Bible Study Lessons

The following bible study lessons are available:

The Communion

1. Christian viewpoint of Communion

A. Biblical

Mat 26:26
While they were eating, Jesus took {some} bread, and after a blessing, He broke {it} and gave {it} to the disciples, and said, "Take, eat; this is My body."
Mat 26:27
And when He had taken a cup and given thanks, He gave {it} to them, saying, "Drink from it, all of you;
Mat 26:28
for this is My blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for forgiveness of sins.

Mar 14:22
While they were eating, He took {some} bread, and after a blessing He broke {it,} and gave {it} to them, and said, "Take {it;} this is My body."
Mar 14:23
And when He had taken a cup {and} given thanks, He gave {it} to them, and they all drank from it.
Mar 14:24
And He said to them, "This is My blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many.

Luk 22:19
And when He had taken {some} bread {and} given thanks, He broke it and gave it to them, saying, "This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me."
Luk 22:20
And in the same way {He took} the cup after they had eaten, saying, "This cup which is poured out for you is the new covenant in My blood

1Cr 11:23
For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus in the night in which He was betrayed took bread;
1Cr 11:24
and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, "This is My body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of Me."
1Cr 11:25
In the same way {He took} the cup also after supper, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in My blood; do this, as often as you drink {it,} in remembrance of Me."

B. Background

The Eucharist or Communion or The Lord's Supper, is the rite that Christians perform in fulfillment of Jesus' instruction, recorded in the New Testament[1], to do in memory of him what he did at his Last Supper. Jesus gave his disciples bread, saying "This is my body," and wine, saying "This is my blood." Christians generally recognize a special presence of Christ in this rite, though they differ about exactly how, where, and when Christ is present. The word "Eucharist" is also applied to the bread and wine consecrated in the course of the rite.

The word "Eucharist" comes from the Greek noun εὐχαριστία (thanksgiving) [1]. This noun or the corresponding verb εὐχαριστῶ (to give thanks) is found in 55 verses of the New Testament. (Εχαριστέω, the uncontracted form, given in some aids for students, is not used in the New Testament.) Four of these verses (Matthew 26:27, Mark 14:23, Luke 22:19, 1 Corinthians 11:24) recount that Jesus "gave thanks" before presenting to his followers the bread and the wine that he declared to be his body and his blood.
Most Christians classify the Eucharist as a sacrament, but many Protestant traditions avoid the term sacrament, preferring ordinance. In these traditions, the ceremony is seen not as a specific channel of divine grace but as an expression of faith and obedience of the Christian community.

1 Names for the Eucharist
2 Eucharist in the Bible
3 Christian Theology
3.1 Roman Catholic: Sacrifice; Transubstantiation
3.2 Eastern Christianity: True Sacrifice and Objective Presence but Pious Silence on the Particulars
3.3 Anglicans/Episcopalians: Real Presence with Opinion
3.4 Lutherans - the Sacramental Union: "in, with, and under the forms"
3.5 Methodism: presence as "mystery"
3.6 Calvinist Reformed: spiritual feeding, "pneumatic" presence
3.7 Zwinglian Reformed: no Real Presence
3.8 Summary of views
4 Ritual and liturgy
4.1 The Agape feast
4.2 Eastern Christianity
4.3 Roman Catholicism
4.4 Protestantism
4.4.1 Anglican
4.4.2 Lutheran
4.4.3 Reformed/Presbyterian
4.4.4 Minimalist
4.5 Jehovah's Witnesses
4.6 Open and closed communion
5 Alleged association with pre-Christian theophagy
6 See also
7 Footnotes

1. Names for the Eucharist

A. Eucharist (from Greek Εχαριστία eucharistia, "thanksgiving") is the term with the earliest established historical use. Ignatius, Bishop of Antioch, who was martyred in Rome in about 110, used the term "Eucharist", referring to both the rite and the consecrated elements, three times in his Letter to the Smyrnaeans [2] and once in his Letter to the Philadelphians [3]. Justin Martyr, writing around 150, gave a detailed description of the rite, and stated that "Eucharist" was the name that Christians used: "This food is called among us the Eucharist..." (Apology, 66 [4]). Today the term "Eucharist" is used by Catholics, the Eastern Orthodox, the Oriental Orthodox, Anglicans, and Lutherans. Most other Protestant traditions use this term rarely, but few reject it entirely.

B. Communion (from Latin communio, "sharing in common") is a term used by Catholics, Orthodox Christians, Anglicans, and many Protestants; Holy Communion is also prevalent. Catholics and Orthodox typically apply it to the partaking of the consecrated bread and wine, and to these consecrated elements themselves, rather than to the Eucharistic rite as a whole. In their understanding, it is possible to participate in the celebration of the Eucharistic rite without "receiving Holy Communion" (partaking of the consecrated elements). On the other hand, groups that originated in the Protestant Reformation usually apply this term to the whole rite. Many, especially Anglicans, prefer the fuller term "Holy Communion" rather than just "Communion". The term Communion holds further ambiguity in that it also refers to the relationship of Christians, as individuals or as a Church, with God and with other Christians (see Communion (Christian)), and can also refer to the relationship between the Three Divine Persons within the Trinity, a relationship known as perichoresis which is considered the archetype of the other forms of communion.

