Recognizing The Body and the Lord’s Supper

Paul taught on many occasions that there is only one body of Christ and that Christians make up that body. Here are a few places Paul teaches on that,

“Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, 5 so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.” – Romans 12:4-5

“Is not the cup of thanksgiving for which we give thanks a participation in the blood of Christ? And is not the bread that we break a participation in the body of Christ? 17 Because there is one loaf, we, who are many, are one body, for we all partake of the one loaf. ” – 1 Cor 10:16-17

12 The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body. So it is with Christ. 13 For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink.  14 Now the body is not made up of one part but of many.” – 1 Cor 12:12-4

and he goes on to say…

“Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.” – 1 Cor 12:27

So what is Paul talking about in 1 Corinthians 11:28-29 when he wrote,

28 A man ought to examine himself before he eats of the bread and drinks of the cup. 29 For anyone who eats and drinks without recognizing the body of the Lord eats and drinks judgment on himself.”?

Paul gives us a clue about what we will be judged over. He says that if we are hungry we should eat at home so we won’t be judged. What in the world does that mean? In 11:17 Paul tells them that when they take the supper it is doing more harm than good. First he says because there are divisions among them (11:18) which missed the point that they were one unified body. Next he says that really they aren’t even taking the supper because of the way they are doing it. You might expect him to say that is because they aren’t picturing Jesus on the cross (discerning/recognizing the body). That is not what he says. He says people are being greedy and selfish and gluttonous. Some are getting full and drunk while others have nothing. He says the poor are being humiliated (probably as they make them go last and the rich go first). All this during the Lord’s Supper! Ouch.

Next, Paul writes those famous words about how Christ began the supper and the manner in which we are to take it (11:23-26). But if we take it unworthily we are guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord (11:27). Paul just told us that their quarrels and divisions and mistreatment of each other was wrong and even resulted in their Lord’s Supper not even being considered the Supper at all but more like an “un-love feast” of sorts. This unworthy manner is addressed directly to the messed up way they had been taking the supper as described in 11:17-22. Remember, these letters and teachings are occasional. Paul tells us the whole reason he is reminding the Corinthians of what the Lord’s Supper is all about is because they have missed the point due to how they are treating each other.

What does it mean to “recognize the body?”:
I believe his point is that if these Corinthian Christians examined their actions during the supper there is no way they would run over each other in the manner that they had been doing. Paul says judgment comes on those who fail to recognize the body. Did he all of a sudden turn from his condemnation of their “un-love feast” and make a disconnected aside about the Lord’s Supper? If you say not recognizing the body of the Lord is solely about picturing Christ on the cross that is basically what you would have to say Paul did here. I don’t think so. I also think that is why in the very next chapter he devotes a huge amount of space to Christians being the body of Christ and in 12:27 even says, “You are the body of Christ.” Jesus certainly wants us to remember him in the Supper. He told us to do that. But if we are at odds and divided from each other during the Supper Paul clearly teaches that not only do we nullify the whole point of the supper but we bring judgment upon ourselves. What is more we are the body of Christ…not a separate body. When we treat each other with love and respect we are treating Christ that way (Mtt 25:40). So there is still one body and Jesus Christ is the head of that body (Eph 5:23). The body of Christ and the church cannot really be separated. So the Supper has a horizontal component and a vertical component.

How did we individualize the Supper and focus almost entirely on the vertical component? The way we do things often results in meaning being developed over time. Because we often take the Supper in a room full of hundreds of people it is necessary that we pass trays, sit in rows, etc in order to take communion. This does not lend itself to communion as the first century church understood it being a communal meal shared together. That is not a condemnation of how we do things it just recognizes that it has limitations. The result of that has been an individualized act that can miss the point that the Supper is done in communion with each other and with our Lord.

Recognizing both components in a room full of hundreds of people:
One thing I do on Sunday is I pray to God. I give him thanks. I express my joy over God’s grace and appreciation for Jesus’ sacrifice on my behalf. But I don’t leave it at that. Often I will pray for those around me. I will look around the room and find people who I know are going through a tough time and I will ask God to bless them, encourage them, and strengthen them. In doing so I am trying to recognize as fully as possible, “The body of the Lord.” Now on Summer Sunday nights our congregation is taking the supper together around tables to try to incorporate this point.

Have any of you tried to recognize the horizontal nature of the supper? How so?

About mattdabbs
I am a minister, husband, and father. My wife and I live and minister in Saint Petersburg, Florida. My primary ministry responsibilities include: small groups, 20s and 30s, involvement, and adult education.

45 Responses to Recognizing The Body and the Lord’s Supper

  1. JamesBrett says:

    obviously it’s easier to recognize the body in smaller gatherings, so this comment may be of no use to anyone… but in a few of the house churches i helped begin in china, we would eat communion together as we shared about our lives and prayed for one another. those times were really meaningful to me.

  2. Tim Archer says:

    Matt,

    I’m fully convinced that “body” here refers to body of believers. Verse 31 restates verse 29 in positive form (same verb in Greek; not sure why NIV changed from verse to verse).
    Verse 29 If we don’t recognize the body we will be judged.
    Verse 31 If we recognize (judge) ourselves, we won’t be judged.

    I think you’re right on track in saying that we somehow made the Supper vertical only and lost the horizontal part. I’ve tried to recapture that. One thing that we do at times with our bilingual group (50-60 people) is have everyone come forward to receive the bread and cup. They are encouraged to greet and talk with one another while coming forward. I find those times to be very special.

    I sometimes look around at people during the Supper, but try to be discrete since it seems to distract some people.

    Grace and peace,
    Tim Archer

  3. Royce says:

    Matt,

    It is always sinful and wrong for Christians to behave as these Corinthian believers did. And, they were rebuked for being so selfish and fleshly. I don’t believe however that the warning in 11:27 and following is about the believers who are the Lord’s body but rather the warning is about the physical body and blood of Jesus.

