and as Bengel says, "Will should follow the guidance of nature."


But if any man seem to be contentious.
St. Paul cuts the question short, as though impatient of any further discussion of a subject already settled by instinctive decorum and by the common sense of universal usage. "Seem to be contentious" is (like the Latin videtur) only a courteous way of saying "is contentious." If any of you wish to be disputatious and quarrelsome about this minor matter of ritual, I must content myself with saying that he must take his own course (for a similar use of the euphemistic "seem," see Php_3:4
; Heb_4:1; Jas_1:26). We have no such custom. The emphatic "we" means the apostles and the leaders of the Church at Jerusalem and Antioch. Such custom. Not referring to "contentiousness," but to the women appearing with uncovered heads. Neither the Churches of God. If you Corinthians prefer these abnormal practices in spite of reason, common sense, and my arguments, you must stand alone in your innovations upon universal Christian practice. But catholic custom is against your "self opinionated particularism."


Discreditable irregularities at the Eucharist and the agapae.


Now in this that I declare unto you I praise you not;
rather, as in the Revised Version, But in giving you this charge, I praise you not. A reference to the "I praise you" of 1Co_11:2
. Ye come together. As he advances, his rebukes become more and more serious; for the present reproach does not affect a few, but the Church assembly in general.


First of all.
The "second" rebuke is not clearly stated, but is no doubt meant to refer to the abuses in "speaking with the tongue." In the Church; rather, in congregation, or assembly. The reference is not to a particular building. The Lord's Supper was administered frequently (originally every day, Act_2:46
), and often in private houses. Divisions; schisms (1Co_1:10, 1Co_1:12). Here, however, he is referring to cliques and quarrels at the love feasts. Partly! cannot think, he says, in a tone of kindness, that these reports are wholly false. There must be some ground for them, even if the facts have been exaggerated.


There must be also heresies among you.
It results from the inevitable decrees of the Divine providence. "It is impossible but that offences will come" (Luk_17:11
). Heresies. The word does not mean "erroneous opinions," but party factions. Originally the word only means "a choice," and is not used in a bad sense; but since the opinionativeness of men pushes "a choice" into a "party," and since it is the invariable tendency of a party to degenerate into a "faction," the word soon acquires a bad sense (see its use in Act_5:17; Act_15:5; Act_24:5, Act_24:14 : Act_28:22; Gal_5:20; Tit_3:10; 2Pe_2:1; and Gieseler, 'Church Hist.,' 1:149). The mutually railing factions, which in their Church newspapers and elsewhere bandy about their false and rival charges of "heresy," are illustrating the virulence of the very sin which they are professing to denounce—the sin of factiousness. That they which are approved may be made manifest among you. Similarly St. John (1Jn_2:19) speaks of the aberrations of false teachers as destined to prove that they did not belong to the true Church. Good is educed out of seeming evil (Jas_1:3; 1Pe_1:6, 1Pe_1:7). Approved; standing the test (dokimoi), the opposite of the "reprobate" (adokimoi) of 1Co_9:27.


Into one place.
There were as yet no churches. The Lord's Supper was held in private houses. This is not; or perhaps, it is not possible. The Lord's Supper. The fact that there is no article in the Greek shows the early prevalence of this name for the Eucharist.


For in eating;
rather, in your eating. Every one. All who have themselves contributed a share to the common meal. Taketh before other his own supper. It is as if they had come together only to eat, not to partake of a holy sacrament. The abuse rose from the connection of the Lord's Supper with the agapē, or love feast, a social gathering of Christian brothers, to which each, as in the Greek eranoi, or "club feasts," contributed his share. The abuse led to the separation of the agapē from the Holy Communion, and ultimately to the entire disuse of the former at religious gatherings. One is hungry. The poor man, who has been unable to contribute to the meal which was intended to be an exhibition of Christian love, looked on with grudging eyes and craving appetite, while the rich had more than enough. Is drunken. "St. Paul draws the picture in strong colours, and who can say that the reality was less strong?" (Meyer). Calvin says, "It is portentous that Satan should have accomplished so much in so short a time." But the remark was, perhaps, dictated by the wholly mistaken fancy that the Church of the apostolic days was exceptionally pure. On the contrary, many of the heathen converts were unable at once to break the spell of their old habits, and few modern Churches present a spectacle so deplorable as that which we here find in the apostolic Church of Corinth. It is quite obvious that Church discipline must have been almost in abeyance if such grave scandals could exist uncorrected and apparently unreproved.


