This paper is a translation of the article written in Polish: W. Kosek, Dziękowanie Bogu za Jego dar niewypowiedziany (2 Kor 9, 15) podczas Eucharystii i zaraz po jej zakończeniu. It will be published soon by The Pontifical University of John Paul II in Krakow in the Festschrift in Honor of Rev. Prof. Tomasz Maria Dąbek OSB on his 70th Birthday.
This translation was first published on 5 Jan 2023
on the Academia.edu website.
DOI of this paper:
This translation was published here on 5 Jan 2023, i.e.,
the day of Pope Benedict XVI’s funeral.
The article provides detailed analyses and juxtapositions of St. Paul’s teaching and shows that his admiration for God’s unspeakable gift (2Cor 9:15) concerns the essential reality for the Church – the exchange of gifts not only material but, above all, spiritual among the members of the Church as the Body of Christ.
The paper shows that man gradually wins himself for full, sacrificial participation in this exchange of gifts with God and brothers to become similar to Christ, who offered Himself as a sacrifice for the sanctity of people. Man, in cooperation with the power of Christ and His Holy Spirit – especially during the Eucharist and the prayers immediately following it – has an opportunity to be taken by Christ out of the bondage of evil not-sharing and become the owner of himself to be the donator of himself.
Because the time immediately after Eucharist is nowadays not perceived by most believers as an exceptional opportunity to grow in spiritual power, the large part of the paper serves as proof for this exceptionality based on the relation between the Eucharistic rite and the Passover rite and between after-Eucharistic prayers and after-Passover prayers.
Jesus Christ, Eucharist, New Testament analyses, exegesis, Church-Body, Passover, rite, prayers after the Eucharist, 2Cor 9:15, the Holy Spirit’s gifts, the collection of money, the exchange of spiritual and material gifts, St. Paul Apostle’s epistles, the Second Epistle to the Corinthians, the Epistle to the Romans, the Epistles to the Philippians, Ephesians, Colossians.
Table of contents:
The Second Vatican Council, in its Constitution on the Liturgy, No. 6, stated that “the Church has never failed to come together to celebrate the Paschal mystery: reading those things ‘which were in all the scriptures concerning him’ (Luke 24:27), celebrating the Eucharist in which ‘the victory and triumph of his death are made present’ (Council of Trent, Session XIII, Decree on the Holy Eucharist, c. 5.), and at the same time giving thanks ‘to God for his unspeakable gift’ (2Cor 9:15) in Christ Jesus, ‘in praise of his glory’ (Eph 1:12), through the power of the Holy Spirit.”
Under such extraordinary circumstances – within the framework of a conciliar assembly – the sentence proclaimed by the Church connects Paul’s phrase from 2Cor 9:15 not so much to the mere collection of gifts for the needy – although the apostle wrote it in such a context – as to the celebration of the “Paschal mystery,” that is, the greatest mysteries of the faith of the Church community.
It is worth asking whether or not such an application of Paul’s sentence has a deeper biblical justification, that is, whether or not the Church gives thanks to God for His unspeakable gift during the celebration of the Paschal mystery, and what it is this “unspeakable gift.” The analyses in this article attempt to answer this question and will show the necessity of expanding it.
The Apostle Paul, in the period from about 45 to 58, conducted intensive evangelistic activity in Asia Minor, as well as in the territory of present-day Greece, particularly in the Roman provinces of Macedonia (with the city of Thessalonica) and Achaia (with the cities of Athens and Corinth). Since the material situation of the faithful of the Church in Jerusalem was difficult , the first communities founded by the apostle decided to give them material gifts through him.
The Apostle discussed this initiative several times in his letters (cf. 1Cor 16:1-6; 2Cor 1:15; 8:1-9:15; Rom 15:26). Among other things, he recommended that, following the example of the churches of Galatia (cf. 1Cor 16:1-2), a region in Asia Minor, the faithful should systematically set aside donations “on the first day of the week,” what presumably means that those gathering for Sunday Eucharist should make gifts to the needy on this occasion . Moreover, Paul emphasized the nobility of the competition in this work between the Churches of Macedonia and Achaia. He announced his arrival in Corinth, preceded by the earlier arrival of his associates for the smooth finalization of this idea.
In his Second Letter to the Corinthians, St. Paul teaches how the noble exchange of gifts between the richer and the poorer is precious in God’s eyes. Namely, those who abound in material goods assist the poor in this dimension, while those who are spiritually rich assist those who are deficient in this, in turn, dimension. This exchange of gifts is an imitation of Christ himself, who became poor to enrich us with this very poverty (cf. 2Cor 8:9).
A study of the entirety of Paul’s letters makes it possible to see that the exchange of material and spiritual gifts among the members of the one Body of Christ (cf. Rom 12:5; 1Cor 6:15; 10:17; 12:12-30; Eph 4:12; 5:23; Col 1:24; 3:15), which the Church is, present in various parts of the world, is for the apostle the logical consequence of this fascinating and salutary for all of us exchange of gifts that takes place between God and the Church of Christ, which primarily takes place during each Eucharist and the prayers that follow immediately after it (cf. 1Cor 11-14).
How fervent are the apostle’s exhortations to the various communities to instruct one another through psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs during the prayer of the Church (cf. 1Cor 14:26; Eph 5:19; Col 3:16) and to more readily prophesy under the influence of the Holy Spirit than to use the gift of tongues, unless there is someone who can translate them for the edification of the wisdom of the participants (cf. 1Cor 15:5.27)!
These exhortations flow from Paul’s admiration for the great endowment available to believers during the celebration of the Eucharist (cf. 1Cor 11) and prayers offered under the influence of the Holy Spirit’s grace after its conclusion (cf. 1Cor 12-14).
The statements made in the above introduction to the study will now be documented through detailed analyses.
In 2Cor 8:1-9:15, St. Paul explained the theological logic of bestowing those in need, framing this ministry in cultic terms . One can note that St. Paul included the same theology in his Letter to the Philippians .
Behold the apostle presented first his ministry in the sacrificial language in Phil 2:17, where he wrote that he was poured out as the offering and ministry (λειτουργίᾳ)  for the faith of the Philippians: ἀλλὰ εἰ καὶ σπένδομαι ἐπὶ τῇ θυσίᾳ καὶ λειτουργίᾳ τῆς πίστεως ὑμῶν.
