Observing the Lord’s Supper in a Worthy Manner

[This article is based on the footnote commentary of the Nazarene Commentary 2000© on First Corinthians.]

The first mention of matters pertaining to the Lord’s Supper begins with 1 Corinthians 10:15. Here we present the 21st Century Version of the Christian Scriptures [NCMM] of First Corinthians with footnotes of interest regarding the primitive celebration which as an emblematic meal has come to be called Memorial, Communion, Eucharist, or simply the Lord’s Supper.

You determine what I tell you: 1Co10:16 The Cup of the blessing that we are blessing, is it not the blood of the Christ? The Loaf which we are breaking, is it not a sharing of the body of the Christ? 1Co10:17 Because [there is] one Loaf, we many are one Body, for all of us are partaking from the one Loaf. [NCMM]

One Cup and One Loaf

The fact that Paul can mention “the Cup” and the “Loaf” without a preface is proof that three decades after the death of Jesus the “Memorial” was well established among non-Jewish Christians. [Matthew 26:27; Luke 22:17] Paul does not force a Jewish Passover on these Gentiles, but, almost in passing, uses the “Cup” and the “Loaf” as a lesson in fleeing idolatry.

The original Jewish Passover had no “cup” of wine. [Exodus 12:3-11] It was the Paschal lamb that had pointed the way to the sacrifice of Messiah on behalf of the Jewish peoples. When Christ celebrated his desired last Passover, it was following such a traditional Jewish meal - somewhat altered by his generation - that Jesus introduced something completely new, with fresh symbolisms alien to past Jewish tradition. The later four cups used during the Passover meals were never symbols of blood for the very thought of drinking blood was something abhorrent to the Jew. However, the drinking of this blessed Christine “Cup” is called by Paul a sharing or communion in “the blood of the Christ.”

Such language will remind serious Bible readers of the Nazarene’s own words at John 6:53-58:

"Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you; 54 he who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. 55 For my flesh is food indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. 56 He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him. 57 As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so he who eats me will live because of me. 58 This is the bread which came down from heaven, not such as the fathers ate and died; he who eats this bread will live for ever." [Revised Standard Version]

Though some think Jesus speaks of the Lord’s Supper, it is more likely the Nazarene is drawing an analogy with that ancient angelic food that fed the Israelites during their wilderness trek. Both cannibalism and drinking blood were anathema to the Jews and at such a thought they must have shuddered. [John 6:41, 52, 60] The illustration does draw a distinction between Christ’s fleshly body and his blood filled with that perfect human soul.

Like the Cup of Blessing, the unleavened Loaf of the “Table of the Lord” was also unlike the Paschal lamb of the Passover. Though the Jewish household was to be free of leaven during the Passover week, at no time does the unleavened bread of the Passover table ever picture the Body of the Messiah. It was first so used by the Nazarene following his last Passover meal. [Luke 26:26; Luke 22:19]

Evidently, at the Lord’s own table there was “one loaf’ which he broke and passed among his eleven disciples. Paul compares the unity of the Church to the communion of all with this “one loaf” at the time of the Eucharist. This emblematic meal was not a family affair as is the Passover. It was a congregational or church-wide meeting where all could partake as one Body of this one Loaf. [Romans 12:5; 1 Corinthians 12:25; Ephesians 4:4]

Later, after the spread of Christianity and the formation of many hundreds of little home churches, these individually would meet. Though each partook of one loaf in their own locality, their common share was taking place at the same time as the entire spiritual fellowship of the Nazarene community. Such was an outstanding demonstration of unity in a true communal meal. [For details see below regarding 1 Corinthians 11:20ff.]

A Communion with the Lord

Paul continues by drawing on the example of those Jewish priests who still served at the Temple in Jerusalem. He writes:

1Co10:18 Consider fleshly Israel: Are not those who are eating the sacrifices sharers with the Altar? 1Co10:19 What, then, am I saying? That the thing sacrificed to an idol is anything? Or, that an idol is anything? [What I am saying is] that what the non-Jews are sacrificing they are sacrificing to demons and not to God. [Deuteronomy 32:17] But, I do not want you to become sharers with the demons. 1Co10:21 It is not possible for you to be drinking YHWH’s Cup and also a cup of demons. It is not possible for you to be partaking of YHWH’s Table [Malachi 1:7] and also a table of demons. Or, “are we inciting the LORD to jealousy?” [Deuteronomy 32:21] Are we stronger than Him? [NCMM]

Paul argues first that partakers of a table have communion with the Altar, or God. His concern is that no Christian share, or have communion with, the Greek demons or gods - some of them triads. Also one cannot drink of both a Cup of God and a demonic cup. Or, the demonic table as well as the “Table of Yehowah.” [Malachi 1:7] Thus, he calls the Memorial table, the “table of Yehowah.”

