WHEN, and How OFTEN, Should We Observe THE LORD'S SUPPER?
The Lord's Supper, like so many essential points of the original true doctrine,
has fallen into the mire of erroneous tradition. Jude exhorts us "that
ye should contend earnestly for the faith which was once delivered to the
Today different church denominations take this sacred ordinance different ways. One church claims the bread and wine literally is transferred into the actual body and blood of Christ. Some churches take this "supper" every Sunday MORNING. Some take it once a month, in the morning. Others take it four times a year; and at night.
Truly "All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way," Isaiah 53:6.
There is but one way to get back to the plain TRUTH once delivered to
the saints, and that is to shelve our assumptions and traditions, and then
with open mind, diligently "search the Scriptures," the only true record
of what was once delivered.
The First Lord's Supper
Let us examine the passages showing the first institution of this ordinance.
Notice, in Luke 22:14, "And when the hour was come, Jesus sat down, and the twelve apostles with Him . . . . 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. Likewise also the cup after supper, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you," verses 19-20.
Notice, it was "when the hour was come," that Jesus first introduced the bread and the wine. There was a DEFINITE TIME -- a definite hour -- when He held this supper, setting us an example.
Notice, too, He commanded them to observe it -- "THIS DO!" And why? "In remembrance of me," Jesus said. It was, then, a MEMORIAL -- in memory of His death. He instituted it on this tragic night, the very eve of His death.
In Matthew's account, we read "And as they were eating, Jesus took bread," Matthew 26:26. It was "as they were eating" that He took bread and introduced this solemn ordinance we call the Lord's Supper. Eating what? Eating THE PASSOVER! (verse 17, and Luke 22:15).
Notice Matthew 26:2, "Ye know that after two days is the feast of the passover, and the Son of man is betrayed to be crucified."
Jesus knew His time had come. He was our Passover, sacrificed for us, I Corinthians 5:7.
"Now the first day of the feast of unleavened bread the disciples came to Jesus, saying unto him, Where wilt thou that we prepare for thee to eat the passover?" (Matthew 26:17).
After sundown, (the days began at sundown), Jesus sat down with His twelve disciples in an upper room, Matthew 26:20; Mark 14:15.
And as they were eating the passover supper, Matthew 26:26, "Jesus took bread, and blessed it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is my body. And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye, all, of it; for this is my blood of the New Testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins."
So we see it was the night of the final and last passover supper that
Jesus introduced the Lord's Supper. To thoroughly understand the connection
between the Lord's Supper of the New Testament, and the Passover of the
Old, let us make a quick examination of the passover.
The Ordinance Under the Old Covenant
The original passover marked the exodus of the children of Israel out of Egypt. God had been pouring out the plagues upon Egypt, to induce Pharaoh to let the Israelites go. You will find it recorded in the 12th chapter of Exodus.
On the 10th day of the first month (the Hebrew, or sacred year, began with the new moon in the Spring, near the equinox, not midwinter), they were told to take a young lamb without spot or blemish, a type of Christ, the Lamb of God. This lamb was to be kept until the 14th day of the first month, Abib, when they were to kill it "in the evening," verse 6. The literal Hebrew, margin, is "between the two evenings," and from the Jewish Encyclopedia we find this is the twilight period between the time the sun goes down, when the new day has commenced, and the darkness when the stars are out. So the lamb was killed in the very beginning of the 14th of Abib.
As soon as it was killed, the blood was to be sprinkled over the door-posts of their houses. The lamb was to be roasted, and eaten in haste. At midnight that night the angel of the Lord passed thru the land, striking dead all the first-born of the land. But "when I see the blood, I will pass over you," the Lord told the Israelites. Many Jews today are beginning to see that it was the BLOOD that saved them.
For seven days they ate only unleavened bread. The 14th of the first month, Abib, was the Passover, and the 15th was the first of seven days of unleavened bread, and the seventh of these, or the 21st of Abib, was also a holy feast day, or annual Sabbath, called a "high day" even still today by the Jews.
The lamb was killed as the sun was going down, Deuteronomy 16:6. Yet it was eaten IN the 14th day, Leviticus 23:5, 6, not after it was passed.
Year after year Israel continued to observe the Passover. The eating
of the lamb symbolized the acceptance of the broken body and spilled blood
of Christ, showing their faith, looking forward, that He would come.
Instituted an Ordinance Forever
Now notice Exodus 12:17, 24. The Passover was instituted an ordinance FOREVER.
