In this chapter the apostle blames, and endeavours to rectify, some
great indecencies and manifest disorders in the church of Corinth; as,
I. The misconduct of their women (some of whom seem to have been
inspired) in the public assembly, who laid by their veils, the common
token of subjection to their husbands in that part of the world. This
behaviour he reprehends, requires them to keep veiled, asserts the
superiority of the husband, yet so as to remind the husband that both
were made for mutual help and comfort,
II. He blames them for their discord and neglect and contempt of the
poor, at the Lord's supper,
III. To rectify these scandalous disorders, he sets before them the
nature and intentions of this holy institution, directs them how they
should attend on it, and warns them of the danger of a conduct to
indecent as theirs, and of all unworthy receiving,
Directions Concerning Attire; Female Subjection.
A. D. 57.
1 Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ.
2 Now I praise you, brethren, that ye remember me in all
things, and keep the ordinances, as I delivered them to you.
3 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.
4 Every man praying or prophesying, having his head covered,
dishonoureth his head.
5 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.
6 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
7 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
8 For the man is not of the woman; but the woman of the man.
9 Neither was the man created for the woman; but the woman for
10 For this cause ought the woman to have power on her head
because of the angels.
11 Nevertheless neither is the man without the woman, neither
the woman without the man, in the Lord.
12 For as the woman is of the man, even so is the man also
by the woman; but all things of God.
13 Judge in yourselves: is it comely that a woman pray unto God
14 Doth not even nature itself teach you, that, if a man have
long hair, it is a shame unto him?
15 But if a woman have long hair, it is a glory to her: for
her hair is given her for a covering.
16 But if any man seem to be contentious, we have no such
custom, neither the churches of God.
Paul, having answered the cases put to him, proceeds in this chapter to
the redress of grievances. The
of the chapter is put, by those who divided the epistle into chapters,
as a preface to the rest of the epistle, but seems to have been a more
proper close to the last, in which he had enforced the cautions he had
given against the abuse of liberty, by his own example: Be ye
followers of me, as I also am of Christ
fitly closes his argument; and the way of speaking in the
looks like a transition to another. But, whether it more properly
belong to this or the last chapter, it is plain from it that Paul not
only preached such doctrine as they ought to believe, but led such a
life as they ought to imitate. "Be ye followers of me," that is, "Be
imitators of me; live as you see me live." Note, Ministers are likely
to preach most to the purpose when they can press their hearers to
follow their example. Yet would not Paul be followed blindly neither.
He encourages neither implicit faith nor obedience. He would be
followed himself no further than he followed Christ. Christ's pattern
is a copy without a blot; so is no man's else. Note, We should follow
no leader further than he follows Christ. Apostles should be left by us
when they deviate from the example of their Master. He passes next to
reprehend and reform an indecency among them, of which the women were
more especially guilty, concerning which observe,
I. How he prefaces it. He begins with a commendation of what was
praiseworthy in them
I praise you, that you remember me in all things, and keep the
ordinances as I delivered them to you. Many of them, it is
probable, did this in the strictest sense of the expression: and he
takes occasion thence to address the body of the church under this good
character; and the body might, in the main, have continued to observe
the ordinances and institutions of Christ, though in some things they
deviated from, and corrupted, them. Note, When we reprove what is amiss
in any, it is very prudent and fit to commend what is good in them; it
will show that the reproof is not from ill-will, and a humour of
censuring and finding fault; and it will therefore procure the more
regard to it.
