The Ancient Faith
“THIS DO IN REMEMBRANCE OF ME”
The above words were spoken by Jesus in Luke 22:19, and repeated by Paul in 1 Corinthians 11:24-25. They have reference to the Lord’s supper. This Supper is without question one of the greatest memorials ever erected. Monuments built by man fade and decay, but this one – never. It has stood the test of time and change, and wherever faithful disciples assemble to eat and drink the communion of the body and blood of Christ, it brings fresh to their minds the pain, suffering, and death of a loving Saviour.
The purpose of this treatise is to study in detail the design and scriptural observance of the communion. We shall endeavor to “speak where the bible speaks and remain silent where it is silent,” to stand always on a “thus saith the Lord.” Because some have failed to do so, this sacred feast has been robbed of its primitive beauty and fundamental significance. In order to be scriptural in serving God and discharging our duty to Him we must follow the Bible pattern given for the observance of the Lord’s Supper. Through the following study we hope to discover exactly what that pattern is. So now, if you will, journey back with us to the night of Christ’s betrayal when His disciples and He “took bread.”
WHAT IS IT SCRIPTURALLY CALLED?
(1) The Lord’s Supper
“When ye come together therefore into one place, this is not to eat the Lord’s supper. For in eating every one taketh before other his own supper: and one is hungry, and another is drunken.” 1 Corinthians 11:20-21. “Impossible” would be a better word than “not.” The real thought of the text is that their behavior in verse 21 made it impossible to eat the Lord’s Supper. But note that “The Lord’s Supper” is distinguished from “his own supper.” Therefore, there is a scriptural name for this sacred feast. That name is “The Lord’s Supper”
(2) The Communion
“The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ?” 1 Corinthians 10:16. Communion means a having in common, fellowship, joint participation, etc. Thus we all jointly participate in the communion service. Just as Jesus and His disciples shared this sacred feast the night it was instituted, so we today share it with one another in each congregation of disciples.
Why so we observe the Lord’s Supper? What is its purpose? The answers lie in the words of Jesus and Paul. Let’s notice them.
(1) The communion looks backward — to remember Christ.
“And He took bread, and gave thanks, and brake it, and gave unto them, saying, This is my body which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me.” Luke 22:19. “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.” 1 Corinthians 11:25. The above verses tell us why this is a memorial feast. It looks back to the time of Christ’s death and suffering ever keeping before our minds the Sacrifice He made for us there. Man many times is prone to forget, God realizing this left us a reminder—The Lord’s Supper.
(2) The communion looks inward — self examination.
“But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of tat cup,” 1 Cor. 11:28. I especially appreciate the above precept for two reasons. First, it relieves me of any responsibility in your examination, and second, it relieves you of any responsibility in examining me . Each one must examine himself. Why? Hear Paul: “For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body,” 1 Cor. 11:29. You will notice that the word unworthily, an adverb, is used instead of unworthy, an adjective. Unworthily tells how we do something. The idea that we must be worthy to partake of the communion is not taught by Paul here at all. He merely has reference to the frame of mind we are in, and the purpose behind our participation— “not discerning the Lord’s body.” Or, in other words if we make a common meal out of this sacred feast and indulge in it for any other reasons than those given by the scripture we eat and drink damnation to ourselves.
(3) The communion looks forward — until Jesus comes.
“For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do show the Lord’s death till he come.” 1 Cor. 11:26. We not only look backward to his death, but we also look forward in fond anticipation of his return to receive the faithful. Each time we partake of the communion we are reminded that Jesus will come again.
(4) The communion looks outward — proclaiming Christ’s death.
“For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do show the Lord’s death till he come.” 1 Cor. 11:26. We not only look back ward to his death, but we also look forward in fond anticipation of his return to receive the faithful. Each time we partake of the communion we are reminded that Jesus will come again.
WHEN SHOULD IT BE OBSERVED?
“And upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul preached unto them ready to depart on the marrow,”Acts 20:7. The custom of the early Christians was to assemble every first day of the week to “break bread.” This was done every first day of the week. Someone may object that the word every is not found in the passage. This we grant, but remember the Jews were commanded to remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy. And although to Bible does not say “every Sabbath day” we know it included “every” Sabbath day. Since every week had a seventh or Sabbath day in it just as surely as it came around the Jews observed it. We can also be sure that since every week has a “first day” when it came around the disciples assembled to break bread. Ancient history will bear us out in this, we quote: “On the Lord’s Day all Christians in the city or country meet together, because that is the day of the Lord’s resurrection; and then we read the apostles and prophets. This being done, the President makes an oration to the assembly to exhort them to imitate and practice the things which they have heard and then we all join in prayer, and after that we celebrate the Lord’s Supper” (Mosheim’s Eccl. Hist., Vol. 1, p. 135). Also from Eusebius we read “From the beginning the Christians assembled on the first day of the week, called by them the Lord’s Day to read the Scriptures, to preach and to celebrate the Lord’s Supper.” The practice of observing the Lord’s Supper quarterly, semiannually, or on any day other than the first day of the week is foreign to the Bible.
