Blaine Robison, M.A.
An Exegetical Commentary
Published 29 August 2015; Revised 11 March 2016
Scripture Text: The text of 1 Corinthians 11 is prepared by Blaine Robison based on the Nestle-Aland Greek New Testament. The essentially literal translation seeks to reflect the Jewish character of the author and writing. All other Scripture quotations are from the NASB Updated Edition (1995), unless otherwise indicated. Click here for Abbreviations of Bible Versions.
Sources: Bibliographic data for works cited and resources consulted may be found at the end of the commentary. Works without page numbers are cited ad loc. Unless otherwise indicated references to the Talmud are from the Soncino Babylonian Talmud (1948); available online at Halakhah.com. Click here for Talmud Abbreviations.
Terminology: In order to emphasize the Jewish nature of the apostolic canon and its central figure I use Yeshua (Jesus), Messiah (Christ), Tanakh (Old Testament), and Besekh (New Testament). The abbreviation LXX stands for the Septuagint, the Jewish translation of the Hebrew Bible into Greek, which was in use by Jews by the mid-2nd century B.C.
Grammar: Unless otherwise noted the meaning of Greek words is from F.W. Danker, The Concise Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament (2009), and the meaning of Hebrew words is from The New Brown, Driver, Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon (1981), abbreviated as "BDB." See the Greek Guide for the meaning of grammar abbreviations.
Please see Paul's Letters to Corinth for background information on the letter.
Overview of Chapter 11
In this chapter Paul confronts certain problem areas concerning conduct in gatherings of the congregation.
Challenge and Commendation, 11:1-2. The chapter begins with a call and a compliment, but these two verses seem like they belong to the end of chapter 10. Paul's tone quickly changes.
Praying and Prophesying, 11:3-16. Paul raises an issue of how husbands and wives were behaving when they prayed and prophesied. Two faults are addressed; first, marriage roles, and then the manner of conducting religious acts.
Divisions in the Body, 11:17-19. Paul returns again briefly to the issue he addressed in the first chapter.
The Lord's Table, 11:20-34. Paul confronts the congregation concerning disrespectful behavior during the Lord's Supper and provides guidance on how this sacred meal should be observed.
Challenge and Commendation, 11:1-2
1 Become imitators of me just as I am of Messiah.
Become: Grk. ginomai, pres. mid. imp., to transfer from one state to another, here with the meaning of undergoing change or development; come to be, become. In the LXX ginomai renders Heb. hayah (SH-1961), to fall out, to come into being, become, come to pass, to be (DNTT 1:181). The imperative mood indicates a command and the present tense means to start and continue the expected behavior. imitators: pl. of Grk. mimētēs, one who follows a patter or model and in the Besekh always in a good sense with the focus on appropriate behavior and fidelity; imitator. of me: Grk. egō, personal pronoun of the first person. Paul made the same appeal earlier in the letter (1Cor 4:6).
just as: Grk. kathōs, conj. emphasizing similarity, conformity, proportion or manner; as, just as. I am also: Grk. kagō, conj., formed from combining kai and egō and serves to link in parallel a personal affirmation by way of addition to or confirmation of a preceding statement. of Messiah: Grk. Christos, the expected fulfiller of the hopes of Israel for an end-time deliverer, the Anointed One or Messiah. The English "Christ" transliterates the Greek title, but does not translate it. In Greek culture christos comes from chriein, to rub lightly, and in its secular use had no religious connotation at all. Christos as an adjective described someone smeared with whitewash, cosmetics or paint, and was anything but an expression of honor. As a personal reference it even tended toward the disrespectful (DNTT 2:334).
Jewish translators of the LXX chose Christos to render Heb. Mashiach and in so doing infused new meaning into the Greek word. The title Mashiach means ‘anointed one’ or ‘poured on.’ Mashiach was used in the Tanakh for (1) the patriarchs (1Chron 16:16-22; Ps 105:15); (2) the High Priest, Lev 4:5; (3) the King, 1Sam 12:3; 2Sam 22:51; Isa 45:1; and (4) the Messiah, Ps 2:2 and Dan 9:25-26. This last usage defined the term among Jews in the first century A.D. The title of “Anointed One” alludes to a ceremony of pouring olive oil on the head to invest one with the authority of an office (Ex 29:7; Lev 8:12; Ps 133:2). There was no comparable concept in Greek culture. For an expanded discussion on the Jewish title and Jewish expectations of the Messiah see my commentary on Mark 1:1.
Paul's entreaty for disciples in Corinth to follow his example is not arrogance, but simply an appeal for them to follow Yeshua with the same devotion. This verse really belongs at the end of the previous chapter as the fitting conclusion to his instruction and testimony.
31 Whether, therefore, you eat or you drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. 32 Be without offense both to Judean Jews and to Hellenistic Jews, and to the congregation of God; 33 just as I also please all men in all things, not seeking my profit but that of the many, in order that they may be saved." (1Cor 10:31-33 mine)
The instruction of this chapter properly begins with the next verse.
2 Now I commend you because you have remembered me in all things, and are keeping the traditions, just as I entrusted on to you.
Now: Grk. de, conj., used to indicate (1) a contrast to a preceding statement or thought, "but;" (2) a transition in presentation of subject matter, "now, then;" or (3) a connecting particle to continue a thought, "and, also" (BAG). I commend you: Grk. epaineō, to express high approval; praise, compliment, commend. Paul's praise is specific in nature because in verse 17 below he identifies something that is not praise-worthy. because: Grk. hoti, conj. that serves as a link between two sets of data, here indicating causality with an inferential aspect; for, because, inasmuch as. you have remembered me: Grk. mimnēskomai, perf. mid., to call something to mind that one has noted or thought about in the past; recollect, remember. In the LXX mimnēskomai generally renders Heb. zakar with the same meaning (DNTT 3:232).
In the Tanakh Israelites were often called to remember, sometimes serving as a call for Israel to retain the knowledge of their history and past deliverances (Ex 13:3; 32:13; Deut 5:15; 7:18; 8:2; 9:7; 15:15; 16:12; 24:9, 18; 25:17; 32:7; Mic 6:5), sometimes to recall God's nature, power and spiritual redemption (Isa 44:21-22; 46:8-10) and sometime to obey the commandments and keep traditions instructed by the Lord (Ex 20:8; Num 15:39-40; Deut 8:18; 16:3; Josh 1:13). in all things: pl. of Grk. pas, adj., comprehensive in scope; all, every. Some of the congregation members looked back on Paul's ministry in Corinth to proclaim the Good News and disciple new believers with fondness and appreciation.
and are keeping: Grk. katechō, to hold fast, to hold down. Mounce adds to keep or to retain. the traditions: pl. of Grk. paradosis, tradition, whether long-standing or relatively current. The term occurs in passages of Pharisaic traditions (Matt 15:2-3; Gal 1:14), pagan philosophy (Col 2:8) and apostolic traditions (2Th 2:18; 3:6). just as: Grk. kathōs. See the note on the previous verse. I entrusted: Grk. paradidōmi, aor., to convey from one position to another, in general to hand over, give over, deliver or entrust. to you: Paul alludes to his work in beginning the congregation. Based on Paul's usage of the same verb in verse 23 below and 15:3 he passed on the tradition of the Lord's Supper and the teaching of Yeshua's atoning death, burial and resurrection. As Stern points out Paul's statement corresponds to Jewish understand as found in the Mishnah,
"Moses received the Torah at Sinai and transmitted it to Joshua, Joshua to the elders, and the elders to the Prophets, and the Prophets to the men of the Great Synagogue" (Avot 1:1)
Paul did not invent his teachings or traditions. His ultimate source is Yeshua and therefore his instructions are to be obeyed.
Stern suggests that this section raises three issues for today: (1) Male chauvinism: does Paul teach an unacceptable male dominance? (2) Cultural relativism: are the prescriptions set forth here laws for all times and places, or are they meant only for first-century Corinth? (3) Messianic Judaism: if the rules about head covering apply today, does this keep Messianic Jewish men from wearing kippot (yarmulkes)? Stern's questions perhaps reflect his reaction to Christian interpretation of this section. The short answers to his questions are: (1) No; (2) Paul's instructions are for all times and places; and (3) No.
Some interpreters believe that Paul's instruction in this section is to impose a clothing lifestyle requirement on women to wear something on the head whereas others dispute that viewpoint. There would be no dispute if Paul had actually commanded "all women will wear a cloth on their heads," but he does not say this. Exegesis must always start with the question, "What does it say?" As we examine the Greek text and attempt to translate it literally, the reality of Paul's instruction should become apparent.
Whatever we may deduce about the controversy, Paul seems primarily concerned that husbands and wives not act in such as way as to dishonor each other or the Lord. There is one other element to consider. In Paul's description of the problem in verses 3-16 there is no mention of public corporate worship, although this is commonly assumed to be the context. The first mention of the congregation gathered is verse 17 where Paul introduces a different problem. With these considerations let us consider Paul's words.
3 Now I want you to know that the head of every man is Messiah, and the husband is the head of the wife, and the head of Messiah is God.
Paul introduces this section with an axiomatic statement concerning marriage based on the creation principle of Genesis 2, and in so doing hints at the fundamental problem. Now: Grk. de, conj. See the note on the previous verse. I want: Grk. thelō, to have a desire for something or have a purpose for something; will, wish, desire. you to know: Grk. oida, perf. inf., to have seen or perceived, hence to know. The perfect tense refers to action completed in the past with continuing results in the present. The verb is used for various kinds of knowledge, but here is used of both understanding and accepting the biblical truth that follows.
In the LXX oida occurs frequently to render Heb. yada (SH-3045; e.g., Num 11:16; Deut 1:39; Josh 2:4; 2Sam 19:6), which has a wide range of meaning, but in most occasions refers to a personal knowledge, whether of knowing persons or knowing by experience, as well as knowing by learning (DNTT 2:395). that the head: Grk. kephalē, the head as an anatomical term, but it is also used fig. for the life of an individual, and to refer to someone higher in rank who merits respect by virtue of that position (DNTT 2:157). Philo, citing Plato, understands the head to be the body's most divine part, its master (On the Creation 119). In the LXX kephalē frequently translates the Heb. rosh ("head") and is used to denote one who occupies a leadership position in the community (cf. Judg 10:18; 1Kgs 21:12).
of every: Grk. pas. See the note on the previous verse. man: Grk. anēr generally signifies a male who has grown up and has the attendant responsibility and recognition in a structured society. The term is used of a man as distinct from a woman, but also of a husband. In the LXX, which was used in Diaspora synagogues, anēr renders several Hebrew words, but principally the words adam (man), ish (man, husband), enosh (man, husband), and ba'al (lord, husband, head of a household) (DNTT 2:562). The mention of "every man" is probably intended to be inclusive. is Messiah: Grk. Christos. See the note on verse 1 above. Yeshua is the head of his Body (Eph 1:22; 5:23).
As Gill eloquently says, Messiah Yeshua is the head of every individual, and as the Creator and Preserver of all men, he is the source of all the powers and faculties a person possesses. He is the Governor of all the nations of the earth, which one day shall bow to him, and every tongue confess that he is the Lord of all. Then, as the head of the Messianic Community, he is head of every man that is a member of it. Yeshua exercises his headship in his agency of mediator between God and men. Just as a physical head is cognizant of the body's needs, so Yeshua is the perfect head. He knows all his people, cares about their wants and needs, and supplies them. His eye of love is always on them; his ears are open to their cries. It may well be that men in the congregation were not submissive to their head.
and the husband: Grk. anēr. is the head: Grk. kephalē, used here in a fig. sense. of the wife: Grk. gunē, a woman in various occupations and social roles. The term is used in the Besekh of an adult female person and as a wife. In the LXX gunē renders the Heb. ishshah ("woman"). The first usage of ishshah is of the woman given to Adam as a wife (Gen 2:22). The translation of "wife" and "husband" in this verse is found in some versions (ESV, GW, MIRNT, MSG, MW, NLV, NOG, NRSV, TEV, TLB, VOICE and WE). Paul's instruction that follows obviously relates to married couples. Most versions and interpretations fog the issue by two mistakes. First, after verse 3 they translate Grk. anēr, as "man" (verses 4, 7, 8, 9, 11, 12 and 14) instead of "husband," and they translate Grk. gunē, as "woman" (verses 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13 and 15), instead of "wife."
The usage of "head" to mean "authority" is common within Hebrew thought. The husband functions as head of the wife (Eph 5:23), just as Yeshua is head of the people of God (Eph 1:22; Col 2:10). The word "head" (Grk. kephalē) in biblical usage does not mean "source of a river," as commonly alleged by advocates of egalitarian marriage. Greek lexicons agree that besides kephalē being a term of anatomy it has a metaphorical use to refer to someone higher in rank that merits respect by virtue of that position. The metaphor as applied to Yeshua (here; Eph 1:22; 4:15; 5:23; Col 2:10, 19) means that he is not limited to being a source of inspiration, love and benefits, but one who exercises benevolent authority over His people.
The husband being the head of his wife reflects his authority to rule his household as declared in Genesis 3:16. The godly wife is expected to manifest three virtues: submission and respect. Biblical submission (Grk. hupotassō) does not denote slavery, subservience or inferiority. A slave had no rights and could be sold. Submission pertains to recognizing the positions and function of authority God has ordained and voluntarily subordinating oneself to those who hold those positions and giving respect and honor. Of all the apostolic commands to subject oneself to another the most are directed to wives (1Cor 14:34-35; Eph 5:22, 24; Col 3:18; Titus 2:5; 1Pet 3:1, 5).
So, the implication is that some wives were insubordinate to their husbands or acting in such a manner as not to show him respect, perhaps being immodest in dress or manner (cf. 1Tim 2:9-15). In the Messianic Community males and females are equal heirs of the kingdom (Rom 8:17; Gal 3:28-29), but hierarchical roles still exist (Eph 5:22-25; Col 3:18-19) as reflected in the fact that God expects to be honored as head of all.
and the head: Grk. kephalē, used here in a figurative sense. of Messiah: Grk. Christos. is God: Grk. theos. In secular Greek writings a number of deities, always represented in anthropomorphic form, were called theos. In ancient polytheistic culture theos was not one omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent, Creator and ruler of the universe and certainly not spirit as described in Scripture (John 4:24). In the LXX theos renders names of God: El, Eloah and Elohim, as well as the tetragrammaton YHVH (DNTT 2:67-70). As with many other Greek words the LXX infused new meaning into theos. The only God in existence is the God who chose Israel out of all the nations on the earth (Isa 44:6; 45:5-6, 14, 18, 21; 46:9), making Him the "God of Israel," an expression that occurs frequently in Scripture.
