“For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.”
1 Corinthians 11:26
All Christians should be well familiar with the Lord’s Supper, the meal of bread and wine which is consumed in remembrance of Yeshua and in proclamation of his sacrificial death.
A majority of Christians partake of the eating and drinking of the meal, following the custom as was followed by the Apostles and all Christians ever since the 1st Century… However, there are some churches, groups and denominations, that actually choose not to partake of the meal, believing that it is restricted to only a select few.
This teaching has been seen in both historical times and modern, in various churches. For example, in the Middle Ages, the Catholic Church forbade the consumption of the wine to the Christian masses, and only allowed the Elders, or priests of their churches to partake, claiming “the blood of Yeshua was too holy for the common Christian to drink”, as well as out of fear that it may be spilled.
Though later overturned, the remnants of this practice have carried over to this day, and it is why you will often see Catholic priests dipping the bread into a cup of wine for each person, rather than allowing the participants to drink from the cup separately from eating the bread
“Since the Twelfth Century: The final suppression of intinctio was followed in the thirteenth century by the gradual abolition for the laity of Communion under the species of wine. The desuetude of the chalice was not yet universal in St. Thomas’ time (d. 1274): “provide in quibusdam ecclesiis observatur”, he says “ut populo sanguis sumendus non detur, sed solum a sacerdote sumatur” (Summa, III, Q. lxxx, a. 12).
The Council of Lambeth (1281) directs that wine is to be received by the priest alone, and non-consecrated wine is to be received by the faithful (Mansi, XXIV, 405). It is impossible to say exactly when the new custom became universal or when, by the Church’s approval, it acquired the force of law.” – New Advent Catholic Encyclopedia
In a similar stead, one could say Calvinists are of the mindset of there being an ordained special class of partakers, as they believe the only true Christians are the ones with a “special elect calling” or “predestination” from God, and therefore in their eyes, the only true and legitimate partakers of the Lord’s Meal, are the ones called directly by God to salvation.
Likewise, some other churches and groups today, such as Jehovah’s Witnesses, believe in restricting the entire meal altogether, not allowing the entire flock to partake, but only a select few.
Whilst most Christians would see these practices to be a blasphemy of the highest sort and a rejection of Yeshua himself, those who believe in such a doctrine attempt to give scriptural reasons for their assertion.
We will be examining the logic of these assertions, and will try to come to a firm conclusive answer to who really should be partaking of the bread and wine.
A Scriptural Examination of the Doctrine
To begin, we will first look to the passages of the Lord’s Supper, and we will then examine how some claim there is a limit to who and who cannot partake.
- “Also, he took a loaf, gave thanks, broke it, and gave it to them, saying: This means my body, which is to be given in your behalf. Keep doing this in remembrance of me. Also, he did the same with the cup after they had the evening meal, saying: This cup means the new covenant (diathéké/dytq) by virtue of my blood, which is to be poured out in your behalf… you are the ones who have stuck with me in my trials; and I covenant/appoint/promise (diatithemai/swdy) to you, just as my Father covenanted/appointed/promised (dietheto/swdy) me, a kingdom, so that you may eat and drink at my table in my Kingdom, and sit on thrones to judge the 12 tribes of Israel.” – Luke 22:19-20, 28-30
- “Therefore, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord. Each one must examine himself before he eats of the bread and drinks of the cup.…”. – 1 Corinthians 11:27-28
Based on these verses, some argue that those who are not of the specially elected as Yeshua’s Bride, those who become the highest kings and co-rulers, do not partake of these emblems of bread and wine, for they are not part of that “ruling covenant”.
For most Christians, whether they believe in a special holy calling from God or not, this logic would make little sense, as most Christians believe “all” with faith in Yeshua will become kings and priests, on the basis of scriptures such as Galatians 3:26–29 and Ephesians 4:4-5:
- “You are all sons of God through faith in [the] Anointed Yeshua. For all of you who were baptized into [the’]Anointed [One], have clothed yourselves with [the] Anointed [One’. There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in [the] Anointed Yeshua. And if you belong to [the] Anointed [One], then you are Abraham’s seed and heirs according to the promise.
