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Communion

Literal or Spiritual?

Let's start this article by looking at the traditional view of what is called "communion." Let's see what the word communion really means. We will look at the scripture that this ritual is based on, and when this tradition began.

The word communion means: 
  • Fellowship 
  • Association
  • Community
  • Communion
  • Joint participation
  • Intercourse.
The Greek word “koinónia” is translated as both “communion” and “fellowship.”
Strong’s Concordance tells us koinonia is defined as:

  1. The share which one has in anything, participation
  2. Intercourse, fellowship, intimacy
  3. The right hand as a sign and pledge of fellowship (in fulfilling the apostolic office)
  4. A gift jointly contributed, a collection, a contribution, as exhibiting an embodiment and proof of fellowship.
It is not defined in the original language as a ceremony or ritual.


Let’s look at the Scripture that the communion ritual is based on.

Luke 22:15 “And He said unto them, With desire I have desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer:

16 For I say unto you, I will not any more eat thereof, until it be fulfilled in the kingdom of God.

17 And He took the cup, and gave thanks, and said, Take this, and divide it among yourselves:

18 For I say unto you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine, until the kingdom of God shall come.

The kingdom of God came into existence at Calvary.

19 And He took bread, and gave thanks, and brake it, and gave unto them, saying, this is My body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of Me.

20 Likewise also the cup after supper, saying, this cup is the new testament in My blood, which is shed for you.”

For us to really understand what was taking place here, we have to look at the whole setting of scripture. Verse 15 tells us that they were eating the Passover. We must ask ourselves, are we supposed to observe Passover in this age or is ours a spiritual application?

 

Some Scriptures on the subject.

Hebrews 10:1 “For the law having a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually make the comers thereunto perfect.”

Physical sacrifices, or even symbols of those sacrifices, cannot bring perfection.

Hebrews 10:9 “Then said He, Lo, I come to do thy will, O God. He taketh away the first that He may establish the second.

10 By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.”

It was Christ’s body offered for us that sanctifies us, not sacrifices and rituals; those were removed and replaced with Calvary.

1 Corinthians 5:7 “Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us.”

It is evident that the old (Mosaic Law) was taken away. This includes the Passover. Today Jesus is our Passover.

 

The Old Testament Passover

Let's take a look at the Passover from The book of Exodus. ALL the elements of the Passover in the Old Covenant have a SPIRITUAL application under the New Covenant.

Exodus 12:1 And the LORD spake unto Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt saying,
2 This month shall be unto you the beginning of months: it shall be the first month of the year to you.

Our life with Christ starts when we accept His Blood for the forgiveness of our sins.

3 Speak ye unto all the congregation of Israel, saying, In the tenth day of this month they shall take to them every man a lamb, according to the house of their fathers, a lamb for an house: 

Jesus is the Lamb of God.

John 1:29 “The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.

1 Peter 1:18-19 “For as much as you know that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; 

19 But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot:”

4 And if the household be too little for the lamb, let him and his neighbor next unto his house take it according to the number of the souls; every man according to his eating shall make your count for the lamb.

To be saved, everyone must partake of the Lamb of God.

5 Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male of the first year: ye shall take it out from the sheep, or from the goats:

Jesus was without blemish; He had no sin.
 
2 Corinthians 5:21 “For He hath made Him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him.”

Not a bone of the lamb was broken.

Jesus strength (as well as literal bones) was unbroken.(Exodus 12:46, John 19:33-36.)

6 And ye shall keep it up until the fourteenth day of the same month: and the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill it in the evening.

The lamb was kept up four days before killing it. Jesus entered Jerusalem four days before He was crucified.

Jesus was crucified in the evening.

The Crucifixion took place at the end of the Dispensation of Law. The Church Age is a "new day;" a day of greater things.

7 And they shall take of the blood, and strike it on the two side posts and on the upper door post of the houses, wherein they shall eat it.

Striking the door posts was only done on the first Passover. Jesus died (was struck) once for all.

Hebrews 10:9 “Then said He, Lo, I come to do thy will, O God. He taketh away the first, that He may establish the second.

10 By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.

11 And every priest standeth daily ministering and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins:

12 But this Man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down on the right hand of God;

13 From henceforth expecting till His enemies be made His footstool.

14 For by one offering He hath perfected forever them that are sanctified....

18 Now where remission of these is, there is no more offering for sin.”
  • The blood was sprinkled on the door post this first Passover. It wasn't repeated in future Passovers.
  • Jesus blood was shed once and for all. We must never crucify Him again.
  • Jesus is the door. (John 10:9).Jesus blood being shed is not enough; it must be applied to our hearts.
  • Hyssop, a bitter herb, was used to apply the blood. Christ’s Blood is applied by faith.
  • The blood was put in a basin. The basin is a type of the everlasting covenant.
  • When Israel applied the lamb’s blood they were protected from the physical death of their first born. When we apply His blood, we are protected from eternal death.
  • Don't apply the blood on the threshold to be trampled underfoot;
“Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden underfoot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith He was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace?” (Hebrews 10:29)
  • The blood had to be applied before they went to sleep. We must apply the blood of Jesus before we go to our eternal sleep.
8 And they shall eat the flesh in that night, roast with fire, and unleavened bread; and with bitter herbs they shall eat it.

