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E.H. Miller

There are many people today condemning cups and classes in the church, but there are more condemning classes than cups; in fact, many who are condemning classes are trying to support cups on the Lord’s Table. But why condemn one and hold to the other? When neither can he found in the blessed word of God.

“Oh!” says someone, “The container has no part in the Lord’s Supper: it’s the fruit of the vine that is called a cup, and it is a cup regardless of the name or number of containers it is in.” Well the Bible says, 1 Thess. 5:21; “Prove ail things,” so I want someone to prove that if they can.

Well, they say, Christ said, “This cup is my blood” and we know the container is not His blood, but the fruit of the vine is; so that is what Christ called a cup. Now that sounds convincing, but there is just one flaw; Christ did not say “This cup is my blood.” That statement is not to be found between the lids of the Bible, but what Christ did say can be found in Luke 22:20, “This cup is the New Testament in my blood.” Now the New Testament is not Christ’s blood; hence, Christ’s blood is not the cup of Luke 22:20 because that “cup is the New Testament in His blood.” But what does this mean? Let us read this verse from other versions and see if we cannot understand it better. Goodspeed version: “This cup is the New Agreement ratified by my blood.” The Moffatt version reads, “This cup means the new covenant, ratified by my blood.” And Thayer’s Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament, in reference to this verse on page 15 reads as follows, “The meaning is, ‘this cup containing wine, an emblem of blood, is rendered by the shedding of my blood an emblem of the New Testament’.”

Now, friend, be fair with yourself; was that wine in a bottle or bucket? No, it was in a cup, as all can clearly see. And Thayer said that cup was an emblem of the New Testament and the wine in the cup was an emblem of Christ’s blood, and that blood ratified (or sealed) the New Testament which was represented by the cup it was in, as I have already proved by Luke 22:20.

But let us now read another verse, Matt. 26:27, “He took the cup and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, drink ye all of it.” Here someone says, “You can’t drink of a container.” Well, let us see.


Often, our cups brethren refer to 1 Cor. 11:25-28 and say: “We cannot drink a container, hence the word ‘cup’ cannot mean a container, since it here states, ‘drink this cup’ and ‘drink of that cup’, for we could not do this if cup means a container.”

Well, let us see about that matter. Turn with me to Ezekiel 23:32, and let us read: “Thus saith the Lord God; thou shalt drink of thy sister’s cup, deep and large,…It containeth much.” Now, notice that this “cup” was “deep and large” and that it “it containeth much.” Can anyone deny that this “cup” referred to above is a container?

Remember that “it containeth” and that it was “deep and large.” How could this be only the liquid? A later translation (Improved Edition of Baptist Translation) reads: “Thus says the Lord Jehovah, thou shalt drink thy sister’s cup, which is deep and large,” and verse 34 says: “Thou shalt even drink it and drain it out, and thou shalt

gnaw its sides.” From the above, no honest person can deny that a container is under consideration, for note: “It containeth much,” was “deep and large,” they were to “drain it out,” and it had “sides,” yet God said, “drink it? and “drink of it.” Could they obey God? Or did God tell them to do the impossible? No! They could do what God said, and so can we. But, how can we drink a cup? “By drinking what is in the cup”—Thayer, and “By drinking what it contains”— N. L. Clark, as everyone should know. They drank it by drinking what it contained, and we drink the Lord’s cup as they drank their sister’s cup. But back to Matthew 26:27, let us read this verse from other versions or translations, as they sometimes make it easier to understand.  

Diaglott version, “Drink all of you out of it.”

Goodspeed version, “He took the wine cup—saying you must all drink from it.”

So you see, it was a wine cup Christ took, and they all drank out of it or from it. But now if you still doubt the word “cup” here referring to the container, let us go to Thayer (the same one the cups people go to, to learn what baptize means) and on page 510 of his Lexicon we read, “The vessel out of which one drinks, Matt. 26:27,” page 533—”a cup, a drinking vessel, Matt. 26:27.”

So you see that this great Greek scholar to whom all go for the meaning of words, tells us, “cup”, in Matt. 26:27, was “a cup, a drinking vessel,” “out of which one drinks” and the Diaglott version in Mark. 14:23 reads, “They all drank out of it.” That prince of scholars, R. F. Weymouth, in The New Testament in Modern Speech, renders it, “and they, all of them, drank from it”; and remarks, in a marginal note—(“From it’). Implying that all drank from the same cup, as is now done at civic banquets when the ‘loving-cup’ goes round.”

Did Jesus really mean for His apostles to all drink from one cup by what He said in Matthew 26:27?  If so, did they all drink from one cup in doing as Mark 14:23 says? I think I have proved without going further that the answer to both question is “Yes!”  But for those who had rather know what the cups preachers say in connection with this, let us hear from them.  Turn with me to the 767 page of the book of Questions Answers by Lipscomb and Sewell, and see what Bro. David Lipscomb said about this:  “We have known brethren to stickle over the fact that the Savior spoke of but one loaf of bread, yet would use two or three cups or glasses in serving the wine.  The Savior used one cup only, as well as one loaf only.”


But let us now go to the Bible Dictionary by William W. Rand, D. D., of 1859,

“cup—This word is taken in scriptures both in a proper and in a figurative sense. In a proper sense, it signified a common cup of horn or some precious metal (Gen. 40:30; 1 Kings, 7:26), such as is used for drink out of at meals; or a cup of ceremony, used at solemn and religious meals, as at the Passover, when the father of the family pronounced certain blessings over the cup, and having tasted it, passed it round to the company and his whole family, who partook of it (Luke 22:16; 1 Cor. 10:16).”

Now what was this cup of ceremony that they drank of at the Passover? Let us go a little farther into this same book and see,

“Jewish writers give us a full description of the Passover feast, from which we gather a few particulars. Those who were to partake having performed the required purifications and being assembled at the table, the master of the feast took it cup of unfermented wine, and blessed God for the fruit of the vine of which all then drank.”