In Israel when a Jew went to the Temple with his sin-offering as a “communion sacrifice” the priest would accept it and then divide it according to Levitical law --- a portion burnt up to God on the Altar, a portion served to the priests themselves, and the third portion to the Jewish worshipper. At the Temple of Herod there were eating booths around the courtyard. So one may see the true communion taking place as the smoke rose on the Altar to God, the priests sharing the meal, and the Jewish families eating in their private booths.

By comparison, Greek pagans who worshipped gods in trinities, also had sacrificial meals. Paul has already written on this matter of eating food offered to idols, and though the Christian is free to “eat anything sold in a meat market” [1 Corinthians 10:23], he cautions that they never “become sharers with the [Greek] demons.”

Never should the Christian “table of the Lord” -- with its Cup of Blessing and One Loaf - become tainted by those Greek triune demons. The Memorial, or Lord’s Supper, is a communion with the God of the Lord Jesus. Thus, all those tables throughout the earth are really one “Table of Jehovah.” 

Instructions Regarding the Lord’s Supper

Paul begins to “set in order” [1 Corinthians 11:34] other disunifying matters which included the observance of the Lord’s Supper. Directly prior to this he has told the Corinthians that it is actually for the worse that they meet together. In other words it would almost be better if they had no Christian meetings. His reason has to do with heresies and the resulting schisms. In the process of this caution Paul explains the reason God permits such sectarianism: “However, in giving you the following instructions I do not praise you. Because it is actually not for the better, but for the worse, that you meet together. For first of all when you assemble for meeting I hear that schisms exist in your midst. In part I believe this. Now there is a necessity that opinionated heresies exist in your midst that those approved may also become manifest among you.” [1 Corinthians 11:17-19 NCMM] With this prologue Paul turns to the Lord’s Supper.

1Co11:20 Therefore, when you assemble together to the very same place, it is not appropriate for you to eat the Lord’s Supper. 1Co11:21 For some persons take their own supper beforehand. So, one person is really hungry, while another has had too much to drink. 1Co11:22 Do you not have houses in which to eat and drink? Or, do you despise the assembly of the God, and shame those who have nothing? What should I tell you? Shall I praise you? In this matter I cannot praise you. [NCMM]

Paul turns his attention to a problem among the Corinthians regarding the “Lord’s Supper.” In this phrase he refers to a congregational meeting of the whole ecclesia in one community. He will go on in chapter 14 to set in order other details regarding meetings in particular. There are several views on this meeting of the Lord’s Supper in general: a] some view it as a regular meeting held weekly; others, view it is an annual meeting of special note to observe the Lord’s death.

At present times there are four approaches to the Lord’s Supper or Communion: a] the daily mass of the Catholic Church, usually in the morning; b] the weekly Sunday morning meeting of some Protestant churches; c] a service on the first Sunday of the month, often again in the morning; and, d] an annual observance generally held on Nisan 14. The later is almost always held in the evening of the full Spring moon.

First, Paul calls this assembly “the Lord’s Supper” and so this is not a morning meeting but one held in the evening. [Note 1 Corinthians 11:23] History confirms that the early Church observed the Lord’s Supper only once a year on the Hebrew date of Nisan 14 and thus these disciples were called “Fourteeners.” No where does Paul describe the Lord’s Supper as the Passover, that is, that traditional Jewish meal of lamb, unleavened bread and bitter herbs. Indeed, he later directs that church members should eat their meals at home. [1 Corinthians 11:22]

Paul writes that when they do gather for the Lord’s Supper it is not proper for them to eat. Paul is to go on to provide two more reasons: a] shaming the poor; and, b] failure to see the Body of Christ in the emblems. [See articles on the Lord’s Supper in Nazarene Commentary 2000© Biblical Articles.]