Bitter herbs (lettuce, dandelion, kale, etc) were to remember the bitter bondage in Egypt. We will always remember the bitter bondage of Sin.

The lamb was good to eat. Christ is good to our taste if we remember the bitterness of the bondage of sin.

1Corinthians 5:6-8 “Your glorying is not good. Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump?

7 Purge out therefore the old leaven (sin) that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us:

8 Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.”

9 Eat not of it raw, nor sodden at all with water, but roast with fire; his head with his legs, and with the purtenance (inner organs such as the heart) thereof.

The lamb was roasted denoting the suffering of Jesus at His crucifixion.

10 And ye shall let nothing of it remain until the morning; and that which remaineth of it until the morning ye shall burn with fire.

We don't just look upon the Lamb of God, we consume it all. We must take His cross (or yoke) as well as His crown.

The wrath of God is like a fire; Jesus was made a curse for us.

1 Corinthians 11: 28-29 “But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup.

29 For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord's body.”

What is it that would make you unworthy to “eat of Christ?”

Exodus 12:48 “And when a stranger shall sojourn with thee, and will keep the Passover to the LORD, let all his males be circumcised, and then let him come near and keep it; and he shall be as one that is born in the land: for no uncircumcised person shall eat thereof.”

Romans 2:28 “For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh:

29 But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God.

You are worthy to partake of our Passover- Jesus- if you have “circumcised” your heart, you have determined to seek the praise of God instead of man.

11 And thus shall you eat it; with your loins girded, your shoes on your feet, and your staff in your hand; and you shall eat it in haste: it is the LORD's Passover.

They ate in a departing posture. When we partake, we MUST depart from sin. This world is not our home.

Hebrews 13:14 “For here have we no continuing city, but we seek one to come.”

13 And the blood shall be to you for a token on the houses where you are: and when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and the plague shall not be on you to destroy you, when I smite the land of Egypt.

A token is a substitute for the real thing. The lamb’s blood substituted for the blood of the oldest just as Jesus’ blood substitutes for us.

15 Seven days shall ye eat unleavened bread; even the first day ye shall put away leaven out of your houses: for whosoever eateth leavened bread from the first day until the seventh day, that soul shall be cut off from Israel. No manner of work shall be done in them.”

We must put away sin from our lives. If we don’t we will be cut off from heaven.

We cannot work for our own salvation. This includes the preforming of rituals as well as good deeds for the purpose of salvation. We must accept the sacrifice of Jesus as complete.

17 And ye shall observe the feast of unleavened bread; for in this selfsame day have I brought your armies out of the land of Egypt: therefore shall ye observe this day in your generations by an ordinance forever.”

1 Corinthians 5:8 “Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven (physical bread), neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.”

22 And ye shall take a bunch of hyssop, and dip it in the blood that is in the basin, and strike the lintel and the two side posts with the blood that is in the basin; and none of you shall go out at the door of his house until the morning.

We must abide in Christ until the morning of the coming of Jesus in order to be saved.

23 For the LORD will pass through to smite the Egyptians; and when He seeth the blood upon the lintel, and on the two side posts, the LORD will pass over the door, and will not suffer the destroyer to come in unto your houses to smite you.

We will not be destroyed if we have the Blood of Christ upon the door of our heart.

43 And the LORD said unto Moses and Aaron, This is the ordinance of the Passover: There shall no stranger eat thereof.

You must be a Christian to partake of Christ.

48 And when a stranger shall sojourn with thee, and will keep the Passover to the LORD, let all his males be circumcised, and then let him come near and keep it; and he shall be as one that is born in the land: for no uncircumcised person shall eat thereof.

Once we are circumcised in our hearts there is no difference in God's eyes between male or female, nationality, wealth, or history. We are all part of the Spiritual Nation of Israel. (Romans 2:28-29)

 

QUESTIONS ABOUT THE COMMUNION RITUAL

Where did the sacrament (ritual) of communion originate?

In the Greek Hellenic world, there were a number of “Mystery Religions” that were popular, so called because the participants swore not to reveal the secrets and rituals of that group.

Some of these had a ritual of sharing a common meal where they symbolically ate the flesh and drank the blood of their god.

Dionysus cult

Early Christianity spread through the Hellenic world. Many Jewish feasts had taken on Hellenic forms.

