>The Lord’s Supper in Community

In Neither Poverty Nor Riches Craig Blomberg addresses the controversy surrounding the Lord’s Supper in 1 Corinthians 11:17-34. He begins by describing the social context.

The well-to-do who did not have to work long hours at manual labour could arrive for the Christian gathering early, bring excess food and drink, and consume too much of both. The poorer members, arriving later with fewer provisions, were unable to enjoy an equal share of what was intended to be a communal meal or ‘love feast.’ (p. 183)

A few pages later, he returns to the Lord’s Supper.

When one understands the sociological factors at work behind the Corinthians’ abuse of the Lord’s Supper, well-known verses in Chapter 11 appear quite different….The Corinthians who eat the bread or drink the cup of the Lord ‘in an unworthy manner’ (1 Cor. 11:27) are not those who are particularly aware of their sinfulness or who feel unworthy to partake….Those who should refrain from the bread and wine lest they profane the eucharist are…those who are actually eating and drinking in an unworthy fashion. And verse 21 explicitly recounts what that unworthy fashion involves: ‘each of you goes ahead without waiting for anybody else. One remains hungry, another gets drunk.’ (p. 187)

Next Blomberg connects the teaching with our context.

Obviously, few if any contemporary worship services have this exact problem with the Lord’s table. But once one understands that the gluttony and drunkenness described take place during a large communal meal at the expense of the needy Christians in their midst, then ‘eating and drinking unworthily’ applies in our modern culture to any who continue glibly to partake of the Lord’s Supper, yet who have no track-record in their own lives of giving from their surplus possessions to the poor. The question of who should and should not take the Lords Supper in any given church could be revolutionized if we began to obey Paul’s words and apply them as they were intended in their original context. (pp. 187-188)

Finally, he concludes the section by stating:

Those who eat and drink without concern for the needs of the poorer members do not recognize the nature of the church–a refuge for refugees, in which all must care for one another. (p. 188)

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