Lord’s Supper as a Prescribed Reenactment-Ritual?

eucharist
The Lord’s Supper (or Communion/the Eucharist as named by the Roman Catholic Church, as one of their sacraments) as a prescribed reenactment-ritual, can only be read into scripture, and is never explicitly instructed. First lets start by defining ritual.
ritual |ˈri-ch-oōəl|
noun
a religious or solemn ceremony consisting of a series of actions performed according to a prescribed order : the ancient rituals of Christian worship | the role of ritual in religion.
• a prescribed order of performing such a ceremony, esp. one characteristic of a particular religion or church.
a series of actions or type of behavior regularly and invariably followed by someone : her visits to Joy became a ritual.

Next lets examine the scriptures to see what we can glean from them

1.First let’s consider the historical context as recorded in the first four books of the new testament. The reason that Jesus and the disciples  had assembled themselves together was for what’s now commonly referred to as “the last supper” was because it was the feast of unleavened bread, also known as passover. (Matthew 26:17-21, Mark 14:16-17, Luke 22:13,15) Which explains why they were eating Bread (unleavened,)  as according to Old testament law that  was explicitly what the Jews were to eat at this feast (and this ancient decree of God can be seen as from its inception as being symbolic of  and pointed to  Christ’s atonement for us (see Matthew Henry’s commentary below as it relates to the passages of 1 Corinthians for an even deeper understanding of the symbolism here), and this is of course the revelation which Jesus gave  to his disciples. (Luke 22:19-20).

Nowhere however does Christ say every time individuals come together in His  name to worship him, or regularly, that they are to reenact this feast of unleavened bread and what Christ did therein to teach/give revelation. Yes after Jesus gave thanks, and breaks the bread to share it he says do this in remembrance of me (Luke 22:19) but is it really fair to interpret that as newly instated ritual that is to be regularly performed? Or is the Bible simply a record of Jesus giving them this revelation that it prophetically pointed to Him, as it was spoken to  them context of the present moment.

( Or could it interpreted as anytime when you do share a meal together do it in my name/memory (Namely of his sacrifice?) or in other words when you break bread (to share with another) consider I’ve broken my body for you? Or when you eat food, do it in remembrance of me as I am your daily bread? (spiritually speaking, i.e. Matthew 6:11, Matthew 4:4) Or when you serve do so in my remembrance as I’ve set the example? (Luke 22:27) )

Could this be where the idea of saying “grace” or a prayer before a meal comes from? While to a degree it could be said to be subject to interpretation, to assume a prescribed reenactment-ritual requires reading it into the text as it was never explicitly instructed.

(Another point which one ought to consider is that God when giving instructions, tends to do so in a very specific and clear way. Such examples are recorded in the Bible as it relates to the Levitical laws, how the Holy Days were to be observed, processes for sacrifice, building of temples, the building of the ark of the covenant, etc. If this was to be a regularly instated reenactment-ritual why would it not be recorded in a similar explicit and clear manner?)

2. If one carefully reads and considers the historical account as translated from the original Greek in the King James Version, they’re left with the impression Jesus himself did not even drink of the wine (Luke 22:17-18), and perhaps may not even of had any of the bread (luke 22:16).

3. The only other time when “breaking bread” is mentioned in the Bible is once in the book of Acts and in two different places in 1 Corinthians.

Acts 20:6-7
And we sailed away from Philippi after the days of unleavened bread, and came unto them to Troas in five days; where we abode seven days. 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 morrow; and continued his speech until midnight.

In the book of Acts chapter 20 where we find breaking of bread mentioned, it just so happens to be 5 days after the days of unleavened bread v.6( could this perhaps be signifying that these holy days no longer had to be kept with such rigidity?) The only other details are in the following verse. Again, when considering the King James Version (as it it is translated directly from the original tongues) one can see that the emphasis is on the historical account (after all that’s the focus Book of the acts) of paul preaching which in the following verses leads into the rest of the details (i.e. in the upper room amongst many, and what ensued when Eutychus fell out the window.

Yes, it does mention that this was on the first day of the week (what is known as Sunday on our Gregorian calendar) and that the disciples had come together to break bread. But again, does it say that they were doing this regularly? does is it say that they reenacted “the last supper”. Or could it just have well been the case that they came together to share a meal? Could bread have been the only food they had available to them at that particular time?

1 Corinthians 10:16-17
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? For we being many are one bread, and one body: for we are all partakers of that one bread.

