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Bible Dictionaries

Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament

Lord's Supper (ii)

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LORD’S SUPPER'S SUPPER (II.).—The NT passages bearing on this subject may conveniently be divided into the following groups:—

1. Preparation for Institution

(1) Feeding of Five thousand (Mark 6:41-42 = Matthew 14:19-20, Luke 9:16-17, John 6:11-12). In connexion with this miracle it is important to observe that (a) it is recorded in all four Gospels; (b) the record contains the following significant phrases, which it is well to compare with the phraseology in the accounts of the institution: λαβών (Mk., Mt., Lk.; ἔλαβεν, Jn.), εὐλόγησεν (Mk., Mt., Lk.; εὐχαριστήσας, Jn.; cf. John 6:23 εὐχαριστήσαντος τοῦ Κυρίου), κατέκλασεν (Mk., Lk.; κλάσας, Mt.; Jn. omits), ἐδίδου, (MK., Lk.; ἔδωκεν, Mt.; διέδωκεν, Jn.); (α) the event carried on and emphasized the idea of a sacred meal, which, as a means of communion with God, had been profoundly impressed on the minds of the Jews by the sacrificial system.

(2) Feeding of Four thousand (Mark 8:6-8 = Matthew 15:36-37). In connexion with this must be observed: (a) the same type of phrases as in the Feeding of the Five thousand: λαβών (Mk.; ἔλαβεν, Mt.), εὑχαριστήσας (Mk., Mt.), ἔκλασεν (Mk., Mt.), ἐδίδου (Mk., Mt.), εὐλογήσας (Mk. only); (b) the same idea of a sacred meal as in the Feeding of the Five thousand. With the Feeding of the Five thousand and the Four thousand should be compared the meals after the Resurrection in Luke 24:30-31; Luke 24:35 and John 21:13, where, though neither appears to have been the Eucharist, the idea of a sacred meal is maintained, and the phraseology should be noticed (λαβὼν τὸν ἄρτον εὐλόγησεν καὶ κλάσας ἐπεδίδου αὐτοῖς and ἑν τῇ κλάσει τοῦ ἄρτου in Luke 24:30; Luke 24:35, and λαμβάνει τὸν ἄρτον καὶ δίδωσιν αὐτοῖς, καὶ τὸ ὀψάριον ὁμοίως in John 21:13).

(3) Discourse in the Fourth Gospel in connexion with Feeding of Five thousand. This miracle, like others, is called σημεῖον in the Fourth Gospel (John 6:14; John 6:26), i.e. it has a place in the group of ‘signs’ which are so called because ‘they make men feel the mysteries which underlie the visible order’ (Westcott). The peculiar significance of this ‘sign’ in particular was drawn out by our Lord in the discourse at Capernaum which followed it. That it was an acted parable of Divine truth He asserted to the multitude which sought Him at Capernaum, in the words: ‘Ye seek me, not because ye saw signs, but because ye ate of the loaves, and were filled. Work not for the meat which perisheth, but for the meat which abideth unto eternal life, which the Son of Man shall give unto you: for him the Father, even God, hath sealed’ (John 6:26-27). Thus it supplied the starting-point for the conversation with the multitude, in which our Lord identified ‘the bread out of heaven that is genuine,’ which ‘the Father giveth,’ with Himself as ‘the bread of God which cometh down out of heaven, and giveth life unto the world,’ ‘the bread of life,’ ‘the bread which cometh down out of heaven, that a man may eat thereof, and not die,’ ‘the living bread which came down out of heaven’ and further declared, ‘the bread which I will give is my flesh, for the life of the world’ (John 6:32-51). As the conversation proceeded, our Lord spoke, in still clearer terms, of the reception of His flesh and blood as the means whereby there was to be participation in Himself, and as requisite to the possession of life; ‘Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of Man, and drink his blood, ye have not life in yourselves. He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life’; ‘My flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, abideth in me, and I in him’; ‘He that eateth me, he also shall live because of me. This is the bread which came down out of heaven’; ‘He that eateth this bread shall live for ever’ (John 6:52-58). Recognizing the difficulty caused to His hearers by this teaching, our Lord laid stress on the deep spiritual significance of what He had said: ‘The Spirit is the life-giver; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I have spoken unto you are spirit, and are life’ (John 6:61-63). By this conversation, the idea of a sacred meal is carried further than it had been in the miracle itself. An act of eating the flesh and drinking the blood of Christ is anticipated as the way in which His disciples will participate in the life which is in Him.

