Questions and Answers

Written by Drew on September 18th, 2005

Can the Lord’s Supper be taken on days other than Sunday?

It is important that we do everything in a manner prescribed by the New Testament. What the Bible authorizes, we should practice; what the Bible does not authorize, we should avoid. Often we express the principle, “Speak where the Bible speaks, remain silent where the Bible is silent.”

This attitude toward the Bible is supported by several claims in the New Testament. For example, Paul writes, “But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you” (Rom. 6:17). The word translated “form” is tupos, which carries the metaphor of “a cast or frame into which molten material is poured so as to take its shape.” The gospel is the mold; those who believe in Christ conform to it by following it completely (Vine’s Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words, 464).

In another place, Paul writes to Timothy, “Hold fast the form of sound words, which thou hast heard of men, in faith and love which is in Christ Jesus” (2 Tim. 1:13). Here “form” is translated from hypotyposis, “the pattern placed before one to be held fast and copied” (Ralph Earle, Word Meanings in the New Testament, 404). Obviously, Paul wanted his young apprentice to copy exactly the “sound words” of the Bible.

The apostles’ insistence on using God’s Word as a pattern or mold led to uniformity among the first century churches. From one place to the next, Christians were practicing the same things in their worship services (cf. 1 Cor. 4:17).

So does a casual observance of the Lord’s Supper fit the “mold?” Not according to the examples we find in the New Testament.

In Acts 20, we find Paul departing Philippi “after the days of unleavened bread,” which came just following the Jewish Passover (v. 6). He was in a hurry to reach Jerusalem by Pentecost, which came 50 days later (v. 16). In spite of the fact he had hundreds of miles to cover in a short period of time, Paul and his companions tarried in Troas for seven days (v. 6). Why the delay? Luke explains: “And upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul preached unto them, ready to depart on the morrow; and continued his speech until midnight” (v. 7). This seems to imply that Paul waited for Sunday, when he could partake of the Lord’s Supper with his brethren in Troas.

In addition to the account of Paul’s travels in Acts, consider the same apostle’s rebuke towards the Corinthian brethren in 1 Corinthians 11:20: “When ye come together therefore into one place, this is not to eat the Lord’s Supper.” Obviously, the apostolic instruction in those days was for Christians to eat the Lord’s Supper when they “came together” for their worship services.

The question at this point is, “When did they come together?” If we can answer this, we may pinpoint with precision when the early Christians ate their memorial feast. Thankfully, Paul gives us the answer a little later on in the same letter containing his rebuke: “Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him, that there be no gatherings when I come” (1 Cor. 16:2). After reading this statement, no open-minded person would dream of partaking of the Lord’s Supper on any day other than “the first day of the week.” Paul wanted the Corinthians to eat it on Sunday; because his words are a part of the “pattern,” we know the Lord wants us to eat it on the same day.

It is significant that some translations even indicate the Corinthians were meeting “on the first day of every week” (ESV, NASB). The Lord’s Supper is designed as a weekly feature of the church’s Sunday worship services.

History corroborates the biblical evidence. In the Didache (A.D. 120), the statement is made that Christians “come together each Lord’s Day of the Lord, break brea, and give thanks” (7:14). Also, Justin Martyr (c. 152) speaks of Christians meeting on Sunday and sharing communion (Apology I, 67).

Worship, by definition, seeks to please God. Why, then, would anyone want to restructure it according to man’s design? Those supporting a casual observance of the Lord’s Supper need to step back and reconsider their motives.

 

6 Comments so far ↓

  1. Al Maxey says:

    Brother Drew,
    One of the most moving moments in our worship as the family of God is when we surround the table of our Lord and partake together of the elements of the Lord’s Supper. This is a commemorative feast filled with purpose and promise. It lies at the very core of our Christian experience. It symbolizes our unity and oneness, as well as the basis of our being. We are enriched and enlivened each time we engage in this eucharistic event.

    One of the genuine tragedies of history, however, is that this precious time together has too frequently been the focus of fierce feuding within the family of God. Brethren have fussed, fought and fragmented over virtually every aspect of the Lord’s Supper, thus turning this celebration of unity into an occasion for division. The saints in the city of Corinth had so lost sight of the spiritual significance of this event that Paul had to rebuke them, saying, “You come together not for the better but for the worse” (1 Corinthians 11:17). “Therefore when you meet together, it is not to eat the Lord’s Supper” (vs. 20). Their focus was so far afield that what they were doing could not properly even be referred to as the Lord’s Supper. It had devolved from the profound to the profane.

    In the centuries since the establishment of the Lord’s Supper various issues have arisen which not only challenge our thinking, but at times our unity as well. Each generation has faced the specter of theological debate, and even the formation of factions, over matters pertaining to this “feast divine.” Is the fruit of the vine to be fermented or unfermented? Should it be drunk from one cup or may multiple cups be used? Are we to practice open or closed communion? May it be taken to the sick and homebound who were unable to commune with the congregation? Is white grape juice acceptable, or is red the only approved color? Do the elements actually become the literal body and blood of Jesus? And on and on it goes, ad infinitum …. ad nauseam.

    One of the major areas of contention in more recent generations, especially among the more fundamentalist sects, regards frequency of observance. Some suggest the Scriptures specify the day the Lord’s Supper is to be observed, and that day is Sunday. This is perceived as a matter of faith, and those who have embraced this perception will actually go so far as to question the very salvation of those who would suggest any other day as acceptable to God. They further declare it must be observed every Sunday, without fail. To do otherwise is declared soul-damning SIN. They will refuse fellowship with all who differ with them on this issue. Those who do not observe the Lord’s Supper every Sunday, and only on Sunday, are “godless apostates bound for hell” …. or so they will readily declare to any who will listen.

    By way of example, lest some think I am fabricating the above, consider a few of the statements by Ron Halbrook, a minister within the Non-Institutional Churches of Christ in Kentucky, in an article entitled The Lord’s Supper: Is The Day Specified? — “Yes, the Lord’s day, Sunday, is specified by the Lord for eating the Lord’s supper. This day, this day alone, is the day authorized for eating the Lord’s supper when saints assemble to worship (Acts 20:7). This day, this day alone, is the day authorized for taking a collection when we assemble to worship (1 Cor. 16:2). Is it a sin to eat the Lord’s supper on other days? Yes, it is! It is always sinful to act without the authority of Christ. When we eat the Lord’s supper on the Lord’s day, we do so under his authority. When we assert the right to do so on any other day, we do so without his authority and solely by human authority.”

    Halbrook goes on to point out that many will be lost on the day of judgment because they failed to honor Christ by acting solely under His authority. He notes, “To act outside the sphere of Christ’s authority is the very essence of sin.” Thus, those who partake of the Lord’s Supper on any day other than Sunday, or who take up a collection on any day other than Sunday, can expect to hear these heartbreaking words from Jesus, “I never knew you: depart from Me, ye that work iniquity” (Matthew 7:23). He concludes his article by asserting, “Let us exalt Christ by submitting to Christ, eating the Lord’s supper on the Lord’s Day” (Truth Magazine, vol. 47, no. 6, March 20, 2003). Brother Wayne Jackson and Brother Dave Miller think the same thing.
    This is the epitome of legalistic misunderstanding and misapplication of Scripture, and reflects a woeful ignorance of biblical Truth pertaining to the purpose and practice of the Lord’s Supper. Simply stated, it is an elevation of tradition over Truth, with a heaping helping of the hermeneutics of dogmatism thrown in. I completely agree with Dr. Grant Osborne, who observes, “The basic evangelical fallacy of our generation is proof-texting” (The Hermeneutical Spiral, p. 7). Dr. Milton S. Terry, in his classic work Biblical Hermeneutics: A Treatise on the Interpretation of the Old and New Testaments, wrote that the dogmatic methodology “sets out with the ostensible purpose of maintaining a preconceived hypothesis. The whole Bible is ransacked and treated as if it were an atomical collection of dogmatic proof-texts. Such procedures are not exposition, but imposition” (p. 171-172).

    Dr. D. R. Dungan characterized this “conservative methodology” as one “bent upon retaining the opinions of the past, and preventing any further search for truth. It is pinning our faith to the sleeves of the fathers” (Hermeneutics: The Science of Interpreting the Scriptures, p. 65). When one is ready to stop all search for Truth, and to bind the world to the perceptions, preferences, and practices of one’s religious forefathers, this approach to Scripture will find a place in biblical interpretation. “Dogmatism first determines what it is willing shall be found in the Scriptures, and then goes to work at once to find nothing else there, and even to refuse that anything else shall be found” (ibid, p. 78). This methodology has a tendency to exalt the traditions and speculations of mere men, or of factions, to a level equal in authority with Scripture, and anything found within the text of the Bible, no matter how out of context or misapplied or misinterpreted it may be, will be accepted as proof positive of the validity of their position or practice from which they are determined never to withdraw.

    Hermeneutically speaking, I believe Ron Halbrook, Wayne Jackson, Dave Miller and his fellow ultra-conservatives are dogmatists. They have a tradition to promote and protect. It is the tradition of Sunday ONLY observance of the Lord’s Supper. Scripture has been ransacked and a paltry pack of passages lifted out of context in an effort to support an untenable position. Discerning disciples are increasingly perceiving the fallacy of such narrow-minded, factional thinking. Increasingly, they are turning to a reasoned review of Scripture on the matter, rather than parroting the partyists of the past.

    Ron Halbrook suggests in his article, “The faith and practice recorded in Acts 20:7 and 1 Corinthians 16:2 is the same faith and practice taught by the early Apostles in those daily meetings in Acts 2:46. No, they did not eat the Lord’s supper every day, but in those daily sessions the Apostles taught all things commanded by Christ, including the proper observance of the Lord’s supper on the Lord’s day. What one Apostle taught, all Apostles of Christ taught.” It should be obvious to any student of the Word that brother Halbrook and others have made some gigantic assumptions here in order to try and validate his tradition of Sunday only observance.

    The reality is that there has been much scholarly debate throughout the history of Christendom as to how best to interpret the historical references in Acts 2. On the day of Pentecost, after 3000 precious souls were added to the Lord, Acts 2:42 declares, “they were continually devoting themselves to (“they continued steadfastly in” — KJV) the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.” It is almost unanimously agreed that this is a reference to the observance of the Lord’s Supper. Even Halbrook admits that “obviously, in Acts 2:42, Luke is discussing worship because he described a regular practice of Christians gathered to do specific things.” Thus, this is an obvious reference to the regular observance of the Lord’s Supper by the disciples in Jerusalem.

    From the context of the chapter we know the regularity of their meetings at this time was daily. The legalists promoting their restrictive tradition will declare that all the other items in verse 42 (teaching, prayer, fellowship) were experienced daily, but the Lord’s Supper was not. “Regularity” meant weekly in this one case, whereas the steadfastness of the others was daily. Is there anything in the context that even remotely suggests this interpretation? Of course not. This is a case of eisegesis, not exegesis.

    From the very beginning of the church’s formation, this memorial feast was considered to be one of the key elements of their spiritual life and worship. Nevertheless, Acts 2:42 itself really does not speak to the particulars of frequency. It merely points out that the observance was regular, steadfast, or continual. Dr. Thomas B. Warren observed, “The ‘breaking of bread’ in this passage no doubt refers to the Lord’s Supper. But what does that prove? It doesn’t tell you when (or how often) they did it. One can do a thing ‘steadfastly’ and do it every ten years!” (The Spiritual Sword, July, 1982, p. 4). Or, one could also do it daily. The verse simply does not specify.

    A possible reference to frequency and methodology might be found in Acts 2:46. “And day by day continuing with one mind in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they were taking their meals together with gladness and sincerity of heart.” The phrase “breaking bread” in verse 46 “is problematic” (Dr. Anthony Lee Ash, The Living Word Commentary: The Acts of the Apostles, vol. 1, p. 59). Some scholars feel the phrase “breaking bread,” when used in this verse, refers only to a common meal shared among the early disciples. Others attach a spiritual significance to the meal, but feel it may be similar to the Jewish Chaburah = a coming together of like-minded believers during which a fellowship meal was shared. Others feel just as strongly that it is a reference to the Lord’s Supper (as in the similar phrase just four verses earlier). Many scholars view it as a common meal, but hasten to point out that the Lord’s Supper was frequently celebrated (at least in the early years) in connection with such a meal. Thus, even if this was a reference to a meal shared in homes, that does not necessarily exclude the Lord’s Supper which for many, many years was associated with an Agape meal.

    “Day by day, then, in the weeks that followed the first Christian Pentecost, the believers met regularly in the temple precincts for public worship and public witness, while they took their fellowship meals in each other’s homes and ‘broke the bread’ in accordance with their Master’s ordinance” (F. F. Bruce, Commentary on the Book of Acts, p. 81). Many scholars feel this may well “refer to observing the Lord’s Supper in private residences” (The People’s New Testament with Notes, vol. 1, p. 425). If indeed this is an example of the Lord’s Supper being observed by the early church in Jerusalem, and I think it very likely, then there is evidence that it was observed, at least in this locale at this time, on a daily basis.