- “One body there is, and one spirit, just as you were called to the one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism“.
This line of thought, therefore, must first be understood that is based upon a “two class theology” that some Christians hold to, which can come in different variations. A theology which believes that not all Christians will be ruling as kings or priests at Yeshua’s side.
For those who do not subscribe to such a “two-class” theology, the notion of “limited partaking” can be ended right here and now, for there would be no basis to claim for any kind of “separation”.
However, for other Christians who do believe in some form of two class theology, this subject begs for closer examination. I myself am such a Christian, who does see validity in the notion that not all Christians may be elected as rulers at Yeshua’s side.
It is my personal view that the “Great Multitude” and “12 Tribes” of Revelation, may be symbolic of Christians who are “guests” of the wedding of Yeshua and his Bride, on the basis of scriptures such as Matthew 20:23 and Matthew 25:1.
(For more on my current views on this subject, feel free to read my article):
Arguments for Limited Partakers
Covenant for a Kingdom
Based on the idea that not all Christians will be rulers of the Kingdom, some would argue that the “New Covenant” which is tied to the bread and wine is also synonymous with a covenant which Yeshua promises to his 12 Apostles and the chosen rulers that join them.
It is argued that a direct connection is made to the “eating and drinking” and being at Yeshua’s “Kingdom table on thrones”.
This outlook is argued by means of connecting the phrase; “you will rule on thrones and eat at my table” with the entire ceremony the Apostles during Yeshua’s Last Supper had just partaken in. Claiming that the eating the bread and drinking the wine, was not just remembrance, but was a meal that signified a place of rulership. Therefore, some would make the claim that only if God has selected you, and has somehow indicated toward you by means of holy spirit, or some other special sign, that only then can one partake of the bread and wine.
This understanding is also reflected in some translations of Luke’s Gospel passage, where some translators opt for “I covenant you a Kingdom”, based on the Greek word “diatithemai”:
“διατίθημι: to place separately, dispose, arrange, appoint, (cf. διά, C. 3). In the N. T. only in the middle, present διατίθεμαι; 2 aorist διεθέμην; future διαθήσομαι;
1. to arrange, dispose of, one’s own affairs;
a. τί, of something that belongs to one (often so in secular authors from Xenophon down); with the dative of person added, in one’s favor, to one’s advantage; hence, to assign a thing to another as his possession: τίνι βασιλείαν (to appoint), Luke 22:29.
b. to dispose of by will, make a testament: Hebrews 9:16f; (Plato, legg. 11, p. 924 e.; with διαθήκην added, ibid., p. 923 c., etc.).
2. διατίθεμαι διαθήκην τίνι (פּ אֶת בֲּרִית כָּרַת, Jeremiah 38:31ff (ff)), to make a covenant, enter into covenant, with one, (cf. Winers Grammar, 225 (211); Buttmann, 148 (129f)): Hebrews 8:10, (Genesis 15:18); πρός τινα, Acts 3:25; Hebrews 10:16 (Deuteronomy 7:2); μετά τίνος, 1 Macc. 1:11. The Greeks said συντίθεμαι πρός τινα, αἱ πρός τινα συνθηκαι, Xenophon, Cyril 3, 1, 21. (Compare: ἀντιδιατίθημι.)”. – Thayer’s Greek Lexicon
- “…and I covenant to give you, as my Father has covenanted to give me, a Kingdom” – Weymouth New Testament
- “…and I make a covenant with you, just as my Father has made a covenant with me, for a kingdom”. – New World Translation
By means of this rendition, a connection is formed between the “New Covenant” and the “Kingdom Covenant”, making the two things one and the same, and therefore the bread and the wine as symbols of rulership in that kingdom.
Discernment of Partaking Worthily
The position of limited partaking is additionally backed up by some, by means of referring to Paul’s words of “partaking worthily” (1 Corinthians 11:27-28), claiming it refers to instruction that Christians should only partake if they are “worthy” of the meal, by means of being specially called by God to do so.
