IN AN UNWORTHY MANNER
Dr. Oya Townsley
1 Cor. 11:29-- “For he who eats and drinks in
an unworthy manner eats and drinks judgment to himself, not discerning the
In 2 Tim. 2:15, God admonishes us to study the
Word and to rightly divide the Word. Often, believers and non-believers, alike,
take scriptures out of context and misrepresent what the Holy Spirit intended
for us to grasp. One such scripture is 1 Cor.11:29.
An erroneous interpretation of 1 Cor. 11:29
pertains to the phrase “unworthy manner”. Misunderstood, many have taken this
phrase to mean that if one renders his/her overall conduct as less than
righteous then they should consider themselves as not worthy to partake of the
Holy elements and, thereby, spare themselves judgment for doing so. Little
attention has been given to the words “not discerning the Lord’s body” which
appear at the end of the same verse and actually clarify the meaning of the
words “unworthy manner”. When we examine the context in which Paul was
speaking, we see that he was chastising those who would dare to come to the
ceremony of the Lord’s Supper without “properly discerning” it’s significance,
as one who is not “in Christ and completely ignorant." Paul was rebuking the
church at Corinth for the irreverent way they approached the observance. Some
were getting drunk. Some were eating to only satisfy their hunger. Equally
grievous was the behavior of those who were eating ahead of others, completely
ignoring the significance of breaking bread in unison as one body.
Those who maintain that the phrase “eating and drinking
in an unworthy manner” (verse 29) means that one must assess their eligibility to
take communion should consider the serious implication of this.
interpretation renders vain, all confessions of one’s sins to be cleansed of all
unrighteousness (1 John 1:9), God’s provision for our sins; and
such an interpretation renders the blood of Jesus insufficient to atone for all
There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ (Ro.
8:1). It is written that “all fall short of the glory of God” (Ro. 3:23).
Therefore, 1 Cor. 11:29 is not admonishing us to assess whether our
acts have been righteous enough to partake of the Holy Communion.
Let us rest in the confession of our faith and the
cleansing power of Jesus’ blood, once and for all. If you believe in the birth,
death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ, have surrendered your heart to
Him, reverence Him and properly discern His body and finished work at the cross
as you partake of the Holy sacraments, then you do, indeed, eat and drink in a
worthy manner “proclaiming the Lord’s death until He comes” (1 Cor. 11:26).