Thursday, June 29 2017
Contributor: Alex Alajiki
INTRODUCTION: Last week, we looked at the second part of the use of Spiritual Gifts. We concluded saying that Paul’s admonishment to earnestly desire the greater gifts is not addressed to the individual but to the collective church. And that the “best gifts” are those that benefit the general body of Christ. He also mentioned “the excellent way.” The excellent way Paul was referring to is love in its fullest meaning; true love to God and man. Without this, the most glorious gifts are of no account to us, of no esteem in the sight of God. A clear head and a deep understanding, are of no value without a benevolent and charitable heart.
1) LOVE IS GREATER THAN ANY SPIRITUAL GIFT: 1 Cor.13:1-3
In these three verses, Paul mentions spiritual gifts and other God-given abilities: tongues, prophecy, knowledge, faith, giving, and martyrdom. The first four gifts are listed in 12:8-10. Martyrdom is a God-given ability to die for Christ’s sake. Paul kicks off 13:1 with the gift of tongues when he writes, “If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.”
Paul says you can speak in tongues all you want (of men and angels), but if you don’t have love you are merely making a lot of noise. Then in verses 2-3, Paul mentions more spiritual gifts when he writes,
“If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing.”
Prophecy refers to the ability to declare God’s truth in a powerful, life-changing way. Knowledge involves the deep understanding of the Word of God. Faith is the unique ability to trust God for great things. These three gifts are all from the Holy Spirit, and yet without love the person who has them is “nothing.”
Verse 3 poses a problem because it asks us to ponder activities that we automatically consider noble. Giving to the poor is a good thing to do. And dying for your faith in Christ is the ultimate sacrifice. But as good as these things are, without love they do you no good. Paul declares that the greatest expression of spirituality is love. We could summarize these three verses like this: Without love…I say nothing, I am nothing, and I gain nothing.
Clearly, we must have love when we are exercising our spiritual gifts. So, let us stop for just a moment and reflect on our spiritual gifts as individuals and as a church. Do you do what you do out of genuine love for people? Or do you serve out of a sense of obligation? Do you serve because of the satisfaction you derive from ministry? Do you minister because you like honing your skills? Although no one has perfectly pure motives, we ought to be seeking to grow in our love quotient. Paul says that love is an action, not an emotion; therefore, we need to put feet to our love. Love is the measure of true spirituality (1 John 4:7-10).
2) THE CHARACTERISTICS OF LOVE: 1 Cor.13:4-7
After talking about the importance of love, Paul now will discuss how love behaves. Love is expressed by supernatural responses. Love is a word that can only be properly defined in terms of action, attitude, and behaviour. Paul wanted his readers to know what love looks like when we see it. And so, he paints fifteen separate portraits of love. Not our contemporary definition of love as an emotion or a feeling—we love our jobs, we love football and we love pizza. In the biblical definition of agape, love acts, for love is an action, not an emotion.
Verse 4 begins by summarizing the unselfish nature of love. Love sums up our Christian life!
Everything we need to be prepared for heaven, and everything we are admonished to imbibe is what love
1) Love is patient. Patience with circumstances and patience with people. Love doesn’t have a short fuse. It doesn’t lose its temper easily. A person who exercises agape love does not lose patience with people. Love never says, “I’ll give you just one more chance.” Love is patient; it never gives up (Galatians 6:9)
2) Love is kind. Kindness is not to be equated with giving everyone what he or she wants. Sometimes love must be tough. Kindness means to withhold what harms, as well as give what heals. Love is kind, but often tough.
3) Love is not jealous. Jealousy implies being displeased with the success of others. Yet, true love desires the success of others. The best way to cure envy is to pray sincerely for the one of whom you are jealous. To pray for him or her is to demonstrate love, and jealousy and love cannot exist in the same heart.
4) Love does not brag. Love is not big-headed but big-hearted. This means the more loving you become, the less boasting you need to do. The greater your spiritual gifts, the less prone you should be to brag.
5) Love is not arrogant. The term “arrogant” refers to a grasping for power. It is more serious than bragging, which is only grasping for praise. Arrogant people push themselves into leadership, using people as stepping-stones, and always consider themselves exempt from the requirements on mere mortals. Arrogance disrespects others and carries a distain for others. God calls us to serve others and be gracious toward them.
6) Love does not act unbecomingly. This word is best translated “rude.” There are some Christians who seem to take delight in being blunt, justifying it on the grounds of honesty. Love doesn’t always verbalize all its thoughts, particularly if those thoughts don’t build others up. There is a graciousness in love which never forgets that courtesy, tact, and politeness are lovely things.
7) Love does not seek its own. A self-absorbed narcissistic person cannot act in love. Love is not possessive, demanding, stubborn, or dominating. Love does not talk too much but listens as well. Love does not insist on its own way. It is always willing to defer to others.
8) Love is not provoked. Love is not given to emotional outbursts, is not exasperated by petty annoyances, and refuses to let someone else get under one’s skin.
9) Love does not take into account a wrong suffered. Paul uses the normal word here for bookkeeping. Love does not keep a ledger of evil deeds. It doesn’t write down each injury done and keep the account open to be settled someday.