    “In the apostolic period the Eucharist was celebrated daily in connection with a simple meal of brotherly love (the Agape), in which the Christians, in communion with their common Redeemer, forgot all distinctions of rank, wealth, and culture, and felt themselves to be members of one family of God” (Philip Schaff, History of the Christian Church — Apostolic Christianity, vol. 1, p. 473).
    For many centuries, and in many different parts of the world, the Lord’s Supper continued to be celebrated with great frequency and great thanksgiving. “In many places and by many Christians it was celebrated even daily, after apostolic precedent, and according to the very common mystical interpretation of the 4th petition of the Lord’s prayer — ‘Give us this day our daily bread'” (Philip Schaff, History of the Christian Church — Ante-Nicene Christianity, vol. 2, p. 236). Cyprian, a church leader in Carthage, North Africa, who was beheaded for his faith in 258 A.D. during the bloody persecution of Emperor Valerian, spoke in his writings of the “daily sacrifice” of the Lord’s Supper. So also did Ambrose (d. 397 A.D.), who was one of the most distinguished of the 4th century Church Fathers and a leader of the church in Italy.

    Chrysostom (345-407 A.D.), the most popular and celebrated of the Greek Church Fathers, complained of the small number of people who showed up for the “daily sacrifice” of the Lord’s Supper. Augustine (354-430 A.D.), who lived at Hippo, North Africa, and who became one of the most influential leaders of the Western Church, indicated that the observance of the Lord’s Supper varied from place to place. In the early years of the church there was no set pattern; some observed it daily, some weekly, some at other times. Basil (d. 379 A.D.), one of the most respected church leaders in Asia Minor, wrote, “We commune four times in the week, on the Lord’s Day, the fourth day, the preparation day, and the Sabbath.”

    These few references (and a great many more could be cited) indicate sufficiently that in the early years of the church’s existence the frequency of observance was varied, and it was not considered a point of contention. Never were such diverse practices made into tests of fellowship or conditions of salvation. It was not until much later in history that a specific time was ordained by various legalistic groups as the only acceptable time to observe the Lord’s Supper, and thus the preferences of these dogmatists were made precepts to be bound upon all humanity as tests of faith and conditions of salvation.

    The doctrine of Sunday ONLY observance is derived from deductions made from a singular text by those who perceive the New Covenant writings as being a Law Book filled with proof texts. “And on the first day of the week, when we were gathered together to break bread…” (Acts 20:7). Well, there you have it. Based on these few words an entire theology has been built. Ron Halbrook comments, “With the presence, the participation, and the approval of an inspired Apostle of Christ, the early saints ate the Lord’s supper every Sunday.”Drew, It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to perceive that numerous assumptions must be made for one to arrive at the position that this passage commands Sunday only, and every Sunday, observance of the Lord’s Supper.

    Nothing is said in the passage about the practice of Troas either before or after this particular weekend. Was the first day of the week the ONLY day these disciples observed the Lord’s Supper? We don’t know. Did they observe it every first day of the week without fail? We don’t know. Was this the practice in every other congregation on the face of the earth at this time? We don’t know from the biblical text, although history reveals it was not. But there is even more that needs to be considered here. Where in the NT writings does it state that the way Troas observed the Lord’s Supper with regard to the matter of frequency (assuming we even truly know conclusively the exact nature of their regular practice) is the way ALL disciples the world over MUST observe the Lord’s Supper until the end of time? Where does it ever state in the sacred Scriptures that our salvation today, and even our fellowship with one another, is dependent upon US observing this memorial feast in exactly the same manner as THEY did in ancient Troas? In other words, is the singular example of Troas forever binding upon all disciples the world over until the end of time? Drew, can you answer these questions? If the answer is “yes,” then where in Scripture is such a demand ever specifically stated by our Lord?

    Drew, Let me ask an even deeper hermeneutical question (one the legalists have never yet been able to answer for me) — Can a singular example override or restrict a command given by Jesus Christ and repeated by an inspired apostle? In other words, which bears more weight — a command of our Lord or an example of mere men (about which many assumptions must be made)? Which has more authority — a precept of deity or a practice of men?

    What many rigid religionists have seemingly forgotten in their quest to bind their practice upon others (and true to form, Halbrook not even once referred to the following fact in his article) is that Jesus has already spoken to the matter of frequency with regard to the observance of the Lord’s Supper. We do not have to resort to examples for our authority, for the authority lies in the words of the Master Himself. Further, a singular example does NOT have the power to forever override, restrict, limit and regulate a direct command of the Lord. In 1 Corinthians 11:25-26 Jesus issues the command, “Do this!” He then tells us the purpose and significance of the observance — it is in remembrance of Him. And, of course, Paul elaborates on the spiritual significance in other passages, as well. Then, with regard to frequency, Jesus said, “As often as” you do it. Paul then repeats the same phrase — “For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes.” The matter of frequency has forever been addressed in the phrase “as often as.”

    “As often as” is the Greek relative adverb “hosakis,” and it “is only used with the notion of indefinite repetition” (Dr. A. T. Robertson, A Grammar of the Greek New Testament in the Light of Historical Research, p. 973). Other than the 1 Corinthians 11:25-26 passage, this word is used only one other time in the NT writings. This is in Revelation 11:6 where the “two witnesses” are said to have the power to perform certain actions “as often as they desire.” The passage in Revelation not only leaves the action in the realm of that which is indefinite with regard to frequency, but actually leaves the matter of determination of specific practice in the hands of those performing the action — “as often as they desire.” Thus, neither Jesus, nor any of the NT writers, directly regulate or restrict the observance of the Lord’s Supper with respect to time or frequency. It is left completely in the realm of “whenever.”

    The relative adverb “hosakis,” translated “whenever” or “as often as,” is nonspecific with regard to time. Daily, weekly, monthly are ALL equally in accord with the statement by both Jesus and Paul. Again, we must raise the vital hermeneutical question — Which has the greater weight when it comes to determining our own practice today with regard to frequency of observance of the Lord’s Supper? A specific command or declaration of Jesus Christ, repeated by an inspired apostle? Or a singular example about which fallible men have made countless assumptions? Unto which of these will we give “authority” to determine our practice?

    Was the practice of Troas, as best we understand it, in accord with the teaching of Jesus and Paul? Of course it was! Even if the disciples in Troas did in fact observe the Lord’s Supper every first day of the week, and only on the first day of the week, that would still be in complete compliance with the directive of Jesus and Paul — “as often as” you do it. “Whenever” you do it. However, a daily observance would also be in compliance. So also would a monthly observance, or a bi-weekly observance. ALL would fall under the gracious umbrella of “as often as.” True, the latter examples given would not be according to the pattern of Troas, but they would be according to the precept of Jesus and Paul. Thus, again, the question — to which do we give preference in the establishment of practice: precept or pattern? Unto which will we bow in submission — the direction of the Lord or the practice of a group of disciples in a single city on a single weekend?

    In this particular case, when we have both — a precept from the Lord and an observed practice of a group of disciples — it is my conviction that one must give the weight of authority to what Jesus decreed above what a handful of disciples did. In the absence of any passage of Scripture which declares that a practice of MEN overrules, redefines, limits, restricts, and regulates a precept of the MESSIAH, I must regard the practice of men as more narrative in nature than normative. In other words, Acts 20:7 gives us some limited, and admittedly subjective, historical insight into the practice of the church at Troas at that point in its history, but it in no way is our authority for overriding, limiting, restricting, or regulating a command of Christ Jesus so as to establish a new “forever LAW” for all peoples on the planet until the end of time. I have found NO teaching of my God in Scripture which gives such power and authority to a singular example in the face of two clear declarations (one from deity, one from an apostle) to the contrary.

    There is no question but what examples given in the biblical text, and inferences logically and necessarily drawn from the text, DO provide us today with greater insight into the hearts and minds of the early disciples as they set out to obey their Lord’s principles and precepts. Yes, these examples do help us to better understand how these early disciples may have perceived precepts and principles, and they enlighten us as to how they might have chosen to implement them given their particular circumstances (social, cultural, political, economic, etc.). This is a valid principle of historical research and hermeneutics. However, my question remains — Is the methodology of implementation adopted by one small group of disciples to be elevated to the level of universal, divine LAW which forever governs the practice of all disciples in all locations for all time?!

    We need to keep in mind that often the methods of implementation chosen are greatly affected by the unique circumstances of one’s environment. A practice or method which suited them, may be completely unsuited to us. Yes, the examples of these disciples are enlightening to us, but they are not regulatory in nature. And our inferences, assumptions and deductions concerning these examples are most certainly not regulatory, as we are fallible men and thus subject to false assumptions. This truth was stated eloquently in 1809 by Thomas Campbell in his Declaration and Address:

    Proposition 5 — “That with respect to the commands and ordinances of our Lord Jesus Christ, where the scriptures are silent, as to the express time or manner of performance, if any such there be; no human authority has power to interfere, in order to supply the supposed deficiency, by making laws for the church; nor can any thing more be required of Christians in such cases, but only that they so observe these commands and ordinances, as will evidently answer the declared and obvious end of their institution. Much less has any human authority power to impose new commands or ordinances upon the church, which our Lord Jesus Christ has not enjoined.”

    Proposition 6 — “That although inferences and deductions from scripture premises, when fairly inferred, may be truly called the doctrine of God’s holy word: yet are they not formally binding upon the consciences of Christians farther than they perceive the connection, and evidently see that they are so; for their faith must not stand in the wisdom of men; but in the power and veracity of God — therefore no such deductions can be made terms of communion, but do properly belong to the after and progressive edification of the church. Hence it is evident that no such deductions or inferential truths ought to have any place in the church’s confession.”
    In summation, Jesus never restricted the observance of this memorial with regard to frequency. Paul, in restating this command, did not restrict it either. Indeed, there is no place in the NT writings that restricts, limits, or regulates this momentous event. The emphasis is always on the spiritual significance of this feast, not the timing of it. The matter of frequency has been forever addressed when the Lord Himself left it in the realm of the indefinite, the undefined, the unrestricted, and the unregulated. The Lord made the event important …. it is man who has made the day important! Unless there is some compelling reason to limit or restrict a direct command or directive, a singular example from which inferences are drawn does NOT have that power. There is no principle of biblical hermeneutics (much less of common sense) which affords such power and authority to a solitary example and inferences of fallible men over a directive of deity.

    My personal tradition is weekly observance of the Lord’s Supper. That is the practice I was raised with in the Churches of Christ. I have no problem with weekly observance. This is my tradition, and I have no particular desire to change it just for the sake of change. Where I have changed, however, is in my perception as to why I observe the Lord’s Supper with this frequency. It is not because that is the only “Scriptural” time to observe it. Rather, it is because that is the preference of my religious heritage. Yes, this tradition of weekly observance is in full compliance with our Lord’s directive “as often as.” Thus, our practice is approved.

    What I will never do, however, is condemn those who differ with this traditional practice. On what possible grounds could I do so?! What law of God have they violated? If a group of devoted disciples choose to remember the Lord’s death in a communion service twice in one week, do we serve a God who would actually send them to hell for this “affront to His holiness?” Would our loving, gracious Father actually “torture in fire forever” one of His children who remembered the death of His Son by taking the Lord’s Supper on a Wednesday? According to some, He would. Frankly, I regard such a caricature of our God as bordering on blasphemy!

    There is nothing wrong with most of the traditions of our faith heritage. It is when we begin to elevate them to the status of universal LAW, and seek to bind them upon all others as salvation and fellowship issues, that we have overstepped our bounds. When we seek to force others to live by our convictions (and withdraw from them and condemn them if they refuse), we have assumed for ourselves an authority that our Lord has not bestowed upon us, and we are evidencing an attitude of which He does not approve. Daily, weekly, monthly, etc. observance of the Lord’s Supper each fall under the umbrella of acceptance. It is now time for God’s children to begin accepting one another, rather than perpetuating the pernicious divisions that have far too long surrounded the promotion of the preferences of mere men.

  2. Drew Kizer says:

    I’m hesitant to post a reply to the above comment for two reasons: (1)it is a cut and paste comment from Al Maxey’s website and fails to address most of the arguments made in my article; and (2) since this article was posted in September, I doubt anyone will read this.

    However, against my better judgment, I will respond so that whoever did post the comment (I doubt it was Maxey) will know I stand by my convictions.

    First, let me say some words about Maxey’s charge of “partyism” towards those who believe the New Testament specifies Sunday as the day for partaking of the Lord’s Supper. It is difficult for Brother Maxey to make a case for unity when he drops the names of Wayne Jackson and Dave Miller for no reason at all (their words are never cited) and charges them with “legalistic misunderstanding,” “a woeful ignorance of biblical truth,” and “the elevation of tradition over Truth.” In his words, these good men are “ultra-conservatives” and “dogmatists.” Who is the “partyist” here?

