Scripture Notes


1 Corinthians 11:1-15.

It is important to notice that the saints are not contemplated in this scripture as gathered together in assembly. This is evident, we judge, from v. 5; for if the assembly were in question we should be compelled to conclude that women had been permitted to pray in it and to prophesy, which is contrary to the apostle's express statement in v. 16. On the other hand, it seems as certain that the presence of others is supposed in the case adduced; and hence the apostle leads us back to the headship of Christ over every man - His headship as the last Adam over all that are of His own race and order - and to the headship of the man over the woman. It is because the man is head over the woman, and because she "is the glory of the man," that she ought to have "power" - the sign of her subjection - on her head. What we understand, therefore, by the directions here given to the woman is that whenever and wherever, whether in her own house or in the houses of others, she prays or prophesies (communicates the mind of God, addressing the conscience), her head must be covered. None but members of her own family may perhaps be present; but in such circumstances even these precepts have their application. It should, however, be remarked that v. 13 appears to go even further, for, after dealing with the special place of the woman in relation to the man, the apostle proceeds to the question of comeliness before God. This should be well considered in determining the question. Offering no judgment concerning private prayer, we cannot doubt that whenever a woman prays in the presence of others, or whenever she seeks to help others spiritually, she should be covered according to the teaching of this scripture. There will be no difficulty or even perplexity in arriving at the mind of the Spirit where there is no choice or will on the subject, and where the only desire is to be well-pleasing to the Lord. Light always streams in through the single eye.


1 Corinthians 11:33.

In determining the force of this exhortation attention must be given to the connection. It refers back to v. 21, where the apostle sets out the character of the abuses which had crept into the Corinthian assembly in connection with the Lord's Supper. It appears that some had gone so far as to eat their "own supper" by themselves. This, he plainly tells them, was not to eat the Lord's Supper (v. 20); and the consequence was that one was hungry and another drunken. All sense of unity and fellowship was lost in their own selfish practices and gratifications, and this led to the solemn admonition and rebuke of v. 22. Thereupon the apostle supplies the corrective of these evil habits in a re-statement of the terms and character of the Lord's Supper as he had received it from the Lord. Then he points out the consequences of eating and drinking unworthily, the need of examining oneself lest anyone should eat and drink judgment to himself, not discerning the Lord's body, not connecting the bread and the cup with the thing signified. Already, he reminds them, the Lord's hand was upon them because of their carelessness and levity (v. 30), and he takes occasion from this to say that, "if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged. But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world." The next verse (33rd) gives the conclusion: "Wherefore, my brethren, when ye come together to eat, tarry one for another," and do not continue to eat one before another as you have been doing. Let there be unity, so that all may eat together in remembrance of the Lord. No doubt these words also enjoin tender consideration for one another, that even in eating the Lord's Supper we are to look upon the things of others rather than upon our own things; but what is given above is their precise connection and explanation. The enjoyment of the Lord's love, who in the same night in which He was betrayed instituted the Supper, and the active exercise of love one to another in the common bonds of our fellowship, will speedily correct all abuses and disorder.


Galatians 1:13; Philippians 3:20; Hebrews 13:5.

In each of these scriptures the word rendered "conversation" is different. The apostle Paul uses (if we ascribe the Epistle to the Hebrews to him) three words which are so rendered in our translation. The apostle Peter employs the same word in each case, and James has the same word, where it is so translated, as Peter. Paul likewise has this word some five or six times in different epistles; in Philippians (chaps. 1:27, 3:20) it is another word altogether, while in Hebrews 13:7 it is the general word; but in verse 5 it is a word found nowhere else (though often used) with this meaning. It should be understood that in no case does "conversation" in Scripture mean talking with another according to its present significance. Generally speaking, it imports mode of life or conduct - as may be at once perceived if the place be examined where it occurs. For example, Paul says, "Among whom also [the children of disobedience] we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh," etc. (Eph. 2:3); that is, that we all had lived in the same manner as the children of disobedience were living. Peter also says, "But as He which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation" - in all your life and conduct. The word in Philippians is very interesting, and one which (it need hardly be said) is suited to the character of the epistle. "Our conversation is in heaven." This is sometimes explained as commonwealth or citizenship; but neither of these words would seem to convey the thought of the original, as what Paul brings before us is the fact that, though down here upon the earth, he was a heavenly man (as indeed all Christians are), and already lived in heaven. This has led to the suggestion of the word "life-associations," as expressing that all that which concerns the true life of the Christian - his objects and interests - are in heaven, because the Lord Jesus Christ, for whom he is waiting to come from thence as Saviour, is there. In other words, the Christian belongs to heaven, and his affections, if walking in the power of the Spirit, are necessarily there where his treasure (Christ) is; and all the more so, in that he is waiting for the moment when his body of humiliation will be fashioned like the glorified body of Christ, according to the working whereby He is able to subdue all things unto Himself. It is another form of the same word in chap. 1:27; and it will therefore mean, "Conduct yourselves as heavenly men, or as belonging to heaven, as it becometh the gospel of Christ." The careful reader will be much interested in tracing out the various bearings of the word which has occupied our attention.