Study Guide for Chapter X: Baptism and the Lord’s Supper in "Paul: An Outline of His Theology" by Herman Ridderbos

Written for Dr. Reggie Kidd, Acts and Pauline Epistles, Reformed Theological Seminary, Orlando, May 2003.

Section 64: Different Definitions of Baptism (396-406)

I. Introduction

A. Paul nowhere gives a detailed treatment of the meaning of baptism, but presupposes an understanding of it

B. Yet a very important doctrinal element is implied through traditional formulations and descriptions

II. Baptism as a cleansing bath OR cleansing from sin

A. Texts

1. 1 Corinthians 6:11: ”Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.”

2. Ephesians 5:26: “so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word”

3. Titus 3:5: “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost”

B. This traditional definition points to baptism as a symbol of and means of salvation for the washing away of and cleansing from sin

1. In 1 Cor. 6:11 both in the ethical and forensic sense

2. In Eph. 5:26 this washing is attended with “the word” that comes from God to the baptized

3. Faith is presupposed on the ground of the middle voice: “you allowed yourselves to be washed”

4. 1 Cor. 6:11 contains an allusion to the baptismal formula “in the name of” and a connection between baptism and the Holy Spirit

5. Eph. 5:26 tells us that Christ is the author of the cleansing and that baptism functions as the instrument

6. Tit. 3:5 is to be understood in the context of the saving, eschatological activity of God (“the appearing” of his mercy) and represents the total renewal of the life of man resulting from it

7. The mention of the Holy Spirit is to be understood in this way: the washing with water of baptism represents the new birth as the transition from the old mode of existence dominated by sin to the new mode which derives its character from the Spirit as the eschatological gift of salvation

III. Baptism of the Spirit OR communication of the Holy Spirit

A. Paul concurs with the early Christian view of baptism found in the following texts

1. Mark 1:8: “I baptized you with water; but He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”

2. Acts 2:38: “Peter said to them, “Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”

3. John 3:5: “Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.”

B. Clear reference in Paul referring to baptism in or with (not by) the Holy Spirit: 1 Corinthians 12:13 “For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit.”

1. There is an eschatological significance to the giving of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit of promise (Eph. 1:13) is “poured out” by God in accord with the promise concerning the last days (Joel 2:28; Acts 2:4, 17; Rom. 5:5; Tit. 3:6), and the Spirit therefore may be understood as the “firstfruits” and as “earnest” of the future inheritance (cf. Eph. 1:14; Tit. 3:6, 7; 2 Cor. 1:22; Rom. 8:16, 23)

2. The connection of the Holy Spirit and baptism does not consist of the pouring out of unusual gifts of the Spirit, but in the transition of the baptized to the new life brought about by Christ, in which the guilt and uncleanness of sin is washed away and the new government of the Holy Spirit prevails

3. Baptism is not only a preparatory sacrament, but also a sacrament of fulfillment

C. Does the “sealing” and “anointing” of the Holy Spirit in Paul refer to baptism?

1. References

a. 2 Corinthians 1:21, 22: “Now He who establishes us with you in Christ and anointed us is God, who also sealed us and gave us the Spirit in our hearts as a pledge.”

b. Ephesians 1:13, 14: “In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation– having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God’s own possession, to the praise of His glory.”

c. Ephesians 4:30: “Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.”

2. Evaluations

a. In favor

(1) In the early church, baptism was explicitly qualified as a seal (cf. 2 Clem. 7, 7; 8, 6; Herm. Sim. VIII, 6, 13; IS, 16, 3ff.; 17, 4)

(2) The idea that underlies the baptismal formula: “baptizing in(to) the name of …,” indicates that the one baptized is “stamped” by baptism as the property of Christ and under his protection

(3) Sealing would be understood as an eschatological act in which the baptized passes over to the ownership of him in whose name the act takes place

(4) Some say that the expression “who anointed us” [2 Cor. 1:21?] refers to baptism

b. Opposed: others consider it uncertain that “sealing” and “anointing” refer to baptism

c. Ridderbos’ evaluation of the “anointing” and “sealing” of the Spirit

(1) “Anointing” refers to the gift of the Spirit (cf. Luke 4:18; Acts 10:38; 1 John 2:20, 27)

(2) “Sealing” also refers to the gift of the Spirit (Eph. 1:13; 4:30)

(3) The importance of sealing is not in sacramental appropriation or “stamping” in behalf of Christ, but in the evidence that the gift of the Spirit itself produces in him who receives it.

