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1 Corinthians 11:34

Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

And if any man hunger - Let him not come to the house of God to eat an ordinary meal, let him eat at home - take that in his own house which is necessary for the support of his body before he comes to that sacred repast, where he should have the feeding of his soul alone in view.

That ye come not together unto condemnation - That ye may avoid the curse that must fall on such worthless communicants as those above mentioned; and that ye may get that especial blessing which every one that discerns the Lord's body in the eucharist must receive.

The rest will I set in order, etc. - All the other matters relative to this business, to which you have referred in your letter, I will regulate when I come to visit you; as, God permitting, I fully design. The apostle did visit them about one year after this, as is generally believed.

I Have already been so very particular in this long and difficult chapter, that I have left neither room nor necessity for many supplementary observations. A few remarks are all that is requisite.

  1. The apostle inculcates the necessity of order and subjection, especially in the Church. Those who are impatient of rule, are generally those who wish to tyrannize. And those who are loudest in their complaints against authority, whether civil or ecclesiastical, are those who wish to have the power in their own hands, and would infallibly abuse it if they had. They alone who are willing to obey, are capable of rule; and he who can rule well, is as willing to obey as to govern. Let all be submissive and orderly; let the woman know that the man is head and protector; let the man know that Christ is his head and redeemer, and the gift of God's endless mercy for the salvation of a lost world.
  • The apostle insisted on the woman having her head covered in the Church or Christian assembly. If he saw the manner in which Christian women now dress, and appear in the ordinances of religion, what would he think? What would he say? How could he even distinguish the Christian from the infidel? And if they who are in Christ are new creatures, and the persons who ordinarily appear in religious assemblies are really new creatures (as they profess in general to be) in Christ, he might reasonably inquire: If these are new creatures, what must have been their appearance when they were old creatures. Do we dress to be seen? And do we go to the house of God to exhibit ourselves? Wretched is that man or woman who goes to the house of God to be seen by any but God himself.
  • The Lord's Supper may be well termed the feast of charity; how unbecoming this sacred ordinance to be the subject of dispute, party spirit, and division! Those who make it such must answer for it to God. Every man who believes in Christ as his atoning sacrifice should, as frequently as he can, receive the sacrament of the Lord's Supper. And every minister of Christ is bound to administer it to every man who is seeking the salvation of his soul, as well as to all believers. Let no man dare to oppose this ordinance; and let every man receive it according to the institution of Christ.
  • Against the fidelity of our translation of 1 Corinthians 11:27; of this chapter, Whosoever shall eat this bread, And drink this cup unworthily, several popish writers have made heavy complaints, and accused the Protestants of wilful corruption; as both the Greek and Vulgate texts, instead of και and et, And, have η and vel, Or: Whosoever shall eat this bread, Or drink this cup. As this criticism is made to countenance their unscriptural communion in one kind, it may be well to examine the ground of the complaint. Supposing even this objection to be valid, their cause can gain nothing by it while the 26th and 28th verses stand, both in the Greek text and Vulgate, as they now do: For as often as ye eat this bread, And drink this cup, etc. Let him eat of that bread, And drink of that cup. But although η, Or, be the reading of the common printed text, και And, is the reading of the Codex Alexandrinus, and the Codex Claromontanus, two of the best MSS. in the world: as also of the Codex Lincolniensis, 2, and the Codex Petavianus, 3, both MSS. of the first character: it is also the reading of the ancient Syriac, all the Arabic, the Coptic, the margin of the later Syriac, the Ethiopic, different MSS. of the Vulgate, and of one in my own possession; and of Clemens Chromatius, and Cassiodorus. Though the present text of the Vulgate has vel, Or, yet this is a departure from the original editions, which were all professedly taken from the best MSS. In the famous Bible with out date, place, or printer's name, 2 vols. fol., two columns, and forty-five lines in each, supposed by many to be the first Bible ever printed, the text stands thus: Itaque quicunque manducaverit panem, Et biberit calicem, etc.; Wherefore whosoever shall eat this bread And drink this cup, etc.: here is no vel, Or. The Bible printed by Fust, 1462, the first Bible with a date, has the same reading. Did the Protestants corrupt these texts? In the editio princeps of the Greek Testament, printed by the authority of Cardinal Ximenes at Complutum, and published by the authority of Pope Leo X., though η, Or, stands in the Greek text; yet, in the opposite column, which contains the Vulgate, and in the opposite line, Et, and, is found, and not Vel, or; though the Greek text would have authorized the editor to have made this change: but he conscientiously preserved the text of his Vulgate. Did the Protestants corrupt this Catholic text also? Indeed, so little design had any of those who differed from the Romish Church to make any alteration here, that even Wiclif, having a faulty MS. of the Vulgate by him, which read vel instead of et, followed that faulty MS. and translated, And so who ever schal ete the breed or drinke the cup.
  • That και, And, is the true reading, and not η, or, both MSS. and versions sufficiently prove: also that et, not vels is the proper reading in the Vulgate, those original editions formed by Roman Catholics, and one of them by the highest authority in the papal Church, fully establish: likewise those MSS., versions, fathers, and original editions, must be allowed to be, not only competent, but also unsuspected and incontrovertible witnesses.