C. The Lord's Supper and the Breaking of Bread are terms that the New Testament (1 Corinthians 11:20; Acts 2:42, 20:7) applies to celebration of the Eucharist. The first of these terms tends to be preferred by "minimalist" traditions, especially those strongly influenced by Huldrych (or Ulrich) Zwingli and the Restoration Movement. The Lord's Supper is also a common term among Lutherans, as is the sacrament of the altar. Other Churches and denominations also use these terms, but generally not as their basic, routine term.

D. Certain terms are limited to the Orthodox Christian and Catholic traditions, and are typically applied to the rite as a whole. The Divine Liturgy is used by Orthodox and the Eastern Catholic Churches, who also, especially for the consecrated elements, use the Divine Mysteries. Roman Catholics use many other terms, including the Mass, the Memorial of the Passion, Death and Resurrection of the Lord, the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, and the Holy Mysteries[2]. The Blessed Sacrament and the Blessed Sacrament of the Altar are also common terms for the consecrated elements, especially when reserved in the Church tabernacle. "Mass" is also used by Anglo-Catholics and the Church of Sweden.

2. Eucharist in the Bible

The three synoptic Gospels (Matthew [5], Mark [6], and Luke [7]) as well as Saint Paul's first Letter to the Corinthians [8] contain versions of the Words of Institution spoken by Jesus at the Last Supper: "Take, eat, this is my body ... Take, drink, this is my blood ... Do this in remembrance of me." All subsequent celebration of the Eucharist is based on this injunction. John 6 is also interpreted in connection with the Eucharist: " For My flesh is food indeed, and My blood is drink indeed. He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him." (John 6:55-56)
See also: Historical roots of Catholic Eucharistic theology

3. Christian Theology

The Eucharist has always been at the center of Christian worship, though theological interpretations vary. In general, the Roman Catholic, Anglican, and Orthodox traditions see the Eucharist as the fulfillment of God's plan for the salvation of humanity from sin (the "Divine Economy"), a commemoration and making present of Jesus' Crucifixion on Calvary and his Resurrection, the means for Christians to unite with God and with each other, and the giving of thanks for all these things. Differences in Eucharistic theology tend to be related to differences in understanding of these areas.

A. Practice:

The NT, specifically the Pauline and Lukan narratives directly link the Eucharist with the Last Supper. The imperative 'do this' bears a liturgical connotation and it may be specifically cultic. The anamnetic injunction and the Passover setting also reveal a profound theological agenda. Despite the differences in the wordings and emphasis, an intricate interweaving of three hermeneutical features: the Christ event, the Hebrew Scriptures, and a cultic conceptual correspondence undergird the theology of the narratives. It is interesting to note that all these three factors, i.e. the death of Christ, the scriptures (particularly the Passover typology drawing mainly on the relevant Exodus pericope and the 'new covenant' motif from Jeremiah 31:31), and a liturgical framework drawing on traditional cultic concepts, betray sacrificial language. This suggests one important conclusion: that the growth towards an autonomous religious entity was greatly shaped by a conceptual framework deeply steeped in 1) the Hebrew Scriptures, 2) temporal and contextual environment but as continually reshaped by a third factor 3) a christocentric hermeneutic through which the old concepts were constantly refilled with new meanings. I shall very briefly mention how these factors were used in the building of a ritual system to which the Eucharist became central.
3.1 Context oriented use of cultic concepts

B. Summary of views

Because Jesus Christ is a person, theologies regarding the Eucharist involve consideration of the way in which the communicant's personal relationship with God is fed through this mystical meal. However, debates over Eucharistic theology in the West have centered not on the personal aspects of Christ's presence but on the metaphysical. The opposing views are summarized below.

For more details on this topic, see Real Presence.
Transubstantiation – the substance (fundamental reality) of the bread and wine is transformed in a way beyond human comprehension into that of the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Christ, but the accidents (physical traits, including chemical properties) of the bread and wine remain; this view is held by the Roman Catholic Church and many Anglicans, especially in Anglo-Catholic circles.

"In, with and under the forms" - the body and blood of Jesus Christ are substantially present in, with and under the substance of the bread and wine, which remain. This is the view held by most Lutherans, and some Anglicans. Some refer to this view as consubstantiation, but many Lutherans reject this term.

Objective reality, but pious silence about technicalities - the view of all the ancient Churches of the East, including the Eastern Orthodox, the Oriental Orthodox, and the Assyrian Church of the East as well as perhaps most Anglicans. These, while agreeing with the Roman Catholic belief that the sacrament is not merely bread and wine but truly the body and blood of Christ, do not usually employ the "substance" and "accidents" terminology, preferring not to scrutinize the technicalities of the transformation.