So we see at the Passover Supper where Christ instituted the Lord’s Supper they all drank from one cup of wine, and this cup and its contents was called the cup of blessing as I will now show.

Let us notice a statement in The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah by Alfred Edersheim, M. A. Oxon, D. li, Ph. D., pages 497 and 511—”Christ seems to have passed the one cup round among the disciples—This was called as by St. Paul, (1 Cor. 10:16) the cup of blessing.” So, my friend, you see the cup of blessing of 1 Cor. 10:16 was a cup of wine out of which all drank. Here I might also quote from Dummelow’s Commentary, 1 Cor. 10:16, “Cup of blessing the cup of wine upon which a blessing was pronounced.”

Want more proof? Okay, turn with me to the New Testament History by Harris Franklin Roll, President of Lliff School of Theology, page 155, “If we follow the suggestions of Paul’s words written but a score of years later (1 Cor. 11:23-25), the leader would take a cup of wine and add: ‘in like manner also the cup, after supper saying, this cup is the new covenant in my blood: this do, as often as ye drink it, in remembrance of me’.” So you see the one who waited on the Lord’s Table in Paul’s day took a cup of wine, not a bottle of wine, or some cups of wine.

Let us now turn to Cruden’s Complete Concordance to the Old and New Testament, “Cup—This word is used (1) literally, for a material cup from which one drinks; and (2) figuratively, for the contents of a cup (1 Cor. 11:27).” So again, we find a cup and not a bottle or some cups used in the Lord’s Supper.

But hold on! Says someone, didn’t you notice he said the cup of 1 Cor. 11:27 meant the contents of a cup? Yes, I notice that, “the contents of a cup”, not the contents of a bottle or some cups. So if you want to call the wine a cup, it will have to be the contents of a cup.

And this can be further proved by going to Webster’s Universal Dictionary. Why do we have dictionaries? To learn what words mean, don’t we? Well, let us go to it and see what “cup” means.

Cup—1. a small vessel, used commonly to drink out of; as, a pewter cup; a wine cup; especially a vessel of pottery usually furnished with a handle and used with a saucer; as, a teacup; a coffee cup. 2. The contents of a cup; that which is contained in a cup; as, a cup of coffee. 3. The chalice from which the sacramental wine is dispensed; also, the wine itself.

So here again we find a cup is a literal cup or the contents of a cup. Coffee is called a cup when in a cup, but if in a pot and boiling you would say the pot is boiling just as you say the car radiator froze, referring to the water in the radiator. So, cup in connection with the Lord’s Supper means the cup or chalice that holds the wine, and the wine in this cup or chalice is called a cup because it is the contents of a cup. But what is a chalice? We will let this same dictionary tell us, “Chalice—a drinking cup or bowl; particularly a communion cup.” So you see we always end with a container in connection with the Lord’s cup, and that container is a cup, not some cups or a bottle for the wine would be called a bottle if it was in a bottle. Want proof? Okay, look up bottle in this same dictionary, “Bottle—1. a hollow vessel of glass, wood, leather, or other material, with a narrow mouth, for holding and carrying liquids. 2. The contents of a bottle.” So wine in a bottle is called a bottle but in a cup it is called a cup, and the Bible tells us in Mark 14:23, “He took the cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them; and they all drank of it.” Please notice he took the cup. It was a cup before he took it, and he gave them what he took and “they all drank of it.”

Now remember, I’ve already showed how they drank of it but I will give more proof by quoting this same verse from other translations. First, Diaglott version, “and taking a cup, having given thanks, he gave it to them; and they all drank out of it.” Now from the Goodspeed version, “He took the wine-cup and gave thanks and gave it to them, and they all drank from it.” Friends, please notice that Christ took “a cup”, “the wine cup’, “and gave it (the wine-cup) to them’, “and they all drank out of it’, out of the wine cup he took and gave to them. He gave them one cup and they all drank out of it.

Perhaps it would be impossible to find a more scholarly work than the Commentary on Matthew by that specialist in Greek, John A. Broadus. Here is his comment on “He took the cup” — ‘a cup’ is the correct text in Matthew and Mark, while it is ‘the cup’ in Luke and Paul. There was a cup on the table for drinking wine according to the custom of the paschal meal; ‘a cup’ does not say there were others.”

Now you see how simple and easy it is to prove the safety of one cup on the Lord’s Table by the Bible, Dictionary, or History; and since it cannot be proved at all that a bottle or cups are safe, let us continue in the things we have learned and been assured of (2 Tim. 3:13-19).

For the benefit of those who are still not satisfied, let us go a little deeper into this subject. In the New Century Dictionary, vol. 1, page 361,

“cup…the chalice used in the Eucharist;…also, a cup with its contents; the quantity contained in a cup.” The foot notes by Thomas Scott, D. D., in the Holy Bible printed in 1818 reads as follows under 1 Cor. 10:16, “The cup of wine, which was used in the Lord’s Supper to represent spiritual blessings; Matt. 26:27, The wine in that cup represented his blood, as shed to make way for the New Covenant; and to ratify it.”

No comment is needed to show how many cups were used.

Now turn to The Encyclopedia Americana, vol. 6, page 252:  “Chalice — The ecclesiastical cup in which the consecrated wine is administered. The first of these usually had handles, as they were very large and heavy.” They would not have been large and heavy if churches then had used individual cups. Let us read of one of these cups in The Modern Concise Encyclopedia under the word “chalice”—”Ecclesiastical cup in which wine is administered — Charlemagne gave a gold chalice weighing 53 lbs. to St. Peter’s in Rome.” Maybe that was for a congregation of many thousands of members which the cups brethren talk so much about.

