|The Lord's Supper; The Love Feast & Remembrance|
The Supper is an ordinance for Christians to enjoy/obey when assembled (1 Corinthians 11:2; 5:6-8) and is associated with the following titles:
It is this author's opinion that the Lord's Supper is one of the top-five most misunderstood and abused topics in Scripture. The modern observance of the Supper has become a solemn time of reflecting with a small wafer and thimble of wine/grape juice. It has become a time of extreme ritualism throughout "Christendom".
To speak plainly, most Christians do not enjoy its observance but go through the motions of the ritualism just like putting on a pair of shoes - its just what you do. However, this is NOT the way the early church observed the Supper. It was not a solemn ritual but was an actual meal; hence, a SUPPER. The "breaking bread" happened while eating the Supper, it was NOT the Supper itself. Almost all scholars agree that the early church enjoyed a feast/supper with the "thanksgiving".
The Thanksgiving Supper was partaken by all believers and is supposed to be the central part of the meeting commemorating the blood covenant Christ enjoined with believers. The Supper is predicated on the Passover meal (Luke 22:15) which Christ enjoyed while "breaking bread". Let's take a look at the passages:
Matthew 26:26, "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."
This "remembrance" was taken "as they were eating". Why would we think it strange that we should partake of the remembrance while eating as well?
Luke 22:19-20, "...Likewise also the cup after supper, saying, This cup [is] the new testament in my blood..."
The cup (fruit of the vine) was taken "after supper".
Acts 2:42-47, "...breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart,"
Due to the sheer number of people that were saved in Jerusalem, there was no single place for them to "break bread" so they did it from "house to house". It appears that the early church broke bread on a daily basis and encompassed eating..
Acts 20:7-12, "And upon the first [day] of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul preached unto them... broken bread, and eaten..."
First and foremost, notice the importance of the Supper - they "came together TO break bread"! In most churches today we "come together to sing 5 songs, take up an offering, and listen to a 30 minute sermon". The church did not come together to hear a sermon, but to "break bread". The visiting apostle Paul took the opportunity of the assembled body for an interactive discussion (dialegomai, where we get our word 'dialogue'). Should we as believers not take heed to this example, the way the church was instituted?
Galatians 2:12-14, "For before that certain came from James, he did eat with the Gentiles: but when they were come, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing them which were of the circumcision... But when I saw that they walked not uprightly according to the truth of the gospel..."
It appears that Paul's dissension with Peter was similar to that of the Corinthians. Peter "perverted" the gospel by partaking of the Supper in disunity. We are to "eat the feast" in unity, without cliques/sects/heresies/social classes as the gospel is not a respecter of persons. The entire meeting, starting with the love-feast, is designed to be inclusive, not exclusive.
1 Corinthians 5:6-11, "...Christ our passover is sacrificed for us: Therefore let us keep the feast... I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat."
The only exception to the inclusiveness of the love feast is when a so-called believer is unrepentant in his sin. Partaking of the symbolic "bread of life" and "blood of Christ" with unrepentant sin is a mockery and therefore inexcusable. This was exactly the case with the Jewish Passover feast (Exodus 12:14-20; 13:10) upon which our Supper is based.
1 Corinthians 10:16-22, "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? ...partakers of the Lord's table..."
The word "communion" is the Greek word koinōnia which means 'fellowship' as is it is so translated in Acts 2:42. (We are also told that we can fellowship/commune with the Holy Ghost [2 Corinthians 13:14]). It is generally agreed that the believers each brought food, as their means allowed (a potluck), and placed it on a table ("the Lord's table"). Centrally located on that table was the loaf and wine to be used in the Remembrance after the meal. Once the body had all arrived, they were to equally eat and fellowship around the table as the Lord equally saved every member of the body. This time of fellowship encouraged Christian love and brotherhood.
1 Corinthians 11:2, 17-34, "...For first of all, when ye come together in the church, I hear that there be divisions among you; and I partly believe it... When ye come together therefore into one place, [this] is not to eat the Lord's supper. For in eating every one of taketh before [other] his own supper: and one is hungry, and another is drunken... when ye come together to eat, tarry one for another..."
The Lord's Supper is an ordinance. Paul is here condemning the Corinthians for making the "Lord's Supper" their "own supper". Instead of eating the Supper with the Lord's body, the affluent were eating ahead of the poorer brethren, "shaming them that have not" and causing "divisions". Paul is clear, if you are so hungry that you cannot wait for the rest of the body, eat at home.
The affluent were causing heresies/sects by keeping to the class distinctions found outside the church. This is absolutely unacceptable in the meetings, especially when eating the love feast. For those partaking of the Supper self-indulgently, disgracing unity, may lose their health or life (11:30) as well as their inheritance (Galatians 5:20; heresies). Although we are not told to have "all things common" outside the assembly (as the Jerusalem converts in Acts 2-7), we are to have "all things common" inside the assembly.
2 Peter 2:13, "And shall receive the reward of unrighteousness, [as] they that count it pleasure to riot in the day time. Spots [they are] and blemishes, sporting themselves with their own deceivings while they feast with you;"
Amongst other things, these false teachers marred the love feast by eating it without regard to their gross sin.
Jude 12, "These are spots in your feasts of charity, when they feast with you..."
This is the biblical reference to the "love feast", or "agape feast" by full title. The love feast encompassed more than just food and the remembrance, it also encompassed table fellowship. This table fellowship is aptly called a love feast because it bonds the brethren. Notice also that "when they feast with you" undoubtedly confirms a jointly-held meal.
The feast was stripped from the Thanksgiving in the second and third centuries, and virtually received a nail in the coffin when believers started meeting in temples/church buildings (fourth century). Contemporary "church buildings" are ecclesiastical in their arrangement pointing to a central figure(s) around which the service revolves. This arrangement, and the stripping of the Supper, has robbed the meetings of mutual edification, "every member functioning", and arguably the centrality of Christ.*
Basic Thoughts & Outline: This author is not dogmatic that the following 'timeline' be followed exactly as listed as the Spirit should lead each meeting individually. Whenever a meeting starts scripting their 'services', they script the Spirit's leading right on out of it. It would be best for the body to plan for the tone of the next meeting, not the details. However, this is the outline gleaned from the above ten passages (in their contexts) and 1 Corinthians 11-14 in particular:
Considerations: Let us consider a few points of application:
Benefits: The benefits of communion are too many for this writer to fully grasp. However, we have listed a few below:
* Hearing about Christ by the same person, week after week, can stifle the Church's spiritual growth and intimacy with Christ. Although many would argue this point; could this be part of the reason so many churches have become lethargic, needing "revival". Could this be part of the reason so many pastors/bishops/elders are burned out?
The Lord's Supper, The Love Feast & Remembrance
|Last Updated on Monday, 26 July 2010 13:54|