How could early church practice enrich your Lord’s Supper observances? Consider making the Agapé an integral part of it. The first century church celebrated the Lord’s Supper in conjunction with the Love Feast. This holy meal was a wonderful time of edification through fellowship and a vivid reminder of Jesus’ promise to come back and eat it again with us.

 

The Purposes

The elements in communion look back to Jesus’ death on the cross to pay for sin. The Agapé adds a forward look. When celebrated as a feast in a joyful wedding atmosphere, the Lord’s Supper typifies the wedding supper of the Lamb. It is a regular reminder of Jesus’ promise to return and eat it with us. A major benefit of celebrating the Lord’s Supper as a holy banquet is the fellowship and encouragement experienced by each member of Christ’s body. This relaxed unhurried fellowship meal with God’s family is a significant means of edifying the Church, building community and cementing ties of love.

 

The Proof

The setting of the first Lord’s Supper was the Passover Feast. Jesus and His disciples reclined around a table abundant with food (Ex 12, De 16). During the course of the meal (“while they were eating,” Mt 26:26), Jesus took a loaf and compared it to his body. Then, “after the supper” (Lk 22:20), He took the cup and compared it to his blood, soon to be poured out for sin. Timing is everything. The bread and wine of the Lord’s Supper were introduced in the context of an actual meal. As with Passover, the Twelve would have understood the bread and wine of the Lord’s Supper to also be part of an actual meal. The Greek for “supper”, deipnon, means dinner or banquet, the main meal toward evening.[1] It arguably never refers to anything less than a full meal. That the authors of the New Testament chose deipnon to refer to the Lord’s “Supper” suggests they understood it to be a full meal.

At the Last Supper, Jesus promised the disciples they would be eating and drinking in the coming kingdom: “I confer on you a kingdom . . . so that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom” (Lk 22:29-30). Why eschatological eating? First century Jews thought of heaven as a time of feasting at Messiah’s table. For instance, a Jewish leader once said to Jesus, “Blessed is everyone who will eat bread in the kingdom of God!” (Lk 14:15). Jesus Himself spoke of those who will “take their places at the feast with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven” (Mt 8:11).[2]

Isaiah described the coming kingdom feast this way: “the LORD of hosts will make for all peoples a feast of rich food, a feast of well-aged wine, of rich food full of marrow, of aged wine well refined . . . He will swallow up death forever; and the Lord GOD will wipe away tears from all faces, and the reproach of his people he will take away from all the earth, for the LORD has spoken” (Isa 25:6-8). The book of Revelation describes a future time of feasting at the wedding banquet of the Lamb (Re 19:9).

The early church observed the Lord’s Supper as a true meal along with the bread and cup. It is important to appreciate why the Lord’s Supper was originally an actual meal. It is a picture and foretaste of what we will be doing when Jesus returns to eat it again with us. What better way to typify the marriage banquet of the Lamb than with a meal manifesting all of the excitement, fellowship, and love that the heavenly banquet will have?

The most extensive treatment of the Lord’s Supper is found in 1 Corinthians 10-11. The church in Corinth clearly celebrated it as an actual meal. However, class and cultural divisions resulted in their communion meetings doing more harm than good (11:17-18). The upper class, not wanting to dine with those of a lower social class, evidently came to the gathering early to avoid the poor. By the time the working class believers arrived, delayed perhaps by employment constraints, all the food had been eaten. The poor went home hungry (11:21-22). The wealthy failed to esteem their impoverished brethren as equal members of the body of Christ (11:23-32).

The Corinthian abuses were so serious that what was supposed to be the Lord’s Supper had instead become their own supper: “When you come together, it is not the Lord’s supper that you eat. For in eating, each one goes ahead with his own meal” (11:20-21). If merely eating one’s own supper were the entire objective, then private dining at home would be sufficient. Thus Paul asked the rich, “Do you not have houses to eat and drink in?” (11:22). However, from the nature of the abuse, it is evident that the Corinthian church regularly partook of the Lord’s Supper as a full meal.

It has been suggested that abuses in Corinth led Paul to put an end to the meal. For instance, the original commentary in the Geneva Bible of 1599 states, “The Apostle thinketh it good to take away the love feasts, for their abuse, although they had been a long time, and with commendation used in Churches, and were appointed and instituted by the Apostles.”[3] To this we wonder, would Paul single handedly overturn something established by Jesus Himself, taught by the other apostles and practiced in all the churches? Though in humble disagreement with those who penned the commentary, their acknowledgement that the Lord’s Supper and the love feast were celebrated together and instituted by the apostles is appreciated.

