For many years I wondered what Paul meant when he told the Corinthians that some of them were eating and drinking the Lord’s supper unworthily:

“Wherefore whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord” (1 Cor 11: 27).

I believe that I began to get the answer on Dec 10th, 2007 when the Lord began to teach me about this truth which is found in 1 Cor 11: 16-34. These were some of the truths that I began to see:

a. The context in which Paul spoke

In 1 Cor 11, Paul reminded the brethren about the importance of obeying ordinances or teachings which he had previously taught. Some of the brethren had responded to the instructions contentiously.  The first ordinance which he dealt with was that of the covering of the head for both women and men. The second was the Lord’s supper.

Paul listed several problems that existed regarding the observance of the Lord’s supper:

  • there was contention about the issue (v. 16)
  • the people were not being blessed as a result of taking the Lord’s supper (v.  17)
  • there were divisions among the brethren (v 18)
  • there were heresies among the brethren regarding the Lord’s supper. The word heresies is translated in the Greek as dissensions arising from diversity of opinions and aims  (blueletterbible.org). The presence of heresies among the brethren indicated that false doctrines had crept in regarding the Lord’s supper. Paul said that those who were approved were being made manifest among them. The presence of controversial teachings and/or contentions served to expose those who were tried and true to the faith. Therefore, ministers of the gospel must use contentions to discern those who are people of integrity in the body of Christ, rather than falling into despair.

b. The Corinthian church was  making a mockery of the Lord’s supper by their conduct 

His words in 1 Cor 11: 20 and 21 are rather sarcastic and reveals that he did not consider them to be observing the Lord’s supper. The brethren were DISORDERLY when they came to “eat the Lord’s supper”. In fact, the event had become a free for all. Some of them were in the habit of eating everything while others were left hungry. Some even became drunken with the wine. Their behavior showed disrespect for the house of the Lord:

When ye come together therefore into one place, this is not to eat the Lord’s supper.

For in eating every one taketh before other his own supper: and one is hungry, and another is drunken 

What? have ye not houses to eat and to drink in? or despise ye the church of God, and shame them that have not? What shall I say to you? shall I praise you in this? I praise you not.

c. The correct way to partake of the Lord’s supper

Jesus recounted to  Paul the manner in which He had conducted His last supper with the disciples.He did so by breaking the bread, giving thanks and sharing it with His disciples. This was symbolic of the breaking and sharing of His body to those who would believe. In fact, the communion reminds me of the multiplication of the bread and fish in the wilderness. These were multiplied after the Lord took the bread, blessed and brake it. His death was about to become a  miracle of multiplication of His body to sons and daughters. All those who partake would receive the blessings of healing etc. Similarly, the wine was shared with the disciples as a symbol of His blood for the cleansing of those who would believe.

Jesus’ body and blood are the New Testament or Covenant given for the salvation of the nations from sin, diseases, satan’s bondage etc. We eat and drink the bread and wine in remembrance of Him, the Lamb without spot and blemish.

d. Eating and drinking unworthily

Paul told the Corinthians that some of them were eating and drinking unworthily, and therefore were eating and drinking “damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body” (1 Cor 11: 29).

To eat and drink unworthily means the following:

  • eating and drinking without regarding the UNITY of the Lord’s body. As the head of the body, Jesus showed us that the pattern was for the leader to break and bless the bread and to share it to the members.  This leads to a sense of CONNECTION as we all eat and drink TOGETHER, waiting on each other.
  • The lack of unity revealed the deeper problem  of CONTENTION and DISSENSIONS among the brethren. Did some of them feel that they were better than others? The unity of the Lord’s body means that each member esteems others better than him/herself and gives way to the other.
  • The lack of unity revealed unbelief in the word of the Lord as it was delivered by Paul on the issue of the Lord’s supper. He had given  particular teachings for the conduct of the supper,  yet the believers disregarded the word of the Lord in favor of their own, man-made wisdom.
  • The believers were eating damnation to themselves because this important life giving event had become no more than a “jam session” or a riotous party for them. As a result, they were not claiming and even receiving the healing and other benefits that could have been derived. Many of them became sick and died as a result.

e. Guilty of the blood and body of the Lord?  See Judas

Paul said that the believers were guilty of the blood and body of the Lord because they were eating and drinking unworthily. Judas was one such example, because he partook in the Lord’s supper in the body but not in spirit. He was full of contention and envy of the Lord, seeking opportunities to betray Him (Lk 22: 6) and sat at the table mulling over the betrayal plan. In fact, satan stirred him up to betray the Lord the very night after the supper had ended (Jn 13: 2).  Judas was the catalyst for the arrest of the Lord and basically was one of His murderers.

Therefore, the  principle is that any  believer who gives him/herself over to satan for any purpose is guilty of crucifying the Lord.

Since we are speaking in the context of 1 Cor 11, we can extend this to say that anyone who does not love the brethren is guilty of not discerning or uniting with the Lord’s body, which is also His church. 

The Lord’s church is ORDERLY. Any form of disorderly conduct in the body is judged and purged out by the Lord (see  1 Cor 5). This is why Paul told the believers to judge themselves before partaking of the Lord’s supper. We must ensure that we are partaking in the right spirit of sincerity and truth rather than with a spirit of malice and wickedness after the manner of Judas(1 Cor 5: 8).

Blessings!

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