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First Corinthians 11:27-34


Paul has been reminding the church in Corinth of the sacredness of taking the Lords Supper. He had
intentionally displayed the memorial against the dark backdrop of the betrayal, to emphasize the great
preciousness of the love of Jesus.
Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down his life for his friends (Jn 15:13). His friends are to
gather and together remember Jesus and His love, until He comes back for them. Thats when the
Bridegroom will be coming back for His Bride.
Now, a bride is constantly anticipating her wedding. Thats when she and her husband will be united in
marriage, and theyll be together, forever. Her thoughts are filled with her husband-to-be. And she often
ponders His love for her. What is her reaction, when she thinks about His love? What does that do to her
heart? It makes her heart more and more tender, toward her husband-to-be; she responds in love, to his
love for her.
How much more should this be true, for the church? Her husband-to-be loves her so much, He gave
Himself for her, in death. And Jesus continues to love her, giving her every single thing she needs, for her
eternal good.
The more a believer takes in the great love of Jesus, the more that love overflows in the heart of the
believer - flowing back to Jesus in thanksgiving, and in a desire to please Him. And as the believer
continues to take in Jesus love, the overflow becomes so great, that it cant help but go out to others - and
particularly to other believers, for they have learned in the Lord how to receive that love.
Jesus told His disciples, By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another
(Jn 13:35). The world will know that we are followers of Jesus - by our knowledge of the Scriptures? No.
By the good works we do? No. By the convincing arguments we make, for the gospel? No.
How will the world know we are followers of Jesus? By our love for one another. Love for others is the
greatest witness to Jesus - because the world doesnt have that kind of love - love that seeks not its own, but
the others well-being. And the whole world is needing to be loved, in that way. Dying for that love, we
could say. Love is what will draw the world to Jesus - that they may be saved.
Every time we take the Lords Supper together, and remember Jesus and His love for us, we are taking in
His love - spiritual food, for the Body of Christ; spiritual food, for each member - causing us to grow in
love for our Lord and for one another.
This shows how essential it is to hold fast to the Lords tradition; to watch over carefully and preserve the
meaning of it - because it is one of the things that feeds our love-life, which is vital to drawing others to the
Lord.
Having reminded the Corinthians of the sacred meaning of the Lords Supper, Paul continues with a
warning for the one who partakes in an unworthy manner. This begins in verse 27.
[First Corinthians 11:27-34]
This is a passage that has been misconstrued on the part of some believers. They become anxious that they
might not be worthy of taking the Lords Supper.

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After all, look what Paul says here - to partake in an unworthy manner would make one guilty of the body
and blood of the Lord! That sounds very serious - and the judgments mentioned - sickness, death - would
seem to back that up.
So a person should examine themselves thoroughly - ever so thoroughly - to make sure they are worthy of
partaking. They better not have any unconfessed sin, in their lives, certainly. Gee - maybe it would be
safer just to skip the whole thing - and wait, till they are more worthy. And really - will they ever be
worthy enough?
Do you think that this is what the Lord had in mind? Certainly not. So would Paul, writing by the
inspiration of the Holy Spirit, have intended that either? No again. So this means that we need to carefully
consider his words here - especially in light of Pauls description of the Lords Supper, and his rebuke of
the Corinthians.
Lets start with verse 27. It begins with a therefore - meaning it is the conclusion to what Paul has been
saying. What did he just write, for the Corinthians? The description of the Lords Supper - with its
emphasis on the remembrance of the Lord Jesus, and with the summation of its significance - as a
proclamation of His death - until He returns.
Then Paul speaks of the one who partakes of the bread and the cup of the Lord. Did Paul say this one is
unworthy? No; just that this one is partaking in an unworthy manner. Those are two different things.
Unworthy speaks of the person himself; unworthy manner speaks a persons conduct. Paul is speaking
about conduct, here.
Every one of us, in ourselves, was personally unworthy, to come into the presence of God. We were born
dead, in trespasses and sins; sons of disobedience; children of wrath (Eph 2:1-3). But while we were yet
sinners, the One who was infinitely worthy - perfectly righteous - came and died for us; in our stead (Rm
5:8). Now, for believers, our personal worth is in Him; were Christ Ones (Eph 1:4-6). Christ has made us
worthy to approach the throne of grace (Heb 4:16); and He has made us worthy to partake of His Supper.
But the issue here is not being worthy, but instead partaking of the Lords Supper in a worthy manner. This
speaks of partaking in a manner suitable to the purposes for which the Lord intended it.
For what did the Lord intend His Supper, for the church? First and foremost, as a way to remember Him; to
remember His sacrifice; to remember His love. So to partake in an unworthy manner would simply mean
to not remember Him, as He should be remembered; to not value His love and His sacrifice - essentially, to
count Him and what He did for nothing, in the taking of the elements that represent His death.
Paul says that such a one is guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. The obvious and literal sense of this
phrase is that such a one is liable for the Lords death; he will be held guilty of it - by God, of course.
Now, if you were to think of one single person in history of whom this could be most definitively said, who
would that be? This goes back to what Paul said in verse 23. Judas Iscariot, who betrayed the Lord.
Above all men, Judas is the most culpable for the Lords death. Why above all? Because Judas occupied a
position in the inner circle of Jesus, as one of His twelve chosen apostles. He listened to the things Jesus
said; he watched the things Jesus did - for the four years of His ministry. And Judas experienced the power
of Jesus, through ministry, and the love of Jesus for him personally.

