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What Communion Is Really About

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Betty have been sharing her personal Bible Studies since 2005. She also has a strong interest in American politics.

Communion

The Last Supper

Around the time of year that Christians honor the death and Resurrection of Christ, most churches hold services that involve teachings on the last supper. They also hold communion ceremonies, where the congregation eats a small cracker and drinks a small amount of grape juice or wine. Communion is a time of remembrance of what Jesus said during the last supper, and all Christians can agree on this point.

Matthew 26: 26 And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed it, and brake it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is my body.

Matthew 26: 27 And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it;

Matthew 26: 28 For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.

While all Christian denominations believe in the importance of their congregations taking communion, the religious views surrounding the ceremony differ.

Lutherans and Catholics hold a very similar view. The term they use for taking communion is, “transubstantiation." Which is defined as:

(especially in the Roman Catholic Church) the conversion of the substance of the Eucharistic elements into the body and blood of Christ at consecration, only the appearances of bread and wine still remaining.

The Catholic church also believes that preserving the wafers for communion in the temple is important. They believe that Christ is present with the wafers. While Lutherans believe that Christ departs following the Eucharistic celebration.

Orthodox Christians believe that taking communion is a mystery. They accept that there's great value in gathering for communion with the understanding that there are elements to it that remain "mysterious."

Presbyterians believe that taking communion is important, but they do not believe that Christ is literally present in the bread and wine.

Baptists and Pentecostals, as well as many non-denominational churches believe the most important element involved with taking communion is remembering the death and resurrection of Christ.

The Bible has a lot to say about Communion itself from the very beginning to the very end.

Early in the Old Testament

Abraham Communed with Melchizedek

Melchizedek is a very interesting Biblical character. The Bible speaks of him with limited information about who he was. Yet, he was part of a huge order that tied directly with the Priesthood of Christ.

Shortly after Abraham and Lot had separated, each to his own land, several kings came together to fight against Sodom and Gomorrah.

In Genesis Chapter 14, a battle took place and Lot's son had been taken into captivity. All of his goods were also taken.

When Abram heard about it, he gathered his servants together and pursued after those who had taken Lot's son. After winning the battle, Abram brought Lot's son and all his goods back to him.

Following this battle Abram, and the kings of Sodom and Gomorrah met with Melchizedek, king of Salem.

Genesis 14: 18 And Melchizedek king of Salem brought forth bread and wine: and he was the priest of the most high God.

Notice that Melchizedek brought forth bread and wine, and then he blessed Abraham.

Genesis 14: 19 And he blessed him, and said, Blessed be Abram of the most high God, possessor of heaven and earth:

Genesis 14: 20 And blessed be the most high God, which hath delivered thine enemies into thy hand. And he gave him tithes of all.

The book of Hebrews states that Melchizedek was, "without mother and father, and had neither a beginning or end."

Hebrews 7: 1 For this Melchisedec, king of Salem, priest of the most high God, who met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings, and blessed him;

Hebrews 7:2 To whom also Abraham gave a tenth part of all; first being by interpretation King of righteousness, and after that also King of Salem, which is, King of peace;

Hebrews 7:3 Without father, without mother, without descent, having neither beginning of days, nor end of life; but made like unto the Son of God; abideth a priest continually.

Hebrews 7:11 If therefore perfection were by the Levitical priesthood, (for under it the people received the law,) what further need was there that another priest should rise after the order of Melchisedec, and not be called after the order of Aaron?

The meeting between Melchizedek and Abram was one of the earliest mentions of communion within the scriptures.

Throughout the Old Testament, the word "communion," was often tied to people who came together to resolve issues.

One example of this happened during the time of Joseph. Years after he had been sold into slavery by his brothers, an occasion arose where his brothers came to Egypt hoping to buy food as there was a great famine in their own land. They didn't recognize Joseph, but he certainly recognized them.

Genesis 42: 24 And he turned himself about from them, and wept; and returned to them again, and communed with them, and took from them Simeon, and bound him before their eyes.

Moses also "communed," with God on Mount Sinai.

Exodus 31: 18 And he gave unto Moses, when he had made an end of communing with him upon mount Sinai, two tables of testimony, tables of stone, written with the finger of God.

The subject of communion has a long history within the scriptures themselves.

John Ch. 6

The Hard Sayings

John Ch 6 is one of the most controversial books of the bible.

The words that Jesus spoke at that time shook most of the hearers to the core. The same words still shake a lot of people up. It is a "hard saying."

It was such a "hard saying," that many of his disciples left from following Jesus, and the never turned back; "...they walked with Him no more." The 12 disciples did not turn away.

