“One Body” of Partakers
1. How should eaters of the Lord’s evening meal be in their worship and service of Jehovah, and to what “one body” does Paul refer in arguing for this?
THOSE Christian spiritual Israelites who are in the new covenant should be undivided in their worship and service of Jehovah both individually and as a congregation. That is why, after speaking of the cup and loaf of the Lord’s evening meal, the apostle says to such ones: “Because there is one loaf, we, although many, are one body, for we are all partaking [eating] of that one loaf.” (1 Cor. 10:17, NW) To which body does Paul here refer by the words “one body”? Not to the personal, fleshly body of Jesus which is symbolized by the loaf of unleavened bread. No, but to the entire congregation of spiritual Israelites of which Jesus Christ is the spiritual Head. This congregation under him is later spoken of in this same letter of Paul as Christ’s body: “Now you are Christ’s body, and members individually. And God has set the respective ones in the congregation.”—1 Cor. 12:27, 28, NW.
2. Jesus used just one loaf at the evening meal to indicate what fact, and why is it that Jehovah does not share in the “one body” that Paul mentions?
2 In the first three chapters of this letter Paul shows that the congregation, Christ’s body, should be undivided in its thinking and acting. It must therefore be undivided in its stand toward the Lord’s evening meal and toward all that it obligates a member of the congregation to be and to do. If all members partake of the Lord’s evening meal, then they should stick together and be one body. When setting up the Lord’s evening meal Jesus used just the one loaf, and he did so to indicate that those partaking of the loaf or Jesus’ body of flesh were just “one body” under him their Head. Those spiritual Israelites in the new covenant who partake of the one unleavened loaf are having a meal together in common. By this they picture that they are “one body,” partaking of the same benefits and privileges, eating at the same spiritual table. No matter how many they are, still they are “one body,” for they are “all partaking [eating] of that one loaf.” Jehovah God is not sharing with them in this “one body,” for he is not a member of it. Jesus Christ is the Head of that “one body,” but is under Jehovah. “The head of the Christ is God.” (1 Cor. 11:3, NW) As Head, Jehovah accepted Jesus’ sacrifice.
3. (a) So what act indicates that they are all “one body”? (b) By partaking of Christ’s flesh and blood what have they received from God and to what further privileges has this served as a steppingstone?
3 In itself the one unleavened loaf does not symbolize this “one body” under Jesus. That loaf symbolizes the human body that Jesus sacrificed. The act of eating that loaf in common participation is what indicates that all the eaters are “one body,” “Christ’s body.” By partaking of the flesh and blood of Jesus Christ they have all received justification from God or have been declared righteous. This justification of them in the flesh has not been an end in itself. That is, the matter did not stop there, but this justification or declaring them righteous was given them for a special purpose. What? To serve as a stepping-stone toward their being sacrificed with Christ and then being begotten by Jehovah God to become his spiritual children, a “holy nation, a people for special possession,” in a new covenant with him. (Rom. 5:1, 2, 9; 8:15-17; Jas. 1:18; 1 Pet. 2:9) Then as his spiritual children with a hope of heavenly life Jehovah God anointed them with his spirit, to make them members of Christ’s body. By this he brought them into the covenant for the heavenly kingdom, the covenant that Jesus mentioned right after the Lord’s evening meal, saying to his faithful apostles: “You are the ones that have stuck with me in my trials; and I make a covenant with you, just as my Father has made a covenant with me, for a kingdom, that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom, and sit on thrones to judge the twelve tribes of Israel.”—Luke 22:28-30, NW.
4. By what two things have they been sanctified, and so their participation in the Lord’s evening meal marks them as what?
4 Thus we can appreciate how necessary their being justified or declared righteous now through faith is. They are “sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all time.” Each one of them values the “blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified.” (Heb. 10:10, 29, NW) These are the facts that they symbolize by partaking of the loaf and wine cup. Their joint participation in the Lord’s evening meal marks them as exclusive, as one sanctified body under Jesus Christ the Head. Their sanctification they must maintain.—1 Thess. 4:3, 7.
