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Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Drunken: What Does It Mean in 1 Corinthians 11:21

1 Corinthians 11:21 KJV
21 For in eating every one taketh before other his own supper: and one is hungry, and another is drunken.

Let me make it clear that I am not attempting to argue for unfermented juice for communion by this post. Whatever "drunken" implies in this text it would not be conclusive proof for what is in the communion cup. It is obvious that there was an abuse of what God had intended (1 Corinthians 11:20). One should not attempt to prove his position from such a text.

Fermented wine MAY be what is taught by scripture for communion, but this would not be a text to prove it. Let me also say that even if "drunken" does not imply "intoxication" in this text, this does not prove that unfermented juice should be used in communion. What is in the cup is not what this text has in mind.

The reason that I am addressing this text is because it is often used by fermented juice advocates as a proof text for fermented juice in communion. I think that it is clear that the use of "drunken" in this context is referring to "full," and not to "intoxication." Let me first point out that "drunkenness" in scripture can be a result of eating.

Ecclesiastes 10:17 KJV
17 Blessed art thou, O land, when thy king is the son of nobles, and thy princes eat in due season, for strength, and not for drunkenness!

If "drunken" or "drunkenness" exclusively implies intoxication then one must ask, "How can intoxication result from EATING?" The only way that I can see this text making sense is that drunkenness must imply fullness, and not intoxication. Contextually that same principle applies to 1 Corinthians 11:21. Paul sets "drunken" in contrast to "hungry."

"One would be hungry, and another drunken. This last clause means that he had eaten and was satisfied." -The Peoples New Testament

This reflects the spirit of the context; one has plenty and the other has none. I don't think that point is: one does not have anything to eat, and the other is intoxicated. That would be comparing apples and oranges. To me the clear contrast is between emptiness and fullness.

As always, please feel free to comment.

4 comments:

  1. Excellently written. Very Well Said

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  2. Actually, you are comparing apples and oranges when you compare Greek and Hebrew

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  3. Every time the word "methuo" is used in the NT, it ALWAYS refers to drinking.

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    1. I am just now seeing these comments. Thank you for taking the time to respond.

      These kinds of comments are easy to throw out. But lexical definitions are not all one must take into consideration when exegeting a text. Context has a role to play in how we understand definitions. I think based on the context that my position is the most cogent. Especially when one considers a systematic approach to the topic.

      Why is it apples and oranges to compare Greek and Hebrew? How the Greek translates a particular Hebrew word, and vice versa, is very important to understanding biblical topics.

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