The Lord’s Supper on Sunday -of men or of God?

In Acts 20:7 the Greek word which says the disciples were assembled is “sunegmenon.” To better understand the sun syllable note that it is the first part of the word “synagogue.” (“sunagoge”) It was first used to refer to the assembly among the Jews and then came to refer to the place of assembly. Once in the New Testament it is used of the Christian assembly. (James 2:2). Inherent in the word is the idea of being assembled together for a spiritual purpose. In other kinds of coming together a different word is used. The text here tells us it was the first day of the week on which the disciples assembled and that the purpose, “break bread,” was a spiritual one, not a social one.

In 1 Corinthians 11 Paul’s criticism of the Corinthians had to do with failure to recognize this very thing. They professed to be assembling for the Lord’s Supper, like the disciples did at Troas, and the sun word is used. But they used it more like a common meal and Paul said this was wrong. This word occurs at verse 18 in saying they “came together as a church.” It occurs again at verse 20, “when you come together in one place, this is not to eat the Lord’s Supper.” The phrase here is not “break bread,” it is literally “The Lord’s supper.” (From kuriakan diepnon) In other words, you call together a spiritual assembly but you use it for social purposes. Paul said, “I do not praise you in this.” (Verse 22) So the church at Corinth assembled to eat the Lord’s Supper and the church at Troas assembled to eat the Lord’s Supper, and the first day of the week is specified in Acts 20:7.

To fully understand the Lord’s will concerning the communion we need to realize this is not a law matter. It is a love matter. Jesus had asked His disciples to “do this in remembrance” of Him. Although the early church did this, there is no Biblical statute saying “Thou shalt take the lord’s Supper every Sunday.” It is not that kind of directive. But that does not mean God’s intention isn’t clearly expressed. Acts 20:7 is indeed a divinely authorized example of the disciples being assembled on the first day of the week for the purpose of uniting their hearts in the Lord’s Supper in respect to the Lord’s death. At 1 Cor. 11:26 Paul said that when we eat this bread and drink this cup we show the Lord’s death til He comes. The purpose of this memorial is specific, to remember Christ’s death. It is not as the Jewish sabbath, a memorial to their deliverance from Egypt. It is not like baptism, something done to receive remission of sins. It is a response by followers who love Him, to His request that it be done as a memorial to Him. When someone asks “Do we have to take the Lord’s Supper every Sunday?” He is asking the wrong question. This is not a “have to” thing. It is a “want to” thing. Like giving my wife a present on her birthday, it is not a law matter, it is a love matter. I don’t have to, but I will insist on it.

But it is very important. Paul told the Corinthians that he had received this from the Lord and delivered it to them. He told them that taking the Lord’s Supper in an “unworthy manner” consisted in “not discerning the Lord’s body.” At verse 27 we read that if one partakes of these emblems for a reason other than love for Him and for what He did for us, that one eats and drinks damnation to his soul.  As concerns the appropriate time, Jesus rose from the grave on the first day of the week, ascended up to heaven on the first day of the week, and John referred to it as “the Lord’s day.” (Rev. 1:10). The example at Troas tells us that the first day of the week was when the disciples were assembled for this purpose. History is clear that this practice was continued in the early church from the time of the apostles for hundreds of years forward. I believe that anyone who tampers with this tampers with something very sacred and tampers with a practice on which God has shown us His will. I know of no sensible reason to mount a crusade to remove this kind of assembly from the list of things the church needs to do and make the assembly purely horizontal and not vertical. My love for the Lord makes me want to honor Him in His own chosen way every Sunday. If you don’t, maybe you should ask yourself why?


Filed under: