1 Corinthians 11:27 (Communion)


#1

Hi,

my Question is about Holy Communion in Sacred Scripture. We read in 1 Corinthians 11:27:

Therefore, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord. (NIV)

Other English translations use the advert "unworthily" instead of the term "in an unworthy manner", however linguistically it has the same meaning. To my understanding, the Church teaches that if I receive the Eucharist in an unworthy state (a state of mortal sin) I commit a sin (a sacrilege) and therefore am not allowed to do this. But "unworthy manner" and "unworthy state" are not the same.

Why is this? Are there any other scriptural evidences that suggest only people who are certain they are in a state of grace can go to Communion? To me it seems Christ has more of a "come to me as you are" attitude in the Gospels.

Also, what did the Church Fathers say about this topic?

PS: English is not my first language and I don't know which bible translations are typically used by English speaking catholics. Could you tell me which translation you would like me to use in my future threads/postings (in this one and my "ask an apologist" questions I just used the NIV because it usually was the first one showing up in Google)?

Thanks alot.


#2

The first think one needs to understand is that the Church doesn’t think of Scripture as a proof text for doctrine/dogma. The Scripture is a part of Sacred Tradition and is a witness to the Church and its teachings–a very different concept from saying that the Church bases its teachings on the Bible. Catholics are not people of the book, but we are people of the Church, the Church which is the “pillar and foundation of truth” (1 Tim. 3:15).

The Church, which received Holy Commuion from the Lord himself, knows what St. Paul meant by receiving “unworthily” or “in an unworthy manner”–that to receive while in a state of mortal sin is, in and of itself, a mortal sin under the usual conditions.

When Jesus instituted the Eucharist he did not invite all and sundry but held it only for his 12 Apostles. There were no unrepentant sinners there. Only those received at that institution who were worthy and who he was ordaining to “do this in remembrance of me”. One needs to be in communion with the Church, which means to be in communion with God, as well, in order to receive the flesh and blood of Christ into one’s body for God does not enter anything unholy and stained with mortal sin.

Others will explain it better. I suggest you consult the Catechism of the Catholic Church on this issue.


#3

Thank you for your response.

[quote="Della, post:2, topic:311989"]

When Jesus instituted the Eucharist he did not invite all and sundry but held it only for his 12 Apostles. There were no unrepentant sinners there. Only those received at that institution who were worthy and who he was ordaining to "do this in remembrance of me". One needs to be in communion with the Church, which means to be in communion with God, as well, in order to receive the flesh and blood of Christ into one's body for God does not enter anything unholy and stained with mortal sin.

[/quote]

This raises another question in my mind: How come Judas was partaking in the Last Supper? He had already betrayed Jesus, yet was allowed to participate in this very first Communion? Jesus identified Judas as the one who will betray him, after which he (Judas) left. But that was after Communion already took place, right? Christ could have cast Judas out of the room prior to the meal if he wanted to.

This is rather confusing to me. I understand your point that the Church does not necessarily need to use the Bible to "proof read" for a dogma/doctrine. But at the same time, there cannot be a contradiction between Sacred Scripture and valid Church teaching. The Holy Spirit does not contradict himself.


#4

[quote="Markus2007, post:3, topic:311989"]
Thank you for your response.

This raises another question in my mind: How come Judas was partaking in the Last Supper? He had already betrayed Jesus, yet was allowed to participate in this very first Communion? Jesus identified Judas as the one who will betray him, after which he (Judas) left. But that was after Communion already took place, right? Christ could have cast Judas out of the room prior to the meal if he wanted to.

This is rather confusing to me. I understand your point that the Church does not necessarily need to use the Bible to "proof read" for a dogma/doctrine. But at the same time, there cannot be a contradiction between Sacred Scripture and valid Church teaching. The Holy Spirit does not contradict himself.

[/quote]

The Holy Spirit has not contradicted himself, rather you have misunderstood what happened when Judas received, if he received--the texts aren't all that clear that he did. If he did receive, he did so unworthily, which God allows us to do of our own free will. No one is struck by lightning if they receive in mortal sin, but they've sinned nonetheless. We are expected to present ourselves for Holy Communion in a state of grace. If we don't it's on our heads for committing two mortal sins. Perhaps receiving unworthily was part of the reason Satan was able to enter Judas and work his will through him? It bears thinking about, anyway.


