1 Corinthians 11:26 - 28
ESV - 26 For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes. 27 Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty concerning the body and blood of the Lord.
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What does it mean to treat the Lord's table in an 'unworthy manner'? 1 Corinthians 11:27-30 says "Wherefore whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. 28 But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup. 29 For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord's body. 30 For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep." This teaching concerning the Lord's Table is the principal instruction regarding the conduct and deportment for every believer and the church community whenever they commemorate this glorious event. To appreciate the sacrilege that a believer invites upon themselves when he takes the elements unworthily, we need to go back to the Cross of Calvary and examine its implication for us who have placed our hope in Christ. Jesus sacrificed his body and blood to provide the perfect redemption by which God would atone for our sins. There is no other sacrifice available because this single sacrifice accomplished it all. In celebrating the Table, Paul reminds the church to eat this bread, and drink this cup so that in so doing we "shew the Lord's death till he come" (1 Corinthians 11:26). The celebration is therefore a solemn ceremony which brings to our minds the value of the ransom that God paid in Christ and this should draw us into tears of joy and break every heart before Christ. Many times I find myself moved to tears during the celebration as I remember where the Lord brought me from. When a person knowingly demeans the Table he debases the power of the atonement that it represents and offends the Giver of the ransom by which we received forgiveness and eternal life in Christ and for whom we should always live (2 Cor. 5:17-18). Paul therefore warns us to examine our hearts and confess our sins. In so doing we shall receive from the Lord his grace as we reflect on His finished works of Calvary. In what ways may a believer eat the Table unworthily? This is a difficult question but I have four suggestions below: 1) Withholding forgiveness from the brethren, a clear contradiction of what Jesus has done for us. It is best that we seek or offer forgiveness before partaking of the Table. Mark 11:26 says "But if ye do not forgive, neither will your Father which is in heaven forgive your trespasses." 2) Refusing to confess to God a known sin. James 5:16 says "Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed." 3) Being disloyal and rebellious against the church leadership. I have heard of situations where believers who reject church discipline "storm" the Holy Communion celebration arguing that no one has authority to judge them. To reject the authority of the church is bring disgrace on its founder who bought it with His blood. 4) Living in sin. This is a situation where the believer is walking in open disobedience and is trapped in habitual sin which he has knowingly neglected to deal with. This believer reviles the sacredness of the Table. 1 John 3:6 says "Whosoever abideth in him sinneth not: whosoever sinneth hath not seen him, neither known him." The above scripture text does not imply that believers are perfect or sinless but that their moral deportment is not inclined to sinful living. We should therefore search our hearts before partaking of the Table so that we do not fall into God's judgment. 1 John 1:7-9 says "But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin. 8 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness."
Greetings, sir Steve Hill. To treat the Lord's table in an ''unworthy manner'' means to treat it irreverently or disrespectfully; not acknowledging the depth of its symbolism. It also means partaking from it while having sin of which we did not repent of. The apostle Paul said this because apart from other problems that the church of the Corinthians had, there was also an issue of disorder among them, when it came to partake from the Lord's Table or ''Holy Communion'' (see 1 Cor. 11:18-21). Each one partook from it as if it was normal food, and thus, they completely disregarded its meaning. He then explains its significance, recalling our Lord's words at His Last Supper, and gives further instructions on how it was to be done. That is why he exhorts that a person should examine himself/herself before partaking from it (v.28), so that we may take it in a proper manner, and in a right attitude/condition of heart. I hope this helps.
