Blog Post 061314, Communion Confusion

Introduction

As I have said in prior writings, the purpose of my posts is to help to “equip the saints,” “for the work of ministry,” “for the building up of the body of Christ.” (Ephesians 4:12). One of the major problems in the equipping process is caused by confusion and divisiveness within the church of Christ (not denomination), especially as it relates to, “The Lord’s Supper, The Last Supper, The Communion, The Breaking Of Bread, The Eucharist.” There are terms such as, “open communion, closed communion, transubstantiation, and consubstantiation.” Then, there are differing views as to the frequency of taking “the communion,” which vary from weekly, to twice monthly, to monthly, to quarterly, to annually, and to annually served on a Tuesday night. The problem is not necessarily the frequency that “dictates” how often we remember the death, burial, and resurrection of our Lord’s death, but to “changing” how often we can “take the communion.” Consider the following verses of scripture as they relate to scriptural truth, and to they way that God relates to us.

John 8:32, New American Standard Bible (NASB)
32 and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.”

Matthew 15:8-9. Amplified Bible (AMP)
8 These people draw near Me with their mouths and honor Me with their lips, but their hearts hold off and are far away from Me.
9 Uselessly do they worship Me, for they teach as doctrines the commands of men.

Mark 2:27, New King James Version (NKJV)
27 And He said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath.

Considerations

John Calvin expressed his view of communion, as follows: “…the Lord’s Supper is also “a bond of love” intended to produce mutual love among believers. It is to inspire thanksgiving and gratitude.” (by Keith Mathison, Reformation Bible College)

The view of Martin Luther was that of “consubstantiation.”
Question: “What is consubstantiation?”

Answer: Consubstantiation is the view that the bread and wine of Communion / the Lord’s Supper are spiritually the flesh and blood of Jesus, yet the bread and wine are still actually only bread and wine. In this way, it is different from transubstantiation, in which the bread and the wine are believed to actually become the body and blood of Jesus. Transubstantiation is a Roman Catholic dogma that stretches back to the earliest years of that church, while consubstantiation is relatively new, arising out of the Protestant Reformation. Consubstantiation essentially teaches that Jesus is “with, in, and under” the bread and wine, but is not literally the bread and wine.

Martin Luther, the founder of the Protestant Reformation, was a Roman Catholic priest who was fed up with the abuses of the Roman Catholic Church and wanted to reform the church so it could return to its roots. Luther learned all about the doctrine of transubstantiation in his theological training, and it made up part of his belief system because, as a priest, he celebrated the Mass many times, and the dogma of transubstantiation is central to the Roman Catholic Mass.

Read more: http://www.gotquestions.org/consubstantiation.html#ixzz35aRUd8bt

The view of the Roman Catholic Church is that of “transubstantiation.”
Question: “What is transubstantiation?”

Answer: Transubstantiation is a doctrine of the Roman Catholic Church. The Catechism of the Catholic Church defines this doctrine in section 1376:

“The Council of Trent summarizes the Catholic faith by declaring: ‘Because Christ our Redeemer said that it was truly his body that he was offering under the species of bread, it has always been the conviction of the Church of God, and this holy Council now declares again, that by the consecration of the bread and wine there takes place a change of the whole substance of the bread into the substance of the body of Christ our Lord and of the whole substance of the wine into the substance of his blood. This change the holy Catholic Church has fittingly and properly called transubstantiation.’”

In other words, the Roman Catholic Church teaches that once an ordained priest blesses the bread of the Lord’s Supper, it is transformed into the actual flesh of Christ (though it retains the appearance, odor, and taste of bread); and when he blesses the wine, it is transformed into the actual blood of Christ (though it retains the appearance, odor, and taste of wine).

Read more: http://www.gotquestions.org/transubstantiation.html#ixzz35aQxtxzb

“With all of the “stuff” that I have written on “the communion,” please let me say this!” Folks, please give me a break! All that I want to do is to remember the death, burial, and resurrection of our Lord Jesus.”

Solution

Yes. We really need a solution to something that is so very easy to figure out, but has been so terribly made to be confused. So! How about if we go to the place where we can solve this problem. “The Bible! God’s Holy Word,” is the place to go for Godly matters. We will use scripture to interpret scripture. That is always a safe thing to do. The following discussion is lengthy, but it is worth your time to study it, very carefully. You may find repetition, but that will strengthen the subject that is being discussed.