Real Spiritual presence also called "pneumatic presence" - not only the spirit, but also the true body and blood of Jesus Christ (hence "real") are received by the sovereign, mysterious, and miraculous power of the Holy Spirit (hence "spiritual"), but only by those partakers who have faith. This view approaches the "pious silence" view in its unwillingness to specify how the Holy Spirit makes Christ present, but positively excludes not just symbolism but also trans- and con-substantiation. It is also known as the "mystical presence" view, and is held by most Reformed Christians, such as Presbyterians, as well as some Methodists and some Anglicans, particularly Low Church Reformed Anglicans. See Westminster Confession of Faith, ch. 19. This understanding is often called "receptionism." Some argue that this view can be seen as being suggested—though not by any means clearly—by the "invocation" of the Anglican Rite as found in the American Book of Common Prayer, 1928 and earlier and in Rite I of the American BCP of 1979 as well as in other Anglican formularies:.

Symbolism - the bread and wine are symbolic of the body and blood of Jesus Christ, and in partaking of the elements the believer commemorates the sacrificial death of Christ. This view is also known as "memorialism" and Zwinglianism after Ulrich Zwingli and is held by several Protestant denominations, including most Baptists.
Suspension - the partaking of the bread and wine was not intended to be a perpetual ordinance, or was not to be taken as a religious rite or ceremony (also known as adeipnonism, meaning "no supper" or "no meal"). This is the view of Quakers and the Salvation Army, as well as the hyperdispensationalist positions of E. W. Bullinger, Cornelius R. Stam, and others.

4. Ritual and liturgy

A. The Agape feast
The Agape feast was the Eucharistic celebration of the early Christians. While centered on the ritual of the bread and wine, it also included various other ritual elements, including elements of the Passover seder and of Mediterranean funerary banquets, also termed Agape Feasts. Agape is one of the Greek words for love, particularly applied to selfless love. Such meals were widespread, though not universal, in the early Christian world.

This service was apparently a full meal, with each participant bringing a contribution to the meal according to their means. Perhaps predictably enough, it could at times deteriorate into merely an occasion for eating and drinking, or for ostentatious displays by the wealthier members of the community. This was criticized by St. Paul in the New Testament (cf. 1 Cor 11:20-22). Because of such abuses, and the increased ritualization of the feast the Agape gradually fell into disfavor, and after being subjected to various regulations and restrictions, it was definitively dropped by the Church between the 6th and 8th centuries.

B. Roman Catholicism, Eastern Christianity
Main article: Divine Liturgy
Among Eastern Christians, the Eucharistic service is called the Divine Liturgy. It comprises two main divisions: the first is the Liturgy of the Catechumens which consists of introductory litanies, antiphons and scripture readings, culminating in a reading from one of the Gospels and often, a sermon; the second is the Liturgy of the Faithful in which the Eucharist is offered, consecrated, and received as Holy Communion. Within the latter, the actual Eucharistic prayer is called the anaphora (Greek:, "offering" or "lifting up"). In the Byzantine Rite, two different anaphoras are currently used: one is attributed to St. John Chrysostom, and the other to St. Basil the Great. Among the Oriental Orthodox, a variety of anaphoras are used, but all are similar in structure to those of the Byzantine Rite

C. Protestantism
Communion is usually served at the end of the service and does not hold any liturgical signifancance except as an act of obedience as the Lord instructed.

D. Anglican, Lutheran
In the Episcopal Church in the United States of America (ECUSA), the Eucharist is designated as the principal service of the Church. The service for Holy Eucharist is found in the Book of Common Prayer for each national church in the Anglican Communion. The Anglican Church holds the Eucharist as the highest form of worship, the Church's main service. Daily celebrations are the now the case in most cathedrals and many parish churches, and there are few churches where Holy Communion is not celebrated at least once every Sunday. The nature of the ritual with which it is celebrated, however, varies according to the churchmanship of the individual parish.

5. Open and closed communion

Christian denominations differ in their understanding of whether they may receive the Eucharist together with those not in full communion with them. Closed communion was the universal practice of the early Church. The famed apologist St. Justin Martyr (c. 150) wrote: "No one else is permitted to partake of it, except one who believes our teaching to be true...." For the first several hundred years of Church history, non-members were forbidden even to be present at the sacramental ritual; visitors and catechumens (those still undergoing instruction) were dismissed halfway through the liturgy, after the Bible readings and sermon but before the Eucharistic rite. The Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom, used in the Byzantine Churches, still has a formula of dismissal of catechumens (not usually followed by any action) at this point.
The ancient Churches, such as the Roman Catholic and the Eastern Orthodox exclude non-members from Communion under normal circumstances, though they may allow exceptions, e.g. for non-members in danger of death who share their faith in the reality of the Eucharist and who are unable to have access to a minister of their own religion. Many conservative Protestant communities also practice closed communion, including conservative Lutheran Churches like the Lutheran Church, Missouri Synod and the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod. The Mennonites and the Landmark Baptist Churches also practice closed communion, as a symbol of exclusive membership and loyalty to the distinctive doctrines of their fellowship.
Most Protestant communities practice open communion, including some Anglican, Reformed, Evangelical, Methodist, and more-liberal Lutherans (such as the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and the Church of Sweden). Some open communion communities adhere to a symbolic or spiritual understanding of the Eucharist, so that they have no fear of sacrilege against the literal body and blood of Christ if someone receives inappropriately. Others feel that Christ calls all of his children to his table, regardless of their denominational affiliation. Many churches that practice open communion offer it only to baptized Christians (regardless of denomination

