Keith Hunt - Passover Study #3: Bread & Wine - How often should we observe it?

                       BREAD AND WINE

                      HOW OFTEN SHOULD 
                       WE OBSERVE IT?

   There are FEW church organizations that observe the so-called
"Lord's Supper" in the same manner or at the same time.  Some
believe in practicing the "foot washing" as part of the overall
observance, others do not. Some only use alcohol wine, while
others use only grape juice. There are church groups that use
"unleavened bread" but others use regular puffed up bread.  There
is even more variations and opinions as to how OFTEN this sacred
service is to be observed.

   This article will only concern the last question, as to "How
Often?" 

   Paul was inspired to write in 1 Corinthians that God is NOT
the author of  confusion!

   Jesus said that God's WORD is truth (John 17:17).  Let is
humbly and diligently search the word of the Eternal for the
truth on the Passover or Lord's Supper service and how often we
should partake of it in any given year.

   Some churches take this ceremony once a week; some once a
month; some four times a year; some twice a year, and a few only
once a year in the evening.  Jude, in the latter half of the
first century A.D. found it needful to write that "........You
should earnestly contend for the faith once delivered unto the
saints" (Jude 3).

   If the first century Christians were beginning to wander away
from the original practices of Jesus and the early disciples, how
much do you suppose we today have departed from those original
teachings?  For us to get back to the faith once delivered
we must put aside our assumptions and traditions, and with open
minds "search the Scriptures daily" as those at Berea did when
Paul preached to them (Acts 17:10-12).  The Scriptures contain
the TRUTH - the true record of what was once delivered to the
saints.

                    THE FIRST OBSERVANCE

   It is written that Jesus set us an example that we should
follow His steps (1 Peter 2:21). A person who looks to and
follows the way of Jesus Christ is called a Christian -
one who follows Christ. It is written that Jesus now comes and
lives His life over again WITHIN the Christian (Gal.2:20) - by
the faith OF Christ, not just faith IN Christ. The same practices
and customs Jesus observed nearly 2,000 years ago, He will still
practice and observe today as He lives in the Christian.
   Let us examine the passage showing the institution of the NT
Passover service and symbols - commonly called by many "The
Lord's Supper."

   Luke 22:14, 19-20.  "And when the HOUR was COME, He(Jesus) sat
down, and the twelve apostles with Him.....And He took bread, and
gave thanks, and broke it, and gave unto them, saying: This is my
body which is given for you. THIS DO in REMEMBRANCE of
me.....Likewise also the cup after supper, saying, This is the
New Testament in my blood, which is shed for you."

   Notice, Jesus introduced the bread and wine (fruit of the vine
- cup) "when the hour was come." There was a DEFINITE TIME - when
He held this supper, setting us the perfect example. He commanded
them to observe it, "THIS DO....."  And why?  "In remembrance of
me," He said.  It was a MEMORIAL - in memory of His death. Jesus
instituted this ordinance on the night, the eve of His death.  We
are to observe this ceremony of Christ's death, as He Himself
said, "Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down
his life for his friends." Jesus knew that upon this day - the
day He was instituting the symbols of bread and wine for His
broken body and shed blood - He would die.  And Jesus further
said, "You are my friends IF you DO whatsoever I command
you....." (John 15:13-14).

   In Matthew 26:26 we read: "And as they were eating, Jesus took
bread."  It was "as they were eating" that He introduced this
ordinance of the NT.  But eating what?  Eating the PASSOVER!  See
verse 17 and Luke 22:15. Notice Mat.26:2, "You know that after
two days is the Feast of the Passover, and the Son of man is
betrayed to be crucified." Jesus knew His time to be slain had
come. He knew the Passover lamb represented HIM - the true lamb
of God (John 1:29).

   The apostle Paul understood that the real Passover lamb was
Christ, when he wrote: ".....even Christ OUR PASSOVER is
sacrificed for us" (1 Cor.5:7).

