Paedocommunion (5): George Knight's exegesis of 1 Corinthians 11:17-34...

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(This is the fifth in a series opposing paedocommunion, a practice started by some Reformed parents a few years ago in which parents require their infants and toddlers to participate in the Lord's Supper. Here are the firstsecondthird, and fourth in this series. For more on this subject, see the "Paedocommunion" tag.) 

Editor's note: Some have been convinced by Jeff Meyers' simplistic and novel exegesis of 1 Corinthians 11 in which he concludes that the only sin that text warns us against is the sin of disunity by not having absolutely everybody in the church partake of the Lord's Supper. His position can be summed up by his astounding statement:

I don’t believe that this passage requires an inward act of contemplating and evaluating one’s sins.

The violence this does to the text should be obvious to any man who honors Scripture and fears God. The Apostle Paul gives several examples of ways to disqualify yourself and destroy the unity of the body in his first letter to the Corinthians, including just in chapter 10 grumbling, fornication, and idolatry. Each of these sins God judged and punished with the death of his people "as an example" to us. The Apostle Paul then warns us, in verse 21, "You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons."

Chapter 11 contains yet another warning against partaking while in serious sin—this time the sin of disunity. Where most paedocommunionists err is in their astounding assumption that "unity" is determined purely by the physical external sign of participation in the meal. Such a shallow understanding of unity dismisses as inconsequential the selfishness and jealousy that caused the incomplete participation in the first place. In other words, paedocommunionists who follow Jeff Meyers raise the importance of external conformity so high that one is forced to dismiss as unimportant the inward reality, what Scripture refers to as the circumcision of the heart.

At some point, we hope to address Meyers' treatment of 1Corinthians 11 ourselves. In the meantime, we hope that those who found Meyers' paper compelling will read this in-depth exegetical treatment of the passage in question by the respected exegete George W. Knight III, our Reformed friend and father.

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1 Corinthians 11:17-34: The Lord’s Supper: Abuses, Words of Institution and Warnings

by George W. Knight III


1 Corinthians 11:17-34 is an important section in the letter to the Corinthians and therefore also an important section in the life and teaching of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church and its Confessional Standards and Book of Church Order, as well as that of other Presbyterian and Reformed Churches.1 The Confessional Standards refer to these verses more than fifty times and especially to the warning verses over twenty times.2 It, therefore, demands our most careful attention...


For us to understand well the teaching of 1 Corinthians 11:17-34, we need not only to outline the ac­count, and note the change in the persons addressed, but also to go through it in a careful way. The ac­count divides itself into four parts. They are as follows:

  1. Verses 17-22 - The statement of the problem: some are eating their own supper and not sharing with others with the result that those others are hungry, and the Lord's Sup­per is not observed.
  2. Verses 23-26 - The Apostle Paul reiterates the words of institution with their emphasis on "in re­membrance of me"3 (vs. 25) and "you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes" (vs. 26), as the basis for his response to these and all other mishandlings of the Lord's Supper.
  3. Verses 27-32 - This section, with its introductory "therefore" (vs. 27), is written in response to verses 23-26, and says that one must "dis­cern the body" (of the Lord) as one eats, or one is in danger of eating and drinking "judgment on himself" (vs. 29). This is the section based on the significance or intention of the Supper.
  4. Verses 33-34 - With its in­troductory "then," these verses now return to verses 17-22 and give Paul's explicit instruction for over­coming the problem mentioned in verses 17-22. They are "to wait for one another" "when they come to­gether to eat" (vs. 33).4 This is the section which most particularly re­turns to the original problem found in 17-22.

Persons in View

The previous four-fold outline is also undergirded by a change in the person(s) and number(s) of the ones in view in each section.