To dissociate this teaching from the Eucharist is to take away the key to its meaning which is supplied by the comparison of the phraseology used in it with that employed by our Lord at the Institution. This fact may be illustrated by the view of Arthur Wright (Synopsis of the Gospels in Greek2 [Note: designates the particular edition of the work referred] , p. 140, NT Problems, pp. 134–146) that the Eucharist had been observed by our Lord from the first as ‘a covenant of service’ or ‘union,’ since the language of John 6 would not have been intelligible unless the Eucharist had been already in common use. Wright’s view must be rejected as (a) lacking positive support; (b) not really affording a parallel to the existence of a rite of baptism (John 3:22; John 4:1-2) before the institution of Christian Baptism (Matthew 28:19); (c) being contrary to the tenor of John 6, which implies that, to the disciples as well as to the multitude, the teaching had the element of difficulty which shows that the Eucharist was not yet instituted; and (d) as contrary to the parallels by which the discourse about Baptism in John 3 is prior to the institution in Matthew 28:19, and the teaching about forgiveness in Mark 2:5-11 (= Matthew 9:2-8, Luke 5:20-24) is prior to John 20:21-23; but its plausibility at first sight is a significant indication of the truth that the discourse in John 6 was destined to find its explanation in the Institution of the Eucharist. Thus the teaching may be taken as anticipatory of the Eucharist. As such it suggests (α) a real spiritual participation on the part of the communicant in the human nature of Christ by the power of the Holy Ghost, and a consequent union with His Divine Person; (β) connexion with His death, indicated in the words ‘the bread which I will give is my flesh, for the life of the world,’ and with His resurrection, indicated by the references to ‘the bread of life’ and ‘the living bread.’ Consequently the communicant feeds on the living risen body and blood of the Lord which have passed through death.

The interpretations of the discourse which need be mentioned are the following: (1) that there is no connexion with the Holy Communion, but the feeding on Christ referred to is simply acceptance of His teaching or faith in His work, a view which obviously fails to allow for the distinctive character of the phraseology; (2) that the primary and special reference is to the Holy Communion, the interpretation which best satisfies all the conditions; (3) that the teaching, while not excluding the Holy Communion, is rather to the general verity of spiritual communion with our Lord than specifically to the Holy Communion, a view which, though it may be expressed so as to come very near the interpretation here accepted, does not account for the peculiar phrases used in the discourse and their remarkable likeness to, and explanation by, the words used in the Institution of the Eucharist. The objection that, if the primary reference were to the Eucharist, John 6:54; John 6:58 would require that mere reception of Communion, even by one who should receive unworthily, would confer the gift of life, is not weighty, since any reasonable treatment of the passage regards it as referring to those who communicate with such dispositions as may preserve them from receiving unworthily.

