Eucharistic Reception

For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, “This is my body which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes. Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty concerning the body and blood of the Lord. Let a person examine himself, then, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment on himself. That is why many of you are weak and ill, and some have died. But if we judged ourselves truly, we would not be judged. But when we are judged by the Lord, we are disciplined so that we may not be condemned along with the world. So then, my brothers, when you come together to eat, wait for one another–if anyone is hungry, let him eat at home–so that when you come together it will not be for judgment. About the other things I will give directions when I come. (1 Cor. 11:23-34 ESV)

The Apostle Paul repeats Christ’s “Words of Institution” from the Last Supper but begins by saying that he received them from the Lord. When exactly did he receive them? The text doesn’t say but we can limit the options down to Paul’s initial encounter with the risen Lord on the road to Damascus (Acts 9) or his time alone with the Lord in Arabia (Gal. 1).

Paul recounts that initial encounter in both Acts 22 & 26 and he limits his testimony to Jesus asking him why he’s persecuting him. Are we to suppose that this is all that was said during Paul’s so-called conversion experience? Possibly. It’s also possible that Acts 9, 22, & 26 just give the highlights and focus on the change that took place in Paul as a result of the encounter.

In Galatians, however, Paul speaks of not receiving the good news from just any man, but δι᾽ ἀποκαλύψεως Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ (Gal 1:12). How do we take the genitive here? Did Paul receive through a revelation of Jesus Christ, i.e., a revelation about Jesus from God the Father? Or did he receive by a revelation from Jesus Christ, i.e., directly from the risen Lord himself? Verses 15-16 may present the interpretive key we need to decide. Paul says that God was pleased to reveal his Son in/to Paul.

If God (Paul’s usual designation for the Father) was the one revealing the Son to Paul along with the other mysteries of the faith in Arabia, then again, when did Paul receive this Eucharistic revelation from the Lord Jesus himself? I submit that it is possible that he received it in that initial encounter on the road to Damascus. And why not? In persecuting the body Paul was persecuting Christ himself. What better time and place to reveal this central mystery about the body and blood of Christ? Is there not a strong correlation between the Lord’s remarks about Paul’s persecution of the body and Paul’s remarks about properly discerning the Lord’s body? I think so.



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