It has been said that the best antidote to abuse is not disuse, but proper use. Paul’s solution to Corinthian abuse was not to do away with the meal. Instead Paul wrote, “when you come together to eat, wait for each other” (11:33). Only those so famished they could not wait for the others are instructed to “eat at home” (1Co 11:34). Commentator C.K. Barrett cautioned, “Paul’s point is that, if the rich wish to eat and drink on their own, enjoying better food than their poorer brothers, they should do this at home; if they cannot wait for others (verse 33), if they must indulge to excess, they can at least keep the church’s common meal free from practices that can only bring discredit upon it . . . Paul simply means that those who are so hungry that they cannot wait for their brothers should satisfy their hunger before they leave home, in order that decency and order may prevail in the assembly.”[4]

In summary, it is clear from Scripture that in the early church the bread and wine of the Lord’s Supper were partaken of in the context of a holy feast. Communion was not only with the Lord through the elements but also with each other through the meal. This early church practice builds community and unity, edifies the church and typifies the coming eschatological feast. Celebrating the Lord’s Supper as an actual meal is like the rehearsal dinner for a great wedding feast the next day.

 

The Professors

The opinion of scholars is clearly weighted toward the conclusion that the Lord’s Supper was originally eaten as a full meal. For example, in his massive work New Testament Theology, Donald Guthrie stated that the apostle Paul “sets the Lord’s supper in the context of the fellowship meal.”[5] Gordon Fee, editor of the notable evangelical commentary series, the New International Commentary on the New Testament, pointed out “the nearly universal phenomenon of cultic meals as a part of worship in antiquity” and “the fact that in the early church the Lord’s Supper was most likely eaten as, or in conjunction with, such a meal.” Fee further noted that, “from the beginning the Last Supper was for Christians not an annual Christian Passover, but a regularly repeated meal in ‘honor of the Lord,’ hence the Lord’s Supper.”[6]

  1. W. Grogan, writing for the New Bible Dictionary, observed, “the administration of the Eucharist shows it set in the context of a fellowship supper . . . The separation of the meal or Agape from the Eucharist lies outside the times of the NT.”[7] In his commentary on 1 Corinthians, C. K. Barrett made the observation that “the Lord’s Supper was still at Corinth an ordinary meal to which acts of symbolical significance were attached, rather than a purely symbolical meal.”[8]

        According to Dr. John Gooch, editor at the United Methodist Publishing House, “In the first century, the Lord’s Supper included not only the bread and the cup but an entire meal.”[9] Yale professor J.J. Pelikan concluded, “often, if not always, it [the Lord’s Supper] was celebrated in the setting of a common meal.”[10]

 

The Prospective: A Future Focus

According to Fritz Reinecker, “The Passover celebrated two events, the deliverance from Egypt and the anticipated coming Messianic deliverance.”[11] It had both backward and forward looking aspects. When Jesus turned the Passover Feast into the Lord’s Supper, He also gave it both backward and forward looking aspects. It looks back to Jesus’ sacrifice as the ultimate Passover Lamb, delivering His people from their sins. It looks forward to the time Jesus will come and eat it again with us. The Baptist Faith and Message of 2000 says, “The Lord’s Supper is a symbolic act of obedience whereby members of the church, through partaking of the bread and the fruit of the vine, memorialize the death of the Redeemer and anticipate His second coming” (italics mine).[12]

R.P. Martin, Professor of New Testament at Fuller Theological Seminary, wrote that there are “eschatological overtones” to the Lord’s Supper “with a forward look to the advent in glory.”[13] The future kingdom of God was much on the Lord’s mind during the Last Supper. Jesus first mentioned the future at the beginning of the Passover: “I will not eat it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God” (Lk 22:16). “Until” (heos hutou) is a forward looking word. Jesus’ use of the word “fulfilled” suggests there is something prophetic about it.

Jesus mentioned the future a second time when passing the cup: “from now on I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes” (Lk 22:18). Every time we partake of the cup, Jesus’ promise to return and drink it again with us at the wedding banquet of the Lamb should be brought to mind. After the supper He referred to the future a third time, saying, “I confer on you a kingdom . . . so that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom” (Lk 22:29-30).

