Unit 22, Day 3: 1 Corinthians 11

New Testament Study Guide for Home-Study Seminary Students, 2015


Introduction

The Apostle Paul addressed disputes among the Corinthian Saints regarding religious customs. He emphasized that men and women have eternal and divine roles and are essential to one another in the Lord’s plan. He also taught Church members about proper preparation for the sacrament.

1 Corinthians 11:1–16

Paul addresses disputes about religious customs

couple walking toward Oquirrh Mountain Utah Temple

Read the following statements that reflect how some people may feel about marriage:

  • “Being successful in my career is very important to me. I don’t want to divide my attention between my career goals and marriage.”

  • “I do not want to commit to a long-term relationship. I worry about making a decision that I will later regret.”

  • “Marriage would tie me down. I wouldn’t be able to do whatever I wanted.”

  • “I know that marriage is the most important decision I will ever make, and I look forward to it.”

  1. journal icon1.

    In your scripture study journal, record how you feel about marriage.

In 1 Corinthians 11 we read more of what the Apostle Paul wrote to answer concerns Church members had in Corinth. Read 1 Corinthians 11:3, looking for what Paul taught about a husband’s responsibilities.

The phrase “the head of the woman is the man” means that the husband has the sacred responsibility of presiding in the home. To preside means to righteously lead and guide others in spiritual and temporal matters.

Notice in verse 3 who is to preside over and guide the husband as he presides in his family. Why would it be important for a husband and father to look to Christ as his leader and guide? ____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

As we understand how our Heavenly Father presides in His kingdom, we can see that He is a God of order and not of confusion (see D&C 132:8).

As recorded in 1 Corinthians 11:4–16, Paul addressed the Corinthian Saints’ questions about customs for men and women when they prayed and prophesied during their worship services. These customs included the practice of women wearing head coverings.

Readers of the New Testament sometimes misunderstand Paul’s teachings to mean that a man’s role is more important than a woman’s role. Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles clarified this misconception:

Elder M. Russell Ballard

“Men and women are equal in God’s eyes and in the eyes of the Church, but equal does not mean they are the same. The responsibilities and divine gifts of men and women differ in their nature but not in their importance or influence. Our Church doctrine places women equal to and yet different from men. God does not regard either gender as better or more important than the other. …

“Men and women have different gifts, different strengths, and different points of view and inclinations. That is one of the fundamental reasons why we need each other” (“Men and Women in the Work of the Lord,” New Era, Apr. 2014, 4).

Read 1 Corinthians 11:11, looking for what Paul taught about the relationship between a husband and a wife. The phrase “in the Lord” refers to the Lord’s plan to help us become like Him and obtain eternal life.

From 1 Corinthians 11:11 we learn the following truth: In the Lord’s plan, men and women cannot obtain eternal life without each other (see also D&C 131:1–4).

Marriage between a man and a woman is part of God’s plan. Think about the following questions: How does being a righteous father or mother further God’s plan? How does that further prepare us to become like Heavenly Father?

scissors one blade of scissors

Think about how scissors work. How well would scissors operate if the blades were separated and you tried to cut paper or fabric with only one blade? How could a pair of scissors be like a husband and wife striving to obtain eternal life?

Elder David A. Bednar

Read the following statement by Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, looking for how a husband and wife are designed to work together to obtain eternal life: “By divine design, men and women are intended to progress together toward perfection and a fulness of glory. Because of their distinctive temperaments and capacities, males and females each bring to a marriage relationship unique perspectives and experiences. The man and the woman contribute differently but equally to a oneness and a unity that can be achieved in no other way. The man completes and perfects the woman and the woman completes and perfects the man as they learn from and mutually strengthen and bless each other” (“Marriage Is Essential to His Eternal Plan,” Ensign, June 2006, 83–84).

  1. journal icon2.

    In your scripture study journal, write about some of the different characteristics and responsibilities of men and women that support and strengthen each other in a family.

In “The Family: A Proclamation to the World,” the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles declared: “By divine design, fathers are to preside over their families in love and righteousness and are responsible to provide the necessities of life and protection for their families. Mothers are primarily responsible for the nurture of their children. In these sacred responsibilities, fathers and mothers are obligated to help one another as equal partners. Disability, death, or other circumstances may necessitate individual adaptation” (Ensign, Nov. 2010, 129).

  1. journal icon3.

    Think about the various attitudes about marriage that are reflected in the statements you read at the beginning of the lesson. Then answer the following question in your scripture study journal: After studying 1 Corinthians 11:1–16, how would you respond to someone who did not understand the importance of marriage in God’s plan?

1 Corinthians 11:17–34

Paul teaches the Corinthian Saints not to treat the sacrament lightly

What comes to mind when you read the following phrases?

  • “A truly spiritual experience.”

  • “A renewal for the soul.”

  • “The highlight of my Sabbath day.”

Ponder on your most recent experience partaking of the sacrament, and think about whether or not these phrases would describe your experience.

As you study 1 Corinthians 11:17–34, look for truths that can help you make partaking of the sacrament a more spiritual and meaningful experience.