To eat and to drink in.
The object of the agapē was something higher than the mere gratification of appetite. Though not a sacrament, it was an accompaniment of the Lord's Supper, and was itself intended to be a symbolical and sacred meal. Despise ye the Church of God! The congregation of your fellow Christians. Shame; rather, disgrace, or put to shame. Them that have not. It would be natural to supply "houses." But the commentators found it difficult to suppose that any of the Corinthians had not "houses to eat and to drink in." Hence most commentators give to the phrase its classic sense, in which "those who have" means the rich, and "those who have not," the poor. They seem, however, to have forgotten that slaves at any rate could hardly be said to have "houses of their own," and it is certain that not a few of the Corinthian Christians were slaves. I praise you not. As in 1Co_11:17, this is an instance of what is called litotē, a mild expression, suggesting a meaning much stronger than the words themselves. For. He is about to give his reason for thus strongly blaming their irregularities.


I have received;
rather, I received. He thus refers the revelation to some special time, and this seems to point to the conclusion that he is not referring to any account of the institution of the Lord's Supper, which may have been given him by St. Peter or one of the twelve, but to some immediate revelation from Christ. The terms in which he describes the institution of the Eucharist resemble most nearly those of St. Luke, who may very probably have derived his information from St. Paul. This passage should be compared with Mat_26:26-29
; Mar_14:22-25; Luk_22:19, Luk_22:20. Was betrayed; rather, was being betrayed.


When he had given thanks.
The same word is used in St. Luke εὐχαριστήσας ), and is the origin of the name Eucharist. St. Mark and perhaps St. Matthew have "having blessed it" (eulogesas). Hence the Eucharist is "this our sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving." Take, eat. These words are omitted by all the best uncials, Which is broken for you. The word "broken" is of doubtful authenticity. Some manuscripts have "given," and one (D) a milder word for "broken," as though to avoid any contradiction of Joh_19:36
, where, however, the word is "shall not be crushed." Since the participle is omitted altogether by à , A, B, C, there can be no doubt that it is a gloss, and accordingly the Revised Version reads, "which is for you." The "broken" is nevertheless involved in the "he brake it," which was a part of the ceremony as originally illustrated. The breaking of the bread ought not, therefore, to be abandoned, as in the case when "wafers" are used. This do. St. Luke also has this clause, which is not found in St. Matthew or St. Mark. The variations show that it was the main fact which was essential, not the exact words spoken. In remembrance of me. The words may also be rendered, for a memorial of me, or to bring me to your remembrance.


When he had supped (
see Luk_22:27
). 'The cup, like the cos haberachah, was given after the meal was ended. The new testament; rather, the new covenant. The Greek word diathē̄ is indeed a "will," or "testament;" but in the LXX., on which the Greek of the apostles was formed, it always stands for berith, covenant. The Jews knew nothing of the practice of "making wills" till they learnt it from the Romans. The only passage of the New Testament (an expression derived from this very passage through the Vulgate) in which diathē̄ means a "testament" is Heb_9:16, where the writer reverts for a moment only to this signification of the word to introduce a passing illustration. In my blood. The cup was a symbol of the blood of Christ, because the gospel covenant was ratified by the shedding of his blood. The Jews had an absolute horror, at once religious and physical, of tasting blood. This was the reason why the Synod of Jerusalem forbade even to the Gentiles the eating of "things strangled." If the apostles had not fully understood that our Lord was only using the ordinary language of Semitic imagery, and describing only a horror and repulsion.


Ye do show the Lord's death.
The word literally means, ye announce, or proclaim, with reference to the repetition of the actual words used by our Lord. It will be seen that St. Paul does not lend the smallest, sanction to the unfathomable superstition" of a material transubstantiation. Till he come. Accordingly the antiquity and unbroken continuance of this holy rite is one of the many strong external evidences of the truth of the gospel history. The ἂν is omitted in the Greek, to indicate the certainty of Christ's coming. The same Greek idiom is hopefully and tenderly used in Gal_4:19


And drink this cup.
This ought to be rendered, or drink this cup. It seems to be one of the extremely few instances in which the translators of our Authorized Version were led by bias into unfaithful rendering. They may have persuaded themselves that the apostle must have meant "and;" but their duty as translators was to translate what he said, not what they supposed him to have meant. What he meant was that it was possible to partake in a wrong spirit either of the bread or the cup. King James's translators thought that, by rendering the word or, they might seem to favour communion in one kind only. St. Paul's meaning was that a man might Lake either element of the sacrament unworthily. Unworthily. We are all "unworthy"—" unworthy so much as to gather up the crumbs under Christ's table;" yet not one of us need eat or drink unworthily, that is, in a careless, irreverent, defiant spirit. Guilty of. He draws on himself the penalty due to "crucifying to himself the Son of God afresh," by "putting him to an open shame."


Let a man examine himself.
The verb means "let him test his own feelings;" put them to the proof, to see whether they be sincere or not. He must "wash his hands in innocency," and so come to God's altar (see Mat_5:22
, Mat_5:23; 2Co_13:5). And so. Soberly, that is; seriously, humbly, and with due reverence.