(4) The believer is furnished with the seal that he belongs to God, just as the gift of the Spirit is accounted as the firstfruits and earnest of the inheritance.

IV. Baptism as incorporation into the order of the life of Christ OR into his body

A. For Paul, incorporation into the order of life represented by Christ is even more characteristic of baptism than cleansing from sin and the gift of the Spirit

B. Baptism binds one to Christ and the order of life represented by him.

C. General references

1. Especially Gal. 3:27: “For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.” By “putting on Christ” Paul means union with Christ by baptism”

2. Closely related is Col. 3:9: “Do not lie to one another, since you laid aside the old self with its evil practices, and have put on the new self who is being renewed to a true knowledge according to the image of the One who created him– a renewal in which there is no distinction between Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave and freeman, but Christ is all, and in all.”

a. Undoubtedly an allusion to baptism

b. With this old and new man one is not to think first of the conversion of individual believers, but of the common mode of existence of “the many” in Adam and in Christ respectively

c. The “new man” is put on by baptism and can be called “putting on” Christ

d. Though the derivation of this phrase is uncertain its meaning is clear

e. Baptism makes one participate in Christ as him who, as the one seed of Abraham and as the “second man,” represents and contains within himself those belonging to him. In that sense one can speak of being “baptized into his body”

D. Special references

1. The texts

a. Rom. 6:4: “Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life.”

b. Col. 2:11-12: “and in Him you were also circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, in the removal of the body of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ; having been buried with Him in baptism, in which you were also raised up with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead.”


a. There is a peculiar connection between baptism on the one hand, and dying, being buried and raised with Christ, on the other, so that baptism can be qualified as a baptism into Christ’s death, etc

b. It is not demonstrable that this concept enters Paul’s thought as a result of exposure to the mystery religions

c. Neither is the symbolic interpretation valid

(1) This symbolism is said to lie in the going down of the one baptized into, and the emerging again out of, the water of baptism, which pictures dying and resurrection

(2) So far as the water of baptism is concerned, its symbolic significance in the whole NT is that it purifies, not that one can sink down into it and drown

(3) Likewise there is no basis for the notion that the posture of the one baptized suggests such a symbol

(4) Not only is one not buried in water, but it is difficult to symbolize burial by immersing oneself for an instant in water.

(5) As far as resurrection is concerned, if Col 2:12 were intended to denote coming up out of the water as a symbol, surely the preposition “out of” (ek) and not “in” (en) would have been used.

d. Correct interpretation

(1) Those who are baptized into him may now know that they are included in Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection, and that they ought to no longer live in sin.

(2) The function of baptism is that it incorporates or implants the one baptized into this corporate (“bodily”) unity between Christ and his own (Rom. 6:5)

(3) It is this meaning of baptism as incorporation into Christ which is denoted in v5 by the expression “are implanted” (symphytoi gegonamen). Believers are implanted or incorporated by baptism into what has taken place with Christ.

(4) It means to participate by baptism in that death and that grave, that we are laid in Christ’s grave, not that baptism would be the grave in which we, just as Christ once died, now die as well.

(5) Baptism is not a grave and resurrection, rather, baptism incorporates us into, makes us participate in, Christ’s death, burial and resurrection

e. Putting off the old and putting on the new man in baptism

(1) Baptism signifies the departure from the old mode of existence that goes on after baptism in the “mortification of the members that are upon the earth (Col. 3:5; cf. Gal. 5:24)

(2) The same applies to putting on the new man (Col. 3:10) because in baptism believers are raised together with Christ in a redemptive-historical sense (Col. 2:12)

(3) Putting on is a choice, an act, carried on through the whole life of the believer (cf. Eph. 4:24; Rom. 13:14).

(4) Baptism is not a parable of Christ’s death and resurrection in the life of believers, a symbol of conversion. Baptism connects the believer with Christ’s death and resurrection.