So this is obviously where the name ‘Communion’ given to the “prescribed” Reenactment-Ritual of the Lord’s Supper Comes from. But Strong’s concordance makes clear that this word means ‘fellowship,’ or ‘communication’ which is of course drawing allusion to what Christ did; not a literal cup and literal bread;  i.e. John 6:53, was Jesus speaking literally? Of course not, because the Bible clearly condemns eating/drinking blood and cannibalism. (or in Luke 22:42 when Jesus prays the Father remove the cup from him?) Just like Jesus wasn’t talking about a literal sword in Matthew 10:34 when he said he didn’t come to bring peace but a sword. Again the idea of Christ speaking literally when he said eat & drink my blood, is how the Roman Catholic Church interpret it, and according to their doctrine, that’s what magically happens when the priest holds the host up known as transubstantiation, and for which those Bible Believers who didn’t subscribe to this notion were tortured and killed as will be proved later in this article.

Next for this scripture we will refer to Matthew Henry’s Commentary to better understand why Christ did what he did at “the last supper”:

Matthew Henry’s Commentary reads
“Did not the joining in the Lord’s supper show a profession of faith in Christ crucified, and of adoring gratitude to him for his salvation? Christians, by this ordinance, and the faith therein professed, were united as the grains of wheat in one loaf of bread, or as the members in the human body, seeing they were all united to Christ, and had fellowship with him and one another. This is confirmed from the Jewish worship and customs in sacrifice. The apostle applies this to feasting with idolaters. Eating food as part of a heathen sacrifice, was worshiping the idol to whom it was made, and having fellowship or communion with it; just as he who eats the Lord’s supper, is accounted to partake in the Christian sacrifice, or as they who ate the Jewish sacrifices partook of what was offered on their altar. It was denying Christianity; for communion with Christ, and communion with devils, could never be had at once. If Christians venture into places, and join in sacrifices to the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eye, and the pride of life, they will provoke God.”

1 Corinthians 11:27
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.

This scripture is dealing with the spiritual manner in which we proclaim Jesus Christ, and the manner in which we receive of his sacrifice, and subsequently conduct ourselves, communicate, and live in light of his sacrifice, and our partaking. While it is an allusion to what Christ did and said at the passover feast before he was betrayed, it again does not instruct or state that this was, or was to be a regularly occurring reenacted ritual.

Jeremiah 16:7

A final  possible minor reference, the Septuagint translates Jeremiah 16:7 (well before the “last supper”) as the breaking of bread and sharing of drink, as it related to funeral feast rituals, in this particular passage  being denounced by the prophet for certain reasons.

(See English Standard Version translation and Pulpit Commentary for more details)

The point is the Bible does not specify or instruct in a clear and specific enough way to assume a prescribed reenactment-ritual without reading into the text or based on the interpretation of some; and perhaps that’s because it’s really not that important in the scheme of salvation.

Nonetheless, next let’s lets consider how “communion” as a prescribed reenactment-ritual has been historically used by institutions to persecute Bible believers.

Eucharist |ˈyoōkərist|

noun
the Christian ceremony commemorating the Last Supper, in which bread and wine are consecrated and consumed.
• the consecrated elements, esp. the bread.

Historical Record

“If anyone says that the sacraments of the New Law were not at all instituted by our Lord Jesus Christ, or that there are more or less than seven, namely baptism, confirmation, Eucharist, penance, extreme unction, order, and matrimony, or that any one of these is seven is not truly and intrinsically a sacrament, let him be anathema [damned].” – Council of Trent, Session 7, Cannon I.

“…He describes how his very life depended on whether or not he would acknowledge the Catholic doctrine of transubstantiation: or the True Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist. ‘During which time of our imprisonment…we were often called before the Inquisitor alone; and there severely examined of our faith…Then did they proceed to demand of us, upon our oaths, ‘What we did believe of the sacraments and…Whether there did remain any bread or wine, after the words of consecration, Yea or No…and whether we did not believe that the host of bread which the priest did hold up over his head, and the wine that was in the chalice, was the very true and perfect body and blood of our Savior Christ, Yea or No?’ To which, if we answered not ‘Yea!’ then there was no way but death” –Graven Bread, Timothy Kauffman, 56-57.
Their guiding principle was: ‘Better for a hundred innocent people to die than for one heretic to go free–Vicars of Christ, Peter De Rosa, 163.
“The apostle Paul said, ‘If any man hath not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.’ (Rom.8:9) And the Lord Jesus was kind, loving and peaceful even to sinners. He never persecuted anyone, not even those who were in error. But the arrogant Roman Church, with the blood of the Inquisition on its hands, unrepentant and defiant, presumes to set itself up as the final authority in the realm of faith and morals, and has cruelly slaughtered tens of thousands and has persecuted millions of others merely because they did not submit to its domination”–Roman Catholicism, Boettner, 410.

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