Wednesday, August 20, 2014

The "Cup and Table of the Lord" As Evidence for Christ's Full Deity

14    Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry.15 I speak as to sensible people; judge for yourselves what I say.16 The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ?17 Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread.18 Consider the people of Israel: are not those who eat the sacrifices participants in the altar?19 What do I imply then? That food offered to idols is anything, or that an idol is anything?20 No, I imply that what pagans sacrifice they offer to demons and not to God. I do not want you to be participants with demons.21 You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons. You cannot partake of the table of the Lord and the table of demons.22 Shall we provoke the Lord to jealousy? Are we stronger than he?- 1 Cor. 10:14-22
In this passage Paul is warning the Corinthians not to commit idolatry. He contrasts pagan sacrifices to their gods (which are in reality demons) with that of the Christian ceremony of celebrating the Lord's Supper (known by other names like Communion). If pagan sacrifices are a form of worship whereby they acknowledge the deity (even ultimate/full deity) of their gods, then by parity of argument Paul is saying Jesus is a god, or "God" or even the one true God (namely, Almighty God).

The evidence that Paul is identifying Jesus with Almighty God is the fact that in verse 22 he rhetorically asks, "Shall we provoke the Lord to jealousy?" The Old Testament often refers to Almighty God's jealousy with respect to the people of Israel's proper worship or their unfaithful idolatry.

As proof that in the Old Testament Almighty God was jealous for His rightful worship and that idolatry would provoke Him, here are nine verses in the Old Testament Exo. 20:5; Exo. 34:14; Deut. 4:24; Deut. 6:15; Deut. 32:16; Deut. 32:21; Josh. 24:19; Ps. 78:58; Zep. 1:18.

It was part of the 3rd Commandment:

4 "You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth.5 You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the LORD your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me,6 but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments.- Exodus 20:4-6

"Whoever sacrifices to any god, other than the LORD alone, shall be devoted to destruction.- Exodus  22:20

Since Paul is admonishing the Corinthians not to provoke Jesus to jealousy in the context of idolatry, Paul would be implying (consciously or unconsciously, intentionally or unintentionally) that Jesus is Almighty God. For Unitarians to evade this conclusion, they will have to say that Paul didn't intend to make that connection. However, for those Unitarians who seriously believe in the inspiration of Scripture, this would be very problematic. Since it would mean that the Bible was inspired in such a clumsy way that it can mistakenly lead people who studiously search the Scriptures to erroneous conclusions on important and central matters (namely, that Jesus is Almighty God). The curious thing is that this happens repeatedly throughout the New Testament regarding Jesus' identity. There are many ways and many times in which the New Testament apparently implies, indicates or identifies Jesus with Almighty God. Many of the other blogposts in this blog testifies to this ubiquitous phenomenon (here's just one example).

The Cup of the Lord

Another way Unitarians can try to evade the conclusion is to say that the phrase "the cup of the Lord" doesn't refer to the Lord Jesus, but to the Father who is also call "Lord" in the New Testament. However, the phrase "the cup of the Lord" is used again and is unquestionably referring to the Lord Jesus in the next chapter (1 Cor. 11:27). In fact, both verses (1 Cor. 10:21 and 1 Cor. 11:27) are within passages that are clearly written in the context of Communion (1 Cor. 10:14-22 and 1 Cor. 11:17-34). So that objection can't stand.

The Table of the Lord

1 Cor. 10:21 not only mentions the "cup of the Lord," but it also mentions "the table of the Lord." By itself the phrase in this verse doesn't tell us specifically whether the "Lord" in the phrase "the table of the Lord" is Jesus or not. However, the phrase "the table of the Lord" is also used in Malachi 1:6-14 (specifically verses 7 and 12).

By offering polluted food upon my altar. But you say, 'How have we polluted you?' By saying that the LORD's table may be despised.- Mal. 1:7

But you profane it when you say that the Lord's table is polluted, and its fruit, that is, its food may be despised.- Mal. 1:12
However, notice verse 11:

For from the rising of the sun to its setting my name will be great among the nations, and in every place incense will be offered to my name, and a pure offering. For my name will be great among the nations, says the LORD of hosts.- Mal. 1:11 

Many commentators believe Mal. 1:11 is a prophecy (veiled or not) of the future universal spread of Christianity and of the Christian celebration of Communion. The "incense" would be prayers, praise and thanks (Rev. 8:3-4; Heb. 13:15) and the "pure offering" would be The Lord's Supper/Communion (1 Cor. 10:18-21 which contrasts pagan and Christian offering/sacrifice; cf 1 Cor. 5:6-8). If that interpretative connection is correct, then the table of the Lord in Malachi has its ultimate fulfillment in Communion. But if Communion is primarily about the Lord Jesus Christ's death and only secondarily a metaphorical "sacrifice/offering," then it only makes sense that the phrase "table of the Lord" in 1 Cor. 10:21 has reference to Jesus being that "Lord." Once again suggesting the fully deity of Christ.

The first passage I dealt with (1 Cor. 10:14-22) was segued from a passage with a theme of judgment (v. 1-13) and then ends with the rhetorical question "Are we stronger than he?" immediately after the rhetorical question, "Shall we provoke the Lord to jealousy?" (v. 22). Meaning, Christians are not strong enough to evade or elude judgment.

The second passage (1 Cor. 11:17-34) which is in the next chapter ends with a theme of judgment. This second passage clearly refers to the judgment of Christ on those unworthily partaking of Communion (v. 29-32). Again, both passages are about Communion and have a connection with judgment. Therefore, they seem to have some parallels. 

The first passage apparently also refers to the the judgment of Christ. That is, assuming that the correct textual variant in 1 Cor. 10:9 is "Christ." This shouldn't be surprising because verse 4 refers to the spiritual Rock that followed the Israelites as having been Christ.

Here's a link to my blogpost that shows why the word "Christ" is most likely the correct textual variant in 1 Cor. 10:9.

The Tempting/Testing of Christ Is Evidence of Christ's Full Deity

And so, in summation, the phrases "the cup of the Lord" and "the table of the Lord" in 1 Cor. 10:14-22 apparently refers to Christ as "the Lord." That being true, Christ must be Almighty God since to provoke Him to jealousy is to provoke Almighty God Himself who can judge all those who unworthily worship Him or commit idolatry (which includes partaking in Christian Communion unworthily or in partaking of the worship of false gods).

No comments:

Post a Comment