1 Corinthians 11:27-34
Let a Person Examine Himself
Paul closes out his directions on the observance of the Supper returning to the transgressions some in the church in Corinth had committed and the results of those sins. You will remember that the specific sin was that the wealthier members were arriving ahead of the poorer members and feasting in front of the poor arriving later and without regard for their feelings of humiliation from such arrogant displays of thoughtlessness. And what the Apostle has to say carries with it grave spiritual realities of which a church of Jesus Christ should take notice. I would suggest that this passage has two applications. The first application is to the church as a whole and how each one should treat others as brothers and sisters in Christ; after all, it was treating others so thoughtlessly that earned Paul’s ire to begin with. The second application is to the believer himself. I am aware that the individual believer might not be the focal point of the passage, but there are certainly enough calls to believers to examine themselves and live holy lives that such a perspective should not be left out, especially with regard to the observance of the Supper (2 Corinthians 13:5; 1 Thessalonians 4:3).
The passage has stern warnings for partaking “in an unworthy manner” and for not “discerning the body.” In the context of the chapter, the “body” refers to the church body. In other words, one should be aware of what is going on in the body of Christ, the local church, as one partakes: Is there division that should be addressed or perhaps a lack of consideration for some brother or sister and their needs? On a personal level, is there someone in the body whose forgiveness you need to seek or with whom you need to be reconciled? These are matters that the Lord, who gave his body and blood for us that we may be reconciled to and thus at peace with God, demands that we make right with one another in the one body. We cannot partake of the Supper cherishing peace with our Savior when we are at war with a brother or sister who claims that same Savior. And on an individual level, are we partaking of the Supper when we know that there are sins in our lives that we have not confessed or repented of. These are serious matters and to partake when in such a condition indicates that we are not serious about this most holy ordinance of our Lord. And Paul goes on to warn us that severe consequences can follow such presumption.
All of the preceding centers around personal examination and being honest with ourselves before the Supper. And let us hear the words, “But if we judged ourselves truly, we would not be judged.”