But we will now turn to the Greek New Testament with English Notes by J. A. Spencer, A. M., published by Harper & Brothers, 1868. Under Mark 14:23 we read, “At the Passover the guests all drank out of the same cup.” The Greek word for cup here is poterion, and we will see what Thayer’s Greek-English Lexicon says this word means here. On page 533, “poterion—a cup, a drinking vessel—Matt. 26:27; Mark 14:23; Luke 22:17, 20; 1 Cor. 11:25.” Thayer says “cup” in these verses means a drinking vessel. On page 510, “the vessel out of which one drinks, Matt. 26:27; Mk. 14:23”. Again he says on page 189, “the thing out of which one drinks, Matt. 26:27; Mark 14:23; 1 Cor. 11:28”. Once more on page 15, “1 Cor. 11:25; Luke 22:20 in both which the meaning is, This cup containing wine, an emblem of blood, is rendered by the shedding of my blood an emblem of the New Covenant.” So he tells us the cup of Matt. 26:27; Mark 14:23; Luke 22:20; 1 Cor. 11:25; and 1 Cor. 11:28 is a “vessel containing wine”, the wine being an emblem of Christ’s blood, and the vessel out of which they drank an emblem of the New Covenant.  

Smith’s Bible Dictionary by William Smith, D. C., L. L. D., in which so many people trust for definitions of Bible words, in the complete unabridged edition which consists of three volumes with a total of 4,156 pages, says under Passover,

“There is no mention of wine in connection with the Passover in the Pentateuch: but the Mishna strictly enjoins that there should never be less than four cups of it provided at the paschal meal even of the poorest Israelite (Pes. 10:1). The cups were handed round in succession at specified intervals in the meal. Two of them appears to be distinctly mentioned in Luke 22:17, 20. The cup of blessing (1 Cor. 10:16) was probably the latter one of these and is generally conceded to have been the third of the series.”

So you can see that the cup of blessing (1 Cor. 10:16) was a cup of wine. But someone may ask if they didn’t use four cups in the Passover. Yes, but Christ used only one of them in the Lord’s Supper, the cup of blessings, the third cup of wine from which all drank at the Passover. All drank from each of the four cups in the Passover and they all drank from the one cup of blessing in the Lord’s Supper. In vol. 2, page 139-140, Smith says concerning the observance of the Passover,

The head of the household, or celebrant, began by a form of blessing for the day and the wine, pronounced over a cup (not a bottle—EHM) of which he and the others, drank.”  [Note, they all drank of that cup—EHM]. The table was then set out with the paschal lamb, unleavened bread, bitter herbs, and the dish known as charoseth. . . The celebrant first, and then the others, dipped a portion of the bitter herbs into the charoseth and ate them. The dishes were then removed, and a cup of wine again brought—and the cup was passed round and drunk. [Note, this was a “cup of wine” and they drank the cup—EHM]. After this they ate the flesh of the paschal lamb, with bread etc., as they liked; and after another blessing, a third cup.  Known especially as the ‘cup of blessing,’ was handed round. This was succeeded by a fourth cup.

All drank of each cup at the Passover, and the third cup of which they all drank was called “the cup of blessing.” That cup was the only one used in the Lord’s Supper.


The Bible Dictionary by William W. Rand, 1859, says it was “a cup of unfermented wine.” So while here we might add, for the benefit of those contending for strong fermented wine, that the Bible does not teach us to use strong wine in the Lord’s Supper. Yet, I have before me an article by W. F. Jones in the Footprints of Time of October, 1941, in which he contends for strong wine. He says,

They had the prescribed drink, the strong wine, the fruit of the vine, the unleavened drink used in all O. T. feasts, sacrifices, and the Passover, and by the Lord on His Table on the night he was betrayed… So we cannot have unfermented grape juice in the Holy Communion… The Jews – our type – were forbidden to have leaven in their houses during the feast which typified our Passover, Ex. 12.

Notice how he contradicts himself. He first said they had the fruit of the vine, the unleavened drink used by the Lord on His table on the night He was betrayed…so we cannot have unfermented grape juice? Then we cannot have what Christ

used? He must not know that unleavened means unfermented and unfermented means unleavened. We will let Webster’s Dictionary tell him: Unfermented — “not fermented;…not leavened.” Ferment — “leaven.” Thayer’s Greek-English Lexicon of the N. T. defines it thus: “to leaven, to mix leaven with dough so as to make it ferment.” Young’s Analytical Concordance, page 596, gives us this definition of the Greek word for leaven: “anything leavened or fermented.” Since the children of Israel could not use or have leaven during the Passover but had to use things unleavened or unfermented, they used unfermented wine as that Bible Dictionary said. Read Matt. 26:29 in Goodspeed’s Translation, “I shall drink the new wine with you in my Father’s Kingdom.” What is new wine? Isa. 65:8, “Thus saith the Lord, as the new wine is found in the cluster.” That would be unfermented grape juice.

The footnote of the New Testament translated by Ferrar Fenten, M.R.A.S., M.C.A.A., under Matt. 26:27-29, “It should be noted that no fermented wine might be used by the Hebrews during the Passover week.” Fenton also says in his book on The Bible and Wine, “Philip Sidersky, a Christian Jew, told Mrs. Hamilton that at the Passover supper the Jews squeezed the juice from a bunch of grapes into the chalice.” The Ferrar Fenton translation of 1 Cor. 5:6-8 reads,

Do you not know that a little ferment ferments the whole mass? Clean out the old ferment, so that you may be a sweet mass, and thus you will be unfermented, for Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us, so that we may keep a festival, not with an old ferment, neither in a ferment of feast and wickedness, but on the contrary with unfermented purity and truth.

Leaven and ferment is the same, and unleavened and unfermented is the same, and are used interchangeably. W. F. Jones further writes in his article, “For even Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us” (1 Cor. 5:7). Hence, in verse 8, gospel people are enjoined to keep the communion table unleavened.” And that means unfermented as just shown. Therefore he should give up his contention for strong fermented wine or change his argument.


