This tract first appeared as a series of monthly articles in the Old Paths Advocate during 1944-45. In April of 1945 brother Homer L. King, publisher of the paper, bound all the articles in a tract which was widely sold and distributed. Since then, the material has been reprinted a number of times by different individuals. The most recent edition was printed by the church at Mission Hills in Springfield, MO, with brother Robert Strain of Harrodsburg, IN doing the actual printing. At the time of writing Ervin was at the height of his preaching and debating career. The material contained in the tract has been used time and time again in both sermon and debate. It is probably the clearest presentation of this subject to ever be published. In the opinion of this writer it has no equal past or present. With great clarity and forcefulness brother Waters has succeeded in treating a subject, that has been the object of twisting and misrepresentation, in a manner that defies misunderstanding.
Ronny F. Wade
Acting upon the advice and recommendation of brethren, whose judgment we respect, we are introducing to the reading public, this invaluable and comprehensive treatise, relative to the vital Communion question in all of its paramount phases, as concerns the Church of Christ today.
“The Communion” was written by our beloved and esteemed Brother Ervin Waters, of Temple, Texas, and was published in a series of articles in the Old Paths Advocate, Route 2, Lebanon, Missouri, during 1944-45. Before Brother Waters had completed half of the articles, requests began to come into our office, urging us to publish these truths in a tract, and by the time two-thirds had been published, the money for the tract had been donated by various brethren.
Although young in years, Brother Waters has devoted much time to the study of the subject under consideration, having discussed in formal debates, this question, relative to the unity of the loaf and the cup, with some of the ablest advocates of a plurality of loaves and cups, with gratifying results to all who contend for this oneness. This study and experience should enable him to handle the subject with confidence in harmony with the word of God.
We are confident this little book will be invaluable in the hands of every ]over of truth. It points out the Scriptural observance of this sacred ordinance in a very convincing manner, appropriate for this and coming generations. The past century is marked by many departures from the word of God and the simple worship. Waves of digression and innovations have invaded the sacred worship of the church –even the sacred institution by our Master on His table, hence we can but raise a voice in protest!
To the young preacher, teacher, or leader, this book should prove a valuable companion, and assist in the analysis and logical arrangement of the points in the theme and theses, and a ready reference to the proofs, making him “apt” to teach” on this subject.
May God’s blessing accompany it, and make it an efficient auxiliary in promoting the cause of primitive Christianity.
-Homer L. King
By Ervin Waters
On the night in which Jesus was betrayed (1 Cor. 11:23) he established the Communion to perpetuate vividly his memory in the hearts of men and to assist in giving spiritual sustenance to the “many members of the one body” (Rom. 12:4). To have a correct understanding of this institution and to maintain its Scriptural observance is of transcendent importance to the Church of Christ. ‘The proper keeping of the Communion is one of the characteristics peculiar to the New Testament church and one of the marks by which it can be identified.
Since continually people are being “added to the Lord” (Acts 5:14) and those baptized must be “taught to observe all things commanded” (Matt. 28:20), there must be continued restatements of the Bible position on this and other subjects. Furthermore, the propagation of the many errors with reference to the Communion by apostate members of the Lord’s church makes it needful “to put you always in remembrance of these things, though ye know them, and be established in the present truth” (2 Pet. 1:12).
1 take cognizance of my great responsibility in writing upon this subject, and the realization that I must give account to the supreme Judge for my teaching constrains me to exercise due prudence and caution in the use of words and in the formulation of ideas. Regardless of your former views on the Communion I beg you to study with unbiased minds the thoughts presented herein.
What Is It Called?
(1) The Lord’s Supper – “When ye come together therefore into one place, this is not to eat the Lord’s Supper” (I Cor. 11:20). Verse 21 points out that everyone was taking “his own supper.” the worship we are to eat the “Lord’s Supper.”
(2) The Communion – “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?” (1 Cor. 10:16).
The first expression shows that it is the “Lord’s” ” and not ours to do with as we wish and to call what we desire.
Our sphere is to accept and follow. The word “communion” means “joint participation.” The Communion is a service in which the disciples of Christ jointly participate. We are all on a common level. “WE break” (1 Cor. 10:16). “WE all partake” (1 Cor. 10:17). “They ALL, drank of it (Mk. 14:23). It is not a service in which one disciple is preeminently a representative of Christ and performs special acts which others do not perform; e.g., one communicant performing an ultra-special act of breaking the bread which no one else performs, or one communicant drinking all of the fruit of the vine (as does the Catholic priest). In eating of one loaf and drinking of one cup we all have communion.
(1) Sacrament-This word is from the Latin “sacramentum,” meaning an oath, and was applied to the Communion by the Catholic church which holds that there are seven sacraments, namely, baptism, confirmation, the communion, penance, extreme unction, holy orders, and matrimony.
(2) Eucharist-This word is also borrowed from the Catholic church and early apostates.
While the latter term is very infrequently used by Christians in modem times, the former term “sacrament” is frequently heard. Brethren, let us purify our speech of the jargon of Babylon and the gibberish of Ashdod and call Bible things by Bible names. “If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God” (1 Pet. 4:11). To hear professed Christians use the above terms to designate the Lord’s institution is enough to make us blush and bow our heads in shame!
When To Be Observed
(1) The First Day Of The Week – “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” (Acts 20:7). This passage clearly implies that it was the custom of the primitive church to observe the Communion regularly on the first day of week. That it was observed every first day of the week is evinced by the concurring evidence of ancient antiquity. Barnabas, the companion of Paul, wrote about A. D. 72, -Therefore with joy we celebrate the eighth day, on which Jesus arose from the dead.” About A. D. 150, Justin Martyr wrote. “On the Lord’s Day all Christians in the city or country meet together, because that is the day of the Lord’s resurrection; and then we read the apostles and prophets. This being done, the President makes an oration to the assembly to exhort them to imitate and practice the things which they have heard, and then we all join in prayer, and after that we celebrate the Lord’s Supper” (Mosheim’s Eccl. Hist., Vol. 1, p. 135). Still later Eusebius, the father of ecclesiastical history, testifies, “From the beginning the Christians assembled on the first day of the week, called by them the Lord’s Day, to read the Scriptures, to preach, and to celebrate the Lord’s Supper.” To these might be added the testimony of many of the primitive writers but this sufficeth for those who are fair enough to weigh the evidence. Weekly observance of the Communion does not detract from its sacredness to the Christian, but rather it constantly reminds him of its importance.
Observed With Threefold View
(1) Retrospective – “This do in remembrance of me” (1 Cor. 11:24). We partake with a vivid memory of Christ’s death and suffering on Golgotha’s brow. On the Lord’s table there is the bread (Christ’s body) and the cup of the fruit of the vine (His blood). The blood separated from the body is certainly a fit symbol of death. Since “blood is life,” we not only have before us an emblem of death but an essential to life.
(2) Introspective – “But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup” (1 Cor. 11:28). We must not only look back to the death of Christ but we must look inwardly in order to examine self. Self-examination is the Lord’s defense against formalism in the observance of the Communion. Remember, “He that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body (1 Cor. 11:29). “Self-examination” protects us against spiritual sickness, weakness, and slumber (I Cor. 11:30).
(3) Prospective-” For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do show the Lord’s death till he come” I Cor. 11:26). So, our observance of the Communion is not just with sorrow for Christ’s death but with hope, inspired by his resurrection, for his second coming. Let us not only remember his death but also his coming that we may be ready. “Come, Lord Jesus” (Rev. 22:20).
As They Were Eating
“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” (Matt. 26:26). It was during the eating of the Passover, an annual feast kept by the Jews for centuries since it was instituted in Egypt (Exodus 12), that Christ who is “our passover” (1 Cor. 5:7) chose to introduce His Supper. Then, too, it was in the very shadow of the cross that Jesus gave the observance which would thenceforth commemorate his death. Could Jesus have more opportunely and effectively timed the deliverance of this new ordinance?
Jesus Took Bread
(1) Unleavened Bread-We must necessarily infer that the bread he took was unleavened bread because during the Passover week the Jews “for seven days” were commanded to put away “all leaven out of their houses” (Exodus 12:15) and to eat unleavened bread. Those who disobeyed were to be cut off from Israel (Exodus 12:19). Since Christ was observing the Passover, a part of the old law, he would not flagrantly violate that law by having leavened bread present It is interesting to learn that leaven is a type of sin (Matt. 16:11; 1 Cor. 5:6-8). That the Church of Christ should use unleavened bread today in the Communion is; almost universally conceded by its members and is bound upon the church as law. Yet, it is an inference. But when we insist that the church should observe other things, with reference to the Communion. which were given by example and command. both of which are stronger than inference, we are dubbed by some as “heretics” and accused of “binding where God has not bound.” Brethren, is that the part of candor and consistency?
(2) Of What Does It Consist? Unleavened bread consists of bread made without yeast or leavening agents. Numerous times I have been asked for a specific recipe for making it. Some make it with salt and others without it.
Some use a little oil and others do not. After much Biblical research I have failed to find an exact recipe given by God for the making of the Passover bread. The important and essential thing is that it was to be unleavened. I think that Leviticus 2 will show to all fair minded students that the bread can be made with or without either salt or oil and still be unleavened. The Lord said, “No meat offering, which ye shall bring unto the Lord, shall be made with leaven” (Lev. 2:11). “And every oblation of thy meat offering shalt thou season with salt” (Lev. 2:13). “And if thou bring an oblation of a meat offering baken in the oven, it shall be unleavened cakes of fine flour mingled with oil, or unleavened wafers anointed with oil” (Lev. 2:4). So, it was still unleavened with salt and oil in it. Of course Lev. 2 delivers no instructions concerning the Passover bread but it does prove that salt and oil are ingredients which may go into the making of unleavened bread. It certainly is not a matter over which brethren should have division. If some object to either salt or oil, or both, then my advice is to make the bread with flour and water. However, for his edification it would be good to request the critic to read Lev. 2.
