1 Corinthians 11 – [Part 1] – “Grown Up Sins”

The following post is in response to comments on THIS entry.

I guess I better get something underway in terms of answering your question.

I think I should probably begin with 1 Cor 11 (Or 1 Cor 10-12).

In the pericope of our concern, 1 Corinthians 10-12, I think there are two big themes:

1] the UNITY of the baptized and communing body, and

2] the HOLINESS of the baptized and communing body.

These are themes for the larger letter of 1 Corinthians as a whole, and we can feel it strongly when we get to the end of 1 Cor 11 where disunity is a means of unholiness – and it is judged harshly.

My Goal
1 Cor 11 is NOT telling all to check if they are Christians, or if they understand doctrine.  It is telling the people to make sure they are not use the meal of unity to dishonor his brother with hypocritcal disunity.  We should examine this all the time, so that we can eat in peace.  But it is not a “moment of the meal” examination which excludes the young and the mentally handicapped.  This can be demonstrated contextually.

My goal is to show that Paul does not put restrictions on meal participation based on age or ability.  In fact, he doesn’t tell anyone NOT to eat; rather he tells us not to mock God with blasphemous, gross, or publicly hypocritical sins — grown up sins.

Paul’s goal is to prevent sin.  So he is saying: “Repent! Then eat as clean people…”  Not, “If you are a sinner, you should sit it out to be safe.”

Flat out, Paul has been saying that gross, public immorality, idolatry and hypocritically using the fellowship meal to exclude the poor are dangerous ways to live.  In fact, since you are GOING to eat, you will be judged for certain behaviors.

Please note: I am not talking about “getting saved or staying saved by works;” instead, I am talking about, “fearing God’s discipline enough to change.”

Presumably, it is Christians who need to worry about Paul’s threat in the passage; it is MEMBERS who need worry.  Of course, yes we all sin.  But there are things with which God is not patient, especially when the church defiles his name among the gentiles.  The idea of defiling the name of God among the Gentiles (See Ezek 36.22-32) is common in Paul (Rom 2.24), and is especially chilling in 1 Corinthians (see 5.1-5).

There we actually see the idea of immorality making the meal defiled, and the church BARRING the meal from the publicly known immoral ones.

1It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that is not tolerated even among pagans, for a man has his father’s wife. 2And you are arrogant! Ought you not rather to mourn? Let him who has done this be removed from among you.

3For though absent in body, I am present in spirit; and as if present, I have already pronounced judgment on the one who did such a thing. 4When you are assembled in the name of the Lord Jesus and my spirit is present, with the power of our Lord Jesus, 5you are to deliver this man to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord.

6 Your boasting is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? 7Cleanse out the old leaven that you may be a new lump, as you really are unleavened. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. 8Let us therefore celebrate the festival, not with the old leaven, the leaven of malice and evil, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.

9I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people— 10 not at all meaning the sexually immoral of this world, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world. 11But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler—not even to eat with such a one. 12For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? 13God judges those outside. “Purge the evil person from among you.”

This dynamic continues in the epistle.  In 1 Cor 10, we look to OT saints who were baptized, communing and united, but whose gross immorality, idolatry and mocking of God received God’s judgment.

“Now these things took place as examples for us, that we might not desire evil as they did.”  (1 Cor 10.6)

1 Cor 11 says that we defile our eating by mocking the poor, and so mocking members of the Messiah’s very body.  We use the occasion of the Lord’s meal to bring our own fancy sack lunches and eat and get drunk in front of the poor who end up with nothing (1 Cor 11.20-22).  A meal of unity for disunity, of fellowship for division, of koinwnia which is used to proclaim my wealth and status over another’s poverty.

THAT is what must be “examined” for (v 28).  I am to make sure I am NOT DOING THAT.  If I do I am not “recognizing the body” (v 29) in the meal.  I think these verses can faithfully be read this way:

28Let a person examine himself, then, and [THEN repentantly or cleanly] EAT of the bread and drink of the cup. 29For anyone who eats and drinks without rightly recognizing the makeup of the body [including the poor] eats and drinks judgment on himself.

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