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1 Corinthians 11:23-26

The sacrament of God’s Grace to His people1 Corinthians 11:23-26 IntroductionChristian Communities around the globe consider the practice of Holy Communion as a sacrament of God’s grace to his people. The church has fundamentally believed and emphasized, as exemplified in the Bible, the need for Christian continual nurture by Christ’s sacrament of Holy Communion.[1] The church believes on the witness of grace that God adores on His children, the church. Dunning affirms that sacraments are outward signs of inward grace that witness God’s redemptive work in Christ.[2] In the Christian traditions in history, several terms have been used in defining and determining the practice of Holy Communion. Among several church traditions, terms like Lord’s Supper, Eucharist and Holy Communion have been used.[3] These terminologies presuppose remembrance and thanksgiving in Christian relationship both with God and one another. Scholars have considered Lord’s Supper as Koinonia; participatory fellowship of Christian Community.[4] This celebration entails Christian solidarity both with Christ in his suffering and with each other as they partake of bread and wine. This practice celebrates the ordained sacrament of Holy Communion emphasizing the union between God and Christians. 2. The Church and EucharistPaul’s first letter to the Corinthian church portrays the biblical account of a Christian church encountering Eucharist (1 Corinthians 11:20-26). As part of the meal in Christian homes, Paul’s critique is on observing communion as a highly individualized and privatized matter (1 Cor. 11: 21).[5] In this passage and context, Paul addresses the basic issues of Corinthian church pertaining to division, humiliation and disrespect for the church of Christ. The Christian community had not learnt on how to deal with God’s grace relating to Holy Communion. Paul then in the affirmative declares the truth he has received from God’s Word to the listeners (Vs. 23a). His affectionate order is that we are to be conscious of how the body Christ was broken for Christian’s wholeness. In the biblical context, communion celebration, finds its background and meaning from the Old Testament concept of Passover.[6] Passover was a Jewish religious celebration in commemoration of God’s grace upon Israelites. This grace was manifested in Egypt as their children spared from death through the blood sprinkled on their door posts (Exodus 12).[7] Also connected to the Eucharist celebration from the Old Testament is the todah thanksgiving. This sacrifice of wheat and Wine is a practice that informs the Eucharist celebration as exemplified by Melchizedek in Gen 14:18. Jesus in line with this is understood to have come in the order of Melchizedek’s sacrificial offering of bread and wine (Heb &:1-17).[8] Consequently, Eucharist is the grace message of Christ at the last supper with his disciple as shown in Mathew 26:26-28. Paul therefore affirms,“That the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took a loaf of bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body that is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way he took the cup also, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes” (1 Corinthians 11:23-26, NRSV) During this eve of Jesus death, a new fellowship meal was celebrated. This Holy Communion, the bread and the cup, instituted by Christ himself, represents the utmost manifestation of God’s love for His people. This celebration has therefore become an integral part of Christian worship in remembrance of Jesus’ death and resurrection as we look for his glorious return in the future. As inaugurated by Christ, it declares the sacrificial death and affirms the spiritual blessings of life, salvation and eternal promises of God to humanity.[9] Consequently, Holy Communion is an act of Christian worship engaged in as often as church communities may determine. Though simple as Christians breaking bread and drinking of the cup, Holy Communion is an important act as Christian participates in the act of salvation. It signifies our Christian recognition and appropriation of the sacrificial death of Christ for human salvation. Holy Communion hence, symbolizes the cleansing and preservative power of God in the sacrificial death of Christ to his disciples. In light of this, every believer must participate in reverence and appreciation of intimacy and fellowship with God. Christians must in turn look ahead to the second coming of Christ as a conqueror (vs 26).[10] Bloch affirms that Holy Communion must be received to support and nourish the supernatural lives of the human soul.[11] 3. ConclusionThe significance of Lord’s Supper therefore as we celebrate Easter is to appropriate God’s grace in salvation in the life of a believer. The elements of bread and wine of Eucharist identify figuratively the body and blood of Christ and thus prevenient, regenerating and sanctifying grace is administered through participation in taking of the element.[12] Today, our participation in taking the bread, we proclaim that Jesus’ health and heavenly life flows in our human physiques. And when we share of the cup, we are asserting that we are forgiven and have been made righteous. Jesus’ blood gives us true standing before God, and we can go confidently into God’s presence (Hebrews 4:16). The Holy Communion, known also as the Lord’s Supper, represents the greatest expression of God’s love for His people. The Holy Communion has power to preserve, increase, give joy and cure Christian supernatural lives. [13] Let all participate in fear of the Lord and in remembrance of Christ. [1] Review the example of the article of faith XIII on The Lord’s Supper in the Manual Church of the Nazarene, 2001-2005, 33[2] Ray H. Dunning, Grace, Faith and Holiness. Kansas City: Beacon Hill Press, 1988, 542-543.[3] A review several churches in their constitutions and articles of faith indicate that there are diverse designations to the concept of celebrating what Christ institutes.[4] See William Barcklay, The Lord’s Supper, Louseville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2001, p. 106[5] New Interpreter’s Bible (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2002), Vol. X, p. 934[6] See Ray Dunning, Grace, Faith and Holiness, 1988, 551.[7] See James M. Hamilton, “the Lord ’s Supper in Paul: An Identity forming Proclamation of the gospel of Jesus”, in Thomas R. Schreiner, Matthew R. Crawford EDs. The Lord’s Supper: Remembering and Proclaiming Christ Until He Comes. Nashville: B & H Publishing Group, pg 86[8] See Taylor Marshall, Is the Word Eucharist in the Bible? (Saint Paul). Available @ http://taylormarshall.com/2011/04/is-word-eucharist-in-bible-saint-paul.html. Accessed on 3/7/16[9] See the articles of faith on the “Lord’s supper”, manual, church of the Nazarene 2001-2005. Kansas city: Nazarene Publishing House, 2001, 32.[10] Greg Laurie, How Should Christians Approach Communion? Available @ http://www.jesus.org/following-jesus/communion/. Accessed 6/3/2016.[11] Carl Heinrich Bloch, “Eucharist as Communion – Sacrament” available @http://www.therealpresence.org/eucharst/holycom/holycomm.htm. Accessed March 4, 2016[12] See Ole Borgen, John Wesley on Sacraments: a theological Study, Zurich: Publishing House of the United Methodist, 1972, 52[13] See the Council of Trent, session XIII, October 11, 1551, available @ http://www.americancatholictruthsociety.com/docs/TRENT/trent13.htm. Accessed 7/3/2016

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