The significance of Head Covering: 11:1-6.
(Read 1 Cor 11:1-6)
Jesus Christ is the ultimate example of Christian liberty. Paul followed Christ’s example in his ministry. So, Paul encourages Corinthians to imitate him as he is imitating Christ (1 Cor 11:1). The Christian life is not controlled by legalism but by Christ. In Chapter 11, Paul addresses several problems related to worship. First he explains the principle of headship. In the Corinthian church women were dishonoring their husband by praying and prophesying without wearing head coverings (1 Cor 11:5). Paul compliments the church before correcting them. The head covering in the public worship was a symbolism of submission to God ordained authority (1 Cor 11:4-7). Women who rejects this symbolism are openly disgracing themselves and dishonoring their husbands (1 Cor 11:3-5). Paul attempts to correct this problem by pointing to the relationship between Christ and the Father. Christ gladly honors the Father and accepts his authoritative role in the redemptive work of mankind (1 Cor 11:3). In the same way, the marriage relationship reflects authoritative role between man and woman (1 Cor 11:3-6; Ephesians 5:22-24). The head of every man is Christ, the head of the woman is the man and the head of Christ is God (1 Cor 11:3). The headship does not speak of quality but of order. The Father and the Son are co-equal, yet the Son is obedient to the Father (John 6:38-40; 10:29-30). In Christ men and women are equal when it comes to salvation but they have different role in the church and family. This order we see in creation, government, family and the church. Christ is the head of the church (Col 1:18). Therefore man and woman should be submissive to Christ. Paul says “It is shameful for a woman not to cover her head in the church” (1 Cor 11:6). The wife should respect her husband's authority over her as the Son honors the Father. When we embrace the clear instruction given on manhood and womanhood, God will be honored in our churches.
Is the Head covering Scriptural? 11:7-16.
(Read 1 Cor 11:7-16)
Having established the principle of headship, Paul validates it from the scripture and from Nature (1 Cor 11:7-16). Man was created in the image of God to reflect God's glory (Gen 1:26-27). The order of creation shows that woman was made for man. She is the glory of man. Man should not cover his head, since he is the image of the glory of God. So, in the church man should not cover his head since he is the image bearer of God’s glory (1 Cor 11:7). The women should cover their heads as a sign of authority on her head because the angels are watching (1 Cor 11:10). The principle of submission is supported by the order of creation (1 Cor 11:12). The principle of mutual dependency is supported by the order of procreation (Gen 4:1). By nature women have long hair and it is a glory to her. It has given to her as a covering by nature. When she covers her head, she reflects her voluntary submission to the Lord who created her and established the order of authority. To go against this principle is to go against the standard that is ordained by God. It is important that our conduct in worship should reflect the character of divine order. Pray that God may help us to embrace these principles so that he will be honored in our gatherings.
The Conduct at the Lord’s Supper: 11:17-22.
(Read 1 Cor 11:17-22)
While observing the Lord’s Supper, the poor were neglected and humiliated during the Lord's Supper (1 Cor 11:22). In the early church the Lord's Supper was preceded by fellowship meal. It was a sign of communion among believers. Neglecting the poor believers in the meal was a sin. This reveals the carnality and division among them. There was party spirit between the rich and the poor. Paul says "There must be division among believers in order that those who are right among them may be recognized". It is better to separate than continue in disagreement. Abraham separated from Lot. Because of sharp disagreement, Paul and Barnabas separated from each other (Acts 15:39). Paul will not allow carnality to continue in the church. There was disorderly conduct during the Lord’s Supper. The love feast became a feast without love. Thus, they disgraced the Lord’s name in the church (1 Cor 11:20-22). Paul did not want this carnality to continue in the church. He says “Don’t you have your own homes for eating and drinking? (1 Cor 11:21). Sometime division occurs in the church because of misunderstandings but the God of grace can overrule it for his glory.
The Institution of the Lord’s Supper: 11:23-26.