Priestly Arrangements of the Old Testament
Another potential argumentation for this outlook is also argued by making comparison of the offerings made in Israel under the Old Covenant, in that only the priests and his family within the sanctuary area were said to actually partake in the eating of the sacrificial offerings on behalf of the nation of Israel, the 12 Tribes:
- “Any male in a priest’s family may eat it, but it must be eaten in the sanctuary area; it is most holy”. – Leviticus 7:6
Privacy of the Last Supper
It is also pointed out, that Yeshua only invited the 12 disciples on the night of his Last Supper, and not all of his followers, and that he specifically appointed “them” places on thrones during this night, connecting it with the private meal he had with them.
By means of this overall framework, some believe that this proves not all Christians should be partaking (lest one of course, believes in Calvinism, in which this same overall logic applies, just without the two-class theology).
Arguments Against Limited Partakers
To argue against the notion of only a certain number of Christians partaking, even within the context of a two-class theology, there are several other basic scriptures in relation to the Supper that can be asserted:
- “So Yeshua said to them; “Most truly I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in yourselves. Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has everlasting life, and I will resurrect him on the last day; for my flesh is true food and my blood is true drink. Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood remains in union with me, and I in union with him. Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so also the one who feeds on me will live because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven. It is not as when your forefathers ate and yet died. Whoever feeds on this bread will live forever”. – John 6:53-58
- ”…and teach them to obey all the things that I’ve commanded” – Matthew 28:20
- For I received from the Lord what I also handed on to you, that the Lord Yeshua on the night on which he was going to be betrayed took a loaf, and after giving thanks, he broke it and said: “This means my body, which is in your behalf. Keep doing this in remembrance of me.” He did the same with the cup also, after they had the evening meal, saying: “This cup means the new covenant by virtue of my blood. Keep doing this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.” For whenever you eat this loaf and drink this cup, you keep proclaiming the death of the Lord, until he comes“. – 1 Corinthians 11:23-26
- “Now when we [say a] blessing over the cup of blessings, aren’t we sharing in the blood of the Anointed One? And when we break the loaf, aren’t we sharing in the body of the Anointed One? So although there are many [of us], there’s just one loaf… therefore, we are all one body, since we all eat from that same loaf”. – 1 Corinthians 10:16-17
As we can see from these few scriptures, we have immediate counter arguments against the notion that not all Christians partake.
No Life in Yourselves
We are told by Yeshua in John 6, that unless we consume his blood and flesh, we will not have everlasting life. Of course, it should be noted that Yeshua was not speaking literally, and that this speech was well before he instituted the Lord’s Supper. The main meaning to what he spoke of, was feeding on “him” and his teachings, as he compared himself to the manna in the wilderness which fell for the Israelites.
But even though Yeshua was clearly speaking in metaphores, we would do well to remember, that the Lord’s Supper itself is also a metaphore. Yeshua’s speeches and parables often were all united by a core theme, faith in him and faith in his sacrifice. It can be argued then that by partaking in the Supper, it represents a remembrance, and an acceptance of him, with all of his teachings and authority, an expression of faith, an expression of “feeding on him”, just as he commanded us all to do.
Partaking is Proclamation of the Gospel
When we consider this with 1 Corinthians 11, it makes sense that it plays into Paul’s words of it being a “proclamation of the Lord”, which is something all Christians are commanded to do (Matthew 24:14).
Obeying “all” Things
Furthermore we see on that same note, that Yeshua himself instructs his Apostles to teach all Christians to obey “all” the things he commanded “them” to do (Matthew 28:20), which would have also included the Supper. We are given no specifics on any excepetion to this rule anywhere in scripture when it comes to the Lord’s Supper
All Christians Partook Though Not At the Last Supper
We should also note, that we see all Christians partook of the meal in and since the 1st Century, even though the initial meal was only with the 12 disciples.
- “Now, because you’re the ones who stuck with me during my trials, I’m giving this appointment to you, as my Father has given the appointment to me, for a Kingdom”. – Luke 22:28-29
We see that Yeshua said this to his Apostles because those 12 specifically “stuck with him in his trials”, something the other followers of Yeshua were not said to have done.
