The command to proclaim the death of the Lord ‘until He comes’
(1Cor 11:26)
in light of the comparative grammatical analysis

Wojciech Kosek

This paper is the translation of the article: W. Kosek, Nakaz głoszenia śmierci Pana «aż przyjdzie» (1Kor 11,26) w świetle porównawczej analizy gramatycznej, [in:] W. Chrostowski (ed.), Jak śmierć potężna jest miłość. Księga pamiątkowa ku czci Księdza Profesora Juliana Warzechy SAC (1944-2009) [Love Is as Strong as Death. A Commemorative Book in Honor of Rev. Professor Julian Warzecha (1944-2009)], Warszawa-Ząbki 2009, p. 224-240.

This translation was first published
at Academia.edu on October 10, 2020,
i.e., the day of the beatification of Carlo Acutis.

DOI of this paper:
10.5281/zenodo.4077350

This translation was published here on October 10, 2020.

Abstract

This paper performs in-depth analyses of the grammatical structure of the sentence 1Cor 11:26 and compares it with structures of sentences belonging to one of two groups in the Bible: analogous and only seemingly analogous. In this way, by comparing the content of these two groups of biblical sentences, one finds a significant difference between this sentence’s understanding by contemporary biblicists and by St. Paul.

These comparative analyses indicate that St. Paul had many grammatical possibilities to teach that in the time of mortality, while the Lord is still going to the Last Judgment, we should proclaim His death each time when we eat His Body and Blood. However, the apostle did not express this thought in 1Cor 11:26 – he used a grammatical structure that carries something more. Its right understanding enables believers to stay after each Eucharist on prayer traditionally called ‘thanksgiving’ and proclaim the death of Jesus until He as the Lord arrives at them and gives the Holy Spirit with His charismata.

Table of content:

 Introduction.
1. Contemporary understanding of St. Paul’s sentence from 1Cor 11:26.
  1.1.If the Pauline sentence had third clause at the beginning.
 1.2.The third segment in 1Cor 11:26 is an adverbial clause of time.
 2.The correct reading of the Pauline sentence of 1Cor 11:26.
 3.Examples of sentences of the same structure as 1Cor 11:26bc.
 4.Examples of sentences of the same structure as 1Cor 11:26.
  4.1.Lk 15:8, Lk 15:4, Mt 10:11, Mk 6:10.
  4.2.Isa 55:10 and Isa 55:11a.
  4.3.Examples from the Law: Lev 25:29, Deut 22:2.
  4.4.The first segment with ἡνίκα + subjunctive: Ex 33:22; 33:8; 34:34f.
 5.The consequences of the correct reading of the sentence 1Cor 11:26 for the understanding of 1Cor 11:26-34.
 Conclusion.

Introduction.

The Lord’s Supper is the center of religious life (1Cor 11:20), but Christians are still exposed to the risk of eating during it without fully aware of what it is in which they participate.

It was already the case in Corinth, where even in joint assemblies, there was no celebration of the Lord’s Supper and no consumption of spiritual food, i.e., Body and Blood of the Lord (cf. 10:16). It used to happen because the temporal food, which Corinthians used to eat during the Eucharistic liturgy, was more attractive for them than God’s one.

The reason for this lies in the cognitive capacity of the Corinthians. As fleshly people (σάρκινοι – Cf. 3:1), and thus sold to sin (cf. Rom 7:14) [1], they were not open to the fullness of the light of truth given by the Spirit of Christ [2]. They were eager for the spiritual fruits of the Lord’s sacrifice but inclined to ignore or even disregard the need to consciously partake with Him in the offering whose meaning is indeed difficult to understand [3]. The apostle Paul, concerned about the development of the Church in Corinth, presented in chapter 11 of the First Letter to the Corinthians, both the most important deeds and words of the Savior from the Last Supper (v. 23-25), and the explanation of the extrasensory reality hidden in them (v. 26).

This article will analyze sentence 1Cor 11:26 to verify its contemporary understanding. The work will take place in the following stages:

For the complete analysis, one should note the following fact at the outset. Behold, after ἐὰν, the biblical writer embraced a particular part of the text in the literary inclusion composed of two predicates in the subjunctive mood (ἐσθίητε, πίνητε). Moreover, this whole part is a chiasmus c r r’ c’ – where c, c’ are these verbs; r, r’ are nouns written with emphasis, i.e., with the article and the word οὗτος. To obtain chiasmus, the biblical writer had to use the order ‘verb – noun’ for the words ‘eat bread,’ but he switched this order to ‘noun –verb’ for the words ‘drink chalice.’ Such a masterful construction proves that the biblical writer wanted readers to precisely analyze his writing. An attentive reader should notice that sentence 1Cor 11:26 consists of three parts (clauses):

  1. For every time you eat this bread, and this cup you drink

    ὁσάκις γὰρ ἐὰν ἐσθίητε τὸν ἄρτον τοῦτον καὶ τὸ ποτήριον τοῦτο πίνητε

  2. you proclaim the death of the Lord

    τὸν θάνατον τοῦ κυρίου καταγγέλλετε

  3. until He comes.

    ἄχρι οὗ ἔλθῃ.

This sentence consists of three clauses – parts. Part 1 is a relative clause in relation to the principal clause consisting of part 2 and part 3. Part 1, as a relative clause, refers to any occurrence of a class of acts in the general present, while the principal clause 2+3 asserts what will occur in any instance of the act referred to in the relative clause part 1. The relative clause has the subjunctive with ἐὰν. The principal clause 2+3 has the present indicative in its main clause, i.e., part 2. What is more, part 2 and part 3 are in the subjunctive relation named ‘temporal’: part 3 is a temporal clause, introduced by ἄχρι οὗ.