The word is not genuine here, being repeated from 1Co_11:27
; it is omitted by à , A, B, C. Eateth and drinketh damnation to himself; rather, eateth and drinketh judgment to himself There is reason to believe that the word "damnation" once had a much milder meaning in English than that which it now popularly bears. In King James's time it probably did not of necessity mean more than "an unfavourable verdict." Otherwise this would be the most unfortunate mistranslation in the whole Bible. It has probably kept thousands, as it kept Goethe, from Holy Communion. We see from verse 32 that this "judgment" had a purely merciful and disciplinary character. Not discerning; rather, if he discern not, the Lord's body, Any one who approach? the Lord's Supper in a spirit of levity or defiance, not discriminating between it and common food, draws on himself, by so eating and drinking, a judgment which is defined in the next verse.


Many are weak and sickly among you.
St. Paul directly connects this general ill health with the abuse of the Lord's Supper. It is not impossible that the grave intemperance to which he alludes in 1Co_11:21
may have had its share in this result; but apart from this, there is an undoubted connection between sin and sickness in some, though not, of course, in all cases (Joh_5:14). Many. The word is different from the previous word for "many," and means a larger number—" not a few," "a considerable number." Sleep; i.e. are dying.

1Co_11:31, 1Co_11:32

For if we would judge ourselves,
etc. These verses are very unfortunately mistranslated in our Authorized Version. They should be rendered (literally), For if we discerned (or, discriminated) ourselves, we should not be undergoing judgment (namely, of physical punishment); but, in being judged by the Lord (by these temporal sufferings), we are under training, that we may not be condemned with the world. The meaning is that "if we" (St. Paul here identities himself with the Corinthians) "were in the habit of self discernment—and in this self discrimination is involved a discrimination between spiritual and common things—we should nut be undergoing this sign of God's displeasure; but the fact that his judgments are abroad among us is intended to further our moral education, and to save us from being finally condemned with the world." Discernment (diakrisis), by saving us from eating unworthily (Psa_32:5
; 1Jn_1:9), would have obviated the necessity for penal judgments (krima), but yet the krima is disciplinary (paideuometha, we are being trained as children), to save us from final doom (katakrima). Unworthy eating, then, so far from involving necessary or final "damnation," is mercifully visited by God with temporal chastisement, to help in the saving of our souls. "Blessed is the man whom thou chastenest, O Lord" (Psa_94:12; Heb_12:5-12).


. He now briefly sums up the practical remedies for these discreditable scenes. My brethren. Introduced, as often, into a stern passage to show that the writer is only actuated by the spirit of love. Tarry one for another. This would prevent the scrambling greediness which he has already condemned in 1Co_11:21


And if any man hunger, let him eat at home.
A reminder of the sacred character of the agapē as a symbol of Christian love and union. Unto condemnation; rather, judgment. In Greek, the same word (krima) is used which in 1Co_11:29
is so unhappily rendered "damnation." But even "condemnation" is too strong; for that is equivalent to katakrima. The rest; all minor details. It is not improbable that one of these details was the practical dissociation of the agapē from the Lord's Supper altogether. Certainly the custom of uniting the two seems to have disappeared by the close of the first century. When I come; rather, whenever. The Greek phrase ( ὡς ἂν ) implies uncertainty. The apostle's plans for visiting Corinth immediately had been materially disturbed by the unfavourable tidings as to the conditions of the Church.


1Co_11:1, 1Co_11:2

Imitation and commendation.

"Be ye followers of me, even as I also am or Christ. Now I praise you, brethren, that ye remember me in all things, and keep the ordinances, as I delivered them to you." In these words we have—

I. THE PRINCIPLE ON WHICH THE CHARACTERS OF MOST MEN ARE FORMED. "Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ." Men are imitative beings, and, from a law of their nature, those whom they most admire and with whom they most associate, they become like in spirit and in character. The request of Paul here, at first sight, seems somewhat arrogant: "Be ye followers of me." No man has a right to make such an unqualified claim on another. Hence Paul puts the limitation. "Even as I also am of Christ." The apostle undoubtedly refers to the preceding verses, m which he speaks of himself as not seeking his own pleasure or profit, but that of others. This Christ did. We are told that he "pleased not himself." He means to say, "Be like me in this respect, as I in this respect resemble Christ." Here is the principle that should regulate our imitation of men; imitate them just so far as they resemble Christ. Children should not imitate their parents, pupils should not imitate their teachers, congregations should not imitate their ministers, only so far as they resemble Christ.

