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Bible Insights

Bible Verses about Communion

Discover What Scripture Says About the Lord’s Supper

Last week we looked at the context of the Lord’s Supper, noting that Jesus based it on Passover, which is an annual event celebrated with family around a shared meal. Although Communion is a New Testament practice, only four books in the Bible have verses about it. These passages are in three of the four biographies of Jesus, as well as Paul’s first letter to the church in Corinth.

Matthew and Mark Give an Account of the Lord’s Supper

The verses about Communion in the Gospels of Matthew and Mark are similar (Matthew 26:17-30 and Mark 14:12-26). Though some of the details that preceded Jesus’s instituting Communion differ, the instructions are the same. These provide the guide that most churches follow (more or less) when they celebrate the Lord’s Supper.

Luke Gives an Expanded Practice

Luke’s account of Communion includes the same information provided by Matthew and Mark, along with one interesting additional detail. In his verses about Communion, Luke notes that Jesus’s reference to the cup occurs both before and after the meal. The first time is to give God thanks for it and to distribute it to the disciples. The second time is to remind them—and us—of the new covenant that Jesus began with his sacrificial death and resurrection (Luke 22:7-23).

Paul Gives Additional Teaching

Although Paul wrote many letters to various churches, only to the church in Corinth did he address the Lord’s Supper. This is because that church struggled with its practice of Communion. Paul wrote to them, seeking to reorient their procedure to focus on Jesus and not themselves.

The first of two relevant passages in Corinthians provides general instructions relating to food and drink, as well as idol worship and freedom through Jesus. We can connect these passages to the practice of Communion (1 Corinthians 10:14-33).

An Unworthy Manner

The second passage in Corinthians with verses about Communion is in the next chapter. It is specifically about how the Corinthian church abused this sacrament (1 Corinthians 11:17-34).

In this passage Paul reminds the Corinthian believers what Jesus taught his disciples about this practice. It’s a good reminder to get them—and us—back on track.

Tucked in the middle of this passage is a convicting verse warning about taking Communion in an “unworthy manner.” This gives any believer pause, for no one wants to be guilty of this sin.

Consider these verses about Communion. Let us apply what Scripture says to guide our remembrance of what Jesus did for us. Click To Tweet

To understand what Paul means by an unworthy manner, we must consider the context by looking at the abuses that Paul details. Specifically, the Corinthian church’s practice of Communion so diverged from Jesus’s intent, that Paul deemed it unworthy.

To correct this, they should examine themselves to make sure they are not part of the problem that Paul details.

Though our churches today often encourage us to examine ourselves before we partake in the Lord’s Supper, this is an overreach of what Paul taught to the Corinthian church.

He wanted them to examine themselves to make sure they were not getting drunk during their celebration of the Lord’s Supper. He also wanted them to make sure that everyone could equally participate and have something to eat, not leaving hungry.

These are the things that Paul tells them to examine. If this applies to us, we, too, should embark on some self-examination.

(Read more about Communion and breaking bread.)

Moving Forward

May we consider these verses about Communion when we practice the Lord’s Supper. Let us apply what Scripture says, and not our own traditions, to guide our remembrance of what Jesus did for us when he died for our sins and rose from the dead to make us right with Papa, the greatest gift ever given.

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Bible Insights

What to Do When the Bible Doesn’t Make Sense

Discover How to Grapple with Difficult Passages in Scripture

When we read the Bible, it’s human nature to dwell on the parts we like and skim the parts that confuse us. We camp out at the many passages in the Bible that offer comfort. And we skip the parts that confound us, the passages when the Bible doesn’t make sense.

Though this is our tendency—both yours and mine—this isn’t what we should do when we come across a passage that doesn’t make sense. Our confusion should be a hint for us to slow down and try to understand these perplexing verses.

As an example, consider Mark 16:17-18. The passage lists five miraculous signs given to those who believe. Jesus says these traits will go with those who follow him. They will:

  • Cast out demons
  • Speak in new languages
  • Safely handle snakes
  • Be unharmed by drinking poison
  • Heal the sick

What do we do with this list?

Dismiss It

The theology of some is to dismiss it entirely. They think supernatural power died with the disciples. Because they don’t want to deal with any of the items Mark mentions, they formulate a theology—with little biblical support—to write off the entire list.

Yet the same folks will still pray for sick people. Isn’t that asking for healing?

Justify Ignoring It

This part of the book of Mark contains a note that this passage doesn’t appear in all manuscripts. Therefore, some people use this as a justification to ignore the last twelve verses of Mark, which also includes the great commission, to go into all the world and preach the good news.

But if we ignore the part of this passage that we don’t like because it isn’t in every manuscript, don’t we also have to ignore the part we like? If the Bible doesn’t make sense, we can’t have it both ways, keeping the parts we like and ignoring the rest.

