The Lord's Evening Meal - How Often?

by Bobcat 21 Replies latest watchtower bible

  • Bobcat

    The 12/15/2013 Study WT has the article, "This Is To Be A Memorial For You." In it, paragraph 7 (on page 18) makes the statement, ". . . Jesus instituted a new event that his followers thereafter were to keep annually - the Lord's Evening Meal." The article goes on to focus on the idea of which particular day was that to be (Nisan 14th or 15th).

    But the subject of this post is to whether, in fact, Jesus intended it to be an "annual" remembrance as the WT article asserts.

    The WT assertion is based on the idea that the Passover was an annual event. Thus, the Memorial should be held annually also.

    But consider these points:

    • The only two 'commands' about keeping it are non-specific:

      (Luke 22:19, 20 NWT) . . .Also, he took a loaf, gave thanks, broke it, and gave it to them, saying: “This means my body which is to be given in YOUR behalf. Keep doing this in remembrance of me.” 20 Also, the cup in the same way after they had the evening meal, he saying: “This cup means the new covenant by virtue of my blood, which is to be poured out in YOUR behalf.

      (Matthew 26:26-28 NWT) . . .As they continued eating, Jesus took a loaf and, after saying a blessing, he broke it and, giving it to the disciples, he said: “TAKE, eat. This means my body.” 27 Also, he took a cup and, having given thanks, he gave it to them, saying: “Drink out of it, all of YOU; 28 for this means my ‘blood of the covenant,’ which is to be poured out in behalf of many for forgiveness of sins.

      (Note that Matthew's rendition leaves out the "keep doing this . . ." command, but includes the command to "take, eat" and "drink out of it, all of you," which is less explicit in Luke, although implied. Ironically, the WT is specific, "annually," about what is non-specific, the "Keep doing this . . .", but very much not wanting people to do what Jesus specifically said to do, "Take eat," and "Drink out of it, all of you.")

      (1 Corinthians 11:23-26 NWT) . . .For I received from the Lord that which I also handed on to YOU, that the Lord Jesus in the night in which he was going to be handed over took a loaf 24 and, after giving thanks, he broke it and said: “This means my body which is in YOUR behalf. Keep doing this in remembrance of me.” 25 He did likewise respecting the cup also, after he had the evening meal, saying: “This cup means the new covenant by virtue of my blood. Keep doing this, as often as YOU drink it, in remembrance of me.” 26 For as often as YOU eat this loaf and drink this cup, YOU keep proclaiming the death of the Lord, until he arrives. . .

      So the two commands (from Luke and 1st Corinthians) merely say, "Keep doing this," and "Keep doing this, as often as . . ." ("As often as" = "whenever" in the rNWT) One could get the idea of an annual observance from this. And the WT has. But that is a far cry from insisting that 'Jesus established an annual observance.' Jesus did no such thing. He simply said "Keep doing this . . ." This is an example of the WT 'teaching the commands of men as doctrine.' (Matthew 15:9)

    • The WT article quotes part of 1 Corinthians 5:7, "Christ our passover has been sacrificed." (p. 17 par. 2). But note verse 8 which immediately follows:

      (1 Corinthians 5:8 NWT) . . .Consequently let us keep the festival, not with old leaven, neither with leaven of badness and wickedness, but with unfermented cakes of sincerity and truth.

      In saying, "Let us keep the festival," referring back to "our passover" in verse 7, Paul could hardly have meant that they should practice "sincerity and truth" one day of the year. Also, the reference to "leaven" is a passover item as leaven was not to be found at passover meals. But Paul's application of it is to "badness and wickedness," which again, has to be with regard to year round conduct.

    • Consider the context of Paul's instructions about the Lord's Evening Meal in 1st Corinthians 11:17-34. Paul begins the discussion this way:

      (1 Corinthians 11:17-20 NWT) 17 But, while giving these instructions, I do not commend YOU because it is, not for the better, but for the worse that YOU meet together. 18 For first of all, when YOU come together in a congregation, I hear divisions exist among YOU; and in some measure I believe it. 19 For there must also be sects among YOU, that the persons approved may also become manifest among YOU. 20 Therefore, when YOU come together to one place, it is not possible to eat the Lord’s evening meal.

      Notice that the discussion about the Lord's Evening Meal revolves around, when "you meet together," "when you come together in a congregation," and "when you come together to one place." "Divisions" are occurring among them "when [they] come together in a congregation." And this, "therefore," makes it "not possible to eat the Lord's Evening Meal" "when you come together to one place."

      Everything about that wording sounds like a frequently recurring event, not an "annual observance." This includes the "as often as" found in verses 25, 26 (which only occurs also at Revelation 11:6 in a context that certainly does not mean "annually." See here for "as often as.")

    • Paul concludes the discussion in 1 Corinthians 11:17-34 with these words:

      (1 Corinthians 11:33, 34 NWT) . . .Consequently, my brothers, when YOU come together to eat [it], wait for one another. 34 If anyone is hungry, let him eat at home, that YOU may not come together for judgment. But the remaining matters I will set in order when I get there.