The God of the Bible is not a philosophical belief in monotheism, a generic term for the deities worshipped by all people, or a "Christian" god who rejected Israel and hates Jews. All the other deities worshipped by religions in the world and false concepts people have of God are the product of Satan-inspired imagination. The true God revealed His name, His character, His covenants and His commandments to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and then Moses for the benefit of His people. This God chose Israel and the Jewish people out of all the nations on the earth to communicate the knowledge of Himself and to provide the means of salvation to the human race (Jer 16:19-20; Isa 49:6; John 4:22).
To say that God is the head of Yeshua is not to diminish the divine nature of Yeshua. Rather the description points to the humility of Yeshua who always acted in accordance with the will of the Father (John 8:29). The axiomatic statement of this verse stands behind Paul's analysis of a problem in the congregation in verses 4-16.
Every man: Grk. anēr. See the note on the previous verse. praying: Grk. proseuchomai, pres. mid. part., to petition deity for a personal desire. The present tense could indicate a regular activity or prayer of some length. In the LXX proseuchomai renders Heb. palal, to intervene or interpose, and to intercede. The context of prayer in the Tanakh is addressing the Sovereign Judge of all people and thus prayer by its nature requires self-examination. The verb refers to petitioning God for his help with respect to a personal need or the needs of others. There is no command to pray in the Torah. Nevertheless people have prayed to God since the beginning (Gen 4:26).
In the apostolic writings prayer is treated as a divine expectation, if not an obligation of every disciple (Luke 18:1; Eph 6:18; Php 4:6; Col 4:2; 1Th 5:17; 1Tim 2:1; Jude 1:20). Devout Jews, living at Jerusalem, went to the temple to pray every day (Luke 18:10; Acts 3:1). Jews who lived at a distance too far for a daily journey or in the Diaspora went to a synagogue and faced Jerusalem. However, the daily prayers could be offered at home and in that case people opened their windows "toward Jerusalem" and prayed "toward" the place of God's presence (cf. 1Kgs 8:29-30, 38, 42, 44, 48; Ps 5:7; Dan 6:10). Yeshua anticipated the day when the temple would no longer exist (John 4:21). Since the temple still stood at the time of this letter then we should assume that Messianic Jews prayed according to their established customs.
or prophesying: Grk. prophēteuō, pres. part., may mean (1) to proclaim a divine revelation; (2) prophetically reveal what is hidden; or (3) foretell the future, prophesy (BAG). The verb is a derivative of the noun prophētēs, one who is gifted with the ability for interpretation or revelation transcending normal insight or awareness, i.e., a prophet. In the LXX prophēteuō generally translates Heb. nava, which means to show, present or express oneself, to speak as a prophet (DNTT 3:77). In the early texts the form of the Hebrew word implies adopting ecstatic behavior (e.g., Num 11:27-29; 1Sam 10:5-6).
In later texts the form of the Hebrew word simply means to speak prophetically, called "forth-telling," with occasional predictions (foretelling). Forth-telling predominates in the Tanakh and messages might consist of warning against sinning, announcing divine judgments, encouraging repentance and giving hope of restoration. But, all the prophets spoke for God under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit (2Pet 1:21). The apostolic writings mention prophesying among Messianic believers (Acts 19:6; Rom 12:6; 1Cor 13:9; 14:1), which would eventually be replaced in Rabbinic Judaism by the authority of the Sages (Baba Bathra 12a; cf. John 8:53).
Prophesying in this context need not be thought of as delivering a sermon. More likely it was associated with singing songs of praise (1Cor 14:14-17). King David established the music program for Israelite worship and appointed worship ensembles whose purpose was to "prophesy with lyres, harps and cymbals" (1Chr 25:1) and they "prophesied in giving thanks and praising ADONAI" (1Chr 25:3). So, too, Paul expected that the congregation would use a variety of music in worship (1Cor 14:26; cf. Eph 5:19; Col 3:16).
having: Grk. echō, pres. part., to have, hold or possess with a wide range of application: (1) to possess with the implication of the object being under one's control or at one's disposal; (2) to bear on one's person; (3) be in a position to do something; (4) view something in a particular way; and (5) experience a condition or situation. The first and second meanings have relevance here. something down upon: Grk. kata, prep. Danker says that in general the word expresses measure and the idea of something associated with or lining up with something else in terms of manner, direction, reference, position or the like. The root meaning of kata is "down."
Since kata is connected to the following word in the genitive case, it could be translated as down upon, down, against, throughout or by (DM 107). his head: Grk. kephalē. See the note on the previous verse. Many versions translate the prepositional phrase as "with his head covered" (ASV, CEB, DRA, ESV, HNV, KJV, MRINT, MW, NCV, NET, NIRV, NIV, NKJV, RSV, TEV, TLV). The CJB and OJB have "something down over his head." A few versions miss the point with "something on the head" (CEV, NASB, NRSV), which would rule out a Jew wearing a kippah. Even worse is the TLB with "refuses to remove his hat," clearly reflecting modern Western culture.
Jewish men in ancient times wore headgear of various types, usually to protect the head from the elements ("Hat," ISBE). Priests wore turbans (cf. Job 29:14; Ex 28:4; Ezek 24:17; 44:18; Zech 3:5). In a list of daily blessings for the Jewish male to offer is this: "When he spreads a kerchief over his head he should say: 'Blessed is He who crowns Israel with glory.' (Berachot 60b, quoting Ps 8:5). The Talmud records a mother instructing her son, "'Cover your head so that the fear of heaven may be upon you, and pray for mercy" (Shabbat 156b). Another Talmudic report says, "R. Huna son of R. Joshua would not walk four cubits bareheaded, saying: The Shekinah is above my head" (Kiddushin 31a).
Paul is obviously not talking about commonly used head coverings. As for Stern's third question mentioned above, he rightly points out that Paul is objecting to something that is being worn down over the man's head, such as a hood, so he is not talking about a kippah, a hat or a turban. Actually the wearing of a kippah (Yiddish yarmulke) by Jewish men developed during medieval times. There is no mention of the kippah in Scripture or the Talmud. If wearing a kippah is left in the area of a voluntary custom then it is not an issue. However, an insistence that wearing a kippah is a divine requirement would be a legalistic false teaching.
dishonors: Grk. kataischunō, pres., to make ugly, dishonor, put to shame, expose to disgrace. his head: Grk. kephalē. Paul engages in a word play here using head first in the anatomical sense and then second as figurative of Yeshua, since he is the head of the man. We should take Paul's words literally. Two possibilities have relevance here. First, Gill says that pagan priests worshipped their deities with their heads covered. Prayer and worship among God's people should never imitate worldly practices. Second, the Greeks had a prophesying game called kolafix that had become a children's favorite. The game involved covering a player's head with a hood and the others making him guess who had touched him (Santala 221). It may be that certain men were mimicking this game by offering prophetic messages while hooded for certain persons seeking advice.
It is no wonder that Paul would say that such an approach to seeking God's will and giving prophetic counsel would dishonor Yeshua. Prophesying is serious business and should never be an occasion for mockery.
5 and every wife praying or prophesying with her head uncovered dishonors her head. For it is one and the same as having been shorn.
Paul repeats the scenario of verse 4 with a wife performing the actions. We should note that Paul does not restrict women from praying or prophesying (which is the not the same as the modern concept of delivering sermons). Rather, the issue was the manner in which these activities were conducted.
and: Grk. de, conj. See the note on verse 2 above. every wife: Grk. gunē. See the note on verse 3 above. praying: Grk. proseuchomai, pres. mid. part. See the note on the previous verse. or prophesying: Grk. prophēteuō, pres. part. See the note on the previous verse. In Scripture various women served as God’s messengers: Miriam, the sister of Moses (Ex 15:20), Deborah (Judg 4:4), Huldah (2Kgs 22:14), Isaiah’s wife (Isa 8:3), Anna (Luke 2:36), and the four daughters of Philip (Acts 21:9) are all classified as prophetesses. The Talmud counts seven female prophets in the Tanakh: Sarah, Miriam, Deborah, Hannah, Abigail, Huldah, and Esther (Megillah 14a). In this context prophesying likely means praising God in song, perhaps utilizing selected Psalms (cf. 1Sam 10:5; 1Chr 25:3; Joel 2:28; 1Cor 14:26; Eph 5:19; Col 3:16).
with her head: Grk. kephalē. See the note on verse 3 above. uncovered: Grk. akatakaluptos, adj., uncovered. The word does not mean "unveiled," as in some versions (ASV, CJB, NAB, NRSV, RSV, WEB). The assumption by some commentators is that Jewish married women normally went about veiled and Paul wants to enforce that custom. In common parlance a "veil" is a covering for the face. For example, Moses wore a veil (Heb. masveh; Grk. kalumma) to cover his face after being in the presence of God (Ex 34:29–35; 2Cor 3:13-16). Paul does not use the word for "veil" anywhere in this chapter. The Encyclopedia Judaica in its article on "veil" offers this important information:
"In the Bible there are several terms usually translated as veil. However, the exact connotation for these terms is not known, and they may refer to other garments used to cover the face as well. The term tsaiph is used of Rebecca (Gen 24:65) and Tamar (Gen 38:14, 19). Other terms used in the Bible for veil – though the meaning is not always certain – are tsammah (Isa 47:2; Song 4:1, 3; 6:7); radid (Isa 3:23; Song 5:7) and real'ah (Isa 3:19); cf. Shab. 6:6, where Arab women are said to go out reulot, "veiled," which implies that Jewish women did not." (Veil)
In reality, our ignorance concerning the attire of first century Jewish women exceeds our knowledge. The adjective akatakaluptos is a unique word that occurs only twice in the Besekh, both times in this chapter (also verse 15). In the LXX akatakaluptos occurs once (Lev 13:45) to translate Heb. para' (SH-177), which means to let go, let loose, to unbind hair, to uncover hair. Mare says that ancient pottery shows Greek women in public without head coverings, but hair would be pinned up. Stern notes the definition of "uncovered" is the same as mentioned in the test of a woman suspected of adultery in which the priest loosens the woman's hair (Num 5:18). He then quotes the Mishnah rule:
“These are the women who may be divorced and not given the marriage settlement specified in their ketubah [marriage contract]: she who transgresses the Law of Moses and Jewish custom …. And what is meant here by Jewish custom? If she goes out (into public areas) with her hair loose, or spins cloth in the street (that is, with her arms exposed), or spends time talking loosely (or flirting) with all kinds of men.” (Ketubot 7:3)
The editor of the Soncino Talmud similarly defines "uncovered" as having the hair loosened (fn-38, Ketubot 2:1). The same usage of head "uncovered" occurs in Baba Kama 90b. Paul's use of akatakaluptos implies there is something particularly offensive in the woman's behavior. Lightfoot provides further insight into the word "uncovered." He points out that Targum Onkelos interprets the Heb. "high hand" in Exodus 14:8 as "with an uncovered head," that is, they went out of Egypt confidently, not fearfully, or as men ashamed (4:230). Then in Numbers 15:30 Targum Onkelos "The soul which commits any sin with an uncovered head," that is boldly and impudently. So, in this context "uncovered" has the sense of acting deliberately against prescribed norms for godly behavior.
Readers should consider the fact that in Hebrew thought the mention of a body part in relation to behavior can pertain to the whole person (cf. Rom 6:13), e.g., feet (Isa 59:7; Jer 14:10; Rom 3:15), hands (Gen 4:11; Prov 6:17; Matt 17:12; 2Cor 11:33), arms (Ps 37:17), legs (Ezek 16:25), and head (Isa 1:5). In pagan temple worship women would let their hair flow loose and uncovered during ecstatic rituals. Gill comments, "some heathen priestesses, who used to perform their religious rites and sacrifices with open face, and their hair hanging down, and locks spreading." Swinging their hair in a sensual dance with flesh exposed was part of adoration to the deity. It may be that some of the women in the congregation who had been saved out of this pagan background (cf. 1Cor 12:1) employed the same manner in ecstatic prayer and singing songs of praise (as described in chapter 14). Today the expression "let your hair down" means to let go of inhibitions.
dishonors: Grk. kataischunō. See the note on the previous verse. her head: Grk. kephalē. Paul again engages in a word play using the second mention of "head" as figurative of the woman's husband, since he is her head (verse 3 above). For: Grk. gar, conj., is generally accepted as a contraction of ge ("yet") and ara ("then"), and in a broad sense means "certainly it follows that." Gar often functions to connect statements in narratives with preceding statements and is normally translated "for." it is one: Grk. heis, the numeral one, used here in a fig. sense. and the same: Grk. autos, emphatic pronoun, the same. Paul offers a parabolic comparison.
as having been shorn: Grk. xuraō, perf. pass. part. (from xuron, 'razor'), to shave or shear. In the LXX xuraō render Heb. galach (SH-1548), to shave, occurring in reference to cutting hair off the head (e.g. Lev 13:33; Num 6:9). Since a woman's hair is her glory (verse 16 below) then to shave her head would bring devastating public embarrassment. In other words, to pray or prophesy with hair flying loose in an uninhibited manner would be the equivalent of being naked in public.
6 For if a woman does not cover herself, she should cut off her hair! But if it is shameful to a woman to cut off her hair or shave her hair, she should cover herself.
For: Grk. gar. See the note on the previous verse. if: Grk. ei, conj. with a contingency aspect, used here to introduce an "if" clause. “If” introduces a specific circumstance that may either be assumed to be valid for the sake of argument or to be taken for granted. a woman: Grk. gunē. See the note on verse 3 above. does not: Grk. ou, a negative particle that makes an emphatic denial of fact. cover: Grk. katakaluptō, pres. mid., to cover oneself, which lexicons state means to cover oneself with a veil. The verb is formed from kata, "down" and kaluptō, to cover or conceal in a physical sense. In normal usage kaluptō signifies a complete coverage, lit. of a boat (Matt 8:24), a lamp (Luke 8:16), and in imagery (Luke 23:30; Jas 5:20; 1Pet 4:8). In the LXX katakaluptō renders Heb. kasah (SH-2619), to cover or conceal, with many applications.