   Jesus was eating the Passover, "Now the first of the unleavens
(original Greek. The Jews had by the time of Christ acquired the
custom of putting leaven out of their homes on the 14th day of
Nisan, and by late morning ate no more leavened bread, at least
those who followed the Pharisees practiced this tradition), and
the disciples came to Jesus, saying unto Him, Where will you that
we prepare for you to eat the Passover?" (Mat.26:7).  At EVEN
Jesus sat down (when the hour was come) with His twelve disciples
in an upper room (Mat.26:20; Mark 14:15).
   And as they were eating the Passover supper (Mat.26:26),
"Jesus took bread and blessed it, and broke it, and gave it to
the disciples, and said: Take, eat, this is my body. And He took
the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying: Drink you
all of it; for this is my blood of the New Testament, which is
shed for the remission of sins."

   It was the night of the last Passover supper that Jesus kept
and He introduced the NT Passover service and symbols.

                 THE OLD TESTAMENT ORDINANCE

   The original Passover marked the Exodus of the Israelites from
Egypt. You will find the events recorded in the 12th chapter of
the book of Exodus.

   On the 10th day of the first month (Abib or Nisan chap.13:4)
they were told to take a young lamb without spot or blemish. This
lamb was to be kept UNTIL the 14th day of this first month, when
they were to kill it "in the evening" (verse 6).
   As soon as it was killed, the blood was to be sprinkled over
the door posts of their houses. The lamb was to be roasted and
eaten in haste - with their shoes on - ready to move out quickly.
At midnight that night of the 14th (no other day is yet mentioned
in the context, so it is still the 14th) the death angel passed
through the land, striking dead the firstborn of each family in
all the land of Egypt. But those under the blood of the lamb
were saved from death. And God brought - delivered - them from
the Egyptian bondage that night of the 14th. Compare these
passages - Ex.12:7-14; Num.33:3; Deut.16:1-3; Lev.23:6.

   The Israelites were delivered from bondage on the 14th - the
death angel passing through the land that NIGHT of the 14th.
Israel left Rameses on the 15th, the morrow AFTER the Passover
had been slain, by NIGHT. This day of the 15th was to be a
memorial day - the feast day - a holy day (Ex.12:14-17). And that
night of the 15th was a night to be "much observed unto the
Lord."
   The Passover lamb was slain on the 14th. The Israelites were
delivered on the 15th - starting the night of the 15th from
Rameses. This festival of the Passover (all eight days) - from
the 14th of Nisan to the 21st, was ordained to be observed
FOREVER (Ex.12:17,24), and in this case forever includes our time
today. The Jews certainly observe it.  It was to be a MEMORIAL of
deliverance - to be kept in its season, from year to year. Hence
observed ONCE a year only (Ex.13:9,10).

                            TYPE AND ANTI-TYPE

   The Paschal lamb was typical. As the Matthew Henry's Bible
Commentary notes:

"   Christ is our Passover - 1 Cor.5:7
(1) It was to be a LAMB; and Christ is the lamb of God (John
1:29). 
(2) It  was to be a MALE of the first year (vs.5) in its prime.
Christ offered up Himself in the midst of His days.
(3) It was to be without BLEMISH (vs.5) denoting the purity of
the Lord Jesus -  a Lamb without SPOT (1 Pet.1:19).
(4) It was to be set apart FOUR days before (vs.3,6).....It is
very observable that, as Christ was crucified at the Passover, so
He solemly entered into Jerusalem four days before - the very day
the paschal lamb was set apart.
(5) It was to be SLAIN, and ROASTED WITH FIRE (vs.....6-9),
denoting the extreme sufferings of the Lord Jesus, even unto
death. The wrath of God is as fire, and Christ was made a curse
for us.
(6) It was to be killed by the whole congregation between the two
evenings......Christ suffered at the END of the world (Heb.9:26)
by the hand of the Jews - the whole multitude of them (Luke
23:18) and for all His spiritual Israel.
(7) Not a bone of it must be BROKEN (vs.46) - which is expressly
said to be fulfilled in Christ (John 19:33,36)" (emphasis mine).

