These small group studies of 1 Corinthians contain outlines, cross-references, Bible study discussion questions, and applications. Visit our library of inductive Bible studies for more in depth inductive studies on this and other books of the Bible you can use in your small group.
1 Corinthians 11:17-34 Inductive Bible Study and Discussion Questions
Outline: The Lord’s Supper
I. The Lord’s Supper is not be selfishly indulged in (17-22)
a) Their coming together for fellowship and the Lord’s Supper was a negative thing (17)
b) It once again manifested their divisions (18)
c) Divisions, though worldly, do have a divine purpose (19)
d) Their meeting together was not a result of the proper motivation (20)
e) They selfishly indulged themselves (21)
f) The church/Lord’s Supper is not the proper place filling these desires (22)
II. The Lord’s Supper is Holy and Instituted by Christ (23-26)
a) Paul was the messenger of what was taught by the Lord (23)
b) The bread is a symbol for us to remember Jesus’ death (24)
c) The cup is a symbol of Jesus’ blood and the new covenant (25)
d) Both are a way to visibly remember Jesus’ sacrifice for us until His second coming (26)
III. The Lord’s Supper is to be taken in the proper way (27-34)
a) Taking it unworthily is a great sin (27)
b) You must examine yourself and your attitudes first (28)
c) Judgment will come to those who take it unworthily (29)
d) This can include sickness and even death (30)
e) If you confess your sin first you don’t need to be judged (31)
f) This judgment is discipline for our good (32)
g) Unselfishly be patient and put others first (33)
h) Do not use it as a place to fill yourselves (34)
What is the main point of Paul’s teaching in this latter half of chapter 11?
What caused Paul to decide to write to the Corinthians about the Lord’s Supper?
In what ways did they not observe the Lord’s Supper correctly?
What was Paul’s conclusion (17)?
Do you remember what Paul taught before on divisions in the church?
What does he mean in verse 19 that there must be factions among them?
What does he mean in verse 20 that they meet together not to eat the Lord’s Supper? Isn’t that why they met together?
What does verse 21 tell us about their attitudes in taking it?
What is the solution to he offers so that they wouldn’t use the Lord’s supper as merely a place to fill their appetites and thirst?
My question: What exactly was Lord’s Supper then? Was it enough to actually have a whole dinner on? Was it like a celebratory meal?
Who instituted Lord’s Supper? Why?
What is it?
What is the bread? What does it mean that this is His body? Why do we take it?
What is the cup? What does it mean that it is His blood? Why do we take it?
What is the purpose of the Lord’s Supper?
How often should it be practiced?
Who can practice it?
What exactly is it?
What does it “do” for us? What is its purpose?
What is the new covenant? From what festival did the Lord’s Supper originate and what is the connection between the two?
Define “unworthy manner”.
How does this make one “guilty of the body and the blood of the Lord.”?
What must we do first before we take the Lord’s Supper?
What is the likely result if we take it improperly? What does this tell us about how serious it is to take it?
Explain verse 31.
What is the purpose of discipline?
What rules did Paul set down for them to help them honor the Lord’s Supper?
1 Corinthians 1:10-12 – Divisions among them.
Romans 16:17 – Stay away from those who cause divisions (This can be a test that will approve some.)
Titus 3:10-11 – Reject a factious man.
Acts 2:42,46-47 – They devoted themselves to four things including the breaking of bread.
1 Corinthians 10:16-17 – The Lord’s Supper should also remind us the unity we have in Christ.
Jude 12 – False teacher who abused the “love feasts”.
James 2:5-6 – The poor are also rich in the kingdom of God and should be treated well.
Galatians 1:11-12, 1 Thessalonians 4:2 – Paul was teaching by the authority of Christ and what He heard from the Lord, not His own idea
Matthew 26:2 – Jesus was betrayed.
Exodus 12:12-15 – The Passover, why and what.
Matt 26:26-30, Mark 14:22-26, Luke 22:17-20: The Lord’s Supper taught by Christ.
John 6:53-58 – Eating the bread and cup is also a symbol that we belong to the Lord and are following Him.
Hebrews 9:15-20 – The New Covenant. Exodus 24:8 – The Old Covenant.
Hebrews 12:5-11 – Discipline is for a purpose to bring us closer to the Lord.
