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Bible Dictionaries

Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament

Lord's Supper. (I.)



1. The Sacramental in Hebrew worship.

2. The Method and Teaching of Jesus.

3. Passover Eve.

(a) The Synoptic Gospels.

(b) The Fourth Gospel.

(c) The Apostle Paul.

4. The Institution.

(a) The common underlying Tradition.

(b) Differences in detail.

(i.) Mark-Matt.; (ii.) Luke 22:15-20; (iii.) Paul; (iv.) The Fourth Gospel.


5. The Apostolic Church.

(a) The Jewish-Christian Community.

(b) The Pauline Churches.

(c) The Agape and the Lord’s Supper.

6. The sub-Apostolic Church.

(a) Clement of Rome.

(b) Pliny’s Letter to Trajan.

(c) The Teaching of the Twelve Apostles.

(d) Ignatius.

(e) Justin Martyr.

7. The Lord’s Supper and the Pagan Mysteries.


Introductory.—The Lord’s Supper has been for centuries, and is to-day, a theological storm-centre; though the blasts have shifted, recent critical scholarship having occasioned a new incidence of forces. Former controversies raged round the meaning of the institution. At present the discussion is even more vital, for it is a matter not of interpretation only, but of the trustworthiness of the sources. The Gospels as they now stand are said to owe so much to the thought and practice of the growing Church, that it is necessary to read between the lines in order to detect the simple form of the Eucharist on the day of its first celebration, when ‘it signified rather the abrogation of the old worship and the near approach of the Kingdom than the institution of a new worship.’ It is denied that Jesus, with His views as to the speedy consummation of His Kingdom, could have instituted the Supper as a perpetual memorial of His death; and the connexion in the Gospels between the Last Supper and the Passover is regarded as a later overlying deposit, which can be easily detached from the primitive stratum. To take an example, Jesus is supposed to have uttered the words of the Supper recorded in the Gospels on the impulse of the moment. Feeling Himself already victor over death and the world, He wishes to inspire His disciples with His own conviction, and by an act of vivid imagination conceives Himself as already dispensing the blessings of the completed Kingdom, their simple farewell meal having been transformed into the great Messianic banquet of the future, which commonly served as a figure for the joys of Messiah’s sovereignty. Professor Gardner is even more drastic in his treatment of the Gospel tradition, eliminating all evidence except that of St. Paul, who, he thinks, was the real originator of the rite, having ‘turned a pagan ceremony to Christian use’ in a moment of ecstasy under the influence of what he had seen of the Greek mysteries in Corinth. But the great majority of impartial scholars who have discussed the question do not adopt such a highly critical attitude towards the narratives of the institution of the Supper, or reverse so completely the ordinarily accepted views as to its origin and purpose. No sufficient treatment of the Lord’s Supper can pass in silence these problems which have been raised with great learning and acuteness, but they must be discussed in relation to the method of Jesus the Messiah, who brings Israel to its fulfilment.

1. The Sacramental in Hebrew worship.—The term ‘sacrament’ denotes an outward and visible sign of an invisible spiritual reality. By means of symbol, which is metaphor transformed into action or concreteness, truth is conveyed to the participants in a sacrament much more readily than by the bare word. Language conveys truth, but symbol does what language cannot compass. The worship of the OT was full of the symbolic, for it is almost certain that the cultus was in its essence no arbitrary prescription of meaningless forms. The sacrificial system was held to be a means of grace, of Divine appointment, whereby the worshipper could approach Jehovah. It must have been educative, so that the obedient and lealhearted Israelite became in the actual observance more receptive of moral and spiritual truth. In that sense the sacrificial system of Israel was truly sacramental. But whether the average Hebrew recognized the sacramental character is doubtful, for the great prophets constantly warn the people that the mere ritual performance of sacrifice is inefficacious. Some, especially the earlier prophets, often seem to disparage offerings entirely, as though the only worship with which Jehovah is well pleased is the spiritual service of moral character and a contrite heart. And yet the prophets employ symbolic action again and again in the service of an ideal spirituality, so that in itself symbol has been a widespread and perfectly legitimate means of grace. The transcendental element in worship, however brightly or faintly the contemporary life of Israel may have been illumined by the spiritual truth of the prophets, had all but vanished from the official Judaism of our Lord’s day. There was no open vision. No prophet or seer was abroad in the dull day of rationalism. Heroic faith had been displaced by a shrewd but commonplace conduct. The Law had come in alongside Temple service, and ritual was observed as an ordinance. The average Jew, having become a deist, could not feel sky, earth, and sea palpitate with the Divine Spirit, and so was impervious to sacramental conceptions (W. P. Paterson, art. ‘Sacrifice’ in Hasting's Dictionary of the Bible iv. 341; Bousset, Rel. des Judenthums, pp. 182–184). It was to the ‘poor of the land’ who cherished the prophetic ideal that the parabolic, the sacramental, the symbolical in the teaching of Jesus would appeal.

