The institution of the Lord’s Supper took place on the first day of the feast of unleavened bread. Exodus 12:8 gives us a description of the passover meal that was eaten, at that time, “And they shall eat the flesh (of the lamb without blemish) in that night, roast with fire, and unleavened bread, and with bitter herbs they shall eat it.” A further statement also specifies the kind of bread used, and is given in Ex. 12:15 “Seven days shall ye eat unleavened bread…” Thus we conclude that when the scriptures tell us that Jesus took “bread” (Mt. 26:26) it was “unleavened bread.” But what is unleavened bread? In Bible days bread was leavened by using a portion of a former mixture of leavened, or fermented dough. This “leavened dough” was obtained by exposing a lump of dough until it fermented by yeast. This “old lump or fermented lump” would then be placed in the new dough and over time would cause the dough to rise thereby producing leavened bread. Unleavened bread, was the very opposite. It was bread that had no leavening agent or lump in it, causing it to rise. Exodus 29:2 describes unleavened bread as follows “and unleavened bread, unleavened cakes mixed with oil and unleavened wafers anointed with oil (you shall make them of wheat flour).” We see from this passage that the addition of oil did not cause the bread to be leavened. Notice also Leviticus 2:1-13 where the meat offering had to be made with fine flour, oil, frankincense, and salt with no leaven or honey. Hence, the bread was unleavened even though both oil and salt were used. Since the only specification for the passover bread was that it be “unleavened,” we must be careful not to make demands that the bible does not make. As Brother Greg Gay noted in his excellent tract The Bread Which We Break “We must leave out leavening agents such as yeast, baking powder, baking soda, eggs (since air beaten into eggs can expand when heated), and injected air or steam.” Since the use of oil, or salt does not cause the bread to become leavened, to demand that such not be used is to demand something the scriptures do not. But what about the size of the loaf? Vine in his Dictionary of New Testament Words, defines bread or loaf as follows: “signifies a small loaf or cake, composed of flour and water, and baked, in the shape either oblong or round, and about as thick as the thumb…” Since the Lord did not specify the size or shape of the loaf he took, neither should we. The Lord did, however, take bread. As Brother Homer Gay used to say “he did not take toast and he did not take dough, he took bread.” Sometimes, it appears that the loaf is hardly baked. In fact it is so “doughey” one cannot break it. That is wrong. It should be baked until it is “done” or actually becomes bread. It should not be baked, however, until it is so brittle that it cracks or crumbles when one attempts to break it. Nor should it be so thin that it crumbles when one attempts to break it. Those who prepare the bread should practice until they are able to produce one that is suitable for use in the communion service. Older women in the congregation would do well to teach and train the younger women on the proper preparation of the bread to be used in the observance of the communion.
Published in the OPA May, 2003