My Thoughts. . .

Monday, 03-01-2021

Prior to Jesus being arrested, he and the apostles observed the Passover Feast.  At the end of that observance Jesus used the Passover bread and wine to institute his remembrance.  What was this participation called?  Most would usually reply, “the Lord’s supper,” “communion,” or “The Eucharist.”  Is that the common usage in the New Testament? 

Matthew 26:26, Mark 14:22, and Luke 22:19 mention that Jesus “took bread” and “the cup” without Jesus giving it a “proper name.”    

When the church began, Luke informs the reader that the saved “continued steadfastly . . . in breaking of bread” (Acts 2:42 KJV).  Scholars inform us that this phrase refers to what Jesus instituted in that upper room.  One will notice how that “remembrance” is described by Luke in Acts.  He refers to it as “breaking of bread.”  Luke describes the assembly in Troas which took place about twenty-five years after Acts 2.  He writes, “the disciples came together to break bread” (Acts 20:7 KJV).  The reader will notice that so far, time wise, the majority of inspired writer have not referred to this bread or cup as “the Lord’s supper.”  Paul uses the expression around AD 55 in correcting Corinth’s error.  Matthew, Mark, and Luke wrote their Gospel accounts and Acts between 59 to 62.  This indicates the Gospel accounts and Acts were written four to seven years after Paul names this “bread” and “cup” meal “the Lord’s supper.”  Yet no other inspired writer refers to it using Paul’s expression.  We may assume that they did, but assumption is little more than guessing.   

When Paul wrote to Corinth, he including their error showing how their way of partaking was wrong. (1 Corinthians 10:16).  The apostle begins by mentioning the “bread which we break” and refers to it as “the communion of the body of Christ.”  The word translated “communion” is from the Greek word koinonia, which may be translated as fellowship, contribution, to share, partnership, or communion.  English translations rightly render it as “communion,” “participation,” or “sharing.”  Paul refers to it as a “sharing” which Corinth was not practicing due to their four-way division.  They would not wait on one another which left some out of that sharing, participation, fellowship, contributing, partnership, or communion.  Today some accept the word “communion” as a special proper name of Jesus’ memorial.  It should be understood as a sharing of the bread and fruit of the vine, which reminds the participants of Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross.  Scripture does not use the expression as a proper identifying names.  It is an action by the participants.         

Paul refers to it as “the Lord’s supper.”  This has become the usual descriptive name for that event.  However, there is no biblical instruction which limits that specific expression to that shared supper.  Inspiration uses the term only once in a sentence showing what the Corinthian church was supposed to be sharing but was not.  In that same space Paul refers to it as “took bread,” “eat this bread,” and “drink this cup” (1 Corinthians 11:23, 26).  Paul is correcting the brethren because they have eaten the bread and consumed the wine in an unholy way.  Their attitude and participation became so corrupt that Paul informed them that it would be better for them to stay at home because they were not partaking of the Lord’s supper (vv. 20, 34).

The expression “the Lord’s supper” is excellent in identifying it.  However, let us remember that Scripture does not demand that we use that expression when referring to that meal.  If we mistakenly require that expression as if it is the only and proper name, we require something which God never did.  Just because a congregation partakes of the bread and drinks from the cup each first day of the week, does not guarantee the remembrance supper has been engaged in.  They may have observed it at Corinth on the right day, eaten “unleavened bread,” and consumed the fruit of the vine, yet they were guilty of eating and drinking “damnation to” themselves (v. 29).  Let us not be following the Corinthians assembly in their error and end up eating and drinking a meal that God does not recognize as “the Lord’s supper.”