For most of my life I have considered 1 Corinthians 11:29, "For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment on himself," to refer to self-examination regarding proper understanding of the elements--bread and cup. Reading this verse in its context does not support that interpretation.
- 11:17-22 Paul condemns the Corinthians for social division of the church during communion
- 11:23-26 Paul reminds them of the meaning and manner of communion
- 11:27-32 Christians are in danger of judgment if they celebrate communion without discerning the body
- 11:33-34 Paul commands the Corinthians to practice unity during communion
I have always attended churches that take communion in tiny cups and tiny pieces of bread, prefacing the eating of the elements with a call to examine ourselves (whether for sin, general worthiness, or proper understanding of elements) and to do so solemnly. I do not think I have ever heard the officiant call for us to celebrate our unity in Christ by taking this one loaf and this one cup. Our extreme individualism--individual-sized cups and loaves and individual examination--put us in danger of God's judgment. Church is not a mere collection of individuals--as me-and-Jesus were enough. We are necessarily a people and this passage in 1 Corinthians pounds home just how serious God is about our unity as his people (v 30).
Tag(s): eucharist hermeneutics exegesis "gordon fee"ecclesiology
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Unless otherwise noted Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved. http://www.esv.org/