1 Corinthians 11:28
But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup.
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(28-32) There are so many modifications required in these verses of the Greek text from which our translation is taken, so as to bring it into harmony with the best MSS., and so many changes needed in the translation itself, so as to convey more clearly the meaning of the original, that it will be best to give here a consecutive translation of the whole passage. It should read thus:—But let a man prove himself and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup, for he that eateth and drinketh, eateth and drinketh a judgment to himself if he does not discern the Body—(for this cause many among you are weak and sick, and some sleep)—but if we would discern ourselves we should not be judged; but being judged we are chastened by the Lord, in order that we may not be finally condemned with the world. There are several words in this sentence which call for remark.

(28) So let him eat.—This implies that a man should partake of this sacred feast only after he has carefully examined himself as to the spirit in which he was approaching such holy bread and wine.

1 Corinthians 11:28-32. But — That none may be involved in such guilt; let each one examine himself — Whether he knows the nature and the design of the institution, and whether it be his sincere desire and purpose thoroughly to comply therewith, and to do honour to Christ by living, in all respects, conformably to his word and example. For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily — In an irreverent, profane, and careless manner; eateth and drinketh damnation Κριμα, judgment; condemnation and punishment to himself — Or temporal judgments of various kinds. Thus the Corinthians, in the following verse, are said to be punished with debility, sickness, and death, for eating unworthily. Not discerning the Lord’s body — Not considering that the death of Christ, and the benefits he hath thereby procured for us, with his astonishing love to us, are represented in that solemn ordinance; and not distinguishing it from his common food. For if we would judge ourselves — Bring all our dispositions, words, and actions, especially those that relate to the worship of God, to the rule of his word, and condemn ourselves for what is amiss, and repent of it; and particularly if we would inquire respecting our knowledge of the nature of this holy ordinance, and the design with which we approach the Lord’s table; we should not be judged — Or chastised so severely; or we should avoid those sins which bring down the divine judgments upon us. But when we are judged — Thus punished with temporal calamities; we are chastened of the Lord — Corrected for our instruction and amendment; that — Being thereby purged from sin; we should not be condemned with the world — Should escape future condemnation and wrath.

11:23-34 The apostle describes the sacred ordinance, of which he had the knowledge by revelation from Christ. As to the visible signs, these are the bread and wine. What is eaten is called bread, though at the same time it is said to be the body of the Lord, plainly showing that the apostle did not mean that the bread was changed into flesh. St. Matthew tells us, our Lord bid them all drink of the cup, ch. Mt 26:27, as if he would, by this expression, provide against any believer being deprived of the cup. The things signified by these outward signs, are Christ's body and blood, his body broken, his blood shed, together with all the benefits which flow from his death and sacrifice. Our Saviour's actions were, taking the bread and cup, giving thanks, breaking the bread, and giving both the one and the other. The actions of the communicants were, to take the bread and eat, to take the cup and drink, and to do both in remembrance of Christ. But the outward acts are not the whole, or the principal part, of what is to be done at this holy ordinance. Those who partake of it, are to take him as their Lord and Life, yield themselves up to him, and live upon him. Here is an account of the ends of this ordinance. It is to be done in remembrance of Christ, to keep fresh in our minds his dying for us, as well as to remember Christ pleading for us, in virtue of his death, at God's right hand. It is not merely in remembrance of Christ, of what he has done and suffered; but to celebrate his grace in our redemption. We declare his death to be our life, the spring of all our comforts and hopes. And we glory in such a declaration; we show forth his death, and plead it as our accepted sacrifice and ransom. The Lord's supper is not an ordinance to be observed merely for a time, but to be continued. The apostle lays before the Corinthians the danger of receiving it with an unsuitable temper of mind; or keeping up the covenant with sin and death, while professing to renew and confirm the covenant with God. No doubt such incur great guilt, and so render themselves liable to spiritual judgements. But fearful believers should not be discouraged from attending at this holy ordinance. The Holy Spirit never caused this scripture to be written to deter serious Christians from their duty, though the devil has often made this use of it. The apostle was addressing Christians, and warning them to beware of the temporal judgements with which God chastised his offending servants. And in the midst of judgement, God remembers mercy: he many times punishes those whom he loves. It is better to bear trouble in this world, than to be miserable for ever. The apostle points our the duty of those who come to the Lord's table. Self-examination is necessary to right attendance at this holy ordinance. If we would thoroughly search ourselves, to condemn and set right what we find wrong, we should stop Divine judgements. The apostle closes all with a caution against the irregularities of which the Corinthians were guilty at the Lord's table. Let all look to it, that they do not come together to God's worship, so as to provoke him, and bring down vengeance on themselves.But let a man examine himself - Let him search and see if he have the proper qualifications - if he has knowledge to discern the Lord's body (note, 1 Corinthians 11:29); if he has true repentance for his sins; true faith in the Lord Jesus; and a sincere desire to live the life of a Christian, and to be like the Son of God, and be saved by the merits of his blood. Let him examine himself, and see whether he have the right feelings of a communicant, and can approach the table in a proper manner. In regard to this we may observe:

