What is Communion? Participation – 1 Corinthians 10:16-17

What is Communion? Participation – 1 Corinthians 10:16-17

What is Communion? What are we doing here? Maybe you’re more used to calling Communion the Lord’s Supper. That’s fine, but why do we do we also call it communion? In 1 Corinthians Paul talks about communion. But in the chapter right before the famous one when he gives the Words of Institution, which we’ll get to in just a moment, he says this:

1 Corinthians 10:16-17 “Is not the cup of thanksgiving for which we give thanks a participation in the blood of Christ? And is not the bread that we break a participation in the body of Christ? Because there is one loaf, we, who are many, are one body, for we all share the one loaf.” (NIV®)

I’ve underlined one word in verse 16, “participation.” This is the Greek word “koinonia,” which means “communion” or “participation.” If we read a little further we hear Paul say that the pagans who offer food to demons are “participants with demons.” They’re koinonia with them. They’re communing with them. 

When we come to worship and give sacrifices of our time and money to God, there’s something spiritual happening. We’re spiritually communing, participating, with God. This doesn’t mean that we become God, but that we’re being drawn into relationship and worship of God. So as you take communion now God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are inviting you to come and participate in their relationship. 

Maybe you’ve ignored God all week. Maybe you haven’t communed with Christ at all. Now is your opportunity. As I read the Words of Institution, prepare your heart to participate with Christ, to commune with Christ, to koinonia with Christ. 

1 Corinthians 11:23-24 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, he broke it, and said, “This is my body, which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” (ESV)

1 Corinthians 11:25-26 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.” For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes. (ESV)

If you know Christ, take the supper. But if you’re far from him and can’t say you’re participating in a relationship with him, then please hold back. We’re going to come back to What is Communion next month and look at more aspects of koinonia. I hope that by then we’ll all be able to take the Communion together with Christ. Let me pray. 

Pastor Jonathan Romig wrote this reflection on the Lord’s Supper.