Shelby G. Floyd
And when James, Cephas, and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that was given unto me, they gave to me and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship; that we should go unto the heathen, and they unto the circumcision.—Galatians 2:9 KJV
In this lesson we shall further examine the fellowship of both the Jew and the Gentile in spiritual things: “It pleased them indeed, and they are their debtors. For if the Gentiles have been partakers of their spiritual things, their duty is also to minister to them in material things” (Romans 15:27 NKJV).
FELLOWSHIP WITH THE LORD’S SUPPER
During the time when Jesus ate the last supper with his disciples, he took the unleavened bread and the fruit of the vine, and established a memorial meal commemorative of his death, burial and resurrection. He stated that he would not eat of those elements again until it would be fulfilled in the kingdom of God (Luke 22:14-30). When the kingdom of God was established the members ate the Lord’s Supper on the first day of every week; they were steadfast in their fellowship with the breaking of bread (Acts 2:42; 20: 7).
In the church at Corinth, there were some who not only wanted to eat the Lord’s Supper, but they also wanted to have fellowship with idolatrous worship by eating at the table of devils. In order to correct the situation, Paul, taught them several things: first, he strongly urged them to flee from idolatry (Cf. 1 Corinthians 10:14); secondly, he stated that their communion with the blood and body of Jesus Christ pointed to their unity in the body of Christ, the church: “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? For we being many are one bread, and one body: for we are all partakers of that one bread” (1 Corinthians 10:16-17).
When the members of the church of Christ meet together and take the fruit of the vine and the unleavened bread, they have fellowship with the blood of Christ and with the body of Christ. They have fellowship one with another and with God in eating the Lord’s Supper. In 1 Corinthians 10:16, the word communion is found twice in reference to the blood and body of Jesus Christ; it is from the word koinonia, which means to have fellowship, association, communion, community, joint participation, and in 1 Corinthians 10:16, it refers to our fellowship in the benefits of Christ’s death (Thayer, p. 352). When we gather together and eat the Lord’s Supper, it reminds us of the salvation we enjoy because we have obeyed the gospel and received the benefits of the death of Christ (Cf. Ephesians 1: 3, 7).
1 Corinthians 10:17 states that all of the Corinthians were one bread and one body: the reason being, they were all partakers of that one bread. Those who are members of the church of Christ and who partake of the one bread in the Lord’s Supper are also one body. Therefore, fellowship with the Lord’s Supper points to the unity of worship and the unity of the body of Christ.
The word partaker in 1 Corinthians 10:17, is from metecho, a present active indicative verb, and it means to eat the one bread; therefore, the members of the church who absent themselves from the services of the church on the first day of the week and fail to eat the Lord’s supper do not have fellowship with the body and with the blood of Christ as Christ intended for them to have. They are forsaking that fellowship by forsaking the assembling of themselves together (Hebrews 10:24-25); and in failing to observe the Lord’s Supper, they fail to have fellowship with Jesus Christ in observing his death, burial and resurrection.
In the third place, Paul used Israel after the flesh to illustrate that all who eat the sacrifices of an altar are partakers in the worship of that altar. “Behold Israel after the flesh: are not they which eat of the sacrifices partakers of the altar” (1 Corinthians 10:18)? All of the Jews ate of their offerings and sacrifices of the altar, which indicated they were in fellowship with the worship of that altar. In 1 Corinthians 10: 18, the word partaker is from koinonos, and means that the Jews who ate of the sacrifices offered on the altar became partakers in the worship of that altar (Cf. Thayer, p. 352). Therefore, if the Corinthians ate the sacrifices of the altars offered to heathen gods, demons or spirits, they were having fellowship with idolatrous worship, inasmuch, as those who eat of the sacrifices are partakers of the worship involved in those sacrifices.
In the fourth place Paul emphatically affirms that a child of God cannot eat at the Lord’s table and the table of devils. It would be inconsistent for a child of God to do this. “But I say, that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to devils, and not to God: and I would not that ye should have fellowship with devils. Ye cannot drink the cup of the Lord, and the cup of devils: ye cannot be partakers of the Lord’s table, and of the table of devils” (1 Corinthians 10:20-21). What Paul is simply teaching here is that no man can serve two masters (Matthew 6:24). Since man cannot serve two masters, neither can he be involved in the worship of God and the worship of idols and be pleasing to God. Paul’s argument is simply that if one eats the sacrifices of heathen and idolatrous worship then he fellowships that worship; and since the heathen believed that in offering sacrifices upon their altars they were propitiating the anger of evil spirits; for one to partake or eat of their sacrifices was to have fellowship with their worship, with their doctrine and with devils. In 1 Corinthians 10:20, the word fellowship is from koinonos, and means to be a partaker or sharer in anything. In eating the sacrifices of idolatrous worship, they would have fellowship with devils because the devils were the object of the heathen worship just as God is the object of true worship (Cf. Thayer, p. 352).
In view of the above stated arguments, what can be said of those today who want to have fellowship with worship in the denominations? To participate in denominational worship is to have fellowship with denominational worship. One cannot have fellowship with the Lord and with denominational worship.
QUESTIONS ON THE LESSON
1. When and under what circumstances did Christ establish the Lord’s Supper?
2. Discuss the time and consistency with which the early church partook of the Lord’s Supper.
3. How were the Corinthians attempting to fellowship at the Lord’s Table and the table of devils?
4. Can there be any fellowship between true worship and false worship? Discuss.
5. How does communion with the cup and bread portray our unity in the church?
6. With whom do we have fellowship when we commune in the Lord’s Supper?
7. Define and discuss the words “communion” as used in I Cor. 10: 16.
8. Can one have fellowship with Christ and the church while forsaking the assembly in which the Lord’s Supper is observed? Discuss.
9. Discuss how one has fellowship with the worship of an altar who partakes of the sacrifices of that altar.
10. Can one participate in denominational worship and not have fellowship with denominational worship? Can one have fellowship with God and denominational worship?
27 It pleased them indeed, and they are their debtors. For if the Gentiles have been partakers of their spiritual things, their duty is also to minister to them in material things.
15 And he said to them, “I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. 16 For I tell you I will not eat it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.” 17 And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he said, “Take this, and divide it among yourselves. 18 For I tell you that from now on I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.” 19 And he took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” 20 And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.
42And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers.
7On the first day of the week we came together to break bread. Paul spoke to the people and, because he intended to leave the next day, kept on talking until midnight.
1 Corinthians 10:16-21
16 The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ? 17 Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread. 18 Consider the people of Israel: are not those who eat the sacrifices participants in the altar? 19 What do I imply then? That food offered to idols is anything, or that an idol is anything? 20 No, I imply that what pagans sacrifice they offer to demons and not to God. I do not want you to be participants with demons. 21 You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons. You cannot partake of the table of the Lord and the table of demons.
1 Corinthians 10:17
17 Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all share from the one bread.
Copyright © 2002, 2018 Shelby G. Floyd, All Rights Reserved
Shelby G. Floyd
Heartland Church of Christ
1693 West Main Street
Greenwood, Indiana 46142