Scriptures of Passover, The Lord’s Supper, The Last Supper, Breaking Bread, Communion

Exodus 12:1-13, New King James Version (NKJV)
3 Speak to all the congregation of Israel,
The Passover Instituted
12 Now the Lord spoke to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt, saying, 2 “This month shall be your beginning of months; it shall be the first month of the year to you. 3 Speak to all the congregation of Israel, saying: ‘On the tenth of this month every man shall take for himself a lamb, according to the house of his father, a lamb for a household. 4 And if the household is too small for the lamb, let him and his neighbor next to his house take it according to the number of the persons; according to each man’s need you shall make your count for the lamb. 5 Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male of the first year. You may take it from the sheep or from the goats. 6 Now you shall keep it until the fourteenth day of the same month. Then the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill it at twilight. 7 And they shall take some of the blood and put it on the two doorposts and on the lintel of the houses where they eat it. 8 Then they shall eat the flesh on that night; roasted in fire, with unleavened bread and with bitter herbs they shall eat it. 9 Do not eat it raw, nor boiled at all with water, but roasted in fire—its head with its legs and its entrails. 10 You shall let none of it remain until morning, and what remains of it until morning you shall burn with fire. 11 And thus you shall eat it: with a belt on your waist, your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand. So you shall eat it in haste. It is the Lord’s Passover.
12 ‘For I will pass through the land of Egypt on that night, and will strike all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgment: I am the Lord. 13 Now the blood shall be a sign for you on the houses where you are. And when I see the blood, I will pass over you; and the plague shall not be on you to destroy you when I strike the land of Egypt.

In verse 3 of this passage, we see that God is speaking to Jews, and not to Gentiles, about their responsibility for keeping the Feast of Passover.

Exodus 12:14-21(Feast Of Unleavened Bread), New King James Version (NKJV)
14 ‘So this day shall be to you a memorial; and you shall keep it as a feast to the Lord throughout your generations. You shall keep it as a feast by an everlasting ordinance. 15 Seven days you shall eat unleavened bread. On the first day you shall remove leaven from your houses. For whoever eats leavened bread from the first day until the seventh day, that person shall be cut off from Israel. 16 On the first day there shall be a holy convocation, and on the seventh day there shall be a holy convocation for you. No manner of work shall be done on them; but that which everyone must eat—that only may be prepared by you. 17 So you shall observe the Feast of Unleavened Bread, for on this same day I will have brought your armies out of the land of Egypt. Therefore you shall observe this day throughout your generations as an everlasting ordinance. 18 In the first month, on the fourteenth day of the month at evening, you shall eat unleavened bread, until the twenty-first day of the month at evening. 19 For seven days no leaven shall be found in your houses, since whoever eats what is leavened, that same person shall be cut off from the congregation of Israel, whether he is a stranger or a native of the land. 20 You shall eat nothing leavened; in all your dwellings you shall eat unleavened bread.’”

In verse 14 of this passage, we see that God is speaking to Jews, and not to Gentiles, about their responsibility for keeping the Feast Of Unleavened Bread. After the day of Passover ends, Unleavened Bread immediately follows it for a period of seven days.

Exodus 12:42-49 (Passover), New King James Version (NKJV)
42 It is a night of solemn observance to the Lord for bringing them out of the land of Egypt. This is that night of the Lord, a solemn observance for all the children of Israel throughout their generations.

In verse 42, we see that God is telling the Jews, and not Gentiles, to observe a solemn observance of Passover.

Passover Regulations
43 And the Lord said to Moses and Aaron, “This is the ordinance of the Passover: No foreigner shall eat it.44 But every man’s servant who is bought for money, when you have circumcised him, then he may eat it. 45 A sojourner and a hired servant shall not eat it. 46 In one house it shall be eaten; you shall not carry any of the flesh outside the house, nor shall you break one of its bones. 47 All the congregation of Israel shall keep it.48 And when a stranger dwells with you and wants to keep the Passover to the Lord, let all his males be circumcised, and then let him come near and keep it; and he shall be as a native of the land. For no uncircumcised person shall eat it. 49 One law shall be for the native-born and for the stranger who dwells among you.”

In 47, all Jews are directed to observe Passover. There are no exceptions and no exclusions for the Jews. Others who dwell among the Jews are also required to observe Passover, but they must be circumcised, which would exclude female Gentiles.

