Houses in Which to Eat

Text: 1 Corinthians 11:17-22

More churches (even among brethren) are hosting meals as a function of the church. As with every question, we must strive to determine if such activities are authorized. In order to do this, let us examine what Paul had to say to the church in Corinth.

Paul’s Question to the Corinthians

  • What! Do you not have houses in which to eat and drink?” (1 Corinthians 11:22) – the context is clear that Paul was not approving of whatever it what that they were doing (“I do not / will not praise you” – v. 17,22)
  • Not about eating at a restaurant (or something similar) vs. eating at home – this is clearly about eating when the church comes together
  • Does this condemn “fellowship meals” like churches host today?
  • Or is this limited to peculiar circumstances in Corinth?

Three Problems in Corinth

  • They had changed the Lord’s Supper (1 Corinthians 11:20) – they had so corrupted the practice that it could no longer be called the Lord’s Supper; they excluded some (v. 21,33) and made it a meal to satisfy physical hunger (v. 34)
  • They shamed those with nothing (1 Corinthians 11:22) – in corrupting the Lord’s Supper and making it a common meal, they also made a distinction between the “haves” and the “have nots” (those who could not contribute could not partake)
  • They were not eating at home (1 Corinthians 11:22,34) – this is the problem that brethren often ignore; they believe “fellowship meals” are OK provided that they are distinct from the Lord’s Supper and shared by all; but Paul made it clear that meals other than the Lord’s Supper that were to satisfy hunger were for the home, not for the church

Three Solutions to These Problems

  • Value the words of Christ – in correcting them, Paul cited the words of Jesus (1 Corinthians 11:23-25); Jesus’ words lead to life (John 6:68), so we must highly value them
  • Value unity of brethren – strife and unnecessary factions were wrong (1 Corinthians 11:17-19); unity is precious (Psalm 133:1) and we must strive to preserve it (Ephesians 4:3)
  • Value the role of the church – spiritual, not social (1 Corinthians 11:22); we “despise the church of God” when we mix the two; the church’s work is spiritual in nature (1 Timothy 3:15; Ephesians 4:16)

Three Points to Take from This

  • The local church needs to be focused on its work – besides being unauthorized, adding works distracts from the work the Lord intends the church to do (cf. 1 Timothy 5:16; Acts 6:2-4)
  • The desire for togetherness is good – it is good for Christians to enjoy one another’s company (Acts 2:46); but good intentions/desires do not justify bending/breaking the rules; good works are defined by Scripture (2 Timothy 3:16-17)
  • We must look to the Bible, not to the religious world – again, the Scriptures define good works (2 Timothy 3:16-17); we will not please God by being like the world (Matthew 7:21-23; Romans 12:2)

Conclusion

  • The church belongs to Christ (Acts 20:28) – therefore we must do His will in all things
  • Let us be content with the work He has given the church to do
  • We must not distract the church from His work, even to do things that are acceptable for us to do as individuals

Read the article: Houses in Which to Eat


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