“7: And upon the first day of the week, when
the disciples came together to break bread,
Paul preached unto them, ready to depart on
the morrow; and continued his speech until
midnight” (Acts 20).
The Lord’s Supper is the greatest
memorial ever given to man. It is a
celebration of the death of the
sinless Son of God and the
declared anticipation of His return.
Brief biblical facts:
1. Instituted by Jesus (Matt. 26: 26-30).
2. Observance set forth (I Cor. 11: 2326).
A. In remembrance (Luke 22: 19).
B. With anticipation (I Cor. 11: 26).
C. Self-examination (I Cor. 11: 28).
D. Worthily (I Cor. 11: 27).
3. Place and time (Luke 22: 29, 30;
Acts 20: 7).
Acts 20: 7, an Important Verse
We know of the instituting of the Lord’s Supper,
how to partake, and where to partake from
various verses, however, Acts 20: 7 provides us
with when to partake.
Acts 20: 7 is presently under attack by all
extremists, having special interests and an agenda
to effect change in the body of Christ.
Acts 20: 7, an Important Verse
The Lord’s Supper, the spiritual hub for Lord’s Day
worship. Jesus himself instituted the Lord’s Supper
(Matt. 26: 26-29). This memorial of Jesus’ death
and announcement of his second coming is a
Kingdom act, performed by Kingdom citizens and
done in the Kingdom (Luke 22: 15-20). The fact
that the early church observed this memorial of
Jesus’ death declared not only its place in public
worship, but also the reality of the establishment of
the Kingdom (cp. I Cor. 11: 23f.).
Acts 20: 7, an Important Verse
The expression, “breaking of bread”
(Greek, klasei tou artou) in Acts 2: 42
was something in which they regularly
engaged and constituted part of their
worship. The expression as spiritually
applied, appears to have derived
from, “…Jesus took bread, and
blessed it, and brake it….” (Matt. 26:
26).
Acts 20: 7, an Important Verse
The unleavened bread and fruit of
the vine present during the typical
feast associated with Jewish worship
(the “Passover”) constituted the
milieu for Jesus introducing his
feast, the unleavened bread and fruit
of the vine taking on a new,
sublimated meaning that would
“symbolize” his own sacrificial body
and blood.
Acts 20: 7, an Important Verse
“7: And upon the first day of the week, when
the disciples came together to break bread,
Paul preached unto them, ready to depart
on the morrow; and continued his speech
until midnight” (Acts 20).
Acts 20: 7, an Important Verse
The expression, "…first day of the week" in Acts
20: 7 is from the Greek, mia ton sabbaton.
Literally translated, mia ton sabbaton is rendered,
"one or first (mia) of the (ton) Sabbaths”
(sabbaton). As you can see, mia ton sabbaton is
idiomatic and thus rendered, appears awkward in
English. Relevant verses to aid in an
understanding of mia ton sabbaton or "…first day
of the week" are Matthew 28: 1; Mark 16: 2; Luke
24: 1; and John 20: 1.
Acts 20: 7, an Important Verse
Matthew tells us that Mary Magdalene and the
"other Mary" came to Jesus’ sepulcher, "In the end
of the Sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the
first day of the week…." Mark mentioned it was
early on the first day; Luke said on the first day,
very early in the morning; and John described the
time as early, still dark, on the first day of the
week.
Acts 20: 7, an Important Verse
Regarding Matthew’s time statement, commentator
Albert Barnes thus comments:
"The word ‘end’ here means the same as ‘after’ the
Sabbath – that is, after the Sabbath was fully
completed or finished, and may be expressed in
this manner: ‘In the night following the Sabbath, for
the Sabbath closed at sunset, as it began to dawn’"
(Barnes on the New Testament, Vol. 1, pg. 317).
Acts 20: 7, an Important Verse
Albert Barnes observes the following regarding,
"Upon the first day of the week" in I Corinthians 16:
2:
"Upon the first day of the week. Greek, "On one of
the Sabbaths." The Jews, however, used the word
Sabbath to denote the week; the period of seven
days, Matthew 28:1; Mark 16:9; Luke 18:12; 24:1
John 20:1,19. Comp. Leviticus 23:15; Deuteronomy
16:9. It is universally agreed that this here denotes
the first day of the week, or the Lord's-day" (Barnes
on the New Testament, Vol. 5).
