1 Cor 11:30; "That is why many of you are weak and ill, and some have died."


A protestant (former Catholic) who argues against the Catholic faith questions why Catholics don’t get sick or die when they receive the Eucharist in an unworthy manner, as Paul seems to infer.

So what exactly is Paul talking about here when he says that many of them “are weak and ill, and some have died.”?
Physical death? Spiritual death? Is he talking about their gluttonous ways when they gather to eat, and that their gluttony is making them physically ill and even killing them? Or what?

Thanks for your input, Catholic apologists. :slight_smile:

"Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of profaning the body and blood of the Lord. 28 Let a man examine himself, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. 29 For any one who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment upon himself. 30 That is why many of you are weak and ill, and some have died. 31 But if we judged ourselves truly, we should not be judged. 32 But when we are judged by the Lord, we are chastened so that we may not be condemned along with the world.
1 Cor 11


I’m not sure, but it seems not to be literal physical death, given that the Church in Corinth is getting a good telling off from St Paul after they’ve done wrong-for a variety of reason, not just receiving the Eucharist in an unworthy manner. If they were dead, telling someone off for bad behaviour would be a little pointless.

I would think it has to do with a spiritual death and weakness in the spiritual life.


I don't see why it wouldn't be referring to real physical harm. What about Ananias and Sapphira in the Acts of the Apostles who died for withholding their property from the Church?


Is he even sure that the prevalent illnesses and untimely/unholy deaths (and I mean physical) are not due to receiving the Eucharist unworthily?


I say it is spiritual death. They are being chastised via illness because of their sin. These would likely be venial sins, in my opinion. The illnesses are spiritual in nature.

Holy death refers to physical death, in my opinion.


Its physical death. If Paul had intended spiritual…he would of said " some have fallen away, …fallen from grace"


Ask him why we dont get attacked by serpents whenever we test God. Then show him what St. Paul says only one chapter before he teaches on the Eucharist and the people dying because they received it unworthily.

Now these things are warnings for us, not to desire evil as they did…We must not put The Lord to the test, as some of them did, and were destroyed by serpents; nor grumble, as some of them did, and were destroyed by the destroyer. Now these things happened to them as a warning, but they were written for our instruction, upon whom the end of the ages has come. Therefore, let anyone who thinks he stands firm take heed lest he fall. (1 Cor 10:6-12)

God doesn’t strike down everyone who tests him and grumble at him anymore, that doesn’t mean it’s not a serious sin. He did that to show if we cut ourselves off from the source of all Life, then we’re going to die. We can’t see spiritual death, but we see physical death, and that can bring the truth home.
Why wouldn’t He do the same thing with the Eucharist? It’s a serious matter. We die spiritually if we receive unworthily, so He caused the Corinthians to die physically as a warning to us. To show that we are not just receiving crackers and wine, but The Lord himself.

The fact that it doesn’t happen anymore in no way disproves the Real Presence.


That is quite interesting, Robyn. ^ ^
Certainly something to take into serious consideration concerning this teaching.


And how many are guilty? How many will have to pay?

I learned my lesson.


Yes, that’s true. Sacrilege is mortal sin, and therefore spiritual death but St. Paul is also clearly referring to physical death. There’s no reason to not believe that God doesn’t chastise people physically either. Why should we have to confine ourselves to the spiritual?


Chastisement can be physical and mental. Both are the result of a weakened soul.


I believe he meant spiritually. He compared their spiritual sickness to the reality of physical sickness so they would conotate the physical bread and wine to the spiritual reality of Jesus’ body. The two are to be considered equally vital.

But i can see the drastic measures of physical consequence in these times of establishment


The explanations I’ve heard on this verse say Paul is referring to physical death, but I don’t think spiritual death is ruled out…and both are equally deadly.
If you want to answer the question (why they don’t die right away, or get sick, etc… ) on the physical level…it’s the same reason every murderer doesn’t die right after murdering someone…whatever that answer may be.

At any rate, the gluttony argument is a strawman. It really doesn’t matter if he is chastising them for gluttony or outright blasphemy. The point is that he has just told them they are guilty of the body and blood of Christ in this particular sin involving the Bread. If they are guilty of the Body and Blood and Christ because of the manner in which they disrespect the Meal…it’s because the Meal is really the Body and Blood of Christ. How else can one be guilty of something is that something isn’t present. You are not guilty of the Body and Blood if all you are eating is bread and wine…you’d just be guilty of mistreating bread and wine. But that is not what Paul tells them. He tells them they are guilty of the Body and Blood of Christ.


I meant, he compared a physical sickness/death to their spiritual sickness/death

Imaging them knowing some were abusing the sacrament and others even leaving in disbelief. Paul talking in such “real” terms of physical harm would cut to the heart more effectively. Plus awaken their spiritual acknowledgement of their actions to the body of themselves (mystical) and the action of eating the Lord’s flesh which they are guilty of profaning if participating unworthy


D-R Bible, Haydock Commentary:

Ver. 30-32. Therefore in punishment of the sin of receiving unworthily, many are infirm, visited with infirmities, even that bring death, which is meant by those words, many sleep. But it is a mercy of God, when he only punishes by sickness, or a corporal death, and does not permit us to perish for ever, or be condemned with this wicked world. To avoid this, let a man prove himself, examine the state of his conscience, especially before he receives the holy sacrament, confess his sins, and be absolved by those to whom Christ left the power of forgiving sins in his name, and by his authority. If we judge ourselves in this manner, we shall not be judged, that is, condemned. (Witham)


Yes … bearing in mind that physical illness also can lead to mental illness as well ( angst, depression, insomnia, fretting, fixation, loss of charity, severe personality disorders, etc, etc,).

As Catholics, we are taught to accept the literal meaning first, and then perhaps otherwise, if another also has good support.


I can accept that:)

But you see my point? If the Corinthians knew they weren’t actually physically dying or sick. It would have understood meaning.



Mental illness is a vast abyss … who can truly know the mind of man/ woman…but the Creator alone. Nevertheless, but for not receiving the Eucharist properly, many Modern Day Catholics have become sorely afflicted and troubled in their spirit & body.


Yes, its (among many good things) like a test. THE person who holds us accountable. Its looking deep into ourselves and then accepting Himself as what we desire to become.



…heard of disbelief?

…why are people not dropping like flies when they enter into woship and then lie and cheat like Ananias and his wife, Sapphira?

…and could you imagine the Apostles or general disciples challenging Jesus to demonstrate, through Scriptures, every claim/teaching He made? …or demand that He supply them with a copy of the Sacred Writings so that they can read along as He made His Revelations and Claims?

…since those were different times and Scriptures are not fully clear, it could very well be that there were people dying both physically and spiritually due to their partaking of the Breaking of the Bread in an unworthy manner…

…we know for a fact that the Catholic (and other Christian) world suffers spiritual death because of its failure to Live in Christ; we also know that most people do not heal from their infirmities in spite of modern medical advancements and that few are cure altogether–is that not enough proof?

Sadly, the most anti-Catholic/Christ people turn out to be those who have lost their way and must blame Christ’s Body for their waywardness!

May the Holy Spirit convict them of the Truth!

Maran atha!


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