(1) That this examination should include the great question about his personal piety, and about his particular and special fitness for this observance. It should go back into the great inquiry whether he has ever been born again; and it should also have special reference to his immediate and direct preparation for the ordinance. He should not only be able to say in general that he is a Christian, but he should be able to say that he has then a particular preparation for it. He should be in a suitable frame of mind for it. He should have personal evidence that he is a penitent; that he has true faith in the Lord Jesus; that he is depending on him, and is desirous of being saved by him.

(2) this examination should be minute and particular. It should extend to the words, the thoughts, the feelings, the conduct. We should inquire whether in our family and in our business; whether among Christians, and with the world, we have lived the life of a Christian. We should examine our private thoughts; our habits of secret prayer and of searching the Scriptures. Our examination should be directed to the inquiry whether we are gaining the victory over our easily besetting sins and becoming more and more conformed to the Saviour. It should, in short, extend to all our Christian character; and everything which goes to make up or to mar that character should be the subject of faithful and honest examination.

(3) it should be done because:

(a) It is well to pause occasionally in life, and take an account of our standing in the sight of God. People make advances in business and in property only when they often examnine their accounts, and know just how they stand,

(b) Because the observance of the Lord's Supper is a solemn act, and there will be fearful results if it is celebrated in an improper manner.

(c) Because self-examination supposes seriousness and calmness, and prevents precipitation and rashness - states of mind entirely unfavorable to a proper observance of the Lord's Supper.

(d) Because by self-examination one may search out and remove those things that are offensive to God, and the sins which so easily beset us may be known and abandoned.

(e) Because the approach to the table of the Lord is a solemn approach to the Lord himself; is a solemn profession of attachment to him; is an act of consecration to his service in the presence of angels and of people; and this should be done in a calm, deliberate and sincere manner; such a manner as may be the result of a prayerful and honest self-examination.

And so let him eat ... - And as the result of such examination, or after such an examination; that is, let the act of eating that bread always be preceded by a solemn self-examination. Bloomfield renders it, "and then, only then." The sense is plain, that the communion should always be preceded by an honest and prayerful self-examination.

28. examine—Greek, "prove" or "test" his own state of mind in respect to Christ's death, and his capability of "discerning the Lord's body" (1Co 11:29, 31). Not auricular confession to a priest, but self-examination is necessary.

so—after due self-examination.

of … of—In 1Co 11:27, where the receiving was unworthily, the expression was, "eat this bread, drink … cup" without "of." Here the "of" implies due circumspection in communicating [Bengel].

let him eat—His self-examination is not in order that he may stay away, but that he may eat, that is, communicate.

