I would like to provide a synopsis of the three topics breaking bread, the meeting dynamic, and apostolic ordinance/tradition in 1st Corinthians. It is my hope that my study into the topics can spark discussion and hopefully enlighten myself, my readers, and others to glean from the scripture what I feel has richly blessed me as of late. The freedom of allowing the text to speak for itself is a wonderful experience. Before you think I am going all froo froo on you, do not fret, I am far from it. You can review yesterdays post Neglecting the Assembling of The Saints: Intro, for an introduction to this series.
Why is breaking bread so important to me right now? Well, there appears to be significance in the meals that transpire in the scripture when Jesus is present. I may be reaching at times, but It is a faithful reach. It is a reach that I believe seeks to be obedient to the custom in which our Lord implemented the practices that bore out our modern day communion.
For example, take note of the following scriptural examples from Luke’s gospel, and as you reference them, ask yourself, what kind of meal is taking place, who is at the table/meal, what purpose does it serve, and what was the outcome of our Lord’s teaching/purpose?
Luke 5:27-32, Luke 7:36-50, Luke 9:10-17, Luke 10:38-42, Luke 11:34-54, Luke 14:1-24, Luke 19:1-10, Luke 22:7-38, Luke 24:13-35, and Luke 24:36-53. (note: if you do not read these texts with the question above in view, you will be wasting your time)
One must also consider the Exodus account of the Elders ratifying a covenant with the Lord, at table, in his presence in Exodus 24:1-12. The Lord’s final meal with his disciples and the meal between God and the Elders of Israel bear an uncanny similarity to one another.
Now that we see a pattern of bread breaking and fellowship at table in Luke, it logically makes sense to carry this context of what ‘breaking bread’ is into the account of Acts. Now compare Luke 24:5-46 to Acts 20:7-12. Luke genuinely draws a striking paradigm between the two accounts, and they all entail coming together, breaking bread, eating together, the first day of the week, conversation, teaching of the word, and rising from the dead.
With the significance that is given to the contemporary practice of ‘communion’ this is not a subject that is often broached without raising a few eyebrows. Tradition, liturgy, and sacred rite are all things that can flare tempers and encroach upon individual preference. I am not sure the excuse of Christian Liberty finds itself wholly applicable to the disservice done to the body dynamic of God’s people when they come together to break bread. The scriptural evidence is quite clear. The breaking of bread is a meal with God’s people, gathered together, at table, in covenant with Christ, and remembering him. That meal was quite literal to our Lord, the disciples, and many other early Christians. Why has it become second place to us, and been relegated to oyster crackers and souffle cups of grape juice?
If the emblems have taken on more significance than the purpose of coming together in communion together and with the Lord, then why do it at all? The Church gathered is significant because the Church dispersed is the Church militant, diligently laboring in the fields for the harvest of our great King.
Special thanks to John Marks Hicks’ book, Come to the Table for the light it has shed on many of the scriptural nuances illustrated in this post.
This post is part of a series.