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Charles Buck Theological Dictionary

Agapae

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Or Love feasts (from "love,") feasts of charity among the ancient Christians, when liberal contributions were made by the rich to the poor. St. Chrysostom gives the following account of this feast, which he derives from the apostolic practice. He says, "The first Christians had all things in common, as we read in the Acts of the apostles; but when that equality of possessions ceased, as it did even in the apostles' time, the Agape or love feast was substituted in the room of it. Upon certain days, after partaking of the Lord's supper, they met at a common feast; the rich bringing provisions, and the poor, who had nothing, being invited." It was always attended with receiving the holy sacrament; but there is some difference between the ancient and modern interpreters, as to the circumstance of time; viz. whether this feast was held before or after the communion. St. Chrysostom is of the latter opinion; the learned Dr. Cave of the former.

These love feasts, during the first three centuries, were held in the church without scandal or offence; but in after-times the heathens began to tax them with impurity. This gave occasion to a reformation of these Agapes. The kiss of charity, with which the ceremony used to end, was no longer given between different sexes; and it was expressly forbidden to have any beds or couches for the convenience of those who should be disposed to eat more at their ease. Notwithstanding these precautions, the abuses committed in them became so notorious, that the holding them (in churches at least) was solemnly condemned at the council of Carthage, in the year 397. Attempts have been made of late years, to revive these feasts; but in a different manner from the primitive custom, and, perhaps, with little edification. They are, however, not very general.


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Bibliography Information
Buck, Charles. Entry for 'Agapae'. Charles Buck Theological Dictionary. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/cbd/a/agapae.html. 1802.

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Sunday, September 22nd, 2019
the Week of Proper 20 / Ordinary 25
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