20 “Therefore when you come together in one place, it is not to eat the Lord’s Supper. 21For in eating, each one takes his own supper ahead of others; and one is hungry and another is drunk. 22What! Do you not have houses to eat and drink in? Or do you despise the church of God and shame those who have nothing? What shall I say to you? Shall I praise you in this? I do not praise you.”
Therefore when you come together in one place,
The words “come together” carry the idea of assemble together with the idea of holding church meetings or public worship. Usually this worship was in larger homes and sometimes in caves and grottos. These worship services often lasted hours.
it is not to eat the Lord’s Supper.
The early church celebrated the Lord’s Supper more regularly than it does today (Acts 2:42-46; 20:7). The church followed what the Lord did Himself when He switched the last Passover to the Eucharist. Paul presumed that the church came together on stipulated occasions to observe the Lord’s Supper. Usually the church came together for both an Agape feast and the Lord’s Supper, but evidently the Agape feast began to take precedence over the Lord’s Supper. The Agape was strictly a time of eating while the Lord’s Supper was a partaking of the bread and cup.
The word “Supper” is the normal word for the evening meal or the main meal. The idea of the early church was to pool their food so that all shared their food in common. The word “communion” means to have things in common.
For in eating, each one takes his own supper ahead of others;
The rich ate a supper of their own and the poor had little or nothing. The rich ate a pheasant dinner while the poor ate a piece of bread. This shamed the poor and created cliques in the church.
and one is hungry and another is drunk.
Instead of sharing the Agape feast with each other, some families did not share their food with others. Some had plenty to eat and others did not. This was no picture of sharing love, which was the intension of the Agape. Some people in the congregation were slaves and some were rich Roman citizens, making for a social predicament.
Evidently, the Corinthian church used alcoholic juice in their communion because some became intoxicated (“is drunk”). Thucydides got drunk while Plutarch did not have anything to drink. Every time Thucydides smelled the cork, he was gone. Some people do not know how to stop. It is better for those types to go totally on the wagon. Drinking is one thing and debauchery is another.
What! Do you not have houses to eat and drink in?
Paul shoots five machine-gun-like pointed questions at the Corinthian church. If the only purpose for coming to church is to indulge in eating and drinking, then they could do that in their homes.
Or do you despise the church of God and shame those who have nothing?
The Corinthian church flagrantly despised the assembled body of believers by their contempt for their poorer brethren. The church was not a sanctuary or church auditorium but a group of assembled believers.
What shall I say to you? Shall I praise you in this? I do not praise you.
Paul could not place his stamp of approval on this kind of behavior. Any sense of superiority or pride must be set aside at the Lord’s Table. The Lord’s Supper was the remembrance of a mighty selfless act and they were acting very selfishly.
Our attitudes toward one another at the Lord’s Supper are a commentary on where we are spiritually.
None of us should partake of the Lord’s Supper if we have it in for someone or if we have a superior attitude toward other believers. Otherwise, we just go through the motions of observing the Lord’s Supper. The church in order to be the church must be in the same harness pulling together for the cause of Christ.