1. Contemporary understanding of St. Paul’s sentence from 1Cor 11:26.

Introduction

Comments to the sentence 1+2+3 state that the proclamation of the Lord’s death must last until He comes to the Last Judgment [4]. Such a solution, however, does not take into account the grammatical rules applied in Biblical Greek. If apostle wanted to say that proclamation of the death of the Lord was to last the whole temporality, i.e., until the coming of the Lord to the Judgment, he would have to:

The explanation of the above comments follows right below.

1.1. If the Pauline sentence had part 3 at the beginning.

The particle γὰρ (because) would have to be in the second position in this part because sentence 1Cor 11:26 is the explanation of the previous sentences [5].

This sentence would have a form:

For until the time He comes, | whenever you eat this bread, this one, and this cup, this one, you drink, | you proclaim the death of the Lord.

An example analogous to such a grammatical arrangement is the sentence 2Cor 3:15, broken into successive parts [6]:

1’.To this day – ἕως σήμερον
2’.whenever Moses is read – ἡνίκα ἐὰν ἀναγινώσκηται Μωϋσῆς,
3’.a veil lies over their heart – κάλυμμα ἐπὶ τὴν καρδίαν αὐτῶν κεῖται.

Part 2’ contains the word ἡνίκα, expressing the repeatability of a possible action described by the predicate in the subjunctive mood of the present tense, preceded by ἐὰν:

ἡνίκα + ἐὰν + verb (whenever they read),

analogously as part 1 in 1Cor 11:26 has:

ἡνίκα + ἐὰν + verb (whenever you eat and drink)

Part 3’ is a clause with the predicate in the indicative mood, analogical to part 2 in 1Cor 11:26.

2’+3’ form a conditional relative sentence [7], similarly as 1+2 in 1Cor 11:26:

Part 1’ in 2Cor 3:15 and part 3 in 1Cor 11:26 are temporal clauses, beginning with the appropriate relative adverb for such clauses: ἕως/ἄχρι. They are, therefore, again analogical parts. Hence, the compared sentences 2Cor 3:15 and 1Cor 11:26 are conditional sentences that express the multiple repeatability of the situation described, where one part of each of the sentences is a temporal clause.

However, there is a visible difference in the position of part 1’ in the whole 1’+2’+3’ of 2Cor 3:15 in relation to the position of part 3 in the whole 1+2+3 of 1Cor 11:26.

2Cor 3:15 states: until today, every situation expressed by the conditional relative sentence composed of parts 2’+3’ occurs: until today, whenever they read, the veil lies every time.

If St. Paul had put the temporal clause at the beginning of 1Cor 11:26 (as he did in 2Cor 3:15), he would have communicated what the comments of the biblical scholars state, namely: Until the coming of the Lord, there is the situation described by the conditional relative sentence (part 1 + part 2). That is: Until the coming of the Lord, whenever you eat the bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the death of the Lord every time. However, the apostle did not do this. The sequence he has applied may have a different meaning, as the subsequent analyses will show.

1.2. The third segment in 1Cor 11:26 is an adverbial clause of time.

Grammars of Greek language [8] point out in temporal sentences that the mood and time of the verb that serves as the predicate of such sentence are essential. For this reason, one should discern two types of temporal sentences referring to present or to future (the sentence in 1Cor 11:26 is of the second kind):

In order to be able to see [9] as fully as possible the existence of the distinction mentioned above between these two types of temporal sentences (and thus to translate 1Cor 11:26 correctly), one should note that to such conjunctions belong:

In 1Cor 11:26, the apostle wrote the temporal clause with the verb in the subjunctive mood. If he had put the verb in the indicative mood, the translation would be as follows:

1: For whenever you eat this bread and drink from this cup,

2+3: (every time) you proclaim the Lord’s death while [He] goes [to the Last Judgment],

where “while He goes”: ἄχρι οὗ ἔρχεται or ἄχρι ἔρχεται.

The sentence Heb 3:13a would be an analogous example for the strict logical connection of clauses 2 and 3:

ἀλλὰ παρακαλεῖτε ἑαυτοὺς καθ᾽ ἑκάστην ἡμέραν, ἄχρις οὗ τὸ σήμερον καλεῖται.

But encourage each other every day as long as it is called ‘today.’

(that is: encourage each other every day as long as the temporal life lasts).

In English translations, Heb 3:13a has ‘as long as’ / ‘while’ [12]:

ASV exhort one another day by day, so long as it is called To-day;

KJV exhort one another daily, while it is called To day;

1Tim 4:13 would be another example:

ἕως ἔρχομαι | πρόσεχε τῇ ἀναγνώσει, τῇ παρακλήσει, τῇ διδασκαλίᾳ.

Until I arrive (while I am going), attend to the reading, exhortation, and teaching.

There are many sentences in the Septuagint in which the biblical writers used ἔρχομαι in the present tense to foretell God’s coming judgment [13]. It is also worth quoting the eloquent exhortation of the Lord Jesus in the Apocalypse, where the verb ἔρχομαι appears in the present tense to express the coming judgment time on the day of the death of each believer:

Rev 3:11 ἔρχομαι ταχύ˙ κράτει ὃ ἔχεις, ἵνα μηδεὶς λάβῃ τὸν στέφανόν σου.

I am going quickly: Hold what you have so no one will take your wreath!

Among other ways of expressing a situation of the ‘while’ type, the apostle could use a very common construction ἐν ᾧ, as it is in Jn 5:7 for example, where paralytic lying at a Sheep Gate says:

ἐν ᾧ δὲ ἔρχομαι ἐγώ, ἄλλος πρὸ ἐμοῦ καταβαίνει.

While I am going, another gets down there before me.

