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Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament


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This word is used in the NT in various senses. On a technical meaning which it has in the Gospels see article ‘Bank’ in Dict. of Christ and the Gospels .

1. In the primitive Church the apostles deemed it unfitting that they should turn aside from their proper task of preaching the Word of God and give themselves to that of serving tables (διακονεῖν τραπἐζαις, Acts 6:2). They accordingly secured the appointment of the Seven, which left them free to give their undivided time and strength to the ministry of the Word (τῇ διακονίᾳ τοῦ λόγου, Acts 6:4). Two kinds of ‘service,’ or ‘deaconship,’ are thus specified, both of them evangelical and honourable, but each so arduous and absorbing that a division of labour became imperative. The ‘serving of tables’ probably included not merely the literal provision of repasts for the poor, but the task of determining the fitness of applicants for relief and the allocation of a central fund.

2. It is in one of St. Paul’s letters that we first find the Eucharist called ‘the table of the Lord’ (τραπέζης Κυρίου, 1 Corinthians 10:21). It would be interesting to know whether he coined the phrase or found it already in use in the primitive Church (cf. Luke 22:30), but the point has to be left undetermined. Contrasting ‘the Lord’s table’ with ‘the tables of demons,’ as he scornfully calls the riotous feasts of pagan idolatry, he urges the moral impossibility of passing from the pure atmosphere of Christian fellowship into the tainted air of heathen licence and debauchery.

3. Among the furniture of the Holy Place the writer of Hebrews names ‘the table’ (ἡ τράπεζα, Hebrews 9:2), meaning the table of shewbread, for the construction and ornamentation of which directions are given in Exodus 25:23-30. See Shewbread.

Another word translation ‘table’ is πλάξ, which is used in the Septuagint for לוּחַ. St. Paul contrasts the tables of stone on which the Ten Commandments were written by the ‘finger of God’ with the tables that are not of stone but are ‘hearts of flesh,’ whereon the Holy Spirit writes the laws of the New Covenant (2 Corinthians 3:3).

James Strahan.

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These files are public domain.
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Bibliography Information
Hastings, James. Entry for 'Table'. Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament. 1906-1918.

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Table, Tablet