Skip It

As I mentioned, it’s human nature to skim or skip Bible passages that confuse us or don’t nicely fit in to our understanding of God and faith. But when the Bible doesn’t make sense and a passage confronts our theology, we should do just the opposite.

We should slow down and strive to make sense of it.

Seek Holy Spirit Insight When the Bible Doesn’t Make Sense

The Bible often mentions three of these items on this list. It frequently talks about Jesus’s followers healing the sick and casting out demons. It also says we will speak in languages we don’t know.

Even if we don’t regularly see these three elements in our life, we would be foolish to let our experience trump what the Bible teaches.

When it comes to the drinking poison part, the Bible says when we drink poison, that is, if we drink poison. This suggests accidentally ingesting it, in which case we won’t face harm. I’m okay with this. Safety from poison seems reasonable, and I can accept that in faith.

The difficult part for me is the part about safely handling snakes. Indeed a few groups include snake handling as part of their worship experience. That creeps me out. It seems unwise and wrongly putting God to a test (consider Luke 4:12).

Yet the Bible mentions snake handling as one of the five miraculous signs that will accompany those who believe in Jesus. Though I really want to cross out this phrase in my Bible and embrace the other four, I can’t.

The snakes reference seems misplaced.

But the Holy Spirit encourages me to seek other occurrences of snakes in the Bible and then meditate on them. The Bible mentions snakes eleven times, as well as the singular form of snake twenty-five times and the related word serpent twenty-two times (in the NIV).

When a Bible passage doesn’t make sense, we should slow down and seek God to understand it. Click To Tweet

I’m reminded that:

Could this protection from snakes be figurative and not literal?

I don’t know.

I’m still trying to figure out how to best understand this passage about handling snakes. The Holy Spirit is still giving me insight.

What I do know is that just because I don’t understand this verse—yet—that doesn’t mean I should write it off. Instead I’ll continue to consider this passage, under Holy Spirit guidance, until he reveals truth to me. That’s how I read and study Scripture, even when the Bible doesn’t make sense.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Bible Insights

Four Johns but One Mark

Who Is John Mark?

In “Another Man with Two Names” we talked about a guy known as John Mark. Although no one knows why he’s called John Mark, it does distinguish him from other men in the Bible named John.

John

In addition to John Mark, I count four guys in the Bible with the name of John:

John Mark

It seems there is only one guy called Mark. Mark is mentioned eight times in the New Testament (three times as John Mark, twice as Mark, but referring to John Mark, and three times as Mark, likely referencing John Mark.)

Mark

Lastly, John Mark (sometimes called Mark) may have been the author of the book of Mark. Wouldn’t it be confusing if we called his book John-Mark, instead?

[Read through the Bible with us this year. Today’s reading is Acts 1-4 and today’s post is on Acts 4:6.]

Read more about other people in the New Testament in The Friends and Foes of Jesus, now available in e-book, paperback, and hardcover.

Read more about the book of Acts in Dear Theophilus, Acts: 40 Devotional Insights for Today’s Church now available in e-book, paperback, and hardcover.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Bible Insights

Philemon and His Friends

The short, often overlooked book of Philemon is tucked towards the end of the New Testament, nestled between letters to Titus and to the Hebrews.

Philemon and Onesimus

Philemon is a letter written by Paul to his friend Philemon about a man of mutual interest, Onesimus.

The short version is that Onesimus is a slave who runs away from his master, Philemon.  Onesimus meets Paul, who tells him about Jesus, mentors him, and encourages him to do the right thing by returning to his master.

To help facilitate the reunion, Paul jots a quick note to Philemon, which has been preserved for us in the Bible.

Philemon and Others

In addition to Paul, Philemon, and Onesimus, there are eight other names mentioned in this brief correspondence: Timothy, Apphia, Archippus, Epaphras, Aristarchus, Mark, Demas, and Luke. For each there is a story to be told and insight to be gained.

Philemon and Jesus

Of course, Jesus is also rightly mentioned in Paul’s letter to Philemon, a total of six times. Jesus is actually the central character in this story, for it all revolves around him, not Philemon and Onesimus.

Is Jesus the central character in your story? Does your life all revolve around him?

[Read Philemon in the Bible.]

Read more about other people in the New Testament in The Friends and Foes of Jesus, now available in e-book, paperback, and hardcover.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Bible Insights

Another Man With Two Names

Another Man With Two Names

Last week we talked about Simon Peter, a guy with two names. Another man with two names is John Mark. Unlike Abraham and Sarah who received new identities from God and Peter who got his second name from Jesus, the origin of John Mar’s two names seems to lack divine origin.

Perhaps his parents gave him one name at birth and his other label, a nickname bestowed by friends. Maybe he needed two names to avoid confusion with other guys named John and other dudes called Mark.

Regardless John Mark’s dual name does not seem to have any spiritual significance, but to simply be practical.

Even so, John Mark is a fun name to say.

[Read more about John Mark in “Lessons from the Life of John Mark” and “The Comeback of John Mark.”]

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.