The Lord’s Supper: Further from the Early Church

An excellent source book on early church practice is Everett Ferguson’s Early Christians Speak, vol. 1. (The original appears to be out of print, although Early Christians Speak – Vol. 2 can still be had. Most Church of Christ libraries have a copy.) Ferguson is a world-class expert in the Patristic literature, a professor at Abilene Christian, and a strong advocate for a cappella worship. He writes,

Jesus instituted the memorial of himself at the last supper in the context of a meal. It seems that a meal provided the most convenient context in which the Lord’s supper was observed by early Christians. … The Didache [late First Century] also sets the eucharist in the context of a common religious meal. The Roman governor Pliny [ca. AD 110-115] places the Christian gathering for a common meal at a separate time from the “stated” religious assembly.

Early Christians Speak, p. 130.

The Wikipedia gives a fair summary of what we know about the early church’s celebration of the love-feast –

Soon after the year 100, Ignatius of Antioch refers to the agape or love-feast.[5]Tertullian too seems to write of these meals,[8] though what he describes is not quite clear.[2] Clement of Alexandria (c.150-211/216) distinguished so-called “Agape” meals of luxurious character from the agape (love) “which the food that comes from Christ shows that we ought to partake of”.[9] Accusations of gross indecency were sometimes made against the form that these meals sometimes took.[10] Referring to Clement of Alexandria, Stromata III,2, Philip Schaff commented: “The early disappearance of the Christian agapæ may probably be attributed to the terrible abuse of the word here referred to, by the licentious Carpocratians [a hypersexual Gnostic group]. The genuine agapæ were of apostolic origin (2 Pet. ii. 13; Jude 12), but were often abused by hypocrites, even under the apostolic eye (1 Corinthians 11:21). In the Gallican Church, a survival or relic of these feasts of charity is seen in the pain béni; and, in the Eastern Orthodox Church in the ἀντίδωρον or eulogiæ, also known as prosphora distributed to non-communicants at the close of the Eucharist, from the loaf out of which the bread of oblation is supposed to have been cut.”[11]

Augustine of Hippo also objected to the continuance in his native North Africa of the custom of such meals, in which some indulged to the point of drunkenness, and he distinguished them from proper celebration of the Eucharist: “Let us take the body of Christ in communion with those with whom we are forbidden to eat even the bread which sustains our bodies.”[12] He reports that even before the time of his stay in Milan, the custom had already been forbidden there.[13]

Canons 27 and 28 of the Council of Laodicea (364) restricted the abuses.[14] The Third Council of Carthage (393) and the Second Council of Orleans (541) reiterated this legislation, which prohibited feasting in churches, and the Trullan Council of 692 decreed that honey and milk were not to be offered on the altar (Canon 57), and that those who held love feasts in churches should be excommunicated (Canon 74).

It seems clear that it was routine, although perhaps not universal, to take communion as part of a common meal. Yes, they added fried chicken to the Lord’s Supper! And the fellowship this helped generate was very much at the heart of early Christian practice.

Notice that Paul rebuked Peter in Gal 2 for refusing to eat with Gentiles! This wasn’t about meals at McDonalds. It was about a meal that evidenced a shared community. Just so, when Paul instructed a congregation to withdraw fellowship, he commanded them not to even eat together (1 Cor 5:11), as though sharing a meal was routine practice and at the heart of their community.

The translations routinely miss it, but Paul’s instructions in Rom 14-15 regarding accepting those who disagree over disputable matters is likely couched in terms of fellowship meals as well. Sean F. Winter, “Ambiguous Genitives, Pauline Baptism and Roman Insulae: Resources from Romans to Support Pushing the Boundaries of Unity,” in Baptist Sacramentalism 2, offers this take on Romans 14-15 –

He raises an interesting perspective on Romans 14-15. You see, the Roman Christians were likely meeting in “high-rise, overcrowded tenement apartments known as insulae. This social context provides the most plausible explanation for hostility and enmity between different Christian groups in the city. The references to domestic servants (oiketai) in 14:4 and use of terms relating to the well being of the household (oikodome) in 14:19 and 15:2 confirm the suggestion.

