New International Reader's Version

1 Corinthians 11

11 Follow my example, just as I follow the example of Christ.

Proper Worship

I praise you for being faithful in remembering me. I also praise you for staying true to the teachings of the past. You have stayed true to them, just as I gave them to you. But I want you to know that the head of every man is Christ. The head of the woman is the man. And the head of Christ is God. Every man who prays or prophesies with his head covered brings shame on his head. But every woman who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered brings shame on her head. It is the same as having her head shaved. What if a woman does not cover her head? She might as well have her hair cut off. But it is shameful for her to cut her hair or shave her head. So she should cover her head.

A man should not cover his head. He is the likeness and glory of God. But woman is the glory of man. Man did not come from woman. Woman came from man. Also, man was not created for woman. Woman was created for man. 10 That’s why a woman should have authority over her own head. She should have this because of the angels. 11 But here is how things are for those who belong to the Lord. Woman is not independent of man. And man is not independent of woman. 12 Woman came from man, and man is born from woman. But everything comes from God.

13 You be the judge. Is it proper for a woman to pray to God without covering her head? 14 Suppose a man has long hair. Doesn’t the very nature of things teach you that it is shameful? 15 And suppose a woman has long hair. Doesn’t the very nature of things teach you that it is her glory? Long hair is given to her as a covering. 16 If anyone wants to argue about this, we don’t have any other practice. And God’s churches don’t either.

Celebrating the Lord’s Supper in the Right Way

17 In the following matters, I don’t praise you. Your meetings do more harm than good. 18 First, here is what people are telling me. When you come together as a church, you take sides. And in some ways I believe it. 19 Do you really think you need to take sides? You probably think God favors one side over the other! 20 So when you come together, it is not the Lord’s Supper you eat. 21 As you eat, some of you go ahead and eat your own private meals. Because of this, one person stays hungry and another gets drunk. 22 Don’t you have homes to eat and drink in? You are shaming those in the church who have nothing. Do you think so little of God’s church that you do this? What should I say to you? Should I praise you? Certainly not about the Lord’s Supper!

23 I passed on to you what I received from the Lord. On the night the Lord Jesus was handed over to his enemies, he took bread. 24 When he had given thanks, he broke it. He said, “This is my body. It is given for you. Every time you eat it, do it in memory of me.” 25 In the same way, after supper he took the cup. He said, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Every time you drink it, do it in memory of me.” 26 You eat the bread and drink the cup. When you do this, you are announcing the Lord’s death until he comes again.

27 Eat the bread or drink the cup of the Lord in the right way. Don’t do it in a way that isn’t worthy of him. If you do, you will be guilty. You’ll be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord. 28 Everyone should take a careful look at themselves before they eat the bread and drink from the cup. 29 Whoever eats and drinks must recognize the body of Christ. If they don’t, judgment will come upon them. 30 That is why many of you are weak and sick. That is why a number of you have died. 31 We should think more carefully about what we are doing. Then we would not be found guilty for this. 32 When the Lord judges us in this way, he corrects us. Then in the end we will not be judged along with the rest of the world.

33 My brothers and sisters, when you come together to eat, you should all eat together. 34 Anyone who is hungry should eat something at home. Then when you come together, you will not be judged.

When I come, I will give you more directions.

The Message

1 Corinthians 11

To Honor God

11-2 It pleases me that you continue to remember and honor me by keeping up the traditions of the faith I taught you. All actual authority stems from Christ.

3-9 In a marriage relationship, there is authority from Christ to husband, and from husband to wife. The authority of Christ is the authority of God. Any man who speaks with God or about God in a way that shows a lack of respect for the authority of Christ, dishonors Christ. In the same way, a wife who speaks with God in a way that shows a lack of respect for the authority of her husband, dishonors her husband. Worse, she dishonors herself—an ugly sight, like a woman with her head shaved. This is basically the origin of these customs we have of women wearing head coverings in worship, while men take their hats off. By these symbolic acts, men and women, who far too often butt heads with each other, submit their “heads” to the Head: God.

10-12 Don’t, by the way, read too much into the differences here between men and women. Neither man nor woman can go it alone or claim priority. Man was created first, as a beautiful shining reflection of God—that is true. But the head on a woman’s body clearly outshines in beauty the head of her “head,” her husband. The first woman came from man, true—but ever since then, every man comes from a woman! And since virtually everything comes from God anyway, let’s quit going through these “who’s first” routines.

13-16 Don’t you agree there is something naturally powerful in the symbolism—a woman, her beautiful hair reminiscent of angels, praying in adoration; a man, his head bared in reverence, praying in submission? I hope you’re not going to be argumentative about this. All God’s churches see it this way; I don’t want you standing out as an exception.

17-19 Regarding this next item, I’m not at all pleased. I am getting the picture that when you meet together it brings out your worst side instead of your best! First, I get this report on your divisiveness, competing with and criticizing each other. I’m reluctant to believe it, but there it is. The best that can be said for it is that the testing process will bring truth into the open and confirm it.

20-22 And then I find that you bring your divisions to worship—you come together, and instead of eating the Lord’s Supper, you bring in a lot of food from the outside and make pigs of yourselves. Some are left out, and go home hungry. Others have to be carried out, too drunk to walk. I can’t believe it! Don’t you have your own homes to eat and drink in? Why would you stoop to desecrating God’s church? Why would you actually shame God’s poor? I never would have believed you would stoop to this. And I’m not going to stand by and say nothing.

23-26 Let me go over with you again exactly what goes on in the Lord’s Supper and why it is so centrally important. I received my instructions from the Master himself and passed them on to you. The Master, Jesus, on the night of his betrayal, took bread. Having given thanks, he broke it and said,

This is my body, broken for you.
Do this to remember me.

After supper, he did the same thing with the cup:

This cup is my blood, my new covenant with you.
Each time you drink this cup, remember me.

What you must solemnly realize is that every time you eat this bread and every time you drink this cup, you reenact in your words and actions the death of the Master. You will be drawn back to this meal again and again until the Master returns. You must never let familiarity breed contempt.

27-28 Anyone who eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Master irreverently is like part of the crowd that jeered and spit on him at his death. Is that the kind of “remembrance” you want to be part of? Examine your motives, test your heart, come to this meal in holy awe.

29-32 If you give no thought (or worse, don’t care) about the broken body of the Master when you eat and drink, you’re running the risk of serious consequences. That’s why so many of you even now are listless and sick, and others have gone to an early grave. If we get this straight now, we won’t have to be straightened out later on. Better to be confronted by the Master now than to face a fiery confrontation later.

33-34 So, my friends, when you come together to the Lord’s Table, be reverent and courteous with one another. If you’re so hungry that you can’t wait to be served, go home and get a sandwich. But by no means risk turning this Meal into an eating and drinking binge or a family squabble. It is a spiritual meal—a love feast.

The other things you asked about, I’ll respond to in person when I make my next visit.