If we followed the logic that the privacy of the meal indicated proof of its limited partaking, then taken to its extremity, one would have to argue that only the 12 disciples alone should have partaken of it. But we know for a fact, this was not so, and that all the Christians that were not invited on that night, who ‘did not’ “stick with Yeshua” in all his trials, and were ‘never’ told that they were being “appointed the Kingdom”, consistently partook of the meal afterward. So the privacy of the meal that night in itself is not a good indicator of proof that the Lord’s Meal in itself was only for a select few.
Of course, the privacy of the meal, could very well have been for the purpose of Yeshua telling his followers that night that they would be given a special privilege of being on thrones with him in the Kingdom, but this need not be tied to the meal of Yeshua’s remembrance and his New Covenant.
We have to remember, that we are not told once in scripture by anyone, that the Lord’s Supper was a symbol of rulership, but only of rememberance and proclamation.
Only Luke Mentions The Appointment For a Kingdom
Another interesting note to make, is that the other Gospel accounts don’t even make mention of rulership upon thrones in their accounts of the Supper, only Luke’s. Which in itself is somewhat odd, if the detail of who and who should not partake was such a vital detail to understand in relation to the meal.
We mustn’t forget that the New Testament isn’t one book or one product, but a collection of books. All the Gospels share the most important salvational doctrinal details, but not all of them mention being made rulers of the Kingdom when it comes to the passages of the Lord’s Meal. This then could very well indicate that a great many of the Apostles saw this as a private affair, and that for some reason Luke alone thought he would make mention of it in his personal Gospel account.
Appointment for a Kingdom vs The New Covenant
When it comes to a closer examination of Luke’s passage, we noted earlier that some Bible translations, though not many, render it “I covenant you a Kingdom”, which is the basis of the connection asserted between the Lord’s Supper, New Covenant, and Covenant for a Kingdom. However, many other Bibles render the word as “appoint”, as the definition of the Greek term used, as we saw, has many definitions, such as; “appoint, put part” and so on.
Furthermore, we also see that the Aramaic manuscripts render it as “promise”.
“1. to promise
2. to confess, admit
3. to profess
4. to thank”. – The Comprehensive Aramaic Lexicon
In this case, we see that the term has no relation to “covenant” at all, but instead, Yeshua is simply saying “I promise that you will rule with me”.
“Covenant”, which means “will” or “contract”, on the other hand, is a completely different word in the manuscripts, in both Greek and Aramaic; “diathéké” and “dytyq” respectively.
Thus, if Luke 22:29 it is to mean “appoint”, “put apart” or “promise”, as opposed to the same meaning of the word used for the blood of Yeshua’s “covenant” for mankind’s salvation earlier in the passage, this differentiation in word usage further may imply a separation between the appointing of the Kingdom rulership, and the covenant of Yeshua’s blood and body for our salvation, as to be represented by partaking of the emblems during the Supper of Remembrance.
One may strongly argue, that the New Covenant and the partaking of the emblems alone does not represent being appointed for the Kingdom, but that they are separate arrangements altogether. One being a signed contract between all of man and God for salvation (Mark 14:22-24), the other being for an appointing of rulers and judges over the Kingdom which consists of those saved or “contracted” ones.
It is very much possible that the intent of how this chapter of Luke is meant to be read, is that when Yeshua ceased talking about his blood and body, it may have been the end of the subject in regards to his rememberance and Supper, following which he may have then began to speak of a separate topic altogether; the appointing of his Kingdom which he was giving to his disciples.
If we pay closer attention, we should make a note that it was not the eating and drinking of the bread and wine which marked them as being his chosen rulers, but rather it appears to me that it was the ‘location’ of where they were to be drinking and eating; at “his table” in his Kingdom.
Thus he may have been saying; “you twelve who have stuck with me, I put you apart (diatithemai) to rule with me in my kingdom, so you will eat and drink on thrones”.
In this sense, we can interpret that Yeshua instructs ‘all’ Christians on how to remember him, to partake of the meal of the bread and wine. But he had a special gift for the Apostles, a promised place as his Bride, as rulers, which may not be held out to all faithful Christians.
This notion can very much compared to attending a wedding. The bride, groom, and all the guests eat the same food, and even partake in eating same the wedding cake, but it is the bride and groom which are the center of attention, sitting at the table in sight of the guests, and being the first to partake of food and beverages.