This explains, secondly, why Paul uses the verb proslambano in 14:1 and 15:7. In context it clearly means ‘take one another into your dwellings’. For Robert Jewett it here ‘carries the technical sense of reception into the fellowship of the congregation, that is, to the common meal’. For our purposes it is enough to remind ourselves that the image is not of mutual respect from a distance, but of radical hospitality and mutuality.

Now, it appears that over time the common meal was replaced with a purely symbolic meal of bread and wine — in token amounts — as the church left private homes and entered the formerly pagan temples given to them by Constantine. Legalization and the rapid influx of former pagans into the Christianity as the emperor declared that only Christians could be citizens led to widespread abuses of the love-feast.

It’s important to realize that many pagan religions had similar meals that were characterized by drunkeness. Therefore, as pagans became “Christians” for civic convenience, it’s easy to see how the meals were abused.

Moreover, over time, Platonic thought took over Christianity, so that the material was seen as evil. Thus, the very physical love feast was replaced with a highly symbolic, spiritualized meal — that was more about the ceremony than table fellowship — and unity became a matter of the authority of church officials rather than love and companionship developed over a common meal eaten in the name of Jesus and shared with those in need.

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17 Responses

  1. Jay

    I will say one more time, if you all have ever been to the many countries in the world the basic fellowship of family and social starts with a common meal. These meals, especially in South America last more than an hour and usually start at 8:00 PM.

    In the U.S. our meals are not family oriented and are mostly fast food on the run, so it is a natural thing to practice communion the same way. The whole structure of worship is completely different from the first century and the New Testament.

    I don’t know what we should do to bring back spirituality. I’m not a preacher. At times I believe we could do better without them as witnessed by the debacle every one calls a Lectureship of Conservatives. I have seen too many “Preacher Lectures” in my life time, most of which were negative.

    For once I wish they would come up with something that unites believers.

    Bob

  2. I think an early Christian would be bewildered by our practice of the Lord’s Supper, from the altar that most churches have at the front, to the communion trays, to the pasteurized-homogenized-Westernized stuff we put in our cups, to the “pinch and sip” tradition.

    Then we told him this was a “supper,” he’d probably fear for our nutritional health!

    Grace and peace,
    Tim Archer

  3. Tim

    Like everything else in our American culture, church is a business and mostly a form of entertainment. We load our assemblies with folks who are never taught and do not study on their own. Look at the ratio of class participation to the worship assembly.The sermons lack depth and must be propped up by a poorly connected power point razzel dazzel presentation.

    So no wonder we slop through communion. We are warned not to partake in an unworthy manner. If we do we can become sick and even die(spiritual death).
    I must say, our Catholic brethren make it the center of worship, and even funerals and weddings. We could lear much from them.

    Bob

  4. Its clear that Paul himself condemns the common meal and replaces it with the symbolic meal in 1 Cor 11, isn’t it? “Don’t you have houses to eat [your common meal] in? Or is it just that you despise the church of God? That you seek to shame those who have little? What shall I say to you about this? Praise you? I certainly don’t praise you! Because what I received from the Lord was no common meal but a symbolic meal, i.e. that the Lord Jesus took bread and a cup and said ‘this is my body’ and ‘this is the New Covenant ratified by my blood’ and as oft as you eat THAT bread and drink THAT cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death till he comes. But you are weak and sick because of your common meal, because you do not discern the Lord’s body but instead get drunk and glutonous. Are ye not carnal? Are ye not carnal and walk as men?”

  5. Paul is not condemning the common meal. He is condemning how some of the Corinthian church TOOK the common meal. They were not waiting for everyone and pigging out. Paul is the master of sarcasm. Note how he uses it throughout this epistle especially (the Corinthians loved rhetoric) and that’s the literary device he is employing here to direct the attention of the Corinthians to the manner they were partaking of the LS.

  6. Why does he place emphasis on what he receaved from the Lord being that he took bread and a cup if he is supporting the common meal concept? Seems clear to me he is saying get the common meal out of the church because what I receaved from the Lord is this.

    In fact, when he says in verse 23 “For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you,” isn’t he saying they have left what was delivered to them and begun doing something else?

    But what really explains the whole passage to me is verse 20-21, “When you come together you are not eating the Lord’s Supper because each one takes his own supper.”

    Paul’s comments are the Lord’s supper vs our own supper, which explains why he makes the comment about “For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you,”

    By the prevailing theory here, there is no need for Paul to point out what he received of the Lord concerning the night in which he was betrayed, which makes the theory suspect because it renders much of what Paul says pointless.

