Participation with Demons Forbidden
1. With what argument against demonism does Paul follow up his explanation of the Lord’s evening meal?
THE apostle Paul followed up his explanation of the Lord’s evening meal saying: “Because there is one loaf, we, although many, are one body, for we are all partaking of that one loaf. Look at that which is Israel in a fleshly way: Are not those who eat the sacrifices sharers with [or, in] the altar? What, then, am I to say? That what is sacrificed to an idol is anything, or that an idol is anything? No; but I say that the things which the nations sacrifice they sacrifice to demons, and not to God, and I do not want you to become sharers with the demons [to participate in demons, Mo]. You cannot be drinking the cup of Jehovah and the cup of demons; you cannot be partaking of ‘the table of Jehovah’ and the table of demons. Or ‘are we inciting Jehovah to jealousy’? We are not stronger than he is, are we?”—1 Cor. 10:17-22, NW.
2. How did ancient Israelites share with God’s altar?
2 In ancient Israel, when they offered peace-offerings and thank-offerings, the offerers as well as the priests ate parts of the sacrifices. The sacrifice to God represented the person offering it, to illustrate that a life must go for his life; and by eating part of the sacrifice he was partaking of the sacrifice with the altar. He was sharing with the altar, ‘participating in the altar.’ (Mo) The altar got part of the sacrifice, for some parts of it, the fat, etc., were burned upon the altar; and the person offering the sacrifice through the priest got part of the sacrifice. It was offered to Jehovah God; and as the altar was His, the offerer and the Lord God had fellowship together. (Lev. 19:5, 6; 22:29, 30; Deut. 12:17, 18; 27:5-7) So peaceful relations were either renewed or furthered between God and the offerer.
3. Why cannot partakers of the loaf be also partakers with demons?
3 The Gentile nations outside of Israel sacrificed on their altars to their gods and idols. They really sacrificed to demons. When the Israelites turned aside from Jehovah, “they sacrificed to demons, to no-gods.” (Deut. 32:17, Mo; Ps. 106:37) In that way they had fellowship with the demons, the foes of Jehovah; they ‘participated in demons’. (Mo) Christians must not be sharers with demons. For that reason they may not engage in idolatry. This means greed, too, for a ‘greedy person is an idolater’ and ‘covetousness is equal to idolatry’. (Eph. 5:5; Col. 3:5) Jesus never worshiped or served demons. When Satan the Devil, “the ruler of the demons,” offered Jesus the kingdoms of this world in exchange for Jesus’ worship, Jesus replied that he obeyed the divine command to worship only Jehovah God. (Matt. 12:24; 4:8-11, NW) Jesus worshiped no idol, only the living God. In no way did he participate or have fellowship with demons. All through his earthly ministry he expelled demons from possessed persons and he refused to let them testify that he was Christ. Hence if we want to have unity with Christ as members of his body and if we want to partake of Memorial emblems in a worthy manner, we cannot indulge in idolatry of any sort. Especially so now when worldly organizations and heroes are idolized, such as the United Nations and famous world figures. We cannot be “one body” or “one loaf” with Christ Jesus and at the same time be idolaters.
“THE TABLE OF JEHOVAH” AND “THE CUP OF JEHOVAH”
4. In connection with Memorial why does Paul speak of Jehovah’s cup and table?
4 But if the apostle has reference to the cup which Jesus gave his disciples to drink from and to the loaf of unleavened bread which he broke for them to eat, why does he speak of the “cup of Jehovah” and the “table of Jehovah”? He says: “You cannot be drinking the cup of Jehovah and the cup of demons; you cannot be partaking of ‘the table of Jehovah’ and the table of demons.” (1 Cor. 10:21, NW) The apostle so speaks because the things symbolized by the Memorial emblems were provisions made by Jehovah in behalf of those belonging to Christ.