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Yet despite this unsurpassed witness to who Jesus was, Judas deliberately chose to reject Jesus. We wonder
how that was even possible - but then we remember the hardness of the human heart, in its steely will, for
self.
To betray Jesus in the face of that great witness - and particularly to betray the love of Jesus - is why Judas
is held guilty above all - of the body and blood of the Lord - for above anyone else, he was blameworthy
for His death.
So what Paul is saying here is that the one who partakes of the Lords Supper in an unworthy manner - of
the elements which speak of the body and blood of Jesus - is guilty of that body and blood, just as was
Judas, who betrayed Jesus. To not remember Jesus in the Lords Supper - to count His love for nothing - is
to despise the Lord, as Judas did. Paul couldnt be saying this any more severely.
Keep in mind who Paul is saying this to - the church in Corinth, with its flagrant abuses of the Lords
Supper. Some of their affluent members were adding the Lords Supper on to their banquets like an
afterthought, and were even drunk by the time they took in the elements representing His death. For them,
it was not the Lords Supper at all; just something they needed to endure, before they could finally go
home.
For anyone to so dishonor the Lord in His Supper brings into question whether that one really is the Lords,
in the first place - which is what Paul brings out next.
v. 28 The Greek word for examine is the verb form of the word that Paul used back in verse 19, those
who are approved. You may recall it means to put to the proof, to test whether something is genuine - like
a metal in the fire.
Based on their actions surrounding the Lords Supper, Paul is calling upon certain members of the
Corinthian assembly to examine themselves, as to whether they are truly in the faith (2 Cor 13:5).
Their conduct would suggest that they may not be; and if not, then they are no less guilty than Judas - of the
body and the blood of the Lord - and in danger of eternal condemnation, to be received at the Great White
Throne Judgment (Rm 2:5, Rev 20:11-15).
For have they not also drawn near to the Lord, as Judas did, by assembling together with those who have
truly believed? Have they not been privileged, as Judas was, to hear the truth, to witness the work of God,
and to experience the love of the members of His Body? Yet for all that, they despise the Lord,
dishonoring Him - when He has asked that He be remembered.
We can see then that here, Paul is really addressing certain of the affluent members of the assembly who
have not truly believed, and warning them of their imminent danger of judgment - which for them would
lead to the final judgment of condemnation.
Conversely, Paul is not speaking here of believers conducting an inventory of their spiritual condition, to
see if they have any unconfessed sin in their lives. In fact, if we were to enter into such deep personal
introspection, who would we tend to be focused on? Ourselves - and then we would have difficulty
directing our attention to Jesus, as He has requested us to do.

