Because I have received several questions posed to me on 1 Corinthians 11, I think it best that we go through the passage verse by verse and that should help deal with each question in context. As we go through each set of verses, please feel free to comment or ask questions on the section that we are covering. This should keep our discussions focused and keep each post and each set of questions separated.
The first thing that we need to note is that 1 Corinthians was not written with the chapter and verse divisions. Instead Paul wrote it as a complete letter to the Corinthians. The chapter and verse divisions were added later by translators for our benefit but these divisions are not inspired. Verse 1 of 1 Corinthians 11 is then a continuation from chapter 10. When Paul says in verse 1:
“Be imitators of me just as I am an imitator of Christ”
he is summing up what he has just told the Corinthians throughout chapter 10. In 1 Corinthians 10:23 Paul said:
“All things are lawful, but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful, but not all things edify.”
Paul then gives a principle of behavior in verse 24:
“Let no one seek his own good, but that of his neighbor.”
This is an important point to note as this thought will be carried on to chapter 11. Paul is saying that we are “allowed” to do many things, but not everything we are “allowed” to do will be helpful or good for our neighbor. Paul then goes on to give examples such as eating meat. One is allowed to eat meat that has been offered to idols, but will our eating stumble our brother? We are to do things with deliberate thought. We are not just to do things for our own benefit but also for the benefit of our neighbor.
Then in verse 32, Paul gives another statement that is very important to pay attention to because this thought will also be carried forward to chapter 11. Paul says:
“Give no offense either to Jews or to Greeks or to the church of God”
There are three types of people mentioned here that have traditions that can be offended. The Jews can be offended, the Greeks or Gentiles can be offended and the church of God can be offended. This is a very key point so keep it in mind as we dive into chapter 11. Next Paul says:
“just as I also please all men in all things, not seeking my own profit but the profit of the many, so that they may be saved.”
Paul is concerned that men are not offended and he tells the Corinthians that he lives his life in such a way that he is not seeking his own profit but the profit of others (Jews, Greeks, the church of God). The reason that he is seeking their profit is so that there will be no offense brought to the gospel of Christ. Now verse 1 of chapter 11 will make more sense when Paul said:
“Be imitators of me, just as I also am of Christ.”
We are going to look at 1 Corinthians 11 with an eye of understanding as to what Paul has already been teaching throughout chapter 10. Paul is talking about not giving an offense to anyone and not doing things for one’s own profit but seeking the benefit of others. With that in mind let’s look at what Paul says next. In verse 2 and the first part of verse 3 Paul says:
“Now I praise you because you remember me in everything and hold firmly to the traditions, just as I delivered them to you. But I want you to understand…”
Paul is saying that the Corinthians have been holding fast to the traditions that Paul had given them, but Paul now wants them to do more than just hold fast to these traditions. Paul wants them to understand these traditions.
This is the foundation that chapter 11 is built on. Next post we will continue on with verse 3.