  1. Verses 17-22 - This section uses primarily the second person plural "you" (vss. 17-20 & 22), in­terspersed with Paul's own first per­son singular "I" (vss. 17-18 & 22 at the end), and a third person singular (vs. 21). In this first section Paul is interacting with their abuses.
  2. Verses 23-26 - Paul reports Jesus instituting the Supper with Je­sus' own third person singular "he" throughout (vss. 23-26). This account is also given to the "you" who are the recipients (vss. 23-26). Paul introduces the account with his "I" (vs. 23).
  3. Verses 27-32 - Paul applies the account of the words of the Lord's Supper and its meaning and significance. Here we find two steps on his part.
    1. Paul applies the warning generally (vss. 27-29), that is, to all, with his words given in the third person "whoever" (vs. 27), "a per­son" (vs. 28), "anyone" (a participle with an article, vs. 29), with verb forms in the same third person singular throughout verses 27-29, and with "himself" (vs. 29) referring back to the "anyone" that begins vs. 29. (It is for this reason that these words have been utilized by Presbyterian and Reformed Churches.)
    2. Paul applies this section to his immediate hearers (verses 30-32) with the second person plural "you" (vs. 30) with the introductory words "that is why...", and also in the specific words "many of you..." and "some of you...", which are then changed into a "we" in which he then includes himself with them (vss. 31-32).
  4. Verses 33-34 - Paul applies this teaching even more particularly to those who have committed the abuses in verses 17-22 in these verses 33-34. The language here is primarily second person plural "you" (vss. 33-34), made even more specific by a third person "anyone" and "him" (vs. 34). The whole sec­tion closes with Paul saying that he will give further directions when he comes, using the first person singular "I" (vs. 34).

Abuses at the Lord's Supper

Verses 17-22

This first section is devoted to Paul's bringing the abuses to their attention.

He begins the section by saying immediately that he is not commending them in the following instructions (vs. 17, as he had in vs. 2, and he comes back to this lack of commendation in vs. 22), because with reference to the Lord's Supper they are not following what he had taught but rather "when you come together it is not for the better but for the worse" (see near the end of the discussion of this section for further comments on this statement).

The significance of this "worse" "not for the better" is given in verse 18, namely, that in their coming to­gether there are "divisions." He adds the interesting caveat "and I believe it in part." This is an oral report that he has heard. His caveat indicates that he is still inclined to believe what he has heard, even if only some of it may be true. His referring to "divisions" with the same Greek word as found in 1:105, may make us think that Paul is saying that the abuses of the Lord's Supper are caused by that same party spirit that is dealt with in the first chapters. However, it is doubtful that this is true for several reasons: (1) the former divisions were further de­fined as "quarrels" and" jealousy" (1:11; 3:3-4), which is missing from this section, and here the divisions are along sociological lines (vss. 21-22; 33-34); (2) 1:12 mentions four names, here there are only two groups, and there is no anti-Pauline quarrel as there was in the first chapters; (3) the divisions are related here to their coming together (vs. 18), not to false allegiances to their leaders (cf. 1:11-12); (4) "I believe it in part" (vs 18) does not fit the situation described in 1:10-4:21, but it does fit this situation.6

Paul recognizes that the divi­sions are brought about by evil men (vs. 18), but that they are used by God's good sovereignty and provi­dence for a good end: "for there must be factions among you in order that those who are genuine among you may be recognized" (vs. 19).

In verses 20-22 Paul deals with why there are divisions when they come together to eat. We can gather what Paul is rebuking by noticing those three key ideas or word-groups that are in this section: (1) "come together" (vss. 17, 18, 20); (2) "eat" (vss. 20-22); and (3) "divisions" or "factions" "among you" (vss. 18-19, cf. vss. 21, 22).7

Paul says categorically that they are not eating the Lord's Supper when they come together (vs. 20). The reason for this absolute state­ment to them is given in the next verse, indicated by the introductory "for": "For in eating each one goes ahead with his own meal. One goes hungry, another gets drunk" (vs. 21). This is further explained by a series of rhetorical questions in verse 22, the centerpiece of which is the question: "Or do you despise the church of God and humiliate those who have nothing?"

These charges and questions show that the "you" in view are not the whole church but only those he is charging with this abuse. We are led to this conclusion from three facts in his discourse. First, those he is rebuking are distinguished from those who are hungry (vs. 21), who are not being rebuked. Second, those who are being rebuked are the ones making the divisions and factions and they are distinguished from "those who are genuine among you [who] may be recognized" (vs. 19). Third, the questions asked are directed to the abusers who in verse 22 are distinguished from those they are humiliating because they "have nothing." Therefore, the statement of Paul in verse 17 that "when you come together it is not for the better but for the worse" is primarily for those abusing the Lord's Supper, rather than being an indictment for the whole church.