Paul speaks of what has happened “before” they gather for the Lord’s Supper. Since the affair is held in the evening, and is not a full meal like the Passover, the well-to-do have already eaten and drank enough with the result that some are intoxicated. Paul’s question whether they had homes for eating would confirm that the Lord’s Supper is not a full meal like the Passover. Some Corinthians were either gathering for big meals of their own. Some believe these members of the Church arrived early and ate a full meal before the poor among them. Cliques often form around economic distinctions as well as doctrine and personality preferences.

Surely the Corinthians as an urban congregation had “class distinctions” among themselves as well as doctrinal problems. [Compare notes on James 2:5.] Often the rich are oblivious to the need of the poor. If someone rich arrives at the Lord’s Supper fully fed and carrying the odor of wine, it has the affect of shaming those who are poor and unable to fed so well.

Instructions from the Lord

Paul now gives precise instructions regarding the Lord’s Supper. He states that he has received these from the Lord and has already passed them along to the Corinthians. He now sees the need to repeat these.

1Co11:23 For I received from the Lord that which I also passed along to you: that the Lord Jesus, in the night in which he was to be handed over, took a loaf 1Co11:24 and after giving thanks he broke it and said: “This is my body over you. Continue doing this in my remembrance.” 1Co11:25 And just the same with the Cup, after having [the Passover] supper, saying, “This is the Cup of the New Covenant in my blood. Continue doing this, as often as you ever may drink it, in my remembrance.” 1Co11:26 For as often as you may ever be eating the Loaf and be drinking the Cup you continue to announce the death of the Lord until he should arrive. [NCMM]

This is not Paul’s opinion, but something he has received by either special revelation, or through circumstances which reveal the Lord’s direction. The format that Paul provides is almost identical to that of Luke’s Gospel. This comes as no surprise as Luke was a regular traveling companion of Paul. [Note the sudden occurrence of “we” at Acts 16:10-13.] It is very likely that Luke was preparing his Gospel contemporary with Paul’s journeys. It is interesting that the Gospel of Matthew, known to have been written before 50 AD, had not reached Corinth with its unique description of the Lord’s Supper.

Paul is the one to call this celebration as the “Lord’s Supper.” Whenever this observance is held it is at night. Jesus ate the Jewish Passover on Nisan 14 just as the Hebrews had done since Egypt. [Exodus chapter 12] This tradition has largely changed to Sunday morning, rather than the irregular date of Nisan 14 which may fall on any day of the week. [See Eusebius’ History of the Christian Church.]

The “Loaf” was unleavened bread made only of flour and water during the week of the Passover. It was torn into a piece used to dipped into a sauce or part of the communal bowl. [Note John 13:26-30] This is still a common practice at meal time in much of the world.

The accounts of Matthew 26:26 and Mark 14:22 use the term “a blessing” while Luke 22:19 uses “gave thanks.” It is the Greek for “gave thanks” which has led to the name Eucharist for the Lord’s Supper. This wording likely confirms either Luke as the source, or a matter common to both Paul and Luke. It is also possible Paul receives a direct revelation from the Lord that is also used by Luke. In the case of the first Lord’s Supper Jesus broke the bread evidently into eleven pieces and distributed these to his faithful apostles.

Matthew’s Greek version of his own Hebrew has TOUTOU [this] ESTIN [is] TO [the] SOMA [body] MOU [of me]. [Compare the same at Mark 14:22.] Paul’s words [or those of Luke] are likely a paraphrase: TOUTO [this] MOU [of me] ESTIN [is] TO [the] SOMA [body] TO [the] HYPER [over] HUMON [you all]. The meaning of HYPER may be “cover” - “This is my body (which) covers all of you.” Paul has already referred to this “Body” at 1 Corinthians 10:16. He will do so again at 1 Corinthians 11:27, 29. The use of SOMA specifically for the fleshly body of the Savior occurs only at Romans 7:4, Colossians 1:22; Hebrews 10:5, 10 and 1 Peter 2:24.

