Taking Communion in an Unworthy Manner

I remember as a 10 year old boy watching in terror as the communion plate came closer and closer. Why was I afraid? Because there was unresolved sin in my life – I had argued with my sister before church! I knew that those who took communion in an unworthy manner risked condemnation, even death, for the Bible told me so:

1Co 11:26  For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.
1Co 11:27  Therefore, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord.
1Co 11:28  A man ought to examine himself before he eats of the bread and drinks of the cup.
1Co 11:29  For anyone who eats and drinks without recognizing the body of the Lord eats and drinks judgment on himself.
1Co 11:30  That is why many among you are weak and sick, and a number of you have fallen asleep.
1Co 11:31  But if we judged ourselves, we would not come under judgment.
1Co 11:32  When we are judged by the Lord, we are being disciplined so that we will not be condemned with the world.

Thankfully, I was wrong.

This passage above must be one of the most abused and misunderstood passages in the entire Bible. It is regularly used to deny communion to those who need and it is frightening to 10 year olds. As we will see, it is one of the most liberating scriptures in the Bible, yet many believers are condemned by it. Doesn’t this seem a bit odd to you? Afterall, this passage was written by the same apostle who said, “there is now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus.” So what’s going on here? Did Paul have a change of heart? Is he now saying that God will condemn us if we partake of communion in an unworthy manner? No he is not.

For if we would judge (diakrino) ourselves, we should not be judged (krino). But when we are judged (krino), we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned (katakrino) with the world. (KJV)

If you click on the Greek words italicized above, you will see that diakrino and krino mean to distinguish and decide, while katakrino means to give judgment against or condemn. In other words, the only time Paul refers to explicitly bad judgment (the condemning, punishing kind) in this passage, is when he is referring to the world and not the Corinthian Christians. Contrary to what you’ve heard, this is not about Christians examining themselves to see whether they’re worthy of communion and Paul never says we damn ourselves by taking it in an unworthy manner.

So what sort of judgments or decisions does Paul want us to make when taking communion? And what does it mean to proclaim the Lord’s death? To answer these questions we need to look at the two mighty deeds Jesus’ accomplished when He went to the cross. These two deeds are represented in communion by the bread and the cup.

The bread

At the Last Supper Jesus handed out the bread, said it was His body, and told the disciples to eat it in remembrance of Him (Lk 22:19). He didn’t say much else because no doubt they could all recall the fuss that happened the last time He said He was the bread of life:

“I am the bread of life… I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world… I tell you the truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.” (Jn 6:48,51-54)

As a result of these words many disciples turned away from following Jesus (Jn 6:66). To them, the idea of eating His flesh and drinking His blood was repelling. They did not grasp that Jesus was referring to His impending sacrifice – that He would give up His body in fulfillment of Isaiah 53:4-5 so that we might have life. But the lesson wasn’t lost on Peter for he later quoted Isaiah when he wrote, “by his wounds you have been healed” (1 Pe 2:24).

What does it mean to eat the flesh of Jesus? It means to behold Jesus and all that He has done for you, both at the whipping post and on the cross. In communion the bread represents His body which was broken so that you might have life and health. This is good news for the sick, but it will have no effect in your life unless you believe it. In the passage above, Paul is basically exhorting us to judge whether sickness or health is from God. Sadly, many believers are confused about these things. They think that God wants them sick so they can learn stuff. They don’t recognize (diakrino) that Jesus gave His body so that we might be healed. By failing to honor His body and blood they take communion in a less than worthy manner. It’s like saying, “Jesus was wounded for nothing,” or “by His wounds I have not been healed.”

Sickness and death are part of the curse of sin (Ge 2:17). Jesus died to set us free from sin and all its effects, but we won’t be free unless we put our faith in His work. The good news profits nothing unless it is mixed with faith in them that hear it (He 4:2). The Corinthians were suffering unnecessarily because they were not recognizing or discerning the Lord’s body. “This is why many among you are weak and sick and some have even died.” It wasn’t that God was judging them for getting drunk at communion. No, they were suffering the effects of sin because they did not properly value what Christ had done on their behalf at Calvary. Because they were not judging themselves in light of the finished work of the cross (forgiven, accepted, blessed, healed), they were still experiencing the punishing effects of sin (rejection, sickness, condemnation). Because they weren’t attributing to Christ the full worth of His sacrifice, they were still suffering – in the language of King James – the effects of damnation.

The cup

At the Last Supper Jesus took the cup and announced a new covenant based on His blood:

“This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.” (Mt 26:28)

In fear of eating and drinking in an unworthy manner, many Christians treat communion as a time of somber reflection. But proclaiming the Lord’s death should be an occasion of great joy and celebration! Was there ever a better reason to party than this? Think about it: We who were once defiled by sin have been washed white as snow (Is 1:18). Our guilty consciences have been cleansed and our forgiveness has been eternally secured by the precious blood of Jesus (He 10:22, 1 Pe 1:19). This is the good news in a cup!

I will provide a line-by-line paraphrase of 1 Corinthians 11:26-32 in my next post, but Paul’s message to the Corinthians can be summed up like this: Judge yourself in light of Christ’s perfect sacrifice. Because of His body and blood, you are forgiven and healed. Learn to discriminate what is from God (e.g., healing) and what is part of sin’s curse (e.g., sickness). Understand that anything that is not God’s will in heaven (there is no sickness in heaven) is not His will here on earth. When you learn to distinguish what is from God and what is not you are chastened or disciplined (paideauo, literally, trained up or instructed) of the Lord and escape the adverse effects of sin that the rest of the world suffers.

