Partaking in a Worthy Manner
1. In 1 Corinthians what does Paul discuss on the Memorial question?
IN REFERRING to the Memorial or the Lord’s evening meal in his first letter to the Corinthians the apostle Paul was discussing, not the question of who should partake of the emblems, but what the emblems meant and how to partake of them worthily or in a worthy manner.
2. How were those Corinthians not celebrating the Memorial consistently, in a worthy manner, and to their own good?
2 At the very beginning of his letter he pointed out that there existed sects and religious divisions among them, and he asked, “Does Christ exist divided?” There were jealousy and strife among them, so that they were not spiritual, but fleshly, and were conducting themselves like worldly men. (1 Cor. 1:11-13; 3:1-4; NW) This did not befit those who partake of the Memorial emblems, for the loaf of bread symbolized the unity of the body of Christ. Neither could they idolize religious leaders and say, “I belong to this one, or, to that one,” nor could they commit self-idolatry by covetousness nor commit any other kind of idolatry, for that was demonism. So those who thus participated in the “table of demons” could not rightly participate in the “table of Jehovah” at the Lord’s evening meal. Also, back there, some were bringing their own suppers or evening meals to the congregation’s meeting place. They had a social meal there immediately before the Lord’s evening meal, indulging in food to excess and getting in no condition to appreciate properly the meaning of the Lord’s evening meal. Besides, they ignored some at their social meal and let them go hungry, so that some might have craved the Lord’s evening meal mainly for a bit of food. All this was not making for the celebration of the Memorial in a worthy manner and to their own good.—1 Cor. 11:17-22.
3, 4. How can partakers become guilty respecting the body and blood of the Lord?
3 So after explaining the instructions he had received from the Lord concerning the Lord’s evening meal, Paul went on to say: “For as often as you eat this loaf and drink this cup, you keep proclaiming the death of the Lord, until he arrives. Consequently, whoever eats the loaf and drinks the cup of the Lord unworthily will be guilty respecting the body and the blood of the Lord. First let a man approve himself after scrutiny, and thus let him eat of the loaf and drink of the cup. For he that eats and drinks eats and drinks judgment against himself if he does not discern the body. That is why many among you are weak and sickly and quite a few are sleeping in death. But if we would discern what we ourselves are, we would not be judged. However, when we are judged, we are disciplined by Jehovah, that we may not become condemned with the world. Consequently, my brothers, when you come together to eat it, wait for one another. If anyone is hungry, let him eat at home, that you may not come together for judgment.”—1 Cor. 11:26-34, NW.
4 So whoever partakes of the Memorial emblems while he is in an unworthy condition and partakes in an unworthy manner by a lack of appreciation becomes guilty respecting the body and the blood of the Lord. All partakers must keenly sense their unity with the Head Jesus Christ in doing God’s will. We must remember him as the vital one with whom to be in union and must not create divisions among ourselves and so destroy the united body. It is Jesus’ blood that validates the new covenant, and we must not act toward that blood as if it were a common thing, willfully sinning by sectarianism, idolatry, greed, and works of the flesh. By that covenant we are a people for Jehovah’s name, and we should honor that name by our lives. Christ Jesus, who provided his blood for the new covenant, died in vindication of Jehovah’s name and universal sovereignty. We should copy him in the kind of death that he died, becoming “united with him in the likeness of his death” that we may also “be united with him in the likeness of his resurrection”. So we must keep ourselves free from guilt against these vital things, not playing hypocrites at the Memorial or Lord’s evening meal.
5. How should we seek to partake worthily?
5 To partake of the emblems worthily we must break away from such guilty practices, since they are out of harmony with our being members of Christ’s body and our taking the Memorial bread and wine. We should scrutinize ourselves with respect to these matters, seek God’s forgiveness for any misbehavior, and then determine to follow right conduct and approve ourselves by God’s measurements before partaking. Otherwise we shall eat and drink divine judgment against ourselves, and that will lead to being disciplined.
6. To avoid disciplining, what must partakers discern? In what way?
6 That will happen to a person “if he does not discern the body”, says Paul. (1 Cor. 11:29, NW) By this the unified body of the Christ is meant. Moffatt’s translation indicates this for us, because here his translation capitalizes the word Body, the same as when it says Christians are “baptized into one Body” and are “Christ’s Body”. Moffatt’s reads: “For he who eats and drinks without a proper sense of the Body, eats and drinks to his own condemnation.” (1 Cor. 11:29; 12:13, 27, Mo) Memorial partakers must keep clearly in mind that they are “Christ’s body”, symbolized by the one loaf, and consequently they must keep unity as “one body”. We must have a “proper sense of the Body”, sensing our personal unity with the Head Jesus Christ. If we do not, then we will become spiritually “weak and sickly” and even be “sleeping in death”, as many of the Corinthians did back there. For this, Jehovah God had to discipline them through his theocratic organization represented by the apostle Paul, that they might not be condemned with the world and be destroyed as it will shortly be. To be spiritually strong, healthy and alive toward God’s organization and its work, we must respect, among other things, what the Memorial means.
