1 Corinthians 11:23-26

Welcome back to my study/review of 1 Corinthians. If you missed the previous parts of this study, you can find them HERE.

1 Corinthians 11:23-26

23 For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, 24 and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, “This is my body, which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.”25 In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” 26 For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.


Explaining why he is so upset with them, as described in the previous verses, Paul describes the Lord’s Supper to the Corinthians. He tells them that he taught this to them, as it had previously been taught to him.

The Lord’s Supper is also known as Holy Communion or the Eucharist. An explanation for the rite, and some history, can be read below. Via wiki:

The Eucharist (/ˈjuːkərɪst/; from Koinē Greek: εὐχαριστία, romanized: evcharistía, lit. ’thanksgiving’), also known as Holy Communion and the Lord’s Supper, is a Christianrite that is considered a sacrament in most churches, and as an ordinance in others. Christians believe that the rite was instituted by Jesus at the Last Supper, the night before his crucifixion, giving his disciples bread and wine. Passages in the New Testament state that he commanded them to “do this in memory of me” while referring to the bread as “my body” and the cup of wine as “the blood of my covenant, which is poured out for many”. According to the Synoptic Gospels this was at a Passover meal.

The elements of the Eucharist, sacramental bread (leavened or unleavened) and wine (or non-alcoholic grape juice in some Protestant traditions), are consecrated on an altar or a communion table and consumed thereafter. Christians generally recognize a special presence of Christ in this rite, though they differ about exactly how, where, and when Christ is present.

The Catholic Church states that the Eucharist is the body and blood of Christ under the species of bread and wine. It maintains that by the consecration, the substances of the bread and wine actually become the substances of the body and blood of Jesus Christ (transubstantiation) while the appearances or “accidents” of the bread and wine remain unaltered (e.g. colour, taste, feel, and smell). The Eastern Orthodox and Oriental Orthodox churches agree that an objective change occurs of the bread and wine into the body and blood of Christ. Lutherans believe the true body and blood of Christ are really present “in, with, and under” the forms of the bread and wine (sacramental union). Reformed Christians believe in a real spiritual presence of Christ in the Eucharist. Anglican eucharistic theologies universally affirm the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist, though Evangelical Anglicans believe that this is a spiritual presence, while Anglo-Catholics hold to a corporeal presence. Others, such as the Plymouth Brethren, take the act to be only a symbolic reenactment of the Last Supper and a memorial. As a result of these different understandings, “the Eucharist has been a central issue in the discussions and deliberations of the ecumenical movement.”



The New Testament was originally written in the Greek language and the Greek noun εὐχαριστία (eucharistia), meaning “thanksgiving”, appears a few times in it, while the related Greek verb εὐχαριστήσας is found several times in New Testament accounts of the Last Supper, including the earliest such account:

For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, and when he had given thanks (εὐχαριστήσας), he broke it, and said, “This is my body which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me”.— 1 Corinthians 11:23–24

The term eucharistia (thanksgiving) is that by which the rite is referred to in the Didache (a late 1st or early 2nd century document), by Ignatius of Antioch (who died between 98 and 117) and by Justin Martyr (First Apology written between 155 and 157). Today, “the Eucharist” is the name still used by Eastern OrthodoxOriental OrthodoxCatholicsAnglicansPresbyterians, and Lutherans. Other Protestant denominations rarely use this term, preferring either “Communion”, “the Lord’s Supper”, “Remembrance”, or “the Breaking of Bread”. Latter-day Saints call it “the Sacrament“.

Starting in the text, at verse 23 with Ellicott’s Bible Commentary:

(23) For I have received of the Lord.—Better, For I received from the Lord. Do these words imply that St. Paul had a direct revelation from Christ of the words and facts which he now recalls, or merely that he knew from the accounts given him by others who had been present, what took place on that memorable and solemn occasion?

