Should Christians Partake Of Communion Every Sunday?

Sunday is a very special day for those in the Lord’s church.  It is the first day of the week.  It is also the day we assemble together to worship our God in spirit and truth (John 4:24) and encourage each other to love and good deeds (Heb. 10:24-25).  However, it is also the day we partake of communion, also known as the Lord’s Supper.  The majority of denominations in Christendom have not realized this.  This is why many visitors from other religious bodies have seen the observance of communion each Sunday when they visit the Lord’s church and wonder why those in Christ’s church partake of communion every first day of the week, when they choose to partake of it once a month, once every few months, or even once or twice a year.  Christians must “always be ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence” (1 Pet. 3:15).  Therefore, it is proper that those in the Lord’s church know exactly why we practice what we do, including our practice of observing the Lord’s Supper every first day of the week.

First of all, God commands us, “Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus…” (Col. 3:17).  God expects us to have authority from his Son on what we do concerning the Lord’s Supper.  Jesus speaks to us today through the inspired writings of the New Testament (Heb. 1:1-2; 2:1-4; 1 Cor. 14:37; 2 Pet. 1:20-21).  Therefore, we must go to the New Testament and the New Testament alone in order to find the authority on how and when to partake of communion.

While Instituting The Supper, Jesus Mentioned A Day And A Kingdom

While instituting the Lord’s Supper, Christ mentioned a “day” and correlated it with the coming of his kingdom.

In studying the New Testament, we find that our Lord instituted the Lord’s Supper on the night he was betrayed (1 Cor. 11:23), which was a Thursday night.  It needs to be pointed out that the reason Christians don’t partake of the Lord’s Supper on Thursday nights is because the church was not in existence yet at the time Jesus instituted communion.

On that night, Jesus said to the apostles, “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” (Matt. 26:29; cf. Mark 14:25).

Luke records, “…for I say to you, I shall never again eat it UNTIL IT IS FULFILLED IN THE KINGDOM OF GOD…for I say to you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine from now on UNTIL THE KINGDOM OF GOD COMES'”  (Luke 22:16, 18).

After instituting the Lord’s Supper, he told them, “…just as my Father has granted Me a kingdom, I grant you that YOU MAY EAT AND DRINK AT MY TABLE IN MY KINGDOM…” (Luke 22:29-30).

Notice that he promised them he would not partake of the Lord’s Supper with them until that day when he drinks it with them in His Father’s kingdom, that it would be fulfilled in the kingdom of God, and that he promised them that they would eat and drink at His table in His kingdom.  Why is this significant?

What Is The Kingdom?

First, we must remember that the Bible teaches that the church of Christ is described in the New Testament as the kingdom of heaven, the kingdom of Christ and the kingdom of God.  To see how this is true, let’s first examine the four gospels.  In them, both Jesus and John the Immerser preached that “the kingdom of heaven is at hand” and “the kingdom of God is at hand” (Matt. 3:2; 4:17; Mark 1:15), i.e., that it was coming soon.  In teaching the disciples to pray, he told them to pray to God that his kingdom would come (Matt. 6:10; Luke 11:2).  Later, Christ promised Peter he would build “his church” upon the rock of Peter’s confession, and then promised to give Peter “the keys  of the kingdom of heaven” (Matt. 16:15-19).  He told the crowd with his disciples, “there are some of those who are standing here who will not taste death until they see the kingdom of God after it has come with power” (Mark 9:1).  What we can learn from these passages is that the terms church, kingdom of God, and kingdom of heaven are used interchangeably by Christ, thereby proving they are the same thing.  All three terms are always talked about in these passages in the future tense, signifying that at the time Christ was living here on earth they were not in existence but would be in existence soon, and that they would come with power.

