Expositional commentary on Scripture using an inductive exegetical methodology intent upon confronting the lives of Christians with the dogmatic Truths of God's inspired Words opposing Calvinism and Arminianism, Biblical commentary, doctrine of grace enablement, understanding holiness and wisdom and selfishness, in-depth Bible studies, adult Bible Study books and Sunday School materials Dr. Lance T. Ketchum Line Upon Line: The Cup of Blessing

Monday, December 2, 2019

The Cup of Blessing

The Cup of Blessing

           The believers at Corinth had been saved out of idolatrous paganism.  The problem was that they were integrating the worship practices of idolatrous paganism
into Christian worship.  This happens in almost every culture where people have been saved from false religious beliefs to come to rest in the Gospel of Christ and receive the gift of salvation.  

Therefore, the integration of false worship practices from various false religions have been universally corrupting worship for thousands of years continuing to do so even into modern times.  The point is that practices that are culturally acceptable in diverse cultures that are connected to false worship are not to be accepted and integrated into Christianity.  

The integration of pagan worship practices into Christianity is what Paul addresses in I Corinthians chapter ten.  Paul addresses this by addressing the fact of the Jewish roots in Biblical Christian worship and thereby addresses that Christian worship has NO ROOTS IN PAGAN/IDOLATROUS WORSHIP PRACTICES.  This is the primary subject of I Corinthians chapter ten as Paul deals with the Lord’s Supper coming out of Jewish Passover and not the licentious fertility cultus of the pagan Love Feasts (I Corinthians 10:1-14).  

However, in discussing the Jewish roots of Biblical worship, we must be EXTREMELY careful not to drift to the extremes being advocated in the Hebrew Roots Movement, the Sacred Name Movement, Messianic Judaism, or the Worldwide Church of God.  All these movements corrupt the distinctiveness of Biblical Christianity by bringing emphasis upon aspects of the Old (Mosaic) Covenant rather than the dispensational transitions in worship and service under the New Covenant. 

15 I speak as to wise men; judge ye what I say. 16 The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion {koinonia; physically representative of the spiritual union in partnership in ministry with Christ} of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion {koinonia; physically representative of the spiritual union in partnership in ministry with Christ} of the body of Christ? 17 For we being many are one bread, and one body: for we are all partakers of that one bread. 18 Behold Israel after the flesh: are not they {the priesthood of Israel} which eat of the sacrifices partakers of the altar? 19 What say I then? that the idol is any thing, or that which is offered in sacrifice to idols is any thing? 20 But I say, that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to devils, and not to God: and I would not that ye should have fellowship with devils. 21 Ye cannot drink the cup of the Lord, and the cup of devils: ye cannot be partakers of the Lord's table, and of the table of devils. 22 Do we provoke the Lord to jealousy? are we stronger than he” (I Corinthians 10:15-22)?

           There are four “cups” being addressed in I Corinthians 10:15-21, although only three are mentioned specifically (the cup of wrath, the “cup of blessing,” the “cup of the Lord,” and the “cup of devils,”).  The practical and theological depth of what God is addressing in I Corinthians chapter ten and eleven is rather overwhelming.  However, the things of which God speaks are foundational to understanding what is involved in the celebration of worship in the Lord’s Supper as a “fellowship” of communion between true believers in Christ.  

Without understanding the practical ramifications of the theological depth addressed by Paul in these two chapters of Scripture, the Lord’s Supper is reduced to empty worship and a meaningless ritual.  Therefore, the believer who wants to truly worship the Lord Jesus in the Lord’s Supper as God desires must labor to understand the practical and theological depth to which a believer enters in participation in the Lord’s Table.  Each aspect of the elements of the Lord’s Supper are intended to remind the believer of what Christ has ALREADY accomplished on the believer’s behalf. 

The Cup of God’s Wrath

4 The LORD is in his holy temple, the LORD’S throne is in heaven: his eyes behold, his eyelids try, the children of men. 5 The LORD trieth the righteous: but the wicked and him that loveth violence his soul hateth. 6 Upon the wicked he shall rain snares, fire and brimstone, and an horrible tempest: this shall be the portion of their cup” (Psalm 11:4-6).