  7. Bob,

    The Corinthians were getting drunk and not sharing with others, not even eating at the same time and allowing the poor to go hungry. This is what was condemned and what Paul stopped until he could come and give further instructions.

    However, we see in Jude 12, which was written well after 1 Cor, we see that the love feast continued to be practiced with approval. There are suggestions of the same in other places, such as in Peter’s eating with Jews but not Gentiles in Gal 2. Paul wasn’t addressing breakfast meetings at Shoneys. This was a common meal that showed who was accepted as a brother in Christ — which is why Paul rebuked Peter so severely. I’ve given other examples in the main posts.

    On the other hand, it’s also clear from the Patristics that communion was sometimes separated from the love feast in early church practice but also sometimes combined. 1 Cor 11 certainly teaches that there’s no requirement that communion be taken as part of a common meal.

  8. Why does he mention the story of the institution? Jude 12 doesn’t connect the ‘feasts of charity’ to the Lord’s Supper in any way. You are being disingenous. And you have yet to quote any patristic writer that says the ‘feasts of charity’ and Lord’s Supper were one feast. You’ve quoted the views of erroneous modern authors misconstruing out of context passages from patristic writers. Why can’t you quote the patristic writers themselves in context?

  9. For example Jay, if I follow your wikipedia link on Clement of Alexandria, I find that it doesn’t actually support your claims. The the quotion is clearly Clement quoting what a Pagan wrote about Christians:

    “They met on a stated day before it was light, and addressed a form of prayer to Christ, as to a divinity, binding themselves by a solemn oath, not for the purposes of any wicked design, but never to commit any fraud, theft, or adultery, never to falsify their word, nor deny a trust when they should be called upon to deliver it up; after which it was their custom to separate, and then reassemble, to eat in common a harmless meal”.

    That a pagan calls the Lord’s Supper a common meal means nothing but that they are eating actual food rather than eating babies or something. Because, as you should know, some pagans in the early days accused Christians of eating babies as medeival people accused the Jews of eating babies.

    This pagan clears that up by calling the Lord’s Supper “a harmless meal.” This does not indicate that they were eating a common meal rather than the Lord’s Supper, however.

  10. Similarly, your quotation of Augustine “Let us take the body of Christ in communion with those with whom we are forbidden to eat even the bread which sustains our bodies” has nothing to do with saying that the Lord’s Supper was part of a larger common meal. Rather, he is clearly referring to 1st Corinthians 5:11 “But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat.” Augustine’s interpretation is that this only applies to common meals and not the Lord’s Supper and therefore although we can’t eat a common meal with a drunkard we can eat the Lord’s Supper with him. (This is the reverse of normal interpretation at the time.)

    The link to the writing where this is in http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/02092.htm

    And there it is clear he ha NO reference to ‘feasts of charity’ but to honors done to the dead! This is about drunken feasts at tombs of saints.

    Letter 22, Chapter 1, Section 3:

    “Of these three, then, chambering and wantonness are regarded as crimes so great, that any one stained with these sins is deemed unworthy not merely of holding office in the Church, but also of participation in the sacraments; and rightly so. But why restrict such censure to this form of sin alone? For rioting and drunkenness are so tolerated and allowed by public opinion, that even in services designed to honour the memory of the blessed martyrs, and this not only on the annual festivals (which itself must be regarded as deplorable by every one who looks with a spiritual eye upon these things), but every day, they are openly practised. Were this corrupt practice objectionable only because of its being disgraceful, and not on the ground of impiety, we might consider it as ascandal to be tolerated with such amount of forbearance as is within our power. And yet, even in that case, what are we to make of the fact that, when the sameapostle had given a long list of vices, among which he mentioned drunkenness, he concluded with the warning that we should not even eat bread with those who are guilty of such things? 1 Corinthians 5:11 But let us, if it must be so, bear with these things in the luxury and disorder of families, and of those convivial meetings which are held within the walls of private houses; and let us take the body of Christ in communion with those with whom we are forbidden to eat even the bread which sustains our bodies; but at least let this outrageous insult be kept far away from the tombs of thesainted dead, from the scenes of sacramental privilege, and from the houses of prayer. For who may venture to forbid in private life excesses which, when they are practised by crowds in holy places, are called an honouring of the martyrs?”