    Next, Maxey builds his argument for a casual observance of the Lord’s Supper based on two passages: Acts 2:42, 46 and 1 Cor. 11:25-26.

    Concerning Acts 2:42, the admission is made that the text “itself really does not speak to the particulars of frequency.” Well, then, why are we using it in a discussion of the frequency of the observance of the Lord’s Supper?

    The phrase “breaking bread” in Acts 2:46 is called “problematic,” and Maxey agrees that scholars are unable to determine that it is a reference to the Lord’s Supper. Again, why are we using this verse in our discussion? Evidently, it sheds no light on the question at hand.

    His argument concerning 1 Cor. 11:25-26 is based on the fact that both Christ and Paul give instructions regarding things to be done “as often as” the believer partakes of the Lord’s Supper. Maxey concedes that the phrase denotes “indefinite repetition.” So, again, he is using the wrong text. It is valuable because Jesus and Paul are telling Christians about the manner in which they are to eat the Lord’s Supper, but it is admittedly “indefinite” as to the frequency with which it is to be eaten.

    Maxey does list a string of non-inspired sources as support for taking the Lord’s Supper on a casual basis. While it is beneficial to supplement an argument with evidence like this (see my article for examples on the other side of the debate), these cannot be used as proof.

    Nothing is said about the most convincing arguments in my article: (1) that Acts 20:7 shows Paul waited until the Lord’s Day to take the Lord’s Supper; (2) that 1 Cor. 11:20ff and 16:2 specify the day on which the Lord’s Supper is to be taken. Both of these texts go so far as to explain when the feast is to be taken. The verses used by Maxey do not even address the subject.

    Finally, let me answer the question posed by Maxey’s comment: “Can a singular example override or restrict a command give nby Jesus Christ and repeated by an inspired apostle?” My answer would be, “No, nor would it even try.” Apostolic examples do not seek to outrank or override the words of Christ. They follow them. That is why such is authoritative and admissible as divine guidance for Christian practice today.

    For now I will cease my “legalistic” tirade. Let’s see if there is an actual response to the evidence that has been set forth.

