Posted by: mattcolvin | February 19, 2012

“Examine Yourself”? What Good Would That Do?


Monday of Quinquagesima week: 2 Corinthians 10.

Paul in 1 Corinthians 11:28 famously exhorts the Corinthians,

Let a man examine himself (δοκιμαζέτω δὲ ἄνθρωπος ἑαυτὸν) and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup. (1 Cor. 11:28)

I’ve argued elsewhere that δοκιμάζω in this connection means, not examining, but meeting an objective standard or test by correcting one’s observable walk, one’s life and conduct with others in the church. Thus, Paul’s command is equivalent to: “You’re eating the one loaf, now show by your behavior that you’re part of the one body.” Subjective self-examination simply isn’t in view at all.

Of course, many (not all) opponents of paedocommunion take the verb to denote a subjective process of “asking oneself if one really has faith” — this being a private intellectual inventory taken in one’s own head during one’s preparation for partaking of the Lord’s Supper. I have even sat in a room with two men who called themselves paedocommunionists who I’m pretty sure still engage in this sort of procedure.

This procedure seems to me to be completely ruled out by 2 Corinthians 10:18, which states:

οὐ γὰρ ὁ ἑαυτόν συνιστάνων, ἐκεῖνός ἐστιν δόκιμος, ἀλλὰ ὅν ὁ κύριος συνίστανησιν.

This one is not approved (δόκιμος, the cognate adjective of δοκιμάζω, the verb in 1 Cor. 11:28), who commends himself, but the one whom the Lord commends.

Thus, subjective self-examination won’t make you δοκιμός. It is not the way to obey Paul’s command in 1 Corinthians 11:28 at all. In the context of 1 Corinthians 11, the way to δοκιμάζω yourself is to welcome your brothers and sisters in Christ to the table — all of them who haven’t been excommunicated, no matter how young.

Not what 1 Cor. 11:28 means by δοκιμαζέτω ἑαυτόν.

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Responses

  1. I see that the credocommunionists have given this post a less than stellar rating.

  2. […] assumptions about what “let a man examine himself” means in 1 Corinthians 11. (Also here.) 3. From the fact that the children of priests are entitled to eat of the same holy food that […]

  3. Brilliant! (got here through Matt Kennedy on fb, so blame him);

    “In the context of 1 Corinthians 11, the way to δοκιμάζω yourself is to welcome your brothers and sisters in Christ to the table — all of them who haven’t been excommunicated, no matter how young.”

    Yes, and if you amend the words “and wait” to “welcome” your brothers and sisters to the table, you would have really nailed the context. But so what – you have got 1 Cor. 11 Lord’s Table relationship to the body of Christ, and not personal holiness.

    Thanks.

    • Matt Kennedy linked me? Where?


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