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Lord's Supper

Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary

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an ordinance instituted by our Saviour in commemoration of his death and sufferings. The institution of this sacrament is recorded by the first three evangelists, and by the Apostle Paul, whose words differ very little from those of his companion St. Luke; and the only difference between St. Matthew and St. Mark is, that the latter omits the words, "for the remission of sins." There is so general an agreement among them all, that it will only be necessary to recite the words of one of them: "Now, when the even was come, he sat down with the twelve," to eat the passover which had been prepared by his direction; "and as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed it, and brake it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, Take, eat: this is my body. And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it; for this is my blood of the New Testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins," Matthew 26:20; Matthew 26:26-28 . The sacrament of the Lord's Supper being thus instituted, was adopted by all the early Christians, with very few exceptions; and no modern sect rejects it, except the Quakers and some mystics, who make the whole of religion to consist of contemplative love.

In the early times of the Gospel the celebration of the Lord's Supper was both frequent and numerously attended. Voluntary absence was considered as a culpable neglect; and exclusion from it, by the sentence of the church, as a severe punishment. Every one brought an offering proportioned to his ability; these offerings were chiefly of bread and wine; and the priests appropriated as much as was necessary for the administration of the Eucharist. The clergy had a part of what was left for their maintenance; and the rest furnished the repast called αγαπη , or love-feast, which immediately followed the celebration of the Lord's Supper, and of which all the communicants, both rich and poor, partook. The sacrament of the Lord's Supper greatly resembled the religious feasts to which the Jews were accustomed. At those feasts they partook of bread and wine in a serious and devout manner, after a solemn blessing or thanksgiving to God for his manifold mercies. This was particularly the case at the feast of the passover, which our Saviour was celebrating with his Apostles when he instituted this holy sacrament. At that feast, they commemorated the deliverance of their own peculiar nation from the bondage of Egypt; and there could not be a more suitable opportunity for establishing an ordinance which was to commemorate the infinitely more important deliverance of all mankind from the bondage of sin. The former deliverance was typical of the latter; and instead of keeping the Jewish passover, which was now to be abrogated, they were to commemorate Christ, their passover, who was sacrificed for them; the bread broken was to represent his body offered upon the cross; and the wine poured out was to represent his blood, which was shed for the salvation of men. The nourishment which these elements afford to our bodies is figurative of the salutary effects which the thing signified has upon our souls. And as the celebration of the passover was not only a constant memorial of the deliverance of the Israelites out of the land of Egypt, but also a symbolical action, by which they had a title to the blessings of the old covenant; so the celebration of the Lord's Supper is not only a constant memorial of the death of Christ, but also a pledge or earnest to the communicant of the benefits promised by the new covenant. As the passover was instituted the night before the actual deliverance of the Israelites, so the Lord's Supper was instituted the night before the redemption of man was accomplished by the crucifixion of the blessed Jesus. It is to be partaken of by all who look for remission of sins by the death of Christ; we are not only to cherish that trust in our minds, and express it in our devotions, but we are to give an outward proof of our reliance upon the merits of his passion as the means of our salvation, by eating that bread, and drinking that wine, which are typical representations of the body and blood of Christ, "who by his one oblation of himself once offered, made a full, perfect, and sufficient sacrifice, oblation, and satisfaction for the sins of the whole world." See SACRAMENTS .

Bibliography Information
Watson, Richard. Entry for 'Lord's Supper'. Richard Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary. https://www.studylight.org/​dictionaries/​eng/​wtd/​l/lords-supper.html. 1831-2.
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