  3. The Berean Examiner says:

    As you will see, this “is an actual response to the” so called “evidence that has been set forth.”
    Drew said “It is important that we do everything in a manner prescribed by the New Testament. What the Bible authorizes, we should practice; what the Bible does not authorize, we should avoid.” And “Here “form” is translated from hypotyposis, “the pattern placed before one to be held fast and copied” And “Obviously, Paul wanted his young apprentice to copy exactly the “sound words” of the Bible.” And “The apostles’ insistence on using God’s Word as a pattern or mold led to uniformity among the first century churches.”
    Sense “it is important that we do everything in a manner prescribed by the New Testament” then why do we not follow the “Upper Room Pattern”? Do we not want to worship in “spirit and truth” (John 4:24)? What does that, John 4:24, “to worship in spirit and truth”, mean? “The owner will show you a large room upstairs. This room is ready for you. Prepare the food for us there.” (Mark 14:15). “We were all together in a room upstairs, and there were many lights in the room.” (Acts 20:8).
    Brother Carl Ketcherside relates the story of a brother, a graduate of one of the Christian colleges, who maintained that disciples of Jesus must observe the Lord’s Supper in an upper room. This brother constructed a two-story building for the saints to break bread. This believer’s philosophy concerning the upper room was based upon his concept of legalistic pattern theology.
    “If we should practice what the Bible authorizes” as Drew said, then why do we not follow the “Flowing Water Legalistic Pattern”? “At that time Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan River. Jesus came to John and wanted John to baptize him. (Matt 3:13). Did it say that Jesus came from Galilee to the baptistry? Was Jesus baptized in a box? Or was he baptized in flowing water?
    Carl Ketcherside also relates an incident in which a sister objected to the construction of a baptistry under the pulpit. He writes: The aged sister was more adamant than any of the others, I can recall her saying, “There’s just as much scripture for an organ on top of the pulpit as for one of them things under it. The day they put it in they can put me out. There’s no pattern for it. The Lord was baptized in a river and I don’t want to see any one baptized in a box.
    You now might be thinking that this legalistic pattern theology is crazy sounding. The reason that it is sounding crazy is because it is crazy. Just wait, it is going to get crazier.
    If we should “copy exactly the “sound words” of the Bible” as Brother Drew said, then why do we not follow the Hymn Singing and Going Out legalistic pattern? “All the followers sang a song. Then they went out to the Mount of Olives.” (Matt 26:30)
    Carl Ketcherside is called upon to unveil an incident that happened in his father’s ministry. He describes an episode that occurred on the Lord’s Day during one of his father’s preaching engagements. His father had inquired as to the customary time he should approach the pulpit. He was informed that he would preach after the Lord’s Supper. But when his father arose to approach the pulpit, the congregation walked out and, then, came back in. Afterwards, he was informed that their actions were “according to the pattern.” Ketcherside says that his father did not have the nerve to tell them that “they went out to the Mount of Olives.”
    If “the pattern placed before us should be held fast and copied” as Drew said, then why do we not follow the Order of Worship (The Ancient Order of Christian Worship) legalistic pattern? They used their time to 1. learn the teaching of the apostles. 2. The believers shared with each other. 3. They broke bread together and prayed together. (Acts 2:42). Notice the term “broke bread” that is being used in Acts 2:42. This is the same term that is used in Acts 20:7. The church in Lowery, AL follows this pattern.
    If we should “copy exactly the “sound words” of the Bible” like Drew said, then why don’t we follow the Lord’s Supper Night legalistic pattern and have the Lord’s Supper at night? In the evening Jesus was at the table with the twelve followers. (Matt 26:20-21) In the evening, Jesus went to that house with the twelve apostles. (Mark 14:17), On the first day of the week, we all met together to eat break bread. Paul talked to the group. He was planning to leave the next day. Paul continued talking until midnight. We were all together in a room upstairs, and there were many lights in the room. There was a young man named Eutychus sitting in the window. Paul continued talking, and Eutychus became very, very sleepy. Finally, Eutychus went to sleep and fell out of the window. He fell to the ground from the third floor. When the people {went and} lifted him up, he was dead. Paul went down to Eutychus. He kneeled down and hugged Eutychus. Paul said to the other believers “Don’t worry. He is alive now.” Paul went upstairs again. He divided the bread and ate. Paul spoke to them a long time. When he finished talking, it was early morning. Then Paul left. Why do we do not follow the “Many Lights In The Room” legalistic pattern?
    Again, This is what Brother Drew said “It is important that we do everything in a manner prescribed by the New Testament. What the Bible authorizes, we should practice; what the Bible does not authorize, we should avoid.” And “Here “form” is translated from hypotyposis, “the pattern placed before one to be held fast and copied” And “Obviously, Paul wanted his young apprentice to copy exactly the “sound words” of the Bible.” And “The apostles’ insistence on using God’s Word as a pattern or mold led to uniformity among the first century churches.” If this is true, then why on earth are we not following the “Foot Washing legalistic pattern”? (John 13:14-17) Because that was a cultural thing. If what Brother Drew said is right, do you think that God will buy that excuse? No way. How about the “Holy Kiss” legalistic pattern? Jesus gave the Lord’s Prayer as an example. Have you ever heard Drew say the Lord’s Prayer? If what Brother Drew said is right, then why do we not follow the “fill in the blank” legalistic pattern? I could go on and on and on with this. Well, you could go on and on and on with this too. We could all take this legalist pattern theology and go crazy with it. So who gets to pick and choose which legalistic pattern to follow and to bind on all men as law? They do.
    Jesus Christ . . . Behold the Pattern. Am I denying that there are legitimate patterns in the Bible? NO. The “no pattern theology” is just as crazy as the “legalistic pattern theology”. Yes, I am a patternist but I am not a legalistic patternist. We should follow the legitimate patterns but we should never all legalistic patterns to be bound upon us by other people (Romans 14). I do not know about you I will never allow mere man made legalistic patterns to bind on me and I will always speak against them like I am doing now. Does that mean I will not discuss with those who disagree with me? No, I am always willing to respectfully discuss the Bible with others. Make no mistake. There are patterns that we are to follow but that do not include legalistic patterns.
    Let’s take closer look at the scriptures that Drew used to establish his legalistic pattern theology. Shall we? “So what should we do? Should we sin because we are under grace (kindness) and not under law? No! Surely you know that when you give yourselves like slaves to obey someone, then you are really slaves of that person. The person you obey is your master. You can follow sin, or obey God. Sin brings spiritual death. But obeying God makes you right with him. In the past you were slaves to sin-sin controlled you. But thank God, you fully obeyed the things that were taught to you. You were made free from sin. And now you are slaves to goodness (right living). I explain this by using an example that people know. I explain it this way because it is hard for you to understand. In the past you offered the parts of your body to be slaves to sin and evil. You lived only for evil. In the same way now you must give yourselves to be slaves of goodness. Then you will live only for God. In the past you were slaves to sin, and goodness (right living) did not control you. You did evil things. Now you are ashamed of those things. Did those things help you? No. Those things only bring {spiritual} death. But now you are free from sin. You are now slaves of God. And this brings you a life that is only for God. And from that you will get life forever. When people sin, they earn what sin pays-death. But God gives his people a free gift-life forever in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 6:15-23). All this is talking about is that the Romans were living an ungodly immoral life before they became Christians and they started living a godly moral life after they became Christians. This is not talking at all about legalistic pattern theology or the worship services (Romans 12:1) of the church.
    Paul stresses in Romans 6 that obedience to the will of God does not mean we are being manipulated or put under a bunch of arbitrary rules or formal laws. No, obedience of our grace-filled God is liberation — liberation from the bondage of sin and the certainty of death; liberation from the haunting memories of sin and its effects; as well as Liberation to be the people we were created to be! This fits right in with John 8:32 where it says “You shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free”.
    That is why I want you to remember the gift God gave you. God gave you that gift when I put my hands on you. Now I want you to use that gift and let it grow more and more, like a small flame grows into a fire. The Spirit God gave us does not make us afraid. He is our source of power and love and self control. So don’t be ashamed to tell people about our Lord {Jesus}. And don’t be ashamed of me–I am in prison for the Lord. But suffer with me for the Good News. God gives us the strength to do that. God saved us and made us his holy people. That happened not because of anything we did ourselves. No! God saved us and made us his people because that was what he wanted and because of his grace (kindness). That grace was given to us through Christ Jesus before time began. That grace was not shown to us until now. It was shown to us when our Savior Christ Jesus came. Jesus destroyed death and showed us the way to have life. Yes! Through the Good News Jesus showed us the way to have life that cannot be destroyed. I was chosen to tell that Good News. I was chosen to be an apostle and a teacher of that Good News. And I suffer now because I tell that Good News. But I am not ashamed. I know the One (Jesus) that I have believed. I am sure that he is able to protect the things that he has trusted me with until that Day. Follow the true teachings you heard from me. Follow those teachings with the faith and love we have in Christ Jesus. Those teachings are an example {that shows you what you should teach}. Protect the truth that you were given. Protect those things with the help of the Holy Spirit. That Holy Spirit lives inside us. (2 Tim 1:6-14)
    Now, will Drew explain to us how that is talking about legalistic pattern theology or the worship (Romans 12:1) services of the church? This is talking about grace and about the teaching of grace. Paul wanted Timothy to remember the teaching of grace and for him to teach the teaching of grace (the Christian way of living) to all of the churches, sound words indeed.
    That is why I am sending Timothy to you. He is my son in the Lord. I love Timothy, and he is faithful. He will help you remember the way I live in Christ Jesus. That way of life is what I teach in all the churches everywhere. (1 Cor 4:17)
    He is talking about “that way of life”, the Christian way of living. He is not talking about the worship services of the church (Romans 12:1).
    By the way, Drew, why are ye using the King James Version? Ye do not know that thou are in the year 2006 in the USA? How many people do ye know that use the King James English? Do ye use the King James English or the King James version of the Bible when ye are trying to teach one on how to be saved?
    Drew said: Often we express the principle, ““Speak where the Bible speaks, remain silent where the Bible is silent.” Too bad that we do not practice what we preach. The Bible is silent about musical instruments in church. We scream and yell at the top of our lungs for the last 100 years about musical instruments in the Sunday morning worship services (Rom 12:1) screaming that “silence is prohibitive”. I wonder why that reminds of the Pharisees? Could it be that because we are hypocrites like they were? Jesus Christ . . . Behold the pattern.
    Having said all that; let’s talk now about the subject at hand, the frequency of the Lord’s Supper.
    Drew said “So does a casual observance of the Lord’s Supper fit the “mold?” The seven major purposes of the Lord’ Supper are: 1. Memorial of Christ Jesus (Luke 22:19, 1 Corinthians 11:24-25) 2. Occasion of Thanksgiving (Matt 26:26-27, Mark 14:22-23, Luke 22:17-19, 1 Cor 11:24, Eph 13:1) 3. Public proclamation (1 Cor 11:26, Mat 26:28, 1 Cor 11:25, Col 2:13, Heb 10:9) 4. Expression of Confident Expectation (1 Cor 11:26, Mat 26:29, Mark 14:25, Luke 22:16-18, Rev 19:9) 5. Time of self-examination (1 Cor 11:30, 1 Cor 11:20, 1 Cor 11:17, 1 Cor 11:27, 1 Cor 11:29, 1 Cor 11:31, 1 Cor 5:7-8) 6. Time of sharing with Christ (1 Cor 10:16, 1 Cor 10:20, 1 Cor 10:21) 7. Demonstration of unity in the Church (in which we do not have) (John 17, Eph 2:13-18, 1 Cor 10:16-17, 1 John 1:3, 1 Cor 1:9, 1 John 1:3, 1 Cor 11:20, 1 Cor 11:27, 1 Cor 11:29, 1 Cor 11:17, John 13:35). This is why nobody is suggesting a casual observance of the Lord’s Supper. Just because one partook of the Lord’s Supper on a Thursday night does not mean that it is just a casual observance of the Lord’s Supper. Is the prayer that you do on Monday casual just because it was not done on Sunday, the Lord’s day? All prayers done on any other day besides Sunday is casual. The prayers that are offered up in our Wed. Night Bible Study and Family Time are just casual; they do not mean a thing, just because the prayers were not done on Sunday, the Lord’s day. Is this right? No, this is not right. Those that are taking the Lord’s Supper casually or those thinking about what you are going to have for lunch or thinking about that game on TV during the Lord’s Supper do need to step back and reconsider their motives because “casual observance of the Lord’s Supper does not fit the “mold.” Drew is 100% correct on that one.
    Drew said “Obviously, the apostolic instruction in those days was for Christians to eat the Lord’s Supper when they “came together” for their worship services.” In 1 Corinthians 11:20, Paul was talking about the spiritual unity of the Church. He was not talking about the physical coming together. See the Lord’s Supper purpose # 7 above.
    About Drew’s answer to his question “When did they come together?” He used this to answer with. “On the first day of every week each one of you should save as much money as you can from what you are blessed with. You should put this money in a special place and keep it there. Then you will not have to gather your money after I come.” (1 Cor 16:2) Now, how did that answer that question? That did not say that they come together every first day of the week to have the Lord’s Supper in the church’s Sunday morning worship services (Romans 12:1). The question that 1 Corinthians 16:2 answers is this. What did he want them to do on the first day of every week? This is the answer. That each one of the Corinthian Christians at that time should save as much money as they can from what they are blessed with. That the Corinthian Christians should put this money in a special place and keep it there. In doing so, the Corinthian Christians would not have to gather their money until after he comes. As you can see, Drew is trying to get the Bible to fit his theology besides trying to get his theology to fit the Bible. Drew is reading back into the text what he want it to say or need it to say. “This is known as eisegesis, rather than the more noble exegesis. This is very poor hermeneutics; indeed, it is the hermeneutics of dogmatism.”
    Thanks to Al Maxey, we do see that “history does corroborate the biblical evidence”. We need to look at all history, not just the history that fits our theology. We do not need to just pick and choose.
    Worship, by definition of the Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary is this “reverence offered a divine being or supernatural power; “ Worship, by definition of the Bible is this ” Brothers and sisters, in view of all we have just shared about God’s compassion, I encourage you to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, dedicated to God and pleasing to him. This kind of worship is appropriate for you.”(Romans 12:1)
    Let’s us read Acts 20 again
    “When the trouble stopped, Paul invited the followers {of Jesus} to come visit him. He said things to comfort them and then told them good-bye. Paul left and went to the country of Macedonia. He said many things to strengthen the followers {of Jesus} in the different places on his way through Macedonia. Then Paul went to Greece (Achaia). He stayed there three months. He was ready to sail for Syria, but some Jews were planning something against him. So Paul decided to go back through Macedonia to Syria. Some men were with him. They were: Sopater, the son of Pyrrhus, from the city of Berea, Aristarchus and Secundus, from the city of Thessalonica, Gaius, from the city of Derbe, Timothy, and Tychicus and Trophimus, two men from Asia. These men went first, ahead of Paul. They waited for us in the city of Troas. We sailed from the city of Philippi after the {Jewish} Festival of Unleavened Bread. We met these men in Troas five days later. We stayed there seven days. On the first day of the week, we all met together to break bread. Paul talked to the group. He was planning to leave the next day. Paul continued talking until midnight. We were all together in a room upstairs, and there were many lights in the room. There was a young man named Eutychus sitting in the window. Paul continued talking, and Eutychus became very, very sleepy. Finally, Eutychus went to sleep and fell out of the window. He fell to the ground from the third floor. When the people {went and} lifted him up, he was dead. Paul went down to Eutychus. He kneeled down and hugged Eutychus. Paul said to the other believers “Don’t worry. He is alive now.” Paul went upstairs again. He divided the bread and ate. Paul spoke to them a long time. When he finished talking, it was early morning. Then Paul left. The people took the young man (Eutychus) home. He was alive, and the people were very much comforted. We sailed for the city of Assos. We went first, ahead of Paul. He planned to meet us in Assos and join us on the ship there. Paul told us to do this because he wanted to go to Assos by land. Later, we met Paul at Assos, and then he came on the ship with us. We all went to the city of Mitylene. The next day, we sailed away from Mitylene. We came to a place near the island of Chios. Then the next day, we sailed to the island of Samos. A day later, we came to the city of Miletus. Paul had already decided not to stop at Ephesus. He did not want to stay too long in Asia. He was hurrying because he wanted to be in Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost if possible.” (Acts 20:1-16).
    In Acts 20:7, it said “on the first day of the week”. Did it say “in the Sunday morning worship (Romans 12:1) services of the church? The “first day of the week,” this for the Jews began at sunset on Saturday. But if Luke is using Greek time here, then the meeting was Sunday night. Did the breaking of the bread occur on Saturday, Sunday or Monday? Were the events in Acts 20:7-12 reckoned in Jewish or Roman Time? The legalistic patternists call this “The Great Time Debate”. The legalistic patternists have even divided from each other over these matters. That is so sad. This does matter to the legalistic patternist but it does not matter at all to God. God’s concern is that when we surround that table and break the bread, that we do so with the right heart! That when we stand before God one day, He will be far more concerned with the intent of our hearts and our relationship with each other (1 Cor 10:17). We must always remember that one of the purposes of the Lord’s Supper is that it is to be a unity meal.
    In Acts 20:7, it said “break bread”. It is now time for the spelling test. How do you spell “break bread”? L O R D ‘ S U P P E R. I’m sorry. That is wrong. Let’s try again. How do you spell “break bread”? B R E A K B R E A D. Great! That is correct. You have won the million dollar prize. That is enough of the sarcasm.
    In Acts 20:7, when it said “break bread” did it mean the Lord’s Supper? We just do not know for sure. It could mean the agape meal or the Lord’s Supper. The same Greek term for break bread is found in Acts 2:42, Acts 2:46, Acts 20:7, Acts 20:11, Matt 15:36, Mark 8:6, Matt 14:19, Luke 9:16, Mark 6:41, Luke 9:16, Acts 27:35-36 ) Is breaking bread in Acts 20:7 refer to the Lord’s Supper. The bottom line is this. We simply have insufficient data with regard to the phrase “breaking bread” to insist upon any one interpretation or practice over another. “The phase “breaking bread” in” Acts 20:7 “is” also “problematic”. So, why are we using that verse in our discussion? Evidently, it sheds no light at the question at hand”.
    As Drew said, Often we express the principle, “Speak where the Bible speaks, remain silent where the Bible is silent.” Drew also said this. “This seems to IMPLY that Paul waited for Sunday, when he could partake of the Lord’s Supper with his brethren in Troas.” Where did the Bible say that Paul waited for Sunday just so he could take the Lord’s Supper with his brethren in Troas? That word “imply” means that Drew is speaking where the Bible is silent. The word “Imply”, now, that’s a nasty word. See below.
    As Drew said, “Apostolic examples do not seek to outrank or override the words of Christ. They follow them. That is why such is authoritative and admissible as divine guidance for Christian practice today.” That is called “legalistic patternism”. We have the example of Jesus and his disciples participating in the Lord’s Supper on a weekday. Does Drew follow that example? No, he does not.
    Paul gave an “example” to the Thessalonian disciples by working (making tents) to pay for his own way while serving among them. Does Drew bind that example? No way. (Ecclesiastes 7:7)
    Why did Paul stay in Troas for seven days? This seems to imply that Paul could have had to make a whole bunch of tents those seven days to help pay for his trip. This does make better sense. This is my implication. Will I turn my implication into LAW and bind it to everyone and condemned everyone that does not agree with my implication to Hell? No way. Can I quote scripture to back up my implication? No. Can Drew quote scripture to back up his implication? No. Can Drew show us in the Bible where it said to “Have the Lord’s Supper on Sundays and only on Sundays? No, he can’t. Remember what Drew said, “Speak where the Bible speaks, be silent where the Bible is silent.” It would be funny when Drew gets to Heaven and starts to talk to Paul and then founds out the real reason that Paul stayed there at Troas for seven days was to make tents.
    The cut and paste comment from Al Maxey’s website at least got the ball rolling and least Drew responded to it which is very good of Drew that he did. When the truth confronts the ultra conservatives and dogmatists about their teaching, most of them turn tail and run the other way to their cave away from truth. But Drew did not. That is great. That put him head and shoulders above the other ultra conservatives and dogmatists. Drew could have just hit the delete key.
    If my friend and I were lost and I ask my friend to go over to the black man at the corner and ask for directions, does that make me a racist. No, it doesn’t. The word “black” is just a description. I am just describing the man. That does not make me a racist. Is that right? Al Maxey is just describing Wayne Jackson and Dave Miller. That does not make Al Maxey a “partyist”. If Drew is at all familiar with Al Maxey’s work, Drew would realize that Al is very much for the unity of the brotherhood. Is Wayne Jackson and Dave Miller “ultra-conservative dogmatists”? Do they have a legalistic misunderstanding? Do they have a woeful ignorance of biblical truth and do they not elevate tradition over truth? Is Drew familiar with Wayne Jackson and Dave Miller’s work? He must not be familiar with Wayne’s and Dave’s work. Wayne Jackson and Dave Miller also have the same implication that Drew has and they turn their implication into law also. Is Al Maxey’s description of Wayne Jackson, Dave Miller, Ron Halbrook and the others correct? Yes, he is correct. Does that make Al Maxey a partyist? No.
    Did Jesus partake of the Lord’s Supper on Sunday? No. One of the purposes of the Lord’s Supper is to remember Christ’s death on the cross. Did he die on Sunday? No, He was risen up on Sunday. As a matter of fact, Jesus himself did not take the Lord’s Supper on Sunday. I wonder why Drew does not say that we must have the Lord’s Supper on the day of the week that he died on. No where in the Bible does it say that we must have the Lord’s Supper on Sunday. Well, then, why is Drew speaking where the Bible is silent?
    1 Cor. 11:25-26 does show “indefinite repetition” and is “indefinite as to the frequency with which it is to be eaten”, however the whole bible, not just 1 Cor 11:25-26, is “indefinite as to the frequency with which it is to be eaten”.
    As Al Maxey said “There is nothing wrong with having an opinion or strong conviction. There is also nothing wrong with a person seeking to order his own life by his own convictions. It becomes a pathetic display of a sectarian spirit, however, when disciples seek to bind their convictions upon others, and when they fracture the fellowship of God’s family because others will not submissively bow to their theological whims.” I also stand by my convictions but I will not go on a legalistic tirade sending every one who disagrees with me to Hell. The word “tirade” is not really a good word to use when comparing that word to the duties of the teachers of the word of God that is found in the Bible.
    “Can the Lord’s Supper be taken on days other than Sunday?” Yes. So, “it is now time for God’s children to begin accepting one another, rather than perpetuating the pernicious divisions that have far too long surrounded the promotion of the preferences of mere” dogmatic legalistic patternist uninspired “men”. Brother Carl Ketcherside stated “that where ever God has son, I have a brother” (Romans 14). We should always remember that.
    Brother Carl Ketcherside also said “You do not have to be my twin to be my brother”. Drew, Dave, Wayne and Ron are my brothers in Christ. They do not have to be my twin to be my brothers in Christ. Just because they are in error on the subject of the frequency of the Lord’s Supper do not mean that they are “bad” men. These men are good Godly men who are uninspired just like I am uninspired, just like we all are uninspired.
    James 3:1 tells us that we who teach the word of God will be judged more strictly than the other people. That is just one reason that us teachers of the word of God need to discuss things that we defer on. In doing so, it will help each other out on the judgment day. This is putting into action our love for our brothers in which we follow God’s second greatest commandment.
    There is a great deal of material that one can expand on in this article. Maybe one can expand on the phase “breaking bread”. Does that phase mean meal or memorial? Maybe one can expand on the great time debate. Were the events in Acts 20:7-12 reckoned in Jewish or Roman time?
    The most important thing to understand with regards to the Lord’s Supper is its seven major purposes and its significance. If the event is deprived of its true meaning it becomes little more than a hollow, pointless ritual kept alive merely by traditions and sense of duty.
    “To observe the rite of communion without living the purposes which this rite celebrates cannot avoid making our observance of the rite a pretense”. (Ted H. Waller, Worship That Leads Men Upward, p. 45) Having an understanding of the Lord’s Supper will not do us any good if we do put our understanding of the Lord’s Supper into action (Matthew 7:24). To be like wise men, we need to put into action our understanding (the Greek word for understanding is akouo). Before we can act with wisdom we must first understand the seven major purposes of the Lord’s Supper as revealed in the Bible. The questions of “Can the Lord’s Supper be taken on days other than Sunday?, If the phase “breaking bread” means meal or memorial?, or “Were the events in Acts 20:7-12 reckoned in Jewish or Roman time?” does not matter but what does matter is our understanding of the Lord’s Supper and putting into action our understanding of the Lord’s Supper. Maybe one can expand on the seven major purposes (1. Memorial of Christ Jesus, 2. Occasion of Thanksgiving, 3. Public Proclamation, 4. Expression of Confident Expectation, 5. Time of Self-Examination, 6. Time of Sharing With Christ, 7. Demonstration of Unity) of the Lord’s Supper as listed above and how we can put our understanding into action. After all, this is what matters.
    “Can the Lord’s Supper be taken on days other than Sunday” and still be acceptable to the Lord? YES!!!