II. How he lays the foundation for his reprehension by asserting the
superiority of the man over the woman: 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. Christ, in his mediatorial character
and glorified humanity, is at the head of mankind. He is not only first
of the kind, but Lord and Sovereign. He has a name above every name:
though in this high office and authority he has a superior, God being
his head. And as God is the head of Christ, and Christ the head of the
whole human kind, so the man is the head of the tow sexes: not indeed
with such dominion as Christ has over the kind or God has over the man
Christ Jesus; but a superiority and headship he has, and the woman
should be in subjection and not assume or usurp the man's place. This
is the situation in which God has placed her; and for that reason she
should have a mind suited to her rank, and not do any thing that looks
like an affectation of changing places. Something like this the women
of the church of Corinth seem to have been guilty of, who were under
inspiration, and prayed and prophesied even in their assemblies,
It is indeed an apostolical canon, that the women should keep
silence in the churches
which some understand without limitation, as if a woman under
inspiration also must keep silence, which seems very well to agree with
the connection of the apostle's discourse,
Others with a limitation: though a woman might not from her own
abilities pretend to teach, or so much as question and debate any thing
in the church yet when under inspiration the case was altered, she had
liberty to speak. Or, though she might not preach even by inspiration
(because teaching is the business of a superior), yet she might pray or
utter hymns by inspiration, even in the public assembly. She did not
show any affectation of superiority over the man by such acts of public
worship. It is plain the apostle does not in this place prohibit the
thing, but reprehend the manner of doing it. And yet he might utterly
disallow the thing and lay an unlimited restraint on the woman in
another part of the epistle. These things are not contradictory. It is
to his present purpose to reprehend the manner wherein the women prayed
and prophesied in the church, without determining in this place whether
they did well or ill in praying or prophesying. Note, The manner of
doing a thing enters into the morality of it. We must not only be
concerned to do good, but that the good we do be well done.
III. The thing he reprehends is the woman's praying or prophesying
uncovered, or the man's doing either covered,
To understand this, it must be observed that it was a signification
either of shame or subjection for persons to be veiled, or covered, in
the eastern countries, contrary to the custom of ours, where the being
bare-headed betokens subjection, and being covered superiority and
dominion. And this will help us the better to understand,
IV. The reasons on which he grounds his reprehension.
1. The man that prays or prophesies with his head covered
dishonoureth his head, namely, Christ, the head of every man
by appearing in a habit unsuitable to the rank in which God has placed
him. Note, We should, even in our dress and habits, avoid every thing
that may dishonour Christ. The woman, on the other hand, who
prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonoureth her head,
namely, the man,
She appears in the dress of her superior, and throws off the token of
her subjection. She might, with equal decency, cut her hair short, or
cut it close, which was the custom of the man in that age. This would
be in a manner to declare that she was desirous of changing sexes, a
manifest affectation of that superiority which God had conferred on the
other sex. And this was probably the fault of these prophetesses in the
church of Corinth. It was doing a thing which, in that age of the
world, betokened superiority, and therefore a tacit claim of what did
not belong to them but the other sex. Note, The sexes should not affect
to change places. The order in which divine wisdom has placed persons
and things is best and fittest: to endeavour to amend it is to destroy
all order, and introduce confusion. The woman should keep to the rank
God has chosen for her, and not dishonour her head; for this, in the
result, is to dishonour God. If she was made out of the man, and for
the man, and made to be the glory of the man, she should do nothing,
especially in public, that looks like a wish of having this order
2. Another reason against this conduct is that the man is the image
and glory of God, the representative of that glorious dominion and
headship which God has over the world. It is the man who is set at the
head of this lower creation, and therein he bears the resemblance of
God. The woman, on the other hand, is the glory of the man
she is his representative. Not but she has dominion over the inferior
creatures, as she is a partaker of human nature, and so far is God's
representative too, but it is at second-hand. She is the image of God,
inasmuch as she is the image of the man: For the man was not made
out of the woman, but the woman out of the man,
The man was first made, and made head of the creation here below, and
therein the image of the divine dominion; and the woman was made out of
the man, and shone with a reflection of his glory, being made superior
to the other creatures here below, but in subjection to her husband,
and deriving that honour from him out of whom she was made.
3. The woman was made for the man, to be his help-meet, and
not the man for the woman. She was naturally, therefore, made
subject to him, because made for him, for his use, and help, and
comfort. And she who was intended to be always in subjection to the man
should do nothing, in Christian assemblies, that looks like an
affectation of equality.
4. She ought to have power on her head, because of the angels.
Power, that is, a veil, the token, not of her having the power or
superiority, but being under the power of her husband, subjected to
him, and inferior to the other sex. Rebekah, when she met Isaac, and
was delivering herself into his possession, put on her veil, in token
of her subjection,
Thus would the apostle have the women appear In Christian assemblies,
even though they spoke there by inspiration, because of the
angels, that is, say some, because of the evil angels. The woman
was first in the transgression, being deceived by the devil
(1 Timothy 2:14),
which increased her subjection to man,
Now, believe evil angels will be sure to mix in all Christian
assemblies, therefore should women wear the token of their
shamefacedness and subjection, which in that age and country, was a
veil. Others say because of the good angels. Jews and Christians have
had an opinion that these ministering spirits are many of them present
in their assemblies. Their presence should restrain Christians from
all indecencies in the worship of God. Note, We should learn from all
to behave in the public assemblies of divine worship so as to express a
reverence for God, and a content and satisfaction with that rank in
which he has placed us.