The comparative analyses carried out indicate that St. Paul had many grammatical possibilities to teach the Corinthians and us unequivocally that now, in the time of this world, while the Lord is still going to the Last Judgment, each time, when we eat the Body and Blood of the Lord, we should proclaim His death. However, the apostle did not express this thought – he used a grammatical structure in 1Cor 11:26 that carries a different meaning.

2. The correct reading of the Pauline sentence of 1Cor 11:26.

St. Paul’s sentence is composed of three consecutive parts, in which one should distinguish the elements important for the grammatical structure:

Part 1:the repetition of the described situation; each occurrence of the described situation entails the realizing of the situation described in parts 2+3.
Part 2+3:every time the circumstance described in part 1 occurs, the action described in part 2 is to continue until the event described in part 3 occurs, i.e.:

So the whole is: (part 1:) Whenever you eat…, (part 2+3:) each time, the Lord’s death is to be proclaimed until the moment of His coming to those who proclaim His death.

In other words: every time they eat Bread, the coming of the Lord to them who are proclaiming His death ends each such their proclamation. Proclaiming the Lord’s death, proclaiming through the power flowing from the Bread and Chalice, becomes senseless when He stands in their midst as the Risen One [14]. Now, from this very moment, they are to stay with Him living; they are not to preach death but the victory of the Lord.

To prove the above understanding, one should note from the analyses carried out in the previous part of this article that:

3. Examples of sentences of the same structure as 1Cor 11:26bc.

To deepen knowledge about syntax logic that binds parts 2 and 3 is worthwhile to familiarize oneself with the content of sentences of the same construction as these two parts. Here are sentences with ἄχρι οὗ with a subjunctive mood in the temporal sentence [15]:

Lk 1:20      καὶ ἰδοὺ ἔσῃ σιωπῶν καὶ μὴ δυνάμενος λαλῆσαιA1
ἄχρι ἧς ἡμέρας γένηται ταῦτα […]A2
Lk 21:24Ἰερουσαλὴμ ἔσται πατουμένη ὑπὸ ἐθνῶν,A1
ἄχρι οὗ πληρωθῶσιν καιροὶ ἐθνῶν.A2
Rom 11:25πώρωσις ἀπὸ μέρους τῷ Ἰσραὴλ γέγονενA1
ἄχρις οὗ τὸ πλήρωμα τῶν ἐθνῶν εἰσέλθῃA2
1Cor 11:26τὸν θάνατον τοῦ κυρίου καταγγέλλετεA1
ἄχρις οὗ ἔλθῃ.A2
1Cor 15:25δεῖ γὰρ αὐτὸν βασιλεύεινA1
ἄχρι οὗ θῇ πάντας τοὺς ἐχθροὺς ὑπὸ τοὺς πόδας αὐτοῦ.A2
Gal 3:19τῶν παραβάσεων χάριν προσετέθη,A1
ἄχρις οὗ ἔλθῃ τὸ σπέρμα ᾧ ἐπήγγελται […]A2
Rev 2:25πλὴν ὃ ἔχετε κρατήσατεA1
ἄχρι[ς] οὗ ἂν ἥξω.A2

Remarks:

Applying the above principle to the understanding of the meaning of statements built according to this structure will allow us to understand its meaning in full:

Summary of the analysis:

Each sentence with structure A1 + ἄχρις οὗ + A2, where:

precisely defines the strict interdependence of the duration of the actions described in A1 and A2 clauses:

Conclusion: if action A1 happens each time when the event A0 occurs, then definitely action A2 happens due to the occurrence of the same event A0. It is thanks to the fact that the beginning of A2 is simultaneous with the end of A1. Thus, St. Paul shows in 1Cor 11:26, that it happens every time whenever they eat Bread and drink Wine: (A0) whenever they eat Bread and drink Wine, (A1) they proclaim the Lord’s death until (A2) the moment of His coming to them as proclaimers of His death. It is because, for each and every eating/preaching, the coming of the Lord puts an end to such eating/preaching.

4. Examples of sentences of the same structure as 1Cor 11:26.

To confirm grammatical analyses made so far, one will present a listing of several sentences from the Greek Bible, in which there is both a grammatical structure analogous to that in 1Cor 11:26 and the logic related to it of the relationship between sequential three parts (clauses) of one sentence.

Here are the requirements set for particular clauses as parts of one sentence:

Part 1: it is supposed to present a situation that can reoccur many times, what – from a grammatical point of view – may be related to the occurrence of:

Part 2: it should contain a predicate in the present tense or other constructions expressing the continuation of an action or a ban on taking any action in a specific time (with a ban, οὐ μὴ + subjunctive will often occur).

Part 3: it should be the ‘until’ type of temporal clause.

4.1. Lk 15:8, Lk 15:4, Mt 10:11, Mk 6:10.

Lk 15:8:

  1. Or what woman having ten coins, if she loses one coin,

    Ἢ τίς γυνὴ δραχμὰς ἔχουσα δέκα ἐὰν ἀπολέσῃ δραχμὴν μίαν,

  2. does not light a lamp and sweep the house and carefully search

    οὐχὶ ἅπτει λύχνον καὶ σαροῖ τὴν οἰκίαν καὶ ζητεῖ ἐπιμελῶς

  3. until she finds it? – ἕως οὗ εὕρῃ;

In part 1, there is a description of a situation that may occur many times: the particle ἐὰν + subjunctive of the verb (ἐὰν ἀπολέσῃ – if she loses) is characteristic here, similarly as in 1Cor 11:26 (ἐὰν ἐσθίητε/πίνητε – if you eat/drink). “Every time a woman loses her drachma” is analogous to “Every time you eat the bread and drink the cup.”

