Question: “What was the Corinthian church like?”
Answer: “They were full of flesh. Paul doesn’t use the word ‘ordinances’ for any other church. ‘Ordinances’ are the procedures and instructions necessary to keep right order and holy behaviour in any institution, not just the church. For example, you have the city ordinances and the army’s ordinances and so on”
Question: “Why would Paul think that having more Lord’s suppers and more water baptisms would bring order into a chaotic and fleshy church?”
Answer: “He wouldn’t”
Question: “What was needed then?”
Answer: “Some very firm instructions for holy behaviour. The Corinthian church needed many of them as they were a church full of the flesh. They didn’t need more ceremonial and religious performances to rein in their wicked.
Question: “Does Paul include the Lord’s supper for an ordinance?”
Answer: “If he did, he would be a hypocrite. If Paul didn’t water baptize, and we are to be followers of Paul, why would he then make it an ordinance for the church to do what he didn’t do? He wouldn’t. He says For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect. 1 Corinthians 1:17
Question: “What were these past instructions for the church?”
Answer: “They had already been given in I Corinthians chapters 1-10. Paul says “… keep the ordinances, as I delivered them to you.” (1Corinthians 11:2)
1:10 no divisions 1:31 glory in the Lord 2:13 compare spiritual with spiritual 3:8 reward for own labour 3:13-15 take heed how you build 3:16-17 be holy 3:20-21 no vain glory 4:1-2 be a faithful steward 4:6 don’t be puffed up 4:16 be followers of Paul 5:1 no fornication 5:11 no company and eating with fornicators, covetous, idolaters, railers, drunkards or extortioners 5:12 judge those within 6:1-8 don’t be judged in the world’s courts 6:9-10 no inheritance 6:18 flee fornication 7:1-40 marriage advice 8:13 don’t defile the conscience of the weak 9:7 soldiers worthy to be paid 9:19 be servant to all; 9:24 run for the prize 9:27 keep the body under 10: 6-14 cease lusting, idolatry, fornication, tempting Christ and murmuring 10:32 all things edify not 10:32 give none offence.”
Question: “But isn’t the Lord’s supper an ordinance?”
Answer: No. “… the cup, as oft as ye drink it …” (1Corinthians 11:25). This not an ordinance but a remembrance as often as you drink it. It’s not a mandatory thing or a must do. They might never have the Lord’s supper. No, the Corinthians needed some very heavy straight talk about their sinful behaviours.
Question: “What about more water baptism to bring order into the church?”
Answer: “I’m sure they were probably getting immersed at every opportunity. The Corinthian church would have been already under massive deception as to what water baptism would do for their holiness. A typical conversation from one Corinthian church member to another might have been “Hey man! Have you been water baptised yet? It’s great – just go under man and it’ll wash away all your sins.”
Water baptism and the Lord’s supper are not ordinances for the church today … and neither were they then.
The Lord’s Supper is a Remembrance but not an ordinance.
By Harley Hitchcock.
AUSTRALIAN BIBLE MINISTRIES PO Box 5058 MT Gravatt East 4122 Q L D, Australia www.AustralianBibleMinistries.com