1 Corinthians 11:26-32

A big part of the communion-confusion stems from a misreading of Paul’s instructions to the Corinthians. As I have not found a good translation of 1 Corinthians 11:26-32, I have provided my own paraphrase below. (I looked at the meaning of the original Greek behind some of the words in an earlier post.) Take care when you quote me for I am not a Greek-speaker. I may have missed some things. But I daresay my rough paraphrase is closer to Paul’s original meaning than many of the English translations we have today.

Paul never wrote to condemn Christians. He wrote to free them from sin and all its effects. If you are not being set free when you read his writings, something is wrong.

NIV Translation Paul’s Paraphrase
1 Cor 11:26  For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes. For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death and triumphant victory over sin and all its effects until he comes.
1 Cor 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. Therefore, if you eat the bread or drink the cup of the Lord without appreciating what Jesus accomplished, it’s like saying ‘Jesus died for nothing.’ You are not honoring the Lord’s body and blood.
1 Cor 11:28  A man ought to examine himself before he eats of the bread and drinks of the cup. So before you take communion, take a look at yourself. Are you sick? Are you battling guilt and condemnation? Are you giving place to things that Jesus carried in his body and paid for with his blood?
1 Cor 11:29  For anyone who eats and drinks without recognizing the body of the Lord eats and drinks judgment on himself. Because if you eat and drink without understanding all that the Lord did in his body, you’re not going to be free. It’s like saying, “I’m still under judgment.” For instance, if you don’t believe that by his wounds you were healed, then you’re not going to be healed.
1 Cor 11:30  That is why many among you are weak and sick, and a number of you have fallen asleep. This is why many among you are weak and sick, and a number of you have died prematurely.
1 Cor 11:31  But if we judged ourselves, we would not come under judgment. But if we judged ourselves in light of the finished work of the cross (forgiven, accepted, healed), then we would not suffer the punishing effects of sin (condemnation, rejection, sickness).
1 Cor 11:32  When we are judged by the Lord, we are being disciplined so that we will not be condemned with the world. When we renew our minds and learn to discern what is from the Lord and what is not, we are trained up and no longer suffer sin’s effects. Unlike those who reject the grace of God revealed in Jesus, we can live free from sickness and condemnation.

We have looked at what it means to take communion in an unworthy manner and elsewhere I have unpacked what it means to be judged by the Lord. Contrary to what you may have heard, this has nothing to do with examining yourself to see whether you are worthy or not. To take communion in a worthy manner is to honor the body and blood of Jesus that was sacrificed for your salvation.

A proper definition of salvation includes forgiveness, healing, deliverance, indeed, everything that is part of the abundant life that Jesus promised (Jn 10:10). Because of Jesus’ costly sacrifice, you have full rights to every spiritual blessing (Eph 1:3), along with healing (1 Pet 2:24), forgiveness (Eph 1:7), a guilt-free conscience (Heb 10:22), and unrestricted access to the throne of grace (Heb 4:16).

30 Comments on 1 Corinthians 11:26-32

  1. Before we can come before God in confidence, we must first know the source of the love that is in us. Otherwise, it is our own hearts that condemn us. Only in our own hearts can we turn back to fear, doubt and insecurity. There is now no condemnation in Christ Jesus. To partake of that blissful truth, to take communion and experience the reality of it, one must know the source of one’s worthiness. 1 John 3:16-24 speaks to me about taking communion in much the same way and with as much heart knowing power as these verses in 1 Corinthians 11.

  2. I agree. Most Christians get very little teaching on the finished work of the Cross, and therefore their revelation of it is very limited. Hebrews 10:17 says God doesn’t remember our sins anymore, so how could or would He punish us (especially with sickness) when we sin? The prophet Isaiah said Jesus took every bit of the punishment we deserved for sin in His own body and carried away our sicknesses. Either it’s finished or it’s not, and Jesus said it is.

  3. jeremypenwarden // April 12, 2011 at 5:19 pm // Reply

    examine yourself – the word for examine means the test and by implication to approve. So it actually means look at yourself and recognise yourself as holy and righteous because of Jesus and so [in the light of that] eat and drink.

  4. Bertha Harmon // April 13, 2011 at 4:35 am // Reply

    Thank u, so very much, Paul! This is definitely looking at the scriptures in the light of who Jesus really is and in the light of the Finished Work of the Cross!! So good, so liberating, so not condeming. HALLELUJAH!!! AMEN!!!

  5. Patrick Hing // April 15, 2011 at 3:18 am // Reply

    Worthy manner = Believe in Isaiah 53:5 … And by His stripes we are healed!