V. He thinks fit to guard his argument with a caution lest the
inference be carried too far
Nevertheless, neither is the man without the woman, nor the woman
without the man in the Lord. They were made for one another. It
is not good for him to be alone
and therefore was a woman made, and made for the man; and the man was
intended to be a comfort, and help, and defence, to the woman, though
not so directly and immediately made for her. They were made to be a
mutual comfort and blessing, not one a slave and the other a tyrant.
Both were to be one flesh
and this for the propagation of a race of mankind. They are reciprocal
instruments of each other's production. As the woman was first formed
out of the man, the man is ever since propagated by the woman
all by the divine wisdom and power of the First Cause so ordaining it.
The authority and subjection should be no greater than are suitable to
two in such near relation and close union to each other. Note, As it is
the will of God that the woman know her place, so it is his will also
that the man abuse not his power.
VI. He enforces his argument from the natural covering provided for the
"Judge in yourselves--consult your own reason, hearken to what
nature suggests--is it comely for a woman to pray to God
uncovered? Should there not be a distinction kept up between the
sexes in wearing their hair, since nature has made one? Is it not a
distinction which nature has kept up among all civilized nations? The
woman's hair is a natural covering; to wear it long is a glory to her;
but for a man to have long hair, or cherish it, is a token of softness
and effeminacy." Note, It should be our concern, especially in
Christian and religious assemblies, to make no breach upon the rules of
VII. He sums up all by referring those who were contentious to the
usages and customs of the churches,
Custom is in a great measure the rule of decency. And the common
practice of the churches is what would have them govern themselves by.
He does not silence the contentious by mere authority, but lets them
know that they would appear to the world as very odd and singular in
their humour if they would quarrel for a custom to which all the
churches of Christ were at that time utter strangers, or against a
custom in which they all concurred, and that upon the ground of natural
decency. It was the common usage of the churches for women to appear in
public assemblies, and join in public worship, veiled; and it was
manifestly decent that they should do so. Those must be very
contentious indeed who would quarrel with this, or lay it aside.
Profanation of the Lord's Supper.
A. D. 57.
17 Now in this that I declare unto you I praise you not,
that ye come together not for the better, but for the worse.
18 For first of all, when ye come together in the church, I
hear that there be divisions among you; and I partly believe it.
19 For there must be also heresies among you, that they which
are approved may be made manifest among you.
20 When ye come together therefore into one place, this is
not to eat the Lord's supper.
21 For in eating every one taketh before other his own
supper: and one is hungry, and another is drunken.
22 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.
In this passage the apostle sharply rebukes them for much greater
disorders than the former, in their partaking of the Lord's supper,
which was commonly done in the first ages, as the ancients tell us,
with a love-feast annexed, which gave occasion to the scandalous
disorders which the apostle here reprehends, concerning which
I. The manner in which he introduces his charge: "Now in this that I
declare to you I praise you not,
I cannot commend, but must blame and condemn you." It is plain, from
the beginning of the chapter, that he was willing and pleased to
commend as far as he could. But such scandalous disorders, in so sacred
an institution, as they were guilty of, called for a sharp
reprehension. They quite turned the institution against itself. It was
intended to make them better, to promote their spiritual interests; but
it really made them worse. They came together, not for the better,
but for the worse. Note, The ordinances of Christ, if they do not
make us better, will be very apt to make us worse; if they do not do
our souls good, they do us harm; if they do not melt and mend, they
will harden. Corruptions will be confirmed in us, if the proper means
do not work a cure of them.
II. He enters upon his charge against them in more particulars than
1. He tells them that, upon coming together, they fell into
divisions, schisms--schismata. Instead of
concurring unanimously in celebrating the ordinance, they fell a
quarrelling with one another. Note, There may be schism where there is
no separation of communion. Persons may come together in the same
church, and sit down at the same table of the Lord, and yet be
schismatics. Uncharitableness, alienation of affection, especially if
it grows up to discord, and feuds, and contentions, constitute schism.
