The Lords Supper is a Full Meal | Till He Comes

I have been aware of this for some time now and am glad Jeremy has brought it up over on his blog Till He Comes.

Even as a youngster I could not grasp the smallness of the communion symbols when I would also hear someone say ‘we are partaking of the Lord’ supper’ it somehow did not jive in my mind.

In the past few years, we have met with other Christ followers and enjoyed food & fellowship along with praising, worshiping, and discussions much the same as Jeremy describes below.

What an experience, what a blessing, and what freedom in our Savior!

While there is some mystery as to how the Last Supper—which was a Passover meal—transitioned into a weekly or possibly daily Lord’s Supper observance as part of a fellowship meal among believers, there is no mystery whatsoever around the fact that the Lord’s Supper was full supper.

The Lord’s Supper was actually a meal. The most surprising thing about this idea is that it is actually surprising to many Christians.For over a thousand years, Communion, the Eucharist, or the Lord’s Supper has usually entailed little more than a bit of bread and a tiny taste of wine or grape juice. The Lord’s Supper is no longer a supper; it has become the Savior’s Snacklet or the Nazarene’s Nibble.

By what definition is this a Supper?

But if there is one thing that is clear from the accounts in Acts, and the description in 1 Corinthians 11, the Lord’s Supper was a full meal. In Corinth, the problem with the Lord’s Supper was that some people were eating and drinking everything before everyone had arrived 1 Cor 11:21-22, 33-34. Some people were even getting drunk 1 Cor 11:21.

Paul instructs them to wait for one another, so that everyone can share in the food and drink, and if there are some who are too hungry to wait, then they should eat a little bit at home before they come to the Lord’s Supper so that it can be observed and enjoyed with everyone present 1 Cor 11:34.

From this description in 1 Corinthians 11, it appears that the Lord’s Supper was a time for Christians to gather with one another, over an actual meal, where they would enjoy conversation and fellowship with one another. Part of the meal would probably include reminding people of the symbolism in the bread and wine that they were drinking, that through the broken body of Jesus and His blood shed for us, we have unity with one another as the Body of Christ and forgiveness of sins through His shed blood. There may also have been a time of more formal teaching and discussion about the Scriptures and what they taught about Jesus cf. Acts 20:7.

So from Scripture, it appears that a different picture emerges about the Lord’s Supper than what is typically practiced in the average church today. It appears that this was a weekly or possibly more frequent gathering of believers to enjoy a meal with each other. This would be a celebratory meal, where they would laugh, tell stories, and build relationships. There would probably be a formal time where someone reminded the people who had gathered the basis and reason for their gathering, namely, Jesus. It was also likely that there was a time of formal teaching or discussion as part of the meal cf. 1 Corinthians 12–14.This was the Lord’s Supper, and it is also likely that this was the primary weekly gathering of the local church.

via The Lords Supper is a Full Meal | Till He Comes.

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10 responses to “The Lords Supper is a Full Meal | Till He Comes

  1. Very interesting! I’ve never heard an argument for a full meal before, so I had to ponder this. Our only instructions from Jesus regarding “do this in remembrance of me,” is to take the bread and the fruit of the vine. We should be careful not to add or take away from the Word (II John 1:9 & Rev. 22:18-19) and that should be taken into consideration whenever deciding how to appropriately apply scripture to our worship and lives. Thanks for the interesting article!

    • Veronica, Thanks for your comment.
      Yes, you are correct regarding the scriptures you have shared here.
      However, I do not believe the author of this article, Jeremy Myers, is ‘adding to’ nor ‘taking away’ in regards to Rev. 22:18-19. Instead he gives us a different perspective about communion. Here is another reference too. http://www.tillhecomes.org/evolution-of-communion/

      There are in fact many folks who take the stance of the full meal along with the bread and wine/juice. By doing so it is actually more in line with the last meal depicted in scripture.

      Consider these verses,
      Now as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and after blessing it broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, “Take, eat; this is my body.” And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying, “Drink of it, all of you,
      (Matthew 26:26-27 ESV)
      In all the translations I reviewed, it was during the meal that Jesus did this.

      Take a look at this also, http://www.alanknox.net/2010/04/meeting-around-the-table-of-the-lord/, where Alan Knox delves into the same topic with the group he meets with and the meetings they have seem to be great and blessed. He wrote this two years ago and then shared it again the other day.

      • That is my understanding as well, that they were partaking of a full meal-the Passover Meal, which would not be exclusively bread and wine. However, we have a direct instruction from Jesus telling us exactly what he wants us to do. He did not say “Come, eat a meal, and break the bread, which represents my body. Eat some more, then drink of the fruit of the vine, which is the new covenant in my blood.” You have quoted exactly what he did tell his disciples, and what we are to do thereafter in remembrance of him. When it comes down to it, it’s just that simple. We have our instructions, all we have to do is follow them.

        Trying to bring more forward than what he commanded can lead to further actions that go beyond the word. The church will (and many do) incorporate a fellowship hall to accommodate meals, and is turned from a place of worship, learning, and reflection, to a place for social events, such as Paul was speaking against in 1 Corinthians 11. “What! Do you not have houses in which to eat and drink? Or do you despise the church of God and shame those who have nothing? What shall I say to you? Shall I praise you? In this I will not praise you.” It has always been my understanding that Paul was reprimanding the church of Corinth because they had turned the Lord’s Supper into a social event, enjoying a full meal rather than observing the breaking of bread and passing of wine or juice that Jesus implemented during his last supper. My understanding may not be correct, but I still believe that Jesus has the final word, and he has given it on this matter.

