The Lord’s Supper

There isn’t a scripture that directly commands when and how often we are supposed to take the Lord’s Supper. There are two scriptures that refer to it – one directly and the other indirectly. The first is Acts 20:7. In this scripture Paul was on his way home (Jerusalem) after completing his third missionary journey. He stops off in Troas on the way to Ephesus (where he has the famous talk with the Ephesian Elders). He stays in Troas for seven days and then on the first day of the week it says they got together to break bread. Paul doesn’t use this phrase (breaking bread) much but it is fairly certain that he is talking about the Lord’s Supper. This is the scripture where most Christians find the authority to meet on Sunday. Plus, it was clearly the tradition of the early Church. We have a lot of writings from men who lived in the 2nd – 4th centuries when the Church was really taking hold – and they all refer to it this way.

Now, there is something peculiar about this scripture. Keep in mind this is THE scripture we use for our authority and there is a question about it. Read it for yourself (thru v12) and see if you catch the peculiarity then come back and finish reading what I have written.

Okay, you’re back. Did you notice when they actually took the Lord’s Supper. It says that Paul preached until midnight then the kids fell out of the window and Paul healed him. It wasn’t until AFTER this that they actually broke bread – the next day. Hmm . . . Does this mean that we don’t actually have to take the Lord’s Supper on Sunday? This is where many churches are getting the authority to do it on Saturday nights. Here’s some more info to consider.

A 24 hour day was defined differently during this time period – and actually still is, I think. The Romans were on a “normal” midnight to midnight clock. Just like us, where the day starts over at midnight. The other way to clock a day was based on the sunrise. This was the Jewish way of doing it. So the big question is, “which do we consider”? A little more info: Luke, the writer of Acts was a medical doctor from Philippi. He was a Macedonian, which was under Roman rule and jurisdiction. He was not a Jew. If Luke was writing with Roman time in mind, then they took it late. If he was writing with Jewish time in mind then they were ok.

We might ask why Luke wasn’t more specific? Well, I don’t know. He was writing to Theophilis who does not seem to have been a Jew. Does that matter? Did Luke not get more specific because Theophilis would have understood or because it didn’t matter when that they happened to take it late? I honestly don’t know how to deal with this from the scriptures. There just isn’t enough information and evidence.

The other scripture is an indirect reference (1 Cor 16:2). Here Paul is giving the direction to the Corinthian church to collect and keep together the specific offering that they were going to give the much poorer Jerusalem Christians. He said to do this when they met on the first day of the week. It seems like Paul was saying, “Since you’re meeting anyways, this is a good time for you to do this.” Keep in mind here that he was referring specifically to that particular donation to the Jerusalem Christians who were suffering through a terrible drought. But the point was when it happened – the first day of the week. When we combine this with the comment from Luke in Acts 20:7, it seems like they had a custom of getting together every Sunday to take the Lord’s Supper and fellowship with each other. Now it’s clear from many other scriptures in Acts that this wasn’t the only time the first Christians met to fellowship and worship. They seemed to meet throughout the week – particularly when the Church was just getting started (Acts 2:46). Also, it’s neat to point out that not once does the New Testament ever mention having a worship service on Sundays when they met. Two reasons for that – there is nothing scriptural about a “worship service” (it’s a man-made term, and the idea of five acts of worship is not a scriptural term either). They worshipped God all the time they were together.

What a long, boring answer to a short concise issue. Based off of these two scriptures, which are the only that really deal with the issue, it seems that the normal practice of the first Christians was to meet together on Sunday to share the Communion together, even though they met throughout the week for fellowship and worship. The fact that the Preacher got long-winded on that one Sunday evening and they didn’t share the Communion together until the next day was evidently not a big deal.