This expression is immediately recognized by every believer as referring to the Lord’s Supper that every Christian around the world is to partake every Lord’s Day. It is a pity that Christians who are to be united are divided over this created issue. Those of us who seek to restore the church revealed in the New Testament in doctrine, practice and worship should be of all people ashamed for the deviation from the practice ordained by Jesus and established on the very day the church came into existence. Presently a few obvious facts will be pointed to.
Communion is a having or sharing in common; mutual participation The Apostle referring to the Lord’s Supper wrote, “The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ” (I Cor. 10:16). I admit that I feel a bit silly defining “cup” as even children know at a very early age what a “cup” is, nevertheless, Cup is “A small vessel of capacity, used commonly to drink out of.” (Webster Unabr.). Reading from Matthew 26:27, “And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it;” we know that Jesus took a small drinking vessel, gave thanks over a small drinking vessel, gave a small drinking vessel to the disciples commanding all of them to drink from the same small drinking vessel and the disciples all drank out of a small drinking vessel. The cup Jesus took and the cup He gave to the disciples and the cup they drank out of was not a barrel, was not basket, nor was it a cup for each of the disciples, it was a single cup. Is it possible to misunderstand that?
Tyndale 1535 And he toke the cup, and thanked, And gave it them, sayinge drink of it everyone.
Great Bible 1540 And he toke the cup, and thanked, and gave it them, saying, drinke ye all of this.
Emphatic Diaglott 1864.Then taking a cup, and giving thanks, he gave it to them, saying, Drink all of you out of it.
ASV 1901 And he took a cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it.
HOW DID THE DISCIPLES UNDERSTAND JESUS COMMAND?
The account given by Mark answers that question explicitly. “And he took the cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them; and they all drank of it.” (Mk. 14:23). Benjamin Wilson translates it; “they all drank out of it.” If we are to follow our Lord’s instruction we will do just as these disciples did and we will drink out of the cup. Drinking of the cup is a sharing together in remembrance of our Lord. (I Cor. 11:25).
DO WHAT I HAVE DONE
“A picture is worth a thousand words,” a cliche heard an often repeated expression has been passed along for generations is one of those truths that cannot be denied. Example is taught often and many ways in the New Testament. Jesus has set forth many examples for those who love Him to follow. We do try to walk in the Footprints of Jesus. One of the difficult things for me to understand is the willingness of some of my brethren to turn from Jesus example when it comes to the Lord’s Supper. We know that when we partake He is in our midst and like Moses in a time gone by we should realize that our worldly shoes should be removed as we surely stand on holy ground. Clearly Jesus pictures for you and me what He wishes us to do. “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.” (I Cor. 11:25). When the Lord said “this do” He did not mean that we should do less, nor do more, or again do something else. Surely we all can agree that He meant, “do what I have done.” Like a magnet I am drawn back to this picture established so long ago. Many years had passed when Paul wrote to these Gentile Christians in Corinth. They had never PRACTICED THE PASSOVER which was in vogue when Jesus instituted the Lord’s Supper, but that did not exempt them from following the example set. Never do we have license to destroy the example by perverting this sacred feast. When my brethren set an individual communion set upon the Lord’s Table they err in the greatest of ways by denying the authority of the Lord Jesus.
IS THERE ANY SIGNIFICANCE TO BE PLACED UPON THE “CUP?”
The people using the individual communion set often stress the point that God is not worshipped with material things because our worship is spiritual. Therefore a material “cup” cannot be a part of spiritual worship. We must remember first of all, that the things established by God are spiritual and certain material things have been chosen to be used in spiritual worship. One must wonder how these can hold to such an argument when they themselves use “bread and fruit of the vine” in worship. The last time I checked bread is a material thing, so much so, that it can be touched, broken and tasted, as well as passed to another person. The fruit of the vine can be smelled, drank and even felt going down the throat. Is that not material? And, I might mention that preachers of that persuasion preach long and loud that we must give of our means (money) each first day to please the Lord. Has money ceased to be a material thing? It then is rather senseless to say we cannot use material things to worship God. Notice the significance of the “Cup” in the Lord’s Supper as used in worship. Jesus said of these as elements of worship
Of the bread—“this is my body.”
Of the fruit of the vine—“this is my blood.”
Of the cup—“this is the new testament.”
Everyone except those willfully blind know that the material bread is not the literal body of Christ, but is symbolic or representative of the body that hang and died on the cross as the sacrifice for our sins. Likewise, all are aware that the material fruit of the vine is not the literal blood of Christ, but that it is symbolic or representative of the blood shed for our redemption. We should all recognize that the material cup is not the literal testament or covenant of Christ but is symbolic or representative of the new covenant by which we are saved. The New Testament was ratified by the blood that was shed from the sacrifice offered. Will one who says it is not mandatory to use a literal cup that contains the fruit of the vine be so bold as to say the fruit of the vine within it does not have to be literal fruit of the vine? Or, that the bread can be something else than literal bread? Dear Reader think for yourself by reading the accounts of the Lord’s Supper.