Christians may separate from each other's communion, and yet be
uncharitable one towards another; they may continue in the same
communion, and yet be uncharitable. This latter is schism, rather than
the former. The apostle had heard a report of the Corinthians'
divisions, and he tells them he had too much reason to believe it. For,
adds he, there must be heresies also; not only quarrels, but factions,
and perhaps such corrupt opinions as strike at the foundation of
Christianity, and all sound religion. Note, No marvel there should be
breaches of Christian love in the churches, when such offences will
come as shall make shipwreck of faith and a good conscience. Such
offences must come. Note that men are necessitated to be guilty of
them; but the event is certain, and God permits them, that those who
are approved (such honest hearts as will bear the trial) may be set to
view, and appear faithful by their constant adherence to the truths and
ways of God, notwithstanding the temptations of seducers. Note, The
wisdom of God can make the wickedness and errors of others a foil to
the piety and integrity of the saints.
2. He charges them not only with discord and division, but with
scandalous disorder: For in eating every one taketh before the other
his own supper; and one is hungry, and another is drunken,
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.
III. The apostle lays the blame of this conduct closely on them,
1. By telling them that their conduct perfectly destroyed the purpose
and use of such an institution: This is not to eat the Lord's
It was coming to the Lord's table, and not coming. They might as well
have staid away. Thus to eat the outward elements was not to eat
Christ's body. Note, There is a careless and irregular eating of the
Lord's supper which is as none at all; it will turn to no account, but
to increase guilt. Such an eating was that of the Corinthians; their
practices were a direct contradiction to the purposes of this sacred
2. Their conduct carried in it a contempt of God's house, or of the
If they had a mind to feast, they might do it at home in their own
houses; but to come to the Lord's table, and cabal and quarrel, and
keep the poor from their share of the provision there made for them as
well as rich, was such an abuse of the ordinance, and such a contempt
of the poorer members of the church more especially, as merited a very
sharp rebuke. Such a behaviour tended much to the shame and
discouragement of the poor, whose souls were as dear to Christ, and
cost him as much, as those of the rich. Note, Common meals may be
managed after a common manner, but religious feasts should be attended
religiously. Note, also, It is a heinous evil, and severely to be
censured, for Christians to treat their fellow-christians with contempt
and insolence, but especially at the Lord's table. This is doing what
they can to pour contempt on divine ordinances. And we should look
carefully to it that nothing in our behaviour at the Lord's table have
the appearance of contemning so sacred an institution.
Design of the Lord's Supper.
A. D. 57.
23 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:
24 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.
25 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.
26 For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do
show the Lord's death till he come.
27 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.
28 But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that
bread, and drink of that cup.
29 For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and
drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord's body.
30 For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and
31 For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged.
32 But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that
we should not be condemned with the world.
33 Wherefore, my brethren, when ye come together to eat, tarry
one for another.
34 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
To rectify these gross corruptions and irregularities, the apostle sets
the sacred institution here to view. This should be the rule in the
reformation of all abuses.
I. He tells us how he came by the knowledge of it. He was not among the
apostles at the first institution; but he had received from the Lord
what he delivered to them,
He had the knowledge of this matter by revelation from Christ: and what
he had received he communicated, without varying from the truth a
tittle, without adding or diminishing.
II. He gives us a more particular account of the institution than we
meet with elsewhere. We have here an account,
1. Of the author--our Lord Jesus Christ. The king of the church only has
power to institute sacraments.
2. The time of the institution: It was the very night wherein he was
betrayed; just as he was entering on his sufferings which are
therein to be commemorated.
3. The institution itself. Our Saviour took bread, and when he had
given thanks, or blessed (as it is in
he broke, and said, Take, eat; this is my body, broken for you; this
do in remembrance of me. And in like manner he took the cup, when he
had supped, saying, This cup is the New Testament in my blood; this do,
as oft as you drink it, in remembrance of me,
(1.) The materials of this sacrament; both,
[1.] As to the visible signs; these are bread and the cup, the former
of which is called bread many times over in this passage, even after
what the papists call consecration. What is eaten is called bread,
though it be at the same time said to be the body of the Lord, a
plain argument that the apostle knew nothing of their monstrous and
absurd doctrine of transubstantiation. The latter is as plainly a part
of this institution as words can make it. St. Matthew tells us, our
Lord bade them all drink of it
as if he would, by this expression, lay in a caveat against the
papists' depriving the laity of the cup. Bread and the cup are both
made use of, because it is a holy feast. Nor is it here, or any where,
made necessary, that any particular liquor should be in the cup. In one
evangelist, indeed, it is plain that wine was the liquor used by our
Saviour, though it was, perhaps, mingled with water, according to the
Jewish custom; vide Lightfoot on
But this by no means renders it unlawful to have a sacrament where
persons cannot come at wine. In every place of scripture in which we
have an account of this part of the institution it is always expressed
by a figure. The cup is put for what was in it, without once specifying
what the liquor was, in the words of the institution.
