Monday, May 24, 2010

Observance of the Lord's Supper

Dusty idea today is the New Testament, first century Church took of the Lord's Supper every Sunday, why have some denominations stopped?

There are probably three primary ideas about This memorial that the Lord himself instituted before he was nailed to the cross.

(1.) The communion need not to be observed at all. They contend it was a cultural phenomenon of the first century, and thus not binding today. Denominations that believe this don't question that the first Christians did this, they just don't think that its necessary today.

What the Bible says-This is refuted by explicit testimony of the New Testament. Paul instructed the saints in Corinth that as long as they ate of the elements of the sacred supper, they would proclaim the Savior's death "TILL HE COME" (1 Cor. 11:26). Sorry this rates as a no-brainer. If we are to do this until Jesus comes back we need to be doing it now. He has not returned.

(2.) Some say the frequency is of no importance. You can serve the supper at any time, daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, or even annually. They believe you have to take it sometime, but it's their personal choice. Nothing about commands from the Holy Spirit through the Apostles
or their examples binds us today.

What the Bible says-This probably covers the greatest segment of people that profess Christianity. The time frame is irrelevant. These folks, though obviously sincere, overlook, I believe, something important. The issue of authority - what does the New Testament actually authorize? Hopefully we can assume that the concept of authority is important to most Christians. Some argue that there is authority for observing the Lord's Supper on days other than Sunday. The main passage used for this is Acts 2:46.

And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and
breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with
gladness and singleness of heart.

The term "daily" denotes how often the disciples were meeting in the temple. Grammatically daily doesn't modify "breaking bread". There is no support for "daily... breaking of bread" here regardless of what bread signifies in this text.

The "breaking bread" in this passage is not a reference to the Lord's supper, evidenced by the fact that the phrase is paralled with "eat their food" in the same clause. Food translates in the Greek "trophe" which essentially means nourishment. This word is employed sixteen times in the Greek Testament and never is it used of the communion. The communion wasn't designed as a nourishment for the body.

There is no evidence from the Bible or historical references that Christians partook of the Lord's supper on occasions other than Sunday.

To finish his point read through (3.)

(3.) The Lord's Supper is to be eaten Sunday, and the communion is restricted to that day, everytime Sunday comes around.

What the Bible says-Acts 20:7, On the first day of the week, when the disciples were gathered together to break bread, Paul began talking..... etc.. Here we glean the reason the disciples gathered together, "to break bread". They had no other reason to meet.
Acts 2:42, They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles' teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. We see from these passages that the gathering together was centered around the Lord's supper, the fellowship and prayer came from gathering together for that.
I Corinthians 11:18-For in the first place, when you come together as a church, I hear that divisions exist among you; and in part I believe it. We have too much Biblical evidence and non-biblical evidence to prove that the Church met on Sunday to wonder when Paul is talking about here.
I Corinthians 11:20-Therefore when you meet together, it is not to eat the Lord's Supper, for in your eating each one takes his own supper first; and one is hungry and another is drunk. Paul goes on in vs. 22-30 of the same chapter, explaining again how and why they were suppose to partake of the Lord's supper when they met and not make a pot-luck out of it.
I Corinthians 16:2-On the first day of every week each one of you is to put aside and save, as he may prosper, so that no collections be made when i come. Paul says that while you are gathered together on the first day to take up a collection and save up money for the saints.

Here is an account of the worhip of the early church from Justin Martyr (138-161 A.D.) written about 156 A.D. I fully recognize this isn't from the Bible and shouldn't be treated as holy scripture. It is however an historical look from someone that was a Christian in how the weekly services were carried out. It is taken from his writings "Apology 1" chapter 67.

And we afterwards continually remind each other of these things. And the wealthy among us help the needy; and we always keep together; and for all things wherewith we are supplied, we bless the Maker of all through His Son Jesus Christ, and through the Holy Ghost. And on the day called Sunday, all who live in cities or in the country gather together to one place, and the memoirs of the apostles or the writings of the prophets are read, as long as time permits; then, when the reader has ceased, the president verbally instructs, and exhorts to the imitation of these good things. Then we all rise together and pray, and, as we before said, when our prayer is ended, bread and wine and water are brought, and the president in like manner offers prayers and thanksgivings, according to his ability, and the people assent, saying Amen; and there is a distribution to each, and a participation of that over which thanks have been given, and to those who are absent a portion is sent by the deacons. And they who are well to do, and willing, give what each thinks fit; and what is collected is deposited with the president, who succours the orphans and widows and those who, through sickness or any other cause, are in want, and those who are in bonds and the strangers sojourning among us, and in a word takes care of all who are in need. But Sunday is the day on which we all hold our common assembly, because it is the first day on which God, having wrought a change in the darkness and matter, made the world; and Jesus Christ our Saviour on the same day rose from the dead. For He was crucified on the day before that of Saturn (Saturday); and on the day after that of Saturn, which is the day of the Sun, having appeared to His apostles and disciples, He taught them these things, which we have submitted to you also for your consideration.