II. A COMMENDATION OF MERIT WHICH MANY ARE RELUCTANT TO RENDER. "Now I raise you, brethren, that ye remember me in all things, and keep the ordinances, as delivered them to you." In some things, if not in all, some of the Corinthian Christians pleased Paul, did what he considered right—they remembered him, and practically attended to his directions. There was much in them with which he could find fault, and did find fault, but so far as they did the proper thing he praises them. To render generously credit where credit is due is the characteristic of a great soul, but one which others have not. I take it to be a duty to render credit where credit is due; but how seldom is this attended to I In domestic matters how it is neglected! A wife will go on loyally and lovingly attending to the wants and wishes of her husband, and perhaps not from one year to another does she receive from him one word of hearty commendation. So with servants and masters: the employer, when he has paid the stipulated stipend to the most useful of his employes, feels he has done his duty, and gives not a word of commendation. So with ministers and their congregations. How many ministers are there in every Church, who give the best fruits of their cultivated minds, and, by their sweating brain and agonizing prayers, produce discourses every week admirably suited to serve the highest interests of their congregations; and yet seldom receive one generous word of hearty commendation for all their toils] Miserable criticisms they will get in abundance, but nothing else. Verily, I believe that no social service is more important, and at the same time more neglected, than the yielding of a generous commendation to the truly commendable.


The man and the woman.

"But I would have you know," etc. Although there are some things in these verses that perhaps no one can rightly interpret, and that may have been written as personal opinion rather than as Divine inspiration, there are two or three points in relation to man and woman interesting and noteworthy.

I. THERE IS BETWEEN THEM A SUBORDINATION IN NATURAL RELATIONSHIP. "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." The principle of subordination, it would seem, prevails throughout the spiritual universe; one rising above another in regular gradation up to God himself. God is over Christ, Christ is over man, man is over woman. "For the man is not of the woman; but the woman of the man. Neither was the man created for the woman; but the woman for the man." The ideal women and the ideal men are here, I presume, meant. It is because the man is supposed to have more brain and soul than the woman that he is the master; but in cases—and they are not few—where the woman is the greater, the greater in intellect, heart, and all moral nobleness, she, without her intention or even wish, will necessarily be the head. In the Marriage Service, the woman at the altar is called upon solemnly to vow to obey her husband. I confess I have often been struck at the incongruity of this, when I have seen a little-chested, small-brained man standing by the side of a woman with a majestic brow and a grand physique, when she is called upon to vow obedience to such a man.

II. THERE IS BETWEEN THEM AN INDEPENDENT OBLIGATION IN RELIGIOUS SERVICES. "Every man praying or prophesying, having his head covered, dishonoureth his head. But every woman that prayeth or prophesieth with her head uncovered dishonoureth her head," etc. It is here implied that both the man and the woman are to prophesy, teach, and pray; not one instead of the other, but each independently. However closely related the man and the wife may be, however dependent one is on the other, neither can perform the spiritual and religious obligations of the other. There is no sharing of duty here, no shifting of personal obligation; each must stand alone before God.

III. THERE IS A DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THEM IN OUTWARD ASPECT. There are two points here concerning the difference.

1. A difference in the way in which they are to appear in public. The man is to appear with an uncovered head, the woman with a covered head. "If the woman be not covered, let her also be shorn: but if it be a shame for a woman to be shorn or shaven, let her be covered. For a man indeed ought not to cover his head." The woman's head is to be covered with her hair or a veil, or both. Who shall divine the meaning of the tenth verse?—"For this cause ought the woman to have power on her head because of the angels." To me this is utterly incomprehensible. Probably there were at Corinth women who shaved off their hair in order to obliterate the distinction of sex: shameless women.

2. This difference is adventitious rather than natural. Is there any reason in nature why a man's head should be uncovered and a woman's covered; why one should wear long hair and the other short? No such thing seems reasonable; the uncivilized tribes know nothing of it. The reason can only be traced to custom. And is not custom second nature? "Doth not even nature itself teach you, that, if a man have long hair, it is a shame unto him?" But original nature does not seem to teach us that, but custom and conventional propriety. Hence Paul says, "If any may seem to be contentious, we have no such custom;" by which he means, I understand, that, whoever may contend to the contrary, such a custom—as that woman should pray and preach with uncovered heads—was not known by Paul in other Churches, and that the Church at Corinth should not allow it.


Religious institutions: their abuse.

"Now in this that I declare unto you I praise you not," etc. Three practical truths may be fairly deduced from this paragraph.

I. THAT ATTENDANCE ON THE INSTITUTIONS OF RELIGION MAY PROVE PERNICIOUS RATHER TITAN BENEFICIAL. "Now in this that I declare unto you I praise you not, that ye come together not for the better, but for the worse." The apostle in this verse censures the Corinthians that they came together to the Lord's Supper, and were made "worse" rather than "better." Men cannot be made religious; an irresistible moral force is a contradiction in terms, an impossibility in fact. Hence it comes to pass that the highest redemptive forces on man often conduce to his ruin. The gospel proves in the case of all hearers either the "savour of life unto life, or of death unto death." Pharaoh's heart was hardened under the ministry of Moses, and the hearts of the men of Chorazin, Bethsaida, and Capernaum were hardened under the ministry of Christ.