In part 2, the predicate is in the present tense (ἅπτεὶ, σαροῖ, ζητεῖ), just like in part 2 of 1Cor 11:26 (καταγγέλλετε). Part 3 is a temporal clause of the ‘until’ type (ἕως οὗ + subjunctive) just like part 3 in 1Cor 11:26 (ἄχρι οὗ + subjunctive).

In part 2+3, one can see the typical reaction of this woman. Whenever a woman searches, she does it until she finds the lost drachma (beginning at the moment when she found it, there is no point in continuing the searching because the drachma is already in her hand). It is analogous to part 2+3 of 1Cor 11:26: whenever the eating disciples proclaim the Lord’s death, they do it until He comes to them (beginning at the moment when He arrived, there is no point in continuing the proclamation of His death, for He – the Living – has come to them).

Lk 15:4:

  1. What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he lost one of them,

    τίς ἄνθρωπος ἐξ ὑμῶν ἔχων ἑκατὸν πρόβατα καὶ ἀπολέσας ἐξ αὐτῶν ἓν

  2. does not leave the ninety-nine in the desert and go after the lost one

  3. οὐ καταλείπει τὰ ἐνενήκοντα ἐννέα ἐν τῇ ἐρήμῳ καὶ πορεύεται ἐπὶ τὸ ἀπολωλὸς

  4. until he finds it? – ἕως εὕρῃ αὐτό;

As in 1Cor 11:26: in part 1, there is a description of a situation that may occur repeatedly; in part 2, the predicate is in the present tense (καταλείπει, πορεύεται); part 3 is a temporal clause of the ‘until’ type (ἕως οὗ + subjunctive).

In part 2+3, one can see the typical reaction of the sheep owner to the situation described in part 1. Namely: (part 1 describes:) whenever one of the sheep gets lost, (part 2+3 describes:) every time, this man looks for a sheep until he finds it. By analogy in 1Cor 11:26: (part 1 describes:) whenever believers eat/drink, (part 2+3 describes:) every time, they proclaim the death of the Lord until He comes to them.

In the New Testament, apart from the examples from everyday life presented above, Jesus’ orders are similarly structured:

Mt 10:11 (cf. also Mk 6:10):

  1. Whatever city or village you enter,

    εἰς ἣν δ᾽ ἂν πόλιν ἢ κώμην εἰσέλθητε

  2. look for a worthy person in it, and stay there

    ἐξετάσατε τίς ἐν αὐτῇ ἄξιός ἐστιν˙ κἀκεῖ μείνατε

  3. until you leaveἕως ἂν ἐξέλθητε

Whenever the disciples enter a city or village, (every time) they should stay and keep preaching the Gospel there until they go out from there to the next place.

4.2. Isa 55:10 and Isa 55:11a.

Isa 55:10:

  1. For as rain, or snow, comes down from heaven

    ὡς γὰρ ἐὰν καταβῇ ὑετὸς ἢ χιὼν ἐκ τοῦ οὐρανοῦ

  2. and does not return – καὶ οὐ μὴ ἀποστραφῇ

  3. until it has watered earth.ἕως ἂν μεθύσῃ τὴν γῆν.

As in 1Cor 11:26: in part 1, there is a description of a situation that can occur many times; it is characteristic here the particle ἐὰν + subjunctive of the verb (ἐὰν καταβῇ); in part 2, there is a statement that the rain does not return to the sky until the moment specified in part 3; part 3 is a temporal clause of the type ‘until.’

In part 2+3, one can see the effect of rain acting in the situation described in part 1: whenever it falls on the earth, (every time) it is there until it irrigated it and made its yielding. It is similarly in 1Cor 11:26: whenever believers eat, (every time) they should stay on proclaiming the death of the Lord until He came to them.

Isa 55:11a:

  1. My word will be in the same way: if it goes forth from my mouth

    οὕτως ἔσται τὸ ῥῆμά μου ὃ ἐὰν ἐξέλθῃ ἐκ τοῦ στόματός μου

  2. it will not return – οὐ μὴ ἀποστραφῇ

  3. until it accomplishes all the things I willed – ἕως ἂν συντελεσθῇ ὅσα ἠθέλησα

As in the previous examples, a series of three elements (1. with ἐὰν + subjunctive; 2. a clause expressing a lasting of something; 3. a temporal clause of the ‘until’ type) conveys a thought of an analogous logic. Namely, whenever the word comes out of the Lord’s mouth, it does not return to Him until it has fulfilled His will. Each word’s departure from the mouth of the Lord connects itself with its sojourn on earth until it has fulfilled the mission the Lord had entrusted to it.

4.3. Examples from the Law: Lev 25:29, Deut 22:2.

Lev 25:29

  1. If anyone should sell an inhabited house in a walled city,

    ἐὰν δέ τις ἀποδῶται οἰκίαν οἰκητὴν ἐν πόλει τετειχισμένῃ

  2. then there shall be the ransom of it – καὶ ἔσται ἡ λύτρωσις αὐτῆς

  3. until the time is fulfilled – ἕως πληρωθῇ ἐνιαυτὸς ἡμερῶν

Whenever someone sells a house, he (so often) will be able to repurchase it until one year is fulfilled.

Deut 22:2:

the law for the situation when an animal of somebody from Israel goes astray:

  1. If your brother does not come nigh you, and you do not know him,

    ἐὰν δὲ μὴ ἐγγίζῃ ὁ ἀδελφός σου πρὸς σὲ μηδὲ ἐπίστῃ αὐτόν

  2. you shall bring it into your house within. And it shall be with you

    συνάξεις αὐτὰ ἔνδον εἰς τὴν οἰκίαν σου καὶ ἔσται μετὰ σοῦ

  3. until your brother sought them.

