Two Forgotten Apostolic Ordinances of 1 Corinthians 11

II. Heresies

Verse 17: Now in this that I declare unto you I praise you not, that ye come together not for the better, but for the worse.

Now in this that I declare –

In this that I am about to state to you; to wit, your conduct in regard to the Lord’s Supper. Why this subject is introduced here is not very apparent. The connection may be this. In the subjects immediately preceding he had seen much to commend, and he was desirous of commending them as far as it could be done. In 1 Corinthians 11:2 of this chapter he commends them in general for their regard to the ordinances which he had appointed when he was with them. But while he thus commended them, he takes occasion to observe that there was one subject on which he could not employ the language of approval or praise. Of their irregularities in regard to the Lord’s supper he had probably heard by rumor, and as the subject was of great importance, and their irregularities gross and deplorable, he takes occasion to state to them again more fully the nature of that ordinance, and to reprove them for the manner in which they had celebrated it.

That ye come together –

You assemble for public worship.

Not for the better, but for the worse –

Your meetings, and your observance of the ordinances of the gospel, do not promote your edification, your piety, spirituality, and harmony; but tend to division, alienation, and disorder. You should assemble to worship God, and promote harmony, love, and piety; the actual effect of your assembling is just the reverse. In what way this was done he states in the following verses. These evil consequences were chiefly two, first, divisions and contentions; and, secondly, the abuse and profanation of the Lord’s Supper.

Verse 18: For first of all, when ye come together in the church, I hear that there be divisions among you; and I partly believe it.

For first of all –

That is, I mention as the first thing to be reproved.

When ye come together in the church –

When you come together in a religious assembly; when you convene for public worship. The word “church” here does not mean, as it frequently does with us, a “building.” No instance of such a use of the word occurs in the New Testament; but it means when they came together as a Christian assembly; when they convened for the worship of God. These divisions took place then; and from some cause which it seems then operated to produce alienations and strifes.

I hear –

I have learned through some members of the family of Chloe; 1 Corinthians 1:11.

That there be divisions among you –

Greek, as in the margin, Schisms

The word properly means a rent, such as is made in cloth Matthew 9:16; Mark 2:21, and then a division, a split, a faction among people; John 7:43; John 9:10; John 10:19. It does not mean here that they had proceeded so far as to form separate churches, but that there was discord and division in the church itself; see the notes on 1 Corinthians 1:10-11.

And I partly believe it –

I credit a part of the reports; I have reason to think, that, though the evil may have been exaggerated, yet that it is true at least in part. I believe that there are dissensions in the church that should be reproved.

Verse 19: For there must be also heresies among you, that they which are approved may be made manifest among you.

For there must be –

It is necessary (δεῖ dei); it is to he expected; there are reasons why there should be. What these reasons are he states in the close of the verse; compare Matthew 18:7; 2 Peter 2:1; 2 Peter 2:2. The meaning is, not that divisions are inseparable from the nature of the Christian religion, not that it is the design and wish of the Author of Christianity that they should exist, and not that they are physically impossible, for then they could not be the subject of blame; but that such is human nature, such are the corrupt passions of men, the propensity to ambition and strifes, that they are to be expected, and they serve the purpose of showing who are, and who are not, the true friends of God.

Heresies –

Margin, “Sects”

Greek Αἱρεσεις Haireseis see the note at Acts 24:14. The words “heresy” and “heresies” occur only in these places, and in Galatians 5:20; 2 Peter 2:1. The Greek word occurs also in Acts 5:17 (translated “sect”); Acts 15:5; Acts 24:5; Acts 26:5; Acts 28:22, in all which places it denotes, and is translated, “sect.” We now attach to the word usually the idea of a fundamental error in religion, or some “doctrine” the holding of which will exclude from salvation. But there is no evidence that the word is used in this signification in the New Testament. The only place where it can be supposed to be so used, unless this is one, is in Galatians 5:20, where, however, the word “contentions” or “divisions,” would be quite as much in accordance with the connection. That the word here does not denote error in doctrine, but schism, division, or “sects,” as it is translated in the margin, is evident from two considerations:

(1) It is the proper philological meaning of the word, and its established and common signification in the Bible.

(2) it is the sense which the connection here demands. The apostle had made no reference to error of doctrine, but is discoursing solely of “irregularity” in “conduct;” and the first thing which he mentions, is, that there were schisms, divisions, strifes. The idea that the word here refers to “doctrines” would by no means suit the connection, and would indeed make nonsense. It would then read, “I hear that there are divisions or parties among you, and this I cannot commend you for. For it must he expected that there would be “ ‘fundamental errors of doctrine’ in the church.” But Paul did not reason in this manner. The sense is, “There are divisions among you. It is to be expected: there are causes for it; and it cannot he avoided that there should be, in the present state of human nature, divisions and sects formed in the church; and this is to be expected in order that those who are true Christians should be separated from those who are not.” The foundation of this necessity is not in the Christian religion itself, for that is pure, and contemplates and requires union; but the existence of sects, and denominations, and contentious may be traced to the following causes:

(1) The love of power and popularity. Religion may be made the means of power; and they who have the control of the consciences of people, and of their religious feelings and opinions, can control them altogether.

