What about the LORD’s Supper?
Biblical Texts Used in this Study: Matthew 26:17-30; Mark 14:12-25; Luke 22:7-20; John 13:21-30; John 13:21-30; 1 Corinthians 11:17-34; Acts 2:42-47
What is the LORD’s Supper or Communion, celebrated at various frequencies in churches, today?
Well, first off, we are not going to discuss what the Roman Catholic church does regarding the Roman Catholic Mass (here is a link) in this study. That is, definitely, another study, entirely.
We will just discuss what most non-Roman Catholic, non-High church, protestants usually celebrate.
Typically, most folks eat a very tiny piece of bread, and then drink a very small amount of grape juice out of a very tiny plastic “communion”cup.
This is called “Communion” or “The LORD’s Supper”. Of course, anyone with eyes and common sense can see it is NOT a Supper or a meal, by any stretch of the phrase. It is supposedly celebrated to Remember Christ’s Sacrifice as our Passover Lamb of God, who takes the sin of the world away (based on the Scripture Texts of this study – see above). The Lord’s Supper is to commemorate Christ’s crucifixion-death, burial and resurrection – proclaiming the Gospel until Christ comes back.
FREQUENCY?: There are many “traditions” regarding frequency – such as: Weekly, Quarterly, Semi-Annually, or Annually. Each church’s tradition regarding their Frequency and mode (how they do what they do) are usually defended quite vigorously, sometimes based upon Scripture, but mostly based upon other, post-Biblical, extra-Biblical sources. Many folks will say that the Bible specifically describes their choice or tradition of frequency. Many will say that we are “to do this often in Remembrance of Christ’s sacrifice.” Does the Bible actually say that we are “to do this often” or “as often as you do this, do this in Remembrance of Me”? Many might be surprised by the conclusion of this Biblical Study regarding Frequency.
So, let’s look at couple of passages regarding this subject:
Paul speaking about Passover (which the Corinthian church was celebrating annually – or better known as the Agapé meal)
1 Corinthians 5:7-8 – Therefore purge out the old leaven, that you may be a new lump, since you truly are unleavened. For indeed Christ, our PASSOVER, was SACRIFICED for us. Therefore let us KEEP the FEAST, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.
Paul speaking about the Corinthians impatience and selfishness during their Passover-in-Christ Seder Meal (or the Agapé meal):
1 Corinthians 11:17-34 – But in the following instructions I do not commend you, because when you come together it is not for the better but for the worse. For, in the first place, when you come together as a church, I hear that there are divisions among you. And I believe it in part, for there must be factions among you in order that those who are genuine among you may be recognized. When you come together, it is not the LORD’s supper that you eat. For in eating, each one goes ahead with his own meal. One goes hungry, another gets drunk. What! Do you not have houses to eat and drink in? Or do you despise the church of God and humiliate those who have nothing? What shall I say to you? Shall I commend you in this? No, I will not. For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, 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.” In the same way also he took the cup, AFTER SUPPER, saying, “This CUP is the NEW COVENANT in My blood. Do THIS, as often as you drink it, in REMEMBRANCE of Me.” For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes. Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty concerning the body and blood of the Lord. Let a person examine himself, then, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment on himself. That is why many of you are weak and ill, and some have died. But if we judged ourselves truly, we would not be judged. But when we are judged by the Lord, we are disciplined so that we may not be condemned along with the world. So then, my brothers, when you come together to eat, wait for one another if anyone is hungry, let him eat at home—so that when you come together it will not be for judgment. About the other things I will give directions when I come.
These, above, two passages make no sense if they are just focused on eating a tiny piece of bread and drinking a small amount of grape juice. BUT, they make perfect sense if the Corinthian church was celebrating the Passover Supper or Meal (in light of Christ, the Messiah, etc.). If you’ve ever participated in a Messianic Passover Seder (the Passover Meal in light of Jesus Christ’s fulfillment of the various symbolic aspects of that meal) you understand what I mean, here. There are many videos of the entire Messianic Passover Seder, online, for you to watch. When you do, please, then, go back to 1 Corinthians 11:17-34, you’ll see how it makes sense that Paul was speaking about the Passover Seder meal (in Light of Christ, of course – “do this in remembrance of Me”).
Thus, the term: The LORD’s Supper – always meant Passover.
It was called either – “The LORD’s Passover Supper” – or truncated as “The LORD’s Supper” well before Jesus Christ came on the scene.
