This meeting, designated in scripture by the term “Lord’s Supper” (1 Corinthians 11:20), or the “breaking of bread,” (Acts 2:42, 46, Acts 20:7), is one of the main purposes for the gathering of the saints on the Lord’s Day. Our first hour of gathering together each Sunday is to remember the Lord. The following is a summary of our understanding of the Lord’s Supper as given to us in the Scriptures.
The Lord Jesus Christ and His disciples met together the night He was betrayed to celebrate the Passover (Luke 22:16). At the end of the Passover meal (Mark 14:22-26), the Lord Jesus took bread, blessed it, and gave it to the disciples telling them, “Take, eat; this is My body.” Then He took the cup, 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” (Matthew 26:26-28, see also Luke 22:19-20). The Lord Jesus Christ Himself instituted this observance.
That the Lord Jesus meant for this Supper to be observed continually in the assembly is evident by the special revelation He gave Paul concerning it in 1 Corinthians 11:23-34. Paul affirmed what the Lord Jesus said concerning the Supper, when he wrote, “For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death till He comes” (vs. 26). We might ask the question, “How often is often?” In the early days of the church, they were breaking bread daily (Acts 2:46). They continued steadfastly in it (Acts 2:42). Later on, it became a weekly observance, “Now on the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread…” (Acts 20:7). The early Christians came together on the first day of the week (Sunday) because that was the day the Lord Jesus rose from the dead (Luke 24:1, John 20:19, 1 Corinthians 16:2). A primary reason for their gathering was to remember the Lord in the breaking of bread. This is to continue “…till He comes” (1 Corinthians 11:26).
The Lord’s Supper is always mentioned in the context of His disciples being present (Matthew 26:26-29, Mark 14:22-26, Luke 22:19-20, Acts 2:40-47, 20:7, 1 Corinthians 11:17-34). It is obvious that the participants of the Lord’s Supper are those who have trusted the Lord Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. In 1 Corinthians 11:26-29, the believer is to examine himself before partaking of the bread and the cup. This examination should show that there is an understanding of the symbols of the bread and cup (“discerning the Lord’s body” – 1 Corinthians 11:29), and that the believer would not partake in “an unworthy manner” (vs. 1 Corinthians 11:27, 29). Practically speaking, this would mean recognizing and confessing any sin that is in one’s life 1 John 1:9). Additionally, it would mean not viewing the Lord’s Supper in a common, casual way.
We believe the purpose of the Lord’s Supper is summed up in the words of the Lord Jesus Christ Himself when He said, “…do this in remembrance of Me” (Luke 22:19, 1 Corinthians 11:24-25). The word remembrance means an “affectionate calling of a person to mind.” It is a time of worship to the Lord and for the Lord. Our thoughts, our prayers, our singing, our Scripture reading, and any spoken word, should all focus on the Person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ. In proclaiming the Lord’s death, we thank Him, we praise Him, and we worship Him for what He accomplished on Calvary’s cross for us (1 Corinthians 11:26). We anticipate His coming again for us (1 Corinthians 11:26).
We gather together in the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ with a loaf of bread and cups filled with the fruit of the vine before us (Luke 22:18-20). These are symbols of His body broken for us and of His blood which was shed for us. They are not, nor do they become, His literal body and blood. They are before us to remind us of who it is we have come to remember, and what He has done for us.
Throughout the meeting, various brothers have the privilege of audibly reading a portion of Scripture, perhaps briefly commenting on it, giving out a hymn to be sung by all, or offering up to the Lord prayers of worship, praise, and thanksgiving. The sisters are privileged to worship silently, but join in the singing of the hymns (1 Corinthians 11:5, 1 Corinthians 14:34, 1 Timothy 2:12). The Holy Spirit Himself leads various brothers in their participation in the meeting (1 Corinthians 14:1-40). At an appropriate time, one brother will give thanks for the bread, break it and pass it on to the rest of the saints to partake of. Likewise, a brother will gives thanks for the cup, and then pass it on to the saints to partake of.
All that is spoken or sung or thought should be guided by the words of the Lord Jesus Christ, “This do in remembrance of Me” (Luke 22:19-20). The meeting will conclude with prayer or the singing of a hymn, or a short reading of Scripture.