2. The Method and Teaching of Jesus.—The Gospel narratives represent the Supper as a solemn final act in the life of the Messiah. But the Messiah of their delineation is a Person of startling originality. He penetrates through the crust of unimaginative moralism to the living prophetic stream which in His day found its way to the surface only in tiny rivulets. On His own authority He claims, while purifying and enlarging the hopes of prophecy, to fulfil all that was truest in the religion of Israel, having accepted in His Temptation the Divine ideal of a Kingdom unalloyed by any earthly aspirations. He discovers and applies to Himself the title ‘Son of Man,’ and in virtue of His position inaugurates changes in religion which constitute a breach with the past, for His doctrine concerning worship, foreshadowed by the prophets, antiquates bloody sacrifices and opaque ritual. To say that Jesus could not have instituted the sacraments of Baptism and the Lord’s Supper, because He looked for a speedy realization of the Kingdom, is to deny that He had the complete vision of the destiny of the Servant of the Lord whose function is assumed by the Son of Man, whereas it seems certain that He foretold a spiritual inheritance among the Gentiles in return for His faithful service even unto death (Isaiah 42:1 ff., Isaiah 52:13 ff., Isaiah 62:1 ff., Mark 1:11, Luke 4:16-21, Matthew 12:18, Mark 10:45). Another unique prophetic ideal was the consummation of the Kingdom in the Day of the Lord. With respect to this also we must assume that Jesus was a creator of spiritual truth, for the consistency of the Synoptic portraiture of Jesus, and the purity of His own views as to His mission, demand that our interpretation of His outlook into the future of the Kingdom should not be limited by the current ideas of Jewish apocalypses, or by the literal symbolism of OT prophecy.

We infer from the Gospels, (1) that before the close of His ministry in Galilee Jesus had looked forward to His death as the goal of His service (Mark 8:31); (2) that this death was to result in the redemption of the new Israel to which the prerogatives of the old would be transferred (Mark 10:45; Mark 12:1-12); (3) that He expected an earthly future for His Kingdom outlasting the earthly Jerusalem, and involving its establishment among the Gentiles (Mark 4:30-32; Mark 12:1-12; Mark 13:10; Mark 13:14 ff., Luke 13:32-35; Luke 21:20-24). No less evident, however, was the inability of the disciples to understand that the road of service even unto death was the road to the crowning glory of the Kingdom. For Him thus steadily to set His face towards Jerusalem, was, they thought, a sheer and fatal fascination (Mark 10:32-34, Luke 18:31 ff.).

Nor is the institution of the sacrament of the Supper inconsistent with the method of Jesus. The day for symbolism was not past, provided the symbolism was adequate; and this Supreme Teacher surpasses all others in the use of parable and symbol. Every meal with His disciples becomes sacramental through its prayer of thanksgiving, a symbol of the spiritual truth that in Him God was giving to the world the food that was real indeed (John 6:51-58). Nor would such a procedure be altogether strange to men who would remember that in the OT the common meal was the symbol of a completed covenant (Genesis 26:30; Genesis 31:54, Exodus 24:11, 2 Samuel 3:20; see König, ‘Symbols, Symbolical Actions’ in Hasting's Dictionary of the Bible , Ext. Vol., 171b). In order to understand the significance of this institution, it must be borne in mind that the disciples had committed all their fortunes to Jesus. Their faith had been for them a heroic venture, and the death of the Messiah meant little less than His desertion of them. That night, death like a dark shadow hovering over them was forcing their loved one within its portal. They could not see that a glorious light was shining on His back, that He was in reality an angel of blessing. They needed a pledge of love significant of the future and yet full of tender memories. This the Lord’s Supper becomes to them. That it was a mark of supreme wisdom thus to perpetuate the significance of His death for the completion of His Kingdom in concrete symbolism, is evident from their misinterpretation of their Lord’s promise as to the future of His Kingdom on earth and His own return; but we are led to expect only such words and symbolic action as would illuminate the spiritual idea of the Kingdom; not precepts and ritual ordinance for its external organization.