  2. Good discussion here.

    The meal talked about in 1 Corinthians 11 was a full meal, and some people were arriving before others and eating and drinking everything before everyone had arrived. Paul is saying that they should wait until everyone has arrived, so all can share the meal together. If they are too hungry, they should eat something at home to satisfy their hunger so that when they come together, they can wait for all to arrive.

    • To take it a step further, 1 Cor 11:17-22 is Paul offering a single example that fits into a key theme throughout the whole letter: He’s addressing the problem of members of the church of Corinth maintaining divisions among themselves that are supposed to be done away with when we enter into the unity of the body.

      In this case, the social division is kinda subtle, at least for us looking at it from a modern perspective; it was pretty clear what Paul was admonishing to the people he was admonishing. We get the idea that some people were eating before everyone arrived and think “Oh, some people showed up late and they didn’t hold off on Supper for them, that’s kinda rude.” But what we can easily miss is that in this time period it wasn’t just going to be random as to who might be late week to week, or even picking on the guy who always shows up late to events because he plans poorly; this was a straight up class division: people who were higher up in the ruling class had not only the flexibility to have free time when they choose but they could also afford horses and carts for transportation. People in the working class, had to walk to get where they were going and were tied up with work as much as possible during the day.

      To have the upper-class clean and dining at their convenience and the lower class arrive later, still dirty because they haven’t had opportunity to go home before gathering, and eating separately was common enough to any household gathering at the time; but Paul strove to point out that those divisions were supposed to cease when entering into the Body of Christ, so it was an abuse to the Church for it’s members to maintain them.

  3. Thanks Jeremy for coming into this discussion, I really appreciate it! 🙂
    I agree with you about the Corinthians here. In my studies, I found that is more likely what was happening.

    Veronica –
    Check out this piece, also from Jeremy, http://www.tillhecomes.org/lords-supper-feast/

  4. If we really take a close look at the scriptures, Christ does not give us an exact prescription for observing the symbols except ‘do this in remembrance of me’.

    However, the reduction of a meal as depicted in the gospels, to a piece of cracker/bread and thimble of wine/juice, is actually man concocted.

    In his post, the high point of our life together as the people of God, Arthur Sido writes….

    Of all the quotable passages in ‘A Meal With Jesus’, this was my favorite…
    The Lord’s Supper should be a meal we “earnestly desire” to eat. We should approach it with anticipation. With longing. With excitement. With joy. The Lord’s Supper should be a joyous occasion. A vibrant meal with friends. A feast.

    Our earnest desire must surely affect how we celebrate the Lord’s Supper. Today it has commonly become ritualized. We’re the group in town whose central meal involves a fragment of bread and a small sip of wine. How is this a foretaste of the messianic banquet?

    The bread and wine in the New Testament are part of a meal. Luke says of the Jerusalem church, “Breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts” (Acts 2:46). Commentators often can’t decide whether this refers to meals in general or Communion. That’s because we assume they’re two different things. We think of a meal taking place around a dining table at home while we think of Communion as a solemn rite in a church building. But in Jerusalem followers of Jesus ate meals together in their homes, eating bread, drinking wine, remembering Jesus, and celebrating the community he created through his death.

    These were feasts of friends. Some in the church in Corinth were abusing the meals, but Paul doesn’t tell them to separate the bread and wine from the meal. Quite the opposite. He tells them to wait for one another so they can eat the meal together.

    Communion should be a feast of friends shared with laughter, tears, prayers, and stories. We celebrate the community life that God gives us through the cross and in the Spirit. We can’t celebrate it with heads bowed and eyes closed, alone in our private thoughts and strangely solitary even as we’re surrounded by other people.

    When we recapture the Lord’s Supper as a feast of friends, celebrated as a meal in the presence of the Spirit, then it will becomes something we earnestly desire. It will become the high point of our life together as the people of God. In this sad and broken world, the Lord’s Supper is a moment of joy, because it is a moment of the future.
    (A Meal With Jesus, pp 118-119)

  5. Jesus was taking an organic experience and using it to paint a picture of a spiritual truth. Jesus said another time also, “unless you eat may flesh and drink my blood you have no part of me” He then went on to explain that what He was speaking was “Spirit and Life”.

    I truly believe that it is the spiritual reality that is the substance, and the physical expression is a picture as a reminder. In that, every expression of eating and drinking symbolizes the reality that He is the bread of life and the true drink. And yes, it WAS a meal they shared, not a little cracker and a plastic cup of non-alcoholic grape juice. This is not wrong either, it the spiritual significance that is important.

  6. Good discussion! As an organic church guy who spent 30 years in the institutional church, I fear we – the “church” – have disassociated spirituality from daily life. Communion was something that Jesus instituted as part of something he had done with the Disciples at least twice before (celebrating Passover). It was part of regular spiritual life for them. He used what was organic and ordinary in their spiritual journey (celebrating Passover) and, as Kriston observed, “painted a picture of spiritual truth” by introducing something “extraordinary”, namely, communion. In the context of life and our organic church fellowship we have celebrated communion both as a separate thing during the course of our gathering, and we have celebrated it as part of a community meal (the “infamous” pot luck). It is my common practice to read the words of Paul from 1 Corinthians 11, and to use the common elements of juice and bread (yes, we have used wine and unleaven bread on occasion). I believe we lose focus, purpose and meaning when we begin laying down new “rules” as to how what was an “organic” experience in the 1st century must be “religiously” observed today. Just my thoughts. Maurice

  7. Pingback: As Often as You _________ « He Dwells — The B'log in My Eye

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