    ἕως ἂν ζητήσῃ αὐτὰ ὁ ἀδελφός σου

Whenever someone found an unknown brother’s animals, they (so often) will be in his house until that stranger came for them.

4.4. The first segment with ἡνίκα + subjunctive: Ex 33:22; 33:8; 34:34f.

Ex 33:22:

  1. When my glory shall pass byἡνίκα δ᾽ ἂν παρέλθῃ μου ἡ δόξα
  2. then I will put you into a hole of the rock, and I will cover you over with my hand

    καὶ θήσω σε εἰς ὀπὴν τῆς πέτρας καὶ σκεπάσω τῇ χειρί μου ἐπὶ σέ

  3. until I shall have passed by – ἕως ἂν παρέλθω

Note: one can apply the discussed grammatical construction not only to a single act (when here on this mount Horeb, in a moment, Lord’s glory shall pass by) but also to acts that are repeated many times (i.e., when something is to happen each time), as shown in the examples below:

Ex 33:8:

  1. Whenever Moses went into the Tent outside the camp

    ἡνίκα δ᾽ ἂν εἰσεπορεύετο Μωυσῆς εἰς τὴν σκηνὴν ἔξω τῆς παρεμβολῆς

  2. stood all the people looking, each before his tent entrance, and watched Moses leaving

    εἱστήκει πᾶς ὁ λαὸς σκοπεύοντες ἕκαστος παρὰ τὰς θύρας τῆς σκηνῆς αὐτοῦ καὶ κατενοοῦσαν ἀπιόντος Μωυσῇ

  3. until he entered into the Tent – ἕως τοῦ εἰσελθεῖν αὐτὸν εἰς τὴν σκηνήν

In short: Whenever Moses went to the Tent, the People each time looked at walking Moses until the moment – i.e., at least to that moment [17] – he entered the Tent.

Ex 34:34f:

  1. Whenever Moses went in before the Lord to speak to Him

    ἡνίκα δ᾽ ἂν εἰσεπορεύετο Μωυσῆς ἔναντι κυρίου λαλεῖν αὐτῷ

  2. he took off the veil – περιῃρεῖτο τὸ κάλυμμα
  3. until he went outἕως τοῦ ἐκπορεύεσθαι
  4. and he went forth and spoke to all the children of Israel about all the Lord commanded him.
  5. Ex 34:35 And the children of Israel saw the face of Moses, that it was glorified.
  6. And Moses put the veil over his face

    καὶ περιέθηκεν Μωυσῆς κάλυμμα ἐπὶ τὸ πρόσωπον ἑαυτοῦ

  7. until he went in to speak with Him – ἕως ἂν εἰσέλθῃ συλλαλεῖν αὐτῷ

Explanation: every time, it was as follows:

Conclusion: The examples show the significance of the events described by the grammatical construction being analogous to the one 1Cor 11:26 has. Namely, in each such event, i.e., meeting with the Lord or His representative (Moses), one can distinguish two successive episodes of time, which differ from each other in the manner of contact with supernaturality: the closeness to His glory or the distance to His glory; seeing Him or not seeing Him; visibility of the radiation of Moses’ face or invisibility of that radiation; the action of His word on earth or the return of His word to Him [20]. In other examples, this construction serves to express the precepts of the law.

5. The consequences of the correct reading of the sentence 1Cor 11:26 for the understanding of 1Cor 11:26-34.

The examples given above show how important events associated with the limited time of giving the grace by the Lord (where the Lord Himself makes this limitation deliberately) are described by a grammatical construction analogous to that one of 1Cor 11:26. Therefore one must also see their characteristic feature in 1Cor 11:26: every time when believers consume the Body and Blood, this happens:

First, by receiving the Body and Blood of the Lord, they participate in His Death. By the power of this participation, they should continue to proclaim the Lord’s death in prayer until the moment when He comes to them. In this holy time, when God makes them participants in the Lord’s death, the Lord – being hidden together with His actions from their sight – judges them. Namely, they, who not do what their participation in the holy feast of the Lord’s sacrifice obliges them to do, bear the painful consequences of their unbelief (cf. 1Cor 11:26-34);

Then the proclamation of the Lord’s death ends – at the moment of His coming to the gathered Eucharistic community. The Risen Lord breathes His Spirit, the giver of charisms. The Holy Spirit gives the gathered people the fruits of Jesus’ Passion, enables them to live joyfully and powerfully in union with the Head of the Body (cf. 1Cor 12-15). In the early Church, this coming of the Lord had its liturgical, visible sign. It was the granting of the Holy Spirit, seen with the senses, what the apostle described as ‘ἡ φανέρωσις τοῦ πνεύματος’ – phanerosis (i.e., the attaining of visibility) of the Spirit (12:7).

St. Paul explains in the subsequent verses of 1Cor 11:26-34 what consequences a man bears when he overlooks that time of grace when the Lord carries out judgment on each of the participants of His banquet of Bread and Wine. This fragment is focused on two interdependent issues: the pious consumption of Body and Blood of the Lord and judgment on those not consuming with comprehension and proper attitude toward the Lord that comes from that comprehension.

The numerical tally helps to see this concentration of content. In 1Cor 11:26-34, there are 35 different nouns, verbs, adjectives, and adverbs, whereby 30 of them (that is, 83%) are related to consumption and judgment issues. Out of 58 occurrences of all these words, 53 occurrences (i.e., 90%) relate to consumption and judgment [21]. These words can be grouped:

  1. Persons: 9 times [22];
  2. Consumption in the community: 27 times [23];
  3. Court, judgment: 15 times [24];
  4. Other: 2 times: death (of the Lord) – θάνατος; preach – καταγγέλλω.

St. Paul teaches that consumption of the Body and Blood of the Lord is a real participation in saving death (θάνατος) of Jesus, closely associated with His judgment both on the world and on man and the quality of his participation in this consumption.

