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.”
- 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.”
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.)
- 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
- 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?
- 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.
- 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.”
- 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.)
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.)
- 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.)
- 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).
- 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.”
- “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).
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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).
- 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.”)
- 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.
- “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?
- 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).
- The “cup” that was “divided among”
them (Lk. 22:17) was not the container, but the contents.
- 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
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.
- 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).
- 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.
- 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
- 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?
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
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.