[2.] The things signified by these outward signs; they are Christ's
body and blood, his body broken, his blood shed, together with all the
benefits which flow from his death and sacrifice: it is the New
Testament in his blood. His blood is the seal and sanction of all
the privileges of the new covenant; and worthy receivers take it as
such, at this holy ordinance. They have the New Testament, and their
own title to all the blessings of the new covenant, confirmed to them
by his blood.
(2.) We have here the sacramental actions, the manner in which the
materials of the sacrament are to be used.
[1.] Our Saviour's actions, which are taking the bread and cup, giving
thanks, breaking the bread, and giving about both the one and the
[2.] The actions of the communicants, which were to take the bread and
eat, to take the cup and drink, and both in remembrance of Christ. But
the external acts are not the whole nor the principal part of what is
to be done at this holy ordinance; each of them has a significancy. Our
Saviour, having undertaken to make an offering of himself to God, and
procure, by his death, the remission of sins, with all other gospel
benefits, for true believers, did, at the institution, deliver his body
and blood, with all the benefits procured by his death, to his
disciples, and continues to do the same every time the ordinance is
administered to the true believers. This is here exhibited, or set
forth, as the food of souls. And as food, though ever so wholesome or
rich, will yield no nourishment without being eaten, here the
communicants are to take and eat, or to receive Christ and feed upon
him, his grace and benefits, and by faith convert them into nourishment
to their souls. They are to take him as their Lord and life, yield
themselves up to him, and live upon him. He is our life,
(3.) We have here an account of the ends of this institution.
[1.] It was appointed to be done in remembrance of Christ, to
keep fresh in our minds an ancient favour, his dying for us, as well as
to remember an absent friend, even Christ interceding for us, in virtue
of his death, at God's right hand. The best of friends, and the
greatest acts of kindness, are here to be remembered, with the exercise
of suitable affections and graces. The motto on this ordinance, and the
very meaning of it, is, When this you see, remember me.
[2.] It was to show forth Christ's death, to declare and publish
it. It is not barely in remembrance of Christ, of what he has done and
suffered, that this ordinance was instituted; but to commemorate, to
celebrate, his glorious condescension and grace in our redemption. We
declare his death to be our life, the spring of all our comforts and
hopes. And we glory in such a declaration; we show forth his death, and
spread it before God, as our accepted sacrifice and ransom. We set it
in view of our own faith, for our own comfort and quickening; and we
own before the world, by this very service, that we are the disciples
of Christ, who trust in him alone for salvation and acceptance with
(4.) It is moreover hinted here, concerning this ordinance,
[1.] That it should be frequent: As often as you eat this bread,
&c. Our bodily meals return often; we cannot maintain life and health
without this. And it is fit that this spiritual diet should be taken
often tool The ancient churches celebrated this ordinance every Lord's
day, if not every day when they assembled for worship.
[2.] That it must be perpetual. It is to be celebrated till the Lord
shall come; till he shall come the second time, without sin, for
the salvation of those that believe, and to judge the world. This is
our warrant for keeping this feast. It was our Lord's will that we
should thus celebrate the memorials of his death and passion, till he
come in his own glory, and the Father's glory, with his holy angels,
and put an end to the present state of things, and his own mediatorial
administration, by passing the final sentence. Note, The Lord's supper
is not a temporary, but a standing and perpetual ordinance.
III. He lays before the Corinthians the danger of receiving unworthily,
of prostituting this institution as they did, and using it to the
purposes of feasting and faction, with intentions opposite to its
design, or a temper of mind altogether unsuitable to it; or keeping up
the covenant with sin and death, while they are there professedly
renewing and confirming their covenant with God.
1. It is great guilt which such contract. They shall be guilty of
the body and blood of the Lord
of violating this sacred institution, of despising his body and blood.