The church of Christ began and the kingdom of God came on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2)

Keeping this in mind, we should note that he told the disciples before his ascension, “…you will receive POWER when the Holy Spirit has come upon you…” (Acts 1:8).  That promise was fulfilled when the Holy Spirit came upon his disciples on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:1-4), which was also the day three thousand souls were added by the Lord to the church (Acts 2:41, 47).  Starting at Acts 2’s record of the conversion of the three thousand on the day of Pentecost, the rest of the New Testament would always interchangeably refer to the kingdom of God, the kingdom of Christ, and the church of Christ as having already come and presently existing (Rom. 14:17; 16:16; 1 Cor. 1:2; Col. 1:13; 1 Thess. 2:12; Rev. 1:4, 6, 9).

Since we have found that before the day of Pentecost in Acts 2 the church was always described as not having come yet, and afterward Pentecost it is always described as having come and presently existing, then the conclusion is that the church of Christ began its existence on the day of Pentecost.  This was a Jewish holiday referred to as the Feast of Weeks in Lev. 23:15-16.  From this passage, we learn that the day of Pentecost (a Greek term which means “fiftieth day”) would always be “fifty days to the day after the seventh sabbath.”  Since sabbath in the Old Testament refers to the day of rest which was commanded on the seventh day, we know that the day after the seventh day would be the first day of the week, the day Pentecost was to be observed.  Therefore, we learn that the kingdom of God came on a Sunday.  The church Christ promised he would build began on a Sunday.

“That Day”

With this in mind, let us go back to Christ’s promises to his apostles on the night he instituted the Lord’s Supper (Matt. 26:29; Mark 14:25; Luke 22:16, 18).  Notice he promised he would not drink it again with them until “that day.”  When was “that day”?  Taking all of the passages into consideration, “that day” would be the day his disciples would be in his Father’s kingdom, the day it would be fulfilled in God’s kingdom, and the day God’s kingdom came.  We have seen that God’s kingdom came and began its existence on a Sunday, the day of Pentecost in Acts 2.  Therefore, after its institution the Lord’s Supper was first observed by Christ’s disciples on Sunday, the day of Pentecost, the day the kingdom of God came.

This fits with Luke’s account of the very first activities of the newly converted three thousand on that day of Pentecost, a Sunday:  “So then, those who had received his word were baptized, and that day there were added about three thousand souls.  They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer” (Acts 2:41-42).  “The breaking of bread” is a reference to the Lord’s Supper (1 Cor. 10:16-17; cf. 11:23-25).  Therefore, we see that the apostles directed the Jerusalem church to observe communion on the day the church began, which was the first day of the week.  The fact that they were “continually” doing so suggests by definition that it was a fixed habit.  Further evidence that this is so is found in Luke’s account of the church at Troas (Acts 20:7).  As with the Jerusalem church, these Christians gathered together for the purpose to partake of communion on Sunday, and did so with the apostle Paul’s approval.  More evidence that it was a fixed habit of the early church is found in Paul’s directions to both the churches of Galatia and the church at Corinth to take up collections every first day of the week (1 Cor. 16:1-2), implying that he knew they had the habit of assembling together every Sunday.  Since he taught the same thing at every congregation (1 Cor. 4:17; cf. 1 Cor. 16:1), we can be confident that all the early churches gathered together to observe communion on Sundays under his direction.  And just as the Jews under the Old Law knew that God’s command to observe the Sabbath applied to every Sabbath (Ex. 20:8-11; Num. 15:32-36), we can learn from their example (1 Cor. 10:11) and know that the New Testament teaching concerning communion applies to every Sunday.

Extra-biblical Evidence

As a sidenote, extra-biblical history proves this to be true also.  Around the close of the first century A.D., at about the same time Revelation was being written, some Jewish Christians put together a book which was kind of a descriptive manual about Christianity.  They called it the Didache (Greek for “teaching.”)  The Didache says, “But every Lord’s day do ye gather yourselves together, and break bread, and give thanksgiving after having confessed your transgressions, that your sacrifice may be pure” (14:1).  As mentioned earlier, the term “breaking bread” is a scriptural reference to communion (1 Cor. 10:16-17).  The term “Lord’s Day” is also mentioned in Scripture (Rev. 1:10), and extra-biblical writings from that time period confirm it to refer to Sundays.