According to 1Cor 11:32: κρινόμενοι δὲ ὑπὸ κυρίου παιδευόμεθα, ἵνα μὴ σὺν τῷ κόσμῳ κατακριθῶμεν.

Moreover, Jesus himself revealed the same importance of the Passover time on the eve of these events: “‘Now is the time of judgment on this world (νῦν κρίσις ἐστὶν τοῦ κόσμου τούτου); now the ruler of this world will be driven out. And when I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw everyone to myself.’ He said this, indicating the kind of death (θάνατος) He would die.”

Conclusion.

The precise translation of the sentence 1Cor 11:26 showed that in St. Paul’s teaching, there are two successive stages in the liturgy of the Holy Mass, which make up the ‘Eucharistic liturgy’ [25]:

Further research should check how much importance St. Paul attached to this twofold division and, as a consequence, whether he marked in some other way in this Letter the need to notice it. Other Biblical scholars already provide some data, according to which the structure of the entire Epistle indicates a clear thematic division [26]. Following this suggestion, we can see that until the end of chapter 11, Paul emphasizes the necessity of humbling himself by Jesus (His salvific death on the cross) and by His believers (their renunciation of sins associated with the mortal body). On the other hand, from the beginning of chapter 12, he points to the fruits of Jesus’ Passion: the gifts of the Holy Spirit, unity of the Body of Christ, the Resurrection of Jesus, and His believers. Although he points out in this section to Corinthians the requirement to forsake sins, he does so in the context of their participation in eternal, and therefore spotless, the Body of Christ.

Finally, it is worth noting that the presented understanding of the Holy Mass’s liturgy in the light of 1Cor 11:26 is consistent with what contemporary liturgists [27] perceive, and which corresponds to the oldest liturgical tradition of the early Church [28]. Moreover, comparative studies of Christian and Jewish liturgy [29], located on the border of liturgical and biblical studies, are an essential confirmation of the research presented here. Namely, in-depth analyses have shown that bipartite structure is characteristic for certain prayers of both religions (‘covenant formulas,’ blessings).

Moreover, the first of these parts – anamnetic – recalls God’s initiative of the covenant and the related salvific interventions for the People of the Old / New Covenant; the second part – epicletic, i.e., intercessory – is a cry for God as a Covenant Partner to renew these interventions [30].

In this article, one disclosed an identical bipartition in 1Cor 11:26, where St. Paul explains the words and deeds by which Jesus Christ made the New Covenant with His people in the Upper Room on the night before His Passion.

In light of the research carried out, the Holy Mass’s Eucharistic liturgy is built on the same principle as the original Passover rite [31]: the successive main elements of the rite correspond to the main steps in the history of salvation. In Eucharistic liturgy of Holy Mass, Passion and Death of the Lord are made present first, and then His glorious Resurrection and sharing of His Passion’s fruits. Thus, in the liturgical making present of the New Testament salvation history, the time sequence of its essential stages is preserved.

Further exegetical research should answer to the question, whether the same logic also underlies the entire rite of the Eucharist. Since an important place in modern scientific exegesis is occupied by the mathematical research of the text [32], related to the methods of Jewish exegesis and recommended by the Pontifical Biblical Commission [33], therefore, in the perspective of the tasks ahead, it is worth recalling the principle formulated by Rev. Professor Julian Warzecha [34], to whose holy memory I dedicate this article. Namely: real and true (in opposition to that imagined by an exegete) Revelation, hidden in specific numerical dependencies in the Bible, will always be visible also in the text. Therefore, the role of numerical analysis is to discover the verbal (i.e., noted with words) Revelation in texts where it may have been overlooked so far.