2. Jewish viewpoint of Communion – The Passover

The term Pesach (Hebrew: פֶּסַח) or, more exactly, the verb "pasàch" (Hebrew: פָּסַח) is first mentioned in the Torah account of the Exodus from Egypt (Exodus 12:23). It is found in Moses' words that God "will pass over" the houses of the Israelites during the final plague of the Ten Plagues of Egypt, the killing of the first-born. On the night of that plague, which occurred on the 15th day of Nisan, the Jews smeared their lintels and doorposts with the blood of the Passover sacrifice and were spared.

There is some debate about the exact meaning of the verb pasàch (פָּסַח) as it appears in Exodus. The commonly held assumption that it means "he passed over", stems from the translation provided in the Septuagint (παρελευσεται in Ex. 12:23, and εσκεπασεν in Ex. 12:27). Judging from other instances of the verb, and instances of parallelism, a more faithful translation may be "he hovered over, guarding." Indeed, this is the image used by Isaiah by his use of this verb in Is. 31:5: "As birds hovering, so will the Lord of hosts protect Jerusalem; He will deliver it as He protecteth it, He will rescue it as He passeth over" (כְּצִפֳּרִ֣ים עָפֹ֔ות כֵּ֗ן יָגֵ֛ן יְהוָ֥ה צְבָאֹ֖ות עַל־יְרֽוּשָׁלִָ֑ם גָּנֹ֥ון וְהִצִּ֖יל פָּסֹ֥חַ וְהִמְלִֽיט).

The term Pesach also refers to the lamb or kid which was designated as the Passover sacrifice (called the Korban Pesach in Hebrew). Four days before the Exodus, the Jews were commanded to set aside a lamb or kid (Exodus 12:3) and inspect it daily for blemishes. During the day on the 14th of Nisan, they were to slaughter the animal and use its blood to mark their lintels and doorposts. Up until midnight on the 15th of Nisan, they were to consume the lamb. Each family (or group of families) gathered together to eat a meal that included the meat of the Korban Pesach while the Tenth Plague ravaged Egypt

Korban Pesach

When the Holy Temple was standing, the focus of the Passover festival was the offering of a lamb or kid (the Korban Pesach, lit. "Pesach sacrifice," also known as the "Paschal Lamb"). Every family (or, if the family was too small to finish eating the entire offering in one sitting, group of families) was required to partake of one (Numbers 9:11) such animal on the night of the 15th of Nisan (Exodus 12:6). The offering could not be slaughtered while one was in possession of leaven (Exodus 23:18). It had to be roasted (Exodus 12:9) and eaten together with matzo and maror (Exodus 12:8). One had to be careful not to break any bones from the offering (Exodus 12:46). None of the offering could be left over until morning (Exodus 12:10, 23:18).

Only Jews were permitted to partake of the Korban Pesach. Men and women were equally obligated. An apostate could not eat from it (Exodus 12:43), nor a (non-Jewish) hired worker (Exodus 12:45). An uncircumcised male was also restrained from eating from it (Exodus 12:48). People in a state of ritual impurity could not offer it, except when a majority of the congregation was in such a state (Talmud Pesachim 66b). The offering had to be made before a minyan of 30 (Pesachim 64b). Levites recited Hallel while the offering was made.

If one missed the opportunity to eat the Korban Pesach, he or she could make it up one month later on the night of the 15th of Iyar (Numbers 9:11), a day which is known as Pesach Sheini ("Second Pesach"). Just as on the first Pesach night, one must not break any bones from the second Paschal offering (Numbers 9:12) or leave meat over until morning (Numbers 9:12).

Today, in the absence of the Temple, the mitzvah of the Korban Pesach has reverted to being a symbolic food placed on the Passover Seder Plate. It is typically represented by a roasted shank bone during the Passover Seder, which is mentioned and pointed to during the Seder ritual. Ashkenazic Jews have a custom of not eating lamb or goat during the Sedar in deference to the absence of the Temple. Many Sephardic Jews, however, have a custom of eating lamb or kid on Passover

1. 10th of Nissan – Day of preparation

Exd 12:1 Now the LORD said to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt,
Exd 12:2 "This month shall be the beginning of months for you; it is to be the first month of the year to you.
Exd 12:3 "Speak to all the congregation of Israel, saying, 'On the tenth of this month they are each one to take a lamb for themselves, according to their fathers' households, a lamb for each household.
Exd 12:4 'Now if the household is too small for a lamb, then he and his neighbor nearest to his house are to take one according to the number of persons {in them;} according to what each man should eat, you are to divide the lamb.
Exd 12:5 'Your lamb shall be an unblemished male a year old; you may take it from the sheep or from the goats.
Exd 12:6 'You shall keep it until the fourteenth day of the same month, then the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel is to kill it at twilight.