#5

[quote="Della, post:4, topic:311989"]
The Holy Spirit has not contradicted himself, rather you have misunderstood what happened when Judas received, if he received--the texts aren't all that clear that he did. If he did receive, he did so unworthily, which God allows us to do of our own free will. No one is struck by lightning if they receive in mortal sin, but they've sinned nonetheless. We are expected to present ourselves for Holy Communion in a state of grace. If we don't it's on our heads for committing two mortal sins. Perhaps receiving unworthily was part of the reason Satan was able to enter Judas and work his will through him? It bears thinking about, anyway.

[/quote]

Thanks for explaining it further. Sadly, the more I think about it the more questions I have. Satan must have already worked his will through Judas at that point, because he had already betrayed the Lord. Isn't a priest supposed to deny a person Communion if he knows the person is in mortal sin (not in Communion with the Church)? For example, if someone was formally excommunicated for some reason would a priest who knows about this be allowed to give the person the Eucharist? Jesus could have denied Judas to partake, or at least warn him about the sacrilege he is about to commit (St. Paul's letter talking about receiving in an unworthy manner wasn't written yet).

I agree that the text isn't clear about whether or not Judas actually received the sacrament. But it certainly gives the general impression that he did (nothing is mentioned saying that he did not).


#6

[quote="Markus2007, post:5, topic:311989"]
Thanks for explaining it further. Sadly, the more I think about it the more questions I have. Satan must have already worked his will through Judas at that point, because he had already betrayed the Lord.

[/quote]

Judas gave his will over to Satan, otherwise Satan could not have worked through him. I can't see Judas wanting to receive and then going out to betray his Master. That makes no sense.

Isn't a priest supposed to deny a person Communion if he knows the person is in mortal sin (not in Communion with the Church)? For example, if someone was formally excommunicated for some reason would a priest who knows about this be allowed to give the person the Eucharist? Jesus could have denied Judas to partake, or at least warn him about the sacrilege he is about to commit (St. Paul's letter talking about receiving in an unworthy manner wasn't written yet).

Yes, a priest may deny a person communion if he knows the person is in mortal sin--of course, he'd have to be certain for that same person may have gone to confession without the priest's knowledge, which is why most priests wouldn't do this.

I agree that the text isn't clear about whether or not Judas actually received the sacrament. But it certainly gives the general impression that he did (nothing is mentioned saying that he did not).

As for why Jesus would allow Judas to receive, that we cannot know, if Judas did receive, which I doubt, for good reason. Judas most likely left before the institution of the Eucharist. The writers of the Gospels weren't always clear about such details. We can surmise that Judas probably left before and so did not partake nor would he have been ordained, in that case. In my heart I cannot see Jesus allowing Judas to receive, which is probably why he told him to "Go and do what you have planned to do" by betraying him. This repudiation of Judas would make no sense otherwise. St. Paul, of course, didn't write anything that Jesus wouldn't have taught.


#7

In Greek it’s one word, anaxios, [size=2]ἀνάξιος, [size=2]unworthily. The negative of axios[size=2], [/size][/size][/size][size=2][size=2][size=3][size=2]άξιος, weighty[size=2], [/size][/size][/size][/size]worthy, befitting.
[/size]


#8

This if from Luke’s Gospel:

14 When the hour had come, He sat down, and the apostles with Him.
15 Then He said to them, “With fervent desire I have desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer;
16 for I say to you, I will no longer eat of it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.
17 Then He took the cup, and gave thanks, and said, “Take this and divide it among yourselves;
18 for I say to you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.”
19 And He took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me.”
20 Likewise He also took the cup after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood, which is shed for you.
21 But behold, the hand of My betrayer is with Me on the table.
22 And truly the Son of Man goes as it has been determined, but woe to that man by whom He is betrayed!”

So it seems as if he gave the bread to the 12 in verse 19, and began identifying his betrayer in verse 21. This clearly is afterwards, but shortly afterwards. Maybe he said “but behold” in that very moment were Judas was about to touch it? This is just speculation and I would hope somebody could shed more light on this, as it is such a central and important topic regarding our faith.