That each assembly for the Communion should have one loaf, since Christ had but one body, has been the general belief and understanding of disciples from the apostolic age until now. Research into the writings of the first several centuries and of the restoration bear out this statement. On page 305 of the Christian System Alexander Campbell said, “On the Lord’s table there is of necessity but one loaf.” In the booklet, “Around The Lord’s Table,” collated by A. B. Lipscomb in 1917 in more modern times, this was the position taken by E. A. Elam on Page 10 and 12 and by T. B. Larrimore on Page 21. There have been few dissenters. Among our brethren, regardless of their position on the breaking of the bread after thanks, there was practically universal agreement that there should be one loaf on the Lord’s table.
But since there has been so much controversy on the cups question and the cups brethren were so hard pressed in trying to defend a plurality of cups in one assembly, while holding to one loaf for one assembly, some have taken another step into the wilderness of error
and surrendered another truth to try to bolster the cups contention. The reason is obvious. The same process of reasoning which proves one loaf for each assembly proves one cup for each assembly. So, instead of giving up the cups contention and coming to the truth, they have embraced another error. If each communicant can have an individual cup, why cannot he also have an individual loaf? Echo answers, “Why not?”
In one discussion my respondent insisted that because the King James Version said, “bread,” we could have 200 loaves if we desired them, and challenged me to produce a translation by more than one man that rendered it “loaf.” The American Standard Version, translated by 101 of the world’s ripest Greek scholars, gives the marginal translation of “a loaf” in several places (Matt. 26:26; 1 Cor. 10:17; etc.). The marginal rendition is an optional translation. Christ took bread, not in the form of many loaves, but in the form of “a loaf.” To those who are unbiased enough to consider a deeper study I would like to give you this to think about. The word “bread” (Matt. 26:26; Mk. 14:23; Lk. 22:19; 1 Cor. 10:16-17; 1 Cor. 11:24) is translated from the Greek, “artos,” which is singular in number. If more than one loaf of bread is to be meant the plural form, “artous,” is used. “He gave the loaves (artous) to his disciples” (Matt. 14:19). “How many loaves (artous) have ye?” (Matt. 14:34). “They did eat of the loaves (artous)” (Mk. 6:44).
This Is My Body
We have learned from the language involved and the meaning of the institution that Christ took one loaf of bread, concerning which he said, “This is my body” (Matt. 26:26). Since there was a, preexisting analogy between Christ and bread, Christ having previously said, “I am the bread of life” (Jno. 6:35), it was only natural and reasonable for Christ to choose this essential, basic, and life-giving food to be “his body” in the Communion. There has been much controversy provoked for centuries over the meaning of the words “this is my body.” The Catholics hold that the bread is transformed into the actual physical body of Christ, which doctrine they call Trans-substantiation. Christ was present at the giving of this ordinance, his physical body was with them, and the scripture calls that which he took “bread.” It remains “bread,” which is easily susceptible of proof. No chemical reaction takes place in the bread at the giving of thanks but it is “sanctified” and set apart as his body in the Communion. The Lutherans, desiring to be a little different from the Catholics, teach virtually the same doctrine under the heading Consubstantiation.
Some disciples of Christ, agreeing that neither the Catholics nor the Lutherans understand the meaning of the statement, argue among themselves over whether the word “emblem” should be used in connection with the elements of the Communion. I have found that usually the disputants agree in substance and are simply “striving about words to no profit” (2 Tim. 2:14) because both agree that the bread is not Christ’s physical body and both believe the statement he made with reference to it. But some of us, knowing that Christ also has a physical body and a spiritual body (the church), grope for a term to distinguish the bread, which is also his body, from the other two. There should be no offense because we agree.
It will be interesting and thought provoking for us to consider a study of the oneness manifested in type and antitype. While a type should not be conclusive proof of a truth, it should be recognized as contributing testimony and corroborative evidence confirming a truth or a proposition already established. I have already established the proposition that Christ took “one loaf” at the institution of the Communion and I now give corroborating evidence.
(1) One Typical Body-The Paschal Lamb, used in the Passover, was a type of Christ. Christ is “our passover” (1 Cor. 5:7). That lamb was “without blemish” (Ex. 12:5). Christ “did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth” (1 Pet. 2:22). That lamb was a “male” (Ex. 12:5) and Christ was also (Lk. 2:22-23). Concerning that lamb the Lord commanded, “Neither shall ye break a bone thereof” (Ex. 12:46), and when Christ was crucified “they brake not his legs” (Jno. 19:33) that the scripture should be fulfilled, “A bone of him shall not be broken” (Jno. 19:36). John, when be saw Jesus coming, cried exultantly, “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world” (Jno. 1:29), and in Revelation we learn that be was the “Lamb slain from the foundation of the world” “Rev. 13:8). There were thousands of lambs killed throughout Israel every Passover but there was only one lamb for each Passover assembly, “A lamb for an house” (Ex. 12:3), “In one “house shall it be eaten” (Ex. 12:46). In the Communion we have one loaf for each assembly. If I counted correctly, the pronoun “it” is used sixteen times in Ex. 12, referring to the lamb, but there were thousands of lambs throughout Israel. Now the children of Israel were not foolish enough to argue that because the singular “it” was used they were to use just one lamb for the entire nation. On the other hand they were not childish enough to disregard the “it” and say ‘that because they could have many in the nation they could have more than one in one assembly. It was one Iamb for one assembly. Now it is one loaf for one assembly.
(2) One Physical Body – Christ bad only one physical body to offer as a sacrifice on Golgotha for our sins. The Paschal lamb pointed forward in shadow and type to that body. Each Passover assembly had that type. The loaf on the Lord’s Table points backward to that body and each assembly properly has only one, since there is but one Christ.
(3) One Communion Body – As there was “one body” in shadow and type and “one body” in substance and reality there is “one body” exemplified in the “one loaf” of bread which Jesus took in the Communion. Today we follow the example set for us by Christ because we are not “wise above that which is written.”
(4) One Spiritual Body – “There is one body” (Eph.4:4). That body is the church (Col. 1:18; Eph. 1:22-23). There is to be no “schism” (1 Cor. 12:25) or “division” (1 Cor. 1:10) in that body but unity should prevail. There is an interesting connection between this “one body,” the church, and the “one body,” the loaf, in the Communion. Paul comments upon this in – Cor. 10:17, “For we being many are one bread and one body: for we are all partakers of that one bread.” Paul, reasoning upon the accepted truth that there is but one loaf in the Communion, deduces another truth, “Because we all partake of that one loaf, we are one body.” The fact that we all partake of one loaf symbolizes our unity in the one body. If we accent Paul’s conclusion we must accept the premise upon which he reasoned to reach that conclusion. If we believe there is “one body,” we must believe there is one loaf in the Communion.
Not a bone of the Paschal lamb was broken and not a bone in Christ’s body was broken. And the one body, the church, is to have no “schism” in it. Then WHY do brethren inject into this picture that which despoils it! Why do some insist on breaking that one loaf in pieces and distributing them? Would such point sensibly to Christ’s body, or to the lamb? Would such be a symbol of unity in the church? As that loaf is one in cohesive union literally, so we, when we partake of it, indicate that we are one in spiritual union. But, when the one loaf is broken Scripturally by a disciple who eats his portion, the one loaf, when passed, to the next disciple, still possesses that literal cohesive union and still symbolizes the unity of the one body of which we are members and still is that of which Christ said, “This is my body.”
The Breaking of the Bread
Having elicited from the Scriptures the truth that there should be one loaf of bread in each assembly for the Communion, there remains the problem of how and by whom that loaf should be broken. Generally there are Two outstanding positions taken. One of these is that the one serving at the table should break the loaf in two or more pieces and pass all of these pieces to the assembled communicants. This position makes necessary this conclusion; that the breaking of the bread in the Communion is an act performed solely by the one serving at the table. The other position is that the breaking of the bread in the Communion is an act performed by every communicant. In my opinion this is the real issue; Is the breaking of bread an act performed by one man only in an assembly or is the breaking of bread mentioned in the Scriptures pertaining to Communion an act performed by every communicant in that assembly? Since the word “brake” (Matt. 26:26) does not contain the answer to the method of breaking, there being no exclusive method of breaking inherent in the Greek word “klao,”” it is ‘necessary that all of us get all the Scriptures mentioning the breaking of bread in the Communion and from these Scriptures draw a conclusion. All of the truth on this question may not be contained in one verse. Remember, even if your practice is right, you may do great damage to yourself by using a foolish argument to prove it. I believe that the truth on this question is clearly contained in the Scriptures. Please study the following with an open mind.
Who Breaks Bread?
(1) “And they (the three thousand souls in verse 41 plus the apostles) continued stedfastly . , . in breaking bread” (Acts 2:42). Now I do not argue that “break” means “eat” because the two words are not synonyms. But the above verse makes clear that “they” (everyone of them) “broke bread.” One may say, “Yes, but the breaking of bread implies the whole Communion in this verse and means that they all communed.” Fine, that is right. And the figure of speech used is a synecdoche in which “a part is put for the whole.” In this instance a part of the -Communion, “breaking of bread,” is mentioned to imply all of the Communion. But the part mentioned must be true or else the whole implied is not true. Everyone of the “they” had to do the thing mentioned, “break bread,” in order to do the thing implied, commune.” No more communed than “broke bread.” Why do some brethren violate the laws of language in attempted sustenance of a fallacious position?
(2) “And upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul preached unto them” (Acts 20:7). The same figure of speech is used here as in Acts 2:42. The disciples did not come together to merely break bread without partaking of the Communion. The entire Communion is implied in the above. Again we must remember that the “disciples” had to “break bread” (the thing mentioned) in order to commune (the thing implied). Every disciple at Troas performed the act of breaking. It is agreed that 1 Cor. 11:33, “When ye come together to eat,” means they all eat. Then Acts 20:7 means they all “break.”