Most commentators assume that the verb pertains to covering the hair. However, Paul does not say "if a wife does not cover her hair" or "if a wife does not wear a veil." The verb could easily have a broader application. A husband was obligated to provide clothing for his wife (Ketubot 48a; Ex 21:10), so she would have the means to cover herself. Women were expected to dress with modesty (1Tim 2:9). So, the opening clause could have the meaning of "if she is unwilling to preserve modesty and stop her shameless display." Sadly, the same problem exists today in which some women come to congregational services with form-fitting outfits, strapless tops, and exposed cleavage.
she should cut off her hair: Grk. keirō, aor. mid. imp., to cut off the hair, to shear. The verb occurs only four times in the Besekh, first of shearing sheep (Acts 8:32), then of Paul having his hair cut (Acts 18:18) and here of a woman cutting off her hair. Cutting or shaving a woman's head were forms of shaming, punishment or mourning in biblical and later culture (Num 5:18; Isa 3:17-24; 3Macc 4:6; Sotah 1:5) (JANT 305). According to ancient historians, adulteresses were shorn (Tacitus, Germania 19; Dio Chrysotom, Discourses 64:3; Lander 304). This command is given as an alternative to an unwillingness to cover her body and stop making a public exhibition of herself. The middle voice of the verb indicates that the subject performs the action. We may understand Paul's command here not as trying to humiliate the offender, but perhaps using shocking hyperbole to promote self-examination.
But: Grk. de. See the note on verse 2 above. if: Grk. ei. it is shameful: Grk. aischros, of a nature that evokes repugnance; shameful, low-class, disgraceful. Cf. Ephesians 5:12 where the word is used of deeds one would be ashamed even to mention. The peoples represented in the apostolic writings lived in an honor-shame culture. The circumstances of a person's social, marital, economic and educational status created a level of honor for that person. For that reason social pressure via law and custom was exerted to preempt any action or reaction that would bring shame to a person. The qualities most desired in a Jewish wife were meekness and modesty. In Jewish law causing shame to a husband was grounds for divorce.
to a woman: gunē. to cut off her hair: Grk. keirō, aor. mid. inf. or shave her hair: Grk. xuraō, aor. mid. inf. See the note on the previous verse. Grosheide comments that women who engaged in unnatural prostitution cut their hair very short (254). No believing woman would want to be confused with such a prostitute. she should cover herself: Grk. katakaluptō, pres. mid. imp. Paul graciously offers an alternative to the severe hair cutting. If the offender could not bear offering her hair in penitence, then she must dress with complete modesty. She would still need to apologize to her husband, and perhaps even the congregation, for her shameful behavior.
7 For truly a man ought not to cover the head, being the image and glory of God. And the wife is the glory of a husband.
For truly: Grk. mén, conj., a particle of affirmation; indeed, verily, truly. a man: Grk. anēr. See the note on verse 3 above. ought: Grk. opheilō, to be under a prescribed obligation, to have a duty or to owe someone. not: Grk. ou. See the note on the previous verse. to cover: Grk. katakaluptō, pres. mid. inf. See the note on the previous verse. the head: Grk. kephalē, used here in an anatomical sense. See the note on verse 3 above. The verb "cover" is used in the LXX of Exodus 26:34 to prescribe using a curtain to hide the ark from view. The Hebrew text of Exodus 26:33 says the curtain will be a division between people and the Most Holy, the glory of God. Thus, Paul's description is not of wearing a hat, kippah or turban, but of having the head hidden from view.
being: Grk. huparchō, pres. part., be present in a functional manner or to function or be in a state as determined by circumstance, be. the image: Grk. eikōn, something that bears likeness to something else, an image or likeness. and glory: Grk. doxa originally meant opinion, conjecture, praise or repute in secular Greek in regard to what one thought about a person or thing. In the LXX doxa renders Heb. kabod (pronounced "kah-vohd"), "abundance, honor, glory" (SH-3519; BDB 458). Kabod does include the meanings of dignity of position, reputation of character and the reverence due to or ascribed to someone, and is frequently used for the honor brought or given to God (e.g., Ps 29:1; Isa 42:12). Above all, kabod expresses God's glory and power, the luminous manifestation of His presence, as well as God's throne and angelic majesties (DNTT 2:45).
of God: Grk. theos. See the note on verse 3 above. Paul conflates two concepts in Scripture, first alluding to the creation account that God created man in His image (Gen 1:26-27; 5:1; 9:6). Then he borrows from Psalm 8:5:
"what is man, that You are mindful of him? And the son of man, that You care for him? 6 Yet You made him a little lower than the angels [Heb. Elohim, 'God'], and crowned him with glory and majesty! 7 You gave him dominion over the works of Your hands. You put all things under their feet." (Ps 8:5-8 TLV)
Clarke suggests that man as the glory of God refers to the authority God granted to mankind (consisting of male and female, Gen 2:21-23) to rule the earth as His vice-regent (Clarke). Also, God's glory resting on men's heads like a crown was a common Jewish image (Lander 304, citing DSS 4Q491; in the Talmud, Ber. 17b; Sanh. 111b; Meg. 15b).
And the wife: Grk. gunē. See the note on verse 3 above. Since Paul mentioned the creation principle in relation to the man, the noun gunē could be capitalized "Woman" as an allusion to the first woman, Chavvah (inaccurately called "Eve" in Christian Bibles). In Scripture Chavvah is the "Woman" (Gen 2:23; 3:1-3, 6, 12-13, 15-16; 1Tim 2:14; Rev 12:1), the mother of the Messiah. is the glory: Grk. doxa. of a husband: Grk. anēr without the definite article. A wife can reflect well or poorly on her husband. To complete the creation allusion anēr could be translated as "Adam." The first word for "man" in the Hebrew Bible is adam ("ah-dahm," Gen 1:26) and from him God made "male and female" (Gen 1:27). The very first female was Chavvah whom God presented to Adam as a suitable helper (Gen 2:18, 22).
Stern notes this quotation from the Midrash Rabbah:
“[Rabbi Simlai] said to [his talmidim], ‘At first Adam was created from dust and Eve from Adam; but from now on it will be “in our image, after our likeness” (Genesis 1:26); not man without woman, and not woman without man, and neither of them without the Shekinah (God’s glorious presence).’ ” (Genesis Rabbah 8:9).
8 For man is not from woman, but woman from man.
For man: Grk. anēr. See the note on verse 3 above. is: Grk. eimi, pres., to be. not from: Grk. ek, prep., lit. "out of," which points to the transfer from one point to another. woman: Grk. gunē. See the note on verse 3 above. but woman: Grk. gunē. from: Grk. ek. man: Grk. anēr. Since Paul is alluding to the creation story the verse could also be translated as "For Adam is not from Woman, but Woman from Adam. The order of creation represents precedence. Lander suggests that as God was the prototype for Adam, Adam was the prototype for Chavvah (304).
9 For indeed Man was created not through the Woman, but Woman through the Man.
Paul repeats the creation narrative in slightly different wording. For indeed: Grk. kai, conj. that marks a connection or addition. Kai has three basic uses: (1) transitional or continuative – and, also, even; (2) adversative – and yet, but, however; (3) intensive or emphatic – certainly, indeed, in fact, really, verily, yea (DM 250f). The third use applies here. There are twenty-four conjunctions in biblical Greek, with kai by far the most common in the Besekh (DM 209). Man: Grk. anēr. See the note on verse 3 above.
was created: Grk. ktizō, aor. pass., to create, and in the Besekh only of God’s creative activity, both of the material universe and the spiritual creation of the inner man. In Revelation 4:11 the angels make three important claims about creation. First, they affirm God as the source of everything that exists in the universe. The God who revealed Himself to the patriarchs and Moses, the God of Israel, is the only omnipotent God in existence and the only Power capable of performing the creative work (Gen 1:1; Ps 89:12; Isa 40:26; 41:20). Second, God created as an act of His will. Third, God's creation was a completed act. It is not still going on as evolutionists assert. Indeed, the Bible exposes the teaching of evolution as a lie of Satan. Paul concurs, "For by Him all things were created" (Col 1:16).
not: Grk. ou. See the note on verse 6 above. through: Grk. dia, prep., by means of, through. With the accusative case of the noun following the meaning is "because of" signifying a causal function (DM 101). the Woman: Grk. gunē. See the note on verse 3 above. but: Grk. alla, conj., used adverbially to convey a different viewpoint for consideration; but, on the other hand. Woman: Grk. gunē. through: Grk. dia. the Man: Grk. anēr. Adam was created from the dust of the earth (Gen 2:7), whereas Chavvah was taken out of Adam's side (Gen 2:21). See my web article Marriage by Design for more discussion on God's original plan for marriage.
10 Because of this the wife ought to have authority over her head, because of the angels.
Because of: Grk. dia. See the note on the previous verse. this: Grk. houtos, demonstrative pronoun, this. Paul alludes to the axioms of verses 8 and 9. the wife: Grk. gunē. See the note on verse 3 above. ought: Grk. opheilō, pres. See the note on verse 7 above. to have: Grk. echō, pres. inf. See the note on verse 4 above. authority: Grk. exousia, the right to speak or act in a situation without looking or waiting for approval; authority, right, jurisdiction. BAG, Mounce and Thayer identify a second meaning as ability to do something, capability, might, power, which proceeds from having authority. over: Grk. epi, prep. expressing the idea of hovering; 'on,' 'upon' or 'over.' Since the following noun ("head") is in the genitive case then epi emphasizes contact (DM 106) or position (DM 107). her head: Grk. kephalē. See the note on verse 3 above. A wife has authority but there is also authority over her.
Many versions translate the word with "a symbol of authority on her head" (ESV, HCSB, LEB, NASB, NCV, NET, NKJV, NRSV, TLV), even though the word "symbol" is not in the Greek text. Other versions translate the phrase more colloquially with a statement that she wear something on her head to show that she is under authority (CEV, ERV, GW, NIRV, NJB). A few versions insert the word "veil" (CJB, RSV) or "covering" (AMP, NLV, NLT, OJB, TEV, TLB, WE), even though these words are not in the Greek text. Better translations are the CEB with "a woman should have authority over her head," and the NIV with "she ought to have authority over her own head." In other words, in accordance with Scripture and Jewish custom a woman should be under a man's authority, which would normally be a husband or father.
I believe Paul's concern is with a wife's submission to her husband's authority, not her choice of apparel. A wife's behavior in public worship, especially if she has a prominent role in praying and/or prophesying should not embarrass her husband or diminish him in the eyes of others. In addition, pastors and rabbis have no biblical authority to usurp a husband's role as head of his home. In 14:35 Paul admonishes wives that if they want to know something to ask their husbands at home.
because of: Grk. dia. the angels: pl. of Grk. angelos, lit. means messenger. In Greek culture angelos originally referred to an ambassador in human affairs who speaks on behalf of another, including as a messenger of the gods (DNTT 1:101f). The corresponding Hebrew word malak also means messenger, and may be translated as representative, courier or angel. The messenger may be human or angelic, which must be determined from the context. A malak was responsible to carry a message, perform some other specific commission and to represent more or less officially the one sending him (TWOT §1068). The decision to translate malak or angelos as angel or human messenger relies primarily on the context. Often in the Tanakh and the Besekh a specific descriptor such as "of the Lord" or "from heaven" confirms a heavenly messenger.
For many modern Jews angels are a Christian invention reflecting a departure from pure monotheism. However, angels have a prominent place in the Tanakh, although Michael and Gabriel are the only ones that gave their names. Post-Tanakh Judaism developed an elaborate angelology (Stern 824). Michael is included in a list of seven archangels, called the "angels of the presence" in 1 Enoch 9:1, which also include Uri’el, Rafa’el, Ragu’el, Gavri'el, Saraka’el, and Remi’el. 1 Enoch 20:1-7 assigns special functions to each angel and says that Michael presides over human virtue and commands the nations. In 1 Enoch 40:8 he is one of four angels who stand before God and is described as "the merciful, the patient, the holy Michael."
Angels assisted in giving the Torah (Deut 33:2; Acts 7:53; Gal 3:19; Heb 2:2), and figure prominently in Scripture as ministering spirits (Mark 1:13; Heb 1:14). The experience of Job illustrates the power of angels when given permission to use it. Angels do the Lord’s bidding and sometimes are God’s instruments in executing his judgment, particularly among his own people (2Sam 24:17; Acts 12:23). While little is known of angel hierarchy, angels do serve as personal guardians of the God's people (Matt 18:10; Acts 12:15). Michael’s protector role in relation to Israel (Dan 12:1), suggests that other angels may be similarly assigned in every city, town and village of the earth wherever the Body of the Messiah is found.
Paul reports one occasion that an angel appeared to him (Acts 27:23), but does not provide a description. Angels are far different from the Hollywood depiction and popular assumptions about angels. Angels are not glorified humans that earn status in heaven by doing good works on earth. All individual angels mentioned in Scripture have masculine names or descriptions, contrary to popular art and media, which sometimes depicts them as female. In addition, only a special group of heavenly beings are mentioned in Scripture as having wings (Ex 37:9; Isa 6:2; Ezek 10:5; Rev 4:8), and these beings are never called angels.
Landers thinks Paul alludes to the "lust of the Watchers," an expression found in Enoch 10:18, the Testament of Naphtali 3.5, and Targum Pseudo-Jonathan in their comments on the "sons of God" mating with "daughters of men" in Genesis 6:2. These Jewish sources treat the "sons of God" as angels. Stern admits that this is a difficult verse, but perhaps can be understood from Isaiah 6:2, where the seraphim cover themselves in the presence of God; or perhaps that even if a woman cares little about shocking men, she should care about shocking the angels, who are present at public worship. Mare comments that since angels serve God's people (Heb 1:14), they are present at the time of worship and are interested in the salvation of God's people (1Pet 1:10-12; cf. Gal 3:10). They would therefore be sensitive to the conduct of worshippers. Women should seek to respect the watching angels by having the "sign of authority on her head," which symbolized her husband's authority over her.
