Paul’s Instructions for Consummation of Koinonia

In 1st Corinthians chapter 11, Paul gives a number of instructions and words of caution concerning the consummation of “koinonia”, translated communion. In verse 28-29 he says:

“But let every man examine himself, and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup. He that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself; not discerning the Lord’s body.”

Because this was translated from the Greek, some of the translation is kind of awkward in understanding.


The word used is not “unworthy” but “unworthily.” Unworthy is an adjective use to describe a noun. It is not being used to describe the people because no one was ever worthy to partake of Christ. Unworthily is an adverb used to describe a verb. Used to describe a persons actions. It is not the person that is unworthy but the actions that are unworthy. This is someone who hears the gospel declared, understands the principles of conduct as they are explained and then lives contrary to the revelation. To give it a very blunt translation, when Paul says “he that eateth and drinketh unworthily” he is referring to church going pretenders.

Damnation to Himself

Having been bound to responsibility they are judged subject to an imposed penalty; to bring oneself into a worsening condition.

Not discerning

Discerning is translated from the Greek word “diakrino”: to determine, to decide. What is meant by not discerning is, failing to give a proper response. We may fail because we do not or cannot determine how we are to properly respond to the message of the gospel of Christ. Or we may fail to choose our right response to the responsibility that is taught. This could be intentional or unintentional. We may sense the influence of the Holy Spirit and choose not to follow it or because of the emotional unrest within us we are unable to sense the influences of the Holy Spirit.

30 For this reason many are weak and sick among you, and many sleep.

The spiritual man must be nourished and exercised to maintain proper strength and health just as the physical man. So as verse 30 says “weak”, it is strengthless, too weak to resist evil temptations because we fail to give proper attention to daily spiritual activity.

Again, comparing the spiritual body to the physical, when weak and under nourished, it is susceptible to attack from invading opposition, causing us to become sick. This suggests again that because we fail to give proper attention to daily spiritual activity and the load that sinful temptations impose, the mind grows weary. And just as when the physical body is repeatedly battled with illness, it can make for a lengthy recovery.

While you can’t just choose to be well in the physical body, the recover of the spiritual body begins with a choice. But being spiritually battled for a long time without making that choice can produce a condition of withdraw from conscious restraint. Sleep; a slumbering state of the soul. At that point we are insensitive and unconscious to spiritual things because we are mentally conformed to the world.

Now this condition doesn’t happen all at once. It is a progressive condition. As the following verses say examine yourself, detect our shortcomings and recognize our own condition. Give this spiritual meal of common union due appreciation. Read the word for yourself and allow the Holy Spirit to illuminate you to the understanding. Just as we can’t survive long without drink, drinking of the blood of Christ is equally important to our spiritual health. Live out the life of Christ by displaying His love for other to the point of pain and suffering. With a supernatural diet like that we will have plenty of energy to resist evil temptations and defeat our sinful nature.


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