(3) “The bread which we break, is not the communion of the body of Christ” (1 Cor. 10:16)? Who is this “we” that “breaks?” If the Scriptures answer the question, the issue should be forever settled. Will you accept their answer? Verse 17, “For we being many are … one body; for we are all partakers of that one bread.” Is not this plain? The “we” that break are “many” (not just one in each assembly) and the “we” are the members of the “one body.” So every member of the one body breaks bread. Furthermore, the same “we” who break bread are “all partakers of that one bread.” The irresistible conclusion is that everyone who “partakes” of the bread also “breaks” the bread. If one can “break” for the rest of us, then one can also “partake” for us. If not, why not? That would be going one step further than the Catholics because their priest only drinks for them.
(4) “Jesus took bread, blessed it, and brake it” (Matt. 26:26). Some people read and quote this as if someone denied that Jesus “broke bread.” I have never denied it and I have never heard anyone deny it. We all know Christ broke bread but some shut themselves out from receiving a comprehensive and harmonious view of the truth on this question by refusing to consider and believe the other Scriptures on bread-breaking. I believe Jesus actually broke bread. Do you believe that “We (everyone of us) break” (1 Cor. 10:16) bread actually? If you do not, who denies the truth? If you do, then you are compelled to admit that the breaking is not an ULTRA-SPECIAL ACT performed by just one in the assembly, but that it is an act which everyone performs. Christ was an individual and he “broke bread.” He set the example and the others followed. Acts 2:42 and Acts 20:7 prove that the early Christians followed his example and understood that all were to break bread. Christ said, “This do in remembrance of me” I Cor. 11:24).
By logic of induction, whereby we draw from particular cases general principles, we arrive after studying the above Scriptures at this inescapable conclusion and proposition: The breaking of bread in the Communion is an act per formed by every communicant. Down falls the theory that it is an act performed by one man in breaking the bread in pieces and passing them because EVERY COMMUNICANT does not do this! And since there is only one kind of breaking performed in the Communion by every communicant, we draw this conclusion: The breaking of bread performed in the Communion is that breaking which is essential to the eating. There is no other breaking performed by every communicant. Remove the veil from your eyes and let us unite on the truth!
Did Christ Eat and Drink?
Having established the proposition, The breaking of bread in the communion is an act performed by every communicant, it is not necessary to answer the above question in order to understand what our duty is. We have established the fact that we break (1 Cor. 10:16) and that we are commanded to eat (Matt. 26:26). These two things we must do and whether Christ ate or did not eat would not change what we must do now. But, since some brethren think the whole issue hinges upon the answer to the above question and argue we must prove that Christ partook in order to prove that the breaking of bread is an act performed by every communicant I will give the scriptural evidence concerning it. Bear in mind, however, that I have already proved from the Scriptures that we all must break. If I prove that Christ partook of the drink element, I think all will admit that he also partook of the bread. I shall prove that Christ partook of the drink element which he called his “blood” and that he partook of it before his disciples did.
(1) The Fact of the Drinking – “And be said unto them. This is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many. Verily I say unto you, I will drink no more of the fruit of the vine, until that day I drink it new in the kingdom of God” (Mark 14:24-25). This proves that Christ drank since he could not have “more” until he had had “some.” But this Scripture does not definitely point out when be drank and what fruit of the vine he drank. It does establish the fact of his drinking.
(2) What Fruit of the Vine? – “But I say unto you, I will not drink henceforth of this fruit of the vine, until that (lay when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom” (Matt. 26:29). The fruit of the vine under consideration then was “this fruit of the vine,” for which he had just given thanks (verse 27) and concerning which he had just said, “This is my blood” (verse 28), and not some fruit of the vine of which he had partaken in his past life.
(3) The Time of the Drinking – “And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying (the “saying” was simultaneous with the giving of the cup to them), Drink ye all of it; For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins. But I say unto you (still “saying” as he gave the cup to them), I will not drink henceforth (from this very moment on) of this fruit of the vine, until that (lay when I drink it with you in my Father’s kingdom” (.Matt. 26:27-29). First, we have proved that Christ drank. Second, we have proved he drank of the fruit of the vine which he used in the institution of the communion. Third. the above Scripture proves that this drinking could not have occurred after the disciples drank because Christ made this remark as he gave the cup to them and along with his command to them to drink. The “henceforth” forbids his drinking after the statement on that occasion. The irresistible conclusion is that Christ drank after he gave thanks and before he gave the cup to them. Since, “After the same manner also he took the cup” (1 Cor. 11:25), we must conclude that he also ate of the bread between the giving of thanks and the handing of it to the disciples.
But I think we can find a statement concerning Christ’s eating of the bread in the Scriptures. David in a prophecy concerning Judas, who betrayed Christ, says, “Yea, mine own familiar friend, in whom I trusted, which did eat of my bread, hath lifted up his heel against me” (Psalms 41:9). “My bread” must have reference to that bread of which Jesus said, “This is my body (Matt. 26:26). If we admit that “my church” (Matt. 16:18) was not the “church in the wilderness” (Acts 7:38), that “my kingdom” (Lk. 22:30) was not the “Jewish Kingdom,” and that “my table” (Lk. 22:30) -was not the “Jewish table,” then we – should admit that “my bread” was not the “passover bread.”
Jesus quoted this prophecy, applying it to himself and Judas, “I speak not of you all: I know whom I have chosen: but that the scripture may be fulfilled, He that eateth bread with me hath lifted up his heel against me” (Jno. 13:18). According to Jesus he and Judas both ate “my bread,” the bread of the communion. This prophecy was not fulfilled in Jno. 13 but was quoted by Jesus before its fulfillment, “Now I tell you before it come, that, when it is come to pass, ye may believe that I am he” (Jno. 13:19). The supper in Jno. 13 was not the Passover, as some mistakenly think, but was the supper in the house of Simon the leper in Bethany (Mk. 14:3) “two days before the passover” (Mk. 14:1) from which Judas first went to make the bargain with the chief priests to betray Christ (Mk. 14:10-11). Jno. J3:19 points out that this prophecy was to be fulfilled later -and his disciples, noting the departure of Judas (Jno. 13:30), “thought, because Judas had the bag, that Jesus had said unto him, Buy those things which we have need of against the feast” (Jno. 13:29). Judas was present at the institution of the communion for Jesus said, “The hand of him that betrayeth me is with me on the table” (Lk. 22:21). So Christ must have partaken with Judas because be said, “He that eateth bread with me” (Jno. 13:18), and this bread was “my bread” (Psa. 41:9).
The above Scriptural testimony should be enough to convince the fair minded student. But some, brushing aside this evidence with a careless sweep, ask with an air of triumph, “Would Christ eat his own flesh and drink his own blood?” To this I reply that Christ said he would drink of “this fruit of the vine” “when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom” (Matt. 26:29). Is it reasonable to think that Christ would thus contemplate drinking in the future that which he would not drink then? Would it not have been just as “proper” then as in the contemplated future? Some ask, “But why would he drink?” Well, he could be setting an example for us just as he was immersed to “fulfill all righteousness” (Matt. 3:15). And, while you present puzzles, what about the church, “which is his body” (Eph. 1:23), eating the bread, which is his body (Matt. 26:26) ? The body of Christ eating the body of Christ!!
Scriptural testimony establishes the fact that Christ partook of the communion at its institution. The Scriptures also make clear that His partaking of the bread and the fruit of the vine immediately followed His thanksgiving for each one and preceded the giving of each one to the disciples. Not all, of those who contend, that the man serving at the table must break the loaf in pieces and pass all of the pieces to the assembled disciples, deny that Christ partook. Some argue that Christ partook, but that He partook last. I shall now consider several of their sophistical arguments.
Christ A Servant
(1) “A servant eats last” – “But which of you, having a servant plowing or feeding cattle, will say unto him by and by, when he is come from the field, Go and sit down to meat? And will not rather say unto, Make ready wherewith I may sup, and gird myself, and serve me, till I have eaten and drunken; and afterwards thou shalt eat and drink?” (Lk. 17:7-8).
(2) “Christ was a servant” – “I am among you as he that serveth” (Lk. 22:27).
(3) “Therefore, Christ ate last.”
The above sophistry looks good at first, but it will not stand the test. Lk. 17:7-8 has no reference to and no bearing on the communion. To so misapply it is to miss altogether the lesson the Lord taught by it. The lesson was one concerning the service and obedience of a servant to his master. “Doth he thank that servant because he did the things that were commanded him? I trow not. So likewise ye, when ye shall have done all those things which are commanded you, say, We are unprofitable servants: we have done that which was our duty to do” (Lk. 17:9-10). In the application which Christ made of his illustration we are the servants and he is the master who commands us. Thus, if this applied to the communion, it would prove Christ ate first because he is a master. It does not apply to the communion and I make the following argument merely to nullify the above argument and expose its fallacy.
(1) A master eats first – Lk. 17:7-8.
(2) Christ was a master – “Master, is it I” (Matt. 26:25). This was said at the institution of the communion.
(3) Therefore, Christ ate first.
Now I do not make this argument to prove Christ ate first but merely to show that Lk. 17:7-10 does not apply to the communion. That scripture proves nothing concerning the time of Christ’s partaking.
He Gave All
One of the most frequently used arguments against Christ’s partaking first is that he banded every particle of the bread he blessed and broke to the disciples. The argument runs like this:
(1) “Jesus took bread” (all of it).
(2) “And blessed it” (all of it).
(3) “And brake it” (all of it).
(4) “And gave it (all of it) to the disciples.” They argue that Christ had to give every particle of that be blessed to the disciples and that the man serving at the table must do likewise today. But. if their reasoning is good, we want to carry it further. They stop before they get to the end of the verse (Matt. 26:26).
