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1 Corinthians 11:30

King James Version (KJV)
Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

For this cause - That they partook of this sacred ordinance without discerning the Lord's body; many are weak and sickly: it is hard to say whether these words refer to the consequences of their own intemperance or to some extraordinary disorders inflicted immediately by God himself. That there were disorders of the most reprehensible kind among these people at this sacred supper, the preceding verses sufficiently point out; and after such excesses, many might be weak and sickly among them, and many might sleep, i.e. die; for continual experience shows us that many fall victims to their own intemperance. How ever, acting as they did in this solemn and awful sacrament, they might have "provoked God to plague them with divers diseases and sundry kinds of death." Communion service.

Albert Barnes
Notes on the Whole Bible

For this cause - On account of the improper manner of celebrating the Lord‘s Supper; see 1 Corinthians 11:21.

Many are weak - ( ἀσθενεῖς astheneis). Evidently referring to prevailing bodily sickness and disease. This is the natural and obvious interpretation of this passage. The sense clearly is, that God had sent among them bodily distempers as an expression of the divine displeasure and judgment for their improper mode of celebrating the Lord‘s Supper. That it was not uncommon in those times for God in an extraordinary manner to punish people with calamity, sickness, or death for their sins is evident from the New Testament; see the 1 Corinthians 5:5 note; Acts 5:1-10; Acts 13:11 notes; 1 Timothy 1:20 note; and perhaps 1 John 5:16 note; and James 5:14-15 notes. It may possibly have been the case that the intemperance and gluttony which prevailed on these occasions was the direct cause of no small part of the bodily disease which prevailed, and which in some cases terminated in death.

And many sleep - Have died. The death of Christians in the Scriptures is commonly represented under the image of “sleep;” Dan, 1 Corinthians 12:2; John 11:11-12; 1 Corinthians 15:51; 1 Thessalonians 4:14; 1 Thessalonians 5:10. Perhaps it may be implied by the use of this mild term here, instead of the harsher word “death,” that these were true Christians. This sentiment is in accordance with all that Paul states in regard to the church at Corinth. Notwithstanding all their irregularities, he does not deny that they were sincere Christians, and all his appeals and reasonings proceed on that supposition, though there was among them much ignorance and irregularity. God often visits his own people with trial; and though they are his children, yet this does not exempt them from affliction and discipline on account of their imperfections, errors, and sins. The “practical lesson” taught by this is, that Christians should serve God with purity; that they should avoid sin in every form; and that the commission of sin will expose them, as well as others, to the divine displeasure. The reason why this judgment was inflicted on the Corinthians was, that there might be a suitable impression made of the holy nature of that ordinance, and that Christians might be led to observe it in a proper manner. If it be asked whether God ever visits his people now with his displeasure for their improper manner of observing this ordinance, we may reply:

(1)That we have no reason to suppose that he inflicts “bodily” diseases and corporeal punishments on account of it. But,

(2)There is no reason to doubt that the improper observance of the Lord‘s Supper, like the improper observance of any other religious duty, will be followed with the expression of God‘s displeasure, and with a spiritual blightling on the soul. This may be evinced in the following modes:

(a)In hardening the heart by an improper familiarity with the most sacred and solemn ordinances of religion.

(b)Increased coldness and deadness in the service of God. If the ordinances of the gospel are not the means of making us better, they are the means of making us worse.

(c)The loss of the favor of God, or of those pure, and spiritual, and elevated joys which we might have obtained by a proper observance of the ordinance.

There is no reason to doubt that God may make it the occasion of manifesting his displeasure. It may be followed by a lack of spiritual comfort and peace; by a loss of communion with God; and by a withholding of those comforts from the soul which might have been enjoyed, and which are imparted to those who observe it in a proper manner. The general principle is, that an improper discharge of any duty will expose us to his displeasure, and to the certain loss of all those favors which might have resulted from a proper discharge of the duty, and to the tokens of the divine displeasure. And this is as true of prayer, or of any other religious duty, as of an improper observance of the Lord‘s Supper.

Matthew Henry
Concise Bible Commentary
The apostle describes the sacred ordinance, of which he had the knowledge by revelation from Christ. As to the visible signs, these are the bread and wine. What is eaten is called bread, though at the same time it is said to be the body of the Lord, plainly showing that the apostle did not mean that the bread was changed into flesh. St. Matthew tells us, our Lord bid them all drink of the cup, ch. Mt 26:27, as if he would, by this expression, provide against any believer being deprived of the cup. The things signified by these outward signs, are Christ's body and blood, his body broken, his blood shed, together with all the benefits which flow from his death and sacrifice. Our Saviour's actions were, taking the bread and cup, giving thanks, breaking the bread, and giving both the one and the other. The actions of the communicants were, to take the bread and eat, to take the cup and drink, and to do both in remembrance of Christ. But the outward acts are not the whole, or the principal part, of what is to be done at this holy ordinance. Those who partake of it, are to take him as their Lord and Life, yield themselves up to him, and live upon him. Here is an account of the ends of this ordinance. It is to be done in remembrance of Christ, to keep fresh in our minds his dying for us, as well as to remember Christ pleading for us, in virtue of his death, at God's right hand. It is not merely in remembrance of Christ, of what he has done and suffered; but to celebrate his grace in our redemption. We declare his death to be our life, the spring of all our comforts and hopes. And we glory in such a declaration; we show forth his death, and plead it as our accepted sacrifice and ransom. The Lord's supper is not an ordinance to be observed merely for a time, but to be continued. The apostle lays before the Corinthians the danger of receiving it with an unsuitable temper of mind; or keeping up the covenant with sin and death, while professing to renew and confirm the covenant with God. No doubt such incur great guilt, and so render themselves liable to spiritual judgements. But fearful believers should not be discouraged from attending at this holy ordinance. The Holy Spirit never caused this scripture to be written to deter serious Christians from their duty, though the devil has often made this use of it. The apostle was addressing Christians, and warning them to beware of the temporal judgements with which God chastised his offending servants. And in the midst of judgement, God remembers mercy: he many times punishes those whom he loves. It is better to bear trouble in this world, than to be miserable for ever. The apostle points our the duty of those who come to the Lord's table. Self-examination is necessary to right attendance at this holy ordinance. If we would thoroughly search ourselves, to condemn and set right what we find wrong, we should stop Divine judgements. The apostle closes all with a caution against the irregularities of which the Corinthians were guilty at the Lord's table. Let all look to it, that they do not come together to God's worship, so as to provoke him, and bring down vengeance on themselves.
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