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Was Judas present at the institution of the Lord’s Supper? Some cite Luke 22.19-21 as evidence that he must have been present.

Looking at the passage quoted by the questioner one may easily assume that he was, but we have to remember that Luke is not always chronological in his record of the life of Christ. Often he sets out events and incidents in a moral and not in a historical sequence. If we only had the accounts of Matthew and Mark then we would be confident that Judas had gone out of the upper room before the Lord’s Supper was instituted, for in John 13 the Lord indicates the presence of the traitor. There we have the same conversation touching the betrayal as we do in Matthew and Mark. Both Mathew and Mark place the institution of the Breaking of Bread after the announcement of the betrayer. If this is the true order of what took place, then the record that "Judas went immediately out: and it was night" (Jn 13.30) occurred between the Passover and the institution of the Supper. We believe that there are no contradictions in the inspired Word of God, so some explanation is needed concerning the Luke account in his placement of the Lord’s Supper before the matter of the betrayal, as mentioned above.

John in his Gospel does not mention the Lord’s Supper. This is not because he does not appreciate its importance, but he is more concerned in John 13 about the tension in the atmosphere in the upper room. When Judas went out that tension was relieved and the Lord was able to open up His heart to the disciples in teaching. A good spiritual atmosphere is essential when as believers we gather to remember the Lord. Some by pressing the point that Judas was present at the Lord’s Supper have used it to justify allowing unbelievers to Break Bread. This is a mistake. Perhaps there is further evidence that Judas was not present from what Paul says in 1 Corinthians 11.23, that "the Lord Jesus the same night in which he was betrayed took bread". The word "betrayed" is in the imperfect tense and really means during the night in which he was being betrayed. This indicates that the process of the betrayal by Judas was going on while the Lord instituted the Supper.

John J Stubbs

I have often heard it said that the new covenant is not for the Church, but for Israel in a coming day. When such a statement is made, it is usually followed by, "...but the Church comes into the blessings of the new covenant". Where in the New Testament is it taught that the Church comes into the good of these new covenant blessings?

In 1 Corinthians 11 we are told of a direct revelation from the Lord to Paul, "For I have received of the Lord" (v.23), of what took place in the upper room when the Lord’s Supper was instituted. Paul would tell the Corinthians that "the Lord Jesus...took bread" and remind them of His words, "this is my body, which is broken for you" (vv.23-24). He would also speak of the cup: "...he took the cup...saying, This cup is the new testament (covenant) in my blood" (v.25). Thus the cup represents the new covenant in virtue of and grounded upon the blood of Christ. The Lord in this way intimated that the old covenant had been set aside.

We first read of "the new covenant" in Jeremiah 31.31-34; it is new in the sense of being different in nature and form from the old. The new covenant was indeed not made with the Church. According to Jeremiah, it will be made "with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah" (Jer 31.31); this is quoted by the writer to the Hebrews (8.8). The nation is viewed as a whole. The new covenant will be formally enacted with Israel in the Millennium.

Hebrews 8 makes it clear that Israel and Judah are the beneficiaries. However, in ch.10 of the epistle, the writer again quotes from Jeremiah 31.33: "This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord" (Heb 10.16). The Holy Spirit, with divine prerogative, does not here say, "with the house of Israel". These Hebrew believers had a present privilege and advantage: they had entered into all the blessings that the Lord had in mind for the nation in a day to come. They then were prematurely, with ourselves now, in the possession of all that will be ratified with Israel in a coming day.

Our salvation is based upon the shedding of the precious blood of Christ which is called in the Hebrew epistle, "the blood of the (everlasting) covenant" (10.29; 13.20). Paul indeed describes himself and his colleagues as "able (competent) ministers of the new testament (covenant)" (2 Cor 3.6). We now have covenant blessings and covenant privileges.

David E West


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