(5) “And said, Take, eat” (all of it). Is this the meaning? Were they commanded to eat every molecule of the bread which he handed to them? If they could obey the command. “Take, eat,” without eating every molecule of bread, then Christ could have retained some of the bread for himself. Furthermore, if “eat” means to “eat all of it,” then the first man to whom it was passed would have consumed it. But we have proved that we are all on the same level and that we all must break bread and eat bread. Christ set an example for us in breaking and eating. He is now in heaven and I make no contention as to which disciple is to break and eat first. The practice which generally obtains among us is that the man serving at the table after giving thanks breaks and eats before passing the bread to the assembled disciples. In debating with a man who objected to the man serving at the table eating first I made this proposition, When I wait on the table, after thanks I will break the bread and retain my piece in my hand until the first one in the audience starts chewing on his piece, and then I will begin eating mine. He ignored my pleas for unity and persisted in his stubborn course. Remember, someone must eat first.
Further proof that Jesus both broke and ate lies in the fact that He gave it to them and said, “This do in remembrance of me” (Lk. 22:19). “This” is a demonstrative pronoun which has for its antecedent the action of Christ “This do” simply means here, “You do what I have done.’ Let us notice:
(1) “This do” meant for the disciples to do what Jesus did.
(2) But Jesus “broke” (Lk. 22:19).
(3) Therefore, the disciples were to break bread. This harmonizes with Acts 2:42; Acts 20:7; and 1 Cor. 10:16.
(1) “This do” meant for the disciples to do what Jesus did.
(2) But the disciples were to “eat” (I Cor. 11:24).
(3) Therefore, Jesus ate bread.
How could the disciples have done what Jesus did if he broke without eating?
Broken For You
Some make the breaking of the bread a qualifying act and argue that the loaf is not the body of Christ until after it is broken. They base their argument on 1 Cor. 11:24, “This is my body, which is broken for you.” The American Standard Version leaves out the word “broken” here and reads, “which is for you.” Some of the Greek texts do not have the word “broken” in them and it is regarded by many scholars as an interpolation even in those in which it appears. But, being neither a Greek scholar nor a translator, I am perfectly willing to accept the King James rendition of it. The word “broken” refers to the body of Christ which was broken in death for us on the cross but which was never literally broken. We use the word “broken” figuratively when we speak of a person’s being … broken in health.” Christ’s body was not literally broken (Jo. 19:86) but was broken in death. We do nothing to the loaf to represent this figurative breaking of Christ’s body. In discussing the question with one man who had the following on a chart:
(1) Broken bread is “broken body” (1 Cor. 11:24).
I stepped to the board and added two parallels. He argued that the bread had to be broken to be the body of Christ. So, I added the following. (2) ? ? ? bread is “given body” (Lk. 22:19), “This is my body which is given for you.” Do we have to “give” the bread before it is Christ’s “given body,” or is it his “given body” when it is sanctified by God in thanksgiving. Do we perform any act on the bread to represent the giving of Christ’s body? Of course not.
(3) ? ? ? ? fruit of the vine is Christ “shed blood” (Mk. 14:24), “This is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many.” What act do we perform on the fruit of the vine to represent the shedding of Christ’s blood?? Do we “shed” the fruit of the vine in order for it to become Christ’s “shed blood?” Or does the fruit of the vine become the lord’s “shed blood” when thanks are given? It is inconsistent for a man to choose one of these three parallels upon which to construct a theory and then leave the other two alone.
But suppose that the bread must be broken before it becomes Christ’s body. We are still right and scriptural because the man at the table breaks the bread before he eats. If it becomes Christ’s body after he breaks it, then he eats of Christ’s body because he does not eat until after he breaks. And, having become the body of Christ, the other communicants likewise partake of Christ’s body. So, why the fuss? What is the argument about. WE break the bread. I am forced to conclude that those who refuse to unite with us on this simply contend for an ultra-special act of breaking performed by only one man. This forces them to defend this man’s practice of breaking bread twice, once to perform the ultra-special breaking which no one else performs, and once to perform the breaking which is essential to the eating. Where is there authority for such? NOT in the Bible.
Those who are unlearned enough to refer to us as “bread pinchers” I refer to the dictionary and ask that they come and watch us break bread. To those compromisers -who merely tear the loaf a little without dividing it completely I say that you also are contending for a special act performed by only one when the breaking of bread in the Scriptures is an act performed by every communicant.
I have proved in the foregoing articles: (1) That Christ used unleavened bread, (2) That he took one loaf of unleavened bread, (3) That the breaking of this bread is an act performed by every communicant, and (4) That Christ partook of the bread before his disciples did. Next we proceed to the cup.
The Cup Of The Lord
We have now progressed to a study of another essential and indispensable element of the communion, the cup of the Lord. As floods of indifference and Bible neglect swept down upon the brotherhood, there became increasing manifest a f lag-rant disregard for this part of the service. The adherents of “self-devised worship!’ (will worship—Col. 2:23) have attempted to steam roller over scriptural testimony and the laws of language in their defense of a plurality of cups for an assembly of the church for the communion. Inspiration has presented a bulwark which they cannot neutralize. To elicit the truth on this subject our only alternative is to go “to the law and to the testimony” (Isa. 8.20) and to the scriptures which “furnish unto all good works” (2 Tim. 3:17). Without bias and prejudice will you examine with me the mountain of scriptural evidence germane to the subject? It is generally conceded that the scriptures teach, (1) By example, (2) By command, (3) By necessary inference, and (4) By statement. There are many things bound upon us, which are taught in only one of the above ways in the Bible. The Scriptures teach one cup for an assembly of the church by all four of the above methods. What could be stronger and how could it be plainer?
(1) Christ used one cup – “And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it” (Matt. 26:27). “And he took the cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them: and they all drank of it” (Mk. 14:23). “The cup” certainly does not denote a plurality of cups. The Bible was written in conformance to the rules of human language and the accepted meaning of words. Never try to found theology on bad grammar. The American Standard Revised Version has “a cup” instead of “the cup” in the above passages. Both denote one cup and are equally plain.
“Likewise also the cup after supper, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you” (Lk. 22:20). Can this language embrace more than one cup? Certainly not!
“After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood” (1 Cor. 11 :25). It is evident from the above scriptures that Christ used one cup in instituting the communion. I know of no rule of language or figure of speech by which the word “cup” in the above passages could denote more than cup. Some say, “It is figurative.” Name the figure, please, and tell what it takes to constitute it. In biblical hermeneutics and exegesis one cannot interpret a Scripture with a figure of speech which is only a figment of the imagination.
(2) The disciples used one cup – “And he took the cup, and when he bad given thanks, he gave it to them: and they all drank of it” (Mk. 14:23). The disciples all drank of the cup which Christ took and handed to them.
Wilson in the Emphatic Diaglott renders it. “They all drank out of it” (Mk. 14:23). and Weymouth’s Translation of the New Testament in Modern Speech has, “And they all of them drank from it” (Mk. 14:23).
Thayer in his unsurpassed lexicon says it is “the vessel out of which one drinks” (Lexicon, P. 510). So, the fruit of the vine was distribute(] to the disciples in one cup and they all drank of, out of, or from that cup.
The word rendered “cup” is from the Greek “poteerion.” Robinson in his lexicon defines it, “a drinking vessel, a cup” (Lexicon, P. 611). Thayer defines it, “a cup, a drinking vessel” (Lexicon, p. 533). Webster so defines it in the English. It may be a drinking vessel “with or without a handle, a stem, or a base.” I do not know the color, the size, the particular shape, or the material of the cup Christ used, but I know he took a “drinking vessel, a cup.” I do not know what kind of grape juice Christ took, but I know he took some.
I cannot use the same cup Christ used, but I can use another cup for the same purpose. Neither can I use the same grape juice Christ used, but I can use some more grape juice for the same purpose.
If we can use more than one cup where Christ used one, then we can just as reasonably serve beefsteak for the bread and milk for the fruit of the vine. Why not “walk by the same rule” (Phil. 3:16) and use in the communion what Christ used? Christ suffered for us, “Leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps” (I Pet. 2:21).
(1) Christ commanded the disciples to drink of one cup – “And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it” (Matt. 26:27). The “ye all” is the same as our southern “you all” and means “all of you.” Thus, “All of you drink of it.” “Drink from it, all of you” (Weymouth’s Translation) and “Drink all of you out of it” (Wilson’s Emphatic Diaglott). Thayer cites it under the “vessel out of which one drinks,” Matt. 26:27, (Lexicon, p. 510).
The disciples understood the command and “they all drank of it” (Mk. 14:23). The disciples in an assembly today can understand and do the same thing.
(2) Paul commands us to keep the Communion as he delivered it – “Now I praise you, brethren, that ye remember me in all things, and keep the ordinances, as I delivered them to you” (I Cor. 11:2).
“For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, – – – After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood” (1 Cor. 11:23, 25). If we keep it as Paul delivered it, an assembly for the communion will use one cup because we cannot learn any other way from this example delivered.
(3) Paul commands an assembly to “drink of that cup” -Paul delivers instructions applying, “When ye come together to eat” (1 Cor. 11:33), and commands, “But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup” (1 Cor. 11:28). An assembly of the church which has “come together to eat” (verse 33) should “drink of that cup” (verse 28). Verse 34 makes it plain that verse 33 applies to the assembly for the communion.’
Some may argue that “let him eat of that bread. and drink of that cup” (1 Cor. 11:28) is not a command. Is not, “Let a man examine himself,” a command? Is not, “Let your women keep silence in the churches” (1 Cor. 14:34), a command?
Those assembled for the communion cannot “drink of that cup” and drink of a plurality of cups. We plead with those who have left a “thus saith the Lord” for their own “ipse dixito” to return to the Bible. Can we be wrong in following the above examples and commands? And can we be wrong in upholding those- examples and commands and refusing to worship otherwise? Will you not unite with us in our plea for a scriptural unity based upon a Scriptural Communion?