John chapter 6 begins at the time of Passover. Multitudes of people followed after Jesus because they saw his miracles, and many needed healing.

Jesus saw that there were a lot of people;

John 6: 5 When Jesus then lifted up his eyes, and saw a great company come unto him, he saith unto Philip, Whence shall we buy bread, that these may eat?

John 6: 6 And this he said to prove him: for he himself knew what he would do.

Jesus had a purpose for asking Philip about buying enough bread to feed them all.

That passage says that Jesus knew what he would do, but he asked Philip to, "prove him."

Philip didn't believe that they had enough money to buy enough bread to feed all the people. The passage says that there were over 5,000 people.

Andrew pointed out that there was a boy there with five loaves of bread and two fish.

John 6: 11 And Jesus took the loaves; and when he had given thanks, he distributed to the disciples, and the disciples to them that were set down; and likewise of the fishes as much as they would.

It must have been amazing for the disciples to see so much increase come from just a small just a small amount of bread and fish.

After all the people had eaten, Jesus told the disciples to gather up the leftovers, and all the fragments, "...so that nothing would be lost." The disciples gathered up 12 baskets full of leftovers. Not only was there enough to feed all the people, but there was a whole lot left over after they had all eaten. There's absolutely nothing lacking in Christ.

Later in the same chapter, many people were seeking Jesus again, and found him in Capernaum.

John 6: 24 When the people therefore saw that Jesus was not there, neither his disciples, they also took shipping, and came to Capernaum, seeking for Jesus.

John 6: 25 And when they had found him on the other side of the sea, they said unto him, Rabbi, when camest thou hither?

The response Jesus gave was interesting:

John 6:26 Jesus answered them and said, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Ye seek me, not because ye saw the miracles, but because ye did eat of the loaves, and were filled.

John 6:27 Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you: for him hath God the Father sealed.

Only Jesus could give them meat that "endureth unto everlasting life..."

John 6:28 Then said they unto him, What shall we do, that we might work the works of God?

John 6:29 Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent.

Then they asked Jesus for a sign, and said;

John 6:31 Our fathers did eat manna in the desert; as it is written, He gave them bread from heaven to eat.

John 6:32 Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Moses gave you not that bread from heaven; but my Father giveth you the true bread from heaven.

John 6:33 For the bread of God is he which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world.

John 6:34 Then said they unto him, Lord, evermore give us this bread.

John 6:35 And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.

The Jews murmered and questioned Jesus because he said that he was "the bread which came down from heaven."

This is where the hard saying begins, though everything said earlier in the same chapter ties directly to it.

John 6:47 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me hath everlasting life.

John 6:48 I am that bread of life.

John 6: 49 Your fathers did eat manna in the wilderness, and are dead.
John 6: 50 This is the bread which cometh down from heaven, that a man may eat thereof, and not die.

John 6:51 I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.

The scriptures often use natural things to explain spiritual things. Jesus was explaining a spiritual principle to the people, and many heard it through their natural ears.

There are many examples of this. (See the links at the end of this study on the subjects of Biblical "Bread and Wine.")

John 6: 52 The Jews therefore strove among themselves, saying, How can this man give us his flesh to eat?

Through natural hearing that statement would be a very hard thing to hear. They literally thought that Jesus was telling them that they would eat his flesh. It most certainly was a "hard saying" to many there at that time.

John 6:53 Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you.

At this point, Jesus knew they didn't understand the spiritual nature of what He was saying. I love that He used the same words again. He was telling them the truth, and even though they could not receive it He did not back down from the truth. Jesus continued:

John 6:54 Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day.

John 6:55 For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed.

John 6:56 He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him.

John 6:57 As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father: so he that eateth me, even he shall live by me.

Jesus said that "The Father is always seeking those who will worship Him in spirit and in truth." When Jesus died upon the cross everything shook and the veil that separated the Holy of Holies from the sanctuary was torn in two. Early in the Old Testament, God often spoke to people from the mercy seat that was located on top of the Ark of the Covenant, with two angels on either side who spread their wings above and over the mercy seat. The mercy seat was in the Holy of Holies.

The death of Jesus opened up a new way, so that we could boldly come before the throne of grace, and commune with God no matter where we are. The words of Jesus is meat and the spirit teaching us, is wine. He blesses the bread and the wine that He gives us in our communing with Him with a sincere heart.

Back to the chapter:

John 6:60 Many therefore of his disciples, when they had heard this, said, This is an hard saying; who can hear it?

John 6:61 When Jesus knew in himself that his disciples murmured at it, he said unto them, Doth this offend you?

In the book of Matthew, Jesus said:

Matthew 11:6 And blessed is he, whosoever shall not be offended in me.