Thus we see Jesus gave the Lord’s Supper numerous forward looking aspects. As a full meal, it prefigures the marriage supper of the Lamb. When we partake of the cup we should be reminded of His words, “I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes” (Lk 22:18). The Encyclopaedia Britannica declared that “early Christianity regarded this institution as a mandate . . . learning to know, even in this present life, the joys of the heavenly banquet that was to come in the kingdom of God . . . the past, the present, and the future came together in the Eucharist.”[14]

The word until normally denotes a time frame. For example, an umbrella is used until it stops raining. Then it is put away. Using the umbrella does not cause the rain to stop. However, this is not how until is used in 1 Corinthians 11:26, which states that in the Lord’s Supper we proclaim the Lord’s death “until” He comes. In this case, Paul’s statement has more to do with why we proclaim it. The Greek behind until is unusual (achri hou). Conservative German theology professor Fritz Rienecker pointed out that as it is used here (with an aorist subjunctive verb), it denotes much more than a mere time frame; grammatically it can denote a goal or an objective.[15] It is as if Paul stated that using an umbrella played a role in causing the rain to stop.

In The Eucharistic Words of Jesus, it is argued that the Greek underlying “until” (achri hou, 1Co 11:26) is not simply a temporal reference, but functions as a kind of final clause. That is, the meal’s function is as a constant reminder to God to bring about the Second Coming.[16] Paul was instructing the church to partake of the bread and cup as a means of proclaiming the Lord’s death with the goal of His return. Thus, in proclaiming His death through the loaf and cup, the Supper looked forward to and anticipated His return.

According to professor Herman Ridderbos, “It is not merely a subjective recalling to mind, but an active manifestation of the continuing and actual significance of the death of Christ. ‘Proclaim’ in this respect has a prophetic, declaratory significance . . . Everything is directed not only toward the past, but also toward the future. It is the proclamation that in the death of Christ the new and eternal covenant of grace has taken effect, if still in a provisional and not yet consummated sense.”[17]

It is interesting that the earliest believers, in Didache x. 6, used maran atha (“Our Lord, come”) as a prayer in connection with the Lord’s Supper, “a context at once eucharistic and eschatological.”[18] Linking this back to the situation in Corinth, Dr. R. P. Martin writes, “Maranatha in 1 Cor. 16:22 may very well be placed in a eucharistic setting so that the conclusion of the letter ends with the invocation ‘Our Lord, come!’ and prepares the scene for the celebration of the meal after the letter has been read to the congregation.”[19]

 

Function # 1 — Fellowship

In ancient Jewish thought, eating with someone symbolized acceptance and fellowship. Thus, in Revelation 3:20, Jesus offered “eat” (deipneo) with anyone who heard His voice and opened the door. One of the major blessings of celebrating the Lord’s Supper as an actual feast is the genuine fellowship everyone enjoys. This fellowship in feasting theme is evident in the book of Acts. A casual reading of Acts 2:42 suggests the church was devoted to four things: the apostles teaching, fellowship, the breaking of bread, and prayer. However, a closer examination reveals there were only three things to which they were devoted: teaching, fellowship in the breaking of bread, and prayer. (In Greek the words “fellowship” and “breaking of bread” are linked together as simultaneous activities.)[20] It was F.F. Bruce’s position that the fellowship of Acts 2:42 was expressed practically in the breaking of bread.[21] They had fellowship with one another as they broke bread together. Luke further informs us that this eating was done with “glad and sincere hearts” (2:46). Sounds inviting, doesn’t it?

Many churches observe the Lord’s Supper with a funeral atmosphere. An organ softly plays reflective music. Every head is bowed and every eye closed as people quietly and introspectively search their souls for unconfessed sin. Down front, the elements are laid out on a rectangular table, covered by a white cloth, almost like a casket at a funeral. Somber deacons, like pall bearers, distribute the elements.

Dutch theologian Karl Deddens noticed that “Under the influence of pietism and mysticism, a sense of ‘unworthiness’ is awakened within them, and they become afraid that they may be ‘eating and drinking judgment unto themselves.’ As for those who were still bold enough to go to the table of the Lord, their faces suggest that a funeral is under way rather than a celebration.”[22] Is this really in keeping with the tradition of the apostles concerning the Supper?

