Tag Archives: Lord’s Supper

Divide It Among Yourselves…

Earlier this week we published the completion of Andrew Richardson’s article answering Wayne Jackson’s attempt to make a scriptural case for individual cups in the Lord’s Supper. I speak for the staff of Christian Landmark and many, many readers (who sent their gratitude through phone calls, emails and other messages) when I say that we have the highest appreciation for the study and efforts of Brother Richardson. Little could be said to add to the case he has already built for the common cup in congregational communion. What we offer today is more of a reinforcement than an addition.

In the second part of his article, Andrew mentioned an argument made by Brother Jackson from Luke’s account of the institution of the Holy Supper in which Brother Jackson alleges there to be “vivid” and “apparent” evidence that Jesus did not mean to speak of a container when he used the term cup (poterion) but rather the contents. The article reads as follows:

That the “cup” is not the container is even more vividly depicted in Luke’s record. He states that Jesus “received a cup, and when he had given thanks, he said, Take this, and divide it among yourselves . . .” (Lk. 22:17). The Greek word for “divide” is diamerizo, which means to “divide up” or to “separate into parts” (cf. Mt. 27:35). Were the disciples to divide a container? Of course not. They were to divide the fruit of the vine, which, incidentally, most likely was facilitated by multiple containers. Frederic Godet noted: “The distribution (diamerisate) may have taken place in two ways, either by each drinking from the common cup, or by their all emptying the wine of that cup into their own. The Greek term would suit better this second view” (A Commentary on the Gospel of Luke, Edinburgh: T.&T. Clark, 1879, Vol. II, p. 289).

Before commenting on the statements by Dr. Godet, we will note some important considerations about Luke’s record of the institution of the Lord’s Supper. For a man as well read as Wayne Jackson to claim that any clear authority for individual cups in the Lord’s Supper is found in the wording Luke 22:17 borders on scholastic dishonesty. Surely Mr. Jackson is aware of the inherent controversy in Luke’s account not being a question of how the cup was divided, but how the text should be!

 “Then He took the cup, and gave thanks, and said, “Take this and divide it among yourselves; for I say to you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.” And He took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” Likewise He also took the cup after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood, which is shed for you.” (Luke 22:17-20)

Immediately, the reader will perceive some abnormalities with this passage. First of all it appears that Luke features a pretty major variation by claiming that Jesus took the cup before the loaf, however on further examination we see that He mentions the cup a second time! Most commentators suggest that the first cup is not the “cup of the Lord” but a Passover cup. This writer rejects that theory primarily because the Law of Moses gave no drink element in the Passover and it seems irreconcilable with the sinlessness of Christ that the Lord would have utilized a human addition in his keeping of the feast. (Deut. 4:2 and 5:22) Another possible interpretation is that which is suggested by brother Jackson and other “cups” advocates, however, as brother Richardson observed, brother Jackson and the churches he is affiliated with do not hold true to their own interpretation of the passage!

If this passage is teaching that Jesus commanded the disciples to pour the contents of the single cup He took into multiple or individual cups, we must understand the scene as unfolding in this way: Jesus took a single (undivided) cup of fruit of the vine, He blessed it as a single (undivided) thing and then He gave it to the disciples and commanded them to divide it among themselves, which brother Jackson alleges was done by pouring the contents into multiple or individual cups. Although, if this is how the passage is to be read, then Luke makes no mention of anyone ever drinking the grape juice! Furthermore, if this was the meaning it would still present a problem for brother Jackson in that this is not the practice of most churches of Christ that use multiple cups. For most, a janitor or deacon or some such person fills the little cups before the church service begins (thus the communicants do not divide it among themselves) and when the fruit of the vine is blessed it is not un-divided which constitutes a departure from the pattern of Christ.

The truth is well stated by brother Richardson, “Clearly, no matter how you dice it, those who observe the multi-cup tradition do not accept any significance in the pattern that Christ presented. They do not consider there to be any importance in how He did it. Simply put, they do not keep the ordinances as they are delivered, neither do they hold the traditions as they have been taught by the epistle, nor do they obey the command to all drink from one cup.”

Frederick Godet (1812-1900)

But it is not our purpose to simply restate what has already been addressed by brother Richardson. There are some further observations we would like to make regarding this validity of brother Jackson’s interpretation. Most notable is Jackson’s reference to comments by the renowned scholar Frederic Godet. The quotation from Dr. Godet (who actually takes the Passover cup position) may seem to indicate that the scholars are behind the cups position, but this is far from the truth. Why Godet felt that pouring the grape juice into cups was more likely the intended meaning of Jesus when He said “divide it among yourselves” I do not know, but he stands virtually alone in the scholarly community.

Adam Clarke (although taking the Passover cup position) says of the expression ‘divide it among yourselves…’, “Pass the cup from one to another; thus the cup which Christ gave to the first person on his right hand continued to be handed from one to another, till it came to the last person on his left.”(Commentary on Luke)

Adam Clarke (1762-1832)

In the Translators Handbook on the Gospel of Luke, Swellengrebel and Reiling say, “dexamenos implies that Jesus was handed a cup. labete touto – ‘take this’, in the plural, implying that the cup will be taken by each in turn. diamerisate eis heautous – ‘distribute it among yourselves’, referring to the content of the cup, implying that each was to drink from the cup in turn.” (pp. 686)

As brother Richardson observed, many other translations, including the NASB render this phrase, “share it among yourselves…” in keeping with the observations of these scholars. In fact when Matthew recorded what we must believe was the same command, he worded it, “And when He had taken a cup and given thanks, He gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you…” (Matt. 26:27) “And they all drank from it…” (Mark 14:23)

If the Passover cup and the multiple cup explanations do not work, what shall we say of Luke’s record? Why does he mention the cup first and then again? It seems the answer is simply that Luke recorded the events without much emphasis on the sequence and the action of verse 17 actually and chronologically belongs after verse 19. This should not be too difficult to accept. Luke mentions many things out of sequence in his writings: The temptations of the Christ, (Luke 4:1-12) the Beatitudes, (Luke 6) the commands of the Jerusalem council. (Acts 15:20, 29) This was simply his writing style, but it must be taken into account when interpreting this passage.