Communion = good news for the sick and unworthy

Are you battling sickness, condemnation and guilt? Then prepare a communion table in the presence of these your enemies and proclaim the Lord’s death! Don’t look at communion as merely a churchy-ritual; make it a bold declaration of faith! As you take the bread, behold the Lord’s body that was broken so yours could be whole. As you take the cup, discern the Lord’s blood that was shed one time for all your sins (He 10:12). Remind your enemies that they were thoroughly defeated at the cross (Co 2:15). Because Jesus has triumphed we can reign in this life (Rms 5:17). There is no grief or sorrow He did not carry; there is no curse He did not redeem you from (Is 54:4). Judge yourself as God judges you – perfectly righteous, eternally forgiven, and completely whole!
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Related posts:E2R_logo_3
–    Who can take communion?
–    Can unbelievers take communion?
–    Nothing but the blood of Jesus: 5 reasons to thank Him

Comments

  1. Great article on Communion. I was physically healed after understanding that nothing could disqualify me from receiving what Jesus already purchased for me at the Cross. Jesus said “do this in remembrance of Me.” I believe He wanted us to remind ourselves often of what was finished at the Cross so we could believe and enjoy the abundant life He came to give us.

  2. Anne Banks says:

    That is so true……all of it. There are pockets of people getting revelation about this and much more. Thank you for putting it so clearly.

  3. reformedrebel says:

    I hate to be the one to break this to you, Paul, but your assertions regarding Paul’s use of κρίμα in this passage simply can’t be lexically sustained given the immediate context of the passage. While it is true that κρίμα can be glossed as “decree” in English (a good case in point would be Ro. 5:12), the most common use of κρίμα has the decidedly unfavorable sense of a condemnatory judgement and the subsequent punishment as well. For example κρίμα has this sense in 2 Pt 2:3, Jude 4, Ro 2:2, Js 3:1, and most significantly for this comment, in 1 Cor 11:29, 34.

    While the verb at the beginning of v. 31 is διεκρινόμεν, which is being used in the sense of “evaluate”, the verb used at the end v. 31 is ἐκρινόμεθα, and it carries the sense of condemnation and handing over for a judicial punishment.

    So, then, 3 out of the 4 times that Paul refers to judgement (including the use of κατακριθῶμεν at the end of v. 32), the word being used, whether in its nominal or verbal form, refers to a condemnatory judgement.

    And the substance of this judgement is found in v. 30 – the are weak and sick because they have partaken of the Lord’s Table in an unworthy manner. Perhaps that is why we see so many weak and sick Christians!

    • Hi RR, I appreciate you weighing in with your knowledge of Greek. Your conclusion, that taking communion can make you sick and weak (and presumably dead – see v.30), is supported by two assumptions which I would like to examine:

      (1) You assert that because krima is commonly used in connection with negative or unfavorable judgments, that krima itself must therefore imply a negative judgment. But one does not follow the other and the examples you provide prove this. Krima is only associated with negative or unfavorable judgments when qualified by additional words such as katakrima in Romans 5:16 and apōleia in 2 Pet 2:3. These scriptures support my view that krima itself can be value-neutral.

      (2) You assert that because krima is used in other contexts in connection with negative judgments, that it must denote a negative judgment in this context. Although I’ll grant that the meaning of words in one context can be informed by this sort of counting method, you must concede that a surer method of inferring meaning is to look at what the current writer is actually saying here and not what some other writers have said somewhere else at another time to different groups of people. If I told you that cars were great, but you heard Al Gore and others say cars were evil, it would be inaccurate for you to conclude that I thought cars were also evil.

      Regarding the verbs at the beginning and end of verse 31, I see no problem. If we judged ourselves properly (ie: in accordance with the value ascribed to us on account of Christ’s death) we would not suffer the condemning and ongoing effects of judgment. Death entered the world through Adam’s sin (Rms 5:12); Jesus died that we might have abundant life (Jn 10:10). The Corinthians, though saved, were still feeling the effects of Adam’s sin because they were under-valuing the death of Jesus. I did make this point in the post but it comes out more clearly in my paraphrase of 1 Cor 11:26-32 (which will probably go up tomorrow or the next day).

      Now I have some questions for you. If Paul was telling the truth in Romans 8:1 (“there is now no condemnation to those who are in Christ”), how could he now be telling the Corinthian Christians that they are under condemnation? Was Paul confused or deliberately misleading? If Christians are weak and sick because they have partaken of the Lord’s Table in an unworthy manner, as you say, who or what is making them sick? Sickness and death (see v.30) are part of the curse of sin (Ge 2:17, De 28). If we are blessed in Christ (Eph 1:3), and redeemed from the curse of the law (Gal 3:13), how could God now curse those He has blessed? Are God the Father and God the Son on opposite sides? I think not. I don’t ask these questions to wind you up but to get you to step back and look at the implications of what you’re saying. Could it be in your study of words you’ve missed the wood for the trees?