Neither Matthew nor Mark include TOUTO [this] POIEITE [be you doing] EIS [unto] TEN [the] EMEN [my] ANAMNESIN [memory again]. Some later manuscripts of Luke also omit the phrase. [Bezae Codices, 5th and 6th Centuries; Old Latin versions of the 2nd and 4th Centuries] Paul states he received this by Christ’s revelation and though it is possible Matthew, Mark and Luke all omit it, it seems the intent of Jesus’ words or manner was to institute something to be repeated or rememorialized.

Some argue that the Lord’s Supper is missing from Acts, while others see it in a few places. It should be noted that there is no description of any early Church meeting in the book of Acts. The order of Christian meetings is first precisely laid out in 1 Corinthians chapter 14. It is worthy of note that in this process neither the Passover nor the Memorial is mentioned as part of a regular church meeting.

The early Christians did not celebrate Passover and such a description is completely lacking from Acts. Though Paul is seen in Jerusalem during Passover week, it is likely this was not to celebrate it, but to take advantage of the hundreds of thousands of Jews and non-Jews who gathered for the festival. [Acts 12:3; 20:6] So, Jesus does not suggest a repetition of the whole Passover meal, but only the new emblematic Eucharist which Paul now outlines.

This precise phrase, “this is the Cup of the New Covenant in my blood,” is unique to Luke 22:20 and Paul. Both Matthew and Mark use the Lord’s paraphrase of Exodus 24:8, “my blood of the covenant.” Though it is possible the Lord might have used both phrases, it is more likely this is an inspired interpretative paraphrase by both Paul and Luke. Matthew and Mark add: “which is poured out in behalf of many.” Matthew adds, “for forgiveness of sins.” Some manuscripts of Luke add, “which is to be poured out in your behalf.”

The term “New Covenant” occurs first in Jeremiah 31:31 which is fully explained by Paul in Hebrews 8:8 and Hebrews 9:15. [See notes on Hebrews in Nazarene Commentary 2000©.] The New Covenant is a fresh contractual agreement between the God Yehowah and the New Israel of God composed of True Jews. [Romans 2:28, 29; 9:6; Galatians 3:29; 6:16; 1 Peter 2:5, 9; Revelation 7:4] This covenant was ratified on the basis of the poured out blood of Jesus Christ. Paul will mention the New Covenant again in 2 Corinthians 3:6.

Matthew, Mark and Luke omit the “continue doing this” in relation to the Cup but the intent seems clear from those words regarding the Loaf. Paul clearly has in mind a repetitive observance when he states, “as often as you ever may drink” the Cup. The early Church understood this to be an annual observance on Nisan 14. [See notes regarding Eusebius in Nazarene Commentary 2000©.] Paul says, “in my remembrance.” Or , as the New English Bible has it, “Do this as a memorial to me.” The Greek is ANA-MNESIN [or “memory over again”] as opposed to AMNESIA. Thus, the Lord’s Supper is a commemoration, memorial, or anniversary.

When Paul writes, “For as often as you may ever be eating the Loaf and be drinking the Cup,” Paul only includes the elements from the original model. He does not include the entire Passover meal. He declares the reason for the observance of the Lord’s Supper when he states, “You continue to announce the death of the Lord until he should arrive.” That is, proclaim, herald, announce or tell about that death. Lamsa’s version from the Syriac renders this, “You commemorate our Lord’s death until he comes.”

The annual celebration of the Lord’s Supper by the Church was to proclaim the Lord’s death until his Parousia, or Arrival. [Matthew 24:29-31] At that time the living end-time Saints -- still celebrating the Memorial -- would be caught away in the Rapture to actually meet their Lord. [1 Thessalonians 4:15-17] It is clear had the Lord already arrived the Memorial would have ceased.

A Self-Examination before Observing the Lord’s Supper

What was mainly wrong with the Corinthians and their observance of the Lord’s Supper was their attitude. This attitude was in danger of removing their focus from the purpose of the meeting. Paul now writes about the danger of partaking of the Memorial emblems in an unworthy manner and thus bringing judgment upon themselves.