2. 14th of Nissan- Passover

"On the fourteenth day of the first month at twilight is the LORD'S Passover" (Leviticus 23:5).
"Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male of the first year. You may take it from the sheep or from the goats. Now you shall keep it until the fourteenth day of the same month. Then the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill it at twilight. . . . And thus you shall eat it: with a belt on your waist, your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand. So you shall eat it in haste. It is the LORD'S Passover " (Exodus 12:5-6,11).

A. The Meaning of the Old Testament Passover

The Old Testament Passover is a memorial to God passing over the houses of the children of Israel when He killed the firstborn of man and beast in Egypt, during the night of the fourteenth. The Passover is not a memorial to the exodus of Israel from Egypt.

1. Slaying of the first born - Judgement

" For I will pass through the land of Egypt on that night, and will strike all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgment: I am the LORD. Now the blood shall be a sign for you on the houses where you are. And when I see the blood, I will pass over you; and the plague shall not be on you to destroy you when I strike the land of Egypt. So this day shall be to you a memorial; and you shall keep it as a feast to the LORD throughout your generations. You shall keep it as a feast by an everlasting ordinance " (Exodus 12:12-14).

2. Slaying of the Passover Lamb

" Then Moses called for all the elders of Israel and said to them, Pick out and take lambs for yourselves according to your families, and kill the Passover lamb. And you shall take a bunch of hyssop, dip it in the blood that is in the basin, and strike the lintel and the two doorposts with the blood that is in the basin. And none of you shall go out of the door of his house until morning. For the LORD will pass through to strike the Egyptians; and when He sees the blood on the lintel and on the two doorposts, the LORD will pass over the door and not allow the destroyer to come into your houses to strike you. And you shall observe this thing as an ordinance for you and your sons forever. It will come to pass when you come to the land which the LORD will give you, just as He promised, that you shall keep this service. And it shall be, when your children say to you, What do you mean by this service? that you shall say, It is the Passover sacrifice of the LORD, who passed over the houses of the children of Israel in Egypt when He struck the Egyptians and delivered our households. So the people bowed their heads and worshiped " (Exodus 12:21-27).

3. Communion through Jewish eyes

A. Why is Passover important to Christians

The fundamental idea of Christianity is the Incarnation, that "the Word became flesh and dwelt among us" (John 1:14). It is this belief that God became human (Jesus), was crucified (dying substitutionary death, paying the price for sin, as "our Passover, sacrificed for us" — 1Corinthians 5:7), and rose on the third day, that distinguishes Christianity from other faiths. Jesus Christ is seen as the center of Christianity, and any discussion of the Christian passover must be informed by a discussion of the Christian Jesus.

The importance of the passover to Christianity is demonstrated by the fact that the Christian communion was established by Jesus in The Last Supper. Before his friends the apostles (John 15:15) knew he was to be crucified, he established the communion eating the bread and drinking the wine in remembrance of him and his sacrifice. He said, "This cup is the new covenant in My blood, which is shed for you" (Luke 22:20).

The New Testament of the Bible explicitly states many titles and roles to Jesus. Most of those were accomplished when he was crucified during the Passover. The man Jesus, according to the Bible, is the Great High Priest (Hebrews 4:14) who lives forever to interceed (Hebrews 7:25) before the throne of God, whose sacrifice of himself on the cross is sufficient (Ephesians 5:2) both for the forgiveness of sins (Revelation 1:5) of those who trust him (Romans 4:22, 10:9), and sufficient for the imputation of his perfect righteousness before God to those who love and obey him. Jesus, the Christian Messiah, is also called the "Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world" (John 1:29 ).

B. What is the Meaning of Passover?

Some Christians believe that it is not Jesus who is a picture of the Passover, but the Passover that is a picture of Jesus. The external ritual of sacrifice instituted in the Old Testament by God is a precursor of the larger things that were to come in Jesus. The holy bible explicitly states that the killing of animals does not end sin, and therefore it must be repeated, and the ritual intercession of a human priest in a man-made temple does not end the need for intercession and so year after year new intercessions must be made (Hebrews 10). It goes on to say that Jesus offered the one sacrifice that was acceptable to God, and that he lives forever as a high priest so there is no other priest needed.

A Christian view is that the Passover, as observed by ancient Israel, is a type of the true Passover Sacrifice of God that was to be made by Jesus. The ancient Israelite Passover was the commemoration of the Israelites' physical deliverance from bondage in Egypt, Passover represents for some Christians a spiritual deliverance from the slavery of sin (John 8:34) and is, since Jesus' death, a memorial of the sacrifice that Jesus has made for mankind. Also, in the same way the Israelites partook of the sacrifice by eating it that night, Christians partake of the sacrifice of Jesus by eating the symbols of his body and blood, the bread and wine.

