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First Corinthians: Trouble in the Assembly

January 26, 2008

1Co 11:17 In the following directives I have no praise for you, for your meetings do more harm than good.

Having addressed the Corinthians’ inquiry regarding the contentious issue of head coverings, Paul began to deal with a new topic: the assorted problems occurring in their assemblies.

Before examining these problems, we should note that none of the preceding discussions involved the assembly. In particular, the discussion of women’s head coverings was NOT in the context of a discussion of propriety in worship (contrary to the uninspired section headings found in the NIV). The topic of coming together as a church is not mentioned in the letter prior to 1 Cor 11:17. In that verse, Paul introduced (as a new topic) the subject of the congregational assembly with a startling charge: their assemblies were doing more harm than good!

There were two serious problems to be addressed regarding the assembly. First, Paul addressed the divisions evident in their observance of the Lord’s Supper. (1 Cor 11:17-34) Then he spent the next three chapters (1 Cor 12-14) correcting them on the matter of spiritual gifts. At the end of chapter 14, he gave specific instructions about how to conduct an orderly assembly. We will spend the next several posts examining Paul’s instructions about the Christian assembly.

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