I Corinthians 11:23-26 and Waldenström's Commentary
[Dr. Paul Peter Waldenström based his comments on a Greek New Testament text which he translated into Swedish. Tommy Carlson has translated both the Biblical text and Waldenström's comments from the Swedish text, 2nd Edition, 1902. — Ed.]
Verse 23—Because1 I2 have received from the Lord3 what I have also presented to you,4 that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was delivered up5 took bread; See Luke 22:19 ff., Matthew 26:26 ff., and Mark 14:22.
1. Paul could not praise the Corinthians on this point because their behavior in every way stood in sharp contrast to that which he himself had received from the Lord regarding the Holy Supper. These words of the Apostle show that the celebration of communion was the most important matter in the love feasts.
2. In the original text there is a strong emphasis on the word "I." He uses his apostolic authority and standing with the Lord to emphasize that they could be sure what he says are the Lord's words.
3. Through special revelation. This revelation could have happened through immediate instruction in the spirit, through an angel, in a state of rapture, or something similar. Compare Galatians 1:1, 12, 15 ff., and II Corinthians 12:1-4
4. When I was among you and instructed you.
5. By Judas into the possession of the enemies.
Verse 24—After he had said thanks, he broke it and said: "This is my body1 which for you2 is (given),3 Do this4 in my memory.5
1. See chapter 10:16.
2. For your salvation.
3. Verbatim: "My body, the one for you." Its meaning can be seen in Luke 22:19: "My body, which for you is given." Christ's body was given in death and the Lord expresses that when he breaks the bread.
4. That which I do now.
5. Not just the memory of his death but communion shall also be celebrated in the memory of himself, his person, and all his work on earth.
Verse 25—In the same way1 even the cup, after they had eaten saying: "This2 cup is the New Covenant in my blood; do this as often as you drink it in my memory." See Exodus 24:8.
1. He took, thanked, and gave them.
2. The Savior sees his blood in the wine and he calls the cup, metaphorically, the New Covenant. Because Christ's blood, shed for our salvation, is the New Covenant's essential substance and foundation.
Verse 26—Because as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord's death1 until he returns.2 See Matthew 26:64, 24:42, John 14:3, and Acts 1:11.
1. At this point in the celebration of communion, the congregation expressed the confession that the Lord died for them. We do not know the words they used, but even now, throughout Christendom, at the celebration of communion, the congregation reverently expresses the same confession. In what fashion this pronouncement was made in the Apostle's time—jointly by the congregation or through its leader—is uncertain. It is not that important. Some Bible scholars believe that the Apostle means that the entire communion was conducted metaphorically. We have no basis in the Apostle's words that suggest such metaphorical meaning.
2. While the Lord was with the apostles, this meal was unnecessary. When he comes again, it shall no longer be needed. Communion is an in the meantime meal, until the Lord himself comes. The thought of his return, which, according to the Apostle is immediately at hand, is, then, the most powerful defence against abuse of the celebration of communion.