2. Accounts of the Institution.—(1) 1 Corinthians 11:23-25. The earliest history of the Institution which we possess is that here given by St. Paul. It records our Lord’s words with reference to the bread: ‘This is my body, which is for you: this do as my memorial’; and with reference to the cup: ‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood: this do, as oft as ye drink it, as my memorial.’ The interpretation of these words is concerned with two subjects:—

(a) The meaning of ‘This is my body.’ The word ‘this’ is the subject of the sentence. Viewed in connexion with the introductory words ‘took bread,’ ‘He brake it and said,’ it cannot reasonably be understood to denote bread in general or anything else except the actual pieces of bread which our Lord gave as He spoke. The word ‘is’ is the logical copula between the subject ‘this’ and the predicate ‘my body.’ In the Aramaic sentence which our Lord spoke, the predication was probably expressed simply by the juxtaposition of the subject and the predicate without any copula. Either the Greek copula, as used in the record which we possess, or the juxtaposition in the Aramaic sentence which it probably represents, denotes that the subject (‘this,’ i.e. the bread which our Lord gave to His disciples) and the predicate (‘my body’) are viewed as identical. The interpretation of the sentence then depends on the sense in which the word ‘body’ is to be understood. It must be remembered that (α) the idea of communion with God by means of a sacred meal was familiar, as in many religious rites outside Judaism, so also in the literature and the religion which were well known to the disciples, as shown in the Levitical peace-offerings with the threefold division into the portion for God, the portion for the priest, and the portion for the worshipper (Leviticus 3; Leviticus 7:29-34); the bread and wine brought forth by Melchizedek, the ‘priest of God Most High’ (Genesis 14:18); the eating of the lamb in the Passover (Exodus 12); the meal of Moses and Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, and seventy of the elders in the presence of God (Exodus 24:1-11); the prophecy by Isaiah of the feast to be made by the Lord of hosts (Isaiah 25:6); and the invitations to a meal evidently of profound spiritual significance given by the personified ‘Wisdom’ of the Sapiential books (Proverbs 9:1-5, Sirach 24:19-21). (β) This idea had been emphasized in our Lord’s ministry in the Feeding of the Five thousand and the subsequent discourse, and the disciples had been taught that in eating His flesh and drinking His blood they would have participation in Divine life (John 6:53-57). (γ) There is nothing to indicate that the word ‘body’ is used in any unreal or metaphorical sense, and the added words, ‘which is for you,’ alluding to the sacrificial efficacy of our Lord’s body, appear to identify that which is spoken of with His actual body. (δ) The close connexion of the words ‘The Spirit is the life-giver; the flesh profiteth nothing’ (John 6:63) with the teaching about eating the flesh of the Son of Man and drinking His blood, suggests that in the rite which our Lord was instituting there would be the operation of the Holy Ghost and a work of spiritual efficacy. (ε) However accomplished at the Institution, as in the parallel instances of anticipation in the walking of our Lord on the water and His Transfiguration during the days of His humiliation, the gift contemplated in the rite instituted must be viewed in the light of the spiritual nature and powers of the risen body of Christ. (ζ) The assertion of this spiritual aspect of the body denoted is confirmed when the language in which St. Paul describes Christians as ‘the body of Christ’ (1 Corinthians 12:27) is compared; but this comparison would be pushed beyond its proper force if it were held to imply that the meaning in the two passages is the same, since in St. Paul’s teaching the gift in Baptism, which makes men ‘the body of Christ’ (1 Corinthians 12:13), is not identified with the gift in the Holy Communion. The exegesis of this part of our Lord’s words at the Institution, then, as recorded by St. Paul, indicates that the gift in the Eucharist is the spiritual food of the risen and ascended body of our Lord. The same method of exegesis involves a similar interpretation of the words ‘In my blood,’ though, in view of the spiritual nature of the risen body, it is impossible to make a sharp severance between the body and the blood.

That this line of exegesis, which is that which is naturally deduced from the study of the Holy Scripture by itself, is right is strongly confirmed by the traditional interpretation in the Church from St. Ignatius onwards.