Some will say circumcision was not done away, but was changed -- today
it is the HEART, Romans 2:29. In both cases God meant FOREVER, and so,
as we have seen, at the last passover supper Jesus CHANGED the manner of
observance of this ordinance. No longer do we kill a lamb and eat it, since
the Lamb of God has been sacrificed once for all. Instead, we take the
bread, symbolizing His broken body, and the wine, symbolizing His shed
blood, as a memorial, looking back.
How Often Observed?
Now notice Exodus 13:10, speaking of the days of unleavened bread, "Thou shalt therefore keep this ordinance in his season from year to year." The time is once a year, at night, after the sun has set in the beginning of the 14th of Abib.
Jesus set us an example I Peter 2:21, observing it at this set time once a year, Luke 2:42.
Suppose the Israelites in Egypt had observed this ordinance at some
other than this set time? They would not have been saved when the death
angel passed by that night! God does things ON TIME. He had given us an
exact time for this ordinance. Jesus instituted it "when the hour was come."
The Ordinance of Humility
In giving us the account of the instituting of the Lord's Supper ordinance, Matthew, Mark, and Luke describe the taking of the bread and wine. But John relates another part of this ordinance.
The 13th chapter of John, verse 1, shows the event is the last Passover. And, the supper being ended (verse 2), Jesus took a towel, (verse 4), and began washing His disciples' feet (verse 5).
"So after He had washed their feet, and had taken His garments, and was set down again, He said unto them, Know ye what I have done to you? Ye call me Master and Lord, and ye say well; for so I am. If I, then, your Lord and Master have washed you feet; ye also ought to wash one another's feet. For I have given you an EXAMPLE THAT YE SHOULD DO AS I HAVE DONE TO YOU," verses 12-15.
Many today do not want to humiliate themselves by washing the feet of
their church brethren. Some argue that Jesus commanded only the disciples
to wash one another's feet. But they will admit it was a command to them.
Very well, turn to Matthew 28:19, 20: "Go ye therefore," He said to these same disciples, "and teach all nations,
baptizing them, . . . teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I
have commanded YOU." So they were to teach us to observe ALL things WHATSOEVER
He commanded them. Surely God is no respecter of persons!
Kept Once a Year in the Apostolic Church
Now notice I Corinthians 5:7, 8, "Christ our passover, is sacrificed for us! Therefore let us keep the feast, not with the old leaven . . . but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.
Paul gives directions regarding the Lord's Supper in the 11th Chapter of I Corinthians. Some have misunderstood verse 26, which says: "As often as ye eat this bread and drink this cup," and interpret it to say "take it as often as you please." But it does not say that!
It says "as often" as we observe it, "ye do show the Lord's DEATH till He come." And Jesus commanded, "this do ye, as often as ye drink it, in remembrance of me, verse 25. We do it in remembrance of THE LORD'S DEATH -- a memorial of His death. And memorials of momentous occasions always are observed annually, once a year, on the ANNIVERSARY of the event they commemorate. That is the way we observe the 4th of July, Armistice Day, etc.
Jesus instituted this New Testament ordinance ON THE EVE OF HIS DEATH. It was the 14th Abib, Hebrew calendar. He was our Passover, sacrificed for us -- and He was sacrificed on the same exact day of the year that the passover lambs always had been slain! As the Old Testament passover commemorated Israel's deliverance from Egypt, a type of sin, so the New Testament Lord's Supper -- a continuation of the passover with different emblems -- commemorates Jesus' death, and our deliverance form sin. Immediately after that last Supper, Jesus and His disciples went out to Gethsemane, where, later that night, Judas Iscariot led the blood-thirsty mob who seized Jesus, and led him away to be crucified during the day-light part of the same 14th day of the month.
Jesus set us an example, and by following His example and observing this sacred ordinance at the same time He did -- the same time the passover always was observed, commanded to continue FOREVER -- we do continue to remember His death, annually, on the very anniversary of His crucifixion. It is the most solemn and sacred occasion of the year -- especially when observed at this correct scriptural hour!
Notice verses 27, 29, in I Corinthians 11. This is not speaking about
a Christian being worthy or unworthy to take it. It is speaking of the
MANNER in which we do it. To take of it UNWORTHILY is to take it in a wrong
manner. Had the ancient Israelites in Egypt observed the first passover
at any time except the exact time appointed by God, they would have done
it unworthily, and suffered the plague. Surely if we, once we see and know
the truth, partake of this most sacred ordinance at any other time than
that set apart in the Scripture, we would do it unworthily, and to our
damnation. To take the bread and wine while not truly accepting the body
and blood of Christ with the whole heart would be taking it unworthily
and to one's damnation. Let us observe it WORTHILY!
Example of the First Century Church
The first century church of God, under the original apostles, continued to observe this solemn ordinance once a year at the set time.
