×
A devotional bible commentary
in partnership with
Join Us!
Join Us!

Today’s Reading

Devotional

THREE OBSERVATIONS ABOUT the Lord’s Supper, from the many that could be drawn from Paul’s treatment of it (1 Cor. 11:17–34):

First, it is a temporary ordinance. It is to be observed only “until he comes” (11:26). In part this is because of its “memorial” function (“do this in remembrance of me,” 1 Cor. 11:24). In the new heaven and the new earth, transformed believers will not need a rite like this one to “remember” Jesus, for he will perpetually be the center of their focus and adoration. Knowing this, each time we participate in the Lord’s Supper we are not only helped to look backward to Jesus’ broken body, but forward to the consummation.

Second, properly observed, the Lord’s Supper is to have a kerygmatic function. The word kerygmatic comes from the verb kerysso, “to proclaim”: Paul says that by this Supper we proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes (11:26)—though he uses a different verb here. Normally the verb used is found in an evangelistic context: we proclaim or announce the Gospel to people still unconverted. If that is what Paul means, then one of the functions of the Lord’s Supper—its kerygmatic function—is evangelism. Certainly I have been in churches where that is the case. Unbelievers are part of the service. They are warned not to partake, but are encouraged to observe and reflect on what they see and hear. Something of the significance of the rite is explained, perhaps its function as witness to Jesus the bread of life who gives his life for the life of the world (John 6:51). The ordinance and the word together proclaim the Lord’s death.

Third, the approach of the Lord’s Supper provides an opportunity for each Christian to examine himself or herself before eating the bread and drinking the cup (11:27–28). Interpreters disagree as to what the failure to recognize the body of the Lord means (11:29). To evaluate the options is not possible in this context. I may simply record my conclusion: Paul warns that “anyone who eats and drinks without recognizing the body of the Lord,” which was offered up on the cross and to which witness is borne in this rite, “eats and drinks judgment on himself.” How could it be otherwise? To say, by participating, “We remember,” and “We proclaim,” while cherishing sin, is to approach this table in an unworthy manner; it is to sin “against the body and blood of the Lord” (11:27). But regardless of whether this particular interpretation is correct, the warning itself must be taken with utmost seriousness. It is not a question of being good enough, for no one is. The only “worthy manner” by which to approach this Supper is contrition and faith.

1 Samuel 31

The Death of Saul

31:1 Now the Philistines were fighting against Israel, and the men of Israel fled before the Philistines and fell slain on Mount Gilboa. And the Philistines overtook Saul and his sons, and the Philistines struck down Jonathan and Abinadab and Malchi-shua, the sons of Saul. The battle pressed hard against Saul, and the archers found him, and he was badly wounded by the archers. Then Saul said to his armor-bearer, “Draw your sword, and thrust me through with it, lest these uncircumcised come and thrust me through, and mistreat me.” But his armor-bearer would not, for he feared greatly. Therefore Saul took his own sword and fell upon it. And when his armor-bearer saw that Saul was dead, he also fell upon his sword and died with him. Thus Saul died, and his three sons, and his armor-bearer, and all his men, on the same day together. And when the men of Israel who were on the other side of the valley and those beyond the Jordan saw that the men of Israel had fled and that Saul and his sons were dead, they abandoned their cities and fled. And the Philistines came and lived in them.

The next day, when the Philistines came to strip the slain, they found Saul and his three sons fallen on Mount Gilboa. So they cut off his head and stripped off his armor and sent messengers throughout the land of the Philistines, to carry the good news to the house of their idols and to the people. 10 They put his armor in the temple of Ashtaroth, and they fastened his body to the wall of Beth-shan. 11 But when the inhabitants of Jabesh-gilead heard what the Philistines had done to Saul, 12 all the valiant men arose and went all night and took the body of Saul and the bodies of his sons from the wall of Beth-shan, and they came to Jabesh and burned them there. 13 And they took their bones and buried them under the tamarisk tree in Jabesh and fasted seven days.

(ESV)

1 Corinthians 11

11:1 Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.

Head Coverings

Now I commend you because you remember me in everything and maintain the traditions even as I delivered them to you. But I want you to understand that the head of every man is Christ, the head of a wife1 is her husband,2 and the head of Christ is God. Every man who prays or prophesies with his head covered dishonors his head, but every wife3 who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head, since it is the same as if her head were shaven. For if a wife will not cover her head, then she should cut her hair short. But since it is disgraceful for a wife to cut off her hair or shave her head, let her cover her head. For a man ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God, but woman is the glory of man. For man was not made from woman, but woman from man. Neither was man created for woman, but woman for man. 10 That is why a wife ought to have a symbol of authority on her head, because of the angels.4 11 Nevertheless, in the Lord woman is not independent of man nor man of woman; 12 for as woman was made from man, so man is now born of woman. And all things are from God. 13 Judge for yourselves: is it proper for a wife to pray to God with her head uncovered? 14 Does not nature itself teach you that if a man wears long hair it is a disgrace for him, 15 but if a woman has long hair, it is her glory? For her hair is given to her for a covering. 16 If anyone is inclined to be contentious, we have no such practice, nor do the churches of God.

