1 Corinthians 11:17-34 NIV
Correcting an Abuse of the Lord’s Supper
17In the following directives I have no praise for you, for your meetings do more harm than good. 18In 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. 19No doubt there have to be differences among you to show which of you have God’s approval. 20So then, when you come together, it is not the Lord’s Supper you eat, 21for 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. 22Don’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!
23For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: The Lord Jesus, on the night He was betrayed, took bread, 24and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said,
“This is My Body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of Me.”
25In 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.”
26For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes.
27So 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. 28Everyone ought to examine themselves before they eat of the bread and drink from the cup. 29For 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.
31But if we were more discerning with regard to ourselves, we would not come under such judgment. 32Nevertheless, 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.
33So then, my brothers and sisters, when you gather to eat, you should all eat together. 34Anyone 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.
There is a careless and irregular eating of the Lord's Supper, which adds to guilt. Many rich Corinthians seem to have acted very wrong at the Lord's table, or at the love-feasts, which took place at the same time as the supper. The rich despised the poor, and ate and drank up the provisions they brought, before the poor were allowed to partake; thus some wanted, while others had more than enough. What should have been a bond of mutual love and affection was made an instrument of discord and division. We should be careful that nothing in our behavior at the Lord's Table appears to make light of that sacred institution.
The apostle describes the sacred ordinance, of which he had the knowledge by revelation from Christ. As to the visible signs, these are the bread and wine. What is eaten is called bread, though at the same time it is said to be the Body of the Lord, plainly showing that the apostle did not mean that the bread was changed into flesh.
Matthew tells us, our Lord bid them all drink of the cup, Mt 26:27, as if He would, by this expression, provide against any believer being deprived of the cup. The things signified by these outward signs, are Christ's Body and Blood, His Body broken, His Blood shed, together with all the benefits which flow from His death and sacrifice.
Our Savior's actions were, taking the bread and cup, giving thanks, breaking the bread, and giving both the one and the other. The actions of the communicants were, to take the bread and eat, to take the cup and drink, and to do both in remembrance of Christ. But the outward acts are not the whole, or the principal part, of what is to be done at this Holy Ordinance. Those who partake of it, are to take Him as their Lord and Life, yield themselves up to Him, and live upon Him.
It is to be done in remembrance of Christ, to keep fresh in our minds His dying for us, as well as to remember Christ pleading for us, in virtue of His death, at God's Right Hand. It is not merely in remembrance of Christ, of what He has done and suffered; but to celebrate His grace in our redemption. We declare His death to be our life, the spring of all our comforts and hopes. And we glory in such a declaration; we show forth His death, and plead it as our accepted sacrifice and ransom. The Lord's Supper is not an ordinance to be observed merely for a time, but to be continued. The apostle lays before the Corinthians the danger of receiving it with an unsuitable temper of mind.
No doubt such incur great guilt, and so render themselves liable to spiritual judgments. But fearful believers should not be discouraged from attending at this Holy Ordinance. The Holy Spirit never caused this scripture to be written to deter serious Christians from their duty. The apostle was addressing Christians, and warning them to beware of the temporal judgments with which God chastised His offending servants. And in the midst of judgment, God remembers mercy: He many times punishes those whom He loves. It is better to bear trouble in this world, than to be miserable for ever.
The apostle points out the duty of those who come to the Lord's Table. Self-examination is necessary to right attendance at this Holy Ordinance. If we would thoroughly search ourselves, to set right what we find wrong, we should stop Divine judgments. The apostle closes all with a caution against the irregularities of which the Corinthians were guilty at the Lord's Table.
Let’s examine ourselves first so that we do not come together to God's worship, so as to provoke Him, and bring down God’s correctional judgment on ourselves.