Church “Fellowship” Meal?

By Donald A Ames

Recently I received a complimentary copy of J.W. Robert’s Acts of Apostles, Part 2 (part of the Living Word series published by the Sweet Pub. Co., long known for their liberal leanings). As I glanced through it, it was indeed simple and easy to read. But when he came to Acts 20, he stubbed his toe in a big way.

In an effort to justify a mistranslation by the New English Version, which translates Acts 20:7 as “on Saturday night,” he points out that this no doubt was the correct time. But the Greek here is clearly “the first day of the week” regardless! Those who would like to nullify the impact of this biblical example try to find comfort in seeking another day for the observance of the Lord’s Supper, hence doing away with the observance of it every first day of the week. Such a translation is not only misleading, but not a translation!

Also, he affirms, “It is inferred from Acts 20:11 that the breaking of bread occurred after the midnight accident.” This is interesting, because he also “infers” from Acts 20:11 that the church engaged in a “fellowship” meal. Now, which was it? There is nothing in the text that tells us when they partook of the Lord’s Supper! The Bible affirms that they gathered together “on the first day of the week” for the purpose of partaking of the Lord’s supper. I am willing to concede the text does not tell us when, but since that is why they assembled, I believe they did what they assembled to do when they assembled to do it. Anything beyond that is pure speculation!

But he then affirms, “On the same occasion the group also took a common meal. . . It was customary of the New Testament churches to do both when they met for worship. . . . Thus the group met, Paul preached, they took the Lord’s Supper, and they had a fellowship meal. . . . The group broke bread and ate food” (p. 48). He assumes, asserts and affirms, but offers no proof. It is contrary to 1 Corinthians 11, in which the apostle Paul admonished them that they had homes to eat in, and that the worship period was not the place for eating ordinary meals. It is also contrary to plain biblical language. Note that Acts 20:11 is very plain in stating, “Now when he had come up, had broken bread and eaten, and talked a long while, even till daybreak, he departed.” I wonder, did “the group” depart? It is obvious to even a fifth grader the “breaking of bread” in Acts 20:11 was engaged in by Paul alone, who had been engaged in some long speaking already. Things had been interrupted by Eutychus’s falling out of the window and being restored again to life – and so while they were settling down again, Paul refreshed himself, continued his speech until daybreak and departed. It is no where inferred that any others partook of this meal but the apostle Paul, who would not be going home but continuing on his way! But it is interesting to see how much can be assumed when one wants to justify a unscriptural position. And he is supposed to be a Bible scholar?

Guardian of Truth XXXV: 15, p. 491
August 15, 1991