Through the Bible with Les Feldick
LESSON 1 * PART 4 * BOOK 28
I CORINTHIANS 10:18 – 11:30
Now to get back to where we left off in our last lesson. But before we do, I just want to say this is an informal Bible study, and we want people to just study the scriptures, and we like to do it in an atmosphere like we do in our Bible studies here in Oklahoma, with a cup of coffee, or other refreshments, and a table where you can take notes if you like. And we trust that many of you are joining with us in Bible study as we know you are. Remember all we’re doing is trying to get folks to search the Scriptures and see what the Book really says, and just as important, what it doesn’t say.
In our last lesson we were studying about the Lord’s Supper and how Paul was having to upbraid the Corinthians because they were abusing it. And remember before they would have the official Lord’s supper of unleavened bread, and the communion cup, they would have a pot luck supper. Now again remember the circumstances. You see that’s what makes the Bible so interesting. Historically, and environmentally everything makes a difference with the circumstances. The Corinthian believers were a make-up of a few Jews, more than likely more Gentiles, but from the whole strata of society. Now naturally, in that day and time what kind of people were at the bottom of the totem pole socially? Slaves. Bond slaves, and then of course you had your wealthy merchant men who probably had ships out at sea, and Corinth was their home base.
So you have this whole cross-section of society even within that little congregation. So they would have this potluck supper, and people being people, the bottom echelon people would bring what they could afford, and maybe some of them couldn’t afford anything, but they were free to come. Come on up through the scale, and people bring various levels of food and so forth, but what do you suppose the wealthy brought? They brought the best wines, meats and vegetables because they could afford it. Now I can imagine, before Paul writes, that the poor people were just gorging themselves with the things that the wealthier people were bringing. They had never tasted wine so good so they just guzzled it. They were becoming gluttonous, and drunk. And then in verse 22:
I Corinthians 11:22
“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.”
It would indicate that the people were also separating themselves during the potluck supper, and the wealthy were saying, “You’re not going to eat the good food that I’ve brought or drink our good wine. You go have your own table.” Well that’s the furthest thing from what the Church is supposed to be. So they were dividing themselves now according to their status in the culture, and Paul is shocked, and says, “In the first place, you didn’t come to Church to fill your bellies with food and drink,” but this was what they were doing, abusing. Now there is nothing wrong with a potluck supper once in a while, because I’m not one of these who say you can’t eat when you come together as believers. In fact, I think that is one of the highlights of our classes here in Oklahoma, and even here at the studio. After an hour of teaching we take a coffee break, and these gals bring out the best that there is. So all of our classes enjoy these little breaks, and it’s also a time of fellowship, and there is nothing wrong with that. But the Corinthians were abusing all of that, and some were even getting drunk. You might say, “Christians?” Yeah, no wonder Paul was shocked and upset. Now verse 22.
I Corinthians 11:22
“What? have ye not houses to eat and to drink in? (Now it’s obvious he wasn’t talking about the elements of the Lord’s table, but rather he was talking about their potluck dinner. He’s saying if you can’t do it right then eat at home.) or despise ye the church of God, and shame them that have not? (Do you see what Paul is saying especially to the wealthy? He’s saying how dare they flaunt their wealth by bringing all this expensive gourmet food when they know there are other people that can’t afford anything.) What shall I say to you? shall I praise you in this? (What does he say?) I praise you not.”
So Paul is gently condemning them by just simply saying, “I can’t praise you for this kind of action because this is the way that it should not be done.” Now in verse 23 he is going to come in and give the real purpose for what we call the Lord’s Supper or communion table. And again I’m going to emphasize that it has nothing to do with the salvation of these Corinthians. These Corinthians are already saved, they are believers. Now for the purpose of this table in the Church program.
I Corinthians 11:23a
“For I have received of the Lord…”
Now do you see what he says? He didn’t get it from the Twelve in Jerusalem, or from seminary, or some denominational big wigs, but where did he get it? From the Lord! Let’s go back to the Book of Galatians for a moment and look how Paul received these revelations. This way you can compare Scripture with Scripture. We’ve got to look at these Scriptures because they are tantamount to our understanding Paul’s apostleship.
