THE LESSON BACKGROUND.
This first letter to the church in Corinth was written by the Apostle Paul at the close of his stay in Ephesus (see I Corinthians 16:5-8). Ancient Corinth, located in Macedonia, was a very wicked city, and although many people in the city had become followers of Jesus Christ (see I Corinthians 18:1-11), they continued to be affected by their past pagan surroundings and practices. Not long after Paul founded the church in Corinth, he heard about the problems among the believers there (see I Corinthians 1:11). These new Christians even sent Paul a letter with various questions (see I Corinthians 7:1). Their questions concerned marriage, eating meals offered to idols, worship, spiritual gifts, and giving. Apparently some of them thought that it was acceptable to participate in idolatrous feasts and Christian worship. Paul pointed to the LORD’s Supper to rebuke this idea (see I Corinthians 10:21). Then in chapter 11, the apostle even had to address the Corinthians’ abuses of the LORD’s Supper itself. Abuses of the LORD’s Supper were only one of several disorders in public worship that Paul sought to correct. He praised the Corinthians generally for keeping the words he had given them (see I Corinthians 11:2), but he also made it clear that some of the things they were doing were improper within the church (see I Corinthians 11:3-16). Their abuse of the LORD’s Supper was so serious that Paul could not praise for them concerning this matter. Instead of edifying the church, the LORD’s Supper had become a hindrance to growth and unity (see I Corinthians 11:17). Divisions and factions had appeared, taking away from the spiritual significance of their communion (see I Corinthians 11:18-19). Our lesson begins with verse 20.