3. Passover Eve.—Jesus came into Jerusalem on the morning of the first day of the week, and for several days escaped the plots of His enemies. But Judas entered into a conspiracy with the chief priests apparently two days before ‘the Passover and the feast of unleavened bread’ (Mark 14:1; Mark 14:10-11). Ignorant of this accomplished treachery, the other disciples, observing that Jesus has as yet made no arrangement for the celebration of the feast, say unto Him ‘on the first day of unleavened bread, when they sacrificed the Passover, Where wilt thou that we go and make ready that thou mayest eat the Passover?’ (Mark 14:12). Now we are embarked upon a sea of difficulties. The Gospels separate very distinctly—the Synoptics on the one side, the Fourth on the other. Did Jesus eat the regular Passover with His disciples, or did He not? At first sight the Synoptic Gospels seem to say that He did. But, according to John, Jesus died on the afternoon when the Passover lamb was slain (John 13:1; John 13:29; John 18:28).

(a) The Synoptic Gospels.—(α) Evidence that the last meal was eaten at the conclusion of the regular Passover meal is offered by Mark 14:12; Mark 14:14, Matthew 26:17-19, Luke 22:7-8; Luke 22:11; Luke 22:15-16, the last verses laying especial stress upon the desire of Jesus to eat this Passover with His disciples. Many features of the meal also suggest the Passover,—the family group with Jesus presiding, the prayers of thanksgiving, the cups (Luke 22:17; Luke 22:20), the breaking of the bread, the solemn demeanour, the exposition, the conclusion with a hymn.

(β) But the Synoptics contain hints that the Supper was not a regular Passover meal. It is stated in Mark 14:1-2, that two days before the feast the priests resolved to capture Jesus, and to execute Him before any sympathizers among the populace could interfere; and, since nothing is said to the contrary, it is reasonable to conclude that the purpose was carried out. It would appear that, according to contemporary Jewish practice, Passover, the 14th Nisan, was spoken of as the beginning of the feast Maẓẓoth, though originally Unleavened Bread began on 15th Nisan (Wellhausen, Evangelium Marci, 115; Schürer, ThLZ [Note: hLZ Theol. Literaturzeitung.] , 1st April 1893, col. 182; as against Chwolson in Das letzte Passamahl). But only work necessary for preparing food was permitted from sunset on the 14th to sunset on the 21st, and it would have been illegal or contrary to custom to arrest Jesus that night with swords and staves, to hold a meeting of the Sanhedrin, to release a prisoner, to purchase grave-clothes, and to take the dead body down from the cross, if He ate the regular Passover meal on Thursday evening Nisan 14. Further, there is no mention in the Synoptic narrative of their eating the lamb (Jewish Encyc. x. art. ‘Passover’). Jesus died on a Friday, so that we may probably assume from Mark 14:1-2 that Passover (Nisan 14) fell on the Sabbath, which began on Friday at sunset. Nevertheless the preponderating impression of the Synoptic Gospels is certainly in favour of this meal having been related in some way to the Passover feast. It is distinctly so stated, and it is difficult to suppose that there were not good grounds in the primary sources for such united testimony.

(b) The Fourth Gospel.—From John 18:28 we must infer that Jesus died on the afternoon before Passover—‘between the two evenings’ (Deuteronomy 16:6). This inference is so strongly reinforced by John 13:1; John 13:29, that Dr. Hort, with whom Dr. Sanday and Mr. C. H. Turner agree, believes that the Fourth Evangelist is silently correcting a false impression left by the Synoptists (Expos. iv. v. [1892] p. 182; Hasting's Dictionary of the Bible i. 411a. On the other side see Edersheim, Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah, Bk. v. ch. x.). St. John neither here nor elsewhere refers directly to the institution of the Supper, but in John 6:53-59 his conception of the truth that underlies the Sacrament is set forth in the conversation of Jesus. He states that the miracle of the feeding of the 5000 took place at Passover time (John 6:4, so true reading), probably seeing in it a figure of the Christian Passover. Notwithstanding, therefore, his fixing of the day of our Lord’s death before the regular Passover, there is good ground for holding that he implicitly relates the Last Supper to the Passover (Westcott, St. John, pp. 96, 113; Holtzmann, NT Theol. ii. 503; Wendt, St. John’s Gospel, 137–139). See, further, artt. Dates, vol. i. p. 413 ff., Last Supper, Passover (II.).

(c) The Apostle Paul.—Though 1 Corinthians 5:7-8 is often interpreted so as to make St. Paul agree with the Fourth Evangelist, that Jesus died when the lambs for the feast were slain, it is very doubtful whether this idea was in his mind. He is comparing the Christian life with the old Passover upon which the Feast of Unleavened Bread followed (Exodus 12:19; Exodus 13:7). So now, since the Christian Passover has begun through the sacrifice of Christ, all impurity must be removed from their lives. Perhaps 1 Corinthians 10:1-2; 1 Corinthians 10:6; 1 Corinthians 10:15-16 have the imagery of the Passover; ‘the cup of blessing’ (1 Corinthians 10:16) was one of the most sacred elements of the Paschal meal (Edersheim, op. cit. ii. 510 f.; but for opposite view, see Holtzmann, op. cit. ii. 184 f.).