      • reformedrebel says:

        Paul,
        Thanks for the challenge to step back and look at the implications of my statements! I wrote an extraordinarily long comment as a reply, but didn’t want the hijack your comment thread with a response that ran over 1,900 words. My response can be found at http://wp.me/pEXRB-m0. I look forward to your comments there!
        Thanks again!
        RR.

      • Thanks RR, for your courteous reply. Oh that all those who disagreed with me on these posts were as gracious as you! I have read your extended response and it still seems to me that your view is the same as the traditional one, namely: The Corinthians sickness and premature death (v.30) was the Lord’s judgment executed in the name of discipline so as to spare them eternal condemnation.

        Needless to say, I respectfully, but strenuously, disagree.

        I don’t think Paul is engaged in wordplays. Paul no more judges the Corinthians for acting foolishly at the communion table than he judges them for their other follies. His purpose, as always, is to remind them (a) who Christ is, (b) what He has done and (c) who they are in Christ. Although the Corinthian’s poor behavior prompted the instructions, Paul does not address their behavior but their identity (2 Cor 5:17). This is his MO in all his letters (eg: Rom 6:11, Gal 6:15 Col 3:3, etc.). He does not tell them to examine their works but themselves. If it were works it could not be grace (Rm 11:6). Because they have not examined themselves they are suffering the effects of judgment along with the rest of the world does. This suffering is stems from sin’s curse (sickness, weakness, premature death). The Corinthians evidently did not know they had been redeemed from such things. They were not ascribing to Christ the full worth of His sacrifice.

        There is not one scripture in the new covenant that suggests that God makes even sinners sick, let alone those who recognize Him as Father. God never disciplines His children by making them sick. Jesus, who gives us the only perfect representation of the Father, healed everyone. If God were punishing the Corinthians, or making Christians sick in the name of discipline, they would be a house divided.

      • About six years ago I heard Joseph Prince teach a very similar message. My head said, “really”, my heart said, “yes”! I decided to do a word study on each word, and came to the same conclusion that you write about.

    • reformedrebel says:

      Paul,

      I appreciate your reply, and your kindness. It’s good for brethren to disagree (even strongly!) – after all, it is how we grow in knowledge. Having read (and then re-read twice) your reply, I noticed something I had missed on my first reading. I suppose that’s what I get for trying to juggle 5 things at once!

      It seems that the background to your thought is that you see a connection between the “curse of the law” in Galatians 3:13, and the list of curses in Deuteronomy 28, which lists sickness and disease as a curse. It seems as though that correlation is foundational to your hermeneutical spiral.

      Would that be a fair assessment?

  4. He shed his blood for me as I was a sinner, now that I am a saint, he condemns me? This makes totally no sense. I believed it myself, but only because someone said “cars are bad”;) Joseph Prince preached on that and in context to all what Paul has written, God punishing us would be schizophrenic. Now that I am free from false teaching, I celebrate the Lord’s Supper in prayer times – 2-3 times a week. It makes you fall more in love, get established in grace and righteousness and increases confidence before God.

    How can that which gives me eternal life bring sickness and death? “Attributing to God the very works of the devil is blasphemy.” – Bill Johnson

    • TSBrumwell says:

      “He shed his blood for me as I was a sinner, now that I am a Saint, he condems me? This makes totally no sense.”

      It appears you have understood the context of 1 Cor 10-11 correctly. You have neatly summarized Paul’s warning at the very beginning of this passage.

      “I want you to know, brothers, that our fathers were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea, and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, and all ate the same spiritual food, and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank from the spiritual Rock that followed them, and the Rock was Christ. NEVERTHELESS, WITH MOST OF THEM GOD WAS NOT PLEASED, FOR THEY WERE OVERTHROWN IN THE WILDERNESS. Now these things took place as examples for us, that we might not desire evil as they did.” (1 Corinthians 10:1-6)

      All of these were God’s chosen people, and shared the same experiences and benefits. However…later…most were (catastropha-sized) because of disobedience/disbelief/rebellion against God. Remember, in the Old Testament, there were lots of sacrifices to obtain forgiveness for un-intentional sins. However, there wasn’t any for deliberate ones. If you choose to ignore God’s command to examine yourself before taking communion, you still risk his wrath. Remember Judgement begins with the house of God.

      “For it is time for judgment to begin at the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God? And “If the righteous is scarcely saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?” (1 Peter 4:17-18)

      • Sin is sin – there is no difference in God’s eyes. The good news is Jesus’ sacrifice did away with all sin. Period. Check out this post on 1 Peter 4:17.

      • TSBrumwel, when you examine self it becomes all about YOU. However, the good news is, Jesus was already examined as the Lamb of God and no fault was found in Him.

      • chrisvanrooyen says:

        When you take communion without discerning the fullness of what has been achieved on your behalf, do not believe you have abundant life , then in this life you accept you also accept all its shortcomings and invite them in.

        The choice is yours, its as easy as that. When you have abundant life you live above your circumstances.

      • TSBrumwell says:

        Surely, you aren’t suggesting that God did something wrong when he punished, with death, his own people? (Those he had covenanted with, fed, and saved) Do you believe you no longer sin? Do you believe you no longer require forgiveness? Surely, you believe God disciplines those he loves. Yes? Does he discipline his beloved for no reason? “Sin is sin…” Do you believe the sin of non-discernment is the same as the sin of unbelief – in God’s eyes?

