Posted by: forfreedomalone | 22/03/2019

What does, “Eating in an unworthy manner” mean?

“Have you ever wondered what Paul was talking about when he said we were not to take the Lord’s supper “unworthily”? I have and I have had it explained to me at least five ways. Could you address this please?” So ran a message I received the other day.


Yes, dear writer, I have wondered and, like you, I have had various versions of doctrine on it given to me. Bear in mind that doctrine is the stuff man makes up to fill in the blanks where God has not given them revelation. The things God has revealed are truth and the things he has not are…….hidden. That’s it. We don’t know what it means, so let’s say so. Revealed truth bears witness, spirit to spirit; doctrine, because it is intellectual, only bears witness to those who have also worked out that answer. Hence, dominations.


So what does Paul say about the Lord’s supper and what does it mean to be unworthy to take it? Does he mean sinners can’t take it? Christians can’t if they have unresolved matters in their hearts? Or, the other one I have been told, you must take both the wine and the bread or you are unworthy? I am sure there are many more.


The whole discussion is in 1 Corinthians 11.More or less the first 16 verses are about women covering their heads; another subject on which a lot of doctrine has developed and which I can cover another day; and then Paul says, in verse 17, “Now in giving these instructions I do not praise you, since you come together not for the better but for the worse.”Note that chapter 11 has 34 verses, so verse 17 is right in the middle. This verse is the footnote to what went before and the opening to what is about to come. He is NOT pleased with these people, on both subjects.


Next he says, “When you come together, as a church, {a gathering of people who have gone from their usual place to another in order to meet} , I hear that there are divisions among you and, in part, I believe it. For there must also be factions among you, that those who are approved may be recognized among you.Therefore, when you come together in one place, it is not to eat the Lord’s Supper.” What does he mean?


He means, “You all gather together in one place, at one time, as one people, but you are not one. You are full of splits and divisions. Of course, this is necessary so that the those who are approved by God may stand out from those who are not, but it means that, when you gather for the Lord’s Supper, you are not gathering for that reason at all.”


Let’s stop there for a moment and ask, “What is “The Lord’s Supper” ?”. When you do an in depth study of the Greek language for “Lord’s ” and “Supper” you find it means, “the evening meal of the Lord”. So much for that then!.


We need to look a little farther afield to understand what this is about and the place to go back to is when it began, that night when the Lord gathered with his disciples in the upper room, just prior to his crucifixion. On that night they were gathered to eat the Passover meal, to commemorate the event, many generations before, when God took the Israelites out of Egypt by miracles, signs and wonders and, most of all, his amazing grace, which caused the Angel of Death to pass over their houses if they were displaying the blood of the lamb on its door posts. While gathered to eat this symbolic meal Jesus takes the bread and uses it to symbolise his body which is about to be laid down for them and the wine which he uses to symbolise his blood, about to be shed for them. This he could have done on any evening of the year. He didn’t. He did it at Passover. He did it at Passover because he knew the powerful symbolism that the lamb already held for the Jews. To link his body and his blood, to the body and blood of the lamb and then to the bread and wine would create VERY powerful images for them; something they would NEVER forget.

The Last Supper by Leonardo Da Vinci


So, The Lord’s Supper was that Passover meal and any time is was commemorated. It would have been commemorated annually, at Passover; not monthly, or four times a year or weekly; but annually while they were commemorating Passover. It was not meant to be another feast, but a deeper meaning to a feast they already had. It was not meant to be separated from its symbolic meaning and made into an event of its own, it was the revealed meaning of Passover and, therefore, it cannot be divorced from Passover.
In verse 21 Paul goes on to say,”For in eating, each one takes his own supper ahead of others; and one is hungry and another is drunk. What! Do you not have houses to eat and drink in? Do you despise the church of God and shame those who have nothing? What shall I say to you? Shall I praise you in this? I do not praise you.”


They were gathering, at Passover, to commemorate the first Passover and the last; to give thanks for what God had done for them and to remember their Lord. But what where they doing? They were having a party. They were stuffing themselves and getting drunk; they were ignoring others and thinking only of self; brotherly love was nowhere to be seen; they were a disgrace to the Lord and all that he had given to them; they were unworthy to be there eating the Lord’s supper and commemorating his sacrifice on their behalf.

A Rake’s Progress by William Hogarth.


This is what eating in an unworthy manner means.It is right there in the print on the page. Paul is not saying the people who were eating it were unworthy; because they all were; it was that their behaviour was unworthy of the event.


A morsel of bread and a thimbleful of grape juice is NOT the Lord’s Supper. It is a Christian invention called, “Communion” and in no way helps people commune with the event of Christ’s death because it is utterly devoid of all its inherent meaning. There is no way for Christians to eat the Lord’s supper in an unworthy manner because they don’t eat it at all. If they did, then they would need to eat it at Passover, soberly and with love towards one another, seeing to the needs of others first; rejoicing in God’s grace and mercy and remembering their Lord’s sacrifice; this would be eating it in a manner worthy of the occasion.


Responses

  1. Thank you for putting that in words. I didn’t know if anyone had ever had the same thoughts about this that I have.


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