First Corinthians 11:17-23
In 1 Corinthians 10:17 Paul told the Corinthians they all eat of the one loaf and together they form the one body of Jesus.
Here Paul returns to this idea as foundational for properly celebrating the Lordís supper.
Instead the Corinthians have divided themselves along social lines thus allowing the unity of the body of Christ to be destroyed by temporal social standing.1 Corinthians 10:17 and 11:17-34 are the only places Paul discusses the Lordís Supper.
Other ideas used to explain the problem that Paul is addressing here are:
The ancient world, including Corinth, was familiar with cult meals that honored a god.
It is likely that the Lord’s Supper was to carry the meaning of the Last Supper in the Upper Room to each new church but was culturally similar to the cultic meals the people were accustomed to.
The Corinthians had continued to practice the meal but lost the meaning and purpose of the bread and the cup.
Our modern churches continue the bread and the cup but have lost the practice of the meal itself.
Breakdown of 11:17-34:
One of the themes of these sections is the abuse of the “body of Christ” which is abuse of Christ himself:
The purpose of the Lord’s Supper was to eat together with other members of the body of Christ in unity while they focused on the historical work of Jesus on the cross in his body. The work of Christ has brought these believers life and the hope of hope of his eschatological return.
The Meal in Corinth
Look at samples of each room at this site:
Sample Plan of a Roman House plan of Domus
A ††††††† atrium †††††††††††††formal entrance hall
Al ††††††† ala ††††††††††††††† "wings" opening from atrium
C ††††††† cubiculum ††††††small room; bedroom
Cu ††††† culina †††††††††††† kitchen
E ††††††† exedra ††††††††††††garden room
P ††††††† peristylium †††† colonnaded garden
T †††††††† taberna ††††††††† shop
Ta †††††† tablinum †††††††††office; study
V ††††††† vestibulum †††† entrance hall
Collection of Floor Plans and Houses of Romans
The Romans were a society based on social class. It would not be expected in other gatherings to mix the social classes together, but instead to gather, sit and eat in your appropriate social class. This practice continued into the Corinthian’s celebration of the Lord’s Supper. Their problem was they continued to recognize social classes from the temporal world but failed to recognize the Body of Christ, the church, as the eschatological people. This was the new order for the new age.
It is important to note here that Paul does not reject the social classes nor does he tell the people to do away with social classes. Paul does not expect the rich to give their possessions to the poor so that the rich themselves are poor or so that all may be equal. Paul does expect the rich and the poor to be mature enough to recognize that they belong to the body of Christ and are a people of the next age.