On the other hand, in Phil 4:10-20 – as in 2Cor 8:1-9:15 – he explained the theological logic of sharing with the needy. Namely, the one who bestows gifts gains merit for eternity and also has the certainty that God will meet his every need in mortality, both material and spiritual. In both these letters, the apostle expresses in cultic terms the bestowing of the needy : in 2Cor 9:12 as ἡ διακονία τῆς λειτουργίας ταύτης (the ministry of this liturgy, that one strictly), in Phil 4:18 as ὀσμὴν εὐωδίας, θυσίαν δεκτήν, εὐάρεστον τῷ θεῷ (a grateful fragrance, an acceptable offering, pleasing to God). In both letters, the theological characterization of giving to the poor ends with thanksgiving to God:
2Cor 9:15: Thanks be to God… – Χάρις τῷ θεῷ
Phil 4:20: To God and our Father be the glory… – τῷ θεῷ ἡ δόξα
The similarity between these two passages – from 2Cor and Phil – allows us to pose a research question: Is it coincidental or not coincidental this connection between two characteristics: 1. an expressing in sacrificial terms the act of giving to neighbors and 2. the summarizing this expression through thanksgiving / giving glory to God?
The answer is positive: after all, the apostle, in many of his letters, delights in God and expresses his gratitude to Him for the extraordinary work of building people into one spiritual organism by way of empowering them through committed faith in Christ to such fellowship with Him and with their brothers, which, although it requires everyone to sacrifice himself for his fellow brothers, turns out to be a happiness-giving reality.
The way Paul frames the collection in 2Cor and Phil – as an act of worship offered to God – is reflected in his account of the subject in Rom 15:14-32, a text written shortly before the apostle delivered the fruits of the collection to Jerusalem. The cultic portrayal not only of the collection of money but of human life – is Paul’s way of thinking throughout the Letter to the Romans.
Behold, he says at the beginning of this letter that humankind has fallen into slavery of sin and points out that the root cause of this condition is the failure to recognize God and worship Him: Although the pagans knew God, they did not give glory to Him as God or give Him thanks [οὐχ ὡς θεὸν ἐδόξασαν ἢ ηὐχαρίστησαν]; they became vain in their reasoning, and their senseless minds were darkened (1:21). It was as a result of this spiritual wickedness that God handed them into the bondage of sin and death.
At a key point in the letter – Rom 12:1 – Paul presents a vision of the Christian life as rational worship toward God – worship which is contrary to that pagan mentality of non-offering oneself to God, of non-resigning from submitting oneself to the after-all irrational impulses of the flesh:
“I urge you, therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God (θυσίαν ζῶσαν ἁγίαν εὐάρεστον τῷ θεῷ), your rational worship (τὴν λογικὴν λατρείαν ὑμῶν)” – Rom 12:1.
In the subsequent sentences of the letter, Paul points out the necessity of the unity of the Church community despite the difference in opinions on secondary matters. At the same time, he points out that all believers, although they perform different ministries in the Church, constitute together one supernatural Body. So they should be in a relationship of respect for one another just as parts of an earthly body are for other its parts (cf. 12:3-18).
Being clothed in Christ – incorporated into His Body-Church – obligates everyone to perform acts of love toward one another, which is concretized in the fundamental task of not succumbing to the desires of the flesh (cf. 13:8-14) since it is from them that all sin comes against God, oneself and one’s neighbors (cf. Gal 5:16-21).
The apostle points out at the same time that God, who is setting an example of life in Christ and helping each believer, endows the Body members with the power to fulfill this commitment to love (cf. Rom 15:11).
One should note here that Paul proclaims that this liberating power of God is to be reflected in praise of Him by those so endowed, for the whole work of Christ has as its goal the glorification of God by those whom He has taken into the community of the Body-Church, both from among the circumcised and the uncircumcised:
One should note that this glorification of God is to be expressed both in a morally perfect life (about which Paul has already written in this letter, pointing out the duty of mutual love within the believers of the Church and towards other people) as well as in prayer, in songs – and all this thanks to the presence of the Holy Spirit, giving power to the particular members of the one Body (cf. Rom 15:13).
Paul’s understanding of the fruits of Christ’s work thus points not only to a moral dimension but also to a cultic one, which is also evident in his letters, namely, in his calls to believers to exhort and teach one another and to give glory to God in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs (cf. Eph 5:19; Col 3:16).
This cultic approach is specifically applied in the Epistle to the Romans in the characterization of the purpose of the ministry that Paul, as a λειτουργός (servant) of Christ and minister of the Gospel, performs toward the Gentiles by the power of grace given by God: He does this “so that the offering up of the Gentiles may be acceptable, sanctified by the Holy Spirit” – ἵνα γένηται ἡ προσφορὰ τῶν ἐθνῶν εὐπρόσδεκτος, ἡγιασμένη ἐν πνεύματι ἁγίῳ (Rom 15:16).
The term προσφορά  is a typical Septuagint term for the sacrifices offered in the Jerusalem temple (cf. especially expressive Sir 14:11; 34:18-19; 35:1; 38:11; 46:16; 50:13-14), what also found use in the New Testament  in Acts 21:26, Rom 15:16 and Eph 5:2, and especially in the Epistle to the Hebrews to express the Sacrifice of Jesus Christ as indeed more perfect than the sacrifices of the Old Law (cf. Heb 10:5. 8. 10. 14. 18).
The expression in Rom 15:16 is to be understood  in the spirit of everyone’s calling to offer a sacrifice to God in the way of putting to death one’s lusts (cf. Col 3:5) and thanks to this achieving an ever fuller likeness to a holy God: people belonging to the pagan nations are called – like every human being – to offer a sacrifice of themselves to God. Furthermore, thanks to St. Paul’s evangelistic activity, some genuinely became capable of doing it. Namely, the hitherto pagan nations become a sacrifice pleasing to God – a holy sacrifice thanks to the Holy Spirit, who enables them to do it.
The Apostle Paul confesses in his name – though expressing the life experience of all of us – that it is extremely tough to decide to live according to the laws of the spirit and contrary to the laws of the lusts of the flesh. The flesh seeks to satisfy itself rather than the brothers. Such a decision is an act of crucifying oneself, putting to death the drives of the flesh; it is doomed to failure unless a person believes in the power Christ gives him in the Church as His Body. The Apostle included in Rom 7:14-24 this thought of Christ’s power, capable of giving a man a victory over the power of the flesh, and elaborated on it in the following sentences of the same letter. It is characteristic of how he concluded this first passage, Rom 7:24-25:
“Miserable one that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord”
– where the last sentence have the same beginning as 2Cor 9:15: χάρις δὲ τῷ θεῷ.
