Congregational Shared Meal
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Slaves Still Serving 132

Wealthy Eat First

The first of two problems around the congregational shared meal resulted in that the wealthy would have eaten their food, and the latecomers would have brought little or none. Geoffrey Hugo Lampe, (1912-1980 AD) a British Biblical scholar, cites a similar challenge in the ancient Greek writer Xenophon (430-354 BC) from the late 5th and early centuries BC. The word "Xenophobia" comes from this root and means "the intense and irrational dislike or fear of people from other countries." Participants in the congregational shared meal brought their own meat, fish, and vegetables, but some brought a lot, others little, each keeping their own. Socrates thought this destroyed fellowship at the meal and therefore, he instructed the slaves either to redistribute food baskets to all, or to distribute the food itself, so that sufficient food was placed before everyone at the shared meal.✞

Poor are Last

Paul suggests something similar, probably with the slaves still serving. 1 Corinthians 11.33 shows that Paul wants the Corinthians to eat a shared meal. The term Paul uses for "dinner" never refers only to bread, but also to foods that were eaten with the bread. Therefore, the verse, "if anyone is hungry, let this one eat at home" must be interpreted in light of the previous verse "when you come together to eat, wait for one another." Paul is saying that if a wealthy person had visited the baths and was hungry, let him or her eat something at home before going to the shared meal.✞

"Congregational Shared Meal"
by Ron Meacock © 2017

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