      • Tyrone, I don’t really understand what you are talking about. It seems you are confusing the two covenants. As Paul says, the happenings of the old serve as examples “to keep us from setting our hearts on evil things” (1 Cor 10:6). Why? Not because God will smite them, but because idolatry is stupid. If you think Paul is preaching law, then you must be confused by his words, “all things are lawful” (1 Cor 10:23). Idolatry is lawful – but that doesn’t mean it’s a good idea. It’s stupid. Similarly, God will not smite them for taking communion – nowhere does he say that. But taking communion in an unworthy manner is stupid. You’re missing out on the benefits and making things unnecessarily difficult for unbelievers.

      • chrisvanrooyen says:

        Hi Tyronne
        I hope you are not suggesting that God punishes his OWN people with death , I thought that is something we done to ourselves.
        I am sure glad I do not serve the God you are presenting.
        My God has not changed from the old to the new covenant. People have.
        Yes I believe I no longer sin, in your eyes I do, not in Gods when he see,s me he only see,s his Son.
        I no longer require forgiveness I have fully accepted the forgiveness already given, Jesus crucified once was enough for me I only strike the rock once.
        Discipline is for Son,s still living in sin , this sin is the denial of their true identity.You were saved even before you were born, in the same way Jesus was crucified before the beginning of creation, this is the heart of God.

  5. I really don’t see how one can read this passage and come to the conclusion that the people were weak and sickly because they didn’t have enough faith to be healed.

    In chapter 10:17, we see that we being many are one bread for we are all partakers of that bread.

    In I Corinthians 12, just several verses after the passage in question, we read that ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular.

    When the Corinthians were not regarding the body of Christ when they ate the bread, what were they doing? Nowhere does the passage rebuke them for their lack of faith for healing. They weren’t regarding the other members of the body of Christ properly. One man was hungry and another was drunken. Paul tells them to tarry one for another. Maybe the rich ate up the food before the poor could arrive. They didn’t have clocks back then. Nowadays some people have the attitude that it starts at 6 and if you are late, that’s your fault. Back then, some in the church were probably slaves and couldn’t leave the house until they had taken care of certain things. The rich arrive early, ate up the supper, not sharing with the poor. That is not regarding the Lord’s body. The poor people who arrived and had nothing are a part of that body. They were not regarding the Lord’s body (the saints) while partaking of the Lord’s body (the bread.)

    The saints are the bread. The bread is the body. The body is the saints.

    Chapter 11 verse 32 shows us that the judgment here was chastisement. I suspect the use of ‘damnation’ in the KJV in verse 29 is a bad translation. Verse 32 shows us that they were being chastised so that they will not be condemned with the world. That doesn’t sound like damnation to me.

    We have to be careful to read the Bible for what it says and learn from the Bible, instead of just trying to re-interpret everything it says to make it fit with a pre-conceived theology.

    • seems paul was not able to answer link’s argumnet??

      • Dale, my view is clearly articulated in the post. It hasn’t changed. In the first line of his/her comment Link reveals that s/he is attacking something I didn’t say, so there’s no need to engage.

  6. Pennee Rowland says:

    loved the dialog and am so thankful that my child like heart, just believes and receives…his grace, mercy and peace…thank you brothers…but simply put, we only need to receive, rest and relax in Father’s love and HIs peace will show us simple truth… :)

  7. Patrick Hing says:

    Naturally all of us (Christian & non-Christian) are experiencing the effect of weakness, sickness and dead everyday since Adam ate the forbidden fruit, but GOD by His grace has provided an OFFSET through the partaking of the Holy Communion. So that we will not be condemned with the world (that is to be weak and sick, and fallen asleep).

    The consequences of the first act of eating is offset by the this second act of eating the communion.

  8. I’m no scholer just searching for his truth to judge my own heart. While reading 1 Cor 11:27 in the NIV I see a cross reference to Heb 10:29 which caused me to read from verse 19. Could we not condem ourselves and suffer the consequince of sin? Can anyone claim ignorance to the fact that God will cast away those who claim His Name yet knowingly continue to sin?

    • Hi James,
      Don’t you hate it when journalists editorialize when they’re supposed to be reporting the news? Sometimes I think I would prefer the translators to keep their opinions to themselves and just stick to translating. I use the NIV a lot, but their margin notes leave something to be desired. Hebrews 10 comes up a fair bit in the comments I get. My strong conviction is that verses 26-31 are NOT describing Christians who sin. It is describing people who willfully sin, who treat as unholy the blood of the covenant that sanctifies. In other words, it’s describing sinners. Te context of Hebrews 6-10 is old versus new covenant. This passage is describing those who continue to trust in their own religious works even after receiving the knowledge of truth (ie: the gospel of God’s grace revealed in Jesus and His one-time sacrifice for all sins). In verse 28 the writer is saying, “if people who rejected law under the old covenant died without mercy, how much more severely do you think those who reject the free gift of grace under the new covenant will be treated?”

      • Undarstood. I’m speaking for myself. Would not the Blood of the New Covenant be the same, if not more significant, as the old Covenant and be treated with the same reverance? Still the judgement is there we have the choice to sin or not. We may be forgiven and saved from death however sin has its consequinces in the physical realm

  9. John Rush says:

    can non-christian that understand what is the holy communion and the purpose of it consume it?

