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Sometimes we refer to the Lord’s Supper as a “communion.” There is really only one passage that uses this term for the Lord’s Supper.
1 Corinthians 10:16,17 – The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ? For we, though many, are one bread and one body; for we all partake of that one bread. [Verse 21 also refers to partaking of – sharing or communing in – the Lord’s table.]
“Communion” means sharing, fellowship, partnership, participating in common. All congregational worship involves sharing in some spiritual activity.
Consider some lessons we can learn from this expression.
Verse 17 – Though we are many individuals, we all partake of one bread. “Partake” is a fellowship or communion word. Since all Christians should participate in this same memorial, we share something in common with all Christians of all ages, everywhere.
Sometimes people wonder if the passage refers to everybody in an assembly or in a specific local congregation. But Paul said, “We all partake of that one bread.” Paul was not a member of the church in Corinth, nor was he in their assembly. He was writing the letter because he was elsewhere. Nevertheless, he said he and the Corinthians all partook of one bread.
But the same would be true of believers in other congregations and other assemblies elsewhere, and the same would be true of us today. All who participate in the Lord’s Supper are sharing this memorial in common with all other Christians around the world and throughout the ages.
We all partake of one bread. We participate in this same memorial for the same purpose as all other Christians have done since the first century.
Verse 16 – The cup is the communion of the blood of Christ, and the bread is the communion of the body of Christ. The Lord's Supper is a memorial to Jesus’ death, in which we all share with the body and blood of Jesus.
Obviously, this is not physical sharing with Jesus’ literal body and blood. Our sharing in the blood and body of Jesus is spiritual.
Further, I know of no passage that teaches, as some think, that participating in the Lord’s Supper actually cleanses sins. Rather, the point is that we are memorializing the fact we have a share in the benefits of that sacrifice.
Verse 18 says that those who ate the sacrifices under the Old Testament were partaking with the altar. That is, by eating the sacrifice after it had been offered, they were expressing the fact that they had received the benefit of the sacrifice.
So, as children of God who have received forgiveness through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, we remember in the Lord’s Supper each first day of the week the fact that we have been cleansed by the blood of Jesus. We memorialize the fact that have a share – a communion – in that sacrifice by which our sins are cleansed and we have hope of eternal life.
(c) Copyright David E. Pratte, 2018
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Scripture quotations are generally from the New King James Version (NKJV), copyright 1982, 1988 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. used by permission. All rights reserved.