C. How did Jewish Passover customs come to be connected with Christian Passover customs?

Jewish Passover customs came to be connected with Christian Passover customs because the early Christians were in fact, Jews who kept the observances of all the Jewish festivals and on the same dates in the Jewish calendar as the Jewish people celebrated them. The early Christians substituted traditional Jewish symbolisms and interpretations for the Passover Seder or festive meal and the Passover holiday as a whole with their own version of symbolisms and interpretations.

In the New Testament, instructions are given concerning observing the Passover festival. These instructions are found in I Corinthians 5:7-8: “Purge out therefore the old leaven, that you may be a new lump, as you are unleavened. For even Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us:

D. The Meaning of the New Testament Passover

The New Testament Passover is a memorial of the death of Jesus Christ as the true Passover Lamb. We eat the broken bread and drink the wine in remembrance of the sacrifice of His beaten body and shed blood. This sacrifice makes possible the forgiveness of our sins. By partaking of the Passover symbols of bread and wine, we are proclaiming our continual faith in Jesus' sacrifice.
1. Biblical references:

a. Gospel accounts

" So they went and found it just as He had said to them, and they prepared the Passover. When the hour had come, He sat down, and the twelve apostles with Him. Then He said to them, With fervent desire I have desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer; . . .. And He took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me. Likewise He also took the cup after supper, saying, This cup is the new covenant in My blood, which is shed for you. " (Luke 22:13-15, 19-20).

" So the disciples did as Jesus had directed them; and they prepared the Passover. When evening had come, He sat down with the twelve.. . . And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to the disciples and said, Take, eat; this is My body. Then He took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink from it, all of you. For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins. But I say to you, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in My Father's kingdom. " (Matthew 26:19-20, 26-29).

" So His disciples went out, and came into the city, and found it just as He had said to them; and they prepared the Passover. . . . And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them and said, "Take, eat; this is My body. Then He took the cup, and when He had given thanks He gave it to them, and they all drank from it. And He said to them, This is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many. Assuredly, I say to you, I will no longer drink of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God." (Mark 14:16, 22-25)

b. N.T accounts

"Therefore purge out the old leaven, that you may be a new lump, since you truly are unleavened. For indeed Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us." (1 Corinthians 5:7).

" The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world " (John 1:29)!

" Knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot. " (1 Peter1:18-19).

" For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you: that the Lord Jesus on the same night in which He was betrayed took bread; and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, Take, eat; this is My body which is broken for you; do this in remembrance of Me. In the same manner He also took the cup after supper, saying, This cup is the new covenant in My blood. This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me. For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord's death till He comes." (1 Corinthians 11:23-26).

2. The ordinance:

1. The Bread:

a. Afikomen

When the meal is finished, the hostess clears the dishes. Now it's time for the search for the aphikomen (the buried half- matzoh). This is done by the children, who make a game of it. Adults call out clues, "You're getting close," etc. (Of course, they all saw the host hide it, so the contest is only ritual.) The youngest is usually allowed to find it, and receives a gift.

The host breaks off olive-size pieces of matzoh from the aphikomen and distributes them to all. They each eat it, in a reverent manner. Sometimes there is a blessing,
"In memory of the Passover sacrifice, eaten after one is sated." 

(This is the point during the Last Supper at which Jesus broke the bread and passed bits to His disciples; however, Jesus added the significant words given in Luke 22:19),


It's fascinating that this age-old Passover ceremony is rich in so many details, and each one has a deep significance. In response to the ritual questions, each one is explained in terms of its historical origin and meaning. And yet, one of the main features of the feast is not well understood by most Jewish participants. They refer to the three matzohs in the matzoh tash as the Unity; but there is no agreement on what is united. And no one seems to have any idea why the middle one is broken, buried, and later brought back up. Some rabbis teach that these represent Abraham, Isaac and Jacob; others say they portray the unity of worship -- priests, Levites and congregation; still others say they stand for the crowns of learning, priesthood and kingship. But there's no explanation for breaking and hiding the middle one. Christians have a better explanation; it involves the "bread of heaven," spoken of in John 6:32-59.

a verse that is very holy to the Jews is the shemah of Deuteronomy 6:4-9, "Hear, O Israel: the LORD thy God is one LORD. And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might. And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children ... and thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thy hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes. And thou shalt write them upon the posts of thy house, and on thy gates." That word "one" in the Hebrew is echad, meaning a composite oneness, not just the number one. It's the same word used in Genesis 2:24, where Adam and Eve are said to be "one flesh," and in Ezekiel 37 to describe the two sticks becoming one. Here it is describing the unity of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit -- the three persons of the Godhead, acting as one.

This is the true meaning of the unity of the three matzohs in the matzoh tash. And which of these is the middle one? That is obviously God the Son -- Jesus the Messiah, our Lord. Let's see how He could be represented by a piece of unleavened bread. Read John 6:32-59. Verse 35 says

c. "This is my body which is given for you."
The host now takes the third cup of wine, "the cup of redemption," or "the cup of blessing," and offers the main table grace blessing. (In Jewish tradition, the main blessing comes after the meal.) Then they all drink from the third cup. 