    • Mr. Rush,
      I BELIEVE if you will pray and accept the Lord Jesus Christ as your personal savior,
      it would mean so much more to you. When Jesus willingly sacrificed himself for our
      salvation….The price that was paid…..Jesus died for YOU. So when He tells us
      “Do this in rememberance of Me” I will do my best not to let Him die in vain.
      I WILL PRAY WITH YOU that God will give you a better understanding on this matter.
      But again I will say, I BELIEVE if you will pray and accept the Lord Jesus Christ as your personal savior, it would mean so much more to you.

  10. This blessed me more than you will ever know. In fact it has changed my life. Thank you with all my heart for this post.

  11. Mark Merrill says:

    Paul, is it possible that the meaning of 1Cor.11:30 in context is related to the earlier verses in Chapter 11 referring to those who are hungry and those who have nothing? And that is why some of the Corinthians were weak and sick and even suffered death. Those who had much had no love or concern for those who had nothing, who were weak, sick, and even dying.

    • That’s an interesting idea Mark, but Paul says “this is why you are weak and sick.” Paul is speaking of judging ourselves that we might not come under judgment.

  12. Angeline Cilliers says:

    Oh hallelujah !!! Praise God!!!! It is so wonderful so see this!!!!! Yes it is true what u are saying!!! I’ve been preaching this for a number of years now and sharing where ever I see it necessary….. Amen!!!!! Col. 1v20-22….(Ampl)… We need to see and understand THE CROSS in truth now!!!!!!! Its taking the Church too long ……. That is why some of u are sick and even dying!!!!!! Not taking the work of The Cross….. Bless you!! And continue teaching the Truth in Light. Blessings Angeline

  13. Amen & Amen to this liberating blog posting! May many more people have a revelation of the finished work of Jesus on the cross! Praise Him for his lavish goodness!

  14. So someone who takes communion knowing they are in sin and purposely taking communion, then later on repent and seek God and turn from their sin, they can be saved right? I mean at one point in every christians walk have taken communion in an unworthy manner. Right??

  15. as a Catholic we have confession..our souls are purified by Christ…communion is taken with joy

  16. WOW! IN COMES THE LIGHT PAP!

  17. Theresa Peter says:

    It is self explanatary more kudos to your elbow God bless you all keep it up they Lord is you strenght thanks.

  18. How many people do any of you know that have become sick or have died because they took communion “unworthly”. The whole idea is absurd!

  19. Well my goodness……….I have been going in circles with my pastor concerning this very thing. He in so many words has told me I’m wrong. I will not claim to be an educated person with big words and several meanings behind each one. I do claim to be a grateful believer that was saved by the Blood of a risen Jesus Christ! Amen! I have been exposed to several different teachings on the Holy Communion. I was taught my entire life that Communion was a time of silence and morning over the sin that was in your life. I was taught that before you take communion you had to run around the community and fix issue with every person who had something against you. I was taught if you took communion in sin, or in aught with a brother you were eating and drinking damnation onto yourself. (meaning even if you were saved you still had sin that God could see and we all know the truth about that!) God sees Jesus when he looks at us if He is in us! AMEN! I have been taught condemnation almost 47 years and I praise God that he has lifted the blinders from my eyes concerning those out of context teachings…

  20. Boy oh Boy.. that’s the problem with fallen away Catholics (now called Evangelical Christians)… they bend the word so that it suits them. I pray for you and that you come home to the true church. One God, One Faith , One Church .. the Universal (Catholica) church that Christ himself established!

  21. Thank you from my heart this Easter weekend. I can’t go into details, but I want you to know that your words of grace were just what I needed to hear, and needed to be reminded of at this time, and your words have made a real difference. Thank you.

  22. C Garcia says:

    Thank you so much for this explanation on this bible passage!

  23. Once I spent my life doing nothing for anyone though I believed in Christ in my heart. I started to research the enemy and proclaim Christ. I became afraid. A little later I ate and drank in remembrance of Christ. Panic of trapped separation overtook me and I had to fast for 3 1/2 days to break free. I went back to the same ways and the same panic came back with wine. Fasting didn’t help. I examined myself further and I realized there were many things I could repent of and change. So I did. The hopeless feeling of damnation still surfaced; thoughts of doubt led to acts of sloth which led to hopeless desperation. I became determined to not doubt and stay active. Now, when I act out of faith I am free. When I doubt sloth takes me all the way down to the pit. I have tasted a “bitter cup” of truth and now have no means of life except through constant faith which creates works. Faith in fasting worked, doubt in fasting did not. Faith the ‘seed’ grows and creates works the ‘fruit’ which then grows another seed… ‘Faith without works is dead’ Why do we insist on dividing this relationship? No one asks, “Do you live because you have a brain or because you have a body?” They are parts of the same whole. Let us not be double-minded about communion either, nor let us divide our body the church.

  24. This makes it really clear about what taking communion means. I first heard this a few years ago when a visiting pastor preached on it and invited us to take communion and recieve healing. This was so liberating that I was filled with joy and began to laugh as I took communion. Our pastor immediately rebuked me and told me to be sober and examine myself…clearly the visiting pastor’s message didn’t penetrate. But I never forgot that message of hope and rescue and I have never viewed communion the same again. Now we take it as a family and there’s much joy in it.

