Today Paul addresses some issues concerning corporate worship. He first speaks to husbands and wives. “But I want you to know that the head of every man is Christ, the head of woman is man, and the head of Christ is God.” Paul says that although men and women have different roles, they are both of equal value to the Lord. “Nevertheless, neither is man independent of woman, nor woman independent of man, in the Lord. For as woman came from man, even so man also comes through woman; but all things are from God.”
Paul says that women should keep their heads covered during worship. Sarah Ruden explains this in her book, Paul Among the People: “Respectable Greek and Roman women traditionally wore concealing veils in public. Marriage and widowhood were the chief things that a veil signaled…The veil was the flag of female virtue, status, and security. In the port city of Corinth, with its batteries of prostitutes – including the sacred prostitutes of the temple of Aphrodite – the distinction between veiled and unveiled women would have been even more crucial.” She goes on to explain how society was changing at that time; “slaves being freed; divorce proliferating; many more women entering into trades other than their most common trade of prostitution – any or all of these things could have made the veil a matter of controversy.” In one of her concluding comments Ruden says, “I think Paul’s rule aimed toward an outrageous equality. All Christian women were to cover their heads in church, without distinction of beauty, wealth, respectability – or of privilege so great as to allow toying with traditional appearances.” You gotta love Paul’s outrageous pursuit of human equality!
Next Paul rebukes the Corinthians for carelessly taking the Lord’s supper. Before Jesus was crucified, He gave His disciples bread which represented His body and wine which represented His blood of the new covenant. Then Jesus told His disciples to take the bread and wine in remembrance of Him pouring out His blood for the sins of many. (Matthew 26:26-28) The Lord’s supper is not to be taken lightly. Therefore Paul says, “For he who eats and drinks in an unworthy manner eats and drinks judgement to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body.”
Paul then moves into discussing spiritual gifts. “There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are differences of ministries, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of activities, but it is the same God who works all in all.”
Paul says that although the church is made up of many different people with differing gifts, they are still one body. “For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free—and have all been made to drink into one Spirit. For in fact the body is not one member but many.” “And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; or if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it.”
We end the reading with Paul telling them the most important, above any gifting, is having love. Then Paul explains what love is – “Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”
(1 Corinthians 11:2-13:13)