“So then, my brothers, when you come together to eat, wait for each other.”
Let’s look at the context. Read 11:17-22.
1. Why would Paul have to tell the Corinthians to “wait for each other,” and why did it matter?
2. (verse 17) Paul is disgusted with the services held by the Corinthians. When they come together to worship and especially when they come together for communion they are harming each other and bringing dishonor to Christ. What a condemnation: “your meetings do more harm than good.” It would be better if they gave up meeting altogether, rather than continuing to meet in the manner in which they are.
3. (verse 18) Paul has heard that there are divisions among them. This does not refer to the divisions over teachers addressed in the first few chapters of 1 Corinthians. Rather it refers to divisions into classes. The Corinthians probably met in a number of house churches. Larger homes of the wealthy could accommodate about 50 people. It may be that the wealthy would meet in one room, the working class in another, and the slaves in yet another room of the house. There was segregation in the church. Does that ever happen today?
4. (verse 19) The different groups have stooped to the foolish notion that one group may be more approved by God than another group.
5. (verse 20) Paul tells them plainly, that you are not eating the Lord’s Supper when you act this way. As Christians they are united to Christ and therefore to each other, but they are disregarding this and have instead set up a hierarchy amongst themselves.
6. (verse 21) Two things are happening here that reveal an identity of the Corinthians with the world and a lack of spiritual transformation. They eat without waiting. The wealthy did not have jobs, so they could get a head start on the meal. The working class would get there next, and the slaves would get there after most of the food was gone. The wealthy were being gluttons and the slaves, who had the least to begin with, were going without. Additionally, many of the secular clubs in Corinth would have fellowship meals, but the food was apportioned to the members in quantities based on the person’s social status. Again, the ones that needed it the least, got the most. Oh, how too often it is hard to differentiate us Christians from the world. This should never be the case. The wealthy Corinthian Christians could have shown their Christian love, by providing for those who were unable to provide adequately for themselves.
7. (verse 22) “Don’t you have homes to eat and drink in?” If you want to be selfish, then just eat at home, because your conduct is bringing discredit to Christ. He then explains to them the proper meaning of Communion in verses 23-26 and the consequences of mistreating this meal in verses 27-32.
The right thing to do is to celebrate communion, but to remember the love Christ has for His church and to show that love to one another by waiting for each other when coming together to eat. Make sure those who need the food most get an adequate chance to eat. This attitude of sharing among believers applies in any service or fellowship gathering.