    Paul says in verse 23 and following, after Jesus gave thanks before the meal he broke the bread and said “This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.” The bread represented his body given for us and we break the bread and eat it for one reason, to remember Him. After the meal Jesus took the cup and said of it “This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me”. Then Paul sums it all up by saying “For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.

    Eating the bread and drinking the cup is about the Lord’s physical body and blood and we do it for a single purpose, to remember Him. By doing it we are proclaiming the good news until He comes. So, it naturally follows in context that the warning is to eat the bread and drink the cup with anything other than the Lord’s body and blood, his once for all sacrifice, on our minds. If we are focused on how much we are going to eat, if we eat first, or any other selfish reason we are in danger. I really don’t think the text allows that failure to consider each other is the danger when the sole purpose of the memorial is to remember the Lord’s physical body and blood.

    We ought to always be considerate of each other and treasure every believer Jesus reconciled to himself but when we share the Lord’s Supper we ought to focus on Him alone in my view.

    Respectfully,
    Royce

    • mattdabbs says:

      Royce,

      Can you help me sort out two of your last sentences? They seem to stand in opposition to each other,

      “If we are focused on how much we are going to eat, if we eat first, or any other selfish reason we are in danger. I really don’t think the text allows that failure to consider each other is the danger when the sole purpose of the memorial is to remember the Lord’s physical body and blood.”

      Your first sentence seems to say that if we are inconsiderate with each other and selfish that we are in danger and then the second sentence says that being in danger is not connected with our consideration of each other. I guess I am confused as to how you can fit those two sentences together and both of them be true.

    • wjcsydney says:

      Royce, the the LS is a meal, a meal where people share and celebrate. Why did Jesus choose to initiate a remembrance of him in a meal (and meals in ANE culture were much more communal than ours are) if not to emphasise the importance of a community of believers? Have we allowed western individualism to move us away from what the LS should be?

    • Tim Archer says:

      Royce,

      Nowhere does Paul say that the sole purpose of the Lord’s Supper is to remember Christ. If he had, your interpretation might fit. But context doesn’t allow that.

      Look at what the problem was in 1 Corinthians 11. They weren’t waiting on one another. That’s said at the beginning of this section. It’s said at the end. And Paul states his conclusion in verse 33: “So then, my brothers, when you come together to eat, wait for each other.” It’s not “remember the crucifixion.” It’s not “think about Jesus.” It’s “wait for one another.”

      The parallel structures between verse 29 and 31 leave no room for your interpretation. Plus look at the end of chapter 10, where Paul talks about how taking the Lord’s Supper makes us one body. Look at chapter 12, where Paul talks about the body. Chapter 11 is talking about “diakrineo” the body of Christ, which is the church.

      Grace and peace,
      Tim Archer

  4. Royce says:

    My point is that focusing on anything other than the Lord’s body that was given for us is dangerous.

    Think about it this way. Paul gets very serious. “Many of you are weak and sick and some have even died”.

    During a memorial where the purpose is to remember the Lord what seems most likely? Were Christians judged so severely because they were not thinking about each other? Or, were they thus judged because they failed to focus on the Lord?

    When I take that cracker in my hand I am told by the Lord himself to remember his body, his dying for sinners. And when I take the cup I am told by the Lord to remember Him. But now I will be judged harshly and maybe killed because I didn’t focus on someone else?

    Yes, we are in “union” (commUNION), we are to treat one another with respect and love and be sacrificial and submissive to each other. But, the Lord’s Supper is all about Jesus, His body, His blood, to remember Him ’til He comes again.

    • mattdabbs says:

      It all comes down to how Paul defines the body of Christ. If he is talking about the whole body of Christ (Christ as head and his people as the body) then it makes total sense for him to say to be cognizant of each other. My point is that the two are completely interconnected.

      As to your question, “Were Christians judged so severely because they were not thinking about each other? Or, were they thus judged because they failed to focus on the Lord? ” Let’s allow Paul to answer that from this passage…

      “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! ”

      Paul is directly condemning them and judging them because they were not thinking of each other. Those are Paul’s words not mine. And he concludes, “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. ”

      Again, Paul is judging and condemning them based on their actions toward each other not because they failed to think of Jesus’ body on the cross. Those two judgments perfectly bookend Paul’s reminder on what the supper is about. Coincidence? Context?

      We only have half of the body when 100% of our emphasis in on Christ and 0% is on each other. Remember Paul said that even though they were going through the motions of taking the supper in Paul’s eyes they weren’t even taking it because they were abusing each other. There are a ton of people in the church who think it is entirely fine to have division, disputes, and discord in the church but still take the Supper together without thinking twice. That is wrong. Why do they feel like that? It is because they have a solely vertical view of the Supper and that ignores what Paul is teaching here. Which is worse to cut in line or to hate your brother? Some today hate their brother and still take the Supper with them because all they have to do is remember Jesus and everything is cool. Not so.

      Read 1 Cor 10-12 if you haven’t in a while and see how Paul uses the word “body”. As you know we have to let Paul define the terms in order to rightly understand what he is talking about. Would you still say there is no chance he means other Christians in the mix as well? It seems to me it is all over the place and then to pull out this one verse and say that is not even a possibility is problematic.

      Last, I am still not sure how to put those two sentences together in your previous post. If you can help me see how both of those statements are true I would be appreciative. It seems to me, could be wrong, that in the first comment you said it both ways. So you are saying you were mistaken when you wrote, “If we are focused on how much we are going to eat, if we eat first, or any other selfish reason we are in danger.”?

      I appreciate your points and the way you make them. I have so much respect for you I am doing my best to listen and learn, agree where I agree and disagree in love and with a ton of respect. I love when someone helps me see things in new and better ways so I am very open to listening here and learn from you brother. Thank you for the conversation. It is helpful to me as these things are very, very important.

