In the Corinthian culture, people enjoyed eating and drinking together, and so the Lord’s Supper appealed to the church in Corinth as a time of getting together for a feast with wine – but it lost its true meaning, and Paul wants to remind them about it. In this we learn what the meaning and principles of Communion are:
1. Brings His presence
It has always been God’s plan to dwell amongst people and have communion together.
There is a history of meals being involved as part of God visiting His people in a powerful way.
God wants to eat with us – like the way we do with other people when we want to spend quality time together.
As we hunger physically, God wants to remind us that He is our true satisfaction. We all crave peace and joy and comfort and look for it everywhere except God, but He is the only one who can fill us and meet those longings.
God gives us these opportunities to draw near to Him and feast on Him. We feed on Christ when we feed on Communion.
The bread and wine don’t literally become the body and blood of Jesus – He very often described Himself in metaphorical terms, and this was one of them. But neither is Communion meant to be merely a “memorial” service, with no sense of wonder or expectation to meet with God.
Our minds are involved in the process – Communion isn’t magic.
The bread and wine tell our story – like how the Israelites celebrated Passover – of how God has redeemed us and rescued us from our slavery to sin and death. We reflect on the rescue mission He has accomplished for each of us, and we celebrate who we now are – the chosen, redeemed children of God.
2. Demands our purity
We examine and purify our hearts in preparation, coming to God humbly on His terms.
We do it with the right motives and a soft heart, not hard-hearted or stubborn towards God but open for Him to search us.
‘some have died’ – God often does things drastic to wake us up from our wanderings, to get our attention because He loves us and cares about us too much to let us go on in our own foolish ways.
We need to be open to what God is doing in our lives.
If you are in sin, do business with God in your heart – repent and receive His forgiveness and grace.
Paul is addressing corporate sin – i.e. divisions within the church. There is to be unity – there should be no social divisions; we are all one in Christ.
Communion brings us together – we should celebrate and enjoy it, and just be together, and pray for one another.
3. Proclaims the future
We proclaim the the Lord Jesus’ coming as we take Communion – we take it until He comes back.
The bread and wine are tangible things to help us remember the past and the future of what Christ has done and what He will do.
Communion is a shadow of the great feast to come in heaven.
This is a difficult passage and is controversial in our day and age, but we need to humbly submit ourselves to it and listen to what it is saying to us, rather than force our own interpretation on it.
1. What is instructed here?
Because of the freedom that has been bought for us through Christ, we can sometimes “over do” it and take our liberties too far, throwing off every rule and principle. One of the things we can do is blur gender
Jesus promoted a new freedom, a new way of equality between the sexes – and this is what Paul is also promoting
When this letter was written, it seemed as though women in the Corinthian church were not following the normal protocol/dress code of the day – it could be that they were not wearing their headcoverings, which distinguished them from the men, or that they were wearing their hair like immoral women would
The principle here is that men should be men and women should be women – and it should be visibly seen that way
2. Why is it instructed?
Paul wants there to be an understanding of the beautiful and honourable principles of authority and submission, and distinction within gender
The key phrase here is ‘the head of Christ is God’ – it all comes back to and originates within the Trinity – 1 God, 3 persons, where there is order, headship and submission
Equality of essence does not diminish distinction of roles
Authority does not mean a higher importance, higher value or more envied position
Jesus is glad to submit to the Father
The woman is the glory of man – woman was made from and for man. She was made in the image of God as man’s equal, but with a different role
Paul wants the church to shine with complementarianism and equality
The word “helper” used to describe the role of the woman is not a derogatory word; the exact same word is used to describe God the Holy Spirit. God does not mind being called a helper! It is an honourable thing
3. How is this fair?
Paul stresses that both sexes are equal before God
The key phrase is in v.11 – ‘in the Lord’ – this all works in the Lord
In God all of this works in joy and harmony – and it was the same with Adam and Eve in the garden
What ruined everything was sin – it brought on gender wars, oppression of women, etc. Women desire to control men and men oppress and rule over women
It’s not that there is a problem with headship and submission are wrong – is that there is a problem with us
Men are supposed to lead and use their power with humility – like Christ, who did not boss people around or lord his authority over people; He serves and He loves
Jesus used his power and authority wisely – husbands are to do the same
Jesus is also the model for wives in that He submits to the Father with gladness, honour and joy, trusting the Father
4. What now?
‘Judge for yourselves’ – it is obvious to us what makes our gender distinctives in our culture
We need to know that God cares about gender, even if our culture doesn’t
Women are only called to submit to their husbands, and men only have authority over their wives – but we can have echoes within the church of men taking responsibility and serving as a way of leading, and women can come alongside and be of great help
Look to Jesus – as the role model and as the strength to be able to carry out our roles