II. THAT ASSEMBLING TOGETHER FOR RELIGIOUS PURPOSES DOES NOT NECESSARILY IMPLY UNITY OF SOUL. "For first of all, when ye come together in the Church, I hear that there be divisions among you; and I partly believe it. For there must be also heresies among you, that they which are approved may be made manifest among you." The factious and schismatic spirit seems to have existed in the same Church and even at the Lord's table. It does not follow that, because people are brought together in the same religious assembly or Church, that they are united together in spirit. Two people may sit in the same pew, hear the same discourse, sing the same hymns, partake of the same bread and wine, and yet in soul be as remote from one another as the poles. No real spiritual unity can exist where there is not a supreme affection for the same being. Christ is the only uniting Centre of souls.

III. THAT THE VERY BEST INSTITUTIONS ON EARTH ARE OFTEN SADLY PERVERTED BY MEN. For many reasons the Lord's Supper may be regarded as one of the best ordinances. But see how it was now perverted. It was made the means of gluttony and drunkenness; men used it as a common feast. "When ye come together therefore into one place, this is not to eat the Lord's Supper. For in eating every one taketh before other his own supper: and one is hungry, and another is drunken." Are not men constantly perverting Divine institutions, Churches, Bibles, the Christian ministry, etc.?


The Lord's Supper.

"For I have received," etc. These verses give an account of what is called the Lord's Supper. This supper was instituted by Christ himself the night in which he was betrayed, while he was observing the Passover with his disciples. On that night he virtually directed the minds of men from all Jewish ritualism and centred them on himself. "Do this in remembrance of me." True religion now has to do with a Person, and that Person is Christ. In reading the words of the apostle here, there are four things which strike us with amazement.

I. THAT ANY SHOULD DOUBT THE GENUINENESS OF CHRISTIANITY. Here is an institution that was started the night previous to our Saviour's crucifixion, which was attended to by the Church at Jerusalem after the day of Pentecost, celebrated by various other apostolic Churches as recorded in the Acts of the Apostles, and which Paul says here he "received from the Lord." From the apostolic age down to this hour, through eighteen long centuries, it has been attended to by all the branches of the true Church. Since its origin hundreds of generations have passed away, many systems have risen and disappeared, nations have been organized, flourished, and broken up; but this ordinance continues; what for? To commemorate the great central fact of the gospel, viz. that Christ died. Is there any other fact in history sustained by evidence half so powerful as this?

II. THAT ANY SHOULD MISINTERPRET THE ORDINANCE. Here we are distinctly told that it is to "show the Lord's death." No language can more clearly show that it is purely commemorative. There are three abuses of this institution.

1. The gustatory. Some of the Corinthians thus used it. They introduced a love feast to immediately precede it, probably because a Jewish feast preceded its first celebration. This led to gluttony and other evils. The members of the Corinthian Church were converts from heathenism, and they had been accustomed in their heathen festivals to give way to gluttony and intemperance, Many of them, from the force of old habits, were tempted to use the Lord's Supper in this way.

2. The superstitious. There are some who believe that, after the words of consecration are pronounced by the priest over these elements, the elements become literally the "body and blood of the Lord." This is transubstantiation. Others who would not go thus far still superstitiously regard the ordinance as a mystic medium through which grace is poured into the soul of the recipient. Fearful abuse this!

3. The formalistic. There are those who partake of the bread and wine merely as a matter of form and ceremony. We evangelical Christians are not guilty of the first nor of the second, but we may be of the third. The text tells us it is to "show" or to teach; it is an educational ordinance.

III. THAT ANY SHOULD SAY THE INSTITUTION IS NOT PERMANENT IN ITS OBLIGATION. The apostle tells us distinctly that it was to "show the Lord's death till he come." When will that be? Not just yet. The human world seems to be only in its infancy, and Christianity only just beginning its work. The billows of a thousand ages may break on our shore before he comes. On to that distant point the obligation is binding. There are some professing Christians who think themselves too spiritual to observe such an ordinance. These very spiritual ones, to be consistent, should avoid all scientific studies, for science has to do with material forms; its principles are all embodied, are made palpable to the eye and ear. They should also avoid all Biblical studies, for Biblical truths are for the most part embodied in material facts and forms. Christ himself was "flesh and blood."


1. That it is to commemorate the world's greatest Benefactor. It is to keep Christ in the memory of man. Here is a Benefactor that has:

(1) Served the world in the highest way. He has delivered it from sin and death.

(2) Served it by the most unparalleled sacrifice. He sacrificed his life to the work.

(3) Served it with the most disinterested love.