   Notice again points number 4 and 6 made by the commentary.
Many Bible chronologers (i.e. the Chronological Bible by Edward
Reese) have seen that a harmony of the Gospels clearly shows
Jesus entering on a stay in Jerusalem and area FOUR days prior to
His death, and that He died on the 14th of Nisan at around the
ninth hour (3 to 4 p.m.)
   God had foreshadowed the events of Jesus' last days, and
especially the last 24 hours, centuries earlier by means of the
Passover lamb. God was able, and He did fulfil them.  For those
interested in the chronology of Jesus last 24 hours I have a full
in-depth study on that subject that I can send e-mail to those
who request it. Some teach that all the events must have taken
more than 24 hours. My artcile answers their arguments.

                        JESUS' EXAMPLE

   Throughout His life and ministry Jesus observed the Passover
(Luke 2:41-42; John 2:13,23;  6:4;  Mat.26:1-2, 17-20). He kept
it ONCE a year - on the 14th of Nisan. Jesus knew it pictured His
suffering and death (Mat.26:1-2).
   On the NIGHT of the 14th, early evening - He sat down with His
disciples to observe the Passover meal. During this supper Jesus
introduced the symbols of the BREAD and the FRUIT OF THE VINE. He
did not abolish the Passover but merely CHANGED the symbols from
the roast lamb to bread and wine. He said to His disciples, "This
do, in remembrance of me." Jesus did this ON the 14th - on the
SAME day the Passover lamb had been slain in that first Passover
observance as recorded in Exodus 12, in the BEGINNING or EVENING
of the 14th. He thereby set us an example (1 Peter 2:21). Can
His disciples today do any more or any less? Surely the example
of Christ Himself is teaching material enough.
   The Old Testament Passover was to be observed just once a year
- on the 14th of Nisan. Jesus did not, either by word or example,
change the day or the number of times in a year to remember His
death.

                  THE ORDINANCE OF HUMILITY

   In giving us the account of the institution of the NT Passover
ordinance, Matthew, Mark and Luke describe the taking of the
bread and cup. But John relates another part of this ordinance.
It is found in the 13th chapter of John. Verse one shows the
event of the last Passover observed by Christ. And "during
supper" (which is a more accurate rendering of the Greek, see the
Interlinear by Berry and other translations), verse 2.
Jesus took a towel (verse 4) and began washing His disciples'
feet (verse 5). They had already bathed (verse 10 - Fenton
translation); they were already clean, including the feet.
Why then, did Jesus do this foot washing?
   
   "So after He had washed their feet and had taken His garments
and was set down again, He said unto them, Know you what I have
done unto you? You call me master and Lord: and you say well; for
so I am. If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet;
you ALSO OUGHT TO WASH ONE ANOTHER'S FEET. For I have given you
an EXAMPLE that YOU SHOULD DO AS I HAVE DONE TO YOU" (verses
12-15).

   This ordinance of footwashing is an ordinance of HUMILITY.  It
was the lowest servant of the household who, in Jesus' day, was
given the job of washing the dusty feet of the guests.  Some say
this command of Jesus was only to the disciples of His day, and
not to us today.  But they will admit it was a command to them. 
Turn to Matthew 28:19,20.  "Go you, therefore," Jesus told those
disciples, "and teach all nations, baptizing them......teaching
them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded YOU."

   So they were to teach US to observe all things He commanded
them. Washing each other's feet at the Passover time was one of
those commands, and one of those examples of Jesus we are to
follow. 
   Even with what is taught by such clear verses, some will still
argue up and down that we do not have to wash any feet today. I
answer in detail those arguments in another article devoted to
that specific topic. It can be sent e-mail to those who request
it.