10) Love does not rejoice in unrighteousness. Love takes no joy in evil of any kind. It takes no malicious pleasure when it hears about the inadequacies, mistakes, and sins of someone else. Love is righteous. Now, after eight sobering negatives come five glorious positives:
11) Love rejoices with the truth. Truth must make our love discriminating, and love must make our truth compassionate and forgiving. If our actions are in accord with agape love, we will always welcome biblical truth, never resist it.
12) Love bears all things. The phrase “bears all things” comes from a Greek word meaning to cover something. It is related to the word for roof—a covering that offers protection from the hostile elements. 1 Peter 4:8 says that love covers a multitude of sins. That is precisely the meaning here. Love protects other people. It doesn’t broadcast bad news. It goes the second mile to protect another person’s reputation.
13) Love believes all things. Love always gives the other person the benefit of the doubt, to believe the best about people. Love always trusts. Love says, “I am willing to wait for the evidence to come in before making my decision. I choose to give you the benefit of the doubt as long as there is reason to do so.
14) Love hopes all things. The third phrase in 13:7 tells us that love “hopes all things.” This is simply a step beyond believing. Love hopes and expects the best. Love never loses faith in other people and gives up on them but remain faithful to them, in spite of their shortcomings.
15) Love endures all things. The word “endures” is a military term that means to hold a position at all costs, even unto death, whatever it takes. Love holds fast to people it loves. It perseveres. It never gives up on anyone. Love won’t stop loving, even in the face of rejection.
3) LOVE IS AN ETERNAL GIFT: 1 Cor.13:8-13
In these final six verses, Paul discusses the temporary nature of the spiritual gifts and the eternal nature of love. Verse 8 says: “Love never fails; but if there are gifts of prophecy, they will be done away; if there are tongues, they will cease; if there is knowledge, it will be done away.”
Love never ends but spiritual gifts will be done away with one day.
The reason that spiritual gifts like prophecy and tongues will come to an end is revealed in 13:9-10. Paul writes, “For we know in part and we prophesy in part; but when the perfect comes, the partial will be done away.” Paul explains that we are limited in our understanding, but this will not always be the case. A time of perfection is coming! The “perfect” refers to the returning of Christ.
Paul explains himself further in 13:11-12: “When I was a child, I used to speak like a child, think like a child, reason like a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things. For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known.”
Paul explains that our understanding of God is indirect in this life. He uses two analogies: childhood and a mirror. In using the analogy of childhood, Paul is not suggesting that those who speak in tongues are childish and immature. Rather, he is adopting an eternal perspective and simply saying that there will come a time when the gifts of the Spirit will no longer be necessary. The analogy of the mirror implies that our visibility of Christ is indirect. In other words, Paul is comparing the nature of looking in a mirror to the relationship we will enjoy with Jesus when we see Him “face to face.”
Paul concludes this chapter in with these words: “But now faith, hope, love, abide these three; but the greatest of these is love.” For all eternity, we will enjoy love. We will experience God’s incredible love, we will experience a deep love for God, and we will love one another with a perfect love. Faith, Hope and love, the greatest of these is love. Love is eternal. Love covers not only what we experience in our relations to others and to God, but what we experience from God Himself.
This Study was culled from bible.org
Thursday, June 22 2017
Contributor: Leye Olayiwola
Last week, we had an in-depth study of the diverse gifts of the Holy Spirit. It was emphasised that these gifts are given by the Holy Spirit, as He wills! We also learnt that a great spiritual gift is no indication of spirituality. It is possible to be gifted and not be spiritual. Continuing further in verse 12 through to 31, Paul further emphasised the importance of these gifts through the diversity and unity of the physical body as an analogy. Due to the competitive nature of bodybuilding, in order to win a competition one cannot have any weak body parts. Bodybuilders understand the value and significance of every single part of the body. There can be no undeveloped or lagging parts. Every single body part must develop and function at its absolute best.
Did you know that God is also interested in bodybuilding? God wants to build every muscle in His church. He doesn’t want there to be any superior or inferior body parts. There can be no undeveloped or lagging parts. God expects every part of the body to grow and do its work. In our passage, Paul is going to discuss the importance of church teamwork. This is not to depreciate the fact that people become Christians on an individual basis, but that once one is a Christian the focus is always on the health, unity, and well-being of the whole.
