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Offline duckman

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How did 1st century church do the Lord's Supper
« on: August 31, 2002, 01:35:29 PM »
Just some of my thoughts about the Lord's Supper and how it was observed by first century Christians.

I'm more and more convinced that on the first day of the week (i.e. the Lord's day) the early Christians gathered first and foremost to celebrate and remember the Lord's life, death, burial and resurrection through the partaking of the Lord's Supper.

I'm also convinced that this memorial was part of a "meal within a meal".  That they gathered together to break bread (i.e. eat a common meal) and that at some point in that gathering time was spent in remembering Jesus sacrifice for us with bread (representing His body) and wine (representing His blood).

If any of you have looked at the link to "Seeking the Old Paths" and clicked on some of the current writings there, you may have found an article by one of the writers who took issue with (euphemism for condemmed) a congregation in his area that planned to have a special Lord's Supper one Sunday by observing it as a "meal within a meal".  He quotes extensively from I Cor. 11 to defend his position, and to attack the offenders (in his mind).

I've just started reading Radical Restoration by F. LaGard Smith, and am now in his chapter called "In An Unworthy Manner", in which he convincingly (at least to me) uses 1 Cor. 11 to show that the LS was indeed part of a "meal within a meal" and in which he asserts that Paul's criticism is not of the early Christians having this "meal within a meal", but that he is criticizing them because of their attitude and in not discerning the Lord's body.

And what does he mean by not discerning the Lord's body?  Note verse 29 of the chapter - "For anyone who eats and drinks without recognizing the body of the Lord eats and drinks judgment on himself."  Notice that he does not say "the body and blood of the Lord", but only refers to the body.

I don't believe that Paul is criticizing them for not recognizing that the bread represents the Lord's body - I believe he is criticizing them because they did not recognize that their fellow Christians were the Lord's body.  They demonstrated this lack of discernment in this way - "each of you goes ahead without waiting for anybody else".  They were respectors of persons (see verses 18 and 19 - "In the first place, I hear that when you come together as a church, there are divisions among you, and to some extent I believe it.  No doubt there have to be differences amond you to show which of you have God's approval").

The Lord's Supper was the reason for their gatherings on the first day of the week.  Everything else that also happened in the gathering, while still important, was secondary to that primary reason.

Contrast that to today, where many churches observe (and hardly celebrate) the Lord's Supper only occasionally throughout the year.  Or in those churches were it is observed on the Lord's day, it is a small percentage of the "worship hour" with bread and grape juice (some might even use wine) passed in sterile stainless steel trays by stiff-looking men in suits and ties (some congregations might let you get away without having the suit coat, but you'd better have that tie on!).

And often, before the "implements" are passed out, a brother stands before the congregation and says (which I have been guilty of) that we should recognize the bread is the body of the Lord lest we fall under Paul's stern rebuke of 1 Cor. 11.

This seems to me to be a far cry from the intimate, celebratory participation of the LS by the early church.

To the question at start of this thread, I believe the early church could have quite probably talked about their experiences with the Lord when he was here on earth, about how He affected their lives, and about how the bread and the wine help them to remember His sacrifice, and that they recongnized each other as part of His new body, the church.

And today, I believe it would be appropriate and right to share how the Lord has affected our lives, and to express our love for each other as members of that one body.

The thoughts above are my opinion (admittedly with some influence from brother Smith), but I think they are worthy of thought and discussion.

In Him,

The Duck

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How did 1st century church do the Lord's Supper
« on: August 31, 2002, 01:35:29 PM »

Offline david johnson

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How did 1st century church do the Lord's Supper
« Reply #1 on: September 01, 2002, 12:19:03 AM »
[!--QuoteBegin--][/span][table border=\"0\" align=\"center\" width=\"95%\" cellpadding=\"3\" cellspacing=\"1\"][tr][td]Quote (spurly @ Aug. 31 2002,06:54)[/td][/tr][tr][td id=\"QUOTE\"][!--QuoteEBegin--]Hey David,

If you can dig that up, that would be great!

Kevin[/quote]
spurly:

rats!!  i can't go back before tertullian (end of 2nd century, i think) yet.  i'm still looking.
meanwhile, i cite james w. mckinnon 'music of the early christian church' - new groves dict. of music & musicians.
groves is a multivolumn set usually in college libraries.
institutions can get a 3 mo trial internet use of it free, individuals 24 hrs.
tertullian mentions an event similar to what i wrote of.
hope to find more later.

dj

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How did 1st century church do the Lord's Supper
« Reply #1 on: September 01, 2002, 12:19:03 AM »

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How did 1st century church do the Lord's Supper
« Reply #2 on: September 01, 2002, 03:36:41 AM »
Wiley and Hawkeye, thanks for the references.  