A problem in the Corinthians church led Paul to discuss the finer points of the Lord’s Supper. This is an integral ordinance that Christians are to follow according the command of Jesus Himself. Jesus established both baptism and the Lord’s Supper as ordinances for believers to follow. The Corinthians had been abusing the Lord’s Supper. They had approached it selfishly with wrong motivations in order to gratify their own desires and enjoy themselves rather than to remember the Lord and bring glory to Him. It was more of a lighthearted party than a serious reflection of Jesus’ death and our sin that put Him there. From this chapter we will learn how not to approach the Lord’s Supper, what is the Lord’s supper, and how to approach the Lord’s Supper. We will also learn some of the benefits of the Lord’s Supper.
17. Coming together for fellowship and worship is meant to be a positive thing that enriches our faith, helps us grow in our relationships to each other and the Lord, and brings glory to Him. Unfortunately, that was the not the case with the Corinthian meetings to take the LS. It was a negative time of abuse, divisions, selfishness, and self-gratification. People were going for what they could get instead of for the proper reasons.
18. The Lord’s Supper was just another manifestation of the divisions in the Corinthian church. This appears to have been a division of haves and have nots (21-22). As we learned in the first part of this book, divisions have no place in the body of Christ. Love, mercy, and grace should be the marks of the Christian body, not the selfishness that was showed. See the situation in Acts 2. This is the right kind of united and undivided church. If people didn’t have anything, others helped them out.
19. Although divisions are unrighteous and worldly and inevitable (tares and wheat), God still uses them for a divine purpose. See Romans 16:17. The approved or spiritually mature would pass this test and avoid getting involved in factions and these petty quarrels. These factions would help bring to light who was truly committed to the Lord and who was in it for their own selfish gain. This is yet another example of God using even our sin for some positive good. The answer for them was to avoid divisions and use the Lord’s Supper as an opportunity to express their unity. See 1 Corinthians 10:16-17.
20. Although the outward reason for their meeting would have appeared to be to eat the Lord’s Supper, their actions showed that this wasn’t their real purpose. They weren’t going their to worship the Lord or remember what He had done. They were going to fulfill their selfish desires, perhaps to enjoy themselves, to chat with those in their cliché, to enjoy a nice meal or some good wine. It is like saying to a group at a church today, “You are not going to worship the Lord or learn.” This implies they are going for another reason. Unfortunately, even today, many people go to church for other reasons besides the proper one. What are some of them? Some include: finding a mate, making friends, joining some fun activities, listening to interesting music, getting free snacks or lunch, impressing others, guilt, etc.
21-23 – Originally Communion and “love feasts” were held together. There would be something like a pot luck meal where the different members brought food and ate together. This was a celebratory meal and one where members enjoyed good fellowship and love for each other and could also receive the food with thanks. These love feasts would culminate in taking Communion together as a body. In the Corinthian church this love feast was being abused. Divisions became evident between the haves and haves not. The haves were taking their food and eating it in front of others, but not sharing it with those who didn’t have anything or who had little. This was shaming the poor people and pointing out their lack to everyone. It left some hungry and it left others drunk and overstuffed. Basically, their selfishness was exhibiting itself in a way that dishonored God and the poor. Paul later establishes some rules to prevent this from happening, but eventually Communion was separated from these feasts to protect its sanctity and the love feasts died out altogether. Still in many places, pot lucks are practiced. Talk about this and how some are still selfish in it today.
The LS is a time to show our special unity with no divisions of any kind: gender, age, race, class, etc. But they were despising this unity and looking down on others. They were in it for selfish reasons. Paul seems grasping for an explanation in verse 22 and somewhat sarcastically asks if they have no house to use if they want to indulge themselves. He also asks if they are flagrantly doing this to destroy the church and purposely shame others. He seems at a loss how believers could be acting in such an unloving way and he condemns them for it.
Explain the history of the Passover and the connection. Read the gospel versions.
23 – Paul once again shows that he is just a messenger. This isn’t his ordinance or ritual. He received this from the Lord as he did the rest of his teachings.
