1 Corinthians: Communion Chaos
– Communion Chaos
– Communion Chaos
· Answering the questions, disagreements, and reports from the letter that they sent. We have talked about:
o Questions about marriage and singleness
o Eating meats sacrificed to idols and forsaking our liberties
o The head covering/veil
· Today, we begin a focus that seems to carry on throughout the rest of the epistle. Paul begins in 11:17 dealing with issues they had as they came together as a congregation to partake of the Lord’s Supper, worship, and collect funds for the needy saints in Judea.
· Today we will talk about divisions that were among the brethren when they came together to partake of the Lord’s Supper.
· He introduces this section in verse 17 by saying, “In giving these instructions, I do not praise you…” He introduces this topic by showing that he is going to rebuke them for something. And he says that they are not coming together for the better, but for the worse… So what is going on in Corinth is not good…
· They had division even when they were coming together (vs
o Paul really wasn’t very surprised by this. After what he dealt with up to this point, including the divisions that they had in regards to preachers and teachers, it is no surprise that there are other areas where there is division.
o So Paul does give credence to this report. He believes it because of all of the other issues they had
· Some good can come from division (v.19)
o A surprising point to see Paul make… Division, of course, is a terrible thing, but there is some good that comes from it…
o It shows who is and is not pleasing to God. Sometimes the true motivations and true beliefs of brethren come out when there is division and ill feelings. It is at these times when we see who is for the Lord and who is not.
THE PROFANING OF THE LORD’S SUPPER
The specific area Paul deals with in this section where the brethren were creating barriers and division was when partaking of communion. They had, through their divisions, completely profaned and corrupted the Lord’s Supper.
· What the Lord’s Supper IS meant to be
o The Lord’s Supper was meant to be a time of COMMUNION where the Corinthians remembered THE LORD JESUS and proclaimed His death.
o Coming together for the Lord’s Supper should unite God’s people and humble them as they remember the death of Jesus Christ…
· What the Lord’s Supper had BECOME
o The Lord’s Supper had become a time of DISUNITY where some of the Corinthians only remembered THEMSELVES
o It had become a meal so devoid of spiritual content that Paul says, you have come together, not for the better, but for the worse… It is probably a misnomer to even say they “came together” because they were not waiting for everyone to get there…
o Jesus – denied self to die, they respond by denying others of being able to break bread with their brothers and sisters in Christ. They got it all backwards.
Let’s look at what they were doing in a little more detail.
· They were being arrogant and selfish
o We have spoken a lot in this book about the arrogance and pride among the brethren in Corinth (see 4:18; 5:2)
o It was common for the brethren who were better off economically to bring the emblems for the Lord’s Supper. That seems to be what is going on here.
o What fueled this? What made them not wait for their poorer brethren and to turn the Lord’s Supper primarily into a meal to satisfy their hunger? Nothing but pride.
o This is what led to the division within the church – division that is even present during the Lord’s Supper.
· They displayed no self-control.
o It became a gluttonous feast where some were eating and drinking the emblems of the Lord’s Supper before everyone was there.
o Read vs21
o Paul says that some were even getting drunk as they drank the wine they used for communion. They often used wine or wine mixed with water. Nonetheless, some were getting drunk, clearly disregarding the instructions of the Apostles in this area when they came together. How terrible!
· They were dishonoring Christ
o Read Vs 27 – They are guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. They are treating Jesus and His sacrifice as unholy and unworthy of proper reflection
o Jesus said, “this is about me.” They were saying through their actions, “No, this is about me.” How they could think they were honoring Christ’s sacrifice with such practices is astounding.
· God’s judgment
o God disciplined and judged many who were guilty of these things
o Read Vs 30
o Wow. This shows how serious of an offense this was! Their sin led God to physically discipline them. To make some sick and weak. Some of them even died.
THE SOLUTIONS OFFERED
· 11:23-26 Remember the words of Jesus
o Remember when Jesus gave instructions to His disciples on the night He was betrayed. Listen to His words instead of following in the steps of His betrayer by making the meal all about yourselves
o Do this in remembrance of me! This is my body and this is my blood that is given for you (not just a few, but everyone).
o We are in a covenant relationship with Christ and His people. This is what we are reminded of when we partake of the cup.
o This is all about proclaiming wheat Jesus did in order to make eternal life and fellowship possible! Keep it this way!
