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Bible study on communion.

The partaking of unleaven bread and the fruit of the vine which is called the Lord's Supper or Communion is a glorious privilege for Christians established by Jesus the evening before His crucifixion. It is evident from scripture and history that disciples in the first century partook of the Lord's Supper every first day of the week. This apostolic example is set forth in Acts 20:6-7 when Paul stayed at Troas a week waiting for the first day of the week (Sunday) to break bread with the disciples. When we partake of the Lord's Supper, we are communing with Jesus by sharing in the supper and in proclaiming His death. I hope that the following study will be helpful in understanding the fellowship Christians have with Christ in partaking of the Lord's Supper.

Communion is a term not often used in our society today. At first, some people may think that communion is an act exercised by extremist that live in communes. But, the Bible teaches us to commune with different individuals in various ways. To better understand communion as it relates to the Lord's Supper in I Cor. 10:16, we can study the word as it is used in other passages and by examining the Greek word's different English translations.

Communion simply means to fellowship or participate with another by sharing in a particular activity. Look at the following examples of the Greek word koinonia which is translated communion to note some of the different ways that the word is translated into English:

  • Rom. 15:26 "For it pleased ... to make a certain contribution for the poor among the saints..."
  • I Cor. 1:9 "God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of His Son, ..."
  • II Cor. 6:14 "And what communion has light with darkness?"
  • II Cor. 9:13 "while, through the proof of this ministry, they glorify God for the obedience of your confession to the gospel of Christ, and for your liberal sharing (distribution - AV) with them and all men,"
  • II Cor. 13:14 "The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen."
  • I John 1:3 "that which we have seen and heard we declare to you, that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ."

According to the New King James and Authorized Version quoted above, the Greek word koinonia is translated as contribution, fellowship, sharing and communion. Koinonia is also translated communication and communicate in other passages. The English words fellowship and communion express the relationship of the parties involved while the English words contribution, sharing, communication and communicate express the action that is involved in the relationship.

For example, in Romans 15:26 the act of fellowship between the Macedonian and Achaian saints with the poor saints in Jerusalem was the financial contribution made by the saints and sent to Jerusalem. Therefore, the Greek word koinonia was translated contribution which was the action of fellowship/communion between the two parties.

What does communion mean as it relates to the Lord's Supper I Cor. 10:16? Notice the following:

  1. Notice that it is the communion of the blood and body of Christ.
  2. Notice that the communion involves the participation of Christians.
  3. Notice that the Christians were one body as they partook of one bread vs 17.
  4. Notice that the Christians had fellowship/shared (not the Greek word koinonia, but koinonos which means an act in order to have communion or fellowship) with demons if they sacrificed to idols.
  5. Notice that Christians can not fellowship with both God and the demons by partaking of the Lord's table and sacrificing to demons (vs 21-22). The Corinthians were in fellowship with the Lord if partaking of the Lord's table and they were in fellowship with demons if they were sacrificing to idols - God would not allow them to do both because He is a jealous God (vs. 20- 22).

Therefore, we conclude that the communion of the blood and body of Christ is the act of communing/fellowship with Christ. And, if our fellowship is with Christ then also we have fellowship with God. Furthermore, our fellowship with Christ by partaking of the bread and cup must be while properly discerning the Lord's body (11:29).

Since communion is one of the few means by which we have close fellowship with Christ, why do you think some men have limited it observance? Perhaps it is because some denominations desire their members to be more closely attached to the denomination than to Christ, or maybe it is an inconvenience to prepare and serve the communion each week. I also wonder why some men who have limited the partaking of the communion have not limited the collection of money since we have the apostolic example to both commune and give on the first day of the week?