Having learned that the scriptures teach one cup for an assembly of the church for the communion by both example and command, we now learn that the scriptures clearly imply that one should be used. We infer, from what the scriptures imply, that one cup is all the divine mind intended for an assembly to use in the distribution of the fruit of the vine. The word cup is sometimes used figuratively in the passages relating to the communion, but, when it is used figuratively, it still grammatically involves one literal cup because it refers to the contents of one literal cup. This figure is,
“Metonymy is a figure of speech in which an object is presented to the mind, not by naming it, but by naming something else that readily suggests it” (Williams’ “Composition and Rhetoric,” p. 220). In giving the “Kinds of Metonymy,” he says, “3. Container and the thing contained.” He gives as an example, “The kettle boils (meaning, of course, the liquid in the kettle).”
Tanner, in his “Composition and Rhetoric,” p. 324, says, “Metonymy is a figure of speech in which the name of one object is used for that of another which it clearly suggests.” He gives the same example, “The kettle boils (that is, the water in the kettle boils).”
J. C. Nesfield, in his “Idiom, Grammar, and Synthesis,” p. 396, gives under Metonymy, ” (c) The container for the thing contained: He drank the cup – the contents of the cup.”
From the above definitions of Metonymy we learn several facts about this figure of speech: (1) The object named is not the thing suggested: (2) There is a real object. not an imaginary one, named; (3) Both the thing named and the thing suggested must exist; (4) In the Metonymy of the “Container for the thing contained” the container named must contain the thing suggested; and (5) One can only suggest the contents of as many cups as he names. These facts are evident to even the superficial reader. So. do not let the big word Metonymy frighten you. It simply means that two things are suggested to the mind by the mention of one of them which readily suggests the other. Thus a cup and its contents are suggested to the mind by the mention of the cup which readily suggests its contents.
Paul used this figure of speech, “For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord’s death till he come. 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” (1 Cor. 11:26-27).
From what we have learned of Metonymy we must grammatically conclude: (1) Paul named “this cup” to suggest its contents, the fruit of the vine: (2) Since the object named is not the thing suggested, “this cup” is not the fruit of the vine: (3) There is a real cup named: (4) Both the cup, which is named, and the contents, which are suggested, must exist; (5) The cup, which is named, must contain the thing suggested, the fruit of the vine; and (6) Since one cup was named, the contents of only one cup are suggested. This is the inescapable conclusion. One may appeal to both prejudice and ignorance by ignoring the above rules of language and saying the cup does not have to exist, but when he stands before the eternal Judge and is shorn of his sophistry, what then? “Thou are inexcusable, 0 man!”
Some ask, “What is the cup of the Lord?” Well, because in Metonymy we name one thing to suggest something else, “the cup of the Lord” is the name of a cup and not the name of the thing suggested. Therefore there must be a literal cup named “the cup of the Lord.” What cup? “The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ?” (1 Cor. 10:16). The literal cup, containing the fruit of the vine, in an assembly of the church for the communion becomes, after thanks, “the cup of the Lord.” It is not an empty cup because it contains the fruit of the vine, the blood of Christ. But one questions with a triumphant air, “Then how will you drink the cup of the Lord? You cannot swallow the literal cup.” To this I reply that we never have taught anyone to swallow the literal cup. Here is where the understanding and interpretation of language comes in. To ignore language is to ignore the truth because the truth was couched by the Holy Spirit in language. “This cup of the Lord” is mentioned by Paul to suggest its contents. That is the use of a common figure of speech. How do we drink the cup of the Lord? “By drinking what it contains, and in no other way” (N. L. Clark). By drinking “what is in the cup” (Thayer, lexicon, p. 510). Does this get away from the literal cup? Of course not. The cup of the Lord contains the blood of Christ.
Will the cups fraternity produce the evidence that one can refer to the fruit of the vine in a plurality of cups by saying “the cup?” The Holy Spirit did not use jangling nonsense in the Bible. Even by Metonymy if one desired to suggest the contents of more than one cup he would have to say, “As often as ye drink these cups” or “Whosoever shall drink these cups of the Lord.” If one said, “The kettle is boiling,” he would name only one kettle and would suggest the contents of only one kettle. Kettle is the name of a container, and if one desired to suggest the contents of more than one such container he would have to say, “The kettles are boiling.” You can readily understand that if only one container is named the contents of only one are suggested. “Cup” is not the name of “the fruit of the vine” and cannot be used to suggest the fruit of the vine, unless the fruit of the vine is in a cup. But let us notice the Lord’s usage of Metonymy in,
(1) The world for its inhabitants “For God so loved the world” (Jno. 3:16). Here the world was named to suggest its inhabitants. There was a literal world involved in the language. There were many “worlds” (Heb. 11:3), but the inhabitants of only one literal world were suggested when Christ used the singular.
(2) A city for its inhabitants “Woe unto thee Chorazin” (Lk. 10:13). Here the name of the city, Chorazin, was given to suggest its inhabitants. Was there not a literal city named Chorazin? When the Lord named Chorazin, did he suggest the inhabitants of Jerusalem or of more than one city? He only suggested the inhabitants of the city which he named. Those people could not have been called “Chorazin” if they had not inhabited Chorazin. Likewise the “fruit of the vine” cannot be called “the cup” unless it is in one cup.
“0 Jerusalem, Jerusalem, which killest the prophets, and stonest them which are set unto thee” (Lk. 13:34). Did the literal Jerusalem kill anyone or stone anyone? No. But the Lord was suggested the inhabitants of literal Jerusalem. There actually existed a literal city by that name and the Lord was talking to those who inhabited that literal city. Could he have suggested the inhabitants of Jerusalem by naming Rome? You know he could not?
If you can understand the above passages, then you can understand that Paul names a literal cup and suggests its contents when he said, “Whosoever shall—drink this cup of the Lord” (I Cor. 11:27). And you can understand that grammatically the language must connote only one literal cup. If you cannot see this “Anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see” (Rev. 3:18).
The Scriptures teach by command, example, necessary inference and statement. We have established the fact that one cup for an assembly of the church for the communion is taught by example, command and necessary inference. Now we shall prove that one cup is taught by statement. Bear in mind that anything taught by the Scriptures in only one of these four ways is binding on us. Verily, then, that which is taught by all four of these ways should be binding upon us, and we should not be censured for advocating it. Let us notice,
The Cup of Blessing
“The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ?” (1 Cor. 10:16). Thayer cites this under the literal usage of the word poteerion (cup) in his Lexicon, p. 533, and calls it the “consecrated cup” (Lexicon, p. 260).
Since the fruit of the vine was chosen to be the blood of Christ, “This is my blood” (Matt. 26:28-29), it is a blessing to us physically and spiritually. “Thus saith the Lord, As the new wine is found in the cluster, and one saith, Destroy it not; for a blessing is in it” (Isa. 65:8). This cup of the fruit of the vine, for which we give thanks. is the communion or joint participation of the blood of Christ. Christ said, “Drink ye all (all of you) of (out of) it” (Matt. 26:27), and “They all drank of (out of) it” (Mk. 14:23).
The cup is as literal as the liquid mentioned or suggested. “The cup of blessing” ran connote only one cup. It cannot embrace a plurality. Thus it is established that one cup is taught by command, example, necessary inference and statement. Could it be plainer? Will you not anchor with us at these moorings and be safe?
The Cup of Devils
Some ask, “What about the cup of devils? To what does this statement have reference in the Scriptures?” Surely a brief study of this will be relevant.
“Ye cannot drink the cup of the Lord, and the cup of devils” (1 Cor. 10:21). Paul indicated that the cup of devils was used by the Gentiles in their worship and “sacrifices to devils” 0 Cor. 10:20). The word “devils” is from the Greek word daimonion.
Justin Martyr, born only several years after the apostle John’s death, lived from A. D. 110 to A. D. 165. He was “mighty in the Scriptures,” and, living at that time, was qualified to know what Paul meant by “the cup of devils.”
He says: “For the apostles in the memoirs composed by them, which are called gospels, have thus delivered unto us what was enjoined upon them: that Jesus took bread, and when He had given thanks, said, ‘This do in remembrance of Me, this is My body;’ and that after the same manner, having taken the cup and given thanks, He said, ‘This is My blood;’ and gave it to them alone. Which the wicked devils (Greek: daimonion) have imitated in the mysteries of Mithras. commanding the same thing to be done. For, that bread and a cup of water are placed with certain incantations in the mystic rites of one who is being initiated, you either know or can learn” (Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol. 1, p. -85).
“The cup of devils” mentioned by Paul and Justin Martyr was one cup. Instead of a cup of the fruit of the vine. it was a cup of water; and instead of being used in the Lord’s worship, it was used in the worship of “devils.” This pagan cult made a mockery of the communion service. Would you also make a mockery of it by introducing something into it which sullies its purity, mars its unity, and destroys its efficacy?
What About the Disciples in Jerusalem?
Some after examining all of the evidence and not being able to find authority for the cups still want them. Instead of going to the Bible to get their ideas, they go to the Bible with ideas and try to make it prove them. They should know that the Bible does not contradict itself! But like Balaam, after receiving God’s instructions they go back to 0 ‘ see what more the Lord” has to say, hoping fervently that God has changed his mind. Brethren, it is dangerous to even harbor a desire for something God has not given. Some, who “receive not the love of the truth,” are “sent strong delusions” (2 Thes. 2:10-11).
They ask, “What about Jerusalem? How could all of the disciples in Jerusalem have communed in one assembly with one cup?” This is a plain attempt to dodge the force of the Scriptures. But I ask, Where is the passage that says the disciples in Jerusalem communed in one assembly? Acts 2:42 says, “They continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread.” The “breaking of bread” refers to the communion, but it does not say they all observed the communion in one assembly. Does it?
But one objects that we are commanded, “Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together” (Heb. 10:25), and that the disciples in Jerusalem had to assemble in one place or they violated the above scripture. But this scripture proves too much for their dream. Can the church of Christ obey that scripture without assembling in one place? Are we to have one assembly for the whole world? I am sure you will reply, “No.” And is it not Scriptural to have, more than one assembly in one city? When we “come together” in assemblies of two or more (Matt. 18:20), we obey Heb. 10:25.
