After taking a moment in seeking the Holy Spirit to direct me to a subject that I might share with my church, First Corinthians 11:17-34 seemed to jump from the page to draw my attention. I was surprised to see that it was concerning the Feast of Passover since it was only a week before the Feast.
I knew that the Feast of Passover was in the first moon cycle of the spring equinox, which always lands on the full moon. We planned to recognize Passover just as we had done for years—by having the Communion instead of the lamb as Christ had instructed the disciples. We partake of a cup of real wine as the life of Christ and a loaf of real unleavened bread as his body. But I learned something new this year. You’d think after thirty years of Bible research that I would have noticed this before. In reality, this shows the miraculous ability of the Word—one can just keep on feeding from Yahweh’s spiritual table year after year.
After reading First Corinthians 11: 20-34 from the NIV, Beck, KJV, and the Williams translations of the Bible, I learned that there was much more to what our Lord asked us to do than what we had been doing. Paul said, according to the KJV, “Now in this that I declare unto you I praise you not, that you come together not for the better, but for the worse. For first of all, when you come together in the church, I hear that there are divisions among you; and I partly believe it.
“For there must be also heresies [cliques] among you, that they which are approved may be made manifest among you.” Paul’s last statement here says volumes about the purpose for the Passover gathering. The Beck translation says it this way, “In the first place, I hear that when you meet as a church you are divided, and some of it I believe is true. Of course there must be divisions among you to show clearly which of you can stand the test.”
Here, we find Paul taking advantage of their little cliques to explain the necessity of mingling and breaking the ties that separate the church—preventing them from coming into one mind and one accord and having respect one for the other. There were those who considered themselves more learned, therefore, they felt more important than the others. They would only mingle with those who they felt were of their same class.
Paul said, “When you come together into one place, this is not to eat the Lord’s Supper.” I thought this statement meant for the believers to “not” have a supper, or a feast, on the day of Passover, even though I knew that Christ and his disciples had a feast. But if you read this verse in other translations, you will see that this is a question and not a statement: “When you come together for the Feast of Passover isn’t it to eat the Lord’s Supper?”
I realize now that if we do as Christ ordered, we cannot do away with the words “Supper” or “Feast.” As you know, they both mean a large amount of food that is shared between people. The unleavened bread, which symbolizes the people without sin, is the main dish that is shared by all as a representation of the whole as being one—the Body of Christ.
Now, in this next verse we will find Paul rebuking some of the people for their conduct, saying, “For in eating every one takes before others his own supper: and one is hungry, and another is drunken.” He was saying, Some of you are in such a rush to eat that you don’t consider anyone else, while some are just coming for the wine and getting drunk.
Paul continues, “What? have you not houses to eat and to drink in? or despise you the church of Yahweh, and shame them that have not? What shall I say to you? shall I praise you in this? I praise you not.” Here, Paul explains that it would be better to not have a feast at all as to have this sort of conduct in the church. He was not saying for them to not have the feast, but rebuking them for being inconsiderate gluttons and drunks. They were missing the whole point in coming together, thereby, eating damnation to themselves.
Paul was confident in his conviction, saying, “For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, That the Lord Jesus [Savior] the same night in which he was betrayed took bread: And when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me.”
The bread represents the Body of Christ—the Church. We are to edify each other and the fruit of our edifying will be a memorial of the Word that was made manifest in flesh. Christ in us is the resurrected Word made manifest in flesh—his new many membered body showing what his death brought into the world. “After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped [after supper], saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me.”
Let us read this twenty-fifth verse from the Williams translation: “In the same way, after supper, He took the cup of wine, saying, This cup is the new covenant ratified [sanctioned] by my blood. Whenever you drink it, do so in memory of me.” This promise was to those who were born from above, those who received a new nature, those who were kin to Christ by his blood.
Notice that the bread that represented the Church was taken “during” the supper—the time they were fellowshipping. Then the wine came “after” the dinner. “For as often as you eat this bread, and drink this cup, you do show the Lord’s death till he come.” Whenever we produce fruit of the Holy Spirit at the gathering for the Feast of Passover, which is once a year, we are showing why the Lord died. The Word is to be made manifest in us, for Christ in us is the only hope we, or anyone else, have of seeing that magnificent glory of Yahweh. “Wherefore whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord.”
If we gather together as the body of Christ to drink of the Holy Spirit and only fill our stomachs, we have come for the wrong purpose. We are to come together to become one with each other and with the Spirit of Righteousness. “But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup. For he that eats and drinks unworthily, eats and drinks damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body.”
By having others around us that are manifesting righteousness, we have something to compare ourselves to. By this we can examine ourselves—we bring judgment upon ourselves. “For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep. For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged. But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world.”
If we come together in the wrong spirit, for the wrong purpose, we become stumbling blocks to those who are young in the Lord, and then they suffer the consequences with us. By gathering together we have all kinds of witnesses and examples of righteousness and sometimes unrighteousness whereby we can learn.
Now we come to a scripture that divides the givers from the receivers. Oftentimes you will see that there are always those few who feel that they are the special ones that should be waited on by those they consider lesser; those elected by God, or someone, to serve them. But Paul instructs the body, saying, “Wherefore, my brethren, when you come together to eat, tarry one for another.”
When we come together, it is our opportunity to be servants of all; to be considerate and thoughtful of those who we have not otherwise socialized with. Most people have a tendency to stay within their own social circle when in reality they need to be exposed to different social groups for the growth of both parties. Communion is a time to fellowship with those members with different callings, so they might share their wisdom and knowledge. This brings the body together as a whole, bringing to light body ministry.
Paul adds, “And if any man hunger, let him eat at home; that you come not together unto condemnation ….” If any one is so hungry that he is inclined to be only involved with the food, then he needs to eat before coming to the Lord’s Supper. For the Lord’s Supper is a time to consider others, to listen, and to learn from others. It is a time to serve others, to show genuine interest, a time to show the principles of Christ, to prove the results of our Savior’s death.