                  DO AS OFTEN AS YOU WISH?

   Paul gives directions regarding the NT Passover service in the
11th chapter of 1 Corinthians. Some have interpreted verse 26
which says, "As often as you eat this bread and drink this cup"
to say - "Take it as often, as many times as you like." But is
that what Paul meant to say?
   Read the CONTEXT. In verse 23, Paul says that what he received
from Christ he delivered to the Corinthians, that "......the Lord
Jesus the same NIGHT in which He was betrayed (14th of Nisan)
took bread."  Jesus, as has been seen, introduced the symbols
of bread and wine. He told His disciples "this do" in remembrance
of Him. In the original Greek there is the definite article "the"
so the phrase could read "this do in THE remembrance of me."
   Now, what was the remembrance or MEMORIAL of Christ's death?
Why the PASSOVER - held on the 14th day of the first month of
Abib or Nisan, the day the Passover lamb was slain.

   Many nations observe a "Remembrance Day" for all who died in
the last two world wars. Many people observe a MEMORIAL of their
wedding or someone's birthday. How often do they observe these
remembrance days? Only ONCE a year!  A wedding, birthday, or
death, is remembered in a special way usually ON THE DAY it
occurred.  We show or remember the Lord's death by partaking of
the bread and wine on the VERY DAY - the very NIGHT that Jesus
did, when He told us "this do."  We remember Christ's death
through this ordinance often called the "communion service" by
some as we follow His example of partaking of it on the NIGHT and
the day of the 14th of Nisan in the Hebrew calendar.

   By following His example and observing this sacred ordinance
at the same time He did, we do continue to REMEMBER His death
annually, on the very anniversary of His crucifixion.  It is the
most solemn but yet joyful occasion of the year, especially when
observed at this correct hour and day.
   
   Paul is telling the people at Corinth that as OFTEN as this
REMEMBRANCE NIGHT is observed - year after year - decade after
decade - down through the centuries and ages - we do show, we
remember by this NT ordinance - the Lord's death till He returns
again (verse 26).

                     TAKING UNWORTHILY?

   Many have worried about Paul's statement in 1 Cor.11:29
concerning eating and drinking UNWORTHILY and so do not partake
of it.  But truly we are ALL unworthy of and by ourselves of
Christ's love for us in taking our sins upon Himself and dying
for us. So is Paul saying here that UNTIL somehow we FEEL we are
worthy, we are not to partake of this ordinance?  NO!  For in
verse 28 Paul has just said we are to examine ourselves,
"AND SO LET HIM EAT......AND DRINK......."  Jesus said, as we
have seen, "this do."  He commanded His followers to partake of
the symbols of His broken body and shed blood.
   This verse is not speaking about a Christian being in some
technical way worthy or unworthy (actually all repentant
Christians are sinless because the blood of Christ has blotted
them out, so they are righteous and worthy), to take this
ordinance.  It IS speaking about EXAMINING oneself - getting in
the right attitude and frame of mind for this special time and
day of the year.
   It is also speaking of the MANNER in which we do it. To take
it unworthily is to take it in a wrong manner. Notice what the
Corinthians had done on this special night - verses 20 to 22.
They had a big "bash" as we would say today. They had much food,
some of them; while others were left out of the party, and had
none or very little. Some got DRUNK on the wine.  Paul is
correcting them for the WRONG MANNER in which they were observing
this sacred ordinance.
   
   In connection with the wrong manner, it is worth noting that
had the ancient Israelites in Egypt observed the first Passover
at any other time or day other than when appointed by God they
would have done it unworthily and suffered the plague along with
the Egyptians. This is not to say that people today who do not
know any better or have not had this truth of the word of God
revealed to them, will be smitten down in some way if they do
observe this NT service at some other time than on the night of
the 14th of Nisan. God is very merciful during this age of the
Gospel. But when truth and light is revealed the Eternal expects
that person to walk in it, and to refuse or ignore it could
place that individual on spiritually dangerous ground.

