Question: Why do we break bread?
Acts 20:7 Now on the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul, ready to depart the next day, spoke to them and continued his message until midnight.
What was the main activity of the early church?
My last message showed the variety of activities the early church did when they met on Sunday, but in this passage, only the breaking of bread is mentioned. Why doesn’t it say they gathered together to preach, teach, read, pray, or sing? Although these things were included, It appears from this passage that the emphasis of the meetings of the early church was to break bread together, meaning sharing the Lord’s supper.
Was it the Lord’s Supper or the Lord’s snack?
It also seems that the Lord ‘s Supper was a meal. For Paul preached all night, and they had to of eaten more than a small broken cracker and a thimble of red juice.
1 Corinthians 11 corrects them for eating their own supper ahead of the arrival of others so they could eat the Lord’s Supper together. This word translated supper means a formal meal and has also been translated as a feast. Some people believe the meal was combined with the bread and cup, and all of this together was the Lord’s Supper. Others think the common meal was separate from the Lord’s Supper which was only the bread and the cup. I think it is hard to call a cracker and a sip from a cup a supper. So I tend to think the Lord’s Supper was the shared meal which included the bread and the cup. However, the Corinthians were not sharing their meal, they were eating it before some had arrived resulting in them having nothing. In chapter 11 verse 33 below, it is clear that Paul is telling the Corinthians to wait and eat together. If they are too hungry to wait, then they should eat at home. So this seems to me that the whole event of the eating a meal and the bread and the cup is what is called the Supper. But I’m not dogmatic on this point.
I emphasize this point, because in most churches, there is no longer a meal, but only a ceremony of the eating of the bread and drinking of the cup. Although this may allow you to commune with God, it does not facilitate communing with each other. Our house church usually has an after meeting meal, and I find these times together very uniting.
Additionally, most evangelical churches only have the bread and cup monthly or even quarterly , but it appears from Acts 20:7 that is was weekly. Although our house church does have weekly meals, we are still infrequent to include the bread and the cup. I would prefer a weekly remembrance as is implied in Acts 20.
I will make a few other points regarding the Lord’s Supper below.
1 Corinthians 11
17 Now in giving these instructions I do not praise you, since you come together not for the better but for the worse.
18 For first of all, when you come together as a church, I hear that there are divisions among you, and in part I believe it.
19 For there must also be factions among you, that those who are approved may be recognized among you.
20 Therefore when you come together in one place, it is not to eat the Lord’s Supper.
21 For in eating, each one takes his own supper ahead of others; and one is hungry and another is drunk.
22 What! Do you not have houses to eat and drink in? Or do you despise the church of God and shame those who have nothing? What shall I say to you? Shall I praise you in this? I do not praise you.
23 For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you: that the Lord Jesus on the same night in which He was betrayed took bread;
24 and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, “Take, eat; this is My body which is broken for you; do this in remembrance of Me.”
25 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.”
26 For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death till He comes.
27 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.
28 But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup.
29 For he who eats and drinks in an unworthy manner eats and drinks judgment to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body.
30 For this reason many are weak and sick among you, and many sleep.
31 For if we would judge ourselves, we would not be judged.
32 But when we are judged, we are chastened by the Lord, that we may not be condemned with the world.
33 Therefore, my brethren, when you come together to eat, wait for one another.
34 But if anyone is hungry, let him eat at home, lest you come together for judgment. And the rest I will set in order when I come.
1 Corinthians 10:16 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?
17 For we, though many, are one bread and one body; for we all partake of that one bread.
Why do we break bread?
When I see the unleavened bread broken, and I hear the crisp crack of the break, it reminds me how Jesus’ body was broken for my sins. I remember the beating, the whip, the nails going into his hands and feet. When I see the red in the cup, I remember His blood flowing out when the soldier pierced him in the side, and I remember his New Covenant initiated with His blood. When I eat the bread and drink the cup, it reminds me of the day I received Him into my life through faith.
A picture is worth a thousand words. The broken bread and cup is the sermon, it preaches, it proclaims the Lord’s death until He comes again.
In our house church, we all gather around the table together with the symbols of the bread and the cup in front of us. We have fellowship and community together and with The Lord, and we participate by sharing the broken bread and the cup with each other.
To be One
We are all individuals, but we are one bread and one body. We are one local body, yet we are also one body with the universal church because we have all received Him, the bread of life, by faith.
Why does he tell us to eat?
Have you ever wondered why we must eat and drink the symbols? If we only broke the bread and poured the cup, then we would still remember. His death would still be proclaimed until He comes again. But, by eating and drinking He means we must take him into our heart and into our lives. We must have faith that he was broken for our sins and his blood was shed to cover our sins. There are those who go to church every Sunday, but then they never think about him again the rest of the week. But we need to be sustained by him spiritually just as our physical bodies are sustained by our daily food. Have you taken His truth within you?
John 6:51 “I am the living bread which came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread that I shall give is My flesh, which I shall give for the life of the world.”
52 The Jews therefore quarreled among themselves, saying, “How can this Man give us His flesh to eat?”
53 Then Jesus said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you.
54 “Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.
55 “For My flesh is food indeed,[fn] and My blood is drink indeed.
56 “He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him.
57 “As the living Father sent Me, and I live because of the Father, so he who feeds on Me will live because of Me.
58 “This is the bread which came down from heaven—not as your fathers ate the manna, and are dead. He who eats this bread will live forever.”
59 These things He said in the synagogue as He taught in Capernaum.
60 Therefore many of His disciples, when they heard this, said, “This is a hard saying; who can understand it?”
61 When Jesus knew in Himself that His disciples complained about this, He said to them, “Does this offend you?
62 “What then if you should see the Son of Man ascend where He was before?
63 “It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life.
64 “But there are some of you who do not believe.” For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were who did not believe, and who would betray Him.
65 And He said, “Therefore I have said to you that no one can come to Me unless it has been granted to him by My Father.”
Enjoy the Lord’s Table this Lord’s Day.
God bless. Bob