  4. Drew Kizer says:

    My anonymous friend still eludes the arguments made in my original article. Here’s a lesson on the art of written debate: less is more. These comments are so convoluted and fulsome, it is difficult to wade through them to meet the challenges they present. Also, the sarcasm is not appreciated. If my opponent wants to be facetious, at least he could identify himself.

    The Ketcherside quotations do nothing but illustrate narrow-mindedness. I do not believe a weekly observance of the Lord’s Supper is narrow-minded, nor do I believe Ketcherside is right to attack the NT pattern. Evidently, this anonymous disciple of his doesn’t either. He affirms his own beliefs in legitimate patterns and repeats the phrase, “Jesus Christ…Behold the Pattern.”

    My scriptural arguments were answered with nothing but blind, unstudied denials. It is denied that “come together” in 1 Cor. 11 is used in the physical sense. Prove it! It is denied that 1 Cor. 16:2 had to do with a weekly worship service. Nonsense! It is denied that “first day of the week” refers to Sunday. How do you know? It is denied that “break bread” refers to eating the Lord’s Supper. Where’s the proof? My opponent is asking me to disregard plain language in favor of speculation.

    Since I feel my original arguments stand as firm now as they did before, I do not feel the need to rehearse them once more.

  5. The Berean Examiner says:

    Can the Lord’s Supper be taken on days other than Sunday?

    As Brother Drew said, “Also, sarcasm is not appreciated”, The sarcasm was used to drive home the point that “break bread” in Acts 20:7 is spelled “B R E A K B R E A D”. This point is so easy to understand. Yes, it was sarcasm, but it was Godly sarcasm (1 Kings 18:27, Matt 15:14, Matt 23:24, Matt 23:2-3, 1 Kings 18:39, Ezekiel 22:4-5, Proverbs 1:24-26, Psalm 52:6-9, Gal 5:12).

    Brother Drew said that his so called “scriptural” arguments were answered with nothing but blind, unstudied denials. Brother Drew also said that I “deny that the first day of the week refers to Sunday. How do you know?” So, let’s know expand on the legalistic patternists great time debate. Were the events in Acts 20:7-12 reckoned in Jewish time or Roman time?

    In the spring of 58 A.D., after a five day voyage by ship from the city of Philippi, Paul arrived in Troas. Here he would spend the next week (Acts 20:6). His activities during that week are largely unknown to us. We do know, however, some of what happened on “the first day of the week.” Paul gathered together in an upper room (on the third floor) with the disciples from Troas. There they spent many hours together in what must have been a wonderful and intimate fellowship. These brethren enjoyed an extended dialogue with Paul, they ate with one another, they witnessed the death and resurrection of a young man named Eutychus, and they apparently broke bread. On the next day, at daybreak, Paul departed from them and began the final leg of his journey to Jerusalem.

    What a simple account of a wonderful evening. In just half a dozen verses the entire event unfolds before our eyes. And yet, legalist patternists have debated these few words for centuries, and factions have been formed over differing dogmas regarding perceived patterns within this brief historical account by Luke. Paul and Luke both would undoubtedly toss in their graves if they knew even a fraction of the sectarian squabbling this account has generated among man made law-bound brethren. They have argued over why Paul stayed in Troas for seven days (Paul was a tent maker who paid for his own way so the reason that Paul stayed in Troas for seven days was to make tents to make money to pay for his trip is my implication). They have had heated debate over the nature of the two “breaking bread” statements in the passage (vs. 7 & 11). Are these references to the Lord’s Supper, or a common meal, or both? Some have declared vs. 7 is the Lord’s Supper and vs. 11 is a common meal. Others argue just the opposite. And then there is the debate about the reckoning of time. Was this Jewish time or Roman time? Brethren have literally separated from one another over these matters.
    If you are sitting there scratching your head in bewilderment over such nonsense …. join the club!! I heard a preacher once say, after listening to an extended debate over these “weighty matters,” that he would like to grab all those involved and “slap the stupid out of them!” Harsh words, perhaps, but they reflect the frustration felt by many men and women of faith the world over. Although the answers to such questions may be of value to church historians, nevertheless the bulk of the debate has been waged by legalistic paternists. Those more spiritually focused couldn’t, quite frankly, care less whether it was Saturday, Sunday or Monday that they “broke bread,” and it matters little whether this phrase refers to a common meal, the Lord’s Supper, or a combination of both. Such matters are “weighty” only to historians and to Drew and the other legalistic patternists; the former for the sake of historical accuracy, the latter for the sake of salvation! When fellowship and salvation depend on dotting every “i” and crossing every “t” … when getting to heaven involves getting the “legalistic pattern” just right … then these questions will indeed loom large before those legalistic patternists who depend upon exactness of every aspect of every example for their salvation.

    What a horrid way to live one’s life! Such people have no concept of God’s grace. Freedom in Christ is completely foreign to them; they can’t even grasp it. They are enslaved to a system of man made law (legalist pattern theology), and, tragically, most don’t even realize it. The leaders of these various factions will deny vehemently that they are bound to legalistic pattern theology. Indeed, they become very irate at the suggestion. However, all one has to do is open the Bible to Acts 20 and ask them a few questions and one will quickly discover the real spirit that motivates them. They have built an entire legalistic pattern theology around their assumptions and deductions from these half a dozen verses, and they will quickly cast you from their fellowship and consign you to the fires of hell if you dare to question their understanding of the text. There is no room whatsoever for diversity of conviction here. If a person does not submit to their perception of the legalistic pattern regarding this passage, that person is eternally lost. Period!

    Perhaps you are wondering — “What possible difference does it make if Luke had Jewish time or Roman time in view when he penned this passage?” Good question! To most disciples of Christ Jesus, it makes no difference at all. However, to Drew, Dave Miller, Wayne Jackson, Ron Halbrook, and John Waddey (according to John’s last email to me, he also believes in this same legalistic pattern theology) and the other legalistic patternists the answer is a matter of life and death. The preservation of their Party depends upon the answer! If you answer “incorrectly,” you can’t even be regarded as a brother or sister in Christ. Thus, eternal life depends upon the answer to the question. You see, the legalistic patternists will declare — and they use this passage in Acts 20 as the foundation of their theology — that the Lord’s Supper can ONLY be observed on Sunday. To remember the sacrifice of our Lord at ANY other time is a soul-damning sin. If a group of disciples gather together on Thursday evening (the day our Lord instituted this memorial) and lovingly remember what Jesus did for them by partaking of the bread and wine, God will send them to hell. That’s crazy. I know, I know … but that is the nature of this misguided legalistic pattern theology, and I can assure you that they take it very seriously. If you violate their pattern, you will be tortured forever. A high price to pay for remembering the sacrifice of Jesus on any day other than Sunday! True, Paul quotes Jesus Christ as saying, “As often as you do this…” (1 Cor. 11:25-26), but this statement is deemed irrelevant by them! The disciples at Troas broke bread on “the first day of the week,” they declare, and that settles it … forever … for everyone. The legalistic patternists certainly seem to think so!

    Well, let’s move on and get down to the debate itself. There are some who insist that Luke had Jewish time in mind when he wrote describing the events in Troas that weekend. Jewish time was reckoned from sundown to sundown. The Sabbath, for example, began at sundown on Friday and ended at sundown on Saturday. Acts 20:7 tells us that the brethren in Troas met “on the first day of the week.” If this was according to Jewish time, the disciples would have met sometime between sundown Saturday and sundown Sunday. Since this was an all night meeting, and since Paul departed at “daybreak” (vs. 11), the saints would have met sometime after sunset on Saturday evening, and Paul would have departed after sunrise on Sunday.

    Those legalistic patternists who adopt this view must, therefore, find a way to fit the Lord’s Supper into a Sunday ONLY observance. They do this by declaring that Acts 20:7 is only a statement of intent, and that the actual observance of the Lord’s Supper is pictured in vs. 11. Why do they declare this? Because the “breaking bread” in vs. 11 occurs after midnight, which would place it in the early hours of Sunday morning. Of course, if Brother Drew and the others were serious about binding this legalistic pattern theology precisely, they would have to meet in an upper room (specifically a third floor room) and partake of the Lord’s Supper prior to sunrise. But, as we all know, they practice pared patternism. Parts of patterns they keep, and parts of patterns they don’t. Who decides which parts? Well, Brother Drew and the others do, of course! But, then … “Parts is parts!”

    Those who promote the Jewish reckoning of time here are quick to point out that the phrase “first day of the week” is literally, in the Greek — “the first of the Sabbaths” (te mia ton sabbaton). This phrase appears eight times in the NT writings — Matt. 28:1; Mark 16:2, 9; Luke 24:1; John 20:1, 19; Acts 20:7; 1 Cor. 16:2. Since the word “Sabbath” is used in the text, they assert, this must be a Jewish reckoning of time. This raises some interesting questions with regard to this legalistic pattern theology, however. If this was indeed an example of the saints in Troas meeting on Saturday night “to break bread” (vs. 7), would this not indicate that the NORM would have been to observe the Lord’s Supper on Saturday night? After all, the breaking of bread in vs. 11 was because Paul “prolonged his message until midnight” (vs. 7). An all night meeting would very likely NOT have been normal custom in Troas. The next day, after all, was a regular work day for these people. Thus, they would most certainly, under normal circumstances, have been home prior to midnight. Therefore, would not the NORM for the partaking of the Lord’s Supper have been Saturday night?!

    The legalistic patternists, of course, don’t like this question. In fact, it is at this point that the blood begins to rise in their faces. How DARE you question a Sunday ONLY observance. How dare you question their legalistic pattern theology. Obviously, the saints worshipped all night long back then. Didn’t they? Well, dear brethren, if that was the “NT pattern,” then why aren’t we following it today?! If faithfulness to the original, as Drew calls it, “NT pattern” is essential to fellowship and salvation, as they assert, then we’re all in big trouble … because our current practice (even the practice of the legalistic patternists) isn’t even close! Therefore, let’s all start meeting after sundown Saturday night, the preacher can preach until after midnight, we can observe the Lord’s Supper in the wee hours of the morning, and all be in bed before the sun comes up on Sunday. Of course, these legalistic brethren would never go for such a practice …. even though it was the NT pattern of Troas as presented in Acts 20 — if this event was being reckoned in Jewish time.
    It should also be pointed out that those who advocate the Jewish time theory have probably made far more of the phrase “the first of the Sabbaths” than is warranted. The phrase had become so common in the first century that it had actually carried over into the usage of the various peoples of the empire, and had simply come to represent the day we know as Sunday. Any connection with Jewish custom or practice had been lost. In like manner, we today refer to the first day of the week as “Sunday,” although I doubt many of us do so in honor of the sun. Thus, our own designations for the days of the week come from paganism, but that doesn’t mean we follow the teachings of sun or moon worship. We simply have adopted the terms without having adopted the teachings that led to the formation of those terms. This was also the case with the expression “the first of the Sabbaths.” It simply referred to the first day of the week, and is so translated in almost all versions of the Bible. Thus, the phrase itself in no way suggested a Jewish reckoning of time exclusive of any other.

