of Approaches to the Lord's Table
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Below we make a few comparisons between the traditional practice of the
Lord's Table and our current practice, particularly in light of I Cor. 11:23-6.
This is followed by several additional comments. Sequens, unless
indicated otherwise, a verse number refers to I Cor. 11.
It seems appropriate to give such a summary in view of the fact that
much of the work we have done on the Table is a series of loosely organized
(or disorganized) outlines and files awaiting a great deal of additional
- Paul intends in I Cor. 11:23-6 to place a requirement upon the Body
to state Verse 24 or the equivalent over what is eaten, usually understood
as pieces broken of literal bread, and to state Verse 25 or the equivalent
over what what is drunk, usually understood as the fruit of the vine. In
rabbinical terms, Paul is requiring the Body to midrash the Lord's
- It is this midrash (and some would add, the distinctive components
of the meal) which distinguishes this meal as the Lord's Table. The pronouncement
of this midrash causes people to remember the significance of the meal,
and this pronouncement is necessary to shew or proclaim the Lord's death
till He come (Verse 26).
- Paul is placing upon the Body, not the requirement of Passover, but
a ritual and symbolic meal which Christ appended to Passover. This addendum
is not inherently Jewish and in the common traditional view is distinguished
- distinctive menu handled in a distinctive wayread in the traditional,
Western sense, physically broken or torn, and drink of the fruit of the
- the midrash which explicitly identifies, at the time of eating, this
broken bread as representing the broken body of Christ, and identifies
the drink as representing the blood of Christ.
- This passage (I Cor. 11:23-6) is a special, self-contained revelation
as indicated by the words "received" and "delivered"
(Verse 23). Hence, this passage is self-contained w.r.t. the surrounding
context and should determine our understanding of the surrounding context,
both fore and aft (I Cor. 10:16-11:34).
- The grievous error, worthy of death in that day (Verse 30), is that
of people not understanding and practicing the Lord's Supper as stated
above. It is certainly a creedal error, worthy of disfellowship, for one
not to so practice todaythe carnal Corinthian example is for our
admonition in this as in many other areas of their carnality.
- Paul intends in I Cor. 11:23-6 to explicitly remind the Body that when
it eats jointly and drinks jointly under the hospitality of (the officers
of) the assembly, it is eating that which represents the body and blood
of Christ: the Body's jointness in eating and drinking should reflect their
jointness in Christ which was purchased by the body and blood of Christ,
as the context (10:16-11:34) repeatedly points out, and in this way the
Supper represents the body and blood of Christ. It was also this way for
Messianic Israel: they will form one joint-nation (Ezek. 37:16-24, John
10:16, etc), and when this Israel eats in 'Erub (jointness or communion),
their meal also reflects the atonement of Christ which so purchased; and
the "Last Supper" was eaten as an 'Erub since these 13 men co-registered
to so eat (Matt. 26:17-9, Mark 14:12-6, Luke 22:7-13); in which case both
the rabbinical requirements of Pesach (Passover) and 'Erub applied and
were followed (Matt. 23:2-3). And so Christ gave a midrash for the broken
bread = jointly eaten bitter herbs, unleavened bread, sweet sauce, and
dry roasted Lamb, as required by the rabbis of the head of the table
at Pesach, but which midrash (for the many cups as well) reflected the
Last Supper's character as an 'Erub for Messianic Israel.
- What distinguishes the Lord's Table is that the Body eats in assembly
under the official hospitality of the bishops and deaconsthis is
indicated in the Greek in Verses 18 (en ekklesia) and 20 (epi
to auto), "in assembly" and "upon the same", phrases
indicating that an official meeting (or meal) was in place (see the usage
elsewhere). The word anamnesin, especially in the construction of
Verses 24-5, eis ten emon anamnesin, means not "remembrance"
in the sense of people having to do something to remember something, but
rather memorial: "do this for/as My memorial. The Table is
itself the memorial and proclamation. This alone is in keeping with the
usage of anamnesin, especially in this type of construction, in
all of LXX, Greek N. T., and the sources cited in [MM]: e.g. see Lev. 24:7
and the battle memorial described in [MM 36]]. Further, this was Christ's
command to Messianic Israel: there is no direct command here to the Body
- Christ followed, lock-stock-and-barrel, the rabbinical format of Passover:
this is proved in our outlines by comparing the harmony of the gospel accounts
(Matt. 26:20-30, Mark 14:17-26, Luke 22:14-21, John 13:1-30, noting especially
the Greek text) with the description of Passover in the tractate Pesachim
of Talmud. CHRIST ADDED NO ADDENDUM; THERE WAS ONLY PESACH THAT NIGHT.
