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1 Corinthians; The fellowship and the Supper

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posted on Nov, 18 2013 @ 05:26 PM
Among the writings of Paul, 1 Corinthians is the letter which teaches the church what it means to be a Christian community.
The opening verses (ch1 vv1-9) have the effect of defining where the church comes from and what it’s based on, and I will want to show how the rest of the teaching follows on from that.
I was drawing out a definition of the church in the attached thread;
Defining the church
Part of the definition was that the church is a “gathered assembly”, an EKKLESIA, called into the fellowship of the Lord Jesus Christ.
So the next concern is how this community relates to the Lord’s Supper (ch11 vv17-28)

vv17-23 Paul’s rebuke is that the people in Corinth are meeting for the Lord’s Supper, as they should, but not conducting themselves as they should.
He complains there is divisiveness in their meetings.
The evidence is that people are eating independently.
Instead of a communal eating of the Lord’s Supper, each individual is eating his own supper.
The result is that some are getting drunk and others going hungry.

What is going on here?
I’ve often seen the suggestion that the trouble comes from people arriving early and eating up the food, so that nothing is left for those who come later.
But that theory is unconsciously assuming that the Supper is organised as a buffet.
It implies that the leadership is organised enough to finance and purchase and lay out a communal meal, but NOT organised enough to protect the food from early arrivals.

It seems more plausible to me that the primitive Supper was organised on the basis of “bring your own food”.
If each person brought his own food and kept it with him, then the timing of his meal would be under his own control (and the assumption of “arriving early” would not be necessary).
He could hold back until the general meal, perhaps sharing his food with others, or he could open up his dockey bag and start eating at his own convenience.
Those who had less food of their own to bring would then be “going hungry” because the food of the more fortunate was not being shared around.
So Paul urges them (at the end of the chapter, vv33-34) to “wait for one another”, and suggests that the really impatient ones should eat something before they arrive.

How does this fit in with “divisions amongst you”?
The “early arrivals” theory offers a division between rich and poor, on the supposition that the well-to-do members of the church were the ones with the free time.
But we’ve already been told that there were “not many great” among the Corinthians (ch1 v20), and it seems unlikely that the “idle rich” were present in any great force.
When Paul says that he’s heard about divisions among them, that’s an echo of his rebuke in the first chapter.
So I suggest that he may still be talking about the same divisions.
That is to say, the quarrelling between the parties of “I belong to Cephas” and “I belong to Apollos”, etc., is spilling over into and disrupting the unity of the celebration of the Supper.

And is this the same explanation as the “separate eating”?
Well, it could be, if the separate eating were being done in cliques, so that food was shared amongst fellow-members of the same “party”, rather than the church at large.
(I’ve known “church socials” of exactly that kind)
Perhaps those who thought of themselves as “the wise” would be more inclined to disregard the importance of the occasion?

The “idle rich” interpretation of Paul’s complaint is that the separate eating is objectionable because it leads to “the humiliation of those who have nothing”.
But I think the connection in Paul’s eyes is more direct.
His case is that the whole point of the Lord’s Supper is the act of eating together.
But if they are eating separately, they are not eating together.
So the separate eating, in itself, is the action which destroys the purpose of the Supper.
(The fact that “some are drunken while others go hungry” is a only a side-effect, which aggravates the offence)

vv23-26 In order to explain why this is wrong, Paul has to establish the seriousness of the event.
He reminds them that the Supper is based on the actions of Jesus, and the instructions he gave.
The actions were the distribution of the bread and the cup, “on the night when he was betrayed”.
They came with a teaching which pointed forwards to his death on the cross.
The distribution of the bread had been accompanied by the declaration “This is my body”, and by the assurance that his body had been given (in death) “for your benefit”.
The distribution of the cup had been accompanied by the declaration that the cup was the new covenant “in my blood”.
That is to say, the new covenant was to be established through his death, in the same way that the old covenant had been established when Moses sprinkled the blood of the sacrificed oxen over the people of Israel (Exodus ch24 v8).
He told them to repeat the ceremonial, and keep him in their minds.
In that way, Paul says, they are proclaiming the fact that Christ died, and they should continue to proclaim it until he returns.
It is an act which is at the heart of their existence as a church.