HOW IT IS TO BE OBSERVED
To clearly get before us the situation let us read Matthew and Mark’s account of the Lord’s Supper. Mt. 26:26-28 “And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and Blessed it, and brake it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is my body. And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it; For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.” Mk. 14:22-24 “And as they did eat, Jesus took bread, and blessed, and brake it, and gave to them, and said, Take eat: this is my body. And he took the cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them and they all drank of it. And he said unto them, This is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many.” From the above we learn that while Jesus was eating the Passover with his disciples he took bread.
HE TOOK BREAD
What kind of bread you ask? The answer lies in the circumstances surrounding Christ’s eating. They were eating the Passover. During the Passover no leaven was to enter their house. Ex. 12:15 “Seven days shall ye eat unleavened bread; even the first day ye shall put away leaven out of your houses: for whosoever eateth leavened bread from the first day until the seventh day, that soul shall be cut off from Israel.” It would seem evident from this that Jesus used unleavened bread, unless of course we would accuse him of breaking the law. This we feel sure he didn’t do.
JESUS TOOK ONE LOAF
The record says “Jesus took bread.” The Greek word translated bread is (artos) in Mt. 26:26; Mk. 14:22. It means and is translated many times when used in the singular simply –a loaf. The R.V., R.S.V., and the A.S.V. all render the passage “He took a loaf.” The fact that Jesus took only one loaf of bread is significant for several reasons. First of all it sets a Bible pattern for us to follow. Had Jesus taken several loaves or a loaf for each disciple we could claim justification for doing likewise. Since, however, He used only one it behooves us to follow His example. Secondly, since Christ had but one physical body, and the bread is to represent that body, it logically follows that we should use but one loaf. When a congregation of disciples uses a plurality of loaves in the communion whose bodies do they represent? Christ had but one, therefore we need but one loaf to represent it. Thirdly, there is but one spiritual body, the church. (Eph. 4:4; Col. 1:18; Eph. 1:22-23). In 1 Cor. 10:17 Paul says, “For we being many are one bread and one body: for we are all partakers of that one bread.” Our writer endeavoring to teach those people a valuable truth reasons from the known to the unknown. It was commonly known that each Lord’s Day in the communion they used but one loaf, Thus Paul uses this to teach them that because they all partook of one loaf they were one body. This fact symbolized their unity in Christ. Why, then, will men try and destroy the beautiful symbolism contained in the “one loaf”by using more than one? But, next, let us notice how Jesus broke bread.
JESUS BROKE BREAD
“Jesus took bread, blessed it, and brake it” Mt. 26:26. The question of how Jesus broke bread is a much controverted one. However, by noticing His example as well as several other pertinent passages I believe we can reach a scriptural conclusion.
(1) What did Jesus do?
There are two questions that we must consider here, they are: Did Jesus break bread for Himself of did He break bread for all the assembled disciples? To better understand and answer these questions let us notice Lk. 22:19 ” And He took bread, and gave thanks, and brake it, and gave unto them saying, This is my body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of me.” After blessing the bread Jesus broke it, gave it to his disciples and said “this do.” “This” is a demonstrative pronoun which has for its antecedent the action of Christ. In other words Jesus is asking His Disciples to do as He had done. However if Jesus had taken a loaf of bread and broken it into (in the middle) it would have been impossible for His disciples to have done likewise. Or if he had taken a loaf of bread and broken it into a hundred pieces, it would have been impossible for the disciples to do that, unless they had another loaf. But if Jesus took a loaf of bread and broke a piece off of it, and then ask His disciples to do likewise- this they could do. Let us go to other passages and see if this is what actually happened.
(2) What did the disciples do in Acts 2?
In Acts 2 after three thousand souls were added unto them we read in verse 42 ” And they ( three thousand plus the apostles) continued stedfastly in the apostles doctrine and fellowship, and breading of bread. . . ” This shows that all broke bread.