I now call your attention to “The Cup Question” by J. L. Musgrave. In the tract he contends for cups and on page 1 makes the broad assertion, “The one-container brethren are wrong in everything, the Bible, history, and the scholarship of the world.” In view of the Biblical, historical, and scholarly evidence which I have presented, and which I shall present in favor of one cup, I will let the reader judge as to whether we are wrong in everything.

On page 13 he pretends to quote Jesus, “This (cup) is my blood,” but Christ did not say that. Jesus said, “This cup is the new Testament’, and we all know that the New Testament is not His blood, so the cup is not His blood, but it is the New Testament (sealed) in Christ’s blood; and Moffatt’s Translation thus renders Luke 22:20, “This cup means the new covenant, ratified by my blood.” On page 15 Musgrave mentions this as follows, “This cup (container) is the New Testament.” Let us consider it: “This (cup) is my blood of the New Testament” (Matt. 26:28). Note that he has the first verse right (Luke 22:20) but in Matt. 26:28 “this” is not “cup”.

Verse 29 says “this fruit of the vine”. So “this cup (container) is the new testament in (ratified by) my blood” (Luke 22:20), and “this fruit of the vine is my blood of (Goodspeed’s version “which ratifies”) the New Testament’ (Matt. 26:28). Here Musgrave says. “Certainly the blood of the New Testament and New Testament blood are one and the same”.

Actually, the New Testament was ratified by the blood and the blood that ratified the New Testament are not the same. Christ said the cup was the New Testament (Luke 22:20) and the fruit of-the vine was the blood (Matt. 26:28-29). As proved already the blood was in the cup but was not the cup itself.

Now hear Musgrave again on page 15, “In Exo. 24:6-8 the blood was in basins (plural); however, it was still the blood of the covenant! Why can’t New Testament blood be in containers and still be the blood of the covenant?” I answer, because Jesus had it in a container and said, “You must all drink from it’ (Matt. 26:27; Goodspeed’s Version). But what about the (plural) basins for the Old Testament blood? Let us study this a little. The King James Version does say basins, but the original Hebrew Word here translated basins is aggan, and in Song of Solomon 7:2 we read, “Thy navel is like a round goblet.” Goblet is from the same Hebrew word aggan. If it is singular here, it could be in Exo. 24:6. And sure enough in the Myles Coverdale Version of 1535, which I have, the first English translation ever printed, we read as follows: “And Moses toke the half parte of the bloude, and put it in a basen, the other half sprenkled he upon the altare” (Exo. 24:6). You can see that a basin or goblet (chalice or cup) was used as a container in both the Old and New Testaments.

We will now read from the Commentary and Critical Notes of the New Testament by Adam Clark, L.L.D., F.S.A., M.R.I.A., under Matt. 26:28, “The confirmation of the old covenant was by the blood of bulls and goats—the confirmation of the New was by a cup of wine. Christ, having published all the articles of the New Covenant, he takes the cup of wine, and gives them to drink, and saith, ‘This is the new testament in my blood’.”  In the preface to this gospel he says, “In the celebration of his last supper, Christ calls the cup, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood”; i. e., an emblem of representation of the new covenant, ratified by his blood, see Luke 22:20.” The cup was an emblem of the New Covenant, and the New Covenant was not the blood but was ratified by the blood. Adam Clark comments of Luke. 22:20,

It does not appear that our Lord handed the bread or the cup to each person: he gave it to him who was next to him, and by handing it from one to another, they shared it among them, verse 17. In this respect, the present mode of administering the Lord’s Supper is not strictly according to the original institution.

Passing “cups” was not the original way. Under Luke 22:17 he say, “Divide it among yourselves. Pass the cup from one to another.” This gives a blow to Musgrave’s argument on page 19 of his tract.


On pages 20-23 he crosses himself up on metonymy. First, he gives a good definition of metonymy, and then he falsely represents the one container argument. We do not say the cup of the Lord is a metonymy. We say the cup of the Lord is a cup of wine. The word cup is sometimes used as a metonymy, as in 1 Cor. 11:27, “Drink this cup of the Lord.” Paul here named the container to suggest the contents. Note, he didn’t name the contents but named something else that readily suggested it. This is according to Musgrave’s definition of metonymy on page 20, “Metonymy is a figure of speech by which an object is presented to the mind, not by naming it, but by naming something else that readily suggests it.” So the word “cup” in 1 Cor. 11:27 is used as a metonymy, a container named for the contained, but it’s being used as a metonymy here does not make it a metonymy everywhere, for in Matt. 26:27 the word cup means a drinking vessel (a container), Thayer—pages 510, 533 and 189. Cup here is literal.

In 1 Cor. 10:16 both container and contents are meant as previously shown. Next Musgrave jumps on the Greek on page 24. “To the Greek! To the Greek!”, shout our friends. The cup is taken from poterion, which means a drinking vessel, a vessel out of which one drinks. Seldom, if ever, do they tell anyone “cup” in Matt. 26:39 is from the same Greek word poterion. Let this poterion (cup, a drinking vessel, a vessel out of which one drinks) pass from me.”

Hear Clark’s Commentary on this, “It seems to be an allusion to a very ancient method of punishing criminals. A cup of poison was put in their hands and they were obliged to drink it. “…Pass from me…” Perhaps, there is an allusion here to several criminals standing in a row, who are all to drink of the same cup, but the judge extending favor to a certain one, the cup passed by him to the next.” So, there seems to be a literal cup involved here also in this metaphorical comparison.

J.L.Musgrave, in his tract “The Cup Question,” on page 33 tries to get someone to help him out. He thinks it is wonderful proof; and it is for me, but not for him. Notice the letter from The Lexicographer:

“In the King James Version, the word cup is used to mean the contents thereof, just as one says, ‘He drank the dipper in a single swallow,’ or again one might say, ‘He passed the dipper around and everyone took a sip of it and said, How good this is’, in which case the pronouns “it” and “this” refer to the contents of the dipper and not to the dipper itself.” (Signed), The Lexicographer.