5. From what prophecy was “the table of Jehovah” quoted by Paul, and to what did it there apply?
5 Paul’s expression “the table of Jehovah” is understood by textual critics* to be quoted from Malachi 1:7, 12 (Greek LXX). The prophet Malachi there says: “Ye offer polluted bread upon mine altar. And ye say, Wherein have we polluted thee? In that ye say, The table of Jehovah is contemptible. But ye profane it [God’s name], in that ye say, The table of Jehovah is polluted, and the fruit thereof, even its food, is contemptible.” (AS) As Malachi uses it, “the table of Jehovah” applies to his altar, to which the animal sacrifices were brought. The body of the victim was laid on the altar. The blood of the victim was never drunk, but was poured at the altar base or taken into the Most Holy of the temple or otherwise disposed of.
6, 7. According to the connection Paul gives it, how is it the table of Jehovah?
6 “The table of Jehovah” may have reference to the entire arrangement of the Lord’s evening meal. But if it refers to one particular feature of it, then it must be to the unleavened bread, for it is bloodless. The loaf represents the “body of Christ” in which Jesus’ little flock of Kingdom joint heirs share. It is God that has arranged for the “body of Christ”. He creates it, setting the members of it according to his pleasure, Jesus Christ to be Head of the body and the 144,000 members of the “little flock” to be the body beneath him, each occupying an assigned place. So the privilege of being associated with Jesus the Head is a glorious provision which God has made for those of the little flock, and to them alone is this privilege given.
7 On this point we read: “Now we know that God makes all his works cooperate together for the good of those who love God, those who are the ones called according to his purpose; because those whom he gave his first recognition he also foreordained to be patterned after the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. Moreover, those whom he foreordained are the ones he also called; and those whom he called are the ones he also declared to be righteous. Finally those whom he declared righteous are the ones he also glorified.”—Rom. 8:28-30, NW.
8, 9. To whom is this privilege of being Christ’s body-members given? How is unity with it consistently maintained?
8 So this provision of union with his firstborn Son in one spiritual body was given or worked out by Jehovah God for the “little flock”, eleven members of which were with Jesus when he established the Memorial. In order to stay in union with the Head Jesus Christ it is necessary to keep patterned after his image by copying him in his earthly course. That is why we are told: “Do not become unevenly yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership do righteousness and lawlessness have? Or what fellowship does light have with darkness? Further, what harmony is there between Christ and Belial? Or what portion does a faithful person have with an unbeliever? And what agreement does God’s temple have with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; just as God said: ‘I shall reside among them and walk among them, and I shall be their God, and they will be my people.’ ‘“Therefore get out from among them, and separate yourselves,” says Jehovah, “and quit touching the unclean thing,’” “‘and I will take you in.’” “‘And I shall be a father to you, and you will be sons and daughters to me,” says Jehovah the Almighty.’ Therefore, since we have these promises, beloved ones, let us cleanse ourselves of every defilement of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in God’s fear.”—2 Cor. 6:14 to 7:1, NW.
9 So we cannot compromise the “table of Jehovah”. We cannot participate in the body of Christ and take a piece of the Memorial loaf and at the same time partake of the “table of demons”, worshiping idols, and having unclean connections. If we try to do so, we incite Jehovah, who is stronger than we are, yes, almighty, to jealousy; and that would mean our destruction.—Deut. 32:21-26.
10. By its connection with the new covenant, how is the Memorial cup the “cup of Jehovah”?
10 Now as to the “cup of Jehovah”. Jesus offered the Memorial cup to his disciples with the words: “This cup means the new covenant by virtue of my blood, which is to be poured out in your behalf.” (Luke 22:20, NW) This same cup is the “cup of Jehovah” because the new covenant is the agreement or contract he makes in order to take out of all nations a “people for his name”. But it is Christ Jesus who acts as mediator between God and men by providing the sacrificial blood to put that new covenant into force, just as Moses slaughtered animal victims and sprinkled their blood in order to put the ancient Law covenant into force between God and fleshly Israel. (Jer. 31:31-34; Acts 15:14; Ex. 24:1-8; Heb. 9:14-24; 1 Tim. 2:5, 6) The ones taken into this new covenant are the “people for his name”, beginning with the faithful Jewish remnant at Pentecost and later taking in the Gentile believers from the centurion Cornelius onward. All these Jehovah God anoints with his spirit, by this making them anointed ones or members of the “body of the Christ”. These God gathers to him, saying: “Gather yourselves unto me—ye my men of loving-kindness, who have solemnised my covenant over sacrifice [Christ’s sacrifice].” (Ps. 50:5, Ro) This new covenant is an additional fact which shows that the privilege of drinking of the cup at the Memorial celebration is limited to those who are members of Christ’s body.