Verses 21 and 22 taken together give the essence of Paul's outrage at them. It is that those that have their own meals do not share it with those who have nothing ("goes ahead with his own meal", vs. 21). The out­come is that the "have nots" are "hungry" and the "haves" are sated to such a degree that Paul may even say that they get drunk. The theological outcome of this selfishness is that there is no shared Lord's Supper for them and "the church of God" is "despise[d]" and those who "have nothing" are "humiliate[d]" (vs. 22).

Paul concludes this section by writing "What shall I say to you? Shall I commend you in this? No, I will not" (vs. 22). And by this he means the ones abusing the Lord's Supper.

The Words of Institution and Their Significance

Verses 23-26

Since the abusers are not keeping the tradition which Jesus gave to Paul and which Paul gave to them, he feels constrained to repeat it in this section word for word. And he draws their attention to this institution by his opening "for" (vs. 23). In giving the institution in Jesus' own words, he is confronting them with our Lord's own words and intentions. Paul will then draw upon these intentions in his general words of warning in verses 27-29, as is evidenced by the transitional word "therefore" (vs. 27). (The purpose of this paper does not require a detailed consideration of these words which are so well known and highly esteemed.)

The two intentions given in the words of institution, as well as the words of institution themselves, are referred back to with the "therefore" beginning vs. 27. Because these words are given not just for the Corinthian church but for every church and believer, what we learn from them applies to us and our church as well.

The first item is the statement by our Lord that the Supper is to be taken, "as often as you drink it," "in remembrance of me" (vs. 25). This teaching of our Lord, as is demon­strated in the words "as often as you drink it," must govern our every reception of the Lord's Supper as an act "in remembrance of me." We may not forget this remembrance, as some of the Corinthians had done by their action of "each one goes ahead with his own meal" (vs. 21). Every receiving of the Supper must be a receiving of the Supper from Christ, and in so receiving it we must re­member him in all his graciousness in laying down his life for us to sat­isfy God's justice (cf. Rom. 3:24-26). Just as they needed to be reminded to remember Christ, so must we, because these words are not just given by our Lord to the Corinthians, but in Paul and also in Luke they are the words of Christ to all who partake (cf. Luke 22:19, where it is stated after the bread," Do this in remembrance of me"). In this passage Paul restates the words of in­stitution (given to every church and believer) so that it may be used in the warning and for this particular church's problem. But we all need to acknowledge in our actions that we know what these words require of us.

The second item is the words of verse 26: "For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes." Here we have the reminder that remembering our Lord Jesus Christ in this Supper is also a proclamation of his death and that until He comes. The Greek word "proclaim" (katangd, I w) is used only in the NT by the Apostle Paul and in the Book of Acts.8 It means gener­ally to make known in public and thus here it is accurately translated "proclaim." The proclamation takes place when, or as often, "as you eat this bread and drink the cup." The partaking of this remembrance of our Lord's death does itself ensure that his death is thereby proclaimed. Since every partaking of the Lord's Supper is to be done in remembrance of him and particularly is a proclamation of his death, the Supper may not be partaken in any unworthy manner.

The Application of the Intention of the Supper: First, in General, to "Whoever" with the words of Warning (vss. 27-29); then to the Corinthian Situation (vss. 30-32)

The Words of Warning

Verses 27-29

The first sentence in this section is very much taken up with what has been said in the preceding section. The Supper is in view with the words about eating the bread and drinking the cup and the guilt in view in doing so "in an unworthy manner" is "profaning the body and blood of the Lord" (vs. 27). Not only the contents, but also the transitional word "therefore,"9 connects the contents of this verse with the words of institution and its intentions and thereby points to what follows as the consequence of that connection.

