Why is the Lord's Supper taken early in the day on Sunday and not in the evening? After all a supper is something that is taken in the evening.
In English, "supper" refers to the last mean of the day. The memorial in which we remember Christ's death is referred to as the Lord's Supper because it was his last meal -- both of the day he instituted it and the last before his death.
"For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you: that the Lord Jesus on the same night in which He was betrayed took bread; and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, "Take, eat; this is My body which is broken for you; do this in remembrance of Me." In the same manner He also took the cup after supper, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in My blood. This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me"" (I Corinthians 11:23-25).
The phrase "after supper" refers to the Lord's memorial being instituted after the Passover meal, so in a sense, this was a supper after supper. The memorial is called by several names:
- The Lord's Supper (I Corinthians 11:20) - indicating that it both belongs to the Lord and that it reminds us of Christ's last meal.
- Communion (I Corinthians 10:16-17) - placing emphasis that this is something shared
- Feast (I Corinthians 5:8) - a celebratory meal, so while remembering a death is a solomen occasion, we also remember that Jesus arose, which is a cause for gladness. That is why Jesus gave thanks while instituting the Lord's Supper. (This is why some denominations call the Lord's Supper the eucharist, which means "thanksgiving.")
- The breaking of bread (Acts 2:42) - a phrase that meant to have a meal, though in the Lord's Supper we break the bread to symbolize Jesus' broken body.
The timing of the Lord's Supper is based on the example given in Troas. "Now on the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul, ready to depart the next day, spoke to them and continued his message until midnight" (Acts 20:7). It was on the first day of the week that the disciples came to partake of the Lord's Supper (to break bread). We know it was not a common meal being referred to because they gathered once a week to partake of this meal. Since the time frame was the first day of the week and no time of day was given, then it doesn't matter when the Lord's Supper is taken, so long as it is on the first day of the week. When during the day then becomes a choice for the local church to make regarding when it is best for all members to gather for this memorial.
Even though it may be taken early in the day, it still remains a memorial of the Lord's Supper. It is not our supper.