“For in the hand of the LORD there is a cup, and the wine is red; it is full of mixture; and he poureth out of the same: but the dregs thereof, all the wicked of the earth shall wring them out, and drink them” (Psalm 75:8).

17 And the seventh angel poured out his vial into the air; and there came a great voice out of the temple of heaven, from the throne, saying, It is done. 18 And there were voices, and thunders, and lightnings; and there was a great earthquake, such as was not since men were upon the earth, so mighty an earthquake, and so great. 19 And the great city was divided into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell: and great Babylon came in remembrance before God, to give unto her the cup of the wine of the fierceness of his wrath” (Revelation 16:17-19).

Although not mentioned in I Corinthians 10:15-22, the cup of God’s wrath is the “cup” to which Jesus refers in Matthew 26:39; “let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt.” 

In Matthew chapter twenty-six, Jesus celebrated the last Passover and the first Lord’s Supper with His disciples.  This is the substance of practical and theological transition from the beginning of Matthew chapter twenty-six to the end of that chapter.  The transition is from incompletion in the Old Testament (Mosaic Covenant) type to completion in the New Testament (Covenant) fulfillment of the type.  This is to what Paul refers in I Corinthians 11:25, where Jesus says; “For this is my blood of the new testament {covenant}” (Matthew 26:28). 

Shortly after Jesus explains the real spiritual significance in the Passover as typical of His death to satisfy God’s wrath upon sin and remit sin’s penalty (Romans 6:23), Jesus agonizes in the garden of Gethsemane over the torture He would bear in His body and soul to redeem sinners from the penalty of their sins.  On three separate occasions of prayer, Jesus petitions His Father for another possible avenue of redemption for sinful humanity.  This is the connecting link to what Peter declares to the Jews in Acts 4:12: “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.”  Peter’s statement in Acts 4:12 tells us he NOW comprehended something he did not yet understand in Matthew chapter twenty-six at Gethsemane. 

36 Then {after the last Passover and institution of the Lord’s Supper} cometh Jesus with them unto a place called Gethsemane, and saith unto the disciples, Sit ye here, while I go and pray yonder. 37 And he took with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and {Jesus} began to be sorrowful and very heavy. 38 Then saith he {Jesus} unto them {Peter, James, and John}, My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death: tarry ye here, and watch with me. 39 And he went a little further, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt. 40 And he cometh unto the disciples, and findeth them asleep {they did not have a clue to what was about to happen in the death of Jesus let alone the depth of accomplishment in which His death would immerse them}, and saith unto Peter, What, could ye not watch with me one hour? 41 Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak. 42 He went away again the second time, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if this cup may not pass away from me, except I drink it, thy will be done. 43 And he came and found them asleep again: for their eyes were heavy. 44 And he left them, and went away again, and prayed the third time, saying the same words. 45 Then cometh he to his disciples, and saith unto them, Sleep on now, and take your rest: behold, the hour is at hand, and the Son of man is betrayed into the hands of sinners” (Matthew 26:36-45).

The cup of wrath is the curse of God upon sin.  There is an assumption of understanding of the propitiation of God’s wrath in the celebration of the Lord’s Supper.  The reason there is an assumption of understanding of the propitiation of God’s wrath in the celebration of the Lord’s Supper is because the Lord’s Supper is ONLY FOR “BORN AGAIN” believers.  Therefore, before a person can be “born again,” that person MUST UNDERSTAND that God’s wrath has been once for all and forever satisfied and the penalty of sin has been once for all and forever remitted through the substitutionary death of Jesus.   


The failure to understand the propitiation of God’s wrath in Christ emptying that cup of wrath by drinking it for the believing sinner is a critical manifestation of a person having never understood the Gospel and therefore having never believed/rested in the Gospel.  The Lord’s Supper as a memorial of the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus is absolutely meaningless apart from a practical and theological understanding of the satisfaction of the wrath of God upon sin in God’s propitiation and the remission of sin’s penalty in the vicarious, once for all forever offering of the Blood of Jesus in His death on Calvary’s Cross. 