[1]  Cf. F. A. Sullivan, Charisms and Charismatic Renewal: A Biblical and Theological Study, Eugene, Oregon, 2004, p. 24-25.
[2]  Cf. D. Aleksander, P. Aleksander (ed.), Przewodnik po Biblii [Handbook to the Bible]8, Warszawa 1997, p. 590.
[3]  Cf. G. Barbaglio, La Prima Lettera ai Corinzi. Introduzione, versione e commento, Bolonia 1996, s. 640; H. Langkammer, Pierwszy i Drugi List do Koryntian [First and Second Letter to the Corinthians], Lublin 1998, p. 28.
[4]  Cf. John Paul II, Eucharystia zapowiada przyszłość Bożą. Audiencja generalna dnia 25. października 2001 r. [The Eucharist Announces God’s Future. The General Audience on October 25, 2001], “L’Osservatore Romano” (Polish edition) XXII (2001) No. 3 (231), p. 32; Idem, Eucharystia jako pamiątka «mirabilia Dei». Audiencja generalna dnia 4. października 2001 r. [The Eucharist as a Memorial of ‘Mirabilia Dei.’ The General Audience on October 4, 2001], Ibidem, 28; E. Dąbrowski, Listy do Koryntian. Wstęp – przekład z oryginału – komentarz [Letters to the Corinthians. Introduction – Translation from the Original – Commentary], Poznań 1965, p. 236; Cf. P.-É. Bonnard, Pascha [Passover], [in:] X. Léon-Dufour (ed.), Słownik teologii biblijnej [Dictionary of Biblical Theology], 3rd edition, translated by K. Romaniuk, Poznań 1990, p. 650; P. Rossano, Versione – Introduzione – Note di Lettere ai Corinzi, NVB No. 38, quinte edizione; 1986, p. 125. Cf. also the contemporary acclamation in the Holy Mass, after the words of the priest “The Mystery of faith:” “We proclaim your Death, O Lord, and profess your Resurrection until you come again,” which is commonly understood as waiting for Jesus’ Parousia.
[5]  R. Popowski, Wielki słownik grecko-polski Nowego Testamentu [The Great Koine Greek-Polish Dictionary of the New Testament] Warszawa 1997, p. 103-104: γάρ.
[6]  In part 2’ may be ἐὰν, although most ancient versions have ἂν.
[7]  Cf. B. Polok, Język grecki. Gramatyka [The Greek Language. Grammar], Opole 1996, p. 83; E. D. Burton, Moods and Tenses of New Testament Greek, Chicago, 1898, electronic version in: BibleWorks 6.0., points 238-288. See especially point 312 about the relative clauses; point 296ff about Conditional Relative Sentences.
[8]  Cf. E. D. Burton, Moods and Tenses of New Testament Greek, op.cit., in this: Moods in Relative Clauses. IV. Relative Clauses introduced By Words Meaning Until, While, And Before, point 321; until: 322, 323, 325; while: 327. See also: M. Barclay, Jr. Newman, A Concise Greek-English Dictionary of the New Testament, n. p., 1971, Stuttgart 1993, [in:]: BibleWorks 6.0 (UBSDICT), ἕως: „ἕως (1) conjunction (and ἔως ὅτου or ἕως οὗ) until (with any tense); while (with present indicative only)”; J. H. Thayer, Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament, n. p.,1889, electronic version in BibleWorks 6.0., ἄχρι, ἕως; H. G. Liddell, R. Scott, A Greek-English Lexicon. Revised and Augmented Throughout by H. S. Jones with the Assistance of R. McKenzie, Oxford 1940, in this: ἄχρι, ἕως.
[9]  The presentation of these sentences would expand this study by many pages; therefore, one leaves it to the Honorable Readers to familiarize themselves with them. The quickest way to do this is to use computer programs for biblical analysis. For example, one should write in Command Center in BibleWorks: 'εως *2 *@vip* for the ‘while’ type, and 'εως *3 *@vs* for the ‘until’ type. It is worth noting that Polish translations often do not take into account the difference between the use of subjunctive and indicative; English translations are usually precise in this respect.
[10]  Cf. J. P. Louw, E. A. Nida, Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament Based on Semantic Domains, 2nd Edition, New York, point „67. Time 67.1-67.208”, especially subpoint „F: Duration of time with Reference to Some Point of Time: Until, Delay, Still, From (67.118-67.135),” especially subpoint 67.119.
[11]  Ibid., point “67. Time 67.1-67.208,” in this subpoint “G: Duration of Time with Reference to Some Unit of Time: During, In, While, Throughout (67.136-67.141),” in this subpoint 67.139.
[12]  In BibleWorks 6.0: ASV: The Holy Bible, American Standard Version, 1901; KJV: The King James Version of the English Bible, Cambridge 1769.
[13]  Cf. sentences with ἔρχεται (3rd person singular): Psa 96:13; Mal 3:1.19; Isa 13:9; with ἔρχομαι (1st person singular): Zech 2:14; Isa 66:18.
[14]  Cf. John Paul II, Apostolic Letter Dies Domini, 33.
[15]  Cf. R. Popowski, Wielki słownik grecko-polski Nowego Testamentu, op.cit., p. 88: ἄχρις, BibleWorks 6.0.: one must give in Command Center: 'αχρι *1 ος *4 *@vs*
[16]  Cf. Grecko-polski Nowy Testament. Wydanie interlinearne z kodami gramatycznymi [Greek-Polish New Testament. Interlinear edition with grammar codes]. Translation by R. Popowski, M. Wojciechowski, Warszawa 1997, p. XXIX (Wprowadzenie [Introduction]).
[17]  Cf. the remark in the next footnote.
[18]  He had not had it for a short time (and then the Israelites could see his face glorified). One should note that in the third segment, there is ἕως τοῦ ἐκπορεύεσθαι, i.e., there is no subjunctive here, so this sentence is not exactly a sentence like “until” (only in such a sentence, the end of the act of removing the veil from the face would have to be the moment in which Moses begins the act of coming out of the tent from the Lord’s presence).
[19]  Here it is a typical adverbial clause of time of the “until” type with the subjunctive, i.e., the removal of the veil took place simultaneously with the moment of entering the tent to speak with the Lord.
[20]  Cf. also Ex 40:36-37. Two stages of Israel, i.e., march of Israel / resting of Israel, connects with two stages of the Lord’s Cloud, i.e., rising of the Lord’s Cloud from the Tabernacle / resting of the Lord’s Cloud on the Tabernacle. There is here a construction like the previous ones but related to past events; hence the aorist after ἕως is in the indicative mood.