1Co11:27 And so whoever may be eating the Loaf and drinking the Cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be held responsible regarding the Body and the Blood of the Lord. 1Co11:28 Let a person approve oneself individually, and then from the Loaf be eating and from the Cup be drinking. 1Co11:29 For the one eating and drinking is eating and drinking judgment if not discriminating the Body. [NCMM]

Paul warns that they must not eat and drink of the emblematic meal “in an unworthy manner.” That is, unworthily, or in the wrong spirit, in an unworthy way. Up to this point this “unworthy manner” has been either the making of a whole meal out of the affair or the shaming of the poor in the process. Also, some were coming intoxicated to the meeting and that was clearly “unworthy” for one could not focus on the Body of Christ in the emblems with a clear head and heart. Paul will go on to declare a more subtle “unworthiness” and that is a lack of a true discernment of the Body of Christ in the emblematic meal.

Those who partake unworthily “will be held responsible regarding the Body and the Blood of the Lord.” That is “guilty” as the King James Version puts it. [NEB: guilty of desecrating; GDS: profaning; MON: answer for a sin against.] The Greek is ENOKHOS, which according to Strong's Exhaustive Concordance [#1777] means to be held liable to a [religious] condition, or in danger of some spiritual violation. The warning is simple and yet filled with a heavy threat.

To miss the true value of Christ’s sacrifice is a danger off the most serious kind for the Christian. Paul warns in frightful words in Hebrews 10:26-31:

HE10:26 For our sinning willingly after we receive the heightened knowledge of the Truth leaves no sacrifice regarding sins. HE10:27 But rather some fearful expectation of condemnation, ‘a fiery zeal’ [Isaiah 26:11 LXX] ‘ready to consume the rebellious.’ [Deuteronomy 17:6] HE10:28 Any person who disregards the Law of Moses dies without compassion upon ‘the testimony of two or three.’ [Deuteronomy 19:15] HE10:29 How much worse do you think the punishment will be upon the person who has trampled underfoot the Son of the God? Who has esteemed the ‘blood of the covenant’ [Exodus 24:8]] -- in which he was sanctified -- as something common, [and thus] outrageously scorned the pneuma of unmerited favor? HE10:30 For we realize the One who said: “Vengeance is mine. I will repay.” [Deuteronomy 32:35] And, again: YHWH will judge His People.” [Deuteronomy 32:26] HE10:31 It is a dreadful matter to fall into the hands of a Living God. [NCMM]

Here Paul uses the same phrase the Nazarene used in his model presentation of the Lord’s Supper, “blood of the covenant.” What puts a Christian in great danger of a judgmental condemnation is to “esteem [the Son’s blood] as something common.” So, the “unworthy” attitude is one not rightly focused on the true appraisal of the Body of Christ. The worthy attitude would be to view the Loaf and the Cup and what they represent as “precious.” Compare this correct disposition at 1 Peter 1:18, 19, “Realizing that you were liberated from a futile [form of] conduct handed down from your forefathers -- by means of a ransom -- not with the corruptible gold or silver -but rather with the precious blood of an unblemished and spotless Lamb - Christ’s.” [NCMM; compare also 1 Peter 2:4, 6, 7]

Thus, Paul calls for self-examination, or a personal scrutiny. His words mean to test the inner self, or look into one’s own heart. An inner look of self-examination must be made regarding the Loaf and the Cup and what they symbolize. The Christian must be doing this at all times anyway. Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 13:5, “Continue to examine yourselves whether you still remain in the Faith. Prove what you really are!” [NCMM] However, the annual celebration of Memorial is a special case for insight - looking in the mirror of reality without flinching.

As James also warns about a certain type of Christian: “But prove yourselves obedient to the Message, and do not be mere hearers of it, imposing a delusion upon yourselves. 23 For if any one listens but does not obey, he is like a man who carefully looks at his own face in a mirror. 24 Although he has looked carefully at himself, he goes away, and has immediately forgotten the sort of man he is.” [James 1:22-24 Weymouth Translation]

At this time of year the words of he Psalmist are most appropriate:

Vindicate me, O LORD, for I have walked in my integrity, and I have trusted in the LORD without wavering. 2 Prove me, O LORD, and try me; test my heart and my mind. 3 For thy steadfast love is before my eyes, and I walk in faithfulness to thee. 4 I do not sit with false men, nor do I consort with dissemblers; 5 I hate the company of evildoers, and I will not sit with the wicked. 6 I wash my hands in innocence, and go about thy altar, O LORD, 7 singing aloud a song of thanksgiving, and telling all thy wondrous deeds. 8 O LORD, I love the habitation of thy house, and the place where thy glory dwells. 9 Sweep me not away with sinners, nor my life with bloodthirsty men, 10 men in whose hands are evil devices, and whose right hands are full of bribes. 11 But as for me, I walk in my integrity; redeem me, and be gracious to me. 12 My foot stands on level ground; in the great congregation I will bless the LORD. [Psalm 26 Revised Standard Version]