Other interpretations are (1) that the words ‘this is my body’ mean, ‘This conveys the efficacy of my body but is not my body’; (2) that they mean, ‘This represents my body but is not my body.’ Both of these interpretations are vitally distinguished from that which has here been adopted, namely, ‘This not only represents my body and conveys its efficacy, but also is my body.’ To adopt either of them involves putting aside the cumulative argument which has already been briefly detailed; the main argument by which they have been supported is the supposed merely metaphorical character of certain phrases, alleged to be parallel, in which our Lord described Himself as ‘the bread of life’ (John 6:35; John 6:41; John Joh_6:48), ‘the living bread’ (John 6:51), ‘the light of the world’ (John 8:12, John 9:5), ‘the door of the sheep’ (John 10:7-8), ‘the good shepherd’ (John 10:11; John 10:14), ‘the way’ (John 14:6), ‘the true vine’ (John 15:1; John 15:5). In regard to these phrases it must be observed that (1) neither the phrases themselves nor the circumstances in which they were used were really parallel to the words and circumstances at the Institution; and (2) the phrases in question are as a matter of fact very far from being simply metaphorical. In each of them an actual fact about Christ is set forth. Christ in spiritual reality feeds Christians, and gives them light, and admits them into the Church, and tends them, and affords them access to the Father, and unites them in Himself. Similarly, in spiritual reality the bread which He gives in the Holy Communion is His body.

(b) The meaning of ‘This cup is the new covenant’; ‘this do, as oft as ye drink it, as my memorial.’ The interpretation of these sentences turns on three words: (i.) ‘covenant,’ (ii.) ‘do,’ (iii.) ‘memorial.’

(i.) The sentence ‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood,’ while recalling the phraseology and promise of Jeremiah 31:31-34, inevitably suggests a comparison with Exodus 24:1-11. The making of a covenant between the Lord and Israel is there described. A sacrifice was offered by the slaughter of oxen and the sprinkling of part of the blood of the victims on the altar. After the reading of the book of the covenant in the audience of the people by Moses, and their promise to be obedient to all that the Lord had thus spoken, the rest of the blood was sprinkled by Moses on the people with the words, ‘Behold the blood of the covenant, which the Lord hath made with you concerning all these words.’ The sacrifice was consummated, and the covenant completed, by the sacred meal wherein ‘the nobles of the children of Israel’ ‘beheld God, and did eat and drink.’ The analogy between this series of actions and the Eucharist which the words ‘This is the new covenant in my blood’ suggest, is worked out with some detail in Hebrews 9:11-28. The death of Christ and His entrance into heaven with His own blood are there represented as the high-priesely actions of which the slaughter of the beasts and the sprinkling of their blood in the Mosaic sacrifices, alike in the covenant of Exodus 24:1-11 and in the ceremonies of the Day of Atonement in Exodus 30:10, Leviticus 16, were an anticipation. The words ‘This is the new covenant in my blood’ thus bring the Eucharist into close connexion with the high-priestly work wherein Christ offered Himself a sacrifice in His death on the cross, and His entrance into heaven at the Ascension. They denote that the gift by Christ of His body and blood, and the reception of these by Christians, are the means of a covenant relation in the sacrificial action; and that Christians by participating in this rite are in contact with the death of Christ and His high-priestly acts in heaven.

(ii.) The command ‘this do’ conveys the injunction for the perpetuation of the rite instituted by our Lord in the Church. It has been much discussed whether the word ‘do’ (ποιεῖτε) suggests sacrificial associations. The truth appears to be that in itself ποιέω is simply negative as to this point. Apart from other indications of sacrifice, it would not suggest any such thing, since in the very large number of instances in which it is used in LXX Septuagint and NT it is in a merely general sense. In a sacrificial context, however, like the Heb. עשה, it acquires the idea of ‘sacrifice’ or ‘offer,’ as, e.g. in Exodus 29:39, Leviticus 9:7, Psalms 66:15, where עשה (LXX Septuagint ποιέω) is rightly translated ‘offer’ in Authorized Version and Revised Version NT 1881, OT 1885 . In NT cf. Luke 2:27. In this possibility of a special use, side by side with the ordinary use, ποιέω is not greatly dissimilar from the Shakespearian use of ‘do,’ by which ‘do’ constantly has its ordinary general sense, but in a sacrificial context in Jul. Caes. II. ii. 5 acquires the sense ‘offer’ (‘Bid the priests do present sacrifice,’ i.e. ‘offer sacrifice immediately’). Consequently, the word ‘do,’ as used by our Lord at the Institution, is in itself wholly negative, and does not suggest or deny the idea of sacrifice. In relation to the context, however, it will be held to be appropriate or inappropriate to the idea of sacrifice according as the suggestion of sacrifice is recognized or ignored in the general surroundings of the Last Supper and in the words ‘covenant’ and ‘memorial.’