The whole structure of the passage seems to imply that what follows had been received by St. Paul directly from Christ, and that he is not appealing to a well-known tradition, in which case he would scarcely have used the singular, “I received,” nor to something which he had learnt from the other Apostles, in which case he would not have said “I” emphatically (the word being emphasised by expression in the Greek), nor “from the Lord,” for the other Apostles had not received their knowledge of these facts “from the Lord,” but from their own observation and hearing. How Christ thus communicated these truths to His new Apostle we are not told. The method of communication (whether in a trance, or state of ecstasy, or any other supernatural manner) does not appear to cause either doubt or difficulty to those to whom the Apostle conveyed the information thus miraculously bestowed upon him.

That which also I delivered unto you.—The Apostle was not now for the first time communicating these solemn facts to the Corinthians. He had told them all this before, and therefore they were sinning against knowledge when they degraded a feast which they knew to be so solemn to a purpose so unworthy.

There now follows an account of the institution of the Lord’s Supper, which, as compared with the accounts given in the Gospel narratives (see Matthew 26:26-29Mark 14:22-25Luke 22:19-20), possesses some noteworthy features. The Evangelists (St. Matthew and St. Mark) wrote their accounts many years after the occurrence, and recorded what they remembered to have observed and heard. St. Paul writes here, within a very few years at all events of his having received it, an account of what had been directly communicated by the Lord. This was also most probably the first written record of what occurred on that solemn night

The fact that St. Luke’s narrative agrees most closely with St. Paul’s, would imply, not as some rationalising critics insinuate, that St. Paul was indebted to St. Luke; but that St. Luke attached high value to an account which his companion had received directly from the glorified Christ. The only differences of any importance between St. Luke’s and St. Paul’s narrative are—(1) St. Luke writes “given for you;” St. Paul omits the word “given” (see Note on 1 Corinthians 11:24). (2) St. Luke omits the words “this do ye as oft as ye drink it,” after the giving of the cup; but he implies them by stating that the cup was given “in like manner” to the bread, in connection with which he records these words. The suggestion that St. Luke copied his account of the Last Supper from this Epistle is a mere speculation, and in the highest degree improbable. If that Evangelist had used this Epistle in writing his Gospel, is it likely that he would have been content with giving the somewhat scanty account of our Lord’s appearances after His resurrection, when he had at hand the much ampler record of the appearance to the 500 brethren and to James, which this Epistle contains? (1 Corinthians 15:0)

In all the narratives, however, the outlines of the scene are the same. There can be no mistake as to their all being truthful and (as the minor discrepancies prove) honestly independent records of an actual historical scene. It is worthy of remark that in the heated controversies which have raged around the Eucharistic Feast as to its spiritual significance, its evidential value has been frequently lost sight of. If the Betrayal and Crucifixion are not historical facts, how can we account for the existence of the Eucharistic Feast? Here is an Epistle whose authenticity the most searching and ruthless criticism has never disputed. We have evidence of the existence of this feast and its connection with events which occurred only twenty years before. If we bear in mind that the Apostles were Jews, and yet spoke of that wine which they drank as “blood”—that they were lovingly devoted to the person of Christ, and yet spake of that bread which they ate as His “flesh”—can the wildest imagination conceive of that practice having originated with themselves as their most solemn religious rite, and the profoundest expression of their love to their Lord? Could anything but the record given in the Gospel narrative possibly account for such a ceremony holding such a place in a sect composed of Christianised Jews? A dark conspiracy like that of Catiline might have selected the tasting of human blood as the symbol of the conspirators’ sanguinary hate of all human order and life; but such a band of men as the early Christians certainly could not of their own thought have made such a choice, and publicly proclaimed it. And if this be true—if Jesus, the night before an ignominious death, instituted this strange and solemn rite, which has been handed down century after century in unbroken continuity—can that foresight as to the future of His Church be assigned to one who was less than what Christendom claims her Lord to be? When Christ died His Apostles gave up all as lost, and went back sorrowfully to their old work as fishermen; Christendom was not an afterthought of the Apostles, but the forethought of the Lord.

The same night in which he was betrayed.—These words imply that the history of the Betrayal was familiar, and they also solemnly and touchingly remind the Corinthians of the strange contrast between the events of that night and the scenes in which they indulge now on the same night that they partake of that supper.

This note covers a lot of territory, notably the question of whether Paul was taught the practice of the Lord’s Supper by another believer or by Christ, and also it brings up the topic of drinking blood and eating flesh. To this day, there remains a debte among Christians as to whether the Lord’s Supper should be viewed symbolically or literally.