This is not a matter to ignore with impunity for the very Sacrifice - and therefore God - is the most serious of matters. [Romans 2:2] The idea of drinking judgment is very much out of Isaiah and Jeremiah. [Isaiah 51:17, 22; Jeremiah 25:15, 17, 28]

Paul hits the kernel of the problem in a failure “not to discriminate the Body” of Christ in the Memorial emblems. In other words one must use discernment, proper judgment, or a sense of propriety. The Greek word is DIA-KRINON [Strong's Exhaustive Concordance #1252] and means to separate thoroughly, and thus to make something quite different from another. The Body is that of Christ and how one appraises its value in God’s redeeming purpose affects one’s own sanctified condition. One cannot, as it were, cause Christ to offer himself all over again in one’s behalf.

Compare the impossibility of restoring those that have rejected the Lord’s Sacrifice, or treated it as something common or ordinary:

For it is impossible to restore to repentance those who have fallen away because they have been illuminated once for all time, have tasted the heavenly free gift, have become partakers of holy Pneuma, have tasted God’s excellent message as well as the powers of the New Age to come. Because they impale the Son of The God all over again for themselves and as a result expose him again to public reproach. [Hebrews 6:4-6 NCMM]

Thus, the Lord’s Supper should be approached in a most worthy manner: a focused discernment on the sanctity of Christ’s one sacrifice symbolized in the Loaf and the Cup. Such can only be attained by deep and earnest prayer accompanied by a meditative heart which has faced the Father squarely in the spirit of Psalm 26, ‘Examine and test me! Look into my most hidden motives and find a blameless soul.’

No doubt the genuine wheat-Christian who approaches God’s Altar at the “table of the Lord” [1 Corinthians 10:18, 21; Hebrews 13:10] will also examine the past year to see if there has been an ongoing “perfecting of holiness in the fear of God.” [2 Corinthians 7:1] Has faith in and appreciation for the work of God in Christ continued to grow? [Colossians 1:9, 10] Has this become more and more manifest in one’s loving concern and charity for others? [1 John 3:23] Has our attitude, character and conduct truly become reflective of Christ’s own image? [2 Corinthians 3:17, 18] Has our love for His Word as found in the teachings of the Nazarene [Hebrews 1:1] become fuller and fuller?

The Condition in Christ’s Church Today

The global Church of Christ today - that is all of Christendom including every single sect or religious organization - is very much in the same condition as the Corinthian congregation - spiritually weak, spiritually sick, and spiritually asleep in death. Paul gives such a caution to the Corinthians and gives them the clue to recovery.

1Co11:30 Because of this many among you are weak and sick, and a sufficient number of you are asleep. 1Co11:31 But, if we approve ourselves it is not likely that we will be condemned. 1Co11:32 However, if being judged we are disciplined by the Lord, so that we should not be condemned together with the social order of humanity. 1Co11:33 And so, my brothers, when you do assembly together [to partake of the Lord’s Supper] wait for one another. 1Co11:34 If anyone is hungry, let them eat at home, so that you do not all gather together for judgment. Now the remaining matters I shall set in order likely when I arrive. [NCMM]

As in Corinth, so at the beginning of the 3rd Millennium, too many Christians are ill, feeble, without strength, and sadly, sleeping in a spiritual unconsciousness. Though Paul warns of condemnation, he points to the way of recovery - the Lord’s discipline. Paul writes of such discipline at Hebrews 12:4-10:

HE12:4 In your own struggle against that sin as yet you have not resisted until [you have shed] blood. HE12:5 You have forgotten the encouragement which speaks to you as sons: “My son, do not belittle the LORD’S discipline, nor give up when you are being reproved by Him. HE12:6 For whom YHWH loves He disciplines. He scourges every person He accepts as a son.” [Proverbs 3:11, 12 LXX] HE12:7 It is through discipline that you will continue to endure. You approach The God as though you were sons. For what son is not disciplined by a father? HE12:8 However, if you are without this discipline we all share, really, you are bastards and not sons. HE12:9 Indeed, we had our fathers who disciplined us and we submitted to them with respect. How much more should we be in subjection to the Spiritual Father and live? HE12:10 For, indeed, these [human fathers] disciplined us for a few day according to what seemed [right] to them. However, [the Spiritual Father] does so for our benefit that we may partake of His holiness. [NCMM]

What will result from this discipline? How does it take form?