At the Last Supper, this is the place referred to in Luke 22:20,

2. The Wine:

a. "Likewise also the cup after supper, saying, 'This cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you'."

And while they were eating, Jesus took some bread, and after a blessing, He broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, "Take, eat; this is My body." 27 And when He had taken a cup and given thanks, He gave it to them, saying, "Drink from it, all of you; 28 for this is My blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for forgiveness of sins. 29 "But I say to you, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in My Father's kingdom." (Matt 26.26ff)

17 And when He had taken a cup and given thanks, He said, "Take this and share it among yourselves; 18 for I say to you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine from now on until the kingdom of God comes." 19 And when He had taken some bread and given thanks, He broke it, and gave it to them, saying, "This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me." 20 And in the same way He took the cup after they had eaten, saying, "This cup which is poured out for you is the new covenant in My blood. (Luke 22.14ff)

For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus in the night in which He was betrayed took bread; 24 and when He had given thanks, He broke it, and said, "This is My body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of Me." 25 In the same way He took the cup also, after supper, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in My blood; do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me." 26 For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until He comes. (1 Cor 11.23).

b. some observations from the text and from the historical context:

1. There are quite a number of vivid symbols going on here that we need to look at, all based on various scriptural themes, and this method of symbolic action was a common 'shock value' usage of prophets. So Wright [JVG:558f]:

2. First of all, the image of 'blood' would carry an association with 'violent death'--NOT with actual 'blood'. After studying the usage of 'blood' (dam) in the Tanaak/OT, Morris (Apostolic Preaching of the Cross, 113-114) summarizes:

3. But sacrificial elements (via this death motif) are nonetheless present, since the Passover Lamb was considered a sacrifice and since the text refers to the 'blood of the covenant'. This latter term shows up in two OT passages: Ex 24.8 and Zech 9.9-11.

So Moses took the blood and sprinkled it on the people, and said, "Behold the blood of the covenant, which the Lord has made with you in accordance with all these words." (Ex 24.8)

Rejoice greatly, O Daughter of Zion! Shout, Daughter of Jerusalem! See, your king comes to you, righteous and having salvation, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey. I will take away the chariots from Ephraim and the war-horses from Jerusalem, and the battle bow will be broken. He will proclaim peace to the nations. His rule will extend from sea to sea and from the River to the ends of the earth. As for you, because of the blood of my covenant with you, I will free your prisoners from the waterless pit. (Zech 9.9-11).

Notice that the 'blood of the covenant' is linked to the original Exodus and to the New Exodus that was to be eventuated by the Messiah.

4. This 'violent death' and sacrificial death is linked to the 'New Covenant' of Jeremiah 31:31... 

"The time is coming," declares the LORD, "when I will make a new covenant
with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah.
It will not be like the covenant I made with their forefathers
when I took them by the hand to lead them out of Egypt,
because they broke my covenant, though I was a husband to them," declares the LORD.
"This is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after that time," declares the LORD.
"I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts.
I will be their God, and they will be my people.

5. The 'cup' is generally understood as the third cup of the Passover meal (the cup of Blessing and cup of redemption). This cup was also associated with 'blood' through the connection with Exodus 24.8, in the rabbinic literature. Thus the "offensive symbolism" was already there, at least in some form, but did not seem to be that big of an issue for the Jews as the question might indicate. Carson notes (EBC, in. loc. Matthew 26.28):

"The words to peri pollon ekchynnomenon ("which is poured out for many") could not fail to be understood as a reference to the Passover sacrifice in which so much blood had just been "poured out" (see on v. 17). They also connote other sacrificial implications (e.g., Lev 1-7, 16), especially significant since at least Jesus' crucifixion did entail much bloodshed. The Mishnah (Pesahim 10:6), which in this instance may well preserve traditions alive in Jesus' day, uses Exodus 24:8 to interpret the Passover wine as a metaphor for blood that seals a covenant between God and his people.

6. Some have also seen an allusion to the Suffering Servant of Isaiah (so Carson, EBC):

"One more OT allusion is worth emphasizing. As in 20:28, it is very probable that Jesus is also portraying himself as Isaiahs Suffering Servant (cf. Moo, "Use of OT," pp. 127-32; France, "Servant of the Lord," pp. 37-39). This is based on three things: (1) "my blood of the covenant" calls to mind that the servant is twice presented as "a covenant for the people" (Isa 42:6; 49:8)--i.e., he will reestablish the covenant; (2) ekehynnomenon ("poured out") may well reflect Isaiah 53:12; and (3) "for many" again recalls the work of the Servant in Isaiah 52:13-53:12 (see on 20:28).

