1 Corinthians 11
Vincent's Word Studies
Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ.
Followers (μιμηταί)

Lit., imitators, as Rev. This verse belongs to the closing section of ch. 10.

Now I praise you, brethren, that ye remember me in all things, and keep the ordinances, as I delivered them to you.
Ordinances - delivered (παραδόσεις - παρέδωκα)

There is a play of two hundred words, both being derived from παραδίδωμι to give over. Ordinances is a faulty rendering. Better, Rev., traditions. By these words Paul avoids any possible charge of imposing his own notions upon the Church. He delivers to them what had been delivered to him. Compare 1 Timothy 1:11; 2 Thessalonians 2:15.

But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God.
Every man praying or prophesying, having his head covered, dishonoureth his head.
Having his head covered (κατὰ κεφαλῆς ἔχων)

Lit., having something hanging down from his head. Referring to the tallith, a four-cornered shawl having fringes consisting of eight threads, each knotted five times, and worn over the head in prayer. It was placed upon the worshipper's head at his entrance into the synagogue. The Romans, like the Jews, prayed with the head veiled. So Aeneas: "And our heads are shrouded before the altar with a Phrygian vestment" (Virgil, "Aeneid," iii., 545). The Greeks remained bareheaded during prayer or sacrifice, as indeed they did in their ordinary outdoor life. The Grecian usage, which had become prevalent in the Grecian churches, seems to have commended itself to Paul as more becoming the superior position of the man.

But every woman that prayeth or prophesieth with her head uncovered dishonoureth her head: for that is even all one as if she were shaven.
Her head uncovered

Rev., unveiled. The Greek women rarely appeared in public, but lived in strict seclusion. Unmarried women never quitted their apartments, except on occasions of festal processions, either as spectators or participants. Even after marriage they were largely confined to the gynaeconitis or women's rooms. Thus Euripides: "As to that which brings the reproach of a bad reputation upon her who remains not at home, giving up the desire of this, I tarried in my dwelling" ("Troades," 649). And Menander: "The door of the court is the boundary fixed for the free woman." The head-dress of Greek women consisted of nets, hair-bags, or kerchiefs, sometimes covering the whole head. A shawl which enveloped the body was also often thrown over the head, especially at marriages or funerals. This costume the Corinthian women had disused in the christian assemblies, perhaps as an assertion of the abolition of sexual distinctions, and the spiritual equality of the woman with the man in the presence of Christ. This custom was discountenanced by Paul as striking at the divinely ordained subjection of the woman to the man. Among the Jews, in ancient times, both married and unmarried women appeared in public unveiled. The later Jewish authorities insisted on the use of the veil.

All one as if she were shaven

Which would be a sign either of grief or of disgrace. The cutting off of the hair is used by Isaiah as a figure of the entire destruction of a people by divine retribution. Isaiah 7:20 Among the Jews a woman convicted of adultery had her hair shorn, with the formula: "Because thou hast departed from the manner of the daughters of Israel, who go with their head covered, therefore that has befallen thee which thou hast chosen." According to Tacitus, among the Germans an adulteress was driven from her husband's house with her head shaved; and the Justinian code prescribed this penalty for an adulteress, whom, at the expiration of two years, her husband refused to receive again. Paul means that a woman praying or prophesying uncovered puts herself in public opinion on a level with a courtesan.

For if the woman be not covered, let her also be shorn: but if it be a shame for a woman to be shorn or shaven, let her be covered.
Shorn or shaven (κείρασθαι ἢ ξυρᾶσθαι)

To have the hair cut close, or to be entirely shaved as with a razor.

For a man indeed ought not to cover his head, forasmuch as he is the image and glory of God: but the woman is the glory of the man.
Image and glory (εἰκὼν καὶ δόξα)

For image, see on Revelation 13:14. Man represents God's authority by his position as the ruler of the woman. In the case of the woman, the word image is omitted, although she, like the man, is the image of God. Paul is expounding the relation of the woman, not to God, but to man.

For the man is not of the woman; but the woman of the man.
Neither was the man created for the woman; but the woman for the man.
For this cause ought the woman to have power on her head because of the angels.
Power on her head (ἐξουσίαν)

Not in the primary sense of liberty or permission, but authority. Used here of the symbol of power, i.e., the covering upon the head as a sign of her husband's authority. So Rev., a sign of authority.