By giving his life on the cross, Christ finally prevailed over  the devil, the hitherto ruler of the temporal world (cf. Jn 12:31-33) and the post-mortal Abyss. It is thanks to Christ that each of us can see that man’s practice of self-offering bears, after some time, the fruit of victory over all that has hitherto dwelt in him as a power enslaving his spirit. It is this victory that fascinates the Apostle Paul; it is this that arouses in him the awe of God’s work that is each of his sons and daughters, invited to cooperate with Him in faith in achieving the fullness of humanity through inclusion in the life-giving power of Christ as the Head of the Body – the Church.
In Rom 6:17-18, St. Paul states:
“Thanks be to God that, although you were once slaves of sin, you have become obedient from the heart to the pattern of teaching to which you were entrusted. 18 Freed from sin, you have become slaves of righteousness,”
where the beginning of this sentence – χάρις δὲ τῷ θεῷ – is again the same as in 2Cor 9:15.
Incorporating into the Church as the Body of Christ – a life-giving spiritual organism for exchanging spiritual and material gifts between God and men – is a fascinating reality for Paul. For Paul discovers that each of us, who enter this Body with the decision to put to death (cf. Gal 5:24) in ourselves all that oozes apparent values, obtains from Christ infinitely more: an imbibing of values truly worthy of striving for because they make us like Him – God and ruler over all powers.
The consequence of this fascination and living according to it for Paul and other believers is their readiness to give spiritual and material gifts to those in want. This readiness is the inner power to give up these goods for the benefit of others and, therefore, the power to truly live according to the example of Christ, who gave up his temporal life so that God the Father could grant us eternal life.
St. Paul’s teaching about the Body of Christ, which the Church is, shows it as a spiritual organism, living thanks to an exchange of gifts – the exchange being as natural to particular believers as it is natural to members of one body. This exchange takes place in the Church between Christ and particular believers – and the life of this remarkable organism consists of this! This life is made possible by Christ as Head, who gives the gift of Himself to others, especially in the Eucharist; it is made possible because each particular member makes an effort to follow Christ in giving of oneself and thus in overcoming the inner power of focusing on oneself and one’s needs.
St. Paul teaches not only in the Epistle to the Romans about the Church as the Body of Christ. Behold, the Epistle to the Ephesians begins with a remarkable hymn in which the apostle contemplates with delight God’s plan to save man, to fill him with all spiritual goods through Christ’s sacrifice in the Church, which is His Body. The hymn ends by blessing God for this extraordinary gift:
“To Him be glory in the Church and Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen” – αὐτῷ ἡ δόξα ἐν τῇ ἐκκλησίᾳ καὶ ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ… (Eph 3:21)
The ending is again analogous to that in 2Cor 9:15 – χάρις δὲ τῷ θεῷ – except that over and above what is said there in words, it clearly shows the crucial role of Christ and His Church in giving glory to God.
It is apparent, therefore, that Paul’s delight relates to this extraordinary design of God to include every person in a salutary exchange of spiritual and material gifts – to incorporate them into the Body of Christ, to endow them with the power of giving themselves in service to others and in overcoming the inheritance of original guilt (cf. Gen 3:16-24; Gal 3:22), to enable them to rise from spiritual death to life in imitation of the Head of the Body-Church – Christ, who is the Firstborn from among the dead (πρωτότοκος ἐκ τῶν νεκρῶν), as expressed by St. Paul in Col 1:18.
The Epistle to the Colossians is a comprehensive description of this remarkable divine salvific work, in which the Colossians also chose to participate when they responded in faith to the word of the gospel preached to them – the good news of Christ’s victory over the devil, the victory offered to everyone who believes in Him and is incorporated into His Body-Church.
The apostle begins this description-gratitude by expressing thanks to God for the faith of the addressees of the letter, Col 1:3:
We always give thanks to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you – Εὐχαριστοῦμεν τῷ θεῷ πατρὶ τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ πάντοτε περὶ ὑμῶν προσευχόμενοι.
However, Paul does not limit the person of acts of thanksgiving to himself. In Col 1:12-13, he encourages the Colossians to do so while giving the reason for this act, i.e., their release from the power of darkness and their incorporation into Christ’s community of light.
As in the previously discussed letters, Paul also in this letter makes the addressees aware of the necessity to make the effort of self-offering now. He expresses it in words:
“Put to death, then, the parts of you that are earthly: immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and the greed that is idolatry” (Col 3:5).
Paul makes the letter’s addressees aware that their sacrificial fulfillment of the onerous requirement to give up doing evil will bring them incomparably more than they will give of themselves – they will grow in a deeper and more profound knowledge of God by the example of Christ (cf. Col 3:9-10). Through their efforts to cooperate with God’s grace, they will thus be farther and farther away from that pitiful state of inability to reasonably know Him, give Him glory and give thanks to Him (cf. Rom 1:21) – an inability whose consequence is moral and cultic impurity (cf. Rom 1:22-32).
In order for them to live up to this duty of killing their old habits, Paul encourages them to zealously and reasonably participate in the liturgical life of the Church-Body, where, under the influence of grace, the faithful edify one another and praise God:
“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, as in all wisdom you teach and admonish one another, singing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God” (Col 3:16).
From the presented discussion of Paul’s letters, the totality of admiration and gratitude to God and their author’s instructions to people regarding this unspeakable gift that is Christ and His Body – the Church – a spiritual community of people freed by Christ from the inability to know God and thank Him for His countless spiritual and material gifts – is outlined, a people capable of striving not only for the satisfaction of their own needs but also for those of their fellows, mutually helping one another materially and spiritually, conformed to Christ, who won the victory by offering his life to that great cause that is the creating (κτίζω) the human race anew (cf. Eph 2:10. 15; 4:24; Col 1:16).
This delightful reality in which we are given to live, the Apostle refers to as καινὴ κτίσις – the new creation (2Cor 5:17):
“So whoever is in Christ is a new creation: the old things have passed away; behold, new things have come.”
εἴ τις ἐν Χριστῷ, καινὴ κτίσις˙ τὰ ἀρχαῖα παρῆλθεν, ἰδοὺ γέγονεν καινά
It is for this extraordinary reality of God’s gift of new life in Christ that St. Paul expresses gratitude in words recorded in 2Cor 9:15:
Χάρις τῷ θεῷ ἐπὶ τῇ ἀνεκδιηγήτῳ αὐτοῦ δωρεᾷ
The analyses presented above have led us to discover St. Paul’s delight in God’s saving work through Christ’s action on earth in the community of new creation, viz., His Body – the Church. The awe of such great work – and not mere gratitude for the Corinthians’ accomplished collection of money – constitutes the fundamental reason for the thanksgiving expressed to God by Paul in 2Cor 9:15.