Acts 20: 7, an Important Verse
“7: And upon the first day of the week, when
the disciples came together to break bread,
Paul preached unto them, ready to depart
on the morrow; and continued his speech
until midnight” (Acts 20).
Acts 20: 7, an Important Verse
The syntactically linked wording, “…when the
disciples came together to break bread” (Greek,
…sunegmenon klasai) is not only indicative of
purpose but also of practice, especially when all
pertinent matters are considered. As seen, the
breaking of bread was a regular and static act of
Lord’s Day public worship performed by the
Jerusalem church (Acts 2: 42).
Acts 20: 7, an Important Verse
Many of the early historians remark that the
frequency of the Lord’s table was each Lord’s
Day. Tertullian (204 A.D.) wrote: "The church of
Christ composed of baptized believers,
does…meet each Lord’s day to…partake of the
Lord’s Supper…."
Acts 20: 7, an Important Verse
John Mason, noted Presbyterian scholar, wrote:
"Communion every Lord’s day was universal, and
was preserved in the Greek church till the Seventh
Century" (Church History for Busy People, pg. 86,
I might add, I Cor. 11: 26, "for as often…", does
not negate or preclude the verses which show
how often). The acclaimed Pulpit Commentary
states regarding, “…to break bread” in Acts 20: 7,
“This is also an important example of weekly
communion as the practice of the first Christians”
(Vol. 18, p. 143).
Acts 20: 7, an Important Verse
“Since there is this attitude of sacredness in relation to
‘staff of life,’ there grows out of it the universal Eastern
custom of ‘breaking’ bread and not cutting it….To cut
bread would be thought of as cutting life itself. This
custom of breaking bread rather than cutting it, is found
throughout the scriptures. In Lamentations 4: 4 we read:
‘The young children ask bread, and no man breaketh it
unto them.’ Thus the expression ‘breaking of bread’ came
to mean the taking of a meal whatever was included in the
meal. Because Christ broke bread when he instituted the
ordinance of the Lord’s Supper, the expression came to
refer to that ordinance. Matthew 26: 26: ‘Jesus took
bread, and blessed it, and brake it, and gave to his
disciples.’ Thus we read in Acts 20: 7: ‘And upon the first
day of the week, when the disciples came together to
break bread, Paul preached to them.” (Manners and
Customs of Bible Lands, p. 45, by Fred Wight).
Acts 20: 7, an Important Verse
In all fairness, how do we distinguish between the
“breaking of bread” as a social act and the
“breaking of bread” as an act of public worship
(Lord’s Supper)? This question is especially
pertinent in view of the social gospel and its
glorification of social meals.
Acts 20: 7, an Important Verse
A growing controversy now dividing some churches
of Christ is whether or not Acts 20: 7 is to be
viewed as general in terms of meeting(s) or
exclusive, authorizing only one meeting on the
Lord’s Day. Some would insist on wording this,
“Authorizing one meeting in which the Lord’s
Supper is observed.”
Acts 20: 7, an Important Verse
I do not believe one has a total understanding of the
institution Jesus introduced at the last supper
without understanding the Passover observance.
There are many, I submit, similarities. Both the
Jewish Passover and the Lord's Supper are God's
appointments for the Jew, in the case of the
Passover, and the Christian, in the case of the
Lord's Supper (Ex. 12: 14; Matt. 26: 29).
Acts 20: 7, an Important Verse
Both the Passover and Jesus' spiritual feast are
memorials (Ex. 12: 14; I Cor. 11: 25). The Jew
remembered his liberation from bondage and the
Christian remembers Jesus, his spiritual liberation.
The unleavened bread and fruit of the vine were
present and served as the key elements for both the
Passover and the Lord's table (Ex. 12: 8; Matt. 26:
26, 27).
These two institutions were designed for God's
peculiar people, the Jews and Christians,
respectively (Deut. 16: 5; Lk. 22: 29, 30).
