PASSOVER UNDERSTANDINGS Part Ten(B) QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS ON 1 COR.11:20-34 Verse 26 is often given as the proof text that the observing of the memorial of Christ's death, through the use of bread and the cup, can be performed and partaken of as MANY TIMES AS YOU WISH, whether it be every day, once a week, once a month, or three or four times a year. Before we take a technical look at the Greek, to see what we can learn from the original language that this was written in, we can first see this verse in its simple context, used with common logic. You really do not need a degree in Greek to understand the truths of the word of the Lord as found in the Bible. Paul does NOT say in this verses: "Observe the Lord's death AS MANY TIMES as you wish every year." Nor does he say: "This remembrance service can be performed every day if you desire." He says NOTHING in this verse about doing it once a week or once a month, or four times a year! Such language is nowhere used by Paul in this entire section of scripture. Far too many have READ THINGS INTO certain verses, that just do not state what they THINK it states. If we were using the context of our parents WEDDING ANNIVERSARY, and we were stating to our brothers and sisters, concerning observing and remembering the day our parents were married: "For as often as you remember this day(of our parents wedding) you do show honor to them" most of us would not think about remembering that day once a week, or once a month. We would naturally take such language as to mean we are to remember our parents wedding anniversary ONCE A YEAR, on the very day they were married. And as we do remember that day YEAR AFTER YEAR, as often as it is remembered, once every year, we do show honor to our parents. Now, consider this phrase as used by Paul, WITHIN the context he is using it. He has told them they were celebrating the Lord's death in the WRONG MANNER. It was not to be a big meal, with lots of wine being drunk, to the point of some becoming intoxicated and drunk. He told them that they had been told the correct way to observe this memorial service, for Jesus had given it to him, and he had passed it on to them. The TIME to observe it(which they did have correct) was the NIGHT in which Christ was betrayed(verse 23). He went on to tell them the relatively simple symbols that was to be used in this service, as instituted by Jesus, to replace the old Passover meal of roast lamb and bitter herbs. So he has again given them the TIME or the DAY, together with the basic CEREMONY SYMBOLS. Then in THAT CONTEXT he tells them that as often as they do this they remember the Lord's death till He comes(verse 26). The very CONTEXT explains the use of this phrase. It should not be hard to figure out that the phrase DOES NOT mean to perform and partake of this memorial service just as many times as you fancy - every day, once a week, once a month, or something else. The context is THE SAME NIGHT IN WHICH JESUS WAS BETRAYED! Really quite simple if we are willing to put away all pre-conceived ideas we have either been taught or invented ourselves. I know, some will still want to argue from the technical side of things. So for them we shall indulge a little in the Greek language. To answer from the technical point, I will quote from the book THE CHRISTIAN PASSOVER by Fred Coulter, pages 214-217. Quote: "........As often as: Does this expression mean that it is permissible to take it as many times a day as desired? If that is the case it might be possible to take it every five minutes.........Jesus warned that participating in vain, repetitious, religious practices is completely unacceptable to God (Matt.6:7). This condemnation of vain repetition shows that there are limiting factors which govern the frequency of taking the NT Passover. Next, we need to ask, Is it acceptable to take it once a day?.......When we examine the verses in question, we find no mention of a daily observance.......Some believe these verses support a weekly observance.......However, there is nothing in the Greek text or in the context of these verses to substantiate a weekly practice of 'eating the bread' and 'drinking the wine.' The Orthodox and Catholics claim that Scriptural references to 'breaking bread' are referring to taking communion or celebrating the Mass, and the Protestants claim they are referring to the 'Lord's Supper.' Several Scriptures in the book of Acts are frequently quoted in an attempt to substantiate such claims. These are found in Acts 2:42, 46; 20:7- 11. But when these Scriptures are closely examined, it is abundantly clear that they are not referring to a Mass or the Eucharist, but to the eating of a meal. The term 'to break bread' was commonly used in NT times in reference to eating a meal. In fact, the same terminology is used in the book of Matthew in the account of the feeding of the 5,000 and the 4,000.....Matt. 14:19......Matt. 15:36.......There is absolutely no Scriptural proof that 'breaking bread' means taking the Mass every week........ The limiting factors or conditional qualifiers: The phrase, 'as often as' contains no inherent limit by itself. This phrase is translated from the Greek word osakis, an adverb meaning 'as often as,' which comes from the root osos. Osos means 'as great, how great; as far, how far; as long, how long; as much, how much' (Arndt and Gingrich, A Greek-English Lexicon of the NT). In all Scriptures where osakis is used, there must be a conditional or specific qualifier defining the limit, because there is no inherent limit in the word osakis itself. Osakis is used only three times in the NT - twice in 1 Corinthians 11:25-26, and once in Revelation 11:6. Let's examine its use in Revelation 11:6. '..........as often as (osakis) they will.' The limiting factor which qualifies the use of osakis in this verse is 'they will.' The meaning of osakis in this verse is very broad, since the only conditional factor is their own personal will.......In this case, the limiting factor is their choice, which would of course be according to the will of God. However, we do not find the same broad application of osakis in First Corinthians 11. In this chapter of Scripture, the structure of the Greek text reveals a specific limiting factor that is not shown in the English translations. In the Greek text, an untranslated particle is found between 'as often as' and 'you may drink,' and also between 'as often as' and 'you may eat.' Here are these expressions in the Greek: osakis AN pineete, which is translated 'for as often as you may drink.' Osakis AN esthieete, which is translated 'as often as you may eat.' ........Please not: The author(Fred Coulter) is using the Greek text by George Ricker Berry, which footnotes AN with the alternative reading of EAN. In other Greek texts, such as those of the United Bible Societies, the particle AN is replaced by the conjunction EAN, which has nearly the same meaning as AN. (See Arndt and Gingrich, A Greek-English Lexicon of the NT, 'ean.' )............ The use of the Greek article AN shows that there are conditions governing the stated action to be taken, such as ' you may drink ' or ' you may eat.' But AN is not directly translatable into a single English word. In order to translate it, the translators would have to explain the condition. Since it is not the purpose of the translators to comment on the text, they simply leave AN untranslated. Here is the definition of the Greek particle AN: ' A particle peculiar to Greek, incapable of translation by a single English word; it denotes that THE ACTION OF THE VERB IS DEPENDENT ON SOME CIRCUMSTANCE OR CONDITION; the effect of AN upon the meaning of the clause depends on the mood and tense of the verb with which it is used ' (Arndt and Gingrich, A Greek-English Lexicon of the NT). The particle AN is used to denote that conditions apply to the circumstances being related..........AN is important to the overall meaning of these verses because it specifically tells us that there are conditions and circumstances which must be taken into consideration in order to properly understand what has been written. Here are the contextual limiting factors and conditional qualifiers in 1 Corinthians which restrict the application of osakis or ' as often as ' : 1) The TEACHING which the apostle Paul received from the Lord(verse 23). This conditional qualifier restricts the observance to the specific teachings which Paul received from the Lord........ 2) The TIME specified by Paul as ' THE NIGHT in which He was betrayed ' (verse 23). This limiting factor clearly shows the observance is limited to the one night of the year in which Jesus was betrayed. 3) The fact that ' the night in which He was betrayed ' was the PASSOVER NIGHT. This limiting factor definitely limits the phrase 'as often as.'........... 4) By this solemn ceremony, ' you are proclaiming the Lord's death.' This clause is clearly a limiting factor, because Jesus died on only one day. That was the Passover day, the 14th day of the 1st month......... 