On the Lord’s Day, I had the blessed opportunity to eat the Lord’s Supper with fellow believers. All week I was looking forward to the Lord’s Table.
There’s something about the Lord’s Supper that I delight in. But I can’t seem to put everything in words, at the moment. However, I hope a few reflections on the Supper from 1 Corinthians 10:14-22 will put some flesh on the bare bones of what I’ve been thinking.
The Context. It is clear from the context that Paul is trying to get these believers to rid themselves of idolatry (vv.6ff). These believers were allowing a Corinthian culture that was known for idolatry to shape their lives. They seemed to have forgotten that they were washed, sanctified, and justified and were to lead different lives now (6:9-11).
Paul spends chapter 8 addressing the issue. Idolatry was infecting the Christ community of believers. They couldn’t even make up their minds at the Lord’s Table (10:19-21).
The Command. So Paul says to these believers, as you come to the Lord’s Table, you need to “flee idolatry” (10:14). His point is this: you cannot participate of the Lord’s Table today, and then the Devil’s Table tomorrow (v. 21). The Lord is a jealous God, and you don’t want to provoke him to jealousy (v. 22). Single and pure devotion at the Lord’s Table is what is required. Therefore, “flee idolatry.”
The Communion. Why these believers need to flee idolatry? Because when they come to the Table of the Lord, as noted above, they are communing with the Lord.
The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ? (v. 16, emphasis added)
The word “participation” is from the Greek term koinonia. Koinonia has in mind the meaning of “sharing, fellowship, having in common, communion.” When we eat the bread and drink the cup of the Lord, koinonia takes place.
Through the centuries, the church has been divided over the nature of the elements and the meaning of the Lord’s Supper. I read the arguments. I get where each side is coming from. But here’s how I’ve understood the matter.
First, Paul says that when eat the bread and drink the cup we are sharing in the body and blood of the Lord. As I said above, koinonia takes place. Now have we been called to fully understand this koinonia? I do not believe so. Like every other major doctrine of Scripture, elements of mystery remain. We will do well to apply the principle of faith of Hebrews 11:3, “By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God.”
“By faith” we need to take the Lord at his word, through his inspired apostle, who says that when we eat the consecrated bread and drink the consecrated cup, we are having communion with the body and blood of the Lord. Koinonia is taking place. So no need to divide the Lord’s body over the matter.
Next, Paul says that when we come to the Lord’s Table, not only are with sharing with the Lord, but with fellow believers as well.
Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread. (v. 17)
Against the backdrop of schisms over culture, social standing, elitism, etc, Paul seeks to overturn these schismatic trends by creating unity at the Lord’s Table. In other words, the Supper is not just about fellowship with the Lord, but it is at the same time, fellowship with one another. This Paul says is the genius of the Lord’s Table. There is no overturning it.
Conclusion. I hope you find these reflections on the Lord’s Supper from 1 Corinthians 10–helpful. It is my prayer that pastors and teachers will continue to explore the true nature and meaning of the Lord’s Supper, in their local churches.
For the Supper, it is not just another meal.