Sunday, 23 November 2014
Therefore whoever eats this bread or drinks this cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. 1 Corinthians 11:27
“Therefore” is given for a mental review of what Paul has already laid out concerning the Lord’s Supper –
1) The Lord Jesus shows that partaking in the bread is given as a symbolic remembrance of His broken body.
2) He shows that partaking in the cup is given as a symbolic remembrance of His shed blood.
3) In taking the elements, one is making a proclamation of the Lord’s death till He comes.
Thus “therefore” has been given to reflect on this. Understanding this then, “whoever eats this bread or drinks this cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord.” Some translations incorrectly say “whoever eats this bread and drinks this cup.” The conjunction is “or” not “and.” During the Lord’s Supper, partaking of either element demands the same respectful attitude when received.
Also, note that Paul uses the term “bread” not “flesh.” The continued use of the word bread, even at the point of consumption by an individual, shows that it was, is, and remains bread. It does not somehow transmute into the actual body of the Lord, even when received. The same is true with the cup. It does not become the Lord’s literal blood. Were it so, Paul would have said so in this verse as an indication of it. This is of the highest importance to understand and remember because the Christian is not re-enacting a bloody sacrifice. Instead, he is remembering one, once for all time.
Next, the words “unworthy manner” are appropriate. The word in Greek is anaxios which is an adverb; unworthily. Those who don’t partake of the Lord’s Supper because they have done something wrong which makes them believe they are unworthy have misunderstood what is being conveyed and should be corrected. All people, even those who seem the epitome of piety and self-control, are inherently unworthy of this honor. Were “worthiness” a consideration in partaking of the Lord’s Supper, there would be no Lord’s Supper.
Rather, it is those who flippantly receive the elements, or who treat them in an unholy manner, who are being spoken of. The sacredness of the ritual, not the state of the individual, is what is being spoken of here. To come with arrogance, to mock the ritual, or to conduct oneself in an impious manner are reasons for guilt. And the guilt bears a penalty. The term for ” guilty” is enochos. It essentially means “libel to penalty.” They have committed a personal crime deserving of punishment.
Life application: The Lord’s Table is a solemn remembrance of the death of Jesus Christ. It should be conducted with a sense of dignity and in a most pious manner. Likewise, it should be received with gratitude, a holy demeanor, and in a way which honors the greatest deed which has ever occurred in human existence.
Lord God, when I come before You in solemn occasions or when I’m in a place dedicated to You, I try to do so with respect, care, and honor of You. But do I do this during the rest of my time? I am always in Your presence, and Your Spirit has sealed me for the day of redemption. I know this is true and so shouldn’t I always act in a manner which reflects holiness? Help me in this Lord. May I never bring discredit upon You my Lord. Amen.