Articles and Notes

1 Corinthians 11

Chapter Eleven


1) To ascertain if Paul's instructions concerning the veil were meant
   to be applied today, or if he was simply admonishing them to abide
   by what was a social custom of their day

2) To notice the purpose of the Lord's Supper and the manner in which
   it is to be observed


Having spent three chapters discussing the issue of eating things
sacrificed to idols, Paul now quickly covers two separate matters in
this one chapter.  The first pertains to women praying and prophesying
with heads uncovered (2-16).  In view of what we are able to glean
about the society of Corinth, and from comments made by Paul in this
chapter and elsewhere, I believe that the problem Paul addresses is one
that was occurring out in public and not in the assembly.  Beginning in 
verse 17 and continuing through chapter 14, Paul covers issues 
affecting their assemblies as a church, the first being the manner in 
which they abused the observance of the Lord's Supper (17-34).



      1. Commendation for having kept the apostolic traditions
         delivered to them (2)
      2. A reminder concerning the proper line of authority (3)
      3. Concerning praying and prophesying (4-5a)
         a. Every man who does so with head covered dishonors his head
         b. Every woman who does so with head uncovered dishonors her
            head (man)

      1. A woman praying or prophesying uncovered would make her appear
         as one shorn or shaved (5a)
         a. If a woman is not covered, let her be shorn (6a)
         b. If to be shorn or shaved is shameful, let her be covered
      2. It is proper for a man not to cover his head (7-9)
         a. Man is the image and glory of God, while woman is the glory
            of man (7)
         b. Man did not come from woman, nor was created for woman (8-9)
      3. It is appropriate for a woman to have a symbol of authority on
         her head, because of angels (10)
      4. This is not to say that man is independent of woman (11-12)
         a. Especially in the Lord (11)
         b. For as the woman is from the man, so the man is through the
            woman (12a)
         c. And all things are from God (12b)
      5. Judge this matter for yourselves (13-15)
         a. Is it proper for a woman to pray to God with uncovered 
            head? (13)
         b. Does not even nature teach you? (14-15)
            1) That long hair on a man is a dishonor to him? (14)
            2) That long hair on a woman is a glory to her, and 
               provides a covering? (15)
      6. But if anyone is contentious about this matter... (16)
         a. We have no such custom (i.e., this is not an "apostolic
         b. Nor do the churches of God


      1. He cannot praise them for their conduct in their assemblies
         a. Their coming together is not for the better, but for the
            worse (17)
         b. He has heard of their divisions, of which the only good
            thing that could be said is that it does show who is really
            approved among them (18-19)
      2. Especially in regards to the Lord's Supper (20-22)
         a. Their divisiveness made it impossible to eat properly, and
            led to severe abuses (20-21)
         b. They despised the church and shamed the poor, for which 
            Paul could not praise them (22)

      1. The institution as received by Paul directly from the Lord
      2. Properly observed, it is a proclamation of the Lord's death
      3. Properly observed, it is accompanied by self-examination
         a. Which enables us to observe it without bringing judgment to
            ourselves (27-29)
         b. Otherwise, we will be judged and chastened by the Lord,
            that we might not be condemned with the world (30-32)
      4. Concluding instructions (33-34)
         a. When you come together to eat the Supper, wait for one
            another (33)
         b. If you are hungry, eat at home (34a)
         c. Paul will have more to say when he comes to Corinth (34b)


1) List the main points of this chapter
   - Women Praying And Prophesying With Head Uncovered (2-16)
   - Concerning The Lord's Supper (17-34)

2) For what does Paul commend the church in Corinth? (2)
   - Remembering him and keeping the traditions as he delivered to them

