The Responsibility of Taking the Lord’s Supper
1 Corinthians 11:17-34
 
 
Assembly Meetings. The book of First Corinthians takes up the order of the local assembly, and from ch.11, v.17 to the end of ch.14, behavior in “assembly meetings” is discussed. Reference 1 Cor. 11:17, 18, 20, 33, 34; 14:23, 26, 28, 34, 35. There is a difference between when believers meet together for recreational purposes, casual fellowship, or a bible study, and when they are gathered together “in assembly” (1 Cor. 11:18). Assembly meetings are official meetings, where the assembly comes together in a purposeful way. An illustration of this could be the Unites States Congress. There are certain set times when Congress comes together in an official capacity. They may meet after hours for social events, etc. but no laws can be made. It is only when Congress is “in session” that they can act in their official capacity. Scriptural assembly meetings are: the breaking of bread (1 Cor. 11:18), the prophecy meeting (1 Cor. 14:23), the prayer meeting (Acts 12:12), a meeting for assembly action (1 Cor. 5:4), and perhaps a meeting for the public reading of the scriptures (1 Tim. 4:13). read more…
 

How the Corinthians were Dishonoring the Lord’s Supper (11:17-22)

Divisions Among Them (11:17-19)

 17 But in prescribing to you on this which I now enter on, I do not praise, namely, that ye come together, not for the better, but for the worse. v.17 He had praised them earlier in the chapter for keeping the inspired instructions with regard to headcoverings, but now Paul enters upon a subject for which he could not praise the Corinthians; namely, misconduct at the Lord’s Supper. This misconduct is addressed under two headings; (1) disrespect for the Lord, and (2) disrespect for other believers. This had developed an atmosphere in the assembly meetings that was positively caustic. It is God’s mind that the assembly meetings would be “for the better” of the whole assembly. Instead, the meetings in Corinth were “for the worse”. The state of the local assembly has an effect on all who are present. Do we want the assembly meetings to be profitable and encouraging? Putting self first and allowing human wisdom to intrude are what caused this problem. We must let Christ have the first place, others next, and ourselves last. 
 
18 For first, when ye come together in assembly, I hear there exist divisions [‘schismata’] among you, and I partly give credit to it19 For there must also be sects [‘hairesis’] among you, that the approved may become manifest among you. vv.18-19 First, the assembly was divided. Paul had already spoken of divisions that existed in the local assembly (1 Corinthians 1:10 – 4:21), but now we find that these divisions were affecting the assembly meetings. Paul says “I partly believe it”, indicating that there was some uncertainty as to the facts. This is often the case where there is disunity in the assembly. Satan loves to throw dust in the air and make things unclear (e.g. Rom. 16:18; 2 Sam. 13-15). We need to do like Paul; consider it, but don’t believe everything you hear. This didn’t prevent Paul from addressing the issue. The scripture speaks of two kinds of rifts between believers; inward and outward. We get both in this verse.
  1. 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.
  2. 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.
Paul makes it very clear that if the root of division is not judged, it “must needs” turn into a sect or heresy. This doesn’t mean that a heresy is inevitable; rather, it is inevitable if we do not judge the root of division. When we hear of a heresy, we should understand that it did not happen overnight, but it began perhaps years earlier as a schism. The result of an outward division or heresy would be “that the approved may become manifest among you”. Things were so clouded in the assembly that it was almost impossible to discern who among them was really walking in the truth of God. When an outward division occurred, God would step in and make it all clear. An example has been given of a ship captain with a brand-new crew. He really doesn’t know what kind of crew he has until a storm comes up. Likewise, David didn’t know where Ahithophel or Barzillai stood until a division arose. When the storm arises, the approved are made manifest.
 