(iii.) The primary thought suggested in the word ‘memorial’ (ἀνάμνησις) is that of a memorial before God, though without excluding the idea of a memento to man. It occurs five times in the LXX Septuagint , namely in Leviticus 24:7, Numbers 10:10, Psalms 37:1 (= Heb. 38:1), Psalms 69:1 (= Heb. 70:1), Wisdom of Solomon 16:6. In Wisdom of Solomon 16:6 it denotes a reminder to man; in the other four passages it denotes a memorial before God. The only place in NT where it occurs besides 1 Corinthians 11:24-25, and the same phrase in Luke 22:19, is Hebrews 10:3, where it refers to the remembrance of sins in the Jewish sacrifices. When all the circumstances are taken into account, the thought most naturally suggested is that of a memorial of Christ presented by Christians before the Father, which is at the same time a memento to themselves. If so, the idea differs little from that way of regarding the Eucharist in much Greek theology, whereby it is viewed as the act in which the Church remembers Christ and in remembering Him makes the memorial of Him before the Father. In the sentences ‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood: this do, as oft as ye drink it, as my memorial,’ then, our Lord associated with the command for the observance of the rite which He instituted, indications that by means of it Christians would have access to His high-priestly work on the cross and in heaven, and would possess a memorial before God and a memento to themselves.

(2) Mark 14:22-25. As here recorded, our Lord’s words at the Institution were: ‘Take ye: this is my body’; ‘this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many. Verily I say unto you, I will no more drink of the fruit of the vine, until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God.’ The words in connexion with the species of bread are the same as those in 1 Corinthians 11:24, already discussed, and do not need further comment, except to notice that Mark does not add ‘which is for you: this do as my memorial.’ In connexion with the cup Mark differs from 1 Cor. in that (1) he has ‘this is my blood of the covenant’ instead of ‘this is the new covenant in my blood’; (2) he omits ‘this do, as oft as ye drink it, as my memorial’; (3) he adds ‘which is poured out for many’; (4) he adds ‘Verily I say unto you, I will no more drink of the fruit of the vine, until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God.’ As to these differences, it may be noticed: (α) The blood in Mark’s phrase is described as being Christ’s and as being ‘of the covenant,’ i.e. it is Christ’s because it is the blood which He personally took in the Incarnation, and it is ‘of the covenant’ because by means of it the covenant between God and man which Christ makes is ratified and sealed. Consequently the meaning of the expression is not substantially different from that used by St. Paul in 1 Corinthians 11:25; (β) the consideration of the omission of ‘which is for you: this do as my memorial,’ ‘this do, as oft as ye drink it, as my memorial,’ does not belong to this section of the article; (γ) the words ‘for many,’ i.e. ‘on behalf of many’ (ὑπὲρ πολλῶν), indicate the sacrificial and expiatory power of Christ’s blood. Similarly the words ‘which is poured out’ (τὸ ἐκχυννόμενον) are connected with the sacrifice of His blood. In the LXX Septuagint ἐκχέω is often used both of the shedding of blood in slaughter and of the pouring out of the blood of slain victims at the altar. Instances of the latter use are Exodus 29:12, Leviticus 4:7; Leviticus 4:18; Leviticus 4:25; Leviticus 4:30; Leviticus 4:34; Leviticus 8:15; Leviticus 9:9; cf. 1 K (= 1 S) 1 Kings 7:6. The close connexion with the word ‘covenant’ in Mark 14:24, and the general sacrificial surroundings, give strong probability that the meaning here is ‘poured out’ rather than ‘shed,’ and that the sense is ‘this is my blood,’ ‘which is sacrificially poured out,’ as in the Jewish sacrifices the blood of the slain victim was poured out as the culmination of the sacrifice; (δ) like much else in the Gospels, the words ‘when I drink it new in the kingdom of God’ appear to have a twofold reference. They refer in part to Christian Eucharists; the ‘kingdom of God’ is the Christian Church; the drinking ‘new’ is in the ‘new covenant’ of 1 Corinthians 11:25; thus is denoted the fellowship between Christ and His people in the Eucharistic feast. In a further sense they refer to the ‘marriage supper of the Lamb, (Revelation 19:9); the ‘kingdom of God’ is the consummated Kingdom of glory: the drinking ‘new’ is in that state in which ‘all things’ are made ‘new’ (Revelation 21:5), newness being a characteristic feature of the future as well as of the present Christian life. See art. Covenant.

