1 Corinthians 11

This devotional is written by Sally Watson.

1 Corinthians 11

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11 Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.

On covering the head in worship
2 I praise you for remembering me in everything and for holding to the traditions just as I passed them on to you. 3 But I want you to realise that the head of every man is Christ, and the head of the woman is man, and the head of Christ is God. 4 Every man who prays or prophesies with his head covered dishonours his head. 5 But every woman who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonours her head - it is the same as having her head shaved. 6 For if a woman does not cover her head, she might as well have her hair cut off; but if it is a disgrace for a woman to have her hair cut off or her head shaved, then she should cover her head.

7 A man ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God; but woman is the glory of man. 8 For man did not come from woman, but woman from man; 9 neither was man created for woman, but woman for man. 10 It is for this reason that a woman ought to have authority over her own[c] head, because of the angels. 11 Nevertheless, in the Lord woman is not independent of man, nor is man independent of woman. 12 For as woman came from man, so also man is born of woman. But everything comes from God.

13 Judge for yourselves: is it proper for a woman to pray to God with her head uncovered? 14 Does not the very nature of things teach you that if a man has long hair, it is a disgrace to him, 15 but that if a woman has long hair, it is her glory? For long hair is given to her as a covering. 16 If anyone wants to be contentious about this, we have no other practice - nor do the churches of God.

Correcting an abuse of the Lord's Supper
17 In the following directives I have no praise for you, for your meetings do more harm than good. 18 In the first place, I hear that when you come together as a church, there are divisions among you, and to some extent I believe it. 19 No doubt there have to be differences among you to show which of you have God's approval. 20 So then, when you come together, it is not the Lord's Supper you eat, 21 for when you are eating, some of you go ahead with your own private suppers. As a result, one person remains hungry and another gets drunk. 22 Don't you have homes to eat and drink in? Or do you despise the church of God by humiliating those who have nothing? What shall I say to you? Shall I praise you? Certainly not in this matter!

23 For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: the Lord Jesus, on the night 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, after supper he took the cup, saying, 'This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.' 26 For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes.

27 So then, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord. 28 Everyone ought to examine themselves before they eat of the bread and drink from the cup. 29 For those who eat and drink without discerning the body of Christ eat and drink judgment on themselves. 30 That is why many among you are weak and ill, and a number of you have fallen asleep. 31 But if we were more discerning with regard to ourselves, we would not come under such judgment. 32 Nevertheless, when we are judged in this way by the Lord, we are being disciplined so that we will not be finally condemned with the world.

33 So then, my brothers and sisters, when you gather to eat, you should all eat together. 34 Anyone who is hungry should eat something at home, so that when you meet together it may not result in judgment.

And when I come I will give further instructions.


Listen to the reflection on Sound Cloud
This is a dense chapter written by an, at times, exasperated sounding Paul to the church in Corinth. Context is king in tackling this chapter. Corinth was a multicultural and multi-faith society; some believers would have been converts from the worship of pagan gods and goddesses and some would have been Jews who had a new found freedom from the Mosaic Law. The challenge to the early church was the sometimes tricky balance of freedom in Christ and the restriction of behaviours so as not to be a hindrance to others receiving and growing in the faith.

All manner of warped and legalistic restrictions, particularly on women, have been drawn out of this chapter by those not living in first century Corinth! But Paul is expecting women to be involved in worship and prophecy and stresses the interdependence of men and women and our mutual dependence on God (v.11-12).

Paul was all about evangelism and the spread of the Kingdom. This is one of the major points of his letter to the Corinthians - in chapter 9 he talks about his rights as an apostle and how, rather than demanding those rights, he puts up with anything so as not to hinder the gospel (v12). In chapter 10 he tells believers to restrict their freedom regarding what food they can eat for the good of others. And now in chapter 11 it's the same theme, exercising rights in a godly way so as not to cause dishonour and become a stumbling block for the gospel.

This chapter reminds me again that what we do and how we do it matter in the advance of the gospel. In verse 1, Paul says "Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ'. As we pray, let's ask God for his help in following him today.

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