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Unworthy


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Therefore whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner, shall be guilty of the body and the blood of the Lord. But a man must examine himself, and in so doing he is to eat of the bread and drink of the cup. —1 Corinthians 11:27–28

It is a paradox of the Christian faith: Only those who see their unworthiness may come worthily.

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But let a man examine himself. An exhortation drawn from the foregoing threatening. “If those that eat unworthily are guilty of the body and blood of the Lord, then let no man approach who is not properly and duly prepared. Let every one, therefore, take heed to himself, that he may not fall into this sacrilege through idleness or carelessness.” But now it is asked, what sort of examination, that ought to be to which Paul exhorts us. Papists make it consist in auricular confession. They order all that are to receive the Supper, to examine their life carefully and anxiously, that they may unburden all their sins in the ear of the priest. Such is their preparation! I maintain, however, that this holy examination of which Paul speaks, is widely different from torture. Those persons, after having tortured themselves with reflection for a few hours, and making the priest—such as he is—privy to their vileness, imagine that they have done their duty. It is an examination of another sort that Paul here requires—one of such a kind as may accord with the legitimate use of the sacred Supper.

You see here a method that is most easily apprehended. If you would wish to use aright the benefit afforded by Christ, bring faith and repentance. As to these two things, therefore, the trial must be made, if you would come duly prepared. Under repentance I include love; for the man who has learned to renounce himself, that he may give himself up wholly to Christ and his service, will also, without doubt, carefully maintain that unity which Christ has enjoined. At the same time, it is not a perfect faith or repentance that is required, as some, by urging beyond due bounds, a perfection that can nowhere be found, would shut out for ever from the Supper every individual of mankind. If, however, thou aspirest after the righteousness of God with the earnest desire of thy mind, and, trembled under a view of thy misery, dost wholly lean upon Christ’s grace, and rest upon it, know that thou art a worthy guest to approach the table—worthy I mean in this respect, that the Lord does not exclude thee, though in another point of view there is something in thee that is not as it ought to be. For faith, when it is but begun, makes those worthy who were unworthy.

Calvin’s Commentaries Volume XX, Commentary on the Epistles of Paul the Apostle to the Corinthians (Baker Books, 2009), 1:387–388.



Posted 2019·09·26 by David Kjos
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Posted in: 1 Corinthians · Calvin’s Commentaries: 1 Corinthians · John Calvin · Lord’s Supper

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