Over at “God Directed Deviations,” Miguel asked a good question last week in his post “Does Breaking Bread = The Lord’s Supper?” I’ve commented on the phrase “breaking bread” before, but I thought it would be interesting to visit the topic again.
The comments on Miguel’s post are interesting, with some saying, “Yes, ‘breaking bread’ refers to the Lord’s Supper / the Eucharist / Communion,” and others saying, “No, ‘breaking bread’ does not refer to the Lord’s Supper.”
Here are some of Miguel’s questions and comments from his post:
Let’s go back to breaking bread. What was commonly understood when someone used this term? Was it the Lord’s Supper? Was it a general term for sharing a meal? I don’t think we can definitively say one way or the other.
There are several instances in the New Testament in which the phrase “breaking bread” cannot refer to “the Lord’s Supper”: the feeding of the 5000/4000 (Matthew 14:19, Matthew 15:36, and parallels) and Paul feeding the pagan sailors and soldiers on a ship in a storm (Acts 27:35).
Then, there’s this interesting passage in Jeremiah, which could not have referred to “the Lord’s Supper” and yet includes “breaking bread” and “sharing the 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)
It seems, instead, that “breaking bread” is an idiom for “sharing a meal.”