Once a division has occurred, it is important to recognize that it is from God, although on account of our failure. We are not to try to force a reunion between the separated sect and the assembly. That is God’s work, and in the meantime, we must submit to His government. A great example of this is what God told Rehoboam who was minded to go to war with the ten tribes after the division of Israel; “Thus saith the LORD, Ye shall not go up, nor fight against your brethren the children of Israel: return every man to his house; for this thing is from me. They hearkened therefore to the word of the LORD, and returned to depart, according to the word of the LORD” (1 Kings 12:24). A division ought to humble the assembly. What have we carried on with that would cause God to divide His people? Often the root is that the assembly has not given Christ the place He deserves. We get a helpful principle in Zech. 11. The prophet broke the staff Beauty first, then the staff Bands. This symbolized the nation of Israel, who rejected the Messiah. As a result, He refused to heal the old division between Judah and Ephraim. God will not allow Israel to be a “big happy family” again until this bloodguiltiness is repented of. The same is true today. It is vain to enforce unity without holiness. We must repent of our low condition before God will come in and heal divisions.

Selfishness & Confusion: The Lord’s Supper Confused with a Common Meal (11:20-22)

Background. In Pagan culture, the way to approach the gods was to come to them through a religious ecstasy. This was accomplished through getting drunk, engaging in wild orgies, loud music and singing, and calling out to the gods.
 
20 When ye come therefore together into one place, it is not to eat the Lord’s supper. 21 For each one in eating takes his “own” supper before others, and one is hungry and another drinks to excess. 22 Have ye not then houses for eating and drinking? or do ye despise the assembly of God, and put to shame them who have not? What shall I say to you? shall I praise you? In this point I do not praise. vv.20-22 The Corinthians were coming together presumably to eat the Lord’s supper, but they were not doing so. Instead they were taking their “own supper”, which refers to the “love feast” (Agape feast), a kind of fellowship-meal common among early Christians (Jude 12). It was for the whole assembly, rich and poor, and the dishes were shared by all, for the purpose of strengthening the bonds between believers in the assembly. There were two problems: (1) they were not showing love in their love feasts because they were allowing the spirit of division and self-interest to displace the spirit of grace, and (2) they had blurred the lines between the love feast and the Lord’s Supper, to the point where they were not really showing forth the Lord’s death. For both of these errors, the Apostle could not praise them.
 
No ‘love’ in their love-feasts? At the love feast, those who were wealthy would bring great platters of food and wine, and the poor had nothing. Instead of sharing, which would have been the most basic expression of love, the poor were going hungry, and the rich were eating and drinking “to excess”; i.e. getting tipsy, if not drunk. They were publicly flaunting their wealth before the poor, to “put to shame them that have not”. By bringing social things into the assembly (feasting, etc.) they had also brought social ideas, such as distinction between rich and poor. Are we so infused with the norms of modern culture that we do the same thing? Do we steer clear of those in the assembly that are of another race, or that are poor, or that are uneducated, or that are unkempt, or that are handicapped, or that have different views, or that have offended us in some way? If we do, we are not showing love. This was a fundamental denial of the fact that the Church is one body; hence Paul denounced them for despising “the assembly of God”.
 
No ‘Lord’ in their Lord’s supper? Secondly, eating and drinking was going on, yet they were not properly eating the Lord’s supper. They were literally feeding the flesh and behaving unruly during a time that had been reserved for the Lord’s Supper. We must understand that drunken feasts were a common occurrence at Pagan celebrations. Bringing that behavior into the assembly was a bi-product of adopting worldly wisdom. “Have ye not houses to eat and drink in?” The Lord’s Supper is reserved for the Lord… you should go home if you want to fill your stomach. This entire epistle is characterized by the title “Lord”, which involves the believer’s responsibility to bow to the Lordship of Christ. Lordship applies to every aspect of life, including the assembly meetings. Paul outlines in vv.23-26 the proper order that they (and we) should follow. The Lord’s supper is a time of solemn reflection and reverence. Certainly, joy is appropriate, and sorrow. But never lightness or joking. Are we careful to guard the sacred character of the Lord’s Supper? If we have a time for social interaction (such as a fellowship meal), are we careful to keep it distinct from the Lord’s supper? We need to keep the ‘Lord’ in the Lord’s supper.
 

