Summary: Exposition of 1 Corinthians 11 regarding Paul's thoughts regarding their error and their ideal.
Text: 1 Cor 11:17-34, Title: Drunk in the Church, Date/Place: NRBC, 10/16/11, AM
A. Opening illustration: In spite of his tendency to project sometimes speculative imaginative scenarios in his more popular study You Wretched Corinthians! Hans Frör well captures the connection between 11:2–16 and 17–34 in the following projected dialogue initiated by his fictitious barmaid Mara. Mara exclaims: “They’re bothering about veils, as though one had only to throw away a bit of material and everyone would be equal at the Lord’s table.… ‘Not slave and free, not poor and rich! That makes me laugh! Clearly the better class gentlemen have been looked after for quite some time in the dining room when our kind comes rushing along. They eat lavishly, drink the finest wines.… They mix up the well-laid table of the master of the house with the Lord’s table.… If we’re lucky, all that’s left for the shared meal is a bit of bread and a sip of wine.… We get the bits.” Tippy coming in first, and eating every last bite of dog food before Buddy gets there,
B. Background to passage: Paul has been answering questions since chapter five on various issues that the Corinthian church had sent to him in a previous letter. But now he brings up a subject that again he has “heard” about before moving to the next expressed question. He wants to rebuke them about how they approach the Lord’s Table. He understood (but gave them the benefit of the doubt) that they were following through with their accepted cultural practices of separating the classes of people at a meal. Part of this may have had to do with the actual houses that they were in. Nevertheless, he commanded (“instructions” is a strong word, used of orders given in the military) them that when they “gather as the assembly” to eat the Supper, they were doing much harm.
C. Main thought: So here are Paul’s thoughts regarding their error and their ideal.
A. Despising the Church (v. 17-22)
1. BTW, the meaning of “church” in the NT is “assembly.” So when Paul uses the term in this text, he is talking about the gathering of the believers for corporate worship. The early church met in homes (and just for your info, there is never a time when the bible speaks of church’s having church buildings). Usually in the dining room of a home, 10 people was the max capacity. At a dinner, the most important guests would be in the dining room, and the lesser would kinda be in an overflow atrium area that help about 30-40 people. So the largest church written of in the NT would have been about 50 people. The lower socially you were in the class structure, the further away from the food you sat (or stood), and the less quality and quantity of food you received. This was Greco-Roman culture. The more prominent guests would arrive first and eat first and the best, all the while looking down on those not worthy of the dining room. The main problem Paul is condemning in Corinth here is carrying on these cultural practices in the assembly of the family of God.