Question: “What was the Corinthian church like?”

Answer: They were full of flesh. Paul does not use the word ‘ordinances’ for any other church. ‘Ordinances’ are the orders and instructions necessary to keep right order and holy behaviour in the church.  Indeed, we have civic orders and ordinances of “Don’t Park Here” and “Don’t Speed Over 60km/hr” for law and order, and with appropriate penalties for non-compliance.

Question: What were these orders?

Answer: They are found in 1st Corinthians -  1Cor 1:10 no divisions 1Cor 1:31 glory in the Lord 1Cor 2:13 compare spiritual with spiritual 1Cor 3:8 reward for own labour  1Cor 3:13-15 take heed how you build 1Cor 3:16-17 be holy 1Cor 3:20-21 no vain glory 1Cor 4:1-2 be a faithful steward 1Cor 4:6 don’t be puffed up 1Cor 4:16 be followers of Paul 1Cor 5:1 no fornication 1Cor 5:11 no company and eating with fornicators, covetous, idolaters, railers , drunkards or extortioners  1Cor 5:12 judge those within 1Cor 6:1-4,5-8 don’t be judged in the world’s courts 1Cor 6:9-10 no inheritance 1Cor 6:18 flee fornication 1Cor 7:1-40 marriage advice 1Cor 8:13 don’t defile the conscience of the weak 1Cor 9:7 soldiers worthy to be paid 1Cor 9:19 be servant to all; 1Cor 9:24 run for the prize 1Cor 9:27 keep the body under 1Cor10:6-9,10-13,14 cease lusting, idolatry, fornication, tempting Christ and murmuring 1Cor 10:32 all things edify not 1Cor 10:32 give none offence.”

Question: When were these orders given?
Answer: In the previous chapters prior to the Lord’s supper of chapter 11. Paul delivers the orders for the church in chapters 1-10. He then goes on to say “If you are not judging yourselves and following the orders “…as I have delivered (past tense) them to you…” (1Cor11:2), you will get weak, sick and die.” The Lord’s supper was a test to see whether they were judging themselves and keeping the orders!

A similar test in the OT was the Jealousy Test for a woman to uncover any unfaithfulness to her husband. She would drink the water to see whether she was telling the truth. Her belly would swell and thigh would rot if her speech and heart were not as one (Num 5:27).

Furthermore, to say “… the cup, as oft as ye drink it …” (1Cor 11:25) reveals it is not a mandatory order. Christians might only have the Lord’s supper once a year, if that.  

How often have you heard the Pastor warn the unsaved, with much gravity, not to take the Lord’s supper? But taking the supper unworthily is directed at Christians, not the unsaved, who are already unworthy. Is there a special double damnation for double unworthiness for an unsaved person? I think not.

Hence, the Lord’s supper is not an ordinance but is a REMEMBRANCE with consequences of not treading Christ’s shed blood underfoot (1Cor 11:25).

Harley Hitchcock




 Australian Bible Ministries, PO Box 5058 Mt. Gravatt East 4122 Qld, Australia