Furthermore, the relative pro­noun "who"10 is combined with a particle11 "ever" so that it is properly translated "whoever." The meaning of this combination is given by the well-known Greek-English Lexicon (BDAG) in rather technical language (see footnote).12 In summary form it may be said that the statement indicates that whenever this action is done in an unworthy manner by anyone, it will mean that that one will be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord.

The qualification "in an un­worthy manner" is the important element in this warning of the Apostle Paul. Here Paul uses an ad­verb to describe the activity (not the person's own inherent standing be­fore God; for Paul's unworthy man­ner is not speaking about the person but about his action or way of partaking) as a partaking by him in an "unworthy" or "careless"13 manner, and thus the translation of this one word is rendered with the phrase "in an unworthy manner." The unwor­thy manner is explicated by Paul in verse 28 as requiring him to "exam­ine himself" and also in verse 29 as not "discerning the body," that is, there are two dimensions to this un­worthy manner of partaking, within oneself which demands examination, and concerning the body which de­mands discernment. If the person partakes in an unworthy manner he "will be guilty of profaning,"14 in the sense of liable for, the body and blood as if he had committed the deed of death against that one, and thus must give an account of his actions. It is very clear that this guilt is seen with reference to the Lord's Supper and to what it represented, i.e., the giving of Christ's body and blood in his death.

There are those that would ar­gue that the unworthy manner means only that kind of action of which the Corinthians have been found guilty in verses 17-22. They, in effect, want to restrict the application to them or at least to the kind of sins that they were guilty of and to nothing else but those. Calvin takes up this argument in his commentary on 1 Corinthians 11:27.

Some restrict it to the Corinthians, and the abuse that had crept in among them, but I am of opinion that Paul here, according to his usual manner, passed on from the particular case to a general statement, or from one in­stance to an entire class. There was one fault that prevailed among the Corinthians. He takes occasion from this to speak of every kind of faulty administration or reception of the Lord's Supper....

To eat unworthily, then, is to pervert the pure and right use of it by our abuse of it. Hence there are various degrees of this unworthiness, so to speak; and some offend more griev­ously, others less so.

I think that Calvin's argument is a significant one15 and even more so when it is connected with the gen­eral or generic tone of this section with its use of "whoever" and of the third person singular verb forms and also of the future tense verb.

Paul's instructions move on to verse 28 which is introduced by a particle which is appropriately translated by the ESV as "then"16, that is, this "then" is the appropriate action demanded by the preceding requirement. This verse is very instructive. It reads "Let a person examine himself, then, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. "The instruction is very personal and very direct. It calls on every human being17 to engage in this examination of himself.18 And it uses a verb (doki rraTw) which expresses that in the third person singular" let him, i.e., a human being, examine himself." Every person individually is to look into his own being to determine if he or she is taking the Lord's Sup­per in an unworthy manner. Any one who objects to this method prescribed by Paul in favor of elder oversight at this particular juncture will need to face the fact that he is objecting to apostolic instruction.

Paul gives no specific guide­lines for this action of examining oneself. The only guidance that we can ascertain is the meaning of the verb "examine."19 BDAG indicate that the verb in this place (doki razw) is used with the general meaning "to make a critical examination of something to determine genuineness"; thus they offer "put to the test, examine"20 Paul uses the verb in 2 Cor. 13:5 in the context where one's faith is examined ([our verb is rendered by" test" not by "examine" in this statement]" Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you? - unless indeed you fail to meet the test!") and in Gal. 6:4 where one's work is examined ("But let each one test his own work.... cf. 1 Cor. 3:13). Thus both faith and work in oneself are subject to examination, as well as a sin that may impinge upon either or both (cf. 1Tim. 3:10, "And let them also be tested first; then let them serve as deacons if they prove them­selves blameless"). Whatever else one may say about this admonition to examine oneself ("himself"), it is certainly a looking into oneself to ascertain whether he is partaking in an unworthy manner, that is, in a manner that would make the person guilty of profaning the body and blood of the Lord. There are cer­tainly more ways of doing that than were manifested in the Corinthian errors of 1 Cor. 11, as are seen in 2 Cor. 13:5, Gal. 6:4 and 1 Tim. 3:10, and Presbyterian and Reformed Churches have sought to lay that out in various statements that instruct one as one is examining oneself.21

The examination is to be done with a view to taking the Supper. This is made evident in the text by the word "so"22 following the "and" so that the two words taken together give us the usual, and meaningful, "and so." An examination is called for, but it is to be followed, as the hoped for result, by the partaking ("and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup"). After examining one­self a person may do "thus" (or, so), that is, after having done so, one is then encouraged to eat and drink. The two verbs used for eating and drinking are in the imperative so that they underline the sense already gathered from the "and so." This perspective is caught in the NASB translation that properly renders the verbs "let him eat... and drink" in the rendering "But let a man exam­ine himself, and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup."