    God’s way of divine health for Christian = Eating the Holy Communion in the worthy manner!

    Keep up the good work Paul.

  6. Hello Paul, could you tell me the name or code of PRINCE JOSEPH’S message regarding this scripture please. God bless you! Alex

    • Hi Alex – I caught this soundbite on Shine TV one night and wrote it down. Sorry, I don’t know the message title. If you know me you’ll know I’m normally pretty diligent about these things! But I guess you will find this quote on his well-known communion series. He also has a small book called “Health and Wholeness through the Holy Communion” which I’ve been meaning to read. It’s possibly in there too.

  7. Does 1 Chorinthians 10: 1-12 apply to believers or to unbelieving Jews?
    If it apply to believers, why does it speaks do much about judgment?

  8. I love this post. It is eye-opening. However, I struggle with some of it. I’m not at all suggesting that you are wrong; I’m only struggling with what I know to be reality. I KNOW beyond a shadow of a doubt that we can be miraculously healed of anything and everything. My struggle occurs when healing doesn’t happen. Loved ones who are what many would call “strong” believers suffer from and die from chronic sicknesses, terminal diseases, etc. I have a chronic condition in my foot. I believe after the initial injury it was exacerbated because of my excess weight, lack of exercise, etc. What about natural consequences like that? Smokers developing lung cancer, overeaters developing obesity related health issues, etc. I mean this with all sincerity. I’m trying to get a grasp on unconditional grace. 🙂 Thanks so very much for your efforts to reveal God’s grace via Jesus the Christ.

    • Krista- Andrew Wommack’s book God Wants You Well explains a lot of what you are asking. You can search his teaching articles for great explanations too. http://www.awmi.net. It’s where I got my start in finding answers.

      From what I remember, Wommack talks about how sins can cause sickness, not because God is punishing, but because that’s just how the natural world works. Those things can be healed by believing in Jesus’ sacrifice for our healing. But if they fall back into doing those things again- abusing drugs, alcohol, not eating right, etc- the sickness will come back. But Jesus’ blood payed for all sins, and all diseases, even the self-inflicted ones, even the natural ones, even the ones caused by Satan.
      And just because someone is a faithful believer in Jesus doesn’t mean they faithfully believe in his healing atonement. I know lots of devoted, sincere Christians who believe that God may want them, or their kids even, To have an illness! As Andrew says- that kind of thinking can kill you.
      The Bible clearly says when talking bout elders anointing the sick person with oil and praying over them, that the prayer that is said with faith will make the sick person well (can’t remember what book it’s in). If healing doesn’t happen the problem lies within us, not God’s power or will. 🙂

      Escape to Reality is helping me so much too. There’s a ton of stuff here to help answer questions too. Maybe search this site for “healing.”

  9. Krista, I just came across a good post on this site that should help you. “Not by sight”

  10. @ Paul

    I am very interested in the holy communion and healing. However, I noticed that usually all those who teach on it and say that it’s about healing usually never even touch on the verses 31-32 and these 2 verses are the verses which I struggle with the most.
    I really want to believe that the HC is about healing but I could never make those 2 verses fit to the interpretation. Also your paraphrase doesn’t really answer my questions.

    Verse 31 says “Co 11:31 But if we judged ourselves, we would not come under judgment.”
    Verse 32 says “When we are judged by the Lord, we are being disciplined so that we will not be condemned with the world.”

    To me the general interpretation that those who partook in the HC unworthily were punished by God makes perfect sense in light of these 2 verses. Verse 32 clearly says that GOD judges and disciplines. But those who teach that the HC is about healing always say the same stuff. They say that WE drink condemnation to ourself and that God has nothing to do with it. But verse 32 says God judges.
    What exactly does God do when he judges them? Nobody ever answers this.
    As much as I want to believe that the interpretation about the HC being about healing is true I simply cannot get over verse 32. No matter how much I think about it it doesn’t fit to the interpretation.
    Also your paraphrase of verse 32 does not mention God’s judgement at all.
    To me verse 32 seems to say that those who partake unworthily are being punished by God but nobody of those who teach that the HC is about healing says what this punishment is supposed to be. Verse 32 simply does not fit to the interpretation which says that if we fail to discern the Lord’s body we simply stay sick and that’s it. If that was all then why does verse 32 talk about being judged by God?

    I simply can’t solve this. And it also strikes me as very odd that none of these teachers goes beyond verse 30 they all stop there as if they knew that verse 31+32 don’t fit to their interpretation. I hope you or someone else can help me. Thanks.

