23 For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you: that the Lord Jesus on the same night in which He was betrayed took bread;
24 and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, “Take, eat; this is My body which is broken for you; do this in remembrance of Me.”
25 In the same manner He also took the cup after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood. This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.”
26 For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death till He comes.
I (v.23 – 1st use) — strongly emphasized — Paul received this revelation from the Lord, not from the other apostles (Galatians 1:11-12)
I also delivered (v.23) — Paul had given them this revelation in person, but they hadn’t listened, so he was giving it to them in writing.
This was a special revelation for these Gentiles in the flesh (1 Corinthians 12:2). It was not a continuation of the Passover feast; it was not “delivered” to a congregation which was mainly Jewish; he “delivered” these instructions from the glorified Lord to these saved Gentiles.
Further, this is by no means an ordinance; it is a glad celebration. He himself had written with regard to the ordinances of Judaism: “Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances [i.e., the law], that was against us; which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to His cross” (Colossians 2:14).
Again he says in Ephesians 2:15: “having abolished in His flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances ...”
Ordinances in Scripture are consistently “things ordained,” i.e., for acceptance with God. This is not so with the Lord’s supper. The apostle does not even command his readers to observe it. Rather all is left to grace as he naturally assumes that those so gloriously redeemed will want to celebrate the great sacrifice of their Redeemer. — Stam, pages 194-195.
He was betrayed (v.23) = lit. “He was being betrayed” — The plot by Judas was underway as the Lord spoke. — Emphasizes the seriousness in contrast with the way the Corinthians were behaving.
bread (v.23) — the loaf associated with the Passover meal
given thanks (v.24) = praised, acknowledged the goodness of God
broken (v.24) — in the best manuscripts, this word is the word for “given” — None of His bones was broken.
The idea, which was promulgated early in Church history by an apostate system, that the bread was the actual body of Christ, by transubstantiation, is negatived by the fact that Christ’s human body was present at the table. Moreover, His blood was not yet shed.
Christ had taken a physical body, becoming incarnate, in order that in His atoning sacrifice He might yield His body up to death by crucifixion; this is conveyed in the phrase “which is for you,” and of this bread is the symbol and token. Had He not done so, there would be no spiritual nourishment for us in and by His Person, of which the bread is the emblem. — Vine, page 80
do this (v.24) — giving thanks and breaking off a piece of the load, each for himself
remembrance (v.24) = a bringing to mind — not a memorial
in the same manner (v.25) — as with the bread
this cup is (v.25) — represents the new covenant ratified and sealed by His blood
covenant (v.25) — the Greek word is not the word for an agreement between two parties
Does this mean that the Lord’s Supper concerns the new Covenant made “with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah” (Jeremiah 31:31)? To answer this question let us ask two others. Does the Old Covenant, the Law, concern us Gentiles? Was it not made, also with Israel alone? Yes, but it concerns us, nevertheless, for it was given “that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God” (Romans 3:19), and Paul wrote this to Gentiles.
Then, does not the New Covenant similarly concern Gentile believers? for of a surety, the New Covenant is a replacement of the Old. As Sir Robert Anderson so beautifully put it: “What Israel will one day receive by covenant, we now receive by grace.” It should be noted that the New Covenant, unlike the others, is completely concerned with spiritual blessings, thus it is not Peter, but Paul who, with his co-workers, was an “able minister of the New Covenant” (2 Corinthians 3:6).
Finally, “the blood of the New Covenant” was the only blood our Lord shed, and it is by that blood that we are saved and blessed. Hence the blood which was shed for us was in fact “the blood of the New Covenant,” more significant to us now that it ever could have been to Israel. Thus we gratefully “show the Lord’s death till He come” to a world that goes its way in revelry and sin. — Stam, page 196.
as often (v.25) — every time
till He comes (v.26) — continue doing this until the Lord returns
It’s very difficult to figure out exactly what the “Lord’s supper” is supposed to look like. The commentaries do not agree — one says that we aren’t told to do it but, under grace, want to do it to celebrate what the Lord did for us in His death and resurrection. Another says that if we don’t do it, we will be punished. One says it must be done every week. Others point out that we’re never told how often we should do it. One thinks it should take place in a gathering of believers in a home but never in the church. Others think it must be done in the evening. Most of them seem to be interpreting the passage to support whatever their particular church does with communion.
I’ve tried to pay attention to what Paul is actually instructing the Corinthians to do. It seems to me that it’s a lot less formal that most churches make it — it’s certainly not the tiny piece of stale bread and half a tiny cup of grape juice handed out by ushers like my church does it. I’m not even sure it’s supposed to be a separate “meal.” It seems like it could be read to mean that whenever believers eat together, they should begin and end the meal with remembering what the Lord has done and thanking Him for it. But I haven’t reached any final conclusions.