This needs to be supplemented by Paul’s comments in ch10 vv16-17.
He says that the central features of the Supper, the cup of the blessing and the bread, bring about a KOINONIA- a fellowship- in the body and blood of Christ.
Fortunately, there is no need for us to get into the heated controversies about how this works.
The real point of interest, for the moment, is the KOINONIA.
They are not just in fellowship with Christ, but also with each other.
The point is affirmed again in the next verse;
Eating, as they do, from the “one bread”, attached as they are to the one Lord, the church is constituted as “one body”.
In other words, whatever else it might be, the Lord’s Supper is a great sacrament of unity.

vv27-28 Finally, Paul warns them against taking the Supper “in an unworthy manner”.
There are two ways of understanding this charge, and I think we need them both.
When Paul relates “eating the bread” and “drinking from the cup” to “the body and blood”, he’s clearly referring to the “elements” of the Supper.
The disruption of the Supper shows a lack of respect for what Christ established, as he’s just explained, and a lack of respect for the spiritual presence of Christ.

But what does he mean by “not discerning the body” (where “the blood” is not mentioned)?
It seems to me that this phrase goes back to the “we are one body” of ch10 v17.
The Lord’s Supper is the meeting of Christ with the corporate body of Christ, and it is the corporate body of Christ which the Corinthians are failing to recognise at the Supper, as long as they continue with their disruptive ways.

This brings the discussion back to the point where it began.
It is the divided state of the church that is the problem.
As Paul asked in the first chapter, “is Christ divided?”.
If Christ is not divided, then the body of Christ should not be meeting in disunity.
They need to be celebrating the Supper as the act that brings them all together.

edit on 18-11-2013 by DISRAELI because: (no reason given)

posted on Nov, 18 2013 @ 05:48 PM
I think the truth is hidden in what the book describes as the correct way in which the community(church) is setup.

You will easily find that the vast majority of churches are setup against the good books examples of how they should be handled, the size is the first biggest thing to look at.

Churches were synonymous with local community back then and broken down to families...a big departure from today's (and yesterday's)method of money making.

Comparing a money changer with what a church is supposed to be is just not a fair argument.

There can be a certain lets call it magic when the right perspective recipe is used, Christianity is no different....with it's own spells and rituals to achieve a given result.

I have found that every action and spoken word is a "spell" unto its own given the right reflection. Which is why in my opinion that so many religions focus on not only the heart but how you control it, lest you cast webs you have no understanding of and become caught.

Cool train of thought, thank you.


posted on Nov, 18 2013 @ 05:48 PM
Stinking double post

edit on 18-11-2013 by Treespeaker because: (no reason given)

posted on Nov, 18 2013 @ 05:52 PM

I think the truth is hidden in what the book describes as the correct way in which the community(church) is setup.

Yes indeed, which is why I began this series with the approximate "definition of the church" which I found in the first nine verses of the epistle.
To sum up briefly, it all rests on their relation with the Father (called by him), with the Son (in fellowship with him), and the Spirit.
My suggestion is that things begin going wrong when that basic relation isn't being maintained.

Thank you for your comments.

posted on Nov, 18 2013 @ 06:44 PM
reply to post by DISRAELI

I would tend to agree, the method in which it is viewed is important as far as the trinity.

The part in which I think the passages are most ignored are the practical points like how many people should constitute a church before another is started, how often to meet and what is done in a meeting, etc.

It's often the details that make the devil so to speak, and I think the writers had that in mind when they wrote these books as well as others. The normal clandestine things like numbers of people size of venu etc had a very real effect on outcome.