7. But the "cup" that is associated (see above) with His impending violent and sacrificial death, is known before this night by the disciples as the cup of His suffering. Jesus had referred earlier to His suffering under this image, and it is highly likely that His disciples would have understood 'sharing the cup' as 'sharing in His sufferings', instead of some blood-drinking thing. This is further supported by references to 'the cup' within the same night. Consider some of the verses:

But Jesus answered and said, "You do not know what you are asking for. Are you able to drink the cup that I am about to drink?" They *said to Him, "We are able." 23 He *said to them, "My cup you shall drink; but to sit on My right and on My left, this is not Mine to give, (Matt 20.22f; also Mk 10.38)

8. And finally, one of the above verses tips us off as to how the "common cup" was probably understood. When Jesus asks them if they can 'drink from His cup', He was asking if they could be like Him in their lives and in their deaths (cf. "take up your cross and follow me"). The sharing of the cup at the Last supper was a statement of unity, but also a statement of commitment to "follow Jesus" even unto death. This can be seen in the Matthew passage cited above:

C. The Ordinance Of The Lord's Supper

Section II- The Scriptural Requirements


A saved person (Heb 13:10).
Scripturally Baptized (Matt 28:20).
A member of the particular local church, in good standing, not under discipline (Matt 26:20).
An orderly walk devoid of offense to his fellow church members.
Participants must examine themselves (1Cor 11:28), so before we partake of the Lord's Supper, we should examine ourselves as to whether:
We be in the faith (2Cor 13:5)
We have been scripturally baptized
We are in good fellowship with the church, our Pastor, and each member
Our life is orderly
We are partaking for the right purpose

2. A PROPER PURPOSE (1Cor 11:24-26)

It is commanded, "This do ye..."
It is a memorial, "This do ye... in remembrance of me"
It has an evangelistic aspect to it, "ye do shew the Lord's death"
It is prophetic, "Till he come"; and He is coming.


Only a New Testament church has the authority to administrate the ordinances (1Cor 11:22,23).
Paul commits the Lord's Supper into the charge, not of the body of officials, but of the whole church.
The Lord's Supper, as a church ordinance, is to be administrated by the church to its members through one of its members whom the church has appointed.
Inasmuch as it is a church ordinance, to be observed in the local body, it is no reflection upon any individual from another church, nor upon any other church, to restrict the observance of the supper to members of that particular church only.


The elements are the "bread" and the "cup".
The bread is to be unleavened bread.
The cup is to be the pure "fruit of the vine" (Matt. 26:29, Mark 14:25).


1) On the chart below, the shaded areas represent hours of darkness; the open boxes represent daylight hours. Jewish days always begin and end at sunset -- the beginning of darkness. Remember the creation days in Genesis 1 -- they're called "the evening and the morning." To the Jew, evening meant the early hours of darkness. The phrase "between the evenings" meant daylight hours. Our present, non-Jewish, days always begin and end at midnight -- the middle of darkness.

2) Exodus12:6 says the Passover lamb should be kept penned up until Nisan 14, then killed "in the evening" (KJV) or "between the evenings" (Hebrew). This would be in the afternoon toward the end of Nisan 14. Josephus said this was done between the 9th and 11th hours of the day, that is, between 3 and 5 PM. This would be on our Thursday afternoon.

3) Exodus 12:7,8 says that, for that first Passover, they were to put the blood on the top and both sides of their doorways, then eat the flesh that night (during the first part of Nisan 15). Therefore the Last Supper must have been on Thursday night.

4) Exodus 12:12,29 says that God killed the first-born of all Egyptians at midnight that night (Nisan 15). Thus the actual Passover Day is Nisan 15 -- the day after the lamb was killed.

5) Jesus was arrested a few hours after His Last Supper (a Passover meal), was tried during the night, and was crucified at about 9 AM the next day. This was on Nisan 15 (Passover Day), which would be on our Friday. He was on the cross from 9 AM until 3 PM (see Mark 15:25,34).

6) The day He was crucified was a "day of preparation" for the Sabbath, that is, a Friday (see Mark 15:42). They had to put His body in a tomb quickly, before sundown, else it would be during the Sabbath, when burial was forbidden. This couldn't have been the day of preparation for the Passover, because Mark 14:12 says that's when the two disciples set up the upper room for the Passover feast.

7) Early in the morning after the Sabbath was past, on the first day of the week, that is Sunday, the women came to complete the burial anointing (see Mark 16:1). But He was not in the tomb -- He had risen from the dead!

8) Jews always counted a fraction of a day as one day. Thus He was in the grave for three days from Friday afternoon until Sunday morning. The short portion of Friday, plus all of Saturday, plus part of Sunday added up to three days. These were Nisan 15, 16, and 17.

9) Exodus 12:3 says that the Passover lamb was to be selected on Nisan 10, and was to be kept penned or checked for blemishes until Nisan 14. This gives a good analogy for the date of Jesus's Triumphant Entry into Jerusalem, which was on the first day of the week, Sunday, Nisan 10


↑ : Luke 22:19; 1 Corinthians 11:24-25
↑ : cf. Pope Benedict XVI (2006). Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, 275, USCCB., and Catholic Church (200). Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1328-1332, Second Edition. ISBN 0385508190.
↑ e.g., see Graves, J. R. (1928). What is It to Eat and Drink Unworthily, Baptist Sunday School Committee. ASIN B00087HTF4.


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