The Proper Order of the Lord’s Supper: A Revelation to Paul (11:23-26)

23a For “I” received from the Lord, that which I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus, in the night in which he was delivered up, v.23a The truth that Paul now reveals did not come to him through the twelve apostles who were with the Lord when He instituted the supper, but rather were given to him by revelation “from the Lord”. In fact, Paul brings out added significance to the Lord’s Supper, both in ch.11 and in ch.10, that the Lord did not bring out in the gospels. This is one of four special revelations given to Paul. The apostle had been faithful to “deliver” to the saints that which he had “received” from the Lord. We should be faithful as well to pass on what the Lord has given us. Everything here is designed to reach the heart. It is not only the title “Lord” but also the name of  “Jesus” that is brought out… the name of the lowly, gracious, perfect man who is our Savior. The supper was instituted on the night before the Passover (i.e. Thursday night), which was the night He was betrayed by Judas, arrested by the soldiers, and delivered up to the Jewish council. The point is, the night that Jesus was delivered into the hands of wicked men to be tried, beaten, and crucified… that same night He was thinking of us! What grace! He is looking for a loving response from us to His request.
 
On that same night, Lord Jesus,
  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. 
 
23b took bread, 24 and having given thanks broke it, and said, This is my body, which is for you: this do in remembrance of me. vv.23b-24 The bread. The Lord took bread (unleavened most likely) and gave thanks for it, then broke it, and gave it to the disciples. When He said “This is my body”, it was in the sense of “this represents by body”. The disciples understood that the bread was not literally the body of the Lord, because He was standing before them! It was in the same way I might show you a photograph of my wife and say “This is my wife”. You would understand that my wife is not composed of paper and ink. The bread represents Christ’s body, and in that way it is His body. But it is not His literal body. This is the great error of the “real presence” views in Eucharistic Theology. The body of Christ was given on the cross, sacrificed for us, that we might be saved (Heb. 10:10; 1 Pet. 2:24). The Lord set before us the pattern; and said “this do”. We are to follow this pattern in keeping the Lord’s Supper. We are to do this “in remembrance” of the Lord; i.e. in commemoration of Him. It doesn’t say “remembrance of my death”, but “in remembrance of me”. It is the Person of Christ which we commemorate in the Lord’s Supper, but the Supper itself shows forth His finished work (v.26). Nor is it the remembrance of our sins. Under the law there was a remembrance made of sins every year (Heb. 10:3). The Lord’s Supper reminds us that our sins are gone, but doesn’t make ourselves or our sins the focus.
 
Broken or Given? The authorized translation has “which is broken for you”, but that word ‘broken’ is an addition. It should be translated “which is for you” or “given for you”. The breaking of the loaf in the Lord’s supper symbolizes the death of Christ, but not, as some think “the breaking of Christ’s body”. The loaf is broken so it can be distributed. The Lord’s body was given that we might be saved. We read of the Passover lamb in Ex. 12:v.46, “neither shall ye break a bone thereof”. Not a bone was to be broken; see John 19:33. To break a bone of the lamb would introduce the thought of crushing or forcibly ending life. It is imperative that Christ laid down His own life in obedience to His Father’s will (John 10:18). 
 
In remembrance. Sometimes we get the wrong idea that to “remember the Lord” is to recall Him to mind. Certainly, when we partake of the Lord’s supper, we recall Him to mind. But that is not the sense of this expression. The word “remember” is used in a different way; as to convey greetings from one person to another, e.g. “remember me to Charlie”. We are to remember the Lord, not just in our minds, but to remember Him to the world, to angels, and to God. We, the redeemed children of God, living in the same wicked world which cast out Christ, are to never let His Person and Work diminish in our testimony. As it were, Christ says to His church, “Let your collective testimony center around this, that I gave my body for you, and shed my blood for you.” I personally feel that our remembrance of the Lord is primarily to the Father. Joseph said to his brethren, “And ye shall tell my father of all my glory in Egypt, and of all that ye have seen” (Gen. 45:13). But certainly, the angels are watching (1 Cor. 11:10), and the world is watching too (1 Cor. 6:6).
 
25 In like manner also the cup, after having supped, saying, This cup is the new covenant in my blood: this do, as often as ye shall drink it, in remembrance of me. v.25 The Cup. The Lord did “in like manner” with the cup; i.e. giving thanks and distributing it. The cup of wine represents the blood of Christ, but more specifically, the new covenant in His blood, or as we have in Matt. 26:28, “the blood of the new covenant”. The thought is, not just His blood, but the efficacy of His blood! It is not merely a part of His anatomy, like a widower might keep a few locks of his wife’s hair to remember her by. It is the blood of Christ in all its value before a Holy God; in a word, “the precious blood of Christ” (1 Pet. 1:19). In ch.10 Paul refers to it as “the cup of blessing”, because it is the efficacious blood of Christ that has secured all our blessings in Christ.
 
