Disorder in Corinth Regarding the Lord's Table (11:17-22)
Paul is still trying to correct anomalies in worship in Corinth. He moves now to problems with the Lord's Supper.
"17 In the following directives I have no praise for you, for your meetings do more harm than good. 18 In the first place, I hear that when you come together as a church, there are divisions among you, and to some extent I believe it. 19 No doubt there have to be differences among you to show which of you have God's approval. 20 When you come together, it is not the Lord's Supper you eat, 21 for as you eat, each of you goes ahead without waiting for anybody else. One remains hungry, another gets drunk. 22 Don't you have homes to eat and drink in? Or do you despise the church of God and humiliate those who have nothing? What shall I say to you? Shall I praise you for this? Certainly not!" (11:17-22)
Apparently people in the congregation brought food to the meeting, which was used for the bread and wine as they partook of the Lord's Supper together. But in Corinth, there were several problems:
We can be rightly critical of the Corinthians' sloppy worship. But we can be thankful too. If they had not been out of order, we wouldn't have Paul's wonderful exposition on the meaning and celebration of the Lord's Supper.
The Words of Institution of Lord's Supper (11:23-26)Verses 23-26 are known as the "words of institution," that is, Jesus' words at the first Lord's Supper that instituted or began the long tradition of the Eucharist that we continue today.
"23 For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, 24 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.' 25 In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, 'This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.' 26 For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes." (11:23-26)
The Words of Institution are found in three other places, once in each of the Synoptic Gospels -- Matthew 26:26-29; Mark 14:22-25; and Luke 22:17-20. When you study these side by side you see numerous small differences between. In our passage, Paul probably passes on to the Corinthians what had become a standard recitation of these words in the church. Let's look at each of the phrases one by one.