    Your modern writers have greatly erred in claiming this has any reference to the ‘feasts of charity’ in Jude 12.

  11. Bob,

    The following is from Everett Ferguson, one of the world’s foremost experts on the Patristics and a conservative in the Churches of Christ. He has written extensively in opposition to instrumental music and to defend Church of Christ ecclessiology.

    He writes in Early Christians Speak beginning at p 131 —

    Jesus instituted the memorial of himself at the last supper in the context of a meal. It seems that a meal provided the most convenient context in which the Lord’s supper was observed by early Christians. At least this was the case in Corinth and provided the occasion for the abuses which developed there. The Didache also set the eucharist in the context of the common religious meal (VIII.3). The Roman governor Pliny places the Christian gathering for a common meal at a separate time from the “stated” religious assembly (VII.1). By this time in Bythynia, it would seem, the Lord’s supper was separated from the meal. Even where an ordinary meal provided the setting for the Lord’s supper, there is no reason to think the latter was not distinct in its observance and meaning. …

    A close connection is indicated between the Lord’s supper and the agape by an apparent interchange of the terms. Ignatius (XI.1) mentions agape immediately following a parallel reference to the eucharist (VIII.2). The importance he gives to the bishop’s presence for an agape as well as for a baptism suggest that he has an important religious gathering of the community in mind. The term agape appears to have been used for, or at least to include, the Lord’s supper. On the other hand, Hippolytus uses “Lord’s supper” to refer to the agape (XI.4). Apparently agape was used for the meal, and eucharist for the memorial of the Lord. As they were separated in time, and perhaps in location, the love feast continued to be an important social and religious function of the Christian community. …

    Foor many of the average Christians the central point of their Christian experience was the common meal. This place, which seems indicated by our literary sources, may be confirmed by early Christian catacomb paintings. There visual representations of what was most meaningful in their faith to the ordinary believers contain many depictions of a meal. …

    It was a “church dinner,” although held in a private home. …

    The love feast served functions of fellowship and charity for the early Christians. It was the social, convivial aspect which perhaps especially attracted many persons. The sharing of food by the wealthier with the poorer was an important means of charity.

  12. Jay

    Thank you for the information. I love big family and Church meals. It is a wonderful fellowship and on e really get to know each other.

    I just want to make our communion mean more meaningful and put more gratitude into it whenever we do it. Your posts are great and source of edification and reassurance to me and many others.

    Thak you for the encouragement.

    Bob

  13. I’ve never heard of him. But I know he’s making it all up because he says “The Didache also set the eucharist in the context of the common religious meal (VIII.3).” I’m not an idiot. Nor am I a lazy bum who just accepts such statements without checking them. If the Bereans were expected to double check Paul’s OT references, how much moreso must we check some modern so-called “scholar”‘s references to non-biblical works! What does the Didache say in VIII.3?

    Well, chapter 8 of the Didache is actually about prayer. (link to Didache http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/text/didache-roberts.html )

    Didache, Chapter 8. “But let not your fasts be with the hypocrites, for they fast on the second and fifth day of the week. Rather, fast on the fourth day and the Preparation (Friday). Do not pray like the hypocrites, but rather as the Lord commanded in His Gospel, like this: Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily (needful) bread, and forgive us our debt as we also forgive our debtors. And bring us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one (or, evil); for Thine is the power and the glory for ever. Pray this three times each day. ”

    Is he seriously making the reference to “Give us today our daily (needful) bread” into a claim that the Lord’s Supper was part of a big meal??

    Probably not. He probably meant chapter IX not VIII, right? Chapter 9 is about the Eucharist.

    Didache, Chapter 9. “Now concerning the Eucharist, give thanks this way. First, concerning the cup: We thank thee, our Father, for the holy vine of David Thy servant, which You madest known to us through Jesus Thy Servant; to Thee be the glory for ever. And concerning the broken bread: We thank Thee, our Father, for the life and knowledge which You madest known to us through Jesus Thy Servant; to Thee be the glory for ever. Even as this broken bread was scattered over the hills, and was gathered together and became one, so let Thy Church be gathered together from the ends of the earth into Thy kingdom; for Thine is the glory and the power through Jesus Christ for ever. But let no one eat or drink of your Eucharist, unless they have been baptized into the name of the Lord; for concerning this also the Lord has said, Give not that which is holy to the dogs.”

