1 Corinthians 11:16-21

In 1 Corinthians 11:16-21 Paul continues to instruct the Corinthian church.  He begins by telling them to not be contentious and argumentative over the things of God. It is not acceptable to create chaos in the church. “If anyone is inclined to be contentious, we have no such practice, nor do the churches of God.” Paul is going to give them guidance on how they should act and worship together. The Corinthian church as been dysfunctional and destructive in how they have interacted as a body. Paul calls them out, and then gives instruction on what ot change. “But in the following instructions I do not commend you, because when you come together it is not for the better but for the worse.”

A large part of the problem with the gatherings of the Corinthian Christians was that there were divisions among them, something Paul had heard and could believe, knowing the history and the character of the Corinthian Christians. “For, in the first place, when you come together as a church, I hear that there are divisions among you.” People weren’t getting along – imagine that. What possibly could people find to disagree over? How about dozens of little things that don’t matter, but when put in the middle of a church, can cause people to pick sides and create divisions. But Paul asks ‘is that bad’?

Seems like a silly question right – factions have to be bad. “And I believe it in part, for there must be factions among you in order that those who are genuine among you may be recognized.” But Paul makes the point that without them, it would be impossible to tell who truly is a Christ Follower. We usually think of factions and divisions among Christians as nothing but a problem. But Paul reveals a purpose God has in allowing factions: that those who are approved may be recognized among you. God allows factions so that, over time, those who really belong to God would become evident. They truly can be important.

Paul refers to the early church custom of combining a potluck and the Lord’s Supper. Because Jesus so often ate with His disciples, it made sense to the early church that eating together went together with celebrating the Lord’s Supper. “When you come together, it is not the Lord’s supper that you eat.” But the problem was how the Corinthian church acted at those meals. They in fact acted very selfishly and put themselves ahead of all others. It wasn’t a Christlike environment at all. “For in eating, each one goes ahead with his own meal. One goes hungry, another gets drunk.” So Paul says it isn’t at all the Lord’s supper.

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