(5) To be crucified and raised with Christ in baptism does not denote conversion. But the one is not without the other, for to be baptized into Christ means not only to have died to sin, but also to live and serve in the new state of the Spirit (Rom. 6:12ff; 7:4)

E. Analogy of baptism in 1 Cor. 10:2 in which he compares the NT church with ancient Israel: “and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea”

1. Not symbolic – The cloud was a shining cloud, and Israel went through the sea on dry ground

2. Rather, the cloud and sea represent the redemptive event by which Israel escaped the tyranny and slavery of Egypt

3. In this event all the fathers shared because they were “baptized into Moses”

4. There is no real baptism here, rather it is a type of baptism

5. Moses is a type of Christ in v. 4 (“that rock was Christ”). Here many are brought under the one – Moses (“baptized into Moses”)

6. Just as God has baptized and incorporated the church in Christ, so Israel’s salvation lay in the fact that it had Moses as leader and head and was contained in Moses

Section 65: Baptism as Means of Salvation (406-414)

I. The relationship between the sacramental aspect (in particular) and the redemptive-historical aspect of the participation of the church in Christ

A. Erroneous views

1. “Mystery theology” – a Roman Catholic error in the footsteps of O. Casel.

a. Takes Rom. 6:5 as point of departure in the word homoioma. “For if we have become united with Him in the likeness (homoioma) of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection…”

b. Christ’s death is said to be made present at the time and place of the sacrament, in which the one baptized is taken up and involved in mysterio

c. Error corrected – Ridderbos’ view

(1) Baptism is not the moment or place of dying together, etc. with Christ.

(2) If this were so, Christ would continue to die, if not anew, yet in mysterio.

(3) The death of Christ is not prolonged in baptism and brought to believers, rather, believers are in baptism brought to Christ’s death and made to share in what has occurred once for all

2. “Contemporaneity” – a Protestant error

a. The historical redemptive death of Christ is not (as in the previous error) located in the present in baptism, but, conversely, the one baptized is made “contemporaneous” with Christ, so that the whole existence of the Christian is taken up into this redemptive event.

b. The believer becomes “contemporaneous” with the cross and resurrection of Christ in the sense that he has a real share in this unique event with the elimination of all that separates him from this event spatially and temporally.

c. Error corrected – Ridderbos’ view

(1) In Paul’s teaching, it is not that time falls away, or that the one baptized is made contemporaneous with Christ in his death, but that by baptism the believer becomes a sharer in what has taken place with Christ.

(2) Baptism does not make us die anew with Christ, but rather rests on the fact that he has died for us and we with him, who as the last Adam, died and rose substitutionally and representatively in order to unite the many with himself.

3. In summary, to have died and been buried with Christ neither comes about in baptism in the sense of mystery theology nor becomes an actual occurrence in baptism in the sense of the doctrine of contemporaneity, but that dying with Christ has been given with 1) incorporation into Christ, and is thus 2) appropriated to the one baptized as a given reality by baptism as the rite of incorporation. Therefore, to have died once with Christ on the cross and to be baptized into his death do not coincide, but form two points of view. Both have reference to the same matter, that is, participation in the redemptive event.

B. Two foci in baptism that are distinct but inseparable

1. Believers are regarded as “the many” who were already included in the death and resurrection of the one and thus into his death and resurrection

a. Baptism has the noetic significance of a personal confirmation and assurance of what took place in a corporate sense in Christ.

b. The evidence and cognitive ground of the church’s share in Christ

c. Because believers have been baptized they may and must know that they have once died, been buried, and raised with Christ (Rom. 6.3; Col. 2.12).

2. By baptism they become incorporated into this solidaric relationship

a. Baptism is the means by which communion with the death and burial of Christ comes into being (Rom. 6.4), the place where this union is effected (Col 2.12), the means by which Christ cleanses his church (Eph. 5.26), and God has saved it (Tit. 3.5), so that baptism can be called the washing of regeneration and the renewing of the Holy Spirit.

b. What is here attributed to baptism can elsewhere be ascribed to faith. See II below.

c. Baptism accomplishes in its own way what is already obtained in another way

3. The relationship of these two foci

a. It is incorrect to say that the incorporation of the church in Christ takes place only by baptism, such that baptism merely symbolizes or confirms “after the fact” what has already occurred.

b. Rather it is that what in God’s election and in the redemptive event in Christ has in a corporate sense already come to be reality which is effected in the preaching of the gospel and the individual choice of faith corresponding to it.

c. Baptism is the individualizing application of what once happened in Christ.

