Paul identifies the things believers in Corinth were failing to do properly. Human nature has always been inclined toward competition, and this extended to the disciples over which of them would be the greatest (Luke 22:24), but after the resurrection this was forgotten. Peter wrote of himself as simply being a “fellow elder” (1 Peter 5:1).

Paul spells out the order of responsibility plainly in 1 Corinthians 11: “I want you to understand that the head of every man is Christ, the head of a wife is her husband, and the head of Christ is God” (verse 3). Then Paul writes of outward appearances that symbolise this order of responsibility, “… a wife … let her cover her head” but “a man ought not to cover his head” (verses 6,7). This is “when you come together” (verse 18) to worship, but we must note verse 11 as this spells out another vital principle, “Nevertheless, in the Lord woman is not independent of man nor man of woman”.

Life in the Lord demands teamwork – “working together” (2 Corinthians 6:1; see also Ephesians 4:16) “for the glory of God” (Romans 15:7) as the disciples had learnt to do. Yet human nature keeps failing, and we ponder the point Paul makes in verse 19, “… there must be factions among you in order that those who are genuine among you may be recognised”.

The sequel that eventually rises from this is described by John in his first letter, “They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us. But they went out, that it might become plain that they all are not of us”. Paul describes the Lord’s last supper and how it should be kept – this is followed by a warning against doing so “in an unworthy manner” (verse 27). Those who do so will “be condemned along with the world” (verse 32) and the climax of that condemnation is getting close as we recognise how our world has become a latter-day Babylon. So let us try harder, as Paul says in his first verse to “be imitators of me (Paul) as I am of Christ”.