Now that hurt him and helped me. All drank of one literal dipper. There was only one literal dipper involved here, and all who drank its contents drank the dipper. Well, that is what I say about the Lord’s cup. Pass the cup around and let everyone take a sip of it. Everyone who drinks of it drinks the cup. “This” in Matt. 26:28, refers to the contents of the cup and not to the cup itself. I did not need this help, but it is appreciated anyway. I wish Musgrave would start passing the cup (not cups) around and let everyone take a sip of it. In Mark 14:23, “He gave it to them: and they all drank of it.” The Lexicographer said “this” referred to the contents of the dipper and not to the dipper itself. So Musgrave on page four of his tract was wrong when he said, “This (cup) is my blood.” “This” would refer to the contents of the cup and not to the cup itself. If a dipper is used Musgrave can see how “this” can refer to its contents, but he can’t see it that way if a cup is used. Maybe if he would put “cup” where the letter says dipper he could understand it. He can understand that to “drink the dipper” one must drink the contents of a literal dipper, but when we insist that an assembly must drink the contents of a literal cup to drink the cup” he says, “Well, you will have to swallow the container.” Are his eyes blinded?

While he is catching his breath, we will notice some more Bible, history, and the scholarship of the world, which he thinks is against us. Eadies Biblical Cyclopedia by John Eadie, D.D., L.L.D., under 1 Cor. 10:16, “The master of the feast took a cup of wine in his hand and solemnly blessed God for it and for all the mercies which were then acknowledged. It was now passed to all the guests, each of whom drank of it in turn.”  Notice, “it” was taken in his hand, “it” was passed to all, and each drank of “it” in turn.

Now for good measure we will return to the original word which Christ used, poterion, the word translated “cup” in the English. We will go to the Greek and English Lexicon of the New Testament by Edward Robinson, D.D., L.L. D., and see if he agrees with Thayer,

Poterion, 1. a drinking vessel, a cup; Matt. 10:42; 23:25; 26:27; Mark 14:23; Luke 22:17, 20; 1 Cor. 11:25. 2. Meton, a cup for the contents of a cup, cup-full, e.g. a cup of wine; so of the wine drank at the eucharist; Luke 22:20; 1 Cor. 11:25; 1 Cor. 10:16.

So there is in the communion “a cup” and the “contents of a cup”; “a cup of wine” (literal and metonymy both given). You can have the literal without the metonymy, but you cannot have the metonymy without the literal.

If you still believe a plurality of cups can be proven safe by the Bible, listen to this quotation from the “Teacher’s Annual Lesson Commentary on Bible School Lessons 1952” published by Gospel Advocate Co.  This quotation is from page 205:

“When Jesus instituted the supper, he took the cup.  Nowhere is the plural of cup used.”  Then on page 206 it says, ‘Mark simply says he took a cup and gave it to them and they all drank of it.  Furthermore, while holding this cup Jesus said, ‘This is my blood’- obviously, he spoke of the contents of the cup which He held in his hands.”

There you have it, Jesus “took a cup”. Did He call this cup blood? No!  When He said, “This is my blood-He spoke of the contents of the cup which He held in his hand.”  The cup was called “the New Testament” (Luke 22:20), and its contents were called “the blood of the New Testament” (Matthew 26:28), as just admitted by the people who wrote Sunday School literature; although they believe in cups.


Why do the cups brethren use more than one container? They say because of large crowds and the danger of spreading diseases. They depart from the New Testament example for these reasons. Did you know that in the fifteenth century the Catholics for these same reasons changed the communion and withheld the cup from the laity? I have before me two of their books, “The Faith of Millions” and “The Faith of our Fathers.” Beginning on page 223 of the first and page 306 of the latter we read as follows:

“Why do you give the communion to the laity”, asked an inquirer recently, “under the form of bread and not under the form of wine as well?” Grave and just reasons enumerated by the Council of Trent were: “the danger of spilling the precious blood; the difficulty of reserving the Sacrament under the species of wine; and the danger to health from partaking of a chalice touched by infected lips. As the question involves merely discipline, the church exercises her right as the guardian of the Sacrament to adopt her methods of administering them to the changing conditions of the times. It would be very distasteful, besides, for so many communicants to drink successively out of the same chalice, which would be unavoidable if the Sacrament were administered in both forms; so in the fifteenth century she withdrew the cup. While Protestants consider the cup as an indispensable part of the communion service, they do not seem, in many instances, to be very particular as to what the cup will contain.

So there you have it. The Catholics gave the cup to one man instead of to all as Jesus did (Matt. 26:27; Mark 14:23) because if they do as Jesus did it would be dangerous and very distasteful, besides, for so many communicants to drink successively out of the same chalice which would be unavoidable. The Catholics knew that Jesus used one cup, but for these reasons they changed the method of administering it. They are at least open with their admission that they did change it. The cups brethren agree with the Catholics on the danger and the distastefulness of using one cup, but they just take a different step in changing the communion. They introduce individual cups to get around the common cup. They have as much Bible (none) for their way as the Catholics do for theirs, but I had rather follow the way of Jesus (John 14:6). I do not think it dangerous to do as he said. But for those who trust man more than God, I give the following quoted from The Pathfinder Magazine, Washington D. C., March 20, 1944:

SANITARY COMMUNION:  Sacred tradition of the common communion cup which dates back to the “upper room” in Jerusalem has been freed of the oft repeated charge of being a “germ carrier” by scientific research of two University of Chicago professors.  In a report of the Journal of Infectious Diseases, Dr. William Burrows, associate professor of bacteriology, and Dr. Elizabeth Hammons, instructor in the Walter G. Zoller Dental Clinic, point out that heavy metals, particularly silver, have long been known to have a bactericidal effect, and are self-sterilizing, so that common cups do not spread disease.  Significant differences between the usual restaurant tableware, and the silver communion cup,” the scientists stated, “were, the bacteria-killing action of silver, and the care with which the Sacrament is administered.