II. The relationship between baptism and faith

A. Baptism can in no sense be detached from faith. Paul is in accord with the whole of the New Testament in that everything ascribed to the members of the church in virtue of their baptism is represented no less clearly as the fruit of faith

1. Gal. 2:19ff and 6:14 speak of having died together with Christ without any allusion to baptism

2. Col.2:12 says that being raised together with Christ in baptism takes place “by means of faith”

3. Tit. 3:5 tells us that baptism is the means by which God has saved us

4. Eph. 2:8 says it is by faith that God has saved us

5. 1 Cor. 6:11 says we are justified by baptism while nearly everywhere else in Paul justification is based on faith

6. Misconceptions clarified

a. Faith is not merely preparatory to baptism in the sense that only baptism would bring us into full communion with Christ

b. Baptism is not simply the visible preaching or promise that awakens faith in the one baptized

B. Since baptism is the baptism of believers, faith is presupposed.

1. Therefore, faith can be spoken of apart from baptism and baptism can be spoken of as relatively unimportant.

2. However, faith does not give baptism its power nor that baptism can be reduced to an act of faith or to the baptismal experience

C. The subject of baptism is God, not faith

1. Passive pronouncements point to this

2. Explicit passages

a. “he [God] saved us through washing with water” (Tit. 3:5)

b. “he [Christ] cleansed it” (Eph. 5:26)

3. Baptism is the means in God’s hand, the place he speaks and acts

4. This excludes any sense of baptismal salvation ex opere operato apart from God

5. Also excluded is the operation of baptism dependent on the condition of the recipient

6. God is not dependent on baptism, but rather exercises his control over baptism and maintains the correlation between faith and baptism

D. Baptism adds nothing to the content of faith

1. Both are a means to appropriate the content of the gospel

2. Faith is an act of man

3. Baptism is an act of God

4. There is a sequential order only in part. Though faith is prior to baptism, it operates in baptism and after it as well

E. Baptism is once for all

1. It marks the transition from the old mode of existence to the new

2. It is a rite of incorporation, and thus expresses the corporate communal character of salvation given in Christ

3. Faith is not without baptism, just as baptism is not without faith. For faith responds to the call of God through the gospel, and in baptism God takes the one called under his gracious rule and gives him a share in all the promises of the gospel

F. Support in Paul for infant baptism

1. The meaning of 1 Cor. 7:14, “For the unbelieving husband is sanctified through his wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified through her believing husband; for otherwise your children are unclean, but now they are holy.”

a. With reference to the parents

(1) The meaning is that the continuation of the marriage is not objectionable as something taking place outside of Christ.

(2) The faith of the one is determinative for the acceptability of the whole.

(3) “Sanctified” implies being taken up into the relationship of life dedicated to God.

b. With reference to the children

(1) Problems with the phrase “now they are holy”

(a) This may refer to the children of the mixed marriage who are intended, or the children who have gone over to Christianity with their parents, or the children born after the conversion

(b) The conclusion of most is that this refers to the children of believers in general

c. Conclusion: 1 Cor. 7:14 does not have baptism in view

2. Linking 1 Cor 7:14 with the so-called “house” texts in which it appears that on the conversion of believing parents the “household” was also baptized, that is, their family (1 Cor 1:16, cf. 16:15)

3. Paul also addressed children as belonging to the church and to the Lord (Eph. 6:1; Col. 3:20)

4. Meaning of the children “are holy”: that they, together with and belonging to their parents, were incorporated into the church by baptism and in this way participated in the gifts of Christ and the liberating rule of his Spirit

5. However, this does not mean that faith was superfluous

a. The criterion for infant baptism, unlike adult baptism, does not lie in the personal faith of the one baptized, but in the fact that the children belong to the parents and to the solidaric relationship represented by them

b. The “implantation” takes place on the ground of the bond that joins the children to their parents, “natural” and “Christian,” according to the rule of Rom. 11:16, “If the first piece of dough is holy, the lump is also; and if the root is holy, the branches are too.”

6. The absence of an express mention of infant baptism in the NT is to be explained from its “self-evidentness” rather than its not yet having come into existence

7. One the other hand, Paul’s pronouncements on baptism presuppose faith confessed before baptism. This is not characteristic of infant baptism. The correct view of Paul and the New Testament doctrine of baptism must maintain faith as a co-constituting factor of baptism.