1. Appreciate the solidarity of the body (verses 12-13)
• These first two verses give the theological basis for the body imagery that is developed in the rest of this passage. Paul states that every part of the body is essential because every believer is a member of the church
• The emphasis here is on unity and oneness. Our body of many members is unified in one body. Paul is so intent on driving home this point of our oneness in the church that he refers to Christ as the church. This is one of the places in Scripture where all believers collectively are called “Christ.” (See Acts 9:4)
• Paul had been persecuting Christians, not realizing that in so doing he was persecuting Christ. Saul, who later became Paul, would one day learn that every believer is a member of Christ’s body. Likewise, you and I are members of the body of Christ…and we are one body
• In verse 13, Paul explains the reason for the oneness of the church: we have all been placed into the body of Christ. Paul argues that every Christian has experienced Spirit baptism. Notice the word “all” as well as the past tense, “were baptized.” Every believer shares in this experience. It occurs the moment we trust in Jesus Christ
• In Spirit baptism the Holy Spirit baptizes the believer into the body of Christ. He makes us a part of His church. The baptism of the Holy Spirit means if you belong to Jesus Christ, you belong to everyone else who belongs to Jesus Christ. This means the baptism of the Holy Spirit is not a matter of having a certain level of spiritual maturity, achieving some advanced spiritual state, or receiving a “second blessing.” On the contrary, every believer experiences Spirit baptism regardless of his or her race or social status. We are now on equal footing in the sense that we are all members of the body of Christ
• Now, having been introduced to this important analogy between the human body and the body of Christ, there are two key problems that constantly plague the church and prevent us from enjoying unity in diversity. Those two tendencies are what we might simply call an inferiority complex and a superiority complex, or self-pity and pride. When certain Christians think they just don’t have anything to offer and therefore fail to participate in the life of the church, the body cannot be complete. On the other hand, when some think of themselves as God’s gift to the church and don’t allow others to contribute their gifts, again the body cannot function well. This passage teaches that both inferiority feelings and superiority feelings are out of bounds in Christ’s church. Everybody is somebody because we’re in this together.
2. Do not underestimate your importance to the body of Christ (verses 14-20)
• In these verses, Paul attempts to pass his points across that every member of the body has a different role to play, but that all of these parts are needed in order for the body to function as a unit. In 12:14, Paul writes, “For the body is not one member, but many.” Paul is making a simple statement of fact that every part of the body, every organ, is valuable.
• The phrase “I am not a part of the body” occurs in both verses 15 and 16. This is an indication of a feeling of insignificance: “No one thinks that I am important or significant. I have little to contribute to this ministry. I don’t really matter to this church.” For example, the ear feels inferior to the eye. The foot is jealous of the hand because he is covetous of the hand’s prominence. The hand is in the public and in the limelight, but the foot is in confinement inside a shoe. We manicure hands and put ointment on them. We make hands beautiful by putting rings on them. We put jewellery on the hand but rarely on the foot. Hands take a scalpel, do delicate operations, play the piano or violin. No wonder the foot feels inferior because the hand is in the limelight!
• Yet, the body would be in bad shape without a foot. Did you know that you use more than 200 different muscles to walk? If your feet and their muscles are not working well you aren’t going very far. Furthermore, if you dislocate a tiny bone in your foot your whole body is miserable. Feet are awfully important. So why should the foot say, “I don’t count; I’m not important; no one ever notices me; no one cares about what I do.
• God rewards the foot based on being a foot. If you have been gifted as a foot it’s easy to look at those gifted as hands and think how skilled, how capable they are, and that you’re not important at all. However, all God expects is that you do what you can with what you have.
• Unfortunately, some at Corinth who lacked the more spectacular gifts of others were discouraged and began to ask whether they had any place or function in the church. So Paul moves from the sublime to the ridiculous by envisioning an absurd scenario. In 12:17, he asks, “If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be? If the whole were hearing, where would the sense of smell be?”
• In verses 18-20, Paul emphasizes that God sovereignly places the gifts in the church that He desires. Paul makes it clear that God is the one that has gifted every church the way He wants her gifted. The church is all about the sovereignty of God.
3. Do not overestimate your importance to the body of Christ (21-26)
• Beginning at verse 21, we have a transition from those who feel inferior in their gifts to those who feel superior. In this section, we see members who suffer from a superiority complex. Paul explains that we need to squash spiritual pride because we all need each other. Paul needs to get across that all of the members in Corinth need each other, and no one is dispensable.
• In verses 22-25, Paul argues that every member of the body is necessary. There are no exceptions. Those body parts that are deemed weaker, less honorable, or less presentable are all critically important. How does this apply to the church? Every church has people who are out in the forefront and love the public spotlight. But what is really essential to the ongoing life of the church is the people behind the scenes—those who serve faithfully and quietly (and often are the ones who make the leaders look good
• In verse 26, Paul pens one of the most powerful verses in the Scriptures: “And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it”. As members of the same body we are so closely bound together that we actually share the same feelings. What causes joy for one member delights the whole body. When one member suffers the entire body hurts. If we are family, why is it so difficult to see another member of our own body receive honor? We must desperately yearn for the success of others.
4. Celebrate the diversity of the body (27-31)
• Paul takes the analogy of the physical body and applies it practically in terms of gifting and how ministry is to be expressed. He lists eight kinds of members with special functions. The ranking of the first three items corresponds to their building up the local church. We will briefly discuss these definitions.
• Apostles - the ability to begin and/or to oversee new churches and Christian ministries with a spontaneously recognized authority.
• Prophets - ability to receive and proclaim a message from God. This could involve the foretelling of future events, though its primary purpose as seen in 1 Cor 14:3 is forthtelling
• Teachers - ability to clearly explain and effectively apply the truths of God’s Word so that others will learn
• Miracles - ability to serve as an instrument through whom God accomplishes acts that manifest supernatural power.