5) The phrase ' until He may come ' defines the span of time during which the Christian Passover is to be observed - from Jesus' last Passover until Jesus' Second Coming.......... The five factors listed above are conditional qualifiers which restrict the application of the phrase ' as often as.' These factors clearly show that this expression cannot mean any time one may choose to take the bread and wine. The five limiting factors clearly reveal that these symbols are to be taken only once a year, on the annual Passover night, the 14th of the 1st month. That is the night in which Jesus was betrayed..........." End Quote. So when the circle has been completed, when the technical Greek is also examined, we find the same truth as we can also find by a simple reading of the context and understanding the phrase "as often as" within that context as I have previously shown to you above. How complete and wonderful is the word of the Lord. It can be understood by the person with a child like mind, and by those who want to use the technicalities of the Hebrew or Greek languages. The truth is the same for both. One Lord, one truth, no contradiction. UNWORTHILY(verses 27, 29)? Many a sincere, humble, repentant Christian has been un-nerved by these verses and this word "unworthily." Many have said: I am flesh and blood, a sinner. I am not worthy but to die. I am unworthy of the body and blood of Jesus. How can I possibly then partake of this special evening and take the symbols that represent the broken body and shed blood of Christ? Some I understand who observe this memorial only partake of the symbols IF they at the time believe they are "worthy." Otherwise they pass them by as they are handed around. This idea is a grave mis-interpretation of these verses. Let's face the fact, the bottom line is that compared to Christ and God the Father and their perfect Holiness, we as flesh and blood humans are all unworthy. There is nothing we can do or perform in the way of works or deeds to make us somehow "worthy" of the death of Jesus for our sins. The bottom line for us is that we are only worthy of death for the sins we have committed. That is why Paul was inspired to write that we are saved by GRACE through faith in Christ Jesus, and not of ourselves, not of works(Eph.2:8). Paul was NOT thinking of this kind of unworthiness as such, for in verse 28 he very emphatically said: "But let a man EXAMINE himself, AND SO LET HIM EAT of that bread, and drink of that cup." Jesus said and taught in the Gospels that unless we would eat His flesh and drink His blood we could have NO PART with Him(John 6). Jesus was not talking about literally eating His flesh and drinking His blood, but spiritually we do it by obeying His words and partaking of the symbols of His body on the Passover night each year. Concerning those new symbols Christ instituted He said "This DO." He said He had set us an example that we should do as He had done, and that we should go out and teach others what He had taught(John 13:15; Matt.28:19,20). So in the knowledge of all verses on the subject, it should be clear that Christians, though sinners, ARE TO PARTAKE OF THE BREAD AND CUP of the Lord at His memorial Passover service, on the night of the 14th of the 1st month. So what is all this about not doing it "unworthily" - not observing this service "unworthily"? Remember I told you in our last study that the Corinthians had been observing this night with WORKS, DEEDS, LITERAL DOINGS, that Paul told them were WRONG, incorrect, and with practicing ways that he could NOT PRAISE them in(see verse 22). This word "unworthily" in the Greek is an ADVERB. An adverb is a word that extends or limits the meaning of a verb (i.e. he ran fast). We know that a verb is a DOING word, while an adjective is a describing word (i.e. she had silverblond hair). The people at Corinth had been DOING things on this night that Paul could not praise them for. Now with that in mind let me quote from the Bible Commentary by Albert Barnes(the one volume Barnes' Notes on the NT) page 759,760. Quote: "........Unworthily........It is important, therefore, that there should be a correct understanding of this passage. Most persons interpret it as it were UNWORTHY, and not UNWORTHILY; and seem to suppose it refers to their personal qualifications, to their UNFITNESS to partake of it, rather than to the MANNER in which it is done. It is to be remembered therefore, that the word here used is an ADVERB, and not an ADJECTIVE, and had reference to the MANNER of observing the ordinance , and not to their personal qualifications or fitness. It is true that in ourselves we are all UNWORTHY of an approach to the table of the Lord; UNWORTHY to be regards as His followers; UNWORTHY of a title to everlasting life: but it does not follow that we may not partake of this ordinance in a worthy, i.e., a proper MANNER, with a deep sense of our sinfulness, our need of a savior, and with some just views of the Lord Jesus as our Redeemer. Whatever may be our consciousness of personal unworthiness and unfitness.......yet we may have such love to Christ, and such a desire to be saved by Him, and such a sense of HIS WORTHINESS, as to make it proper for us to approach and partake of this ordinance. The term UNWORTHILY(he then gives the Greek word) means, properly, IN AN UNWORTHY OR IMPROPER MANNER; in a manner unsuitable to the purposes for which it was designed or instituted; and may include the following things, viz: (1) Such an irregular and indecent observance......where even gluttony and intemperance prevailed......