The figure of 1 Corinthians 5:7-8 may refer to an actual celebration of the Christian Passover in the Corinthian Church, for we know that in the middle of the 2nd cent. Easter was the most important annual festival of the Catholic Church, and there is no evidence of its having been introduced after the Apostolic age. The great Quartodeciman controversy (c. 165 a.d.) was not concerned with doctrinal differences, but with the date on which the universal Christian feast was to be held—whether the Jewish date, Nisan 14, or the Sunday of Easter week. No inference can be drawn from it as to the connexion between the Eucharist and the Passover, inasmuch as the Christian Passover was not a memorial of the Passover only, but of redemption in which Christ’s death and resurrection both were the essential factors. The Supper would be at most one element in the celebration, and possibly had little direct Paschal significance. The Church of the last half of the 2nd cent. assumed that there was agreement among the four Evangelists with regard to the time of Christ’s death, and apparently accepted the Synoptic chronology, Origen and Eusebius making definite attempts to bring Jn. into conformity with the other Gospels. Zahn, however, holds that the Quartodecimans interpreted the latter in accordance with the former (Gesch. NT Kan. i. 1. 191). For a fuller discussion, with older literature, see Zahn, op. cit. i. 1. 180–192; J. Drummond, Character and Authorship of Fourth Gospel, 444–513; Stanton, The Gospels as Historical Documents, 173–197; Preuschen in PRE [Note: RE Real-Encyklopädie fur protest. Theologic und Kirche.] 3 [Note: designates the particular edition of the work referred] xiv. 725–734 takes a different view.

The easiest explanation of this conflicting evidence is that Jesus did not eat the regular Passover feast with His disciples, but that He did eat a meal by anticipation on Nisan 13, the night before the regular Jewish celebration, which was in some sort a keeping of the Passover by this little group (but see Robinson, art. ‘Eucharist’ in Encyc. Bibl. i. § 3). The words of Jesus in Luke 22:15-16 become intelligible when we remember what the Passover meant, and also His method in promulgating His Kingdom. Passover was the greatest national feast, gathering into itself whatever was most sacred in the religious life of Israel. It was the memorial of national redemption. Through its families—each a part of the larger whole—Israel entered annually into renewed covenant relationship with Jehovah, who had graciously preserved and ransomed the people. It was a sacrificial feast allied with the shelamim or peace-offerings. The sprinkled blood denoted atoning efficacy (v. Orelli, ‘Passah,’ in PRE [Note: RE Real-Encyklopädie fur protest. Theologic und Kirche.] 3 [Note: designates the particular edition of the work referred] xiv.; art. ‘Passover’ in Hasting's Dictionary of the Bible iii. and in Jewish Encyc.). Now Israel is on the point of being transformed. A new redemption is to be completed. Jerusalem and the Temple, with its bloody sacrifices and ritual worship, are soon to disappear. But while the Messiah is abrogating the letter of the old, He fulfils its spirit. He is supplying new wine-skins for the new wine. Just as He has provided the new Israel with a new conception of worship (Matthew 6:1-18, John 4:21-24), a new standard of righteousness (Matthew 5:17-48), and a reinterpretation of the Sabbath (Mark 2:23-26; Mark 3:1-5), so now He transfigures, while yet He preserves the identity of, the central institution of Israel’s national life. By ‘a masterpiece of practical skill as a teacher’ Jesus enshrines, in this symbolic action, for the spiritual representatives of the new Israel, the memory of its ransom through the death of Messiah, whereby a new covenant relationship with Jehovah is possible.

4. The Institution.Mark 14:22-26, Matthew 26:26-30, Luke 22:15-20, 1 Corinthians 11:23-26 :


And as they were eating He took bread and when He had blessed


And as they were eating Jesus took bread and blessed


And He took bread and when He had given thanks

1 Co

In the night in which He was betrayed the Lord Jesus took bread and when He had given thanks


He brake it and gave to them and said, Take ye this is my body


And brake it and He gave to the disciples and said, Take eat this is my body


He brake it and gave to them saying this is ray body which is given for you

1 Co

He brake it and said this is my body which is for you


This do in remembrance of me.

1 Co

This do in remembrance of me. And He said [unto them]


And He took a cup and when He had given thanks He gave to them and they all drank of it.


And He took a cup and gave thanks and gave to them saying drink ye all of it.


