© 1999 James A. Fowler

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I. Biblical references to Lord's Supper

    Matt. 26:26-30
    Mk. 14:22-25
    Lk. 22:14-20
    Acts 2:46
    Acts 20:7,11
    I Cor. 5:7,8
    I Cor. 10:16,17,21
    I Cor. 11:20-26

II. Institution and Apostolic development of Lord's Supper

    A. Jesus partook of Last Supper with His disciples -
           Matt. 26:26-30; Mk. 14:22-25; Lk. 22:14-20; I Cor. 11:20-26
         1. Was this a Passover meal?
              a. Evidence against.
                  (1) No mention of paschal lamb at meal.
                  (2) Prior to Passover observance - Jn. 18:28; 19:14,31
              b. Evidence for.
                  (1) Passover observance - Mk. 14:1,12,16; Lk. 22:8,13,16
                  (2) Passover interpretations
                       (a) Christ as Passover lamb - I Cor. 5:7
                       (b) Messianic deliverance -
                       (c) Covenantal meal - Mk. 14:24; Lk. 22:20
         2. Did Jesus intend to institute a traditional observance?
              a. Some deny
              b. Jesus commanded such - I Cor. 11:25
    B. Early church celebrated Lord's Supper - Acts 2:42-46; 20:7; I Cor. 11:20-22
         1. Part of their corporate worship
              a. Frequency? Acts 20:7
              b. Connected to love feast? I Cor. 11:21
         2. Seems to have been regarded as a continuation of the "table fellowship" of Jesus Christ
              and His own in the kingdom.
         3. Soon corrupted - I Cor. 11:21

III. Changing interpretation of the Lord's Supper in Christian history

    A. 1st and 2nd centuries
         1. Important feature of public worship
         2. Regarded as important to fellowship and union.
    B. 3rd century
         1. Stressed real presence of Christ in the elements
         2. First references to Lord's Supper as a sacrifice
    C. 4th and 5th centuries
         1. Ambrose - transformation of elements into body and blood of Christ
         2. Sacrament of Eucharist regarded as sacrifice of Christ and oneself
    D. Later centuries in Roman Catholic Church
         1. Transubstantiation of elements into body and blood of Jesus.
         2. Partaking of Eucharist infuses God's grace into Christian.
         3. Referred to as "mass"- Latin ite missa est, "Go, you are dismissed"
         4. Elaborate ritualistic celebration developed
         5. 12th century - laity no longer received cup, lest blood of Christ be spilled.
    E. 16th century Protestant Reformation
         1. Rejected transubstantiation doctrine.
         2. Denied that mass was sacrifice offered to God

IV. Biblical understanding of the Lord's Supper.

   A. An act of obedience
         1. "Do this in remembrance of Me" - I Cor. 11:24
         2. An ordinance of the Church, ordained by Jesus as obedient act of remembrance.
    B. An act of identification
         1. "eat the Lord's Supper" - I Cor. 11:20
         2. Jesus hosts the Supper for those who know Him and are identified with Him.
              a. The Lord knows whose are His - II Tim. 2:19
              b. Not our place to invite or debar
    C. An act of covenant
         1. "this cup is the new covenant in My blood" - I Cor. 11:25
         2. New arrangement between God and men in Jesus Christ
              a. Old covenant obsolete - Heb. 8:13
              b. New covenant is final covenant
    D. An act of participation
         1. "communion in the blood and body of Jesus" - I Cor. 10:16
         2. Unified in "common union" of fellowship around Jesus Christ.
              a. Not an individualistic act
              b. Collective and corporate act of church
    E. An act of thanksgiving
         1. "when He had given thanks He broke bread" - I Cor. 11:24
         2. Eucharist is transliteration of Greek "to give thanks"
              a. From two Greek words: eu = good; charis = grace
              b. Recognize "good grace" of God in gratitude
    F. An act of representation
         1. "this is My body...this is My blood" - I Cor. 11:24,25
         2. Must avoid crass materialistic literalism
              a. Jesus spoke figuratively & metaphorically - Jn. 6:48-58
              b. Doctrines of transubstantiation and consubstantiation
    G. An act of commemoration
         1. "Do this in remembrance of Me" - I Cor. 11:24
         2. A memorial observance
              a. Not an altar of confession, to remember your sins
              b. But a table of memory to remember Jesus
    H. An act of examination
         1. "Let a man examine himself, and so let him eat.." - I Cor. 11:28
         2. Self-examination
              a. Not navel-gazing introspection of sinfulness
              b. But examine our mind-set, attitudes, motives
                  (1) We are all unworthy of what Christ did
                  (2) But we are not to partake "unworthily" - I Cor. 11:29
    I. An act of proclamation
         1. "as oft as you eat...you proclaim the Lord's death" - I Cor. 11:26
         2. We proclaim that we are believers in the efficacy of Christ's death, resurrection and life.
    J. An act of anticipation
         1. "you proclaim the Lord's death until He comes" - I Cor. 11:26
         2. Expectation of the consummation of Jesus' work



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