In the real world back when I was in the church and in leadership we saw a dramatic difference between living the reality and using the framework, those that used the framework were gifted monetarily in the short term, and the churches went under temporary renewal only to crumble and fail while those whom used small groups centred around families would see real change and prosperity that may not of prospered the church ...but the individuals who made it up and formed lasting generational positive change, which really is what it's about in the long run.

So summing up I guess what I am trying to say is the Gnostics had it more clearly correct, in a semi literal way of looking at it.

Most of the gospels are clear that the apostles deviated from the original format for the immediate reward, Constantine and the council made that pretty permanents over time.

Since the religion of Christianity is based on a personal perspective and relationship with the almighty, every professed Christian since his crucifixion has a gospel to share, some dozen or so books barley scratches the surface... As it was meant to. The only criteria is the judging by the fruit as it were...and the current enforced gospels are a condemnation unto them selves in some ways as they fail to reflect Christ in action but only greedy people set on empire.

I read a book way back that said it better than I could ever, it's short and to the point and I highly recommend it to any Christian believer as well as anyone that wants to challenge their spirituality, it's called "living in the light of truth". I don't have a bias as to the writer only the message. It's about living the truth not talking about it so much a healthy dose of reality like the "art of war".

I don't chat on this often and I than you, it's a welcome change of pace at an opportune time.

All the best to you and yours.


posted on Nov, 19 2013 @ 11:43 AM
I had found a link to this particular subject (the camp) and thought I would share