• Gifts of healings - ability to serve as a human instrument through whom God supernaturally cures illnesses and restores health. The possessor of this gift is not the source of power, but a vessel who can only heal those diseases the Lord chooses to heal.
• Gifts of helps - ability to enhance the effectiveness of the ministry of other members of the body
• Gifts of administrations - the ability to steer a church or Christian organization toward the fulfillment of its goals by managing its affairs and implementing necessary plans. A person may have the gift of leadership without the gift of administration
• Various kinds of tongues - ability to receive and impart a spiritual message in a language the recipient never learned.
God’s expectation is that every Christian will serve in the local church. Yet, someone may say, “I am an inactive Christian.” There is no such thing. That is like saying, “I am an honest thief” or “I am a godly prostitute.” An inactive Christian is a paradox in terms. No Christian is without a special, supernatural gift from God.
Conclusion (verse 31):
Paul’s final words are found in verse 31: “But earnestly desire the greater gifts. And I show you a still more excellent way.” The command to “earnestly desire the best gifts” is not addressed to the individual but to the collective church. The implied “you” is second person plural in the Greek. We cannot select our gifts because that is the prerogative of the Holy Spirit. However, as a congregation we can “earnestly desire” that the “best gifts” (superlative gifts) be manifested among us. The “best gifts” are those that benefit the general body of Christ.
Friday, June 16 2017
Contributor: Isekhua Evborokhai
In last week’s study, we considered The Lord’s Supper. We learnt that when we partake of the communion, we are not only reminded that we have partaken of Christ’s sacrifice on Calvary for the forgiveness of our sins, we symbolically demonstrate that we have become a member of His body, the church. In today’s study, we will be looking at the first part of the use of Spiritual Gifts. Paul’s introduction of this chapter implies that the Corinthian church had once again gotten it wrong. We can only assume what the exact question was; but obviously, Paul’s response to their question(s) implies that they must have held an erroneous opinion of spiritual gifts when he said in verse 1: “Now about the spiritual gifts [the special endowments given by the Holy Spirit], brothers and sisters, I do not want you to be uninformed.” (AMP)
Verses 2-3 (AMP) - The Different Responses to Christ
“2 You know that when you were pagans, you were led off after speechless idols; however you were led off [whether by impulse or habit]. 3 Therefore I want you to know that no one speaking by the [power and influence of the] Spirit of God can say, “Jesus be cursed,” and no one can say, “Jesus is [my] Lord,” except by [the power and influence of] the Holy Spirit.”
Paul addresses the different responses to Christ; the rejection by the pagans, the rejection by the Jews, and the acceptance by faith of the Christian.
Many of the Corinthian believers had been pagans before they became saved. These Gentiles worshipped various idols that could not speak or help.
A second response was the rejection of Christ by the Jews. In 12:3a, Paul writes, Therefore I want you to know that no one speaking by the [power and influence of the] Spirit of God can say, “Jesus be cursed,” Here, Paul speaks of the typical response of the Jews. Not all the Corinthians were Gentiles before believing in Christ…some were Jews who did not believe that Jesus Christ was the Messiah.
The final response is found in 12:3b, where Paul writes, and no one can say, “Jesus is [my] Lord,” except by [the power and influence of] the Holy Spirit.”
To say that Jesus is “Lord” is to say that He is God. In the context of the Jewish world and the Old Testament, this confession essentially affirmed that Jesus was God. This was a counter-cultural assertion to both the Jews and the Romans. Because citizens of the Roman Empire were required to declare, “Caesar is Lord.” But Christians who believed that Jesus was the only Lord couldn’t say this. It was a challenge to faith. Thus, Paul’s point is this: No one can say that Jesus is Lord except through the work of the Holy Spirit. It is a supernatural act. Paul brought up these three responses to Christ to refute the claims of those Corinthians who assumed that they alone possessed the Spirit. Paul wants all his readers to understand that salvation is the greater leveller. Every member of the Corinthian church who has trusted in Christ (whether they were once Gentiles or Jews) is indwelt by the Holy Spirit and is incredibly valuable to God. This is also true in our church today. If you have believed in Christ, it is because God did a supernatural work in your life and you are incredibly valuable to God.
Verses 4-6 (AMP) - Gifts, Administrations, and Operations – Variety is spice of the Church too!
Now there are [distinctive] varieties of spiritual gifts [special abilities given by the grace and extraordinary power of the Holy Spirit operating in believers], but it is the same Spirit [who grants them and empowers believers]. 5 And there are [distinctive] varieties of ministries and service, but it is the same Lord [who is served]. 6 And there are [distinctive] ways of working [to accomplish things], but it is the same God who produces all things in all believers [inspiring, energizing, and empowering them]
In other words; Paul was saying that there are different spiritual gifts, but all of them stem from the one and only Holy Spirit (verse 4). And although we may administer (serve with) these gifts differently, but we serve the same Lord (verse 5). There are different types of operations (procedures or methods), but it is the same God who does the work in all of us (verse 6). The Holy Spirit does not employ ONLY ONE method, so we should be sensitive and not be stereo typed.