(3) Matthew 26:26; Matthew 26:29. As here recorded, our Lord’s words were: ‘Take, eat, this is my body’; ‘Drink ye all of it; for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many unto remission of sins. But I say unto you, I will not drink hence-forth of this fruit of the vine, until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.’ There is little here different from Mark’s account which calls for comment: (α) ‘unto remission of sins’ is added to ‘poured out,’ specifying distinctly the object of the sacrificial offering of our Lord’s blood; (β) the words ‘with you’ are added in the description of the future ‘new’ drinking of ‘this fruit of the vine’; (γ) the phrase ‘my Father’s kingdom’ is used instead or ‘the kingdom of God,’ both phrases alike being descriptive of both the Christian Church and the future perfected Kingdom.

(4) Luke 22:14-20. The account here given is as follows: ‘When the hour was come, he sat down, and the apostles with him. And he said unto them, With desire I have desired to eat this passover with you before I suffer: for I say unto you, I will not eat it, until it be fulfilled in the kingdom of God. And he received a cup, and when he had given thanks, he said, Take this, and divide it among yourselves; for I say unto you, I will not drink from henceforth of the fruit of the vine, until the kingdom of God shall come. And he took bread, and when he had given thanks, he brake it, and gave to them, saying, This is my body which is given for you; this do for my memorial. And the cup in like manner after supper, saying, This cup is the new covenant in my blood, even that which is poured out for you.’ From the point of view of exegesis, this account of the Institution does not need further comment than what has already been said in connexion with the accounts in 1 Cor., Mk., Mt. From other points of view it would be necessary to discuss (1) the cup which our Lord ‘received’ (δεξάμενος) before He ‘took bread’ (λαβὼν ἄρτον); and (2) the shorter reading of the text according to which some authorities omit from ‘which is given for you’ to ‘which is poured out for you.’