(2) An observance of the ordinance where there should be no distinction between it and a common meal, (Note on ver.29) where they did not regard it as designed to show forth the death of the Lord Jesus..........(3) When it is done for the sake of mockery, and when the purpose is to deride religion, and to show a marked contempt for the ordinances of the Gospel.......... SHALL BE GUILTY OF THE BODY AND BLOOD OF THE LORD...............The obvious and literal sense is, evidently, that they should by such conduct be involved in the sin of putting the Lord Jesus to death.......to the fact that His body was broken, and His blood shed, of which the bread and wine were symbols; and to be GUILTY of that, means to be guilty of putting Him to death; that is, to be involved in the crime, or to do a thing that should involve the same criminality as that..........Those therefore, who treated the symbols of His body and blood with profaneness and contempt were UNITED IN SPIRIT with those who put Him to death..........." End Quote. I now hope from all this you can clearly understand what Paul was saying when he was telling them that some were taking these symbols unworthily. I will recommend to all readers the Bible Commentary by Albert Barnes. He has many fine comments on the verses of the NT (or the whole Bible if you want his complete commentary). He was from the old school of Protestant scholars who DID NOT teach or believe the law of God was "done away." LET A MAN EXAMINE HIMSELF(verse 28) Many a sermon has been preached on that phrase before and coming up to the Passover evening. And so it should be by the servants of the Lord. I will be giving you an separate article that expounds and sermonizes on this phrase, hopefully to help you prepare for this coming Passover memorial service of our Savior's death. Like no other time of the year generally speaking, this is the time to once more EXAMINE ourselves. As Paul said to the Corinthian church in his second letter to them, that is preserved for us: "Examine yourselves, whether you be in the faith; prove your own selves, Know you not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except you be reprobates?" (2 Cor.13:5). FINAL VERSES Paul tells them to JUDGE themselves, if we do not, then God, because He loves us, will judge us, so we will hopefully turn from our errors and sins, so we will not end up being condemned, and part of the evil world. It would seem some of them who were in the wrong spirit and attitude of mind, who would not discern the real meaning of the Lord's body, were then not under the grace of that body and blood, and so were left outside the mercy of the Lord, which for many ended in literal physical death from their weaknesses and sicknesses. This does NOT teach that every Christian who dies from sickness is some how a sinner that was not pleasing to God, or not under His grace. It is given to man to die once, and that death can be from many causes, from the natural wearing out of the body, to accidents, to sickness, to death through Christian persecution. Read Hebrews the 11th chapter. All that Paul is giving here is a one part to truth. If you make the Passover memorial service into a sham by the attitude and manner you observe it, then don't expect to be under the grace and mercy of the Lord's body, and if you will not examine yourself and judge yourself in this regard, then God may just allow you to die, as obviously many in Corinth had done, because they had not judged themselves. He finishes by once more telling them to observe this ceremony in the correct MANNER. Wait for each other, be of the right attitude one towards the other. Eat your supper meal at HOME, and partake of the Passover memorial service as Jesus instituted it so no condemnation come upon you. There were a few other things he needed to set in order, but they were of such minor importance that they could wait until he came to them in person. Minor enough that God thought it not important to record for us today. These are the main lessons and instructions from this very special section of Holy Scripture, concerning the memorial of our Lord Jesus Christ's Passover sacrifice. Let us judge ourselves as we observe this ceremony, so we be not judged. ......................