"What cannot fail to strike us in this picture [I Cor.14] is the untrammeled
liberty of the worship . . . . When we consider the rebukes that the apostle considered it
necessary to administer, it is also somewhat surprising to find so few injunctions which
take the form of definite rules for public worship, and to observe the confidence which
the apostle had that if certain broad principles were laid down and observed, the
community was of itself able to conduct all things with that attention to decency and
order which ensured edification . . . .
[1 Cor.14] may be taken as a type of the Christian meeting throughout the Gentile
Christian churches; for the apostle, in his suggestions and criticisms, continually speaks
of what took place throughout all the churches.
It is to be observed that if the apostle finds fault with some things, he gives the
order of the service and expressly approves of every part of it, even the strange
ejaculatory prayers. He gives his Corinthian converts one broad principle. Everything is
to be done for the edification of the brethren, and the first qualification for
edification is that all things be done "decently and in order," for God is not a
God of confusion but of peace.
With the [meeting for thanksgiving] we have only to remove the blemishes which the
apostle found, and the vision of the meeting as he approved it stands clearly before us
[in I Cor. II]. . .
The whole membership of the Church at Corinth met together at one place on a fixed day,
the Lord's day, for their Thanksgiving Meeting. The meeting was confined to the
membership; even catechumens, as well as inquirers and unbelievers, were excluded. The
partakers brought provisions, according to their ability. Some of the brethren, who
belonged to that honored number who were recognized to have the prophetic gift, presided.
The food brought was handed over to them, and they distributed so that the superfluity of
the rich made up for the lack of the poor. They also conducted the devotional services at
the feast and at the Holy Supper which followed. . . During the feast the brethren were
taught to regard themselves as in God's presence and His guests; but this did not hinder a
prevailing sense of gladness, nor prevent them satisfying their hunger and their thirst;
God the Creator had placed the food and drink before them for that purpose . . . During
the feast hymns were sung at intervals, and probably short exhortations were given by the
prophets. Then when all was decently finished the Holy Communion was solemnly celebrated
as commanded by the apostle. . . .
The apostle shows that this meeting for thanksgiving is to be a social meal
representing the fellowship which subsists between all the members of the brotherhood,
because they each have a personal fellowship with their Lord. . .
Excerpts from Thomas M. Lindsay, The Church and the Ministry in the Early
Centuries (first published in the late 1800's), reprinted by James Family
Publishing, Minneapolis, 1977, 398 pages.