Is there a correct Biblical name for partaking of the body and blood of Jesus Christ as represented by bread and wine? Does the Bible label it as Jesus' last Passover? Or should it be called the Lord's Supper? Or, as some fellowships have done, called the commemorating of Jesus' last night on earth as taking communion?
Near the beginning of Jesus' last night he washes the feet of his disciples, including those of Judas his betrayer. After Judas leaves the room to consummate his betrayal, Christ takes a piece of unleavened bread and states that it now represents his body. Every year when his disciples remember his death it will symbolize the sacrifice of his flesh for our sins. Later, he takes one of the cups of Passover and designates that it will forever represent his shed blood and be a sign of God's new covenant with man.
Does a supper symbolize sacrifice?
Is the title "Lord's Supper" a proper term for the Christian ordinance of observing Christ's death? The only scripture from which one can derive this title is found in some Bible translations (KJV, etc.) of 1Corinthians 11.
20. Therefore, when you assemble together in one place, it is not to eat the Lord's supper. 21. For in eating, everyone takes his own supper first; now on the one hand, someone goes hungry; but on the other hand, another becomes drunken. 22. WHAT! Don't you have houses for eating and drinking? . . . Shall I praise you in this? I do not praise you!
23. For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus in the night in which He was betrayed took bread; 24. And after giving thanks, He broke it and said, "Take, eat; this is My body, which is being broken for you. This do in the remembrance of Me." 25. In like manner, He also took the cup after He had supped, saying, "This is the cup of the New Covenant in My blood. This do, as often as you drink it, in the remembrance of Me." 26. For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you solemnly proclaim the death of the Lord until He comes. (1 Corinthians 11, HBFV)
The word translated 'supper' in verse 20 comes from the Greek word deipnon (Strong's Concordance #G1173). It means the chief or BIGGEST meal of the entire day (usually eaten in the evening) or a feast. Deipnon is translated as 'feast,' meaning a large meal, in Mark 6:21, 12:39, Matthew 23:6, Luke 14:12-24, 20:46, John 12:2 and other places.
At the time of Jesus most people ate only two meals a day: breakfast and dinner. The average Israelite ate foods such as bread, olives, oil, buttermilk, cheese, fruit, vegetables and on very rare occasions meat. Its easy to see that a big, hearty meal was needed after a full day of work in the fields, grinding grain, etc. - especially when the last time anything substantial was eaten was eight or more hours ago. This means Paul could NOT have been referring to a small piece of bread and wine (verses 23-26) as a SUPPER - whether it was the Lord's or anyone else!
So what was Paul saying? He was stating the purpose of the church coming together (verse 20) is NOT to eat a large meal, like the ones they would have at home, or even the meal Jesus ate with his disciples just before his arrest. Such a meal symbolizes nothing and was NOT singled out by Jesus for any special meaning or significance. The purpose of the special meeting (verse 20) is to partake of the simple symbols Christ himself designated and emphasized - unleavened bread and a little wine (verses 23-26) - as a means of commemorating and proclaiming his death.
Was it Communion?
Many in the Protestant world use the term 'communion.' It's one and only connection related to commemorating Christ's sacrifice, found in a few Bible translations, is in 1 Corinthians 10.
10:16 The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? (KJV)
The Greek word translated as "communion" is koinonia (Strong's Concordance #G2842), which means "fellowship" or "social intercourse." This verse is simply describing what the wine and bread represent - a connection or relationship with fellow believers and with Christ - and is not meant to be some title or designation of the two symbols. A more accurate translation of verse 16 of 1Corinthians 10 reads,
16. The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not the fellowship of the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not the fellowship of the body of Christ? (HBFV)
There exists no basis in the Bible for using the terms "Lord's Supper" and "Communion" when referring to what occurred during Jesus' last night on planet earth. When believers eat unleavened bread and drink a small amount of wine each year in commemorating Jesus' sacrifice, they partake of HIM. The correct and truthful phrase for this solemn occasion is 'the Passover' or more properly 'the Christian Passover.'
God's Annual Feast Days
|Overview of the |
|Did Jesus have a |
Passover or supper?
| Day of |
| Passover and Feast |
of unleavened bread
|The Day |
|Feast of Tabernacles |
Last Great Day