WEEK 4 – THE POWER TO LOVE OTHERS
1 CORINTHIANS 11:17-34
17 In the following directives I have no praise for you, for your meetings do more harm than good. 18 In the first place, I hear that when you come together as a church, there are divisions among you, and to some extent I believe it. 19 No doubt there have to be differences among you to show which of you have God’s approval. 20 So then, when you come together, it is not the Lord’s Supper you eat, 21 for when you are eating, some of you go ahead with your own private suppers. As a result, one person remains hungry and another gets drunk. 22 Don’t you have homes to eat and drink in? Or do you despise the church of God by humiliating those who have nothing? What shall I say to you? Shall I praise you? Certainly not in this matter!
23 For I received f rom the Lord what I also passed on to you: The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, 24 and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.” 25 In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.” 26 For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes. 27 So then, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord. 28 Everyone ought to examine themselves before they eat of the bread and drink f rom the cup. 29 For those who eat and drink without discerning the body of Christ eat and drink judgment on themselves.30 That is why many among you are weak and sick, and a number of you have fallen asleep. 31 But if we were more discerning with regard to ourselves, we would not come under such judgment. 32 Nevertheless, when we are judged in this way by the Lord, we are being disciplined so that we will not be finally condemned with the world. 33 So then, my brothers and sisters, when you gather to eat, you should all eat together. 34 Anyone who is hungry should eat something at home, so that when you meet together it may not result in judgment.
And when I come I will give further directions.
The way the Corinthians are going about participating in the Lord’s Supper has drawn Paul’s ire. They are guilty of drinking the bread and the cup in an unworthy manner. This is a serious infraction, and has caused them to “eat and drink judgment on themselves.” Paul informs the church in Corinth that this offense is actually the reason many of them are weak and sick, and others have died.
What is the sin behind the inappropriate way the Corinthians are participating in the Lord’s Supper? Along with the sexual immorality and idolatry that Paul has been addressing already, an even more fundamental problem is that the Corinthians are self-centered and individualistic. Instead of considering the needs of other people in their approach to worship and the Lord’s Supper, they are going about things in a“private” and divisive way (vv. 18, 21), instead of as a unified community.
The church is the body of Christ (as Paul spells out in much detail in Chapter 12, which we will read tomorrow). Partaking of the bread and the cup is a spiritual act intended to help us experience communion with both God and one another. However, many of the Corinthians made it their practice to “eat and drink without discerning the body of Christ.”
Their individualism and lack of investing in the community was a very serious issue, and called for sorrow, confession of sin and repentance. Then God’s discipline would achieve its desired result. The believers would experience forgiveness, grace and transformation - and become the kind of community God intended them to be.
What do you think about the seriousness with which God viewed the unworthy way many of the Corinthians were approaching the Lord’s Supper?
Is it surprising to you that the main issue was how the Corinthians failed to understand the importance of the church body, and were not honoring others in a loving, unified way?
How will this change the way you participate in Communion?