Thomas M. Lindsay"What cannot fail to strike us in this picture (I Cor.14) is the untrammelled liberty of the worship . . . . When we consider the rebukes that the apostle considered it necessary to administer, it is also somewhat surprising to find so few injunctions which take the form of definite rules for public worship, and to observe the confidence which the apostle had that if certain broad principles were laid down and observed, the community was of itself able to conduct all things with that attention to decency and order which ensured edification...
1 Cor.14 may be taken as a type of the Christian meeting throughout the Gentile Christian churches; for the apostle, in his suggestions and criticisms, continually speaks of what took place throughout all the churches.
It is to be observed that if the apostle finds fault with some things, he gives the order of the service and expressly approves of every part of it, even the strange ejaculatory prayers. He gives his Corinthian converts one broad principle. Everything is to be done for the edification of the brethren, and the first qualification for edification is that all things be done "decently and in order," for God is not a God of confusion but of peace.
With the meeting for thanksgiving we have only to remove the blemishes which the apostle found, and the vision of the meeting as he approved it stands clearly before us in I Cor. II.
The whole membership of the Church at Corinth met together at one place on a fixed day, the Lord's day, for their Thanksgiving Meeting. The meeting was confined to the membership; even catechumens, as well as inquirers and unbelievers, were excluded. The partakers brought provisions, according to their ability. Some of the brethren, who belonged to that honored number who were recognized to have the prophetic gift, presided. The food brought was handed over to them, and they distributed so that the superfluity of the rich made up for the lack of the poor. They also conducted the devotional services at the feast and at the Holy Supper which followed. . . During the feast the brethren were taught to regard themselves as in God's presence and His guests; but this did not hinder a prevailing sense of gladness, nor prevent them satisfying their hunger and their thirst; God the Creator had placed the food and drink before them for that purpose . . . During the feast hymns were sung at intervals, and probably short exhortations were given by the prophets. Then when all was decently finished the Holy Communion was solemnly celebrated as commanded by the apostle...
The apostle shows that this meeting for thanksgiving is to be a social meal representing the fellowship which subsists between all the members of the brotherhood, because they each have a personal fellowship with their Lord...
Excerpts from Thomas M. Lindsay, The Church and the Ministry in the Early Centuries (first published in the late 1800's), reprinted by James Family Publishing, Minneapolis, 1977, 398 pages.
To discuss this article, enter the appropriate web forum.
Acts 2:46 Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts,
Luke 22:19 And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me."
1 Corinthians 11:24-25 and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me." In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.”