Unless I missed something [which is not unlikely], the sources you cite are based on the symbolism of the elements and the probability that the Jewish Christians would have used unleavened bread.  Those are essentially the same arguments that have been used for unleavened bread for centuries.  My question is rather whether you have historical evidence that the 1st century Jewish Christians actually used unleavened bread.

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How did 1st century church do the Lord's Supper
« Reply #2 on: September 01, 2002, 03:36:41 AM »

Offline Arkstfan

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How did 1st century church do the Lord's Supper
« Reply #3 on: September 02, 2002, 04:53:28 PM »
I think Wiley is on the right track here. Unleavened bread is probably not a commandment but rather a tradition but a tradition that is filled with meaning and symbolism.

I don't see a pressing need to eliminate a tradition that is so useful. The unleavened bread reminds of us Passover, and with it Christ, our Passover lamb. It reminds us that Jesus was pure just as the bread has no contamination from leavening.

It connects us to God bringing Israel out of Egyptian bondage just as he has brought us out of the bondage of sin and death.

It is a common thread tying us to the story of God's redemption.

Why shuck it just because we can?

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How did 1st century church do the Lord's Supper
« Reply #3 on: September 02, 2002, 04:53:28 PM »
Pinterest: GraceCentered.com

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How did 1st century church do the Lord's Supper
« Reply #4 on: September 03, 2002, 07:19:49 PM »
Thanks for your reply.  The Willimon book I have discusses the change of the Western Church to unleavened bread, but does so with the following comment:

"There is every reason to believe that the first Christian Eucharists used regular leavened bread. Later, as the Mass became more mysterious and sanctified, and more exclusively identified with the Jewish Passover, ‚Äúspecial"  unleavened bread was created."

Willimon, Word, Water, Wine and Bread, p. 36.  The change he is speaking of occurred in the middle ages, about the 13th Century, if I am reading his dates correctly.  He later mentions some Protestant denomonations that changed back to leavened bread.  He encourages the use of leavened bread because of the symbolism it invokes.  

Comments?

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How did 1st century church do the Lord's Supper
« Reply #4 on: September 03, 2002, 07:19:49 PM »



Offline WileyClarkson

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How did 1st century church do the Lord's Supper
« Reply #5 on: September 04, 2002, 06:21:06 AM »
Spurly,

I agree with you.  What I wrote above on the symbolism makes a great communion talk.  It's the symbolism in the unleavened bread that I have been referring to that points the to Jesus' body.  To incorporate the discussion into a talk, IMO all you would have to do is take a piece of the unleavened bread and hold it up while talking about it and explaining the symbolism while pointing it out.

There's other areas that can be used in reference to the Passover that I also think point to Jesus that could make excellent talks.

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How did 1st century church do the Lord's Supper
« Reply #5 on: September 04, 2002, 06:21:06 AM »

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How did 1st century church do the Lord's Supper
« Reply #6 on: December 12, 2002, 01:20:00 AM »
Greetings.

The question at hand is, "How did the 1st century church do the Lord's Supper?". Mr. Clarkson, in one of his earlier posts, intimated the idea that the Scriptural legitimacy of the "Sunday only" doctrine may be spurious. No comments were really made regarding this...

I would like to refer back to this, and offer the following links to encourage additional discussion regarding this particular facet of the memorial feast:

http://www.theexaminer.org/volume5/number2/acts20.htm

http://www.theexaminer.org/volume4/number5/bread.htm

"Grace be with all them that love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity..." (Eph. 6:24).


James Rondon

Offline spurly

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How did 1st century church do the Lord's Supper
« Reply #7 on: August 31, 2002, 02:32:09 AM »
A few weeks back in our youth group, we were talking about the Lord's Supper, and how it might have been celebrated by the first century church, which was mainly house churches.

I think most of us would agree that they didn't use gold and silver trays holding little cups and little pieces of bread.  (At least I hope most of us would agree on that).  But my question is this, do you think they read Pauls words from 1 Corinthians or Jesus words from one of the gospels where he institued the Lord's Supper each time they met to participate in the Eucharist?

