In the previous article the reasons for using one cup (drinking vessel) in communing with fellow Christians when we assemble for worship on the Lord’s Day was discussed. Some have made inquiry as to the reasons given by our brethren who use cups rather than one cup. Of course, I do not know every reason and some of them given I am aware are preposterous being so far from the truth. However, I will give attention to a couple.
THE CUP IS FIGURATIVE
“For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord’s death till he come.” (I Cor. 11:26). The question is posed—“How do we drink the cup? We do not swallow the literal cup, but its contents, therefore the cup is figurative.” Several things we should notice here:
- The question is an admission that a cup-drinking vessel is meant.
- In the immediate context this cup is the cup Jesus took declaring “this cup is the New Testament sealed by Christ’s blood.”
- This is the cup Jesus said we are to obey when He said—“this do” not something else.
It must be admitted that the contents of the cup is meant or suggested in the verse under consideration. It is NOT the contents of individual or multiple cups.
What is the figure of speech employed in the passage? Figures of speech have rules just as other components of language do. In this case the figure is “Metonymy.” E.W. Bullinger in his accepted “Figures of speech used in the Bible,” writes on page 538, “Metonymy is a figure by which one name or noun is used instead of another, in which it stands in a certain relation.” In our passage the cup stands in a certain relation to the fruit of the vine, a relation that is sustained by the cup containing it. If the relation is broken then it is improper to speak of it in this fashion. When the cup is removed breaking the relation then it is improper to refer to the fruit of the vine as the cup, as in drinking the cup. Again, if multiple cups are used one cannot say as some of my brethren do, we are drinking the cup. Bullinger goes on to say later; “Metonymy is not founded on resemblance but on relation.”
We therefore “drink the cup” by drinking what is in the cup and in no other way. Remember the content is suggested by the container. Think about this, If I take plain ordinary water, put it in a kettle and apply heat, I may say the kettle is boiling. If I remove the water and place it in a radiator and it over heats, I may say the radiator is boiling. If I put the same water in a cup and apply heat I may say the cup is boiling. The water sustains a relation to that which contains it. However, I may NOT say the kettle is boiling if the boiling water is in a radiator. The relation must be there. I may NOT say the radiator is boiling if the boiling water is in a cup. The relation must exist. I may NOT say the cup is boiling if the water is in a kettle. The relation must be sustained. I cannot refer to the fruit of the vine as “the cup” when it is in a kettle, or a radiator, or in individual cups. To call the contents of a vessel that vessel must be present. We drink the cup when the content is in a cup.
THE CUP IS INCIDENTAL
“Incidental being likely to ensue as a chance or minor consequence, occurring merely by chance or without intention or calculation.” (Webster). As pertains to our subject there was nothing intended by the communion cup Jesus used, as it was just handy for Him at the time. From a preacher in the fellowship of those who use individual cups we are treated to the following:
“God wants each worshipper to partake of the bread and grape juice. How may this be accomplished? Containers or trays are necessarily required—unless grapes are hand carried to each person who would then squeeze the juice into his own mouth. We do have an account of Jesus instituting the Lord’s Supper and apparently using a single cup. However the context makes clear that the container was incidental. The contents—the juice—was what they were to drink and reflect symbolically upon. I am forced to conclude that the manner of distribution of the elements of the Lord’s Supper is optional” (Dave Miller, Piloting The Strait, page 469).
A few things immediately pop out of this brother’s conclusions notice these with me.
1st, “Containers or trays are necessarily required.” Was the container mentioned? If so, what was it? Scripture says, “Jesus took a cup. He gave thanks for it and gave to the disciples and all of them drank from the “single cup” as our brother later calls it. There were several cups used in the Passover Supper. Jesus could have told them to each partake of a cup individual to them. But He did not; He used a single cup commanding “drink ye all of it.”
2nd, “We do have the account of Jesus instituting the Lord’s Supper and apparently using a single cup.” In the mind of this brother is a truth that no man can deny, Jesus used “a single cup.” But he thinks that we do not have to follow the command of Jesus to “drink ye all of it.” The Apostle Paul delivered to the Corinthians the Lord’s Supper as he had received from the Lord. He tells us that the Lord said of the “single cup” ”this do ye as oft as ye drink it.” This do means do what I have done. What did Jesus do? According to Brother Dave Miller, Jesus used a single cup. How many cups are we to use?
