Question:

I do not believe you have it just right on the container for you have said the following about it:

One container is not necessary because the cup was divided before it was drank - Luke 22:18-20

Please notice with me what Luke 22:20 says: And the cup ("the" represents only "one") in like manner after supper, saying, This cup (Notice that the word "this" is used instead of "these" and the word "cup" meaning "one", instead of the word "cups" which symbolizes more than one, was used here) is the new covenant (how many new covenants did Christ establish? the word "the" here means only "ONE". Thus the ONE cup represents the ONE new covenant. If you think the ONE cup unnecessary, then you might as well preach that Christ established more than ONE new covenant) in my blood, even that which is poured out for you.

We know what Jesus told the apostles to do. In Matthew 26:27 we read, "And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them saying, drink ye all of it." A parallel command is given in Luke's account. "Take this and divide it among yourselves" (Luke 22:17).

We know what the apostles did, and thus, how they divided it among themselves. Mark's account reveals to us exactly what they did when Jesus gave the cup to them. "And he took the cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them; and they all drank of it" (Mark 14:23). This explains exactly how they divided it among themselves.


Answer:

"And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to the disciples and said, "Take, eat; this is My body." Then He took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, "Drink from it, all of you. For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins. But I say to you, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in My Father's kingdom"" (Matthew 26:26-29).

"And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them and said, "Take, eat; this is My body." Then He took the cup, and when He had given thanks He gave it to them, and they all drank from it. And He said to them, "This is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many. Assuredly, I say to you, I will no longer drink of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God"" (Mark 14:22-25).

"Then He took the cup, and gave thanks, and said, "Take this and divide it among yourselves; for I say to you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes." And He took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, "This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me." Likewise He also took the cup after supper, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in My blood, which is shed for you"" (Luke 22:17-20).

You assertion fails because Luke does record both the blessing on the bread and the cup, but contains the extra action that came before the blessing of the bread, which was the dividing of the cup. Your assertion that Matthew 26:27 and Mark 14:23 parallels Luke 22:17 fails because if it were true, the cup would have been drunk before the eating of the bread and after it, yet all of it was drunk at both points. Matthew 26:27 and Mark 14:23 parallels Luke 22:20.

Matthew 26:26-29 Mark 14:22-25 Luke 22:17-20
    Then He took the cup, and gave thanks, and said, "Take this and divide it among yourselves; for I say to you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes."
And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to the disciples and said, "Take, eat; this is My body." And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them and said, "Take, eat; this is My body." And He took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, "This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me."
Then He took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, "Drink from it, all of you. For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins." Then He took the cup, and when He had given thanks He gave it to them, and they all drank from it. And He said to them, "This is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many. Likewise He also took the cup after supper, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in My blood, which is shed for you"
But I say to you, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in My Father's kingdom" Assuredly, I say to you, I will no longer drink of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God"  

What is being denied is the metonymy of subject that is taking place. Here one item is being used to represent all. It isn't an uncommon form of speech:

  • "Your men shall fall by the sword, and your mighty in the war" (Isaiah 3:25).
  • "For they fled from the swords, from the drawn sword, From the bent bow, and from the distress of war" (Isaiah 21:15).
  • "I will scatter them also among the Gentiles, whom neither they nor their fathers have known. And I will send a sword after them until I have consumed them" (Jeremiah 9:16).

In these examples, God isn't talking about a single sword. He is saying the people will die in battle where many swords will be used. Why use the singular instead of the plural? Because it puts emphasis on the fact that it was a battle controlled by one source (God). It emphasizes the unity of action among the many parts.

You can see this in the bread. The order is:

  1. took bread
  2. blessed it
  3. broke it
  4. gave it
  5. commanded to eat it

Notice that though the bread was broken and divided among the disciples, the singular "it" and "this" was used when we know there were multiple pieces. Perhaps your first impulse is to say, "but it came from one loaf." Yes, and their drink came from one cup before it was divided.

We can also see the metonymy of subject in "The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ? For we, though many, are one bread and one body; for we all partake of that one bread" (I Corinthians 10:16-17). Paul is in Ephesus when he wrote this to the Corinthians, but he speaks of the cup and the bread which he, the Corinthians, and all Christians for that matter partake. It is the cup and the bread though it is being taken by Christians all over the world. The singular is being used when we know multiple is involved. It makes it stand out and makes us realize that the focus is on the unity in the participation of this memorial.

Even those who claim the need to use one cup do not technically do so. It is only one cup and one loaf per gathering. Yet the same cup and loaf are not used between congregations for practical reasons. Since the emphasis is placed on the single cup and single loaf as representing the unity between believers, one would conclude that in these groups unity only extends as far as the local congregation; it doesn't include Christians elsewhere in the world. For the rest of us, we see the focus is on the united action of partaking in the same meal: the fruit of the vine and the unleavened bread, representing respectively the blood and body of our Lord. The common participation in that meal shows the unity of believers at the gathering as well as around the world.

Speaking of practicalities, have you ever wondered how the church in Jerusalem handled the Lord's Supper if it was requirement that only one loaf and one cup be used per congregation as you advocate? The church in Jerusalem started with 3,000 members (Acts 2:41) and they participated in the Lord's Supper together (Acts 2:42). Later the number rose to 5,000 (Acts 4:4). I don't know if that is total or 5,000 more. Still, the size of loaf needed to feed 5,000 people from one loaf would probably be a candidate for the Guinness World Book of Records. And I can't imagine trying to lift a single cup that can be shared by 5,000 people. If you argue that they split up, which is contrary to the record and the rule for worship, "the whole church comes together in one place" (I Corinthians 14:23), that would be saying that the bread and the fruit of the vine were divided prior to the partaking. Thus the division is seen as accept between congregations and within a large congregation, but its forbidden to be divided down to the individual level (despite the evidence in Luke).