“But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man. For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, (by man, but how did he get it?) but by the revelation of Jesus Christ.
Now you have to remember, where is Jesus Christ all during Paul’s revelations? In glory. And so everything that Paul writes concerning our doctrine today is from the ascended Lord after His death, burial, and resurrection. And remember, until He went to that Cross, and died, He was not the object of faith to the main run of Gentiles. But once He had finished the work of the Cross, and revealed His plan of salvation to this apostle then it becomes that Gospel as he says in Chapter 2, “Which I preached to the Gentiles.”
“But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother’s womb, and called me by his grace. To reveal (a revelation) his Son in me, that I might preach him among the heathen;(Gentiles) immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood: Neither went I up to Jerusalem to them which were apostles before me; but I went into Arabia, and returned again unto Damascus.”
Do you see how the Holy Spirit is prompting the man to write definitively that he had no contact with those Twelve men at Jerusalem. So when he speaks of revelation he is always referring to that which Christ revealed from His position now in the heavenlies. Now you come into Chapter 2 to a verse that I just semi-quoted in verse 2. Paul goes up to Jerusalem now to convince the twelve that his Gospel to the Gentiles was not connected with Judaism, and so he says in verse 2:
“And I went up (that is to Jerusalem) by revelation, (God instructed him. “Paul, it’s time you go up and meet with the Twelve, you go up to Jerusalem.”) and communicated unto them(the Twelve) that gospel which I preach among the Gentiles,…”
So everything that Paul has revealed to him to pass on to the Roman world was revealed from the ascended Lord in glory. Now come back to I Corinthians Chapter 11 and let’s continue our study of the real meaning of the Lord’s table.
I Corinthians 11:23a
“For I have received of the Lord (by revelation) that which also I delivered unto you,…”
By the time Paul writes the I Corinthian letter, the Church of Corinth had been operating long enough to build the excesses. They had been going long enough that they were getting all these kooky ideas coming in. Because this isn’t what he taught them at the beginning. This isn’t how he taught them to practice the Lord table. I imagine that when they got ready to have the Lord’s table they realized that they couldn’t satisfy a whole day’s energy with a little cup or swallow of wine, and one little piece of unleavened bread. “My, let’s start bringing some food and we can have a real supper out of it.” But that led to excess, and so now Paul has to bring them some criticism. Looking at the verse again.
I Corinthians 11:23-25
“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: 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.’ 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.'” Now let’s go back to Matthew Chapter 26 and begin with verse 17.
“Now the first day of the feast of unleavened bread the disciples came to Jesus, saying unto him, `Where wilt thou that we prepare for thee to eat the passover?’ And he said, `Go into the city to such a man, and say unto him, The Master saith, My time is at hand: I will keep the passover at thy house with my disciples.’ And the disciples did as Jesus had appointed them; and they made ready the passover. Now when the even was come, he sat down with the twelve.”
Remember when they ate the passover lamb back in Egypt, what was the position of each of them at the table? Standing. So if they were to be standing to eat the Passover lamb with their feet shod, why were they standing? They were ready to go, and I don’t think the custom had changed all that much, so when He sat down there was a regular meal that they ate before they killed the Passover lamb, if I understand Passover. Then let’s come all the way over to verse 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.’ And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, `Drink ye all of it; For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins. 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.’ And when they had sung an hymn, they went out into the mount of Olives.”
Now why did I read this to you? Does Jesus give any doctrinal exposition on the bread and the wine. Not a word. All He says in verse 26 is “…this is my body.” and in verse 28. …this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.”
But we see no explanation or instructions on how to practice it from here on. Now let’s come all the way back to Genesis Chapter 14 and look at the first example of bread and wine. And here comes this hard to pronounce name out of Jerusalem. Who? Melchizedek, the high priest and king of Salem, which was a little village that later became Jerusalem. And in order to get the backdrop, remember Abraham had put together a little army out of his servants and had recaptured the people that had been taken captive out of Sodom, and that included his nephew, Lot. And he’s coming back after their victory, and here’s a situation that’s loaded of course with a lot of prophetic impact, and let’s pick it up in verse 18. And we find that this Melchizedek this high priest of Salem, and remember He was not a high priest of the Jews, because that Nation hadn’t been formed yet.
