Corinthians followed the customs of the day. There was no day of rest in Greek or Roman culture so slaves and the poor worked long hours, sometimes for seven days in a week. The rich could take things more easily. In an early church setting, it seems, patricians and other rich people would arrive at the church service early. They would fill the main room and begin eating and drinking all the best food and drink. When the plebeians arrived there would be little of the quality food left and some of the early church attenders would already be drunk. The problem here is that this flies in the face of the equality that believers have in Christ. The Lord’s supper shows how all people are equal and receive God’s grace equally. This is not how the Corinthians were celebrating it.
1 Corinthians 11: 17-22
17In the following directives I have no praise for you, for your meetings do more harm than good. 18In the first place, I hear that when you come together as a church, there are divisions among you, and to some extent I believe it. 19No doubt there have to be differences among you to show which of you have God’s approval. 20When you come together, it is not the Lord’s Supper you eat, 21for as you eat, each of you goes ahead without waiting for anybody else. One remains hungry, another gets drunk. 22Don’t you have homes to eat and drink in? Or do you despise the church of God and humiliate those who have nothing? What shall I say to you? Shall I praise you for this? Certainly not!
- In what area does Paul have no praise for the Corinthians?
- What has Paul heard occurs when the Corinthians come together?
- What happens to another while one remains hungry?
- How are rich and poor today separated in their church experience?
- How is communion best served in a way that shows that Christ’s death was for all people equally?
How does your church do communion? Look at other churches and see what they do for communion. Do they have any ideas that you could adopt?