Justin Martyr

Around fifty years after Revelation was written, a Christian by the name of Justin Martyr wrote a defense of Christianity to the Roman Emperor Antoninus Pius, appealing to the emperor to repeal laws which prescribed the death penalty for being a Christian.  While doing so, he described Christian worship to the emperor in order to assure him that the rumors of there being evil orgies in Christian worship were false.  In chapter 67 of his letter, he wrote:  “The day of the Sun is the day on which we all gather together in a common meeting, because it is the first day, the day on which God, changing darkness and matter, created the world, and it is the day on which Jesus Christ our Savior rose from the dead.”  The “day of the Sun” is where the English term “Sunday” comes from, and this Christian who lived very close to biblical times clearly referred to it both as the first day of the week and the day in which Christians gathered together to worship.

Thus, historical accounts from the time period in which the New Testament was written back up the scriptural evidence that the early Christians assembled together to worship and partake of communion on the first day of every week.

Conclusion

The Lord’s table (1 Cor. 10:21)

To review, Christians are to have authority from Christ on everything we do.  We find that authority in the New Testament, which records Jesus promising not to partake of communion with his disciples after instituting it until the day the kingdom came, which was on a Sunday.  The New Testament records the early Christians observing the Lord’s Supper only on Sunday.  Since the New Testament is the only place we find authority from Christ, then we must follow the example of those in the New Testament in order to observe communion in the name of Jesus.  Therefore, we must observe the Lord’s Supper every Sunday in the name of Christ, and we can be confident that Jesus is with us when we do so, just as he promised (Matt. 18:20; 26:29; cf. Heb. 2:11-12).  Many profess to be followers of Christ and observe communion only a few times a year, or during special occasions like weddings.  They do so undoubtedly out of sincerity, but their practices nonetheless are traditions of men (Matt. 15:7-9).  May all of us go back to the Bible and do things the way God said, without adding to it or taking away from it!  (Deut. 4:2; Prov. 30:6; 1 Cor. 4:6; Rev. 22:18-19)

11 thoughts on “Should Christians Partake Of Communion Every Sunday?”

  1. Greetings again, good sir. Your article is a fine presentation of your stance on the frequency of communion observance. In scripture, it is obvious that Jesus’ kingdom promises were fulfilled when his church was established. Your reasoning is well articulated.

    If you do not mind a bit of positive critique, I find it an eisegetical stretch to claim that the 3,000 new Christians observed communion on the Day of Pentecost, in Acts 2. They may have, but the text does not record it. Verses 42-47 appear to provide a general description of the ongoing, daily activity of the early Jerusalem church. They met together, at temple daily and in homes, enjoying meals together. Breaking bread — in this context, as verse 46 indicates clearly, and in general usage in that day, and today — does not refer solely and exclusively to communion. Your article does not allow this obvious point.

    Likewise, with the Troas church setting, in Acts 20, lends itself to three views on the breaking of bread. First, the reference could be to communion, as verse 7 seems to indicate. Breaking bread, however, could refer to a common meal, as verse 11 seems to indicate. A third option is that two bread breakings took place, the first being communion and the latter a common meal. The wording of the text itself allows these possibilities; however, I tend to accept the third option, so we seem to agree fairly well here.

    Of course, the inspired Luke is not writing liturgical instruction in the text. His focus is on Paul’s preaching and the miracle performed, as he references the church’s practice of meeting on the first day of the week, or Sunday, with an emphasis on communion. Luke does not intend in this text, however, to imply that communion or a worship gathering is restricted to the first day of the week only. If so, then worship and communion are both restricted to Sunday only.

    I was surprised not to find a reference to 1 Cor. 11:23-26 in your article. There, Paul states:

    For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.” For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.