HOW THE CUP IS SHARED
11. How did Jesus indicate there is another sense to the cup, making it the “cup of Jehovah” in which his followers might share?
11 These members do not share in providing the blood of the new covenant. Only Jesus does that. By his blood he mediates the new covenant in their behalf. And so the body members could not in that sense be “sharing in the blood of the Christ”. How, then, can the apostle’s words be true: “The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not a sharing in the blood of the Christ?” (1 Cor. 10:16, NW) Because this cup is the “cup of Jehovah” in still another sense. How so? In that it pictures the portion which Jehovah has poured. Jesus and his little flock of Kingdom joint heirs must drink it in order to prove their integrity to Him and their worthiness of the Kingdom. This is the cup to which Jesus referred when, shortly after introducing the Memorial, he prayed: “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass away from me. Yet, not as I will, but as you will.” And, again: “My Father, if it is not possible for this to pass away except I drink it, let your will take place.” (Matt. 26:39, 42, NW) And when Peter, to defend Jesus, wounded one of the men who came out to arrest him, Jesus said: “Put the sword into its sheath. The cup that the Father has given me, should I not by all means drink it?”—John 18:11, NW.
12. How also was it shown to be a “cup of salvation”?
12 That “cup of Jehovah” symbolized God’s will for the drinker, and drinking it spelled suffering and death on the disgraceful torture stake for Jesus. But God’s will for Jesus did not end in his death. It also included the resurrection of Jesus from the dead to immortal life in heaven as a glorified Son of God, and so a saving of him out of death. (Heb. 5:7) It was therefore for him a “cup of salvation” also, salvation for holding fast his integrity to his Father without sin. Here the words of Psalm 116, which applies in particular to Jesus Christ in Gethsemane, are fitting, because Jesus determined to drink the “cup of Jehovah” even to the death: “What shall I render unto Jehovah for all his benefits toward me? I will take the cup of salvation, and call upon the name of Jehovah. I will pay my vows unto Jehovah, yea, in the presence of all his people. Precious in the sight of Jehovah is the death of his saints.”—Ps. 116:12-15, AS.
13. What was it Jesus said that made it sure his followers would drink the cup with him? What about it made it hard to drink?
13 But according to God’s will the cup which Jesus was given to drink he also shares with his little flock of Kingdom joint heirs. This he made sure when he said to two of his apostles who applied for specific seats in the Kingdom with him: “The cup I am drinking you will drink, and with the baptism with which I am being baptized you will be baptized. However, this sitting down at my right or at my left is not mine to give, but it belongs to those for whom it has been prepared.” (Mark 10:34-40, NW) The cup which Jesus was then drinking and which his heavenly Father had poured and given him was God’s will for him. This will was recorded aforetime in the Holy Scriptures and it marked out suffering and a disgraceful death for him as if he were a sinner, a blasphemer and a reproach to Jehovah God. This latter feature was what made it so hard for Jesus to drink, so that he took the matter to his Father three times in prayer and then resigned himself to drinking this portion of the divine will. This course led to gaining the Kingdom.
14, 15. What is the purpose of this potion in the cup both as to Jesus and as to his followers?
14 Here we see that the Memorial cup represented more than Jesus’ dying as a ransom sacrifice, a sacrifice that would validate the new covenant and remove the sins of his disciples who are taken into the covenant. The disciples have no part at all in the ransom sacrifice and in mediating the new covenant, but they themselves need the ransom sacrifice and Jesus’ mediatorship. So now note this: The ransom sacrifice for mankind did not itself require Jesus to suffer reproach and persecution and finally to pass out of this life in disgrace like a condemned criminal, seditionist and blasphemer. That part of the potion in the cup was poured in by the Father to test to the limit the integrity of the Son of God and to prove the Devil a liar in his charges against God’s Son and to show Jesus’ unswerving support of God’s universal sovereignty.