    Dr. Gerhard Kittel, in his classic ten volume work: Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, observed that “although the Christian Church freed itself from the Sabbath,” it nevertheless “kept almost unchanged the Jewish system of enumeration, counting the days up to the Sabbath and giving special prominence only to the Lord’s Day. Thus in the writings of the ancient Church we often find sabbaton in the sense of ‘week,’ and Friday is called the day of preparation even though it no longer has significance as such” (vol. 7, p. 32). In other words, although the people may have kept the wording, they had long since separated themselves from the underlying meaning and application of the phrase. Thus, it was not uncommon in the Roman Empire for Gentiles to refer to their Sunday, using the Roman reckoning of time, as the “first of the Sabbaths.” It had merely become a common expression of the time, a colloquialism, yet it was devoid of any actual, practical connection to Jewish practice.

    Therefore, interpreters of Acts 20:7-12 should not read more into the phrase than is warranted. Although the wording may be Jewish in nature, that does not suggest the actual reckoning of time to have been. It may have been, but then again it may not have been. That will be determined far more by the context than by the phrase alone. To prove the events of Acts 20:7-12 in the city of Troas are portrayed in Jewish time, one must somehow show from the context that such an interpretation is both reasonable and required. It is my opinion, based on my study of the text and context, that this would be extremely difficult to do. There is simply nothing within the passage itself to warrant a Jewish reckoning of time, and much in the passage that suggests otherwise, as we shall soon see.

    Although here and there one will find a few people who absolutely insist that the Jewish reckoning of time is inherent within the Acts 20 passage, such a view is very much in the minority. The vast majority of biblical scholars, myself included, believe the passage clearly suggests the Roman reckoning of time. There are several important facts to keep in mind here when seeking to interpret this passage. First, it must not be overlooked that Troas was a Roman colony. Indeed, it was Rome’s second capital in Asia, and was even exempt from the land tax as it was viewed as a part of Italy. The citizens would have been largely Gentile, and would not have been living according to Jewish customs … and that would include the reckoning of time. Why would Rome’s Asian capital adopt a non-Roman method of measuring time? It would be illogical, and there is no historical evidence they did so.

    “The actual day is somewhat uncertain. Evening of the first day could refer to Saturday evening (by Jewish reckoning) or to Sunday evening (by Roman reckoning). Since the incident involved Gentiles on Gentile soil, however, the probable reference is to Sunday night” (Holman Bible Dictionary, p. 891). Dr. F.F. Bruce observes that this gathering in Troas was “on Sunday evening, not Saturday evening; Luke is not using the Jewish reckoning from sunset to sunset, but the Roman reckoning from midnight to midnight; although it was apparently after sunset that they met” (Commentary on the Book of Acts, p. 408). The Pulpit Commentary also points out that this was a Sunday, not a Sabbath, and that “this passage seems to indicate that evening Communion, after the example of the first Lord’s Supper, was at this time the practice of the Church” (vol. 18).

    In other words, meeting at night to observe the Lord’s Supper was the NT pattern of the early church. Indeed, every NT example of the observance of the Lord’s Supper, where time is mentioned, points to evening observance. This leads one to wonder by what “authority” the strict legalistic patternists of today have violated this NT pattern by changing the observance to the morning hours!! If faithfulness to the NT pattern equates to faithfulness to the Lord, should they not return to the NT pattern?! Once again, we see the inconsistency of this theology; it is “pick and choose” patternism.
    But, let’s return to the question of whether this was Jewish or Roman reckoning of time. As previously noted, Troas was a distinguished Roman colony. Although the city certainly had Jews living within it, as most cities of the empire did, nevertheless the population was largely Gentile. The Jews would have been the “newcomers” to the area. It seems rather unlikely, therefore, to expect all these Gentile cities to suddenly transform their reckoning of time to accommodate the Jewish preference. On the contrary, history shows us that most of the Jews of the dispersion tended to try to adapt themselves, at least to some extent, when it didn’t directly violate their Law, to their new environments. Thus, it is more likely that they would have adopted the Roman reckoning of time, than vice versa.
    Also, consider the fact that the book of Acts is written by Luke, a Gentile physician, to the “most excellent Theophilus,” who was also most likely a Gentile. When Gentiles write to Gentiles, describing events in a Gentile city, doesn’t it make sense that the Gentile reckoning of time would be the most logical? What would be the purpose of depicting the events in Jewish time?

    Consider also a couple of statements within the text of our passage in Acts 20. There is no question but what this was an evening assembly. That is true regardless of which reckoning of time one adopts. They met after sundown, and Paul “prolonged his message until midnight” (vs. 7). After the death and revival of Eutychus, he then “talked with them a long while, until daybreak” (vs. 11). Thus, the events of this passage all occurred during the hours of darkness, between sundown and sunrise. No one would argue that point. Given these facts, notice that it was Paul’s intent, when he came to meet with these brethren that evening, “to depart the next day” (vs. 7).

    If this was the Jewish reckoning of a “day” (sundown to sundown), then it would have had to have been at least after sundown on Sunday before he departed (as the “next day” would not arrive until after sunset Sunday evening). And yet we know from vs. 11 that he departed at “daybreak.” For this to be true, Paul would have had to spend TWO full nights with them, and then left at daybreak Monday. It is impossible to make this fit with the context of our passage. The events of Acts 20:7-12 all occurred within the time frame of ONE night. Thus, the phrase “next day” in vs. 7 poses some real problems for those who advocate the Jewish reckoning of time.

    However, if this event was being viewed from a Roman reckoning of time, there is no problem interpreting the wording or the events. Paul met with the saints in Troas after sunset on Sunday, “intending to depart the next day.” The “next day” would arrive at midnight of that same night. Thus, when Paul departed “at daybreak” (vs. 11), this would indeed have been on the “next day.” Problem solved!! Therefore, the context clearly favors a Roman reckoning of time.

    This, of course, presents some challenges to Brother Drew and the other legalistic patternists with regard to the timing of the observance of the Lord’s Supper. Acts 20:7 does not depict the actual observance of this memorial meal, but rather states the intent of their assembling was to observe this breaking of bread — “And on the first day of the week, when we were gathered together to break bread.” When this “breaking bread” occurred during the course of their time together is not specified; only that this was their intent. The only mention of an actual “breaking of bread” is vs. 11. IF this was a reference to the Lord’s Supper, and IF Roman time is in view, then this memorial meal occurred in the early hours on Monday.

    Bro. H. Leo Boles, in commenting upon this “breaking of bread” in vs. 11, wrote, “If this was the Lord’s Supper, and if they counted the day from midnight to midnight as we count it, then they ate the Lord’s Supper on Monday” (A Commentary on the Acts of the Apostles, p. 319). “It was probably past midnight (and therefore properly Monday morning) when they ‘broke the bread’ and took their fellowship meal” (F.F. Bruce, Commentary on the Book of the Acts, p. 409). Dr. Bruce points out that this breaking of bread “denotes a fellowship meal in the course of which the Eucharist was celebrated” (ibid, p. 408).

    As biblical interpreters we need to be very honest with ourselves and the text, and we need to face reality! There are simply so many factual uncertainties regarding the Acts 20:7-12 account, and such a wide diversity of assumptions made regarding this text, that for Brother Drew or anyone else to dogmatically promote his own position or tradition as ultimate Truth — doctrine and practice to which all others must submit in order to be saved or in fellowship with them — is a grave hermeneutical failing. We simply don’t have sufficient information to fabricate MAN MADE LAW (legalistic pattern theology) to which we then demand all men everywhere become amenable or else face eternal damnation. That is presumption bordering on heresy. The inevitable result of such a mentality, and it is evident all about us in Christendom, is the ever increasing fragmentation of the One Body of our Lord Jesus Christ into countless feuding factions.
    Depending upon one’s perspective, the breaking of bread could occur on either Saturday, Sunday or Monday. All have been argued for over the centuries, and the proponents of each position have sought validation from the same text — Acts 20:7-12. This ought to tell us something, brethren. There is simply too much we don’t know, and too much we must assume, for any of us to be dogmatic. I have my own opinions and assumptions about the passage, but that is all they are. Thus, I will never force others to agree with my views, nor will I ever question their relationship with the Lord merely because they may have arrived at a different conviction. Our fellowship and salvation is based upon a common faith in the One whom we remember in the breaking of bread, NOT upon agreement as to the day, or time of day, that memorial is observed. Ultimately, I go back to the words of my Savior, as recorded by the inspired apostle Paul, who said, “As often as you do this, do it in remembrance of Me” (1 Cor. 11:23-30). If more of us will just focus on the heart and soul of this meal, rather than feuding over countless legalistic patternistic particulars the sum total of which don’t amount to a hill of beans, we just might come closer to experiencing the unity for which our Lord prayed and for which He died.

    To be perfectly honest, I couldn’t care less whether it was Roman time or Jewish time Luke had in mind. To me, it matters not at all. Why? Because I feel no need to bind some legalistic pattern upon others as an eternal precept, with one’s eternal salvation depending upon precise compliance with my assumptions as to the nature of said legalistic pattern. My concern is that when we surround that table, and break that bread, that we do so with the right heart! My guess is that when we stand before the Lord one day, He will be far less concerned with the petty particulars of some assumed legalistic pattern, and will be far more concerned with the intent of our hearts and our relationship with one another. “Since there is one bread, we who are many are one body; for we all partake of the one bread” (1 Cor. 10:17). This is a UNITY meal, brethren! Let’s start living like we believed it!!

    Brother Drew also said that I deny that the words “break bread” is spelled “Lord’s Supper”. Drew is asking me for proof. Okay, Drew needs to go look up the words “break” and “bread” in the dictionary. There is Drew’s proof. Can Drew prove that “break bread” means “Lord’s Supper”? No. Drew also said that his arguments were answered with nothing but blind, unstudied denials. How in the world did Brother Drew come up with that reasoning? Okay, let’s now expand on the term “break bread”. Does the term mean meal or memorial or a combination of both?

    A dear brother in Christ wrote me recently about a rendering he found in the New Living Translation. It appears that the NLT promotes the view that “breaking bread” in Acts 2:42, 46 and 20:7, 11 all have reference to the Lord’s Supper, rather than the more traditional interpretation that one reference in each chapter refers to the Lord’s Supper, with the other reference being to a common meal. Traditionally, especially among Churches of Christ, “breaking bread” in Acts 2:42 and 20:7 is said to refer to the Lord’s Supper, while “breaking bread” in Acts 2:46 and 20:11 is said to be a reference to a more common meal. The NLT, however, has clearly broken with this understanding, and declares all four occasions where bread is broken to be a reference to the meal shared among disciples in remembrance of the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ. Notice these four verses as they appear in the NLT:

    Acts 2:42 — “They joined with the other believers and devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, sharing in the Lord’s Supper and in prayer.”

    Acts 2:46 — “They worshiped together at the Temple each day, met in homes for the Lord’s Supper, and shared their meals with great joy and generosity.”

    Acts 20:7 — “On the first day of the week, we gathered to observe the Lord’s Supper.”

    Acts 20:11 — “Then they all went back upstairs and ate the Lord’s Supper together. And Paul continued talking to them until dawn; then he left.”

    Obviously, the NLT has taken some liberties here, both in translation and interpretation. The phrase “Lord’s Supper” only appears one time in the whole Bible — 1 Cor. 11:20. The four passages in Acts listed above speak of breaking bread, a phrase which may or may not have reference to the Lord’s Supper. In reality, the reference to people “breaking bread” may have any number of differing meanings. The inquiring brother wrote, “The Expositor’s Bible Commentary suggests that Acts 20:7 specifically refers to the Lord’s Supper, while Acts 20:11 specifically refers to a common meal. In your expert opinion, is the Greek really that clear?! A Greek friend of mine (he immigrated from Greece) suggests that even today the term ‘break bread’ is a common Greek idiom for any meal. Are we reading back into the text what we want it to say, or need it to say, in order to fit our practice?!”

    The debate over these four verses in these two chapters in the book of Acts has been waged among disciples of Christ for centuries, with one’s traditional practice and preference often having an impact upon one’s interpretation. For example, Brothers Drew, Wayne Jackson, Dave Miller and John Waddey who argue that the Lord’s Supper must be observed every first day of the week (Sunday), and only on the first day of the week (with it being a sin to observe it any other time), will invariably denounce Acts 2:46 as a reference to the Lord’s Supper. Why? Because the passage can much too easily lend itself to an argument for daily observance. Drew, Wayne, Dave and John will never acknowledge even the possibility that “breaking bread” in that verse could be a reference to the Lord’s Supper. To do so would pose a grave threat to their legalistic “pattern.” That can never be allowed. The same is true of Acts 20:11, where there is some evidence to suggest the “breaking of bread” occurred the day after “the first day of the week.” I can absolutely guarantee, therefore, that Drew, John Waddey, Wayne Jackson, Dave Miller, Ron Halbrook and the other ultra-conservative, patternistic, legalistic elements of the church, the NLT will be universally and unequivocally condemned for its rendering of these four verses in Acts.

