27 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. 28 But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup. 29 For he who eats and drinks in an unworthy manner eats and drinks judgment to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body. (1 Corinthians 11:27–29, NKJV)
Some read this verse, and upon examining their spiritual life they conclude themselves to be unworthy to eat the Lord’s supper. But look closer. The point of this verse is not one’s character, but one’s conduct while eating the supper. (If a Christian has sins preventing proper worship, then repentance and confessional prayer assures God’s forgiveness, Acts 8:22-24; 1 Jno. 1:9. When one’s sins are forgiven he or she is indeed worthy to eat the supper and to offer other worship to God.) Today’s verse requires us to examine ourselves concerning the manner in which we eat the supper. It warns us against eating it “in an unworthy manner.” This happens when we fail to eat the supper as a memorial of Christ’s body and blood (v. 23-26). The Corinthians had turned it into a selfish meal that provoked division in the church. This perverted the purpose of the Lord’s supper made their worship vain (1 Cor. 1:18-21). If we do not remember Christ’s body and blood when we eat the bread and drink the cup, we are guilty crucifying the Lord. Such a damning judgment reflects how serious it is to eat the Lord’s Supper in a worthy manner.
25 In the same manner He also took the cup after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood. This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.” 26 For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death till He comes. (1 Corinthians 11:25–26, NKJV)
After the Passover meal, Jesus continued inaugurating His supper by telling His apostles to drink “this cup” which “is the new covenant in My blood.” He explained that the “fruit of the vine” (“the cup”) signifies His blood “which is shed for many for the remission of sins” (Matt. 26:28). The bread, symbolizing His body, and the juice of the grape, symbolizing His blood, constitute the elements of the Lord’s supper. His supper was not an extension of the Passover meal (a feast of the old covenant). Neither did Jesus institute His supper as part of a larger “fellowship meal” or “table fellowship” as some has contrived. It is a memorial meal during which unleavened bread and the juice of the grape are eaten in memory of the Lord’s death that dedicated His new covenant (by which the remission of sins is offered to all, Heb. 9:16-22). Until Christ returns, Christians proclaim His death each time they eat His supper. This simple and solemn memorial meal calls us back to Golgotha and the sacrifice of Jesus for the sins of the world. We must reverently and always partake of it as the Lord intended – as a memorial and a proclamation of His death.
23 For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you: that the Lord Jesus on the same night in which He was betrayed took bread; 24 and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, “Take, eat; this is My body which is broken for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” (1 Corinthians 11:23–24, NKJV)
The Lord’s supper is not a church tradition that was developed by centuries of human customs and adaptations. Neither do the Scriptures describe it as a sacrament of the church (that is, an outward sign causing grace in the soul of a person). By revelation, the apostle received the teaching he now gives concerning the eating of and the purpose of the Lord’s supper (cf. Gal. 1:11-12). While eating the Passover meal with His apostles, Jesus instituted something new and different that would be eating in the kingdom of God (Lk. 22:14-20; Matt. 26:26-29). The unleavened bread would bear new meaning, representing the body of Christ (the bread is not the actual body of Jesus). Eating this bread is a solemn remembrance of Christ’s body that He sacrificed for us. Thus, “the bread which we break” is “the communion of the body of Christ” (1 Cor. 10:16). The bread of the Lord’s supper does not satisfy the belly – it is not a table meal. It serves to awaken our memory of the death of Christ, whose body hung suspended on a cross for our sins. Eating the bread of the Lord’s supper is designed to focus our attention on Christ’s body, reverently remembering His unselfish love toward us.