What Is the Camp?
By:James Buchanan DunlopFrom:J.B. DunlopFrom:What Is the Camp?
Hebrews 12
Though it is true that God at sundry times and in divers manners spake in timepast unto the fathers by the prophets, He has more highly honored us in theselast days; He has spoken unto us by His Son (Heb. 1:1, 2).Here the Spirit of God puts God's Son above and before all other prophets.
Again, though true that Moses was the Apostle (and was faithful in all his houseas a servant), and Aaron was God's called and chosen high priest for this nation of worshipers in the flesh—Israel-we Christians are to consider the Apostle andHigh Priest of our profession, Christ Jesus, thus exalting Christ above and before Moses and Aaron (Heb. 1:1, 2; 3:1-6). Under the law, it was commanded and instituted by God Himself that sacrifices of bulls and goats should be offered-a shadow of better things to come. But now, Christ has offered Himself, and has risen and gone in and presented His own blood to God for us, having thus by oneoffering perfected forever them that are sanctified (Chap. 10). Thus Christ'ssacrifice is put above, and in the place of, all these other sacrifices which could never take away sins. The substance has come and taken the place of the shadows.
Furthermore, though perfectly true that God told Moses to make the tabernacle, and Solomon the temple, for a place of worship on earth under the law, now He has opened heaven to us, and we have boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus; heaven itself taking the place of the tabernacle, and temple atJerusalem, as the Christian's worshiping place, which we enter by faith and in spirit (Heb. 8:1, 2; 9:24).
Then though God made a covenant with Israel at Mount Sinai, giving them the law-a covenant of works-they failed under it; and the Christian is not under law, but under grace, Christ having delivered us from the law and its curse, being made a curse for us, and "I through the law am dead to the law, that I might live unto God." (Gal. 2:19; Heb. 8:9-13.)
Then, it was true that unconverted as well as converted were in the congregationof worshipers under the law; now, He who is a Spirit, and must have worship in spirit and in truth, is seeking such to worship Him. Who can do so? Those, and those only who, converted and sealed by the Spirit of God, have the power andheart for it. In short, Christ and Christianity have taken the place of, and are a direct contrast to, the law and Judaism; and God will not allow us to mix the two, or rather, I should have said, try to do so.
So the word is, "Let us go forth therefore unto Him without the camp, bearing His reproach."
Now my reader must take notice that this is not a question of salvation-it is not that souls inside
the camp are not saved-indeed, it is the saved ones inside that are called upon to go outside (and no doubt many souls are being saved where the gospel is truly preached inside); but it is a question of obedience, and of worshiping God according to the principles of Christianity- surely a very important thing in theeyes of those who love the Lord Jesus.
When the epistle to the Hebrews was written, there were many thousands of Jews that believed, and they were all zealous of the law, as the Apostle James witnessed. See Acts 11:21. If we compare dates, we shall find that God in longsuffering goodness and mercy allowed the believing Jews to remain in "the camp" for perhaps thirty years after Pentecost. And so Christianity and Judaism were going on together for some years. See Acts 2:46, 47; 21:20-25. But God had not told them to leave it as yet. However, after Paul had gone to Jerusalem and, persuaded by James, had gone to the temple worship again to please the many thousands of Jews that believe, nearly losing his life at the hands of the unbelieving portion of Jewish worshipers, he was sent a prisoner to Rome, and judging from the dates, from there probably wrote this very epistle. The Spirit of God used the Apostle to call on the Christians in Judaism-Apostle James and all-to separate from the camp altogether, the time having come when God would no longer allow the two to go on, or appear to go on, together.
It was very trying for one brought up as a Jew in Paul's' day to obey this call, and so it is to us now in these days. But if we love Him who gave Himself for us, the way to show our love to Him is to obey His commandments and His words (seeJohn 14:21, 23). And if there is reproach promised us on obedience, let us not forget that it is His reproach. He has Himself endured far worse than any of us ever did or ever will have to endure; and His love and His power are with us and for us, to carry us through-yes, even to enable us to rejoice that we are counted worthy to suffer for His sake.
But we are to "go forth unto Him without the camp." Where, outside the camp, shall I find Him, and in what special way is He to be found there? Christian brotheror sister, there is a special place outside the camp where the Lord vouchsafes to be, and to manifest Himself in a very special and peculiar manner to faith; it is "where two or three are gathered together unto [Greek] MY name, there am I in the midst of them." Matt. 18:20. The place then is where two or three, or twenty or thirty, or two or three hundred, gather together unto His name; and the special way and manner He vouchsafes to manifest Himself there to faith is not to be described in words. It is to be felt and enjoyed by those who believe and obey His words-His actual, but not of course bodily, presence in the midst. 0 that all His dear people believed it!
I would add that this does not do away with ministry-divinely appointed ministry-in the Church of God. There is a ministry; there are gifts given unto men; there are evangelists, pastors, and teachers "for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of [not a sect, but] the body of Christ."Eph. 4:11, 12. But these gifts are not given to lead Christians in worship. They are as the members of one's own natural body, for the use of the whole body; but the Head alone is He to whom all are to look, to lead and guide, especially in worship. And it is Christ who is the Head of His body, the Church, of which all true Christians are members (1 Cor. 12:12). He really does lead by His Spirit where He is owned as present and looked to as in the midst, and given His proper place-the place that only He has a right to, or is qualified to fill.
He who places the members of the body in it as it pleases Him, uses evangelists, pastors, and teachers, when and where He chooses to do so, they looking to Him for guidance where to go, and where and how long to remain, to whom they are alone responsible for the use of their gift or gifts.
But in worship we come together not to hear a gospel address, not to be taught by a teacher, not to be exhorted by a pastor, but to give, as led of the Lord in the midst by His Spirit, praise, adoration, and thanksgiving to our God andFather, or it may be to the Lord Jesus Himself- something that requires no special gift in anyone, but something which every true Christian walking with God is capacitated to give, and which God alone is worthy to receive; that is, worship.
It could be that one, two, or three simple but true-hearted souls might each in turn be led in plain and unadorned words to be the mouthpiece of all the Christians present. They will do so, not because more fitted or more gifted or because called upon by any one to do so, but simply because led by His Spirit. We are to look to and own as our Head, our High Priest, our minister of the true tabernacle which the Lord pitched and not man, our Lord Jesus Christ. Through Him our songs and words of praise ascend as acceptable unto God.
And this system of spiritual worship will never be done away with. It has begun on earth, and as hindered by these bodies of humiliation, it is never what it should be or will be. When we get the redemption of our bodies-when no longer "through a glass darkly, but then face to face," knowing as we are known; when no longer scattered and divided and mixed up with the world, as many are, in worship, etc.; when all Christ's blood-bought ones are gathered around Himself inglory-then shall the worship begun on earth continue on in glory forever, and be fully what it ought to be. J.B.D.
"Not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit, saith the Lord of hosts.... For who hath despised the day of small things?"
Zech. 4:6, 10

