Blogging the Bible 317 – 1 Corinthians 10-12 – Discerning the Body

Chapters 11 & 12 may well be the part of the Bible on which I’ve spoken and taught most, especially to deacons preparing for ordination as priests.
11:17 – 34 gives us our earliest account of the Last Supper and our earliest teaching on the Eucharist. And it’s something Paul sees as very important for the Corinthians – in v. 34 he mentions that there are things he’ll give instructions about when he comes, but this can’t wait.
People are often puzzled by 11:27-32, about eating and drinking unworthily. Paul links this to eating and drinking without discerning the body and some people read this as being about the idea that the bread and wine are somehow fundamentally changed into being the body and blood of Jesus. But that’s not what Paul is talking about.
After all, this passage is part of Paul’s great plea for a holy unity in the church. And in chapter 12 he goes on to use the language of the Body in the same way we saw in Romans 12. Everywhere else that Paul uses ‘body’ language, he’s talking about the church as the Body of Christ, united in and through its diversity, under one head, Jesus.
Surely if that’s what he means in chapter 12, we should assume that he means the same in chapter 11.
To receive communion worthily, we should then be receiving it aware of and loving those with whom we share bread and wine. Communion should be the sacrament of being brought together in Christ to be sent out to carry on Jesus’ work in the world.
When communion becomes ‘my private moment with God’ without prayer for each other, I believe we’re in danger of missing Paul’s warning. As we receive the bread and the wine, we’re meant to be looking for the Body of Christ not in the bread in our hands but in the people with whom we share the bread and the wine.

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