  25. Christian Ahrens says:

    If you are having trouble deciphering meanings of scripture simply go to the first century writers and their interpretation of the Eucharist. then go to second century and so on. This is my Body and this is my Blood is literal. no ifs ands or buts about it. believing Jesus was speaking metaphorically is a joke.

    • RCC – been there, done that and hate its deception and man-made theology of works and traditions. So excuse me while I vomit.
      The Apostle Paul would clearly call the RCC accursed because it is a gospel which is no gospel at all and it adds to the finished work of Jesus on the cross. Read Galatians. The RCC teaches a different Jesus and a different gospel.
      Religion (esp RCC religion) is all about do and don’t do. But PTL the gospel of Jesus Christ is finished and done. Paid in full by His blood.

  26. Thank you for this blog, May Lord help you to open the eyes of many more…..

  27. I am so so so blessed by your message on communion! Jesus is the beautiful loving father to all of us! He is the best father that anyone can ask for! I LOVE JESUS!!!!!!! We take communion in my house as well. We do it as often as we want! in that manner we are forever reminded about the most selfless deed our Lord Jesus did for us! Keep up sending us the blessed messages my brother!! I truly appreciate It! May the Lord bless you big time!!!

  28. In 2000 I had tripple aortic anurisim surgery,was also diagnosed with COPD and told I might live 7 more years. Three years ago I started taking communion everyday and more when needed. Last month the same doctor advised I no longer have copd. He doesn’t understand, so I told him what I was doing. He was amazed but agreed that God had done a mighty work. As Andrew Wommack would say, “If that don’t light your fire—-you have wet wood.” Praise God

  29. Beautiful! very enlightening.

  30. Just to bring a bit of balance to this article. 1 Corinthians 11; 20 – 22, and 33 – 34 reads,

    20 When ye come together therefore into one place, this is not to eat the Lord’s supper.
    21 For in eating every one taketh before other his own supper: and one is hungry, and another is drunken.
    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.
    33 Wherefore, my brethren, when ye come together to eat, tarry one for another.
    34 And if any man hunger, let him eat at home; that ye come not together unto condemnation. And the rest will I set in order when I come.

    This implies that the physical manner in which we take the Lords supper is important.

    We also do need to examine ourselves in light of scripture and align ourselves to His will.

    • When we come together we should not despise the one who is spiritually hungry, while we wallow in the Lords presence. In the same way the one who is spiritually hungry should not despise those who are fulfilled , when we come together we should be of one mind spiritually. Do not use church to fill yourself up do it where ever you are.

  31. Utibe ubon says:

    Great piece Paul. I am truly blessed. Shared this with my family and mother and indeed we are blessed with this Goodnews of the kingdom.

  32. Is it ok to have holy communion any day , any time scripturally awaiting reply. Thanks

    • Scripturally yes Jesus wishes to meet with you and have you partake of him every second of everyday. My advice is to overindulge yourself in this bread and wine it is life.

  33. Thurman Greco says:

    Dear Paul Ellis – I have a question here: I am the coordinator of a food pantry in the Woodstock, NY area. I have been criticized for feeding the “unworthy hungry”. When I googled this term, your blog came up. I don’t understand this term “unworthy hungry”. The people waiting for a weekly 3-day supply of food which they need to make last to 7 days often have to stand in line up to an hour for the food. Many of these people work 2 and 3 low wage jobs and still don’t have any money left for food after they pay the rent and buy the gas to get to the jobs.
    If I understand correctly what I read in 1 Corinthians, the hungry people in my pantry line are not the “unworthy hungry”. They are, instead, coming to receive communion in the most basic sense. Instead of a sip of wine and a bit of a communion wafer, they receive the food they need to sustain themselves in the coming week.
    What is your opinion here?
    Peace and food for all
    Thurman Greco

    • Sounds like you are being criticized by some loveless, graceless folk who need to meet Jesus and repent! Well done for what you are doing. May God bless you a hundredfold so you can bless a hundred times as many of the “unworthy hungry”!

    • Just ask the grumpy folks to go immerse themselves in Romans 5:8 for a week and then come back and talk to you.

  34. Steven Colby Walker says:

    I took unworthy communion before and Satan made me thimk I was condemned and Satan made me think I was condemned but I came to Jesus and received Him into my heart. Satan still tries me on it but I know the blood the Jesus shed on the cross covered it.

    • Hi Steven you cannot take unworthy communion, if you are in communion with Jesus you are worthy, if you are not in communion with him you can eat as much bread and wine as you want when you want, it will have no effect.

  35. Steven Colby Walker says:

    Thank you for the response. This misinterpretation hindered my companionship with Jesus for so long. God Bless You.

  36. Steven Colby Walker says:

    Was it an unworthy manner to take communion before I was saved?

  37. Steven Colby Walker says:

    Thank you Chris.