Verse 7 (AMP) – Understanding the Ultimate Purpose of the Gifts
7 But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit [the spiritual illumination and the enabling of the Holy Spirit] for the common good.
Paul was making the distinction here that "gifts" of the Spirit aren't gifts in the sense that the believer owns and operates the gift whenever he wants to. They are gifts of the Holy Ghost, manifested through individual believers as the Spirit of God wills. The gifts of the Spirit aren't just given for the individual, but they are given to profit the whole local assembly or local body of believers. Sadly, too many people have decided that they will not serve in the church or serve only occasionally and when it’s convenient. But the church needs people who will make lifelong commitments and be dependable. So, the probing question today is: “Are you a consistent worker or a convenience worker?
Verses 8-10 (AMP) - The Nine Gifts of The Spirit
8 To one is given through the [Holy] Spirit [the power to speak] the *message of wisdom, and to another [the power to express] the *word of knowledge and understanding according to the same Spirit; 9 to another [wonder-working] **faith [is given] by the same [Holy] Spirit, and to another the [extraordinary] gifts of **healings by the one Spirit; 10 and to another the **working of miracles, and to another ***prophecy [foretelling the future, speaking a new message from God to the people], and to another *discernment of spirits [the ability to distinguish sound, godly doctrine from the deceptive doctrine of man-made religions and cults], to another ***various kinds of [unknown] tongues, and to another ***interpretation of tongues. (Emphasis Mine)
The nine manifestations or gifts of the Holy Spirit are generally divided into three groups of three each. Please note that the division into these three groups was not done by Apostle Paul but it is purely to be able to easily distinguish and discuss them and for no other reason.
REVELATION GIFTS: Gifts That Reveal Something
The word of wisdom: God-given insight into the mysterious purposes and workings of God.
The word of knowledge: God-given insight into what God is doing in the world.
The Discerning of Spirits: The ability to quickly perceive whether such things as people, events, or beliefs are from God or Satan
POWER GIFTS: Gifts That Do Something
Faith: The ability to confidently believe God for changes and spiritual growth that will enhance the purposes of God.
Healing: The faith to believe God for healing. Individuals can serve as agents of God’s healing power.
The Working of Miracles: The ability (energizing power) given by the Holy Spirit to perform miracles (supernatural acts)
UTTERANCE OR INSPIRATIONAL GIFTS: Gifts that say something
Prophecy: A declaration of God’s will to God’s people
Divers Kinds of Tongues: Utterance in an unknown (unlearned) language. Not to be confused with the baptism of the Holy Spirit
Interpretation of Tongues: The ability to interpret tongues.
Conclusion – Verse 11
11 All these things [the gifts, the achievements, the abilities, the empowering] are brought about by one and the same [Holy] Spirit, distributing to each one individually just as He chooses.
Paul emphasizes once again that every believer can be spiritually gifted as the Holy Spirit chooses. That these gifts are not for some spiritual elite, but the entire body of Christ. We are all called by the Lord to minister with the gifts He has supplied. Each believer, regardless of his or her gifts, ministries, and the manner and extent of God’s blessing, should demonstrate the Holy Spirit’s gifting through his or her life. All the gifts manifest the Spirit’s presence, not just the more spectacular ones in each category. It is important to note that Believers who have spectacular gifts, ministries, or effectiveness are not necessarily more spiritual than Christians who do not. Each believer makes a unique contribution to the common good, not just certain believers.
Remember, the Corinthians were the most gifted church in the Scriptures while at the same time the most carnal church in the Scriptures. They were a church of divisions, immorality, and distortion in doctrine. This serves to remind us that a great spiritual gift is no indication of spirituality. It is possible to be gifted and not spiritual. In this case, the Corinthians were getting high on their spiritual giftedness instead of recognizing the source of the gift—Jesus Christ. Thus, Paul’s introduction in verse 1 about not wanting them to be “unaware” or “ignorant”.
Parts of this study was culled from bible.org
Thursday, June 08 2017
Contributor: Alex Alajiki
In last week’s study, we looked at the issue of head covering during prayer and worship. Paul’s instruction to women about covering their heads is to demonstrate to the angels and celestial powers their submission to God’s appointed authority. Paul does not present head coverings as a matter of his opinion, but as an apostolic tradition. He does not describe this as a matter of Christian liberty, or as a personal conviction, but as a matter of obedience. I Cor.11:13-15 summed it up; “Judge among yourselves. Is it proper for a woman to pray to God with her head uncovered? 14 Does not even nature itself teach you that if a man has long hair, it is a dishonour to him? 15 But if a woman has long hair, it is a glory to her; for her hair is given to her[a] for a covering”
This week, we are going to study about the proper order and revelation of the Holy Communion service.