We should be careful to note that Paul does not actually say that angels are present during congregational worship, although they may be. Paul is not saying that angels are distracted in their worship by seeing women without their hair covered. Why should whether or not a woman wears something on her head matter to angels? They are hardly going to be tempted by a woman's uncovered head. If the woman (or man) sins, it is against God, not the angels. Angels have seen far worse things on earth. We may be able to gain insight into Paul's statement in light of his earlier statements about angels in this letter.
"God has put us, the emissaries, on display last of all—like men sentenced to death. For we have become a spectacle to the world, both to angels and to people. 10 We are fools for Messiah’s sake." (1Cor 4:9-10 TLV)
"Don’t you know that we will judge angels? How much more the matters of this life!" (1Cor 6:3 TLV)
First, if we're going to be a spectacle then it should be for the right reason, for the sake of Messiah Yeshua (1Cor 4:10). Our conduct should reflect well on our Lord. Second, there will be a judgment of angels (cf. 2Pet 2:4; Jude 1:6; Rev 20:10) and God's people will be involved in it in some manner. What women believers should want (as well as men) is that angels don't make the wrong judgments about them. Acting in an unrighteous manner could deprive us of their service (cf. 1Th 2:18; 1Pet 3:7).
11 On the other hand, a wife is neither separate from a husband nor a husband separate from a wife in the Lord.
On the other hand: Grk. plēn, adv. introducing a modifying or incremental clause in a statement or narrative. Here the term functions as a conjunction. a wife: Grk. gunē. See the note on verse 3 above. is neither: Grk. oute, conj. functioning as a negative particle, dismissing an activity or thing that follows the particle and often coupled formulaically with another oute, "neither…nor." separate: Grk. chōris, in a separated state or functioning in a condition or circumstances not including something, without, apart from. of a husband: Grk. anēr. See the note on verse 3 above. nor: Grk. oute. a husband: Grk. anēr. separate: Grk. chōris. of a wife: Grk. gunē. Not being separate is an indirect way of expressing the truth that once a husband and wife are one flesh they belong to each other.
in the Lord: Grk. kurios may mean either (1) 'one in control through possession,' and therefore owner or master; or (2) 'one esteemed for authority or high status,' thus lord or master. In personal address kurios may be translated as "sir" to express recognition of or submission to superior rank. In the LXX kurios occurs over 9,000 times, principally to translate Heb. words for God. In the overwhelming majority of instances (over 6,000 times), kurios replaces the Heb. Sacred Name Yod-Hey-Vav-Hey. The expression "in the Lord" alludes to the biblical standard that believers should only marry other believers (1Cor 7:39; 2Cor 6:14).
12 For just as the Woman is from the Man, so also the man is through the woman, but all things are from God.
For: Grk. gar, conj. See the note on verse 5 above. just as: Grk. hōsper, adv. of manner relating events and conditions; just as. the Woman: Grk. gunē. See the note on verse 3 above. Paul alludes to Chavvah, the first Woman. is from: Grk. ek, prep., lit. "out of." the Man: Grk. anēr. See the note on verse 3 above. Paul alludes to Adam, the first man. so: Grk. houtōs, adv., particle serving as introduction to manner or way in which something has been done, is expressed, or to be done; in this manner/way/fashion. also: Grk. kai, conj. the man: Grk. anēr, meaning every other man since Adam. is through: Grk. dia, prep., lit. "through," a simple description of the birthing process. the woman: Grk. gunē, meaning every woman since Chavvah.
but: Grk. de, conj. See the note on verse 2 above. all things: pl. of Grk. pas. See the note on verse 2 above. are from God: Grk. theos, the God of Israel. See the note on verse 3 above. Paul means, of course, that in the beginning God created the heavens and the earth and all therein (Gen 1:1; Isa 42:5; Eph 3:9; Rev 4:11), and since then all good things are from God (Phm 1:6; Jas 1:17).
13 Judge among yourselves. Is it proper for a wife to pray uncovered to God?
Judge: Grk. krinō, aor. imp., to subject to scrutiny and evaluation of behavior, to judge, whether in a personal, congregational or legal context. A continuum of judgment may be defined: observe, distinguish, evaluate, analyze, and decide, with the result being positive or negative. In the LXX krinō is used mainly to translate three different Heb. words: din, rib and shaphat (DNTT 2:363). Din means not only to judge (in a legal sense, usually by tribal elders, e.g., Ruth 4:1-3), but also to punish, wrangle, vindicate and obtain justice for someone (Gen 15:14; 30:6; Deut 32:36; 2Sam 19:9; Ps 54:3; Jer 5:28). Rib means to quarrel, to carry on a lawsuit (Gen 26:21; Judg 8:1; 21:22; 1Sam 24:16). Shaphat occurs the most frequently and means to judge in a legal sense, to govern or bring deliverance to the oppressed (Ex 2:14; Deut 10:18; Judg 3:9, 15; 1Sam 8:20; 2Sam 15:4, 6).
among: Grk. en, prep. generally functioning to mark position, lit. "in, within." With the dative case of the pronoun following, the preposition may be translated as 'within' or 'among' (DM 105). yourselves: Grk. humeis, pl. pronoun of the second person. The identification takes in an entire group. Paul's command has two possible meanings. First, he may mean for the congregational elders to meet and make a decision on the following question and then establish a policy appropriate to their situation. Second, he may mean the command as a collective evaluation of congregational members and acceptance of truth. Is it: Grk. eimi, to be. proper: Grk. prepō, pres. part., be fitting, appropriate. for a wife: Grk. gunē. See the note on verse 3 above. to pray: Grk. proseuchomai, pres. mid. inf. See the note on verse 4 above.
uncovered: Grk. akatakaluptos, adj. See the note on verse 5 above. to God: Grk. theos, the God of Israel. See the note on verse 3 above. If there was to be a policy it would only apply to congregational gatherings, since at home the woman's husband would determine such a matter. Paul poses the question as if the answer is obvious and the obvious answer is NO! In the following three verses he provides his reasoning. There could also be a hint of hyperbole and worst case scenario here. "Is it okay for any woman, especially a wife, to pray while naked in the assembly of God's people?" "Is it okay for a woman to pray in the assembly of God's people while displaying herself in a sensual manner?" Paul is not asking "Is it okay for a woman to pray to God without a cloth on her head?" The answer to this silly question is, "of course she can," which means that wearing a cloth on the head is not the controversy being confronted.
14 Nature itself does not teach you that if indeed a man keeps long hair it is a dishonor to him.
Nature: Grk. phusis, a fundamental state of being referring to the basic condition or characteristics of humans by virtue of their birth and life influences; nature. There is no Hebrew equivalent in the Tanakh for phusis. The Hebrews lacked the Greek conception of nature, but spoke rather of the creation or of the Creator God. In the LXX phusis appears only in writings of the Apocrypha (3Macc. 3:29; 4Macc. 1:20; 5:25; 13:7; 15:25; 16:3; Wis. 13:1; 19:20). The term occurs 14 times in the Besekh and all but two in the letters of Paul. itself: Grk. autos, third person pronoun; he, she, it. does not: Grk. oude, adv., particle used in denial or negation; not.
teach you: Grk. didaskō, pres., to teach or instruct, a verb used frequently of Yeshua. In the LXX didaskō occurs about 100 times and is used to translate nine different verbs (DNTT 3:760). In contrast with Greek education Jewish teaching since the time of Moses has been more concerned with communicating God's ethical demands than imparting information (DNTT 3:766). Paul argues the premise that certain universal truths may be deduced by studying nature. This is called "natural revelation."
"For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made." (Rom 1:20 NASB)
May other passages assert that God has spoken through His creation (Job 12:7-8; 26:13-14; 35:11; Ps 19:1-2; 50:6; 97:6; Jer 31:37; Acts 14:17; 17:24-28).
that if: Grk. ean, conj. that serves as a conditional particle and produces an aspect of tentativeness by introducing a possible circumstance that determines the realization of some other circumstance. indeed: Grk. mén, conj. See the note on verse 7 above. a man: Grk. anēr. See the note on verse 3 above. keeps long hair: Grk. komaō, pres. subj., to have long hair or wear hair long. The present tense emphasizes the continuance of the behavior. The subjunctive mood stresses a hypothetical situation. The verb does not occur in the LXX at all, but BAG identifies the verb as occurring in Philo (On the Unchangeableness of God 88), who cites Moses as saying that nourishing the hair of ones head is like developing "shoots of virtue." Josephus uses the verb to describe the Nazirites who did not cut their hair during the time of their vow (Ant. IV, 4:4; cf. Num 6:5).
it is a dishonor: Grk. atimia, experience of lack of esteem, dishonor, low esteem. Mounce adds 'disgrace' and 'shame.' The word is from atimos, 'without honor, held in low esteem.' In other words wearing the hair long has no recognized value in the Body of Messiah. We should note that Paul does not say "a sin." to him: Almost all versions translate this verse as if Paul presents a criticism in the form of a rhetorical question, e.g., "Does not even nature itself teach you that if a man has long hair, it is a dishonor to him?" (NASB) Stern in accepting the verse as a rhetorical question believes that Paul criticizes the adoption of long hair as obscuring the natural distinctions between men and women. Stern goes on to say,
"Sha’ul is probably in some measure campaigning against homosexuality and transvestism. “Nature” here seems to include not only physical but social and cultural elements; we can theorize that in a culture where men wear their hair long without compromising their male identity and women with short hair are still considered feminine, Sha’ul might not press the issue as he does."
The conventional assumption is problematic. Paul does not mention any sexual sin in connection with the hair style, and he certainly has no reticence about addressing that issue elsewhere in this letter (5:1, 11; 6:9, 18). Considering the reputation of those with really long hair in Greek society Paul's main concern is that disciples avoid emulating the fashions of the world (cf. Rom 14:16; 1Cor 2:12; 14:20; 2Cor 6:14; Col 2:8; 1Th 5:22). Their values are not to be our values. However, Paul does not make this point either. We should remember that the original MSS had no punctuation, and there are no interrogative pronouns in the Greek text, so that other words must be added to make this statement into a question.
Daniel Gruber, on the other hand, puts forth the interpretation that Paul is making a simple statement of fact (MW-Notes 403). He translates the verse as, "Yet Nature itself does not teach you that if a man has long hair it is a dishonor to him" (MW 275). Since the supposed question is based on what nature teaches, then how can the assumption be true or consistent with the rest of the Bible? "Nature" may consist of both the physical world and human culture. Many animals have long hair, and there is nothing in "nature" to suggest that God made a mistake. Surely, God would not create animals with long hair if He hated long hair. Long hair is also common in human culture.
According to Liddell-Scott in early times the Greeks wore their hair long and the fashion continued at Sparta. At Athens it was so worn by youths up to the 18th year, when they offered their long locks to some deity. To wear long hair was considered as a sign of aristocratic habits: hence it came to mean to plume oneself, give oneself airs, be proud or haughty. In many cultures around the world in ancient times and modern many men wore their hair long, so it is not evident from human culture that wearing long hair is a dishonor.
Nowhere in Scripture is there any criticism of wearing long hair. (Whatever "long" means.) One man who stands out in particular is Absalom. He wore his hair long and was praised for his appearance (2Sam 14:25-26). In addition, the instruction for taking the vow of the Nazirite required refraining from cutting the hair for the period of the vow (Num 6:5). In particular Samson was a Nazirite from birth and God commanded him to never cut his hair (Judg 13:5). Even Paul, who was not a Nazirite, nevertheless took the vow for a time and when the time concluded he had his hair cut (Acts 18:18). Paul would certainly not disparage something he himself did. Lest he be misunderstood, Paul is not setting a rule for the length of a man's hair.
15 Also, if a woman has long hair, it is her glory, for long hair has been given to her for a covering.
This verse complements the previous verse, so it, too, is not a question. Also: Grk. de, conj. See the note on verse 2 above. if: Grk. ean, conj. See the note on the previous verse. a woman: Grk. gunē. See the note on verse 3 above. has long hair: Grk. komaō., pres. subj. See the note on the previous verse. it is her glory: Grk. doxa. See the note on verse 7 above. Paul may mean that hair enhances the woman's appearance and her sense of self-esteem. for long hair: Grk. komē, hair of the head. Mounce defines as a "head of long hair." In ancient Greek literature the word was used for the human hair of the head and beard, gills of the cuttlefish, the luminous tail of a comet and fig. of tree foliage (LSJ). BAG identifies komē as a loanword in Rabbinic writings. This term occurs only here in the Besekh. In terms of length "long hair" means long enough to cover her bosom (Lander 304).
has been given: Grk. didōmi, perf. pass, to give, often with the focus on generosity. In the LXX didōmi generally renders Heb. natan, to give, used in one of three settings (1) by men one to another; (2) by men to God; and (3) by God to men (DNTT 2:41). The third circumstance applies here. to her for: Grk. anti, prep. that normally means opposite or in place of. The term also means 'corresponding to' or 'equivalent,' what is proportional (HELPS SG-473). Danker adds to mark a generous gesture; on behalf of, for. a covering: Grk. peribolaion, something made of cloth used for covering a body part; cloak, covering. Mounce adds "that which is thrown around any one, clothing." This unique word occurs only twice in the Besekh (the other at Heb 1:12).
So, Paul brings together two ideas, first that a wife is the glory of her husband (v. 7 above) and second, that long hair is the glory of the woman and the equivalent of clothing, perhaps alluding to Eve before her sin. (Paul does not mean, of course, that a woman is to go about without clothing.)