   Once truth has come to us on this matter, it could be unworthy
for us to partake of this ceremony at any other time than set
down by God in His Holy Word, we could be partaking of it in a
wrong manner.  The Greek here is a VERB - an action word - a
doing word.  Certainly the Corinthians were doing things in
actions that were wrong on this remembrance night as they thought
they were remembering the Lord's death. 
   Being in a wrong attitude of mind could also come under an
action of wrong manner, so that is why Jesus inspired Paul to
say, "But let a man(person) EXAMINE himself and SO LET HIM
EAT....."
   I also have an article on examining ourselves before we come
to partake of this service, it also can be e-mailed to anyone
requesting it.

             "BREAK BREAD" - WHAT DOES IT MEAN?

   Some turn to Acts 20:7, "And upon the first day of the week,
when the disciples came together to break bread....." and say
this shows the "communion" - "Lord's Supper" - was observed every
Sunday.  But notice, nothing is said about taking "the cup" or
fruit of the vine. Surely if this was intended to be written to
show that the NT symbols of bread and wine were to be observed
every week, it would be more explicit; especially when one
considers the fact that it would have been a NEW custom for both
the Jewish and Gentile Christians.  If the question of
circumcision gave rise to a conference on the matter at
Jerusalem (Acts 15), the question of WHEN and HOW OFTEN the death
of Jesus should be commemorated and remembered in a specific way
would not have been a less issue. But we find no such issue
arising in the early Church of God.

   Let's examine the context of Acts 20:7. Notice verse 6. This
was just AFTER the Days of Unleavened Bread, when the Passover
would have already taken place. Paul was holding a farewell
meeting at Troad, ready to depart at sunrise the next day. When
was Paul preaching? It was NOT Sunday morning but what we would
call Saturday night.
It was between sunset of the first day of the week and midnight
(verse 7) and many LIGHTS were burning (verse 8). They were all
getting hungry. And after they had "broken bread and EATEN" Paul
went on his journey (verse 11). THIS BREAD BREAKING WAS EATING A
COMMON MEAL.

   The words "break bread" are used in many places to refer to a
plain meal. Notice Acts 27:34,35, "Wherefore I pray you to take
some meat(food). He took bread......and when he had BROKEN IT he
began to EAT......"  notice also Acts 2:46, ".....And breaking
bread from house to house, did eat their meat(food) with
gladness."  Here they were breaking bread DAILY, eating food or
meals; and Paul says we are not to eat the Lord's Supper to
satisfy hunger (1 Cor.11:34).  Then notice Matthew 26:29. Jesus
said He would not again take the NT Passover until after His
coming in His Kingdom. Yet later, as He sat "at meat," eating a
meal, He BROKE bread and blessed it (Luke 24:30).
   They did not have sliced packaged bread in the first century
A.D. The bread was often BROKEN apart with the hands. "Break
bread" was a term for having a meal.

             THE EARLY CHURCH KEPT THE PASSOVER

   Christianity has a Jewish background. Jesus Christ was a Jew,
of the house of Judah (Heb.7:14). Paul, Peter, James, John and
others were all of the house of Judah, though maybe not of the
tribe of Judah. Christianity began with Jewish people. As the
Gentiles entered the Church they became part of spiritual Israel
- spiritual Jews. There is NO DIFFERENCE between Jew and Gentile
- all become ONE in Christ (Rom.2:28-29; Eph.2:12-22). All are to
worship God in the SAME MANNER - in SPIRIT and in TRUTH (John
4:24).
   What about the Passover and the Days of Unleavened Bread
festival?  Are Gentiles to observe as some call them, "those
Jewish festivals"?  Did the Jewish Christians continue to keep
them? Did the Gentile converts in the apostolic Church observe
the festivals of Israel, as given by God in Leviticus chapter 23?
   Paul, writing to the predominately Gentile congregation at
Corinth, admonishes them to, "Purge out therefore the old leaven
that you may be a new lump, AS YOU ARE UNLEAVENED. For even
Christ our PASSOVER is sacrificed for us. Therefore let us
KEEP (Greek in the present continuous tense) the FEAST" 
(1 Cor.5:7,8).
   Paul is admonishing the NT Christians to CONTINUE keeping the
Passover and Feast of Unleavened Bread - but with the spirit of
true Christianity - in sincerity and truth. He wanted them to
observe the festival not only in a literal way but in the way the
festival portrays SPIRITUALLY, remembering Christ's DEATH for our
sins and PUTTING AWAY sin (leaven is a type of) from our lives
(hence to unleaven us) as we physically unleaven our homes in a
physical type teaching and lesson for our spiritual lives.