    But as this objection to our translation is brought forward to vindicate the withholding the cup from the laity in the Lord's Supper, it may be necessary to show that without the cup there can be no eucharist. With respect to the bread, our Lord had simply said, Take, eat, this is my body; but concerning the cup, he says Drink ye all of this; for as this pointed out the very essence of the institution, viz. the blood of atonement, it was necessary that each should have a particular application of it, therefore he says, Drink ye All of This. By this we are taught that the cup is essential to the sacrament of the Lord's Supper; so that they who deny the cup to the people, sin against God's institution; and they who receive not the cup, are not partakers of the body and blood of Christ. If either could without mortal prejudice be omitted, it might be the bread; but the cup as pointing out the blood poured out, i.e. the life, by which alone the great sacrificial act is performed, and remission of sins procured, is absolutely indispensable. On this ground it is demonstrable, that there is not a popish priest under heaven, who denies the cup to the people, (and they all do this), that can be said to celebrate the Lord's Supper at all; nor is there one of their votaries that ever received the holy sacrament. All pretension to this is an absolute farce so long as the cup, the emblem of the atoning blood, is denied. How strange is it that the very men who plead so much for the bare, literal meaning of this is my body, in the preceding verse, should deny all meaning to drink ye all of this cup, in this verse! And though Christ has, in the most positive manner, enjoined it, they will not permit one of the laity to taste it! See the whole of this argument, at large, in my Discourse on the Nature and Design of the Eucharist.

    Albert Barnes
    Notes on the Whole Bible

    And if any man hunger … - The Lord‘s Supper is not a common feast; it is not designed as a place where a man may gratify his appetite. It is designed as a simple “commemoration,” and not as a “feast.” This remark was designed to correct their views of the supper, and to show them that it was to be distinguished from the ordinary idea of a feast or festival.

    That ye come not together unto condemnation - That the effect of your coming together for the observance of the Lord‘s Supper be not to produce condemnation; see the note at 1 Corinthians 11:29.

    And the rest will I set in order … - Probably he refers here to other matters on which he had been consulted; or other things which he knew required to be adjusted. The other matters pertaining to the order and discipline of the church I will defer until I can come among you, and personally arrange them. It is evident from this, that Paul at this time purposed soon to go to Corinth; see 2 Corinthians 1:15-16. It was doubtless true that there might be many things which it was desirable to adjust in the church there, which could not be so well done by letter. The main things, therefore, which it was needful to correct immediately, he had discussed in this letter; the other matters he reserved to be arranged by himself when he should go among them. Paul was disappointed in his expectations of returning among them as soon as he had intended (see 2 Corinthians 1:17), and under this disappointment he forwarded to them another epistle. If all Christians would follow implicitly his directions here in regard to the Lord‘s Supper, it would be an ordinance full of comfort. May all so understand its nature, and so partake of it, that they shall meet the approbation of their Lord, and so that it may be the means of saving grace to their souls.

    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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