3) What is the proper order of authority? (3)
   - God, Christ, Man, Woman

4) What evidence is there that Paul is discussing praying and
   prophesying out in public, and not in the assembly?
   - His commendation in verse 2 (they were keeping the apostolic
     traditions delivered to them)
   - His question in verse 13 (they would have answered "yes" if they
     were being asked concerning women in a religious assembly in
     Corinth; see The Expositors' Greek Testament)
   - His remarks in verses 17-18 (he at this point begins to address
     abuses in their assemblies)
   - His commandments in 14:34-37 (concerning women in the assembly)

5) What evidence is there that Paul is encouraging them to act in
   harmony with the customs of their day?
   - His comments in verses 5-6 (arguing on the basis of "IF it is
   - His appeal to propriety in verse 13 ("is it proper...?")
   - His conclusion in verse 16 (this is not an "apostolic" or "church"

6) How did Paul feel about eating common meals in the assemblies?
   (22, 34)
   - He did not approve, and strongly condemned those who did

7) What is the purpose of the Lord's Supper? (24-26)
   - A memorial in which we proclaim the Lord's death

8) How should one observe the Lord's Supper? (27-29)
   - In a worthy manner
   - With self-examination
   - Discerning the Lord's body

9) How can we avoid the judgement of God? (31)
   - By judging ourselves

10) What is God's purpose in judging His children? (32)
   - To chasten, that we not be condemned with the world

11) What appears to be an important element in observing the Lord's
    Supper? (33; Acts 20:7)
   - That it be done "together"

1 Corinthians 11

[1Co 11:1-34 NASB] 1 Be imitators of me, just as I also am of Christ.

Head coverings

2 Now I praise you because you remember me in everything and hold firmly to the traditions, just as I delivered them to you. 3 But I want you to understand that Christ is the head of every man, and the man is the head of a woman, and God is the head of Christ. 4 Every man who has [something] on his head while praying or prophesying disgraces his head. 5 But every woman who has her head uncovered while praying or prophesying disgraces her head, for she is one and the same as the woman whose head is shaved. 6 For if a woman does not cover her head, let her also have her hair cut off; but if it is disgraceful for a woman to have her hair cut off or her head shaved, let her cover her head. 7 For a man ought not to have his head covered, since he is the image and glory of God; but the woman is the glory of man. 8 For man does not originate from woman, but woman from man; 9 for indeed man was not created for the woman's sake, but woman for the man's sake. 10 Therefore the woman ought to have [a symbol of] authority on her head, because of the angels. 11 However, in the Lord, neither is woman independent of man, nor is man independent of woman. 12 For as the woman originates from the man, so also the man [has his birth] through the woman; and all things originate from God. 13 Judge for yourselves: is it proper for a woman to pray to God [with her head] uncovered? 14 Does not even nature itself teach you that if a man has long hair, it is a dishonor to him, 15 but if a woman has long hair, it is a glory to her? For her hair is given to her for a covering. 16 But if one is inclined to be contentious, we have no other practice, nor have the churches of God.

Conduct at the Lord's supper

17 But in giving this instruction, I do not praise you, because you come together not for the better but for the worse. 18 For, in the first place, when you come together as a church, I hear that divisions exist among you; and in part I believe it. 19 For there must also be factions among you, so that those who are approved may become evident among you. 20 Therefore when you meet together, it is not to eat the Lord's Supper, 21 for in your eating each one takes his own supper first; and one is hungry and another is drunk. 22 What! Do you not have houses in which to eat and drink? Or do you despise the church of God and shame those who have nothing? What shall I say to you? Shall I praise you? In this I will not praise you.

Institution of the Lord's supper

23 For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus in the night in which He was betrayed took bread; 24 and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, "This is My body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of Me." 25 In the same way [He took] the cup also after supper, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in My blood; do this, as often as you drink [it,] in remembrance of Me." 26 For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until He comes.

