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The Lord’s Supper in Context

Posted by on Sep 6, 2011 in blog links, ordinances/sacraments | 30 comments

The Lord’s Supper in Context

Jeff at “Until All Have Heard” has written a great post about the Lord’s Supper called “Understanding the Lord’s Supper in its Historical Context.”

He steps through several passages in the New Testament to show that what we call “the Lord’s Supper” was a meal shared among the church. In the post, Jeff mentions Jude 1:12, Acts 27:33-36, Matthew 14:19-20, 1 Corinthians 11:29, Acts 20:7, and other passages.

His conclusion is well worth considering – whatever you think about the Lord’s Supper:

My hope and prayer for the church is that we would rediscover our dynamic New Testament roots and once again gather together on the first day of the week to break bread.
– We would share our food with each other and our spiritual gifts.
– We would linger long at the table and celebrate the Lord’s goodness in our lives and together “proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes.” (I Cor 11:26)

Now, I’m not concerned with only how we “gather together on the first day of the week,” but instead, how do we “break bread” together any time we come together?

Still, this is a great exhortation for the church.

What do you think?


30 Comments

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  1. 9-6-2011

    I don’t believe that “breaking bread” was specifically the Lords Supper

    It appears to me that Jesus said that when we eat and drink the cup (to me seeming specific to the passover)

    Paul also solidified this in 1 cor 11

    I do however think a meal amongst brethren was a big part of fellowship that seems to be all but lost among modern day gatherings of saints

  2. 9-6-2011

    3 For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, 24 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, after supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.” 26 For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.

    See how it seems more specific to “this cup” and “this bread”

    Just saying

  3. 9-6-2011

    Mike,

    In 1 Corinthians 11, were the believers in Corinth only taking the bread and the cup? Did Paul tell them that their meal was not the Lord’s Supper because they were eating/drinking the wrong things?

    -Alan

  4. 9-6-2011

    When you come together, it is not the Lord’s supper that you eat. For in eating, each one goes ahead *and eats an entire box of saltines*. One goes hungry, another gets drunk *with such a small cup!*. What! Do you not have *your own crackers and small cups to drink from?* 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.
    (1 Corinthians 11:20-22 JON)

  5. 9-6-2011

    I’ve actually been writing about our eating habits together. I think beyond the question of whether or not the “Lord’s Supper” should be part of a whole meal, is are whole approach on eating together as a church community. I don’t think we should abandon are communion services in the way they are currently carried out, but I think from time to time having communion in the context of a fuller meal is a good idea.

  6. 9-6-2011

    Many people get great meaning out of the ritual communion service but I can only imagine how great it would be if it was a once a year full meal

    Just sayin……

  7. 9-6-2011

    Jon,

    That version looks familiar… it’s the one used by most of the churches I’ve been part of.

    Donald,

    Would you have a problem with always having “communion” in the context of a full meal?

    Mike,

    What about as a full meal weekly, daily, or whenever you gather with other believers?

    -Alan

  8. 9-6-2011

    I don’t have a problem with it. It is something that works better in smaller church settings.

  9. 9-6-2011

    Donald,

    Why do you think it works better in small church settings?

    -Alan

  10. 9-6-2011

    I guess part of the question is how often does you church celebrate communion? In the Anglican setting, having it with a meal on a weekly basis, means having to organize a meal on a weekly basis. The logistics of feeding 200 let’s say, as opposed to 30-40 on a weekly basis are considerably greater.

  11. 9-6-2011

    Donald,

    I’m not trying to be difficult… I seriously don’t understand what is difficult about it. I think you would be surprised if you simply invited people to bring food and share it with one another (if they want to). Most Christians that I’ve met would love constant and consistent fellowship with others, which they don’t normally get, especially in larger congregations. Or, if the idea of 200 eating together weekly (much less daily) seem overwhelming, why not encourage them to eat together daily in each other’s homes as a real expression of their communion with Christ and one another?

    -Alan

  12. 9-6-2011

    Alan I fully agree and desire to encourage the meal daily weekly and whenever

    I live in a part of the state where people are so churchified that those things aren’t normal because its all about Sunday and everything else is extracurricular

    Its sad really

    Many times I feel compelled to go back to religious edifices but just can’t bring myself to do it because I just want to yell WHY IS EVERYONE SILENT

    I never meant though that the corinthians were not eating the right stuff as much as I don’t believe that the Lords supper was ever a monthly or weekly event as much as something commerating the Lord as the passover lamb at passover

    But that’s just speculation all based on the “this cup…..this bread” thing

  13. 9-6-2011

    I’ve just skimmed over the comments, but haven’t noticed anyone mentioning the fact that the “last supper” was the Passover Meal… and that everything done in the Passover meal is a reinactment of the Exodus story… a feast God instructed his people to continue… to always remember. So our “Lord’s Supper” is way to bring the Passover Celebration into the New Covenant, where it pointed all along… Christ, our Passover.

    As for churches breaking bread together, I’ve never known a church that didn’t love a pot-luck dinner!!

  14. 9-6-2011

    Actually jackie that is what I have been talking about the whole time

    Sorry I wasn’t blunt about it

    But that is my point of “this cup”

    It seems both Jesus and paul were referring to the passover meal specifically

  15. 9-6-2011

    Forgive me if no one else saw that either but that is what I was referring to that the Lords supper seems to be the new covenant passover meal

  16. 9-6-2011

    Mike — As I said, I was just skimming over the comments…. so it was more to do with my skimming than any lack of clarity on your part. :) I experienced my first passover meal this year… with Christians. It was quite phenomenal to hear ALL of the symbolism. It’s so amazing how thorough our God is! How perfect! And most of it we just … skim over! Growing up in the liturgical church, we celebrate the Great Thanksgiving every time we gather… and how many times have I heard, “Christ, our Passover, is sacrificed for us,” and responded “therefore let us keep the feast”… and still didn’t get it?!

