Thursday, June 16, 2016


The Lord’s Supper: 
Confusions of Semantics and Synonyms


The Lord’s Supper is often mistaken for the Lord’s Table due to semantics and synonyms. The Lord Jesus and the Apostles spoke clearly about His Supper and showed how it is to be observed. In spite of such Biblical clarity, our minds get cluttered in words and wrong practices which often emanate from traditions and lack of careful study of the Word. There are many who link the Lord’s Supper with ministries and even leadership roles rather than allow it to capture our minds and spirits and get ourselves lost in the wonder and awe of the greatness of the cross and the death of the Savior. Many often equate the ‘Lord’s Supper’ with the ‘Lord’s Table’ and give undue importance to the furniture and the settings of the table. Others think that worship is impossible without the ‘Table’ and confuse between worship and remembrance. Many go away from remembrance meetings without adequately remembering our Lord, His sufferings, His death and resurrection as their thoughts center on the Table and all the blessings the Lord has for us on His Table. 

The Lord wanted us to remember Him in more ways than one. He wanted us to remember what He has taught us and asked us to practice it to challenge the world and its ways. He wanted us to remember and proclaim His death and confess it in our lives by the observance of the Supper. At the same time, He has invited us to His table to partake in all that He has prepared for us all the days of our lives. These are distinctly different and distinguishable, yet there are truths which bind together if we meditate on it with expediency and devotional dynamism. He

Why the confusion?

The common confusion about the ‘table’ and the ‘supper’ originates from the similarities that we read in 1 Corinthians 10 about the bread and the cup in relation to His Table while the same elements mentioned in all passages related to the Lord’s Supper in the Gospels and in 1 Corinthians 11. It is true that both the supper and the table belong to the Lord and His people are the partakers of both. Both indicate privileges and responsibilities. These similarities make some think that they are one and the same. But if the table and the supper denote the same truth, why has the Holy Spirit used different words? Is there any possible difference between the two? Is it possible to understand the truth that is embodied in both, distinguish them carefully and experience both uniquely? 

Blessings and Remembrance

1 Corinthians 10:16 speaks about blessings that we receive from the table of the Lord. So it is profitable to understand what is meant by ‘table’ in this and other passages in the Bible. As a matter of fact, we read about the ‘table’ of the Lord in many passages in the Old Testament to which Paul connects as he wrote to the Corinthians (1 Corinthians 10:1-3). Though the Table of the Lord is mentioned in both the Testaments, the Lord’s Supper is a truth that is taught, commanded and practiced in the New Testament only. The Lord spoke about the portion of the priests at the altar as the table of the Lord (Malachi 1:7, 12) which the priests were given to enjoy. Psalms 23:5 speaks about the table the Lord prepares for us. That table contains all the spiritual blessings that the Lord has in store for us as we tread the enemy territory. The table in the wilderness prepared by the Lord is spoken about in Deuteronomy 8:3, Psalms 78:19 and in Proverbs 9:2. In all these situations, the table speaks about the provisions, care and blessings that the Lord has for His people. Here the idea of wooden furniture is not at all envisaged, although sometimes even a literal table, like that of David from where Mephibosheth ate, can be seen as a physical illustration. Thus we see ‘table’ as a generic expression of all that the Lord gives to His children on a daily basis in terms of His care, caring, provisions and blessings. This is what Paul refers to in 1 Corinthians 10.

The Lord’s Table is for us to partake, enjoy and receive as we fellowship from it. It is what we receive from the Lord. Is that what we do at the Lord’s Supper? Not at all! The Lord’s Supper is not a time of receiving any blessing from the Lord, but a time to remember and proclaim the Lord and His death (1 Corinthians 11:24-26).

The Lord’s Supper is observed as often as we gather to remember the Lord (1 Corinthians 11:26) and proclaim His death. We read that it was being observed on the first day of the week (Acts 20:7), largely to commemorate the day of resurrection of our Lord. The Jewish day was from twilight to twilight which is why Paul preached till midnight which caused the sleeping Eutychus to fall down and die. But there is no mention of a particular time or day to gather at the Lord’s Table because we are always at His Table to receive all that He has spread before us. As we draw near, we don’t  need to do anything physically to draw from a physical table, but appropriate from a spiritual table that is full of all His goodness spread before us for as long as we are in this life and will extend to all eternity. 

