by Matt Slick
The Bible does not address whether or not a person who is not yet baptized can or cannot take communion. Nevertheless, let me try and answer the question promote we do have in God's word.
Baptism was typically administered very quickly, and so all who took communion were assumed to have already been baptized. Baptism was a public sign of a person's commitment to Christ. Please consider the following verses which demonstrate that baptism happened quickly after trusting in Christ.
- Acts 8:34–36, "The eunuch answered Philip and said, “Please tell me, of whom does the prophet say this? Of himself or of someone else?” 35 Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning from this Scripture he preached Jesus to him. 36 As they went along the road they came to some water; and the eunuch said, “Look! Water! What prevents me from being baptized?”"
- Acts 9:18, "And immediately there fell from his eyes something like scales, and he regained his sight, and he got up and was baptized;"
- Acts 10:47, "Surely no one can refuse the water for these to be baptized who have received the Holy Spirit just as we did, can he?”"
- Acts 16:33, "And he took them that very hour of the night and washed their wounds, and immediately he was baptized, he and all his household."
So typically, we would not find a case where someone was not baptized quickly after believing. Naturally, they would then align themselves with Christians and attend Christian fellowships where communion would be offered. It was assumed that when a person believed, he was baptized quickly. So the assumption is that all who were taking communion were also baptized. However, nothing in Scripture says anyone has to be baptized in order to take communion.
A new convert
Let's say that there is a person who is traveling from one city to another. He meets a Christian who is also traveling, but he is heading to meet other Christians for fellowship and hearing sermons. They talk, and along the way, the person hears the gospel, believes it, and becomes a follower of Jesus. He then decides to join the other man and meet other Christians. He is not yet been baptized because there has not been an opportunity to be baptized on the road. However, he goes into a house where there are other believers, and communion is being offered. Can he then take the communion?
I would say yes.
The reason I would say that he could even though he has not been baptized, is because he has not refused baptism. Instead, he has not had the opportunity to be baptized. Furthermore, communion is for those who have trusted in Christ. Nothing in the Bible restricts communion to only those who have been baptized. The only condition required for taking communion is found in 1 Corinthians 11:24-32. I have underlined verse 28.
1 Corinthians 11:24–32, "and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, “This is My body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” 25 In the same way He took the cup also after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood; do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.” 26 For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes. 27 Therefore whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner, shall be guilty of the body and the blood of the Lord. 28 But a man must examine himself, and in so doing he is to eat of the bread and drink of the cup. 29 For he who eats and drinks, eats and drinks judgment to himself if he does not judge the body rightly. 30 For this reason many among you are weak and sick, and a number sleep. 31 But if we judged ourselves rightly, we would not be judged. 32 But when we are judged, we are disciplined by the Lord so that we will not be condemned along with the world."
So the condition for taking communion is that a person must be a believer, which is a proclamation of the Lord's death until he returns (v. 26). Also, the person must examine himself. Now exactly what this means is not in the scope of this article. Instead, the point is to show that the warning given about communion is not associated with baptism but belief and self-exmaination. Therefore, I would conclude that an unbaptized person can receive communion. However, he or she should be baptized as soon as possible.