The New Covenant in My Blood. The blood of Christ is in contrast with the blood of bulls and goats. In Hebrews 9 this subject is taken up. We read in Heb. 9:19 that Moses took the blood of animal sacrifices and sprinkled "the book" (the law, the Old Covenant) and "the people". This blood is what ratified the Old Covenant, and made it binding upon the people. It was not "of force" until the blood was shed and sprinkled. In the same way, the New Covenant could never be ratified without the death of "the testator" and the shedding of His blood.

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
Blessings:
  • Long life on earth
  • Protection from enemies
  • To remain in the land
  • Crops and herds, etc.
  • New birth
  • Personal knowledge of the Lord
  • Forgiveness of sins
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 death of Christ was needed to "take away the first and establish the second" (Heb. 10:9), because the guilt of breaking the Old must be cleared before the New could be established. 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 you look at the blessings of the New Covenant you will see that we have those same blessings in Christianity, although we also have many blessings that go far beyond 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.
 
Which blood? There is a great deal of confusion about the blood of Christ. Much of this confusion stems from not understanding the three parts of atonement; the sufferings, death, and blood-shedding. The sufferings of Christ at the hands of men did nothing to atone for our sins. It was His being “made sin”, and suffering at the hand of God that took our sins away. In the death of Christ, we have His whole Person offered up as a sacrifice to God. Then His blood was shed, blood which contained all the value of His atoning-sufferings and atoning-death. The blood from the scourging, the nail prints, and the crown of thorns was shed before the atoning sufferings and death. It was the blood that flowed from the side of a dead Christ that contained all the value of His sufferings in three dark hours, and all the value of His life offered up to God in death.
 
26 For as often as ye shall eat this bread, and drink the cup, ye announce the death of the Lord, until he come. v.26 The two emblems, the bread (body) and cup (blood), partaken of by the assembly, announce or show forth the Lord’s death. Blood separated from the body speaks of death. When the Lord’s Supper is eaten, the death of Christ is announced. It is significant that God would have the death of Christ at the center of the Church’s thoughts and testimony. With what frequency should the Lord’s Supper be observed?… “for as often”. It was the Lord’s intention that the Supper be eaten frequently and regularly. In the book of Acts, we find that it was “upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread” (Acts 20:7). Certainly, the assembly is free to come together more often than once a week. In those days, Sunday was not a day off for the common people, and Christians met together in the evenings around supper time. In Christianized lands such as North America, it is a privilege to have “the Lord’s Day” (Rev. 1:9) free from occupational duties. Sadly, many Protestant Christian fellowships only observe the Lord’s supper on a monthly or semi-annual basis. Note: one of the great changes in ecclesiastical order that took place in the Protestant Reformation was that the Lord’s supper was moved into the background as a secondary thing, and the preacher’s sermon was moved into the foreground. Finally, Paul reveals that the Lord’s Supper is to be kept in view of the coming of Christ! If the Lord would ask us to remember Him until He returns, there must be a way to do so according to scripture.
 
The Breaking of Bread Meeting. The bread and wine represent the body and blood of Christ, respectively. These are simple emblems, which can be found in every country on earth, and are universally available. The purpose of the assembly coming together is to eat the bread and drink the cup. If that was all we did when we came together, it would still be the Lord’s Supper and we would still be answering His request to “do this” in remembrance of Him. Worship, praise, thanksgiving, and ministry are connected and flow from it. But it is in partaking of the bread and wine that we announce the Lord’s death. We know that the early Church began immediately to break bread (Acts 2:42, 46; 20:7). But what else would be involved in such a meeting? Have we no scriptural precedent or principle for singing hymns, reading scriptures, and giving thanks collectively before and after the Lord’s Supper is taken? Yes we do. On the night that the Lord was betrayed, the disciples ate the Passover first, which is a type of Christ offered as a sacrifice for sin (1 Cor. 5:7), and afterward He instituted His supper. This might suggest that we have thoughts of Christ’s person and work before us during the meeting. Also, during the first supper, as the Lord was instituting it, He quoted scriptures (Psa. 113-118), He gave thanks to God (Luke 22:18-19), and then, before they went out, “they sung a hymn” (Matt. 26:30). In Acts 20 we learn that the time immediately following the breaking of bread can be used for a word of teaching, encouragement, or exhortation (Acts 20:7). We might have these same elements in a breaking of bread meeting today, although they are not necessary.
 