#9

[quote="kkollwitz, post:7, topic:311989"]
In Greek it's one word, anaxios, [size=2]ἀνάξιος, [size=2]unworthily. The negative of axios,[size=2] [/size][/size][/size][size=2][size=2][size=3][size=2]άξιος, weighty[size=2], [/size][/size][/size][/size][/size]worthy, befitting.

[/quote]

Thank you very much, I wish I knew the biblical languages.

Still it's strange that it is always translated in such a way though (btw. my native language is German and it's one word too, no matter if it is adjective or adverb)


#10

[quote="Markus2007, post:8, topic:311989"]
This if from Luke's Gospel:

14 When the hour had come, He sat down, and the apostles with Him.
15 Then He said to them, “With fervent desire I have desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer;
16 for I say to you, I will no longer eat of it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.
17 Then He took the cup, and gave thanks, and said, “Take this and divide it among yourselves;
18 for I say to you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.”
19 And He took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me.”
20 Likewise He also took the cup after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood, which is shed for you.
21 But behold, the hand of My betrayer is with Me on the table.
22 And truly the Son of Man goes as it has been determined, but woe to that man by whom He is betrayed!”

So it seems as if he gave the bread to the 12 in verse 19, and began identifying his betrayer in verse 21. This clearly is afterwards, but shortly afterwards. Maybe he said "but behold" in that very moment were Judas was about to touch it? This is just speculation and I would hope somebody could shed more light on this, as it is such a central and important topic regarding our faith.

[/quote]

Luke doesn't give us enough details to determine if Judas received. We cannot know this from the text alone, I'm afraid. Luke doesn't include Jesus handing Judas the morsel of bread that Jesus had dipped into the bowl nor Jesus telling him to go and do what he had planned. Luke wasn't focusing on such things, but rather on the overall picture because he was writing to a Gentile like himself to whom he was giving an account of the major elements of Christ' life and mission. Also, Luke wasn't there himself but received what he knew from talking with the other apostles. So the sequence of events may be a bit muddled/mixed. We have to remember that the NT isn't a strict biography, but rather an account given of Christ's life and mission with the goal of passing along Christ's message. In that the NT is inerrant, but each author included and excluded bits of information or mixed up the chronology of events, not to deceive, but because such details were not important for their purpose.


#11

[quote="Della, post:10, topic:311989"]
Luke doesn't give us enough details to determine if Judas received. We cannot know this from the text alone, I'm afraid. Luke doesn't include Jesus handing Judas the morsel of bread that Jesus had dipped into the bowl nor Jesus telling him to go and do what he had planned. Luke wasn't focusing on such things, but rather on the overall picture because he was writing to a Gentile like himself to whom he was giving an account of the major elements of Christ' life and mission. Also, Luke wasn't there himself but received what he knew from talking with the other apostles. So the sequence of events may be a bit muddled/mixed. We have to remember that the NT isn't a strict biography, but rather an account given of Christ's life and mission with the goal of passing along Christ's message. In that the NT is inerrant, but each author included and excluded bits of information or mixed up the chronology of events, not to deceive, but because such details were not important for their purpose.

[/quote]

Let me tell you I am very thankful for your many thoughtful and patient responses. But I cannot agree with you saying the Scriptures contain error. Luke was not present there himself, but the Holy Spirit was, and he was the one who inspired the text. I do not agree that some events might be mixed up or in wrong order. Please remember that doubting God's Word was what initially led to the fall of mankind (with the serpent saying "has God really said ...?).

Also, I have found this website: lavistachurchofchrist.org/LVanswers/2007/10-24e.html

Would you like to take a look at it and tell me what you think about it?


#12

I never stated that the Scriptures contain errors. Nor am I doubting God’s word (God’s Word with a capital “w” is Jesus himself, not the Bible). The authors were not writing blow-by-blow accounts in the sense of an historical record. They were writing narratives/stories, which is a form of writing and says nothing at all about the truths contained in them. For example, the Psalms contain a lot of imagery that is meant to convey the grandeur of God and his acts, but they are not historical records, either. Mythology is another form of writing in the Bible that tells God’s truths, cast in mythological language. What I’m trying to say is that taking the Bible literalistically as opposed to literally is not how the Church interprets it. You need to read this from the Catechism of the Catholic Church rather than Bible only websites:

The four ways of interpreting Scripture: #s 115-119.

