“But in giving this instruction, I do not praise you, because you come together not for the better but for the worse.” I Corinthians 11:17 NASB
You may recall in Acts 18, Paul spent 18 months in Corinth and planted the church there. He is writing to the church five years later, wondering how it all went wrong.
As we turn our attention to I Corinthians Chapters 11-14, Paul is admonishing the Corinthian Church for the things that are taking place during worship. What a compelling verse we find in 11:17.
“But in giving this instruction, I do not praise you, because you come together not for the better but for the worse.”
Paul is telling the Corinthians their meetings, or gatherings, are doing more harm than good! Wow!
As a church, our purpose for gathering is to worship the Lord and build each other up – sharing in the sacraments as a body, helping each other draw closer to Jesus and seek ways we can intentionally impact the world for Jesus.
But in Corinth things have gone awry.
One area of particular concern was how they were sharing the common meal and partaking of communion. We see good examples of this in Acts 2, but it is distorted here in 1 Corinthians 11.
The agape feast—which Paul had established as a time when believers would share their meals in common and where they would partake of the Lord’s Supper together—had become nothing more than a drunken party.
The Lord’s Supper should have been the remembrance of a preeminently selfless act -namely Christ’s death on behalf of others.
A rite of unity had turned into disunity.
While one brother went hungry because he lacked the means to eat well, another brother drank to excess.
The rich ate well, eating what they brought, the poor went without.
These things had caused divisions and missed the whole purpose of the gathering – to share things in common, love each other, and partake in communion – the Lord’s Supper, in remembrance of the work on the cross.
When we celebrate and partake of the Lord’s Supper, it is a visible sermon that proclaims “the message of the Cross” – the reality of the Lord’s death, the purpose and grace associated with His atoning work, and the certainty of His return.
The overall message of this passage is that divisions within the body can cause more harm than good.
We are to be mindful of others, selfless in our attitudes toward one another and seek to build each other up.
We are to be ever mindful that our big purpose is to help others draw one step closer to Christ.
Partaking in the Lord’s Supper should never be taken for granted and should serve to remind us of the grander purpose and the good news of the Gospel – Jesus Christ and Him crucified!
Until next time… keep reading!
Sources used for this blog – The Bible Knowledge Commentary and Courson’s New Testament Application Commentary.