Before we delve into verse 29, we must note the differences be­tween the King James version of this verse and that of the more modern translations, or between the Byzantine or Majority Greek text and the older Greek text. The Majority text adds for clarification after the first reference to eating and drinking the understood word "unworthily" and after the word body the understood words "of the Lord" so that it reads "for he that eateth and drinketh un­worthily, ... not discerning the Lord's body." The older Greek texts do not include these understood words and so the translation following them reads without these words as follows: "For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment on himself." We are utilizing this shorter text found in our translation because we believe that it more likely reflects Paul's writing since it is found in the oldest manuscripts. We can understand why the words giving the appropriate clarifications to the verse may have been added by scribes copying the text.

With the "For" that begins verse 29, Paul wants to indicate that in ex­amining himself one must particu­larly be concerned about "discerning the body." The text reads "For any­one who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment on himself." Two impor­tant items are contained herein. The need for "discerning the body" be­fore one eats and drinks, and the solemn warning that a failure to do so will result in the chastisement of the Lord which is here designated "judgment."

This verse, just as the two that preceded it (vss. 27 & 28), are an ap­plication of the words of institution to "whoever" reads these words of Scripture. Just as the words of Jesus speak of his body (vs. 24), so the very first verse of this warning warns us not to be "guilty of profaning the body and blood of the Lord" by partaking "in an unworthy manner" of the bread and cup (vs. 27). And right after Jesus spoke of his "body," he also urged them to "Do this in remembrance of me" (vs. 24). Therefore our remembrance of him is to be done in the midst of partaking of that which signified his body, namely, the bread. That is why people will be guilty of profaning the body and blood of the Lord who take the bread or the cup in an un­worthy manner (vs. 27). Further­more, the examination of oneself that is called for in verse 28 is to be done just because they are in the midst of partaking of the Lord's Supper ("and so eat..."). This is all involved in the fact that the Supper is a remembrance of the Lord Jesus and a proclamation of his death. So likewise in this verse 29. The body of our Lord Jesus that has been mentioned in verses 24 and 27 is surely the body in view in this verse 29.23

Insight into the meaning of the word "body" and into the significance of the phrase itself, "discerning the body," is also to be sought in determining the meaning of the Greek word translated by "discerning."24 The evidence of the Greek lexicon (BDAG) indicates that "rec­ognize" or "discern" are the correct understandings in this context. We are to recognize that the body repre­sented in the Lord's Supper is that of Jesus indeed and that the Lord's Supper is distinct and different from an ordinary meal. We will then es­cape the judgment warned in this verse, if we do not take the meal in an unworthy manner. We will there­fore need to discern the body of our Lord signified by the elements in the Lord's Supper.

The "judgment" referred to in this verse is an awesome word to be given in a warning, but fortunately it is not as awesome as one might take it to be. Yes, it does result in the significant situation of many of them being weak and ill, and also of some having died (vs. 30). That is indeed awesome. But the full meaning of this word is not grasped until one understands it in the light of the words of verses 30-32, especially verse 32. There we see that the judgment in view is the chastening or disciplining of the Lord to keep us from being "condemned along with the world." And when put in this perspective we realize that the judgment is God's gracious action to keep us from that condemnation.

What Paul has been calling us, "whoever" we may be, to do in these three general verses is to exercise that judgment on ourselves and with reference to the body so that we would not partake in an unworthy manner, with the result that we would not have to be judged by God (as vs. 31 indicates, "But if we judged ourselves truly, we would not be judged").