The Lord's Supper

17 But in the following instructions I do not commend you, because when you come together it is not for the better but for the worse. 18 For, in the first place, when you come together as a church, I hear that there are divisions among you. And I believe it in part,5 19 for there must be factions among you in order that those who are genuine among you may be recognized. 20 When you come together, it is not the Lord's supper that you eat. 21 For in eating, each one goes ahead with his own meal. One goes hungry, another gets drunk. 22 What! Do you not have houses to eat and drink in? Or do you despise the church of God and humiliate those who have nothing? What shall I say to you? Shall I commend you in this? No, I will not.

23 For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, 24 and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, “This is my body, which is for6 you. Do this in remembrance of me.”7 25 In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” 26 For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes.

27 Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty concerning the body and blood of the Lord. 28 Let a person examine himself, then, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. 29 For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment on himself. 30 That is why many of you are weak and ill, and some have died.8 31 But if we judged9 ourselves truly, we would not be judged. 32 But when we are judged by the Lord, we are disciplined10 so that we may not be condemned along with the world.

33 So then, my brothers,11 when you come together to eat, wait for12 one another—34 if anyone is hungry, let him eat at home—so that when you come together it will not be for judgment. About the other things I will give directions when I come.

Footnotes

[1] 11:3 Greek gunē. This term may refer to a woman or a wife, depending on the context
[2] 11:3 Greek anēr. This term may refer to a man or a husband, depending on the context
[3] 11:5 In verses 5–13, the Greek word gunē is translated wife in verses that deal with wearing a veil, a sign of being married in first-century culture
[4] 11:10 Or messengers, that is, people sent to observe and report
[5] 11:18 Or I believe a certain report
[6] 11:24 Some manuscripts broken for
[7] 11:24 Or as my memorial; also verse 25
[8] 11:30 Greek have fallen asleep (as in 15:6, 20)
[9] 11:31 Or discerned
[10] 11:32 Or when we are judged we are being disciplined by the Lord
[11] 11:33 Or brothers and sisters
[12] 11:33 Or share with

(ESV)

Ezekiel 9

Idolaters Killed

9:1 Then he cried in my ears with a loud voice, saying, “Bring near the executioners of the city, each with his destroying weapon in his hand.” And behold, six men came from the direction of the upper gate, which faces north, each with his weapon for slaughter in his hand, and with them was a man clothed in linen, with a writing case at his waist. And they went in and stood beside the bronze altar.

Now the glory of the God of Israel had gone up from the cherub on which it rested to the threshold of the house. And he called to the man clothed in linen, who had the writing case at his waist. And the LORD said to him, “Pass through the city, through Jerusalem, and put a mark on the foreheads of the men who sigh and groan over all the abominations that are committed in it.” And to the others he said in my hearing, “Pass through the city after him, and strike. Your eye shall not spare, and you shall show no pity. Kill old men outright, young men and maidens, little children and women, but touch no one on whom is the mark. And begin at my sanctuary.” So they began with the elders who were before the house. Then he said to them, “Defile the house, and fill the courts with the slain. Go out.” So they went out and struck in the city. And while they were striking, and I was left alone, I fell upon my face, and cried, “Ah, Lord GOD! Will you destroy all the remnant of Israel in the outpouring of your wrath on Jerusalem?”

Then he said to me, “The guilt of the house of Israel and Judah is exceedingly great. The land is full of blood, and the city full of injustice. For they say, ‘The LORD has forsaken the land, and the LORD does not see.’ 10 As for me, my eye will not spare, nor will I have pity; I will bring their deeds upon their heads.”

11 And behold, the man clothed in linen, with the writing case at his waist, brought back word, saying, “I have done as you commanded me.”

(ESV)

Psalm 48

Zion, the City of Our God

A Song. A Psalm of the Sons of Korah.

48:1   Great is the LORD and greatly to be praised
    in the city of our God!
  His holy mountain, beautiful in elevation,
    is the joy of all the earth,
  Mount Zion, in the far north,
    the city of the great King.
  Within her citadels God
    has made himself known as a fortress.
  For behold, the kings assembled;
    they came on together.
  As soon as they saw it, they were astounded;
    they were in panic; they took to flight.
  Trembling took hold of them there,
    anguish as of a woman in labor.
  By the east wind you shattered
    the ships of Tarshish.
  As we have heard, so have we seen
    in the city of the LORD of hosts,
  in the city of our God,
    which God will establish forever. Selah
  We have thought on your steadfast love, O God,
    in the midst of your temple.
10   As your name, O God,
    so your praise reaches to the ends of the earth.
  Your right hand is filled with righteousness.
11     Let Mount Zion be glad!
  Let the daughters of Judah rejoice
    because of your judgments!
12   Walk about Zion, go around her,
    number her towers,
13   consider well her ramparts,
    go through her citadels,
  that you may tell the next generation
14     that this is God,
  our God forever and ever.
    He will guide us forever.1

Footnotes

[1] 48:14 Septuagint; another reading is (compare Jerome, Syriac) He will guide us beyond death

(ESV)