Examine yourself

27 Therefore whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner, shall be guilty of the body and the blood of the Lord. 28 But a man must examine himself, and in so doing he is to eat of the bread and drink of the cup. 29 For he who eats and drinks, eats and drinks judgment to himself if he does not judge the body rightly. 30 For this reason many among you are weak and sick, and a number sleep. 31 But if we judged ourselves rightly, we would not be judged. 32 But when we are judged, we are disciplined by the Lord so that we will not be condemned along with the world. 33 So then, my brethren, when you come together to eat, wait for one another. 34 If anyone is hungry, let him eat at home, so that you will not come together for judgment. The remaining matters I will arrange when I come.


Concerning Women, and the Lord's Supper

A. Instruction concerning women in the worship service

1. (2-6) The instruction is given
a. The foundational reason for all the instruction is in verse 3: God has established a hierarchy, an order of authority and accountability

b. Women have two options in their attitude towards their head (authority): rebelliousness that must be won over (as men show towards Christ) or loving submission to an equal (as Christ shows towards the Father)

c. Some consider head to mean nothing more than "source"; but even if that is so, especially in that culture, a "source" had inherent authority; and can we really say that the Father is the "source" of Jesus?

d. What God is looking for from man in His great plan: voluntary submission; this is what Christ expressed, and this is what God looks for from both men and women, but in different ways

i. Being under authority doesn't equal inferiority (as in Christ and the Father); only carnal, worldly views of authority equate submission and inferiority
e. Because of this order of authority, it is inappropriate for men to pray under a covering, and inappropriate for women to pray without a covering

f. The veil was a symbol of being under authority and protection in that day

i. "The use of the word 'veil,' . . . is an unfortunate one since it tends to call to mind the full veil of contemporary Muslim cultures, which covers everything but they eyes. This is unknown in antiquity, at least from the evidence of paintings and sculpture." (Fee)
g. The outworking of it all is plain: men were to demonstrate that they were in authority (subordinate to Christ), women were to demonstrate that they were under authority
i. Note that women are free to pray or prophesy, but only when as they demonstrate that they are under authority

ii. It is a sign of respect for a man to remove his hat; if a man were to preach with a hat on, many people would take that as an act of disrespect. Paul cautions against showing the same kind of disrespect

iii. Like the man who had the "right" to keep his hat on before the royalty of England; and the man who never got any attention in church until he left his hat on during service

h. If a woman refuses to demonstrate being under authority, she may as well be shorn of her hair - which was the punishment of an adulteress
i. Having a woman's head shorn or shaved meant different things in different cultures; in Jewish law, it was the mark of adultery (Numbers 5:11-31); in the Greek world, it could be the mark of a prostitute or lesbian

i. In Corinth, there were probably certain "spiritual" women, arguing that the new age has already come, and they need not demonstrate with a hairstyle or head covering that they are under anyone's authority

i. So, Paul says, if you will forsake the veil, go all the way--and identify yourself fully with the world!

2. (7-10) Reasons for the instructions
a. The foundational reason is back in verse three: God has established an order of authority
i. This order applies equally to the home and the church - God couldn't have a differing standard between them

ii. This principles stands, quite apart from our opinion of it or obedience to it

b. Another reason is the order of creation: God created Adam first, and gave Him responsibility over Eve

c. A third reason is the presence of angels in corporate worship

i. Angels are present at any assembly of Christian for worship and note any departure from reverent order; and apparently, angels are offended by any violation of propriety

ii. Our struggle is bigger than ourselves; God has eternal things to teach the universe through us (Ephesians 3:10-11; 1 Corinthians 4:9; 1 Peter 1:12)

d. Notice that none of these reasons are culture-dependent, they are eternal - but the out-working of the principles may differ according to culture
3. (11-12) Paul strikes a balance: men and women need each other in the church
a. "Even after he has stressed the subordination of women, Paul goes on to stress even more directly the essential partnership of man and woman. Neither can live without the other. If there is subordination, it is in order that the partnership may be more fruitful and lovely for both." (Barclay)

b. "A man who can only rule by stamping his foot had better remain single. But a man who knows how to govern his house by the love of the Lord, through sacrificial submission to the Lord, is the man who is going to make a perfect husband. The woman who cannot submit to an authority like that had better remain single." (Redpath)