    We should probably point out here that the extremists among the legalistic patternists have taken the example of our Lord’s breaking bread and have attempted to establish church LAW from it. Bro. Clovis T. Cook, in an article titled Breaking Bread, quoted Luke 22:19 and then observed, “I think it is admitted by all that Jesus broke the loaf. It should be just as freely admitted that we are commanded to do the same. What we need to find out is just how He broke it, and then we will know what we are to do” (Old Paths Advocate, July 1, 1991). If we are to get the legalistic “pattern” right, we must know exactly HOW Jesus broke that loaf, and unless we break the loaf exactly the same, we sin. Bro. Cook then goes into a complex argument as to whether Jesus broke the bread “in or near the middle,” or whether He “took a loaf and broke off a piece.” It is his conclusion that the latter is the acceptable legalistic “pattern,” and thus each disciple “must do exactly what Jesus did.” He then spoke of those factions in the church who “broke the bread after thanks, in or near the middle, which they claimed had to be done to represent the ‘broken body’ of Jesus” (ibid). However the bread was broken, it was nevertheless agreed that it MUST be broken before the members could eat of it. A man in Denver once said to him, “Brother Cook, I would never partake of an unbroken loaf.” To this he quickly replied, “I wouldn’t either!” (ibid).

    Should you think that such legalistic, patternistic extremism is a thing of the past, Bro. Mac Lynn, in his well-researched 2003 edition of Churches of Christ in the United States, points out that there are still divisions among those of the church of Christ, primarily among the One Cup factions, over the breaking of the bread. “Although the majority of the One Cup folks use unfermented grape juice and believe each participant should break the loaf, others either break the loaf before distribution or insist on wine” (p. 14). That foolishness is the tragic result of a legalistic patternistic mindset. The result will always be division in the family of God.

    “Breaking bread” was an idiomatic phrase among the people of Israel. It is an idiomatic phrase among a great many peoples of the world, both primitive and modern, both biblical and non-biblical. It is a phrase fraught with richness of meaning, both spiritually and culturally. Yet, at the same time, we must not overlook the reality that originally, and in its most common and frequent usage, it simply referred to people eating a meal. Any deeper significance to be associated with the partaking of food would come from the depth of relationship of the participants and the motivation underlying the meal itself.

    For example, at the feeding of the 4000 (Matt. 15:36; Mark 8:6) we see that Jesus “directed the multitude to sit down on the ground; and taking the seven loaves, He gave thanks and broke them, and started giving them to His disciples to serve to them.” We also see the same at the feeding of the 5000 (Matt. 14:19; Mark 6:41; Luke 9:16), where “He blessed the food and broke the loaves … and they all ate and were satisfied.” At the town of Emmaus, following His resurrection, Jesus dined with a couple of disciples, and “it came about that when He had reclined at the table with them, He took the bread and blessed it, and breaking it, He began giving it to them” (Luke 24:30). Later on they came to realize that they had been dining with the Lord. They went to Jerusalem, found the eleven and some of the other disciples, and “began to relate their experiences on the road and how He was recognized by them in the breaking of the bread” (vs. 35).

    Most scholars regard the meal at Emmaus as being a common meal. However, some feel this was clearly an example of the Lord’s Supper. After all, wasn’t it referred to as “the breaking of the bread”?! Two definite articles are used in the expression, which Brothers Drew, Wayne Jackson, Dave Miller, John Waddey and the other legalistic patternists declare is what separates a common meal (“breaking bread”) from the Lord’s Supper (“the breaking of THE bread”). Well, since definite articles are used here in the account of the Emmaus meal, then according to their “legalistic pattern” theory this must be the Lord’s Supper … right?! Or, does the definite article in the phrase only make it the Lord’s Supper sometimes? And which times would those be? When they say so?! Isn’t that “pick and choose” legalistic patternism?! The Pulpit Commentary, for example, states that “this resembles too closely the great sacramental act in the upper room, when Jesus was alone with His apostles, for us to mistake its solemn sacramental character. The great teachers of the Church in different ages have generally so understood it. So Chrysostom in the Eastern, and Augustine in the Western Church; so Theophylact, and later Beza the Reformer all affirm that this meal was the sacrament. In fact, this Emmaus ‘breaking of bread’ has been generally recognized by the Catholic Church as the sacrament” (vol. 16).
    Another incident of “breaking bread” is seen when Paul was aboard a ship that was in danger of being driven upon the rocks (Acts 27). The crew was becoming disheartened, and Paul encouraged them to eat. So, “he took bread and gave thanks to God in the presence of all; and he broke it and began to eat. And all of them were encouraged, and they themselves also took food” (vs. 35-36). Most regard this as a common consumption of food; nothing sacred. However, not all feel that way. Again, some believe this to be the Lord’s Supper. “It would appear as if the apostle had also partaken of the Lord’s Supper, together with his Christian companions, on board the ship toward the close of his fateful trip on the Adriatic” (International Standard Bible Encyclopedia).

    All of this confusion just illustrates the problem! When exactly do we know for sure that the concept of “breaking bread” has reference to the Lord’s Supper? It might surprise some disciples to discover that nowhere in the New Covenant writings is the specific phrase “breaking bread” ever directly linked to the Lord’s Supper commemoration. Brother John W. Wood wrote, “There is no place in the Scripture that identifies ‘breaking bread’ as specifically being the Lord’s Supper. It has become a tradition originating out of the minds of men as far back as the third century, and has since been accepted by all men as truth” (The Examiner, vol. 4, no. 5, September, 1989). The reality is that, at best, we are simply making an educated guess; each passage is a judgment call, and disciples have differed over those judgments for centuries. Eerdmans Dictionary of the Bible declares the phrase “could designate a common meal or the Eucharist” (p. 199), and this “has been vigorously debated” for well over fifteen hundred years (Expositor’s Bible Commentary, vol. 9, p. 289).

    God’s people have gathered around a table together, and broken bread, from distant ages past. Sometimes these were special occasions, with spiritual significance, and sometimes they were simply occasions to satisfy one’s hunger. The phrase “breaking bread” itself is not all that helpful in determining which is which; more helpful is the context. To imply (that’s a nasty word) that “breaking bread” must signify the Lord’s Supper, certainly assumes too much. It may, but it just as easily may not. Even the use of a definite article in the phrase (“breaking the bread”) is not determinative, as the Emmaus meal demonstrates. Again, the solution really lies in the context, IF the context even suggests one over the other. The danger is that we too frequently impose our perception and practice UPON the text, rather than drawing our perception and practice FROM the text. This, of course, is the concern of this brother in Christ — “Are we reading back into the text what we want it to say, or need it to say, in order to fit our practice?!” That is indeed a distinct possibility.

    There is absolutely no question among biblical scholars but what many of the meals depicted in the Bible had far deeper significance than the mere consumption of food to appease one’s hunger. “Eating together had been a common religious activity of the Jews for centuries” (Ted H. Waller, Worship That Leads Men Upward, p. 52). “In ancient times the sharing of a common meal was a deeply significant act. The fellowship aspect of these meals is of real importance … they represented what the participants had in common” (Wendell Willis, Worship, p. 38-39). For example, notice just a few from the Old Covenant writings:

    The priests eating, as part of their own common meals, portions of the sacrifices brought to God (Lev. 7:28-36).
    Melchizedek and Abram sharing bread and wine, not grape juice, as the former blessed the latter (Gen. 14:18).

    The Passover meal was also a family meal in which all the food was to be consumed (Exodus 12).

    Moses and Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, and 70 of the elders of Israel “ate and drank” as they worshiped God on the mountain (Ex. 24:1-11).

    Isaiah’s prophecy of a feast prepared by the Lord (Is. 25:6).

    The feast prepared by “Wisdom” (Prov. 9:1-6).

    But, let’s narrow our focus somewhat, and return to an examination of the early church and the question of the extent of the association of the phrase “breaking bread” with the Lord’s Supper. There is no question in anyone’s mind that when Jesus instituted this memorial meal on the night of His betrayal and arrest, in the context of the last Passover meal eaten with His disciples in the upper room, and “while they were eating,” He took some of the bread that was present on the table, and after a blessing, “He broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, ‘Take, eat; this is My body'” (Matt. 26:26; cf. Mark 14:22; Luke 22:19; 1 Cor. 11:23-24). At the institution of this memorial meal we find Jesus breaking bread. However, this was common practice at any meal, as we have already noted in other NT passages, thus the phrase itself does not suggest something unusual was taking place.

    Deeper spiritual significance IS given to this breaking of bread, however, in the Lord’s own statements in the gospel accounts about His actions (“This is My body, which is given for you …. This is My blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many”) and in Paul’s comments to the Corinthian brethren — “Is not the cup of blessing which we bless a sharing in the blood of Christ? Is not the bread which we break a sharing in the body of Christ? Since there is one bread, we who are many are one body; for we all partake of the one bread” (1 Cor. 10:16-17).

    But, what about the four passages in Acts 2 and Acts 20 in which “breaking bread” is mentioned? Do all four have reference to the Lord’s Supper? Only two of them? None of them? Let’s take each passage in turn and examine it in some depth to determine authorial intent on this matter, if indeed such can be determined.

    Acts 2:42 — “And they were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.” (NASB)

    The Easy-to-Read Version translates this last phrase: “They ate together and prayed together.” The Message reads: “They committed themselves to the teaching of the apostles, the life together, the common meal, and the prayers.” The Living Bible gives the following rendering: “They joined with the other believers in regular attendance at the apostles’ teaching sessions and at the Communion services and prayer meetings.” The New World Translation suggests the last phrase in the verse should read: “…to taking of meals and to prayers.” As one can see, several translations have chosen to do a bit of interpreting. Most, however, are content to simply translate the original text, although even here there is some “smoothing over” of the phrase.

    The Greek of this phrase is literally — te klasei tou artou — which means: “the breaking of the bread.” It is exactly the same phrase, word for word, as is found in the Emmaus account of Luke 24:35, which event most acknowledge to have been a common meal. Although there is a definite article before the word for bread in this phrase, most translators “smooth over” the translation by leaving it out. Thus, instead of the more literal “the breaking of the bread,” they render it: “the breaking of bread,” or just simply “breaking bread.”

    As one can quickly see, there is some scholarly debate as to whether this breaking of bread in vs. 42 was a common meal or the Lord’s Supper. Scholars have been divided over this issue for centuries. “Whether this means the Holy Eucharist, or their common meal, is difficult to say” (Adam Clarke, Clarke’s Commentary, vol. 5, p. 700). “To ‘break bread’ could designate a common meal or the Eucharist, which included bread as an element” (Eerdmans Dictionary of the Bible, p. 199). The Expositor’s Bible Commentary observes, “The matter is somewhat difficult to determine. … Yet it is difficult to believe that Luke had in mind here an ordinary meal” (vol. 9, p. 289-290). Most scholars feel, given the context within which the phrase is placed, that something far more than a common meal is intended. Whether this was a Jewish Haburah, a type of fellowship meal with sacred overtones, or the Lord’s Supper, is also debated. Some who favor the latter, attempt to “prove” their position by noting the use of the definite article before “bread.” However, these same people will fervently denounce the assertion that the “breaking of the bread” at the home in Emmaus (Luke 24:35) was also an observance of the Lord’s Supper, even though the phrase is exactly the same in the Greek. Thus, there is an obvious inconsistency here in their legalistic pattern theology, which leaves one to suspect they are applying a “pick and choose” hermeneutic or “legalistic pattern theology.”

    My own personal opinion, for what it may be worth, is that the Lord’s Supper is most likely in view in Acts 2:42. Since it is listed together with devotion to apostolic teaching, fellowship and prayer, the tendency is to attribute a much deeper spiritual significance to this breaking of bread than just appeasing one’s hunger. At the very least I believe it could refer to the customary Agape Feast of the early church, during which some of the bread and wine, not grape juice, from the meal would be taken and shared together in commemoration of the Lord’s sacrifice. “There can be no doubt that the Eucharist at this period was preceded uniformly by a common repast, as was the case when the ordinance was instituted. Most scholars hold that this was the prevailing usage in the first centuries after Christ” (Dr. Alvah Hovey, An American Commentary on the New Testament: Acts, p. 55).

    As Al Maxey said “With regard to the question of frequency in Acts 2:42, Dr. Thomas Warren made the following insightful observation, “The breaking of bread in this passage no doubt refers to the Lord’s Supper. But what does that prove?! It doesn’t tell you when (or even how often) they did it. One can do a thing ‘steadfastly’ (KJV) and do it every ten years!” (The Spiritual Sword, July, 1982, p. 4).” For additional insight on the matter of frequency of observance, I would refer the readers to Al Maxey’s or my comments above.

    Acts 2:46 — “And day by day continuing with one mind in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they were taking their meals together with gladness and sincerity of heart.” (NASB)

    The Message reads, “They followed a daily discipline of worship in the Temple followed by meals at home, every meal a celebration, exuberant and joyful, as they praised God.” The New American Bible (St. Joseph edition) translates this verse as follows: “They went to the temple area together every day, while in their homes they broke bread. With exultant and sincere hearts they took their meals in common.” The NIV reads, “They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts.” The Living Bible states, “They met in small groups in homes for Communion.” And, of course, as noted earlier, the NLT says, “They met in homes for the Lord’s Supper.”

