How the Corinthians were Dishonoring the Lord’s Supper (11:17-22)
Divisions Among Them (11:17-19)
- Inward rifts (schismata); called divisions (or "schisms"). This is where there is great internal tension in the assembly, such that there are two or more "sides", in which full fellowship is not enjoyed between sides. It is a division of thoughts and feelings, but they are still going on together.
- Outward rifts (hairesis); called heresies (or, "sects"). This is where the division is not judged or repaired, and eventually the assembly actually breaks apart and begins meeting separately.
Selfishness & Confusion: The Lord’s Supper Confused with a Common Meal (11:20-22)
The Proper Order of the Lord’s Supper: A Revelation to Paul (11:23-26)
When all around Thee joined
To cast its darkest shadow
Across Thy holy mind,
We hear Thy voice, blest Savior,
“This do, remember me”,
With grateful hearts responding,
We do remember Thee.
The two great Covenants have to do with Israel, not the Church, as we clearly see from Rom. 9:4; "... Israelites; to whom pertaineth ... the covenants". Covenant theologians argue that the New Covenant is with the Church; but if we look at Jeremiah 31:31 we find that the New Covenant will be made with "the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah". The covenants are with Israel and for the earth. The Church is heavenly, and called out of the earth. If we compare the two covenants we will see striking differences:
|Old Covenant||New Covenant|
|Made with:||Israel at Sinai in the wilderness||Israel and Judah in the Millennium|
|Character:||Blessings or cursings conditional upon Israel's obedience||Unconditional blessings|
|A system of:||Demand (works)||Supply (grace)|
The great difference between the two covenants is that the Old was on the basis of works, and the New is on the basis of grace. The language of the Old is "if thou shalt ... then I will...", but the language of the New is just "I will...". The prophecy of Jeremiah 31 was given after the utter failure of Israel under the Old Covenant was manifest, which set God on His part free to make a New Covenant. On the people's part, the cross must come in first, because it was necessary to transfer the issue of their responsibility to Israel's smitten Messiah. The guilt of breaking the Old must be cleared before the New could be established. Therefore, we can see that the death of Christ was needed to "take away the first and establish the second" (Heb. 10:9). If the New Covenant is made with Israel, why does the cup in the Lord's Supper represent "the blood of the New Covenant" (1 Cor. 11:25, etc.)? If we look at the blessings of the New Covenant we will see that Christians have those same blessings in Christianity, although we also have many blessings that go far beyond those of the New Covenant (Eph. 1; blessings "in Christ"). Therefore, it can be said that Christians share the blessings of the New Covenant, without being formally under the covenant. Paul clearly says that Christians are "competent, as ministers of the new covenant" (2 Cor. 3:6) although we are not under it as a binding contract; "not of letter, but of spirit". The spirit of the New Covenant is grace, and that is what characterizes our relationship to God in Christianity. The same blood that has secured the New Covenant blessings for future Israel has secured our blessings in Christianity today.To conclude, the meaning of the cup in the Lord's Supper: the "cup of blessing" (1 Cor. 10:16) represents the blood of Christ (1) which will formally bless Israel in the New Covenant, and (2) which has secured all spiritual blessings for believers today, including the blessings of the New Covenant.
When Paul says "Christ sent me not to baptize" he is contrasting his special commission with that of the twelve. The twelve were commissioned by a risen Christ on earth; "Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost" (Matt. 28:19). Baptism makes us disciples in the kingdom, which is connected with this earth. When Paul was called, a new order of things began that was heavenly in character. He was "sent" (that is what 'apostle' means) by a risen Christ in heaven, not on the earth (the Jewish hope). It isn't that Paul didn’t baptize, or didn’t understand baptism. In fact, no one explains baptism more profoundly than Paul; read Rom. 6, Gal. 3, and Col. 2. But that was not the focus of Paul's ministry. There are only two outward Christian ordinances: baptism and the Lord's Supper. This second ordinance is what Paul received in a special way from Christ; "For I received from the Lord, that which I also delivered to you, etc." (1 Cor. 11:23-26). Both baptism and the Eucharist speak of Christ's death, but one has to do with individuals in the kingdom, the other collective for the Church of God. Baptism is connected more with this earth and has no part in Paul's ministry; he came to preach the Gospel.
Eating and Drinking Unworthily & Governmental Results (11:27-32)
To be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord is disrespect to it. Suppose I spat upon my mother’s picture, in spirit I should be spitting upon my mother; it would be doing scorn to my mother, and so it would be in this case; to be guilty of it means to be guilty in the way you are dealing with the body and blood of Christ. … It has nothing to do with being unworthy to eat or drink, but is the manner of doing it: in Christ, he is worthy; out of Christ, he is unworthy, which is another thing.1
- Punitive. To punish the believer when positive sin is committed. The goal is to correct the believer, and if refused, it could lead to one being taken in death (Heb. 12:6; 9-10; 1 Cor. 11:32).
- Purgative. To remove unnecessary hindrances from a believer's life. The goal is to make the believer more fruitful, and more radiant (John 15:1-2; Psa. 139:2-3).2
- Preventative. To keep a believer from doing something he would have otherwise done; to preserve us from spiritual harm (Rom. 8:28; 2 Cor. 4:11; 12:7-9; Job 33:17-19).
- Preparative. To prepare a believer for a new phase of life or field of ministry, such as being a help to others who are suffering (2 Cor. 1:3-6; Heb. 2:17-18).