5. As respects their responsibilities, why must they remember Jesus in the flesh?
5 Hence as one united, sanctified body they recognize that they not only enjoy certain privileges in common but also have certain responsibilities. And in this respect they must remember Jesus in the flesh. He did not come down from heaven to earth just to enjoy the flesh, to enjoy life in the flesh, like the disobedient “sons of God” of Noah’s day. (Gen. 6:1, 4; 1 Pet. 3:19, 20) He was born of a woman and made flesh in order to make special use of that flesh in Jehovah’s service. He suffered in that body, bearing upon it the torture stake of reproach, thus leaving a model to us who are in the flesh. In that body he did Jehovah’s earthly work, even having it baptized in water and afterward preaching the good news of God’s kingdom. He offered it in sacrifice, and so his body was not cast into Gehenna but was buried in a new, unused memorial tomb. (Luke 23:53; Isa. 53:9) Those whom he benefits must follow his steps.
6, 7. What, therefore, must be true of their mortal bodies, and how must they all as one body keep worthy to eat the Lord’s evening meal?
6 Those who partake of the Lord’s evening meal must, like the Lord Jesus, serve Jehovah God. Their mortal bodies must be quickened or made alive through his spirit that resides in them. (Rom. 8:10, NW) They must obey the entreaty: “Present your bodies a sacrifice living, holy, acceptable to God, a sacred service with your power of reason.” (Rom. 12:1, NW) They must lay down their lives sacrificially in Jehovah’s service, thus using up their earthly lives but also living like Christ. Says Paul: “Always we endure everywhere in our body the death-dealing treatment given to Jesus, that the life of Jesus may also be made manifest in our body. . . . that the life of Jesus may also be made manifest in our mortal flesh.” (2 Cor. 4:10, 11, NW) The mortal bodies of those eating the Lord’s evening meal must be kept clean from immorality. To them Paul says: “The body is not for fornication, but for the Lord, and the Lord is for the body. Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I, then, take the members of the Christ away and make them members of a harlot? Never may that happen! . . . you do not belong to yourselves, for you were bought with a price. By all means, glorify God in the body of you people.”—1 Cor. 6:13, 15, 19, 20, NW.
7 Our bodies are slaves of Jesus, brand-marked. (Gal. 6:17, NW) Our bodies are not for demonism, for Satan the Devil is the head of that religion. But Jesus Christ is the Head of his body, the congregation. This body is called, not to division, not to racial hatred, not to nationalism, but to peace and unity. (Col. 3:15; Eph. 2:14-18) It must keep clean from the leaven of malice and wickedness and keep united as “one body,” worthy to eat of the “one loaf” symbolically at the Lord’s evening meal and by faith each day.
8. In drinking the wine cup why must they remember Christ’s blood and also the special responsibilities that have come upon them?
8 When drinking the wine cup the body members must remember Christ’s blood, for by it they have received the forgiveness of sins, leading to their justification, and they have been taken into the new covenant. Hence special responsibilities have come upon them, and by drinking of the wine in the cup, which cup pictures the “cup of Jehovah,” they want it understood that they recognize these responsibilities. That is, they must “be ministers of a new covenant” and serve the ends of that covenant. (2 Cor. 3:6, NW) They have become a “royal priesthood,” being spiritual priests of God and underpriests of Jesus Christ the High Priest. This means they offer to God the “spiritual sacrifices” of praise and of good works. It involves death, too, their dying a sacrificial death like Jesus’, sharing in his sufferings and submitting to a death like his to vindicate Jehovah’s universal sovereignty. It means, as a priest, having nothing to do with the “table of demons” and the “cup of demons,” but giving Jehovah exclusive devotion and putting his worship foremost in life and keeping the knowledge of him on their lips and serving as a message bearer for Jehovah, to turn many away from unrighteousness to His worship. (1 Pet. 2:5, 9; Phil. 3:9-11; Mal. 2:6, 7) It is written that they will conquer Satan the Devil “because of the blood of the Lamb and because of the word of their witnessing.”—Rev. 12:11, NW.
WHEN AND HOW TO CELEBRATE
9. As to celebration, how is the evening meal not like baptism?
9 The Lord’s evening meal celebration is not like baptism. Baptism in water is performed once, at the beginning of one’s Christian course, to symbolize publicly that a person has dedicated himself to God through Christ. But as regards the celebration of the Lord’s evening meal Jesus said at the time he set it up: “Keep doing this in remembrance of me.”—Luke 22:19, NW.