But Acts 2:46 explodes their theory, “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.” There are three things embraced here: (1) The daily meetings in the temple (Acts 5:42), (2) The communion observed “from house to house,” -and (3) The “eating of meat,” their common meals.
You may ask if they observed the communion “daily.” Of course not! “Daily,” according to the King James Translation, modifies “continuing in the temple.” You win find a parallel in Acts 5:42, “And daily in the temple, and in every house, they ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ.” The antecedent of “they” is the twelve apostles (verse 41). But “daily” could not modify “in every house” because it was a physical impossibility for the twelve apostles to preach “daily” in every house. If there were three thousand houses and they canvassed for six hours, they would have seven and one-fifths seconds for each house. So down goes this argument.
Others question, “What about the eating of meats? Would you not have it in the communion.” Of course not! The eating of meat in this verse has no more reference to the “breaking bread from house to house” than it does to “continuing daily in the temple,” and you know that they did not eat their common meals in the temple. If you say they did, then you have to admit anyway that the “breaking bread from house to house” was the communion. And if you say that the “breaking of bread” in Acts 2:42 was the communion, consistency demands that you admit Acts 2:46 refers to the communion. Be honest with yourself, and, please, do not try to circumvent the truth.
The best they can say for their own arguments on the Jerusalem disciples is that they are presumption. Presume – “To take for granted on probable grounds” (Webster). Do you not “take for granted” when you thus reason? “But the soul that doeth ought presumptuously – shall be cut off” (Num. 15:30). “The prophet, which shall presume to speak a word in my name, which I have not commanded him to speak, even that prophet shall die” (Deut. 18:20). Let us not presume.
Some people, after utterly failing to find Scriptural authority for a plurality of cups for an assembly, leave the Bible and clutch in wild desperation for an argument by which they think the will be able to circumvent the force of Bible teaching. They come forth with this question, “What about large assemblies? What if the congregation becomes too large for one cup?”
Of course this question is entirely hypothetical and suppositional. We have proved that Christ used one cup at the institution of the communion. This should suffice for the student who wants Scriptural precedent. We have pointed out the fact that no such assembly for the communion can be found in the New Testament. People should in fairness show us the bridge before they ask us to cross it Yet ignoring all of this, they persistently ask, “But what if ?”
Be it understood that the Scriptures read just the same. I have been told of. a brother who said, “From what the Bible taught I always believed in one cup. But after seeing a big crowd I changed my mind.” Notice. The Bible did not teach him a plurality of cups for an assembly, but a big crowd did. Did the big crowd change the reading of the Bible? Instead of trying to make the Bible fit our ideas, we should make our ideas fit the Bible.
The solution to the above problem is so simple that I wonder why so many have overlooked it. There is a Scriptural way to handle this matter without violating truth. WE HAVE SCRIPTURAL AUTHORITY FOR MORE THAN ONE ASSEMBLY FOR THE COMMUNION BUT WE HAVE NO SCRIPTURAL AUTHORITY FOR MORE THAN ONE CUP FOR ONE ASSEMBLY. Does not the solution lie in that for which we have authority? Or will you abandon that for which we have authority and grasp that for which we have no authority? How true is Paul’s statement, “My God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:19). The Lord has supplied the need and the solution. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts” (Isa. 55:9). So we will just have as many assemblies for the communion as we need. Do you challenge this? If so, then you would force the aggregate church to have one assembly for the whole world.
Bro. Van Bonneau, a cups defender and a representative man among his brethren, recognizes authority for more than one assembly, “Nobody denies that a vast multitude of many thousands can organize separate local congregations with their respective assemblies at some distance from each other. But what about one small local congregation dividing into classes for an entirely different reason? I think that even the blind can see the distinction here” (Teaching The Word, p. 9-10). Nobody denies this. Then let us accept the solution which is both Scriptural and denied by nobody, thereby eliminating the division and trouble over this question.
A Plurality of Cups For Whole World
Others charge that if we believe in one cup for each assembly we will have many cups for the whole world. And they ask, “If we can have a plurality for the whole world, why can not we have a plurality for one assembly?”
Here is a parallel. Paul said, “Ye may all prophesy one by one, that all may learn and that all may be comforted” (1 Cor. 14:31). Did he mean that we were to have one speaking at a time in the whole world or one speaking at a time in each assembly? You will agree that we are to have one speaking at a time in each assembly. But we would have hundreds speaking at a time, one to each assembly, throughout the country on Sunday mornings. If we have a plurality speaking at a time in the world, why can not we have a plurality speaking at a time in one assembly? You know that our worship is congregational. We use one cup for one assembly and we have one speaking at a time in one assembly. We have no more authority for a plurality of cups for an assembly than we have for a plurality speaking at a time in an assembly.
The Cup Christ Used
Some insist that, if we contend for one cup because Christ used one, we will have to use the same cup Christ used. Let us examine this argument. If you contend that we should use bread in the communion because Christ used bread, would you have to use the same bread Christ used? Can you do this? No, but you can use some more bread in the same way and for the same purpose. If you contend that we should use the fruit of the vine because Christ used the fruit of the vine, then would you have to use the same fruit of the vine Christ used? Impossible, but you can use some more fruit of the vine in the same way and for the same purpose. And we can use another cup in the same and for the same purpose. Thus their argument is reduced to an absurdity.
What Kind Of A Cup?
Others insist that we will have to find out the exact color, material, shape, and size of the cup Christ used and imitate it. You use bread in the communion but do you know the shape and size of the loaf Christ used? Then you must admit that the fact Christ used bread is the precedent to be followed and not the size and shape of the loaf. Though you do not know what kind of a grapevine the fruit of the vine Christ used came from, you can use some grape juice.
Likewise, we know that Christ used a cup in the institution of the communion (Matt. 26:27; Mk. 14:23: Lk. 22:20; 1 Cor. 11:25). We learn from the definition that a cup is a drinking vessel. So we obtain and use a drinking vessel to contain, and with which to distribute, the fruit of the vine. This is the precedent to be followed.
Did Christ Shed A Cup?
Some argue that the cup is that which Christ shed. Christ neither shed a drinking vessel nor the fruit of the vine which it contains. Most cups advocates say the cup is the fruit of the vine, but Christ never shed any fruit of the vine. “For this is my blood of the New Testament. which is shed for many for the remission of sins” (Matt. 26:28).
The antecedent of which is “blood,” the literal blood of Christ which was shed on the cross. “This” refers to “this fruit of the vine” (verse 29). (1) “This is my blood” (Matt. 26:28) ; (2) Everyone admits that the fruit of the vine is the blood; (3) Therefore, “this” refers to “the fruit of the vine.” “The cup” (verse 27), the vessel named, contains the “fruit of the vine.” Instead of “wresting the Scriptures to your own destruction,” why do not you accept both the cup and its contents? To “take away” one is to incur the curse of Rev. 22:19, or to “add” a plurality of cups is to be under the curse of Rev. 22:18.
The Species Argument
Some argue that “the cup” (Matt. 26:27), though singular, refers to that species of vessels and, therefore, may embrace a plurality of cups. They say it is used in the same sense as “the vine” (Matt. 26:29), “the ant” (Prov. 9:6), and “the man of God” (2 Tim. 3:17). 1 will admit that a singular noun preceded by the definite article “the” may refer to species, but be it understood that the context always shows how it is used. Here are several things for your consideration.
(1) “Go to the ant, thou sluggard” (Prov. 6:6) refers to that species of insect, “the ant.” But if I said, “I was stung by the ant,” or, “I picked up the ant,” you would know that I was not stung by the whole species or a plurality of ants. You would know that I was stung by one ant and that I picked up one ant.
(2) Likewise, “the vine” (Matt. 26:29) refers to that species of plant. But if I said, “I cut down the vine,” you would know that only one vine was connoted.
(3) “He took the cup” (Matt. 26:27). This can refer to only one cup. If you read similar expressions; “He took the ant into the laboratory,” “He took the man of God into his home,” or “He took the vine into the garden,” you could understand immediately the use of the singular.
But let us notice the inconsistency of the cups advocate. In one breath he argues that “cup” does not mean “cup” and that it does not refer to a literal cup or literal cups at all. In the next breath he argues that “cup” refers to species and does refer to literal cups. One moment he argues that you do not even have to use a cup at all and that a spoon would do, and the next moment he argues that “cup” refers to one species of vessels. Most cups advocates claim that “cup” refers to “blood” or “fruit of the vine.” But when a species is referred to, a plurality of something makes up that species. So they would have a plurality of “bloods” and “fruits.” Brethren, drop this balderdash, and come to the truth. The man who conceived this species argument knew enough to know better.
In an effort to prove that neither a literal cup was used not the idea of one connoted by Christ some cups advocates cite Luke 22:17, “And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and said, Take this, and divide it among yourselves,” and they then ask, “Could they have divided a literal cup?” They forget, or ignore, the fact that “divide it” is a metonymy and refers to the sharing of the contents of the one cup Christ used. How could the individual cups brother with any consistency at all make this argument when the fruit of the vine is already divided before thanks? Christ did not say, “Take this which I have divided for you.” But let us notice that inspiration did not leave us untaught as to the manner of dividing the fruit of the vine.
(1) That which Christ “took” was undivided (Lk. 27:17).
(2) That for which Christ gave thanks was undivided (Lk. 22:17).
(3) That which he “gave” to them was undivided (Lk. 22:17).
(4) He told them to drink of this undivided something, “Drink ye all of it” (Matt. 26:27). In this command we have the “how” of dividing. They “divided” the contents of the cup by drinking.
(5) They understood this command and obeyed, “They All drank of it” (Mk. 14:23). Here is the example of “how” they did it. Shall we with blundering bungling ignore what the Bible says because we are joined to our idols, the cups?