To the Corinthians

Verses 30-32

With verses 30-32 Paul turns from his general and generic warning, based on the words of institution, and turns back again to the Corinthians and their particular abuses. He applies what he has just said in verses 27-29 to them in verses 30-32. First, in verse 30, he delineates his apostolic perspective on that which they have suffered and indicates with the words, "That is why," why these things have hap­pened to them (notice the second person plural ["you"] in this verse in distinction from the third person singular of verses 27-29). He urges upon them the very judging or discerning in view in their self-examination ("but if we judged our­selves", vs. 31), and in their discerning of the body, so that they will not be judged by the Lord. But now in verse 31 and also verse 32 he includes himself with them and uses the first person plural ("we").

Then finally, in verse 32, he points out that being "judged by the Lord" is done "so that we may not be condemned along with the world."

This judgment, although very serious, is designed to keep them from the condemnation in view for the world of unbelievers.25

Explicit Instructions to Overcome the Problem at Corinth

Verses 33-34

Paul continues with the second person plural ("you") giving explicit instructions to those who needed it among the Corinthians so that they may overcome their problem which he had raised in verses 17-22. He harkens back, for the first time, to the specific abuses mentioned in verses 17-22, and does so with the same Greek word as found at the beginning of verse 27, but now translated as "then" (wst e, see footnote 9).

Paul does two things at once in verses 33 and 34. He urges that they (and most likely with an eye par­ticularly directed to the "haves" or the abusers with the gracious phrase "my brothers") when they come to­gether to eat to "wait for one an­other" (vs. 33). The Lord's Supper is be a communion of believers with the Lord and with each other. It needs to be taken and enjoyed to­gether. And if someone says he is hungry, or even has brought his own meal (cf. vs. 21), Paul says that if "anyone" is hungry he should "eat at home" (vs. 34). Only by waiting for one another and not eating before one another can they avoid the judgment that will fall on them if they do not heed his warnings and admonitions ("so that when you come together it will not be for judgment" vs. 34).

Finally, Paul indicates that he will "give directions when [he] come[s]" "about the other things"(vs. 34). What these other things are, when he gave this instruction and what it consisted of, we do not know because we have not been told. All that this verse teaches us is that he promised to give directions on these matters when he came.


What we do know is that he gave instructions to all those, "who­ever" they may be, who partake of the Lord's Supper26, as well as sev­eral particular and explicit matters to the Corinthians. The matters that we need to heed as a general rule are contained in the three verses of 27-29. We are not to partake "in an unworthy manner" and thus be "guilty of profaning the body and blood of the Lord" (vs. 27). We are "then" called to "examine himself" (ourselves) so that we may indeed eat but not in an unworthy manner (vs. 28). We are also called on to discern the body (of the Lord, under­stood) so that we will not be judged by God (vs. 29). It is these matters that we are warned about in the fencing of the table. These words of warning (and invitation) are given to us by our standards for use at the Lord's Supper. We will do well to practice these fencings and heed these warnings. There are good and necessary consequences which have also been drawn from these words of instruction and incorporated in the Confessional Standards27. I think that since they are both good and necessary they too should also be heeded.