20 Therefore when you come together in one place, it is not to eat the Lord’s Supper. 21 For in eating, each one takes his own supper ahead of others; and one is hungry and another is drunk. 22 What! Do you not have houses to eat and drink in? Or do you despise the church of God and shame those who have nothing? What shall I say to you? Shall I praise you in this? I do not praise you. (1 Corinthians 11:20–22, NKJV)
The division in the assembly of the Corinthian church made it impossible for them to properly and reverently eat the Lord’s Supper. What a church does when it “come(s) together in one place” is crucial to God’s approval. To their shame, they were corrupting the Supper’s manner and purpose by bringing their own suppers (which also had the effect of shaming those who had nothing). The apostolic solution was simple, and is the model for churches today. The apostle told the church they must come together to eat the Lord’s Supper, and they must eat their “own supper” at home. That clear, divine edict puts each supper in its proper place – the Lord’s Supper in the worship assembly, and one’s own supper at home (not the gathering of the church). Yet, many churches invite you to bring your own supper to their weekly potluck, while relegating the Lord’s Supper to a monthly or quarterly event. Churches in the New Testament did not plan, promote and provide social activities for their members. The duty of the local church was to reverently worship God in unity and in truth. Men have drifted far from this Bible pattern.
17 Now in giving these instructions I do not praise you, since you come together not for the better but for the worse. 18 For first of all, when you come together as a church, I hear that there are divisions among you, and in part I believe it. 19 For there must also be factions among you, that those who are approved may be recognized among you. (1 Corinthians 11:17–19, NKJV)
The only other time in 1 Corinthians the apostle Paul is inspired to use the word translated “instructions” in verse 17 is in chapter 7:10, where it is translated “command.” The word carries the force of a message that is enjoined upon us, a charge given by the apostle. He was about to charge them with proper attitudes and conduct when they came together to worship. It had been reported to Paul that the worship assembly of the Corinthian church was marred by division. He would rebuke them, not praise them, for their factious conduct when they came together. (The simple and clear truth is that we must discard every practice that cannot be praised by an apostle.) Their divisions over class and wealth were disrupting and perverting their worship. Therefore, verse 19 does not endorse factions in a church, it explains the effect factions have on a church. Factions serve to identify genuine (true) disciples from those in error (which Paul will show in subsequent verses). Our assembled worship must be decent and orderly, characterized by unity in truth, not divisiveness and strife (1 Cor. 14:40; 1:10).
13 For You formed my inward parts; You covered me in my mother’s womb. 14 I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Marvelous are Your works, and that my soul knows very well. 15 My frame was not hidden from You, when I was made in secret, and skillfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. 16 Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed. And in Your book they all were written, the days fashioned for me, when as yet there were none of them. (Psalm 139:13–16, NKJV)
Americans continue to debate the legality of abortion. We ought to be discussing its morality. God establishes what is moral, not men and women. It is immoral to take innocent life (Gen. 9:6). One cannot read today’s passage without being impressed by the truth that the unborn child is known by God. Truly, new life in the womb is a marvelous work of God. David was in his mother’s womb (“me”) – not his mother’s body in his mother’s body. Unseen at conception, new human life is seen by God. God gave this new life a safe place to grow and develop before birth. The womb is the mother’s (“my mother’s womb,” v. 13), but the life in it was David’s (“my substance,” v. 16). This week a woman openly discussed her abortion and encouraged women to share their abortion stories online using #YouKnowMe. The New York Times quoted her saying, “We need to be as loud as they are, but with the truth. That’s the only thing we have.” The truth is, God knows you. He knew you in your mother’s womb. And, He knows your unborn child, too. We must honor all human life, including the unborn. God does.
6 For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. 7 For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. 8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:6–8, NKJV)
We “love” everything from ham sandwiches, ice cream, and chocolate, to cars, sports teams, friends, and family. The English language does not do a very good job of differentiating the meanings and usages of the word love. People generally use “love” to describe a strong affection, attraction, warm attachment, enthusiasm, or devotion. But these meanings do not begin to approach the biblical meaning and practice of love (agape). “God is love,” and He has shown us what love really is by giving His Son to die for us unloving, unlovable, “ungodly” sinners (see 1 John 4:8-10). God’s love is active goodwill toward us (“demonstrates”). It is unselfish in its scope (“toward us”), and sacrificial in its depth (“Christ died for us”). God’s love toward us is the pattern Jesus teaches us to follow in loving God, our neighbors, our brethren, and our enemies (Matt. 22:37-39; 1 John 4:7, 11; Matt. 5:44-45). And, since Jesus said, “If you love Me, keep My commandments,” to love Jesus we must demonstrate active goodwill toward Him by obeying Him unselfishly and sacrificially (John 14:15). When we love as God has loved us, we know the love of Christ and are filled with all the fullness of God (Eph. 3:17-19).