    How can he get the notion that the Eucharist is a big meal from that??

    Maybe he gets it from Chapter 10 concerning the prayer after the Eucharist?

    “But after you are filled, give thanks this way: We thank Thee, holy Father, for Thy holy name which You didst cause to tabernacle in our hearts, and for the knowledge and faith and immortality, which You modest known to us through Jesus Thy Servant; to Thee be the glory for ever. Thou, Master almighty, didst create all things for Thy name’s sake; You gavest food and drink to men for enjoyment, that they might give thanks to Thee; but to us You didst freely give spiritual food and drink and life eternal through Thy Servant.”

    Note that the minister or whoever gives thanks for food and drink. Aha! He must mean that the Eucharist is a big meal right? No so fast, for he contrasts the “spiritual food and drink” brought by “Thy Servant” to regular food and drink.

    If this is where the great ‘scholar’ gets the notion that “The Didache also set the eucharist in the context of the common religious meal (VIII.3)” then he clearly is twisting it to make it fit what he wants.

    But the prayer of chapter 10 continues, “Before all things we thank Thee that You are mighty; to Thee be the glory for ever. Remember, Lord, Thy Church, to deliver it from all evil and to make it perfect in Thy love, and gather it from the four winds, sanctified for Thy kingdom which Thou have prepared for it; for Thine is the power and the glory for ever. Let grace come, and let this world pass away. Hosanna to the God (Son) of David! If any one is holy, let him come; if any one is not so, let him repent. Maranatha. Amen. But permit the prophets to make Thanksgiving as much as they desire. ”

    Anything in there that can be twisting to support the idea that the Eucharist is a big meal? Doesn’t look like it. So where is it? The great ‘expert’ made it up.

    Its easy to just claim that a certain writers says whatever you want, which is clearly what all these modern writers that have led you astray are doing. I too could say that in his book Against the Donatists chapter 22 Augustine says that the ancients used watermelon in the Eucharist. And just as people accept what these men say without checking, I’m sure hundreds of people would believe it.

    Unless you can actually quote an ancient writer in context then it is shown rather clearly that this notion of the Eucharist as a big meal is made up by modern writers who just want it that way for some reason.

  14. Bob,

    I’m working from a translation of the Dichache found at http://reluctant-messenger.com/didache.htm.

    Chapter III contains —

    Now after you have been filled, give thanks this way: “We thank you, holy Father, for your holy name, which you made to live in our hearts, and for the knowledge and trust and immortality which you made known to us through Jesus your boy. Glory be to you for the age.

    This immediately follows a description of a communion service, and yet enough food was served for the worshipers to be “filled.” No one would speak in those terms regarding a modern communion service conducted in the traditional manner!

    Chapter Five begins with —

    Now according to the Lord’s day, gather together and break bread and give thanks, after acknowledging your wanderings to one another, so your sacrifice would be a clean one.

    In the scriptures, “break bread” is often used of a meal taken in Jesus’ name. Luke 22:19; 24:30; 24:35; Acts 2:46; 20:7; 20:11; 27:35.

    According to BARNABAS AND THE DIDACHE by Robert A. Kraft [English original, published by Thomas Nelson & Sons, 1965] —

    9.1-10.8. Ever since the initial publication of the Didache, the prayers of chapters 9-10 have occasioned much discussion. At first glance they seem to represent a “Eucharist” liturgy–the (weekly) [[166]] ritual celebration of the “sacrament” of the Lord’s Supper (see Ign. Philad. 4; Justin, Apol. 66.1, 67.5). But the mere occurrence of the noun eucharistia (9.1, 5) and related verbal forms (9.1, 2, 3; 10.1, 2, 3, 4, 8) must not be given too much weight, since these words originally indicated prayer and “giving thanks” in general (see Rom. 14.6; 1 Cor. 14.17; 1 Tim. 4.3; Rev. 4.9, etc.). Furthermore, the fact that a meal is in view in 10.1 (cf. Luke 22.20; 1 Cor. 11.25) and that 14.1 refers to a rite which more closely resembles the liturgical Eucharist as it came to be held (separately from any meal, as an “offering”), led many commentators to suggest that Did. 9-10 refers to early Christian “Love Feasts” (the “Agape” meal–cf. Jude 12) which were patterned after formal Jewish “fellowship” meals and which sometimes seem to have been held in association with the ritual Eucharist and also baptism (see Ign. Smyrn. 8.2). The background and early development of these practices are discussed in detail by G. Dix, The Shape of the Liturgy (Glasgow, 1945), ch. 4, who sees in Did. 9-10 a Love Feast (pp. 90-95). The absence of any reference to Jesus’ body or blood, [[167]] or to “remembering” him (cf. 10.5) adds further support to the Love Feast hypothesis, although the rather technical use of eucharistia in 9.5 causes some hesitation. The freedom granted to the “prophets” in 10.7 (cf. 11.9) could fit either case, as could the unusual order of cup-loaf in 9.2 f. (see Luke 22.17, 19 f.; 1 Cor. 10.16).

