Paul is Angered over the Corinthian Believers Public Assembly
1 Corinthians 11:17-22 But in giving this instruction, I do not praise you, because you come together not for the better but for the worse. For, in the first place, when you come together as a church, I hear that divisions exist among you; and in part I believe it. For there must also be factions among you, so that those who are approved may become evident among you. Therefore when you meet together, it is not to eat the Lord’s Supper, for in your eating each one takes his own supper first; and one is hungry and another is drunk. What! Do you not have houses in which to eat and drink? Or do you despise the church of God and shame those who have nothing? What shall I say to you? Shall I praise you? In this I will not praise you. NKJV
Paul now writes to them of his displeasure of what he has been informed by other believers like Chloe (1 Corinthians 1:10-12) about what in actuality takes place when they assemble together publicly. The purpose of corporate worship together for them and us today is not out of some obligation or duty, but it is for the purpose of convening all in one place (wherever that might be) to lift up our Lord Jesus Christ and worship and adore Him pouring out our love and gratitude to Him for saving us from our sins and giving us His Resurrection Life making us “new creatures.” Therefore, our desire for one another should be solely and singularly to edify or build one another up in our most holy faith which brings honor to Christ. Paul was angered by what Chloe informed him as he wrote of his discovery to them at the very beginning of his letter, but despite his anger he went on to address other problems they exhibited like the sexual immorality and idolatry. Now Paul comes to this place in his letter to write to them immediately after commending them on remembering the traditions or ordinances he handed down to them in regard to their conduct and behavior in the Church or during their public assembly together, but his commendation was purely in regard to their reception of his paradosis or the transmission of instructions or precepts, but not on them practically taking those precepts and putting them into practice in their public assemblies.
Paul uses the English word heresies to describe what went on in their Church services and especially when they would conduct what they presumed to be the appropriate way to observe the Lord’s Supper. This English word heresies is translated by the Greek word hairesis which means factions, cliques, sects, or parties (like the dissension we see today in politics between the Democrats and Republicans); like the dissensions that were evident between the Sadducees and Pharisees in Judaism; Christian dissensions arising from diversity of opinions and aims. These believers in Corinth were acting more like a political party in their public assemblies divided into these cliques or parties and going after one another seeking preeminence (high status importance owing to marked superiority) rather than a family comprised of sisters and brothers in our Lord Jesus Christ seeking to serve one another in love. This is affirmed by Paul using this English phrase “they which are approved” to further describe their behavior and desires and this phrase is translated by the Greek word dokimos which means properly acceptable, pleasing, or approved. Paul declares that these Corinthian believers were operating like a club or an organization that would only allow those men who were acceptable or approved or pleasing to be recognized or allowed visible standing in the public assemblies. The Corinthian believers were acting in the manner of a dead organization rather than an organism alive with the supernatural holy life of God in it.
Paul was speaking in terms as if the devil himself had gotten into their public worship and taken over creating an open wound in our Lord’s Body of Corinthian believers and the wound was festering and pus filled causing these men and women temporarily to forget who they belonged to and who they had come together to honor, praise, and worship. Paul declares that instead of the reverent observance of our Lord Jesus’ Body broken, bruised, and beaten for them with the eating of bread from one source as to represent our Lord’s Body and the drinking of wine from one source as to represent our Lord’s Shed Blood for all to partake, they instead brought their own foods and drinks and ate together in their little factions, cliques, sects, or divisive parties as if they were still practicing their pagan worship before they even knew of our Lord Jesus Christ and His death, burial, and resurrection from the dead for their sins. The poor men, women, boys, and girls among them were left out and were not allowed to feed from the tables of the rich. This so-called worship even turned into the drunken spectacle for many as they were accustomed to do when they were idol worshipers or more accurately demon worshipers (as there is no such thing as an idol).
Those who were guilty of this conduct and behavior are the ones that brought on Paul’s anger in his words of rebuke he writes here, for they were acting like men and women who did not even know our Lord Jesus Christ as Jude wrote concerning these imposters or hypocrites or ungodly men who have crept in or that are sprinkled in among the true believers when he said this, “These are the men who are hidden reefs in your love feasts when they feast with you without fear, caring for themselves; clouds without water, carried along by winds; autumn trees without fruit, doubly dead, uprooted; wild waves of the sea, casting up their own shame like foam; wandering stars, for whom the black darkness has been reserved forever” (Jude 1:12-13). Paul rebukes their party spirit in the public assembly and directs them to eat and drink their common meals in their own individual homes. Paul is not saying what Jude says in Jude 1:12-13 is the condition of those who are behaving in this manner when endeavoring to observe our Lord Jesus Christ death, burial, and resurrection from the dead, but he is questioning their sincerity of faith by their irreverence of the Church of God because they are acting or behaving with disdain, disesteem, and disrespect to our Lord Jesus Christ and His Church and the members in His Body. Such irreverent behavior as this can only bring about the Apostle’s anger and rebuke.
“Heathens used to drink plentifully at their feasts upon their sacrifices. Many of the wealthier Corinthians seem to have taken the same liberty at the Lord’s table, or at least at their Agapai, or love-feasts, that were annexed to the supper. They would not stay for one another; the rich despised the poor, and ate and drank up the provisions they themselves brought, before the poor were allowed to partake; and thus some wanted, while others had more than enough. This was profaning a sacred institution, and corrupting a divine ordinance, to the last degree. What was appointed to feed the soul was employed to feed their lusts and passions. What should have been a bond of mutual amity and affection was made an instrument of discord and disunion. The poor were deprived of the food prepared for them, and the rich turned a feast of charity into a debauch. This was scandalous irregularity.” Matthew Henry
“Paul is so consistent in his treatment of men and women in the Church of God when they deserve his praise and adoration he freely gives it in abundance, even to the point of overflow, but likewise when their behavior angers him with righteous anger not sinful anger, he displays it openly and visibly in his rebuke of them and their behavior that dishonors our Lord Jesus Christ and hurts the members of His Mystical Body.” Clifford D. Tate, Sr.
If you do not know the Lord Jesus Christ and His amazing healing power, pray this from your heart to the Lord Jesus Christ (you speaking directly to Him), Dear Lord Jesus, I confess to You that I am a sinner and I need Your forgiveness. I believe You shed Your Blood and died for my sins. I believe that You rose from the dead proving that You alone are God. I repent of my sins. I want to turn from my sins. I ask You Dear Lord Jesus to come into my heart and take control of my life. I want You to be my Lord, Savior, and my God. Amen...
Sincerely in Christ,
Clifford D. Tate, Sr.
Author of “Silent Assassins of the Soul - Are you Broken by Pornography and Masturbation? You can be Restored by the Lord Jesus Christ and brought into Deliverance, Freedom, and Victory! A Guide for Men and Women in the Enemy’s Crosshairs” e-book available now @ Amazon Kindle, @ Apple I Bookstore for IPod, Barnes and Noble for Nook, Reader Store for Sony Reade, Kobo, Copia, Gardners, Baker and Taylor, and eBookPie…