What does it mean to take communion in an unworthy manner? How are we to examine ourselves before participating? In this podcast, we look at what Paul found wrong with the way the Corinthians were handling the Lord’s Supper and what he wants them to do instead.
In this section of the letter, Paul is responding to questions the Corinthians have asked him. In 1Corinthians 11, he begins addressing issues concerning their public gatherings.
The Corinthian church was having a community meal and celebrating communion. But rather than celebrating as a community, the church was dividing along class and economic lines. Paul finds their actions particularly inappropriate because of what they are gathered together to do.
The Lord’s Supper reminds us that Jesus Christ died to bring about these blessings for us:
- God’s judgment is coming but His people will be spared because of the blood of the Jesus Christ.
- God forgives and delivers His people from slavery to sin, death and futility through Jesus.
- Through Jesus, God inaugurated a new covenant.
We are to remember Jesus death and what his death did for us through the teachings in and the symbols of this ceremonial meal.
- The Lord’s Supper includes the specific teaching about what God has done through Christ.
- The Lord’s Supper has symbolic elements to remind us about what God done through Christ.
- The Lord’s Supper is an event we do together as the people of God because of what Christ has done for us.
11:27Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty concerning the body and blood of the Lord. 28Let a person examine himself, then, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. 29For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment on himself. – 1Corinthians 11:27-29
- The Greek word translated “unworthy” (Strong’s G371) has the idea of unfitting or inappropriate.
- The rich Corinthians see themselves as privileged and more important than their poor brethren in this meal that celebrates how unworthy everyone is before God.
- The rich Corinthians see this meal — that celebrates that Christ has bought us an inheritance in something much more valuable than material things in this life — as an opportunity to feast while their poor brothers and sisters go hungry.
- The rich Corinthians have separated themselves and ignored the needs of their poorer brothers and sisters in a ceremony that celebrates how we have been united as the people of God through what Christ did for us.
- 11:27 “guilty of the body and the blood” – Your actions show your disdain for Christ’s sacrifice. You ought to understand what his sacrifice means, but you aren’t judging it rightly.
- 11:29 You “drink judgment on yourself” – ff the way you participate shows you don’t really have faith and could care less about the cross of Christ because your actions actions indicate that you will receive judgment.
- 11:28: Examine yourself: What do you truly believe? Do you really understand why Jesus died?
- The answer to examine yourself is a simple one. Do you see yourself as a sinner destined for judgment before God and understand that the cross of Christ is your only hope? If so, you are participating appropriately.
11:30That is why many of you are weak and ill, and some have died. 31But if we judged ourselves truly, we would not be judged. 32But when we are judged by the Lord, we are disciplined so that we may not be condemned along with the world. 33So then, my brothers, when you come together to eat, wait for one another— 34if anyone is hungry, let him eat at home—so that when you come together it will not be for judgment. About the other things I will give directions when I come. – 1Corinthians 11:30-34
- Paul is not saying all physical sickness results from sin.
- See John 9:1-3 among other passages.
- Option 1: Paul means physically sick. Paul knows (somehow) that a particular epidemic hitting Corinth is sent by God to wake them up so that they repent.
- Option 2: Paul means metaphorically sick (weak in the faith). Paraphrase: Many of you are spiritually weak and immature, and some of you are spiritually asleep. If you were awake, you would understand the truth and act accordingly. However, if you assess yourselves correctly (that is wake up and realize that you are sinners in need of a savior), then you are not condemned.
For more detail and explanation, please listen to the podcast.