What does 1 Corinthians 11:28 mean?
ESV: Let a person examine himself, then, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup.
NIV: Everyone ought to examine themselves before they eat of the bread and drink from the cup.
NASB: But a person must examine himself, and in so doing he is to eat of the bread and drink of the cup.
CSB: Let a person examine himself; in this way let him eat the bread and drink from the cup.
NLT: That is why you should examine yourself before eating the bread and drinking the cup.
KJV: But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup.
Verse Commentary:
The Lord's Supper, also called communion, is a symbolic remembrance of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 11:23–26). Jesus instituted this as a time of reflection and unity among His followers (Matthew 26:26–28). Some, like the believers in Corinth, miss those lessons entirely (1 Corinthians 11:17–22).

Paul has just written that to take part in the Lord's Supper in an unworthy manner makes a person guilty of the body and blood of Christ (1 Corinthians 11:27). The observance of communion is sacred, with sacred implications. The problem is not in performing the wrong steps or failing to meet some legalistic standard. There is wide freedom in exactly how communion can be observed. What Paul condemns here is to participate without a solemn appreciation for what the sacrament represents. Those who act carelessly risk earning an elevated share in the responsibility for Christ's death on the cross.

As such, each person should examine themselves before eating the bread that represents Christ's body and drinking the cup that represents His blood. Then, when confident that they are not doing so in an unworthy way, those present should eat and drink. But not before then.

Obviously, this leads to the question of what, specifically, Christians should search for in themselves before taking part in communion. The most commonly-understood practice is for participants to take a moment to confess to God any un-repented sin and receive His forgiveness in Christ. The taking of the bread and wine is meant to involve "remembrance" of Jesus' sacrifice (Luke 22:19). Believers should humbly acknowledge the gift of grace given to them through Jesus' shed blood and broken body before observing the Lord's Supper. Those who know—or should know—they are blatantly in contrast to that mindset should not partake.

It's likely Paul had specific sins in mind. In this context, that probably included a lack of love and concern on the part of wealthy believers for the poorer Christians among them.
Verse Context:
First Corinthians 11:17–34 contains Paul's rebuke of the church in Corinth for their application of the Lord's Supper. They had turned it into a gathering at which the wealthy ate and drank too much, leaving the poorer Christians hungry and humiliated. Paul warns that communion should be a time of sober self-reflection about our sin and Christ's sacrifice, as well as a time to unite the body of Christ, the church, while taking in representations of the blood and body of Christ. Some in Corinth were sick and others had died as part of God's judgment for participating in communion in an unworthy manner.
Chapter Summary:
Paul confronts two issues the church in Corinth was failing to practice correctly. First, some women were not wearing head coverings while praying or prophesying in their meetings. Paul insisted they must do so, and that men must not, based on mankind's relationship to God and the social implications of that covering. Second, Paul describes the reasons for observing the Lord's Supper and how it should be done. The Corinthian Christians had brought God's judgment on themselves for practicing communion in a way which dishonored Christ's sacrifice for sin and humiliated the poor among them.
Chapter Context:
After concluding his teaching on meat offered to idols, Paul turns to two issues the church in Corinth was getting wrong. The first was head coverings when praying or prophesying in their meetings. Differences between men and women in that regard are because of both spiritual and social reasons. Paul also corrects the disastrous way in which they were practicing the observance of the Lord's Supper. They were dishonoring Christ's sacrifice for sin as well as the poor in the body of Christ, the church. Despite having more to say on communion, Paul will move on to the topic of spiritual gifts in chapter 12.
Book Summary:
First Corinthians is one of the more practical books of the New Testament. Paul writes to a church immersed in a city associated with trade, but also with corruption and immorality. These believers are struggling to properly apply spiritual gifts and to resist the ungodly practices of the surrounding culture. Paul's letter gives instructions for real-life concerns such as marriage and spirituality. He also deals with the importance of unity and gives one of the Bible's more well-known descriptions of love in chapter 13.
Accessed 4/15/2024 11:54:41 PM
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