If the cups brethren could give as much proof that cups were safe as I have for one cup, we would have yielded long ago. If there is a cups’ man who can give as much Biblical, historical, and scholarly proof that Christ used cups as I have given in favor of one, I will not only yield to him, but I will make him a present of one hundred dollars.


Let us notice some of the references to the communion in translations other than the King James Version (1611). But some will protest that they do not believe in other translations. Why? “Oh!” they say, “it was the first and must be the one God wanted us to have.” Well, they are wrong, for I have four translations in English older than the K.J.V., and perhaps there are others. Let us read from these.

(Wycliffe Version, 1389 A. D.)—Matt. 26:27, “And he takynge the cuppe, dede thankyngis, and gave to hem, seyinge, Drinke yee alle herof.” Mark 14:23, “And the cuppe takun, he doynge gracis gaf to hem, and all drunken therof.” Luke 22:20, “Also and the chalys, after that he hadde soupid, seyinge, This cuppe is the newe testament in my blood, which schal be sched for you.”

(Tyndale Version, 1526 A. D.)—Matt. 26:27, “And toke the cuppe, and gave thanks, and gave it them, sayinge, drink of it every won.”

(Myles Coverdale Version, 1535 A. D.)—Matt. 26:27, “And he toke the cuppe, and thanked, and gave it the, and sayde; Drynke ye all thereof.” Mark 14:23, “And he toke the cuppe, thanked and gave it the, and they all drank thereof.”

Chailover.Rheims Version, 1582 A. D.—Mark 14:23, “And taken the chalice, giving thanks, he gave it to them, and they all drank of it.”

I left the spelling as it is in these old Bibles. It is old English. If anyone cannot read it, I will be glad to spell the words the modern way for them.


(Goodspeed’s Version)— “And he took the wine cup and gave thanks and gave it to them and they all drank from it.” 1 Cor. 11:25, “This cup is the new agreement ratified by my blood.”

(Moffatt’s Translation)— 1 Cor. 11:25, “This cup means the new covenant ratified by my blood.”

(Twentieth Century Translation)—Mark 14:23, “Then he took a cup – and they all drank from it.” Luke 22:20, “This cup is the new covenant made by my blood.”

(American Standard Revised Version)—Mark 14:23, “He took a cup – and they all drank of it.”

(The Revised Standard Version of 1946)—Mark 14:23, “He took a cup – and they all drank of it.”

With all this proof that Christ took a cup and they all drank from it, how can we say we are following Christ when we take cups and drink from them? (Matt. 26:27; Mark 14:23; Matt. 28:20; 2 John 1:6-9; 2 Tim. 3:13-17).


Let us now read every verse in the Bible that says “cup”, connected in any way with the communion.

Matt.26:27- “And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it.”

Mk.14:23 – “And he took the cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them: and they all drank of it.”

Lk.22:17 – “And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and said, Take this, and divide it among yourselves.”

(The Revised Version, the American Standard Version and the Revised Standard Version in these verses say “a cup.”)

Lk. 22:20—“Likewise also the cup after supper, saying, ‘This cup is the new testament in my blood’.”

1 Cor. 10:16—“The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ?”

1 Cor. 10:21—“Ye cannot drink the cup of the Lord, and the cup of devils.”

1 Cor. 11:2 and 23-29—‘“Now I praise you, brethren, that ye remember me in all things, and keep the ordinances (the margin says “traditions”), as I have delivered them to you. (23) For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, that the Lord Jesus, the same night in which he was betrayed, took bread. (24) And when He had given thanks, He brake it, and said, ‘Take, eat; this is My body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of Me’. (25) After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, ‘This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me.’ (26) For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord’s death till he come. (27) Wherefore whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. (28) But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread and drink of that cup. (29) For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body.”

So 12 times we read in the Bible of “a cup”, “the cup”, “this cup” and “that cup” but not once does it say, “some cups”, “the cups”, “these cups” and “those cups”. So let us do what the Bible says; for remember, the last Bible quotation given tells us to keep the traditions as they were delivered ,and this tradition was delivered the way Christ had done at the institution of the communion. And the same writer said in 2 Thes. 3:6—“Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye withdraw yourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly, and not after the tradition which he received of us.” Well how many vessels does “a cup” and “the cup” include?

Webster says “A” is “an abbreviation of Anglo-Saxon ‘an’ or ‘one’…as a table, instead of a table or one table.” And Webster says “THE” is “used before a noun in the singular number.” And I have given his definition of cup already; and on the last page of this tract you will find all Bible quotations of “cup” in connection with the Lord’s Supper, and under the verses you will find the meaning of cup in that verse as given by “Thayer’s Greek-English Lexicon” of New Testament words, also by Robinson’s Greek-English Lexicon, and other books that give the meaning of Bible words. Please notice every time the word “cup” is used in these verses, it involves one and only one literal drinking vessel.

Well, someone may ask, “When and by whom were individual communion cups first used? And why and where were they first used?” Well, here is the answer:


Of course, we cannot tell by the Bible when, or by whom, the Individual cups were introduced into the worship of the Churches, but I have before me some interesting History on the matter which I pass on to those who are interested in the truth. I might also state that the History is not from any of our “One cup” brethren, but instead, by those, who in the main, use the Individual cups in their communion service.

I quote the following from The Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper, by Thomas H. Warner—Pages 237-238,

Until near the end of the nineteenth century the chalice, or cup, was used in the distribution of the wine at the Lord’s Supper. At that time more attention began to be paid to hygiene, and the use of the common cup began to be unpopular with communicants.—Rev. J. G. Thomas, who was both a minister and a physician, was the originator of the idea of Individual cups. From his medical practice he learned the uncleanliness and danger of the common cup and felt that the Lord’s Supper could be made more attractive and beautiful by the use of Individual cups. His first patent was granted in March 1894. The first Individual cup service was held in a little Putnam County Church in Ohio.