posted on Nov, 19 2013 @ 12:03 PM
reply to post by the2ofusr1

Thank you for sharing that quotation.
That is exactly the line of thought I was aiming at;
Coming together to be in fellowship with Christ.
Coming together to be in fellowship with each other.

posted on Nov, 19 2013 @ 05:10 PM

The part in which I think the passages are most ignored are the practical points like how many people should constitute a church before another is started, how often to meet and what is done in a meeting, etc.

I don't think there's any particular place where this is discussed.
Paul is evidently working on the assumption that the church is everybody at that location, hence "the church in Corinth".
Later on city churches were subdivided into parishes when they got unwieldy, but the real source of later problems was that once the church was publicly accepted there was a motivation for people who were not really believers to join the fellowship.
Paul is calling attention to the problems of what happens when believers forget themselves.

posted on Nov, 20 2013 @ 05:06 PM
This thread follows on naturally from the earlier;
The fellowship and the common Spirit

edit on 20-11-2013 by DISRAELI because: (no reason given)

posted on Nov, 22 2013 @ 04:29 PM
Some scholars have suggested that the early church had two kinds of meeting, one for the ceremonial reception of "the bread and the wine", and one with a more social nature- the AGAPE feast.
However, the kind of meeting described by Paul is clearly combining the two purposes.
In a sense, that is the point- the eucharistic element brings them into fellowship with Christ, the social element brings them into fellowship with each other.
But this is also the root of the behaviour which he's complaining about. The "separate eating" detracts from the social element, and any rowdiness destracts from the eucharistic element.

At some point in the first couple of centuries, the eucharist was evidently transferred from the evening meetings to the morning service.
This would have the effect of detaching it from the AGAPE feast, which then took on a life of its own, conrinuing in the evenings.
Perhaps part of the object would be to isolate the eucharist from any undesirable associations with the "love-feasts", presumably because it was found easier to do this than to reform the behaviour which Paul was complaining about.

But the separation of the two kinds of meeting had consequences which might be thought undesirable.
On the one hand, it opens up the way for the church to begin losing sight of the "togetherness" involved in taking the eucharist, and focussing on the individual reception as an end in itself, with detrimental effects to sound doctrine and practice.
On the other hand, the "love-feasts" themselves were also in danger of losing touch with their original purpose and having a negative effect on the church's life.
So Jude, complaining of the way that "licentiousness" has entered into church life, asserts that the culprits are "blemishes on your love feasts, as they boldly carouse together, looking after themselves"- v12.
In the long term, the love feasts were abandoned, another blow to the sense of "corporate fellowship" in the church.

posted on Nov, 23 2013 @ 05:16 PM
This series has been inspired, indirectly, by the commentary written by Hans Conzellman.
In his comments on the first verse in ch6 (a passage which I do not intend to cover) he remarks that “The criterion of conduct is accordingly found in the nature of the community”.
In effect, I have taken this dictum and made it a guideline for a major part of the epistle.
The premise is that Paul’s teaching here is largely about getting the church to live up to the description of itself which he supplies in the opening verses.
The way this works will become evident in the different stages.

(It has to be said, though, that I increasingly find Robertson and Plummer more reliable on points of detail).

posted on Nov, 24 2013 @ 01:02 PM
For information;
Once this series has been completed, an Index thread will be added to draw the various threads together and act as a reference.

posted on Nov, 27 2013 @ 03:32 PM
The most recent thread in this series is;

The fellowship and its love

posted on Dec, 10 2013 @ 01:53 PM
This series is now indexed in;

The blueprints of the church

posted on Mar, 8 2024 @ 04:56 PM
The old ones are the best.

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