The days of unleavened bread were still being observed. Notice Acts 20:6, "And we sailed away form Philippi after the days of unleavened bread." That was in 59 A.D.
Then notice Acts 12:3. The Holy Spirit inspired these words, to tell us the time of year: "Then were the days of unleavened bread." That could not have been written had those days been done away and kept only by Christ-rejecting Jews.
In the mouth of two or three witnesses is a thing established. Notice
a third text, Acts 12:4. The word "Easter" is a mistranslation. The Greek
word is "Pascha," meaning PASSOVER. It is exactly the same word used for
"passover" in Matthew 26:2, 17, 18, 19. Many other translations faithfully
render this "passover" in this text, as it should be. So this text is,
"intending after the PASSOVER to bring him forth to the people." This was
more than ten years after the New Testament church had been established.
The Meaning of "Break Bread"
Some churches turn to Acts 20:7 -- "and upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread." To them this says take the Lord's Supper every Sunday morning.
Let us examine this. Notice verse 6. This was just AFTER the days of unleavened bread, when the Lord's supper had been taken. Paul was holding a farewell meeting at Troas, ready to depart at sunrise. When was Paul preaching? It was not Sunday morning, but what would now be called Saturday night. It was between sunset, when the 1st day of the week commenced, and midnight, verse 7, and there were many lights burning, verse 8. But it was after midnight before they broke bread, when they were all getting hungry. Notice carefully, it is in the 11th verse. "And had broken bread and EATEN." This bread-breaking was not the Lord's Supper, but eating a plain meal.
"Break bread" does not necessarily refer to the Lord's Supper, as some have carelessly assumed. In fact, this term is never used to designate the Lord's Supper in the New Testament. Notice Acts 27:34, 35: "Wherefore, I pray you, take some MEAT . . . he took bread, . . and when he had broken it, HE BEGAN TO EAT."
Notice Acts 2:46: "and breaking bread from house to house, did EAT THEIR MEAT with gladness." Here they were breaking bread daily, eating meat, and Paul says if we eat to satisfy hunger at the Lord's Supper, we do it to our condemnation, I Corinthians 11:34.
Then notice Matthew 26:29. Jesus said He would not again take the Lord's Supper until after His Second coming, in His Kingdom. Yet, later, as He sat "AT MEAT," eating a meal, He broke bread and blessed it, Luke 24:30.
They then used a kind of bread such as is used in many European countries today, and instead of slicing, they broke it. "Break bread" was a common term to indicate eating a meal.
Let us return to the faith once delivered. Let us humbly and obediently observe this solemn, sacred ordinance as we are commanded, and at the time set apart in the Bible, after sundown on the 14th or Abib, or Nisan, sacred Hebrew calendar.
This date, 14th Abib is calculated by the moon. The first day of the new year always begins with the day nearest the Spring equinox when the new moon is first visible to the naked eye at Jerusalem (not in the United States). The Jewish calendar as used by Jews today is correct. But it must be remembered that "in the 14th day of the first month at even is the Passover, and in the 15th day of the same month is the FEAST." The Jews no longer observe the Passover. They observe the FEAST -- one night after the Passover, on the eve of 15th Abib. The Lord's Supper should be observed after sunset on the evening BEFORE the Jews of today celebrate their feast, which they CALL by the name "Passover," although in fact it is not the passover, but the FEAST.
If you would like to know how, and where, you can observe this sacred
memorial of our Lord's death with brethren of like understanding, write
How to Figure Passover
Passover is on the 14th of the first month, ABIB (Nisan). The problem is to figure when is 1st day of month Abib.
Because the Catholics and Protestants figure "Easter" a month earlier than the Hebrew calendar sets Passover this year, -- and because Brother Dodd has published the date March 22 as Passover, while both Stanberry and Salem organizations have published the date as April 21st, many of the brethren are in doubt, and want the FACTS.
Briefly, after very exhaustive study, and counsel with brethren who also have made thorough study of the question for years, the facts are these:
1)The Bible YEAR is solar, while the Bible MONTH is lunar.
2)PROOF - the Bible month is lunar; that is, each month begins with a new moon: By studying Numbers 28 and 29, we learn offerings were held DAILY (verses 3-4), WEEKLY on every Sabbath (verse 9), MONTHLY on the 1st day of each month (verse 11), and YEARLY on the annual holydays (verse 16 and on thru chapter 29). Compare with I Chronicles 23:31; II Chronicles 2:4; 8:13; 31:3; etc., where the same sacrifices and meat and drink offerings are mentioned, and in each case the MONTHLY offerings are on the NEW MOON. Since Numbers 28:11 says this is in the "beginnings of your months," or the first day of each month, we have Bible proof the 1st day of each month is calculated by the New Moon.