(Read 1 Cor 11:23-26)
Paul gives instruction about how Lord's Supper should be observed. Paul traces his authority to the Lord himself and takes us back to the upper room where it was first instituted (1 Cor 11:23; Matt 26:26-28). He wants us to think about Calvary and what Jesus said about its significance. In the Lord’s Supper, believers remember Jesus who secured their forgiveness by his death on the cross. He shed his precious blood for the remission of our sins. Christ is memorialized at the Table as the Lamb of God. There are many misunderstandings about the Lord’s Supper among Christians. Some believe in transubstantiation. The Roman Catholic doctrines teaches that the bread and wine become the body and blood of Christ when consecrated by the priest. during mass. Others teach consubstantiation and believe that the bread and wine convey special grace by Christ presence in them. On the night when Jesus was brayed, he took the bread and gave thanks. He broke it and said “This is my body which is broken for you. Do this in remembrance of Me” (1 Cor 11:24). In the same way he took the cup, after the supper saying “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. As often as you drink it, do this in remembrance of me. For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes” (1 Cor 11:24-26). This is a memorial service. They do not literally become the body and blood of Jesus Christ as some think. Figuratively they speak of the incarnated body and blood of Jesus. They do not convey any special grace as some think. It is a picture of the eternal redemption Christ brought for us on the cross (Heb 9:12-15; Matt 26:28). Like the Passover celebration of Israel, Christians ought to celebrate Lord’s Supper, remembering the great redemption Christ bought for them (Ephesians 1:7; 1 Pet 1:18-19). In the early church the Lord’s Supper was celebrated on the first day of the week (Acts 20:7).
Do it in Remembrance of Christ: 11:27-34.
(Read 1 Cor 11:27-34)
In the Lord’s Supper, we remember Christ’s great love for us (Rom 5:8). There is no love like the love of our dying Savior (Gal 2:20). Also we proclaim that only through His sustaining power and grace we are able to live for God. We look backward and recall our Lord’s accomplishment for us on the cross. We also look inward and examine whether we live a life that pleases God. Also we anticipate Christ’s glorious return. Those who irreverently and carelessly observe the Lord’s Supper will be judged. Our identity with Christ made us worthy to partake from the Lord’s Supper. Paul warns that we should not partake from it in an unworthy manner. This is defined in verse 29. Unworthiness speaks of our dishonoring conduct at the Lord’s Table. Such people are guilty of despising the body and blood of our Lord (1 Cor 11:27; Heb 9:26). Before one partakes of the Lord’s Supper, he must make sure that he is saved and walking with Lord. Repentance and confession of sin are essential prerequisite for fellowship with God (1 John 1:9). Partaking of Lord’s Supper with wrong attitude invites judgment upon us. Because of that some become physically weak and sick (1 Cor 11:30). Some have died. If we judge ourselves, we will not be disciplined by God. (1 Cor 11:32). God disciplines His own children (Heb 12:6). The purpose of discipline is not to condemn but to restore us.
Is your Worship Acceptable to God?
The worship is universal. There are acceptable worships and unacceptable worships. God was not pleased with the worship of Cain (Gen 4:5). By Faith Abel offered to God a more acceptable sacrifice than Cain (Heb 11:4). We worship God not because there is something deficient in the all sufficient God but He deserves our worship. God does seek our Worship. It is the out flow of our heart (John 4:23). There are many vain worshipers (Mat 15:9). They worship God with their lips while their heart is far from Him. Some are ignorant worshipers (Acts 17:23). They worship whom they do not know. Religious worshipers promote human wisdom and traditions in their worship (Col 2:21-23). Some worship God by not giving him the honor and respect He deserves (Malachi 1:6-7). Worship is costly (2 Sam 24:24). God is looking for true worshipers (John 4:24). They worship God in spirit and truth. The worship in spirit happens when hearts are directed by the Holy Spirit. To worship God in truth means to worship sincerely with personal knowledge and understanding of God. We worship God by presenting and consecrating ourselves to God (Rom 12:1). Also we worship by offering the sacrifice of praise which is the fruit of our lips (Heb 13:15). Doing good and helping others in their needs is an act of worship (Heb 13:16). Our giving to Lord's work is a fragrant and acceptable worship to God (Phil 4:18). Someone has said “Even our death could become an act of worship" (Luke 23:46; Acts 7:59; 2 Tim 4:6). Paul concludes the discussion with a practical exhortation. "If you are really hungry, eat at home. But when you come to Lord’s Supper, wait for each other" (1 Cor 11:33). When we remember Christ through the Lord's Supper, we remember his great act of love and proclaim that we need his strength until he returns. Paul assures Corinthians that he will deal with other matters when he visits them (1 Cor 11:34).