The Supper

Yesterday Kak Chandra (I should probably start calling him Rev. Chandra or Rev. Koewoso), in his sermon, argued that there are two types of feast in 1 Cor 11.17-34: the Eucharist (11.23-32) and the congregational feast (11.17-22, 33-34). Unfortunately, yesterday we only read the passage up to verse 32, as reading the final two verses will make the case stronger that there are indeed two types of feast (not everybody will agree with it). The structure of the passage can be described as follow:

A. Directive against misconducts during the church’s feast gathering (17-22)
–B. A call to imitate Jesus during the Last Supper as a paradigm on how to behave during the gathering (23-26)
–B’. What happened if  we misbehaved when we celebrate the Last Supper (27-32)
A’. Based on (B), solution to solve the problem in (A) (33-34)

Paul started v. 23 with “For I received from the Lord what I also passed on you” (23), which echoed what he would be doing later on in chapter 15, when he wrote about the gospel, “For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to Scripture . . .” (15.3) and so on until verse 11. These two sections, 11.23-26 and 15.3-11, indicated some kind of early forms of codified Christian tradition. While the section on chapter 15 would then develop into what various baptismal creeds, the section on chapter 11 would be immortalized inside our liturgy during the celebration of Eucharist. So you could say that 11.23-26 was some kind of proto-Christian liturgy. (Additionally, they indicated the degree of institutionalization that the church had gone through after twenty years of existence.)

Thus, the departure from a specific response to a specific problem in the Corinthian church (17-22) to a retrieval of a semi-formal Christian tradition (23-26) can indeed imply that there is already some kind of differentiation between the church meal gathering (17-22) and the Supper as a sacrament (23-26), although clearly at the beginning they were identical. Indeed, the English translation preserved it better when it said that, because of the church’s misconducts, “when you come together, it is not the Lord’s Supper you eat.” (20) So, at the beginning, church meal gathering is identical or integrated with the so-called “the Lord’s Supper”, before “the Lord’s Supper” had its own life and developed into a sacrament proper.

(Finally, a proper post.)

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