(3) Acts 20:7
“And upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul preached unto them.” The disciples at Troas came together to eat the Lord’s Supper and when they did they all broke bread. We could never imply man broke the loaf into many pieces. The breaking here was performed by each communicant just as it was done the night when Jesus instituted it.
(4) 1 Corinthians 10:16
“The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ?” Notice “we break,” not someone for us, but we. Verse 17 identifies the we for us, notice “For we being many are … one body; for we are all partakers of that one bread.” This should forever settle the dispute. We all partake of the bread by all breaking and eating. If one can break for us, then one can partake for us, if not, why not? The foregoing arguments lead to the irresistible conclusion that Jesus took bread, blessed it, broke off a piece of it, ate, gave to His disciples and they did likewise.
THE CUP OF THE LORD
We come now to a study of the cup of the Lord. The divine record says, “And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it;” Mt. 26:27; “And he took the cup, and when He had given thanks, He gave it to them: and they all drank of it,” Mk. 14:23. The word “cup” used by Jesus comes from the Greek word poterion, which means a drinking vessel. The following definitions are given by Thayer in his Greek dictionary: “A cup, a drinking vessel” p. 533. “The thing out of which one drinks” p. 510. From the above it is evident that the Lord took a literal cup, or drinking vessel. It is also significant that he took only one. Cup is used in the singular. This drinking vessel which Jesus used also contained something: “But I say unto you, I will not drink henceforth of this fruit of the vine, until that day when I drink it new with you in My Father’s kingdom,” Mt. 26:29. From this we see that the drinking vessel used by Jesus contained the fruit of the vine. Now the fruit of the vine in the cup, as some falsely reason. The cup Jesus took was a drinking vessel, a solid. In the cup (solid) there was fruit of the vine (liquid). What then, is the cup of the Lord? The cup of the Lord is a drinking vessel containing fruit of the vine, which is sanctified by prayer and thanksgiving.
For some time now there has been disagreement over the number of drinking vessels to be used in the distribution of the fruit of the vine. Some claim that the cup means nothing and therefore as many as desired can be Scripturally used. With this we disagree. We believe that the Bible proves conclusively that one cup should be used in each congregation of disciples. It is generally agreed that the Bible may teach a thing either by divine command, approved example, or necessary inference. It is usually conceded that a thing need be taught by only one of these ways for it to be binding upon us today. But, we shall endeavor to prove that the use of one cup in each congregation for the distribution of the fruit of the vine is taught not only by one, but by all three i.e. approved example, divine command, and necessary inference.
ONE CUP IS TAUGHT BY A BIBLICAL EXAMPLE
Jesus used one cup. ” And He took the, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it,” Mt. 26:27. The R.V. and A.S.V. render it “And He took a cup.”” And He took the cup; and when He had given thanks, He gave it to them; and they all drank of it, ” Mk. 14:23. The Emphatic Diaglott renders Mk. 14:23 ” They all drank out of it” that is, the cup. But notice again 1 Cor. 11:25 “After the same manner also He took the cup, when He had supposed, saying, This cup is the new testament in My blood; this do ye, as oft as ye drink it ,in remembrance of me.” Could language be plainer than this? Dear reader, could anyone read the above verses and by the farthest stretch of the imagination get more than one cup out of them? Certainly not. The example of our Lord is one cup containing fruit of the vine.
ONE CUP IS TAUGHT BY A DIRECT COMMAND
Mt. 26:27 “And He took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them saying, Drink ye all of it.”
Goodspeed’s translation says “Ye must all drink from it.” This is a plain simple command from Jesus to His Disciples. Did they understand? Let us see. Mk. 14:23 “and they all drank of it.” or ” they all drank from it” (Goodspeed). It is impossible to obey the Lord’s command when individual cups are used. You cannot drink from it when you use them.
In 1 Cor. 11:2 we read “Now I praise you, brethren, that ye remember me in all things, and keep the ordinances, as I delivered them to you.” In these few words the Apostle commands these brethren to keep the ordinances just as he delivered it to them. He is forbidding a change in the divinely appointed procedure. What is it Paul? Notice: “For I 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. . .” V. 25 ” And He also took the cup . . ” In short, what he says is this: “You brethren keep the ordinances like I delivered them to you, For what I delivered I received from the Lord- and, what I received from the Lord was: “He took the cup.”
Notice cup, not cups. I ask you can we obey Christ and use more than He or Paul authorized?