    • mattdabbs says:

      The more I think about what you have said here and re-read my original post I do want to clarify something. I think that remembering Jesus Christ and his sacrifice is first and foremost. I think that what Paul was saying here was similar to what John taught in 1 John connecting our view of God and our view of others,

      “9 Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates a brother or sister[b] is still in the darkness. 10 Anyone who loves their brother and sister[c] lives in the light, and there is nothing in them to make them stumble. 11 But anyone who hates a brother or sister is in the darkness and walks around in the darkness. They do not know where they are going, because the darkness has blinded them.” – 1 John 2:9-11

      “16 This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. 17 If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? 18 Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.” – 1 John 3:16-18

      “20 Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. 21 And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister. ” – 1 John 4:20-21

      There are many more verses like this but the point is the vertical and the horizontal are connected. It is impossible to be a hate-filled person and have a healthy love of God. It is impossible to have enmity with your brothers and sisters and be in right relationship with God. So yes we are to remember Christ and his sacrifice but we show that we cannot even do that right if we are treating each other with disrespect and disunity in the very moment we say we are communing with our Lord. To me the vertical and horizontal just cannot be separated or isolated. John, Peter and Jesus all connected them. Just a little food for thought on why I have arrived at this conclusion. Thanks for your patience.

  5. Royce says:

    Matt,

    I think one problem we must first recognize is that what Paul is addressing and correcting is far different than just the Lord’s Supper. We tend to think of the Lord’s Supper in terms of our custom of a few comments, a prayer, eating a bit of a cracker, more comments, a prayer, and drinking a bit of grape juice. Now certainly, how we conduct ourselves is important during that time. But Paul didn’t have that in mind.

    Communion in our church might take as long as 15 minutes and we’re done. In Corinth, and in Jerusalem when Jesus said the words Paul quoted, I submit that Paul was not addressing communion in verses 17-22. He was addressing behavior when they came “together as a church” and their factions and divisions. They were not eating the Lord’s Supper, they were going ahead and eating for themselves, some even getting drunk, and did not care about the others, eating quickly and likely too much, and leaving none for the poor..

    We don’t know how long a meal lasted but I can imagine that there was lots of talking and visiting and it was not likely a 15 or 20 minute occasion. It could have well lasted an hour or much longer. It was in fact a Passover meal that Jesus ate with the 12 on the night he was betrayed. Sometime during the meal Jesus took the bread, broke it and said, “This is my body…”. At the end of the meal he took the cup and instructed that it “is the blood of the New Covenant” and that it is to be done to remember Him until he comes.

    Not the whole meal but only breaking and eating the bread and drinking the cup is the memorial to the body and blood of Jesus. The sins of greed, selfishness, not caring for the poor among them, and drinking far too much happened during the meal, not while eating the bread and drinking the cup while remembering the Lord.

    The word “body” appears 3 times in the passage in question. It is indisputable that the first two times it is the Lord’s physical body that is meant. 1. “This is my body which is for you” vs 24. 2. “… will be guilty concerning the body and blood of the Lord” vs 27. I have no reason to think the other mention did not also mean the physical body of the Lord. It says simply, “For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment on himself”. It is a stretch to think in the same few sentences Paul would mention the words of Jesus “my body” (his physical body) and “the body (physical body) and blood of the Lord” and then switch to a different meaning when he says “without discerning the body..”

    The Lord’s Supper is akin to baptism in that both are object lessons that teach the gospel. In both cases we are proclaiming the Lord’s death until he comes. We must never forget that it was a physical body that was beaten, and spat upon, and finally crucified. And it was a real body fit for both earth and heaven that was raised from the dead.

    Please understand that my purpose is not to argue. It is to encourage that when we come together to remember the Lord’s death, that for those maybe too brief moments, we give all of our attention to Him, remembering his suffering and shed blood for sinners like us. And of course, at a meal, in the market place, or in a worship assembly we should treat one another with respect and unconditional love. If we don’t love our brothers and sisters we don’t love God. I am not against thinking of other believers. I am just making the point that the Lord’s Supper is about the Lord of the Supper.

    With respect,
    Royce

    • mattdabbs says:

      Do you think that the Lord’s Supper was an extension of a fuller meal? Are you saying that when Paul wrote “it is not the Lord’s Supper that you eat” he was just pointing out the obvious…of course we know it is just dinner and we do the Lord’s Supper another time? It sounds like Paul is saying you think you are taking the Lord’s supper (as an extension of the larger meal you are referring to) but because of the way they are taking it it really isn’t the Lord’s Supper at all. To say he isn’t talking about the Lord’s Supper in those verses is like saying I walk up to you at breakfast and say, “You aren’t eating dinner at all!” of course…this is breakfast, silly. Does that make sense?

  6. Jerry Starling says:

    Matt,
    I appreciate you, brother! The very word communion means fellowship. You referenced 1 John in your latest response to Royce. in 1 John 1:3, he indicated that our fellowship with God, Jesus, and each other is intertwined.

    We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son, Jesus Christ.,/blockquote>
    Jesus said much the same in his prayer in John 17:20-23.

    My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.

    I, like you, have a great respect for Royce. But on this matter, his approach does not appreciate the depth of the unity that is in Jesus. Nor did the Corinthians. Nor do most of us. That unity is based in His love exhibited at Calvary – but also exhibited in every breath He breathed while on this broken earth. His words were, “Do this in remembrance of me.” He did not say “Do this in remembrance of my death.”

    Is his death part of what we remember? Of course it is! In 1 Corinthians 2:2, Paul had already said:

    For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.

    Crucified here is perfect tense. That means Paul determined to know nothing except Jesus crucified – with all of the results that flow from it. It is much more than the event of his crucifixion; it includes the body of Christ, which results from that death.

    Remembering Jesus means remembering His life, His death, His resurrection, His ascension to glory, His sending of the Holy Spirit, His building of His church, His promise to be with us always, and His promise to come again that where He is we may be also.