24 Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: 25 Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; 26 To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus” (Romans 3:24-26).

13 Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree: 14 That the blessing of Abraham {salvation as a gift offered by grace and received through faith; Ephesians 2:8} might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith” (Galatians 3:13-14).

18 Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; 19 But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot: 20 Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you, 21 Who by him do believe in God, that raised him up from the dead, and gave him glory; that your faith and hope might be in God” (I Peter 1:18-21).

21 For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps: 22 Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth: 23 Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously: 24 Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed” (I Peter 2:21-24).

The cup of God’s wrath becomes the “cup of blessing” to the believing Christian because Jesus completely emptied the cup of God’s wrath when He bore God’s wrath in His body on the tree.  Therefore, for the “born again” Christian understanding and resting in the propitiation of God’s wrath in the “once for all/forever substitutionary death of Jesus Christ, the Cup of Wrath becomes the Cup of Blessing and consecration to God.  In this transition, the Cup of Wrath becomes the “cup of salvation” (Psalm 116:13) and the “cup of blessing.” 

12 What shall I render unto the LORD for all his benefits toward me? 13 I will take {bear, to lift up or exalt through testimony and life} the cup of salvation {The very taking of the ‘cup’ was to lift up praise and thanksgiving to God.  Therefore, the ‘cup of salvation’ became a ‘cup of blessing’ God}, and call upon the name of the LORD {implies recognition of position as in Genesis 4:26 records the time when believers began to take God’s Name upon themselves as children take their father’s sir name}. 14 I will pay my vows {keep my promises especially regarding sanctification in living as a professed child of God before the world} unto the LORD now in the presence of all his people {as a faithful testimony to God}. 15 Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his saints. 16 O LORD, truly I am thy servant; I am thy servant, and the son of thine handmaid: thou hast loosed my bonds. 17 I will offer to thee the sacrifice of thanksgiving {the ‘cup of blessing’ or thanksgiving}, and will call upon the name of the LORD. 18 I will pay my vows unto the LORD now in the presence of all his people, 19 In the courts of the LORD’S house, in the midst of thee, O Jerusalem. Praise ye the LORD” (Psalm 116:12-19).

The Cup of Blessing

The “cup of blessing” is a cup of thanksgiving and praise to God.  Anyone understanding the once for all forever gift of salvation offered to sinners “by grace” and received solely “through faith” will surely offer a blessing to God in thanksgiving and praise.  To participate in the Lord’s Supper without this jubilation and praise is the primary meaning of participating in the Lord’s Supper before God that defines the failure of the person who “eateth and drinketh unworthily” (I Corinthians 11:29).  To eat and drink WITHOUT praise and thanksgiving removes the whole idea of the communion of praise and thanksgiving in the “body” of Christ.   This “cup of blessing” God is thanks and praise to God for ALL that is gifted to the Church corporately as a New Priesthood and all that is gifted to the sinner in the gift of “complete” salvation (Colossians 2:10).  How can a sinner understand the once for all forever remission of the sin penalty gifted “by grace . . . through faith” and not be bursting with jubilation?  Such failure is a complete contradiction of the “cup of blessing” directed towards God in the celebration of the Lord’s Supper.  The dictionary meaning of the word Eucharist (Greek, eucharistía) means to be thankful or grateful.  This thankfulness is the communion of the Lord’s Supper that should be evident in every believer who participates.  

The meaning of the “cup of blessing” has a twofold root.  The “cup of blessing” refers to the family Jewish Passover cup now transferred to a cup of jubilation in the Lord’s Supper in the family of a local church of “born again” believers.  In the Old Testament celebration of the Passover, the Jewish households individually celebrated as a family of individual believers.  The Passover celebration was not a Temple celebration or one administrated by the priesthood of Israel.  The Passover was a household celebration administrated by the heads of every household. 
The Jewish Passover was a memorial celebration reminding the Jewish believers of the time when the “death angel” passed over the household that had applied the blood of the slain lamb to the doorposts and lintels of the doorways into their houses (Exodus chapter twelve).  Only those with in the households having applied the blood of the slain lamb, and those individuals who had eaten of the flesh of the slain lamb, would be delivered from the death angel’s passing over.  This is the “fellowship” to which Paul equates the participants in the Lord’s Supper.