Remember how the Lord’s Table is differentiated from the table of demons (1 Corinthians 10:18-21) that the idolaters draw from! But we do not see any such distinctions about the Lord’s Supper which is solely set up by us to remember our Lord and to proclaim His death. 

It is also interesting to distinguish the order given at the Lord’s Table and that of the Lord’s Supper. At the Lord’s Table, we have the cup first and then the bread whereas at the Lord’s Supper, we first take the bread and then the cup (Matthew 26:26-28; 1 Corinthians 11:24 & 25). The significance of this distinction is pertinent. The blessings of the Lord’s Table with all His care and provisions come to us through His shed blood and so we draw near unto the Table of the Lord through His shed blood. But when we come to the Lord’s Supper, we remember the Lord first by breaking and eating from the bread. The bread reminds us of the persecution that the Lord endured in His body, and how He was crushed and mutilated by men at first and then crushed in the hands of the Father during the three hours of darkness. Afterwards we remember His shed blood through the wine which was the purchase price of our salvation and how when the whole blood was shed, His life was completely given for us. 

Let us also note that the Table of the Lord is invisible and that we enjoy all the blessings that the Lord spreads before us by faith. But the Lord’s Supper comprises of the visible bread and cup of wine which we see and partake of physically. We are asked to observe the Lord’s Supper, but there is no commandment to observe the Lord’s Table which is a continuous spiritual experience of all believers. 

We receive from the Lord’s Table all that the Lord gives us, but the Lord’s Supper is a time when we remember the Lord, His sufferings, His death and Resurrection till He returns for His Church. So the Lord’s Table is a continuous experience of receiving and enjoying what the Lord grants to all His children whereas the Lord’s Supper is heavenward from our hearts when remembrance and thanksgiving go up from our hearts. As we remember Him, we cannot but worship Him for what He is and what He has done for us.

Interestingly it is the Lord who invites all His children to His Table and gives them all His blessings all the time. They come and draw from His Table and get themselves enriched to live as His children. But the Church has the responsibility to administer the Lord’s Supper and even keep the visibly unworthy persons from partaking of it (1 Corinthians 5:11-12). 

It is also true that the bread at the Lord’s Table denote all believers and their unity as one body of Christ. But at the Lord’s Supper, we remember the broken body of our Lord as we partake of the bread. This is a serious distinction as we draw near the Lord’s Supper to remember Him.

The Bible warns all who ‘live’ in an unworthy manner as they enjoy the blessings made available to them at the Lord’s Table (1 Corinthians 10:21), but those who ‘eat and drink’ in an unworthy manner at the Lord’s Supper are warned of dire consequences (1 Corinthians 11:29). 

The Whole Truth

Every child of God is expected to bear witness to these truths and must clearly distinguish between the Lord’s Table and the Lord’s Supper and partake of both in full significance and keep away from fallacies and fads which the enemy brings to confuse us. We must give thanks to the Lord at His Supper for everything that He has done for us on the cross. We must also gratefully enjoy all the spiritual provisions that He has filled His Table with so that we will all be enriched in every aspect of our Christian life day by day.


Worship and Lord’s Supper

Traditions and Practices

It is a matter of great concern when people make doctrines and spiritual stand on issues in the Bible based on different traditions and practices. The Bible doesn’t give us any clear patterns on how to conduct our gatherings, yet we often stipulate strict written or unwritten code of conduct or order of meetings of the church. We have used a table to place the emblems of the Lord’s Supper in the church, and it has now become ‘Lord’s Table’ and some even come up with expressions like ‘worshiping with the Lord’s Table’. The translation of the Bible that ‘Jesus gave thanks for the bread and the cup’ is often mistaken for ‘blessing the bread and the cup’. We do not realize that any such man-made patterns of the gatherings grieve the Holy Spirit who wants to move the hearts of the believers to take glory through all that they do in a gathering according to His will and pleasure. Church history reveals that at the beginning of each spiritual movement the Scripture is strictly adhered to, but over the years, patterns, traditions, man-made rules and regulations set in to deprive the gatherings of spirit-control.