[21]  Omitted: be – εἰμί, other matters – λοιπὰ (λοιπός), house – οἶκος, not – οὐκ, this – οὕτως.
[22]  Lord – κύριος, man – ἄνθρωπος, brother – ἀδελφός, many – πολλοὶ (πολύς), many – ἱκανοί (ἱκανός), the world – κόσμος.
[23]  eat – ἐσθίω, drink – πίνω, bread – ἄρτος, cup – ποτήριον, body – σῶμα, blood – αἷμα, be hungry – πεινάω, wait – ἐκδέχομαι, come – ἔρχομαι, gather – συνέρχομαι.
[24]  examine – δοκιμάζω, judgment – κρίμα, judge – κρίνω, differentiate / judge – διακρίνω, discipline – παιδεύω, arrange – διατάσσω, condemn – κατακρίνω, guilty – ἔνοχος, unworthily – ἀναξίως, weak – ἀσθενής, ill – ἄρρωστος, die – κοιμάομαι.
[25]  Cf. Second Vatican Council, Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, No. 56: the liturgy of the Holy Mass consists of two main parts: the liturgy of the word and the Eucharistic liturgy.
[26]  J. Lambrecht, Pierwszy List do Koryntian [First Letter to the Corinthians],[in:] W. R. Farmer (ed.); S. McEvenue, A. J. Levoratti, D. L. Dungan (co-editors); W. Chrostowski (scientific editor of Polish edition), Mieszkowski T., Pachciarek P. (co-editors), Międzynarodowy komentarz do Pisma Świętego: komentarz katolicki i ekumeniczny na XXI wiek [International Commentary on Holy Scripture: Catholic and Ecumenical Commentary on the 21st Century], Warszawa 2000, p. 1456-1486. 1457f. The author divides the Letter according to the chapters: 1-4: divisions; 5-7: sexual life; 8-14: cult; 15: resurrection. However, he also points to the identical rhetorical structure A-B-A’ of chapters 8-9-10 and 12-13-14, thus making the above division more complex. Finally, he admits that the division is possible by omitting some details, perhaps important ones. Nevertheless, it is generally true that the Letter is not chaotic, but has a well-thought-out composition, perhaps still awaiting full discovery.
[27]  Cf. H. J. Sobeczko, Inkulturacja liturgiczna w Polsce. Na marginesie rzymskiej instrukcji o inkulturacji liturgii [Liturgical Inculturation in Poland. In the Margin of the Roman Instruction on the Inculturation of the Liturgy], “Liturgia Sacra” 1-2 (1966), pp. 33-36 – on page 36, the author writes about the fact that celebrants and the faithful do not distinguish between the time of Sacrifice and the time of praising following that time; the author proposes to introduce obligatory prayers of praise after Holy Communion. Cf. also: without the author, Dziękczynienie po Komunii Świętej [Thanksgiving after Holy Communion], “Biuletyn Katechetyczny Diecezji Bielsko – Żywieckiej” 26/97 (1998), p. 22; W. Kosek, Kairos Komunii Świętej jako czas interwencji Boga w potrzebę wewnętrzną człowieka [Kairos of Holy Communion as the Time of God’s Intervention in the Inner Need of Man], “Karmel” 2/75 (2002), pp. 43-49.
[28]  Cf. M. Starowieyski (ed.), Eucharystia pierwszych chrześcijan. Ojcowie Kościoła nauczają o Eucharystii [Eucharist of the First Christians. The Fathers of the Church Teach about the Eucharist], Kraków 1997, p. 203-205, 239- 241, 305-306; R. Rak (ed.), Eucharystia w wypowiedziach papieży i innych dokumentach Stolicy Apostolskiej XX w. [Eucharist in the Statements of the Popes and Other Documents of the Apostolic See of the Twentieth Century], London 1987, p. 60-62, 85, 100-101, 108, 153; St. Alphonsus Maria de Liguori, Umiłowanie Jezusa Chrystusa w życiu codziennym [Love of Jesus Christ in Everyday Life], translated and edited by M. Pierzchała, Z. Klafka, Kraków 1996, p. 117; D. Piekarz, Odpowiedzieć na miłość [To Respond to Love], Kraków 1996, p. 84, 87; W. Kosek, Wprowadzenie w tajemnicę adoracji Pana Jezusa, przyjętego w Komunii Świętej [Introduction to the Mystery of Adoration of the Lord Jesus, Received in Holy Communion], Kraków 1999. See also on the Internet: click here, please!
[29]  Cf. J. Chmiel, Żydowskie korzenie liturgii [Jewish Roots of the Liturgy], “Ateneum Kapłańskie” 485 (1990), pp. 51-62.
[30]  Cf. R. Popowski, Wielki słownik grecko-polski Nowego Testamentu, op.cit., p. 221: ἐπικαλέω – name, call.
[31]  Cf. W. Kosek, Pierwotny ryt Paschy w świetle schematu literackiego Księgi Wyjścia 1-18 [The Original Rite of the Passover in the Light of the Literary Scheme of the Book of Exodus 1-18], Kraków 2008, pp. 399-401. See on the Internet: click here, please!
[32]  Cf. Ibid., pp. 26, 276-278, 399; T. Jelonek, Lingwistyka matematyczna [Mathematical Linguistics], [in:] T. Jelonek (ed.), Z badań nad Biblią [From Research on the Bible] (5), Kraków 2002, p. 170.
[33]  The Pontifical Biblical Commission, The Interpretation of the Bible in the Church, [in:] J. A. Fitzmyer, The Biblical Commission’s Document “The Interpretation of the Bible in the Church”: Text and Commentary (series: Subsidia biblica, 18), Roma 1995, point I. C. 2: Approach through Recourse to Jewish Traditions of Interpretation. See on the Internet: click here, please! See also on the other side on the Internet: click here, please! Cf. also Papieska Komisja Biblijna, Interpretacja Pisma Świętego w Kościele. Tekst studyjny [The Pontifical Biblical Commission, The Interpretation of the Bible in the Church. Study text], [in:] T. Jelonek (ed.), Z badań nad Biblią [From Research on the Bible] (2), Kraków 1998, p. 89-189. (point I. C. 2); T. Jelonek, Znaczenie mistycznej tradycji żydowskiej dla chrześcijańskiego rozumienia Biblii na tle nauczania kościelnego [The Value of the Mystical Jewish Tradition for the Christian Understanding of the Bible Against the Background of Ecclesiastical Teaching], “Polonia Sacra” 9 / 53 (2001), p. 161-163.
[34]  J. Warzecha Recenzja książki: Jeffrey Satinover, Kod Biblii. Ukryta prawda [Book Review: Jeffrey Satinover, Code of the Bible. Hidden Truth], translated by D. Konieczka, Bydgoszcz 1999, “Ruch Biblijny i Liturgiczny” 52 (1999), p. 372.