Because of the angels

The holy angels, who were supposed by both the Jewish and the early Christian Church to be present in worshipping assemblies. More, however, seems to be meant than "to avoid exciting disapproval among them." The key-note of Paul's thought is subordination according to the original divine order. Woman best asserts her spiritual equality before God, not by unsexing herself, but by recognizing her true position and fulfilling its claims, even as do the angels, who are ministering as well as worshipping spirits (Hebrews 1:4). She is to fall in obediently with that divine economy of which she forms a part with the angels, and not to break the divine harmony, which especially asserts itself in worship, where the angelic ministers mingle with the earthly worshippers; nor to ignore the example of the holy ones who keep their first estate, and serve in the heavenly sanctuary.

Nevertheless neither is the man without the woman, neither the woman without the man, in the Lord.
For as the woman is of the man, even so is the man also by the woman; but all things of God.
Judge in yourselves: is it comely that a woman pray unto God uncovered?
Doth not even nature itself teach you, that, if a man have long hair, it is a shame unto him?
Nature (φύσις)

The recognized constitution of things. In this case the natural distinction of the woman's long hair.

But if a woman have long hair, it is a glory to her: for her hair is given her for a covering.
But if any man seem to be contentious, we have no such custom, neither the churches of God.

Not the custom of contentiousness, but that of women speaking unveiled. The testimonies of Tertullian and Chrysostom show that these injunctions of Paul prevailed in the churches. In the sculptures of the catacombs the women have a close-fitting head-dress, while the men have the hair short.

Now in this that I declare unto you I praise you not, that ye come together not for the better, but for the worse.
I declare (παραγγέλλω)

Wrong. It means in the New Testament only command. See on Luke 5:14; see on Acts 1:4.

For first of all, when ye come together in the church, I hear that there be divisions among you; and I partly believe it.
In the church (ἐν ἐκκλησίᾳ)

See on Matthew 16:18. Not the church edifice, a meaning which the word never has in the New Testament, and which appears first in patristic writings. The marginal rendering of the Rev. is better: in congregation.

For there must be also heresies among you, that they which are approved may be made manifest among you.
Heresies (αἱρἐσεις)

See on 2 Peter 2:1. In Paul only here and Galatians 5:20. Better, parties or factions, as the result of the divisions.

When ye come together therefore into one place, this is not to eat the Lord's supper.
This is not (οὐκ ἔστιν)

Rev., correctly, it is not possible.

The Lord's Supper (κυριακὸν δεῖπνον)

The emphasis is on Lord's. Δεῖπνον supper, represented the principal meal of the day, answering to the late dinner. The Eucharist proper was originally celebrated as a private expression of devotion, and in connection with a common, daily meal, an agape or love-feast. In the apostolic period it was celebrated daily. The social and festive character of the meal grew largely out of the gentile institution of clubs or fraternities, which served as savings-banks, mutual-help societies, insurance offices, and which expressed and fostered the spirit of good-fellowship by common festive meals, usually in gardens, round an altar of sacrifice. The communion-meal of the first and second centuries exhibited this character in being a feast of contribution, to which each brought his own provision. It also perpetuated the Jewish practice of the college of priests for the temple-service dining at a common table on festivals or Sabbaths, and of the schools of the Pharisees in their ordinary life.

Indications of the blending of the eucharistic celebration with a common meal are found here, Acts 2:42; Acts 20:7, and more obscurely, Acts 27:35.

For in eating every one taketh before other his own supper: and one is hungry, and another is drunken.
Taketh before other

Not waiting for the coming of the poor to participate.

What? have ye not houses to eat and to drink in? or despise ye the church of God, and shame them that have not? What shall I say to you? shall I praise you in this? I praise you not.
Them that have not

Not, that have not houses, but absolutely, the poor. In thus shaming their poorer comrades they imitated the heathen. Xenophon relates of Socrates that, at feasts of contribution, where some brought much and others little, Socrates bade his attendant either to place each small contribution on the table for the common use, or else to distribute his share of the same to each. And so those who had brought much were ashamed not to partake of that which was placed for general use, and not, in return, to place their own stock on the table ("Memorabilia," iii., 14, 1).