I don't think so.  This is just a guess, which I guess is all we can do.  But I think that each time they celebrated the Lord's Supper, they may have done it by remembering Jesus by retelling the stories that they had been told about his life, death and resurrection.  Remember, most Christians at that time had to count on oral traditions handed down from others, and confirmed by the Holy Spirit, for their information about Jesus.  It may well have been that the early Christians would partake while remembering his parable of the prodigal son and praising God for his grace.  They may have retold how he calmed the sea or healed the sick and thanked Jesus for the fact that even though he was God (evidenced by his miracles), yet he became a man to save them.

What's your take?

Offline WileyClarkson

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How did 1st century church do the Lord's Supper
« Reply #8 on: August 31, 2002, 03:31:10 PM »
Spurly,

I have spent alot of hours over the last few years studying this subject and I'm still not willing to say that it was absolutely this way or that way.  Traditional CoC views would have it only on Sunday and any other time would be unscriptural.  However, I don't go with that view, even though it is the predenominate view.  This is my view of the history of the Lord's Supper from the time Jesus gave us the memorial to shortly after Paul's instructions to the Corinthians.

The night it was given to us by Jesus was a Passover celebration.  It was a part of that celebration which was a yearly event.  It was a part of the meal and was probably the time of the third cup, which was drunk with the hidden piece of bread (the third piece of bread in the Passover) which was broken into small pieces before being consummed.
I'm not sure if the Lord's Supper was celebrated in the interim between the resurrection and Pentecost.  I personally believe it probably was starting after the ascension and probably on a daily basis as part of the main meal of the day.  We know that the apostles and some followers which included Mary - Jesus' mother - remained together and met constantly.  I believe it is very safe to assume they were remembering the death and resurrection on a daily basis with the main meal.  After Pentecost, Acts says they met daily in homes and it uses the description of breaking bread together.  In the traditional CoC view, this is considered to be just taking a meal.  However, I believe this meal included the Lord's Supper just as the original was a part of the Passover meal.  We do have a record of the Lord's Supper occuring shortly after Pentecost but no basic instruction given.  It seems to just pop up and already be an established part of personal worship.  It probably continued on an almost daily basis for a while.  As christians were looking for ways to meet together in larger assemblies besides in the homes as families with a few fellow christians present, and as synagogs became christianized, it probably changed from the home style celebration to a corporate style celebration when they met together on the first day of the week.  It would have still been within a meal because this is how it was first done during the passover and the church was still basically Jewish.  The Jewish believers would have continued to use unleavened bread and wine as the elements of the memorial.  There is alot of symbolism in these elements that they understood from thier intimate association with the Passover.  It wasn't until much later (after the Gentiles became a part of the church) that it became just the elements by themselves because of problems we see cropping up in Corinth and also the logistics of having a full meal with many people present.  It was also at that time that the use of common bread began, and of course, centuries later, the use of non-alcoholic grape juice.  Without the strong Jewish background, the Jewish understanding of the symbolsim wouod be lost.  The Lord's Supper is continueing to change and that change seems to be moving back toward a more 1st Century Jewish view, IMO.  I don't see the change occuring as a result of a legalsitic view but more as a result of people starting to pick up on the spiritual meanings and fellowship that are in that particular view.  I also see it tied to the growth of "cell" groups which are nothing more than home churches more in accordance of the earliest church.

BTW, I agree with what The Duck said about the Lord's Supper being a primary purpose of assembly and where we have gone from there.

Well, those are my personal views that I don't really mention at church :D

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How did 1st century church do the Lord's Supper
« Reply #8 on: August 31, 2002, 03:31:10 PM »

Offline Shumby

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How did 1st century church do the Lord's Supper
« Reply #9 on: September 01, 2002, 12:32:20 AM »
IMO, I believe that when Paul tells us to discern the body, and we are remembering the death, burial and resurrection of our Lord, then what ABOUT His body in that DBR? He took stripes on his back for our healing. I think that it is what he wants us to be reminded of, to be discerning enough to realize this, because he said, "For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord's body. FOR THIS CAUSE MANY ARE WEAK AND SICKLY AMONG YOU , AND MANY SLEEP (ARE DEAD). If we discern this and believe what the scripture says, and we become doers of the word and not hearers only, then the words that SHOULD come out of our mouths in this memorial feast are, "Thank you, Father, that you gave your Son, and He took stripes on His back for our healing. And, of course, He shed His blood for the forgiveness of our sins." (We ARE forgiven - not GONNA BE.) So, then,we add to the prayer: "And thank you, Father, for having forgiven my sins."
......And that's what  I think, based on my understanding of scripture.