It was the unworthy manner that Paul criticized (1Co 11:27), not the unworthy people. The unworthy manner consisted in drunkenness at the table of the Lord, in not eating together and in causing the poor to go home hungry and humiliated. This failure of the rich to recognize the body of the Lord in their poorer brethren resulted in divine judgment: many of them were sick, and a number had even died (1Co 11:27-32). Indeed, every person ought to examine himself before arriving to be sure he is not guilty of the same gross sin — failing to recognize the body of the Lord in one’s fellow believers (1Co 11:28-29). Once we have each judged ourselves, we can come to the meal without fear of judgment and enjoy the fellowship of the Lord’s Supper as the true wedding banquet it is intended to be.

Commentaries often associate the Lord’s Supper with the phrase “breaking of bread” throughout the book of Acts. This is because Luke, who wrote Acts, recorded in his gospel that Jesus took bread and broke it at the last supper (Lk 22:19). If this conclusion is accurate, it means the early church enjoyed the Lord’s Supper as a time of fellowship and gladness, just like one would enjoy at a wedding banquet. F.F. Bruce held that the phrase “breaking of bread” denotes “something more than the ordinary partaking of food together: the regular observance of the Lord’s Supper is no doubt indicated . . . this observance appears to have formed the part of an ordinary meal.”[23]

A middle-aged man, new in Christ and to church, sat through a number of traditional Sunday services. Finally he said, “I see people greet each other just before the service. As soon as it ends they hug good-bye and quickly head home. I’m not getting to know anyone. What is the Christian equivalent of the neighborhood bar?”[24] Celebrating the Lord’s Supper weekly as a relaxed fellowship meal is the biblical answer to his question. We all desire church relationships that are genuine and meaningful, not just a friendly church but a church where our friends are with us. The Lord’s Supper can help make this a reality.

To get the most out of the fellowship aspect of the holy meal, it should be celebrated often. Early believers ate the Lord’s Supper weekly as one of the main purposes for their coming together as a church every Lord’s Day. The Encyclopaedia Britannica judged the Lord’s Supper to be “the central rite of Christian worship” and “has been an indispensable component of the Christian service since the earliest days of the church.”[25]

The first evidence of weekly communion is grammatical. To Christians, Sunday is the “Lord’s Day” (Re 1:10), the day Jesus rose from the dead. This translates unique technical wording in the Greek (kuriakon hemeran). It is literally “the day belonging to the Lord.” The words “belonging to the Lord” are from kuriakos, found in the New Testament only in Revelation 1:10 and in 1 Corinthians 11:20, where it to refers to the Supper “belonging to the Lord” (kuriakon deipnon). The connection between these two identical and unusual grammatical uses must not be missed. The supper belonging to the Lord was eaten every week on the day belonging to the Lord. The Lord’s Day, and the Lord’s Supper go together as a package deal once a week.

More evidence for the weekly celebration of the Lord’s Supper is found in the only clear reason ever given in Scripture for the regular purpose of a church meeting: To eat the Lord’s Supper. In Acts 20:7, Luke informs, “On the first day of the week we came together to break bread.” The words “to break bread” in Acts 20:7 are known as a telic infinitive denoting a purpose or objective. They met in order to break bread. Their meeting was a feasting!

Another place the New Testament states the purpose for a church gathering is 1 Corinthians 11:17-22. Their “meetings” (11:17) were doing more harm than good because when they came “together as a church” (11:18a) they had deep divisions. Thus Paul wrote, “when you come together, it is not the Lord’s Supper you eat” (11:20). From this it is obvious that the reason for their weekly church meetings was to eat the Lord’s Supper.

The third and last reference to the explicitly stated reason for an assembly is found in 1 Corinthians 11:33, “When you come together to eat, wait for each other” (italics mine). As before, it states the reason they came together was to eat. Lest this appear to be making much out of little, it must be realized that no other reason is ever given in the Scriptures as to the purpose of a regular, weekly church meeting. It is obvious from Scripture that they also had times of worship and teaching each Sunday, but the driving focus of the gathering was communion.

