The Lord's Supper

Sunday, June 3rd, 2012

Text: I Corinthians 11:17-34



In many present-day churches, there are many unscriptural ideas about communion or the Lord's Supper.

In most Bible-believing churches the Lord's Supper is observed on a regular basis, some observe it monthly, others observe it quarterly. We must never lose sight of its significance, or, if we are not careful, the Lord's Supper may degenerate into a mere insignificant ritual. We see the significance of the Lord's Supper in I Corinthians 11:17-34 .


The Lord's Supper was instituted by the Lord Jesus on the night of His betrayal - Matthew 26:26-29

Matthew 26:26-29 - 26 And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed it, and brake it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is my body.

27 And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it;

28 For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.

29 But I say unto you, I will not drink henceforth of this fruit of the vine, until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father's kingdom.

The Lord's Supper pictures the Gospel Message

The bread which has been broken pictures the body of the Lord Jesus which was crucified.

The grape juice pictures the blood of Christ which was shed for our sins.

The Lord's Supper is observed by the assembled local church - Acts 2:41-42

Acts 2:41-42 - 41 Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls.

42 And they continued stedfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.

When ye come together . . .

I Corinthians 11:17 - 17 Now in this that I declare unto you I praise you not, that ye come together not for the better, but for the worse.

I Corinthians 11:20 - 20 When ye come together therefore into one place, this is not to eat the Lord's supper.

I Corinthians 11:33 - 33 Wherefore, my brethren, when ye come together to eat, tarry one for another.

Exception - Acts 20:6-7 - Guests who were not members

Acts 20:6-7 - 6 And we sailed away from Philippi after the days of unleavened bread, and came unto them to Troas in five days; where we abode seven days. 7 And upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul preached unto them, ready to depart on the morrow; and continued his speech until midnight.

We includes Paul, Luke, Silas, Timothy, and the men involved with the collection for the impoverished saints in Jerusalem.


Their gathering together to observe the Lord's Supper was not what it ought to be (11:17). Rather than unity, there were divisions among them (11:18) in order that God might demonstrate which believers were genuine and faithful (11:19). What they were doing when they came together was not really what the Lord's Supper is all about (11:20). They apparently had a common meal before observing the Lord's Supper; but rather than sharing what they brought with others who were less fortunate, some of the Corinthian believers actually ate the food they brought before others from the congregation had an opportunity to share it with them. This resulted in some of the members going hungry. Some even made themselves drunk (11:21). Paul expresses his disgust with them for the way they were acting. They should have eaten and drunk at home and not demonstrated contempt for the church of God and for those who possessed very little (11:22).

I Corinthians 11:17 - 17 Now in this that I declare unto you I praise you not, that ye come together not for the better, but for the worse.

I Corinthians 11:18-19 - 18 For first of all, when ye come together in the church, I hear that there be divisions among you; and I partly believe it.

19 For there must be also heresies among you, that they which are approved may be made manifest among you.

God has allowed the divisions in order that He might show those whom He approves as being genuine and faithful.

May be made manifest is used in the sense of becoming evident so as to be readily known. Among you suggests within the congregation. Factions will arise from time to time in local churches, and they are not always bad. God allows them in order to demonstrate which believers are genuine and faithful.

I Corinthians 11:20 - 20 When ye come together therefore into one place, this is not to eat the Lord's supper.

It was not really what the Lord's Supper is all about.

They apparently had a common meal before observing the Lord's Supper, and it seems that some stuffed themselves while others went hungry; and some even made themselves drunk. This practice of having a love feast combined with the Lord's Supper was eventually abandoned in local churches because of abuses.

I Corinthians 11:21 21 For in eating every one taketh before other his own supper: and one is hungry, and another is drunken.

In verse 22 Paul expresses his disgust with them.

I Corinthians 11:22 - 22 What? have ye not houses to eat and to drink in? or despise ye the church of God, and shame them that have not? What shall I say to you? shall I praise you in this? I praise you not.

So, what is the Lord's Supper all about?


They should remind themselves that the Lord Jesus Christ Himself established the Lord's Supper on the night He was betrayed.

I Corinthians 11:23-25 - 23 For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, That the Lord Jesus the same night in which he was betrayed took bread:

24 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.

25 After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me.


I Corinthians 11:26 - 26 For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord's death till he come.

Notice that Paul never instructs the believers how frequently they were to observe the Lord's Supper.

Instead, Paul advises them that whenever they did eat this bread and drink this cup, they were proclaiming the Lord's death until He comes back for them.

The manner in which the Corinthian believers were observing the Lord's Supper was not worthy of the Lord or of what the Lord's Supper represented; so, Paul advises them that -


I Corinthians 11:27 - 27 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.

Unworthily means in an unworthy manner. It does not mean that the person is unworthy, even though he is unworthy.

Guilty is used mostly as a legal term in the sense of liable or answerable. What he will be guilty of or answerable to is the body and blood of the Lord, which speaks of what the memorial symbols in the Lord's Supper represent. He would be receiving the Lord's Supper in an irreverent manner, not taking seriously something which God takes very seriously.

To avoid being guilty of the body and blood of the Lord, a believer must examine himself, making certain that his heart is right with the Lord and that his manner is right before he participates in observing the Lord's Supper (11:28).

I Corinthians 11:28 - 28 But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup.

The one who observes the Lord's Supper in an unworthy manner brings judgment upon himself because he does not discern the Lord's body (11:29).

I Corinthians 11:29 - 29 For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord's body.

Damnation = judgment in the sense of a judicial verdict or condemnation, which may include the subsequent punishment itself.

Not discerning = because he does not discern, because he does not judge correctly, or because he does not recognize.

What he does not discern is the Lord's body, i.e. the Lord's physical body which was crucified on the cross for the very sins of the one who is observing the Lord's Supper by eating and drinking in an unworthy manner.

The Lord's body was given in order that our sins might be put away. If we go on living in sin, while at the same time partaking of the Lord's Supper, we are living a lie. If we eat the Lord's Supper with unjudged sin upon us, we do not discern the Lord's body which was crucified to put sin away.

As a result of not discerning the Lord's body, some of the Corinthian believers had already become sick; and others had even died (11:30).

I Corinthians 11:30 - 30 For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep.

If, however, believers would judge themselves, they would not be judged by the Lord, whether in the observance of the Lord's Supper or in anything else (11:31).

I Corinthians 11:31 - 31 For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged.

How do we judge ourselves? By confessing and forsaking our sins.

I John 1:9 - If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

Proverbs 28:13 - He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy.

The Lord's judgment of believers is understood as chastisement in order that they not be condemned with the world (11:32).

I Corinthians 11:32 - 32 But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world.

Hebrews 12:5-11 - 5 And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children, My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him:

6 For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth.

7 If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not?

8 But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons.

9 Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live?

10 For they verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure; but he for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness.

11 Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.

Paul then admonishes the Corinthian believers to wait for one another when they come together to observe the Lord's Supper (11:33) and to eat at home if they are hungry rather than bringing judgment on themselves (11:34). Paul also advises them that he will deal with a few additional matters when he gets there.

I Corinthians 11:33-34 - 33 Wherefore, my brethren, when ye come together to eat, tarry one for another.

34 And if any man hunger, let him eat at home; that ye come not together unto condemnation. And the rest will I set in order when I come.


We have seen that the Lord's Supper is a local church ordinance, that the Lord's supper is typical of the unity found in the local church, that the Lord's Supper pictures and serves as a reminder of His crucifixion for our sins, that the observance of the Lord's Supper continues to proclaim the Lord's death until His return, and that the Lord's Supper must be observed in a worthy manner.