Friday, May 8, 2015

Does “Do you not have houses to eat in drink in?” (1 Corinthians 11:22) teach that it is wrong to eat inside a church building?

The Passage Explained
There were some problems associated with the Communion (ie. The Lord’s Supper) in Corinth. Paul spend time in 1 Corinthians 11 attempting to correct these issues.  The main problem he addresses is “Division”.

The church is to be an united group, a body and a family. The Communion meal is supposed to be a time of mutual fellowship between the members of a local congregation with God, and with each other . The Corinthians, instead, had turned it into a time to selfishly fill their stomachs.

This divisive, selfish environment is condemned by the Apostle Paul. In (1 Corinthians 11:18-21), he states:
For, in the first place, when you come together as a church, I hear that divisions exist among you; and in part I believe it. For there must also be factions among you, so that those who are approved may become evident among you. Therefore when you meet together, it is not to eat the Lord’s Supper, for in your eating each one takes his own supper first; and one is hungry and another is drunk.
The purpose of this part of worship was to eat Lord Supper together, but instead, they were not even waiting for everyone to get there! In fact, it appears that some members were eating up ALL the food and drinking down all the wine before everyone could commune! This was a blatant corruption of what the Lord’s Supper was supposed to be!

After, explaining that the purpose of the Lord’s Supper is “remembrance” (1 Corinthians 11:23-26), the Apostle gets back to his corrective rebuke in verses (33-34). The passage reads:
So then, my brethren, when you come together to eat, wait for one another. If anyone is hungry, let him eat at home, so that you will not come together for judgment...
The Communion meal is different from other meals the church may eat together. The communion is a time of remembrance, sharing, celebration, praise and fellowship. The entire congregation is to participate in this weekly observance. It is a shame that there were some brethren in Corinth who turned it into an opportunity to quickly stuff their faces before everyone could participate.

Answer:
With the context of this passage in mind, let us examine verse 22. It reads:
What! Do you not have houses in which to eat and drink? Or do you despise the church of God and shame those who have nothing? What shall I say to you? Shall I praise you? In this I will not praise you.
The point of the passage is not to forbid eating in a church building (in fact, church buildings were probably not on the Apostle’s mind at all). Instead, this passage is saying, “if you are hungry, eat at home”, “if you are thirsty, be sure to get a drink beforehand”, because when it is time to take the Lord’s Supper, it is not to fill your belly, but a time to remember Jesus with your Christian family.

By Cliff Sabroe - Quotes from NASB95 Bible. Picture courtesy of cofchrist.org