Please notice that the “danger of the common cup,” and the “attractiveness of the Individual cups,’ were NOT learned from the Bible; and that the Individual cups were first used by a denominational Church, and in Ohio, in 1894—-which is many miles from Jerusalem, and 1861 years after Jesus instituted His Supper.

Now please read Isa. 2:2-3; Matt. 28:18-20; Lk. 24:49; Jno. 14:26: Acts 1:8; Acts 2:1-17. Then please turn and read Matt. 26 :26-27; Mk. 14:22-23; 1 Cor. 11:2, also verses 23-25; 2 Thess. 3:6.

Now on page 238 of this same History we read more about these Individual cups (which came into use 1861 years too late to be Scriptural). This experience took place in 1896—two years after all of these microbes were discovered on the common cup, and the Individual cups were invented. It reads as follows:

On entering a church, he was directed to a disinfecting room where he was sprayed with a solution of carbolic acid. Then he was taken to the kitchen where the rector was examining with a powerful microscope the Individual communion cups to see that all microbes had been removed. Each cup bore the name of an individual and no one could take the sacrament unless he had his own cup. When the sacrament was celebrated there was a great deal of confusion because of the difficulty of getting the right cup to the right individual, and because so many of the communicants were using huge microscopes to make sure their cups were properly disinfected.  From the time of its invention the individual cup has been a live topic in Church circles. In the Lutheran Quarterly, April 1899, Rev. S. S. Rahn said that perchance the idea germinated in the fertile brain of one skilled in the new theology or latest science. Doubtless he had a dream—fell into a trance while worn with study, etc., suddenly awakening, thrust the problem upon the Christian world as a fresh revelation from heaven! He argued that there was no more danger of infection from using the common cup than from people sitting together in Church or from ‘handling of bank bills.The one cup for all is not a mere accident but significant of the one redeeming blood.

There you have from history, the origin of the Individual cups, and you see that others besides we, have opposed them all along.

In the history of individual communion cups you see they were not invented until 1894, and were first used in Ohio; not at Jerusalem (Isa. 2:2-3).  I have a letter from the grandson of the Rev. J. G. Thomas, referred to in this history as the inventor of the individual communion cups, and he tells me, “Grandfather, John G. Thomas, who was both a physician and a minister, invented the first individual communion outfits. The first patents were issued to him in 1894. The Market St. Presbyterian Church, of Lima, Ohio, is believed to be the first church to ever use individual communion cups in a communion service. This also occurred in 1894. What is believed to be the original individual communion service used by this church is on display in the Allen County Historical Museum in Lima, Ohio.” So friends, if you use individual communion cups, don’t bite the hand that feeds you! No, don’t condemn other churches for not doing Bible things the Bible way, and then go thou and do likewise. Now you may wonder, when did the Church of Christ begin using individual communion cups?  Which congregation first used them, and which Church of Christ preacher first advocated them? So I will now refer you to the book titled “Forty Years on the Firing Line’, by G. C. Brewer, a preacher still living, hear him on page XII and XIII of the introduction of this 185 page book,

A good many of the fights that I have made have been with my own brethren on points where I believed them to be in the wrong. I think I was the first preacher to advocate the use of the individual communion cup and the first church in the state of Tennessee that adopted it was the church for which I was preaching, the Central Church of Christ, at Chattanooga, Tenn., then meeting in the Masonic Temple. My next work was with the church at Columbia, Tenn., and, after a long struggle, I got the individual communion service into that congregation.

[Notice he had a hard time getting these cups into the Sunday School Churches of Christ at first; and now some preachers fight Bro. Brewer and the Sunday School digression, yet they follow the Sunday School brethren with individual communion cups. Sunday School has been in the church longer than individual communion cups, so why not take both or reject both? Remember, don’t bite the hand that feeds you! – E. H. Miller]

About that time. Brother G. Dallas Smith began to advocate the individual communion service and he introduced it at Fayetteville, Tenn., then later at Murfreesboro. Of course, I was fought both privately and publicly and several brethren took me to task in the religious papers and called me digressive. Bro. Smith came to my rescue and, in the year 1915. Brother David Lipscomb wrote a short paragraph in the Gospel Advocate saying that he had changed his view in reference to the communion cup and that he did not believe it was any digression or in any way a corruption of the service to use as many cups as might be demanded by the occasion. This brought that controversy to an end and, from then on, the churches began using the individual communion cup everywhere.

So you see, even the Sunday School churches fought individual communion cups until 1915, but when Bro. Lipscomb approved them in 1915, they began to use them, and now many who fight the classes will fight for the cups introduced to them by the Sunday School brethren. If I was a Sunday School preacher, every time a cups preacher asked me where I got Bible for classes, I would reply, “You will find classes in the same verse you find your individual communion cups.”


Brethren, why fight one and fight for the other? Classes and cups stand or fall together with instrumental music in worship! Just for example, the postman has just brought me the “Gospel Advocate” for March 22, 1951, the paper referred to by Bro. Brewer. These brethren believe in cups and classes but fight instrumental music in worship, and on page 178 I find an article against instrumental music, telling why they do not believe in or use it. I here give the most of that article. I quote it just as it is given except I will put cups and classes where he has instrumental music and thus show the same argument that tears down instrumental music will also work against classes. The entire article following is his, except the words in brackets inserted by me.


Again and again the query comes: “Why do you not use instrumental music, [cups and classes] in your services? We can give answers readily, gladly and clearly. However, the burden of proof always rests upon the affirmative—and those who employ mechanical instruments, [cups and classes] in worship are really the ones obligated to explain why. The New Testament does not authorize their use; the apostolic church did not employ them, and profane history testifies to their nonsense for some six hundred years or more after the Lord’s church was established.

A local church has liberty to do only what the Lord and His apostles have authorized. If a congregation be otherwise minded, it is wrong. We cannot be neutral when error is involved, nor can we condone or fellowship the wrong.