10. Why must it be celebrated regularly, and in confirmation how did Paul describe the Lord’s evening meal?
10 It must be regularly celebrated in order to keep him in mind as to what he means to the celebrants. Paul emphasizes the requirement to celebrate regularly. When telling the Corinthian congregation of God that they were not celebrating it in the right way, Paul said: “When you come together to one place, it is not possible to eat the Lord’s evening meal. . . . In this I do not commend you. For I received from the Lord that which I also handed on to you, that the Lord Jesus in the night in which he was going to be handed over took a loaf and, after giving thanks, he broke it and said: ‘This means my body which is in your behalf. Keep doing this in remembrance of me.’ He did likewise respecting the cup also, after he had the evening meal, saying: ‘This cup means the new covenant by virtue of my blood. Keep doing this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.’ For as often as you eat this loaf and drink this cup, you keep proclaiming the death of the Lord, until he arrives.”—1 Cor. 11:20-26, NW.
11. Until what event was it necessary for them thus to remember him, and how does this show for whom this celebration was meant?
11 Especially during the Lord Jesus’ absence from them in the flesh it was necessary for them to celebrate in remembrance of his personal death until he came again to receive them to himself in heaven. And since he does not begin gathering his “other sheep” till after he comes again, we can appreciate why the Lord’s evening meal was meant for Jesus’ “little flock,” which is the congregation, “his body,” of 144,000 members.—John 10:16; Matt. 25:31, 32.
12. How often must it be eaten yearly, and how often has it been eaten down to now?
12 How often must it be celebrated? Jesus indicated how often by starting the Lord’s evening meal on passover night, Nisan 14 in the Bible calendar, and then telling his disciples to keep doing it. That is, on that same passover date, which came only once a year. It is most fitting to celebrate it yearly at that time, because on that date Jesus gave his literal body as a sacrifice on the torture stake and poured out his lifeblood of the new covenant for the forgiveness of sins. That was the day of the “death of the Lord,” and that was the date to observe his death by the Lord’s evening meal and thus to proclaim his personal death. But although eaten only once each year on the night of Nisan 14, it has been eaten “often” during the nineteen centuries of the life of the Christian congregation down to now. And this year it will therefore be eaten by the remnant of the members of “Christ’s body” on Monday night, between sundown and midnight, March 26, 1956. Thus beginning on Nisan 14, A.D. 33, the Lord’s evening meal has been eaten 1,923 times till now, and preparation is being made to eat it this year.
13, 14. How have the remnant of his followers been absent from him even since 1914 and also 1918?
13 But why was eating it not discontinued after October, 1914, when the Lord Jesus came into his kingdom at Jehovah’s right hand in the heavens? Why was it not discontinued, at least, after Jehovah God came to his spiritual temple accompanied by Jesus Christ as his “messenger of the covenant” in the spring of 1918?—Matt. 25:31; Mal. 3:1.
14 Well, at the time of either of those events Jesus Christ did not take his followers from their fleshly condition into his personal presence. He left them in the flesh and hence they were still “absent from the Lord.” Regarding this Paul says to them: “We know that if our earthly house, this tent, should be dissolved, we are to have a building from God, a house not made with hands, everlasting in the heavens. For in this dwelling-house we do indeed groan, earnestly desiring to put on the one for us from heaven, so that, having really put it on, we shall not be found naked. . . . while we have our home in the body, we are absent from the Lord, for we are walking by faith, not by sight. But we are of good courage and are well pleased rather to become absent from the body and to make our home with the Lord. Therefore we are also making it our aim that, whether having our home with him or being absent from him, we may be acceptable to him.”—2 Cor. 5:1-3, 6-9, NW.
15. Therefore, to be “acceptable to him,” what will they continue to celebrate, and till when?
15 So the remnant, while still absent from him due to their flesh, seek to be “acceptable to him” by obeying his command to eat the Lord’s evening meal in remembrance of him from whom they are absent. If in this sense they are still absent from him, then from this standpoint he has not come for them and turned mere remembrance into actual sight of him and presence with him in heaven. So the remnant of “his body” must keep on eating the Lord’s evening meal on earth until they are glorified, even after surviving Armageddon.