16 Now if anyone is inclined to be contentious, we have no such custom, nor the congregations of God.
Now: Grk. de, conj. See the note on verse 2 above. if: Grk. ei, a contingency marker used here to introduce a circumstance assumed to be valid for the sake of argument. anyone is inclined: Grk. dokeō, pres., the basic idea of receptivity and hence attractiveness to the intellect appears throughout the verb's usage, which may mean to entertain an idea or form an opinion about something on the basis of what appears to support a specific conclusion; think, opine, regard. to be: Grk. eimi, pres. inf. contentious: Grk. philoneikos, adj., disputatious, argumentative. The adjective occurs only here in the Besekh. Liddell-Scott has 'fond of strife,' or 'eager for strife.' we have: Grk. echō, pres. See the note on verse 4 above. no such: Grk. toioutos, demonstrative pronoun, such, such as this. custom: Grk. sunētheia, traditional community experience; custom, habit. Mounce has 'an established practice.'
nor the congregations: pl. of Grk. ekklēsia means assembly, gathering, meeting, or congregation, translated in Christian Bibles as "church." In secular use ekklēsia referred to a political body or a public meeting of citizens (Acts 19:32, 39, 41), but occurs 111 times in the Besekh for a religious body. The popular interpretation of ekklēsia as “called out ones” is based on etymology and not usage, and thus has little value in understanding the word in its biblical context. In the LXX ekklēsia renders the Heb. qahal (DNTT 1:292-295), which means assembly, convocation, or congregation (BDB 874). In the Tanakh qahal denotes the people of God in a corporate sense, often in the context of being gathered for worship or instruction (Deut 4:10; 31:30; Ps 35:18).
The English translation of "church" was first introduced in the Wycliffe Bible (1395, "chirche"). The Tyndale Bible (1525), the Miles Coverdale Bible (1535) and the Bishop's Bible (1568) rendered ekklēsia as "congregation," but the Geneva Bible (1587) returned to the word "church" and from that time this has been the word used in Christian English Bibles. As the instructions of King James to the translators of the 1611 KJV show, the reason for using "church" was to maintain the ecclesiastical language of Christianity. The English word "church" comes from the Old English cirice, circe "church, public place of worship; Christians collectively," which itself devolved from the Greek kyriakē (oikia), kyriakon doma "Lord's (house). Greek kyriakon (adj.) "of the Lord" was used of houses of Christian worship since c. 300 A.D. (Online Etymology Dictionary).
"Church" is not an accurate translation of ekklēsia, but the decision to use it created a permanent wedge between Christianity and its Jewish roots. The Christian reader of the apostolic writings should be cautious about reading modern church organization, whether Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox or the 57 varieties of Protestantism, into first century settings. In the apostolic writings ekklēsia is never treated as an institution, a building, a specific polity or even a specific size of group as the English word “church” can mean. Everywhere in the apostolic writings ekklēsia refers to either the entire Body of the Messiah, the sum total of the Jewish and Gentile believers in a particular city, or the disciples meeting together in someone's home. Most importantly, the term emphasizes a spiritual bond based on common trust in the God of Israel and his Messiah (Stern 54).
of God: Grk. theos, the God of Israel. See the note on verse 7 above. Before concluding this section we must ask just what custom is it that neither "we" nor congregations have? Paul seems to have spoken on more than one aspect of the issue. He has criticized men or praying and prophesying with hoods over their heads and assuming that a man wearing long hair was shameful. He has criticized women for praying and prophesying with loose hair, probably in a sensual or shameful manner. In terms of instruction he has made these points:
· Husbands and wives should remember the creation design of marriage (verses 8-9).
· Wives should submit to the authority of their husbands and not act in a manner that would bring shame to them (verse 10).
· Husbands and wives must realize they need each other and have a duty to serve one another (verses 11-12).
· A woman's long hair is her glory and serves as a covering, provided she does not resort to shameless behavior with it (verse 15).
The only ones likely to be contentious are Judean Jews and I think Paul means that neither he, nor any of the apostles, has instituted any rule about whether to wear head coverings during worship. In the final analysis Paul grants the same liberty in observance as he does to the congregation in Colossae in terms of the religious calendar (Col 2:16). Paul's guidance is intended to prompt each disciple to take responsibility for his or her actions and evaluate his or her behavior before God. "Am I truly worshipping in the Spirit, or am I trying to imitate the world?" "Am I there for show or for service?"
Divisions in the Body, 11:17-19
17 But in this instructing I do not commend you, because you come together not for the better but for the worse.
But in this instructing: Grk. parangellō, pres. part., to give authoritative direction; order, instruct, direct. Mounce adds "to command, to charge." The verb occurs 32 times in the Besekh, 12 of which are in Paul's letters. Paul uses the verb twice in this letter, the first at 7:10 concerning divorce. Paul devotes a considerable portion of his letters instructing believers and congregations on how they should behave in many different circumstances. The Jewish term for this instruction is halakhah (lit. "way to walk"), which refers to making legal judgments (Stern 10). Paul's authority to instruct and command obedience originated from Yeshua who gave his apostles authority to "bind and loose" (Matt 16:19), terms used in first century Judaism to mean "prohibit" and "permit." See my web article Paul's Instructions for a listing of the subjects he addressed to the congregations.
I do not commend you: Grk. epaineō, pres. See the note on verse 2 above where Paul does commend the congregation. because: Grk. hoti, conj. indicating causality. you come together: Grk. sunerchomai, pres. mid., to come together as a collection of persons. The verb occurs in the Besekh of people who came together to hear Yeshua and be healed (Mark 3:30; Luke 5:15), gathering at the synagogue on the Sabbath (John 18:20), gathering at the Temple for festivals (John 18:20; Acts 2:6), gathering to hear the Good News (Acts 10:27, 45), and gathering for prayer (Acts 16:13). The verb refers to the gathering of the congregation, or some portion of it. In the first century disciples met together in private homes or halls owned by wealthy patrons (Acts 2:46; 12:12; 15:15, 40; 17:4-5; 18:7; 19:9; 20:20; 21:8; Rom 16:1-5; 1Cor 16:19; Phm 1:2).
Apostolic congregations did not possess the wealth for investment in real estate and structures, but it's possible that the congregation had a wealthy patron who provided a meeting place. not for the better: Grk. kreittōn, having a degree of advantage, whether in status or rank (better, superior) or of value (better, more advantageous). The second application fits here. but for the worse: Grk. hēssōn, without a positive, being less on a scale of evaluation; lesser, inferior, weaker, worse. The foregoing discussion in verses 3-16 is the least of their problems. Paul now raises an even more serious matter.
18 For indeed, firstly, your coming together in assembly, I hear that there are divisions among you. And in part I believe it,
your coming together: Grk. sunerchomai, pres. mid. part. See the note on the previous verse. in assembly: Grk. ekklēsia. See the note on verse 16 above. I hear: Grk. akouō, pres., may mean (1) to hear, with the focus on willingness to listen or to heed the substance of what is said; (2) hear with comprehension, understand; (3) receive information aurally, hear, hear about; or (4) a legal term of hearing a case. The first two meanings have application here. In the LXX akouō consistently stands for Heb. shama, which not only means to apprehend, but also to accept and to act upon what has been apprehended (DNTT 2:173). The third meaning applies here. Someone in the congregation, probably from Chloe's household, had reported to Paul what had been happening (cf. 1:11).
that there are: Grk. huparchō, pres. See the note on verse 7 above. divisions: pl. of Grk. schisma, something that is in parts through force, such as tearing fabric, but used here figuratively of differing viewpoints. Paul has already addressed this issue (1:10-17; 3:4-23) And in part: Grk. meros, a piece or segment of a whole; used here adverbially to mean to some extent or in part. I believe it: Grk. pisteuō, pres., in general Greek usage means to have confidence or faith in the reliability or trustworthiness of some thing or someone. In the LXX pisteuō renders the Heb. 'aman (SH-539), which means to confirm or support, as well as to be true, reliable or faithful, and to stand firm or trust (BDB 52). Paul had confidence in Chloe's people, so he could believe the negative report.
19 for also it behooves factions be among you so that the approved might become evident among you.
for also: Grk. gar kai. it behooves: Grk. dei, pres., impersonal verb from deō ('lack, stand in need of') and thus conveys the idea of something that's necessary, something that must or needs to happen. factions: pl. of Grk. hairesis, choice of association based on shared principles or beliefs, ordinarily of a subgroup with views or beliefs that deviate in certain respects from those of the larger membership; party, faction. The term is used of both the Sadducees (Acts 5:17) and the Pharisees (Acts 15:5; 26:5), as well as the Yeshua movement, nicknamed "The Way" (Acts 24:14; 28:22). Lastly, the term is used of groups that promote doctrines that contradict Scripture (Gal 5:20; 2Pet 2:1). Here the presence of factions is viewed as a threat to the integrity of the congregation.
be: Grk. eimi, to be. among you: the congregation. so that the approved: Grk. dokimos, meeting a standard for exceptional worth or character. might become: Grk. ginomai, aor. mid. subj. See the note on verse 1 above. evident: phaneros, in a state or condition that makes observation possible; publicly known, in the open, known, recognizable, apparent. Paul certainly did not desire to see factions appear within the congregation, but his statement is a dose of reality, that such things are inevitable (cf. Acts 20:29-30). While bad factions can have a negative effect, they also have the positive effect of motivating the good factions or good majority to identify themselves.
20 Therefore your coming together at the place is not to eat the Lord's supper.
Therefore your coming together: Grk. sunerchomai, pres. mid. part. See the note on verse 17 above. in one: Grk ho, demonstrative pronoun functioning as a personal pronoun of the third person; this one, that one. place: Grk. autos, reflexive pronoun giving emphasis to the location of meeting. is not: Grk. ou, particle of strong negation. to eat: Grk. esthiō, aor. inf., to consume food, whether derived from grain, vegetables, fruits or meat of animals. In the LXX esthiō translates Heb. akal, to eat (SH-398; BDB 37), generally in the literal sense of eating food, but also fig. uses abound (DNTT 2:271-272).
In the Tanakh all food of whatever type (and for Jews this would mean kosher food) is understood as a gift of God (Deut 14:14; Ps 22:26), and thus places man under direction from God (Gen 3:2-3). The righteous and devout do not need to worry about their food (Ps 127:2; Isa 3:10; Matt 6:25). Since eating is not something that man should do in isolation but is an expression of relationship with God, one must share food with the hungry (Isa 58:7; cf. Luke 16:19-20). Whenever food is served an appropriate blessing to God should be offered (Rom 14:6; 1Tim 4:1-4).
the Lord's: Grk. kuriakos, adj., means belonging to the Lord. The term appears in Roman inscriptions and papyri after AD 68 to mean imperial, such as imperial treasury, service, etc. The only other usage of kuriakos in the apostolic writings occurs in Revelation 1:10 in relation to the first day of the week. The term does not occur in the LXX at all. supper: Grk. deipnon refers to the daily main meal (John 12:2), or a formal banquet, such as Passover (John 13:2). This name for the memorial of Yeshua's death occurs only here in the Besekh and was probably coined by Paul. As Grosheide points out this first use of the expression "Lord's supper" is not a technical term for the sacred ceremony given in verses 23-26 below. Rather, the supper is the main meal, served in the evening.
The meal shared by the congregation should be considered a "love feast" a term preserved by Judah, the half-brother of Yeshua (Jude 1:12). The carried-in meal was no doubt patterned after the practice of the newly formed congregation in Jerusalem in which disciples devoted themselves to the apostles teaching, fellowship, breaking bread and prayer with one another (Acts 2:42). The expression "breaking bread" does not refer to the Lord's Supper, but simply to a regular meal which commenced with a blessing over bread (Matt 14:19). Then the Jewish participants break off a piece of the loaf and eat it, so that the blessing of God specifically for his provision of bread to eat will not have been said in vain (Stern 227). The mention of apostolic teaching in concert with the meal is also typical of Jewish practice that included Torah study with eating (Avot 3:17). We can easily imagine that the "love feast" included the four elements of Acts 2:42.
Stern makes the comment that since Paul's letters were written before any of the apostolic narratives, this is the oldest record of the Lord's Supper in the Besekh. However, the late dating of the apostolic narratives has no substantive evidence to support it. The evidence supports a date of 50 to 60 for the books of the four evangelists. (See my web article Witnesses of the Good News for a discussion of the dating issue.) The letters to the congregation in Corinth may be dated from 52 to 57. Luke, a companion and fellow-worker of Paul, likely had written his narrative. In fact, Paul's recounting of the Lord's Supper ritual is closer to the narrative of Luke than Matthew or Mark.
One other item of historical interest from the first century A.D. is that at Qumran, the people observed a periodic ceremonial meal in honor of the Messiah, which involved bread and wine (Stern 932f). Concerning the conduct of the banquet in honor of the Messiah, whom the Essenes expected soon, "The Charter for Israel in the Last Days," commonly known as the “The Rule Annex” (1QSa) to “The Community Scroll of the Rule” has the following passage, as translated by Wise, Abegg and Cook:
“When they gather at the Community table, having set out bread and wine so the communal table is set for eating and the wine poured for drinking, none may reach for the first portion of the bread or the wine before the Priest. For he shall bless the first portion of the bread and the wine reaching for the bread first. Afterward the Messiah of Israel shall reach for the bread. Finally, each member of the whole congregation of the Yahad shall give a blessing, in descending order of rank. This procedure shall govern every meal, provided at least ten men are gathered together." (TDSS 140)
Stern goes on to comment that the concept of a public ceremonial meal in honor of the Messiah and involving bread and wine was a tradition within the Jewish world prior to Yeshua’s advent. The earliest biblical mention of a bread-and-wine meal, occurred when Melchizedek presented these elements to Abraham (Gen 14:18). Unfortunately, Christianity separated the Lord's Supper ritual from the Messianic love feast to its loss. Christian churches do have "pot-lucks" (Messianic Jews prefer "pot-blessings"), but these gatherings typically do not have the four-fold character of the apostolic love feast.
Yet, Paul says that the gathering of the congregation was not for the Lord's supper. He does not say this wasn't their purpose. If the goal was to use Yeshua's last Seder as a model, they failed in spectacular fashion as described in the next verse.