For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, That the Lord Jesus the same night in which he was betrayed took bread:
I received (ἐγὼ παρέλαβον)

I is emphatic, giving the weight of personal authority to the statement. The question whether Paul means that he received directly from Christ, or mediately through the apostles or tradition, turns on a difference between two prepositions. Strictly, ἀπὸ from or of, with the Lord, would imply the more remote source, from the Lord, through the apostles; but Paul does not always observe the distinction between this and παρά, from the preposition of the nearer source (see Greek, Colossians 1:7; Colossians 3:24); and this latter preposition compounded with the verb received, the emphatic I, and the mention of the fact itself, are decisive of the sense of an immediate communication from Christ to Paul.

Also (καὶ)

Important as expressing the identity of the account of Jesus with his own.

He was betrayed (παρεδίδετο)

Imperfect tense, and very graphic. He was being betrayed. He instituted the Eucharist while His betrayal was going on.

And when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me.
Had given thanks (εὐχαριστής)

Eucharistesas. Hence in post-apostolic and patristic writers, Eucharist was the technical term for the Lord's Supper as a sacrifice of thanksgiving for all the gifts of God, especially for the "unspeakable gift," Jesus Christ. By some of the fathers of the second century the term was sometimes applied to the consecrated elements. The formula of thanksgiving cited in "The Teaching of the Twelve Apostles" is, for the cup first, 'We give thanks to Thee, our Father, for the holy vine of David Thy servant, which Thou hast made known to us through Jesus, Thy servant: to Thee be the glory forever." And for the bread: "We give thanks to Thee, our Father, for the life and knowledge which Thou hast made known to us through Jesus Thy servant: to Thee be the glory forever. As this broken bread was scattered upon the mountains and, gathered together, became one, so let Thy Church be gathered together from the ends of the earth into Thy Kingdom, for Thine is the glory and the power through Jesus Christ forever."


Bengel says: "The very mention of the breaking involves distribution and refutes the Corinthian plan - every man his own" (1 Corinthians 11:21).

Do (ποιεῖε)

Be doing or continue doing.

In remembrance (εἰς)

Strictly, for or with a view to, denoting purpose. These words do not occur in Matthew and Mark. Paul's account agrees with Luke's. Remembrance implies Christ's bodily absence in the future.

After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me.
After supper

Only Luke records this detail. It is added to mark the distinction between the Lord's Supper and the ordinary meal.

Testament (διαθήκη)

Rev., correctly, covenant. See on Matthew 26:28. The Hebrew word is derived from a verb meaning to cut. Hence the connection of dividing the victims with the ratification of a covenant. See Genesis 15:9-18. A similar usage appears in the Homeric phrase ὅρκια πιστὰ ταμεῖν, lit., to cut trustworthy oaths, whence the word oaths is used for the victims sacrificed in ratification of a covenant or treaty. See Homer, "Iliad," ii., 124; 3. 73, 93. So the Latin foedus ferire "to kill a league," whence our phrase to strike a compact. In the Septuagint proper, where it occurs nearly three hundred times, διαθήκη, in all but four passages, is the translation of the Hebrew word for covenant (berith). In those four it is used to render brotherhood and words of the covenant. In Philo it has the same sense as in the Septuagint, and covenant is its invariable sense in the New Testament.

For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord's death till he come.
Ye do shew (καταγγέλλετε)

Rev., better, proclaim. It is more than represent or signify. The Lord's death is preached in the celebration of the Eucharist. Compare Exodus 13:8, thou shalt shew. In the Jewish passover the word Haggadah denoted the historical explanation of the meaning of the passover rites given by the father to the son. Dr. Schaff says of the eucharistic service of the apostolic age: "The fourteenth chapter of first Corinthians makes the impression - to use an American phrase - of a religions meeting thrown open. Everybody who had a spiritual gift, whether it was the gift of tongues, of interpretation, of prophecy, or of sober, didactic teaching, had a right to speak, to pray, and to sing. Even women exercised their gifts" ("Introduction to the Didache"). See, further, on 1 Corinthians 14:33.

