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      Frank Jamerson

 

The Bible teaches there is ONE CUP (in kind), ONE VINE (in kind) and ONE BREAD (in kind) for ALL believers. This has nothing to do with the number of containers for the cup, nor how many vines were involved, nor how many pieces of bread were used.

 

1 Cor. 10:16,17 – “The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ? For we, being many, are one bread and one body; for we all partake of that one bread.”

 

Notes:

 

  1. Paul was in Ephesus when he wrote this letter (1 Cor. 16:8). He included himself in the “we,” along with the brethren in Corinth. Brethren in at least two churches blessed the same “cup” and partook of the “one bread.”
     
  2. One container advocates say Paul meant to say: “we, the assembled in Ephesus” bless the cup and eat the bread. The only reason to so conclude is to uphold a preconceived theory that is violated by the obvious meaning of the passage.
     
  3. Such an interpretation is contrary to the text, the context and other Bible teaching. There is no basis in the text for saying “we the assembled.” That is an addition to God’s word.
     
  4. The “one bread” and “one body” does not refer to the church in Ephesus. The “one body” is entered through baptism (1 Cor. 12:13). The “one body” is the universal church – all the saved of the entire world – and all believers partake of the one cup and one bread. (The “one container” advocates are many cuppers. They have a cup in every congregation.)
     
  5. Paul’s illustration (1 Cor. 10:18-21) is that all Israel were “partakers of the altar” when they ate of the sacrifices offered on altars (Num. 3:31; 23:1,14,29,30). Likewise, those who participated in idolatry, regardless of the number of idols, were partaking of “the table of demons.” Believers who partake of the Lord’s Table are all partaking of the same table, regardless of how many containers are used.
     
  6. Paul, in Ephesus, blessed the same “cup” that the Christians in Corinth blessed. There is no denying it. That’s what he said. Was it the container, or the contents that were blessed?

 

Are there two elements in the Lord’s Supper, or three?

 

  1. One container advocates contend that the bread represents the body, the fruit of the vine represents the blood and the cup represents the New Testament. The Bible teaches the bread represents the body and the cup, or fruit of the vine, represents the blood of the New Testament.
     
  2. Mt. 26:26-29 – “And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, blessed it and broke it, and gave it to the disciples and said, Take, eat; this is My body. Then He took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink from it, all of you. For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.”
     
  3. Mk. 14:22-25 – “And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, blessed it and broke it, and gave it to them and said, Take eat; this is My body. Then He took the cup, and when He had given thanks He gave it to them, and they all drank from it. And He said to them, This is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many.”  (To make the container refer to the New Testament is a denial of what Jesus said.)
     
  4. Lk. 22:20 – “Likewise He also took the cup after supper, saying, This cup is the new covenant in My blood, which is shed for you.” (The container did not represent what was shed for our sins – but the contents represented the blood of the new covenant.)
     
  5. 1 Cor. 11:25,27 – “In the same manner He also took the cup after supper, saying, This cup is the new covenant in My blood. This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me…Therefore whoever eats this bread or drinks this cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord.” (Neither the container of the bread, nor of the fruit of the vine have any significance. The one who eats the bread or drinks the fruit of the vine “unworthily” is guilty of the body and blood of the Lord.)

 

Notes:

 

  1. Two writers (Matthew and Mark) say “blood of the new covenant,” and two (Luke and Paul) say the “new covenant in My blood.” Are these talking about two different things? No! Both are saying the same thing – the fruit of the vine (the cup) represented the blood that was shed that the new covenant  might be effective (Heb. 9:17-20).
     
  2. The two things memorialized in the Lord ’s Supper are – His body and His blood. Paul said those who eat the bread unworthily are guilty of the body of Christ, and those who drink the cup unworthily are guilty of the blood of Christ (1 Cor. 11:27). The cup is a communion of the blood of Christ (1 Cor. 10:16). The containers of neither represent His body nor His blood.

 

The cups in the Passover

 

Lk. 22:17-20 – “Then He took the cup, and gave thanks and said, Take this and divide it among yourselves; for I say to you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes. And He took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me. Likewise He also took the cup after supper, saying, This cup is the new covenant in My blood, which is shed for you.”

 

Notes:

 

  1. “One container” advocates are divided in their interpretation of this passage. George A. Hogland says the cup in verse 17 is different from the cup in verse 20. “The Lord’s supper was instituted at the Passover Supper. In that Supper four cups of the fruit of the vine were passed around at different intervals. The cup of Luke 22:17 is thought to be the second cup of the series. The cup of Luke 22:20 is the third of the series” (Did Jesus Use Individual Cups?, p. 25). Ronnie Wade says the cup in verse 17 is the Lord ’s Supper. “They seemingly forget that when Jesus said ‘divide it’ he has reference to the contents of the cup. And that the language involves a metonymy. How did they actually divide the cup? Let the Bible answer it. ‘They all drank of it’ Mk. 14:23” (This Do In Remembrance of Me, pg. 14,15).
     
  2. The Treasury of Jewish Holidays, by Hyman E. Goldin, p. 138 says: “One goblet or wineglass is placed on the table for each and every one who is to participate in the Seder service. Every participant, drank exactly four cups of wine, mead, or grape juice…The third time it was filled, it was called ‘the cup of blessing.’” A Jewish Rabbi in Dothan, Alabama told me that this is “common knowledge among the Jews” and gave Encyclopedia Judaica, by Keter Publishing Co.,          p. 173, as another source indicating the same.
     