2. That it is enjoined by the world's greatest Benefactor. He himself has enjoined it: "Do this in remembrance of me."



Apostolic injunctions with regard to Church services.

Though the Corinthians deserved blame in some things, they were entitled to praise in that they had generally observed St. Paul's directions. Despite their departure from certain of his instructions, he could say, "Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ;" by which he recognized that they had discernment enough to see the Lord Jesus in his personal and official character, and a sufficient brotherly sympathy to imitate his example. His commendation is hearty: "Ye remember me in all things, and keep the ordinances, as I delivered them to you." With this preface, short but conciliatory, he takes up his first topic, viz. the headship of man in the natural and spiritual order, established by Providence and maintained by the Spirit in the Church. In his writings, natural facts are ever reappearing in new and diviner connections, as if they had undergone a silent and wonderful transfiguration, and had been glorified in light and beauty. Instinct had always acknowledged the subordination of woman to man, nor, indeed, is the instinct of sex conceivable in the absence of this element in its nature. But St. Paul is careful to lay his doctrinal foundation on the fact "that the head of every man is Christ," assured that the ultimate strength of all truth is in its spirituality. Be it a law, a principle, a motive, an end, "other foundation can no man lay." Critics may entertain widely different estimates of the man, may be as broadly separated as M. Renan and Dr. Farrar, and yet none can deny that St. Paul had this incomparable advantage, namely, a great centre, from which he saw all objects that engaged his attention. His method is fully brought out in the third verse: the head of the man is Christ; the head of the woman is the man; the head of Christ is God—a statement clear, compact, exhaustive. One moment he is dealing with the relationship between man and woman: Eden rises to his view, the sleeping Adam wakening to find Eve at his side, "the woman of the man," and "the glory of the man;" and the next moment he is contemplating the Trinity in its economic and immanent relations. Yet from this sublime height of Christ's exaltation at the right hand of the Father there is no break when he descends to discuss woman's behaviour in Church assemblies. The principle involved keeps him on ground far above dress and decorum as such, and, indeed, he will not touch the matter at all until he has set forth the dignity of its associations. Let us be careful, then, lest we err by supposing that St. Paul looked upon dress and decorum, in this instance, as simply conventionalities based on whims of taste and caprices of opinion. Conventionalities they were in a certain sense, but conventionalities to be respected and observed. In brief, they were customs that had a moral meaning. If a woman appeared in public unveiled, she was deemed immodest. To wear a veil was a sign of womanly delicacy, and hence, if she went to a public assembly without her veil, she acted shamelessly. To be consistent, argues St. Paul, "let her also be shorn," and so assume the mark of a disreputable woman. A woman acting in this way sets public opinion at defiance; and as public opinion in many things is public conscience, and as such the aggregated moral feeling of a community, no woman could do this thing and not shock all right sensibility. Besides, the veil is a sign of subordination and dependence. Refusing to use this covering of the head was a mark of insubordination and independence. A symbol it was, but to cast off the symbol was to repudiate the thing signified. This was not all. If uncomely, it was also unnatural; "for her hair is given her for a covering." The argument has one passage (1Co_11:10) which is confessedly difficult to understand, but this does not detract an iota from the general directness and force. St. Paul's purpose is unmistakable—to set forth the order of God's economy in the relative positions of man and woman to each other, and the entire unity of their relation to God in Christ. Man's authority is guarded against all excess, and woman's dependence is beautified by delicacy, retiringness, and trustful love. So high an estimate is put on her character and attitude, that even her personal appearance, as to attire and demeanour, is a matter of moment, involving the honour and happiness of her husband, and intimately blended with the conservatism of society and the influence of the Church. Nor is the apostle's manner of appeal to be overlooked. A great truth may be conveyed to the mind, while nevertheless the mode of its communication, left to haphazard impulse, or, forsooth, in downright contempt of the mind's laws, may work an amount of harm for which the truth itself is no compensation. Rest assured that so discerning a man as St. Paul, whose eye took its seeing from sensibility no less than from reason, would not violate manner when he was discussing the worth of manners. Rest assured, too, that he would seek a very firm basis for the logic of his judgment. That such was the fact, "Judge in yourselves" demonstrates. At the very moment that he distinctly recognizes public opinion as public conscience, and counsels deference to its dicta as divinely authoritative, he yet addresses human intuitions. "There is a spirit in man, and the inspiration of the Almighty giveth them understanding." No other truth save this could have availed Elihu when he came to the perplexed Job and his well meaning but very mistaken friends, and, as a mediator, prepared the way to close the controversy. No other truth than the "spirit in man" and its "inspiration of the Almighty" can qualify any man to mediate where intellectual conflicts interblend with the moral and spiritual instincts. Inspiration in its highest form makes no war on inspiration in its lower form, since the inspiration that gives original truth, and that openness and sympathy which receive it, are both from God. St. Paul preached a gospel that commended itself to every man's conscience in the sight of God, and he acted in the same frame of mind when he treated of decorum and showed wherein manliness and womanliness consisted. Customs and habits vary; he goes back to the sense of custom and habit rermanent in the soul. He is not afraid of human instincts. Although he knows how they miss their way and sadly blunder in working out themselves through the mists and clouds of the intellect, yet trust them he will, nor can he suffer others to disparage their office. This inward consciousness the Holy Spirit acknowledges, and to it he brings light and warmth, in order that the intuitive judgment may be supplied with the conditions of its best activity. It is, indeed, a part of our fallen nature, but, notwithstanding that, it is a Divine remnant, and only awaits God's voice to utter its response. The dark lumps of coal when dug from the earth give no sign of the sunbeams hidden in them, but, on being ignited, they attest their origin. Therefore, argues the apostle, "judge in yourselves," since there is no knowledge of God unaccompanied by a knowledge of ourselves. Only let your judgment be in the Lord; for only in him can man and woman be seen in the perfection of their mutuality. After all, then, may we not say, in view of this argument no less than of all his methods of thinking, that St. Paul is peculiar among the apostles by his insight into the natural economy of the universe, the apostle of nature as well as of grace, because each was a portion of the same vast scheme of Providence? According to his view, the human race was in Christ from the beginning, and Adam's federal headship took its whole meaning from the pre-existence of Christ, as the Creator of man.—L.