This can be said to be reflected in the book of Revelation as well as the parable of the 10 Virgins and wedding guests, where there are others invited to the wedding to witnesses it, and that they all “eat the banquet”, though they are not the Bride themselves:
- “Then a voice came out of the throne that said:‘Praise our God, all of you who are His slaves… Yes – you, the great and the small who fear Him!’ Then I heard what sounded like the voices of a huge crowd, along with the noise of a lot of water and heavy thunder. They were shouting; ‘Praise Yah! For YHWH our God the Almighty has started ruling as king! Let’s rejoice, shout in joy, and glorify Him, since it’s time for the Lamb’s wedding! ‘Yes, his bride has now prepared herself, and she’s been found worthy to be dressed in bright, clean, fine linen… For the fine linen represents the righteousness of the Holy Ones.’ Then he said to me; ‘Write this down; Those who are invited to the Lamb’s wedding banquet are blest!” – Revelation 19:5-9
- The marriage feast is indeed ready, but those whom I invited were unworthy. So, go out to the roads that lead into the city and invite everyone that you can find to my wedding banquet! So the servants went out into the streets and gathered all the people they could find, the bad as well as the good, and the wedding hall was filled with guests.’” – Matthew 22:8-10
- “For the Kingdom of the heavens is like ten virgins that took their lamps and went out to meet the groom and his bride“. – Matthew 25:1
Thus, this may indicate, both the elected chosen ones, and non-ruling Christians, are both to partake in the bread and the wine, that it is the “table of the Kingdom”, the “thrones” upon which they sit of which is significant of the elect, not the bread and wine.
Priestly & Family Arrangements in the Old Testament
Additional reasoning can also be found, in an akin manner to the argument which is asserted for the notion of limited partaking, based upon the priestly arrangements in the Old Testament of those who partook of the Temple meal:
- “But Yeshua answered the one who was telling him and said, “Who is my mother and who are my brothers?” And stretching out his hand toward His disciples, He said, “Behold my mother and my brothers! For whoever does the will of my Father who is in heaven, he is my brother and sister and mother.” – Matthew 12:48-50
Yeshua tells us that ‘anyone’ doing his Father’s will are to be considered a part of his immediate family, a brother, sister or a mother.
On the basis then of being Yeshua’s immediately family, based on the Old Testament, we would all would partake of the “sacrificial offering” represented by the Supper emblems along with our High Priest Yeshua, whether one is a judge, king and priest or not, for not all of the family members of the priests in the Old Testament were in fact priests themselves, but merely were an extension of the family, and yet partook of the sacrifices.
- “Any male in a priest’s family may eat it, but it must be eaten in the sanctuary area; it is most holy”. – Leviticus 7:6
All who are Christian have all now been “brought into Yeshua’s family”, to be “one flock with one Shepherd”, thus one family unit, in which there are no more distinctions, whether male or female (John 10:16, Galatians 3:28, 1 John 5:1).
The Original Passover Lamb was for All
We should also note that during the original Passover, the meal which was the shadow of the Lord’s Sacrifice and Supper, all of Israel would eat, not just a select few priests or rulers. All of Israel had to do this in order to express their faith and retain life, in a similar way Yeshua tells us that his blood and flesh means life.
- “Now YHWH said to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt, ‘This month is the beginning of months for you; it shall be the first month of your year. Tell the whole congregation of Israel that on the tenth day of this month each man must select a lamb for his family, one per household. If the household is too small for a whole lamb, they are to share with the nearest neighbor based on the number of people, and apportion the lamb accordingly… They are to take some of the blood and put it on the sides and tops of the doorframes of the houses where they eat the lambs…. On that night I will pass through the land of Egypt and strike down every firstborn male, both man and beast, and I will execute judgment against all the gods of Egypt. I am YHWH. The blood on the houses where you are staying will distinguish them; when I see the blood, I will pass over you. No plague will fall on you to destroy you when I strike the land of Egypt’… Then Moses called all the elders of the children of Israel and told them; ‘Go find yourselves a lamb (according to your family needs) and slaughter the Passover…. Then the Lord told Moses and Aaron; ‘This is the Law regarding the Passover… The entire gathering of the children of Israel must continue to do this‘.” – Exodus 12: 1-4, 7, 12-13, 21, 43, 47
The same way in turn, all Christians are called “spiritual Israel”, and are “God’s temple”, not just a few (Romans 2:29, 1 Corinthians 3:16), and all of us partake in Yeshua as our lamb, to be saved from the “plague” of sin, and the death that follows it (1 Corinthians 5:7) .