Jesus knew that many were offended and He knew that many would walk away because they were offended.

There are many things written within the scriptures that can easily offend people. From the battles in the Old Testament where entire cities were wiped out, including women and small children, to the New Testament, where a woman was referred to as a "dog."

Everything contained within the scriptures is there for a reason. We can be offended like those who heard Jesus speak about His flesh and blood, or we can pray and wait on God to give us understanding when we come across any "hard sayings," within His word.

Those who heard the "hard sayings" at that time were offended and they closed the door to understanding more, and to growth in Christ. The 12 disciples did not do this.

John 6:66 From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him.

An point of interest is in the very number of the chapter and verse that tells us that "...many of His disciples went back, and walked with Him no more."

Then Jesus asked the 12 disciples if they would also go away.

The answer that Peter gave Him is what we as believers should all say when we run into a "hard saying."

John 6:68 Then Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life.

The entire chapter of John 6 is worth prayerfully reading. I encourage anyone who reads this study to prayerfully read the entire chapter. God can take a very small amount of bread in His word, and increase it in size to it could feed hundreds gathered at a banquet.

Gathering Together

Paul's Rebuke of the Corinth's Over Communion

In 1 Corinthians Ch. 11, Paul was upset with the Corinth's. There had been division within the church and the people were doing things that did not reflect Christ in them.

1 Corinthians 11: 17 Now in this that I declare unto you I praise you not, that ye come together not for the better, but for the worse.

1 Corinthians 11: 18 For first of all, when ye come together in the church, I hear that there be divisions among you; and I partly believe it.

1 Corinthians 11: 19 For there must be also heresies among you, that they which are approved may be made manifest among you.

Earlier in the same chapter, Paul spoke about Jesus being the head of every man.
When the early churches gathered, every member had a part in the gathering. God gave each person gifts that would be used for the benefit of the entire congregation.

When Jesus is the head of any man, He isn't going to tell them contradictory things and those who hear His voice know His voice.

If a person is teaching heresies, the congregation will know it by what God has taught them. In the book of Ephesians, Paul stressed that God teaches us, and the truth is in Jesus.

Ephesians 4: 21 If so be that ye have heard him, and have been taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus:

When Christ is the head of an entire congregation, heresies would be exposed because God himself would make it known.

Paul went on to tell them:

1 Corinthians 11: 20 When ye come together therefore into one place, this is not to eat the Lord's supper.

1 Corinthians 11: 21 For in eating every one taketh before other his own supper: and one is hungry, and another is drunken.

They were coming into the church, and "communing," while calling it, "the Lord's supper." At the same time, they were neglecting the poor among the congregation, and behaving selfishly. They were not behaving as a church where Christ is the head.

1 Corinthians 11: 22 What? have ye not houses to eat and to drink in? or despise ye the church of God, and shame them that have not? What shall I say to you? shall I praise you in this? I praise you not.

The way that they were communing could be done in their own homes, rather than in the Church. It seemed that they wanted praise that they did commune together, but the way in which they communed was not praise worthy.

1 Corinthians 11: 23 For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, That the Lord Jesus the same night in which he was betrayed took bread:

1 Corinthians 11: 24 And when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me.

In the above passage, Paul spoke about the "bread," that he delivered to the church.

This was the very bread that Jesus spoke of in John Ch. 6.

1 Corinthians 11: 25 After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me.

1 Corinthians 11: 26 For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord's death till he come.

1 Corinthians 11: 27 Wherefore whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord.

Coming together to "eat and drink," and commune with one another, when done in a way that is not set in place and led by God, it is done "unworthily." When we do things our own way, rather than through God's leading, those things are "unworthy."

Paul said; when we commune unworthily, we shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord.

Before we commune, we should examine ourselves, by God's word.

1 Corinthians 11: 28 But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup.

1 Corinthians 11: 29 For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord's body.

And he continued with the consequences of not coming together to commune appropriately.

1 Corinthians 11: 30 For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep.

1 Corinthians 11: 31 For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged.

We can communicate or "commune," directly with God, and we can come together and commune with one another in Christ. This is how all gatherings of Christians should be. Each member communing with God in Christ, (as Christ is the head,) and communing with one another, edifying and sharpening the whole body.

In Revelation ch 3, Jesus called out to those who don't know Him.

He said:

Revelation 3: 20 Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.

There's absolutely nothing lacking for those who are in Christ.

Biblical Foods: Bread

  • Biblical Foods: Bread
    The Bible covers every aspect of any given subject. In order to rightly-divide, a subject must be completely examined. In this article, we will look at the subject of "bread," within the scriptures.

What the Bible Says About Wine