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The Disconnect with Commentaries

Posted by on Oct 6, 2010 in blog links, books, edification, gathering | 13 comments

The Disconnect with Commentaries

Eric from “A Pilgrim’s Progress” shares an “Interesting Commentary on I Corinthians 14:26-33.” Eric is referring to William Barclay’s commentary on 1 Corinthians which was published in 1975. Eric includes this quote from Barclay:

There was obviously a flexibility about the order of service in the early Church. Everything was informal enough to allow any man who felt that he had a message to give to give it. It may well be that we set far too much store on dignity and order nowadays, and have become the slaves of orders of service. The really notable thing about an early Church service must have been that almost everyone came feeling that he had both the privilege and the obligation of contributing something to it. A man did not come with the sole intention of being a passive listener; he came not only to receive but to give. Obviously this had its dangers, for it is clear that in Corinth there were those who were too fond of the sound of their own voices; but nonetheless the Church must have been in those days much more the real possession of the ordinary Christian. It may well be that the Church lost something when she delegated so much to the professional ministry and left so little to the ordinary Church member. (page 134)

Eric adds some great remarks to this quote in his post. But I wanted to mention something else.

A few years ago, I wrote an exegesis paper on 1 Corinthians 14:26-40 for a seminary class. While doing research for that paper, I came across several commentaries with similar conclusions. In other words, when studying Scriptures, Barclay’s comments above seem obvious (well, perhaps not to everyone, but to most commentaries that I’ve read).

But, there’s a disconnect when it comes to practice. Very few churches actually meet the way that Barclay (and many others) conclude that the early church met.

Why do you think that disconnect exists?


Comments are closed. If you would like to discuss this post, send an email to alan [at] alanknox [dot] net.

  1. 10-6-2010

    Who hasn’t heard, in the face of an admitted gap between the scriptures and some practice, “Yeah, but that’s not how we do it.” Tradition trumps scripture. Comfort trumps scripture. (I say with smugness.)

    Willfulness and sinful desire trumps scripture, too (I say with sorrow.)

  2. 10-6-2010

    Why does Eric only refer to men being able to speak when Paul encouraged the women to pray and prophesy in 1 Cor. 11? If we are going to encourage participatory worship shouldn’t it include both men and women?

  3. 10-6-2010

    Maybe something about teaching old dogs new tricks?

  4. 10-6-2010


    Eric here.

    I was just pointing out what Barclay was saying. I am in agreement with you that women should not only be allowed but should be encouraged to speak during church gatherings. I believe Barclay’s emphasis was not so much on only men speaking, but rather that everyone has the responsibility and privilege of sharing in an edifying manner.

  5. 10-6-2010

    Normally what I hear is that the cultures are different. They met that way because their culture was more communal. Since our culture is more individualistic we meet differently. I think this could be true, but why would we assume that makes it ok? always wondered that.


  6. 10-6-2010

    Eric, thanks for the clarification. May God bless you in your new endeavors.

  7. 10-6-2010


    I wonder why we do play the “culture” card with other parts of Scripture…


    I’m sorry that I didn’t make it more clear that I was quoting Barclay (who Eric also quoted).


    Perhaps. But, I’ve heard entire sermon series on new books before…


    Thanks for the clarification.


    That’s a good question. Perhaps we should ask if the communal aspect of the early church was necessary for it to be the church. If so, then we may have a problem today… a problem that should be corrected.


  8. 10-6-2010

    What about all of the studies done that discuss how early Christian liturgy was primarily an adoption and adaptation of the Jewish liturgy?

  9. 10-6-2010


    I’ve read very few (even Catholic) commentaries (if any) that point out a Christian liturgy in the early church meetings described in Scripture. I have read several commentaries that point out similarities between the synagogue meetings and the church meetings. Is this what you’re referring to?


  10. 10-6-2010


    One of the reasons, in my opinion, is that the majority of those claiming to be Christian, are content to travel “the journey to heaven” standing on the shoulders of men and women of the past (vicariously? maybe). Some I am well acquainted with regard it as sacrilege to disagree with some of the well known preachers/teachers of years long gone.

    We do this because our view of God’s attitude towards us is that of an angry, stern taskmaster, even though mouthing platitudes about His love. As a consequence we are not free to express ourselves according to Scripture,and to live as the beloved of the Father, because our traditions have shackled us to the men/women upon whose teaching and ideas our traditions have been developed. The traditions have become a god!

    This has been stamped on our hearts and minds, some for several generations, that to detour from these traditions is to cease to glorify God, and to bring His displeasure.

  11. 10-6-2010

    Pride, flesh, and money. These can be veeeeery deeply rooted and veeeery subtle. Satan knows how to twist and turn the truth in the church, in the seminary in soooo many ways so that men who are even “full time Bible students” don’t see the disconnect and claim only Godliness with great emotion.

    Men who know every jot and tittle of the Hebrew and decline every none in the Greek are still subject the the above 3 items in an institutionalized system. It’s a machine driven by a lot of money flowing into the offering plate and a large dose of comfort received by the givers. What a clever machine this is. We know God is able to work his pure holy power through this corrupt system some how because some are saved and some justice and mercy happens. How does God do it? Grace is amazing.

  12. 10-6-2010

    Maybe Barclay and the other commentary writers aren’t invested in the institution of “church” as much as the professional preachers are. Their income doesn’t depend on a church paying them a salary.

  13. 10-7-2010

    Aussie John,

    It is difficult to change, isn’t it?


    I think many of my decisions are based on pride, flesh, and money… and I’m not proud of that.


    That’s certainly possible.