  17. 9-6-2011

    The last supper that Jesus ate with his followers before he was crucified was certainly one of the Passover week meals. Whether it was THE Passover feast or not is still being discussed and debated and argued. Either way, though, the authors of Scripture do not emphasize the Passover features, and when Paul or Jude write about the shared meals among the church, they don’t mention the Passover at all. While this might be excused for a Jewish audience (since they would certainly understand the significance of Passover), a Gentile audience would need to have things explained. 1 Corinthians 11 would be the perfect place for Paul to explain that the Gentile believers in Corinth were not correctly observing the Passover.

    -Alan

  18. 9-6-2011

    I think that paul expressing “this cup” was letting the corinthians know it was the passover

    Just cause they were gentiles doesn’t mean they didn’t know the passover

    As for the jude thing it appears that the love feast could be nothing more than a charitable feast for those less fortunate

    I say this cause it wasn’t called the Lords supper and there was no mention of “this cup”

    I think there is a distinction between the Lords supper and regular communions

    Is the word communion IN the bible?

  19. 9-6-2011

    BTW I don’t think this has any concrete conclusion just like the pagan holidays vs jewish holy days thing

    And though I 100% believe we should observe Gods Holy days over things like christmas easter and the such I don’t think any of that is salvivic

    I hope we are just sharpening each other and growing closer to Christ together

  20. 9-6-2011

    Dear Mike… I feel sharper already. I enjoy the discussion. Thanks for the impetus, Alan.

  21. 9-7-2011

    Yes.

  22. 9-7-2011

    I appreciate the discussion about the relationship between the Lord’s Supper / Communion / Eucharist and the Passover. I’m wondering, in what way(s) do you (all) think Jesus continued the meal as the Passover and in what way(s) do you think he changed it?

    -Alan

  23. 9-7-2011

    I would say that the Lords supper appears to be the “new” passover for it symbolizes a more universal complete passover

    I don’t think anything changed as much as things are now complete in Him

    Its kind of all still speculation to a point to sayy 100% without a doubt

    I do however believe that the Lords Supper is the new covenant passover not to be confused with daily/regular breaking of bread amongst the saints

    Even where the bible says about coming together on the first day of the week and breaking bread as a custom I believe the point of that statement in scripture is not the when (first day of the week) of coming together but the what (breaking bread) that is the “custom” of the coming together of the saints

    now there is also a mention of sacrificing to idols (which I can’t imagine they did every day) in first cor 10 and the mention of the blood and body are in verse 16 and it seems to be in context of a certain religious event as opposed to something done often since paul (though speaking to gentiles) talks about israel (albeit in the flesh)

    Now if we just pull 1 cor 10:16 out of context it may seem like a regular thing but in context it would appear it was comparing it to other sacrificial events both pagan and jewish

    I have nothing specific to say about the term eucharist because I don’t know why we have to have a non-biblical term to describe something when we have many biblical things to do so……..just sayin

    Communion (coming together in Christ and having all things in common) is a great ideology that no one desires to live

    Put that in scripture……..how we live it =D

    That’s all I got for now

    Ill probably think of more as the pot stirs I’m sure

  24. 9-7-2011

    Mike,

    I re-read the passage in Exodus describing the purposes and practices associated with the Passover festival week. I didn’t see anything about the Messiah. Do you know if that’s somewhere else in the Old Testament?

    -Alan

  25. 9-7-2011

    Well since Jesus is our passover lamb and we are partaking of Him I think everything in the passover speaks of the messiah

    Have you ever partaken in a messianic sedar?

    Its awesom the correlation between the whole exodus account and the story of our salvation in the messiah

  26. 9-7-2011

    Mike,

    Yes, I’m familiar with the Seder. Do you know anything about its history or development?

    -Alan

  27. 9-7-2011

    yes alan I understand that the sedar is not strictly jewish and specifically from the exodus account

    Its kind of like christmas and easter

    However through that practice (when coupled with scripture) we can walk through the exodus and passing over of the firstborns

    However we must admit that the Passover is pointing to christ

  28. 9-7-2011

    It is also good to understand that much of the laws of Judaism bear striking resemblance to the code of Hammurabi

    This is why I try not to be too dogmatic about my views on Easter and Christmas

  29. 9-7-2011

    Mike,

    I understand. The synagogue is similar. It was an inter-testimental development of Judaism, but Jesus used the synagogue, and the church began meeting in a similar way to the way the Jews met as the synagogue. In fact, both the similarities and the differences can tell us about what was important to the church.

    I think the same would be true for the Passover. Both the similarities and the differences between the Last Supper / the shared church meals and the Passover (that had developed from Exodus) can tell us what was important to both Jesus and the early church. For example, if I’m correct that for the early church all shared meals were an expression of that Last Supper (Passover), then that is an expression that Christ (the awaited Messiah of the Passover) is now always present with them in every aspect of life.

    -Alan

  30. 9-7-2011

    Maybe this is part of what paul is talking about when he tells us not to judge people on these things

    As far as feasts days seasons etc but rather to let people do to the Lord what they feel they are led to do even if its taking what they know and making it about Him

    I fully agree with the synagogue thing and I try to explain that to people but its hard until you study it out for yourself to see that everyone had opportunity to teach speak etc and the way of the house to house church made it just that more personal

    You know what my conclusion is?

    Happy Passover brother =D