Section 66: The Redemptive Significance of the Lord’s Supper (414-425)

I. Introduction

A. Context: warnings against abuses in Corinthian church

1. 1 Cor. 10:14-22. Paul considered the freedom some permitted themselves in continuing to take part in heathen sacrificial meals to be irreconcilable with the Lord’s supper

2. 1 Cor. 11:17-34. Paul considered the shameful lack of a sense of Christian fellowship between the rich and the poor to be incompatible with the supper of the Lord

B. These two will be taken together to consider the redemptive significance of the Supper

II. The Lord’s Supper as a sacrificial meal (416)

A. “Body” and “blood” do not speak generally of Jesus “himself” or of his “personality” but are to be taken as terminology of the sacrifice

1. They speak of the body of Christ given in death and of his blood shed sacrificially, as related to the New Covenant, which recalls first, the making of the covenant at Sinai which also involved the shedding of sacrificial blood, and second, the prophecy of the New Covenant in Jeremiah 31

2. Eating and drinking Christ’s body and blood are the eating and drinking of the sacrifice at the sacrificial meal

3. Participation in the sacrificial meal is not a continuation of the literal occurrence at the altar or sacrifice. Rather it is the appropriation that comes about through the meal of the sacrificial act by eating and drinking of the victima (that which was sacrificed)

B. How does Paul communicate this?

1. Express reference to the night in which Jesus was “delivered up”

2. The modification of “this is my body” with the addition of “for you”

3. The direct connection in vv. 26 and 27 between the bread and cup and “the death of the Lord”

4. In 1 Cor. 10 he sets the eating and drinking of the Supper over against the participation in heathen sacrificial meals, and in v. 18 brings in the Jewish sacrificial meal (“behold Israel after the flesh…”)

a. In so doing he shows that one cannot have to do with idols or demons and with Christ at the same time

b. Specifically, eating and drinking at both tables is irreconcilable because they both involve eating a sacrificial meal and signify fellowship with demons and with the Lord respectively

c. In 10:6 he refers to Israel’s idolatry with the golden calf, alluding to a sacrificial meal in connection with it: “the people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play.” The heathen meal at that early date was the antithesis of eating and drinking the “spiritual food and the spiritual drink” (v. 4)

d. Similarly, at Corinth whoever sits down at an idolatrous sacrificial meal enters the domain of demons. Paul speaks of becoming “companions of demons” as well as to the “cup of demons,” and the “table of demons” and thus exposing himself to a more than human temptation

e. To clarify his point Paul brings in the Jewish sacrificial meal, noting that he who participates in the meal enters into fellowship with God

f. By eating that which has lain on the altar one has fellowship with that which has occurred on the altar

5. The basis of the meal is the sacrifice. Its atoning character opens the way for the eating and drinking with joy in the favor of God

6. The Supper then is communion effected through the medium of the cup and bread with the sacrifice of Christ’s body and blood given in death, just as those who in Israel ate the sacrifices has communion with the altar.

a. Eating and drinking presupposes the sacrifice, in the deliverance and joy Christ has obtained for his people

b. At this table Christ is the host who makes his people participants in his sacrifice.

C. The words of institution: “This is my body…for you”

1. The “is” links Christ’s self-surrender in death in the bread and the cup

2. Participation in the bread and cup, as a sacrificial meal, represents participation in the sacrifice, not magic, detached from the Lord, because as host, as Lord of the table, he gives his table companions in the bread and wine a share in his body and blood given up and shed for them

3. The bread and cup are not a means of salvation, in that they effect the presence of the Lord, but conversely, the presence of Christ as the Lord of his table, by means of the bread and wine, effects communion with his body and blood, participation in his sacrifice

D. The Supper relates not only to what has happened once of Christ’s death on the cross, but is also an entering into communion with the living Lord

1. Therefore, Paul warns those who would become “companions of demons” by participating in heathen sacrificial meals

2. Moreover, he warns in 1 Cor. 11:27ff against “unworthy” eating and drinking, being “guilty of the body and blood of the Lord,” and “not discerning the body”

III. Spiritual food and drink (419)

A. Text: 1 Corinthians 10:1-4: “For I do not want you to be unaware, brethren, that our fathers were all under the cloud and all passed through the sea; and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea; and all ate the same spiritual food; and all drank the same spiritual drink, for they were drinking from a spiritual rock which followed them; and the rock was Christ.”