He is to examine himself about his knowledge, whether he rightly understands what Christ is, what the nature of the sacrament is, what he doth in that sacred action; about his faith, love, repentance, new obedience, whether he be such a one as God hath prepared that holy table for; it is the children’s bread, and not for dogs; a table Christ hath spread for his friends, not for his enemies.

And so let him eat, &c.; having so examined himself, not otherwise. Whence it appears, that neither children in age or understanding, nor persons not in the use of their reason, nor unbelievers, nor persons under the guilt of sins not repented of, have any right to the Lord’s supper: accordingly was the practice of all the primitive churches, and all rightly reformed churches. Whether they ought, if they will presume to come, to be kept away by the officers of the church, and how, and by whom? Whether good Christians may communicate with such at the holy table? And after what previous duty performed? Are questions that belong not to this text.

But let a man examine himself,.... Whether he has a true sense of sin, sorrow and repentance for it; otherwise he will see no need of a Saviour, nor will he look to Christ for salvation, or be thankful to him for redemption by him; all which are necessary in a due observance of this ordinance; also, whether he is in the faith, whether he is a partaker of the true grace of faith, which is attended with good works, and shows itself by love to Christ, and to the saints; whereby a man goes out of himself to Christ for spiritual food and strength, peace and comfort, righteousness, life, and salvation; and by which he receives all from Christ, and gives him all the glory: this is absolutely necessary to his right and comfortable partaking of the Lord's supper, since without faith he cannot discern the Lord's body, nor, in a spiritual sense, eat his flesh, and drink his blood, nor attend on the ordinance in a manner acceptable unto God. Let him also examine and try whether he is sound in the doctrine of faith; or let him prove himself to be so, or show that he is one that is approved thereby; to whom the word of faith has come with power, and who has received it in the love of it, and firmly believes it; since an heretic is to be rejected from the communion of the church, and to be debarred the ordinances of it: let him examine himself, whether Christ is in him, whether he is revealed to him, and in him, as God's way of salvation, and the hope of glory; whether he is formed in his soul, his Spirit put, and his grace implanted there; since if Christ is not within, it will be of no avail to partake of the outward symbols of his body and blood. But if a man, upon reflection, under the influence and testimony of the Spirit, can come to a satisfaction in these things, however mean and unworthy he may seem in his own sight, let him come to the table of the Lord, and welcome.

And so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup; none should discourage or hinder him; nor should he deprive himself of such a privilege, to which he has an undoubted right. There seems to be an allusion in these words to what the master of the family used at the passover, when he said (z),

"everyone that is hungry, , "let him come and eat", and everyone that hath need or ought, let him keep the passover.''

(z) Haggadah Shel Pesach, p. 4.

{20} But let {l} a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup.

(20) The examination of a man's self, is of necessity required in the supper, and therefore they ought not to be admitted to it who cannot examine themselves: such as children, furious and angry men, also such as either have no knowledge of Christ, or not sufficient, although they profess Christian religion: and others that cannot examine themselves.

(l) This passage overthrows the idea of the faith of merit, or undeveloped faith, which the papists maintain.

1 Corinthians 11:28. Δέ] carrying onward: “now, in order not to incur this guilt, let a man examine himself, etc.;” let him search into his frame of mind and moral condition (τὴν διάνοιαν ἑαντοῦ, Theodore of Mopsuestia) to see whether he will not partake unworthily;[1882] comp ΔΙΑΚΡΊΝΕΙΝ, 1 Corinthians 11:31.

ΚΑῚ ΟὝΤΩς] and so, after he has examined himself, and in that case. See on Romans 11:26. Every reader, not addicted to hairsplitting, would understand here of course that this did not apply to a case in which the result of the self-examination was to make the man feel himself unworthy. There was no need, therefore, for Flatt and Rückert (following Lightfoot, Semler, Schulz) to take δοκιμάζ. as meaning to make qualified, which it never does, not even in Galatians 6:4; 2 Corinthians 13:5; 1 Thessalonians 2:4.