The apostle’s exhortations to exchange material and spiritual gifts – including instructing one another through psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs – can be read as encouragements for Eucharistic and other gatherings of believers. Therefore, in order to draw attention to the unique role of the Eucharist and the prayers that the Church, from the beginning, undertook immediately after the celebration as a continuation of it, it is necessary to carefully read what St. Paul wrote down in the First Letter to the Corinthians on this subject. Studying the entirety of the issues exceeds the scope of this article. Only the main results of grammatical and lexical analyses will be given here , pointing unequivocally to the necessity of understanding the description in 1Cor 12-14 as the prayers immediately following the Eucharist.
It is worth noting at the outset that extra-biblical evidence of such a close connection between the Eucharist and the prayers continued after it is the record from the 1st/2nd century in the Didache  or Teaching of the Twelve Apostles, 9-10:
9:5: “Let no one eat or drink of your Eucharists (ἀπὸ τῆς εὐχαριστίας) except those who have been baptized into the name of the Lord […].
10:1: And when you are satisfied, thus give thanks […] – Μετὰ δὲ τὸ ἐμπλησθῆσαι οὕτως εὐχαριστήσατε
10:7: Permit the prophets to make thanksgiving as much as they desire – Τοῖς δε προφήταις επιτρέπετε εὐχαριστεῖν όσα θέλουσιν.”
It is the presence of the prophets as particular animators of communal prayer, raised to God under the grace of the Holy Spirit, that is characteristic of both the Didache and St. Paul’s description in 1Cor 12-14. It is their presence and their Spirit-inspired proclamation “as much as they desire” that makes it possible to see Paul’s record as concerning prayers after the end of the Eucharist – that is after a celebration regulated by strict rules worked out by the Passover liturgy .
In the First Epistle to the Corinthians, the apostle paid particular attention to the Eucharist and the prayers following it. First, in Chapter 11, he discussed the problems associated with the Corinthians’ behavior during the celebration of the four consecutive main parts of the Eucharist. These four parts, identical to those recorded in Acts 2:42 , he discussed in the verses :
|Acts 2:42||1Cor 11|
|the teaching of the apostles||11:2-16||the keeping the tradition|
|the community||11:17-22||the disorder in the community|
|the breaking of bread||11:23-25||the description of the consecration|
|the prayers||11:26-14:40||the proclaiming of Death and then the Resurrection of Christ|
In the 12th and following chapters, he presented the rules for the behavior of the Church, subject to the unique action of the Holy Spirit, who grants the gifts that God the Father has prepared for those who remain after the Eucharist on the proclamation of the death of His Son until He as the Risen Kyrios comes to them in the presence of the Holy Spirit, granting spiritual gifts (cf. 1Cor 11:26; 12:3 – see discussion below).
What is worth highlighting for the sake of the main topic of this article is chapter 14, and in it, Paul’s instruction to more readily tilt toward prophesying rather than speaking in noncommunicable tongues – for this does not build a rational knowledge of God in others. Here we see the same concern of Paul for such an exchange of spiritual gifts that will serve growth in faith and perfection in the members of the Body of Christ, will contribute to progress in the knowledge of Christ, God’s saving intention for the Church and, consequently, to give thanks to God for this unspeakable gift.
A specific example of this focus on the salvific fruits of communal prayer after the Eucharist – in accordance with God’s intention – is recorded in 1Cor 14:23-25:
23 So if the whole church meets in one place and every speaks in tongues, and then uninstructed people or unbelievers should come in, will they not say that you are out of your minds? 24 But if everyone is prophesying, and an unbeliever or uninstructed person should come in, he will be convinced by everyone and judged by everyone, 25 and the secrets of his heart will be disclosed, and so he will fall down and worship God, declaring, “God is really in your midst.”
Such a prayer of the Church, united by the power of the Risen Christ, breathing the Holy Spirit into individual members of the Body and enabling each one to perform complementary services within the liturgical life of this assembly – one that results in a change of mind and heart of someone from people – is God’s intention. Not giving money to the needy, but this, described here, God’s great plan manifested in the transformation of hearts as an effect of bestowing people by God and by other people arouses the admiration of St. Paul and prompts him to give thanks to God in 2Cor 9:15.
The conducted analyses, out of necessity partially reduced to reporting the results of earlier publications, were thus completed as to the answer to the question about the cause of St. Paul’s admiration in 2Cor 9:15. One last issue remains to be discussed – at least sketching the justification for the thesis that giving thanks to God for His unspeakable gift (2Cor 9:15) is related not only to the celebration of the Paschal mystery during the Eucharist but also to the remaining in prayer immediately after its celebration.
This connection is only visible through precise analyses of 1Cor 11:26 and 12:3.
The sentence recorded in 1Cor 11:26 contains as the second of the words the particle γὰρ, and should therefore be understood as an explication of Christ’s words in 11:24. 25, namely regarding the meaning of the phrase “doing this as His memorial” – τοῦτο ποιεῖτε εἰς τὴν ἐμὴν ἀνάμνησιν.
The syntax of this sentence – analogous to the syntax of several, more easily understood, sentences in the Bible (cf., e.g., Isa 55:10) – clearly indicates that each time the consumption of the Body and Blood of the Lord as His memorial during the Eucharist means that those who consume it are obliged to consciously, intelligently participating in the Lord’s death until He comes to them – which is expressed by “The death of the Lord you preach until He comes.” In the Greek sentence constructed in this way, the act of the Lord’s coming to those proclaiming His Death is the moment that ends this act of proclaiming His Death. It is not, therefore, about the coming of the Lord at the end of time, nor is it a general statement that the Church, until this final coming, will celebrate the Eucharist as a proclamation of His Death.
The connection of this sentence with the Lord’s death and His coming as the Living One, and therefore the Resurrected One – coming after some time within one event, which is the celebrating of the Eucharist and praying immediately after its completion, has crucial importance for showing the connection between chapters 11 and 12-14 in this letter. For behold, St. Paul wrote in 1Cor 12:3:
In detailed lexical and grammatical analyses, it is proven  that the correct understanding of St. Paul’s statement in 1Cor 12:3 is as follows:
Just as “there is neither an idol in the world nor a god but the One God” (1Cor 8:4), i.e.,
so in 1Cor 12:3 too (the following refers to the so-called gods – cf. 1Cor 8:5; 2Cor 11:4):
Those prophesying under the influence of the spirits of pagan gods (i.e., demons – cf. 1Cor 10:20) are unable to know and reveal the mystery of Jesus as the Crucified and then Risen Lord (cf. 1Cor 2:2 and 2:8). Only through the Holy Spirit can a believer proclaim with understanding Jesus is Anathema, Jesus is Lord!