21 For each one in the eating goes ahead with his own meal; and this one is hungry, and that one is becoming drunk.
For each one: Grk. hekastos, adj., each one, every one. The significance of the adjective is that it emphasizes the individual rather than the Lord determining the conduct of the celebration (Rienecker). in the eating: Grk. esthiō, aor. inf. See the note on the previous verse. goes ahead: Grk. paralambanō, pres., may mean (1) to receive to one's side; take, receive; or (2) to cause to go along; take. Here the verb has the sense of to take before. with his own: Grk. idios, belonging to oneself, one's own. Idios conveys the idea of property, that is, something belonging to an individual in contrast to what is public property or belongs to another. meal: Grk. deipnon. See the note on the previous verse. and this one: Grk. hos, relative pronoun, this one, that one.
is hungry: Grk. peinaō, pres., to be hungry, to hunger, here in the physical sense. Apparently the Corinthians were guilty of the same problem that occurred in Qumran as mentioned in the quotation above. Grosheide suggests that some ate the food they had brought and did not permit others, the poor, to eat from their portion. As a result the poor, who had counted on receiving a meal, were still hungry when the meal was over. There was a need to prevent people from grabbing the food without regard for order or for each other.
and that one: Grk. hos. is becoming drunk: Grk. methuō, pres., to be intoxicated as a result of imbibing to excess an alcoholic beverage. The present tense indicates behavior in progress. Wine was a regular beverage of ancient Israelites, being considered a blessing of God (Deut 7:13; 11:14; 14:26; Ps 104:14-15) and especially important in festival meals (Deut 16:13; Isa 25:6). Scripture identifies definite benefits of wine (Gen 14:18; 27:28; Ex 29:40; Deut 7:13; 14:26; 16:13; Ps 104:15; Prov 3:10; Matt 9:17; Luke 7:33-34; John 2:3-11; 1Tim 5:23).
By the same token Scripture contains many warnings against drunkenness because wine as a fermented beverage was quite potent and some people overindulged (Gen 9:21; Prov 20:1; 23:20; Isa 5:22; 28:1, 7). Paul frequently denounced drunkenness (Rom 13:13; 1Cor 5:11; 6:10; 11:20-22; Gal 5:21; Eph 5:18; 1Th 5:7-8). To prevent drunkenness at festival meals wine was typically diluted with water. The usual mixture was one part wine to three parts water (Pesachim 108b). Yet, at the Corinthian love feast some members did not follow the usual protocol.
22 Have you not homes in which to eat and drink? Or do you despise the congregation of God and humiliate the ones not having? What may I say to you? Shall I commend you? In this I do not commend you.
Have: Grk. echō, pres. See the note on verse 4 above. you not homes: pl. of Grk. oikos, a place of habitation, or a household. in which to eat: Grk. esthiō, pres. inf. See the note on verse 20 above. and to drink: Grk. pinō, pres. inf., to take in liquid in a physical sense, usually of water or wine; drink. Or do you despise: Grk. kataphroneō, pres., look down on; despise, disdain, scorn. the congregation: Grk. ekklēsia. See the note on verse 16 above. of God: Grk. theos, the God of Israel. See the note on verse 7 above. and humiliate: Grk. kataischunō, pres., to put to shame, expose to disgrace. Rienecker suggests that the present tense verb could have the sense of "are you trying to put to shame?" the ones not having: Grk. echō, pres. part. The participle alludes to the poor in the gathering.
What: Grk. tis, interrogative pronoun; who, which, what, why. may I say: Grk. legō, aor. subj., to make a statement or utterance, whether oral or in written form; say, tell, declare. In the LXX legō renders Heb. amar (SH-559), to utter, say, shew, command or think. The subjunctive is deliberative meaning "What shall I say?" or "What should I say?" (Rienecker). to you: The plural pronoun points to the offenders. Shall I commend you: Grk. epaineō, aor. subj. See the note on verse 2 above. The question is more sarcastic than rhetorical. In this I do not commend you: Grk. epaineō, pres. There was a matter in verse 2 above for which Paul commended the congregation, but in this matter of greed and disregarding the needs of the poor Paul is thoroughly disgusted with them. The closing statement represents a strong rebuke.
23 For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Yeshua in that night he was betrayed took bread,
For: Grk. gar, conj. See the note on verse 5 above. I: Grk. egō, pronoun of the first person. Paul's use of the pronoun strongly contrasts himself with those at Corinth. received: Grk. paralambanō, aor. See the note on verse 21 above. Paul could well mean an oral communication. from: Grk. apo, prep. used generally as a marker of separation; from. Here the preposition puts the focus on agency or instrumentality. the Lord: Grk. kurios; i.e., Yeshua. See the note on verse 12 above. Some commentators as Grosheide and Mare, do not believe that the preposition apo ("from") proves that Paul received the message directly from the Lord. They believe the preposition para ("from," "from beside") would have been more appropriate for that purpose. So, Paul passed on what he received from others--i.e., through a process of repetition.
Luke is the only one who records that the Lord Yeshua commanded his apostles "Do this as a memorial to me" or "Do this in remembrance of me" as it reads in most versions (Luke 22:19). So, Yeshua's command in the upper room could stand behind Paul's having received "from the Lord." Nevertheless, Paul's verbiage here is decidedly personal: "I received from the Lord." He did not say, "The Lord commanded and Luke passed it on to me." Other scholars, as Gill and Rienecker, are willing to consider that Paul did receive revelation direct from Yeshua.
what I also delivered: Grk. paradidōmi, aor., to hand over. See the note on verse 2 above. to you: Grk. humeis, pl. pronoun of the second person, i.e., the congregation in Corinth. The verb functions as a retrospective of the prior occasion in which he had instructed Corinthian disciples in the faith. The assumption is that Paul had given them the same information as he taught elsewhere (cf. 2Th 2:2). He was faithful in his divine commission. Paul now extracts a portion of the narrative of Yeshua's last Passover, which is recorded in all four apostolic narratives (Matt 26:1-2, 17-30; Mark 14:1, 12-26; Luke 22:1, 7-38; John 13—17). See my commentary on Mark 14:12-26. For the history of Passover and its significance to the Jewish people see my web article The Messianic Meal.
that the Lord Yeshua: Grk. Iēsous, a transliteration of the Hebrew name Yeshua ("Jesus" in Christian Bibles). Yeshua is a contraction of the Hebrew name Y’hoshua ("Joshua"), which means “YHVH [the LORD] is salvation" (BDB 221). The meaning of his name is explained to Joseph an angel of the Lord, "You shall call his name Yeshua, for he will save his people from their sins" (Matt 1:21). For more information on the meaning our Lord's name, and the history of translation of the name see my web article Who is Yeshua?
in that night: Grk. nux, night as a chronological period, sunset to sunrise. Due to the length of the Passover Seder the actual time was after midnight. he was betrayed: Grk. paradidōmi, impf. pass. Stern suggests that the second use of the verb constitutes a word play. Betrayed means that Yeshua was "handed over" to the authorities. The meal portended his sufferings that included unlawful arrest, physical abuse, verbal torment, public humiliation, flagellation and the agony of being impaled on an execution stake (Matt 16:21; Luke 22:15). The meal therefore honors and hallows the sufferings of Yeshua so that the community celebration could be rightly deemed “the fellowship of His sufferings” (Php 3:10; cf. 1Pet 4:13).
took: Grk. lambanō, aor. The verb marks the transit of something from a position to another person who is the agent with the latter being also the receptor; here of taking an object. According to the apostolic narratives this taking occurred during the meal (Mark 14:22). bread: Grk. artos (Heb. lechem), which refers to a baked product produced from cereal grain and also to food or nourishment in general. In the Torah instructions for Passover the unleavened bread is called the "bread of affliction" (Deut 16:3), because the first mention of unleavened bread in the Bible is the Passover bread eaten while in Egyptian slavery. And, for Yeshua, the bread served as a portent of his own affliction and suffering.
Some scholars think that the use of artos instead of azumos (unleavened bread) in the Last Supper narrative suggests that Yeshua and his disciples ate leavened bread in this meal, in spite of the fact that unleavened bread is mentioned in the Last Supper narratives (Matt 26:17; Mark 14:1, 12; Luke 22:1, 7). If the meal included leavened bread then it would not have been a true Passover meal (Pes. 9:3; 10:4-5). Actually, the use of artos contains a hidden spiritual truth. In the LXX artos is used of the showbread maintained in the Temple (Ex 25:30; 40:23; 1Sam 21:6; 1Chr 9:32; 23:29; 28:16; 2Chr 2:4; 13:11; 29:18; Neh 10:33) and in the Synoptic Narratives (Matt 12:4; Mark 2:26; Luke 6:4).
The showbread was made without leaven (Lev 8:2, 26; 24:5). This usage demonstrates that the definition of artos is not based on its leaven content. The use of artos in Synoptic narratives follows the specific mention that the event occurred at the beginning of the Feast of Unleavened Bread (azumos). It could well be that the use of artos hinted at the showbread. The showbread was intended for consumption by the priests. The one exception occurred when David took this bread to feed his men when he was fleeing from King Saul (1Sam 21:4-6; Mark 2:25-26).
This understanding gives a deeper meaning of the significance of the bread that Yeshua held up. Yeshua, the Great High Priest and Davidic King, was offering the bread intended only for priests to his disciples who would share in his body. As showbread Yeshua pointed to his people becoming a kingdom of priests (Eph 4:12; 1Pet 2:5-9; Rev 1:6; 5:10; 20:6).
24 and having given thanks, he broke, and said, "This is my body which is for you. Do this as a memorial to me."
and having given thanks: Grk. eucharisteō, aor. part., to give thanks. For this verb here God is explicitly the recipient of the thanksgiving. The verb occurs not at all in the LXX of the Tanakh, but is found six times in the Jewish Apocrypha (DNTT 3:818). The choice of the verb is deliberate since thanksgiving refers to something that has been received (cf. Ps 100:4; Php 4:6; 1Tim 2:1; Rev 7:12). Paul follows Luke's use of eucharisteō to describe Yeshua offering the b'rakhah for the bread (Luke 22:19), whereas Matthew (26:26) and Mark (14:22) use eulogeō.
The Jewish formula for blessings set forth in the Mishnah consisted of two parts, first the standard invocation, Barukh attah Adonai, ("Blessed are You, O LORD," quoting Psalm 119:12) (Ber. 1:4), followed by the reason for the invocation, "who [action verb]," in this case "who brings forth [Heb. ha-motzi] bread [Heb. lechem] from the earth [Heb. min ha-aretz]" (Ber. 6:1). It is important to remember that Jews do not bless food; they bless God for the food He provides.
he broke: Grk. klaō, aor., to break off pieces from a loaf of bread. At meals other than the Passover the breaking of bread occurred at the beginning of the meal. The mention of the apostles "breaking bread" (Acts 2:46; 20:7) refers to practice of beginning meals with the Hamotzi benediction. Yeshua broke the matzah because that was the customary way of sharing the unleavened bread in the Passover. and said: Grk. legō, aor. See the note on verse 22 above. The Greek verb "say" functions as quotation marks for the text following since ancient writings did not contain punctuation. The order of receiving the elements conforms to the apostolic narratives.
This is: Grk. touto estin. Hebrew does not have a "to be" verb, so he would have simply said, "this." my body: Grk. sōma, body, a structured physical unit in contrast to its parts, a physical body, normally of a living body in Grk. literature. This phrase in Greek is lit. "This of me is the body" (Marshall). While Greek dualism distinguished between the soul and the body, in Hebraic thought the body represents the whole man. Since in the Hebrew mind there is no compartmentalization of the person, then Yeshua is saying, "This is me." In the Hebrew translations of the apostolic narratives of Yeshua's Last Seder Delitzsch and the modern BSI-NT render sōma with Heb. guphah (SH-1480), dead body or corpse. Guphah occurs only twice in the Tanakh, both in reference to the corpses of King Saul and his sons (1Chr 10:12). The Hebrew translation makes Yeshua statement even more poignant.
Yeshua's intention was that then and in the future the bread represented him, it did not become him. Yeshua often spoke of himself in symbolic terms (e.g. door, shepherd, vine, manna, light), but there is no hint of the later Christian doctrine of transubstantiation. Because the bread represents Yeshua, then the "taking" and "eating" represent the obedient response of the trusting disciple. The Lord's Supper is a reminder of the incarnate Yeshua, truly human and born of woman with a physical body and blood in His veins, who felt and endured pain and is fully able to understand and sympathize with our needs (cf. Gal 4:4; Heb 4:15; 1Jn 1:1).
Yeshua's action is surprising in one respect. Since he is the Lamb of God, then it would seem more logical to share a piece of roasted lamb to offer the comparison. However, in the future he wanted his disciples to be able to share this memorial meal without the restriction of having to go to Jerusalem to offer a Passover lamb. Such is the context of Paul's instruction on the Lord's Supper. Each piece of bread received by a disciple represents Yeshua. which is for: Grk. huper, prep., lit. "over, above," used here fig. to mean "on behalf of." Many versions appropriately insert "given" into the phrase. you: Grk. humeis, pl. pronoun. Yeshua's provision is not only for individuals, but also the community. The spiritual meaning of sharing the bread is significant.
● Leaven symbolizes malice and wickedness, whereas matzah is likened to sincerity and truth (1Cor 5:6-8). Unleavened bread symbolizes a sinless Savior.
● Considering the sinless nature of Yeshua and that the unleavened bread symbolizes this state, then "taking" the bread represents a desire that his purity would cleanse our sinfulness.
● The invitation to take the bread implies a willingness to identify with his death, as Paul says, "The bread that we break, is it not a sharing [Grk. koinonia] of the body of Messiah?" Yeshua had earlier commanded his disciples to take up their crosses and to die to self-will (Luke 9:23; 14:27; cf. Gal 5:24). Paul testified, "I have been crucified with Messiah" (Gal 2:20 mine).
● Sharing the bread together binds the community of faith, Jew and Gentile, in unity for which Yeshua prayed (John 17:11, 21-22), as Paul says, "Since there is one bread, we who are many are one body; for we all partake of the one bread" (1Cor 10:17).
