My Thoughts. . .

Monday, November 18, 2019

Have you ever read a familiar passage in the Bible and passed over a single word because you didn’t recognize its importance?  Perhaps I too am guilty of doing that.  What was that word?  It was a word which we know, but we read it in our context rather than in Paul’s!  Paul was writing to the church of God in Corinth to correct multiple errors.  When it came to the Lord’s supper, they were partaking, but not waiting on one another.  Their four-way division may have contributed to that problem.  They also refused to share with one another.  As a results, Paul writes,

For as you eat, each of you goes ahead without waiting for anybody else. One remains hungry, another gets drunk.” (1 Corinthians 11:21 NIV).

Few miss that word “drunk.”  Some deny the fruit of the vine was alcoholic.  We know it wasn’t Welch’s.  The 13 years of Prohibition probably influenced the interpretation of “drunk” more than first century culture did.  Due to that modern influence, a word definition had to be substituted so “drunk” could not mean intoxication.  Most pay little attention to the word “hungry.”  Why?  That necessitated a substitution also.  One commentator suggested the word “hungry” meant they were eating a “common meal” rather than the Lord’s supper.  Of course, that expression “common meal” has to be added to scripture to establish that view.

The modern communion service is planned to run smoothly, proficiently, and quickly.  When the Lord’s supper is served, the bread could not possibly satisfy anyone’s hunger.  We don’t design it to fill our stomachs.  If Paul wrote to us, he might accuse today’s church of sending people home “hungry,” not because of division, nor refusing to wait or share with others, but because we don’t partake of enough to squelch anyone’s hunger pains.  We use the word “represent” to identify the bread and the fruit of the vine.  No inspired writer used that expression.  Jesus said, “Take eat; this is my body” (Matthew 26:26; Mark 14:22; Luke 22:19).  He also stated, “This cup is the New Testament in my blood,” (Luke 22:20; Mark 14:24-25; Matthew 26:28).  Is our addition “the oracles of God” (1 Peter 4:11)?

The Greek word that “hungry” is translated from is πειναω (peinao).  It means “to famish, figurative to crave, or be an hungered.”  It is found twenty-three times in the New Testament.  After Jesus was tempted in the wilderness Matthew tells us he “afterwards hungered” (Matthew 4:2).  The angels didn’t bring Jesus the amount of bread to extinguish his hunger which we serve on Sunday morning.  The apostle also informs us that the disciples were “hungry” and ate grain on the Sabbath (Matthew 12:1).  Paul states that if your “enemy hunger, feed him” (Romans12:20).  The word “hunger” in these passages wasn’t satisfied with a small wafer or thimble size glass of wine.

When Paul wrote to the Corinthians, he was upset because they would not share the fruit of the vine nor the unleavened bread with others.  This refusal caused some to go home hungry.  It caused those who drank without sharing to be inebriated.  Too much fruit of the vine and too little bread.  Drunk on one, hungry without the other.  Yet, were they dining on wine and bread alone?  The Lord’s supper is the last part of the Passover meal.  It continued as that meal even though Jesus used a part of it to be his body and blood.  Notice the following statements.

While they were eating, Jesus took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to his disciples, saying, ‘Take and eat; this is my body.’” (Matthew 26:26; Mark 14:22).

Mark and Luke tell us, “While they were eating” Jesus circulated the bread without informing them they were no long eating the Passover.  What were they in the process of eating?  Wasn’t it the Passover meal which included lamb, egg, vegetables, fruit, unleavened bread, and wine?  Luke reveals the last two cups consumed during that process (Luke 22:17-20).  Luke also shows that the third and fourth cup of that meal were offered by Jesus as part of his supper memorial.  Neither the Passover nor Jesus added part were performed in silence.  There was instruction concerning what the meal was about.  There were questions, answers given, disagreements, and a dispute during that period of “while they were eating.”  We eliminate from those accounts things that we don’t wish to do and substitute what we are comfortable with.  We insert our culture and weed out theirs!  Our views of “respect, attire, reverence, and worship” are patterned more from the ideology of later centuries than from what Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John described.

Paul, in 1 Corinthians 11:23-28 mentions only the cup and the bread.  However, in Matthew 26, Mark 14, and Luke 22 only the fruit of the vine and bread are mentioned.  John completely leaves out the Lord’s supper but adds the foot washing and Jesus giving Judas a sop.  This Greek word, ψωμιον (psomion) is found only in John 13.  If the absence of lamb and other table items are not being mentioned in 1 Corinthians 11, means they weren’t consumed according to Paul’s account, the same would be true in Matthew 26, Mark 14, and Luke 22 since they are not mentioned there either.  If they may be added by inference in those three accounts, they may also be added by inference in 1 Corinthians 11.

Paul ends his correction on the subject of the Lord’s supper by writing, “If anyone is hungry, he should eat at home, so that when you meet together it may not result in judgment.” (1 Corinthians 11:34).  Some commentaries claim that the Corinthians were serving a common meal rather than the Lord’s supper.  Actually, the expression “common meal” is not in any text.  That addition satisfies those who need it to flesh out their man made teaching, but it remains as an addition to the divine text.  The context points toward Paul telling the Corinthians that if they do not want to wait on or share with one another, let them eat the bread and drink the wine at home.  Why?  Under those conditions it is not the Lord’s supper (1 Corinthians 11:17-21)!  It is just bread and wine.

If the Corinthians had waited on one another and shared, then no one would have left hungry nor would anyone be tipsy.  If they were filling up on unleavened bread which satisfied their hunger, then wouldn’t that be a pattern for us to partake of a larger amount of bread and drink than we presently consume?  There seems to be more to the word “hungry” than we have presumed.