Controversy over the Lord’s Supper

Written by Drew on January 30th, 2006

Several months ago I wrote an article entitled, “Can the Lord’s Supper Be Taken on Days other than Sunday?” Since then, I have been corresponding with a reader who has taken issue with my conclusions. My position is that the New Testament instructs believers to observe the Lord’s Supper on the first day of every week. The reader I mentioned feels this is being “dogmatic” and calls me, among other things, a “legalistic patternist.” If you would like to read his comments, they are included along with the article I mentioned above. But let me warn you: they are long. The last one I received was 14 pages, single-spaced.

Because I want this anonymous reader to see the error of his ways, I am posting this final reply on the front page of my blog. I will not respond to him again. In my view, none of his comments has done anything to negate what I originally wrote. By now he has had the opportunity to refute my errors. To continue reading his responses would be a waste of time. I don’t have much time, so this will be it. I’m saying this for his benefit. He should not spend any more time trying to persuade me to follow his positions.

I made three major points in my original article that I will briefly relate a second time, so those who are reading can understand the disagreement. First, Acts 20:7 clearly indicates that Paul and his companions waited in the city of Troas until “the first day of the week” for the expressed purpose of “breaking bread” on that day. Secondly, a study of 1 Corinthians 11:20 and 16:2 demonstrates that Paul expected the church at Corinth to eat the Lord’s Supper on “the first day of every week.” Finally, there is a rich tradition extending from the first to the second centuries that, at the dawn of Christianity when apostolic instruction was fresh, the early Christians observed the Lord’s Supper on Sunday. There is no evidence to suggest otherwise. After performing the laborious chore of reading thirty pages or more of my objector’s complaints, I see nothing that repudiates these three basic points.

He says much regarding the “uncertainties” involved in Acts 20:7-11. The phrase “break bread” is evaluated. Then the meaning of “first day of the week” is debated. In the end, it seems that what we learned in Kindergarten was right: “breaking bread” refers to a meal and the “first day of the week” is Sunday.

There is nothing uncertain about the purpose for which Paul and the others came together on the first day of the week in Troas. They did so “to break bread.” My anonymous friend is fond of verse 11, which says that after midnight that day, Paul “had broken bread and eaten.” This, he alleges, allows us to partake of the Lord’s Supper without any concern for what day it is, since technically it was Monday morning. I have two things to say about that.

First of all, if Paul and the other Christians in Troas came together for the expressed purpose of “breaking bread” (i.e., eating the Lord’s Supper), how likely is it that they would have waited several hours before doing this? When I make a special trip to do something, I don’t sit around cooling my heels when I arrive at my destination point. I do what I came to do! It is highly unlikely that the Christians in this example waited until after Paul’s lengthy discourse to eat the Lord’s Supper. Therefore, they probably ate it on Sunday night. The phrase “had broken bread” in verse 11 is probably a reference to Paul’s breakfast.

But what if they didn’t? What if they ate the Lord’s Supper at 2:00 Monday morning, or even 4:00? Does this mean the Lord does not want us to observe His memorial feast on the first day of the week? Of course not! Let’s suppose the phrase “had broken bread” in verse 11 does refer to the Lord’s Supper. This means the church at Troas came together Sunday night for the purpose of eating the Lord’s Supper. They chose to wait until after Paul’s sermon to do this. Paul “prolonged his speech until midnight” (v. 7). During this lengthy sermon, the services were interrupted when a young man named Eutychus “sank into a deep sleep” and fell out of a third-story window. Paul went down, resurrected the poor lad, and then they all went back upstairs to observe the Lord’s Supper. All of this would have occurred before “daybreak” (v. 11). If this is the way the events played out, that doesn’t negate our need to celebrate the Lord’s Supper in the Sunday worship services. Any one of us, had we been present on that occasion, would have looked back and said we still took the Lord’s Supper on Sunday. Technically it was Monday, but they were not watching the clock. They had come together to eat the Lord’s Supper on Sunday, and that is what we should be doing today.