    Once again, there is diversity of conviction among biblical scholars as to the meaning of this breaking of bread. Dr. Tony Ash declared this phrase to be “problematic” (The Acts of the Apostles, vol. 1, p. 59). Was it a common meal, or was it something far more? I believe the text conveys something far more than the mere fact that these early Christians ate in their homes. Most families do eat their meals in their own homes, so to make such an acknowledgement here would be ridiculous. Something more is obviously intended. That distinction is made clear when we perceive that they broke bread together, and that these meals were times of fellowship with one another in their homes. It was during such times of breaking bread together in gladness and sincerity of heart that the Lord’s Supper would often be observed in the early years of the church’s existence.

    This, in part, would be a celebration of community; they partook of one bread because they were one body. “Is not the cup of blessing which we bless a sharing in the blood of Christ? Is not the bread which we break a sharing in the body of Christ? Since there is one bread, we who are many are one body; for we all partake of the one bread” (1 Cor. 10:16-17). The disciples in the city of Corinth had lost sight of this spiritual reality, thus Paul rebuked them for their abuse of this meal, even suggesting, “you come together not for the better but for the worse …. therefore when you meet together, it is not to eat the Lord’s Supper” (1 Cor. 11:17,20; see also: Jude 12; 2 Peter 2:13). They had turned something special into nothing more than an opportunity to stuff their faces. In so doing, they lost sight of their spiritual unity in One Body. Thus, Paul told them in their future “coming together to eat” that they be more spiritually-minded and cognizant of one another and their spiritual oneness. Paul did not forbid the continuance of observing the Lord’s Supper in connection with a meal (as was the rather common practice of the early Christians), rather he urged them to elevate it once again to the spiritually rich event it was intended to be.

    It is quite likely that the “breaking bread from house to house,” in which they “took their meals together with gladness and sincerity of heart,” was the type of event Paul alluded to in his first epistle to the saints in Corinth (in which he sought to correct abuses which had arisen with regard to this special meal together). Acts 2:46 may very well refer to special Agape meals at which the Lord’s Supper was observed. “The link of connection is the Agape or love-feast, which formed an important part of the koinonia, or common life, of the early Christians. The whole description is a beautiful picture of Christian spiritual unity, piety, love, and joy” (The Pulpit Commentary, vol. 18). Dr. F.F. Bruce makes the following observation, “Day by day, then, in the weeks that followed the first Christian Pentecost, the believers met regularly in the temple precincts for public worship and public witness, while they took their fellowship meals in each other’s homes and ‘broke the bread’ in accordance with their Master’s ordinance” (The Book of the Acts, p. 81). Dr. Bruce leaves no doubt that he believes this to have been an observance of the Lord’s Supper, which would have been associated with their fellowship meals together (the Agape Feast). Again, for what it is worth, it is my conviction that Dr. Bruce is correct.

    “One of the simplest and the oldest acts of fellowship in the world is that of eating together. To share a common meal, especially if the act of sharing the meal also involves the sharing of a common memory, is one of the basic expressions of human fellowship …. The Lord’s Supper began in the Christian Church as a meal in which physical as well as spiritual hunger was satisfied” (William Barclay, The Lord’s Supper, p. 56).

    In the year 1874, the noted theologian and preacher C.H. Spurgeon, wrote, “Their own houses were houses of God, and their own meals were so mixed and mingled with the Lord’s Supper that to this day, the most cautious student of the Bible cannot tell when they left over eating their common meals and when they began eating the Supper of the Lord.” In other words, these two were intimately connected, as the writings of the early Church Fathers clearly declare. Today, however, the Lord’s Supper has been removed from its original setting, and, in my view, we are none the better for it.
    Dr. B.W. Johnson, in his People’s NT with Explanatory Notes, suggests this breaking of bread in Acts 2:46 may very well “refer to observing the Lord’s Supper in private residences” (vol. 1, p. 425). Such a view is vehemently opposed by Drew, Wayne, Dave, Ron, John and the many other ultra-conservative legalistic patternist, however. Why? Because there is a very strong suggestion in the wording of this passage that this breaking of bread together in homes was “day by day” (which most interpret to mean daily). This, obviously, does not fit with the legalistic “patternist”who they perceive and promote of Sunday ONLY observance. To preserve their tradition they must declare vs. 46 to be nothing more than a common meal. To suggest any possibility that it might also be an observance of the Lord’s Supper would herald the death of their dogma! One cannot help but think of the words of Jesus to the legalistic Pharisees of His own day, “You invalidated the word of God for the sake of your tradition!” (Matt. 15:6).

    As an interesting aside: There is no Greek definite article used in the phrase “breaking bread” in vs. 46. This, according to some, “proves” that it is NOT the Lord’s Supper that is in view. Rather, the Lord’s Supper, they assert, is specified by the use of the definite article (as in vs. 42). Not only does this overlook the use of the definite article in Luke 24:35, but it further overlooks the fact that in Acts 20:7, which they all agree refers to the Lord’s Supper, there is NO definite article, whereas in Acts 20:11, which they declare is NOT the observance of the Lord’s Supper, there IS the use of the definite article. Talk about inconsistent. It is obvious, therefore, that such legalistic patternist are simply grasping at straws to try and prove an untenable legalistic pattern theology, and in so doing only display their ignorance and lack of training.

    Acts 20:7 — “And on the first day of the week, when we were gathered together to break bread, Paul began talking to them, intending to depart the next day, and he prolonged his message until midnight.”

    The above passage is again worded according to the New American Standard Bible. Other versions and translations have a somewhat different rendering. The Easy-to-Read Version says, “On the first day of the week, we all met together to break bread.” The Message reads, “We met on Sunday to worship and celebrate the Master’s Supper.” Brother Hugo McCord, in his translation of the NT, wrote, “On Sunday we assembled to break the loaf.” The New English Bible has, “On Saturday night, in our assembly for the breaking of bread…” The Living Bible — “On Sunday, we gathered for a communion service, with Paul preaching.” The Contemporary English Version — “On the first day of the week we met to break bread together.”

    As one can quickly perceive, there are several areas about which there is the potential for disagreement. Was this Jewish or Roman reckoning of time?, in which we covered above. This has led to heated debate down through the ages. Was this breaking of bread the Lord’s Supper? A common meal? An Agape Feast? Or, were there elements of all to be found in this breaking of bread? Was this their practice every first day of the week, or was this something done because Paul was with them? Was this a “Sunday ONLY” breaking of bread, or did they break bread “day by day” as well? What was the practice in other cities throughout the Empire? The honest answer to all of these questions is: We just don’t know! We all have our opinions, assumptions, deductions, and convictions, but none of us have sufficient objective data to be dogmatic.

    Dr. F.F. Bruce writes, “The breaking of the bread probably denotes a fellowship meal in the course of which the Eucharist was celebrated” (Commentary on the Book of the Acts, p. 408). In a footnote, Dr. Bruce clarifies that this was “Sunday evening, not Saturday evening; Luke is not using the Jewish reckoning from sunset to sunset, but the Roman reckoning from midnight to midnight” (ibid). I agree with this analysis, and believe this was indeed a reference to a “fellowship meal” during which some of the elements would have been employed to observe the Lord’s Supper.

    Interestingly, Acts 20:7 only indicates this was their intent. Nowhere in the text is the actual observance of that memorial meal ever mentioned …. unless vs. 11 is that reference, where it is actually stated that they broke bread. The legalistic patternists, however, refuse to allow for this because this would mean the Lord’s Supper was observed in the early morning hours of Monday, and that deals a fatal blow to their legalistic “pattern” of Sunday ONLY observance. And yet, vs. 11 does use the definite article (“broke the bread”), which they argue elsewhere suggests the Lord’s Supper. In Acts 20:7, however, the definite article is NOT used, which they argue elsewhere indicates a common meal. So, go figure! Consistency, thy name is NOT “legalistic pattern theology.”

    Acts 20:11 — “And when he had gone back up, and had broken the bread and eaten, he talked with them a long while, until daybreak, and so departed.” (NASB)

    The Easy-to-Read Version says, “Paul went upstairs again. He divided the bread and ate.” The Message reads, “Then Paul got up and served the Master’s Supper.” Brother Hugo McCord clearly seems to link the intent of vs. 7 with the application of vs. 11 — in vs. 7 he translates, “we assembled to break the loaf,” and then in vs. 11 we find: “he went up, broke the loaf, and ate.” They assembled in order to break the loaf, and then we later see them doing just that! “They all went back upstairs and ate the Lord’s Supper together” — The Living Bible.

    “They returned to their third-story room where they had a midnight snack” (Expositor’s Bible Commentary, vol. 9, p. 509). There is an aversion by some to even hint that this might be something other than a “midnight snack.” Again, part of the reason is that it obviously took place after the first day of the week, which legalistic patternists simply cannot allow!! Nevertheless, there is strong indication in the original Greek construction that vs. 11 may indeed be the meal intended in vs. 7. “It was probably past midnight (and therefore properly Monday morning) when they ‘broke the bread’ and took their fellowship meal; then Paul continued to talk to them until daybreak” (Dr. F.F. Bruce, Commentary on the Book of the Acts, p. 409). In a footnote, Dr. Bruce points out that “in vs. 11 klasas ton arton (where the article points back to klasai arton in vs. 7) refers to the eucharistic breaking of the bread, while geusamenos refers to the fellowship meal” during which the former was observed (ibid). Thus, in the early hours of Monday morning, the assembled disciples, who had been spending the bulk of the time dialoguing with Paul (vs. 7 — the Greek: dialegomai), finally broke to break bread (as vs. 7 indicates was their intent for assembling). Then they continued their fellowship and discussions until time for Paul to leave in the morning.

    “‘Had broken the bread;’ i.e. the bread already prepared, and spoken of in verse 7, but which had not yet been broken in consequence of Paul’s long discourse” (The Pulpit Commentary, vol. 18). Like Dr. Bruce, The Pulpit Commentary associates the phrase “and eaten” (geusamenos), which follows the breaking of the bread, with the “Agape” meal, with which the Lord’s Supper was known to be associated during the early years of the church’s existence.

    “Commentators are not agreed as to whether the Lord’s Supper was meant by ‘had broken the bread’ or a common meal. If this was the Lord’s Supper, and if they counted the day from midnight to midnight as we count it, then they ate the Lord’s Supper on Monday” (H. Leo Boles, A Commentary on Acts of the Apostles, p. 319). Bro. Boles, Drew and the other legalist patternists simply can’t abide the notion that some day other than Sunday could possibly have witnessed the observance of the Lord’s Supper, therefore he concludes that Paul and the saints from Troas MUST have observed it earlier, and Luke simply failed to make mention of the fact. The great American Stone-Campbell Reformation leader J.W. McGarvey wrote, “The whole night was spent in religious discourse and conversation, interrupted at midnight by a death and a resurrection, and this followed by the commemoration of the Lord’s death which brings hope of a resurrection far better” (New Commentary on Acts of the Apostles, vol. 2, p. 181). He believes vs. 11 refers to the Lord’s Supper, although he speculates it must have been Jewish time that Luke used in the passage, because, once again, the legalistic patternists have to make the Lord’s Supper fit into a Sunday ONLY time frame to fit the so-called legalistic “pattern.”

    All of this leads us back to the comment by the brother in Christ — “Are we reading back into the text what we want it to say, or need it to say, in order to fit our practice?!” Sadly, I think that is very often exactly what is taking place. This is known as eisegesis, rather than the more noble exegesis — i.e., we impose our theology upon the text, rather than drawing our theology from the text. This is very poor hermeneutics; indeed, it is the hermeneutics of dogmatism (legalistic pattern theology).

    The blunt reality is — and many legalistic patternists seem very reluctant to face this — we simply have insufficient data with regard to the phrase “breaking bread” to insist upon any one interpretation or practice over another. Yes, we all have our personal convictions, and that is good. We have also embraced certain traditional practices based upon those shared convictions, and that also is fine. What we must never do, however, is assume that all those who differ with us are godless wretches with dishonest motives and darkened hearts who are bound straight for the torments of hell. This is the perspective of legalistic patternists, militant factionists and sectarians, and does not reflect the spirit of Christ Jesus. We need to rise above such ignorance and ignominy. We are children of God … we can do better than that! Love demands it; Unity demands it; our Witness to the world demands it. May God help us all to live and love outside the guarded gates of our dogma (legalistic pattern theology), for when we do so we enjoy the blessings of the expanded parameters of God’s household of faith. “Since there is one bread, we who are many are one body; for we all partake of the one bread” (1 Cor. 10:17).

    So . . . . “Can the Lord’s Supper be taken on days other than Sunday? Yes.

    “You invalidated the word of God for the sake of your tradition!” (Matt. 15:6).

  6. Drew Kizer says:

    My last and final comment on this subject has been posted on the main page of my site. You may access it by clicking here.

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