One Body, One Hope, One Partaking
Carefully examining Paul’s writings, also gives us more essential infomation on the topic of being part of the Body of Yeshua and our only Salvation Hope in relation to the partaking of the bread and wine:
- “Now when we say a blessing over the cup of blessings, aren’t we sharing in the blood of the Anointed One? And when we break the loaf, aren’t we sharing in the body of the Anointed One? So although there are many [of us], there’s just one loaf… therefore, we are all one body, since we all eat from that same loaf”. – 1 Corinthians 10:16-17
- And you were dead in the trespasses and sins.. remember that you were at that time separated from [the] Anointed [One], alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in [the] Anointed Yeshua you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of [the] Anointed [One]…. by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the torture tree, thereby killing the hostility…. So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the holy ones and members of the household of God“. – Ephesians 2:1,12-13, 15-16, 19
- So we, although many, are one body in union with [the] Anointed [One], but individually we are members belonging to one another – Romans 12:5
- For by one spirit we were all baptised into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink one spirit… Now you are [the] Anointed [One’s] body, and each of you individually is a member. And God has assigned the respective ones in the congregation: first, apostles; second, prophets; third, teachers; then powerful works; then gifts of healings; helpful services; abilities to direct; different tongues. Not all are apostles, are they? Not all are prophets, are they? Not all are teachers, are they? Not all perform powerful works, do they? Not all have gifts of healings, do they? Not all speak in tongues, do they? Not all are interpreters, are they?” – 1 Corinthians 12:13, 27-30
- “Where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, foreigner, Scythian, slave, or freeman; but [the] Anointed [One] is all things and in all. Accordingly, as God’s chosen ones, holy and loved, clothe yourselves with the tender affections of compassion, kindness, humility, mildness ,and patience… Also, let the peace of the Anointed [One] rule in your hearts, for you were called to that peace in one body. And show yourselves thankful”. – Colossians 3:11-12, 15
- “One body there is, and one spirit, just as you were called to the one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism“. – Ephesians 4:4-5:
- “I am now rejoicing in my sufferings for your sake, and I am undergoing the tribulations of the Anointed [One] that are yet lacking in my flesh in behalf of his body, which is the congregation“. – Colossians 1:24
- “And I have other sheep, which are not of this fold; those too I must bring in, and they will listen to my voice, and they will become one flock, one shepherd“. – John 10:16
We should note that Paul calls all baptised Christians “one body”, and therefore for that reason they are also partaking of the “one loaf” and “one wine”. This is strong indication that all Christians partake of the evening meal, lest they not be part of the body of Yeshua.
Paul firmly tells us that the “only” one hope is to be part of that one body and one flock, whether a person be elected for rulership or not, no matter if they are Elders, teachers, prophets, or just a plain old everyday Christian with no gifts or calling of the holy spirit at all. All of us are part of that one body, and by it we have hope, our only hope.
Paul tells us, those not in this body, are cut off from God, foreigners to his Covenant, and are still bound by the Mosaic Law, with no eternal salvation.
Hence, we see that the “one hope”, is to be part of the “one body”, which is the “congregaion”, that “partakes of the one loaf and cup”, by which we can then conclude that we all must partake of the bread and wine.
Paul tells us it is “because” we are “one body”, “one congregation” by means of faith and baptism in Yeshua, that we “all partake of the one loaf and wine” of the Lord’s supper, which represents our “one hope”, of which without we are “dead” in our sins.