3)The Bible YEAR is solar. This is proved by the festivals and holydays. A month is between 29 and 30 days. A 12-month year, or lunar year, is approximately 354 days, whereas a solar year is a little more than 365 days. Thus a lunar year is about 11 days less than a solar year. If the Bible year were lunar, always 12 new moons, Passover would be about 11 days earlier each year. Thus, in about nine years it would come in the MIDWINTER; in another 9 in the fall, and a few years later Passover would come in the SUMMER. In 34 years it and all the holy days would make the round of all four seasons. But Passover ALWAYS comes in the SPRING, at time of the early grain harvest. On the morrow after the Sabbath during Feast of Unleavened Bread, the priest waved the wave-sheaf, and none of the early Spring grain could be used until this was done, Leviticus 23. Pentecost ALWAYS came in the summer, Tabernacles always in the Fall at time of, or right after, Fall harvest, Leviticus 23:39. These were SET feasts, set for DEFINITE SEASONS of the year, Exodus 23:14-17; 34:18, 22-23; Deuteronomy 16:9, 13, 16; Leviticus 23:4; Numbers 28:2; Exodus 13:10.
4)These facts prove there had to be an intercalary, or 13th, month ADDED to the year SEVEN TIMES in each 19 years. God had set the sun, the earth, and the moon in motion so that once every 19 years the sun and moon come into conjunction. That is, once in 19 years there will be a new moon on March 21st, for example. There are SEVEN more new moons in each 19-year solar-lunar cycle than there are solar months, (12 to the year). Thus God's great time cycle, written in the heavens, is based upon SEVEN -- God's complete number, signifying Sabbath -- added to TWELVE, the number of Tribes of Israel, number of Jesus' original apostles, etc.! Since this is true, the ONLY POSSIBLE METHOD by which months can begin on new moons, and yet the solar year can be retained, is to add a 13th month every two or three years, 7 times in 19 years. Nowhere do the Scriptures specifically mention an intercalary month, yet these facts of astronomy and these Bible facts PROVE it was used.
5)Now, our problem is, WHEN, and HOW OFTEN, did God ordain these intercalary months should be added?
Research reveals two basic points on this question, 1st, GOD DID NOT RECORD IT IN THE BIBLE, which gives us absolutely nothing more to go on than I have stated above. 2nd, History is vague on the subject, shedding little light that can be accepted and trusted. Yet we know God gave HIS PEOPLE a fixed rule for calculating TIME PERIODS, and for figuring WHEN to hold the Festivals of Jehovah. Otherwise, the prophecies, so full of definite time-periods, can never be understood. Otherwise God's people could not obey Him!
We learn in the Bible the men of old did have understanding of the times. They knew how to figure time. "Of the children of Issachar, were men that HAD UNDERSTANDING OF THE TIMES, to know what Israel ought to do," I Chronicles 12:32. See Esther 1:13.
In Daniel 7:25, the "little horn," or papacy, was to "think to change TIMES" as well as laws. Notice, only to THINK to change them -- to deceive the world in general, but not God's people. Thus with the LAW and the Sabbath. The world is deceived. But have WE lost "TIME" in respect of the Sabbath? No! This Scripture, then, indicates TIME HAS NOT BEEN LOST! The true sacred calendar is no more lost than the weekly Sabbath. Then WHO HAS PRESERVED THIS TIME, this sacred CALENDAR? To whom did God give it? To whom were "the oracles of God COMMITTED?" To ISRAEL AND JUDAH, of course! Israel LOST the Sabbath, LOST time, LOST even her national name and identity. But JUDAH NEVER DID. Judah has kept TIME in respect to the weekly SABBATH. The Jews rejected Christ. They apostatized in doctrine, BUT THEY WERE STRICT, STICKLERS FOR THE LETTER. Would such a people have lost their CALENDAR? If so, TIME IS LOST! There is no other source thru whom God could have committed AND PRESERVED His calendar. He did COMMIT it to them. Therefore it must be thru them He has preserved it! They had the calendar correct at the time of Christ. They figured Passover, all the feasts, as He did. In 70 A.D. the Jews were scattered into every nation. The present "Jewish calendar" has come down intact without change since 100 A.D. -- that much is proved by history. Could they have changed it, and all changed it exactly in the same ways, while scattered all over the world, and that within a thirty-year period between 70 and 100 A.D.? IF THE PRESENT JEWISH CALENDAR EVER WAS CHANGED FROM THE WAY GOD COMMITTED IT TO THEM, IT HAD TO BE DURING THOSE THIRTY YEARS. The Jews in one part of the world, without knowing what the Jews in other parts of the world were doing, all had to get it changed in exactly the same way! That, of course, was utterly IMPOSSIBLE!
