Reference: Lord's Supper
Called also "the breaking of bread," Ac 2:42; 20:7, and the communion of the body and blood of Christ, 1Co 10:16, is one of the two simple ordinances of the Christian church; instituted by our Savior in the most affecting circumstances on the Passover night in which he was betrayed, to be observed by his followers until his second coming. Bread and wine, the symbols of his body broken and his blood shed for our redemption, are to be tasted by each communicant, to keep in mind that great sacrifice, the foundation of all out hopes and the strongest motive to a holy and devoted life. In the Lord's supper the covenant is renewed between Christ and his people. It is also the visible token of Christian fellowship; and all true believers, and none but they, should claim to partake of it, 1Co 5:6-8. In it Christians may expect and should seek to receive of the fullness of Christ, grace for grace, 2Co 1:21-22; 15'>Eph 4:15,15; while those who partake heedlessly incur great guilt, and may look for chastisement, 1Co 11:20-34. The dogma of the Romish church, that the bread is changed into the very body and soul of Christ, which the priest offers anew in sacrifice, is contrary to the Scripture and to all the senses, as it is also to commonsense.
In the early Church it was called also "eucharist," or giving of thanks (comp. Mt 26:27), and generally by the Latin Church "mass," a name derived from the formula of dismission, Ite, missa est, i.e., "Go, it is discharged."
It was designed, (1.) To commemorate the death of Christ: "This do in remembrance of me." (2.) To signify, seal, and apply to believers all the benefits of the new covenant. In this ordinance Christ ratifies his promises to his people, and they on their part solemnly consecrate themselves to him and to his entire service. (3.) To be a badge of the Christian profession. (4.) To indicate and to promote the communion of believers with Christ. (5.) To represent the mutual communion of believers with each other.
The elements used to represent Christ's body and blood are bread and wine. The kind of bread, whether leavened or unleavened, is not specified. Christ used unleavened bread simply because it was at that moment on the paschal table. Wine, and no other liquid, is to be used (Mt 26:26-29). Believers "feed" on Christ's body and blood, (1) not with the mouth in any manner, but (2) by the soul alone, and (3) by faith, which is the mouth or hand of the soul. This they do (4) by the power of the Holy Ghost. This "feeding" on Christ, however, takes place not in the Lord's Supper alone, but whenever faith in him is exercised.
This is a permanent ordinance in the Church of Christ, and is to be observed "till he come" again.
The designation occurs only in 1Co 11:20. The institution by our Lord in connection with the Passover is recorded in Mt 26:19-30; Mr 14:16-26; Lu 22:13-20. The head of the Passover company who were reclining on couches began by a blessing "for the day and for the wine," over a cup [of wine - (1)] of which he and the others drank. The wine was mixed with water simply because the Jews drank wine ordinarily. The table was set out with the Passover lamb, unleavened bread, bitter herbs, and a sauce of dates, figs, raisins, and vinegar (charoseth), symbolizing their service in mortar in Egypt. The head, and then the rest, dipped a portion of the herbs into the charoseth) and ate. The dishes were removed and a cup of wine [(2)] brought. Children then were allowed to ask the meaning of the service, and the cup was passed round and drunk. The head repeated the commemorative words of the Passover and gave thanks (saying, "this is the Passover which we eat because the Lord passed over the houses of our fathers in Egypt".)
Then followed Psalm 113; 114. Then the head broke one of the two cakes of unleavened bread and gave thanks over it. All then took portions of the bread and dipped them in the charoseth and ate them. Then they ate of the lamb, and a third cup [of wine - (3)], "the cup of blessing," was handed round. A fourth cup [of wine - (4)] succeeded, called "the cup of the Hallel" (song), as Psalms 115-118, were recited. A fifth cup [of wine - (5)] with "the great Hallel" (Psalms 113-118) might follow. These usages explain Lu 22:17-18; "He took the cup and gave thanks and said, Take this, and divide it among yourselves; for I say unto you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine, until the kingdom of God shall come." Also the dipping of the sop or bread morsel (Joh 13:26). Also Christ's thanksgiving consecration of the bread (Lu 22:19). Also the distribution of the cup "after supper" (Lu 22:20). He partook of the former cup, the Passover cup, as well as "ate" of the Passover, but declares He will partake of it no more, thus abrogating the Passover as fulfilled in Himself the true Passover Lamb (Lu 22:17-18).
He does not partake of the subsequent cup and bread, which He gives to His disciples as the new Supper to supersede the old Passover. The new feast was not to be merely annual but frequent: 1Co 11:25, "do this as oft as ye drink it in remembrance of Me." "This is My body" is illustrated by "this is the Passover." It was not literally it, but it realized it to the believer spiritually and representatively. The Passover deliverance was once for all wrought at the Exodus; the Passover feast yearly revived it to the believing Israelite's soul. Christ was once for all sacrificed for our redemption, never to be offered again; the Lord's supper continually realizes Him and His finished work to the soul, so that we feed on Him by faith (Heb 9:25-27; 10:1-18).