So, now that we’ve seen that this, mostly Gentile church was NOT celebrating what we think of today as “The LORD’s Supper” – but they were celebrating Passover in Light of Christ – the term “The LORD’s Supper” takes on a more Biblical Meaning. If you will examine 1 Cor. 11:23-26 – you’ll notice that Paul mentions “AFTER SUPPER” – ‘For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, 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.” In the same way also he took the cup, AFTER SUPPER, saying, “This CUP is the NEW COVENANT in My blood. Do THIS, as often as you drink it, in REMEMBRANCE of Me.” For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.’ –> This phrase – AFTER SUPPER is very important in understanding this passage, as it points to a real meal, not a very tiny piece of bread and a very small amount of grape juice. Again, if you’ve participated in either a traditional Jewish Passover Seder Meal or a Christian Messianic Passover Seder Meal, you would understand that the Passover Celebration is very long winded. After sunset on that evening (14th of Aviv/Abib/Nisan) it can take more than an hour before we actually eat a meal. That is why Paul mentions that some did not wait their turn but began eating out of order, etc. All the reading and singing, all the dipping and taking of various bitter herbs, etc. drinking of 2 cups of wine, eating of Matzah, etc. … the last piece of Unleavened Matzoh being broken, now, represents Christ’s broken body on the Cross – it was eaten BEFORE SUPPER that this was Matzah that was eaten. That piece of bread used to represent the Exodus lamb that was sacrificed for them. Now, from that point forward it would represent the Lamb of God, Jesus Christ. Then AFTER The Supper, the CUP of Redemption was taken – it used to represent the Exodus lamb’s blood that was painted upon the door posts and lintel. Jesus Christ said that it would NOW (from that point forward) represent the CUP of Redemption in the Blood of Christ, the Blood of the New Covenant Redemption. It was not a magical thing, but a switch of symbolic meaning and definition of the certain component parts of the Passover meal to no longer point to the Exodus out of Egypt, but now, would point to Christ and His Finished Redemptive Work – His Crucifixion-Death, Burial, and Resurrection. Again, the Lamb of God would replace the lamb of the Exodus. When Jesus said that when you “do this, as Often as you Do This” – “Do This in Remembrance of Me” – He was speaking of Passover. As Often as you Celebrate Passover – when you do, “Do This in Remembrance of Me”. What about Frequency ==> Annually. Passover is only celebrated annually.
We know that those passages that relate to the Last Supper in all Four Gospels relate to Passover. We know that the passage of 1 Corinthians 11:17-34 relates to Passover. We can see from proper exegesis (proper hermeneutics) that it relates to Passover, from start to finish. Then why are we left with just a very tiny piece of bread to eat, and a very small amount of grape juice to drink – and that is said to be “The LORD’s Supper”? The Answer: Tradition, sadly.
Church Tradition? Post-Biblical, extra-Biblical traditions that developed long after the last living apostle of Christ died (John, the Apostle), long after the last autograph of any of the books of the New Testament were written. These traditions first developed in various Gentile areas as the “Holy Eucharist” around 170’s A.D and after that. These early church “fathers” (not Apostolic Fathers, but after them), such as Bishop John Chrysostom, developed many traditions that were the beginnings of what we call, today, “Liturgical Rituals”. Eventually the “Holy Eucharist” became the Roman Catholic Mass. Again, this is far as this study will go, regarding that history. You can do a deeper study on the heretical practice of the Roman Catholic Mass on your own time.
When the Protestant Reformation came about in the 1300’s and onward (especially in the 1500’s and 1600’s), the Roman Catholic Mass was changed by some of the Protestants to be something like “Communion” (ref. Lutheranism and Anglicanism) and “The LORD’s Supper” (ref. Anabaptists, Presbyterians, other Baptists, other Protestants, etc.). During the Protestant Reformation, the two elements (i.e.: a tiny piece of bread, and small amount of wine or grape juice) were used without reference to Passover (ref. the study we just did, above). Most kept to Tradition and how to view those passages (i.e: eisegeting – infusing outside meanings into a Biblical passage that are not resident within that passage) and how to do the Practice of the LORD’s Supper, etc. Thus, this Religious Practice, Religious Ritual is NO Longer based upon the Plain Reading of Scripture, but upon various Traditions that reinterpret clear passages of the Bible that relate to the this practice. No longer is it practiced as the apostolic church did (during the time of the book of Acts), but according to some other set of post-biblical traditions.
