Appendix 1:

Brief Comparison
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 editing.

Traditional View

  1. 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 Table.
  2. 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).
  3. 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 by:
  4. distinctive menu handled in a distinctive way—read in the traditional, Western sense, physically broken or torn, and drink of the fruit of the vine; and
  5. 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.
  6. 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).
  7. 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 today—the carnal Corinthian example is for our admonition in this as in many other areas of their carnality.

Alternative View

  1. 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.
  2. What distinguishes the Lord's Table is that the Body eats in assembly under the official hospitality of the bishops and deacons—this 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 anyway.
  3. 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:
  4. "Breaking bread" CANNOT mean torn pieces of bread in the traditionally understood sense:
  5. "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 MEAL.
  6. "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).
  7. Similar remarks for the cup.
  1. 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
  2. leaving Passover before the course of the lamb which speaks of redemption—this divisive behavior was unprecedented.
    1. 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.
    2. 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.