HE12:11 Of course, at the moment any discipline is not joyful but causes grief. However, afterward [discipline] produces peace to those who have been trained by it with a righteous reward. HE12:12 Therefore, raise those hands that droop, and straighten out those weak knees [Isaiah 35:3]. HE12:13 Continue to make straight tracks with your feet [Proverbs 4:26], so that which is lame may not become disjointed, but rather that it should be healed. HE12:14 Pursue peace [Psalm 34:14] with everyone, and also that sanctification without which no person will see the Lord. HE12:15 Carefully watch that no one fall short of God’s undeserved favor, nor any root of bitterness sprout up [Deuteronomy 29:18 LXX] causing trouble and the defilement of many. [NCMM]

That discipline has done its work will be manifest in: a] “peace” - both an inner tranquility and a harmony within the Nazarene spiritual community; b] “righteousness” that results from faith with the accompanying works of love and charity; and, finally, c] “sanctification,” or the state of spiritual purity and holiness that results not only from faith in the Body and Blood of Christ, but also that which results from “perfecting holiness in the fear of God.” [2 Corinthians 7:1; Philippians 2:12; 1 Thessalonians 4:3-8]

Though one may be spiritually weak, ill, or even asleep, Paul sings the hymn that will cause recovery: “Awake, O sleeper, and rise from the dead then Christ will enlighten you!” [Ephesians 5:14 NCMM Paraphrase] James encourages seeking out spiritual help from godly elders: “Is any one ill? Let him send for the Elders of the Church, and let them pray over him, after anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. 15 And the prayer of faith will restore the sick man, and the Lord will raise him up to health; and if he has committed sins, they shall be forgiven.” [James 5:14, 15 Weymouth Translation]

The beloved apostle John writes to those sinning:

I write you, my little children, so you will not sin. But when we do sin we have a Helper in the Father’s presence, a truly righteous one, Jesus Christ. He is the atonement not only for our sins, but also for the sins of the whole world. Now every time we keep obeying his commandments we will come to realize we have an intimate relationship with him. The individual who claims, “I have an intimate relationship with him,” and yet fails to observe his commandments, this person is a liar and there is not a shred of truth in such one. However, the love of God is made complete in anyone who observes His Word. Because of such obedience we realize we remain in union with Him. Therefore, the person who says, “I remain in harmony with him,” has the responsibility to live just as Jesus lived.” [1 John 2:1-6 NCMM Paraphrase]

Rejoice in “The Day Yehowah has Made”!

When Jesus had finished his model of the communal Eucharist he is reported to have sung hymns with his apostles. Traditionally these were based on Psalms 111-118. Though all of these inspired hymns are worthy meditations for the Memorial season, there is one refrain that moves our hearts like no other. Listen to it now - hear the Saviour’s singing voice backed by those harmonious apostolic throats - as we hear it once again with the same original joy [Psalm 118:22-29 NCMM Paraphrase] --

The Stone rejected by the builders
Has become the head of the corner!
From Yehowah this has occurred!
Our eyes behold in wondrous awe!
This is the Day Yehowah has made!
We will be glad and rejoice in it!
Ah now, Yehowah, we beg You to save!
Ah now, Yehowah, we beg you to grant success!
Blessed is he who comes in the Name of Yehowah!
We have blessed all of you people
From the House of Yehowah!
Yehowah is The Divinity!
Upon us He has shed His Light!
Bind the Sacrificial Offering with ropes!
All the way to the horns of the Altar!
You are my Divinity and I will thank You!
My God, I will exalt You!
All of you people give thanks to Yehowah,
For He is Good and
His Covenant-Loyalty is endless!

Friends of the Nazarene Publishing

Nazarene Commentary 2000© by Mark Heber Miller

Back to Index to Biblical Articles