Exodus 23:14-17, New King James Version (NKJV)
Three Annual Feasts
14 “Three times you shall keep a feast to Me in the year: 15 You shall keep the Feast of Unleavened Bread (you shall eat unleavened bread seven days, as I commanded you, at the time appointed in the month of Abib, for in it you came out of Egypt; none shall appear before Me empty); 16 and the Feast of Harvest, the first fruits of your labors which you have sown in the field; and the Feast of In-gathering at the end of the year, when you have gathered in the fruit of your labors from the field. 17 “Three times in the year all your males shall appear before the Lord God.
We will now discuss the relationship that exists between the feasts of Passover and Unleavened Bread, with Communion, The Lords Supper, and Breaking Of Bread.

A.D. 33 (Passover)
Matthew 26:17-25
Jesus Celebrates Passover With His Disciples
17 Now on the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread the disciples came to Jesus, saying to Him, “Where do You want us to prepare for You to eat the Passover?”
18 And He said, “Go into the city to a certain man, and say to him, ‘The Teacher says, “My time is at hand; I will keep the Passover at your house with My disciples.”’”
19 So the disciples did as Jesus had directed them; and they prepared the Passover.
20 When evening had come, He sat down with the twelve. 21 Now as they were eating, He said, “Assuredly, I say to you, one of you will betray Me.”
22 And they were exceedingly sorrowful, and each of them began to say to Him, “Lord, is it I?”
23 He answered and said, “He who dipped his hand with Me in the dish will betray Me. 24 The Son of Man indeed goes just as it is written of Him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been good for that man if he had not been born.”
25 Then Judas, who was betraying Him, answered and said, “Rabbi, is it I?” He said to him, “You have said it.”

Matthew 26:17-25, My thoughts
As is clearly seen, all of the disciples are present. There were no exclusions, and no exceptions. We can also see that Judas, who betrayed Jesus, was present. Notice, also, that the setting was that of a meal. Notice also (John 13:2-5, 11-12) that it was during the Passover Seder/Meal that Jesus washed the feet of the disciples, including the feet of Judas. It should also be considered that a meal has an air of intimacy. With the exception of Judas, there was a great love among the disciples for each other. For us, consider what it would be like to have a meal with someone, or someones, where there would be adversity and conflict. The Passover meals were joyous times of uniting of minds of Jews, in a common purpose for remembering all that God had done for them in bringing them out of the bondage that they had suffered as slaves in Egypt. Again, consider the intimacy of the meal, and that there were no exclusions or exceptions. All of the Jews participated in the celebration and meal of Passover.

Just as any religious Jew would do, Jesus celebrated Passover. His twelve disciples celebrated it with Him, and ate a Passover seder (meal). They recalled the deliverance of the Jews from Egypt. There were no exclusions of any of the disciples, including Judas Iscariot.

26 And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to the disciples and said,“Take, eat; this is My body.”
27 Then He took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. 28 For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins. 29 But I say to you, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in My Father’s kingdom.”
30 And when they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.

Matthew 26:26-30, My thoughts
It was during the Passover meal, when Jews reflect on their deliverance from bondage in Egypt, that Jesus took the opportunity to tell of his soon coming and imminent death. He used the bread and wine that were used during the meal to explain the state that would be of His body and blood, as a result of His dying on the cross the next day, which we call Good Friday. This event would occur before the beginning of Sabbath (Friday at sundown). It is important to know that Jesus didn’t use a small wafer of bread when He said, “Take, eat, this is My body.” Neither did He use a small sip of wine when He said, “Drink from it, all of you.” Jesus took bread and wine from the table where they were sharing the meal. The food on the table did not suddenly become the literal body and blood of Jesus. “Transubstantiation” is the suggested change whereby, according to Catholic doctrine, the bread and wine that are used in the sacrament of the Eucharist become the body and blood of Christ. Again, the bread and wine that Jesus used, as He instituted the Lord’s Supper, were taken from the table where all of the other Passover food items had been placed. Also, Jesus was not “holding Himself and eating of His own body,” and was not “drinking His own blood,” as he was telling of his impending death. A final item that should be emphasized is that Jesus did not separate the Passover meal from the moment that He began to tell of His death. The occasion was that of a meal, a continuous meal, where bread and wine were taken from the table. There were no rules for the meal, other than the normal procedures of the Passover Seder. There were no statements that had been made known about who would not be allowed to participate in the meal. Consider the words of Jesus in Matthew 11:28: Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest”(New Living Translation). Notice also, that the meal took place in the evening of Thursday, the day before His crucifixion. This day is also called Holy Thursday and Maunday Thursday, which is the day before Good Friday. It should also be noted that “The Day Of Preparation” (John 19:31), refers to Friday, the day before, or the ‘preparation’ day for, the Sabbath.