24. The bread is a symbol of Christ’s body. How is it a symbol? It is to be broken and then eaten in the same way that Christ’s body was broken for us as a sacrifice. It is representative of His flesh. The bread does not miraculously transform into Jesus’ actual body as some believe. Jesus’ was clearly using figurative language. But it represents the fact that we as believers identify with Christ and a sense die and resurrect with Him. The biggest reason for taking the LS is to remember what the Lord did for us. Life is busy and it is easy to get ingrained in our habits and actions and almost forget what Christ did for us. WE must never forget. WE must keep it fresh in our memories forever. This LS helps serve this purpose to keep us actively remembering what He did for us. If we remember what He did for us, it will also help us to daily live for Him since we love because He first loved us.
25. The cup is a symbol for His blood. His blood ran out for us. It was this perfect blood that washed away our sins. It satisfied God’s wrath. What is the new covenant? Explain and read references. It is also to be done in remembrance of Him. So how often should we take the LS? There is no set terms, which means it is up to the church and our Christian freedom. But keeping in mind that it is for the purpose of remembering Him, it makes sense that it is done often enough to keep His death fresh on our minds. I like pretty well the Brethren habit of every week, but have no particular conviction on it. Once a month seems about the minimum of what one would want to do though.
How about, where can one partake of it? Does it have to be in a church? We need to keep in mind that the church is not a building, but a group of believers. Therefore I believe anywhere a group of believers gathers together is an acceptable place to have communion. It doesn’t have to be at an official “church” persay.
26. The LS serves not only as a reminder to ourselves, but a proclamation to all who may be watching that Jesus died for us! We are to continue this practice until He comes again. The implication is that when He comes again, it will no longer be necessary.
Benefits of the Lord’s Supper:
1. Reminds believers of their unity in Christ.
2. Reminds us of and proclaims to the world Christ’s death on our behalf.
3. Reminds us to examine ourselves and confess our own sins.
4. Reminds of the grace of the New Covenant.
27.-28 An unworthy manner would include all of the problems the Corinthians had such as selfishness and divisions as well as any other unworthy ways people do it. Some would include trying to impress others or show that we are a believer, doing it because people expect us to, doing it because we are hungry or thirsty, treating it lightheartedly, holding on to sin in our hearts, indifferently, etc. So what is the worthy manner? Do it with self-examination and a repentant heart. Do it with love for others and unity in the Spirit. Do it with thanksgiving and remembrance for what the Lord has done. Do it with the resolve to serve the Lord fully with our lives. If we do it in an unworthy manner it is mocking Christ’s sacrifice and makes us guilty in His presence. It is a serious thing and should be treated seriously. Examine yourselves for what? Make sure you have the right attitude and confess your sin.
29 – The one who takes it improperly without confessing his sin first brings judgment on himself. This tells me a couple of things.
1. If you are not ready to take it and sure of your commitment then don’t do it.
2. If you take it anyway when you shouldn’t, you have only yourself to blame for the results that come because the warning is right here. It’s like a mother tells a kid not to touch the fire and the kid does it anyway, whose fault is it that the kid is burned?
30- What kind of results might happen? Sickness and diseases and even death sometimes. This is necessary to purify the church and remind us that sin is serious.
31 – If you examine yourself and confess your sins, you don’t have to worry about his. The result is on our own hands if we don’t listen to the warning.
32. Read Hebrews cross-reference. Discipline is for our good. Discuss.
33-34 – Paul lays out clear instructions that will help them to avoid these problems later. They were:
1. Everyone eat together. Be patient for others to arrive (ie. Don’t selfishly fill yourselves before everyone gets there.)
2. If your soul-purpose is to fill yourselves, eat at home. The love feasts and subsequent communion were not just to fill physical desires. They were for filling spiritual desires. If you can’t do it properly than just eat at home so you will avoid sinning and being chastened
1 Corinthians 1:1-17
1 Corinthians 1:18-31
1 Corinthians 2
1 Corinthians 3
1 Corinthians 4
1 Corinthians 5
1 Corinthians 6
1 Corinthians 7:1-16
1 Corinthians 7:17-40
1 Corinthians 8
1 Corinthians 9:1-18
1 Corinthians 10:1-13
1 Corinthians 10:14-33
1 Corinthians 11:1-16
1 Corinthians 11:17-34
1 Corinthians 12:1-11
1 Corinthians 12:12-30
1 Corinthians 14
1 Corinthians 15:1-28
1 Corinthians 15:29-58
1 Corinthians 16
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