33 Do not be deceived: “Evil company corrupts good habits.” 34 Awake to righteousness, and do not sin; for some do not have the knowledge of God. I speak this to your shame. (1 Corinthians 15:33–34, NKJV)
Sin deceives, corrupts and destroys. The temptation to fulfill the lusts of the flesh immediately and repeatedly lures the naive to their own destruction, and captures those who are very familiar with the depths of Satan (Rev. 2:24). It is foolish to convince ourselves that evil companions have no impact on us. If light and salt influence the world for righteousness, then darkness and bitterness have their corrupting influence, too (Matt. 5:13-16). Being a Christian means having drastically different values and practices from those who do not follow Jesus. We do not live by the motto, “eat and drink, for tomorrow we die,” even though many around us do (1 Cor. 15:32). We must not define and measure righteousness by those who do not know God. The Lord does that for us in His word. Jesus commands us not to sin precisely because we know the truth (Jno. 8:31-32). We need to wake up and not sin. If we slumber and let the world influence us to sin, then we will die with the world (1 Thess. 5:5-10).
30 And why do we stand in jeopardy every hour? 31 I affirm, by the boasting in you which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die daily. 32 If, in the manner of men, I have fought with beasts at Ephesus, what advantage is it to me? If the dead do not rise, “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die!” (1 Corinthians 15:30–32, NKJV)
Our hope in Christ transcends this life. His empty tomb forever declares Him to be the Son of God with power over death, assuring us that we will be raised by His power in the last day (Rom. 1:4; John 5:28-29). Lives lived without hope in Christ are pitiable. There would be absolutely no reason to suffer deprivation or sacrifice one’s safety for the sake of Christ if the dead are not raised. What a pitiful existence that would be (1 Cor. 15:19-20)! The hedonistic culture of Corinth indulged the desires of the flesh because, after all (as the unbelievers reasoned), “tomorrow we die.” Indeed, that philosophy would be appealing “if the dead do not rise” (v. 32). But, such a view of life cannot and will not satisfy the soul (Matt. 16:26; Psa. 42:1). Our longing for meaning in life is fulfilled in Jesus Christ, the Way, the Truth and the Life (Jno. 14:6). So, be strengthened in your faith and do not give in to fleshly allurements. Neither yield to false doctrines that deny the resurrection of the dead. Jesus was raised, and we shall be, too. Suffer every danger and sacrifice every comfort necessary to gain Christ, and attain to the resurrection from the dead (Phil. 3:7-11).
Otherwise, what will they do who are baptized for the dead, if the dead do not rise at all? Why then are they baptized for the dead? (1 Corinthians 15:29, NKJV)
Members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints use this verse to support their practice of baptizing for the dead. Was Paul referring to vicarious baptism of the living on behalf of the dead? If so, then some insurmountable problems arise. The Bible says there is one baptism, yet this would mean there are two baptisms – one for the living and one for the dead (Eph. 4:5). Personal faith in Christ and repentance are required before the great commission baptism (Mk. 16:16; Acts 2:38). Yet, the LDS practice consigns faith and repentance to choices the dead person must make in the spirit world. (Why should we think a living person can be baptized for a dead person, but not also believe and repent for the same dead person?) The great commission baptism is personal, but baptism for the dead is by proxy. Paul was not teaching proxy baptism. His context was the resurrection of the dead. Here is his point: If the dead are not raised, why are people being baptized on account of them? Why were people allowing a hope of resurrection lead them to be baptized “if the dead do not rise at all” (cf. 1 Cor. 15:12-19)? If there is no resurrection of the dead, just “eat and drink, for tomorrow we die” (1 Cor. 15:32). But, the dead will be raised, and our hope of eternal life in Christ is sure. This great truth was persuading people to be baptized. It ought to persuade you to baptized, too.