We do not know explicitly, either from the text in 1 Corinthians, or from other writings, whether Paul obtained this teaching from Christ directly… but the text here seems to say that he did. We can infer that he received it through an intermediary, but that inference has no evidentiary support. Continuing on in The Pulpit Commentaries:

1 Corinthians 11:24

When he had given thanks. The same word is used in St. Luke εὐχαριστήσας)and is the origin of the name Eucharist. St. Mark and perhaps St. Matthew have “having blessed it” (eulogesas)Hence the Eucharist is “this our sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving.” Take, eat. These words are omitted by all the best uncials, 

Which is broken for you. The word “broken” is of doubtful authenticity. Some manuscripts have “given,” and one (D) a milder word for “broken,” as though to avoid any contradiction of John 19:36, where, however, the word is “shall not be crushed.” Since the participle is omitted altogether by א, A, B, C, there can be no doubt that it is a gloss, and accordingly the Revised Version reads, “which is for you.” The “broken” is nevertheless involved in the “he brake it,” which was a part of the ceremony as originally illustrated. The breaking of the bread ought not, therefore, to be abandoned, as in the case when “wafers” are used. This do. St. Luke also has this clause, which is not found in St. Matthew or St. Mark. The variations show that it was the main fact which was essential, not the exact words spoken. In remembrance of me. The words may also be rendered, for a memorial of me, or to bring me to your remembrance.

1 Corinthians 11:25

When he had supped (see Luke 22:27). ‘The cup, like the cos haberachah, was given after the meal was ended. The new testament; rather, the new covenant. The Greek word diathēkē is indeed a “will,” or “testament;” but in the LXX., on which the Greek of the apostles was formed, it always stands for berith, covenant. The Jews knew nothing of the practice of “making wills” till they learnt it from the Romans. The only passage of the New Testament (an expression derived from this very passage through the Vulgate) in which diathēkē means a “testament” is Hebrews 9:16, where the writer reverts for a moment only to this signification of the word to introduce a passing illustration. In my blood. The cup was a symbol of the blood of Christ, because the gospel covenant was ratified by the shedding of his blood. The Jews had an absolute horror, at once religious and physical, of tasting blood. This was the reason why the Synod of Jerusalem forbade even to the Gentiles the eating of “things strangled.” If the apostles had not fully understood that our Lord was only using the ordinary language of Semitic imagery, and describing only a horror and repulsion.

The debate over “transubstantiation” between Catholics and Protestants is complex, but if you would like to see a friendly debate between both sides, let me direct you to the video below:

Finally, we can wrap up this section, at verse 26, in Ellicott:

(26) For as often as ye . . .—The previous verse concluded the account of the institution as conveyed by Christ to St. Paul, and the Apostle himself now again speaks. All this being the true account of the origin of this Supper, as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup (as distinct from other bread and wine) you proclaim the Lord’s death until He come. The Greek word for “ye show” is that used for making a public oral proclamation. The passage does not imply, as some have suggested, that the Lord’s Supper “was a living sermon or an acted discourse,” but, as is still the custom, that when the bread and wine were consecrated to this sacred use, there was an oral declaration made (perhaps in the very words the Apostle here used, 1 Corinthians 11:22-25) of the facts of the original institution. The imperative form given in the margin of the Authorised version is quite inadmissible.

In the pathetic words “until He come” we may find an expression of the belief, perhaps largely due to the hope, that the Second Advent was not far distant.

As mentioned, this is among the most important rites in the Christian life. Paul is understandably upset upon learning that the Church in Corinth was turning a holy rite into something wicked. He continues on in the verses that follow, which I’ll cover in the next post.

Since I’m not really sure where else to put this, and since we are all now better educated on the topic, I wanted to share with neutral or Protestant readers somethin that might be only well known inside the Catholic Church. One source of the miraculous among Catholics involves transubstantiation of the Eucharist. The videos below detail Eucharistic miracles. There are a lot of these “Eucharist miracle” videos online, so if that’s something you are interested in, I encourage you to search the topic out.