3. Pauline teaching.—(1) 1 Corinthians 10:16-21. ‘The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not a communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not a communion of the body of Christ? seeing that we, who are many, are one bread, one body: for we all partake of the one bread. Behold Israel after the flesh: have not they which eat the sacrifices communion with the altar? What say I then? that a thing sacrificed to idols is anything, or that an idol is anything? But I say, that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to demons, and not to God; and I would not that ye should have communion with demons. Ye cannot drink the cup of the Lord, and the cup of demons; ye cannot partake of the table of the Lord, and of the table of demons.’ The following points here call for comment: (α) St. Paul describes the ‘bread’ and the ‘cup’ as being the means by which Christians participate in the ‘body of Christ’ and the ‘blood of Christ’; (β) there is nothing to suggest that the phrases ‘body of Christ’ and ‘blood of Christ’ are used in any other sense than that in which they would ordinarily be understood; (γ) the phrases ‘which we break,’ ‘of blessing which we bless,’ seem to connect the efficacy of the elements as means of conveying the body and blood of Christ with the consecration of them, not simply with their reception; (δ) this participation by Christians in ‘the one bread’ is a means of their unity, so that they are ‘one bread, one body’; (ε) this description of the ‘bread’ and the ‘cup’ as the ‘body of Christ’ and the ‘blood of Christ’ must be compared with St. Paul’s description elsewhere of Christians being made by means of baptism the body of Christ (see 1 Corinthians 12:12-13; 1 Corinthians 12:27, Ephesians 5:30); (ζ) the communion of Christians is analogous to the Jewish sacrifices and to the sacrifices of the Gentiles. As the object of the Jewish sacrifices was to hold communion with God, and as the object of the Gentile sacrifices was to hold communion with the false gods who are more properly regarded as demons, so also the Christian feast aims at communion with Christ.

(2) 1 Corinthians 11:26-29. ‘As often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye proclaim the Lord’s death till he come. Wherefore whosoever shall eat the bread or drink the cup of the Lord unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and the blood of the Lord. But let a man prove himself, and so let him eat of the bread, and drink of the cup. For he that eateth and drinketh, eateth and drinketh judgment unto himself, if he discern not the body.’ (α) Christian communion is here declared to be a proclamation of the death of the Lord, a setting forth of it so that it may not be forgotten between the time of His visible departure from the earth and the time of His return. So far as the indications of a sacrificial aspect which have already been noticed are held to be of weight, this proclamation may be regarded in a double manner as a memory among Christians and as a memorial before God. (β) The reception of communion unworthily is said to be an offence of so great gravity as to make the offender ‘guilty of the body and the blood of the Lord,’ so that his communion is an act of judgment upon himself in his failure to discern or appreciate or estimate the significance of the Lord’s body.

(3) 1 Corinthians 12:13. ‘We were all made to drink of one Spirit.’ This probably refers to the gift of the Holy Ghost in Baptism, though the use of the word ‘drink’ has led some to refer it to such a gift in Communion.

4. Hebrews 13:8-16.—The starting-point in this passage is the assertion in Hebrews 13:8 of the unchangeableness of Christ: ‘Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, and to-day, yea and for ever.’ From this is derived the thought of Hebrews 13:9, that since Christ, the centre of Christian life, is unchangeable, Christian belief must have stability and consistency. Hence ‘divers and strange teachings,’ such as those in Judaistic forms of Christianity, and the externalities to which Judaizing teachers would have led Christians, are to be avoided; and the power that stablishes the heart is to be sought in Divine grace. This contrast leads on to Hebrews 13:10, the point of which is to emphasize the sharp line which divides Christianity from Judaism; since Christians ‘have an altar, whereof they have no right to eat which serve the tabernacle.’ Hebrews 13:11-12 pass on to the likeness between the Jewish sacrifices and the sacrifice of Christ, in that in the former bodies were ‘burned without the camp,’ and in the latter Christ ‘suffered without the gate.’ Hebrews 13:13 notes the conclusion from the sacrifice of Christ that it is right for Christians to abandon what is distinctively Jewish. Hebrews 13:14 takes up the frequently-implied thought of this Epistle, that the old covenant is earthly, and that the new covenant, both now on earth and in its future perfection, is heavenly. The Christian gets beyond the old earthly covenant. He reaches the new heavenly covenant in the city of the living God, which on earth he does not realize as an abiding possession, though even now he has the life of Christ which makes his citizenship, and through which he is eventually to reach perfect holiness and fruition of God. Hebrews 13:15-16 point out that through Christ Christians can offer up to God a ‘sacrifice of praise,’ and that with this are to be associated the ‘sacrifices’ of doing good and communicating, with which ‘God is well pleased.’ These two verses, then, describe the worship and life of Christians as being a sacrificial offering to God. The Epistle as a whole regards the heavenly centre of this earthly worship and life as being the high-priestly work of our Lord in heaven. If the ‘altar’ mentioned in Hebrews 13:10 is the altar of the Eucharist, this implies that the earthly centre of the sacrificial worship and life of Christians is in the Eucharist. This would be in harmony with the traditional Christian view of the Eucharist as the means whereby Christians enter into and partake of the heavenly offering of Christ. The interpretations of the word ‘altar’ which need be mentioned are that it denotes (1) Christ Himself, (2) the cross of Christ, (3) the altar of the Christian Church. Any one of these three interpretations would give a good meaning to the verse. It might be truly said that the Jews have no participation in Christ, or in His cross, or in the Christian altar. But the use of the word ‘eat’ makes it difficult to suppose that a reference to the Eucharist was not at any rate included by the writer. Thus there is the idea of the priesthood of Christ as an abiding priesthood, and the sacrifice of Christ as an abiding and continually pleaded sacrifice in heaven, and of the Eucharist as the means of entering into and pleading that heavenly sacrifice on earth, and as the earthly centre of the sacrificial worship and life of Christians.