Do: Grk. poieō, pres. imp., a verb of physical action that may refer to (1) producing something material; make, construct, produce, create; or (2) to be active in bringing about a state of condition; do, act, perform, work. The second meaning applies here. The present tense means to start and keep on doing this expected behavior. this: Grk. houtos, demonstrative pronoun, this. The pronoun alludes to the required action of receiving the bread. as: Grk. eis, prep., focus on entrance, frequently in relation to a direction toward a goal or place and consequent arrival. The root meaning is "into." This preposition is only used to connect to a noun or pronoun in the accusative case. Since the preposition is used here to describe a relation, then it would be rendered "as, for." (DM 114).
a memorial: Grk. anamnēsis, reminder, remembrance, memory. BAG and Mounce add "memorial." Two versions have "memorial" (CJB, NEB). The bread is a reminder of the sufferings Yeshua endured, but since he was an atoning sacrifice it is also a reminder of the individual's sins that have been forgiven. to me: Grk. emos, possessive pronoun for the first person. Even though the noun is in the accusative case, many versions translate is as a genitive with "of me." Dan Gruber comments that Pesach itself is observed as a memorial/remembrance (Heb. zikaron; Ex 12:14). In the traditional prayer Ya'aleh veYavo, Jews say, "…the remembrance (zikaron) of our Fathers, the remembrance of Yerushala'im Your city, and the remembrance of Messiah, Son of David Your servant" (MW-Notes 276).
The Greek sentence "Do this as a memorial to me" could be a direct quotation from Luke 22:19. Paul's point, as Yeshua said, is that this sacred meal in the future is to be in commemoration of the deliverance accomplished by Yeshua, not the deliverance from Egypt as traditionally celebrated (Lightfoot 4:247). Yeshua's command "do this" makes the Lord's Supper a holy ritual and as such should be done in all reverence.
25 Similarly also the cup after having dined, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as, if you drink, as a memorial to me."
Similarly: Grk. hōsautōs, adv., in like manner, similarly, likewise. Many versions insert at this point the words "he took." also the cup: Grk. potērion (Heb. kos), a drinking cup without further definition. The content of the cup would presumptively be fermented wine as at Yeshua's last Seder. The use of grape juice in modern observance is a practical alternative. The Mishnah specifies the consumption of four cups of wine during the Passover Seder (Pesachim 10:1). Festivals typically began and ended with a cup of wine, but the Sages believed that for the most joyous evening of the year two more should be drunk. The cups were not identified by name as in the modern Seder, but the cups symbolize the four promises of Exodus 6:6-7: "I will bring you," "I will deliver you," "I will redeem you," and "I will take you." Yeshua fulfilled all these promises.
after: Grk. meta, prep., used here to mark a sequence; after, behind. having dined: Grk. deipneō, aor. inf., to eat or dine. This cup of wine is the third (Heb. shelishi) of the four required by the Mishnah, which is consumed after the meal (Pes. 10:6; Luke 22:20; 1Cor 11:25) (Stern 144). Paul skips over the second cup mentioned in Luke's narrative. At the sharing of the second cup, the Cup of Deliverance [or Salvation] Yeshua said "I will never drink of the fruit of the vine from now on, until the kingdom of God comes" (Luke 22:18). The third cup is commonly referred to as the Cup of Redemption. Of this cup Yeshua did not drink, but he no doubt provided the customary blessing, "Blessed are You, O Lord, who creates the fruit of the vine" (Ber. 6:1). saying: Grk. legō, pres. part. See the note on verse 22 above.
This cup: Grk. potērion. is the New: Grk. kainos, means "new," either (1) of recent origin, or (2) different and superior in quality relative to something old. The second meaning applies here. Covenant: Grk. diathēkē generally in Greek literature used of a formal arrangement or agreement for disposing of something in a manner assuring continuity. Danker indicates two functional meanings of the term in Scripture: (1) covenant with focus on testamentary aspect, i.e., "last will and testament" (Gal 3:15; Heb 9:16-17); and (2) covenant with focus on the Old Testament perspective of God's unilaterally assumed obligation to confer a special blessing. In the LXX diathēkē renders the Heb. b'rit, covenant (DNTT 1:365). The mention of the New Covenant is an allusion to the prophecy of Jeremiah.
"Behold, days are coming” —it is a declaration of ADONAI— “when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah—32 not like the covenant I made with their fathers in the day I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt. For they broke My covenant, though I was a husband to them.” it is a declaration of ADONAI. 33 But this is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after those days —it is a declaration of ADONAI— I will put My Torah within them. Yes, I will write it on their heart. I will be their God and they will be My people." (Jer 31:31-33 TLV)
In reality both meanings of diathēkē are reflected in Yeshua's declaration. See the Additional Note below on the New Covenant.
in my: Grk. emos. See the note on the previous verse. blood: Grk. haima, blood, whether of animals or humans. Only that which has blood has life, since life or the soul (Heb. nephesh) is in the blood (Gen 9:4; Lev 17:11). This simple assertion explains why Scripture never speaks of plants having life. Yeshua's use of "blood" is figurative for "bloodshed," and usually denoted a life given up in death as the penalty for breaking the covenant (Rienecker). At the Last Supper Yeshua predicted two things happening. First, the bloodshed was his own death by judicial fiat and crucifixion. Second, the bloodshed was the sacrifice of the sin offering at the Temple on the day of his crucifixion, Nisan 15.
The significance of Yeshua's words in the Last Supper ritual is vividly portrayed in the account of establishing the covenant with Israel by sprinkling sacrificial blood to make the people clean.
"So Moses took the blood and sprinkled it on the people, and said, "Behold the blood of the covenant, which the LORD has made with you in accordance with all these words." 9 Then Moses went up with Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel, 10 and they saw the God of Israel; and under His feet there appeared to be a pavement of sapphire, as clear as the sky itself. 11 Yet He did not stretch out His hand against the nobles of the sons of Israel; and they saw God, and they ate and drank." (Ex 24:8-11)
Note that in this passage the "blood of the covenant" is juxtaposed with a covenant supper in the presence of God. The blood accomplishes a different task than the blood on the doorposts in Egypt where the blood saved from death. On a different kind of post Yeshua's death accomplished an atoning sacrifice that would deliver from both the penalty and the power of sin. Thus, the apostles would later remind us, "without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness" (Heb 9:22), and "the blood of His Son Yeshua purifies us from all sin" (1Jn 1:7 TLV).
Do this: The same command as in the previous verse is repeated. as often as: Grk. hosakis, adv. as often as. if: Grk. ean. See the note on verse 14 above. The conditional particle is not translated in standard versions. you drink: Grk. pinō, pres. subj. See the note on verse 22 above. The subjunctive mood seems strange here since it is the mood of potential and probability, not actuality. There may be a hint that future observances might omit the cup. After all, Paul may be reasoning, if people are going to get drunk, then maybe it should be omitted. But, if you do it in the right manner, then it will have the significance Yeshua intended. as a memorial to me: This phrase is repeated from the previous verse. When the disciple receives the elements he should reflect to himself how much he has benefited from Yeshua's shed blood.
26 For as often as if you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the death of the Lord until he comes.
For: Grk. gar, conj. See the note on verse 5 above. as often as: Grk. hōsautōs. See the note on the previous verse. While Christian and Messianic Jewish traditions have a prescribed frequency for the sacred ceremony, whether daily, weekly, monthly or quarterly, Paul offers no guidance on the matter, other than the general allowance, "as often as." His concern is not the frequency of the meal, but the purpose and message of it. if: Grk. ean. See the note on verse 14 above. The conditional particle is not translated in standard versions, but its use may point to the inclusion of both verbs that follow. you eat: Grk. esthiō, pres. subj. See the note on verse 20 above. this bread: Grk. artos. See the note on verse 23 above.
and drink: Grk. pinō, pres. subj. See the note on verse 22 above. the cup: Grk. potērion. See the note on the previous verse. you proclaim: Grk. katangellō, pres., to proclaim, with connotation of broad dissemination. The verb is used with the sense of making a solemn announcement by word of mouth (Rienecker). the death: Grk. thanatos, death in the natural physical sense. Paul's explanation in this verse clarifies his use of the word "memorial" in the previous verse. of the Lord: Grk. kurios. See the note on verse 11 above. until: Grk. achri, adv., until, up to, as far as. he comes: Grk. erchomai, aor. subj., to come or arrive with focus on a position from which action or movement takes place or to go with the focus on the goal for movement. The verb refers to the Second Coming and specifies how long disciples are to observe the Lord's Supper.
Daniel Gruber comments:
"Yeshua died for the sins of the world as the King of the Jews. He will return as the Son of David to take up his throne in Jerusalem and restore the Davidic kingdom, extending its rule over all the earth. In eating the bread of affliction and drinking the cup of the new covenant, we are proclaiming the atoning death of the King of the Jews until he comes to reign over David's kingdom and all the earth." (MW-Notes 276).
David Stern offers similar analysis:
"At Passover Jews all over the world retell the story of the plagues and the Exodus and thus proclaim the central fact on which their national identity is founded (see 5:6–8). Likewise, members of the Messianic Community are to proclaim the death of the Lord as their exodus from sin and as the basis for their existence. Both proclamations look not only back toward a past redemption but also forward to a future one; hence the proclamation is until he comes the second time."
While all Christian traditions have a prescribed ritual and frequency for the sacred ceremony, Paul offers no guidance on either issue, other than the general allowance, "as often as you." The Lord’s Table only requires unleavened bread and cup(s) of wine or grape juice to conform to Paul's instruction. For more discussion on this subject see my web article The Messianic Meal.
27 Therefore, whoever might eat the bread or drink the cup of the Lord unworthily will be guilty of the body and of the blood of the Lord.
Therefore: Grk. hōste, conj. that may be used to (1) introduce an independent clause that represents a consequence of the statement that precedes; for this reason, therefore, and so; or (2) introduces a dependent clause of an actual result; for the purpose of, with a view to, in order that. The first usage applies here. whoever: Grk. hos, relative pronoun, who, whoever. might: Grk. an, a disjunctive particle that implies a possibility based on a preexisting condition or stipulation; would, ever, might. The particle is not normally translated, but supports the subjunctive mood of the following verbs. eat: Grk. esthiō, pres. subj. See the note on verse 20 above. the bread: Grk. artos. See the note on verse 23 above.
or drink: Grk. pinō, pres. subj. See the note on verse 22 above. the cup: Grk. potērion. See the note on verse 25 above. of the Lord: Grk. kurios. See the note on verse 11 above. unworthily: Grk. anaxiōs, adv., in a manner that does not bring honor; in a dishonoring manner. Mounce adds "unworthily." The word is derived from Grk. anaxios, unfit, unworthy. Paul's use of the adverb might allude to the problem of drunkenness in the Lord's Supper (verse 21 above) and participants failing to respect what the bread and cup represent. Yet, the instruction of the next verse indicates the real issue was the spiritual condition of the participants. The problem was not the manner, but the heart. Spiritual things must be spiritually appraised (1Cor 2:14-15).
will be: Grk. eimi, fut. mid., to be. guilty: Grk. enochos, required to give an account with focus on legal procedure; held liable, held accountable for. Mounce adds "guilty, deserving." In other words, the person is judged as an offender. of the body: Grk. sōma. See the note on verse 24 above. and of the blood: Grk. haima. See the note on verse 25 above. of the Lord: As an acted out parable of the atoning sacrifice of Yeshua an unregenerate person receiving the bread and cup makes that person a co-conspirator in the execution of Yeshua and therefore guilty of murder (cf. Acts 2:23; 3:14-15; 4:10; 7:52; 1Th 2:14-15). Similarly, Yeshua declared that his adversaries were held accountable for all the righteous blood shed in the past (Matt 23:29-35).
28 Therefore, a man must examine himself, and in this manner eat of the bread and drink of the cup.
Therefore: Grk. de, conj. See the note on verse 2 above. a man: Grk. anthrōpos, human being, man, or mankind. In the LXX anthrōpos renders three Hebrew words: (1) adam, SH-444, used for a human male or generically for man and woman and as a contrast to animals (e.g., Gen 1:26, 27; 2:5; 1Sam 15:29); (2) ish, SH-376, adult male or husband (Gen 2:23, 24; Job 1:1) and (3) enosh, SH-582, man or mankind, often signifying the aspect of weakness and mortality (Job 5:17; Ps 8:4-5) (DNTT 2:564). Paul likely intended "man," because in the Passover legislation only men were required to observe the pilgrim festival. Yet, women who participate would also be included in the following requirement.
must examine: Grk. dokimazō, pres. imp., evaluate significance or worth, which may focus either on the process or the outcome; evaluate, discern, appraise, inspect, examine. The verb originally meant to assay metals (Mounce). Stern comments that the root meaning of the Hebrew word for "to pray," l'hitpallel, is "to judge oneself." himself: Grk. heautou, reflexive pronoun; himself, herself, itself. The pronoun is masculine in form. and in this manner: Grk. houtōs, adv. See the note on verse 12 above. eat: Grk. esthiō, pres. imp., See the note on verse 20 above. of the bread: Grk. artos. See the note on verse 23 above. and drink: Grk. pinō, pres. imp. See the note on verse 22 above. of the cup: Grk. potērion. See the note on verse 25 above.
Paul's instruction implies that the self-examination precedes the eating and drinking. Self-examination questions could include the following:
1. Have I committed any sins that need the forgiveness of God?
2. Is there any sin that has dominion over me?
3. How have I fallen short of the glory of God?
4. Is there anyone whom I hate or hold resentment against?
5. Do I have peace with God through Yeshua?
Sincere self-examination would automatically invoke the ministry of the Holy Spirit. It is the work of the Holy Spirit to convict of sin (John 16:8; Heb 3:7), to enable understanding of Scripture (John 14:26; 16:13), to intercede in our prayers (Rom 8:26f), and especially to regenerate and sanctify believers to produce godly character that conforms to the Torah of God (John 6:63; Acts 1:8; Rom 7:6; 8:13f; 1Cor 6:11; Gal 5:22; 2Th 2:13). Sharing the Lord's Supper "in the Spirit" is the best way for the sacred ceremony to to be a spiritual blessing.