    We impoverish the body of Christ (the church) when we do not draw on the richness of all that God does for us in Jesus in this feast of memory.

    Maybe this impoverishment of soul is what makes so many of our fellowship resist a COMMUNion with COMMUNal activity, such as singing His praises or sitting around a table in fellowship as we talk about Him and what He means to us.

    Context! Context! Context! 1 Corinthians 11:29 has a context. In that context, the body of Christ and the church are the same. Even in eating the bread, which is his body, we are told that “because there is one bread, we who are many are one body” (1 Cor. 10:17).

    Matt, you are right on target in this post! God bless you, brother.

    With love,

    Jerry

    • Royce says:

      One claim I have never made is infallibility. I reserve the right to be wrong, and in the spirit of Christian charity i reserve that right for all the rest of you too.🙂

      I appreciate family disagreements minus name calling and being ugly.

      Royce

  7. Gina Morrison says:

    Here’s another way the “post modern ” reformation practices communion – I wonder what other great ideas you people might think about?

    Great Communion in Greater Pittsburgh
    Posted by Administrator on 1/14/09 • Categorized as From the Editors,Mark A. Taylor

    (No Ratings Yet)

    Christians across the country are planning community observances of the 200th anniversary of the Declaration and Address October 4. They will include unity Lord’s Supper services under the banner of “Great Communion,” the nationwide promotion of the anniversary.

    One of the most significant celebrations may happen in Pittsburgh.

    “When we first started our planning, we contracted with a local high school,” said Ed Gratton, one of the ministers at Norwin Christian Church in the Pittsburgh suburb of North Huntingdon. The school auditorium seats 1,000, “but from the response to our idea, we decided we’d better look for something bigger,” he added.

    The Pittsburgh celebration will be at Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Hall on Fifth Avenue in the center of the city. “It holds about 2,500 people,” Gratton said. “From everything we’ve seen so far, we’re pretty excited about maxing out the place.”

    The 5:00 p.m. program is billed as “an introduction to the Restoration Movement for some, a reacquaintance with the Restoration Movement for others, and a celebration of our Restoration Movement for all.” Gratton said attendees will come from a 75-mile radius of the city, including members of congregations within all three “streams” of the Restoration Movement.

    The program will include Marshall Leggett portraying Thomas Campbell, explaining his purposes for writing the Declaration and Address. Victor Knowles will give an overview of what’s happening today in the Restoration Movement. Bob Russell will speak on “Recognizing Our Independence: Realizing Our Interdependence.” And Marvin Phillips will round out the program with a challenge to share the message of our movement with others.

    The program will be highlighted by a celebration of the Lord’s Supper, led by leaders from area churches.

    Gratton said the budget for the event is still being written, but the Norwin congregation has led the way by paying for the rental of Memorial Hall.

    Congratulations to Gratton and Terry Erwin, ministers at Norwin Christian, for spearheading this celebration. We’re eager to tell the news of other Great Communion events October 4.

    As we explained in our October 5, 2008, issue, the Great Communion idea is simple: Gather as many from the Restoration heritage as possible for a combined Communion service in your area to celebrate the Lord’s sacrifice, remember the creation of the Declaration and Address, and proclaim the vision of unity that is the catalyst for the Restoration Movement.

    Find ideas for planning, promoting, and conducting the celebration in your community at http://www.greatcommunion.org. Then be sure to send a note to CHRISTIAN STANDARD so we can share the details of your Great Communion observance.

    When I saw this, Matt, I definitely responded.

    I’m wondering if you restoration people have actually read all the writings of Cambell and Stone? If you did, you might be amazed at how they didn’t restore anything; they just came together and decided a few things uon which they agreed and WOW – the restoration movement. Reminds me of the emergents but not as popular. Did you know that the Mormon Church was created due to “one more split” in the Restoration Movement. Now what? a new unity between the Christian Church and the Disciples of Christ or some other off spring? I note alot of Church of Christ people are now into social justice, you know the sojourners and the people who want to tax the rich and endorce abortion and other pagan concepts?

    • Royce says:

      Infallible.

      Just so I am clear , it is your position Matt, Tim, and Jerry that the danger associated with sickness and even death is that folks have not discerned the church properly as they eat the bread and drink the cup?

      If so then, as I participate in communion next time I should be mentally focused on those brothers and sisters around me instead of thinking about the suffering and sacrifice of Jesus as I eat the bread and drink the juice. Is this what you guys are saying?

      • mattdabbs says:

        Royce,

        No one is saying “instead of”. It is both/and not either/or. Notice the end of the original post.

        “One thing I do on Sunday is I pray to God. I give him thanks. I express my joy over God’s grace and appreciation for Jesus’ sacrifice on my behalf. But I don’t leave it at that. Often I will pray for those around me. I will look around the room and find people who I know are going through a tough time and I will ask God to bless them, encourage them, and strengthen them. In doing so I am trying to recognize as fully as possible, “The body of the Lord.””

        It is not Christ only or church only. It is remembering the body of Christ and all that entails according to the New Testament especially including this passage. You are defining body as physical body alone, right? We are defining it in line with Paul in chapters 10-12 and in line with Paul’s broader theology here, in Romans, Ephesians, and elsewhere that we as Christians are also the body of Christ with Christ as our head. So Jesus is still a member of his own body, of course. So it is not to say remembering Jesus and his sacrifice are insignificant or that we can forget about Jesus as long as we just get along. That is not where we are headed on this. This is a call for balance and embracing all that this passage is teaching and not just part of it.

      • mattdabbs says:

        Let me try saying this another way. If you have no love and patience with your brother, so much so that you divide and fight and are quarrelsome with one another…while taking the Supper…it doesn’t matter how hard you picture Christ crucified you are under judgment because by your treatment of each other you show that you really don’t get it. So the Supper is not a check box of whether or not you envisioned the physical body of the Lord and if you did you are good with God regardless of everything else. The Supper is a communal reminder of what Christ has done for us. If we can’t even eat it together in love we show that we don’t get what the whole thing is about in the first place and bring judgment on ourselves.