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How did 1st century church do the Lord's Supper
« Reply #9 on: September 01, 2002, 12:32:20 AM »

Offline nerdneh

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How did 1st century church do the Lord's Supper
« Reply #10 on: September 01, 2002, 02:51:57 AM »
One Sunday, in Baton Rouge, we decided to see if we could recreate some of the atmosphere of the Lord's Supper from certain first century experiences. We told everyone what we were doing, and we asked some young men to stand by all the entrances "to watch for the authorities." We dimmed the lights and lighted a few candles and invited everyone to come to the table and pick up a piece of bread and a cup. Then, when all were back in their places, we read some passages, sang awhile and then asked everyone to take the bread in unison, to remind us of our unity in Christ.

Then, we repeated the same process for the cup and everyone drank it in unison.

Surprisingly enough, no one objected, and that was in the 60's! Most everyone said it was one of the most meaningful Lord's Suppers they had shared because it made them think and it made them grateful.

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How did 1st century church do the Lord's Supper
« Reply #11 on: September 02, 2002, 12:27:11 AM »
[!--QuoteBegin--][/span][table border=\"0\" align=\"center\" width=\"95%\" cellpadding=\"3\" cellspacing=\"1\"][tr][td]Quote (WileyClarkson @ Aug. 31 2002,11:54)[/td][/tr][tr][td id=\"QUOTE\"][!--QuoteEBegin--]I have never found "hard historical evidence" of the unleavened bread useage by the Jewish Christian community of the first century.  As you put it, it is all built around the symbolism and the probability.  I think we can make conclussions there just as we make them in other areas.  The Jews of course were pretty tenacious about the way they did things.  I view it alot like the way the Jews have handled the copying and recopying of the Torah over several thousand years.  We can be confident of its accuracy and, because of that accuracy, we can be confident that they used unleavened bread because of their customs which they didn't give up.  You might also consider as part of this that the Messianic Jewish Christian community presently uses unleavened bread for both the Passover and the LS.

If you come up with hard historical evidence let us know, along with some of the writers mentioned :D[/quote]
Hard historical evidence can be difficult if impossible to find on
many of the subtle points of the bible, so thge best we can do is to make an informed decision based upon the skanty evidence we can find on the matter.

Offline WileyClarkson

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« Reply #12 on: September 03, 2002, 11:38:03 PM »
When did the first Eucharists actually begin?  I see that as being more a term and practice of the "Gentilized" church later in time than the 1st Century Jewish-Christian church which was house based for quite a few years and also practiced jewish customs for many years.  I just don't see the Jewish Christians of the 1st Century making sudden changes in style without clear instruction and that's really just not there.

When is your reference time for the "Eucharist" starting up?  By the time the "Eucharist" became what I read in Willimon's book and what I have understood it to be from other sources, the LS had already changed from a supper similar to a Passover meal with the elements of the LS included to just the elements in the worship.  We actually see the start of that change in 1st Corinthians but it was still be celebrated as a full meal at that time, which is not what the Eucharist was.

now, back to you--comments?

Offline charlie

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How did 1st century church do the Lord's Supper
« Reply #13 on: September 04, 2002, 02:14:47 PM »
Great study from all! If I could add one comment:

One gentleman earlier noted that "discerning the body" in 1Cor 11 probably referred to having consideration for other members of the church, rather than private meditation on Christ during the LS. This idea is starting to catch on, and, hopefully, will become more dominant in the near future. If it does catch on, it will, I think, do wonders for the church division on the issue of the LS. Say, for instance, a study group gets together and discovers that the 1st and 2nd C church used leaven bread. It might then decide that it would like to use leaven bread from now on. Objections are raised and quickly shot down because we're going to follow the NT pattern. It escalates to ostracism, division, disfellowship, and so on. Well guess what? In trying to "eat in a worthy manner" they just rolled right over Paul's warning to "discern the body" in neglecting the beliefs of their brothers and sisters and creating disunity during communion. They were focusing on the bread instead of the body, and the leaven instead of the Lord. (accidental alliteration)

I'm with you, Wiley. The symbolism of unleaven bread is beautiful; too beautiful to cast away just because we can. Same with wine over grape juice. Still, the LS is supposed to unite us all together with Jesus, just like baptism. Satan is mighty clever to be able to use those two rituals to divide rather than unite.

Offline spurly

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How did 1st century church do the Lord's Supper
« Reply #14 on: October 30, 2002, 09:58:46 AM »
Here is another thread where the use of leaven was discussed.

Kevin