Wherefore whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord.
Unworthily (ἀναξίως)

Defined by "not discerning the Lord's body," 1 Corinthians 11:29.

Guilty (ἔνοχος)

See on Mark 3:29; see on James 2:10.

But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup.

After self-examination and consequent knowledge of his spiritual state.

For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord's body.


Damnation (κρῖμα)

See on Mark 16:16; see on John 9:39. This false and horrible rendering has destroyed the peace of more sincere and earnest souls than any other misread passage in the New Testament. It has kept hundreds from the Lord's table. Κρῖμα is a temporary judgment, and so is distinguished from κατάκριμα condemnation, from which this temporary judgment is intended to save the participant. The distinction appears in 1 Corinthians 11:32 (see note). The A.V. of the whole passage, 1 Corinthians 11:28-34, is marked by a confusion of the renderings of κρίνειν to judge and its compounds.

Not discerning (μὴ διακρίνων)

Rev., if he discern not, bringing out the conditional force of the negative particle. The verb primarily means to separate, and hence to make a distinction, discriminate. Rev., in margin, discriminating. Such also is the primary meaning of discern (discernere to part or separate), so that discerning implies a mental act of discriminating between different things. So Bacon: "Nothing more variable than voices, yet men can likewise discern these personally." This sense has possibly become a little obscured in popular usage. From this the transition is easy and natural to the sense of doubting, disputing, judging, all of these involving the recognition of differences. The object of the discrimination here referred to, may, I think, be regarded as complex. After Paul's words (1 Corinthians 11:20, 1 Corinthians 11:22), about the degradation of the Lord's Supper, the discrimination between the Lord's body and common food may naturally be contemplated; but further, such discernment of the peculiar significance and sacredness of the Lord's body as shall make him shrink from profanation and shall stimulate him to penitence and faith.

The Lord's body

Omit Lord's and read the body. This adds force to discerning.

For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep.
Weak and sickly

Physical visitations on account of profanation of the Lord's table.

Many sleep (κοιμῶνται ἱκανοί)

The word for many means, primarily, adequate, sufficient. See on Romans 15:23. Rev., not a few hardly expresses the ominous shading of the word: quite enough have died. Sleep. Better, are sleeping. Here simply as a synonym for are dead, without the peculiar restful sense which christian sentiment so commonly conveys into it. See on Acts 7:60; see on 2 Peter 3:4.

For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged.
We would judge (διεκρίνομεν)

An illustration of the confusion in rendering referred to under 1 Corinthians 11:29. This is the same word as discerning in 1 Corinthians 11:29, but the A.V. recognizes no distinction between it, and judged (ἐκρινόμεθα) immediately following. Render, as Rev., if we discerned ourselves; i.e., examined and formed a right estimate.

We should not be judged (οὐκ ἀν ἐκρινόμεθα)

By God. Here judged is correct. A proper self-examination would save us from the divine judgment.

But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world.
When we are judged (κρινόμενοι)

Correct. The same word as the last. With this construe by the Lord; not with chastened. The antithesis to judging ourselves is thus preserved. So Rev., in margin.

Condemned (κατακριθῶμεν)

Signifying the final condemnatory judgment; but in 1 Corinthians 11:29 the simple κρῖμα temporary judgment, is made equivalent to this. See note.

Wherefore, my brethren, when ye come together to eat, tarry one for another.
Tarry (ἐκδέχεσθε)

In the usual New-Testament sense, as John 5:3; Acts 17:16; though in some cases the idea of expectancy is emphasized, as Hebrews 10:13; Hebrews 11:10; James 5:7. Some render receive ye one another, in contrast with despising the poorer guests; but this is not according to New-Testament usage.

And if any man hunger, let him eat at home; that ye come not together unto condemnation. And the rest will I set in order when I come.
Will I set in order (διατάξομαι)

Referring to outward, practical arrangements. See on Matthew 11:1, and compare 1 Corinthians 9:14; 1 Corinthians 16:1; Galatians 3:19.

Vincent's Word Studies, by Marvin R. Vincent [1886].
Text Courtesy of Internet Sacred Texts Archive.

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