A good example for such mixing of tradition and practices with the Bible is how some gatherings misunderstand the place of worship in a gathering and limit it to the time of the Lord’s Supper. Some think that worship is the same as observing the Lord’s Supper. They teach that without the observance of the Lord’s Supper, worship cannot be practiced. Thus sadly they confuse people to limit worship for a few minutes a week. So it is spiritually and scripturally expedient to see if there is any distinction between the Lord’s Supper and Worship. It is vital to provide clarity in our adherence to worship so that we would truly worship God. It is also pertinent to examine how far our remembrance meetings will be a time to focus on the Lord and all that He has become for us. It will thus help us to submit ourselves to the leading and control of the Spirit in worshiping and remembering our Lord in the right perspective. 


Worship is better experienced than explained. Worship is a spontaneous flow of the wonder and awe of our hearts as we see the Lord in His glory. It is to fall prostrate and to attribute all worthiness, glory, honor and praise to God for all that He is in His person, character and work. The Greek word mostly used in the New Testament for worship (proskuneo) means to bow down, kneel or fall prostrate and kiss the feet of God whom is the object of our worship. We see that worship is a continuous experience in heaven. Angels and the heavenly beings get themselves lost in the wonder and awe of the Lord and worship Him all the time.  

This truth is seen all through the Old Testament and the New Testament. In some cases in the Old Testament, worship was accompanied with sacrifice and an altar. In other places, it is the expression of being wonder struck at the glory and greatness of God. Worship in the New Testament is shown clearly in the gospels whenever God’s people beheld His glory. The shepherds and the magi worshiped baby Jesus (Luke 2:20; Matthew 2:11). We read about the words of worship by Mary, the mother of our Lord (Luke 1:46-55). We also read about how Simeon and Hanna worshiped Jesus when they saw Him at the Temple soon after His birth (Luke 2:25-38). From then on, there were scores of instances when people worshiped the Lord Jesus as they beheld His glory, before and after His crucifixion (Matthew 28:9; Luke 24:52; John 20:28).  The New Testament admonishes all God’s children to offer sacrifice of praise which is the fruit of their lips (Hebrews13:15). Worship in the New Testament is to offer praises to the One for who He really is and what He has done for our souls (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18; Colossians 3:16-17). It is interesting to see how Jesus taught His disciples in the model prayer to start with worship: “Hallowed Be Your Name” (Matthew 6:9; Luke 11:2). All believers are to submit their bodies as living sacrifices of worship (Romans 12:1-2). 

Worship takes different forms, including our words and our songs (Ephesians 5:19-20), our act of falling prostrate before Him and His glory (Matthew 2:11) and submitting all that we are and have to Him (Romans 12:1). It has to be rendered without ceasing (Ephesians 5:20). Thus a believer’s life ought to develop an attitude of worship (Hebrews 13:15). Our worship includes giving to Him all that we have (Hebrews 13:16; Philippians 4:18) in which He will have full freedom to use it all for His glory. 

In summary, it is important that all God’s children must worship God and live in a spirit and attitude of worship as they are filled with the vision of the risen, glorified Lord. Worship should then become our primary occupation throughout our lives. It will continue to be the greatest occupation in heaven as well (Revelation 4:8-11; 5:8-14). Interestingly we do not see worship in the New Testament linked with the Lord’s Supper which is a time of remembrance. 

The Lord’s Supper

The Lord Jesus established what has been known as the Lord’s Supper (1 Corinthians 11:23-30) or Breaking of Bread (Acts of the Apostles 20:7). It has several vital truths embodied in it.

(1) It is a memorial feast of God’s people where they remember the Lord through eating of the broken bread and drinking from the cup (1 Corinthians 11:24-25).

(2) It is a time and an act of proclaiming the death of our Lord Jesus (1 Corinthians 11:26).

(3) It is an opportunity to enjoy communion or fellowship of God’s people with God and among themselves (1 Corinthians 10:16).