Special consideration of the Lord's Supper; uses of self judgment.

And what is St. Paul's mood of mind now? "I declare unto you" (command you), and I praise you not, since I hear of "divisions" among you, and "I partly believe it." "Heresies [sects] must be among you," for in the present state of our nature there is no way to develop the good without the evil manifesting itself. The evil has its uses; the evil is not a cause but an occasion of good; the evil is overruled by the Holy Ghost and turned to the advantage of the Church; the evil does not change its character and become a good, but is instrumentally employed to, subserve other and very different purposes than itself contemplates. Thereby the genuine advocates of truth are made to appear, and truth itself is brought out in a more luminous aspect. The standpoint is that God is not only the Author of the institutions of the Church, but their Divine Guardian. The institutions are not left to themselves, nor are circumstances outside of them surrendered to their own operation, but God himself is in the workmanship of his hands, and presides over all external things, so that his providences are in behalf of a providence which has a supreme object and end. Now, the Lord's Supper is a holy sacrament, and St. Paul approaches the discussion of it in a very marked way. We understand him to claim a direct revelation from the Lord Jesus on this subject, and, by virtue thereof, to "declare," or command, as he states in the seventeenth verse. Truth is truth, whether mediately or immediately received. Yet we do know that there are circumstances under which truth affects us in a manner singularly personal. Only one such scene as that "near Damascus" is reported in the New Testament, and only one such unique individuality as that of St. Paul is recorded for our instruction. So that we are moving in the line of all the precedents of his career when we suppose that this account of the supper was communicated directly by the Lord Jesus to the apostle of the Gentiles. In a previous discussion (1Co_10:1-33.) he had referred to a specific aspect of the supper as a communion or participation. Beyond this the argument then in hand did not require him to go. Now, however, he is full and explicit as to details—the time when it was instituted, the circumstances, the manner of the Lord Jesus, the formula employed; so that nothing might escape observation, but the utmost depth and solemnity of impression be secured. "In remembrance of me" is the heart of the holy ordinance—the "remembrance" of the broken body and the shed blood—the penalty of the violated Law endured, satisfaction offered to the Lawgiver, the sense of justice met in the human heart, the love of God expressing itself as the grace of God, and the means therewith provided for the sense of God's grace to be awakened and developed in the human heart. Memory is the power in man this holy institution addresses. "In remembrance of me." Now, looking at memory in its position among the mental faculties, we may perchance get some light on the words just quoted. Memory is a very early and energetic activity of the mind. It begins our development and is the chief stimulant of progressive development. It is the spinal column of the faculties. Sensation, per caption, imagination, associative and suggestive functions, reasoning and conclusions reached, are all very intimately identified with its operations. Memory is the first of the intellectual powers to attain perfection, as judgment is the last, and this law of rapid maturity would seem to indicate, by its exceptional character, that memory sustains a very near relation to the growth of our moral nature. It is clear that the Lord Jesus adopted the method of storing facts in the minds of the twelve apostles, and leaving them in latency, the truths in these facts being reserved for subsequent realization. And it is equally certain that one of the chief offices of the Holy Ghost, as the Executive of the Father and the Son, was "to bring all things" to their "remembrance." Naturally, indeed, a past was formed in the memories of the twelve, but it was made a spiritual past by the Divine agency of the Spirit as a Remembrancer. Furthermore, the apostles were to be witnesses, or testifiers: "Ye also shall bear witness;" but the importance of the Spirit as a Remembrancer exhibits itself in this, that, out of the miscellaneous mass of facts deposited in the memories of the twelve, selection was to be made, for, according to the fourth Gospel, there were "many other things which Jesus did" that were not "written," while those "written" were such as were adapted to Christian faith. It seems, then, that memory was inspired by the Holy Ghost in accordance with the principle contained in the words, "These are written"—only these—"that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his Name." Aside, however, from the apostles, is there not a principle here which is recognized by the Spirit in all its gracious administrations? Memory is ordinarily the starting point in religious life when that life becomes positive and decided. It enters largely into conviction for sin and into repentance. Further back than recollection