        I hope between this comment and my last one it is making sense.

      • Tim Archer says:

        “Just so I am clear , it is your position Matt, Tim, and Jerry that the danger associated with sickness and even death is that folks have not discerned the church properly as they eat the bread and drink the cup?”

        That’s precisely what Paul says. Verse 30 is sandwiched by verses 29 and 31. I’m not a Greek scholar, nor have I played one on TV, but I do know that the same verb is used in verses 29 and 31, once in the negative, once in the positive. Once the object of the verb is “the body”; the other time it is “ourselves.”

        Verse 29 says “If we don’t “diakrineo” the body, we will be judged.”
        Verse 31 says, “If we “diakrineo” ourselves, we won’t be judged.”

        Seems pretty clear that “the body” and “ourselves” is talking about the same thing!

        Again, what was the problem? Paul says what they were doing wasn’t really the Lord’s Supper. Why? Because they weren’t waiting for one another. They were neglecting the horizontal element. And one reason they were doing that was their misunderstanding of the vertical element. The two are tied together.

        As Matt said, it’s not either/or. 1 Corinthians 10 says that we actually participate in the body and blood of Christ when we take the Lord’s Supper, and that participation makes us one. One of the various purposes which the Bible presents for the Lord’s Supper is the unity of the saints. We take the Lord’s Supper as a body or it is not the Lord’s Supper that we take.

        Grace and peace,
        Tim Archer

      • Jerry Starling says:

        Royce,

        As I wrote earlier, when Paul said he determined to know nothing save Jesus Christ and him crucified, he was not limiting himself to the cruel facts of the crucifixion. He included all that flows from that event. When Jesus said “Do this in memory of me” he included his entire person and mission – not just the six hours he hung on the tree.

        Since his mission was to restore the created order by redeeming fallen man and bringing us into relationship with the Deity and with one another, I need to recognize that the body of Christ on earth is related to the body of Christ on the tree.

        If I do not love my brother whom I have seen, how can I love God whom I have not seen?

        John said in 1 John 1:3 that he is writing that we might have fellowship with him – and that his fellowship is with the Father and the Son. Fellowship with God demands fellowship with one another in Him. In fact, it is by our loving one another as He loves us that the world will recognize us as disciples of Jesus.

        Paul weaves all of this into his discussion of the Lord’s Supper in 1 Corinthians 10 & 11. The context of 11:29 definitely at least includes the church. I have not stated that it is the church only, with no reference to the physical body of Jesus. Nor can I believe that memory of the crucifixion event without extending my thoughts to the consequences of that event is adequate “memory” of the Savior.

        I, personally, have thought that the being weak and sickly and some having died in 11:31 is spiritual ill health and even death, not physical. Certainly failure to recognize brethren as brethren (the sin of division) will lead to spiritual anemia, weakness and ultimately death. Of course, failure to recognize Jesus’ death for our sins as the source of our salvation will have the same effect.

        I hope this clears up where I am coming from.

        Jerry

  8. Gina Morrison says:

    Did you delete my earlier comments?

  9. mattdabbs says:

    Gina,

    I don’t see any other comments from you in the spam filter and I certainly did not delete any of your comments. I have only done that once on the blog and that was because it was extremely profane and inappropriate.

  10. mattdabbs says:

    Gina,
    I really don’t see the need to make accusation and generalizations toward people you don’t know. You haven’t responded to my questions so it is quite clear that you don’t really want to have a conversation here. You come here and post all kinds of things, ask questions (to which I respond) and then talk right over my questions. Let me give you one more shot at answering these questions. Thanks:

    1 – Do you believe there is nothing we can do to be saved or that God does expect some kind of response? 2 – If yes, What does the Bible teach is included in that response?
    3 – If you say repentance is a necessary part of accepting God’s salvation then why not include baptism as well? Both are taught in scripture. Teach me exactly how you leave baptism out through scripture.
    4 – Is baptism a work, why? If baptism is a work why would repentance and confession not also be works?
    5 – Is baptism an action we do or something we submit to?
    6 – Why do you consider me an emergent? and Who are my “emergent friends”?

    I have asked these questions and similar ones in the comments but here they are in a list. Please get back with me on this so we can actually have a discussion and not talk over each other. Thank you in advance.

  11. Gina Morrison says:

    Thank you Matt, i’ve never seen those questions before? (or on some I did respond but didn’t see your response) I’ll be happy to answer them on the thread topic.
    (or atleast I was not notified you had responded to my last post)
    Again, all I did was paste how now we have some “restoration people” who are highly organized celebrating these “restoration giants” who somehow on human merit “restored the true church” and these people want to celebrate them and then share a communal Lord’s Supper at a celebration event for Campbell? I mean they advertize it, they promote it. I think Paul was talking just about this kind of mass-marketing approach to the Lord’s Supper.
    Despite Royce’s comment about me – which I think was funny Royce, glad to see a sense of fun from ya- I agree with Royce’s comments and am surprised Royce would not chime in and atleast have a comment about this Restoration Event. I think this is exactly the kind of approach to the Lord’s Supper that Pal was condemning. I don’t think a mass marketing approach to an event that celebrates the “restorers of the true church” and as a side feature, the Lord’s Supper go together. It’s presented like “hey let’s celebrate cambell and then we can all partake of the Lord’s Supper” WOW, this sounds fun! Matt, your deconstruction of the Lord’s Supper to try and make it mean more than it does, i’m sorry, but it’s an effort to make the Lord’s Supper into something quite different. It leads to well, what these restoration people are doing.