Can you have the Lord’s Supper apart from the Lord’s Table? This is a common question, and a technical one. There are many believers who partake of a loaf and cup, assuming to eat the Lord’s supper. No doubt, many are acting with the best of intentions, and the Lord rewards their faith. However, scripture affords a principle that can help with this question. See Matt. 23:19. It is the altar that sanctifies the gift that is offered on it. An animal offered by an Israelite was not properly sanctified unless it was offered on the altar of burnt offering for Israel (1 Chron. 22:1). In the same way, this principle would lead us to believe that the Lord’s supper can only be properly eaten on the Lord’s table. Some have wondered if the Lord offers a “take-out” option as well as the standard “dine-in” option. The answer is obvious. I would prefer not to speculate on what scripture doesn’t say; i.e. about those who attempt the Lord’s supper apart from His table. What I can say, is that the Lord’s supper is only properly eaten on the Lord’s table.
 
Baptism and the Lord’s Supper.

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)

27 So that whosoever shall eat the bread, or drink the cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty in respect of the body and of the blood of the Lord. v.27 Partaking Unworthily. To eat the bread or drink the cup “unworthily” means to partake of it in an unworthy manner, by making light of it. This is not talking about allowing unbelievers to partake. It refers to believers who partake of the symbols of Christ’s body and blood while disrespecting what they represent through their actions or state of soul. Firstly, we could confuse the Lord’s supper with a common meal. Secondly, we could eat it without appreciating the reality or solemnity of it. Thirdly, we could eat it without reflection and self-judgment. J.N. Darby once said:
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
28 But let a man prove himself, and thus eat of the bread, and drink of the cup. v.28 Self-judgment. To guard against eating unworthily, Paul recommends that each individual believer should examine or “prove” himself before partaking. A quiet time of reflection before the breaking of bread is thus appropriate. The Spirit of God can bring before our minds unjudged sin, etc. that we might judge it. Some have thought to abstain from the Lord’s supper because of recent sin in their life. Certainly, it would be better to abstain then to eat with unjudged sin; but notice the language. It says, “let a man examine himself, and so let him eat“, not stay at home. It is God’s will for us to judge ourselves, and then partake. Note: some make a false claim that this verse gives the prerequisite for fellowship at the Lord’s Table. The reason this is important is that some deny the assembly’s responsibility to be careful about reception into fellowship. They say, “we are not going to judge you; just examine yourself and then you are free to partake”. They point to this verse as justification for that view. However, we can see that this verse does not refer to reception at the Lord’s table, but instructions for those who were already at the Lord’s table (ch.10). In fact, scripture warns against the principle of receiving solely on a person’s own testimony (John 5:43; Josh. 9; Acts 9:26-29). In connection with the assembly, things ought to be done in the mouth of two or three witnesses (Matt. 18:16), and a letter of commendation used when someone is unknown (2 Cor. 3:1).
 
29 For the eater and drinker eats and drinks judgment to himself, not distinguishing the body. 30 On this account many among you are weak and infirm, and a good many are fallen asleep. vv.29-30 Governmental results. If we do not discern (discriminate) the Lord’s body (i.e. if we do not see the reality of what it represents), we partake of the Lord’s supper in an unworthy manner, and will bring down judgment on ourselves. Instead of a blessed privilege, partaking of the Lord’s supper becomes a reason for governmental judgment. Governmental judgment and forgiveness have to do with this life, not with eternity. Therefore, Paul goes on to explain the symptoms of governmental judgement in the assembly. Many of the Corinthians were weak (physically) and sick, and “a good many” had died (“fallen asleep”). Note that soul sleep is always found in scripture in the context of a believer who has died, not an unbeliever. Does this seem shocking to us? Perhaps the Corinthians were alarmed at sickness and death among them, but they had no understanding of the cause. Paul gives them the reason; “on this account”, i.e. because they were partaking of the sacred things of Christ in a careless and unworthy manner. Discipline, in the school of God, may be unto death; see Job 33:14-24, 36:6; 1 John 5:16; James 5:14, 15.
 
