Both the above questions deal essentially with the same issue, hence I will deal with them as one. The Scriptures teach, I believe, that it would be wrong for those involved to have communion either at home or in a motel room for the following reasons: (1) The worship of the church is congregational in nature. Paul in 1 Corinthians 14:23 speaks of the “whole church” coming together. In neither of the above situations has the “whole church” assembled. In 1 Cor. 10:16-17 Paul explains that one of the effects of the communion is to show the unity of the congregation. The “communion” of the body and blood of the Lord constitute a “joint participation” or a “sharing in common” by the congregation, in partaking of the bread and cup of the Lord. We accomplish that when the church has come together for worship. If we can observe the communion separate and apart from the assembled church, then it becomes an individual exercise, which is the exact opposite of the meaning of the word communion. (2) The above situations constitute a violation of Hebrews 10:25. This verse teaches that we are not to “forsake the assembling of ourselves together…” The assembling together implies that the church has come together. “Assembling together” translates a word that means, according to Thayer, “a gathering together in one place.” When Christians forsake the gathering together of the church, and choose to meet in a motel room, at home, or in a vacation spot, they violate this passage. (3) Someone might say, “What about Matt. 18:20? Didn’t Jesus teach that if two or three are gathered in his name he would be there?” A careful study of the context of these verses reveal that Jesus is talking about prayer and not worship. No consideration is here given by the Master regarding the practice of worshipping apart from the congregation because one is on vacation or work. But, suppose that this verse does apply to the worship. Notice that Jesus said “in my name,” i.e. “by my authority.” The gathering must be “in his name or by his authority,” in order for Him to be there. Nowhere does Jesus authorize an individual and his wife or family to have the communion in a motel room, or at home separate and apart from the congregational gathering.
Published in the OPA October, 2002