How Paul Explains Christ’s Presence at The Lord’s Supper

The cup of blessing which we bless—does not the cup commune with the blood of the Messiah?

If we return to the Biblical text, we can, I believe, gain a clearer grasp of the meaning of Christ’s presence at the Supper. In so doing, we will ground our theology in the Bible. One key place to look is Paul’s explanation of the Lord’s Supper in 1 Corinthians 10.

 

Christians from across time and space have affirmed that Christ becomes present to us at the Lord’s Supper through which we receive spiritual nourishment. Yet while most Christians have affirmed this basic idea, the particulars of how Christ becomes present have proved divisive.

Views on the Supper

Reformed believers tend to say that Christ becomes present by the Spirit. Lutherans may affirm this but also claim that Christ truly and really appears bodily within the bread. Roman Catholics define presence as transubstantiation.

Some others simply affirm the mystery of the Supper without naming the exact relationship. Lastly, a common belief today among evangelicals is that the Supper functions to bring Christ’s past work and God’s grace to mind—it is a memorial in this sense.

If we return to the Biblical text, we can, I believe, gain a clearer grasp of the meaning of Christ’s presence at the Supper. In so doing, we will ground our theology in the Bible.One key place to look is Paul’s explanation of the Lord’s Supper in 1 Corinthians 10.

1 Corinthians 10:16–22

In 1 Corinthians 10:16–22, Paul guides the Corinthians away from Idols to the living God. A major point of his argument involves eating with demons versus eating at the Lord’s Table. Consider his words here, albeit paraphrased to clarify the apostle’s meaning:

“So my beloved, flee from idolatry. As I speak to prudent people, you must judge what I say. And here it is: The cup of blessing which we bless—does not the cup commune with the blood of the Messiah? The bread which we break—does not the bread commune with the body of the Messiah?

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