      There is that "when you come together" again. But notice, "the remaining matters [Paul] will set in order when [he] gets there." When did Paul intend to "get there"?

      (1 Corinthians 16:5-8 NWT) . . .But I shall come to YOU when I have gone through Mac·e·do′ni·a, for I am going through Mac·e·do′ni·a; 6 and perhaps I shall stay or even pass the winter with YOU, that YOU may conduct me partway to where I may be going. 7 For I do not want to see YOU just now on [my] passing through, for I hope to remain some time with YOU, if Jehovah permits. 8 But I am remaining in Eph′e·sus until the [festival of] Pentecost;

      Paul intends to stay in Ephesus "until . . . Pentecost" (mid-May or so) but to "stay or even pass the winter" with the Corinthians (which would require an arrival before late-September due to winter travel difficulties). Since he intends to stay in Ephesus until Pentecost, this places the writing of this letter (1st Corinthians) before Passover (which comes 50 days before Pentecost). So as Paul writes this letter there is an approaching Passover, after which, Paul intends to arrive there before winter sets in.

      IF (as the WT contends) the Corinthians only hold the Lord's Evening Meal once a year, on the Passover, that means there is only one observance between when Paul writes his letter and when he intends to arrive to "set in order" the "remaining matters." So, hypothetically speaking, with only one Memorial to be held before he arrives, why would Paul describe it as "when you come together," and "as often as you [do this]"? These words only make sense if the Memorial is a regular, ongoing occurrance. (Perhaps even weekly. See sublinks hear for additional on the idea of a weekly Christian meeting schedule.)

    (See also this ongoing thread.)

  • Bobcat

    Bump (For WT meeting today)

  • designs

    Why not every day, a Catholic can go to Mass everyday and take communion. Christianity is so all over the map as to what and when communion means and how to partake its almost meaningless to pick the JWs apart for their goofy interpretation.

  • Bobcat

    The post is more directed at the WT's assertion that it HAS to be annually, and that there is no other way to see it. In fact, I have no argument with a choice to have it annually. The argument above is constructed to show that the early Christians in Corinth (and Paul himself) did not understand Jesus' command to require only an annual remembrance.

    As a side point, it is also interesting that Paul would tell the Corinthians, "as often as you [do this]." Paul assumes that the Corinthians have a certain amount of autonomy in their selection of when they hold their Lord's Evening Meal. This is far different from the 'top-down' micro-managing that occurs within the WT.

    Take Care Designs and thanks for the comment.

  • designs

    In some Denominations like conservative Presbyterians you have to go through a screening process before you can "eat from the table" of communion.

    To an Eastern Orthodox communion is partaking of the mysticism of Christ while a Catholic is taught it is transubstaniation of the flesh and blood.

    Is there a more polarized ritual than communion among professed christians.

  • Bobcat

    Compare chapter 9.5 of the Didache (here, but you have to scroll down to chap. 9). Such qualifications are not new. Although, again, the NT says nothing about it. Any 'rules' about it have to be deduced.

    Curiously, the WT makes the annual Passover a hard and fast model that must be followed. Yet the Passover regulations allowed children and others such as slave to participate (as long as they were circumsized - See Exodus 12:43-49), something strongly discouraged by the WT (even though they consider the "great crowd" to be analagous to "slaves." (See here.)

  • designs

    Paul did have rules, some were to be excluded for moral failings etc..

  • ablebodiedman

    Paul assumes that the Corinthians have a certain amount of autonomy in their selection of when they hold their Lord's Evening Meal. This is far different from the 'top-down' micro-managing that occurs within the WT.

    According to Jesus Christ it appears that in the last days the memorial switches to a very individualistic affair. Saying this while addressing "the congregations"

    Revelation 3:19-22

     "‘All those for whom I have affection I reprove and discipline. Therefore be zealous and repent. 20  Look! I am standing at the door and knocking. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come into his [house] and take the evening meal with him and he with me. 21  To the one that conquers I will grant to sit down with me on my throne, even as I conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne. 22  Let the one who has an ear hear what the spirit says to the congregations.’"

    I do not see much plurality in what Jesus Christ said about the evening meal above while addressing all the congregations.

    Perhaps this is to allow individuals an opportunity to celebrate without being obliged to "eat and drink with the drunkards"?

    Has Christianity been ruined?

    Daniel 2:44

     "And in the days of those kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that will never be brought to ruin. And the kingdom itself will not be passed on to any other people. It will crush and put an end to all these kingdoms, and it itself will stand to times indefinite;





    Let the one who has an ear hear what the spirit says to the congregations


  • ablebodiedman

    If Christianity has been ruined then what is the last kingdom that will never be brought to ruin?

    Revelation 21:24-27

    and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it. 25  And its gates will not be closed at all by day, for night will not exist there. 26  And they will bring the glory and the honor of the nations into it. 27  But anything not sacred and anyone that carries on a disgusting thing and a lie will in no way enter into it; only those written in the Lamb’s scroll of life [will].


  • Perry

    "For as often as YOU eat this loaf and drink this cup, YOU keep proclaiming the death of the Lord, until he arrives"

    Imagine that, the lord leaving this issue open for each group to decide.

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