(2) showing more respect to a religious teacher than to Christ; see Notes on 1 Corinthians 1:12.

(3) the multiplication of tests, and the enlargement of creeds and confessions of faith. The consequence is, that every new doctrine that is incorporated into a creed gives occasion for those to separate who cannot accord with it.

(4) the passions of people—their pride, and ambition, and bigotry, and unenlightened zeal. Christ evidently meant that his church should be one; and that all who were his true followers should be admitted to her communion, and acknowledged everywhere as his own friends. And the time may yet come when this union shall be restored to his long distracted church, and that while there may be an honest difference of opinion maintained and allowed, still the bonds of Christian love shall secure union of “heart” in all who love the Lord Jesus, and union of “effort” in the grand enterprise in which all can unite—that of making war upon sin, and securing the conversion of the whole world to God.

That they which are approved –

That they who are approved of God, or who are his true friends, and who are disposed to abide by his laws.

May be made manifest –

May be known; recognized; seen. The effect of divisions and separations would be to show who were the friends of order, and peace, and truth. It seems to have been assumed by Paul, that they who made divisions could not be regarded as the friends of order and truth; or that their course could not be approved by God. The effect of these divisions would be to show who they were. So in all divisions, and all splitting into factions, where the great truths of Christianity are held, and where the corruption of the mass does not require separation, such divisions show who are the restless, ambitious, and dissatisfied spirits; who they are that are indisposed to follow the things that make for peace, and the laws of Christ enjoining union; and who they are who are gentle and peaceful, and disposed to pursue the way of truth, and love, and order, without contentions and strifes. This is the effect of schisms in the church; and the whole strain of the argument of Paul is to reprove and condemn such schisms, and to hold up the authors of them to reproof and condemnation; see Romans 16:17, “Mark them which cause divisions, and avoid them.”

[Our thinking on the definition of heresy has been corrupted by the Catholic Church, which formed a creed and labeled all who did not accept it as heretics. But true heresy has much more to do with behavior. What is scary about this is that I see this in present truth movements such as the nontrinitarian movement. Part of the problem is that, due to zeal for the truth, some have made the nontrinitarian truth into the gospel itself and the main theme of discussion and discourse. This fanaticism on a single doctrine leads to imbalance, including of character. Such imbalance leads to disorderly conduct, strife, and debate—all fueled by pride. Elevating doctrine to form written or unwritten creeds, at the expense of practical godliness, is heretical, no matter how pure our doctrines are that we profess. We must also be careful of forming cliques where we only listen to our favorite preachers or seek after being popular at the sacrifice of truth or Christian duty. We really need to watch out for these things, because they all lead to heresy]


My name is Ricky Bokovoy, but this website isn't about me. Please enjoy this article and I pray that it is a blessing to you. May you be strengthened in the faith once delivered to the saints!

4 thoughts on “Two Forgotten Apostolic Ordinances of 1 Corinthians 11

  • 2019-12-23 at 5:09 am

    This is the title of the 3rd quarter lesson I have been dealing with and it has to do with modesty. Actually our brethren and church has turned her back against God and we are steady retreating back to the world. There is no difference between the worldliness and the people of God. Everything is common. We want the majority flock into our camp meetings and not spiritually awakened. This kind of worship has shut out the Spirit of God from our midst.
    We cannot be Sabbath reformers if we neglect Dress Reform. This must begin from our very homes. If we reform at home, the church will be revived. Our children and women have been allowed to dress in order to please the public and not to please God who created us!
    Much has been left out to our children and women to plait and put on the apparel that satisfies the flesh and not the Spirit. Thanks for this subject. We need to pray and reform on this.
    We also have the DRESS# CODE subject going on around the world. We have the LGBT issues in America and the Equality Agenda. These things are the signs of the last days and the approaching doom.

    • 2019-12-24 at 2:17 am

      “The world is crazy after show and fashion and pleasure. Licentiousness is steadily and fearfully on the increase. Why will not Christians be true to their high profession? 4T.647.
      Fashion is a mistress that rules with an iron hand. In very many homes the strength and time and attention of parents and children are absorbed in meeting her demands. The rich are ambitious to outdo one another in conforming to her ever-varying styles; the middle and poor classes strive to approach the standard set by those supposed to be above them. Where means or strength is limited, and the ambition for gentility is great, burden becomes almost insupportable.
      With many it matters not how becoming, or even beautiful, a garment may be, let the fashion change, and it must be remade or cast aside. The members of the household are doomed to ceaseless toil. There is no time for training the children , no time for prayer or Bible study, no time for helping the little ones to become acquainted with God through His works. Ed.246.”

  • 2019-12-23 at 5:13 am

    I will need this article send to me via postal mail. It is very expensive for me reading or studying in a cyber cafe while online.
    I delight in these materials for revival of our faith.
    Jeremiah Okonyo

  • 2019-12-25 at 5:15 pm

    We just got our printer working properly, so I will try to get this and some other things printed for you very soon. 🙂


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