Comment: It was during the Passover meal, that Jesus spoke of His imminent death on the cross. He used the bread and wine, that were items for consumption in the seder. They would refer to His body, that would be crucified on a cross, and to his blood that would be shed. Then, he looked ahead to the time when, in the Kingdom of God (The Millennium, the thousand year reign of Christ) that He would partake of the Passover again. There were no exclusions of any of the disciples, including Judas Iscariot. Neither had there ever been any rules as to anyone being “unworthy” to partake of the passover meal, or to this passover specifically, when Jesus speaks of his soon to occur death on the cross.

Comment: A sermon begins as we consider the Breaking Of Bread. Repetition will be obvious. In this sermon, the use of repetition is used to reinforce topics that appear not to have been taught in the church on a large and effective basis. Notice, also, that the sermon is conversational. The ideas that come to my mind are typed and placed in the sermon. As you read the scriptures that relate to “Communion, The Breaking Of Bread, The Lord’s Supper,” you will notice that they all relate to the sacrificial death of Jesus on the cross, and are not inventions of the apostles, or of the New Testament Church. The message, and the procedure, all relate back to the Last Supper of the Passover (Matthew 26:17-30), and also to the meal that took place at the end of the trip to Emmaus where Jesus “broke bread” before Cleopas and other believers (Luke 24:1-52). Because the disciples of Jesus were Jews, we should consider their lives as they relate to the feasts that they celebrated before, and after, the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus. The time line is important to our study, as is the comparison of the cities that will be discussed. My personal comments will always be clearly marked as such. Hopefully we will have the mindset of the Bereans, in Acts 17:11. New International Version “Now the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.”This sermon covers a time frame from A.D. 33 to A.D. 59. The events that will be discussed range from Jerusalem to Corinth.

A.D. 33 (After The Resurrection)
Luke 24:13-27
The Road to Emmaus
13 Now behold, two of them were traveling that same day to a village called Emmaus, which was seven miles from Jerusalem. 14 And they talked together of all these things which had happened. 15 So it was, while they conversed and reasoned, that Jesus Himself drew near and went with them. 16 But their eyes were restrained, so that they did not know Him.
17 And He said to them, “What kind of conversation is this that you have with one another as you walk and are sad?”
18 Then the one whose name was Cleopas answered and said to Him, “Are You the only stranger in Jerusalem, and have You not known the things which happened there in these days?”
19 And He said to them, “What things?”
So they said to Him, “The things concerning Jesus of Nazareth, who was a Prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, 20 and how the chief priests and our rulers delivered Him to be condemned to death, and crucified Him. 21 But we were hoping that it was He who was going to redeem Israel. Indeed, besides all this, today is the third day since these things happened. 22 Yes, and certain women of our company, who arrived at the tomb early, astonished us. 23 When they did not find His body, they came saying that they had also seen a vision of angels who said He was alive. 24 And certain of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said; but Him they did not see.”
25 Then He said to them, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken!26 Ought not the Christ to have suffered these things and to enter into His glory?” 27 And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself.

Luke 24:13-27, My Thoughts
Jesus comes upon two disciples who are walking to Emmaus; they are prevented by Jesus from recognizing Him. The three of them engage in conversation as they walk. The disciples discuss the events of the crucifixion of Jesus, the death, burial, and resurrection. At that point in the conversation, Jesus uses Old Testament scriptures to explain that those same scriptures identify Him as being the prophesied Messiah.

Luke 24:28-35
The Disciples’ Eyes Opened
28 Then they drew near to the village where they were going, and He indicated that He would have gone farther. 29 But they constrained Him, saying, “Abide with us, for it is toward evening, and the day is far spent.” And He went in to stay with them.
30 Now it came to pass, as He sat at the table with them, that He took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. 31 Then their eyes were opened and they knew Him; and He vanished from their sight.
32 And they said to one another, “Did not our heart burn within us while He talked with us on the road, and while He opened the Scriptures to us?” 33 So they rose up that very hour and returned to Jerusalem, and found the eleven and those who were with them gathered together, 34 saying, “The Lord is risen indeed, and has appeared to Simon!” 35 And they told about the things that had happened on the road, and how He was known to them in the breaking of bread.

