Lesson 38

Paul's First Letter to the Corinthians

World English Bible translation

 Today's Scripture

11:23 For I received from the Lord that which also I delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night in which he was betrayed took bread. 11:24 When he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, "Take, eat. This is my body, which is broken for you. Do this in memory of me." 11:25 In the same way he also took the cup, after supper, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink, in memory of me." 11:26 For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes. 11:27 Therefore whoever eats this bread or drinks the Lord's cup in a manner unworthy of the Lord will be guilty of the body and the blood of the Lord. 11:28 But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of the bread, and drink of the cup. 11:29 For he who eats and drinks in an unworthy manner eats and drinks judgment to himself, if he doesn't discern the Lord's body. 11:30 For this cause many among you are weak and sickly, and not a few sleep. 11:31 For if we discerned ourselves, we wouldn't be judged. 11:32 But when we are judged, we are punished by the Lord, that we may not be condemned with the world. 11:33 Therefore, my brothers, when you come together to eat, wait one for another. 11:34 But if anyone is hungry, let him eat at home, lest your coming together be for judgment. The rest I will set in order whenever I come.

Today's Lesson 

In the last lesson, Paul introduced a problem that had been brewing in the church at Corinth. When the assembly came together to share the Lord Supper each family brought a full meal and ate and drank in the same way that Jesus shared a full meal with His disciples on that faithful night. Only the Corinthians allowed the divisions that had been distracting them to even interfere with this most sacred of Christian rituals. Being divided, the Corinthians did not share their meals with one another. In fact, they did not even tend to eat at the same time. Some had plenty. Others had little. Some ate with reverence and propriety. Others got drunk. Paul's purpose in this passage is to correct these problems.


In order to instruct them, Paul reiterates to them what he has already delivered to them. He reminds them of his instructions about what Jesus did on the night of His betrayal. Jesus ate supper with the disciples in an upper room in Jerusalem on that night. The Lord Supper is not the full meal that He shared with them, though there is certainly nothing wrong with observing it in the midst of a meal. The Lord's Supper is a remembrance and commemoration. The Lord's Supper reminds us of the sacrifice of our Lord but it is also a celebration and a looking forward to what will come when the Lord returns.


Paul also reminds the Corinthians that the Supper is a covenant between believers and their God. God is making a promise to all mankind through the Supper and through the sacrifice of His Son. So Paul further instructs that they should eat the Supper in a manner that is worthy of the covenant and the sacrament that it represents. But what would be considered an unworthy manner?


First, we must eat of the Supper through faith in what Christ has done for us. Christianity is first and foremost founded on faith. But beyond that, in the context of Paul's message to the Corinthians, partaking of the Supper means partaking of our covenant with Christ -- AND with other Christians! Christ died for all of us. To disrespect and ignore other Christians as the Corinthians were doing even while partaking of the Lord's Supper is to disrespect our Lord and Savior and all that He has done for us. So Paul tells them to wait for one another and to share of their food as well as sharing of themselves whenever they take the Lord's Supper with one anther.


Paul tells the Corinthians to eat at home before they come together. The Lord's Supper is not for the nourishment of the body, but for the nourishment of the soul. There is nothing at all wrong with a congregation sharing a meal together. That is fellowship. It should not, however, be confused with the sacrament of the Lord's Supper.


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