And the cup in like manner after supper saying

1 Co

And the cup in like manner after supper


This (covenant) my blood of the covenant


For this (covenant) my blood of the covenant


This cup is the new covenant in my blood

1 Co

This cup is the new covenant in my blood


which is shed for many


which is shed for many unto remission of sins


which is shed for you

1 Co

This do as often as ye drink it in remembrance of me


Verily I say unto you I will no more drink of the fruit of the vine


But I say unto you I will not henceforth drink of this fruit of the vine

Lk (Luke 22:18)

For I say unto you I will not from heneeforth drink of the fruit of the vine


Until that day when I drink it new in the Kingdom of God


Until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s Kingdom


Until the Kingdom of God shall come

1 Co adds:

For as often as ye eat this bread and drink this cup ye proclaim the Lord’s death till He come.

We read in Matthew and Mark that, during a meal, Jesus took bread and brake it. Possibly it was one of the unleavened cakes used at the Feast, though the foregoing discussion renders unnecessary any attempt to fix this action into the order of the regular Passover. The procedure was peculiarly solemn, with an added gravity, because for the first time, a few moments before, Jesus had announced that one of the little group was a traitor (Luke 22:21-23, which puts this after the narrative of the Supper, is probably a displacement). Ruin without, treachery within, the disintegration of the brotherhood may well have seemed to have already begun, and collapse was staring them in the face. Nothing but the serene assurance of Jesus could brace them against such disaster. Like a father presiding at a family meal, He rallies them, in full view of His own death, by such a thanksgiving as they had often heard from Him before (Matthew 14:19; Matthew 15:36, John 6:11). There is no suggestion here of exaltation or ecstasy. His demeanour is that of confidence, subdued by sorrow for His betrayal and the hatred of His enemies. The presumption from the order of Mark 14:18-21 and John 13:21-30 is against the traitor having remained throughout the Supper.

(a) The common underlying Tradition.—The action of Jesus in solemnly breaking bread and handing it to His disciples must mean that His body is likewise to be broken, destroyed by men; but, when assimilated by His disciples, He in His complete Person will become their spiritual food. It is parabolic, or rather, it may be illustrated by the allegories of the Fourth Gospel, as e.g. John 15:1, where Jesus claims to be ‘most really and yet not materially the true vine’ (Westcott). Quite apart from the question of its historical value, the discourse of Jesus in John 6:47-59 may be used to illuminate this procedure, because the same truth is expressed in Jn. in words as in the Lord’s Supper by words and symbol.

The second part of the Supper is another solemnly acted allegory. Old is passing over into new. At Sinai sprinkled blood had ratified a covenant (Exodus 24:4-8). Jeremiah, all but submerged in the flood which was carrying on its surface the fragments of the old system, sees like a rainbow of hope the new covenant which, with its promise of forgiveness of sins, was to he established on a perfect knowledge of God; and later came the profound truth that this new covenant between God and man could be inaugurated only by the death of the Servant of the Lord, whose sufferings would bring salvation to the whole world (Isaiah 42:6; Isaiah 49:8; Isaiah 52:13-15; Isaiah 53:11-12; see Kautzsch, ‘Religion of Israel,’ in Hasting's Dictionary of the Bible , Extra Vol. 708).

The new covenant is about to be ratified by Messiah’s blood. The many are to be ransomed (Mark 10:45), these representatives of the true Israel being but the first to appropriate the benefits of the new covenant. Parabolic or symbolic this meal was, but both parts do not convey the same truth. The first action is a vehicle for the truth that Jesus Himself will continue to be for His disciples their heavenly food unto eternal life; the second that, in virtue of Messiah’s death, salvation from sin is possible through the covenant grace of God. To attribute the conception of the second half of the institution, as it is recorded in Mk., to the influence of Pauline thought, is to do injustice to the fact that its roots are deeply imbedded in OT prophecy, although, like many other ideas, its flower first appears in the teaching of Jesus.

His closing words have a future outlook. Death will end in victory, and when the Day of the Lord shall usher in the Kingdom, He will again hold fellowship with His disciples at the eternal Messianic banquet. That Day began to come with power as the Spirit-filled Church received the Gentiles for her inheritance, and the eagles gathered upon the carcase of official Judaism.

(b) Differences in detail.—The records, as preserved in the Textus Receptus , divide into two types—Mark-Matthew and Luke-Paul. In the shorter recension of Luke, to be referred to later, there is an independent narrative. We begin with the Markan tradition, reproduced mainly in Matthew, as the earliest source.