5. Revelation 5:6.—‘A lamb standing as slain.’ The offering of our Lord’s living (‘standing’) created human nature (‘lamb’), which had passed through death (‘as slain’), is here represented as the centre of the heavenly worship. This passage, therefore, has an indirect relation to the Eucharist as the corresponding earthly centre (see above on Hebrews 13:8-16).

6. Summary.—The results of the exegesis of the NT passages relating to the Eucharist may be summed up as follows: (1) In the reception of Holy Communion there is a gift of Christ’s body and blood to sustain and increase His life in those who receive it. (2) The consecrated elements are the spiritual body and blood of the risen and ascended Christ. (3) Those who receive the communion grow thereby in that living union with Christ which their baptism conferred. (4) The feast of communion is also a sacrificial presentation of Christ. (5) It is important to observe that the tradition found in the teaching of the writers of the Church corroborates what is thus seen to be taught in the NT.

Literature.—Frankland, The Early Eucharist; Gore, The Body of Christ; Strong, The Doctrine of the Real Presence; Stone, The Holy Communion; Thomas, A Sacrament of our Redemption; Adamson, The Christian Doctrine of the Lord’s Supper; Lambert, The Sacraments in the NT; Franzelin, Tract. de SS. Eucharistiœ Sacramento et Sacrificio, pp. 12–74, 356–363; Lobstein, La doctrine de la sainte cène; Schultzen, Das Abendmahl im NT; Batiffol, Etudes d’histoire et de théologie positive, Tième série; Abbott, Essays chiefly on the Original Texts of the OT and NT, pp. 110–128, also A Reply to Mr. Supple’s and Other Criticisms; Alford on Matthew 26:26, 1 Corinthians 10:16-17, and Hebrews 13:10; Cornely on 1 Corinthians 10:15-22; 1 Corinthians 11:23-32; Ellicott on 1 Corinthians 10:16-18; 1 Corinthians 11:23-32; Evans on 1 Corinthians 10:16-18; 1 Corinthians 11:24; 1 Corinthians 11:31; Plummer on Luke 22:19-20 (ICC [Note: CC International Critical Commentary.] ), and in Hasting's Dictionary of the Bible iii. 148–150: Sanday, ib. ii. 636–638 (= Outlines of the Life of Christ, pp. 157–169); Swete on Mark 14:22-24; Westcott on John 6 and Hebrews 13:10; Wordsworth on Matthew 26:26-28 and John 6:51-56.

Darwell Stone.


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Bibliography Information
Hastings, James. Entry for 'Lord's Supper (ii)'. Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/hdn/l/lords-supper-ii.html. 1906-1918.

Lectionary Calendar
Tuesday, July 16th, 2019
the Week of Proper 10 / Ordinary 15
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