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In 1 Corinthians 11:27-32 (NKJV) :

27 Therefore whoever eats this bread or drinks this cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. 28 But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup. 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.

If for this reason many are «weak and sick among you, and many sleep», must be serious. What does Paul mean by unworthy manner?

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I was about to ask a comparable question. Then I saw yours here. Good question, so thanks. –  John Martin Jun 22 '14 at 14:09
This verse, and the way we understand communion, are taken entirely out of context. It is not possible to explain without fully understanding the Haggadah (order of service) of the Passover Feast (Seder). –  Debby H-M Aug 17 '14 at 19:03

3 Answers 3

I'd tend to look back at 1 Corinthians 10:14-17 (NIV), note the focus on one and unity.

14 Therefore, my dear friends, flee from idolatry. 15 I speak to sensible people; judge for yourselves what I say. 16 Is not the cup of thanksgiving for which we give thanks a participation in the blood of Christ? And is not the bread that we break a participation in the body of Christ? 17 Because there is one loaf, we, who are many, are one body, for we all share the one loaf.

Starting in 11:17 Paul is talking about how a feast that is to demonstrate unity is actually promoting and demonstrating disunity.

It's not a popular answer, but I think biblically speaking a strong case can be made that an unworthy manner is one in which the participant is not recognizing their unity with Christ and the body of believers that he or she is gathered with. And perhaps even recognizing a wider vision of unity of those who call upon Christ as Lord.

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I gave you a +1, but this answer would be much stronger if you were to present this "strong case" rather than simply saying "I think biblically speaking a strong case can be made". –  Jas 3.1 Aug 17 '14 at 20:22

It could be a number of things. Paul was known to simplify the deep things of the spirit into ways the everyday reader could understand. So the question then becomes what is an "unworthy manner," at least in regards to communion or the Lord's supper.

1.) Most I believe would say that it means, observing the Lord's supper without knowing Christ himself. I highly doubt that the apostles, especially the apostle Paul, would allow people who didn't have Christ dwelling within them take part in the communion meal.

2.) "This do in remembrance of me." The shere depth of what it means to drink Christ's blood and eat Christ's flesh has became a mere reflection of what it once was. The 11 were there, literally handed the cup from God himself in the flesh saying "Take this and drink, this is my covenant (promise) to you." Which at that time was more or less a marriage proposal in Hebrew custom. That though is a discussion for another day but if interested look up passages about the Church being referred to as the "Bride of Christ."... Point being, if you were going to share in eating the flesh and drinking the blood you were not to do so with unrepented sin, or more importantly a dead spirit. To take part in the communion without being a born again follower of Christ was and is basically slapping Christ in the face and casting down the price He paid on the cross when He shed His blood, and allowed His body to be broken for our sakes.

Other.) Any other issues that could be reffered to as "unworthy" would essentially point back to these, or could the endless debates over the more minor details of the Communion such as: wine vs. juice, time of day, the day in which to take part in the meal, what kind of bread, and various other things.

I hope this helped you. God Bless

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&Tyler Thanks. One thing I find very interesting is where it says that the bread and cup were picked up "after" dinner. 1 Cor 11:23 He broke it and said, “This is My body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” 25 In the same way He took the cup also after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood; do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.” –  John Martin Jun 22 '14 at 14:44

If we set aside, for a moment, the notion of communion. This "cup after supper" (- the third cup - the cup of redemption)" and the broken bread (the afikomen), as elements of Passover, foretold of Jesus and were being revealed. I would imagine that Paul, as a Jew, understood "the Lord's Supper" to mean the feast of unleavened bread / Passover. Exodus 12:14 says that it is to be celebrated forever. Luke 22: beginning with 14 (and the other gospel Passover accounts) indicate that the Passover was fulfilled in Jesus, that we are now to continue celebrating it in remembrance of Him. Further, he tells us that he will celebrate it again when he returns. Not communion, but Passover - the annual feast of unleavened bread. What, in Paul's understanding, in the context of Passover, would Paul mean by "unworthy"? It would seem to indicate preparation, making yourself ready to receive it. The deeper meaning is found in the preparation of Passover. The sweeping out of leaven - chametz -symbolizing sin. Peter says to Jesus, in response to being told that he can't have a part in the kingdom unless Jesus washes his feet, "wash all of me". Jesus, who has substituted foot-washing for the ritual hand-washing found in the Seder, says that isn't necessary. Having already been cleansed of sin, only the feet need to be washed. We sweep out the leaven. Communion, as we know it, doesn't fully provide an explanation of the verse.

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Hello Debby. It sounds like you have some light you wish to shed on the subject. Your contribution sounds interesting; however, as it stands now, is more like a comment than a well thought out answer. Answers in this forum need to have a thesis and well supported points that follow a logical progression of thought. Consider re-writing your answer directly in answer to the question rather than in regard to another answer. Write from your perspective, presenting facts. Make clear points and support each with evidence. –  user2027 Aug 26 '14 at 13:50
Hi Debby, the other answer has been deleted so you need to make sure this one is self-contained (I'm assuming "But it does help to answer the question" refers to the deleted answer). You've really got to spell out your logic here for an answer to be helpful to others on the site, can you try and join the dots for us? –  Jack Douglas Aug 26 '14 at 13:57

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