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The Breaking Of Bread

In the long history of theology in sectarian church systems, the communion table, as it is loosely called, has but a remote similarity to the breaking of bread as it was given by the Lord Jesus to the apostles, and then to the churches of God in the first century.

Some time ago at a Congress on Evangelism held in Amsterdam, the concluding feature was a mass communion service where 10,000 delegates of differing faiths broke bread. This was administered by a high Anglican bishop, at what was called "the Lord's table". Such liberalism demands a re-statement of both doctrine and practice of the authentic breaking of bread by the Lord Jesus to His apostles, and to the churches of God in this dispensation.


We propose looking at the breaking of bread firstly in its historical setting, where we see the Lord Jesus as the great eternal Antitype of the passover lamb on the night of the betrayal. Matthew 26:17-19 tells us:

Now on the first day of unleavened bread the disciples came to Jesus, saying, where wilt Thou that we make ready for Thee to eat the passover? ... And the disciples made ready the Passover.

Then Luke 22:14-20 gives significant detail:

And when the hour was come, He sat down, and the apostles with Him. And He said unto them, with desire I have desired to eat this passover with you before I suffer: And He took bread, and when He had given thanks He brake it, and gave to them, saying, This is My body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of Me. And the cup in like manner ... saying, This cup is the New Covenant in My blood, even that which is poured out for you.

The Matthew, Mark and Luke accounts give the precise details of the first breaking of the bread on that historic night of the betrayal. The Lord had told the disciples what to say to the man bearing the pitcher of water whom they would meet on the street (probably a follower of Christ), and that he would show them a large furnished upper room. Tell the man, "The Master saith, My time is at hand; I will keep the passover at thy house with My disciples". Away from the

crowds who thronged the streets and the temple area, in the seclusion of that Upper Room, He kept that last passover with His disciples. For fifteen centuries the prophetic focus had been on the coming Messiah and Saviour. He sat with eleven men who watched with uncomprehending eyes as He gave them a new ordinance of remembrance of Himself.

The breaking of bread that night was the precursor of His mighty finished work at Calvary. He triumphantly crossed dispensational and international boundaries to fling open the doors of the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ for both Jews and Gentiles (Eph. 2:11-16; 2 Pet. 1:11). and establish the kingdom of God on earth in His gathered out people (Mat. 21:43; Acts 1:3; 28:28-31).

The breaking of bread

It came originally by the spoken word of our Lord Jesus Christ and on His authority (Luke 22:19-20). It came later by revelation to Paul, who wrote:

For I received of the Lord that which also f delivered unto you, how that the Lord Jesus in the night in which He was betrayed took bread... and said, This is My body, which is for you: this do in remembrance of Me ... In like manner also the cup ... saying, This cup is the New Covenant in My blood: this do as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of Me (1 Cor. 11:23-26).

It did not come from men, but for men. Men do not determine what the Scriptures teach. The Scriptures determine what men should teach.

Participants ... who decides?

Certainly Judas did not break bread that night, for he had gone Out (John 13:30), never to sit at the Lord's table. Many believers say, "One bread one body", and that no believer should be excluded from the Lord's table. This is an erroneous teaching of 1 Corinthians 10:17. This was written to the church of God in Corinth, and applied only to churches, of God. Right from the origin of the breaking of bread the Lord did not teach, nor did the Scriptures written later teach, an all-inclusive believers' fellowship at the Lord's table.


In the forty days the Lord was seen by the apostles, He taught them "the things concerning the kingdom of God" (Acts 1:3). The "many infallible proofs" of His resurrection divinely certified that He was the same One who in the Upper Room administered the first breaking of bread. It was the same One who, in those wonderful days of intensive teaching, instructed them that the breaking of bread was to be an essential service of the kingdom of God and the churches of God in the new age.

Ten days later it was Pentecost, and the Holy Spirit came with the sound of a "rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting ... tongues parting asunder, like as of fire; and it sat upon each one of them" (Acts 2:1-3). The great work of the new dispensation of grace had begun. Believers were baptized in one Spirit into the Body of Christ, a transaction invisible to men. That day about 3000 believers took their physical water baptism according to Matthew 28:19,20. They did not immediately sit down to break bread. The Spirit is careful to give us God's order. They were then "added to them". Added to whom? Added to the 120 already together, the nucleus of the visible first church of God, to give a total of about 3120 disciples. Still no breaking of the bread. The Greek word for "added" means placed additionally alongside others. So far we have seen three distinct steps. There are four more. "They continued stedfastly in the apostles' teaching and fellowship, in the breaking of bread and the prayers". God's order puts the breaking of bread in the sixth place of the seven steps in the planting of the first church of God. That order remains the same for every divinely gathered church of God, with all the churches of God forming the house of God of the New Testament (1 Cor. 11:16; 1 Tim. 3:15).


The Remembrance was given to the churches of God in apostolic times, but these churches ceased to exist some time after the giving of the messages by the Lord the Spirit to the seven churches in Asia (Rev. 2,3). Centuries of spiritual darkness followed. There were communion tables, but no divine testimony of the house of God. More than a hundred years ago spiritual light broke through the darkness of error in sectarian systems of religion. God raised up men to whom He revealed the light of the truth of His spiritual house, and they rose up to build again "upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the chief corner stone" (Eph. 2:20). Many embraced this precious truth and separated to the divine testimony where it was taught. The breaking of bread at the Lord's table on~ again found its rightful place in the house of God.

The breaking of bread was intended by God to be dispensational, from Pentecost to the Rapture, but only for those who at any given time are in the house of God, based on apostolic teaching received directly from the Lord Jesus (Acts 1:3). This Remembrance of the Lord Jesus has a prophetic dimension. "For as often as ye eat this bread and drink this cup, ye proclaim the Lord's death till He come" (1 Cor. 11:26). Of course, there are a great many Christians not in churches of God who derive spiritual blessing from weekly remembrance of the Lord Jesus, but that does not affect the teaching of Scripture as stated here.

Spiritual significance

The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not a communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not a communion of the body of Christ? (1 Cor. 10:16). The Greek word for communion is koinonia, a "partnership with". The emblems on the Lord's table as they are partaken of represent a spiritual fellowship with the sufferings of Christ in His precious body and blood. This is not transubstantiation as erroneously taught by some. Saints in churches of God "are built up a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God through Jesus Christ" (1 Pet. 2:5). We believe that there is no collective service in churches of God where this is done except at the breaking of bread. Hebrews 10:19-22,25 confirm this (See Needed Truth 1982, pp.106-109).

What day ... and Why?

The apostle Paul discoursed with the saints in Troas, "upon the first day

of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread" (Acts 20:7 AV). Why the first day of the week? Because it was God's new order for the churches of God. The feasts of the Lord for Israel (Lev. 23:4-15), contain typical teaching about the "day after the sabbath". Following the passover (a type of Christ's death) Israel offered the firstfruits of their harvest, the day after the sabbath, or, the first day of the week, the firstfruits of resurrection. Then they counted from there seven sabbaths, or forty-nine days to the day after the sabbath, or fiftieth day, to offer a new meal offering to the Lord. God planned Pentecost for the fiftieth day after the resurrection, the first day of the week. God moved from the seventh day sabbath to the eighth day "Lord's Day" (Rev. 1:10), or first day of the week for the new dispensation. The eighth day may foreshadow the new eternal day in God's sovereign purpose, "in the ages to come".

"Walk worthily of the Lord"

The sacredness and holiness of the Remembrance is such that it should never be entered into lightly or irreverently. "But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread and drink of that cup" (1 Cor. 11:27,28 AV).