3rd, “The context makes it clear that the container was incidental.” That statement is false as in fact the exact opposite is true. I have no way of knowing why Brother Miller reached that conclusion. I do know in Paul’s account to the Corinthians he declares that the Lord said, “this cup is the New Testament in my blood.” Jesus blood ratified, sealed or made binding the New Covenant (Testament), by which we are saved from our past sins and then becomes the rule of our life. The context also shows that Jesus commanded the disciples to drink from the “single cup” He gave to them and the disciples understood what the Lord meant even if Brother Miller and those of like practice willfully blind themselves to the context and to the facts in the case. It is a stretch to make the claim that “the context makes it clear that the container was incidental.”
4th, “The contents—the juice—was what they were to drink and reflect symbolically upon.” How does our brother know that? Because Jesus said “this is my blood.” Let’s think about that some. Jesus made some statement regarding the things important in the Lord’s Supper as is suggested by Brother Miller. Notice the following words of Jesus.
Of the bread He said “this is my body.
Of the fruit of the vine ”this is my blood.”
Of the cup “this is the New Testament”
In each of these the word “is” does not mean that the bread is really the body of Christ, or that the fruit of the vine turns into the blood of Christ, nor that the cup is the New Testament itself. But, the word “is” mean stands for, represents or is symbolic of the things attached. Brother Miller accepts the statement about the bread—body, and the fruit of the vine—blood, yet denies the third about the cup—New Testament. Why? Because the first two suits his fancy, but drinking from the cup that other disciples have drank is against his desires. We are cautioned to never add to the word of God, and at the same time we are commanded to refrain from subtracting from the word (Gal. 1:8-9, Rev. 22:18-19). To accept what Jesus said is symbolically true of the bread and the fruit of the vine and then contrary to scripture and logic reject what is said of the cup is sinful.
5th, I am forced to conclude that the manner of distribution of the elements of the Lord’s Supper is optional.” I do not know who or what “forced “ him “to conclude” what he has. It certainly is not the scripture. One cannot read the accounts of the Lord’s Supper where a single cup is always the manner of “distribution of the elements…is optional. Jesus took a single cup of the several on the Passover Table, He gave thanks for the single cup that He took, then gave the single cup to the disciples saying, drink ye all of it. They understood as “they all drank of it.” Could or did the disciples alter that counting the single cup as optional? The answer is an emphatic NO.
If we allow ourselves to accept his logic, then the bread was incidental as Jesus just took what was handy—bread from the Passover. The Weymouth Translation says Jesus “took a Passover Biscuit.” Therefore, we can use chocolate cake, as it is more agreeable to our taste buds than unleavened bread. In addition Jesus used fruit of the vine because several cups of it were used in the Passover Supper, therefore incidental, as it was just there or handy. Since it was incidental we may use Pepsi-Cola as it tastes better than grape Juice. Furthermore, Since they had gathered to eat the Passover (Lk. 22:15), that means the Lord’s Supper itself is incidental as Jesus simply took advantage of the circumstances. I think his reasoning is faulty. The better way is to accept what Jesus said of the bread and use only unleavened bread in the Lord’s Supper. Also what He said of the fruit of the vine and use only fruit of the vine in the Lord’s Supper. And in the same vain accept His words about using a (“single”) cup when we gather to eat the Lord’s Supper.
THE LORD’S SUPPER IS PERVERTED IN ALMOST EVERY WAY BY SOME
The Apostle condemned the Corinthians because they came “together not for the better but for the worse.” They had perverted the Lord’s Supper and turned it into their own supper. Today every conceivable change is being made to the Lord’s Supper. No longer is a single loaf used so that people can “break” as Jesus said but little nibbles are used that can be picked up without breaking, even though scripture says the disciples came together on the first day of the week to “break bread.” Breaking they say is eating. The fruit of the vine so we are told is not the only drink element, but fermented juice is acceptable. Then as we have seen no longer is it necessary to use a (“single”,) cup but we are at liberty to use multiple cups—as many as we deem sufficient for each person to have his own cup. I must wonder what else could be done to the Lord’s Supper than what is advocated and practiced by some brethren who have digressed from the pattern instituted by Jesus and propagated by those He authorize to “stand in His stead”
Barney Owens 1810
11560 Lippleman Road
Wednesday through Friday 7:30 P.M.
Saturday 6:00 P.M.
Lord’s Day 10:30 A.M. and 3:00 P.M.
Preaching By: Brother Brandon Stephens