The senses of Scripture
115 According to an ancient tradition, one can distinguish between two senses of Scripture: the literal and the spiritual, the latter being subdivided into the allegorical, moral and anagogical senses. The profound concordance of the four senses guarantees all its richness to the living reading of Scripture in the Church.
116 The literal sense is the meaning conveyed by the words of Scripture and discovered by exegesis, following the rules of sound interpretation: "All other senses of Sacred Scripture are based on the literal."83
117 The spiritual sense. Thanks to the unity of God’s plan, not only the text of Scripture but also the realities and events about which it speaks can be signs.

  1. The allegorical sense. We can acquire a more profound understanding of events by recognizing their significance in Christ; thus the crossing of the Red Sea is a sign or type of Christ’s victory and also of Christian Baptism.84
  2. The moral sense. The events reported in Scripture ought to lead us to act justly. As St. Paul says, they were written “for our instruction”.85
  3. The anagogical sense (Greek: anagoge, “leading”). We can view realities and events in terms of their eternal significance, leading us toward our true homeland: thus the Church on earth is a sign of the heavenly Jerusalem.86
    118 A medieval couplet summarizes the significance of the four senses:
    The Letter speaks of deeds; Allegory to faith;
    The Moral how to act; Anagogy our destiny.87

119 "It is the task of exegetes to work, according to these rules, towards a better understanding and explanation of the meaning of Sacred Scripture in order that their research may help the Church to form a firmer judgment. For, of course, all that has been said about the manner of interpreting Scripture is ultimately subject to the judgment of the Church which exercises the divinely conferred commission and ministry of watching over and interpreting the Word of God."88
But I would not believe in the Gospel, had not the authority of the Catholic Church already moved me.89


#13

Let's say, for sake of discussion, that judas did receive. This then speaks to and answers your original inquiry. The point about receiving worthily is a point about duplicity. Judas was a sham! A phony. He didn't want to follow Christ. Yet he pretended to be a follower to benefit his personal ambitions - which seem to have had political underpinnings. Regardless, he was not a sincere follower. He had other things on his mind. This what Paul is referring to. Yes, we are all sinners. Everyone of is unworthy of the gift of Christ's real flesh and blood offered in Catholic Eucharist. No one has meritted such a gift. The Eucharist is not for pretenders, it for sincere followers of Christ, because they're going to need it. Because where He leads will demand one denies his/her very self. Pretenders need not apply.

It's about duplicity and the need to avoid it.

Respectfully,
Peterk


#14

=Markus2007;10263139]Hi,

my Question is about Holy Communion in Sacred Scripture. We read in 1 Corinthians 11:27:

Therefore, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord. (NIV)

Other English translations use the advert "unworthily" instead of the term "in an unworthy manner", however linguistically it has the same meaning. To my understanding, the Church teaches that if I receive the Eucharist in an unworthy state (a state of mortal sin) I commit a sin (a sacrilege) and therefore am not allowed to do this. But "unworthy manner" and "unworthy state" are not the same.

Why is this? Are there any other scriptural evidences that suggest only people who are certain they are in a state of grace can go to Communion? To me it seems Christ has more of a "come to me as you are" attitude in the Gospels.

Also, what did the Church Fathers say about this topic?

PS: English is not my first language and I don't know which bible translations are typically used by English speaking catholics. Could you tell me which translation you would like me to use in my future threads/postings (in this one and my "ask an apologist" questions I just used the NIV because it usually was the first one showing up in Google)?

Thanks alot.

We need to understand that the authors of the bible while "Inspired" were not theologians.

Here is the correct perspective:

Matt.5: 48 **“You, therefore, must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect. **Matt.19:21 Jesus said to him, "If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me." John.17:23 **“I in them and thou in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that thou hast sent me and hast loved them even as thou hast loved me.” : Rom.12: 2 “**Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may prove what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect”

*2 Timothy 3:17 *“That the man of God may be perfect, furnished to every good work.”

Ephesians 6:13 “Therefore take unto you the armour of God, that you may be able to resist in the evil day, and to stand in all things perfect.”