  38. I am very satisfied now on the confusion in taken communion. thank u all.

  39. I just came across this post today. I’ve been searching all over the net to find an answer. I skipped Communion last week because of some sins that I repeated that I repented to not do. I faltered. I got back up. I partake of the Communion in pure faith and thanks, but this was the first time in my 15 years as a Christian that I passed the bread and cup by. So I guess this means that all is well then.
    Thank you, precious one, for this article!!! I prayed I would find the answer. I did. God bless you always for your wonderful works on earth! :)
    -Amanda

  40. Job spoke what is right in Gods sight. Job was tried/chastened because He was righteous ? It’s in the original language.and It appears all over the new testament
    1 cor 11 30For this cause many [are] weak and sickly among you, and many sleep. 31For if we would judge ourselves, we should
    not be judged. 32But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord.
    Hebrews 12:6 “For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth.” …

  41. Thank you Paul for sharing this teaching. You are blessed to be a blessing. I also had wrong teaching when I was younger and just this week I was pondering whether this was another sacred cow that needed to be turned on its head. And our Lord is so gracious, because he led this teaching to come up in my newsfeed. Thank you.

  42. This is a true story.I remember once,when I was still a young christian(about 35 years ago)I got into some serious sin on a Saturday evening.The following morning I went to church as normal and took communion.As I sat there I felt what seemed like a powerful surge of electricity go through my entire body.It was if my entire nervous system was being fried.I cried out in pain and agony and people turned their heads in complete surprise at what was happening.However,the senior elder at this pentecostal church seemed to know exactly what was going on.He informed all present that it was “conviction of sin!” and asked me to step forward and confess.Shamefacedly I owned up and only when I had done so did the agonizing sensation of being electrocuted leave me.Some might dismiss my experience as due to stress but I wonder how this church elder was able to discern that I seemed to be undergoing some form of discipline from God?Forever afterwards I have always approached the communion table with some trepidation sometimes refusing to take part.How do I reconcile my experience with your idea that ALL Sinners are welcome to take communion?Did not the adulterous stepson incur judgment?

    • I’m the first place there is no serious sin , sin is sin.If you knew you had sinned why would God have to convict you of it.You say once you had confessed then God punished you??Seems like you were dealing with something else definitely not God, the elder part of whatever you were dealing with.God does not punish you for confessing.Or it could be that God accommodates you in your perception of who he is, maybe you get what you believe.

      • Hi Chris.Thank you for your response.First off I would like to say that all sin is serious!It was sin that sent Christ to the cross after all!No I am not saying God was punishing me.I understand that God punished Jesus in my stead so that past,present and future sins were forgiven.All I am saying is that I was the recipient of fatherly discipline in the sense that King David was disciplined for his adultery.And I am not saying that the act of confession or my agonizing pain atoned for what I did on Saturday but rather I am questioning n the notion that God no longer chastises his children as advanced by Paul Ellis(if I understood him correctly) in his blog on Heb 12 v 10-12 and that,in view of my personal experience,it IS possible for a christian to approach the communion table in an unworthy manner as I did by not recognizing the serious nature of what I had done.Its a bit like a loving father who slaps his child as it steps into oncoming traffic.The child does not appreciate at the time but actually his father is being gracios to him!My apologies if I appear to be questioning your theology but what I experienced is what I experienced and I am just an honest seeker after the truth.

    • Hi David,
      What you got up to on the Saturday night was a “dead work.” Hebrews 9:14 tells us that dead works are recorded in the conscience: “How much more will the blood of Christ …cleanse your conscience from dead works.” I’m guessing that you knew what you were doing was sinful, when you did it. How did you know? Your conscience told you. That’s what a conscience does – it gives you knowledge of good and evil. It works exactly like the law bearing witness to right and wrong and when we sin it accuses us (see Rom 2:15). It pounds us with guilt and condemnation.

      Here’s the important question? Is a punitive conscience more like Jesus (who is our Advocate) or the devil (who is called the Accuser, see Rev 12:10)?

      Do you see? I’m not saying the devil was pounding on you, but your guilty conscience surely was. Our consciences are so powerful they can even shipwreck our faith. This is why we need to have “our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience” (Heb 10:22).

      At that time you were submitting to a ministry that taught you that the Holy Spirit convicts you of sin (he doesn’t!) and the only way to deal with sin is to pursue dead works (confession in this case). Agony and shame are the fruit of this awful message, and that’s what you got. Am I surprised that the minister recognized the fruit of this message and used it to support twisted notions about discipline? Not at all. Not so long ago I would’ve said the same thing myself.

      • Paul.Thank you for your reply.While I was aware afterwards that what I had done was sinful it would be an exaggeration to say I was guilt ridden.I felt no real sense of shame,guilt and apprehension as I partook of the elements.But very shortly afterwards within a matter of seconds of doing so I felt an intense feeling of being electrocuted(that is the only thing I can liken it too) and I cried out in church.Also I did not understand myself what I was experiencing until the elder stood up,explained what it was and then called upon me to own up.Like most people I had (and still do)a tendency to rationalise wrongdoing.My point is it does not seem to me that it was guilt that triggered those agonizing feelings as I felt no guilt to begin with!Only afterwards did I think that it was the result of punitive action(not in the legal judicial sense but parental discipline) taken against me by God to,as it were,”destroy the flesh so the spirit might be saved” 1Cor 5.I walked away certainly feeling chastised if not overly guilty!!

      • David, I made the observation about you feeling shame because you said you felt shamefaced in your original comment. To me this is significant, since Jesus will never put shame on you. Rather, he’s in the business of taking shame off you. Whatever it was that happened to you, the outcome is that you have since felt some reluctance to partake of communion; it has caused you to draw back from the table of grace. The experience has caused you to remember your sin when communion is about remembering Christ’s death (Luke 22:19). Your experience has caused you to wonder whether sinners can take communion, yet at the first communion not even Judas was turned away (John 13:26).