Luke 24:28-35, My Thoughts
As the journey ends in Emmaus, the disciples invite Jesus to stay with them. It was the evening of the day, on Sunday, the first day of the week, on the same day that Jesus was resurrected from the dead. An evening meal is set before Jesus and those who are with Him. As with the Passover Meal, Jesus took bread from the meal table, just as He did on Thursday evening, and blessed it and gave the bread to those who were present. Jesus didn’t use little pieces of bread wafers. Nothing was said about those who should not “come around the Lord’s table.” There was not a “set aside” moment, that was separate from the meal, when Jesus broke the bread. All of this was a part of a meal. It was during this “meal,” as Jesus blessed the bread from the table, and gave it to the other people, that He was made known to them. The term, “breaking of bread,” will become a common name for the fellowship meals that believers will begin to share. During such fellowship meals, remembrance will be made of the death of Jesus. It is important to notice that the food items were locally procured. Jesus did not say that the bread was turning into his body. Though the wine was not mentioned, neither was the turning of the wine to blood mentioned by Jesus. He said nothing about anyone participating in an unworthy manner.

A.D. 33 (Day Of Pentecost Follow up)
Acts 2:40-47
A Vital Church Grows
40 And with many other words he testified and exhorted them, saying, “Be saved from this perverse generation.” 41 Then those who gladly received his word were baptized; and that day about three thousand souls were added to them. 42 And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers. 43 Then fear came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were done through the apostles. 44 Now all who believed were together, and had all things in common, 45 and sold their possessions and goods, and divided them among all, as anyone had need.
46 So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, 47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.

Acts 2:40-47, My Thoughts
Three thousand Jews, who were present for the Feast Of Pentecost, had come to know Jesus as their Lord and Savior. It is important to identify them as “believing Jews.” Jews who had not come to that belief should be called “unbelieving Jews.” Still, religious Jews, whether they were “believing” or “unbelieving” Jews, had great respect for their Jewish heritage. The believing Jews continued to attend the temple worship services, but they also met as believers in Christ in their homes. They had meals in each others’ homes where they, “broke bread,” just as had taken place in Luke 24:28-35. Key words are seen in this passage. The believers had “all things in common.” “Common,” relates to communion. The bread and wine were not seen as being, “the communion.” The believers were “the communion.” In the 1960s and 70s, there were “communes” of people who lived together and had all of their things “in common.” The Episcopal Church has a group of believers who belong to the “Anglican Communion.” There were no rules as to who should not be allowed to participate in these fellowship meals. There was a daily sharing of the fellowship meals, but there was no “set aside” of a separate “wafer of bread” and “sip of wine” being identified as “the communion,” “the Lord’s Supper,” or “the Eucharist.” The bread of the meal that was placed on the tables did not become the literal “body of Christ.” The wine of the meal that was placed on the tables did not become the literal “blood of Christ.” There was no particular schedule that was stated for, “the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers,” other than that the believers were “steadfast” in those things. Also, notice in verse 46, “they ate their food.” That reiterates the fact that it was during fellowship meals that the death of Christ was remembered, and was not just the sharing of bread wafers and sips of wine. It is also important to understand that the believing Jews did not automatically build “The First Baptist Church Of Jerusalem,” or any other such named congregation, and place their membership in such places. Home churches were not a direct design for churches to follow; they were appropriate for the time. The difference that existed in the lives of the believing Jews was that they had come to know Jesus as their Lord and Savior. Verse 42 has been cited to show that the early church had “the communion” as a regular part of their church services. That verse does not make that point. It is very clear in its meaning. Those who had come to saving faith in Jesus followed the teachings of the apostles. They maintained a fellowship with other believers. They “broke bread,” shared fellowship meals. They prayed. But, also remember that these Jews, who were new to belief in Jesus, were still Jews. They still went to the temple, but also met outside of the temple as believers in Christ. There is a problem that exists for Jewish believers today, who do not fellowship with other believers of Jesus; they don’t receive the blessings of the teachings of Jesus. It is important to notice that there is no mention of people who may, or may not, have been invited to the fellowship meals. Neither is there any mention of the precaution against taking the meal “unworthily.” Nor was there any mention that the bread and wine had turned into the body and blood of Jesus. The house church is the design that is shown here. It was not of design, but more of necessity. The early believers met wherever it was possible for them to do so. Please consider your own home church cell group. This ministry will be very happy to assist you if you make that decision.