All things considered it is the opinion of this writer that brother Jackson was inexcusably irresponsible with his handling of Luke 22:17, yet another sad example of ex post facto eisegesis, forcing a teaching into the Bible after the fact to justify a man-made innovation from the divine pattern.

–Clint Defrance, March 2012

One Cup

(by Clint Defrance)


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One Cup

And as they were eating, the Lord Jesus in the night in which he was betrayed took bread; and when he had given thanks, he brake it, gave to the disciples, and said, Take ye: Take and eat; for this is my body. which is given for you: this do in remembrance of me. And he took a cup in like manner also after supper and gave thanks, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them: And he said unto them, Drink from it all of you for this is my blood of the covenant, This cup is the new covenant in my blood which is poured out unto many for the remission of sins even that which is poured out for you. This do, as often as ye drink it, in remembrance of me.  For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink the cup, ye proclaim the Lord’s death till he come. But assuredly I say unto you, I shall no more drink of the  fruit of the vine, until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God, My Father’s kingdom, and they all drank out of or from it.

McGarvey, The Fourfold Gospel

His compilation of Matt 26:26-29, Mark 14:22-25, Luke 22:19-20

Questions About the Lord’s Supper Answered

Dear Interested Reader,
I write this article to help you in your quest for simple, New Testament Christianity, an essential part of which is scriptural, God-pleasing worship!
The Cup –
What I would first encourage you to do is look through the scriptures where we are told how to commune. It is always cup, never cups. There was no sign of individual cups until 1898 when Rev. J. G. Thomas invented the first set. G. C. Brewer in his autobiography, “40 Years on the Firing Line,” makes this admission: “I think I was the first preacher (Church of Christ) to advocate the use of the individual communion cups, and the first church in the state of Tennessee that adopted it was the church for which I was preaching, the Central Church of Christ, Chattanooga Tennessee.” This occurred in 1914; how can something so recent be called apostolic? I know of people alive today who witnessed the first time individual cups were ever used by the Lord’s Church in the observance of communion. How are they different from instrumental music? One innovation is just as sinful as the other.
Q. Does it make any difference how we observe the communion?
A. Jesus says yes. “This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me. But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. Vain worship means useless worship, good for nothing.
A. The Apostle Paul says yes. In 1 Corinthians 11 the Bible says that the churches of Corinth had perverted the communion by turning it into a common meal, no discerning the Lord’s Body. Because they did this it was no longer the Lord’s Supper that they were partaking of (1 Cor. 11:20) Christ said, “This do in remembrance of me.” When we change it, it can no longer be called the Lord’s Supper.
A. Logic and common sense say yes. The word communion means “joint participation.” We are communing or participating jointly, eating and drinking with one another and with Christ. Individual cups and loaves destroy that concept of joint participation.
Q. Is the word “Cup” making reference only to the contents?
A. Experts of the Greek Language say no. Thayer, Bullinger, Vine, Ardnt and Gingrich and others all agree that the word poterion, translated cup, means a “drinking vessel”.
A. Jesus says no, “Likewise also the cup after supper, saying, ‘This cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you’.” (Luke 22:20) Now earlier Jesus said that the fruit of the vine (grape juice) represented the Blood. He then says that the Cup containing the grape juice represents the New Testament. The Apostle Paul said the same thing in 1 Corinthians 11:25.
Q. Jesus said in Luke 22:17, “Take this (the Cup) and divide it among yourselves…” doesn’t this give the authority to divide it into individual cups?
A. Jesus explains what He meant.
He Commands them to divide it – Luke 22:17, “Take this (the Cup) and divide it among yourselves…”
He tells them How to divide it – Matthew 26:27, “Then He took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it (the Cup), all of you.” (NKJV)
They do as they were told – Mark 14:23, “And He took the cup, and when He had given thanks, He gave it to them: and they all drank of it (the Cup).”
The Loaf –
The initial reasoning for why we ought to use one loaf is the same as with the cup. Jesus only used one, it is clear from the text, so we should use one in order to comply with his command to “do this.” Like the individual cups it was not until recent years that men, particularly the Lord’s Church ever started using individual loaves.
There are a number of problems with individual loaves-
1. The bread must be unleavened, just as the grape juice must be unfermented, as the supper was being observed during the Feast of Unleavened Bread all leaven, in or out of food or drink, would have been purged from the house. Are the crackers often used as “individual loaves” unleavened?
2. The word translated bread or loaf in the Gospel and Pauline accounts means specifically one loaf. Artos is the Greek word meaning a loaf, if it were referring to more than one it would be an entirely different word.
3. It destroys the entire picture symbolized in the bread. Jesus said “this is my body.” The loaf represents the Body, the body is the Church: One Church , one body, one loaf. In the Old Testament there were twelve loaves, one for each of the twelve tribes of Israel , that were on the showbread table in the temple. (Lev. 24:4-6) Today we are one tribe represented by one loaf. “The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ? We being many are one bread, and one body: for we are all partakers of that one bread.” (1 Cor. 10:16-17)