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Is there any Scriptural authority for stating that the Breaking of Bread must be the first meeting of an assembly on Lord's Day?

There is no command in the New Testament Scriptures that the first meeting of the gathering of the saints should be the Breaking of Bread. This is the common practice of most assemblies in the world except where culture or circumstances dictate otherwise. From Acts 20.7 it should be clear that the assembly there, possibly consisting of quite a number of slaves, met in the evening, for this was the most convenient time. There is no indication in that passage that the believers at Troas had any previous meeting prior to their breaking bread. If one looks carefully at 1 Corinthians 11-14 it would appear that one meeting at Corinth is contemplated throughout. First we have the Breaking of Bread in 11.17-34. Then there follows a time of ministry or teaching as seems clear from 1 Corinthians 14. There is a significant order here that gives us a hint of the importance of the Breaking of Bread. First it would seem the assembly broke bread and then after this used the time for the exercise of gift in the local assembly. Both these examples at Troas and Corinth show how that before teaching was given the saints kept the Lord's command in remembering Him. The very least that these references illustrate is that priority was given to remembering the Lord first.

Thus, though we have no command to break bread on a Lord's Day, but have a good example in the practice at Troas, so believers, following this custom, break bread on the first day of the week. Likewise, we have no command that we must break bread first on a Lord's Day, but we do have guiding examples at Troas and Corinth that strongly indicate that we should put it first. Brethren in the past have taught, we believe rightly, that worship before service is a principle in the Word of God. Seeing that it is a command to break bread, it is good, in obedience, to let it be our first spiritual exercise on the first day of the week.

John J Stubbs

At the breaking of bread, is there any particular way in which the bread should be broken? Are individual cups allowable for health reasons?

When we use the term "breaking of bread" (Acts 2.42), we are referring to the Lord's supper, not simply to the act of breaking the bread; thus "upon the first day of the week the disciples came together to break bread" (Acts 20.7). The "breaking of bread" views the ordinance from the human standpoint, brings in our responsibility, and draws attention to the act of participation, whilst the term "Lord's supper" views the same from the divine standpoint and emphasises the dignity of the occasion.

Sadly Paul had to say to the Corinthians, "When ye come together therefore into one place, this is not to eat the Lord's supper. For in eating every one taketh before other his own supper" (1 Cor 11.20,21). The meeting had evidently lost its true character. They would indeed partake of a supper, but it was not the Lord's supper, however much they may have regarded it so. It was a travesty of the real thing.

Believers have become accustomed to speaking of "the breaking of the bread and the drinking of the cup", whereas the emphasis is upon the eating of the bread, for five times within the scope of four verses (1 Cor 11.26-29), we read of "eating and drinking", thus, e.g. "as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup" (1 Cor 11.26).

We are told that "the Lord Jesus took bread: And when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take eat" (1 Cor 11.23-24). He "took bread" we should not attach any priestly meaning to these words; there is no thought of lifting up the loaf in some ceremonial way. The Lord Jesus gave thanks, but we are not told what He said. God well knew the ritualistic tendency of the human heart and its proneness to outward form rather than inward reality. He "brake it" nothing further is said. Thus the simple answer to the first of the two questions posed is that there is no particular way in which the bread should be broken.

As to the second question, there is no Scriptural foundation for using individual cups "for health reasons": the symbolism would be destroyed. The emphasis in the chapter already referred to is upon one cup. Thus we read, "he took the cup…This cup" (v.25), "this cup" (v.26), "this cup of the Lord" (v.27), and "that cup" (v.28).

David E West


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