· 11:27-31 Examine yourselves
o Read Vs28
o Examine yourselves to make sure you are focusing on Jesus and what He did so you don’t partake in an unworthy manner. Make sure you are making this about remembering what Jesus did.
o I do believe Paul’s command to examine yourselves is misunderstood by some. In this context, Paul is not saying, This is examine yourself to see if you have sin in your life, and if you were not a good enough Christian that week, to not partake. This is not what Paul is saying here. We don’t punish ourselves by not partaking. We are practicing penance by punishing ourselves in not partaking. Withdrawing from the Lord’s Supper cannot replace repentance. If you see sin in your life, this is what you should be doing, and it should be done before you worship the Lord.
· 11:22; 11:34 Eat at home
o Read Vs34 – Eat at home SO THAT you don’t come together for judgment. What Paul is saying is, “If you are going to profane the Lord’s Supper in this way, eat at home so that you do not come together, do these things, and end up getting punished by the Lord”
o They would commonly get together around dinner time for the Lord’s Supper because Sunday was a work day for most Christians, so this would be a good reminder for them of the intent of the Supper. It is not for filling your bellies. If you are hungry after a long day working, eat at home before you come together to eat the Lord’s Supper. He is telling them to flee these sins by making sure they properly feed themselves at home and that they not come together with their brethren to eat the Lord’s Supper and to worship hungry. Eat your Supper to relieve hunger before you come.
· 11:32-34 Wait for one another
o Read Vs33 – When you come together to eat, wait for one another.
o This kind of command may seem strange to us because of the way we traditionally partake of the Lord’s Supper. It was common in earlier centuries for brethren to first have the Lord’s supper together separate from their worship and then to worship together afterwards. It is my opinion that this was the practice here in Corinth also and why this specific instruction was given. It wasn’t that they started worship before all the brethren got there. They more than likely did that together. But they were not waiting for their poorer brethren to partake of the Lord’s Supper beforehand.
o Just wait for all of the brethren to get there before you partake. This seems by far to be the simplest of the fixes to the problem. Just wait for all of the brethren to get there to have the Lord’s Supper together. Partake together.
· The main reason we come together – to remember Jesus.
o “Do this in remembrance of me”
o The main emphasis is the death of Jesus Christ – “We proclaim His death until He comes” (v26)
o This seems obvious, but sometimes this is not the case. Jesus’ death is not given a lot of focus, even during Lord’s Supper talks sometimes. In some churches, the emphasis is more about the day we partake, how we are to partake, how the supper started, or even making it about another subject all together.
o We need to make this about a proclamation of the Gospel with His death as the primary focus. If we want to talk about other things, that is fine, just make sure that His death is the primary focus.
· Don’t forget this is Communion
o This is one of the things they were forgetting in making it about themselves.
o Of course, we don’t approach the Lord’s supper as they did with arrogance and pride, but it does seem to me that we can at times forget this aspect of the lord’s Supper because of the way we traditionally do it. We tend to make it a somber time of individual reflection and forget that we are having a meal together when we partake. We are sharing in a meal that shows we are in a covenant relationship with each other and with the Lord.
o Once again, this is not a meal designed to relieve hunger, but it is a meal that the Lord gave us in order to spend time together, enjoying the fellowship we have together in the Lord. Let’s remember this.
· The Lord does discipline, but we need to be careful not to look at every sickness or death as a judgment of God
o (blind man) “who sinned that this man was born blind? Was it him, his parents? Jesus’ answer was, “no one sinned to make this happen” He is blind because God in some way wants to be glorified through it.
o Job - it wasn’t about Job being disciplined for sin, it was about God making a point through Job – that he didn’t serve God for what he got out of it and that Job would not curse God.
· Eat at home?
o Is Paul giving instruction about what we use the church building for?
o Paul is condemning their perversion of the Lord’s Supper, not a misuse of the building they met in. To me, to take this passage and say, “Paul is condemning eating in the church building” is a misrepresentation of the verse and not even a good application of the passage.
o Paul is talking about what is happening when we come together for worship, not about other times…