The Ancient Faith

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A. Campbell

On the Lord’s table there is of necessity but one loaf.

The necessity is not that of a positive law enjoining one loaf and only one, as the ritual of Moses enjoined twelve loaves. But it is a necessity arising from the meaning of the institution as explained by the apostles.

As there is but one literal body, and but one mystical or figurative body having many members; so there must be but one loaf. The apostle insists upon this, “Because there is one loaf, we, the many, are one body; for we are all partakers of that one loaf.” [NOTE: I Cor. x. 17] The Greek word, artos, especially when joined with words of number, says Dr. Macknight, always signifies a loaf, and is so translated in our Bibles: – “Do you not remember the five loaves?” [NOTE: Matt. xvi. 9]

There are many instances of the same sort. Dr. Campbell says, “that in the plural number it ought always to be rendered loaves; but when there is a numeral before it, it indispensably must be rendered a loaf or loaves. Thus we say one loaf, seven loaves; not one bread, seven breads.”

“Because there is one loaf,” says Paul, “we must consider the whole congregation as one body.” Here the apostle reasons from what is more plain to what is less plain; from what was established to what was not so fully established in the minds of the Corinthians. There was no dispute about the one loaf; therefore, there ought to be none about the one body.

This mode of reasoning makes it as certain as a positive law; because that which an apostle reasons from must be an established fact, or an established principle. To have argued from an assumption or a contingency to establish the unity of the body of Christ would have been ridiculous in a logician, and how unworthy of an Apostle!

It was, then, an established institution, that there is but one loaf, inasmuch as the apostle establishes his argument by a reference to it as an established fact. Our third proposition is, then, sustained, that on the Lord’s table there is of necessity but one loaf.

 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.”