29 For the one eating and drinking, not discerning the body, eats and drinks judgment on himself.
For: Grk. gar, conj. See the note on verse 5 above. the one eating: Grk. esthiō, pres. part. See the note on verse 20 above. and drinking: Grk. pinō, pres. part. See the note on verse 22 above. The verbs affirm both the sequence, eating first followed by drinking, and the repeated nature of the sacred ceremony. not: Grk. mē, a particle of qualified negation, not. It differs from the other standard negative particle, oú, in that oú is objective, dealing only with facts, while mē is subjective, involving will and thought (DM 265). discerning: Grk. diakrinō, pres. part., lit. "through judging," intellectual weighing of matters that leads to hesitation or doubt, even to the point of disputing or contending with; distinguish, evaluate, discern. the body: Grk. sōma. See the note on verse 24 above.
eats and drinks judgment: Grk. krima may refer to a judicial decision, decree or verdict, or a sentence of condemnation and the subsequent punishment itself. The term is used here of the judgment of God. on himself: Grk. heautou. See the note on the previous verse. Interpretation of Paul's warning depends on the meaning of "body." If sōma refers to the body of Yeshua (1Cor 10:16), then the act of taking and eating the bread unworthily invokes the judgment of God. Because of what the ceremony represents the elements are holy to the Lord. On the other hand if sōma refers to the body of Messiah (1Cor 10:17; 12:27), then eating unworthily, that is, with unrepented sin, would appropriately invoke the discipline of the congregation in accordance with Yeshua's instructions (Matt 18:15-19). Paul could well have intended both of these applications.
30 Because of this many among you are weak and sick, and some have died.
Because of: Grk. dia, prep. See the note on verse 11 above. this, many: Grk. polus, extensive in scope, here as an adj. indicating a high degree in number. among you: Grk. humeis, pl. pronoun; i.e., among the congregation. are weak: Grk. asthenēs, may mean (1) weak in body; sick, sickly; or (2) lacking capacity for something, weak. The second meaning applies here. and sick: Grk. arrōstos, ill, sick. Mounce adds "an invalid." and some: Grk. hikanos, of a quality or extent that is quite enough; rather large. Mounce translates as "quite a few." have died: Grk. koimaō, to sleep in its ordinary meaning, but also figurative of death, which is the intended meaning here. Stern comments that failure at self-judgment opens one to demonic attack (cf. 1Cor 5:5; 10:20–22), which can cause sickness or death. In any event, sin can lead to sickness. Illnesses often have spiritual roots.
Paul's report is incredible on the face of it. Judgment had fallen on the congregation for their many sins, and in particular for their failure to treat holy things with holy fear. This situation is not unlike that of the priest who was struck down for trying to save the ark when oxen stumbled (2Sam 6:6-7). The Besekh reports other incidents of God judging people with death and other punishments for a variety of serious offenses (Acts 5:5-10; 12:23; 13:11; cf. Rev 2:5, 16, 20-23; 3:3).
31 But if we were discerning ourselves, we would not be judged.
But: Grk. de, conj. See the note on verse 2 above. if: Grk. ei, a contingency marker used here to introduce a circumstance assumed to be valid for the sake of argument. we were discerning: Grk. diakrinō, impf. See the note on verse 29 above. The imperfect tense emphasizes continuous action in past time. ourselves: pl. of Grk. heautou. See the note on verse 28 above. The verb is first person plural, which seems strange since the pronoun is in the third person. Paul focuses on the entire Body of Messiah of which he is a part. we would: Grk. an. See the note on verse 27 above. not: Grk. ou, negative particle. See the note on verse 6 above. be judged: Grk. krinō, impf. pass. See the note on verse 13 above.
Disciples can avoid the adverse judgment of God by engaging in spiritual self-examination and taking corrective action as necessary. Paul set the example earlier in the letter when he said: "I am not aware of anything against myself, but I am not thereby acquitted. It is the Lord who judges me" (1Cor 4:4 ESV). Anyone who thinks he can keep on sinning and avoid the judgment of God is delusional (Heb 10:26-27).
32 Now, being judged by the Lord, we are disciplined that we should not be condemned with the world.
Now: Grk. de, conj. See the note on verse 2 above. being judged: Grk. krinō, pres. pass. part. See the note on verse 13 above. by: Grk. hupo, prep. lit. "under." the Lord: Grk. kurios. See the note on verse 11 above. we are disciplined: Grk. paideuō, pres. mid., exercise instructive discipline. In Scripture the concept of discipline refers to a range of behaviors from instruction, to guidance, to corrective discipline, to punitive measures. Paul's exhortation on discipline in Hebrews 12 illustrates the point. Just as a good earthy father will discipline his children so God provides appropriate guidance and correction to prevent spiritual disaster. that: Grk. hina, conj. used to add an idea that completes an intention expressed; in order that. we should not be condemned: Grk. katakrinō, aor. pass. subj., declare worthy of punishment, pronounce a judicial verdict or condemn.
with the world: Grk. kosmos has a variety of uses in the Besekh and other Jewish literature, including (1) the orderly universe; (2) the human race, mankind; (3) the earth as the place of habitation; and especially (4) everything of mankind that opposes God and is depraved of character (BAG). In the LXX kosmos is used to render a variety of words, but only a few times with a meaning similar to the Besekh. Kosmos occurs five times for Heb. tsaba, the "hosts of heaven and earth," i.e., the stars (Gen 2:1; Deut 4:19). The meaning of kosmos as "the world of mankind" is only found in Apocryphal writings (Wis., 2nd Macc., 4th Macc.). A number of passages in the Besekh use "world" to refer to the nations outside the land of Israel (Matt 24:14; Luke 12:30; John 14:22), as well as the Jewish world (John 3:17; 6:14, 33; 12:19, 47; 14:19; 16:28; 17:6).
In this passage Paul probably uses kosmos in the sense of the nations aligned against the Messiah and His kingdom, which are also the enemies of Israel. (Modern Christians who oppose Israel and side with her enemies would do well to heed Paul's warning.) In Scripture the condemnation of the nations will take place on the Day of the Lord (Yom ADONAI; Isa 13:6; Ezek 30:3;Obad 1:15). The exact expression "Day of the Lord" occurs only four times in the Besekh (Acts 2:20; 1Th 5:2; 2Pet 3:10), but it is synonymous with the Second Coming and the Day of Messiah Yeshua (cf. 1Cor 4:5; 5:5; Php 1:6, 10; 2:16; 2Th 2:1-2; 2Pet 3:4-8). The Day of the Lord is known euphemistically as the Day of Wrath (Ps 110:5; Zeph 1:15, 18; Rom 2:5; Rev 6:17), and simply as "that day" (Isa 24:21; Zeph 1:9-10; Zech 12:8-9; 14:4, 6-9; Matt 7:22-23; 24:36; 2Th 1:10; 2Tim 1:12; 4:8).
In his second letter to the Corinthians Paul warns them that we will all appear before the judgment seat of Messiah (2Cor 5:10). Yeshua described this event in his parable of the sheep and goats (Matt 25:31-46). For more details of what happens on the Day of the Lord see commentary on Matthew 24:29-31, 2 Thessalonians 2:1-2, and Revelation 6:12-17. Paul exhorts the Corinthian disciples to make a habit of examining themselves and accepting the discipline of the Lord in order to avoid the judgment that will be meted out to the world. Perhaps Paul had in mind the exhortation of Zephaniah:
"Seek ADONAI, all you humble in the land, you who exercise his justice; seek righteousness, seek humility - you might be hidden on the day of ADONAI's anger." (Zeph 2:3 CJB)
33 So then, my brothers and sisters, when you come together to eat, wait for one another
So then: Grk. hōste. See the note on verse 27 above. my brothers and sisters: Grk. adelphoi, pl. of adelphos, lit. "of the same womb," in secular Greek meant "brother or male sibling." Usage in the apostolic writings is generally literal, but figurative uses also abound indicating affinity in common interests or culture. In the apostolic narratives adelphos primarily refers to blood siblings or fellow Israelites (Matt 4:18; 5:22-24; Mark 3:22; Acts 1:14; 3:22; 7:13; 11:29). Bible commentators generally assume that Paul's use of the plural adelphoi is intended in a strictly figurative, even spiritual sense. After all Yeshua had said, "whoever does the will of My Father who is in heaven, he is My brother" (Matt 12:50).
However, given the use of adelphoi in Luke's narrative of Paul's activities among Jewish people (Acts 13:26, 38; 21:17; 22:1; 23:1) and the charter membership in the early congregations, Paul likely has a more ethnic meaning. Yet, the use of adelphoi held a progressive meaning for Paul as a Pharisee. Given that Judean Jews would never call Hellenistic Jews adelphoi Paul's graciousness toward Hellenized and Hellenistic Jews is remarkable. Also, Paul's use of adelphoi toward those whom he had formerly persecuted indicates how far Messianic believers had come in accepting him.
The plural vocative case (direct address) in this verse could be translated as "brothers and sisters" given that he is addressing the entire congregation (Danker), and is so rendered in many versions (CEB, ERV, EXB, GW, NOG, NCV, NET, NIRV, NIV, NLT, NRSV, VOICE, TLV). It's inconceivable that the vocative case would not include the women, given the amount of hortatory material that typically follows the occurrence of adelphoi in the letter. Paul uses the plural form of address 18 times in this letter (1:10, 11, 26; 2:1; 3:1; 4:6; 7:24, 29; 10:1; 12:1; 14:6, 20, 26, 39; 15:1, 58; 16:15). This is a tactful approach in exercising his apostolic authority as well as expressing his affection for them on the ground of their shared bond in Yeshua.
when you come together: Grk. sunerchomai, pres. mid. See the note on verse 17 above. Paul returns to the matter that prefaced the subject of the Lord's Supper. to eat: Grk. esthiō, aor. inf. See the note on verse 20 above. wait: Grk. ekdechomai, pres. mid. imp., to wait for. The verb is formed from ek, from, out of, from within, and dechomai, to receive, with the component of enthusiastic acceptance; welcome. Mounce gives the primary meaning as "to receive from another." for one another: Grk. allēlōn, reciprocal pronoun, each other, one another. The pronoun occurs mostly in the apostolic letters and emphasizes the connectedness of the Body of Messiah, often combined with relational instruction. Paul urges the people to exercise common courtesy to treat the needs and interests of others as important as one's own (cf. Php 2:4). Just as worship should be conducted in an orderly fashion (1Cor 14:40), so should communal meals.
34 if anyone is hungry, let him eat at home, that you not come together into judgment. But the other things I will give directions when I come.
if: Grk. ei, conj and conditional particle. See the note on verse 6 above. anyone: Grk. tis, indefinite pronoun, a certain one. is hungry: Grk. peinaō, pres., be hungry, hunger, usually in a physical sense. let him eat: Grk. esthiō, pres. imp. See the note on verse 20 above. at home: Grk. oikos. See the note on verse 22 above. In other words satisfy your hunger at home and devote the love feast to sharing. that: Grk. hina, prep. See the note on verse 32 above. you not: Grk. mē, negative particle. See the note on verse 29 above. come together: Grk. sunerchomai, pres. mid. subj. See the note on verse 17 above. into judgment: Grk. krima. See the note on verse 29 above. Paul's warning should give all believers pause for how we act at communal meals.
But: Grk. de, conj. See the note on verse 2 above. the other things: pl. of Grk. loipos, adj., being part of a class in addition to the entity or entities just mentioned; other, rest, remaining. I will give directions: Grk. diatassō, fut. mid., to make appropriate arrangement for securing an objective; give orders to, prescribe, arrange, take care of. when: Grk. hōs, adv. that connects narrative components, here in relation to time, as soon as, when. I come: Grk. erchomai, aor. subj. See the note on verse 26 above. Paul expresses an intention to return to Corinth, which he expresses elsewhere in this letter, after he has gone through Macedonia (4:19, 21; 16:5). Paul's second letter indicates that he did not complete the intended visit (cf. 2Cor 1:15-23), although at the end he left open the possibility of a visit (2Cor 13:2).
Afterword on the Lord's Supper
Following is a summary of Paul's instruction and teaching on the Lord's Supper.
· The origin of the apostolic Lord's Supper is Yeshua's last observance of Passover, the national remembrance of deliverance from Egypt. The bread and cup were key features of the first century Jewish celebration.
· The term "Lord's Supper" (1Cor 11:20), like the Passover, means an actual meal, a love feast, shared by the congregation. It was not a short ceremony.
· The term "Lord's Table" (1Cor 10:21) alludes to the furniture from which the bread and cup are served and the meal eaten. In Jewish custom the participants for the festival meal reclined at the table for eating (Mark 14:18; Luke 22:14, 27, 30).
· The apostolic Lord's Supper used only unleavened bread (Luke 22:1; 1Cor 5:7-8).
· A Jewish blessing was offered in advance of receiving the bread and cup (Matt 26:26; Mark 14:22; 1Cor 10:16).
· The apostolic Lord's Supper was conducted as a memorial of the atoning death of Yeshua, not as a means of salvation (Luke 22:19; 1Cor 11:24-25).
· No set frequency was established for the apostolic Lord's Supper, but as a meal it would occur annually on the anniversary of Yeshua's last Passover or more frequently as determined by the congregation ("as often as," 1Cor 11:25-26).
· The apostolic Lord's Supper means a sharing in the death of Yeshua (cf. Luke 9:23; 1Cor 10:16; Gal 2:20). (The Lord's Supper does not join Yeshua to us, but us to Yeshua.)
· The apostolic Lord's Supper represents an anticipation of the meal that the Messiah will celebrate with his disciples in the age to come in Israel (Matt 8:11; 26:29; Mark 14:25; Luke 13:29; 22:18; 1Cor 10:16).
· The apostolic Lord's Supper is only for Yeshua's disciples. Anyone who partakes unworthily exposes himself to the judgment of God (Matt 26:20; 1Cor 11:27-32).
· Receiving the apostolic Lord's Supper is a commitment to the terms of the New Covenant that presupposes Spirit-empowered obedience to God's commandments.
There is much in the Christian observance of the Lord's Supper that differs markedly from Paul's description and instruction. The Lord's Supper in most churches is a short ceremony either in the middle or at the end of the service. Whether this manner of observance can convey anything spiritual to its participants is an open question. Paul decried having the form of godliness without true spiritual power (2Tim 3:5). Ritual is no substitute for the Holy Spirit. Of course, the ritual can be a blessing if participants take seriously the command for self-examination and reflect on the message of the bread and cup, that Yeshua suffered a horrible execution and bled to provide atonement for the entire world. We only need to list our sins and then consider where we would be without the grace of God.
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Danker: F.W. Danker, The Concise Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament. The University of Chicago Press, 2009.
DM: H.E. Dana & Julius R. Mantey, A Manual Grammar of the Greek New Testament. The Macmillan Co., 1955.
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