My challenger quotes several commentaries, none of which support a casual observance of the Lord’s Supper, to bolster his position. I was dismayed to see that he had taken their words out of context and played with them to make it appear that he had scholarship on his side. One example is F.F. Bruce’s commentary on Acts, which he quotes concerning Acts 20:11, “It was probably past midnight (and therefore properly Monday morning) when they ‘broke the bread’ and took their fellowship meal” (p. 409). But when the Bible student looks at Bruce’s whole treatment of the subject, he finds the following words, which comprise his comments on verse 7:

The reference to the meeting for the breaking of the bread on ‘the first day of the week’ is the earliest text we have from which it may be inferred with reasonable certainty that Christians regularly came together for worship on that day. The breaking of bread was probably a fellowship meal in the course of which the Eucharist was celebrated (cf. 2:42). It is plain from the narrative that members of the church at Troas (‘they’) were present as well as the travelers of Paul’s company (‘we’); the occasion was probably the church’s weekly meeting for worship (revised edition, p. 384).

It is also interesting to note that Bruce, who is a highly respected New Testament commentator, published a revised edition of his work on Acts and in it made a slight change to the wording of his comments on Acts 20:11, which were cited from the earlier edition above. In the new edition he changes the word “properly” to “strictly,” so that it reads, “It was probably past midnight (and therefore strictly Monday morning) when at last Paul “broke the bread” and shared their fellowship meal” (revised edition, p. 385). Why did he go to the trouble of changing this one word? “Properly” carries the connotation of authority. Bruce’s earlier work may have given the reader the misconception that he meant the disciples in Troas were supposed to wait until the wee hours of Monday morning to partake of the Supper. “Strictly” means the timing was a technicality. This is all that Bruce meant, and his comments on verse 7 make it clear that he, along with the majority of biblical scholarship, believes the Lord’s Supper was taken in the apostolic age only on Sunday.

My objector never has refuted my arguments based on 1 Corinthians 11:20 and 1 Corinthians 16:2. In 1 Corinthians 11, Paul chastises the church at Corinth because “when you come together in one place, it is not to eat the Lord’s Supper” (v. 20, NKJV). The implication is that Paul commands the Corinthians to eat the Lord’s Supper when they come together for worship. When was that? According to 1 Corinthians 16:2, it was on “the first day of every week.”

The historical evidence has not been addressed, either. John Chrysostom was cited, but he lived much later than the men I referenced in my original article (347-407). The esteemed church historian Everett Ferguson writes, “The Lord’s supper was a constant feature of the Sunday service. There is no second-century evidence for the celebration of a daily eucharist” (Early Christians Speak, p. 96).

There are a number of faux pas in debate. One is using ad hominem arguements that appeal to prejudice and emotion rather than to reason. It is easier sometimes to attack the man than to respond to his arguments. Whenever my challenger calls me a “dogmatist” or a “legalistic patternist,” he is resorting to a practice that betrays his inability to deal with the truth. Another common debate flaw is building “straw men.” This is when a person sets up a weak argument that is easily torn down and ascribes it to his opponent. When I am charged with forgetting the meaning behind the Lord’s Supper, this is what is being done. These practices are transparent and have no effect on the minds of logical, critical thinkers.

My anonymous friend likes to call himself a “bible scholar” and gives us his opinions. In reality he is a plagiarist who has developed an unhealthy devotion to men with agendas of changing the New Testament church. I went through his comments looking for unusual statements and then performed a search on Google, which yielded the results I expected. Many of the statements made by this objector–and even personal experiences–have been borrowed. This is why he doesn’t see that he is using sources like F.F. Bruce dishonestly. He is simply cutting and pasting them from Al Maxey’s web site, or someone else’s.

It is my prayer that this individual, and everyone else for that matter, will open the Bible and read it with an open mind. There is nothing wrong with respected certain preachers and writers, but they should take a back seat to the word of God. Remember the words of our Lord: “And you will know the truth and the truth will set you free” (Jn. 8:32).

 

3 Comments so far ↓

  1. Wes says:

    Appreciated your stand and attitude through these challenges that have been made toward your original posting. It sometimes amazes me how much those oppossed to the truth can talk and talk without dealing with the real issues. Keep up the good work!

    Wes Hazel

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  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!!!
    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 (

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