There are a few who argue in favor of a plurality of cups in the communion but who oppose the use of individual cups. If a plurality can be used, who can limit the number? Reason and consistency demand that if we depart from the Scriptural precedent, “He took a cup” (Matt. 26:27) “And they all drank of it” (Mk. 14:23), and use two or three cups, we should not object to others going even further. It would be a case of the pot saying to the kettle, “You are black.” But, brethren, let us stay with the example.
The very term, “individual communion cups,” is a contradiction. We do not commune with ourselves. In partaking jointly of one loaf and one cup we have “communion.” Why, one cut) as used in the communion is called “the common cup.” “Common” and “communion” have the same derivation from the Latin, “communis,” meaning common. Thus one cup is the common or communion cup. The late venerable Dr. G. A. Trott wrote, “The very word, ‘individual,’ is opposite in meaning to ‘communion.’ Such a thing as individual communion is unthinkable to any one who has even the crudest conception of the meaning of words” (The Apostolic Way, Oct. 15, 1924).
There is an argument used in favor of individual cups which I shall now notice. That argument is,
Some quote, “Let all things be done decently and in order” (1 Cor. 14:40), and then argue, “The use of one cup in an assembly is indecent. Therefore, individual cups may be used Would Paul oppose himself? He has taught the use of one cup in I Cor. 10:16 and 1 Cor. 11:23-28. Would Paul accuse Christ of being indecent (Matt. 26:27; Mk. 14:23) ? Christ set the example. Notice:
(1) “Let all things be done decently and in order” (1 Cor. 14:40).
(2) But Christ “took a cup” (Mk. 14:23) “And they all drank of it.”
(3) Therefore, the use of one cup for each assembly is both “decent and in order.”
If people earnestly and honestly desire the truth, they will go to the Bible for authority for the cups instead of to sanitation. Sanitation has been used as an argument against baptism and in favor of sprinkling. We insist that the Lord knew more about these things than we do. He established both immersion and the use of the common cup.
J. W. McGarvey, President of the College of the Bible Lexington, Ky., for many years. was said by many to be the greatest Bible scholar of his day. He was educated under Alexander Campbell at Bethany College, and he delivered his oration in Greek when he graduated in 1850. He was a prolific and voluminous writer until he died in 1911. Though we have proved that Christ used one cup, thus sufficiently refuting the sanitation argument, I will give the following weighty quotation from the pen of Bro. McGarvey:
“About two years ago, I think, I published an article under the head of “Microbes,” in which I ridiculed, in the manner which I thought it deserved, the pretense by which the use of individual cups in the Lord’s Supper is defended. The ‘sanitary feature,’ as Brother Keeler styles it, is proven to be a pretense by the fact that though the use of cups in common has been practiced for nearly two thousand years, not a single instance has been produced of persons contracting contagious diseases from it. And if there had been a few instances, or a few thousands among the multiplied millions, what is that compared with the strict observance of an ordinance appointed by the Lord Jesus Christ? Shall we dare to change or modify such an ordinance for fear that one of us may prove to be the one out of millions who shall thus suffer? The ‘sanitary feature,’ as everybody knows, has been arrayed with great pertinacity against the ordinance of baptism as it was instituted by Christ, and it has been paraded as a justification of those who modify this ordinance. The shallowness of the reason in both instances forces the suspicion that want of faith, and not real fear of disease and death, lies at the bottom of it. If there is danger of swallowing microbes by drinking from the same cup with consumptives. what about being baptized in the same pool of water? Shall we have the baptistry emptied, washed and chemically disinfected after every baptism? If not, shall we always resort to a running stream, in which a dead dog may be floating some distance above us? Or shall we abandon baptism altogether. for the sake of keeping our immaculate persons from coming in contact with the invisible bugs which exude from our neighbors? Some people are too nice for this world. They ought to carry a smellingbottle all their days and pray the Lord to take them as soon as possible to a healthier country. It is my opinion that when the Lord instituted the Supper he knew as much about microbes as does any modern medical alarmist.”
The Metaphorical Smoke Screen
Some try so hard to get away from the idea of a literal cup that they run to the metaphorical use of the word “cup.” A Metaphor is “an implied simile or comparison.” Christ prayed, “Remove this cup from me” (Lk. 22:42). They ask, “Was this a literal cup?” No, it was not, but was Christ praying for the fruit of the vine to pass from him? If not, then it does not help the cups brother any. And this is not a Metonymy either.
There is a simple rule which, I think, will help you in understanding whether a literal cup is involved when the word “cup” is used in the Bible. You will find that the cup, is just as literal as the liquid contained. Let us apply this rule. “I will take the cup of salvation” (Psa. 116:13). Is salvation a literal liquid? No. Then you would not have a figurative liquid in a literal cup. Let us try again. “The same shall drink the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation” (Rev. 14:10). This is figurative wine, “the wrath of God,” and thus it is poured into a figurative cup of indignation. Again, “And great Babylon came in remembrance before God, to give unto her the cup of the wine of the fierceness of his wrath” (Rev. 16:19). A figurative cup to contain the figurative wine, “the fierceness of his wrath.”
Just as figurative liquid does not go with a literal cup, literal liquid is not placed in a figurative cup. “He took the cup” (Matt. 26:27). The liquid involved is literal “fruit of the vine” (Matt. 26:29) and it was in a literal cup. In the expression, “Drink this cup” (1 Cor. 11:26): (1) The drinking is literal; (2) The liquid to be drunk is literal; and (3) The cup named to suggest this liquid is also literal. In Rev. 16:19: (1) There is figurative drinking; (2) There is figurative wine; and (3) There is a figurative cup. Is not this plain? Why will brethren go to the metaphorical usage with its figurative drinking and figurative liquid to try to prove anything about literal drinking and literal liquid? This smoke screen does not hide their antics. Brethren, why not try to understand the Bible instead of trying to misunderstand it in order to justify a vain theory? The Lord took a literal cup of literal fruit of the vine, and they all literally drank of it (Mk. 14:23).
Weighed In The Balance
The truth is like gold; “The more you rub it, the brighter it shines.” Let us weigh this question in the balance of truth. Without sophistry let us form a few syllogisms.
“All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works” (2 Tim. 3:16-17). (1) The Scriptures completely furnish us unto all good works. (2) They do not furnish us a plurality of cups in an assembly for the communion. (3) Therefore, the use of a plurality of cups in the communion is not a good work. Again: (1) The Scriptures completely furnish us unto all good works. (2) But the Scriptures furnish us the use of one cup in the communion (Matt. 26:27). (3) Therefore, the use of one cup in the Communion is a good work.
“According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness” (2 Pet. 1:3). (1) His divine power gives us everything pertaining unto life and godliness. (2) His divine power did not give us a plurality of cups. (3) Therefore, a plurality of cups does not pertain to life and godliness. But, since his divine power gave us the use of one cup in the communion, the use of one cup pertains unto life and godliness.
(1) Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Rom. 10:17). (2) But the use of a plurality of cups is not found in the word of God. (3) Therefore, we cannot walk by faith and use a plurality of cups. But let us try again: (1) Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. (2) The use of one cup is found in the Word of God (1 Cor. 11:23-28). (3) Therefore, we can use one cup and walk by faith.
“My God shall supply all your need, according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:19). (1) God supplies all of our need. (2) But God did not supply the use of a plurality of cups for an assembly. (3) Therefore-, a plurality of cups is not our need. Or again: (1) God supplies all of our need. (2) But God supplied one cup for an assembly (1 Cor. 11:33, 28). (3) Therefore, one cup for an assembly is all of our need.
The more it is investigated, the more prominent this truth becomes. The blows of error rain with futility upon it. As we hasten to liberate our brethren from the shackles of human traditions, may we exclaim, “Thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Cor. 15:57). Next we will learn what the drink element in the communion is.
The Fruit Of The Vine
Having established the truth that one cup is to be used in the communion, it is now necessary for us to learn what that cup is to contain. That it contained a drink element is evident to all for Christ said, “Drink ye all of it” (Matt. 26:27). Jesus makes it very plain what the drink element is, “I will not drink henceforth of this fruit of the vine” (Matt. 26:29), and, “I will drink no more of the fruit of the vine” (Mk. 14:25).
Therefore, we have reached two conclusions; viz., (1) This liquid is a drink element, and (2) This drink element is the fruit of the vine.
We must then find out what kind of a drink element the vine produces. Is there a liquid, a drink, that is produced by the vine? I am reasonably sure that you know what kind of a liquid drink the vine produces. Go into a grape vineyard when the grapes are ripe: grasp a cluster of the grapes in your hand, and squeeze the juice into a cup. Is there a man living who will deny that this is the fruit of the vine? That it is the fruit of the vine is easily susceptible of proof either by reason or by demonstration. It being a drink and the fruit of the vine, it fulfills the Scriptural requirements for the drink element in the communion. Brethren who desire to stand on safe and Scriptural ground will not accept a fermented, alcoholic, and intoxicating liquor, which no vine under heaven and on the earth produced, as the drink element in the communion.
What The Vine Produces
The word “fruit” (Matt. 26:29: Mk. 14:25) is from the Greek “gennema.” It means “offspring, progeny, fruit, produce” (Robinson’s Lexicon, p. 141). Its basic and fundamental meaning is “That which has been begotten or born” (Thayer’s Lexicon. p. 113). That which is “born of” anything “comes forth” from that thing. Man is “born of” woman (Matt. 11:11) and “comes forth” from woman (Eccl. 5:15). What liquid fruit is “born of” and “comes forth”
from the grape vine except grape juice? There is not a grape vine on earth that produces an alcoholic and intoxicating drink.