1) Conduct at the Lord’s Supper: 1 Corn. 11:17-22
“Now in giving these instructions I do not praise you, since you come together not for the better but for the worse. 18 For first of all, when you come together as a church, I hear that there are divisions among you, and in part I believe it. 19 For there must also be factions among you, that those who are approved may be recognized among you. 20 Therefore when you come together in one place, it is not to eat the Lord’s Supper. 21 For in eating, each one takes his own supper ahead of others; and one is hungry and another is drunk. 22 What! Do you not have houses to eat and drink in? Or do you despise the church of God and shame those who have nothing? What shall I say to you? Shall I praise you in this? I do not praise you.”
Paul knew there were sharp division within the Corinthian Church (I Cori.6:1-8). Their coming together for fellowship and communion was not for the better but for the worse. Their coming together for the Lord’s super was supposed to be an opportunity to show love, but it is now an opportunity for the richer Christians to act in a greedy and selfish manner. If they shared their food, it was only with their rich friends. If they shared the wine, they kept too much for themselves. In the way the Corinthian Christians were conducting the Lord’s Supper, the poor were being publicly shamed and humiliated by exposing their deficiencies, rather than concealing them and providing for them. The Lord’s Supper, which commemorated the sacrificial gift of our Lord’s body and blood, had been perverted to an occasion for self-indulgence by giving way to selfish bodily lusts.
In the most general sense, the Lord’s Supper was a celebration of our Lord’s sacrifice on Calvary for our unmerited benefit and blessing (1 Pet. 2:24). The Lord Jesus set aside His own personal interests and sacrificed His body so that by His sufferings in His body, we might be saved. And yet at the Lord’s Supper in Corinth, there is no self-sacrifice but only self-indulgence. The saints are all more concerned with satisfying their own bodily appetites than those of their fellow-believers. The most self-indulgent are those who least need food or drink. Those most in need are denied sustenance. In whatever we do, we must always be conscious of the weak, poor, sick, oppressed and less privileged people among us. There were poor people in that church; its members included several slaves (1 Cor.7:21-22)
2) Institution of the Lord’s Supper; 1 Corn. 11:23-26
“For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you: that the Lord Jesus on the same night in which He was betrayed took bread; 24 and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, “Take, eat; this is My body which is broken for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” 25 In the same manner He also took the cup after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood. This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.”26 For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death till He comes.”
Paul was not present with the original apostles when Jesus instituted the last super in Matt. 26:17-30; Mark 14:12-26; Luke 22:7-39; John13 to 17. He received this revelation from Jesus Himself. The last supper was originally a Passover celebration. Our Lord observed this Passover in an upper room, along with His 12 disciples. This “last supper” became the “Lord’s Supper.” Jesus instructs His disciples to continually observe this “supper” until His return. Note; Old Testament, it was flesh while it is now bread, why? The one loaf of bread, which was broken by our Lord and divided among His disciples, and which we share in communion as well, represents the physical “body of Christ.” in which our Lord came to the earth, successfully endured all the temptations we face, and then in His body, suffered and died in our place (Isa.53:4-5, Matt.8:17).
Paul speaks of the bread as “one bread” (1 Cor.10:16-17), so that all who partake of it are “one body.” By partaking of a piece of the one loaf, we proclaim the unity of the church, the body of Christ, and our communion or fellowship with the rest of the saints, who have also partaken of the work of Christ.
1 Cor.10:17 “Since there is one bread, we who are many are one body; for we all partake of the one bread.”
As he shared the cup, he spoke about the result of his death. A new kind of relationship (Covenant) would now exist between God and his people. Christ’s blood was poured out of his body at his death. That blood makes this new relationship (Covenant) with God certain (Hebrews 9:14). A ‘covenant’ means the promises that establish a relationship. In the new covenant between God and people, it is God who has made the promises. He promised to forgive when people confess their evil deeds to him (1 John1:9). He promises to save people who trust him (Act 2:21, Rom.10:13). When people invite him into their lives, he promises to establish a right relationship with them (Matt.11:28). He can do these wonderful things in a person’s life because of Christ’s death. Whenever we share bread and wine at church, we are declaring the importance or significance of Christ’s death until His return.
3) Examine Yourself; 1 Corn. 11:27-34
“Therefore whoever eats this bread or drinks this cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. 28 But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup. 29 30 For this reason many are weak and sick among you, and many sleep. 31 For if we would judge ourselves, we would not be judged. 32 But when we are judged, we are chastened by the Lord, that we may not be condemned with the world. 33 Therefore, my brethren, when you come together to eat, wait for one another. 34 But if anyone is hungry, let him eat at home, lest you come together for judgment. And the rest I will set in order when I come.
The bread and wine at the communion table are holy because of their connection with the death of Christ. Many Christians in Corinth had not recognised that fact. They thought that they were eating together merely in order to enjoy themselves. The ceremony is a holy occasion so it is very wrong for a person who is living in an unholy manner to accept those sacred gifts. So, at that special moment, Christians should examine their own lives in front of God. We must confess our wrong deeds to God, He will forgive us (1 John 1:7-9).