It is essential to note that the acclamation Jesus is Anathema is not a cursing of Jesus – as is commonly understood by commentators and translators  – but a revealing of the mystery of Jesus as Anathema, that is, a Sacrifice offered to God . This Greek word – Ἀνάθεμα – has not only a negative meaning but also a positive one: as a sacrificial gift, a votive offering made in the temple.
The positive meaning of Anathema as a sacrifice worthy of God is present in both the Old and New Testaments. However, it appears much less frequently than the negative: the word, written as ἀνάθεμα or ἀνάθημα, occurs a total of 34 times (27 in the OT, 7 in the NT), of which 5 (Lev 27:28n; Jdt 16:19; 2Macc 2:13; 9:16; Lk 21:5) in a positive sense (not counting 1Cor 12:3). It is especially noteworthy that according to Lev 27:29, any positive ἀνάθεμα is a thing most holy to the Lord!
We see that the acclamation Jesus is Anathema contains a connection of the sentence 1Cor 12:3 with Jesus’ Death – in consequence, it links this sentence with the sentence 1Cor 11:26, discussed above.
Furthermore, there is a proclamation of the mystery of Jesus as the Lord in 1Cor 11:26 – it is contained in the phrase until He comes. It again ties together these two phrases under discussion since this mystery is also proclaimed in 1Cor 12:3.
To properly understand the structure of the First Letter to the Corinthians, one must behold that the sentences of 1Cor 11:26 and 12:3 connect chapters 11 and 12, et seq.
Chapter 11 is particularly significant. It is unique as an explanation of “eating of this bread and drinking from this cup” as “doing/offering this exceptional food as a memorial sacrifice of Jesus.” It is essential to know – as proven by the analyses , for which there is no space here – that this act of eating/drinking is the cultic act being performed with Jesus and His apostles in the Upper Room to offer His memorial sacrifice to the God Father; this act is to be done before Jesus struggles against the devil. The memorial sacrifice is that kind of sacrifice that God the Father accepts in order to remember Jesus in the nearest future, i.e., during His battle against the devil after He departed from the Upper Room, that is, during Jesus’ passing through the Abyss of Death. The result of this “remembering” of the Father about the Son is the victory of the Son in the struggle against the devil – the hitherto ruler of the world of all the dead – and the bringing forth of the Son from among the dead as the Risen Lord, as the ruler of the living and dead (cf. Heb 13:20).
Understanding Jesus’ memorial sacrifice requires a distinction between 1. what is offered and 2. the type of sacrifice offered, i.e., the aim of the offering. Offerings can be of various types, such as an offering of reparation, an offering of thanksgiving, a memorial offering, etc. Jesus makes a memorial offering.
What is offered in the Upper Room? – it is Jesus giving his life on the cross at Golgotha and consequently passing through the Abyss of Death.
The purpose for which this is offered is expressed by the term “memorial” or “memorial offering.” Jesus offers as a memorial offering the very thing that will happen in His life after the departure from the Upper Room. Moreover, since what will happen then (Jesus’ death and His passing through the Abyss of Death) is an act of covenant making, analogous to the act of covenant making between God and Israel by passing through the Abyss of the waters of the Red Sea  – that is why it is recorded in Heb 13:20 that God “brought up from the dead the great shepherd of the sheep by the blood of the eternal covenant, Jesus our Lord.”
In conclusion, it was apparent to St. Paul that there is a close connection between the prayers immediately following the Eucharist and the Eucharist itself. Hence, his calls for exchanging spiritual or material gifts – even if they can be referred to some believers’ gatherings not immediately after the Eucharist – were primarily fulfilled by believers precisely during the time of grace immediately after the Eucharist. The reason is that the Eucharistic celebration does not allow a departure from the strict logic and order of the four parts of the rite taken over by the Lord Jesus from the Passover liturgy. It is possible only in the time of grace after the Eucharist to prayerfully exchange gifts by means not regulated by the rules of the liturgy but by the actions of the Holy Spirit, who guides the individual members of the Body-Church, allowing them to prophesy according to the needs arising from the current situation of the congregation.
To complete and solidify these analyses, it is worth adding more explanations of the rite of Passover and that of the Eucharist.
Pious Jews do not limit their prayer time on Passover night to the celebration of Passover according to the Passover Haggadah – the prototype for our missal – but after Passover is over, they continue until morning to prayerfully praise God for the great work of leading Israel out of Egypt and into the land promised to their ancestors.
The same is true of every Eucharist – the pious Christians of the first centuries remained in prayer after the Eucharist. This obvious connection between these customs is due to the deep relation between these two rites – for the Lord Jesus built the rite of the Eucharist on the rite of the Passover. It will be explained below to show more fully the essential idea of this article.
Before turning to the primary biblical analyses of the title issue, it should be noted that the Second Vatican Council, in the text quoted at the beginning, first referred to a brief statement from Acts 2:42, considered by biblical scholars  to be a record of the basic structure of the Holy Mass – the Eucharist:
They devoted themselves to the teaching of the apostles and to the communal life, to the breaking of the bread and to the prayers.
Ἦσαν δὲ προσκαρτεροῦντες
As one Polish biblical scholar noted years ago :
“Four of these elements can be considered essential components of the Eucharistic liturgy shown here still in its original form:
Since there is an article in the expression ταῖς προσευχαῖς – the prayers – it can be assumed that these prayers were already defined and determined by the nature of the Eucharistic banquet.”
In the quoted interpretation of Luke’s record, it is now necessary to take into account the results of the study of the structure of the annual Passover rite, on the foundation of which Jesus Christ, on the night before the Passion, constituted the rite of the New Passover – the Eucharist . Well, the second of the parts – κοινωνία – is, above all, a table fellowship  and not just a gathering of aid for the needy (although the word occurs in this sense in St. Paul in Rom 15:26, where the apostle writes about the initiative to collect donations in Macedonia and Achaia for the Church in Jerusalem).