    • Royce says:

      Gina,

      I’m agreeing with you on one point. Having communion, if the primary purpose is to demonstrate unity, is wrong. There is but one reason for communion and that is the purpose Jesus stated and Paul repeated. I don’t want to judge the motives of anyone. People who remember the Lord by sharing the Lord’s Supper together are demonstrating the only ground for unity, our common faith in Jesus.

  12. mattdabbs says:

    Gina,

    I think you would enjoy the book, A Call to Unity: A Critical Review of Patternism and the Command-Example-Inference-Silence Hermeneutic by Barry L. Perryman, Ph.D. It is a critique of patternism and of the command, example and necessary inference hermeneutic. Very helpful.

    I also wanted to mention that there is a “Reply” option in the comments here. When I am replying to you on all my responses it should be going straight into your email inbox so you don’t have to keep checking back for a response but can see right there and not miss anything.

  13. Royce says:

    This is my last comment on this thread. I wouldn’t make this reference except that I think it is so important.

    Context is important when studying Scripture but Immediate context is perhaps more important. This study from Concordia Theological Seminary is well done and is one of dozens that make the case I tried to make and didn’t do well. You will need to scroll through the file to get to the verse and statement we have been discussing. The link is: http://www.ctsfw.net/media/pdfs/dasacorinthiansrevisited.pdf

    I love all you guys and gals and appreciate your patience.

    Royce

    • Tim Archer says:

      Pretty good article in the Concordia Journal. While he does agree with Royce on the meaning of “body” in this passage, the author is much closer to Matt’s original point. Certainly no “remembering Jesus is the sole purpose of the Supper” in that article.

      Wish the author had discussed the relation of verse 31 to verse 29 when talking about body. That oversight is pretty critical.

      Grace and peace,
      Tim Archer

    • mattdabbs says:

      Thanks Royce you are much appreciated and respected brother.

    • mattdabbs says:

      Here is how Ben Witherington puts the two together in his commentary on 1 & 2 Corinthians.

      “The reference in v. 27 is to Christ’s actual crucified body, as the reference to blood makes clear. With ‘unworthy’ Paul refers to those who are partaking in an unworthy manner, not to persons who are themselves unworthy. The examination called for in v. 28 is to be one’s consideration of how properly to partake of the Supper, not an introspective assessment of one’s worthiness to partake. Those who partake in an unworthy fashion, abusing the meal, are liable or guilty in some sense of the body and blood of the Lord. They are partaking without discerning or distinguishing ‘the body’ (v. 29). While here ‘body’ might refer to Christ’s death, forgotten when one eats, it is more likely refer to believers as the body of Christ. Some of the Corinthian Christians are eating without taking cognizance of their brothers and sisters. They are, Paul might mean, thus guilty of standing on the side of those who abused and killed Christ – an atrocious sacrilege. Instead, they are to partake with their brothers and sisters as one body in Christ, rather than following pagan protocol.” (p.251-252).

      So he believes Paul is talking about the physical body in 11:27 but that they way they take it shows that they are not adequately recognize the very body of Christ in their presence and fellowship, the other Christians they are taking the Supper with due to their abusive actions and attitudes even during the Supper itself or at least the meal surrounding it.

      Any reactions?

  14. Gina Morrison says:

    http://www.biblestudytools.com/commentaries/gills-exposition-of-the-bible/1-corinthians-11-17.html

    I encourage all of you to read John Gill’s commentary starting with 1 Corinthians 11:16 and you may find other commentaries with thie BibleStudyTool – but I think this is a forthright , easily understandable commentary on the Lord’s Supper as presented In 1 Corinthians. It’s also always valuable and in general necessary to read all of ! Corinthians to pull together what Paul is presenting as doctrine thru the apostolic authority and his gift of the HS : anotherwords Paul’s special calling by Christ and even more specifically his calling out as the Apostle to the Gentiles. (This is a verse by verse commentary so you just click the little thing at the bottom and it moves quickly from say 1 Cor. 11:16 to 1Cor. 11:17 complete with footnotes) It’s a simpler way to study this specific address by Paul about the Lord’s Supper and other texts that concern the lord’s supper can be discussed as well )
    Obviously, other commentaries are welcome if you disagree with this one. (I’m not trying to be a trickster and only use one I like) or you can ignore this whole approach or ignore my post. I’m just contributing what I think is an orderly way to examine the scriptures.

  15. Gina Morrison says:

    Royce, please come back

  16. Gina Morrison says:

    Royce, I read your link and i’m not quite understanding the author’s statement that ” Paul’s advice, therefore, is to discern the Lord’s body and blood. First, this means recognizing the objective reality, that Christ’s body and blood are truly present” Is the author stating that somehow this is literal rather than symbolic of Christ’s body and blood ? I’m a little confused as to his meaning .

  17. Gina Morrison says:

    But let a man examine himself (note: Here’s the same study on your questions about what Paul is saying)

    Whether he has a true sense of sin, sorrow and repentance for it; otherwise he will see no need of a Saviour, nor will he look to Christ for salvation, or be thankful to him for redemption by him; all which are necessary in a due observance of this ordinance; also, whether he is in the faith, whether he is a partaker of the true grace of faith, which is attended with good works, and shows itself by love to Christ, and to the saints; whereby a man goes out of himself to Christ for spiritual food and strength, peace and comfort, righteousness, life, and salvation; and by which he receives all from Christ, and gives him all the glory: this is absolutely necessary to his right and comfortable partaking of the Lord’s supper, since without faith he cannot discern the Lord’s body, nor, in a spiritual sense, eat his flesh, and drink his blood, nor attend on the ordinance in a manner acceptable unto God. Let him also examine and try whether he is sound in the doctrine of faith; or let him prove himself to be so, or show that he is one that is approved thereby; to whom the word of faith has come with power, and who has received it in the love of it, and firmly believes it; since an heretic is to be rejected from the communion of the church, and to be debarred the ordinances of it: let him examine himself, whether Christ is in him, whether he is revealed to him, and in him, as God’s way of salvation, and the hope of glory; whether he is formed in his soul, his Spirit put, and his grace implanted there; since if Christ is not within, it will be of no avail to partake of the outward symbols of his body and blood. But if a man, upon reflection, under the influence and testimony of the Spirit, can come to a satisfaction in these things, however mean and unworthy he may seem in his own sight, let him come to the table of the Lord, and welcome.