extends, impressions of God's goodness and the need of Christ for pardon and peace were made on the soul, and there they lay like old deposits in the strata of the globe, till the Holy Ghost uncovered them to our consciousness, God keeps for us his witness in this faithful register of the past. Without being Platonists on the subject of reminiscence, or accepting all that Wordsworth teaches in the grand 'Ode on Intimations of Immortality from Early Recollections of Childhood,' we may well believe that memory is the master organ through which grace is imparted to men. A simple hymn of Dr. Watts's or Mrs. Barbauld's learned in childhood; the little prayer, "Now I lay me down to sleep;" and most of all, "Our Father which art in heaven," taught by a mother's lips; our first sight of death; our first walk in a graveyard;—come back to us in after years, and suddenly the hard grip of the world on our hearts is relaxed, and the "little child is set in the midst" of life's scenes, and we know that Jesus has set it there for our restoration to its long lost image. No wonder, then, that it should have pleased the Lord Jesus to make the Holy Supper an institution appealing to memory. There, in that upper room, a few hours on earth remaining to him, the past three years with his disciples were gathered in a few most solemn moments. The righteousness of his perfect life of obedience, all he had taught and done and suffered, had come into this final interview, and were going forward into his expiatory death. The motive and blessedness of the act in the celebration of the Eucharist are drawn from "In remembrance of me." Christ in all his fulness, Christ in his one personality as Son of God and Son of man, Christ in the entire compass of mediation, is in this "me." At the same time, the act shows forth the "Lord's death till he come," and accordingly is prospective. As a natural fact, memory is the great feeder of the imagination, and is ever exciting it to picture the future. Except for memory, the imagination could not exist, or, if existing, would be a very imperfect because torpid faculty. As a religious organ, the medium as we have seen of the Spirit, the memory stimulates the imagination and qualifies it to "show the Lord's death till he come." St. Paul mentions first the "remembrance" in connection with the broken body and again with the blood, and then comes the idea of showing, or proclaiming. Of course, the supper had to be a memorial before it could be an anticipation, but the order involves more than chronological sequence. It is an inner order of ideas, and it states, we think, with force and precision the relativity of these ideas. If this analysis be correct, then the determinative idea in the institution is its memorial character (remembrance), and by this idea we are to judge its nature and influence. Yet not alone by this abstractly viewed, since memory is supplemented by imagination and its vivid sense of futurity. From this point of view we understand why St. Paul should protest so strongly against the shocking abuse of the Lord's Supper among the Corinthians. With this feast, instituted and consecrated by Christ himself, its purpose being to bring him back into their midst and to enable them to realize his coming again, the two ideas being closely joined,—with this tender remembrance and expectation they had associated sensual pleasures, eating and drinking to excess, separating themselves into classes, despising the Church of God, and bringing condemnation upon themselves. What of Christ was in all this? Instead of memories of his sacrificial death, instead of their personal recollections of his providence and grace in their behalf, instead of touching and humbling recallings of how he had dealt with each of them, what utter forgetfulness, what a closing up of every avenue of the past opening into the present, and what a concentration in the animal gratifications of the hour! Instead of anticipation and joyous hope, looking to the Lord's coming, what blindness to all but the transient festivities of the carnal senses! On this account (therefore) "many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep." The reference is not to the weakness and sickliness that follow the violations of natural laws, nor is the sleep the falling asleep in Jesus, but a punishment sent from God and executed under the directive agency of providence. Just in proportion as a man realizes Christ in the past will he realize him in the future. Just in the degree that he loses him from the past of his own heart, in that same degree will he vacate the future of his glorious image. The present is all, and it is all of the senses. And when God arises to judgment, as in the case of the Corinthians, what a sudden intensity surcharges the present, the blessedness of the old yesterdays and the awaiting tomorrows all extinguished, and the immediate moments, once so fugitive and so eager to glorify themselves by larger additions, lingering now and lengthening in the keener consciousness of pain and remorseful anguish! "Judge yourselves," O Corinthians! Examine your hearts; return to your memories and expectations; go to the cross of Christ and learn the lesson of its self sac