Every one taketh before - his own supper - They had a grand feast, though the different sects kept in parties by themselves; but all took as ample a supper as they could provide, (each bringing his own provisions with him), before they took what was called the Lord's Supper. See on 1 Corinthians 11:17; (note).
For in eating - When you eat, having professedly come together to observe this ordinance. In order to understand this, it seems necessary to suppose that they had in some way made the Lord‘s supper either connected with a common feast, or that they regarded it as a mere common festival to be observed in a way similar to the festivals among the Greeks. Many have supposed that this was done by making the observance of the supper follow a festival, or what were afterward called “love feasts” ἀγάπαι agapai- “Agapae”). Many have supposed that that custom was derived from the fact that the Saviour instituted the supper after a festival, a feast in which he had been engaged with his disciples, and that thence the early Christians derived the custom of observing such a festival, or common meal, before they celebrated the Lord‘s Supper. But it may be observed, that the passover was not a mere preliminary festival, or feast.
It had no resemblance to the so called love feasts. It was itself a religious ordinance; a direct appointment of God; and was never regarded as designed to be preliminary to the observance of the Lord‘s Supper, but was always understood as designed to be superseded by that. Besides, I know not that there is the slightest evidence, as has been often supposed, that the observance of the Lord‘s Supper was preceded, in the times of the apostles, by such a festival as a love feast. There is no evidence in the passage before us; nor is any adduced from any other part of the New Testament. To my mind it seems altogether improbable that the disorders in Corinth would assume this form - that they would first observe a common feast, and then the Lord‘s Supper in the regular manner. The statement before us leads to the belief that all was irregular and improper; that they had entirely mistaken the nature of the ordinance, and had converted it into an occasion of ordinary festivity, and even intemperance; that they had come to regard it as a feast in honor of the Saviour on some such principles as they observed feasts in honor of idols, and that they observed it in some such manner; and that all that was supposed to make it unlike those festivals was, that it was in honor of Jesus rather than an idol, and was to be observed with some reference to his authority and name.
Everyone taketh before other his own supper - That is, each one is regardless of the needs of the others; instead of making even a meal in common, and when all could partake together, each one ate by himself, and ate that which he had himself brought. They had not only erred, therefore, by misunderstanding altogether the nature of the Lord‘s supper, and by supposing that it was a common festival like those which they had been accustomed to celebrate; but they had also entirely departed from the idea that it was a festival to be partaken of in common, and at a common table. It had become a scene where every man ate by himself; and where the very idea that there was anything like a “common” celebration, or a celebration “together,” was abandoned. There is allusion here, doubtless, to what was a custom among the Greeks, that when a festival was celebrated, or a feast made, it was common for each person to provide, and carry a part of the things necessary for the entertainment. These were usually placed in common, and were partaken of alike by all the company. Thus, Xenophon (Mem. lib. 3:cap. xiv.) says of Socrates, that he was much offended with the Athenians for their conduct at their common suppers, where some prepared for themselves in a delicate and sumptuous manner, while others were poorly provided for. Socrates endeavored, he adds, to shame them out of this indecent custom by offering his provisions to all the company.
And one is hungry - Is deprived of food. It is all monopolized by others.
And another is drunken - The word used here ( μεθύω methuō) means properly to become inebriated, or intoxicated; and there is no reason for understanding it here in any other sense. There can be no doubt that the apostle meant to say, that they ate and drank to excess; and that their professed celebration of the Lord‘s Supper became a mere revel. It may seem remarkable that such scenes should ever have occurred in a Christian church, or that there could have been such an entire perversion of the nature and design of the Lord‘s Supper. But we are to remember the following things:
(1) These persons had recently been pagans, and were grossly ignorant of the nature of true religion when the gospel was first preached among them.
(2) they had been accustomed to such revels in honor of idols under their former modes of worship, and it is the less surprising that they transferred their views to Christianity.
(3) when they had once so far misunderstood the nature of Christianity as to suppose the Lord‘s Supper to be like the feasts which they had formerly celebrated, all the rest followed as a matter of course. The festival would be observed in the same manner as the festivals in honor of idolaters; and similar scenes of gluttony and intemperance would naturally follow.
(4) we are to bear in mind, also, that they do not seem to have been favored with pious, wise, and prudent teachers.
There were false teachers; and there were those who prided themselves on their wisdom, and who were self-confident, and who doubtless endeavored to model the Christian institutions according to their own views; and they thus brought them, as far as they could, to a conformity with pagan customs and idolatrous rites, We may remark here:
(1) We are not to expect perfection at once among a people recently converted from paganism.
(2) we see how prone people are to abuse even the most holy rites of religion, and hence, how corrupt is human nature.
(3) we see that even Christians, recently converted, need constant guidance and superintendence; and that if left to themselves they soon, like others, fall into gross and scandalous offences.