Let My People Think

communion

Let’s look at the primary text concerning the communion / Lord’s supper / partaking of the Lord’s body:

1 Corinthians 11
29 For he who eats and drinks in an unworthy manner eats and drinks judgment to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body.
30 For this reason many are weak and sick among you, and many sleep.
31 For if we would judge ourselves, we would not be judged.
32 But when we are judged, we are chastened by the Lord, that we may not be condemned with the world.

Let’s begin by establishing the cause-and-effect sequence, as laid out in the passage, which is as follows: people act in a certain way, the result of that is them being weak and sick, and after that the Lord teaches them something. Rather than the Lord acting a certain way, and they are weak and sick as the result.

Let’s look at the verses in sequence.

v.29 – The unworthy manner is clarified in the same verse as “not discerning the Lord’s body”. So, he who doesn’t discern the Lord’s body eats and drinks judgement to HIMSELF. Note how it’s self-inflicted. So from this passage here we establish that a person drinking/eating is the active agent of judgment (to self), and not the Lord – “he eat and drink judgement TO HIMSELF”.

By the way – the word judgment here – κρίμα – “krima” (Strong’s G2917) in Greek – comes from the verb κρίνω – “krinō” (G2919), which simply means “to decide” (select, choose, determine, etc). Kri-ma is a decide-effect, or deci[s]-ion (judg-ment). So if you don’t discern (διακρίνω – dia-krino (G1252) or through-judge) the Lord’s body, you make a decision (kri-ma) for yourself.

It’s a word play on the root word in Greek – if you don’t “dia-krino”, you make a “kri-ma” for yourself. To sum up the “decision” semantics of this verse – in modern vernacular, we might use the following phraseology to describe the same concept more generally: if you avoid making a decision to change something about a given situation, you are implicitly making a decision to stay in the situation you’re in. In other words, by not making an active decision, you’ve just made a passive decision.

v. 30 – “FOR THIS REASON (of making a decision to not discern the Lord’s body) many are sick and weak, and many sleep”. Please note that this all comes from the decision to not discern the Lord’s body, as per the previous verse.

That “weak and sick” state of affairs is the world’s default mode. So, who set this state of affairs as the default mode for the world? Adam in cooperation with Satan. How do we get out of this default mode? By making a decision for Christ – specifically in this context, that his broken body provides healing for me personally.

v. 31 – Let’s make a synonym substitution – decide instead of judge – to bring out the meaning more accurately. “If we would decide ourselves, we would avoid being decided for”. You see how this clarifies the passage? Paul is saying, in essence – make an active decision, don’t let yourself to be decided for by operating on default mode of the world. What is the default mode of the world?

v.32 – “But when we are being decided for, we are taught / instructed by the Lord” – to do what? “to avoid being condemned with the world” – i.e., to avoid participating in condemnation which is the default mode of the world. How do avoid that default mode? Back to v. 29 – discern the Lord’s body.

Sin and sickness are part of the default mode of the world – here Paul is specifically addressing sickness, as per the context. In the latter part of v. 32 (“that we may not be condemned with the world”), the word κατακρίνω – “katakrino” (G2632) is used (in aorist passive subjective), which means “down-judge”, or condemn. It’s the only time the condemnation semantics is used in the entire passage. Aorist indicates that for the world, it’s a state of affairs, rather that a time-limited occurrence. What’s the Lord’s role here? Teach / instruct us not to participate in that.

For “chastening”, the word is παιδεύω – “paideuō” (Strong’s G3811) – to child train, instruct, correct, nurture. You get pediatrician, pedagogy, etc. from the root word. simply think instruction, as in child training.

If you don’t read an “instruction” sheet that came with your newly purchased circular saw, there’s no violence toward you involved from the part of the manufacturer for operating the equipment without proper “instruction”. If you do disregard it, however – you might set yourself up for an accidental haircut, or worse. If that happens – it would be all you, and none of the saw manufacturer. Same concept applies here.

To sum up the Lord’s part in all of what’s happening in vv. 29-32: v. 32 is the only time the Lord is described as actively doing something, and that is teaching / instruction / child-training. We simply can’t attribute anything else to the Lord in the preceding 3 verses, if we simply stick to the text, and read in in the immediate context, and also in the larger context who Jesus is and what he has accomplished.

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