ἄνθρωπος] as 1 Corinthians 4:1.

[1882] Confession is an institution of the church, meant to aid in carrying out this rule of the apostle’s, in which the absolution gives assurance that one does not eat and drink unworthily.

1 Corinthians 11:28. “But (in contrast with the guilt described, and in order to escape it) let a man put himself to proof, and so from the bread let him eat and from the cup let him drink.” ἄνθρωπος, replacing ὄς ἄν (1 Corinthians 11:27), is qualitative, “containing the ideas of infirmity and responsibility” (Gd[1776]); cf. 1 Corinthians 3:4, 1 Corinthians 10:13. On δοκιμάζω, see 1 Corinthians 3:13, and parls.; it signifies not judicial examination (ἀνακρίνω, 1 Corinthians 4:3, etc.), nor discriminative estimate (διακρίνω, 31), but self-probing (probet se ipsum, Vg[1777]; not exploret se, Bz[1778]) with a view to fit partaking; any serious attempt at this would make the scene of 1 Corinthians 11:20 ff. impossible: the impv[1779] is pr., enjoining a practice; the communicant must test himself habitually by the great realities with which he is confronted, asking himself, e.g., whether he “discerns the Lord’s body” (1 Corinthians 11:29).—καὶ οὕτως: scarcely sic demum (Bg[1780]), but hoc cum animo; cf. Php 4:1. ἐκἐσθιέτω, ἐκπινέτω—a solemn fulness of expression, in keeping with the temper of mind required; the prp[1781] implies participation with others (cf. 1 Corinthians 9:7; 1 Corinthians 9:13, 1 Corinthians 10:17).

[1776] F. Godet’s Commentaire sur la prem. Ép. aux Corinthiens (Eng. Trans.).

[1777] Latin Vulgate Translation.

[1778] Beza’s Nov. Testamentum: Interpretatio et Annotationes (Cantab., 1642).

[1779] imperative mood.

[1780] Bengel’s Gnomon Novi Testamenti.


28. examine himself] Preve, Wiclif. Probet, Vulgate. That is, test himself, ascertain his own condition (Galatians 6:4). The same word is used of the weather, and of God’s times and seasons (St Luke 12:56); of beasts of burden (St Luke 14:19); of moral questions (Romans 2:18); of the Will of God (Romans 12:2); of the action of fire (1 Corinthians 3:13). Sometimes it refers to the results of the process, think fit, approve, as in Romans 1:28; Romans 14:22; 1 Corinthians 16:3. Here it means that the communicant is to institute a scrutiny into his own heart and motives (cf. 2 Corinthians 13:5), with a view of ascertaining whether his “moral condition” (see note on last verse) be really “in keeping” with the sacred feast to which he is bidden. See the answer to the question “What is required of them who come to the Lord’s Supper? in the Church Catechism. Also cf. Judges 12.

1 Corinthians 11:28. Δοκιμαζέτω, let him prove [examine]) by judging as to himself, and by judging as to [discerning, i.e. distinguishing from common food] the body of the Lord, 1 Corinthians 11:29; 1 Corinthians 11:31.—ἄνθρωπος, a man) any one, 1 Corinthians 4:1, even one that is in himself unworthy.—οὕτως) so at length.—ἐκ τοῦ) The preposition expresses circumspection of mind; but τὸν ἄρτον, τὸ ποτήριον, the bread, the cup, 1 Corinthians 11:27, forms a phrase showing that they had not been duly discerned, by the receivers at Corinth: see the preceding verse.

Verse 28. - Let a man examine himself. The verb means "let him test his own feelings;" put them to the proof, to see whether they be sincere or not. He must "wash his hands in innocency," and so come to God's altar (see Matthew 5:22, 23; 2 Corinthians 13:5). And so. Soberly, that is; seriously, humbly, and with due reverence. 1 Corinthians 11:28So

After self-examination and consequent knowledge of his spiritual state.

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