In the Old Covenant, the head of every household would offer a prayer of thanksgiving for the Passover Lamb and the blood of the slain Lamb.  True faith understood that the thanksgiving was for what God did for those expressing faith in the slain Lamb and the grace of God in His passing over their households.  There was no sacramental merit in the slain lamb other than its typology of the “the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world” (Revelation 13:8 and Genesis 3:15).  The “cup of blessing” was much more than one man offering a prayer of thanksgiving to God.  The “cup of blessing” was the head of the household leading that household in all of them giving thanks to God every time they celebrated the Passover.  

The “cup of blessing” in the Lord’s Supper is a very similar “communion.”   The Lord’s Supper is a local church ordinance to be celebrated within the context of the “fellowship” of a local church assembly.  A local church assembly was often called a “fellowship.”  The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion {partnership or fellowship in the shared benefits} of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion {partnership or fellowship in the shared benefits} of the body of Christ {commonality in the New Creation}” (I Corinthians 10:16)? 

The “cup of devils”

            In the “cup of blessing,” the participants give the Eucharist to God (blessing God through thanksgiving to God).  In the “cup of devils,” the participants receive the Eucharist (a blessing from the idol).  This is the sacramental view of the Lord’s Supper (Eucharistic view).  In the sacramental view of the Lord’s Supper, the emphasis is upon what the participant receives from the idol in a blessing of expectation of what the idol will do.  In the ordinance view of the Lord’s Supper, the emphasis is upon the blessing of thanksgiving given to God for what He has ALREADY DONE

The “cup of devils” is a reference to the drink offering poured out to the idol to which pagan sacrifices were offered.  A portion of the “cup” was poured out on the ground or altar before the idol and the rest of the contents was shared by all the participants in the worship of the idol.  The participants then believed they were sharing in the blessing the idol put upon the wine or strong drink in the cup.  

As the participants drank the wine or strong drink in the cup, they believed they were taking the idol’s blessing and receiving the spirit of the idol now in the wine into themselves.  Drunkenness in alcohol intoxication was interpreted as the presence of the spirit of the idol now within the body of the participant.  The blessing was the belief that they were taking the spirit of the idol into their bodies.  This foolishness is the source of the supposed presence of Christ in the Eucharist and the sacramental merit of eating and drinking the elements of the Lord’s Supper.  This is absolute paganism.  Christianity was already being paganized by the nonsense of this integration of pagan ideas into the Lord’s Supper by the church at Corinth before 60 A.D. 

Anyone believing in either the spiritual or corporeal presence of Christ in the elements of the Eucharist (Lord’s Supper) thereby hold to this corrupted, pagan, and sacramental view of the ordinance.  The ordinance is thereby totally corrupted and anyone participating with that belief regarding the ordinance “eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body” (I Corinthians 11:29).

           The emphasis in I Corinthians 10:6-14 is a reminder to the Christians at Corinth not to integrate pagan and idolatrous ideas and practices of worship in with Biblical doctrines and practices of worship.  There is always a danger of interpreting Christian ordinances according to corrupted beliefs to which people have held before they came to trust in Christ.  The gift of salvation does not immediately erase all false doctrines or corrupt practices from the believer’s life.  This is the responsibility of every believer’s individual study of the Word of God.

15 Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. 16 But shun profane and vain babblings: for they will increase unto more ungodliness” (II Timothy 2:15-16).

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Numerous studies and series are available free of charge for local churches at: http://www.disciplemakerministries.org/ 
Dr. Lance Ketchum serves the Lord as a Church Planter, Evangelist/Revivalist. 
He has served the Lord for over 50 years.

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