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So Paul calls the Corinthians - especially the affluent group - to examine their hearts. But if, in doing so,
these Corinthians feel assured that they truly are the Lords, Paul then encourages them to participate - go
ahead - eat of the bread; drink of the cup. But Paul only does so with a further warning - this time, aimed
at them as believers.
v. 29-30 At first glance, it might appear to us that Paul is basically repeating what he has said in verse 27.
In fact, some of the scribes who copied the manuscripts were convinced of this, too - and so they thought to
help Paul out, by adding some words in verse 29.
The oldest manuscripts do not have the words in an unworthy manner and Lords. So these older
manuscripts read, For he who eats and drinks eats and drinks judgment to himself, not discerning the
body. I think in this case Paul must have written exactly that - and it will not seem quite so awkward, as
we understand his meaning.
Paul is not saying the same thing, as verse 27. Notice the differences. Paul does not mention the bread or
the cup - the elements of the Lords Supper. In fact, Paul doesnt mention the Lord at all. Instead, Paul
mentions the body; not discerning it.
We can be sure that if Paul meant discerning the actual body of the Lord, in the bread, he would also have
spoken about discerning the actual blood of the Lord, in the cup - throughout this passage, he always
mentions both together. Paul is only speaking of a body here. The body that some of the Corinthians are
not discerning is the Body of Christ.
Paul is referring to the contempt with which certain affluent members of the assembly have been treating
some others - who arrive after working all day to gather together with the church in the home where they
meet, only to be rushed through taking the Lords Supper together, while they are famished - making it so
difficult for them focus on the Lord Jesus, in the taking of it.
Paul had said that these affluent members were despising the church of God, and shaming those who have
nothing (11:22). Now he is saying that, if they are truly believers, then they are not discerning that these
are fellow members of the Body of Christ - the church, for which Christ died.
Out of that death came the Life that they share, in common - eternal life. They are one in that Life - united
- and they are equal in that Life - with no member being better or more important than another. As Paul
said in the last chapter, For we, though many, are one bread and one body (10:17a).
Paul says, for a believer to eat and drink, not discerning that Body - counting for nothing those for whom
the Lord died - is to eat and drink judgment to himself. For this opposes the other purpose of the Lord, in
His Supper - that His Body be united in His love.
So then, back in verse 27, Paul is speaking of an unbeliever, greatly dishonoring the Lord, through the
elements that represent Him in His death. But here in verse 29, Paul addresses the believer, who greatly
dishonors his fellow members in the Body of Christ, with a flagrant disregard for them.
Pauls statement in verse 30 is rather curious. Clearly, it has been reported to him that there was a rash of
illness, even death, within the assembly in Corinth. Sleep is a euphemism for death, which is regularly
employed by Paul for believers, showing that his statements here pertain to them.

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I think the Holy Spirit revealed to Paul that this was a temporal judgment, based on their abuses at the
Lords Table. It makes us wonder if the same might not be happening in our day, with those who greatly
dishonor the Lord in His memorial, or other members of His Body. Of course, it would be less noticeable,
with the size and anonymity of assemblies now.
Paul continues.
v. 31-32 Paul uses two different words translated judge and judged in verse 31. The first word means
to discern clearly; to form a just estimate of ourselves.
Paul is continuing to speak of believers, here. If we would allow the Holy Spirit to shine His light on our
motives, our thoughts, our desires, our conduct, we would have a just estimate of ourselves - we would see
ourselves as we truly are, and not as we like to think of ourselves.
If we would do that, we would see ourselves the way God sees us - and then, if what we see is
unrighteousness, we have the opportunity to have a change of heart, to cooperate with God, and become
righteous - right in thinking and conduct - pleasing to God.
But if we will not judge ourselves, and insist on rationalizing the things we think and do - stamping Gods
seal of approval on our self-serving ways - which is what some Corinthians were doing, with their supper well, then, Paul says, the Lord will have to judge us.
But wait a minute! Arent we the Lords? So doesnt that mean we wont be judged? As believers, weve
been justified by Christs blood - we shall be saved from wrath through Him, right? Thats true. But the
wrath we shall be saved from is that which is meted out by God at the Great White Throne Judgment on
unbelievers.
All men will be judged, including believers (3:9-15). Peter wrote that the time has come for judgment to
begin at the house of God (1 Pet 4:17) - the time being now, in the present - in this life. But unlike the
judgment of unbelievers, which is one of condemnation, leading to eternal destruction, the judgment of
believers serves a different purpose - one of chastening - which leads to life forever, with God.
The author to the Hebrews wrote about the chastening of the Lord, and were going to take a look at that
now. Turn to Hebrews chapter 12.
Now, just two chapters ago, we had taken a look at the first four verses of chapter 12, because we were
learning about the race in First Corinthians chapter 9. But since that was actually about five months ago, I
think we better review it.
So Paul and this author to the Hebrews both refer to a race, that believers are in. What does the race
represent? Their earthly course, as Christ Ones; the life of faith. They qualified for the race when they first
believed into Christ, and were born again, a son of God. Everyone else is still in the rat race - as a son of
Adam.
Who sets this race before each believer? The Father does. He determines the course through this life for
every believer - different courses - but they all end at the same place, the finish line. And where would that
be? In the heavenlies.