  • 1. Compare for example the Belgic Confession, Article 35, the Second Helvetic Confession, XXI, especially sections 9 and 11, and the Heidelberg Catechism, Q. and A. 81.
  • 2. See page 44 of Stephen Pribble, Scripture Index to the Westminster Stan­dards (Dallas: Resbyterian Heritage Publications, 1994), which, however, does not include the relevant pages from the Directory for Worship.
  • 3. The translation usualIy cited or quoted is that of the English Standard Version (ESV). When other versions are cited, or my own translation is used, this will usually be noted.
  • 4. I am partially indebted to G. D. Fee, in his commentary on The First Epistle to the Corinthians, The New Interna­tional Commentary on the New Testa­ment (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans Pub­lishing Company, 1987), 532, for this outline, which has, however, been re­vised.
  • 5. The Greek word scisna is used else­where by Paul only in 12:25 in the singular. The word is used elsewhere in the NT only in Mt. 9:16 and Mk. 2:21, and then only three times in John, 7:43, 9:16, 10:19.
  • 6. The overview of the argument is from Fee, 1 Corinthians, 527, but changed considerably.
  • 7. Again from Fee, 1 Corinthians 5:35, but presenting the material slightly dif­ferently.
  • 8. The Greek word (kataggd I w) is found eleven times in the Book of Acts and seven times in Paul, 1 Cor. 2:1; 9:14; 11:26; Rom. 1:8; Phil. 1:17,18; and Col. 1:28. It means to make known in public, with implication of broad dissemination, and in the NT is usualIy ren­dered in English as "proclaim" (as here) or "announce".
  • 9. The Greek word wst e introduces independent clauses and means "for this reason, therefore, [or] so" according to W. Bauer, F. W. Danker, W. F. Arndt, and F. W. Gingrich, in A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and other Early Christian Literature, 3rd ed. (Chi­cago: University of Chicago Ress, 2000), 1107. Hereafter referred to as BDAG.
  • 10. The Greek word oj.
  • 11. The Greek word ap.
  • 12. The two Greek words oj ap taken together with a subjunctive mood in the verb forms a relative clause that is virtualIy the protasis [the first part] of a conditional sentence. With the future tense of the verb in the apodosis [the second part], as here, it shows that the condition spoken of [in an unworthy manner] is thought of, as here, as resulting in a fu­ture guilt [i.e., he will be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord], BDAG, 56, sections I, (b) and a.
  • 13. BDAG, 69. The Greek word is anaxi yvj and it occurs only here in the NT (except for a later, and variant, reading found in verse 29 in the Majority text).
  • 14. The translation of the ESV of the Greek word epocqj. The NIV renders this by "will be guilty of sinning against", and the NASB renders the same section with the words "shall be guilty of" (without either "sinning against" or "profaning"); all renderings are followed by "the body and (the, NASB) blood of the Lord." BDAG has a similar suggested rendering for 1 Cor. 11:27.
  • 15. As do a number of renowned com­mentators. For a partial list see footnote 23.
  • 16. The NASB utilize "but", and the NIV does not translate the Greek word de
  • 17. The word used by Paul is apqr wpoj; it is a word that means a human being.
  • 18. The Greek word is eautou/ which means that the one who is requested to do the examining is to do that within his own self.
  • 19. The Greek verb doki na?w is used 22 times in the NT, 3 times in Luke, and 17 times in Paul (Rom. 1:28; 2:18; 12:2; 14:22; 1 Cor. 3:13; 11:28; 16:3; 2 Cor. 8:8,22; 13:5; Gal. 6:4; Eph. 5:10; Phil. 1:10; 1 Thess. 2:4 (2x); 5:21; 1 Tim. 3:10) and once in 1 Pet. 1:7; and once in 1 John 4:1. In 1 Corinthians it is used 3 times, and in 2 Corinthians it is used 3 times. BDAG puts 1 Cor. 11:28 and 2 Cor. 13:5 together because in these two instances the verb is followed by the re­flexive pronoun eautou/ They list Gal. 6:4 next because there the reflexive pronoun is also used to qualify one's own works. The ESV translates this passage as follows: "But let each one test his own work...."
  • 20. BDAG, 255.
  • 21. Particular exception has been taken to the phrase found in the Directory for Worship of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church on page 148, i.e., "and those who secretly and impenitently Iive in any sin" (which in the revised form is slightly changed into "are living will­fully and impenitently in any sin"). Sev­eral remarks can be made in response to this criticism. First, this is not the first or the only remark that is made in the fencing of the table, but rather the last. And in this last comment the authors are trying to folIow our Lord in moving from external sins to internal sins, as our Lord does in the Sermon on the Mount as he unpacked and applies the teaching of the Ten Commandments. It is also stated with qualifying words that are significant, namely "secretly', hid from others, and most importantly, "impenitently", unwilling to repent of this, or any sin, in contrition to God. Secondly, the