Not to change the subject; but just as one must be either perfect or perfected through Purgatory in order to enter into the Beatific Vision; God's Presence; so too must one be "perfect" and or "perfected" in order to worthily receive Christ into our bodies. ANYTHING less would not be fitting for God. And that is the precise message Paul relates.

This is why we Profess our venail sins at the beginning of Mass and seek and receive forgiveness for them, and thus are perfected and made-ready to receive Jesus Himself into and "UNDER MY ROOF." Amen:)

God Bless,
pat/PJM


#15

[quote="Markus2007, post:8, topic:311989"]
This if from Luke's Gospel:
19 And He took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me.”
20 Likewise He also took the cup after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood, which is shed for you.
21 But behold, the hand of My betrayer is with Me on the table.
22 And truly the Son of Man goes as it has been determined, but woe to that man by whom He is betrayed!”

So it seems as if he gave the bread to the 12 in verse 19, and began identifying his betrayer in verse 21. This clearly is afterwards, but shortly afterwards. Maybe he said "but behold" in that very moment were Judas was about to touch it? This is just speculation and I would hope somebody could shed more light on this, as it is such a central and important topic regarding our faith.

[/quote]

the mental image i have is Jesus preparing the bread and wine
the apostles would be reaching to receive It when the "but" stops the "hand of (His) betrayer"
i think Jesus would have addressed the "mouth" had Judas been eating

receiving Jesus and betraying Him are inconsistent
but, like you say it's speculation


#16

[quote="Markus2007, post:8, topic:311989"]
This if from Luke's Gospel:

14 When the hour had come, He sat down, and the apostles with Him.
15 Then He said to them, “With fervent desire I have desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer;
16 for I say to you, I will no longer eat of it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.
17 Then He took the cup, and gave thanks, and said, “Take this and divide it among yourselves;
18 for I say to you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.”
19 And He took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me.”
20 Likewise He also took the cup after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood, which is shed for you.
21 But behold, the hand of My betrayer is with Me on the table.
22 And truly the Son of Man goes as it has been determined, but woe to that man by whom He is betrayed!”

So it seems as if he gave the bread to the 12 in verse 19, and began identifying his betrayer in verse 21. This clearly is afterwards, but shortly afterwards. Maybe he said "but behold" in that very moment were Judas was about to touch it? This is just speculation and I would hope somebody could shed more light on this, as it is such a central and important topic regarding our faith.

[/quote]

Perhaps we at times fail to see the forest for the trees. Whether or not Judas received the Body and Blood of Christ in the Eucharist is not the message and in itself does not teach us. God has always made His love and mercy available to his people if we choose to repent and accept Him, whether it be before or after the institution of the Eucharist which since its inception gave us a new starting point for all future generations to seek Him and acquire His forgiveness and love and a means to retain it. The Eucharist provides us the means to enter into the covenant with Christ in His Blood in the repentance of our sins which includes the changing of our ways and putting on “the new man”. If Judas received the Eucharist he did so no differently than many who receive it unworthily today yet many do. This is why it is said one takes on the responsibility for the Body and Blood of Christ if they accept it unworthily. Neither Judas’ free-will nor that of anyone else is ever taken away from them should they choose to sin and that includes receiving the Eucharist but it is a defiling of the Body and Blood of Christ to receive in a state of serious sin. Jesus is just as aware today who receives unworthily as He was in the beginning.

We must also remain aware to the fact the scripture verses we are reading express only in part what the apostles learned and taught but are not complete recordings of Christ’s teachings and the contents of the gospels were written, identified in their authenticity and validity, compiled and presented by the Catholic Church to teach the Catholic faith. If the origin of the Church came from the Bible one would have reason to assume the Church should follow the Bible only. However, the texts of the Gospels came from those early teachers of the Catholic Faith chosen by Christ Himself to pass on the Word and establish His Church which history shows they did. Their texts (the gospels) were partial writings from their preaching but their preaching was presented personally to all men, women and children of whom they taught, many who later succeeded them in their bishoprics. The Bible was introduced in the fourth century to aid in the Church’s teaches, not the other way around, and it should be realized that source of the Bible, the Church, would know best the fullness of those teachings.

I hope this helps my brother...


#17

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