(i.) Mark-Matthew.—The words ‘take (eat)’ may perhaps be intended to emphasize the representative action of the disciples. As those who are to sit on twelve thrones, they are not eating a common meal but accepting this blessing for Israel. Some justification of this view may be found in the fact that in Luke and Paul the addition ‘which is (given or shed) on your behalf’ is qualified by the words ‘do this in remembrance of me,’ whereas in Mk.-Mt., which omit this injunction altogether, the words run ‘which is shed for many,’ as though the meal had a wider reach than an ordinary supper. The omission from Mk.-Mt. of the command to repeat the meal as a memorial is the most remarkable difference between the two sources for the Supper. Mt. differs from Mk. in minor points, the most important being the addition of the words ‘unto remission of sins,’ which may have been a current or ritual interpretation, but in any case merely render explicit the idea of the new covenant (Jeremiah 31:34).

(ii.) Luke 22:15-20.—The difficulties of the text are such that so far no final decision has been reached with regard to them, some scholars indeed thinking that the textual problem is involved in the Synoptic problem. The evidence is as follows: (1) The Textus Receptus is supported by אABCL. (2) Old Latin be (k defective) have the order Luke 22:16; Luk_22:19 a, (καὶ λαβὼν. ἄρτοτὸ σῶμά μου) Luke 22:17-18, and omit Luke 22:19 b, Luke 22:20. Old Syriac (Syr [Note: yr Syriac.] sin and Syr [Note: yr Syriac.] cur) agree in the main with old Latt., though with interpolations. Their order is Luke 22:16; Luke 22:19; Luke 22:17-18; Luke 22:21. ‘And he took bread and gave thanks for it and brake it and gave and said: This is my body which is for you (Syr [Note: yr Syriac.] sin + ‘is given’): do this in remembrance of me. And (Syr [Note: yr Syriac.] sin ‘after they had supped’) he took a cup and gave thanks over it and said: Take this and share it among yourselves (Syr [Note: yr Syriac.] sin + ‘this is my blood of the new covenant’). I say to you that from this time on I shall not drink of this growth of the vine (Syr [Note: yr Syriac.] sin ‘fruit’) until the kingdom of God comes.’ The Pesh. omits Luke 22:17-18; Egyp. [Note: Egyptian.] omits Luke 22:16-18; Marcion omits Luke 22:16; Luk_22:18-19 b, and after Luke 22:19 a comes the cup, but there is only one. (3) D [Note: Deuteronomist.] a ff2 [Note: designates the particular edition of the work referred] i I omit Luke 22:19 b and Luke 22:20. Hort, with whom Nestle agrees, is strongly of opinion that Luke 22:19 b, Luke 22:20 were not part of the original text of Luke. Weiss, Schürer, Zahn, and others also believe in a shorter text, but Zahn looks to the oldest versions rather than to D [Note: Deuteronomist.] a, etc., for the proper order. Their testimony is uniform for the order of Mk.-Mt.-Paul (for 1 Corinthians 10:16 even with the Didache can hardly, in the face of 1 Corinthians 11:24, be cited for primitive practice) and for only one cup. However, Mark and Paul seem to have influenced the oldest Syriac directly, in its additions ‘this is my blood,’ etc., and the command for repetition. If the longer text be accepted, as it is by many scholars, the mention of the two cups may be due to the recapitulatory propensity of Luke (Thayer), or the first cup may signify the close of the Old Covenant in the last Passover ( Luke 22:16-18), while the second cup belongs to the New Covenant ( Luke 22:19 a, 20). In favour of the latter view it may be observed that ‘a cup’ occurs in Luke 22:17, but in Luke 22:20 ‘the cup,’ as though well known in the Church (Holtzmann). There is, however, other evidence in this chapter of unsuitable order if not disarrangement, as e.g. Luke 22:18; Luke 22:21-23, where a change of position would fit the narrative better: and if John 13:1-30 may be taken as a guide, it would seem that Luke 22:24-27 should come before the institution of the Supper. Hence Hort’s excision of Luke 22:19 b, Luke 22:20 is as yet the simplest solution of the difficulty. In that case Luke did not intend to give the detailed account of the institution of the Supper, but rather its meaning. Whatever the original order may have been, there can be no doubt that he desires to lay stress on the Paschal character of the meal. The old dispensation is closing. For the last time Jesus hands His disciples the Passover cup: in the coming Kingdom He will provide for them a heavenly vintage (cf. John 15:1). (See Hort, ‘Notes on Select Readings,’ p. 63 f.; Nestle, Textual Crit. of Gr. Test. p. 276 f.; Zahn, Einl. in d. NT, ii. 357 ff.; Sanday, Hasting's Dictionary of the Bible ii. 636; Plummer, St. Luke, 496).