As to the "breaking of bread" (Lu 24:30-35; Ac 2:42), neither of the two disciples at Emmaus were present at the institution of the Lord's supper, so that the meal there cannot refer to it, which disposes of Rome's argument for administration with bread only; He as master took the lead in the blessing over the bread. Similarly the "breaking of bread at (their) house" of meeting (as distinguished from "in the temple," not "from house to house": Ac 2:42,46; 20:7,11) refers primarily to the Christian meals of loving fellowship (called agapais, 2Pe 2:13, where the Sinaiticus manuscript reads as the KJV: "with their own deceivings," but the Vaticanus manuscript, the Vulgate and the Syriac versions have: "in their own lovefeasts"; Jg 1:12 has: "in your feasts of charity," (agapais).
The Holy Communion was at first regularly connected with these lovefeasts; "the breaking of bread," with the customary thanksgiving blessing of the master of the feast, referred not to the eucharist consecration but to the lovefeast, as Ac 27:35 proves, where the eucharist is out of the question, and where simply as a devout Jew Paul gave thanks before "breaking bread" and eating. The agaf is mentioned in the earliest writers (Ignatius, Ep. Smyrn. 4,8; Tertullian Apol. 39, ad Marc. 2). In 1 Corinthians 11, the agaf was before the Eucharist. Psalms and hymns accompanied the latter as at its institution and at the previous Passover, expressing their joyful thanksgivings (Jas 5:13). The agaf was a club feast where each brought his portion and the rich extra portions for the poor. From it the bread and wine for the eucharist were taken. At it the excesses occurred which made a true celebration of the Lord's supper during or after it, with due discernment of its spiritual meaning, impossible (1Co 11:20-22).
Not discerning the Lord's body (1Co 11:29) means not with spiritual discrimination distinguishing the emblems of the Lord's body from common food. The presence is in the soul, not in the elements. The Sinaiticus, Alexandrinus, and Vaticanus manuscripts omit "Lord's," "not discerning the body" (compare Heb 10:29). The two separate elements, His Body and His Blood, were severed in His death; so the bread and the wine are separate in the Lord's supper. "The Lord's body" here is the once for all sacrificed body, which faith, overleaping the more than 18 centuries' interval, still appropriates, not His present living body. Christ does not say "My body" simply, but "this is My body which is given for you" (Lu 22:19), i.e. the body sacrificed, and" this is My blood shed," etc., not the blood in His living body, but the blood separated from the body, the blood of a dead body.
He gave His body broken (in the way of representation), when as yet it was not broken in fact; He gave His blood shed (in the way of representation), when it was not shed in fact. In the same sense His words are still true, though He is no longer in His sacrificed state but in His never dying state of life. Faith can make present in actual saving reality things past and things future, namely Christ's body sacrificed and His blood shed, and so have present communion with the once crucified but now glorified Lord. "As often as ye eat this bread and drink this cup, ye do show the Lord's death until He come"; ye announce it publicly, katangellete (not dramatically represent, much less really exhibit), publicly professing severally the Lord died for me. "In remembrance of Me" implies commemoration of one bodily absent. Rome teaches we eat Christ corporally "till He come" corporally, a contradiction in terms. The haggadah, or "annunciation," was that part of the Passover wherein they narrated to one another the event which the feast commemorated. The body and blood of Christ are given by God not by the priest, taken by faith not by the hand, eaten with the soul not the mouth. No sacrifice was offered by Christ at the institution: for:
(1) it was no place of sacrifice,
(2) there was no altar of sacrifice,
(3) it was not the hour of sacrifice,
(4) the posture of the recipients, reclining, was not that of sacrifice.
(5) Christ uttered no words of sacrifice except that of thanksgiving.
Epistle to Hebrew (Hebrew 9 and Hebrew 10) proves that the sacrifice on Calvary next day has never since been repeated, and therefore the Lord's supper is not a repetition of it. "If we would judge ourselves we should not be judged" (1Co 11:31), Greek "if we discerned (same Greek as 1Co 11:29, discriminatingly judged) ourselves we should not have been judged," we should have escaped our present judgments, the sickness and death inflicted by God on some (1Co 11:31). In order to "discern the Lord's body" we need to "discern ourselves." When we fail to do so God sends krisis that we may escape katakrisis, judgment temporal that we may escape judgment eternal, "condemnation." The needed preliminary to the Lord's supper is not auricular confession and priestly absolution, but to discern or discriminatingly judge ourselves. In 1Co 10:15-16, "the cup," or wine in it, is not said to be the blood but "the communion of the blood of Christ"; "the bread is the communion (joint participation) of the body," etc.
The consecration is not by priestly authority but is the corporate act of the church represented by th