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The Institution of the Lord’s Supper

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


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23. His object is to show the unworthiness of such conduct from the dignity of the holy supper.

I—Emphatic in the Greek. It is not my own invention, but the Lord's institution.

received of the Lord—by immediate revelation (Ga 1:12; compare Ac 22:17, 18; 2Co 12:1-4). The renewal of the institution of the Lord's Supper by special revelation to Paul enhances its solemnity. The similarity between Luke's and Paul's account of the institution, favors the supposition that the former drew his information from the apostle, whose companion in travel he was. Thus, the undesigned coincidence is a proof of genuineness.

night—the time fixed for the Passover (Ex 12:6): though the time for the Lord's Supper is not fixed.

betrayed—With the traitor at the table, and death present before His eyes, He left this ordinance as His last gift to us, to commemorate His death. Though about to receive such an injury from man, He gave this pledge of His amazing love to man.

24. brake—The breaking of the bread involves its distribution and reproves the Corinthian mode at the love-feast, of "every one taking before other his own supper."

my body … broken for you—"given" (Lu 22:19) for you (Greek, "in your behalf"), and "broken," so as to be distributed among you. The oldest manuscripts omit "broken," leaving it to be supplied from "brake." The two old versions, Memphitic and Thebaic, read from Luke, "given." The literal "body" could not have been meant; for Christ was still sensibly present among His disciples when He said, "This is My body." They could only have understood Him symbolically and analogically: As this bread is to your bodily health, so My body is to the spiritual health of the believing communicant. The words, "Take, eat," are not in the oldest manuscripts.

in remembrance of me—(See on 1Co 11:25).

25. when he had suppedGreek, "after the eating of supper," namely, the Passover supper which preceded the Lord's Supper, as the love-feast did subsequently. Therefore, you Corinthians ought to separate common meals from the Lord's Supper [Bengel].

the new testament—or "covenant." The cup is the parchment-deed, as it were, on which My new covenant, or last will is written and sealed, making over to you all blessings here and hereafter.

in my blood—ratified by MY blood: "not by the blood of goats and calves" (Heb 9:12).

as oft asGreek, "as many times soever": implying that it is an ordinance often to be partaken of.

in remembrance of me—Luke (Lu 22:19) expresses this, which is understood by Matthew and Mark. Paul twice records it (1Co 11:24 and here) as suiting his purpose. The old sacrifices brought sins continually to remembrance (Heb 10:1, 3). The Lord's Supper brings to remembrance Christ and His sacrifice once for all for the full and final remission of sins.

26. For—in proof that the Lord's Supper is "in remembrance" of Him.

showannounce publicly. The Greek does not mean to dramatically represent, but "ye publicly profess each of you, the Lord has died FOR ME" [Wahl]. This word, as "is" in Christ's institution (1Co 11:24, 25), implies not literal presence, but a vivid realization, by faith, of Christ in the Lord's Supper, as a living person, not a mere abstract dogma, "bone of our bone, and flesh of our flesh" (Eph 5:30; compare Ge 2:23); and ourselves "members of His body, of His flesh, and of His bones," "our sinful bodies made clean by His body (once for all offered), and our souls washed through His most precious blood" [Church of England Prayer Book]. "Show," or "announce," is an expression applicable to new things; compare "show" as to the Passover (Ex 13:8). So the Lord's death ought always to be fresh in our memory; compare in heaven, Re 5:6. That the Lord's Supper is in remembrance of Him, implies that He is bodily absent, though spiritually present, for we cannot be said to commemorate one absent. The fact that we not only show the Lord's death in the supper, but eat and drink the pledges of it, could only be understood by the Jews, accustomed to such feasts after propitiatory sacrifices, as implying our personal appropriation therein of the benefits of that death.

till he come—when there shall be no longer need of symbols of His body, the body itself being manifested. The Greek expresses the certainly of His coming. Rome teaches that we eat Christ present corporally, "till He come" corporally; a contradiction in terms. The showbread, literally, "bread of the presence," was in the sanctuary, but not in the Holiest Place (Heb 9:1-8); so the Lord's Supper in heaven, the antitype to the Holiest Place, shall be superseded by Christ's own bodily presence; then the wine shall be drunk "anew" in the Father's kingdom, by Christ and His people together, of which heavenly banquet, the Lord's Supper is a spiritual foretaste and specimen (Mt 26:29). Meantime, as the showbread was placed anew, every sabbath, on the table before the Lord (Le 24:5-8); so the Lord's death was shown, or announced afresh at the Lord's table the first day of every week in the primitive Church. We are now "priests unto God" in the dispensation of Christ's spiritual presence, antitypical to the HOLY PLACE: the perfect and eternal dispensation, which shall not begin till Christ's coming, is antitypical to the HOLIEST PLACE, which Christ our High Priest alone in the flesh as yet has entered (Heb 9:6, 7); but which, at His coming, we, too, who are believers, shall enter (Re 7:15; 21:22). The supper joins the two closing periods of the Old and the New dispensations. The first and second comings are considered as one coming, whence the expression is not "return," but "come" (compare, however, Joh 14:3).




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