dire consequences of this way of stating the matter, as charged by the criticizers, are all removed by the words that are found in the next sentences, i.e., the "Nevertheless" and all that is stated after this warning flag. Those words say that "this warning is not designed to keep the humble and contrite from the table of the Lord"" as if the supper were for those who might be free from sin". The following sentence begins with "On the contrary" and continues by saying that those who are invited to the table come "as guilty and polluted sinners without hope of eternal life apart from the grace of God in Christ". The Iast statement of the warning encourages us "to the end that we may partake" of the table. It is my considered judgment that those who take the entire account into consideration should not be opposed to the statement as it is found in the context of the warning and as it should be considered in the context of the teaching of the Word of God. Cf. also the Q and A of the Larger Catechism 172 about one that doubts, especially "of his due prepa­ration", it is said in the final analysis that "he may and ought to come to the Lord's supper, that he may be further strength­ened."
  • 22. The Greek word w^te is used to in­troduce independent clauses with the meanings "for this reason, therefore, or so" (cf. BDAG, 1107).
  • 23. Most commentators on 1 Corinthians understand the reference to the body in this sense at this place in the text, cf., eg., F. W. Grosheide, Charles Hodge, Simon Kistemaker, Leon Morris, Archibald Robertson and Alfred Rum­mer, and Geoffrey Wilson. Gordon Fee is the one exception among commenta­tors that I know of. He takes it as refer­ring to the body of Christians in Corinth and cites 1 Cor. 10:17 as his warrant. It needs to be noticed that even there the preceding verse, which gives rise to verse 17, refers to "the body of Christ." But even if the reference in 10:17 might give some warrant, it is too far removed and the reference back to the words of institution is that which is at hand and is being utilized in this section which is building on it.
  • 24. The Greek word in the text is a participle form from the verb dakripw. This Greek verb means generalIy in this place, according to BDAG, 231, "to evaluate by paying careful attention to," or specifically "evaluate" or "judge." Thus more precisely in our verse "recognize the body." The Greek word oc­curs 19 times in the NT, 3 times in the Gospels (Mt. & Mk.), 4 times in Acts, 7 times in Paul (Rom. 4:20; 14:23; 1 Cor. 4:7; 6:5; 11:29; 11:31; 14:29), 3 times in James and twice in Jude.
  • 25. This judgment is very gracious even as it is severe. It is brought about by the Lord himself (vs 32, "But when we are judged by the Lord") on those who are misusing or abusing the Lord's Supper (" ... without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment on himself," vs 29, fol­lowed by "That is why ..." of vs 30 and the statements of judgment). Cf. the excelIent treatment of the blessings and curses of the Lord's Supper by Herman Ridderbos in his Paul: An Outline of His Theology (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, translated and published 1975), 425-428. His conclusion is excerpted as follows: "... blessing and curse are not automatically given with the elements nor are both joined to them in an equalIy essen­tial way, but it is the living Lord himself who... deals with the church according to his gracious and righteous redemptive will", 427.
  • 26. Compare several noteworthy com­mentators, namely, Leon Morrison The First Epistle of Paul to the Corinthians Tyndale New Testament Commentaries (London: TyndalePress, reprinted 1964) at 163 in the first full paragraph under Mi., and especially Simon Kistemaker on 1 Cor. 11:28 in the following words: "Is Paul counseling the Corinthians to con­duct self-examination before coming to the Lord's table? Should a pastor exhort the parishioners to examine themselves before they celebrate Communion? The answer to these two queries is a resounding yes. Here are the reasons: (see his Exposition of the First Epistle to the Corinthians New Testament Commen­tary [Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 1993], 401). An excerpt is as follows: "First,... Paul prescribes self-examination for everyone who desires to partake of the bread and the cup of the Lord. He under­stands the word man genericalIy to exclude no one. Next, the meaning of the verb to examine is applicable both to the original readers of this epistle and to the members of the church universal... This holds true for all Christians every­where..."
  • 27. Cf., eg., the latter part of the answer to question 177 of the Larger Catechism, which indicates that the Lord's Supper is to be administered "only to such as are of years and abiIity to examine them­selves."

Joseph and his wife, Heidi, have five children, Tate, Eliza Jane, Moses, Fiona and Annabel. He graduated from Vanderbilt University and Clearnote Pastors College. He is currently planting Christ Church in Cincinnati with several other families.