  3. The context indicates that the “cup” of verse 17 is the same as verse 20. Note that in verse 16, Jesus said “I will no longer eat of it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God,” but in verse 18 He said “I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.” What they were to “divide among yourselves” (v. 17) is what Jesus said He would not drink until the kingdom came.
     
  4. But, some argue “if they drank from four cups, that is not a cup.” If each had his own container and drank the contents of the “cup of blessing” would they not have drunk the same cup? (If we “drink a pot of coffee” from our own containers, have we not drunk the pot of coffee?)
     
  5. The most natural explanation of Luke 22:17-20 is that the “cup” was “divided” into their individual containers, and then Jesus gave thanks for the bread and afterwards they drank of the “cup” which had already been “divided.”

 

What does “drink of it” mean?

 

“One container” advocates contend that the only way you can “drink of the cup” is for everyone to put his mouth to the same container. Study these parallels.

 

  1. 1 Cor. 9:7  - “Who ever goes to war at his own expense? Who plants a vineyard and does not eat of its fruit? Or who tends a flock and does not drink of the milk of the flock?” Would everyone who “drank of the milk” have to put his mouth to the same container?
     
  2. Mt. 26:29 – “But I say to you, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in My Father’s kingdom.” Must everyone put his mouth to the same container to “drink of this fruit of the vine” with Jesus? The believers in Corinth and Ephesus ate the same bread and drank the same cup – but not from the same container (1 Cor. 10:16,17; 16:18).
     
  3. Jn. 4:12 – “Are You greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well, and drank from it himself, as well as his sons and his livestock?” Obviously, they all drank the contents of the well – they did not put their mouths to the same container. (It is not being honest to quibble – “there was just one well.” The point is that Jacob, his sons and his cattle did not put their lips to the same container to “drink from it.”)
     
  4. 1 Cor. 10:4 – “And all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them, and that Rock was Christ.” When the Israelites drank of “that Rock” – did they all put their mouths to the same container? Yes, there was one source – but there were many containers.

 

 

Argument on the singular

 

One container advocates contend that “the cup” means one container for each congregation.

 

Notes:

 

  1. “The fruit of the vine” is “the cup.” It is one in kind – fruit of the vine (regardless of the number of vines). If each congregation must have one container, why not juice of one vine?
     
  2. The vine refers to the kind of vine and the cup refers to the contents which we drink. Paul, writing from Ephesus, told the Corinthians “the cup of blessing” is a communion of the blood of Christ, and “the bread” is a communion of the body of Christ. Furthermore, all believers are “one bread and one body” (1 Cor. 10:16,17). This has nothing to do with the number of pieces of bread, nor the number of people! There is one bread, just as believers are one body who partake of the one bread (in kind).
     
  3. The “cup” that was “divided among” them (Lk. 22:17) was not the container, but the contents.
     
  4. I believe in one cup (the fruit of the vine) and one bread (unleavened bread) for every Christian. “One container” advocates really believe in many cups and many breads – one container for the fruit of the vine and one piece of bread for each congregation.

 

Communion is individual

 

“One container” advocates contend that the unit of communion is the local church and that the whole church must use the same vessel for the fruit of the vine and the same piece of bread.

 

Notes:

 

  1. The Lord ’s Table was placed in the kingdom (Lk. 22:29,30).  There are as many tables as there are kingdoms. There is one kingdom (the universal church), and there is one table (1 Cor. 10:21).
     
  2. Did all the apostles have to be in the same assembly in order to partake of the same table? Jesus told them they would “eat and drink at My table in My kingdom, and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel” (Lk. 22:30). If the singular “table” means one location, then all the apostles had to be in the same assembly every time they communed with Christ.
     
  3. The Lord ’s Supper is to be eaten when disciples come together (1 Cor. 11:33), but the emphasis in Scripture is on each individual communing with Jesus. Guilt for unworthy observance was individual (1 Cor. 11:27). Examination is individual (v. 28). Judgment is individual (v. 29). Judging is to be of oneself (v. 31). There is no congregational guilt, examination, or judgment in observing the Lord ’s Supper.
     
  4. The communion (fellowship) is between the partaker and the Lord (1 Cor. 10:16,20). The cup is the “communion of the blood of Christ,” and the bread is “the communion of the body of Christ.” It is not “communion with those sitting beside you,” but with Christ. Yes, there is a sense in which we do it together       (1 Cor. 11:33), but my acceptable communion does not depend upon the actions of others. If everyone else partakes unworthily, it does not affect my communion with Christ. If all the others partake worthily, it does not mean that I have partaken worthily.

 

Which is it? Container or contents?                                                   Contents       Container

 

Mt. 26:27-29 – The cup…this is My blood…I will not drink it until             ___                     ___   

 

Mk. 14:23-25 – The cup…this is My blood…the fruit of the vine                ___                    ___

 

Lk. 22:17-20 – The cup…fruit of the vine…the new covenant                   ___                    ___

 

1 Cor. 10:16,21 – The cup a communion…drink the cup of the Lord          ___                   ___

 

1 Cor. 11:25-28 – The cup…the new covenant …drink this cup                ___                   ___

 

There is no Scriptural significance to the containers of the bread or the fruit of the vine. There is one bread (unleavened bread) and one cup (the fruit of the vine) in the Lord’s kingdom.

 

                       Copyright Midway Church of Christ 2011    This page last modified June 29, 2012