27 “Therefore whoever eats this bread or drinks this cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. 28But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup.”
Whenever we see a “therefore,” we look to see what it is there for. “Therefore” summarizes the previous discussion about abusing the Lord’s Supper by establishing a hierarchy among believers by not sharing food with those gathered at the church meeting.
whoever eats this bread or drinks this cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord.
The term “unworthy” carries the idea of improper manner. Some Corinthians treated the Lord’s Supper as a common meal without recognizing the elements for their proper value. The idea here is not to become worthy of the Lord’s Supper, for none of us can ever be worthy of it. The issue is manner, not worth. We are worthy of hell, however. We are not worthy of heaven nor the Lord’s Supper.
The word “guilt” is a legal term denoting liability, deserving of, bound by a charge. This believer is liable to the penal effect of a deed. Treating elements of the Lord’s Supper in an improper manner by divisiveness and selfishness necessitates liability toward the body and blood. It is a serious offense before the Lord.
But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup.
A Christian is to “examine” himself to determine whether he is partaking of the elements of the Lord’s Supper unworthily. The word “examine” means to test for approval. We are to prove by a test whether we are in the right place to take the Lord’s Supper. The test has to do with improperly partaking of the Supper. In context, the Corinthians were partaking unworthily by treating fellow Christians poorly.
Notice the word “himself.” We are not to examine others or the person down the pew but ourselves. We are very good at analyzing others. If they are off base, it is God’s business to deal with them.
2 Co 13:5, Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you are disqualified.
Radical honesty is essential for a dynamic fellowship with the Lord.
Each believer needs regular self-examination before partaking of the Lord’s Supper. It is difficult to be objective with ourselves. We are to be radically honest about sin in our lives. This will prevent us from coming to the Lord’s Supper mechanically, ritually, and without dynamic. To function as if the body and blood of Christ mean little to us would make the Lord’s Supper perfunctory and meaningless.
Ps 51:17, The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit,
A broken and a contrite heart—
These, O God, You will not despise.
As born-again people, it is our privilege to sit at the Lord’s Supper, but not until we comply with verse 28 – examining and confessing our sins. It is a matter of getting right with the Lord. We need to identify irregularities and inconsistencies in our lives. Confession is the agreement with what happened to our sin on the cross. Christ bore our sin sufficiently so that we do not have to bear it personally. This is far more than feeling sorry for our sin. Sorrow for sin can be a subtle way of paying for sin ourselves. This displaces what Christ did on the cross and is an act of unbelief. The Christian way is to go back to where Jesus judged our sins on the cross. God judged our sins already, and we agree that God did it on the cross.
Long-lasting, undue introspection is not the point. That will produce perpetual misery. Periodically, we scrutinize ourselves to see if we need to address anything. Businesses do not take inventory every day, but occasionally they do. The believer takes inventory at the Lord’s Supper. It is time to take stock. It is not a time to absent ourselves from the Lord’s Table.
What happens when a Pastor/ christian confesses his/her sins before partaking at the Lord's Supper but continues to practice the same sin and continually confesses them participates in consecutive Lord Supper for many years.
Possibly 1 Cor 11.29-30 happens, the consequences of confession without change. Often we need help from the Body of Christ to overcome long term habits or unBiblical attitudes and behaviours. James 5.16 says we need to confess to each other for healing. I expect this applies to inner healing as well as physical healing. The Lord's table can be a time of community, sharing and confessing, seeking help from one another.
Cherry, this passage says that God will bring discipline upon the believer who takes the Lord's Supper in a manner not acceptable to God.
Alex, regarding long term habbits note these two sites:
I would like to know do you have to be a Pastor to give communion? And why do church do communion first Sunday of the month and not as often as we come together, according to scripture, doing it in remembrance of Jesus!
Joan, there is no standard in Scripture that states you have to be a pastor to give communion. Some churches or assemblies do have communion every Sunday. It is a matter of choice.
to: Joan Richard,
the Passover should only be done in it season (once a year, read Number 9), and I have not located a scripture yet that states the priest is the only one to give it (still looking tho)
An unusual situation has just arisen. I am taking the service at a URC church. Although I have led communion for over forty years, I’m not licensed to do it at this church. The Elder who will do it is licensed but has never done it before. Ludicrous.
Grant is communion only for believers? Can unbelievers take communion or is that taking it unworthily? What is required of a Christian before taking communion? Is it just recognizing any unconfessed sin and asking forgiveness for it? Thanks
Scott, the issue in this chapter has to do with the manner of taking communion and not whether we are personally worthy for none of us are.
Grant when a pastor is directing communion during a church service shouldn’t he state that partaking in communion is only for believers and that unbelievers should abstain? And shouldn’t the pastor proclaim that believers should examine themselves and deal with any unconfessed sin before partaking in communion? Thanks
Scott, yes on both. However, the explanation of communion is for believers only should be done delicately.
Hi Grant, what is your interpretation of (2 Corinthians 13:5 Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?)?
Is this a call to examine your fruits or works as a test for the authenticity of ones profession of faith?
Scott, this verse probably refers to a challenge to test the Corinthians’ faith in terms of sanctification. This is similar to 1 Co 16:13. Paul had used the negative use for “test” or “prove” in 1 Co 9:27, “disapproved.” That is, disapproved for service. See my study there.
Thus, faith here is not objective faith rooted in doctrine but subjective trust in what God says. It is the living faith of the believer who faithfully walks according to God’s Word.
The use of the reflexive pronoun “yourselves” emphasizes the idea that they were to look more to themselves than to Paul or others (2 Co 13:3).
There is a clear assertion that Christ was “in” them, thus asserting that they were Christians.
The Greek softens the word “reprobates” to “somewhat reprobates.” That is, they failed the test of Christian living.
For the people who have asked “what if i sin and take part in bread and wine for apologizing of my sin”. You will receive your forgiveness from Lord but if you keep sinning again, Iam afraid that you will not have any progress in life.You will keep ending up in same position like a log in Well.
Richard, your point is a bit unclear to me. Do you mean that is wrong to take part in communion again if you sin after taken a previous communion that a person should not take part in the second communion?
Should a person be baptized to be a part of the Lords table
Bets, evidently not because there is no Scripture that indicates that. However, this statement does not diminish either ordinance for the local church.