A.D. 59
Acts 20:7
Ministering at Troas
7 Now on the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul, ready to depart the next day, spoke to them and continued his message until midnight.

Acts 20:7, My Thoughts
The breaking of bread accompanied the preaching by the Apostle Paul. This occurred on the first day of the week, which was Sunday. The meeting appears to have occurred in the evening of the day. There is nothing that is stated that indicates that the breaking of bread was any different than that which took place in Acts 2:42-46. There, the believers had a fellowship meal, during which time the death of Jesus was remembered. Neither were there any statements about anyone that should be excluded from the fellowship meal, which was the “breaking of bread.” The bread was part of the meal, as was the wine. This “breaking of bread” did not consist of small wafers of bread or and sips of wine, that were used outside of the fellowship meal to remember the Lord’s death. There was no precaution against taking the meal in an “unworthy manner,” or of the bread and wine becoming the body and blood of Jesus.

A.D. 59
1 Corinthians 5:1-8
Immorality Defiles the Church
5 It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and such sexual immorality as is not even named among the Gentiles—that a man has his father’s wife! 2 And you are puffed up, and have not rather mourned, that he who has done this deed might be taken away from among you. 3 For I indeed, as absent in body but present in spirit, have already judged (as though I were present) him who has so done this deed. 4 In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when you are gathered together, along with my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, 5 deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.
6 Your glorying is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? 7 Therefore purge out the old leaven, that you may be a new lump, since you truly are unleavened. For indeed Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us. 8 Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.

1 Corinthians 5:1-8, My Thoughts
The city of Corinth was one that was morally corrupt. It was widely known for its indulgences in sensual pleasures and scandalous activities that involved illicit sex and drunkenness. Some of these same sins were common among members of the church in Corinth, which included incest. There were many religious prostitutes who lived and worked there; they went into the city in the evening to offer “their services” each evening. The Corinthian church was full of worldliness and would not separate itself from the culture that surrounded it. The Apostle Paul wrote his letter to the Corinthian church to instruct the faithful members of that church to break fellowship with those who were disobedient and unrepentant, and also to put them out of the church. Whenever a church becomes an embarrassment within any community, and begins to look like the sinful world, corrective actions must be taken by the church or there will be no clear difference between that apostate church and the world. In this passage, we can seen specific problems within that church. Sexual immorality, including incest (vs 1); selfish pride, and an unwillingness of the church to remove the incestuous man from the church (vs 2). Paul related the Feast of Unleavened Bread to the way that the Church at Corinth should live its daily life. Sinful lifestyles should be replaced with lifestyles of Holiness. It is important to notice that the problem that Paul is addressing is one that had taken root in the church as a corporate body. It was not just one person’s sinful lifestyle choices that had made the church repulsive, even to the Gentiles (unbelievers).

1 Corinthians 11:17-22
Conduct at the Fellowship Meal
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. 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 11:17-22, My Thoughts
The Apostle Paul continues with his objections that relate to the Corinthian church. There was nothing good about that church’s coming together as a body; instead it was seen to be a bad thing (vs 17). There were severe divisions within the church, as opposed to a church that was unified in a common purpose to worship God (vs 18). The Corinthian church came together to “break bread,” which was a fellowship meal. That gathering was far from that which occurred in the example that is shown in Acts 2:42-47. There was no unity of purpose for the “communion of the saints.” (vs 20). Some people ate their meal before others arrived. Consequently, not all people who were hungry found enough, if any, food to eat. Notice that it was not a “set aside” of wafers of bread, but a meal which was served. And, as is shown, people were getting drunk because of their over indulgence in the drinking of the wine. The drunkenness did not come from “a sip of wine,” but from the beverage that was served during the meal (vs 21). If the Corinthians could not have a fellowship meal in manner that was respectful, to their fellow believers and to God, they should just have their meals at their own homes. There was nothing about the way the Corinthians had their fellowship meals, “the breaking of bread,” that Paul found to be worthy of his praise (vs 22).

