23 But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. 24 God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth. (John 4:23–24, NKJV)
First-century Christians regularly came together on the first day of the week to worship God (Acts 20:7; 1 Cor. 14:26; 16:2; Heb. 10:24-25). True worshipers follow the teaching of Jesus taught about worship. It is “in spirit and truth.” Worship “in spirit” calls on the heart as the source of our worship of God. For example, prayers and songs must be with the spirit and understanding; it is not rote ritualism (1 Cor. 14:15). True worshipers praise God “with understanding” when they sing (Psa. 47:7; Eph. 5:19; Col. 3:16). A heart far from God that goes through the motions of worship is an abomination to Him (Matt. 15:7-9). True worshipers also worship God “in truth.” His word reveals what worship He accepts. Churches of Christ gather every Sunday to pray, sing, eat the Lord’s Supper, thankfully give as we have been prospered, and listen to the teaching of God’s word (Acts 2:42; 20:7; Eph. 5:19; 1 Cor. 14:26; 16:2). Souls who worship “in spirit” are careful to give God the “in truth” worship He accepts. New Testament Christians did that. We aim to do the same today. We hope you will, too.
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)
Sinful attitudes and conduct were interrupting and corrupting the worship of the church at Corinth. Their misunderstanding and abuse of the Lord’s Supper exposed divisions between rich and poor brethren. The inspired remedy Paul taught was to partake of the Lord’s Supper properly and to eat their regular meals at home (1 Cor. 11:22, 23-33, 34). We see an underlying worship principle in this passage. Acceptable worship is about God; it is not about us. We are not the ones who decide what makes worship right, good, and pleasing to the Lord. Yet, that seems to be a prevailing attitude in worship gatherings around the world. The Scriptures do not support the premise that sincerity alone justifies acceptable worship. Heartfelt worship without truth guiding it is self-soothing, not Deity honoring. Truth-guided worship that does not spring from the heart is empty, even hypocritical. May we be true worshipers who worship God in spirit and truth (Jno. 4:23-24).
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.” 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 11:23–26, NKJV)
The Lord’s supper, initiated by Christ, revealed by the Holy Spirit, and eaten by Christians, is simple, solemn, and sacred. Far from the rituals and ceremonies attached to it through the centuries, the communion of the body and blood of Christ (“breaking of bread,” Acts 2:42; 20:7) is identified in today’s passage as a memorial and a proclamation (v. 24-26). The Corinthians were corrupting it by divisively perverting its purpose (1 Cor. 11:17-22). Corruption of the supper continues still. It is not called a “sacrament” or the “Eucharist” in Scripture. These are theologian inventions of Roman Catholic tradition. Scripture does not teach the elements change in substance, becoming the actual blood and body of Jesus (another Catholic departure). Scripture shows it is a weekly memorial, not an occasional option (Acts 20:7). By what right do men tamper with it? Only by their own, misguided, unscriptural presumptions. How about we just follow the Bible? Simple. Solemn. Sacred.
33 Therefore, my brethren, when you come together to eat, wait for one another. 34 But if anyone is hungry, let him eat at home, lest you come together for judgment. And the rest I will set in order when I come. (1 Corinthians 11:33–34, NKJV)
The apostle has been correcting problems in the Corinthian church that were happening when they came together to worship (namely, abuse of the Lord’s supper, and class divisions, 1 Cor. 11:17-22). Now, he summarizes the solutions he gave by exhorting them to “wait for one another.” To “wait” means “1) to receive, accept 2) to look for, expect, wait for, await” (Thayer, 193). Paul makes a unity argument here. When a church assembles, the members should receive or accept each other so that their coming together is blessed (11:17). By doing so, the assembly can “eat the Lord’s supper” decently and with order (11:20-21). To bring and eat our own suppers to satisfy hunger produces “judgment” (condemnation). The work of the church, when gathered together, is orderly worship, not disorderly, divisive conduct. It gathers for spiritual work, not for social activities. By keeping our own suppers at home (entirely separate from the assembled activities), the Holy Spirit ensures unity when the church gathers to eat the Lord’s Supper. By doing we, we avoid condemnation.
30 For this reason many are weak and sick among you, and many sleep. 31 For if we would judge ourselves, we would not be judged. 32 But when we are judged, we are chastened by the Lord, that we may not be condemned with the world. (1 Corinthians 11:30–32, NKJV)
The spiritual condition of many of the Corinthian Christians was in jeopardy. The terms “weak,” “sick,” and “sleep” have spiritual (not physical) significance. These were without spiritual strength, some were spiritually ill, and some were already dead. (See John 11:11-13, where Jesus used “sleep” to mean Lazarus was dead.) We must judge our eating of the Lord’s supper in order to avoid such spiritual demise (which, by the way, shows Christians can indeed sin and be lost). This context shows we must judge our heart and our conduct in the Lord’s supper by using the Lord’s instructions about the supper (1 Cor. 11:23-26, 27-29). Such personal examination helps us avoid divine judgment, as well as condemnation with the world (v. 31, 32). Paul’s rebuke of their sin in this matter was the Lord’s discipline, to correct their error and preserve their souls. Eating the Lord’s supper is not a mindless ceremony. It is not a liturgical sacrament by which the mere partaking of it God grants sanctifying grace to the worshiper. It is a moment of solemn, proclamation and reverential remembrance of the body and blood of Jesus Christ. Christians who turn it into anything else expose themselves to condemnation, not glory.
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.
When he saw Jesus from afar, he ran and worshiped Him. (Mark 5:6, NKJV)
Quite a number of people believe every part of their daily life constitutes worship. Today’s verse (it is not the only one) shows that is not so. Worship (“to pay homage to, to prostrate oneself in homage”) is a particular action by the worshiper given to the object of worship. Please notice the man was not worshiping Jesus when he saw him from a distance. The man was not worshiping Jesus when he ran to Jesus. It is when he arrived that he “worshiped Him.” Christians are instructed to worship God “in spirit and truth” – such are true worshipers (John 4:23-24). Worship involves particular actions directed toward God (prayer, singing praises, the Lord’s supper, giving, and preaching God’s word (Acts 2:42; 1 Corinthians 14:15-16; 11:23-26; 16:1-2). Therefore, worship is more than just going to the lake or mountains and communing with nature. God has revealed the worship He accepts. It is our obligation to offer it to Him without our subtractions or additions. Let us live holy, devoted lives every day, and let us worship God as Scripture directs, with right hearts (“spirit”) and God-approved actions (“truth”).