    And so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup;
    none should discourage or hinder him; nor should he deprive himself of such a privilege, to which he has an undoubted right. There seems to be an allusion in these words to what the master of the family used at the passover, when he said F26,

    “everyone that is hungry, (lwkyw yty) , “let him come and eat”, and everyone that hath need or ought, let him keep the passover.”
    FOOTNOTES:

    F26 Haggadah Shel Pesach, p. 4.

  18. Gina Morrison says:

    1 Corinthians 11:27
    Wherefore
    Since this is the plain institution of the Lord’s supper, the form and manner of administering of it; and since the bread and wine in it are representations of the body and blood of Christ, and the design of the whole is to remember Christ, and show forth his death; it follows, that

    whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord
    unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord.
    The bread and cup are called the bread and cup of the Lord; because ate and drank in remembrance of him, being symbols of his body and of his blood, though not they themselves; these may be eaten and drank “unworthily”, when they are eaten and drank by unworthy persons, in an unworthy manner, and to unworthy ends and purposes. The Lord’s supper may be taken unworthily, when it is partook of by unworthy persons. This sense is confirmed by the Syriac version, which renders it (hl awv alw) , “and is not fit for it”, or is unworthy of it, and so the Ethiopic version; now such are all unregenerate persons, for they have no spiritual life in them, and therefore cannot eat and drink in a spiritual sense; they have no spiritual light, and therefore cannot discern the Lord’s body; they have no spiritual taste and relish, no spiritual hungerings and thirstings, nor any spiritual appetite, and can receive no spiritual nourishment, or have any spiritual communion with Christ: and so are all such persons, who, though they may profess to be penitent ones, and believers in Christ, and to have knowledge of him, and love to him; and yet they have not true repentance, neither do they bring forth fruits meet for it, and so as they are improper subjects of baptism, they are unworthy of the Lord’s table; nor have they faith in Christ, at least only an historical one, and so cannot by faith eat the flesh, and drink the blood of the Son of God, nor perform the ordinance in a way well pleasing to God; nor have they any spiritual knowledge of Christ, only what is speculative and notional, and so cannot discern the Lord’s body; nor any real love to him, and therefore very improper persons to feed on a feast of love; nor can they affectionately remember Christ, or do what they do from a principle of love to him, and therefore must be unworthy receivers: as likewise are all such professors, whose lives and conversations are not as become the Gospel of Christ; such crucify Christ afresh, and put him to open shame, and are therefore unfit to show forth his crucifixion and death; they bring a reproach on the Gospel and ordinances of Christ, and cause his name, and ways, and truths to be blasphemed, and grieve the members of the churches of Christ, and therefore ought not to be admitted to the table of the Lord: indeed, no man is in himself worthy of such an ordinance, none but those whom Christ has made so by the implantation of his grace, and the imputation of his righteousness; and whom he, though unworthy in themselves, invites and encourages to come to this ordinance, and to eat and drink abundantly. Moreover, this ordinance may be attended upon in an unworthy manner; as when it is partook of ignorantly, persons not knowing the nature, use, and design of it; or irreverently, as it was by many of the Corinthians, and it is to be feared by many others, who have not that reverence of the majesty of Christ, in whose presence they are, and who is both the author and subject of the ordinance; or without faith, and the exercise of it on Christ, the bread of life, and water of life; or unthankfully, when there is no grateful sense of the love of God in the gift of his Son, nor of the love of Christ, in giving himself an offering and sacrifice for sin; or when this feast is kept with the leaven of malice and wickedness, and with want of brotherly love, bearing an ill will to, or hatred of, any of the members of the church, To all which may be added, that this bread and cup are ate and drank unworthily, when they are partook of to unworthy ends and purposes; as to qualify for any secular employment, and to gain any worldly advantage; or to be seen of men, and to be thought to be devotional and religious persons; or to commemorate anything besides Christ; as the “judaizing” Corinthians did the “paschal” lamb; or to procure eternal life and happiness thereby, fancying that the participation of this ordinance gives a meetness for, and a right to glory: now such unworthy eaters and drinkers are “guilty of the body and blood” of the Lord; not in such sense as Judas, Pontius Pilate, and the people of the Jews were, who were concerned in the crucifixion of his body, and shedding of his blood, the guilt of which lies upon them, and they must answer for another day; nor in such sense as apostates from the faith, who, after they have received the knowledge of the truth, deny it, and Christ, the Saviour; and so crucify him afresh, and put him to open shame, count the blood of the covenant a common or unholy thing, and tread under foot the Son of God; at least, not every unworthy receiver of the Lord’s supper is guilty in this sense; though there might be some among the Corinthians, and is the reason of this awful expression, who looked upon the body and blood of Christ as common things, and made no more account of them than of the body and blood of the passover lamb; but in a lower sense, every unworthy communicant, or that eats and drinks unworthily, may be said to be guilty of the body and blood of Christ, inasmuch as he sins against, and treats in an injurious manner, an ordinance which is a symbol and representation of these things; for what reflects dishonour upon that, reflects dishonour on the body and blood of Christ, signified therein.