1 Corinthians 11:23-26
Paul Remembers the Last Supper
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, My Comments
As we see in the Last Supper, “The Passover Meal,” (Matthew 26:26-28), it was during that meal that Jesus took time to tell of His soon to be death on the cross. It was also during the “breaking of bread,” the fellowship meal, that there was also a time for the remembrance of the death of Jesus on the cross. Notice that the Corinthians did not have a “set aside” time, which was held outside of the fellowship meal, that small wafers of bread, and sips of wine, were used to remember the death of Jesus. Paul repeats the Words of Jesus from the Passover. He used the words “my body, and my blood.” But, there was no Catholic priest present who could turn those elements into the literal body and blood of Jesus. Neither was there an apostle present during the times of great unrest in the church at Corinth. Either a Catholic priest must be present for such miracles, or it is not required. Either it is, or it is not! Also, the food items were procured locally. They came from the same table that held the other items of food. There was no miracle, just an illustration that was used to identify bread and wine with the body and blood of Jesus. This example of mine is in no way intended to show a lack of respect for Catholic priests. It is only made to illustrate truth.

1 Corinthians 11:27-34
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. 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.
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 11:27-34, My Thoughts
The question that should be raised as we read this passage is one that refers to verse 29, as it relates to “an unworthy manner.” Leading up to this point in scripture, there was nothing written that was relative to “who may, or may not” participate in a fellowship meal. The problems of the Corinthian church had nothing to do with sharing a meal, or remembering the death of Jesus. Notice, also, that the problems were corporate and not necessarily individual. The bread and wine of the fellowship meals were not “the ark of the covenant.” The context of Paul’s letter to the Corinthians does not change. In Matthew 11:28, we read, “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” So, we’re told that we should come to Jesus when we have a problem, but many of us have been taught that if we have certain “unknown” problems, and if we come “around His table” that He will strike us dead. None of us are ever worthy of anything of God. It is in our weak times that we need the fellowship of the body of Christ, which is the true communion. But, let’s consider the word “unworthy.” If the context of Paul’s message had changed, has there ever been published, for all to read, a list of offenses for which we may have committed, which if we have committed them, will keep us from participating in a meal with other believers, and which will prevent us from remembering the Lord’s death among those same believers, with the penalty of death? (a long run-on sentence, but it is difficult to separate it). God has ways of dealing with those who are embarrassments to His church. Consider Acts 5:1-11. The deaths of Annanias and Sapphira had nothing to do with “the breaking of bread,” participation in a fellowship meal, or remembering the death of Jesus. Their penalty for lying to the Holy Spirit served a purpose that is written in Acts 5:11: “So great fear came upon all the church and upon all who heard these things. The punishments of sickness and death that happened to the Corinthian believers also created great fear among their congregation. It is very clear that the fellowship meal occurred prior to the meeting of the church service. It is also clear that the Corinthians took time during the meal to remember the death of Jesus. The problem was that the church at Corinth resembled the sinful outside world more than it did a true church having a love feast. The total lack of love of one Corinthian believer for another was so great that God intervened with punishment that included death. It was not a situation of Corinthians having had a bad thought during the past week.

Thoughts to consider. Believers in Jesus can remember His death on the cross outside of a fellowship meal. Small wafers of bread and small sips of grape juice or wine can be used to focus on the broken body and shed blood of our Lord and Savior. There is no frequency that is scripturally stated for “a communion service,” or for a fellowship meal. It is important, though, for us not to put unscriptural requirements for participation in such times of “breaking bread.” Let us consider the words of the following song of breaking bread. The early church shared in a fellowship meal. During that meal they remembered the death of Jesus on the cross. They did it “together.” They “were” the communion. May we also be “the
communion.”

We began this discussion with scriptures on truth. Sometimes truth must be forcefully and heavily poured out. Sometimes it must be seasoned with grace, and lightly sprinkled. We face “a lot of stuff” in the world, and in the church. But, please let me say something that I hope will sprinkle down and season your understanding. “Just give me Jesus.”

Just Give Me Jesus
Fernando Ortega

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2 thoughts on “Blog Post 061314, Communion Confusion

  1. Glory, glory, glory; excellent, well taught lesson, and a much needed one I must say. Thank you Pastor for sharing your wisdom and knowledge on this very important subject. May the Lord continue to provide you with His wisdom that you may share and enlighten all of us as the Lord gives to you.

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