    “Do this . . . .” “. . . whenever you drink it . . . .” “For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup . . . .” Paul, here, gives inspired leeway as to when the Lord’s Supper is observed. It is “whenever.” The immediate context is “when you come together as a church” (vs. 18, 33), which appears to be at least on the first day of the week, or Sunday (1 Cor. 16:2). The Jerusalem church, however, came together daily (Acts 2:46). (Could the Corinthian church have gathered daily as well?) From this, shall we not conclude that a “whenever” observance of the Lord’s Supper could be daily, on Sundays, or at any time?

    You do well in citing the so-called Church Fathers to buttress your view on weekly communion. I prefer weekly observance as well, based on the Troas text in Acts and early church history. I will not, however, condemn other believers on the basis of their Lord’s Supper observance frequency, whether it is daily, on Sunday, once a quarter, on Passover, on Christmas Eve, etc. – since Paul’s inspired citation of Jesus indicates that we may observe communion “whenever,” of course with the proper spiritual mindset. To do otherwise, is to speak where scripture has not spoken and to go beyond what is written, or intended, in scripture.

    1. Thanks for the critique, M. Fearghail, and thank you especially for the kind way in which you gave it. That above anything else is appreciated.

      You raise some very good questions and points, and all of them deserve an answer. Rather than reply in the comments section, I plan on writing another article addressing them. Look for it next week, Lord willing.

      Jon

  2. Thank you for this your present write up. I will share it with more that 100 Nigerian gospel preachers. God bless you bro,Jon.

  3. Matthew 26:27 “Then he took a cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you.” Should the church use “a cup” or are the mini cups for each person acceptable?

    1. Good question, A. Luke’s account sheds some light on the matter. Luke has Christ telling them to take the cup and “divide it amongst yourselves” (Luke 22:17). That certainly opens the possibility of them taking the contents of the cup and dividing it amongst themselves by pouring some into each of their own cups.

      Furthermore, oftentimes in Scripture the writers would use a form of grammar known as metonymy, a figure of speech in which one thing is often put forward for another. In this case, “cup” referring to the contents of the cup. Thus, the emphasis of the command is being placed on the drinking of the contents of the container, rather than on the container itself.

  4. Thank you for your answer 🙂 Since scripture doesn’t state specifically what “divide it amongst yourselves” means (each take your share from the same cup or split this into smaller cups) would it now be best to err on the side of caution? Is that not why the CoC does not have instrumental music; to err on the side of caution since scripture in the New Testament doesn’t state one way or the other in regard to instruments in worship? So wouldn’t one then assume that since scripture is not exact in what should be done with the cup, that it would be best to err or the side of caution and use only one? If it is left for man to decide how many cups he may use would it not also be true that he can decide if instruments are allowed?

    1. Another good question, A. I’m glad you’re asking them. I urge you to consider that there is a distinct difference between the command to divide the cup amongst yourselves and the command to sing.

      Concerning the command to sing in worship, God is quite specific. A careful word study of Eph. 5:19 shows that we are told to sing, to sing in such a way that we speak to one another and to God, that what we are to sing are psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, and that we are to “make melody” (literally “psallo” in the Greek, which means to pluck an instrument), that instrument being specified in the verse as our heart. There is no room open for any other type of music, instrument, or songs in this very specific command.

      On the other hand, the command to divide the cup amongst one’s self is a general command. He did not tell us how to do it, thus leaving us the freedom to choose for ourselves. Do we pass the cup around? If we want to. Do we divide the cup into other cups? If we want to. Both would be allowed. Consider another general command, the command to “go” and evangelize the world (Matt. 28:19; Mark 16:15). He told us to go, but did not tell us how to go, thus leaving the how up to us. We can walk, ride an animal, ride in a wagon, take a boat, drive a car, take a train or airplane, use the Internet, use TV, radio, use printed materials, etc. It’s up to us.

      Therefore, concerning specific commands, one will do nothing more or less than what God specified in one’s goal to be cautious and not add to his Word. Concerning generalized commands, one will make sure to leave the freedom for himself and others to choose for themselves how to best expedite that command in one’s goal to be cautious and not add to his Word.

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