I think that we need to deal with the issue of sin and salvation before we even try to understand the meaning of this scripture. If you have asked Jesus to come into your heart and life; if you believe that He is the Son of God; and that the Spirit was powerful enough to raise Christ from the dead; and that being so, He is more than able to raise you from the dead to life, free from sin; then you are worthy to partake of this wonderful meal. Wine, His blood, cleansed you. Remember that whenever sickness or an infirmity seeks to set up residence in your body. The Bread of life. Please remember His body ripped apart for you, and take it. That is why so many died prematurely. Your sins have been forgiven, that is now part of your birthright to sit down at the Sedar meal and eat. Did not the disciples eat? One was a devil, one a liar, and then later denied Him. Man looks on the outside, but God formed the heart. He knows. He wants you to partake and get your healing and a continuous washing of sins, not by you, but through Him and the cross. He did this just for you and me. To eat unworthily is to act like it is common food where you can eat get drunk and think of nothing else, not remembering it's benefits. Sin is not the issue. You've been forgiven. Already, again, again, again; infinitely. Just keep pressing on and you will see past failure and sins dropping by the wayside. And you will grow stronger in the love everyday. God bless
Many take I Corinthians 11:26-28 to mean that one should examine whether one is worthy to partake of the Lord’s Supper. However, based on the context of I Corinthians 11:17-22, it does not mean this. Some in the church in Corinth, already divided into factions, ate separately. They ignored the welfare of others, even the poor among them, while satisfying their own appetites. The Lord’s Supper was not observed correctly, as they did not represent the unity of the body of Christ, who sacrificed Himself for them all. After Paul described the Lord’s Supper, I Corinthians 11:23-26, he then addressed the importance of thinking of others, I Corinthians 11:27-34. He noted this careless attitude toward the Lord’s Supper, brought judgment upon themselves. Some became weak and ill, and some died. They partook of the Lord’s Supper in an unworthy manner, I Corinthians 11:27. Thus, one must insure he is not guilty of this attitude, I Corinthians 11:28. Furthermore, I Corinthians 11:33-34 explains the need to consider one another, keeping the significance of the Lord’s Supper. In discussing the Lord’s Supper, it is worth noting that it is not the same as the Lord’s Table, which is a different concept, I Corinthians 10:21. The Lord’s Table is the figurative picture of the position of all believers in the Lord. The table symbolizes family, fellowship, relationship, communion, and support. There are illustrations of different types of tables in the Scriptures. Prophets at Jezebel’s table were united with Jezebel’s idolatry and supported by her, I Kings 18:19. King David invited Mephibosheth to eat at the king’s table as one of the family, indicating his desire to support him, II Samuel 9:13. Nehemiah had 150 Jews at his table plus others who visited, Nehemiah 5:17. So the Lord’s Table signifies believers in communion with the Lord, Psalm 23:5, where they are nourished and strengthened, their spiritual appetites satisfied. Unfortunately, the believer, not right with the Lord and immersed in idolatry, might figuratively be partaking of the table of demons. On the other hand, the Lord’s Supper is a distinctive term for the literal and physical partaking by a local gathering. This supper or breaking of bread (Acts 2:42, 20:7) that the Lord instituted before He was betrayed, is partaken periodically by believers who worship, render praise, and remember the Lord. It is a commemoration of Christ’s death, which is done until the Lord comes again. The distinction between the Lord’s Table and Lord’s Supper is seen in certain details. Both have the cup and the bread because both are based on Jesus’ sacrifice. The Table has the cup first, I Corinthians 10:16, as signifying salvation by the blood of the Lord. The Supper has the bread first as symbolizing the Lord who the church collectively remembers. Those at the Lord’s Table are to live in a worthy manner, realizing their distinct position in Christ. Those at the Lord’s Supper are to eat in a worthy manner, recognizing the unity of the body of Christ.
The Bible frequently answers the questions that it raises if read a little further. Many of the answers already posted have very valid points. But the word says, "He that eateth and drinketh unworthily, NOT DISCERNING THE LORD'S BODY", so it defines to some extent what it means. The Lord's supper, or communion, is a reminder of what the Lord did for us at Calvary. We are told that as oft as we take this, to do it in remembrance of me (Christ speaking). So what does it mean to partake of the Lord's supper "not discerning the Lord's body?" We are to remember what he did for us and what he went through leading to and including Calvary. In my opinion, we are not to only discern what His body went through, but all he did for us on the cross. He took upon Himself the sin of all of the world. He was the sacrifice "once for all". He took the shame of all of that sin. He must have felt an incredible burden when he "became sin who knew no sin." So we are to remember the sacrifice he made for us, not only the agony and pain in the flesh but also the shame and guilt of the sin of the world that was placed upon Him. "This do in remembrance of me."
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