Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Should the church offer communion every week? Is the weekly observance of the Lord’s Supper Scriptural?

The Lord’s Supper is an integral part of Christian worship. Concerning the communion, the Apostle Paul wrote:
For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until He comes. (1 Corinthians 11:6).
Jesus Himself said that we are to take the communion in “remembrance” of Him (Luke 22:19). It is clear from Scripture that the Lord’s Supper is important. The question at hand is: How often should one take it? This post will present three important passages that help one conclude that the Lord’s Supper should be taken weekly.

#1 Acts 2:42 - “They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles' teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer”.

By itself, this passage shows that the “breaking of bread” (ie. Communion) was a regular practice of these early Christians. Although this passage does not teach what day it should be taken, it does show that it was taken often and that it was associated with teaching, fellowship and prayer.

#2 (1 Corinthians 11:17-33)

This is the most lengthy discourse in the New Testament concerning the purpose, methods and attitudes that are to be associated with the Lord’s Supper. In this section of Scripture there are multiple verses that declare the Communion occurs “when you meet together”. The question then must be asked: “When did the church ‘meet together’”? The early church gathered for worship on the First Day of the Week (Sunday). This is why Paul tells the Corinthian church “On the first day of every week each one of you is to put aside and save, as he may prosper, so that no collections be made when I come”. The church gathered together on Sundays as a congregation, this was also the time in which they gave.

#3 (Acts 20:7) - “On the first day of the week, when we were gathered together to break bread, Paul began talking to them, intending to leave the next day, and he prolonged his message until midnight”.

This is strongest support in the Bible for the weekly observance of the Lord’s Supper. Note the explanation offered by Ray Van Neste:
Paul, on his way to Jerusalem has stopped at Troas. Here "on the first day of the week" he meets with the local church, and Luke directly states that the purpose of their gathering was "to break bread," i.e. to celebrate the Lord's Supper. This passage need not mean the Lord's Supper was the only purpose of their gathering, but it certainly is one prominent purpose and the one emphasized here. The centrality of communion to the weekly gathering is stated casually without explanation or defense, suggesting this practice was common among those Luke expected to read his account. These early Christians met weekly to celebrate the Lord's Supper (http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/tgc/2012/04/18/three-arguments-for-weekly-communion)  
It is important to recognize that Paul stayed in Troas until he had the opportunity to partake of the Lord’s Supper. He did not take it on any other day while he was there except Sunday. He had important mission to continue, yet he remained in Troas until he had participated in the communion.

Conclusion:
The overwhelming evidence from Scripture is that the early church partook of the Lord’s Supper every Sunday. Not only do we have examples of Christians communing on the First Day of the week, even the Apostle Paul participated in this behavior. 

The Bible Answer Show strives to only give answers directly from the Bible, however, this is one instance where the evidence from history helps reinforce Bible teaching. History records that the early church took the Lord’s Supper every Sunday. 

A man called Justin Martyr (AD 100 - AD 165) wrote concerning Sunday Worship. Justin was not an inspired Bible writer, but he does record in his First Apology the practice of the early church. Justin lived during the time just after the Apostles and what he writes should be strongly considered as being historically accurate. He writes:

...and on the day called Sunday, all who live in cities or in the country gather together to one place, and the memoirs of the apostles or the writings of the prophets are read, as long as time permits; then, when the reader has ceased, the president verbally instructs, and exhorts to the imitation of these good things. Then we all rise together and pray, and, as we before said, when our prayer is ended, bread and wine and water are brought, and the president in like manner offers prayers and thanksgivings, according to his ability, and the people assent, saying Amen; and there is a distribution to each, and a participation of that over which thanks have been given, and to those who are absent a portion is sent by the deacons. And they who are well to do, and willing, give what each thinks fit; and what is collected is deposited with the president, who succours the orphans and widows and those who, through sickness or any other cause, are in want, and those who are in bonds and the strangers sojourning among us, and in a word takes care of all who are in need. But Sunday is the day on which we all hold our common assembly, because it is the first day on which God, having wrought a change in the darkness and matter, made the world; and Jesus Christ our Saviour on the same day rose from the dead. (Justin Martyr, On Weekly Worship of the Christians (First Apology). (emp. added)

The Lord's Supper is an important weekly activity of the church. The Lord’s Supper is an awesome occasion in which God’s people come together and eat not to fill their stomachs but to focus on the atoning work of Jesus on the cross. It is a beautiful opportunity of praise, remembrance and reflection.Let us not make it into just an “act” to be observed, but a weekly event to experience. 

By Cliff Sabroe
Image from ChurchWares.com
Scripture Quotes - NASB95