So, how should it be practiced? Just as Jesus Christ and Paul, the Apostle, describe how it should be practiced. Biblically, it is NOT a mandatory “thing” to do … which might be surprising to some – but as Jesus said – “AS OFTEN as you do THIS” … NOT – “DO THIS OFTEN”. What is the “THIS”, in all the context of all related passages? It is Passover. So, if you are going to Celebrate Passover in Light of Christ (e.g.: The Messiah in the Passover – Seder / Haggadah) – when you do, DO IT IN REMEMBRANCE of Jesus Christ (Yeshua the Messiah of Israel) – NOT as a Celebration of the Exodus, from the Bondage of Slavery in Egypt … but the Exodus from the Bondage of SIN – Eternal Redemption by the Blood of the Lamb of God – the Cross, the Tomb, and then the Empty Tomb of Resurrection of Christ, with the Resurrected Messiah of Israel, the Savior of the World.
Now, one passage, remains to be dealt with … Acts 2:42-47. There is a Phrase, “The Breaking of Bread”, that folks “cling to” regarding keeping the tradition of “The LORD’s Supper” as a tiny piece of bread and little drop of grape juice. Let me say, again, that the tradition of the “Eucharist” did not develop until well after the Biblical New Testament Documents were written. So, when approaching Acts 2:42-47, please, remember that the folks involved were Born-Again, Disciples of Jesus Christ, their Israeli Messiah – they were all Jews. They were still going to the Temple (see Acts 3) and still a part of the local synagogue (until they were kicked out). They were still celebrating Passover (and all the 7 Feasts of Leviticus 23), but now, all in Light of Jesus Christ (Yeshua h’Mashiach), their Messiah. They did not even know about the Gentile, Christian tradition of “The Eucharist”, etc. In this passage, the passage itself interprets what “the Breaking of Bread” means. It means – eating their meals together. Today, if I asked anyone anywhere in the world, “hey, let’s break bread, together” – the normal understanding would be – hey, lets get together and have a meal. It was a social thing.
Acts 2:42 – And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the Breaking of Bread, and in prayers.
Acts 2:46 – So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and Breaking Bread from house to house, they ATE their FOOD with gladness and simplicity of heart.
Thus, within Acts 2:42-47 – the phrase “the Breaking of Bread” meant – eating their meals together – Fellowship Meals. It did NOT mean the “Eucharist”. Scripture interpreting Scripture, is always the best approach – exegesis. Eisegesis is the worst approach – infusing a meaning into a passage not resident within that passage of Scripture, which reinterprets it to mean something entirely different than its originally intended meaning. And that is what we’ve seen for the last few 100’s of years within Protestantism, sadly. Today, others, who never took much thought regarding the proper approach of this subject have been persuaded to approach this practice with more liturgical fervor, sadly. They’ve heard some sermon, or watched some online video and think, that their church needs to do this LORD’s Supper with more ritual, more liturgical litany, and with more frequency, without thought of “what does the Bible say about this”, sadly. They’ve disregarded proper Biblical Interpretation in lieu of post-Biblical traditions.
Is “The LORD’s Supper” a legitimate Church ORDINANCE? My Biblically Informed Answer to this is NO, UNLESS we are Celebrating Passover in Light of Christ, of course. Otherwise we are just celebrating a post-Biblical, man-made tradition, sadly. Is “The LORD’s Supper” as it is normally “celebrated” in many Protestant churches, today, Biblical or not? Is it a mandate from Christ, or not? –> Remember, Jesus did NOT Say – “Do this Often” … but He DID say -> “as Often as you do this” … and we know, from Scriptural, Biblical Context the “THIS” is Passover, no way around it. So, if your church family is going to celebrate Passover in Christ, annually, then YES, do it in Remembrance of Jesus Christ. That would be “The LORD’s Supper” or “The LORD’s Passover Supper”. Based upon 2 Timothy 2:15 – we must Rightly Divide, or Rightly Handle, or Rightly Interpret God’s Holy Word, which we did in this study. Scripture interpreting Scripture.
Baptism is still a legitimate Ordinance of the Church – as to Entrance – when a person truly is Born-Again, in Christ, yes, that person should be immersed in water, baptized in Christ, publicly. But this is to take place, once. YES, still a legitimate ORDINANCE (ref. Matthew 28:18-20).
- Biblical Christianity vs. Traditional Christianity
- How should we Follow Jesus Together as a
local church family according to the Bible?
- The Mosaic Covenant, the Israeli “Sabbath Laws”, and the New Covenant in Messiah, Yeshua
- The LORD’s Day – is it Sunday or Sabbath?
- Three “Ps” and the Central Importance of God’s Word
- Are Jews and Gentiles Saved in the Same Way?
- Transitioning from the Mosaic to the New Covenant
- Paul – Jerusalem & the Bondage of Judaism
- How Can We Know if “Something” is Christian or Not?
- Myth Busters – Uncovering False Beliefs Some Christians Believe
- The Gathering of the Disciples – Review of Acts 1 thru 20
- The 7 Feasts of Israel – The Appointed Times of God