Verse by verse through 1 Corinthians 11

Verse by verse through 1 Corinthians 11

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.

6 thoughts on “Verse by verse through 1 Corinthians 11

  1. Cheryl, you have great patience…Thanks for going through this part. It really does help. I think we are so brainwashed to believe a certain way, we cannot get rid of our filters when reading.


  2. Lin, what you have said is to true. It is important to go through the scriptures and let them speak in to us in context without the presuppositions that are brought to the text. It is then that the scriptures open up to us and we can see the clear inspiration of the Holy Spirit in each word, each piece of grammar and each sentence as the parts are intersect with each other and the full pictures becomes clear. You are in for an exciting journey as you explore God’s will for women!

    Blessings on your journey,

  3. Cheryl
    great job on setting the context – how critical this is to Ch 11!

    i am constantly struck in Paul’s writings about how much emphasis he places on not offending ubelievers ‘unnecessarily’. Of course there are the clear ‘non-negotiables’ that are central to the gospel … eg: the cross is offensive and foolishness to those that are perishing (1 Cor 1:18)… but time and time again on things he implores believers to live lives of peace (1 Tim 2:2-4) and not cause unbelievers to disdain the gospel because believers live out their ‘freedoms’ without considering the consequences. (1 Peter 1: 13 – 17; 3:1 echoes this too – asking believers to have a similar attitude of putting their ‘rights’ below their desire to reach the unreached.) Perhaps the most amazing example for me is Paul pushing for circumcision to not be demanded of Gentiles at the Council in Acts 15, then he turns round and asks poor Greek Timothy to get the ‘chop’ in the very next chapter – because it would help them ‘not offend’ the Jews in the area they were going to… incredible, hey!? (I have always felt particularly sorry for Timothy!!!)

    What would Paul’s advice be to us in western culture today in regards to how we apply the gospel to our culture? Of course sin is sin and must not be considered as a ‘cultural’ issue…but how much of what we ‘do’ in church is actually tradition based, rather than ‘sin’ or ‘not sin’?
    As paul says… we need to ask ourselves what is BENEFICIAL (but not contrary) to the gospel?

    Looking forwards to getting into vv 3-16!

  4. Good and interesting layout Cheryl.

    Right now I’m very concerned about a well laid out study of the concept of two witnesses for the establishment of Truth and Law.

    Any chance you could post any already laid out studies of that on the Worthy Boards. I’d like to get that one down for myself as well. I think that is a foundational point that would help the whole body of Christ study Scriptures more effectively.

    Oh and don’t forget to copyright the post. 🙂

  5. Kerryn,

    Good points. The cultural issue and tradition is a really big issue too. It can take a person a lot of work to get their head around the tradition to see things another way. I think that is why Paul said that the Lord’s bond-servant must gently correct those who are in opposition. 2 Timothy 2:24, 25. Tradition is very difficult to overcome without gentleness, kindness and God’s help to remove the blinders.

    Yes I can get something together but it might take a few days as I have several things that have been waiting first. The topic got closed by the moderators because of the condescending attitude of the complementarians so I wasn’t sure where to post the information where it would be seen. I will work on that this week. It is a very important point and something that complementarians are more open to agree with the reasoning if it is posed outside of the women’s issue. Problem is that they don’t want to reason through the women’s issue because it seems they have too much invested in keeping the status quo. I will see how I can word it later this week.

    Blessings and I hope you didn’t get ripped apart too much. The comps were extremely unkind on that board.


  6. that would be great.

    I’m getting somewhat armored against the insidious attacks. The insecure whether male or female, often feel they must protect certain doctrines that privilege them. And there is a questionable privilege that women feel they have by giving up primary responsibilities to a husband.

    Plus, there is always the dicotomy of those who speak the language of hierarchy but live the lives of mutual honor.

    I’ve been having a great weekend researching the doctrines and counters to the eternal subordination of Christ to the Father. 🙂

    blessings …

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