15 This portion of the cup Jesus had to drink in order to prove before all the universe his worthiness to the Kingdom for which God had covenanted with him. He must sell all he had for this “pearl of high value”. (Matt. 13:45, 46, NW) And since Jesus took his disciples into the covenant for the Kingdom with him, they also are obliged to drink this cup with him, in order likewise to demonstrate their integrity toward God and to uphold his universal sovereignty and to prove their worthiness to reign with Jesus Christ in heavenly glory. So they drink of the cup with him.
16. What scriptures does Paul write them showing they must share in Jesus’ death and so drink the cup?
16 Hence it is written to the “little flock” of footstep followers: “Trustworthy is the saying: Certainly if we died together, we shall also live together; if we go on enduring, we shall also rule together as kings.” (2 Tim. 2:11, 12, NW) Those who are incorporated into the “body of Christ” (symbolized by the Memorial loaf) must be baptized into his death if they wish to be part of his glorified “body” in the heavens. So the apostle asks the members of Christ’s body: “Seeing that we died with reference to sin, how shall we keep on living any longer in it? Or do you not know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? Therefore we were buried with him through our baptism into his death, in order that, just as Christ was raised up from the dead through the glory of the Father, we also should likewise walk in a newness of life. For if we have become united with him in the likeness of his death, we shall certainly also be united with him in the likeness of his resurrection.”—Rom. 6:2-5, NW.
17. What does the Memorial wine itself represent, and hence what does drinking it mean?
17 This same apostle, when in prison at Rome, wrote that he counted all selfish earthly advantages as a “lot of refuse, that I may gain Christ and be found in union with him, . . . so as to know him and the power of his resurrection and a sharing in his sufferings, submitting myself to his kind of death, to see if I may by any means attain to the earlier resurrection from the dead.” (Phil. 3:8-11, NW) Since the contents of the Memorial cup represented “his kind of death” in vindication of Jehovah’s universal sovereignty, Jesus fittingly said that the wine meant “my blood” and he gave it to his disciples to drink.
18, 19. How, then, is it a “cup of blessing” for which we bless God?
18 As the Memorial wine represents shed blood, it spells death to the one whose blood was spilled for the new covenant. According to Jehovah’s covenant made with Noah right after the flood, he safeguarded all creature blood as sacred and made the drinking of the blood, and especially human blood, deserving of death to the drinker. (Gen. 9:1-6) Now when the disciples drink the cup of Memorial wine, they are in symbol drinking blood, but drinking under divine command. So it means for them to shed their blood or to die as Jesus Christ did in the cause of his Father’s universal sovereignty. They undertake death with him, that they might prove the Devil a lying rebel and prove themselves worthy of life with Jesus in his heavenly kingdom. For this reason the apostle wrote them: “The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not a sharing in the blood of the Christ?”
19 Yes, it is a “cup of blessing” over which we bless God. It indeed represents death with Jesus Christ, baptism into his death, but to share in that kind of death is a privilege. As the apostle wrote from his prison: “To you the privilege was given in behalf of Christ, not only to put your faith in him, but also to suffer in his behalf.” (Phil. 1:29, NW) That cup has God’s blessing, for it represents God’s will for Jesus and his little flock. That cup or the privilege of drinking out of it was given for the little flock that they might display their integrity on earth now to the utmost and might gain an “entrance into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ”. (2 Pet. 1:11, NW) So with deep appreciation those privileged to drink the cup bless God for it. For it is a privilege to vindicate him by death with Christ and afterward to be resurrected by him to immortal life in Christ’s kingdom for the further vindication of His universal sovereignty.
20. In whose remembrance is it drunk, and why?
20 Since it is Christ’s death that validates the new covenant, and since he set the example in death and his disciples are baptized into his death, they drink the cup in remembrance of him.
21. Why, then, is the Memorial cup not for the “other sheep” to drink?
21 These facts help the great crowd of “other sheep” today to discern that the Memorial cup is not for them to drink. They are not dying Christ’s death, but if any die before the battle of Armageddon, they die like the faithful men and women who were Jehovah’s witnesses before Christ. They do not sacrifice the flesh or earthly hopes for the new world, but they are marching forward to life in the paradise earth in the new world. Many will pass through Armageddon and enter that world without dying. So properly they refrain from partaking of the Memorial cup.
