Barry Newman's Blog

September 21, 2009

Christ Centred Communion (part V)

Filed under: Christ Centred Communion,Eucharist,Holy Communion,Lord's Supper — barrynewman @ 10:36 pm

The Christian Ceremony of the Lord’s Supper?

Allusions to the Lord’s Supper in the New Testament?

There have been many attempts to find references or allusions in the New Testament to the holding of an early Christian ceremony, perhaps associated with a meal but not necessarily so – a ceremony reflective of the Last Passover Meal. Passages appealed to include:  John 6: 53 – 58; 1 Corinthians 10: 3, 4; Hebrews 6: 4, 5 and 13: 10.  To conclude that these passages refer to a Christian ceremony requires a considerable stretch of the imagination.  Each of these texts in its own way uses metaphorical language involving references to matters such as bread, food, drinking and eating, but the metaphors are used in explanations which have nothing to do with a Christian ceremony. However surely there is a reference to a Christian ceremony called the Lord’s Supper in Paul’s letter to the Corinthians, particularly in chapters 10 and 11.  Or is there? To these passages we shall soon turn in order to deal with questions such as, “What did the Lord’s Supper refer to?  What should we do today?”

The Lord’s Supper in the Early Fathers?

A word of warning:  In pondering these questions, as with the matter of the ceremony of baptism, we should be very wary about obtaining our answers from the writings of those Christians called the Early Fathers. Indeed, there is no evidence, except for one document of uncertain date, that anyone before the 4th century, called a ceremony or rite that some might claim was akin to the Lord’s Supper, by the title “The Lord’s Supper”.  The term the “Eucharist” meaning something like “a thanksgiving” was used instead, with the first known use of that term occurring around 110 AD.   The term sometimes referred to the elements of a ceremony but at other times to the ceremony (or what was viewed as the rite) itself. Though an understanding of what was involved in the “Eucharist” developed over time, from the early days, the Early Fathers believed that there was a ceremony, considered to be a rite, in which a sacrifice in some sense was central and that in this sacrifice the body and blood of Jesus was present in some real way.  They were in error.  They seemed not to understand that Christ died to sin once for all (Rom. 6: 10) – that he offered one sacrifice for sins for all time (Heb. 10: 12). His sacrifice could never be repeated.  Furthermore they badly misunderstood the words that Jesus uttered during that last Passover Meal.

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