“At thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore” (Ps. 16: 11)
The Basket Case Chronicles #112
“The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ?” (1 Cor. 10:16).
We are coming into a stretch of Paul’s letter to the Corinthians which is dense and rich. On top of this, it is even more freighted with meaning because of the debates and controversies throughout church history over “what happens” when the Supper is observed. We should limit our discuss of what happens to what the text says—which is less than some want, and a great deal more than many others want. We should not allow ourselves to have a hidden set of metaphysical assumptions dictate to us what needs to be happening. We should limit ourselves here to what questions, which can be answered from the text, and not get into the metaphysical hows, which cannot be.
In this verse, we perform two actions, one toward the cup, which is that of blessing, and one toward the bread, which is that of breaking. This cup of blessing, blessed by us, is the koinonia of the blood of Christ. This bread, broken by us, is the koinonia of the body of Christ. From this we may conclude two important actions that are necessary in the Supper, those of blessing and breaking. The consequence is that we partake, commune, participate in, fellowship in, the blood and body of Jesus. This is the what. The partaking is stronger than simply remembering. At the same time, the partaking is covenantal and sacramental, not a miraculous zapping of essences. The same kind of partaking was going on in the Old Testament sacrifices (v. 18), and the same kind of thing was actually happening in the idolatrous worship of devils (v. 20). This partaking happens because of how the world was created, and not because of some wizardry that changed the bread and wine into something else.