Both feasts stressed the absence of sin and impurity
(Num. 9: 6; I Cor. 5: 7).
Acts 20: 7, an Important Verse
Both the Passover and the Lord's Supper depended
on the shedding of blood, animal blood and Jesus'
own blood, respectively (Ex. 12: 7; Matt. 26: 28).
The Passover and Jesus' observance both have a
specified time for their observance (Ex. 12: 3; Acts
20: 7). The Jew would not have even thought about
randomly observing the Passover and the early
Christians partook of the Lord's memorial on a
designated day (Acts 20: 7).
Both the Passover and the Lord's Memorial involve
a nation, the Jewish and Christians. Upon closer
examination, they both generally involve distributive
action (Ex. 12: 3, 4; I Cor. 10: 16, 17, 11: 18ff.).
Acts 20: 7, an Important Verse
Regarding the Passover and Jesus’ spiritual feast,
there is, generally speaking, what we call "same
time action" (Ex. 12: 3, 4-7; Lk. 22: 17). However,
this "same time action" is not truly simultaneity
action. Regarding the Passover, there was specific
provision to allow those who were unable to attend
the Passover at the regular time to attend one
month later. Consider the provision:
Acts 20: 7, an Important Verse
"9: And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, 10:
Speak unto the children of Israel, saying, If any man
of you or of your posterity shall be unclean by
reason of a dead body, or be in a journey afar off,
yet he shall keep the passover unto the LORD. 11:
The fourteenth day of the second month at even
they shall keep it, and eat it with unleavened bread
and bitter herbs" (Num. 9).
Acts 20: 7, an Important Verse
Consider Paul's statement to the Christians at
Corinth regarding how they (he and they) partook
of the Lord's blood and body (I Cor. 10: 16, 17)?
They partook together even though there was a
distance of about 275 miles and the Aegean Sea
physically separating them.
Many of the problems and division surrounding the
Lord's Memorial are introduced and experienced
when we journey to areas in addition to the known
static truths.
Acts 20: 7, an Important Verse
When man starts to focus and bind regarding the
number of containers, whether or not those serving
the bread break it before it is passed out; or
insisting on "simultaneity action" in addition to
distributive, individual action in the assembly, the
wrong emphasis surfaces. Our attention is not to
be on such exacting matters, I am convinced, but
on Him who loved us and died for us. It is in the
assembly setting that each Christian remembers
Jesus' suffering and anticipates the Second
Advent. Wrangling over matters of the policing of
the Supper and Jewish as oppose to Roman time
distract from the deep spiritual meaning of the
Memorial.
Acts 20: 7, an Important Verse
Regarding the day, elements, place, and individual
manner of observance, we must not yield to any
other practice. However, regarding providing the
means for those unable to attend the morning
service, we need to exercise love, consideration,
and patience.
Acts 20: 7, an Important Verse
“7: And upon the first day of the week, when
the disciples came together to break bread,
Paul preached unto them, ready to depart
on the morrow; and continued his speech
until midnight” (Acts 20).
Acts 20: 7, an Important Verse
The Greek word often used in Acts by the historian
Luke to describe Paul's preaching, even in Acts 20:
7, is the word dialegomai (often translated
"reasoned" and "disputed" in the KJV). The root
meaning of dialegomai is twofold in action, to think
or reason, considering different and conflicting
ideas). W. E. Vines comments thus on dialegomai,
"To think different things with oneself, to ponder,
then, to dispute with others.…" (Expository
Dictionary of New Testament Words).
Acts 20: 7, an Important Verse
Dialegomai is weakened when translated
"lectured." Thayer observes regarding the use of
dialegomai in Acts, "…mingle thought with
thought…argue, discuss…to draw arguments
from the scriptures with the idea of disputing…"
(Thayer's Greek-English Lexicon, pg. 139).
Acts 20: 7, an Important Verse
“7: And upon the first day of the week, when
the disciples came together to break bread,
Paul preached unto them, ready to depart
on the morrow; and continued his speech
until midnight” (Acts 20).
Let us ever derive from Acts 20: 7 what is
intended, but also be careful not to forcefully
extract from it what was never intended.
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Acts 20: 7, an Important Verse