2. Scriptural account of the Lord's supper
Antiquities of the Christian Church
XVI. Of the Lord's Supper
2. Scriptural account of the Lord's supper.
The evangelists who record the institution of the Lord's supper give it no peculiar name or title. St. Paul, in his first epistle to the Corinthians styles it the Lord's supper, the table of the Lord, and the communion, 11: 20. 10:21. 10: 16. No other distinctive appellation appears to have been given to it in the Scriptures.
Our Saviour instituted this ordinance in connection with the passover, and authorized his disciples to celebrate it in this connection. But it was evidently observed as a separate and independent ordinance in the times of the apostles and with their sanction. The apostle Paul in 1 Cor. 11. makes no mention of the passover, but speaks of the communion as a customary rite: "As often as ye eat this bread and drink this cup ye do show the Lord's death until he come.
This sacrament, however, was probably celebrated annually in connection with the passover by the converts from the Jews, who, as Epiphanius has shown, continued for many years to observe this Jewish festival; and, even in the christian church generally, it was celebrated with peculiar solemnity, at the festival of Easter, which corresponded to this passover.
From the circumstance that it was instituted in connection with the passover, appears to have been derived the custom of celebrating it, not as a separate and independent religious ordinance, but as one of the common rites of public worship, and as the conclusion of the service.
It may appear, at first thought, singular that John, the beloved disciple, the bosom friend of our Lord, who with Peter made ready the passover, entirely omits to mention the Lord's supper. It should, however, be recollected that John's gospel was evidently intended to be supplementary to the others, and that his own narrative clearly shows that it was intentionally omitted.
The account given by St. Paul is of special importance to us; for it not only harmonizes with the narrations of the apostles and confirms them, but it shows that the Lord's supper is an established ordinance in the church, and designed for perpetual observance. He severely rebukes the disorders and abuses which the Corinthians had introduced, relates the original institution in conformity with the narrative given by Luke, and assures them that he shall set the whole in order when he comes.
The question has been raised whether Christ himself partook of the sacrament? To this the narrative offers no satisfactory reply. The opinions of the church have been greatly divided on this point. Chrysostom. and Augustine. maintain the affirmative. This opinion is rendered highly probable from the circumstance that he carefully observed all the Mosaic ordinances, and received baptism at the hands of John, because thus it became him to fulfil all righteousness. In conformity with the same spirit it is hardly credible that he would have omitted a rite so significant as the one under consideration. The advocates of the doctrine of transubstantiation strenuously maintain the contrary opinion.
Another inquiry, which has divided the opinions of ecclesiastical writers, has been raised respecting the presence of Judas the traitor. Did he partake of the sacrament? The Apostolical Constitutions affirm that he was not present at the celebration of the Lord's supper. The advocates of this opinion rely chiefly on John 13:30 – He then having received the sop, went immediately out. They of the contrary opinion appeal to Luke 22:11 – And when the hour was come he sat down and the twelve apostles with him. In delivering the cup our Lord said also. Drink ye all of it. The prevailing sentiment in the church has been that the traitor did partake of the sacred elements in company with the other disciples.
The bread used on this occasion was doubtless the unleavened bread which was provided for the passover. No stress, however, is laid on the nature or kind of bread; but on the breaking of the bread in token of the body of Christ broken for us.
The wine was, with equal probability, the common wine of the country, of a dark red color, and was received without mixture with water. The significancy of the distribution of the cup, however, consisted not in the quality or color of the wine, but in its being poured out in token of the Mood of Christ shed for the remission of sins.
The eucharist appears to have been celebrated at first in the evening, with reference, no doubt, to the time of its original institution. But no directions are given on this head. See 1 Cor. 10:23, Acts 20:7.
Mattb. de la Roque, Histoire memorabie et interessante de 1' Eucbarislie. Ed. nouv. Anisterd. 1737. 8: Rud. Hospiniani Historiae sacramentariae. P. 1, 2. Genev. 168L f.: Dav. Blondel, De Eucharlstia vet. eccl. ]640. 4: J. A. Quenstedr, De s. Eucharistiae in primitiva eccl. usitata. 1715. 8: Fr. Brenner's Geschichtliche Darslellung der Verrichtung und Ausspendung der Eucbaristie, von Cbristus bis auf unsere Zeiten u. s. w. Barnberg. 1824. 8.
De Doctrina Christ, lib. ii. c. 9: J. Fr. Buddeus, Inst, theol. Dogrn. p. .369: Gerhard. Loc. Theol. torn. x. p. 387: Witsius, On Covenant, lib. ii. c. 10.
Gerhard, torn. x. p. 393: J. S. Baurngarten. Dissert, de Juda sacrae. coenae. conviva. Hal. 1744. 4: Guil. Saldini Otior. theol. lib. ii. exercit. viii. p. 376.
c. 41. p. 106–108: c. 117. p. 300, ed. Oberth.
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