August 15, 2018

On love-Feasts

By R. B. Rasmussen

In the April issue of Truth Magazine, brother Lowell Blasingame, under the heading "May There Always Be Love," commented that, "No one denies that early Christians had feasts of charity, but the scriptures that mention such certainly do not indicate that the church took money from its treasury and built kitchens and dining halls and provided the food as practiced by some of my brethren today . . ." While I agree with the essence of his statements, I cannot agree with the implications brother Blasingame allows about feasts of charity. Towards this contention then, the following comments are directed.

Considering Jude's letter in general, one of course finds that 2 Pet. 2 presents an almost exactly parallel teaching. Thus a study based on both readings renders the most light. Before coming to Jude 12, we will note that both teachings are concerned with false teachers; see Jude 4, 2 Peter 2:1. It is still the false teachers about whom Jude wrote in verse 12, "these are they who are hidden rocks in your love-feasts when they feast with you, shepherds that without fear feed themselves; . . ."

These false teachers present a subtle danger in the love feasts, says Jude, in describing them as "hidden rocks," while Peter says they are "spots and blemishes" (2 Pet. 2:13). It is obvious that Jude condemns such men and in verse 12 he does so in these words, "shepherds that without fear feed themselves." We can see here two ways wherein the "shepherds" (false teachers) are condemned. First note that these shepherds are guilty of feeding themselves. In a physical banquet there is certainly no sin in feeding one's own self. But the word "shepherd" implies that the person is to feed the flock and not himself. Also, the "reek word (poimaino) for feed means to tend a flock as a shepherd. New testament usage of this word is about the same as with it's occurrence in 1 Pet. 5:2 where Peter instructs elders to "feed the flock."

The second sinful act of these false teachers was that in feeding themselves, they did so "without fear." If these were merely men feeding themselves at some physical banquet, what would be so wrong about eating without fear? Indeed, the very first Christians took their food with gladness (Acts 2:46).

The context of Jude 12 just plain does not allow physical banquets in the meaning of love feasts, and people using this as authority for church socials err, evidently placing themselves in the shoes of the false teachers Jude is warning against.

Finally, one is not put in a hard place to determine what is involved in a love feast. 1 Cor. 10:14-17 teaches that "beloved" brethren partake together during the Lord's Supper. However, I believe that this is only a small part of what meaning is involved in Jude 12's love feasts. For example, in 1 Cor. 5:8, Paul epitomized living the Christian life as "keeping the feast." And didn't Jesus say that the "bread of life" was himself (Jno. 6:35), and isn't it written that we should live by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God? This truth fits Jude 12 in that teaching is likened unto feeding and God's word is to be received with fear and trembling (II Cor. 7:15), which also is how a Christian is to work out his own salvation (Phil. 2:12).

 

The early Christians truly engaged in feasts of charity, and Christians in fellowship with God still do; but these are feasts spiritual and not feasts carnal.

Truth Magazine IX: 11, pp. 20-21
August 1965

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