Dionysus was "god of 'the vine'” (wine). The ideas of eating and drinking the "flesh" and "blood" of Jesus probably came from the Dionysus cult, since Jesus and all those He knew were familiar with that Greek legend.

It would have made sense for Him to use such a familiar story to illustrate His point.

In the Greek tragedy, The Bacchae, the wine of Dionysus is not drunk, but poured out as a libation, just as Jesus Blood was poured out for us.

Totem-sacrifices

In the chapter "Totem-Sacrifices and Eucharists" of his 1920 book Pagan and Christian Creeds, Edward Carpenter tells the stories of many pagan tribes all over the world who occasionally eat the animal that they identified with in ceremonies similar to the communion ritual.

By the time of the Roman empire, Jews had added festive dining in essentially the same form as the Greeks. There were some differences, of course, but eating together was a central activity for Jewish religious groups such as Pharisees and Essenes.



Did the early church practice the ritual of communion?

No, there is no record of the Christian Church holding a communion service until the third century. But they did practice Spiritual Communion, fellowshipping with one another:

Romans 12:5 “So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another.”

1Corinthians 12:12 “For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ.”

1Corinthins 12:27 “Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular.”

Colossians 2:17 “Which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ.”


The Body of Christ is the Church. WE are the Body of Christ. In order to partake of the Body and Blood of Christ, we must fellowship with one another.

Remember the definitions of “communion” above?

1Corinthians 10:16 “The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion (Fellowship) of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion (sharing, participation) of the body (Church) of Christ?”


Was the bread and wine a part of the Passover celebration?

There is no mention of wine in the original Passover feasts, though the Jews do include it today.

The only bread mention was unleavened bread, similar to a cracker.


Should we continue to observe the Passover feast?

Yes!

We are observing the Passover every time we partake of the Blood and Flesh of the Body of Christ.

In other words, every time we have church and fellowship with other believers.

Keeping a New Testament Passover is a gathering of believers for fellowship, not a physical ritual or ceremony.

 

NEW TESTAMENT FEASTS

The Old Testament Feasts were types of what was to come under Christ.
  • Passover, (unleavened bread) 1 Corinthians 5:7 “Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us.”
We must “purge out” sin because Christ is sacrificed for us.
  • Pentecost, (Feast of Ingathering) Acts2:1-4And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place.
And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting.

And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them.

And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.”

God gathers those that submit to Him into His “Body.”
  • Tabernacles, (a feast of thanksgiving) 1 Thessalonians 5:18 In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.”
1Timothy.2:1 “I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men.”

Hebrew 13:15 “By Him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to His name.”
  • "Thanksgiving" (in Greek, "εὐχαριστία" [eucharistia]) is the Greek equivalent of the Hebrew "ברכה" [berakhah, berakah], the Jewish "blessing" (in Greek, "εὐλογία" [eulogia]) Which is given at meals as a thanks for and blessings of the food. This term was used to describe the fellowship meal of the Early Church, and referred especially to Jesus.
  • Agape feast

"ὁ θεòς ἀγάπη ἐστίν"
God Is Love
(On a stele in Mount Nebo)
The Eucharistic (Thanksgiving) celebrations of the early Christians simply took the form of, a meal. These were often called Agape Feasts, although terminology varied in the first few centuries.

Agape is one of the Greek words for love, so "Agape Feasts" are often referred to as "love-feasts" or “Fellowship Meals” in English.

This was apparently a full meal, with each participant bringing a contribution according to their means (in other words, it was a Potluck Dinner).

Perhaps predictably enough considering human nature, they occasionally deteriorated into just a chance for eating and drinking, or for ostentatious displays by the wealthier members of the community. This was criticized by Paul in 1 Corinthians 11:20–22.

 

What about the Communion Ritual?

The communion ritual that is observed in most Christian churches today was not practiced in the Christian religion until the third century. This ritual was borrowed from the old religion of Rome.

That religion was Greek in origin. It was part of Pagan worship.

Most Christians have been taught that Jesus instituted a new Ritual that is to be observed today.

But just as in the sixth chapter of John when Jesus said you have to eat His flesh and drink His blood to be saved, He had a spiritual meaning in mind at the Last Supper.

Just as in the rest of the New Testament Jesus repeatedly told people they had to “eat” His flesh in order to be a part of His work, He was saying at the Last Supper that we must be fully involved in Christ, we must be totally dedicated to Him and His Body (Church).

Jesus was fixing to allow His physical body to be broken to pay for our sins, just as bread must be broken to feed our bodies.

We can’t just dabble, but must make Jesus and His church a full part of every aspect of our lives just as our food and drink becomes a part of every part of our body.

Frequently we are to remember Jesus and what He did for us. Frequently we are to meet with and fellowship with Christ’s Body.

God does not desire rituals.

He desires relationships.