We do well to remember, that in ancient Israel, whilst not all Hebrew citizens were Temple priests, they were still called “a nation of priests”:
- “‘…Now if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, you will be My treasured possession out of all the nations—for the whole earth is Mine. And unto Me you shall be a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words that you are to speak to the Israelites“. – Exodus 19:5-6
- “You have made them to be kings and priests to serve our God, and they will reign upon the earth” – Revelation 5:10
- “The fact is; you’ve all become sons of God through your faith in [the] Anointed Yeshua. Indeed, all who are baptised into [the] Anointed [One] have put on [the] Anointed [One]. So there are no more Jews or Greeks, slaves or freemen, males or females, because you’re all in [the] Anointed Yeshua. And if you belong to [the] Anointed [One]; as the promise told us, you are Abraham’s seed and his heirs!”. – Galatians 3:26-29
This oneness of brotherhood and nation therefore, would appear to apply to Christians, regardless of any class distinctions. Just as Israel was “one flock”, one “priestly nation”, with civilians and ruling classes and priests alike, who all ate from the one Passover meal. All of us also being part of the High Priest’s extended family by means of association and obedience to him and his Father.
When it comes to the “worthiness” of partaking, Paul then clearly was not talking about a “limited few” who could partake, but rather, in the “manner” the occasion was being conducted.
When we read the entire passage, we see this context clearly:
- “When you come together in one place, it is not really to eat the Lord’s Evening Meal. For when you eat it, each one takes his own evening meal beforehand, so that one is hungry but another is intoxicated. Do you not have houses for eating and drinking? Or do you despise the congregation of God and make those who have nothing feel ashamed? What can I say to you? Should I commend you? In this I do not commend you…
…Therefore, whoever eats the loaf or drinks the cup of the Lord unworthily will be guilty respecting the body and the blood of the Lord. First let a man approve himself after scrutiny, and only then let him eat of the loaf and drink of the cup. For the one who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment against himself. That is why many among you are weak and sick, and quite a few are sleeping in death. But if we would discern what we ourselves are, we would not be judged. However, when we are judged, we are disciplined by the Lord, so that we may not become condemned with the world. Consequently, my brothers, when you come together to eat it, wait for one another. If anyone is hungry, let him eat at home, so that when you come together it is not for judgment. But as for the remaining matters, I will put them in order when I get there.” – 1 Corinthians 11:20-34
Paul reminds those at the Evening Meal to take seriously the occasion, and not to see it as just any old meal, he also addresses those coming to the Supper in drunken states or in gluttony.
We must remember, in the 1st Century there were no meeting halls or churches, but congregations would gather in homes, and each individual Christian family was responsible for buying their own bread and wine. But the poor had to rely upon more wealthy Christians to provide such means for them.
But in this scenario, the wealthy Christians were being selfish, not sharing their means, and were eating greedily, even to the point of drunkeness, direspecting the Lord Yeshua, whilst others at the Evening Meal were going hungry and thirsty, not having anything left over for themselves at all. In this they disrespected the body of Yeshua, that is, the congregation and Yeshua himself with their unholy conduct, thus they were being judged.
Nothing here however, appears to indicate this “discernment” is in relation to “discerning if one is of the specially elect class to partake”, but rather the context taken as a whole reveals itself, it is discernment of one’s righteous conduct, respect for the emblems, and our fellow brothers and sisters in congregation.
Coming to a conclusive overview.
Whilst we might see scriptural indication that not all will be “at Yeshua’s side”, this does not seem to be indicated by the partaking of the meal of bread and wine itself, but rather, “where” the meal is eaten by the elected individuals; that being “on thrones with Yeshua”, whilst we see clear evidence that there are also guests of the banquet of the Lord.
We are told there is “one hope” against the death sentence of sin, and this to be part of the “one body” according to Paul. In turn, he tells us all who are of this one body, all partake of the “one loaf and cup” of the Supper.
We should take important note, that there is no scripture which tells us directly that “some partake and some don’t”, and neither is there any historical precedent or record which suggests the early Christians had any kind of understanding that not all partake in the bread and wine. But all records, scriptually and otherwise, unanimously assert that all Christians understood the Lord’s Supper was for all with faith.
Yeshua himself strongly affirms that we must feed and drink on him for eternal life, and this symbolism as carried over to the Lord’s Supper cannot be easily denied.
Hence, we see strong indication that all Christians, regardless of their future reward or position, partake in the meal of the bread and wine, in remembrance and proclamation of Yeshua’s death.