A table fellowship – is an element in the annual Passover, forming the second central part of its rite. Both the Passover and the Eucharist have four main parts. Familiarity with the Passover rite from the time of Jesus Christ is made possible by the fact that it was inscribed in the literary structure of the Book of Exodus 1-18, while the well-known contemporary Passover Haggadot, the counterpart of the Church Missal, turn out to preserve faithfully the same structure.
Scholars are inclined to believe that the text of the Passover Haggadah was created gradually over many centuries  and that its first version was compiled between the second half of the second century and the end of the fourth century. Many of them believe that although the currently known ancient text of the Haggadah dates from a time later than the destruction of the Jerusalem temple in 70 CE, the essential part of the Hebrew and Aramaic text and the key ideas of the whole date from before the coming of Jesus Christ into the world .
However, some Jewish scholars have argued in recent years that the Haggadah should be dated much later, thus questioning the existence of direct parallels between the Last Supper described in the Gospels and the rabbinic Seder . However, their analyses are not only challenged by other Jewish scholars  but also by the discovery that the basic pattern of the Passover rite and the literary structure of the Haggadah, as well as the structure of Ex 1-18, are based on the pattern of the Hittite treaties from the 16th-12th century BCE, that is, from the time of the Exodus from Egypt and God’s covenant with Israel through the act of passing between the halved waters of the Red Sea .
The difficulty in dating and fully understanding the structure of the Haggadah by Jewish and non-Jewish scholars alike stems from the fact that its oldest known texts, preserved in fragments dating as late as the 8th century from the Genizah in Cairo, make it impossible to know the whole from that and earlier periods. Today, the oldest known complete manuscript of the Haggadah is found in a book of prayers from the 10th century, edited by Saadia Gaon, a lecturer at the Sura Academy in Babylonia .
The difficulty for scholars to understand the structure of the Passover rite and the related literary structure of the Haggadah is closely connected with their failure to discover – seemingly effortless for Jews to read – the meaning of the word אֲפִיקוֹמָן (Afikoman) , interpreted in the Talmud and commonly in commentaries  dependent on it as a distortion of the Greek expression ἐπὶ κῶμον (to play! ) or the word ἐπικώμιον (a holiday song) . The Hebrew word אפִיקוֹמָן, however, means “the bottom of it is manna,” since it is a compound of three parts: מָן (manna), וֹ (its), אֲפִיק (the bottom of the sea) .
The key to understanding the structure of the Passover rite is to see the manner in which God led Israel out of Egypt, as it is recorded in the Book of Exodus 1-18: in four successive stages (cf. Ex 6:2-11:10; 12:1-13:16; 13:17-14:31; 15:1-21), which are the stages of the ancient covenant-making ceremony of the 16th-12th centuries B.C.E., preceded by a preparatory stage (cf. Ex 1:1-6:1) and culminating in a final stage (cf. Ex 15:22-18:27) accomplished not only the deliverance from Egypt but at the same time the establishment of the first covenant between God and Israel. Ex 1-18 is the treaty of that covenant. The Passover Haggadah, on the other hand, built on a structure of four parts, each related to the drinking out of one cup of wine, is a ceremony of the renewal of that covenant.
In the framework of the first part of Passover, the Israelites recount with the help of the Haggadah their entire history as God’s chosen people, praise God for His goodness to them, but stop at the time of Solomon, which is an indication of the origin of the Haggadah precisely from the time of that king .
Within the second part of Passover, the Israelites first ate the foods commanded by God in Egypt (cf. Ex 12:1-13:16: unleavened bread, bitter herbs, lamb), and then – in the framework of the final (fifth) subsection called Shulchan Orech – The serving of the supper to the table (שֻׁלְחָן עוֹרֵךְ) – they consumed festive foods not regulated by the Law. As 1Cor 11:20-22 testifies, in the Eucharistic rite of the early Church, only the community of eating foods not regulated by the Law remained from this section for a time.
This part precedes the third part, in which the Israelites eat the unleavened bread called Afikoman (אֲפִיקוֹמָן – its bottom is manna) – eat as a sign that, behold now they are passing thanks to the liturgy on the bare bottom of the Red Sea together with God (walking in the sign of the pillar of fire and the cloud) and their fathers, thus making the covenant of passage between the halves. The covenant – בְּרִית / διαθήκη – was made by passing between the halved waters of the sea, thus by an act analogous to the act of making a covenant with Abram, when God, in signs of fire and smoke, passed between the halves of animals, on the ground soaked in their blood – cf. Gen 15:18; Isa 51:9-10; cf. also Jer 34:18). Within this third part, the Chalice of the Messiah is filled with wine, but no one is allowed to consume it – it is intended for the Messiah, whose coming is expected by the Jews at one of the Passover feasts. When the Messiah comes, he will lead His People toward the new Jerusalem, toward eternal happiness.
It is within this third part that Jesus introduced a new element into the Passover, transforming the Passover liturgy (which is the making present of the passage with God and the fathers through the Abyss of waters – cf. Ex 13:16-14:31) into a New Passover liturgy: the passage with Him, Jesus the Messiah, through the Abyss of Death (cf. Jn 18-19) . The unleavened bread consumed within the Eucharistic rite is not the Afikoman, but the Body of Jesus, giving Himself (διδόμενον – present tense participle: τοῦτό ἐστιν τὸ σῶμά μου τὸ ὑπὲρ ὑμῶν διδόμενον (Lk 22:19) to death. The wine-filled cup is the Chalice of the Messiah, drunk by His disciples – it is the cup of the New Covenant (ἡ καινὴ διαθήκη) in the Blood of Jesus, being poured out for us (ἐκχυννόμενον – present tense participle): τοῦτο τὸ ποτήριον ἡ καινὴ διαθήκη ἐν τῷ αἵματί μου τὸ ὑπὲρ ὑμῶν ἐκχυννόμενον (Lk 22:19).
During the Last Supper, Jesus Christ made a gesture analogous to the one performed by the leader of the Passover liturgy in its third part : he said the blessing, broke the unleavened Afikoman and gave it to all participants of this liturgy. By eating the Afikoman, the Israelites become actual participants of the event being in the future in relation to the time of the Passover supper in Egypt – the event of the Red Sea crossing and simultaneous making the covenant of passage .
Similarly, the apostles of the Lord Jesus in the Upper Room ate the unleavened Afikoman of the New Passover, the unleavened bread of participation in the event which was to come after the Last Supper: in the event of Jesus the Messiah, dying on the cross at Golgotha, and then descending into the Abyss of Death and passing through it until the morning of the Resurrection at the third day (cf. Acts 2:22-32). Already in the Upper Room, they participated in making the New Covenant in the Blood of Jesus. All believers who gather for the celebration of the Eucharist always become participants of the Last Supper in the Upper Room  and, together with the apostles, participate in a future event in relation to the time of the celebration of the Last Supper – they participate not only in the past event in relation to the time of their celebration of the Holy Mass.
