The "unworthy manner" of taking the Lord's Supper
God plainly tells us that the promise of His presence among assembled believers is no guarantee of His approval. He tells the Corinthians:
"Ye come not together for the better, but FOR THE WORSE."
How can this be? Here's how:
1) Divisions and heresies (v.18)
2) Some are fed, whilst others are not (v.21)
3) Despising the Lord's people, and shaming them that have not (v.23)
The resulting verdict is:
"When ye come together therefore into one place, THIS IS NOT TO
EAT THE LORD'S SUPPER. FOR IN EATING EVERY ONE TAKETH BEFORE
OTHER HIS OWN SUPPER..." (1 Corinthians 11:20-21)
What? Do I mean it's better to stay home than to eat with offense?
Yes. That's what the Scripture plainly says. The
UNWORTHY MANNER mentioned in v.27 brings WEAKNESS, SICKLINESS, AND DEATH (v.30). Three things whose spiritual counterparts are evident in many assemblies. Better a dry crust and peace therewith, than a house full of feasting with strife.
Some have taught that the "unworthy manner" is a sacreligious attitude, like unholy mirth at a funeral or some other breach of decorum. While that may happen among us, that teaching is not what is in view here. This passage deals instead with the numbered items listed above: division, heresy and favoritism, all the bitter fruit arising from the FEAR OF MAN (James 2:1-7). It is this failure to recognize the Body of Chirst, His Bride, that leads to the judgments listed in this chapter.
Christ's literal body is in Heaven, and is symbolized by the bread of the Lord's Supper. But of the Church, being yet on the earth, Paul writes, "we being many are ONE bread, and ONE BODY..."1 Cor 10:16-17. So the bread also symbolizes Christ's body on earth, his Church. (A moral application of Matthew 25:40, though it applies literally to the Jew during the tribualtion, can be made here: "And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me." This passage should provoke in every Christian a state of self-examination with regard to his treatment of others.)
In closing, our judgment of the "unworthy manner" in chapter 11 has
nothing to do with moral issues already dealt with in
1 Corinthians 5; neither has it to do with doctrine, since that is dealt with in chapter 10. Chapter 11 tells us of a spiritual issue, one where the test of a disciple is found in the heart, whether he shows himself to be Christ's in the way he loves the brethren. "Let a man examine himself, and so let him eat."
By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another. - John 13:35-A. Herstad