1 Corinthians 11:2
Now I praise you, brothers, that you remember me in all things, and keep the ordinances, as I delivered them to you.
We do well to boast of our freedom in Christ. It is a sign of the elevation of our religion above others that it does not need to drill its votaries by a constant discipline of prescribed rites, ceremonial shows, and verbal repetitious. It loves simplicity and spontaneousness, and the life which it fosters needs not to be guarded and hedged by minute regulations, but is developed in a chartered holy liberty. At the same time, Christianity has concrete forms, and the Church received at the beginning ordinances, or directions, to keep. The Apostle Paul had delivered these to the Church at Corinth.
1. They were different from the ordinances of the old covenant. The rites and statutes connected with animal sacrifice, distinctions of meats, regulations about dress and divers washings, were suited to the time in which they were instituted, and served to impress on the Hebrew mind great thoughts of God, of sin, and of righteousness, and to impregnate life in the house and labour in the field with religious suggestions. But with Jesus Christ a new era came. The restrictions and rites of the ceremonial law, ceasing to be necessary, lost their obligation. Moral inculcations, whether through Moses or through subsequent prophets, of course remained, and were enlarged and emphasized by the Master and his apostles. But the Church, after some struggle and sharp controversy, discerned and asserted her freedom from the sacerdotal and ceremonial ordinances by which the house of Israel had been bound.
2. They were not the traditions of Jewish rabbinism. Our Lord spoke strongly against the bondage into which the Jews of his time had been brought by "traditions of men," which had no Divine sanction, but had acquired, under the rabbinic and Pharisaic regime, a fictitious authority. Such traditionalism tended to weaken the honour due to the authentic Law, and its continuance was entirely opposed to the doctrine of Christ,
3. They must not be confounded with the traditions of later Christian origin. A tradition which cannot be traced to Christ or his apostles, and which is without support in the New Testament, cannot claim any countenance from this text. Alas! how Christians have become the servants of men and of prescribed usage! As the Jews have overlaid and burdened their religion with a huge mass of Talmudic and Kabbalistie traditions, so have the Greek and Latin Churches all but ruined their Christianity by admitting ecclesiastical tradition to a place alongside of Holy Writ in the rule of faith.
II. POSITIVELY. The traditions which the Corinthians were exhorted to keep were the instructions which the apostle, under the guidance of the Spirit of Christ, had himself delivered to the saints; and they had authority, not by coming down from remote antiquity and passing through many hands, but by coming directly from one whom the Lord had fitted and appointed to found Churches, and to set their affairs in order according to his mind and will. The directions specially referred to here had regard to the fellowship of believers and the worship rendered in the assembly of God. He had taught that the assembly was the true temple, wherein the Holy Spirit dwelt, and this temple was to be full of praise. The believers were to come together, not so much to pray for salvation, as to worship God their Saviour, and give thanks for the remission of sins and the hope of glory, Then the teaching about the Lord's Supper came in, for it is the centre and crowning act of Christian worship; and this had been ordained at Corinth by St. Paul. "I received of the Lord that which also I delivered [ordained] to you." So the apostle, while commanding the adherence of the Corinthians to his directions, took the opportunity to give more explicit instruction, and correct some abuses which had already crept into the Church.
1. The separation of the sexes, which sacerdotalism desires, was to be ignored in this service. Alike during the time of praying and prophesying, and during the Eucharistic Supper, men and women were to mingle together, because in Jesus Christ "there is neither male nor female." And yet a distinction between the sexes, in the interest of purity and modesty, was to be duly marked.
2. The precious feast of unity and love ought not to be marred by party spirit or by selfishness and excess. Irreverence and greediness might appear at feasts in the precincts of the heathen temples; but in the holy temple of God his redeemed should have discernment of the Lord's body, and a grave fraternal remembrance of him. "Let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup." - F.
Parallel VersesKJV: Now I praise you, brethren, that ye remember me in all things, and keep the ordinances, as I delivered them to you.