The presented explanations allow us now to return in analyses to the problem of the meaning of the term κοινωνία in Acts 2:42 as a table fellowship, being the second part of Passover, preceding the third part (connected with the breaking and eating of the unleavened Afikoman). Relaying the words of the institution, the Evangelist indicates that Jesus spoke them after everyone had eaten the usual meal – thus when this “table fellowship” had ended!
The records in the Gospels of St. Mark and St. Matthew report that Jesus spoke the words of institution while they were eating:
The genetivus absolutus  ἐσθιόντων αὐτῶν – while they were eating – used at the beginning of each of these sentences should be understood not as indicating the simultaneity of Jesus’ act of taking (λαβὼν) the unleavened bread with the disciples’ act of taking usual food, but as an indication that Jesus took the bread (i.e., the unleavened Afikoman) during the part concentrated on usual eating, (i.e., a table fellowship – at its end) in order to proceed to the third part of the rite.
Luke 22:14-18 reports that Jesus determined their joint evening celebration as the Passover and that Jesus first gave the disciples a cup with a usual wine to drink. Then He gave them the unleavened bread changed to His Body, and – after it – the cup of wine changed to His Blood. It is clear from other accounts that Jesus spoke the words of institution, “this is My Body…” in the third part of the Passover rite over the unleavened Afikoman. Furthermore, it is known that each of the four successive parts of the Passover is associated with drinking one cup of wine. Because the second cup is drunk before eating the Afikoman, while the third cup is drunk after eating it , the cup with ordinary wine mentioned by St. Luke was the second. The cup over which Jesus spoke the words of institution was the Chalice of the Messiah – the one that no one has been able to drink until now.
1Cor 11:24-25 describes Jesus’ acts and words, by which He instituted the New Passover. However, it should be considered in a broader context. Behold, in the preceding passage, St. Paul first draws the Corinthians’ attention to the fact that they behave unworthily during the table fellowship. Their iniquity was associated with the eating of ordinary food; they did it shamefully to this degree that they got drunk and were unable to proceed to the Lord’s Supper (κυριακός δεῖπνον), i.e., to the third part of the rite, in which the celebrant repeats the acts and words of Jesus, mentioned above:
Συνερχομένων οὖν ὑμῶν ἐπὶ τὸ αὐτὸ οὐκ ἔστιν κυριακὸν δεῖπνον φαγεῖν (1Cor 11:10).
Furthermore, 1Cor 11:25 specifies that Jesus spoke the words of institution over the cup of wine also after eating the usual supper:
ὡσαύτως καὶ τὸ ποτήριον μετὰ τὸ δειπνῆσαι λέγων…
In the same way also the cup after eating, saying…
“In the same way also” (ὡσαύτως καὶ) in 1Cor 11:25 should be applied to the cup compared to the unleavened bread – Jesus’ words and actions regarding both bread and wine took place after eating (μετὰ τὸ δειπνῆσαι) the ordinary foods, which means after the table fellowship, i.e., the subpart ending the second main part of the Passover celebration.
Many interpreters failed to see the logic of this syntax. It led them to believe that St. Paul wrote that the consecration of the bread took place before the ordinary supper, while the consecration of the wine took place after the ordinary supper. They also believe that the joining of the two consecrations took place later by a decision of the Church . In order to see that the logic of this syntax is precisely the opposite – namely, it indicates a close similarity between the moment of the consecration of the wine after the ordinary supper and the moment of the consecration of the bread after that supper – one should search with a computer program  for the sequence ὡσαύτως καὶ.
One used the BibleWorks 6.0 program for analyses, entering the command for BGM into the Command center: ‘ωσαυτως και.
One obtained 13 Bible verses: Ex 7:22; 8:3. 14; 30:33; Judg 8:8; 2Macc 2:12; Prov 20:4; 27:15. 20; Bar 6:60; 1Cor 11:25; 1Tim 2:9; 5:25.
The juxtaposed verses show that the situations compared by ὡσαύτως καὶ are characterized by mutual similarity in one aspect. The logic of juxtaposition is that the first segment describes the situation to which the author refers in the comparison in the second segment.
It should be noted that the sentence that is the second part of Prov 27:15 does not have a directly written predicate, and it is only implicit – identical to the predicate of the first part: “drive out” (ἐκβάλλω).
The same situation occurs in 1Cor 11:23-25, where the sequence ὡσαύτως καὶ stands between 11:23-24 as the first part and 11:25 as the second part. Since in the first part, the predicate is ἔλαβεν ἄρτον (He took bread; ἄρτον is in the accusative), the same is true in the second part: with the word “cup” in the accusative, the predicate must be “took”: ἔλαβεν τὸ ποτήριον. It is worth noting that Jesus’ taking of the cup is recorded in the other Synoptic Gospels: Mt 26:27 (καὶ λαβὼν ποτήριον καὶ εὐχαριστήσας ἔδωκεν αὐτοῖς), Mk 14:23 (καὶ λαβὼν ποτήριον εὐχαριστήσας ἔδωκεν αὐτοῖς).
A cursory reading of Paul’s notation, however, may raise doubts as to whether the same logic applies here as in the juxtaposed sentences, i.e., whether the Biblical writer refers in the second part to the description of the situation from the first part. Since the object of the comparison is “likewise the cup after supper” – ὡσαύτως καὶ τὸ ποτήριον μετὰ τὸ δειπνῆσαι – it must be asked whether the Biblical writer in the first part gave this circumstance that Jesus’ taking of the bread took place after supper. The answer is affirmative.
For here, the apostle’s exhortations related to the gathering of the Corinthians as the Church (συνέρχομαι – cf. 1Cor 11:17. 18. 20. 33. 34), and thus the gathering for the liturgy, are contained first in 1Cor 11:17-22. It is this passage that describes the Corinthians’ reprehensible behavior during the table fellowship preceding the Lord’s Supper (κυριακός δεῖπνον – cf. 11:20) . The next passage (1Cor 11:23-32), beginning with the solemn statement, “For I received from the Lord what I delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on that night when He was delivered took bread…”, is devoted to the Lord’s Supper as the third part of the liturgy of the assembly. Next, the admonitions related to the result of Corinthians’ drunkenness – their failure to proceed to the celebration of the third part, i.e., the Lord’s Supper – are summarized in the subsequent two sentences (1Cor 11:33-34), which conclude the chapter and, contained therein, the subsequent discussion of subsequent parts of the Eucharistic liturgy.