B. The words “spiritual food and drink” in 1 Cor. 10:1-4 are very likely borrowed from the terminology of the Supper

1. In the preceding verse Paul qualifies the redemptive significance of the cloud and the sea as the “baptism” of old Israel. He also sets this eating and drinking of spiritual food over against the eating and drinking at the idolatrous sacrificial meal in the wilderness

2. He then says it has a typological significance and serves as the basis for the argument that sitting down to the heathen sacrificial meal is irreconcilable with the table of the Lord

3. The OT situation is thus intended as a (warning) example to the NT

4. Thus, the deliverance in Moses through the sea can be called Israel’s baptism, and the feeding with manna and water from the rock, Israel’s Supper, and the eating and drinking of spiritual food and drink, Christ (cf. John 6:31ff., 35, 51ff) where Jesus calls himself the bread from heaven and defines this as his flesh and blood, which are to be eaten and drunk

C. This analogy also applies to the NT Supper

1. As Israel was in Moses once led out of Egypt and further kept alive in the wilderness by God’s miraculous power, so for the church not only does its once-for-all deliverance lie in Christ’s death, but its continual food and drink as well

2. The sacrificial gift becomes sacrificial food

3. Therefore this food and drink may be called “spiritual,” pneumatic not only because it comes out of heaven but also because it makes us live out of Christ’s self-surrender and thus imparts his Spirit (Rom. 5:5)

4. Unlike baptism, it is repeated again and again and accompanies the whole Christian life.

5. There is therefore every reason to understand 1 Cor. 12:13b “and were all made to drink of one Spirit” after the reference in 13a to baptism as a reference to the Supper

6. Thus in the Supper the church shares not only in the body and blood of the Lord, but also in the gift of the Spirit

IV. The anamnesis (421)

A. Remember

1. Jesus’ command to anamnesis is found in the words of institution: “this do in remembrance (amamnesis) of me”

2. Not the anamnesis of the Hellenistic world observing the anniversary of one’s death

3. More like the anamnesis in the ritual of the Jewish feast days, especially in the Passover meal, the occasion of which the Lord’s Supper was instituted

4. The Lord’s Supper is therefore a redemptive-historical commemorative meal

5. It is not only commemorative of what has taken place in the past, but also of its abiding, ongoing, actual redemptive significance

6. Christ’s surrender is the new and definitive fact of redemption which in the eating of bread and drinking of the cup the church accepts again and again from the hand of God

B. Proclaim

1. A further understanding of anamnesis appears in v. 26: “as often as you eat this bread…you proclaim the Lord’s death till he come.”

2. This verse does not pertain to the Israelite Supper tradition

3. It is not merely a subjective recalling to mind, but an active manifestation of the continuing and actual significance of the death of Christ

4. “Proclaim” has a prophetic, declaratory significance. The meal preaches the redemptive significance of the death of Christ

5. It connects past, present and future

a. It is a proclamation “till he come”

b. It is the connecting link between the last supper of Jesus and the glorified eating and drinking in the kingdom of God (Mark 14:25; Matt. 26:29; Luke 22:16)

c. Everything is directed not only to the past but also toward the future

d. It is the proclamation that in the death of Christ the new and eternal covenant of grace has taken effect, if still in a provisional and not yet consummated sense

V. The Lord’s Supper and the church (423)

A. The relationship between the Supper and the church as the body of Christ

1. Primary text: 1 Corinthians 10:16-17 in part: “The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ? For we being many are one bread, and one body: for we are all partakers of that one bread.”

2. The abuses surrounding the Supper in Corinth point to the self-evident nature of the relation of the church and the Supper

a. Making oneself guilty of the body and blood of the Lord (1 Cor. 11:27)

b. Despising the church (v. 22)

c. The cup is called “the New Covenant in my blood”

3. The new relationship between God and his people, promised in prophecy, rests on the sacrifice of Christ in which the church receives a share in the Supper

4. The Supper is not a personal affair between the individual believer and Christ. Rather it is a covenant meal, the congregational meal par exellence which points to the sacrifice made by Christ as the only ground of communion between God and his people and the unity of the church

B. The unity of the Supper and the body of Christ

1. The Supper is the foundation for the unity of the church as the new people of God

2. Paul infers the unity of the church as the body of Christ from partaking of the one bread

3. It is not in the fact that the church mysteriously eats the physical body of Christ or receives a share in his divine-human nature and thus becomes the body of Christ

4. It is partaking of the one bread, in the one gift and blessing of the meal, that constitutes that unity.

5. In the common eating of the bread the unity of “the many” in Christ is constituted, manifested, and experienced anew again and again, a unity that brings the diversity together into one body

6. It is an imperative means for safeguarding the church against alien and false unity

VI. The Lord’s Supper and baptism (424)

A. Texts

1. 1 Corinthians 10:2-3: “And were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea; And did all eat the same spiritual meat”

2. 1 Corinthians 12:13: “For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.”