Paul warned the Corinthian Christian that they were acting in an unholy manner on a very holy occasion (Vs 29 “he who eats and drinks in an unworthy manner eats and drinks judgment to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body”)
Those Christians in Corinth were not recognising the connection between their meals and Christ’s death. The result of their unholy behaviour was severe.
The Corinthians were experiencing weakness, sickness and death as a result of the unworthy manner at the Lord’s table. The illness or death of Christians is not usually the result of God’s judgement against them. However, it can be so sometimes, as Paul has just explained. God’s holiness is surely evident when He disciplines His children, and so is His faithfulness and love (Heb.12:6). Remember that even in the discipline of death, God’s actions are for our best interest: Vs 32 “But when we are judged, we are disciplined by the Lord in order that we may not be condemned along with the world.”
Finally, Paul told the church leaders to make two simple changes to that meeting:
(a) Formerly, people had brought their own food to the meeting. At the meeting, they ate as much as they wanted. But now the church members must eat their food at home. At the meeting, they would just share a little bread and wine, to remember Jesus’ death.
(b) Formerly, people began to eat their food as soon as they arrived. This made the meeting like a party, except that each person brought his own food. But now anyone who arrived early would have to wait for the other members. So the meeting would begin at its proper time, probably with prayer. That would make the meeting a more serious occasion, and people would respect its importance.
The Lord’s Supper is the commemoration of our Lord’s sacrificial life and death for the salvation and sanctification of lost sinners in whose place He was condemned, and in Whom the saints have been forgiven, justified, and glorified. The Lord’s Supper means nothing apart from the gospel, and so it is by revisiting the gospel message through the symbols of the Lord’s Supper that we come to appreciate the significance of the Lord’s Supper. When we partake of the communion, we are not only reminded that we have partaken of Christ’s sacrifice on Calvary for the forgiveness of our sins, we symbolically demonstrate that we have become a member of His body, the church. Communion symbolizes our identification with Christ and with His church.
Thursday, June 01 2017
Contributor: Isekhua Evborokhai
In last week’s study, we looked at the concluding part of learning from the mistakes of the Israelites as they journeyed from Egypt to the Promised Land; considering an important learning point -avoiding false gods. We concluded by looking at Paul’s response based on two guiding principles in expressing one’s liberty of eating food sacrificed to idols; our actions in terms of our relationship to God and actions in terms of our relationship to men. In today’s study, we will be looking at what the Bible says about covering of the head in worship as it relates to the man and the woman in the honour of God.
DIVINE ORDER - (Verses 1-3)
"Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ. 2 Now I praise you, brethren, that ye remember me in all things, and keep the ordinances, as I delivered them to you. 3 But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God."
Paul starts off this chapter as a continuation of chapter 10 with a very bold proclamation; one that only Jesus Christ had ever made! (Matt.4:19) His proclamation indicates he was confident that his motives were pure and that he was a true follower of Christ. You will recall from the concluding verses of Chapter 10 that Paul, talking about the abuse of one’s liberty used himself as an example that he did not only preach such doctrine, but lived the life! And as such, they should imitate him!
And then he proceeds to acknowledge the effort the Corinthian church has made in remembering and honouring him by keeping up the traditions of the faith he taught them. A method we see the Lord Jesus Christ use severally in the Book of Revelations (Rev. Chapters 2&3). This is important because when we reprove what is amiss in any, it is very prudent and fit to commend what is good in them; it will show that the reproof is not from ill-will, and a humour of censuring and finding fault; and it will therefore procure the more regard to it.
Having done all that, he then introduces the subject matter of disorders in the Corinthian church in relation to the misconduct of their women in the public assembly, who laid down their veils, the common token of subjection to their husbands in that part of the world. He did this by referring to the spiritual connotation of covering and not covering of hair. He was saying that head covering goes beyond fashion and culture! It is spiritual! “the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God.” that everyone has a head! And that just as Christ acknowledges the pre-eminence of the Father and men acknowledge the pre-eminence of Christ over them, so women acknowledge the pre-eminence of men in the male-female relationship (or at least the husband-wife relationship). But prominence in a relationship does not imply superiority or inferiority; certainly, it does not carry that meaning in the relationship between the Father and the Son, and it should not mean that between men and women in the church.
HONOR YOUR HEAD – (Verses 4-5)
“4 Every man praying or prophesying, having his head covered, dishonours his head. 5 But every woman that prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonours her head: for that is even all one as if she were shaven”.
Having set the foundation in verse 3, Paul proceeds to expound. An understanding of these four verses brings the entire 16 verses in focus. That Paul refers to the “head” here should not be misconstrued that it is separate from the “hair” as some have come to interpret it. (See verse 6)
The man praying or prophesying, having his head (hair inclusive) covered, dishonours his head – CHRIST. The Woman that prays or prophesies with her head (hair inclusive) uncovered dishonours her head – THE HUSBAND
Having said that; back in the era of the first century church, across Jewish, Greek and Roman cultures, the head-covering was a symbol of sexual purity. And for a married woman, it was a symbol of her loyalty to her husband, of her acceptance of his leadership in the relationship. It would be like the wedding bands that a man and a woman wear today. So, for a Christian woman in the church to appear in public without that covering, let alone to pray or to share the Word in worship, was both culturally offensive and from Paul’s perspective, confusing to nonbelievers who were trying to understand what this new community of faith stood for in terms of values and relationships. Paul’s point is this: In the culture of Corinth, it was not proper for a woman to act as a spokesman for people with God by praying publicly with her head uncovered. To do so would be tantamount to claiming the position of a man in God’s order. The apostle did not think it wise for Christian women to exercise their liberty in a way that would go against socially accepted behaviour even though they were personally submissive.