Between these extremes are many excuses for the employment of instruments, [cups and classes]in the worship. The purpose of this treatise is not to answer their assertions, but to give reason for not using the instrument, [cups and classes]; and if our reasoning is accurate, the thousand pleas in its behalf cannot override the truth.

We do not use instruments of music, [cups and classes] in worship because neither the instrument, [cups nor classes] nor its [their] employment is authorized by our Lord or by any delegated to speak in His name. When the word of God speaks, we must speak; where it enjoins, we must practice. Tt must be a granted fact that the New Testament does not authorize the use of the instrument, [cups and classes], the apostles did not so much as mention its [their] use, and the apostolic church did not at any time employ it [them]. Jesus said that we must ‘worship in spirit and in truth.’ (John 4:24). He also declared in His prayer to God: ‘Thy word is truth.’

(John 17:17). Since we must worship in truth, and that truth is God’s word, and that word does not authorize instrumental music, [cups nor classes], we cannot worship God with a mechanical instrument, cups or classes. If we tried, it would not be in truth; and if we are conscientious, we could not worship that way ‘in spirit.’

Therefore, we cannot use the instrument, [cups nor classes]. Paul averred that he had ‘not shunned to declare… all the counsel of God.’ (Act 20:27). He also warned that if man or angel preached any other gospel than that declared the curse of God would rest upon that one. (Gal. 1:8-9). If Paul declared all of God’s counsel, and did not authorize instrumental music, cups or classes, then we cannot but conclude that mechanical instruments, cups or classes or their use are no part of that counsel. If a doctrine or practice cannot be established by the revealed counsel of God, then it is ‘another gospel’ or a ‘perverted’ gospel, and the anathema of God rests on those who promote it. Instrumental music, [cups and classes] is not a part of God’s counsel; it must be part of a different gospel. Therefore, we cannot use it [them].

Paul wrote that inspired Scripture furnishes us ‘unto all good works. (2 Tim. 3:16, 17). Simon Peter insisted that this grace through knowledge gave ‘us all things that pertain unto life and godliness’ (2 Peter 1:3). Now, if God’s word completely furnishes us unto every good work, and instrumental music, [cups and classes] was no part of it, then it follows that instrumental music, [cups and classes] is not a good work. If the word of our Lord grants us everything that relates to life and godliness, and musical instruments, [cups and classes] are not included in that word, it follows that instrumental music, [cups and classes] in worship could have no value, who are we to employ the things or practices, which have no value, and which, if not good works, cannot but be evil. John plainly states: ‘Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God.’ (2 John 9.) Instrumental music, [cups and classes] is no part of the doctrine of Christ—he did not teach it. He who teaches or uses the instrument, [cups or classes] in worship is not abiding in the doctrine of Christ—he must go outside that doctrine to find it [them]! Hence, he is a transgressor; he abides not in the doctrine; therefore, he hath not God. Furthermore (verse 10) we are warned: ‘If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed.’ If anyone brings the doctrine of instrumental music, [cups or classes] in the worship, he brings not the doctrine of Christ.

If he brings not the doctrine, we cannot invite him in nor wish him well. Hence, we cannot fellowship those who teach and practice instrumental music, [cups or classes] in the worship.”

There, my friend, you have a good article on why we do not use instrumental music, cups or classes in the worship of our Lord.

Now in conclusion, let me remind you that Jesus did not call the cup his blood as many claim; rather, Jesus said concerning the cup, “This cup is the new testament in my blood” (Luke 22:20; 1 Cor. 11:25).

Concerning the fruit of the vine in that cup he said, “This is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins. But I say unto you, I will not drink henceforth of this fruit of the vine…” (Matt. 26:28-29).

Let us now read this from the Goodspeed version which makes it a little plainer and easier to understand.

1 Cor. 11:25, “He took the cup, too, after supper, in the same way, saying, ‘This cup is the new agreement ratified by my blood.”

Matt. 26:27-29, “He took the wine-cup and gave thanks and gave it to them, saying, ‘you must all drink from it, for this is my blood, which ratifies the agreement… I tell you I will never drink this product of the vine again till the day when I shall drink the new wine with you if my Father’s Kingdom!”

You see the cup is the New Testament or agreement ratified by Christ’s blood; and the product or fruit of the vine is Christ’s blood that ratified the agreement. The blood of the testament and the testament ratified or dedicated by the blood are not the same: See Hebrews. 9:16-20.

Let us use ONE LOAF which is Christ’s one body; and ONE CUP which is the one New Testament (Jer. 31:31-33 and Heb. 8:6-9 and 10:9-29). And the product of the vine (grape juice produced by the vine), NEW WINE found in the cluster (Isa. 65:8) which is Christ’s blood of the New Testament; yea, let us follow the Bible and we cannot be wrong. (Matt. 26:26-29; Mk. 14:22-25; Lk. 22:17-20 and 1 Cor. 11:2 and 23-29 and 2 Thes. 3:6).

[This excellent, well-researched study by E.H. Miller is from the tract, Proof, Cups and Classes are not Scriptural.  Due to the extraordinary length of this study, it has been reduced and subheadings have been added for reading ease – P.M.]

 Recommended articles:

Introducing the Church of Christ – Ronny Wade

God’s Sevenfold Unity – Jerry Cutter

Repentance – J. W. McGarvey


The Ancient Faith website is a thematic collection of scholarly yet simple Bible essays and sermons, many of which were composed by Restoration preachers such as J.W. McGarvey, Moses Lard, Benjamin Franklin, and Alexander Campbell. These courageous men of faith through hours of Bible investigation studied themselves out of denominationalism, asking for “the old paths” (Jer. 6:16) and seeking to return to “the faith once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 3). We hope you will join with these men in their fervent plea to restore “the ancient order,” “the ancient gospel” or, as it was sometimes called, “the ancient faith.”