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Breaking Bread and the Lord’s Supper

Posted by on Apr 29, 2010 in fellowship, ordinances/sacraments | 1 comment

So, when we read “breaking bread” in the New Testament, should we assume that the author is talking about “the Lord’s Supper” (or Communion or the Eucharist or whatever it is called in your tradition)?

We find Jesus “breaking bread” in the feeding of the 5000 and the feeding of the 4000:

Then he ordered the crowds to sit down on the grass, and taking the five loaves and the two fish, he looked up to heaven and said a blessing. Then he broke the loaves and gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds. (Matthew 14:19 ESV; see also Mark 6:41)

[H]e took the seven loaves and the fish, and having given thanks he broke them and gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds. (Matthew 15:36 ESV; see also Mark 8:6)

Similarly, the phrase “break bread” is used in the accounts of Jesus last meal with his disciples before the crucifixion:

Now as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and after blessing it broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, “Take, eat; this is my body.” (Matthew 26:26; see also Mark 14:22; Luke 22:19)

Jesus also “broke bread” after walking along the road to Emmaus with two disciples:

When he was at table with them, he took the bread and blessed and broke it and gave it to them. (Luke 24:30 ESV; see also Luke 24:35)

In Acts 2:42 and Acts 2:46, Luke tells us that the church “broke bread” together daily after Pentecost:

And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. (Acts 2:42 ESV)

And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts… (Acts 2:46 ESV)

Paul met with the church in Troas when they got together to “break bread”:

On the first day of the week, when we were gathered together to break bread, Paul talked with them, intending to depart on the next day, and he prolonged his speech until midnight. (Acts 20:7 ESV)

And when Paul had gone up and had broken bread and eaten, he conversed with them a long while, until daybreak, and so departed. (Acts 20:11 ESV)

When Paul was on a ship in a storm for two weeks, he broke bread with the sailors:

And when he had said these things, he took bread, and giving thanks to God in the presence of all he broke it and began to eat. (Acts 27:35 ESV)

Finally, Paul wrote to the Corinthians about “breaking bread” twice, once a repetition of Jesus’ words at his last meal with his followers:

The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ? (1 Corinthians 10:16 ESV)

[A]nd when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, “This is my body which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” (1 Corinthians 11:24 ESV)

As far as I can tell, these are all the passages in the New Testament that refer to “breaking bread.”

There’s also an interesting occurrence of the phrase “break bread” in Jeremiah – doubly interesting because it also includes reference to a “cup”:

No one shall break bread for the mourner, to comfort him for the dead, nor shall anyone give him the cup of consolation to drink for his father or his mother. (Jeremiah 16:7 ESV)

So, which of these instances of “break bread” do you think definitely refers to “the Lord’s Supper”? Which ones definitely do NOT refer to “the Lord’s Supper”?


One Comment

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  1. 4-29-2010

    Alan,

    Acts 2:42; 20:7 and the Corinthian passages are speaking about the Lords Supper.