   The authors of "The Life and Epistles of St. Paul" - Conybeare
and Howson, have this to say on these verses:

" In spite of the opinion of some, we must adhere to the
interpretation which considers these words as written at the
Paschal season, and suggested by it. The words LEAVEN, LUMP,
PASCHAL LAMB and FEAST all agree most naturally with this
view......It has been object that St. Paul would not address the
Corinthians as engaged in a feast which he, at Ephesus, was
celebrating, because it would be over before his letter could
reach them. Anyone who has ever written a birthday letter to a
friend in India will see the weakness of this objection. If we
take 'as you are unleavened' in a metaphorical sense, it is
scarcely consistent with the previous 'cast out the old leaven';
for the passage would then amount to saying, 'Be you free from
leaven (metaphorically) as you are free from leaven
(metaphorically)'; whereas, on the other hand, St.Paul says,
'Be free from leaven (metaphorically) as you are free from leaven
(literally).'  There seems to be no difficulty in supposing that
the Gentile Christians joined with the Jewish Christians in
celebrating the Paschal feast after the Jewishmanner, at least to
the extent of abstaining from leaven in the love feast. And we
see St. Paul still observing the 'days of unleavened bread' at
this period of his life, from Acts 20:6......" (pages 389, 390,
emphasis mine).

   The Passover and Days of Unleavened Bread were still being
observed by Paul and the Jew-Gentile Christians of the first
century A.D. The Holy Spirit inspired those words in Acts 12:3,
"Then were the days of unleavened bread."  Notice also verse 4. 
The word "Easter" is a mistranslation. The Greek word is "Pascha"
(which means Passover). See any Greek lexicon. 
   Contrary to many views the passage in Col.2:16 is one of the
STRONGEST proofs in the entire NT that Christians of the first
century A.D. continued to observe the annual, monthly, and weekly
festivals as given by the Eternal in the law and books of Moses.
A study of Col.2:16 can be e-mailed to those who request it.

               THE TESTIMONY OF CHURCH HISTORY

   That the early Church continued to remember the DEATH of
Christ on the 14th of Nisan is confirmed by the writers of the
second century. Polycarp (of Asia Minor) - a disciple of John the
apostle, travelled to Rome to try to persuade the bishop of Rome
to observe the 14th of Nisan as opposed to "Easter."  Polycrates
later in the 2nd century also contended with the Roman church in
favor of the 14th of the first month, Jewish calendar.  This 14th
of Nisan/Easter controversy became known in Church History as the
"QUARTODECIMAN controversy." 
   You can read all about it in the Catholic Encyclopedia at your
public library, under the articles, "Quartodeciman" - "Easter" -
"Polycarp" - "Polycrates."
   The TRUTH on this subject as to HOW often to observe the bread
and fruit of the vine symbols of the death of Christ can be found
and understood as this article explains, if you are willing to
search the Scriptures daily, and really do hunger and thirst for
righteousness and have a love of the truth.  

   May the Eternal grant you such an attitude as to want to
understand His will on this matter.
              ................................  

Written first 1980
re-written and revised in March 1998
by
Keith Hunt


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