Please note that the manner of doing a thing affects the morality of it. We must not only be concerned to do good, but that the good we do be well done. (Rom.14:6)
COVER OR SHAVE – (Verses 6-7)
“6 For if the woman be not covered, let her also be shorn: but if it be a shame for a woman to be shorn or shaven, let her be covered. 7 For a man indeed ought not to cover his head, forasmuch as he is the image and glory of God: but the woman is the glory of the man.”
Paul offers two options; cover your head or shave it! But if it is disgraceful for a woman to have her hair cut off or her head shaved, (for her hair is her ornament and glory! Verse 15) she should cover her head.
BECAUSE OF THE ANGELS – (Verses 8-12)
“8 For the man is not of the woman: but the woman of the man. 9 Neither was the man created for the woman; but the woman for the man. 10 For this cause ought the woman to have power on her head because of the angels. 11 Nevertheless neither is the man without the woman, neither the woman without the man, in the Lord. 12 For as the woman is of the man, even so is the man also by the woman; but all things of God.”
Paul first addresses the possibility of the claim for “equal rights” in verses 8 & 9. Simply put, Adam was not created for Eve, but Eve was created for Adam – and this principle applies to every “Adam” and every “Eve” through history. Genesis 2:18 declares God’s intention in creating Eve: I will make him a helper comparable to him. Eve was created to be a helper to Adam, meaning that Adam was “head” over Eve, and she was called to share and help his vision and agenda. Genesis 2:22 says, He brought her to the man. Adam was not brought to Eve, but Eve was brought to Adam – her head. It is an idea offensive to the spirit of our age, but the Bible in this passage clearly teaches that (in the church and in the home) man was not made for the benefit of woman, but woman for the benefit of man.
In verse 10, Paul mentions that the woman “ought to have power on her head, because of the angels.” Power, that is, a veil, the token, not of her having the power or superiority, but being under the power of her husband, subjected to him. Rebekah, when she met Isaac, and was delivering herself into his possession, put on her veil, in token of her subjection, (Gen. 24:65).
The angels, though invisible, are fellow-worshippers with men in the Christian assemblies, and would therefore “see this indecency,” and liable to be offended by it. Also, the Jews believed that that good angels, being under the possibility of falling from the same cause as their evil brethren (Gen 6:4), fly away at once from the presence of unveiled women. So as not to offend the Angels, women ought to (must, should, have to) cover their heads.
COMMON SENSE? – (Verses 13-16)
“13 Judge in yourselves: is it comely (proper, right) that a woman pray unto God uncovered? 14 Doth not even nature (common sense) itself teach you, that, if a man has long hair, it is a shame unto him? 15 But if a woman has long hair, it is a glory to her: for her hair is given her for a covering. 16 But if any man seem to be contentious, we have no such custom, neither the churches of God.” Emphasis mine
Sentiments aside; Paul urges us (you and I who would one day judge Angels) to judge in ourselves. The Message version renders these verses thus: “Don’t you agree there is something naturally powerful in the symbolism—a woman, her beautiful hair reminiscent of angels, praying in adoration; a man, his head bared in reverence, praying in submission? I hope you’re not going to be argumentative about this. All God’s churches see it this way; I don’t want you standing out as an exception.”
It’s the same agelong argument! Paul knew this command would naturally be greeted with arguments as we have these days; so he appeals to our common sense, our good conscience not our “dogged” convictions!
Paul’s instruction to women about covering their heads is to demonstrate to the angels and celestial powers their submission to God’s appointed authority. Paul does not present head coverings as a matter of his opinion, but as an apostolic tradition. He does not describe this as a matter of Christian liberty, or as a personal conviction, but as a matter of obedience. (“Let her cover her head” in verse 6 is authoritative, buttressed by the “ought” of verse 10.) Paul mentions no other alternative symbol nor does he imply there may be some other way to symbolize submission to male headship. He also speaks of the head covering of women as the consistent practice of every church and not just that of the Corinthian church. He teaches us that in a marriage relationship, there is authority from Christ to husband, and from husband to wife. The authority of Christ is the authority of God. Any man who speaks with God or about God in a way that shows a lack of respect for the authority of Christ, dishonours Christ. In the same way, a wife who speaks with God in a way that shows a lack of respect for the authority of her husband, dishonours her husband. Worse, she dishonours herself—an ugly sight, like a woman with her head shaved. This is basically the origin of these customs we have of women wearing head coverings in worship, while men take their hats off. By these symbolic acts, men and women, who far too often butt heads with each other, submit their “heads” to the Head: God.