Original Research: HTS Historical Thought and Source Interpretation

‘For he who eats and drinks in an unworthy manner, eats and drinks judgment to himself’: Interpreting 1 Corinthians 11:27–30 in light of the denial and avoidance of the Holy Communion in some churches in Nigeria

Solomon O. Ademiluka
HTS Teologiese Studies / Theological Studies | Vol 78, No 4 | a7271 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/hts.v78i4.7271 | © 2022 Solomon O. Ademiluka | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 30 November 2021 | Published: 27 June 2022

About the author(s)

Solomon O. Ademiluka, Department of Biblical and Ancient Studies, College of Human Sciences, University of South Africa, Pretoria, South Africa; Department of Religious Studies, Faculty of Arts and Humanities, Kogi State University, Anyigba, Nigeria

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Christians all over the world celebrate the Eucharist as an important aspect of their faith. Arising from Paul’s warning in 1 Corinthians 11:27–30 that persons who eat the Lord’s Supper unworthily bring judgment upon themselves, some churches in Nigeria restrict the Communion to supposedly holy members. This article examined the text with a view to appraising this attitude towards the Communion. It applied the historical exegesis and the analytical approach. The article found that the restriction of the Eucharist to selected members of the congregation is counter-productive and self-defeating in that many Christians are denied the opportunity to partake of it. Paul’s view of judgment upon participants derived from his Jewish perception in which affliction was always seen as divine punishment. Furthermore, at its inception the celebration of the Communion does not reflect the idea that it was meant for only holy people. In view of this, and the fact that the Jewish perception need not apply in the modern and scientific world, the work concluded that the mainline churches in Nigeria have to review their attitude towards the Communion such that all Christians are encouraged to participate in it. While laying emphasis on reverent and loving behaviour at the Lord’s Table, the idea of the Communion causing illness and death should be completely jettisoned.

Contribution: This article is a contribution to New Testament Theology and Christian ethics. The proposal to make the Eucharist more accommodating is significant for congregational harmony in the church in Nigeria.


Eucharist; denial of Holy Communion; sickness and death; the Corinthian church; the church in Nigeria


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