1 Corinthians 11:23-33
Session Series: Paedocommunion
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“But a man must examine himself, and in so doing he is to eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For he who eats and drinks, eats and drinks judgment to himself if he does not judge the body rightly.” 1 Corinthians 11:28-29
These verses remain the bulwark of anti-paedocommunion arguments. Unfortunately these texts too cannot support the weight unnecessarily placed upon them. In this letter Paul demonstrates that baptism is the unifying mark of the church body (1 Cor 12:12-13). Paul wastes no time in this epistle pointing out the divisions of the Corinthian church within even the context of baptism (1 Cor 1:10-17). So it is unsurprising that Paul says “therefore when you meet together, it is not to eat the Lord’s Supper” because of their persistent divisions (1 Cor 11:17-22). These divisions lead to poor portion control among the eaters.
These crucial verses explain the remainder of the chapter. Each time Paul refers to the Supper he says “body and blood” but in 1 Corinthians 11:29 he merely says “body.” Given the two possibilities one must rely on every contextual clue in this epistle screaming out that this is the church (1 Cor 12:12-13). Paul is saying the people who divide do not properly discern the church and perform damage to themselves. These divisive individuals do not truly participate in the Supper. Though children can be guilty of this through discord, Paul is not laying a theological bar or intellectual bar on communion which would bar children. If merely based upon this text, Calvin and the confessions were wrong to bar children from the table.