Several early extra-biblical sources indicate the church celebrated the Lord’s Supper weekly. One is Justin Martyr’s First Apology, written in the middle of the second century. Another is the Didache. Around A.D. 200 Hippolytus wrote of a typical worship service at Rome, which included the Lord’s Supper. The New Testament church practice of celebrating the Holy Meal weekly continues on in Orthodoxy and Catholicism. Protestant thinker John Calvin also advocated weekly communion.[26]

Dutch Reformed theologian Dr. K. Deddens wrote, “If the Lord’s Supper were celebrated more often, we should not view such a change as an accommodation to ‘sacramentalists’ who wish to place less emphasis on the service of the Word; rather, we should view it as an execution of Christ’s command. . . . There are some people who say: ‘But the congregation is not asking for more frequent communion!’ This may be true, but such a consideration is not determinative.”[27] The fellowship and encouragement that each member enjoys in such a weekly gathering is tremendous. This aspect of the church’s Sunday meeting should not be rushed or replaced. It is also important to be devoted to the apostle’s teaching and prayer, but not at the expense of the weekly Lord’s Supper. Celebrating the Holy Meal weekly adds a dynamic to church meetings that cannot be equaled.

 

Function #2 —Unity

Celebrating the Lord’s Supper each week as a fellowship meal goes a long way in building unity. Also important is the appearance of the elements. Mention is made in Scripture of the cup of thanksgiving (a single cup, 1Co 10:16) and of only one loaf: “Because there is one loaf, we, who are many, are one body, for we all partake of the one loaf” (1Co 10:17).[28] Using one cup and one loaf pictures that we are one in Christ. The imagery of broken cracker crumbs and multiple cups is that of disunity, division, and individuality. The bread and wine not only remind of Jesus’ body and blood, but also of our oneness in Christ.

The one loaf not only pictures our unity in Christ, but according to 1 Corinthians 10:17 it even creates unity! Notice carefully the wording of the inspired text.  “Because” there is one loaf, therefore we are one body, “for” we all partake of the one loaf (1Co 10:17). One scholar wrote that Lord’s Supper was “intended as means of fostering the unity of the church . . .”[29] Professor Gerd Theissen said, “Because all have eaten portions of the same elementthey have become a unity in which they have come as close to one another as members of the same body, as if the bodily boundaries between and among people had been transcended.”[30] In their commentary on Corinthians, Robertson and Plummer concluded, “The single loaf is a symbol and an instrument of unity.”[31] Gordon Fee wrote of the “solidarity of the fellowship of believers created by their all sharing ‘the one loaf.’ ”[32]

Some in Corinth were guilty of taking the Lord’s Supper in an unworthy manner (1Co 11:27). The shameful class divisions cut at the heart of the unity the Lord’s Supper is designed to symbolize. What was Paul’s solution to the harmful meetings? “So then, my brothers, when you come together to eat, wait for each other” (1Co 11:33). Part of the reason the Corinthians were not unified is precisely because they failed to eat the Lord’s Supper together, as an actual meal, centered around the one cup and one loaf.

In the Lord’s Supper we practically express our Oneness in Christ. Jesus prayed “that they may be one even as we are one.” This basic key practice reflects the big eternal picture of the Church and Christianity: “There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all” (Ep 4:4-6).

 

 

Function #3 — A Reminder

In the covenant God made with Noah He promised never to destroy the earth by flood again. The rainbow is certainly designed to remind us of this promise, but God also declared, “whenever the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and all living creatures of every kind on the earth” (Ge 9:16, italics mine). Wayne Grudem has pointed out how the Bible “frequently speaks of God ‘remembering’ something and therefore I do not think it inappropriate or inconsistent for us to speak this way when we want to refer to God’s awareness of events that have happened in our past, events he recognizes as already having occurred and therefore as being ‘past.’ “[33] God remembers covenant promises.

In His covenant with Abraham, God promised to bring the Israelites out of Egyptian slavery. Accordingly at the appointed time, “God heard their groaning, and God remembered his covenant with Abraham” (Ex 2:24, italics mine). God remembers covenant promises.

During the Babylonian captivity, God promised the Jews, “I will remember my covenant with you” (at Mount Sinai; Eze 16:60, italics mine). God remembers covenant promises.

The Lord’s Supper is the sign of the new covenant. The fruit of the vine symbolizes the “blood of the covenant” (Mt 26:28). The bread symbolizes Jesus body. The purpose of any covenant sign is as a reminder of covenant promises. Thus Jesus said we are to partake of the bread “in remembrance of Me” (Lk 22:19). The bread and wine bring to our remembrance Jesus’ body and blood given for us.

As we have already seen, God also remembers covenant promises. Another very significant function of the Lord’s Supper may be as a reminder to Jesus Himself of His covenant promise to return.[34] The Greek for “remembrance,” anamnesis, simply means “reminder.” Jesus literally said, “do this unto my reminder.” A reminder can remind about something that already happened in the past or that is supposed to happen in the future. Translating ananmesis as “remembrance” leads us to think only of Jesus’ past sacrifice on the cross. However, if anamnesis is translated more simply as reminder, it could be understood to refer to the something in the past (Jesus’ death on the cross) and in the future (Jesus’ promise to return).

