The Lord’s Supper (1 Corinthians #30)

Text: 1 Corinthians 11:17-34

Twenty years after the Lord Jesus Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection the Corinthian church was started.  Within three or four years of its inception the carnal problems in the church had completely quenched the work of the Holy Spirit.  The ordinances such as the Lord’s supper had been taken hostage by the affluent and more worldly among them.  The doctrines became more of a defense of a lifestyle than a humble approach to the scriptures.

Carnal Divisions (vss 17-22)

  • Valuable divisions
    • The ordinances of God will either help or harden
    • Benefit of dividing lines
      • Identifies the faithful and the unfaithful by setting them in contrast.
      • The heresies are inevitable since most people are unfaithful.
  • Vain divisions
    • Exchange the Bible for one personality over another: Paul, Peter, Apollos, etc.
    • Exchange the Bible for family circles, friendships, affluence, community pressure, etc.
      • The dealings with that young man committing fornication with his stepmother that we are not that far from.
      • Dad divorces Mom and remarries a younger woman who is around the same age as his son.  The dad soon loses interest since he remarried to satisfy his lust.  That relationship deteriorates and this younger wife begins to find more in common with the son than the dad.  It’s all rationalized by saying it just isn’t working out with the dad.
      • One thing you can read back into that is someone who was influential didn’t want that young man kicked out.  Someone influential was saying this isn’t as bad as it seems.  Until Paul has to step in.
    • Exchange the Bible to protect your behavior or the behavior of someone you love.
    • In each case the division comes from someone’s personal attachment or investment that they are not willing to move on.

Chastening Direction (vss 23-26)

  • Remind them of the purpose
    • To correct the behavior, Paul will remind the Corinthians what the Lord’s Supper is about and what it’s purpose is.
    • What is the Lord’s Supper?  It is the fulfillment of the Passover and the institution of the new testament.
      • The Passover meal was instituted in Exodus 12:1-11.
      • It was celebrated as a shadow of the Lord Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God.
    • Hebrews 10:1-22 describes the fulfillment in detail.  Emphasis on the body of Jesus Christ for the purpose of offering.
    • The Passover was fulfilled by Jesus Christ according to 1 Corinthians 5:7.
      • Bread symbolized his body
      • Cup symbolized his blood
    • It is a remembrance, not a sacrifice, sacrament, salvation, or anything other than a remembrance of the Lord’s death.
  • Rebuke them for their pride
    • When Jesus Christ was BETRAYED, he GAVE.  I can see Paul emphasizing “betrayed” in verse 23 to put the selfish ones to shame.
    • In this case of the Lord’s Supper it was the wealthy who were ignoring the poorer folks.  They would bring food, eat, and leave before the poorer folks could attend or participate.
      • See verse 22
      • Paul sarcastically says, Hey, don’t you have a place to eat?!

Consequential Decisions (vss 27-30)

  • Ignored what is sacred to God
    • If your child died for others and you watched as the remembrance of your child’s sacrifice turned into a party where wealthy people shunned the poorer folks.  And a certain group of people completely forgot why they were there, while others were trying to remember the sacrifice, you would have the same feeling God has about that thing.  And you’d deal with the people that dishonoured your child’s memory.
    • For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep.  God simply says if these saved people won’t respect my Son’s death, then I don’t want them attending this remembrance.
    • Therefore, those attending need to be sanctified.
    • The Lord set this time apart, therefore you will be found guilty if you don’t do the same with yourself.  Not guilt that will send you to hell, but guilt that God will determine He doesn’t want you around the Lord’s Supper anymore.
  • Independent through sin
    • Not discerning the Lord’s body
    • The church is the body of Christ also called the temple of God.
      • The temple of God is a congregation of people, lively stones as we’ll see, just like the temple in the old testament was made of many stones.  We are stones in a building that God is putting together.
      • This is about your relationship to the whole.
      • Colossians 1:24 for his body’s sake, which is the church
    • 2 Corinthians 6:14 – 18 – the temple of God is a corporate body, not one individual: them (6:16), my people (6:16), my sons and daughters (6:18)
    • Ephesians 2:19-22 – Built upon Jesus Christ
      • foundation of the apostles and prophets
      • In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: (Ephesians 2:21)
      • In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit. (Ephesians 2:22)
      • Paul reminds us that the congregation is the temple of God and that the Spirit of God is in us – therefore, God will destroy any man that defiles the holy temple of God (congregation of believers)
      • He destroyed Ananias and Sapphira for lying to the Holy Ghost in Acts 5
      • He set the young man apart for destruction in 1 Corinthians 5 for fornication which leavened that temple

Condemnation Diverted vss 31-34)

  • Self examination
    • Those that are sick and/or sleep among you.  These are not folks with secret sin.
    • What if they are with secret sin?  It’s not between you and God – examine yourself.
  • Selfless edification (vs 33)
    • Apparently some were celebrating the Lord’s Supper after a fellowship – a “dinner on the grounds”.
    • Others in the church were not able to celebrate because all the bread and juice would be gone and eaten by those that had the influence.
  • Set up for exaltation (vs 34)
    • Paul says, Look, if you don’t have enough sense or self control to participate correctly, then deal with the lack of self control before you get here.
    • Prepare so you’ll be right when you get here.

The chapter ends with Paul saying the rest can wait until I get there.  Not everything that is wrong in a church has to be immediately addressed.