They act as if they counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith
they are sanctified, an unholy thing,
They profane the institution, and in a manner crucify their Saviour
over again. Instead of being cleansed by his blood, they are guilty of
2. It is a great hazard which they run: They eat and drink judgment
They provoke God, and are likely to bring down punishment on
themselves. No doubt but they incur great guilt, and so render
themselves liable to damnation, to spiritual judgments and eternal
misery. Every sin is in its own nature damning; and therefore surely so
heinous a sin as profaning such a holy ordinance is so. And it is
profaned in the grossest sense by such irreverence and rudeness as the
Corinthians were guilty of. But fearful believers should not be
discouraged from attending at this holy ordinance by the sound of these
words, as if they bound upon themselves the sentence of damnation by
coming to the table of the Lord unprepared. Thus sin, as well as all
others, leaves room for forgiveness upon repentance; and the Holy
Spirit never indited this passage of scripture to deter serious
Christians from their duty, though the devil has often made this
advantage of it, and robbed good Christians of their choicest comforts.
The Corinthians came to the Lord's table as to a common feast, not
discerning the Lord's body--not making a difference or distinction
between that and common food, but setting both on a level: nay, they
used much more indecency at this sacred feast than they would have done
at a civil one. This was very sinful in them, and very displeasing to
God, and brought down his judgments on them: For this cause many are
weak and sickly among you, and many sleep. Some were punished with
sickness, and some with death. Note, A careless and irreverent
receiving of the Lord's supper may bring temporal punishments. Yet the
connection seems to imply that even those who were thus punished were
in a state of favour with God, at least many of them: They were
chastened of the Lord, that they should not be condemned with the
Now divine chastening is a sign of divine love: Whom the Lord loveth
especially with so merciful a purpose, to prevent their final
condemnation. In the midst of judgment, God remembers mercy: he
frequently punishes those whom he tenderly loves. It is kindness to
use the rod to prevent the child's ruin. He will visit such iniquity as
this under consideration with stripes, and yet make those stripes the
evidence of his lovingkindness. Those were in the favour of God who yet
so highly offended him in this instance, and brought down judgments on
themselves; at least many of them were; for they were punished by him
out of fatherly good-will, punished now that they might not perish for
ever. Note, It is better to bear trouble in this world than to be
miserable to eternity. And God punishes his people now, to prevent
their eternal woe.
IV. He points out the duty of those who would come to the Lord's table.
1. In general: Let a man examine himself
try and approve himself. Let him consider the sacred intention of this
holy ordinance, its nature, and use, and compare his own views in
attending on it and his disposition of mind for it; and, when he has
approved himself to his own conscience in the sight of God, then let
him attend. Such self-examination is necessary to a right attendance
at this holy ordinance. Note, Those who, through weakness of
understanding, cannot try themselves, are by no means fit to eat of
this bread and drink of this cup; nor those who, upon a fair trial,
have just ground to charge themselves with impenitency, unbelief, and
alienation from the life of God. Those should have the wedding-garment
on who would be welcome at this marriage-feast--grace in habit, and
grace in exercise.
2. The duty of those who were yet unpunished for their profanation of
this ordinance: If we would judge ourselves, we should not be
If we would thoroughly search and explore ourselves, and condemn and
correct what we find amiss, we should prevent divine judgments. Note,
To be exact and severe on ourselves and our own conduct is the most
proper way in the world not to fall under the just severity of our
heavenly Father. We must not judge others, lest we be judged
but we must judge ourselves, to prevent our being judged and condemned
by God. We may be critical as to ourselves, but should be very candid
in judging others.
V. He closes all with a caution against the irregularities of which
they were guilty
charging them to avoid all indecency at the Lord's table. They were to
eat for hunger and pleasure only at home, and not to change the holy
supper to a common feast; and much less eat up the provisions before
those who could bring none did partake of them, lest they should come
together for condemnation. Note, Our holy duties, through our own
abuse, may prove matter of condemnation. Christians may keep Sabbaths,
hear sermons, attend at sacraments, and only aggravate guilt, and bring
on a heavier doom. A sad but serious truth! O! let all look to it that
they do not come together at any time to God's worship, and all the
while provoke him, and bring down vengeance on themselves. Holy things
are to be used in a holy manner, or else they are profaned. What else
was amiss in this matter, he tells them, he would rectify when he came
Matthew Henry "Verse by Verse Commentary for '1 Corinthians' Matthew Henry Bible Commentary".