“And Melchizedek king of Salem brought forth bread and wine: and he was the priest of the most high God.”
Now that wasn’t what they normally used in the sacrifices of Abraham’s day. So why in the world did Melchizedek offer bread and wine? Well, it was a subtle prophecy. Oh, it was so subtle because what was the bread and the wine, as Jesus administered it in Matthew 26, going to represent? The resurrection. And that’s what the whole idea of the Lord’s supper is. It is to be a constant reminder that every time we partake of that bread and that cup it is a reminder of that finished work of the Cross. And this is the first time that’s it’s explained. In fact one commentator that I’ve read puts it this way: “This is probably the first time that Jesus is quoted chronologically in the Scriptures, because the Four Gospels hadn’t been written yet. Have you ever thought of that? The Four Gospels hadn’t been written so Paul couldn’t go to the Gospel of Matthew. But rather Paul’s interpretation of the Lord’s supper came by revelation. And isn’t it amazing how God does everything in His own order, as before the Four Gospels were ever written Paul writes to the Corinthians the very same words. Now read on in I Corinthians, verse 26, and here is the doctrinal reason for the Lord’s supper.
I Corinthians 11:26
“For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew (or remind yourself of) the Lord’s death till he come.”
Now I’m going to point out two things. There is no stipulation from the apostle as to how often a Church practices the Lord’s supper. I don’t care if your denomination practices it every Sunday, that’s your prerogative. If you want to practice it once a year that’s also your prerogative. Because the word is whenever you have the Lord’s Supper you had better have the right mind-set when you do partake of it. And that is that you are reminding yourself that Christ died, His blood was shed, and He arose from the dead. And that’s the only purpose of the Lord’s supper, and it is to be a solemn experience. And again, the Corinthians were so abusing this beautiful, beautiful picture in type, by their indulgence with food, getting half drunk on too much wine, so how in the world could they receive the impact of such a solemn service. So Paul had to upbraid them and tell them to stop it, because it was a solemn occasion. And as the last part of verse 26 says the Lord’s table will not stop until the Lord returns. Now verse 27, and here comes the apostles description of what our attitude should be as we partake.
I Corinthians 11:27,28
“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. But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup.”
When it says, “But let a man examine himself,…” I think that’s the secret to behavior at the Lord’s table. You don’t examine the next person to you or judge someone else, but just look at your own heart, and attitude. Am I right with the Lord? Am I right with my fellow believers? And if you can say `yes’ and `amen’ to that, then you feel free to partake. If you can’t, you’d better refrain, because then you are drinking and eating condemnation. Now verse 29.
I Corinthians 11:29
“For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body.”
That is speaking of someone who partakes of the Lord’s table with the wrong attitude. The Corinthians were going into that supper with almost an attitude of revelry, totally wrong. Many others of the Corinthians had a real thing against someone across the room, and their enmity was just like sparks, and Paul tells them that won’t work. You can’t take the Lord’s table with that kind of attitude. Now verse 30. Since the Corinthians were guilty of many things that should have kept them from partaking:
I Corinthians 11:30
“For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, (in other words God was already chastising them by taking away their health) and many sleep.”
What does he mean? They had died. Now there is a sin unto death recorded in one of John’s little epistles, and we won’t have time to look at it today, but John also tells us that we don’t pray for it. Even though you think that someone is awfully out of step, you never pray, “Lord take them out.” That’s not our prerogative, but the Lord does have that prerogative. That if a believer will not shape up, and if a believer continues to walk in known sin, then yes, God will take them, because He’s not going let anybody drag His name through the mud. Now we know there are people who have made profession of salvation, they’ve probably been members of the church, and they’re doing the same thing. And if the Lord doesn’t deal with them, if the Lord doesn’t chastise them, then Paul teaches in the Book of Hebrews that they are not His children.
“…My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him: For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons.”
So the Lord had been chastening the Corinthians because Paul says:
I Corinthians 11:30
“For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep.”