Life-Study of 1 Corinthiansby Witness Lee
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
In chapter ten of 1 Corinthians Paul speaks concerning the Lord’s table. In 10:16 he asks, “The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not a fellowship of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not a fellowship of the body of Christ?” In verse 21 he goes on to say, “You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons; you cannot partake of the table of the Lord and of the table of demons.” Since Paul has already begun to talk about the Lord’s table, why does he not go on directly to speak concerning the Lord’s supper? Why does he bring in the matter of headship, or head covering, after his word about the Lord’s table and before that about the Lord’s supper? This seems to be neither logical nor reasonable. However, there is a reason for this interruption.
In the first ten chapters of this Epistle Paul deals with problems related to the Christian life; he does not deal with God’s administration. But in chapter eleven he begins to deal with matters related to God’s administration. In the divine administration the first concern is God’s headship. Whenever God’s headship is honored, then all the matters related to God’s administration will be proper. But when God’s headship is dishonored, all these matters will be improper. This is the reason that Paul brings in the matter of headship before continuing to deal with the Lord’s supper.
Concerning the remembrance of the Lord, Paul uses the term “the table of the Lord” in 10:21 and “the Lord’s supper” in 11:20. There is an important difference between the Lord’s table and the Lord’s supper. We should not take these terms for granted. Rather, we should ask why Paul speaks of the Lord’s table in chapter ten and the Lord’s supper in chapter eleven.
The Lord’s table refers to the enjoyment of the Lord in fellowship. Hence, the significance of the Lord’s table is enjoyment for participation, enjoyment for fellowship. When we say that we take the Lord’s table, we mean that we enjoy the Lord in the fellowship of Him. This is for our enjoyment and satisfaction. The Lord’s supper, however, is for His satisfaction. It is for the remembrance of Him. Regarding the Lord’s table and the Lord’s supper, there is mutuality. The Lord’s table is for our enjoyment, but the Lord’s supper is for His enjoyment. Sometimes we may say, “Lord, we come to Your table and partake of it.” This indicates that we are enjoying the Lord. At other times we may say, “We thank You that we can have Your supper.” This indicates that we are remembering the Lord for His enjoyment and satisfaction.
In 11:29 Paul uses the expression “the body.” In the New Testament the Body denotes the mystical Body of Christ in the Spirit. However, since Paul in this portion is speaking about the Lord’s supper, the body here must also denote the body of Jesus. In verse 24 Paul quotes the word of the Lord Jesus: “This is My body, which is for you; this do for the remembrance of Me.” Does this refer to His physical body or to the mystical Body? The words “for you” indicate that the body here denotes the Lord’s physical body. His physical body is for us, whereas the mystical Body of Christ is for Him. The church today as the mystical Body is not for us—it is for Christ. But the physical body of Jesus which was crucified is for us. Therefore, in remembrance of the Lord we partake of the bread which signifies His physical body.
First Corinthians 11:25 says, “Similarly also the cup after supper, saying, This cup is the new covenant in My blood; this do, as often as you drink it, for the remembrance of Me.” The blood here surely refers to the physical blood, not to the mystical blood. We partake of the cup also in remembrance of the Lord.
Although the body in 11:24 denotes the physical body of Jesus, Paul uses the expression, “not discerning the body,” in verse 29 to denote also the mystical Body. Some may argue that discerning the body in this verse means to discern only the physical body of Jesus from ordinary food. In this verse Paul mentions eating and drinking. Eating is related to the physical body and drinking to physical blood; however, at the end of verse 29 Paul does not speak of not discerning the blood and the body nor of not discerning the body and the blood. Rather, he speaks only of not discerning the body. Therefore, this discernment does not refer only to the discernment of the physical body and blood of Jesus from ordinary food and drink. The meaning of discerning the body here involves something more.
The physical body of Jesus was given on the cross to accomplish redemption for us. But that body has nothing to do with God’s present administration. It is the mystical Body of Christ which is thoroughly and absolutely related to God’s administration today. Apart from the mystical Body of Christ, God has no way, no means, to carry out His administration. This means that God’s administration is being carried out through the mystical Body of Christ. What are we doing on earth as the mystical Body of Christ? We certainly are not working for the accomplishment of redemption, for redemption has been accomplished once for all by the Lord Jesus. Redemption has been fully accomplished by the offering of the physical body of Jesus on the cross. But Christ today has a mystical Body, and this Body is for the carrying out of God’s administration.
When we come to the Lord’s table, our concern is neither redemption nor the divine administration; our concern is for enjoyment. We all come to the Lord’s table to enjoy the Lord in fellowship. We probably do not have any thought of God’s administration. The Lord’s supper, however, is related to the Lord’s enjoyment and satisfaction. We should not only care for our enjoyment at the table, but also care for the Lord’s enjoyment at the supper. We may have a heart for our enjoyment of the table, the feast, but not have much of a heart for the Lord’s remembrance. We may care for our satisfaction, but not care for the Lord’s satisfaction. Therefore, we need more light from the Lord concerning the Lord’s supper. This will cause our meetings around His table to be improved. We shall praise the Lord that the supper is for His remembrance, enjoyment, and satisfaction. We shall realize that we are not only for our satisfaction, but even the more for God to be satisfied by Him.
If we want the Lord Jesus to be satisfied at the Lord’s supper, we should not only remember Him, but also care for God’s administration carried out by Him. Today what satisfies the Lord the most is the divine administration. If we remember Him without caring for the divine administration, He will not be happy. If we want to make Him happy and satisfy Him, we must be able to say, “Lord, while we are remembering You, we discern Your Body for God’s administration carried out by You. As we remember You, we do not forget what You are doing in the heavens. You are seated in the heavens to carry out God’s administration.”
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