God ordained this fruit producing law in the beginning, “And God said, Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind, whose seed is in itself” (Gen. 1:11). The vine is called a “tree” (Ezek. 15:2). It yields fruit after its kind and this fruit has “seed in itself.” The grapes contain the juice in which is the seed. No tree on earth yields an alcoholic and intoxicating beverage. A tree is known by its fruit, and “a good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit” (Matt. 7:18). The vine does not produce intoxicating wine that “at the last biteth like a serpent, and stingeth like an adder” (Prov. 23:32). The fruit of the vine is not as “the poison f dragons, and the cruel venom of asps” (Deut. 32:33): but it is nutritive and healthful, and may be safely taken by young and old.
Christ used this known and accepted fruit producing law to teach a spiritual lesson. “I am the vine, ye are the branches” (Jno. 15:5). “Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can Ye, except ye abide in me” (Jno. 15:4). The fruit of the vine is produced on a branch in contact with the vine. We must have contact with Christ in order to bear his fruit. The unfermented juice of the grape is produced on a branch which is in the vine, but the fermented and alcoholic wine is not and cannot he produced on a branch which is in the vine. If we sever grapes from the vine, press out the juice, and let fermentation produce alcoholic wine, this alcoholic wine is not the fruit of the vine. It is the fruit and product of fermentation. Jesus said. “The branch cannot bear fruit of itself. except it abide in the vine.” If this fermented wine, produced out of contact with the vine, is the fruit of the vine. then we as “branches” can sever ourselves from Christ. “the vine,” and still bear the fruit of Christ, but Christ used the natural impossibility to teach the spiritual impossibility. “No more can ye except Ye abide in me.” Since Christ bad said, “I am the vine,” (Jno. 15:5). be chose the “blood of the grape” (Gen. 49:11) to be His blood (Matt. 26:29-29).
The New Testament in Modern Speech By Weymouth renders it “the produce of the vine” (Matt. 26:29: -Mk.14:25). The Twentieth Century New Testament renders it in the same passage the “juice of the grape.”
The English word “wine” is a generic term and may be used to denote either the fermented or the unfermented. Most of the Hebrew and Greek words translated “wine” in the Old and New Testaments were also generic terms and could be used to denote either the fermented or unfermented. But even if you contest this evident fact, you gain nothing because Christ did not use Any of these terms to designate the contents of the cup. He used a term “gennema” which never was translated “wine” and which can only refer to, the fruit and offspring of the vine. This should place the subject beyond the realm of discussion in the minds of impartial students.
It seems strange that some brethren would contend so strongly for “unleavened bread” and then contend for “leavened wine.” The verb “to leaven” means “to produce fermentation in” (Webster). “Leavening” and “fermentation” Are the same process scientifically. We want unfermented bread and unfermented fruit of the vine. Bread taken “before it was leavened” (Ex. 12:34) and baked was called “unleavened” (Ex. 12:39) “for it was not leavened.” It was “unleavened” until it went through the leavening or fermenting process. Likewise, the fruit of the vine as pressed from the grapes is unleavened before it goes through the process of fermentation or leavening. The germs of ferment are in the atmosphere and, entering into the juice of the grapes when that juice comes in contact with the atmosphere, they set up fermentation in the juice. The juice cannot ferment until it is invaded by these foreign germs of fermentation.
Can The Fruit of The Vine Be Preserved?
Some then ask, “How can the fruit of the vine be preserved?” That is simple and easy. It can be bottled, brought under pressure to a certain temperature, and be preserved indefinitely. This heat kills those foreign germs of fermentation which invaded the juice of the grapes.
But then the question arises, “How did the ancients preserve it?” Well, even if we did know that, we know how to preserve it. There is an abundance of historical proof that the ancients preserved the fruit of the vine in its unfermented state in several ways. Some boiled most of the water out of it, thus reducing it to a thick syrup, and ate it as we do our syrup or added water to it to dilute it when it was desired as a drink. Others placed the fresh fruit of the vine in new bottles made of skin. The skins were made air tight with pitch and either sunk beneath the water of the wells or buried in the ground until desired. I think it can be established by history that the fruit of the vine was preserved unfermented as far back as one thousand years before the time of Christ. Brethren, why not accept the “blood of the grape?”
I heartily am in favor of the fruit of the vine without any foreign sugar added.
In fermentation three constituents of the grape juice are completely destroyed, and in their place seven completely new constituents appear. Fifty-five percent, approximately, of the remaining nine constituents of the grape juice disappear as a result of the fermentation. The grape juice parts with all of its gluten and gum and about eighty four percent of its sugar and albumen; and it is to these four constituents that the fluid owes its nutritive and life sustaining qualities and its value as food. You surely would not say that this resultant alcoholic wine is the fruit of the vine.
Some ask with an air of triumph, “Did not the Corinthians use fermented wine in the communion?” I unhesitatingly reply, “No.” Paul said, “One is hungry, and another is drunken” (1 Cor. 11:21), but he told us what this meal was and what it was not. (1) “In eating every one taketh before other his own supper” (1 Cor. 11:21). (2) “This is not to eat the Lord’s supper” (1 Cor. 11:20). He condemned what they were doing.
The Giving Of Thanks
The proper giving of thanks in the Communion is as essential to its Scriptural observance as the proper handling of the elements afterwards. Some brethren, who are so careful to use one loaf and one cup, are so careless in the expression of the thanks. Let us notice the simplicity of Christ’s example and imitate it.
(1) For the bread – “And he took bread, and gave thanks” (Lk. 22:19). “Jesus took bread, and blessed it” (Matt. 26:26). You will notice that he took the bread before he gave thanks for it. Is it not safe to follow this example? The thing that he took is the thing that he blessed or gave thanks for. I have heard brethren. waiting on the Lord’s Table, thank God for the day, the privilege of being there and for the privilege of partaking of the Communion (which all may be very well), and then fail to thank God for the very thing taken and which is to be eaten? Personally, I prefer a brief giving of thanks for the thing itself. But if brethren intend to give thanks for other things, it would be very wise to express thanks for the essential thing first to make sure it is not left out.
(2) For the cup – “And he took the cup, and gave thanks” (Matt. 26:27). Following the same pattern Christ first took the cup and then gave thanks for it. It is safe and Scriptural for this example to be followed today. Why should there be contention over it? If all will, voluntarily follow this example, confusion will be eliminated; and everyone’s conscience will be clear.
I observe that some brethren misdefine the bread and the cup in their thanksgiving. If you can not define them Scripturally, please do not define them at all, because God knows what they are. Give thanks for the bread and the cup, and it will be acceptable. After observing many mistakes in the wording of the thanks, I sought for a Scriptural wording of the spiritual significance of the elements of the Communion and found it.
Paul gives it in 1 Cor. 10:16 “The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ?” In expressing thanks for the bread, if you want to give the scriptural significance of the bread, it would be safe to say what Paul did about it. The bread is the “communion of the body of Christ.” Some brethren thank God for the cup which is the blood. Christ never said the cup was His blood. The fruit of the vine in it is the blood. Some have asked me if I give thanks for the cup or the fruit of the vine in it. I use Paul’s own phraseology, which embraces both, and there is not a man on earth or a devil in hell that can cite a Scriptural objection against the words of inspiration. Paul said, “The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ?” (I Cor. 10:16). Paul pointed out what we “bless,” “the cup of blessing,” and explained “is it not the communion of the blood of Christ?” To avoid confusion and be sure, we can use Paul’s own language.
Some have fallen into the error of giving thanks for both the bread and the cup of blessing at the same time. It is better to be safe than sorry and right than wrong.
There are probably more different abuses of the Communion than any other part of our worship. Brethren, let us be careful. I want to give a few words of caution. When you serve at the table, try to make remarks calculated to prepare people’s minds for a proper spiritual observance of the Communion. Usually the church has been edified by a lesson from the Bible. It would be better now for you to make your remarks about the Communion and make them brief and to the point.
I find no authority for observing the Communion on any day except the first day of the week. Furthermore, I f ind. no authority for any disciple’s partaking twice on that day; and I know of no authority for a disciple, who has already communed, to express thanks for the Communion in another assembly and not partake. And I would be afraid to observe the Communion on Sunday night because it has never been proved to me from the Bible that God has ever changed his recognition of the day, since its inception. “And the evening and the morning were the first day” (Gen. 1:5). This was from sunset to sunset evidently. I do not want to take chances.
Some have espoused the far fetched theory that the Communion is God’s second law of pardon and that the Christian who sins cannot obtain forgiveness until he partakes of the Communion the next Lord’s Day. Just as God’s additions to the church were “daily” (Acts (2:47), the very day people believed, repented, and were baptized, his forgiveness of our mistakes is also daily. Christ is our “advocate” (1 Jno. 2:1) to “make intercession for us” (Heb. 7:25), “if we confess our sins” (1 Jno. 1:9). We pray that God will forgive us as we forgive others (Matt. 6:12-14; Matt. 18:35), and Christ said that we were to “forgive” a brother seven times “in a day” if he “repent” (Lk. 17:4).
If God will not forgive us until the next Lord’s Day, can we ask him to forgive us as we forgive others? We partake of the Communion that we may have “life” (Jno. 6:53), that we may “dwell” in Christ (Jno. 6:56), that we may “remember” Him (Lk. 22:19), and that we may “shew the Lord’s death till he come” (1 Cor. 11:26) ; but not that we may obtain forgiveness for our sins.
The Communion has been sadly neglected and horribly mutilated by those who have rebelled against God’s Word. Let us stand in the Lord’s Kingdom at His Table and cry BACK to His pattern. Twisters will twist, and gospel perverters will pervert, but “the word of the Lord endureth for ever” (1 Pet. 1:25). 1 know I must give account to Him before whom we must all stand in Judgment (Rev. 20:12-15) for the disposition with which I have handled His Word in these articles. Remember, you may not agree with me in some minor detail, and yet agree with me in the main position taken. Let us study to attain to the unity of the faith. If any brother is strengthened, if anyone in error comes to the truth, I will have been more than repaid for my efforts. Let Waters sink beneath the wave of oblivion.. but eternal truth shall never perish!