In Paul’s time, members of the Church observed a practice similar to the Last Supper. They would periodically gather to eat a meal together and then partake of the sacrament. The Apostle Paul condemned the gatherings because the Saints had turned them into common meals rather than maintaining the sacredness that should accompany partaking of the sacrament. The Joseph Smith Translation clarifies Paul’s statement about the purpose of their meeting together: “When ye come together in one place, is it not to eat the Lords supper?” (Joseph Smith Translation, 1 Corinthians 11:20 [in 1 Corinthians 11:20, footnote a]).

Although these gatherings were intended to increase fellowship and unity, they often became contentious. As recorded in 1 Corinthians 11:17–22, Paul condemned the contention that existed among the Corinthian Saints during these meals.

Read 1 Corinthians 11:23–26, looking for what Paul encouraged Church members to remember about the sacrament. In English the word shew in verse 26 is the same as the word show and is pronounced the same. But the Greek word that it was translated from means to proclaim, announce, or testify (see 1 Corinthians 11:26, footnote b).

Last Supper

Read 1 Corinthians 11:27–30, looking for the warning Paul gave the Corinthian Saints about the sacrament.

From these verses we learn that those who partake of the sacrament unworthily bring condemnation and damnation to themselves.

This truth is confirmed in the Book of Mormon, where Jesus Christ warned that those who partake of the sacrament unworthily, eat and drink damnation to their souls (see 3 Nephi 18:29). In addition, the Savior told priesthood leaders that they should not allow those who are unworthy to partake of the sacrament (see 3 Nephi 18:29). If you have a question about your worthiness to partake of the sacrament, you should speak to your bishop or branch president.

In 1 Corinthians 11:29, the Greek word translated as “damnation” could also be “condemnation” (see 1 Corinthians 11:29, footnote b). Condemnation means “to be judged guilty by God” (Guide to the Scriptures, “Condemn, Condemnation,” scriptures.lds.org). Damnation refers to “the state of being stopped in one’s progress and denied access to the presence of God and His glory. Damnation exists in varying degrees. All who do not obtain the fulness of celestial exaltation will to some degree be limited in their progress and privileges, and they will be damned to that extent” (Guide to the Scriptures, “Damnation,” scriptures.lds.org).

Remember that “you do not need to be perfect in order to partake of the sacrament, but you should have a spirit of humility and repentance in your heart” (True to the Faith: A Gospel Reference [2004], 148). If we partake of the sacrament with an unrepentant heart and have no desire to remember and follow the Savior, we are partaking of the sacrament unworthily.

Think about why partaking of the sacrament unworthily can bring damnation to our souls.

Reread 1 Corinthians 11:28, looking for what Paul counseled Church members to do while partaking of the sacrament. Consider marking what you find.

From this verse we learn that we should examine our lives as we partake of the sacrament.

In what ways do you think we should examine our lives?

The purpose of examining our lives is not only to consider whether we are worthy to partake of the sacrament but also to consider how well we are striving to keep our covenants with God and how we might seek to repent and improve.

Read the following statements, and consider ways that you can examine your life as you partake of the sacrament.

President Howard W. Hunter

Describing an experience he had while partaking of the sacrament, President Howard W. Hunter said: “I asked myself this question: ‘Do I place God above all other things and keep all of His commandments?’ Then came reflection and resolution. To make a covenant with the Lord to always keep His commandments is a serious obligation, and to renew that covenant by partaking of the sacrament is equally serious. The solemn moments of thought while the sacrament is being served have great significance. They are moments of self-examination, introspection, self-discernment—a time to reflect and to resolve” (“Thoughts On the Sacrament,” Ensign, May 1977, 25).

Tad R. Callister

Tad R. Callister, Sunday School general president, while he was a member of the Seventy, taught that the sacrament is a time of reflection and self-evaluation: “The sacrament is … a time of deep introspection and self-examination. … The sacrament is a time when we not only remember the Savior, but we match our life against that of the Great Exemplar [Jesus Christ]. It is a time to put aside all self-deception; it is a time of absolute sublime truth. All excuses, all facades must fall by the wayside, allowing our spirit, as it really is, to commune spirit to Spirit with our Father. At this moment we become our own judge, contemplating what our life really is and what it really should be” (The Infinite Atonement [2000], 291).

One way to apply this principle of examining our lives as we partake of the sacrament is to think of questions you could consider as you are preparing to take the sacrament. For example, you might ask, “How can I be a better disciple of Jesus Christ?” “How is my life like the Savior’s? In what ways is it not?” “What weakness am I struggling with that is keeping me from growing spiritually?” “What can I do this week to become just a little bit better?”

  1. journal icon4.

    In your scripture study journal, list a few additional questions you could ask yourself before and during the sacrament.

  2. journal icon5.

    Record in your scripture study journal a plan regarding what you are going to do to better prepare for your next opportunity to partake of the sacrament.

As you examine your life before and during the sacrament, the Lord can help you know how you might better fulfill your covenants and qualify to receive the blessings He desires to give you. Commit to follow any promptings you receive.

In 1 Corinthians 11:33–34 we read Paul’s additional direction to the Corinthian Saints regarding the meal they had when they met together to partake of the sacrament. He told the Saints to think of each other and avoid contention.

  1. journal icon6.

    Write the following at the bottom of today’s assignments in your scripture study journal:

    I have studied 1 Corinthians 11 and completed this lesson on (date).

    Additional questions, thoughts, and insights I would like to share with my teacher: