Sharers in the Altar (10:18)
Now that we've studied the role of the priests in the sacrifice, we can see the point Paul is making. Look again at Paul's statement:
"Consider the people of Israel: Do not those who eat the sacrifices participate (koinōnos) in the altar?" (10:18)
Just as the priests were sharers in the sacrifice made on the altar of burnt offering,3 Paul is saying that you and I, as we eat of the Lord's Supper, become sharers in the offering of Christ on the cross for our sins.
This is a very profound thought indeed! If this is too mystical for your logical, rational brain, give it time. Meditate upon this passage and its reference to Old Testament sacrifice.
Q4. (1 Corinthians 10:18) In what way did the priests participate in the altar by eating of the Old Testament sacrifices? How does Paul connect this observation with our participation with Christ's sacrifice?
Sharers in the Cross
There is a sense that as we partake of the Lord's Supper we become participants in the Christian altar of sacrifice -- the cross. When we partake, we connect with the sacrifice and become sharers in it -- in Him -- in Christ's sacrifice for us.
During the Reformation, people argued about whether or not the Real Presence was in the sacrament. Whether or not that is the case, there is a Real Connection to Christ and his sacrifice in the Lord's Supper.
Yes, the Lord's Table is a memorial meal that looks back to Christ's sacrifice. But it is more. It is a meal that connects us now to Christ's sacrifice. We become participants, sharers, in a real sense.
This is one reason that the Lord's Supper is called "communion" in the KJV. This word describes the real but mystical connection that the Lord's Supper provides between us and Christ. In eating and drinking we can "commune" with him and he with us.
When I partake I become afresh a sharer in Christ's sacrifice. I indicate my stake, my share, in the sacrifice by eating of the symbolic portion in the Lord's Supper.
This is not just an outward form, but a symbol with great power in it connecting you and me directly to Christ's sacrifice for our sins.