i. G. Campbell Morgan recalls the story of the older woman who had never married, explaining "I never met a man who could master me." She really had the right idea.
4. (13-16) Two appeals
a. Paul appeals to nature and common sense, because in Jewish and Greek culture, short hair was common for men
i. From time immemorial, women have generally worn their hair longer than men - Paul thinks of it as "nature's veil"

ii. If nature has given women long hair as a covering, that in itself points to their need to be covered (according to Corinthian custom) when praying and prophesying

b. Is long hair a sin for a man?
i. What is "long"? Where is the heart?

ii. Long hair in itself can be no sin; after all, Paul apparently had long hair for a time in Corinth as a part of a vow (Acts 18:18)

iii. But, the vow would not have meant anything if long hair was the norm; that's what Paul is getting at!

iv. It's better for most preachers to be concerned about the length of their sermons instead of the length of people's hair!

c. Paul appeals to apostolic authority, so don't be contentious - the churches have adopted their custom according to God's truth

B. Instruction concerning observance of the Lord's Supper

1. (17-19) Introduction to the problem
a. It was to their credit that they gathered together (neglected by too many Christians today); sadly, it was not for the better, but for worse

b. Why must there be factions? So that, over time, those who really belong to God would be made evident

2. (20-22) Their bad conduct at the common meal
a. The early church combined the love-feast and the Lord's Supper; their selfish conduct at the former disgraced the observance of the latter
i. The first suggestion of the agape combined with the eucharist: Jesus with the disciples on the Emmaus Road
b. We are accustomed to communion being celebrated in an atmosphere of dignity; but remember that the Corinthians were coming from a context of riotous meals given in honor of a pagan god

c. In that day, at common meals, it was expected that the "upper class" would receive better and more food than the "lower class"; this was being carried over into the church

i. Remember that society of that day was extremely class conscious; it was respect of these class divisions which so grieved Paul
d. Do we do things that shame those who have less than we do? Love is very sensitive!
3. (23-26) Paul outlines the true Lord's Supper
a. Paul didn't just make this up; it was either revealed to him personally or through the other apostles

b. Remember that Jesus was not only executed by a foreign power; He was betrayed by His own

c. The phrase given thanks gives us the word eucharist

d. The focus remembering Jesus; the invitation is to a meal of fellowship, which commemorates His death and the creation of a New Covenant

i. Notice that Paul speaks of taking the bread, not the body; it has not been transubstantiated into the flesh of Christ

ii. The elements are best seen as symbols, but not empty symbols--they are the harbingers of the very presence of God

iii. A statue of Hercules is an empty symbol; but the Holy Spirit's coming as a dove is not

e. The look is both backward and forward to the returning Christ, and our ultimate meal with Him

f. Proclaim is better as preach; when we take communion, we are preaching a sermon--to God Himself, to the Devil and all his allies, and to the world who watches

i. "As you break bread and bow your heart before Him, what sort of sermon are you preaching? Often we have broken bread together around the Lord's table, and then we have gone out to do just what those disciples did--we have denied Him." (Redpath)
4. (27-34) Practical instructions
a. Treat the Lord's Supper with reverence, and do it in a spirit of self-examination; but not with the thought of excluding ourselves from the table, but of preparing us for partaking
i. And don't try to make yourself "worthy"; as you take the bread and cup, don't stare at the floor or struggle to achieve some sort of spiritual feeling. Simply open your heart to Christ and recognize His presence with you--in you!
b. Irreverent treatment of the Lord's table invites God's corrective discipline--so discipline yourself first!
i. Paul is not speaking of eternal judgment, but corrective judgment; he does not include the article before judgment, so it is not the judgment

ii. But this chastening is not a judge condemning a criminal; it is a father dealing with disobedient children

i. But even this judgment is not to damnation, but towards our salvation

d. And, remember to display love and good manners at the love-feast! 

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