Among the strife and division in the Corinthian church were the individuals who demanded their
“rights” and promoted their own selves and ideas. To each one of these Paul writes:
“Everyone ought to examine themselves before they eat of the bread and drink from
The context of this warning is towards some believers who considered themselves better equipped
to lead and more worthy of social acceptance, than some of the “lesser” believers. Paul actually
tells the Corinthians that their church services do more harm than good. In other words, it would be better for a true believer to avoid the Corinthian church service:
“I have no praise for you, for your meetings do more harm than good.”
– First Corinthians 10:17
Paul tells the Corinthians to “examine” themselves (or, dokimazo “to put to the test,” “to approve after examination,” here in the present tense imperative mood which commands a repeated, ongoing action by the Corinthians.) In the usual Greek usage of this verb dokimazo, “testing” or “examination,” is done by another person in a court of law, but Paul pleads with the Corinthians to do this themselves. The Corinthians are being told to examine themselves in the courtroom of their own souls, before this judicial case goes to a higher court, namely the Lord, who will judge them in the present, and, again, in eternity.
“If we were more discerning with regard to ourselves, we would not come under such judgment.” – First Corinthians 11:31
John writes concerning what we as believers are to do with sin once we “examine” ourselves:
“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” – First John 1:9
We as believers are told by Paul to be continually examining ourselves. John tells us that when we find sin in ourselves we are to confess it as sin to God. God will be faithful every time to forgive us and purify us so we can continue to grow, mature and lead spiritually productive lives.