1 Corinthians 11:17 In the following directives I have no praise for you, for your meetings do more harm than good.
This is part of a scathing rebuke for the state of corporate worship in Corinth. There were divisions among them, and some were getting drunk at the Lord’s Supper (1 Corinthians 11:18-21). Whenever we gather for worship believers might assume that some good will come as a result. But here we learn that church services can do more harm than good.
Churches can honor Jesus Christ through heartfelt worship, or insult him through heartless worship. They can build each other up with Christian love, or tear each other down through disrespect. They can give careful attention to God’s word, or disregard it entirely. Gathering to worship God is the most important event of the week. It should, therefore, be entered into thoughtfully and reverently, lest we do more harm than good.
1 Corinthians 11:23-25 For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me. In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.
The central act of Christian worship is a meal, in which believers eat and drink in remembrance of Jesus Christ. This is more than recalling his death; it is focusing intensely on his body and blood given for our salvation.
Whenever we receive the Lord’s Supper, we should force other thoughts out our minds, and think about his crucifixion. We should see his body shredded by the lashing he received, and the blood flowing from his wounds. As we prepare to take the emblems, we should recall that Jesus died for our sins, and our salvation. The Lord’s Supper should be observed properly and reverently, for his glory and our good.
1 Corinthians 12:27 Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.
Paul wanted the church to know that every member is important. Christ is the head (Ephesians 4:15-16), and every believer is a hand, foot, eye, or some other part of his body. The inconspicuous parts may seem less important, but they serve a vital role.
You might not think about your elbows very often, but if they stopped working, you would think about them constantly. It would be hard to comb your hair, brush your teeth, button your shirt, or many other things you normally take for granted. When Christians understand how important they are to the body of Christ, they will actively participate, and fulfill the role God has for them.
1 Corinthians 13:13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.
Besides their other problems, the Corinthian Church was not very loving. This was so important to Paul, that he wrote an entire chapter on love, and how it should look in the local church. Every person in the church has a moral obligation to give and receive love, and those who are in distress ought to receive special care.
A lady with several children was asked which one she loved the most. She claimed to love them all the same, but when pressed, she admitted that was not true. When one is sick, I love that one the most. When one is hurt, I love that one the most. When one is confused, I love that one the most. When one is struggling, I love that one the most. These are also the ones we should love the most in the church.
Jesus emphasized the importance of love when he said the two greatest commandments are to love God and neighbor (Matthew 22:37-39). And, By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another (John 13:35). Love is not a secondary concern for the people of God. It is their first concern.
1 Corinthians 14:40 But everything should be done in a fitting and orderly way.
Worship services in Corinth could be chaotic. Some were prophesying while others were speaking in tongues. Paul did not condemn these practices, as long as order was maintained, and the church was being built up (1 Corinthians 14:26).
Paul wanted the worship service to accomplish three things. First, God was to be rightly worshipped. Second, believers were to be rightly instructed. Third, unbelievers were to be rightly exposed to true and orderly worship (1 Corinthians 14:23-25).
These priorities ought to be maintained in their proper order. If God is not rightly worshipped, he will not be duly honored. If believers are not rightly instructed, they will not grow as they should. And if unbelievers are not exposed to true and orderly worship, they will be confused and may not return.
The continuing validity of prophesying and speaking in tongues is a matter of discussion, because there is little evidence of them from the time of the apostles until they reemerged in the early twentieth century. But now, as then, everything should be done in a fitting and orderly way.
1 Corinthians 15:6 After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living.
After Jesus rose from the dead, he appeared to a crowd of hundreds. Paul does not give us more information, nor does the Bible speak of this elsewhere. Since Paul wrote to the Corinthians about twenty-five years after Jesus rose, some of the witnesses had died, but most were still alive.
This is still a powerful argument for the resurrection of Jesus Christ, because it could have been disproved if it was not true. Travel between Israel and Corinth was common, and Paul was inviting the Corinthians to investigate his claim as thoroughly as they liked.
If the church did not believe Paul, they could have sent a delegation to Judea, to interview the eyewitnesses. If Paul’s claim proved to be false, there would be no reason to remain Christians. The boldness of Paul’s claim is strong evidence of the resurrection of Jesus Christ, even today.
Reflection and Review
How can Christian gatherings do more harm than good?
How should we receive the Lord’s Supper?
What three things should a worship service accomplish?