Not Without the “Have-Nots”: Overcoming Economic Divisions at the Lord’s Supper

Using a narrative-critical and socio-historical approach, this paper suggests that Paul reiterates that the Corinthian believers need to celebrate the kyriakon deipnon (1 Cor 11:17-34) without neglecting those characterized as hoi me echontes (“have-nots”) among them. First, I will argue that in Corinth, the economic division and its negative effects (vv. 17-22) turned the kyriakon deipnon into an idion deipnon, to the detriment of hoi me echontes. I propose that they are those who are described as hungering at the common meal (both in v. 22 and v. 34a). Moreover, due to the effects of hunger connected with their economic situation, they are also those who are more predisposed to weakness, illness and death (v. 30). Hence, according to this reading, Paul’s attempts to correct the Corinthian situation are intended to restore unity in the community that consequently favors the marginalized “have-nots”. I will argue that this point is evident in the practical changes that Paul calls for concerning the common meal, particularly in the overcoming of the economic divisions at the Lord’s Supper: allelous ekdecheste (v. 33) is especially geared to welcome the hungry adelphoi, oi hoi me echontes, en oiko, i.e., in the house, the ekklesia space, so that the Corinthian gathering to eat together the kyriakon deipnon may not bring them judgment (v. 34).