EATING AND DRINKING FOR LIFE IN ONESELF
22. Does not John 6:51 indicate all believers should partake?
22 But is not the above contradicted by Jesus’ words to the Jews about the miraculous manna? Did he not say: “I am the living bread that came down from heaven; if anyone eats of this bread he will live forever; and, for a fact, the bread that I shall give is my flesh in behalf of the life of the world”? (John 6:51, NW) Note those words “my flesh in behalf of the life of the world”. Do they not indicate that all believers in Christ, regardless of whether their hopes for life in the new world are earthly or heavenly, may partake, yes, must partake of the Memorial bread and also of the wine? The answer to this question is No!
23. What discussion led up to that statement, and how does bread correspond to the flesh Jesus gives for the world’s life?
23 At the time Jesus uttered the above words he was discussing the manna which provided miracle bread for the Israelites in their wilderness journey to the Promised Land. The manna bread did not give life eternal to the Israelites and mixed multitude with them. So Jesus said: “I am the bread of life. Your forefathers ate the manna in the wilderness and yet died. This is the bread that comes down from heaven, so that anyone may eat of it and not die.” So he explained that the bread he gave for the life of the world was his flesh. (John 6:48-51, NW) However, those Israelites in the wilderness did not drink blood of any kind, for they were forbidden to do so, not only by the divine covenant with Noah their ancestor but also by the stated terms of the Law covenant through their mediator Moses. The manna from heaven which they ate was bloodless, and in this sense it was like Jesus’ flesh. Flesh could not be eaten unless drained of its blood. Hence what obedient mankind of the new world will partake of for everlasting life will be like bloodless flesh, which Jesus provided by coming down from heaven.
24. What else did he speak of besides flesh for the world’s life?
24 So Jesus spoke of something more than the manna for the life of the world when he said: “Most truly I say to you, Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. He that feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has everlasting life, and I shall resurrect him at the last day; for my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. He that feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood remains in union with me, and I in union with him. Just as the living Father sent me forth and I live because of the Father, he also that feeds on me, even that one will live because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven. It is not as when your forefathers ate and yet died. He that feeds on this bread will live forever.”—John 6:53-58, NW.
25. So feeding on his flesh and drinking his blood results in what? And what does “life in you” here mean?
25 Note that Jesus here said that those drinking his blood as well as eating his flesh remain in union with him and he in union with them. This means that they are made members of his body, being baptized into Christ and thereby being baptized into his kind of death. Jesus’ food was to do his Father’s will, and they feed on Jesus’ flesh by doing God’s will together with Jesus and finishing it as he did. (John 4:34) Unless his disciples take this course, they have no life in them. “Life in you” does not necessarily mean inherent life or immortality in the heavens, but has a meaning similar to that mentioned by Jesus when he said: “The hour is coming, and it is now, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God and those who have given heed will live. For just as the Father has in himself the gift of life, so he has granted to the Son to have also in himself the gift of life.” (John 5:25, 26, NW; Knox) So for the members of the body of the Christ to have ‘life in themselves’ means to share the privilege with Jesus of bestowing the benefits of his sacrificed life upon obedient mankind during the thousand years of his kingdom. They will become his heavenly bride, “the Lamb’s wife.” As such they will mother the earthly children of the “Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace”, Jesus Christ. (Rev. 19:7-9; 21:9, 10; Isa. 9:6) So the “little flock”, the “bride” class, are the exclusive ones that drink the blood of the Son of man as well as feed on his flesh. However, there at John 6:25-58 Jesus was not discussing the Memorial supper with those Jews, many of whom then forsook him.
Look! I say to you: Lift up your eyes and view the fields, that they are white for harvesting. Already the reaper is receiving a reward and gathering fruit for everlasting life.—John 4:35, 36, NW.
Westcott and Hort; D. Eberhard Nestle and D. Erwin Nestle; A. Merk, S.J.