  11. Love it…thank you :)!

  12. Vic Godson // April 9, 2016 at 2:39 am // Reply

    It’s a wonderful interpretation from Grace perspective, thanks to Paul for a hard work you’ve done here but there is still a problem with me when i look into it’s previous text when Apostle addressed them as gluttonous and not taking it serious, they were doing it like a luxurious feast or banquet.

    It seems they are doing it with a wrong attitude and it was more probable that the Writer of the Epistle correct them.

    • Definitely. They were getting drunk and acting like pigs. Paul most definitely wrote to correct them – “your meetings do more harm than good” – just as he also wrote to explain the benefits of remembering Christ’s death.

  13. Paul, your article is error. From your paraphrase you are practically saying that 1 Corinthians 11 reads like this: “Because if you eat and drink without understanding all that the Lord did in His body, you’re not going to be free. This is why many among you are weak and sick, and a number of you have died prematurely.” You are signalling death or sickness for all those who have a complete lack of freedom. That is not only crazy, it is practically untrue. If it were true – which, it certainly is not – then all those in ignorance or in bondage would be sickly and dying. Look around you – it us not the case, not even for professing Christians. Your teaching fails the truth test.

  14. Ken Younos // March 12, 2018 at 8:28 pm // Reply

    The Lord’s Supper used to be a fellowship meal. People were showing up there to gorge themselves on food and drink, and at the expense of poorer members of the church. Paul says this is not what the Lord’s Supper is about, and that irreverence at the Supper is sacrilege. Those who approach the Lord’s table in this unworthy manner will be answerable for the body and blood of Christ.

  15. This is so good! Thank you for taking the time. Wow!!!

  16. Looking at the larger context, what do you say about1 Corinthians 10:11? Paul seems to say that if you do not stop doing certain things, God could punish you as he did with Israel (death, etc ..). Israel is a figure of the church.

    • Seems to, but doesn’t. Not if you look at the LARGER larger context. In Christ, you are eternally unpunishable.

      • Ezekiel // April 4, 2021 at 7:59 pm //

        The larger context is Jesus ok … But we can’t close our eyes in front of some verses and say “don’t worry bro” there is Jesus !! It remains that the apostle of grace wrote those things and the meaning (without an explanation) is undoubtedly what as God treated Israel can so will treat the Corinthians (church) if they do not stop it…

      • So you think the apostle of grace reverted back to law for that passage? You think the one who preached “no condemnation” is threatening them with punishment and destruction?

      • Ezekiel // April 4, 2021 at 9:07 pm //

        No, I do not think so! But we don’t know how to explain these words of him…

      • Why not just take these words at face value? Paul is basically saying, “Learn from the example of our ancestors (v.6) and don’t do stupid stuff.” Avoiding sin is the smart thing to do whether you are under law (as they were) or grace (as we are).

      • Thomas Howard // April 5, 2021 at 12:41 am //

        True, we are not eternally punished, but just in terms of temporal, bodily, “chastened of the Lord.” . As, what the Apostle was speaking of in 1 Corinthians 11 about the communion was what he was speaking about in previous chapter 10. Verse 16. Notice verse 7. “The people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play.” Similar to what Paul saw in chapter 11:21.
        But even 1 Corinthians 11: 27-30 relates to 1 Corinthians 10: 9,10.
        As here, “Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed (examine?) lest he fall” 1 Corinthians 10:12, seems to me to say, “let a man examine himself” 1 Corinthians 11:28 and 2 Corinthians 13:5.
        All that 1 Corinthians 10 speaks of, are just a preview of what 1 Corinthians 11 speaks to, as we are part and partial.
        “ Now all these things happened unto them for examples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come.” Admonition? Examples to teach and warn, us who now live.
        “Neither let ‘us’ tempt Christ, “ 1 Corinthians 10:9 is the strongest warning and what Paul was also relating to the Corinthians about the communion being done in the church age, our age, “us”.

      • A warning without threats is not much of a warning. It’s more of an exhortation.

      • Thanks for the reply. I meditated on that “warning without threats” in fact going further on 2 Corinthians the apostle often uses this way of doing, that I called: the threats of a sweet mom. For example 2 Cr 10: 6 “and being ready to punish all disobedience when your obedience is fulfilled.” In other words: If you don’t obey I won’t punish you …
        Or 2 Cr 12:21 “… lest, when I come again, my God will humble me among you, and I shall mourn for many who have sinned before and have not repented …” Paul is worried that God will make him to use the “hard ways” (Grace and not condemnation) when he is back in Corinth

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