A Question about the Lord’s Supper

by Greg Gwin

We have received a question about the weekly observance of the Lord’s Supper. Our questioner suggested that we ought to only take the Lord’s Supper once each year, at the time of the Jewish Passover, because this was the time when Jesus instituted the memorial. He further discounted Acts 20:7 as a proof text, suggesting that it simply refers to a common meal.

In regards to the literal weekly observance of the Lord’s Supper, we can prove that Acts 20:7 is a reference to the Lord’s Supper, and not a common meal because it refers to an occasion “when the disciples came together to break bread,” and “Paul preached unto them.” So, Paul joined them in an assembly that was specially designated for “breaking bread.” But, in I Corinthians 11:20-22, in an epistle written earlier, Paul rebuked Christians for coming together and observing a common meal. They were absolutely missing the purpose of their assembling together. He commands them to do this eating of common meals in their own homes, not when they came together in their assemblies. (See also I Corinthians 11:33,34). Therefore, it is certain that when Paul assembled together with the church in Troas (Acts 20:7), it was for the Lord’s Supper, or else he would have been violating his own instructions that he wrote to the church in Corinth.

Also, we know that this was NOT observed at the time of the Passover because Acts 20:6 says Paul and his companions sailed from Philippi to Troas “after the days of unleavened bread.” The days of unleavened bread were observed by the Jews for seven days during which the Passover (Exodus 12:15-20; 13:3-7). So, Paul started his journey toward Troas about seven days after the Passover. Acts 20:6 further states that it took them five days to get to Troas, and then they waited an additional seven days before this assembly took place. We conclude that this assembly “to break bread” was about three weeks or more AFTER the Passover.