TIME AND ORDER OF CELEBRATION
7. On what day of what month do we celebrate Memorial? Why?
7 So with due respect for the Lord’s evening meal we examine the time and order for its celebration. Copying Jesus as to the time when he set up the Memorial, we celebrate it once a year on the 14th day of Nisan, Nisan being the first month of the calendar for Jehovah’s covenant people according to his decree at Exodus 12:1-6. This was passover day, for immediately after observing the Jewish passover as a Jew “under law” Jesus introduced the Memorial to his eleven faithful apostles. By God’s decree, passover was celebrated once a year, on the day that was the anniversary of the first passover held by the Jews in Egypt just before they marched out of that “house of bondage”. On that passover day Jesus died on the torture stake at Calvary, not alone as the great passover, the “Lamb of God”, but also as the Heir of God’s kingdom which will vindicate God’s sovereignty over all creation. So, to “keep proclaiming the death of the Lord, until he arrives”, we properly celebrate it only on its anniversary date, Nisan 14.
8. At what time of day should it be observed? When this year?
8 At what time of day should it be observed? After sundown, or after 6 p.m. Standard Time, for among Jehovah’s ancient covenant-people each new day began at that time and it extended through midnight and the following daylight period until sundown. Hence Memorial must be observed on the night of Nisan 14. Paul says it was “in the night in which he was going to be handed over” that Jesus took the Memorial emblems and handed them out to his apostles. (1 Cor. 11:23, NW) The very name, the Lord’s supper or “the Lord’s evening meal”, shows it was a celebration at night. Also the fact that Paul says to the Corinthians, “Each one takes his own evening meal beforehand,” proves that those first-century Christians celebrated it at night, and not in the morning after each one had taken his breakfast or in the afternoon after taking lunch or the midday meal. (1 Cor. 11:20, 21, NW) Accordingly, the proper time to observe the Lord’s evening meal in 1951 is after sunset or after 6 p.m. of Friday, March 23, for at that time Nisan 14 this year begins.
9. What does the unleavened quality of the bread picture? How does 1 Corinthians 5:7-11 show this?
9 The bread Jesus broke was unleavened, the only kind permitted at passover, as this unleavened quality pictured sinlessness. Discussing why members of Christ’s body should abstain from sin and should not permit gross sinners within their congregational body, the apostle writes the Corinthian Christians: “Clear away the old yeast, that you may be a new lump, according as you are free from ferment. For, indeed, Christ our passover has been sacrificed. Consequently, let us keep the feast, not with old yeast, neither with yeast of injuriousness and wickedness, but with unfermented cakes of purity and truth. In my letter I wrote you to quit mixing in company with fornicators, . . . quit mixing in company with anyone called a brother that is a fornicator or a greedy person or an idolater or a reviler or a drunkard or an extortioner, not even eating with such a man.”—1 Cor. 5:7-11, NW.
10. Why were one loaf and a common cup used for a group?
10 The record shows Jesus used just one loaf; but that was to serve just eleven apostles. Paul’s words at 1 Corinthians 10:16 (NW), “The loaf which we break,” suggests one loaf to a congregation, but does not specify the size of the congregation or the number of partakers to be served. The wine Jesus served was that which was available at the passover in his day, when four, or sometimes even five cups, were served to passover celebrators. (Luke 22:17, 20) Hence if a number partake from one loaf and from one cup, it would be appropriate to symbolize unity and the sharing in common privileges.
11. What does the record show regarding the giving thanks and asking a blessing over the bread and the wine?
11 After taking the loaf Jesus ‘said a blessing’, according to Matthew 26:26 and Mark 14:22, or ‘gave thanks’, according to Luke 22:19. How much of an intermission elapsed between serving the bread first and serving the cup, the combined records do not show, but Mark 14:23-25 (NW) reads: “And taking a cup, he offered thanks and gave it to them, and they all drank out of it. And he said to them: ‘This means my “blood of the covenant” which is to be poured out in behalf of many. Truly I say to you, I shall by no means drink any more of the product of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God.’” Matthew 26:27-29 agrees with that, showing that Jesus gave separate thanks over the cup and after an intermission. Paul’s words, at 1 Corinthians 10:16, “The cup of blessing which we bless,” indicates that a special and separate blessing was said over the cup, for the apostle does not there mention the thanks offered for the bread. But in handing out each emblem Jesus explained the significance of each, showing different features about them.
12. Why may additional words be said over the emblems while they are being served?
12 How much more Jesus said than the brief sentences in the record while he passed out the bread and wine, the writers do not show. In our modern celebrations it is customary for the congregation as well as the chairman to remain very quiet while the emblems are being passed around and some are partaking. Some partakers even bow their heads and offer prayer, as though the prayer the one called upon offered over the emblem partaken of was not enough. But it is possible that Jesus said much more over each emblem as it was served and as the apostles were partaking, for he was not pronouncing some magical formula over each emblem to transubstantiate it. Certainly the accounts of that night do not record all that was said. In the light of this there is no rule against it if some appropriate words are said by the meeting’s chairman as each of the emblems is being passed to the partakers.
