The Lord's Supper- How Often?

Voyd N. Ballard
Atwater, California

Paul in 1 Cor. 11:26 say of the Lord's Supper, "For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do show the Lord's death till he comes." When Jesus instituted the Lord's Supper he said, "This do in remembrance of me" (Lk. 22:19), but he did not, at the time he instituted the Supper, tell how "often" we are to do this in remembrance of Him.

Jesus said, "I appoint unto you a kingdom, as my father hath appointed unto me; That ye may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom, and set on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel" (Lk. 22:29,30). This shows that the Lord's Supper was to be eaten in His kingdom, and it cannot be observed anywhere else, for the Lord did not place his table anywhere else. He certainly did not put his table in any of the modern religious groups or denominations. In fact, none of them existed then, or for several hundred years thereafter.

Since Jesus did not tell us how "often," but did say the Lord's Supper would be in the kingdom, we must look into the practice of the kingdom or early church to see how often they did it. Anytime we find an approved example we may be sure it is just as binding as a command, and we can follow it by the authority of the Lord. Now, in Acts 20:7 we find the answer to "How Often" and "When" we are to observe the Lord's Supper. The passage says, "Now upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread . . ." This tells any honest person who wants to accept Bible authority "how often" and "when."

The old worn-out sectarian argument that this passage "Doesn't say every first day of the week" is a quibble made only by those who do not believe it is necessary to follow the Bible. The person making such a statement usually does so because he has heard some false teacher say it, and without regard for either good reasoning or Bible teaching. In fact the person who stands and looks into the face of Acts 20:7 and asks, "which first day of the week?" would consider it downright silly to ask the same question regarding similar statements about material things. For example, I see this sign painted on the front doors of many business establishments, "Open Sunday." I have never seen any of these Bible doubters standing at the door of the establishment and asking "Which Sunday? I wonder which Sunday they are open. They do not say 'every Sunday,' so I just wonder which Sunday they mean." You know when you see the sign that says, "Open Sunday" it means EVERY TIME THERK IS A SUNDAY, and it would be downright foolish to stand there, read the sign, and ask "Which Sunday?"

Well, it is just as foolish to stand and read the Lord's sign in Acts 20:7 "Upon the first day of the week" and ask "Which one?" What did the church in Troas do? They came together to break bread. When? "Upon the first day of the week." Paul and his companions arrived in Troas a week before that meeting, but "we abode seven days" (Verse 6) to meet with the church "Upon the first day of the week" to "break bread." Evidently the "breaking of bread upon the first day of the week" was much more important to Paul than it is to these "which oners." The very nature of the language in Acts 20: 7 show that this was the practice of the early church to come together "upon the first day of the week to break bread." It would not make good sense to say, "Upon EVERY FIRST DAY of the week when we came together to break bread, Paul preached" because Paul went on his way after that first day of the week meeting with the church in Troas. Paul was not there any more, but the church was, and the church had been there before Paul came, and it was their practice to come together "Upon the first day of the week to break bread." Any one that can see through a ladder ought to be able to see that!

In fact the early church from its very beginning continued "steadfastly" in the "breaking of bread." Acts 2:42 tells us that right after the establishment of the church, "And they continued steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine, and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers." Some have contended that the "breaking of bread" here is a social event and not the Lord's Supper, but this is not true.

Please note:

1. The breaking of bread in Acts 2:42 is either a social event or the Lord's Supper.

2. If it is a social event, then social events are part of the worship of the Lord, and therefore must be observed by the church.

3. But if the breaking of bread in Acts 2:42 is not a social event, or a common meal, it is the Lord's Supper.

4. If it is the Lord's Supper, we must continue steadfastly in its observance just as the early church did.

5. The breaking of bread here is connected with the Apostles' Doctrine, Fellowship, and Prayers. Anyone who will stop to think knows these are items of worship.

6. Eating a common meal is not an item of worship, therefore the "breaking of bread" in Acts 2:42 is the Lord's Supper, since it is one of the acts of worship.

7. But the early church "continued steadfastly" in the "breaking of bread," Observing the Lord's Supper once every three, six or twelve months, or just "when we happen to have the opportunity" would not be "continuing steadfastly" in the breaking of bread.

Coming together "Upon the first day of the week" is "continuing steadfastly" in the Lord's Supper. This is exactly what Acts 2:42 says the early church did. This is what they were doing in Jerusalem when the church was first established, and this is what the church was still doing some thirty-odd years later when Paul wrote to Corinth, "Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him, that there be no gatherings when I come." I Cor. 16:2

Once again, we hear the same old worn out quibble regarding I Cor. 16:2, "It doesn't say every first day." Well, it says, "upon the first day of the week" and you do not have to be very smart to know that every week has a first day, now do you?

It so happens, however, that many reliable translations of the New Testament do say "Every first day."

Here is the rendering of a few of them:

Revised Standard Version of 1952: "On the first day of every week ......

20th Century from The Original Greek, Westcott & Hort's Text: "On the first day of every week. . . ."

Goodspeed: "On the first day of every week. . . ."

Chas. B. Williams: "On the first day of every week. . . ."

Many more could be cited but the above should be sufficient to show that the "first day of the week" of I Cor. 16:2 is "EVERY FIRST DAY OF THE WEEK. "

A true Christian will look forward to worshipping the Lord in the apostles' doctrine, giving, singing, prayer and "showing his death till he comes" in eating the Lord's supper on THE FIRST DAY OF EVERY WEEK.

TRUTH MAGAZINE, XV: 18, pp. 10-11
March 11, 1971