      • PS I will give way now as I do not wish to selfishly hog the thread but I hope I have made myself clear.The idea that God does not discipline his children does resonate well with my experience or the Word of God.I acknowledge that you may have a point about the said elders’ analysis.

      • Correction:the idea that God does not discipline his children does NOT resonate well with my experience etc.

      • Since the word for discipline used in Hebrews means training (literally, discipling), I totally agree with you.

  43. Maybe I should also add for clarity that up till that time I had never suffered from a nervous disposition
    and neither did I have till that time,any anxieties about taking communion in an unworthy manner.A previous post by Paul on Heb 12v6 and a book by Joseph Prince on holy communion seems to suggest that God does not chastise his children but my experience seems to suggest otherwise.I know we should not interpret scripture through the lens of our experiences but in light of the almost supernatural ability of the elder to discern the cause of my unhappiness and the unusual timing of my experience ie at the communion table I cannot escape the conclusion I was being ‘chastised’.By that I do mean being flogged with a whip but as it were,getting a fatherly ‘slap’ which I rightly deserved.

    • I can assure you that righteousness does not come by your punishment, it is only evidence of arrogance, your righteousness only comes by his punishment it was finished in him you cannot add, and before you quote any of the apostles, It is clear that their suffering was not from God, but for God.it would be good if you read more carefully what is said here before making any further comments, be informed before you speak.

      • Chris.Read my reply to your comment above.Maybe we are talking about this issue at cross purposes confusing judicial punishment of sin at the cross with with the parental discipline that God administers to errant children?

    • No David you are confusing who are Gods children, before Jesus God had no children , he is the God of the living and not the dead, those before Jesus only found life in death, and it is the same today.But us that believe have already crossed over to life, and the Holy spirit does not punish us, he gently shows us the way, Jesus is the way.

  44. So David, using your definition of worthiness; would you say that if you didn’t commit one specific sin, you would have been worthy? And in the 35 years, using your definition of worthy, you’ve always been worthy?

    I recently worked through an issue with a friend, asked him the same question. So tell me, what defines you being worthy enough; begging enough, guilt enough, what if the specified sin happened two days before, three days before. What if your sin was that you were looking to your own righteous rather than to Jesus’ righteousness. What if we really believed the perfection of Gods Law and what if we really believed in Godly righteousness and the impossibility of achieving it? What if every other sin you committed was as filthy as this specific sin.

    I have seen guilt manifest itself in many physical ways. Many believers are deep in depression due to trusting in their own righteousness. Read about how depression affects the physical body.

    As for some senior elder (your definition) calling you out. I had no problem determining that one if my kids felt guilty. You think that’s mystic? You really think that elder was worthy because he did not commit the same sin? By his own definition, I don’t see how he was worthy either.

    Many of us have been under similar teaching, so I feel for you. But when you read the bible though the cross, it makes more sense. Let me ask you this, who was to be glorified at this table? Who were we to focus on? “Do this in remembrance of me”. The communion table is not about you; It’s about Him. If you truly love Him. Truly believe Him and His message of sanctification. Then you rejoice in what He has done. You did not make yourself worthy; if it was based on your own righteousness, you would never be worthy. Nor would I, Nor would the senior elder. Repentance is good and necessary, but once saved, the repentance act doesn’t make us worthy, Jesus makes us worthy.

  45. I just read this and my exhilaration and joy are presenting as tears. I have found this website to be a treasure trove of , well, treasure. So many things in scripture that once condemned are being revealed as “good news” I thought i was the worst Christian in the world and the only one who didn’t get so many of these precepts etc, but thought i would be even more thrown under the bus by the answers.Good News indeed.

    • “A treasure trove of treasure.” I like that! Thanks Sam. But to be honest, it’s the gospel that is the treasure trove of treasure. All I’m doing is opening the lid for others.

  46. I wonder how many times a pastor has spent his entire sermon imposing the law on believers,frustrating grace….then encouraged the congregation to “examine themselves” before partaking in the communion?LOL! I have experienced that many times through the years,and to my knowledge,the pastor never became sick,weak,or died.

  47. Ok, this is my family situation. My 17 yr old Christian daughter is dating a non-Christian 18 yr old boy. She is unequally yoked and the church won’t let her have communion. My daughter believes that God put her boyfriend in her life to help him come to Christ. From what I’ve read above, she is allowed to take communion?

    • I would break bread with anyone. I believe Jesus would too. He ate with sinners and Pharisees and everyone in between.

    • Find a new church , this one is not good for your daughter, and even worse for her boyfriend.Even Jesus invited the pharasees to eat and drink of his body, like your church they refused.

  48. Hi Elaine,just to add to Chris’s comments, I hardly think your daughter dating an unbeliever is being unequally yoked,any more than her having friends who are not yet believers.Frankly,it is none of their business.Sadly, the attitude of the church towards your family is one that is too often perpetuated by churches to the lost world…that we do not genuinely care about YOU…about being your friend,accepting you,unless you become a christian.Prayers going out to you and your daughter and go ahead and have communion at home some time when the boyfriend is over(as long as he doesnt feel awkward or “pressured”).

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