Divisions Among You

1Corinthians 11:17-22 Now in this that I declare unto you I praise you not, that you come together not for the better, but for the worse. For first of all, when you come together in the church, I hear that there be divisions among you; and I partly believe it. For there must be also heresies among you, that they which are approved may be made manifest among you. When you come together therefore into one place, this is not to eat the Lord’s supper. For in eating every one take before other his own supper: and one is hungry, and another is drunken. What? have you not houses to eat and to drink in? or despise you the church of God, and shame them that have not? What shall I say to you? shall I praise you in this? I praise you not. 

‘This that I declare unto you I praise you not, that you come together not for the better, but for the worse.’ Seven disorders in the congregation (11:17-34): Divisions (v18); heresies (v19); selfishness (v21); misuse of the congregation (v22); shaming the poor (v22); partaking unworthily of the Lord’s Supper with its benefits (vv. 27-30); failure to judge selves (vv. 31-34).

‘Heresies’ or sect [Greek: hairesis] a choosing, hence, a sect (Acts 5:17; 15:5; 24:5; 26:5; 28:22) and heresy (11:19; Acts 24:14; Gal. 5:20; 2Pet. 2:1). The word itself has no evil meaning. It simply refers to a doctrinal view or belief at variance with the recognized and accepted tenets of a system, congregation, or party. The word heretic is used once in Scripture (Tit. 3:10), and means one who holds a heresy; a dissenter, nonconformist. It only takes on an evil meaning when sound doctrine is rejected and fallacy is accepted and taught in preference to the truth. If the doctrine is unsound and one dissent from the main body who holds the fallacy, then he is a heretic in a good sense. The word signifies a sect or a party, whether good or bad, distinguished from all other sects and parties. It formerly was applied to different sects of heathen philosophers. The church of Rome uses it only in an evil sense to apply to all who cannot go along with their many dogmas and rituals that have been added for many centuries to the pure teachings of the Christian faith. A heretic to them is one who is not a papist, and because of this is outside the Christian religion. Most all denominations use it in this same sense of those who do not see eye to eye with them. True Christians apply it to all false religions that do not accept true Christian doctrines. Jews called Christians a sect (Acts 24:5, 14; 28:22) and Christians called the Pharisees and Sadducees and other groups sects (Acts 5:17; 15:5; 26:5). All deviation from the truth is heresy (11:19; Gal. 5:20; 2Pet. 2:1).

‘Not to eat the Lord’s supper’ – This refers to the social meals of the early congregations, the love feasts (2Pet. 2:13; Jude 1:12), followed by the Lord’s Supper. According to the Greek custom each brought his own provisions. The rich would fare sumptuously while the poor had very little to eat (11:21).

‘Drunken’ [Greek: methuo] to be drunken; intoxicated (11:21; Matt. 24:49; John 2:10; Acts 2:15; 1Thess. 5:7; Rev. 17:2, 6). That it means to be only full of food is not proved by any of these references.

‘Or despise you the church of God, and shame them that have not.’ The Corinthians made the congregation a place to be despised and shame the poor by their conduct. Instead of putting the food on a common table so all could partake as needed, the rich ate by themselves and the poor by themselves. The rich despised the poor and this led to the divisions and strife of 1Corinthians 11:18-19, and to the drunkenness and shame of 1Corinthians 11:21-22. These things disqualified them for the Lord’s Supper and brought on sickness and death (11:27-30).

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