Christ gave a Messianic midrash (in addition to the standard midrash) as
they ate the two courses and drank the various cups of Passover. Furthermore,
we have proved that the Corinthian assembly obtained its Table via the
weekly rabbinical 'Erub, and not from Passover; indeed we have proved that
the Body took over and administered the main synagogue of Corinth, and
their communion was modified from the rabbis. Further:
- "Breaking bread" CANNOT mean torn pieces of bread in the
traditionally understood sense:
- "Bread" to the Jews means precisely "food"; only
in special contexts does it mean our word "bread". This is proved
at length in our outlines by looking at the usage of lechem and
artos in Scripture and LXX. Furthermore, "bread" in Pesach
emcompasses the bitter herbs, sweet sauce, unleavened bread, and the lamb.
And the "bread" in Corinth was the food of 'Erub, on which there
were virtually no limitations in the rabbis. Also deipnon = MAIN
- "Breaking bread" translates in Verses 23-4 klasai artos
or the equivalent, which in LXX translates the Hebrew lechem paras(h),
which is used ONLY in the sense of the sharing/ distribution of food (Is.
58:7, Jer. 16:7, Lam. 4:4, cf. Ezek. 18:7). The usage in Greek N. T. bears
out this notion (search and see), in particular w.r.t. the Last Supper
= Pesach eaten as an 'Erub and Corinthian communion = 'Erub. Furthermore,
Luke 22:17-9 parallels dividing the cup and breaking the bread, i.e. to
distribute. And this idiom continued for a century later (as seen in the
Didache, 140 A. D., Greek text).
- Similar remarks for the cup.
- Rabbis required midrash ONLY of Pesach, not of 'Erub, not of Tabernacles,
etc. Corinthians ate the weekly 'Erub together; they COULD NOT understand
Paul and Sosthenes the rabbis as imposing midrash. No command until Verse
28. Traditional understanding unknown for a century (Didache, 140
A. D.), where food is spoken of as the Body, not body, of Christ.
- Paul's language here in Verse 23 and in I Cor. 15:3 does NOT indicate
a context-free, separate revelation. It is the same language used in Mark
7:4,13, and in many examples in contemporaneous Greek [MM, 483,486]. All
the available evidence proves that "receive" and "deliver"
simply indicates that such an individual has been a faithful/accurate middleman.
In the context of the rabbis (Mark 7:4,13), the "traditions"
have been handed down precisely; in the case of Paul, he is repeating faithfully
what Christ told him of the midrash at Pesach; in the case of the papyri,
sheep, goats, papyrus bundles, doors, verdicts of courts, etc are handed
over in the same condition as received. Paul's language does not remove
Verses 23-26, yea rather ties it in explicitly with what has been previously
discussed in 9:24-11:22, just as 15:3 is expressly tied in with its context.
- The grievous error is that some ate at the Table, but in a spirit of
disunity, not in keeping with the unity or jointness of the Body, which
is repeatedly stressed in 10:16-11:34. Paul discusses the Table in a context
of certain people manifesting their non-election or reprobation: I Cor.
9:24-11:34. Those who ate divisively from the joint Table, intentionally
and without reprentance, were supernaturally killed as a sign of their
eternal damnation. Paul makes it clear that THIS is the reason for citing
Israel's New Covenant midrash, for Verse 23 is introduced by saying "the
night in which He was BETRAYED". The facts: Judas defiled the
Passover Table, which was eaten that night by those men as an 'Erub, by:
- putting his hand in the sauce at the same time as Christ, forcing Christ
to defer to him (see the discussion on table manners in Wisdom of Sirach
31:12-8 (NAB), or the equivalent passage in Brenton's LXX, and the rabbinical
rules for disfellow-shipping someone who eats divisively at an 'Erub [Pesachim,
474-6; 'Erubim, 501-2]), and
- leaving Passover before the course of the lamb which speaks of redemptionthis
divisive behavior was unprecedented.
- So Judas is yet another example, in the context of I Cor. 9:24-11:34,
of an Israelite with whom God was not well pleased and who was overthrown.
Those Corinthian Jews eating divisively at the Table were emulating the
behavior of Judas; they were violating the unity of the Body, and the atonement
which wrought it, just as Judas violated the New Covenant unity of Messianic
Israel, and the atonement which wrought that as well.
- Thus the issue of Verse 23-6 has nothing to do with saying Verse 24-5
over the components of an "abstract" or symbolic meal. This was
unknown historically (as of 140 A. D.) until the cult of Mithra and Jewish
Gnosticism fully invaded the confessing church, and gave us the symbolic
communion seen today: its roots go back to the Hindus valley of India,
to ancient, Eastern pagan religions. (We have given extensive proof of
this historical development in the outlines.) This traditional communion
is a meal of self-denial, the very thing Paul rails against in Col. 2:8-23,
a meal which could never have separated the true from the reprobate, a
meal which is ritualistic and can never show the unity of the non-ceremonial
Body of Christ.