The Lord’s Supper — Its Frequency

By Johnie Edwards

The frequency of observing the Lord’s Supper has been a troubling question for many. There are those who observe the Lord’s supper once a year, every six months, quarterly, monthly, every other month and some weekly.

There is an interesting statement in the 1890 edition of The Standard Manual For Baptist Churches by Edward T. Hiscox concerning the frequency of eating the Lord’s supper:

As to the time, place and frequency of the ordinances, no Scriptural directions are given. They are left optional with the churches. They are usually observed on Sun- days, but not necessarily. As to come to observe it the Supper, our churches have very generally on the first Sunday of each month (20).

There Are Scriptural Directions

The Lord has not left us without scriptural authority for partaking of the Lord’s supper.

1. The Lord himself instituted the Lord’s supper. “And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed it, and brake it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is my body. And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it. For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins” (Matt. 26:26-28).

The Lord’s supper is of the Lord, not of men. Therefore men have no right to decide anything about the elements or the frequency of the Lord’s supper.

2. Two items are to be used in the Lord’s supper. Paul told the Corinthians, “The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ?” (1 Cor. 10:16). How many elements did you count in this passage? Only two are mentioned! The bread is a memorial of the body of Christ and the cup, the fruit of the vine, is a memorial of the shed blood of our Lord.

3. Individuals eat the Lord’s supper in the assembly. The Standard Manual of the Baptist Church says, “Since the Supper is distinctively a church ordinance, it is to be observed by churches only, and not by individuals . . .” (20). I don’t remember reading any thing about the Lord’s supper being a church ordinance, do you? Surely the individual eats the Lord’s supper; a fact many overlook. Paul penned, “But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup. For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body” (1 Cor. 11:28-29). It seems that the brethren who believe that when one person partakes of the communion at an evening service, every member must also partake with them, miss that eating the Lord’s supper has some individuality to it. When an individual communes on Sunday morning, he has done what the Lord commanded be done. If not, why not?

4. The Bible teaches that the Lord’s supper is to be ob- served every first day of the week. By apostolic example we learn, “And upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul preached unto them, ready to depart on the morrow; and continued his speech until midnight” (Acts 20:7). But someone is ready to say, “Well, it doesn’t say the first day of every week. And didn’t Paul say, “For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord’s death till he come?” (1 Cor. 11:26). Paul is not discussing frequency; he just says when you do eat the Lord’s supper, it shows the Lord’s death. As to frequency of the Lord’s supper, every week has a first day, and any event that is celebrated is celebrated as often as the day rolls around. For an example, how often do you celebrate your birthday? Well, until you get to be about 40, once a year! Why just once a year? Once a year only comes once a year. Now how often does the first day of the week come. Every week. When Moses told Israel, “Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy” (Exod. 20:8); why didn’t he say remember every sabbath day? He did not have to say it that way. Jews knew that every week had a Saturday. In regards to the Lord’s supper, the Holy Spirit knew that early Christians understood that every week had a first day! While eating in a MCL Cafeteria, I noticed a sign about the Lions Club. The sign said, “Lions Meet Here Tuesday 6:00 P.M.” The sign does not say that the Lions meet here every Tuesday. It doesn’t have to; Lions know that every week has a Tuesday! 

Need I say more?