: (1 Corinthians 11:20), called also "the Lord's table" (1 Corinthians 10:21), "communion," "cup of blessing" (1 Corinthians 10:16), and "breaking of bread" (Acts 2:42).
In the early Church it was called also "eucharist," or giving of thanks (comp. Matthew 26:27), and generally by the Latin Church "mass," a name derived from the formula of dismission, Ite, missa est, i.e., "Go, it is discharged."
The account of the institution of this ordinance is given in Matthew 26:26-29, Mark 14:22-25, Luke 22:19,20, and 1 Corinthians 11:24-26. It is not mentioned by John.
It was designed,
- To commemorate the death of Christ: "This do in remembrance of me."
- To signify, seal, and apply to believers all the benefits of the new covenant. In this ordinance Christ ratifies his promises to his people, and they on their part solemnly consecrate themselves to him and to his entire service.
- To be a badge of the Christian profession.
- To indicate and to promote the communion of believers with Christ.
- To represent the mutual communion of believers with each other.
The elements used to represent Christ's body and blood are bread and wine. The kind of bread, whether leavened or unleavened, is not specified. Christ used unleavened bread simply because it was at that moment on the paschal table. Wine, and no other liquid, is to be used (Matthew 26:26-29). Believers "feed" on Christ's body and blood,
- not with the mouth in any manner, but
- by the soul alone, and
- by faith, which is the mouth or hand of the soul. This they do
- by the power of the Holy Ghost. This "feeding" on Christ, however, takes place not in the Lord's Supper alone, but whenever faith in him is exercised.
This is a permanent ordinance in the Church of Christ, and is to be observed "till he come" again.