B. Both the Supper and baptism are means of salvation especially in the framework of the church as the body of Christ

C. Both are means of salvation, which, along with preaching, establish contact with the death of Christ

1. Baptism as baptism-into-his death

2. The Supper as communion with the body and blood of Christ

D. Both attain to the unity of the body of Christ

1. Baptism as entrance to and incorporation into the body

2. The Supper as the unity of the body repeatedly received and manifested afresh in eating one bread

E. Distinct functions of the two

1. Baptism incorporates, represents the transition from “dead to sin” to “alive to God” (Rom. 6:11) and from the old to the new man. Therefore it is once-for-all, not capable of repetition.

2. The Supper is the continuing proclamation of the redemptive significance of Christ’s death; it is spiritual food and spiritual drink. It spans the time in the present world, until he comes. It represents the “already” and the “not yet.”

Section 67: The Critical Significance of the Lord’s Supper. Self-Examination (425-428)

I. Self-examination

A. Eating and drinking in an “unworthy manner” and thus standing guilty of the body and blood of the Lord

1. “Unworthy” – inadequate, inappropriate eating and drinking, in a manner unsuited to it and not in harmony with it

2. A failure to respect the true character of what is called the bread and cup of the Lord, i.e., the sanctity of his table fellowship (cf. 1 Cor. 10:21)

B. “Not discerning the body” (v. 29)

1. Not recognizing the offering in its separateness and sanctity and not recognizing the sacrifice of Christ itself

2. The elements are the bread and cup of the Lord, i.e., by virtue of his institution and the living relationship in which Christ as Lord of his table stands to his own gifts. Whoever does not respect the sanctity of this table fellowship, will be guilty of Christ’s body and blood, that is to say, sin against the sacrifice made by him (cf. Heb. 10:29; 6:6)

3. For this reason he eats and drinks judgment to himself

C. The Supper does not bring automatic blessing or judgment

1. Participation in the Supper does not automatically communicate the salvation given in Christ or the gift of the Holy Spirit to the members of the church

2. Likewise, it does not automatically bring judgment on those who partake in an “unworthy” manner

3. Israel in the wilderness, although they were all baptized into Moses, and all received the same spiritual food and drink, serves as a warning example to both.

4. The gift or the judgment comes from the hand of the giver himself, who is Christ

II. Different kinds of judgment one can eat to himself in the Supper

A. The essence and intent of the Supper, as well as the rock Christ, and the sacrificial meal of ancient Israel, is the saving activity of God in Christ

B. For this reason, there is a differentiation in the judgment one can eat to himself in the Supper.

1. Judgment is not always immediate or to condemnation.

2. As in Corinth, the large number of cases of sickness and death in it, served a warning purpose

3. As does 1 Cor. 11:32 in this context: “But when we are judged, we are disciplined by the Lord so that we will not be condemned along with the world.”

III. Conclusion

A. Self-examination prevents “unworthy” eating and drinking

1. Everyone should examine himself and so (that is, after having examined oneself) eat of the bread and drink the cup (1 Cor. 11:28)

2. The purpose of this self-examination is further revealed in verse 31: “if we, however, rightly judged ourselves, we should not be judged.”

3. This judging of self is preventative, lest we be judged by the Lord of the table

B. Self-examination clears away impediments to the observation of the Supper

1. The purpose of this self-examination is positive, to promote the right reception of the gift: “…and so let him eat….”

2. Paul does not warn against the Supper itself, but against a lack of self-criticism in partaking of it

3. To discern the body of Christ, that is to say, to recognize it in its holy and saving significance, also means to discern oneself

4. Self-appraisal is for the purpose of doing full justice to the divine and holy character of the gift

5. Verses 33 and 34 are not negative, but positive, not keeping back the church from the Supper, but stirring it up to its observance as commanded by Christ

Categories: Acts and Pauline Epistles, Seminary writings

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