Thus, it can be seen that both by the statement of verse 1Cor 11:20 and by discussing in the whole chapter 11 the issues in the order of their occurrence in the Eucharistic liturgy, St. Paul included here data that indicate that he was linking the term the Lord’s Supper with the third part of Eucharistic liturgy, that is, with the acts/words over the bread and the cup of wine. The Lord’s Supper was referred to by him as “after the eating” (μετὰ τὸ δειπνῆσαι) since it follows the “table fellowship,” i.e., the eating of ordinary foods. It was the liturgical data (that the Lord’s Supper is after the table fellowship) that he could refer to (and indeed referred to) when discussing Jesus’ acts/words over the cup, even though he did not write down this information explicitly in the same words when handing on to Corinthians the acts/words over the bread.
Prominent biblical scholars began tilting towards the same conclusion as early as the mid-twentieth century. Jeremias wrote: “Recently a rather convincing suggestion has been made: that the separation of Agape and Eucharist is already presupposed in 1 Corinthians. That the abuse of the celebration, against which Paul struggles in 1Cor 11:17-34, could have gained ground is more readily understandable if the communal meal proper, which was taken less seriously, preceded the sacramental act. Also the advice of the apostle, in certain circumstances to eat first at home (1Cor 11:34, cf. 22), is best understood if the meal proper normally preceded the Eucharist.” 
In the quoted analysis, the author used the word Agape to mark the community of a usual communal meal, the table fellowship. 
It is worth adding that Jeremias noted that the evidence that the Eucharistic meetings of the first Christian communities began with teaching is testified directly by Acts 20:7-11, St. Justin in Apology I 67:4, and indirectly by the exhortation to the holy kiss, which we find in Rom 16:16; 1Cor 16:20; 2Cor 13:12; 1Thes 5:26; 1Pet 5:14. This is because this exhortation clearly indicates that the celebration of the meal introduced by the holy kiss followed immediately upon the reading of the epistles – when the community received an apostolic letter, they read it in place of direct teaching .
Jeremias noticed that the context in which the verse Acts 2:42 is set allows it to be interpreted in terms of early Christian worship without difficulty. After St. Luke recorded in Acts 2:41 that three thousand were baptized on the day of Pentecost, he added in Acts 2:42 that the newly baptized regularly  participated in the eucharistic gatherings of the community from then on.
This observation has an even deeper and more certain justification in the fact that the rite of the Eucharist was built by Jesus on the rite of Passover  and thus always had this four-element structure, which was later recorded in Acts 2:42.
From the beginning, therefore, the Church gathering for the Eucharist maintained a four-part liturgical pattern in her celebration: the teaching of the apostles, the community of the ordinary meal, the community of the Lord’s Table (with the breaking of bread), and the prayers. The community of the ordinary meal preceded the community of the Lord’s Table (τράπεζα κυρίου – 1Cor 10:21), consisting of a series of successive rituals, beginning with the bringing of the gifts of bread and wine to the presiding priest, over which he carried out prayers, asking God to perform what the Church, following St. Thomas Aquinas, calls Transubstantiation; then the Gifts transubstantiated by God – the Body and Blood of the Lord – were given as holy Food, Holy Communion, by the priest, with the help of deacons, to those gathered .
It is worth noting that Paul’s expression τράπεζα κυρίου occurs in the Bible only two more times: in the Septuagint in the prophet Malachi – first in Mal 1:7 as a translation of the Hebrew שֻׁלְחַן יְהוָה (table/altar of Yahweh), then in Mal 1:12 as a translation of the Hebrew שֻׁלְחַן אֲדֹנָי (table/altar of the Lord). This table/altar was in the tent of meeting and then in the sanctuary in Jerusalem.
Furthermore, an analogous Hebrew expression to שֻׁלְחַן יְהוָה occurs in Lev 24:6-7 regarding “the bread for remembering” (לַלֶּחֶם לְאַזְכָּרָה / εἰς ἄρτους εἰς ἀνάμνησιν) which must be prepared “on the pure table before the Lord” – הַשֻּׁלְחָן הַטָּהֹר לִפְנֵי יְהוָה. Moreover, in the prophet Ezekiel 41:22, the altar of wood (הַמִּזְבֵּחַ עֵץ) before the tabernacle was named in the same way: הַשֻּׁלְחָן אֲשֶׁר לִפְנֵי יְהוָה – the table that is before the Lord.
It is therefore evident that St. Paul, calling the Eucharistic table “the table of the Lord,” indicates that it is an altar on which one offers for the Lord a sacrifice, the New Testament sacrifice of “the bread for remembering” for the Lord.
According to Acts 2:42, the last element of the liturgy were the prayers. In the first centuries, it was customary for the faithful, even before parting, to place gifts for the needy in the hands of the leader priest .
The conducted research makes it possible to conclude that St. Paul in 2Cor 9:15 delights in God’s unspeakable gift of His design for the renewal of all creation, and, in particular, the creation of the human race anew in the Body of Christ. By the power of Christ and His Spirit, whom Christ grants to those believing in Him during each Eucharist and the prayers following immediately afterward, believers are given the spiritual ability to receive gifts from God and give them to those who need them. Giving material gifts to the poor – as manifested by the collection of money for the Church in Jerusalem – is only part of this great exchange of gifts in the Divine-human reality, in the spiritual and material exchange of gifts to which believers in Christ are being enabled.
This giftedness requires everyone to cooperate with God in making an offering of oneself, particularly dying to the lust inherited from one’s ancestors, abandoning the seeking for one’s interest only – even with injury of others.
The Church’s prayerful abiding at and immediately after the Eucharist is a special time of grace, when believers, equipped by the Holy Spirit with various gifts, bestow God’s grace on their brothers and sisters in faith. A unique manifestation of this co-participation of believers in the work of the new creation of man is prophesying, resulting in the transformation of hearts and minds and progress on the path of knowing God and His saving design. The delight of St. Paul in such great divine work – of which he was a participant as a preacher of the gospel, celebrant officiating the Eucharist, and prophet – is revealed in the statement recorded in 2Cor 9:15: Χάρις τῷ θεῷ ἐπὶ τῇ ἀνεκδιηγήτῳ αὐτοῦ δωρεᾷ.