Is the reminder primarily for Jesus’ benefit or ours? The word “my” in “my reminder” translates emou. More than a mere personal pronoun, it is a possessive pronoun. This suggests the reminder is not simply about Jesus, it actually belongs to Jesus. It is His reminder. Lutheran theologian Joachim Jeremias understood Jesus to use anamnesis in the sense of a reminder for God, “The Lord’s Supper would thus be an enacted prayer.”[35] Just as seeing the rainbow reminds God of His covenant promise never to flood the world again, so too when Jesus sees us partake of the Lord’s Supper it reminds Him of His promise to return and eat it again with us (Lk 22:16, 18). Understood in this light, it is designed to be like a prayer asking Jesus to return (“Thy kingdom come,” Lk 11:2).  God remembers covenant promises.

In summary, when we partake of the bread and wine, we should be reminded of Jesus’ body and blood, given for the remission of sin. Along with Jesus, we should also be reminded of His promise to come back and eat it again with us! Celebrating the sign of the new covenant is an acted out prayer for Jesus to return.  Maranatha!

 

Proposition

As was demonstrated above, there is general agreement within the scholarly circles that the early church celebrated the Lord’s Supper as a genuine meal. Sadly, the post-apostolic church has had no use for this practice. According to Dr. Williston Walker, well respected professor of church history at Yale, “by the time Justin Martyr wrote his Apology in Rome (153), the common meal had disappeared, and the Supper was joined with the assembly for preaching, as a concluding sacrament.”[36]

The church of history has at various points and for a time deviated from New Testament patterns. For instance, believer’s baptism by immersion was essentially unheard of within Christendom for well over a millennia. Yet since the time of the Reformation this long neglected apostolic tradition is again widely practiced. Another example can be found in the separation of church and state, a New Testament example that was disregarded in European church history as the sword of the state was welded to the cross. Today, however, most believers again hold to the separation of the two. The church may be missing a tremendous blessing in neglecting the practice of the early church regarding the Lord’s Supper. Since this was the practice of the early church, should we not follow their example?

  • The Lord’s Supper was the primary purpose for which the New Testament church gathered each Lord’s Day.
  • It was celebrated as a feast, in a joyful, wedding atmosphere rather than in a somber, funeral atmosphere.
  • A major benefit of the Supper as a banquet is the fellowship and encouragement each member experiences.
  • Eaten as a banquet, the Supper typifies the marriage supper of the Lamb and has a forward looking component.
  • Within the context of this full meal, there is to be one cup and one loaf to symbolize the unity of a body of believers.
  • The bread and wine symbolize of Jesus’ body and blood. They also serve as reminders of Jesus’ His promise to return and eat it again us (Amen. Come quickly, Lord Jesus!).

For practical ideas on celebrating the Lord’ Supper as a holy meal click here.

Discussion Questions

  1. What is the scholarly consensus as to how the early church celebrated the Lord’s Supper? Why does this consensus matter?
  2. How was the original focus of the Lord’s Supper both past looking and forward looking?
  3. If Acts 2:42-47 refers to the Lord’s Supper, how would you describe their mood?
  4. What theological reason did Paul give for using a single loaf in the Lord’s Supper?
  5. What indicators are there in 1 Corinthians 11:17-22 that the Lord’s Supper was eaten as an actual meal?
  6. Why does the word “until” in 1 Corinthians 11:26 indicate purpose and not merely duration?
  7. What “unworthy manner” made some in Corinth guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord (1Co 11:27)? How should this impact us today?
  8. What, in 1 Corinthians 11:33-34, was the inspired solution to abuse of the Lord’s Supper?
  9. What is the only reason ever given in the New Testament as to why the early church came together each Lord’s Day? What evidence is there as to the frequency with which the early church ate the Lord’s Supper?
  10. What blessings might a church miss by not celebrating the Lord’s Supper as an actual holy meal?

 

[1] Bauer, Arndt, Gingrich, Danker, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament (Chicago, IL:  University of Chicago Press, 1979) p. 173; (used in 1 Corinthians 11:20).