WHICH CAME FIRST THE CHICKEN OR THE EGG?
The above is a question often asked by those opposing the creation of all things by God. It does us well to think about this regarding the present discussion. Which came first the practice or the arguments attempting to justify the practice of individual cups? It is plain that our brethren digressed from the teaching of the New Testament and began to use individual cups created arguments that they suppose justifies the use of the communion set. All the while it would have been much easier to abandon that which is unknown to revelation. Brother G.C. Brewer wrote, “A good many of the fights that I have made have been with my own brethren on points where I believed them to be in the wrong. I think I was the first preacher to advocate the use of the individual communion cup and the first church in the State of Tennessee that adopted it was…the Central Church of Christ at Chattanooga…My next work was with the church at Columbia, Tennessee, and, after a long struggle, I got the individual communion service into that congregation. —Of course, I was fought both privately and publicly and several brethren took me to task in the religious papers and called me digressive.” (Forty Years on the Firing Line page XII of the introduction). There we have it the practice began causing trouble and division. The first individual cups were introduced among churches of Christ in 1914. Once the practice began other brethren accepted the practice and created arguments in debates to justify their practice. In Oklahoma City a young brother signed the proposition, “The New Testament teaches the use of individual cups in communion.” He decided to consult an older preacher then making his home there, by the name of Foy E. Wallace Jr, for advise. Wallace was a well established, preacher and author. Brother Wallace told the young man, you are going to get a spanking because the New Testament does not teach the use of individual cups. I drink from them as an expedient. Well, expedient means to expedite or speed up and we all know individual cups do that. Point is: the practice came and then arguments were sought to uphold a practice better than 2,000 years after the church was established.
HOW DID EARLY PREACHERS UNDERSTAND THE MEANING OF “CUP?”
I am aware of the need to accept what is taught in the New Testament above and beyond anything that men great or small have to say, however, I grow weary of my brethren who have cast aside what Jesus said when He instituted the Lord’s Supper referring to those of us as ignorant and stubborn when we contend for following His teaching. Furthermore, it is a slam on the entire brotherhood to cry out for the Bible and the Bible alone when it comes to rejecting mechanical instruments in worship and doing an about face rejecting the WORD on this issue. Listen as they preach against the instrument and write long and many articles to uphold a “thus saith the Lord” regarding the instrument and want it their way instead of the Bible way when it comes to the “COMMUNION CUP.” It is indeed a sad commentary on a people who claim to “speak where the Bible speaks and remain silent where the Bible is silent.” Don’t misunderstand since scripture says nothing about the instrument we should reject its use, but the Bible does speak multiple times about the “COMMUNION CUP” which my brethren cast aside. So, I am going to present some things that many of the brethren in by-gone days have said about the COMMUNION CUP that we who contend for a single COMMUNION CUP stand on the same ground that many of the brethren honored by the individual cups people hail as authorities on other issues. Notice some of the statements presented for the consideration of people, From the book “Questions and Answers by David Lipscomb and E.G. Swell edited by M. C. Kurfees on page 409, “The Savoir used one cup only, as well as one loaf only.” Surely, these learned men cannot be cast aside when an appeal is made to them for guidance on other issues.
The New Testament Commentaries published by the Gospel Advocate Company. The authors of each volume are brethren that use individual cups in the Lord’s Supper. Sometimes they meet themselves coming back by showing the truth on the COMMUNION CUP. C.E.W. Dorris authored the commentary on The Gospel Of Mark, Using the American Standard Version as the text he writes, “And he took a cup,—“A cup” is one, not two, nor a dozen…the cup contained wine, the juice of the crushed grape.”
I shall not go further with quotations. As I said earlier, it really does not matter what men have to say (in the church or out of the church), what matters is what the Scriptures say. There cannot be a doubt that the New Testament teaches the Lord used one cup in the supper. He gave thanks for one cup (blessed it), gave one cup to His disciples and told them to drink of one cup, and they all did exactly that—drank out of one cup.
An old brother in Oklahoma said to me many years ago before his demise, “If I was anybody I could understand that.” Our prayer is that all will consider what is plainly revealed in the New Testament and follow it so that we can unite in trying to save the lost by pointing to our Savior’s example and wish.
Barney Owens 1809
Is it better to think about talking?
Or, to talk about thinking?
Either way precious time is wasted.