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And there are witnesses, that surround the contestants, in this race - those who have run this race before
them, and completed their course. They are right here, in the Word of God, to encourage the contestants in
their life of faith.
To run a good race, the believer must lay aside everything that would weigh him down. For the Jewish
assembly to whom the author was writing, that was burden of trying to keep the Law. For the believer, its
anything in the world that tends to sap his spiritual strength, needed for the race - by which he tries to
perform in the flesh, instead.
And the believer must also lay aside sin which so easily ensnares - that holds him back, in his progress; by
which he minds the things on the earth, instead of things above.
But above all - the believer must keep his face set toward the finish line - looking to the One who is waiting
for him there, who has already completed His race - and has won the victory.
[Hebrews 12:1-11]
v. 1-4 The Jews to whom the author is writing are suffering fierce persecution, for their faith, as well as
wrestling with sin in their lives - as all believers do. The author is pointing them to the way to make
progress in all of their struggles - look to Jesus.
Jesus is the one who blazed the trail, for the life of faith. The Father had set the course of Jesus before Him
- the cross, a course of suffering and shame. But beyond the course was the joy of accomplishing the
redemption of mankind - the sons, for Gods kingdom. And with that joy in view, Jesus found the strength
to endure to the end, and crossed the finish line in glory, having obtained the victory.
So the author says, consider Him - think on Jesus, as you go through the trials of this life - the course that
the Father has set before you. How much more did Jesus have to endure, from His enemies? How much
greater was the suffering of Jesus - not wrestling with sin, as you and I do; but bearing the sin of the whole
world?
But believers say, well, Jesus is Jesus, and Im just - me. We allow ourselves get weary and discouraged.
But whose Life do you have now? The Life of - Jesus. And whose mind can you have now, by the Holy
Spirit, right in you? The mind of - Jesus.
If we would just consider Jesus more, and ourselves less, we would take great strides, in our life of faith for Jesus has given us everything we need, to run with endurance; and He Himself is our example of how to
stay the course.
Not only that, but the author reminds his readers of something they seem to have forgotten.
v. 5-6 Notice how the author regards the trials that these believers are suffering through; as chastening of
the Lord, for His beloved sons. Some of the trials they have brought on themselves, due to their sin; other
trials arent self-inflicted, but part of living in this world, and part of bearing the reproach of Christ. But
the Lord uses all trials as chastening, for the good of His sons.
What exactly is chastening? Its child training; a disciplining of the child, a correcting of him, to direct him
in the way he should go. And scourging make it clear that chastening is painful - trials are, arent they?

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But chastening is Gods means of training his sons, in righteousness. And training is needed, to endure a
long race. Therefore, the believer must not despise the trials of life, nor be disheartened by them - for God
sees to it that they work for his good - to strengthen him, for the course.
The author goes on to give three reasons why believers should endure the Lords chastening.
v. 7-8 The author is saying that chastening is the proof that one has been born again, a son of God. It was
the fathers responsibility to train up his children.
v. 9-10 So our heavenly Fathers chastening is for our profit; our good - it is forming in us His holy
character. This is speaking to the process of sanctification - so that we will be holy as God is holy - like
Father, like son.
v. 11 In the moment - while theyre ongoing - no chastening seems to be joyful. Trials are painful, arent
they? But like metal in the fire, the believer is purified and strengthened by them.
And in the afterward - the result of the chastening - the Christ One is enabled to bear the good fruit of
righteousness, in his life - IF he stays under the load, and endures the chastening, so that the trial can work
for him.
This is how the Lord trains His sons - so that they will be holy and without blame before Him, in love (Eph
1:4).
[Return to First Corinthians 11]
So we see that if believers will not judge themselves, the Lord will chasten them, as His sons, for their good
- a loving correction, to direct them in the way of righteousness. This is how the Lord sanctifies His people
to Himself. Otherwise, Paul says, God would have to condemn them with the world!
Paul then concludes with an exhortation, to the believers in the assembly.
v. 33-34 First, Paul encourages them to honor one another by waiting until everyone is present and
prepared, when they come together to take the Lords Supper.
And finally, Paul speaks to the banqueters - to do their dining at home - separating their common meal from
their partaking of the sacred Supper - so that they might honor the Lord, and remember Him. In this way,
all would be able to partake of the Lords Supper in a worthy manner - and would avoid the chastening of
the Lord.
Paul ends by indicating that there were other issues, but he would set these in order when he visits Corinth
again. One wonders if they had to do with the Lords Supper also, since he mentions this specifically here.
Pauls warning has been misunderstood by some believers at times, but surely we can see that partaking of
the Lords Supper is a sacred privilege of the church, in which she should honor her Lord and each member
of the Body who comes to the Table. Simply put, we are to remember Jesus in His love - and lovingly
receive one other, in His life.
Reading: 1 Cor 12; Jn 14:12-18, 23-26, 15:26-27, 16:7-14; Acts 2:1-4; 1 Jn 4:1-6.