(4) It testifies that the partakers are members of the body of Christ and are bound together to function as one body (1 Corinthians 10: 17).  

(5) It declares that our Lord will soon come to take His children to be home with Him forever (1 Corinthians 11:26).

This memorial feast is to be observed as often as we gather (Acts 2:42; 1 Corinthians 11:26) and most especially on the Lord’s Day which is the first day of the week that reminds us of His resurrection (Acts 20:7). It is a time when we gather around the resurrected Lord and enjoy His victory on the cross for us.

Worship and Lord’s Supper

It is true that when we gather together to remember our Lord and proclaim His death on the cross by observing the Lord’s Supper, our hearts are filled with gratitude. We see the risen slain Lamb seated on the Throne in Heaven. We get ourselves enthralled in His radiating glory and love. We meditate on His sufferings all the way from Bethlehem to Calvary, and most especially during the three hours of darkness. Our hearts are filled with thoughts about His imminent return to take us to be with Him forever. As we observe the Supper by remembering our Lord, we might be filled with praise and adoration and we ascribe glory to His holy name. So let us remind ourselves of the fact that the Lord’s Supper primarily is a time of remembrance. But it cannot be denied that as we remember our Lord, we worship Him also. 

But this doesn’t mean that Lord’s Supper and worship are the same. We worship all the time and it becomes our life style. We worship during our time of personal meditation and prayer, at home during the family altar, as we move around in this world during our daily walk, in the various gatherings of the saints, during the time of corporate worship and during the time when we remember our Lord through the observance of the Lord’s Supper. Any one of these occasions is in no way less important or significant than the other. But the Lord’s Supper is a unique time when we remember our Lord and proclaim His death through the eating of the bread and drinking from the cup. If we limit our worship to the time of the Lord’s Supper, we are belittling the importance of worship and limiting it to a short period of a few minutes during the gathering for the Lord’s Supper. 

We must remember that worship started in the Old Testament times. The first instance of worship mentioned was when Cain and Abel worshiped by offering sacrifices to the Lord, even though there was a sacrifice of an animal to cloth Adam and Eve before that. But this act of worship continued all through the Old Testament. Many of the Old Testament saints had visions of the Lord at which they worshiped Him directly (E.g. Abraham, Isaiah, Ezekiel and others). But at other times, they worshiped by faith and often built altars to offer sacrifice which was the shadow of the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ on the cross that was to come at the fullness of time (2 Chronicles 29:27-30). They worshiped when they crossed the Red Sea (Exodus 1:1). They worshiped when they heard the Word of God read aloud (Nehemiah 8:6; 9:3, 5-6). They worshiped when the Tabernacle was erected and the Temple in Jerusalem and its walls and gates were rebuilt and commissioned (2 Chronicles 5:13; 7:3; Nehemiah 12:27). 

Worship continues all through the New Testament times. And worship will continue all through eternity. But the Lord’s Supper was established in the Upper Room on the night when Jesus was betrayed (1 Corinthians 11:23-25). It will stop at the rapture (1 Corinthians 11:26), as we would then no longer need to remember our Lord because we will see Him face to face and will be with Him forever. But worship will continue to occupy us throughout eternity. 

The above discussion helps us to see the following truths: 

a.       We do not have an express commandment in the New Testament to worship at a particular gathering or occasion because worship is all pervasive and not limited to time, place or situation.

b.      The Lord’s Supper is a commandment to remember our Lord through the breaking of bread as we gather together on the Lord’s Day.

c.       As we remember the Lord, we endeavor to praise, glorify and adore our Lord for who He is and for all that He has done for us, but our emphasis is remembrance of Him who is the Lover of our souls.

d.      At the memorial feast, our hearts of gratitude may lead us to offer praise to our Lord.

e.      Worship and Lord’s Supper are not synonymous.

f.        Worship is not an external observance of some sort at certain occasions, but a lifestyle, philosophy, motive, attitude and priority, to offer ourselves and all that we have to the One who gave Himself up for us. 

May we continue to live in a spirit of worship! May we also remember our Lord regularly through the observance of the Lord’s Supper! May it all be for the glory of our Lord and for our spiritual upliftment!