A great-grandson of Elector John Frederick of Saxony, Duke Ernst of Saxony-Gotha, was born on Christmas 1601. He was truly a Lutheran prince of the 17th Century… One of his especially praiseworthy works was that he had 29 capable theologians, among whom Johann Gerhard, in particular, is named, produce an edition of the Bible with explanations, applications and pictures. It is the so-called Weimar Bible (sometimes it is also called the Ernestine Bible), published in Nuremberg. The preachers “publicly thanked God in the church for such a blessing.” Because it went through many editions, it is still found in many Evangelical Lutheran Christian households in Germany.
By this the duke advanced the welfare and salvation of people in distant areas but his main concern always turned to the duchy God had entrusted to him…
So that the reader has an idea of the glorious gift, rich in blessing, that he brought about for German speaking Lutherans, it is fitting and worth the effort to give an excerpt from the Bible of “Praying Ernst,” the Weimar Bible. Thus I will reprint here, word for word, with the inserted explanations, the 12 verses of 1 Corinthians 11:23-34, which include the epistle for Maundy Thursday.
1 Corinthians 11:23-34
23 For* I received from the Lord (I did not receive it or learn it from any man, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ, Galatians 1:12) that** which I also (anew) delivered (and proclaimed in the preaching of the Gospel, also commanding that it be preserved as a precious part of it and treasure) to you: that the Lord Jesus on the same night in which He was betrayed (by one of His own disciples, Judas Iscariot) took bread;
* Greek: For — (Christ’s order requires something different, and, on the contrary, threatens severe punishment).
** c. 15:3 + Luke 22:19, Matthew 26:26, Mark 14:22
24 and when He had given thanks (to His heavenly Father, and by His mighty blessing, 10:16, set apart the same bread, which He had taken in His holy, almighty hand, also to be a salutary means by which He would impart His body to His disciples to eat), He broke it (because it was baked whole, he broke it with His hand so that He might distribute some of it to all the apostles) and said, “Take, eat; this is My body which is broken*; for you (given into death, Luke 22:19, tortured, and crucified, Isaiah 38:13; 53:4); do this in remembrance of Me.”
* Because Christ’s body really wasn’t broken (John 19:33), to “break” undoubtedly means as much here as “to kill,” like 1 Kings 13:26-28; compare Psalm 22:17 in Hebrew. The otherwise standard meaning of distributing certainly does not fit the words for you.
25 In the same manner also (He took) the cup (filled with wine) after supper (after the ordinary meal), saying, “(Drink from it, all of you) This cup is the new covenant in My blood (I offer you in the same cup My blood, which is the blood of the New Testament. Through its shedding on the tree of the cross I will set up the New Testament and by its use the blessings of the New Testament are presented, shared and sealed). This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.”
26 For as often as you eat this (blessed) bread (which is the communion of the body of Christ, 10:16) and drink this (blessed) cup (which is the communion of the blood of Christ, 10:16), you proclaim the Lord's death (you shall, in and with the use of this holy Sacrament not only remind yourselves of Christ’s death and the blessings He obtained for you by it, but also publicly proclaim, praise and extol it in the congregation of God, Psalm 22:23, and in true faith thank His heavenly Father and Him, and so by it also stirring others to the knowledge of this salvation)* till He comes (visibly on the Last Day in Judgment. And accordingly this holy sacrament shall be celebrated and preserved in the Church of God as long as the world will stand).
* Matthew 25:13; 26:64; John 14:3; 1 Peter 2:9; Acts 1:11
27 Therefore* whoever eats this bread (which is the communion of the body of Christ, unworthily) or drinks this cup of the Lord (in which is not only the consecrated wine, but also the blood of Christ, in an unworthy manner (whoever uses the Holy Supper in impenitence without true faith and an earnest intention to improve one’s life, and so by this carries on carelessly and improperly as if it were a common eating) will be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord (he does not merely sin against bread and wine, but against the Body and Blood of the Lord Christ Himself, which, he unworthily received and ate through bread and wine. Thus, it is as if he had, with the Jews, laid his hand on Christ Himself).
* 10:21; Hebrews 6:6 (v. 29; Leviticus 17:4)
28 But let a man examine* himself (before he goes, and in his own heart diligently investigate if he heartily repents of his sins; if he also certainly believes that Christ’s true, essential Body and His true essential Blood is present in the holy Sacrament; and if he has the firm confidence that God, for Christ His dear Son’s sake, pardons him his sins; if also, finally, he has an sincere intention to amend his life according to God’s commandment and will. Luther: “Let each one see to it how he believes in this Supper, what and why he receives it.”, and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup.
* 2 Corinthians 13:5; Galatians 6:4 (v. 27)
29 For he who eats (from this consecrated bread) and drinks (from this consecrated cup) in an unworthy manner eats and drinks judgment (he weighs himself down with God’s judgment and severe punishments by such unworthy eating of the Body and drinking of the blood of Christ, v. 31) to himself, not discerning the Lord's body (Luther: “He handles Christ’s body and goes about with it as if he regards it as nothing more than other food.”). (Hebrews 10:29)
30 For this reason many are weak and sick among you, and many sleep (because until now many of you used the Lord’s Supper unworthily, God has thus punished you in this way—that many of you suffered, some also suddenly dying by a common pestilence).
31 For* if we would judge ourselves** (if we are penitent, heartily regretting our sins and earnestly repenting), we would not be judged (thus we could certainly be spared the punishments with which God drives us to repentance).
* Psalm 32:5 (1Corinthians 5:12)
** Greek: scrupulously (and harshly) examining (the state of our heart and life)
32 But when* we are judged (visited temporally with sickness and other punishments from God’s righteous judgment, like here the spreading sicknesses), we are chastened** (and by it called back from sin) by the Lord (as a father does, for our good), that we may not be condemned with the world (when we go about in security and would die without true repentance).
* Wisdom 12:22
** Hebrews 12:5-6
33 Therefore, my brethren, when you come together to eat (to celebrate the Holy Supper), wait for one another (let no one take his own ahead of others, v. 21, but rather wait until you all come together).
34 But if anyone is hungry, let him eat at home (the common meals that you are used to doing before using of the Holy Supper), lest you come together for judgment (if you would continue, in the way you have until now, to profane the holy Supper of the Lord). And the rest (whatever else might still be necessary to do for the well-being of your church in the outward ceremonies) I will set in order when I come (to you). (vv. 22, 29)
A short application is then added to this explanation that sums up the entire content of the chapter in a few sentences.
On account of the pictures of Saxon electors and dukes added by the booksellers, the Weimar Bible was also often called “The Electors’ Bible.”
(From: “Life Pictures From The History Of The Christian Church” by E.A.W. Krauss.)