Further PROOF comes thru the continuous observance of Passover by one Jewish sect, going by the name of "Samaritans."
In the Encyclopedia Britannica, 14th edition, Vol. 17, page 357, we read:
"The Samaritans have throughout their history observed the Passover with all its Pentateuchal ceremonial and still observe it down to the present day. They sacrifice the paschal lamb, which is probably the oldest religious rite that has been continuously kept up." Here are the ONLY people who have kept Passover, continuously, thru all generations without a break, exactly as God gave it to them under the Old Testament form. They have NEVER made any change in their doctrines regarding Passover, or the manner of observing it. Could THEY have lost the calendar -- the way of figuring WHEN to take it -- as God committed it to them? Hardly! Yet they use today the same calendar all the Jews use -- the sacred original Hebrew calendar!
Interesting, too, is the fact they observe Passover on the eve, or night part, of the 14th, not on the 15th. They kill the lamb between sunset and dark, at the very beginning of the 14th. They observe the FEAST the night of the 15th. Also they have continued to figure Pentecost from the morrow after the WEEKLY SABBATH during the days of unleavened bread, the true Bible way -- instead of from the first annual Sabbath.
In conclusion, unless God has preserved His sacred calendar thru the Jews, then WE DO NOT KNOW how to figure Passover or ANY of the holydays this year. For there is NO AUTHORITY for any other way.
There is NO BIBLE AUTHORITY WHATSOEVER for figuring the 1st day of the 1st month from the new moon NEAREST the Spring equinox!
As soon as I learned of Brother Dodd's published dates for the festivals this year (1940), I sent him a telegram asking his authority for his dates. His reply is that he bases his method of figuring on certain statements of profane history found in encyclopedias. He replies, In some Bible dictionary, or Encyclopedia, or Jewish encyclopedia, I read something like this: "The ancient reckoning of Passover was from the actual sight of the New Moon nearest the Vernal Equinox . . .!'
But, we ask, (tho Brother Dodd is quoting from memory, and was unable to find the clipping or reference, or state WHERE he had read this), how did the man who wrote that article in the encyclopedia KNOW this was the ancient method of reckoning? Did HE offer proof? The Jews, continuing the observance of all of the seven annual festivals every year continuously, tho scattered all over the world, say it was figured anciently as they figure it today, by the Jewish calendar. What more dependable record has come down from Moses' time?
Bro. Dodd also cited Josephus, Jewish historian, to indicate that Passover could NEVER be earlier than March 20th, or later than April 19th. Yet in Hastings Bible Dictionary, I find this same Josephus quoted as saying the Vernal equinox (March 21), always occurred IN Nisan, which means the year always began with the new moon PRIOR to March 21st. They quote one more author to this same effect, (Muss-Arnolt, p. 77). Thus one writer says Josephus (Ant. 1,5,5) to figure from the new moon PRIOR to March 21st, another uses the same Josephus to prove we ought to take the new moon NEAREST the same date, or about half the time the new moon FOLLOWING March 21st, while in the Britannica I find statements supposed to be historic that it ALWAYS began with the first new moon AFTER March 21st.
Surely we can see that profane history only contradicts itself, is inaccurate cannot be depended upon, and HAS NO AUTHORITY WHATSOEVER. There is no Bible authority for any of it.
God did not commit His oracles, or the preservation of His TIMES to profane history, or to the Roman Catholics, but to the Israelites. And they have been preserved BY THE JEWS.
The Catholics are the ones who have thought to CHANGE the Times. They say the paschal new moon this year is the one BEFORE March 21st, and figure Easter accordingly. The Jews say it is the one AFTER March 21st.
After thorough study of the Bible, of the Hebrew calendar, of history, and every angle, -- after going into the matter with all the Eugene brethren, and other brethren who have made a special study of this question, we have unanimously agreed that the Hebrew calendar has been preserved correct by the Jews.
The new moon occurs, IN JERUSALEM, (World Almanac), at exactly 10:18 P.M., the night of April 7th, which is the eve of April 8th. However, God had the new moon observed by the naked eye, and by this method the first day of the 1st month begins the following sunset, April 8th. Thus Passover comes after sunset April 21st, and the HOLY CONVOCATION after sunset April 22nd, which is Abib 15th. The second holyday begins sunset April 26th, with holy convocation held during the day-time, April 29th. Pentecost this year is JUNE 17th, sunset, until sunset June 18th, instead of June 12th [Sivan 6] as erroneously figured on our calendar printed three years ago.