13. What was the procedure in the Memorial celebration at the Brooklyn Bethel home last year?
13 Last year, the Brooklyn Bethel family was privileged to celebrate its first Memorial in the Kingdom Hall of the new Bethel home, Saturday night, April 1, 1950. The head of the family, the president of the Watch Tower Bible & Tract Society, presided. After the usual song and opening prayer the president gave the talk of exposition on the Lord’s evening meal. He had read the manuscript copy of the New World Translation of the Christian Greek Scriptures. With this he had pondered over this celebration. So, after finishing the talk, he called for a brother of the remnant to offer thanks for the bread. Then while ushers were serving the bread, allowing each one present to partake if judging himself worthy, the president did not let solemn silence dominate, but offered appropriate comments in further appreciation of the “loaf”. After this was served, he called for another brother of the remnant to ask the blessing upon the cup of wine. This emblem was then served, giving any and all an opportunity to drink of it; and again, while this was being passed, the president added further comments to help all in appreciating more the meaning of the cup and the partaking of it. These incidental comments during passing of the emblems were enjoyed by all, including those there of the “other sheep” who did not themselves partake but observed those of the remnant of Christ’s body partake. It helped to relieve the ceremony of the former heavy atmosphere and somberness which was so depressing to many.
14. Hence what is recommended to all units or companies of us?
14 The above procedure is Scriptural, and we recommend it to all units or companies of God’s devoted people. The one presiding may choose to offer additional remarks during the passing of the bread and then the passing of the wine. If so, let him be choice and to the point in what he says on each emblem. The occasion is one for spiritual edification to all present, to sharpen their discernment and to deepen their appreciation of all the features of the Lord’s evening meal and their privileges in connection with it.
15. Why can the other sheep present rejoice though not partaking of the emblems?
15 Although the “other sheep” present may not be privileged to eat and drink the emblems, they can rejoice that this does not mean condemnation to themselves. Having a “proper sense of the Body”, they can rejoice that the new covenant is reaching its culmination in taking out of earth a people for Jehovah’s name and that now they are privileged to be associated with the remnant of that people, the last of the “body of Christ”. Although not in line to participate in the Memorial emblems, they can rejoice that Christ Jesus is the “Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world”. And just as the circumcised strangers sojourning among the Israelites at the time of the exodus partook of the passover lamb, so too they are now partaking with the spiritual remnant of the antitypical Lamb, exercising faith in Christ’s blood and doing God’s will as he set the example. (John 1:29; Ex. 12:48, 49) While not drinking his blood, they wash their robes and make them white in the blood of the Lamb. (Rev. 7:14) With the remnant they are marching out of this world, and they can look forward to complete deliverance from it at Armageddon, where the world will be engulfed as when Pharaoh’s hosts were destroyed at the Red sea.
16. What features of other meetings are not forbidden to follow the Lord’s evening meal, and why not?
16 When the emblems have been served and partaken of by all the worthy ones, then the Lord’s evening meal is finished. The commandment laid upon those of Christ’s body to keep it has been obeyed. What follows after that in the course of our being met together is not a part of the Lord’s evening meal. So it may be in accord with the usual procedure toward the close of our other meetings, such as making service announcements and arrangements and singing a song and dismissing with prayer. Jesus’ discoursing and praying with his disciples as recorded at John, chapters 14 to 17, was not part of the Lord’s evening meal, but came after it. What he then said to the apostles and offered in prayer was dictated by the urgency of the situation and by the convenience of having them all together for the last time before his betrayal and death. The account also says, “Finally, after singing praises, they went out to the mount of Olives,” and this singing of psalms was customary to the passover season. (Mark 14:26, NW) So our having just celebrated the Memorial does not forbid that these features of our other meetings may not follow the Lord’s evening meal.
17. What follow-up effort worthy of the Memorial this year is recommended with all attenders?
17 Last year at Memorial celebrations throughout the earth 511,203 attended the meeting, although only 22,723 partook. We have good reason to expect that this year still more than a half million will respect this Memorial celebration with their presence. Seeing that we are nearing our complete exodus from this world into the new world, we suggest that all active Kingdom publishers engage in helping the more than half a million attenders out into the field service this coming week end of March 23, 1951. Thus you will aid them in having part in the final witness before the accomplished end of this old world takes place. What a worthy follow-up that would be to the Lord’s evening meal this year in this time of God’s patience with us all for our salvation!—2 Pet. 3:15, NW.
I will by no means drink henceforth any of this product of the wine until that day when I drink it new with you in the kingdom.—Matt. 26:29, NW.