31 But if we judged ourselves, so were we not judged. v.31 To avoid governmental judgment. This is the great principle of governmental judgment. If we judge ourselves, we will not be judged governmentally. As we survey this epistle of 1 Corinthians, we see that this principle broadly describes God’s ways in judgment. If the fornicator in ch.5 had judged himself, the assembly would not need to judge him (1 Cor. 5:12). If the assembly would judge the evil within, then the apostle would not need to come with a rod (1 Cor. 4:21). If the saints in Corinth had judged themselves before partaking of the Lord’s Supper, God would not need to bring governmental judgement on them (1 Cor. 11:30).
 
32 But being judged, we are disciplined of the Lord, that we may not be condemned with the world. v.32 The Lord’s discipline. We must understand that even the severe discipline of God’s government does not come from the hand of an indifferent Master, but from the hand of a loving Lord who desires our blessing. Governmental consequences are ultimately part of the Lord’s discipline (or, training) in our lives. The words “condemned”, “judged” and “chastened” in v.32 are all different. To be judged is to be charged with a crime. To be chastened (disciplined) is to receive correction because of a crime (see note). Discipline follows judgment, just as in any court of law; “being judged, we are disciplined”. But to be “condemned” is to be irrevocably cast away by God. A believer will never be condemned, but he may be judged and disciplined. The last half of the verse tells us that God will never allow sin to go unjudged. It will either be judged now in the believer’s life, or judged later with the world. Far better to be judged now at the hands of a loving Lord than to be caught up later in the vortex of God’s wrath!
 
Discipline. The original word for “disciplined” in v.32 is very close to the original word for “distinguishing” or “discerning” in v.29. This is helpful. We are to “discern” the body (i.e. the significance of the death of Christ), and if not, the chastening of the Lord will “discern” us. That is, it will expose not merely what we have done, but the state of our heart which was the root of the failure. 
 
Reasons for Chastening or Discipline. There are a number of reasons for chastening in the believer's life. Chastening does not always come into our lives because of some sin we have committed. It is important to see that. Job and his three friends had a very limited understanding of God's ways, and all fell into error in their thoughts about God relative to Job's suffering. Bruce Anstey has nicely organized these reasons under four English words that begin with 'P'.
  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).
  2. 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
  3. 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).
  4. 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).

Consideration of Others with Regard to the Lord’s Supper (11:33-34)

33 So that, my brethren, when ye come together to eat, wait for one another. 34a If any one be hungry, let him eat at home, that ye may not come together for judgment. vv.33-34b The assembly must take deliberate care to avoid occasions for the flesh to act and dishonor the Lord’s supper. If it means starting the meeting a little late to accommodate another believer, then delay it! In all things we should take care that those partaking of the Lord’s supper can be in a reasonable frame of mind to show due reverence to the Lord. If someone is hungry, they should satisfy their hunger at home before coming to the assembly meeting. Not taking care in these matters could result in judgment rather than blessing when the assembly comes together.
 
34b But the other things, whenever I come, I will set in order. v.34a There were many other details of assembly disorder that had come to the ears of Paul (v.17), likely they were items of lesser importance which he would not write of in this letter. Instead, he would unfold those “other things” when he came again to Corinth in person. It is not for us to read between the lines and speculate on what those things were. It is the Divine wisdom of the Spirit not to write a rule-book for assembly conduct. Rather, it was God’s mind to unfold some of the most important guidelines for assembly conduct, and then allow the Spirit of God to further apply those principles (i.e. order, reverence, liberty, coherency, etc.) to our conduct in the assembly meetings.
 

Footnotes

  1. Darby, J. N. Notes of Readings on the Epistles to the Corinthians. G. Morrish. 1889. p.259
  2. Sometimes the Father prunes the productive branches more than the unproductive because He wants them to produce even more.
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