16. With what inward condition should one come to celebrate the Lord’s evening meal, and what did Paul say to the Corinthians on this?
16 When coming to celebrate the Lord’s evening meal this Nisan 14 or March 26, 1956, after sundown, they should come with the right mental attitude and the proper heart appreciation to observe it in a way worthy of the occasion, with full evaluation of the meaning of the Lord’s evening meal. Paul advised the careless, thoughtless, self-centered Corinthians that way, saying: “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 [spiritual] 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 [first] eat at home, that you may not come together [to one place] for judgment [with the world].”—1 Cor. 11:27-34, NW.
17. Why must the Lord’s evening meal be kept separate from ordinary meals, even though Jesus set up the evening meal right after the passover at the same table?
17 True, Jesus did set up the Lord’s evening meal after they had eaten the passover and at the same table. But that was due to the circumstances and the relationship of the two things. However, we may not eat an ordinary meal together at the congregational meeting place to fill ourselves with food and drink and then add to it the Lord’s evening meal as a sort of climax of the eating and drinking. The Lord’s evening meal must be kept separate from ordinary evening meals. For, by his evening meal, we use the loaf and cup to symbolize our partaking of spiritual benefits that, in the case of the remnant, mean everlasting heavenly life for them. They must treat the occasion and the emblems, the loaf and the cup, worthily. To partake of these unworthily is worse than not partaking at all, for, by partaking in an unworthy, disrespectful way, one brings God’s condemnation upon oneself, to die with the world.
18. Why does one eat and drink judgment against himself if he “does not discern the body,” and so what should one do who receives Jehovah’s disciplinary judgment?
18 Why so? Because, having once known the Lord, he now fails to “discern the body” that the Lord offered in sacrifice. It is as if he said: “The table of Jehovah is contemptible,” and so the sacrifice upon it is not unblemished, perfect: “The table of Jehovah is polluted.” (Mal. 1:7, 12, AS) It is approaching the “guilty” action of the unfaithful who “impale the Son of God afresh for themselves and expose him to public shame” and who have “trampled upon the Son of God and . . . esteemed as of ordinary value the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified.” So he is guiltily heading for a punishment much more severe than that of one who broke the old law covenant. He is heading for a death from which there is no sacrifice for willful sin to deliver him. He will expose himself to Jehovah’s “fiery jealousy that is going to consume those in opposition.” (Heb. 6:4-8; 10:26-31, NW) So let him benefit by the corrective, disciplinary judgment that Jehovah gives him. Let him discern what he himself is, and reform. If he has been at fault, yet he should obey the command and eat the Lord’s evening meal, but do so discerning the Lord’s sacrificed body and asking forgiveness for his sin. Then let this celebration strengthen him to follow Christ’s steps more closely during the coming year.
19. When coming to the Lord’s evening meal, what should the “great crowd” from all nations discern, and how will they receive the greatest blessing from the celebration?
19 Only the remnant of spiritual Israelites who are in the new covenant as members of Christ’s body may now partake of the Lord’s evening meal. Yet the “great crowd” of worshipers of Jehovah out of all nations, peoples, tribes and tongues may attend as observers. They have come up to the exalted “mountain of Jehovah, to the house of the God of Jacob,” and now when coming to the Lord’s evening meal they should discern that they are coming into the emblematic presence of the “table of Jehovah” and of the “cup of Jehovah.” (Rev. 7:9; Isa. 2:2, 3, AS) By this they should let it be known that they shun the “table of demons” and are giving their exclusive devotion to Jehovah, and that they confess that their only way of approach to Jehovah is through the sacrifice of his great High Priest, the Lord Jesus Christ. Doing so, they will find themselves in harmony with the remnant of partakers and they will be united with them as “one flock” under Jehovah’s one Right Shepherd. (John 10:14-16, NW) With these they will enjoy the greatest blessing from the celebrating of the Lord’s evening meal and they will be calling the “table of Jehovah” honorable and Christ’s sacrifice on it unpolluted and altar-honoring, all to the praise and glory of the only living and true God, Jehovah.