(iii.) Paul.—1 Corinthians 11:23-26 is evidently drawn upon by the author of the longer account of the Supper in Luke. The Apostle gives unimpeachable authority for his view of the Supper, claiming that he had a revelation from the Lord, though it is highly probable that he derived it indirectly through the Apostles (ἀπό seems to involve a remote source; see Schmiedel, Hand-Com. ii. 162). Of the variations from Mk.-Mt. the most important are the repetition of ‘Do this in remembrance of me,’ and the change of ‘This is my blood of the covenant’ into ‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood’: while the common Synoptic prophecy of Jesus that He will drink the new fruit of the vine in the Kingdom with His disciples, gives way to a Pauline interpretation of the forward aspect of the Supper—‘ye proclaim the Lord’s death till he come.’

In 1 Cor. the subject is introduced incidentally. There is no formal description of the first Supper, with full historical detail. The narrative is intended to correct abuses among light-hearted Greeks, who seem to have degraded the Supper to the level of their former heathen club-banquets (συσσίτια, ἔρανοι). They had few such sacred associations as the Jews, whose annual Passover was a valuable discipline in reverence for Jehovah their Redeemer. These Corinthians had poor ideas of the awful cost of their redemption, when they failed to recognize the meaning of this memorial of Christ’s redeeming death, and by their selfish party-spirit profaned the Lord’s Supper, instituted as it was at such a time as the night on which preparations for His betrayal were being matured (παρεδίδετο). The rite as described here is essentially the same as in the Gospels; but in the Gospels we have the historical account of its creation; while 1 Cor. describes an ideal celebration for the Christian brotherhood.

According to 1 Corinthians 11:23-26, the ruling idea of the Supper is the symbolical display of redemption through the death of our Lord, and the same conception, under the figure of the Christian Passover, is involved in 1 Corinthians 5:7. Another truth also underlying 1 Corinthians 11:23-26, but especially taught in 1 Corinthians 10:16-22, is that all those who partake of the spiritual food and drink in this Sacrament are brought into fellowship with Christ Himself, and are thus united into one body (1 Corinthians 10:3-4; 1 Corinthians 10:16-17).

(iv.) The Fourth Gospel.—Though the institution of the Supper is not found in Jn., the final discourses of Jesus (13–17) are coloured with the thought of it and of the love-feast, like brilliant clouds irradiated by the sun which they hide. It is in a measure true to say that, while the Synoptists are concerned with the Supper, St. John lingers upon the memory of the love-feast, for the conversations have the one great theme fittingly introduced by the deed of humility on the part of Him who having loved His own, loved them unto the end. He had exhibited the new law of love of which His death would be the crowning expression, and He becomes at once their example and their Sanctifier (see esp. ch. 17). The Evangelist, as we have seen, seems to correct the Synoptists as to the day of Christ’s death, but he relates the discourse of ch. 6 to the Passover, and in the theme he agrees substantially with them, for the words ‘this is my body … this is my blood,’ with their symbolic accompaniments, find an excellent interpretation in John 6:41-58, which can hardly be dissociated from the later institution of the Supper (see Westcott, St. John, 113; Holtzmann, NT Theol. ii. 501–503; Loisy, Quatrième Evangile, 702–722, 760, 811).

Results.—(a) The Lord’s Supper was instituted by Jesus as a perpetual memorial of His death. It is true that the words ‘Do this in remembrance of me’ do not occur in the oldest tradition, and may, perhaps, in their present form be traceable to St. Paul; but it is incredible that he should have originated this sacrament, and that it should have been adopted from him by the Jewish Christians. The ordinance was in existence among the Jerusalem Churches before his conversion, and the symbolism and narrative which he received must have been invested with a peculiar sacredness, for, as preserved in the written Petrine source (Mark) at least twenty years later, while different and distinctly more original, they are essentially the same. It is difficult to see how the early Christians would have turned every meal into a commemoration of their Lord’s death without His command, for even after the death they failed for a while to understand its full significance. After Pentecost they might have found their meals to be symbols of His perpetual presence to nourish them, but that they should have combined with this the necessity of His death, which remained a solemn mystery, would be inexplicable except under the example and instruction of their Lord.

(b) The Evangelical records relate the Supper to the Passover either directly or indirectly, but no such transformation of the original feast as we find in the Supper would have been made by the primitive Church, which remained thoroughly Jewish, except under the guidance of Jesus.

(c) Like all other teaching of Jesus, this does not prescribe new ritual dependent for its validity upon a set of fixed terms. Possibly freedom was allowed even with regard to the order of the action (see shorter text of Luke, 1 Corinthians 10:16 and Didaehe): certainly the spirit was not to be enslaved by an inerrant repetition of sacred words. Complete verbal accord is not to be found in the records, nor even in St. Paul is there a fixed liturgical formula such as might be repeated by a presiding officer; but the import of the Supper was preserved and conveyed mainly by a generally uniform Christian practice.