[2] This picture of heaven as dining in God’s presence may have originated in the Sinai experience. The elders of Israel went with Moses up to the top of the mountain. Moses noted that “God did not raise his hand against these leaders of the Israelites.” Instead, “they saw God, and they ate and drank” (Ex 24:11).

[3] 1599 Geneva Bible (White Hall, WV:  Telle Lege Press, 2006), p. 1180.

[4] C. K. Barrett, The Fist Epistle to The Corinthians, Black’s New Testament Commentary, (Peabody, MA:  Hendrickson Publishers, 1968), p. 263 & 277.

[5] Donald Guthrie, New Testament Theology (Downers Grove, IL:  Inter-Varsity Press, 1981), p. 758.

[6] Gordon Fee, The First Epistle to The Corinthians, New International Commentary on the New Testament, (Grand Rapids, MI:  Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1987), p. 532 & 555.

[7] G. W. Grogan, “Love Feast,” The New Bible Dictionary, ed. J. D. Douglas, (Wheaton, IL:  Tyndale House Publishers, 1982), p. 712.

[8] C. K. Barrett, The Fist Epistle to The Corinthians, Black’s New Testament Commentary, (Peabody, MA:  Hendrickson Publishers, 1968), p. 276.

[9] John Gooch, Christian History & Biography, Issue 37 (Carol Stream, IL:  Christianity Today) p. 3.

[10] Jaroslav Pelikan, “Eucharist,” Encyclopaedia Britannica, ed. Warren Preece, Vol. 8 (Chicago:  William Benton, Publisher, 1973), p. 808.

[11] Fritz Reinecker & Cleon Rogers, Linguistic Key to the Greek New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI:  Zondervan, 1980), p. 207.

[12] “The Baptist Faith and Message”, sbc.net, accessed September 6, 2016.

[13] R. P. Martin, “The Lord’s Supper,” The New Bible Dictionary, ed. J. D. Douglas (Wheaton, IL:  Tyndale House Publishers, 1982), p. 709.

[14] Pelikan, p. 808.

[15] Reinecker, p. 427.  Other instances of this construction in eschatological passages include Luke 21:24, Romans 11:25 and 1 Corinthians 15:25.

[16] Joachim Jeremias, The Eucharistic Words of Jesus (New York, NY:  Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1966), p. 252-254.

[17] Herman Ridderbos, Paul: An Outline of His Theology, translated by John R. deWitt (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1975), p. 422.

[18] Barrett, p. 397.

[19] Martin, p. 709.

[20] In many English versions there is an “and” between “teaching” and “fellowship,” then between “bread” and “prayer,” but not between “fellowship” and “bread” (Ac 2:42). This is because in some Greek manuscripts the words “fellowship” and “breaking of bread” are linked together as simultaneous activities (no kai between fellowship and the breaking of bread).

[21] F. F. Bruce, Acts of The Apostles (Grand Rapids, MI:  Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1981) p. 79.

[22] Karl Deddens, Where Everything Points to Him, translated by Theodore Plantinga (Neerlandia, AB: Inheritance Publications, 1993), p. 93.

[23] Bruce, p. 79.

[24] Conversation with the author, mid-1980s.

[25] Pelikan, p. 807.

[26] David Koyzis, “The Lord’s Supper: How Often?”, www.reformedworship.org, accessed September 1, 2016.

[27] Deddens, p. 93.

[28] NIV.

[29] Jaroslav Jan Pelikan, “Eucharist,” Encyclopaedia Britannica, ed. Warren Preece, Vol. 8 (Chicago:  William Benton Publisher, 1973), p. 807.

[30] Gerd Theissen, The Social Setting of Pauline Christianity: Essays on Corinth (Eugene, OR: Wipf & Stock Publishers, 1982), p. 165.

[31] Robertson & Plummer, The International Critical Commentary on the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments, 1 Corinthians (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1911), p. 213.

[32] Gordon Fee, The New International Commentary On The New Testament, 1 Corinthians (Grand Rapids: Wm. B Eerdman’s, 2014), p. 515.

[33] Wayne Grudem, “The Nature Of Divine Eternity, A Response to William Craig,” WayneGrudem.com, accessed September 03, 2016.

[34] Statements about God remembering or being reminded are of course anthropomorphic. Our omniscient God neither forgets nor needs reminding.

[35] Colin Brown, New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology, Vol. III (Grand Rapids, MI:  Zondervan, 1981) p. 244.

[36] Walker, p. 38.