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  19. Gina Morrison says:

    1 Corinthians 11:27
    Wherefore
    Since this is the plain institution of the Lord’s supper, the form and manner of administering of it; and since the bread and wine in it are representations of the body and blood of Christ, and the design of the whole is to remember Christ, and show forth his death; it follows, that

    whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord
    unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord.
    The bread and cup are called the bread and cup of the Lord; because ate and drank in remembrance of him, being symbols of his body and of his blood, though not they themselves; these may be eaten and drank “unworthily”, when they are eaten and drank by unworthy persons, in an unworthy manner, and to unworthy ends and purposes. The Lord’s supper may be taken unworthily, when it is partook of by unworthy persons. This sense is confirmed by the Syriac version, which renders it (hl awv alw) , “and is not fit for it”, or is unworthy of it, and so the Ethiopic version; now such are all unregenerate persons, for they have no spiritual life in them, and therefore cannot eat and drink in a spiritual sense; they have no spiritual light, and therefore cannot discern the Lord’s body; they have no spiritual taste and relish, no spiritual hungerings and thirstings, nor any spiritual appetite, and can receive no spiritual nourishment, or have any spiritual communion with Christ: and so are all such persons, who, though they may profess to be penitent ones, and believers in Christ, and to have knowledge of him, and love to him; and yet they have not true repentance, neither do they bring forth fruits meet for it, and so as they are improper subjects of baptism, they are unworthy of the Lord’s table; nor have they faith in Christ, at least only an historical one, and so cannot by faith eat the flesh, and drink the blood of the Son of God, nor perform the ordinance in a way well pleasing to God; nor have they any spiritual knowledge of Christ, only what is speculative and notional, and so cannot discern the Lord’s body; nor any real love to him, and therefore very improper persons to feed on a feast of love; nor can they affectionately remember Christ, or do what they do from a principle of love to him, and therefore must be unworthy receivers: as likewise are all such professors, whose lives and conversations are not as become the Gospel of Christ; such crucify Christ afresh, and put him to open shame, and are therefore unfit to show forth his crucifixion and death; they bring a reproach on the Gospel and ordinances of Christ, and cause his name, and ways, and truths to be blasphemed, and grieve the members of the churches of Christ, and therefore ought not to be admitted to the table of the Lord: indeed, no man is in himself worthy of such an ordinance, none but those whom Christ has made so by the implantation of his grace, and the imputation of his righteousness; and whom he, though unworthy in themselves, invites and encourages to come to this ordinance, and to eat and drink abundantly. Moreover, this ordinance may be attended upon in an unworthy manner; as when it is partook of ignorantly, persons not knowing the nature, use, and design of it; or irreverently, as it was by many of the Corinthians, and it is to be feared by many others, who have not that reverence of the majesty of Christ, in whose presence they are, and who is both the author and subject of the ordinance; or without faith, and the exercise of it on Christ, the bread of life, and water of life; or unthankfully, when there is no grateful sense of the love of God in the gift of his Son, nor of the love of Christ, in giving himself an offering and sacrifice for sin; or when this feast is kept with the leaven of malice and wickedness, and with want of brotherly love, bearing an ill will to, or hatred of, any of the members of the church, To all which may be added, that this bread and cup are ate and drank unworthily, when they are partook of to unworthy ends and purposes; as to qualify for any secular employment, and to gain any worldly advantage; or to be seen of men, and to be thought to be devotional and religious persons; or to commemorate anything besides Christ; as the “judaizing” Corinthians did the “paschal” lamb; or to procure eternal life and happiness thereby, fancying that the participation of this ordinance gives a meetness for, and a right to glory: now such unworthy eaters and drinkers are “guilty of the body and blood” of the Lord; not in such sense as Judas, Pontius Pilate, and the people of the Jews were, who were concerned in the crucifixion of his body, and shedding of his blood, the guilt of which lies upon them, and they must answer for another day; nor in such sense as apostates from the faith, who, after they have received the knowledge of the truth, deny it, and Christ, the Saviour; and so crucify him afresh, and put him to open shame, count the blood of the covenant a common or unholy thing, and tread under foot the Son of God; at least, not every unworthy receiver of the Lord’s supper is guilty in this sense; though there might be some among the Corinthians, and is the reason of this awful expression, who looked upon the body and blood of Christ as common things, and made no more account of them than of the body and blood of the passover lamb; but in a lower sense, every unworthy communicant, or that eats and drinks unworthily, may be said to be guilty of the body and blood of Christ, inasmuch as he sins against, and treats in an injurious manner, an ordinance which is a symbol and representation of these things; for what reflects dishonour upon that, reflects dishonour on the body and blood of Christ, signified therein.

  20. Wendy says:

    Gina, with all due respect, your comments at this point do not relate to Matt’s post. Perhaps you do need to start your own blog? I enjoy interacting with blog writers and commenters but it seems to me that you are tending to monopolise Matt’s blog with an unclear agenda. Let’s discuss the content of the posts…

  21. Jerry Starling says:

    Gina,

    As of now (with my comment), there are 48 comments in this thread. Fully 1/3 (16) of them are yours – and few, if any, of these deal with the subject matter of the post. Wendy made a polite request to you to stay on topic and to be cogent. I was happy to see her request. You may consider my note now to be a hearty AMEN to Wendy’s comment.

    Jerry

  22. Wendy says:

    Gina, I have my own blog, thanks. There is a difference between you COMMENTING here and you BLOGGING here. It’s a matter of degree. No-one minds comments. Taking over is another matter.

  23. Royce says:

    …cutting and pasting is not cool when you don’t take the time to proof read the material. Amen to Wendy’s last comment.

  24. mattdabbs says:

    The comments Gina requested to be removed are gone. That makes a few comments on here not make sense so if any of you want your comments deleted feel free to let me know. Just getting this post back on track at Gina’s request.

    Thanks for your patience!

  25. mattdabbs says:

    Another verse that I should have included in the original post is Eph 4:11-12,

    “11 So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, 12 to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up…”

    This is clearly a reference to the church. Again, Paul was no stranger to seeing the church as the body of Christ.

  26. Gina Morrison says:

    thank you Matt, I appreciate what you did and I personally think you are a really nice and fair minded guy

  27. Gina Morrison says:

    Matt, you gotta admit that leaving your list of questions for me didn’t help but keep me a tad off track. lol

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