(d) The Lord’s Supper was a ‘visible word’ conveying the truth of the awful mystery of Redemption. Until He came, however long or short might be the interval, His followers, Jew and Gentile, would in this acted parable read their Master’s mind in regard to His death, the culmination of His service of love on their behalf. ‘The Passion of Christ was itself a sacrament or mystery of an eternal truth: it was the supreme sacrament of human history: the outward and visible sign of a great supra-temporal fact’ (W. R. Inge, Contentio Veritatis, p. 298; see also art. Fellowship, § ii.).

5. The Apostolic Church

(a) The Jewish-Christian Community.—‘To break (or ‘the breaking of’) bread’ (κλᾶνἡ κλάσις τοῦ ἄρτου) is almost a formula in the NT (Mark 8:6 ||, Matthew 26:26, Luke 24:35, Acts 2:42; Acts 2:46; Acts 20:7; Acts 20:11, 1 Corinthians 10:16; 1 Corinthians 11:24). The term does not seem to have been employed for the ordinary meals of the Jews or their sects in any formal way (see Jeremiah 16:7-8, Lamentations 4:4). Undoubtedly sacrificial feasts shared in by fellow-worshippers were common not only in heathen circles but among the Jews; they were consecrated by thanksgivings and other religious ritual (Schürer, ThLZ [Note: hLZ Theol. Literaturzeitung.] , 1891, 32), and it would have been quite natural for the Christians thus to associate themselves together; but a widespread religious custom is not sufficient to account for the usage, and its nomenclature among the early disciples. Why was it distinguished from the ‘fellowship’ (κοινωνία) and singled out by a different terminology? Partly because of the memory of their Lord’s constant table-fellowship, to which His thanksgivings, with their intense reality, had given religious significance, but much more because of the Last Supper carrying His command. That Supper made every common meal more sacred. Enshrining the love of their Master in the symbolism of its closing scene, it gave new meaning to the communion of brethren at their common board. It became the source of a renewed joy, and the daily inspiration of a richer hope. So the term ‘breaking of bread’ covers more than the observance of the Eucharist. It designates the meals of which this ordinance formed an integral part, the action of breaking bread, which was the largest factor of their meal, being used to denote the whole feast. We may assume that the disciples followed their Lord’s example, celebrating a love-feast, which would be enriched with memories of their Master and teaching from His nearest disciples, and closing with the more solemn thanksgiving for the broken body and the cup of blessing which Jesus had consecrated.

(b) The Pauline Churches.—There are signs in the letters of St. Paul that there was a widespread doctrine and practice to which his own churches would conform (Romans 6:17), so that his influence over any churches but those of his foundation must not be exaggerated, especially in matters so vital as the sacred observances on which the personal disciples of Jesus would be regarded as primary authorities (cf. 1 Corinthians 1:12). Nevertheless the Church underwent a profound change when it passed from Jerusalem and the village churches of Judaea to the large cities of Syria, Asia Minor, and Greece. All ranks now contributed their share to the brotherhood. Thus of necessity the disciples could no longer meet daily, and their regular gatherings were held on the first day of the week (Acts 20:7, 1 Corinthians 16:2, Revelation 1:10). Probably the conduct of the service at Troas (Acts 20:7-11) was that of the average Gentile congregation, but little can be gathered from it except that there was a weekly meeting of the church on Sunday night, followed by a common meal, at which, in this case, St. Paul presided, and protracted the discourse till daybreak. The Lord’s Supper may have been observed at some time during the common meal.

Thanksgiving was such an outstanding feature of the meal that already in 1 Corinthians 10:16 there is mention of ‘the cup of blessing which we bless’ (some think it is so called in distinction from the cups at heathen banquets), and afterwards the meal is called ‘the Eucharist’ (Ignat. Philad. 4, Smyr. 6; Justin Martyr, Apol. i. 64–66, Trypho, 116, 117). This Supper, originated and presided over by the Lord (τὸ κυριακὸν δεῖπνον), did not owe its validity to any official president or to any Apostolic blessing. It was a celebration of the brotherhood as a whole; indeed, the sacrilege of the Corinthians consisted partly in destroying the bond of love which united into one body the brethren who ate one bread (1 Corinthians 10:16 f., 1 Corinthians 11:20 ff.,). Only brethren seem to have been admitted to the Supper, though unbelievers and strangers attended other gatherings of a hortatory or didactic nature (1 Corinthians 14:23). It is noteworthy that the direct references to the Lor

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Bibliography Information
Hastings, James. Entry for 'Lord's Supper. (I.)'. Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament. 1906-1918.

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