ONE CUP IS TAUGHT BY NECESSARY INFERENCE
Having already proved the use of one cup by example and command, we come now to our last point of proof, necessary inference. By this we mean that the scriptures necessarily infer the use of one cup. Let us notice: 1 Cor. 11:26 “For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup ye do shew the Lord’s death till He come.” The expression “drink this cup” is figurative. The figure of speech involved is metonymy. “Metonymy is a figure of speech in which the name of one object is used for that of another which it clearly suggests.” Such as, “container for the thing contained.” Tanner, Composition and Rhetoric. In other words we, “drink the cup” by drinking it contents. However, we cannot drink a cup unless there is a cup present, so when Paul said “drink this cup” he infers by his language that a cup is present. And we might add a real literal cup. If we wanted to suggest more than one cup we would say ” drink the cups.” It is significant however that Paul did not do this. Thus one cup is taught by necessary inference.
TO FOLLOW JESUS AND PAUL, I MUST USE ONLY ONE CUP
We now invite your attention to another series of arguments based upon the above proposition. Please notice carefully.
(1) Christ took one cup.
“And He took the cup” Mt. 26:27; “And He took the cup” Mk. 14:23; “Likewise also the cup after supper” Lk. 22:20; “After the same manner also He took the cup” 1 Cor. 11:25.
(2) He gave thanks for one cup.
“And he took the cup, and gave thanks” Mt. 26:27; “And He took the cup, and when he had given thanks” Mk. 14:23.
(3) We give thanks for one cup.
“The cup of blessing which we bless” 1 Cor. 10:16.
(4) Jesus gave one cup to His disciples.
“And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them” Mt. 26:26; “He gave it to them” Mk. 14:23.
(5) Jesus called the contents of the one cup His blood.
“This is my blood” Mt. 26:28; “This is my blood” Mk.14:24.
(6) Jesus commanded His assembled disciples to drink one of cup.
“And He took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it,” Mt. 26:27; “Drink from it” (Goodspeed).
(7) The disciples all obeyed and all drank of one cup.
“And He took the cup and when He had give thanks, He gave it to them and they all drank of it” Mk. 14:23 or they all drank from it” or they all drank out of it.”
(8) The communicants of an assembly are admonished to drink of one cup.
“But let a man examine himself, and so let lim eat of that bread and drink of that cup” 1 Cor.. 11:28.
From the above arguments it is evident that if I follow the Bible only, I will use only one cup, in the observance of the Lord’s Supper. Since, however, there is disagreement over these issues we feel it only right that we notice some objections.
As is usually the case with controverted subjects, there are always objections raised by the opposition. While we feel that many of these are not even worthy of consideration we will mention just a few.
“DIVIDE IT AMONG YOURSELVES.”
In Luke 22:17 Jesus said, “:And He took the cup, and gave thanks, and said Take this, and divide it among yourselves.” Some after reading this say that we are at liberty as to how this dividing is done . And, they continue, since Christ couldn’t divide a literal cup, it is all right to use individual cups. They seemingly forget that when Jesus said “divide it” He had reference to the contents of the cup. And that the language involved is a metonymy. How did they actually divide the cup? Let the Bible answer it. “The all drank of it” Mk. 14:23. The dividing was done, by each disciple drinking out of the one cup, and in no other way. We divide a cup by sharing its contents. However, this argument does those who use individual cups no good at all, for they themselves fail to practice it. Each communicant has nothing to do with the division of the cup as they claim it should be. Before they ever get to church someone squirts a little grape juice into some containers and all is prepared before they ever arrive. So why the objection?
THE CUP CHRIST USED
In a vain attempt to discredit the use of one cup, many contend that we must use the very cup Christ used. This is not true for several reasons. Their contention is that if we are going to use one cup because Christ did then we must use the same cup he did. However, they use bread and the fruit of the vine because He did but don’t insist on using the same bread and fruit of the vine. Although we cannot use the same bread and fruit of the vine that Christ used, we can use some bread and fruit of the vine for the same purpose. Likewise, while we cannot use the original cup that he used we can use another one for the same purpose.
Some claim that one cup is unsanitary. They say, “I wouldn’t want to drink after that person” etc. etc. Others are afraid that they would catch some terrible disease. It seems to me that if more people were concerned about the will of God than catching a disease the world be better off. And besides this, surely Jesus knew what He was doing when He instituted the communion. Had there been any danger involved in using one cup He would have done differently. However, for those who are concerned about sanitation we include the following from The Pathfinder Magazine, Washington, D.C., March 20, 1944:
“Sacred tradition of the common communion cup which dates back to the ‘upper’, 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.”
From the above it can be seen that even aside from the scriptures the sanitation argument has no foundation.