    http://www.sas.upenn.edu/religious_studies/rak/publics/didache/didache.htm

    By the way, the various translators have differing chapter breaks, the best I can tell.

    Now, your sarcasm and condescension are inappropriate. Agree with the experts or not, it’s not fair to say that I “just claim” that this is what the text says or that I’ve been “led astray” or that “modern writers … just want it that way for some reason.” Being snide is not effective argumentation. And the fact you’ve not heard of Everett Ferguson gives you no right to denigrate his scholarship. He writes textbooks on the subject — and does so with tone of gentleness that becomes true Christian scholarship.

    Please change your tone so that I don’t have to moderate you.

    (2 Tim 2:24-25) And the Lord’s servant must not quarrel; instead, he must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. 25 Those who oppose him he must gently instruct, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth,

  15. Places that much emphasis on that one word “filled” is just silly. I’ve seen translations that just say “when it is complete.” And even if that translation “filled” is the most correct, its a stretch to pretend you know for sure the author didn’t mean a spiritual filling. His own emphasis on “spiritual food” suggests as much. But if you want to play word games and build your entire case on one word found in one extra biblical document, knock yourself out.

    “Now, your sarcasm and condescension are inappropriate.” I don’t think so. “He writes textbooks on the subject ” I’ve never known a text book to be anything but inaccurate. And from what I’ve seen so far of this guy I wouldn’t expect much.

  16. Bob,

    I suspended your comment until I could place you on moderation. I will delete all comments that I find to reflect an un-Christian attitude.

  17. Everett Ferguson was quoted earlier, from p. 131 of Early Christians Speak: “The Didache also set the eucharist in the context of the common religious meal (VIII.3). ”

    The notation VIII.3 does not mean chapter 8, verse 3 of the Didache. It means that the quote from the Didache being referenced in this discussion on p.131 is given in full in Chapter VIII of the same book, Early Christians Speak, and it is quotation 3 in the primary source quotations that begin Chapter VIII.

    If you turn to Chapter VIII of Early Christians Speak and look at quote 3, you will see that it is chapters 9, 10, and 14 of the Didache.

    I don’t think that misunderstanding someone’s notation is a good reason to say things like Everett Ferguson is “making it all up.”

    If you read Ferguson, you will understand that when he says the Eucharist was taken “in the context” of the agape feast, he is not saying that they were a single act, but only that they were often taken immediately one after the other: the Eucharist followed by the agape feast. They are not the same act nor the same “meal.” Not only did Everett Ferguson not “make up” the idea that the Eucharist is “a big meal,” he would not even agree that the Eucharist is a big meal. That is not what “in the context of” means. So, with respect to Everett Ferguson, this is a straw man argument.

    Ferguson says explicitly that the agape feast and the Eucharist do not always follow closely in time. The quote from Pliny indicates a very early and clear example to the contrary. As Ferguson said in the same discussion, already quoted: “The Roman governor Pliny places the Christian gathering for a common meal at a separate time from the “stated” religious assembly (VII.1). By this time in Bythynia, it would seem, the Lord’s supper was separated from the meal. Even where an ordinary meal provided the setting for the Lord’s supper, there is no reason to think the latter was not distinct in its observance and meaning. …”

    Bob Salisar: Did you not notice the phrases “separated from the meal” and “distinct in its observance and meaning” used here? How then can you erroneously claim, several times, that Ferguson claims the Lord’s Supper is “a big meal?”

    In your March 7, 2:37 p.m. post, you completely misunderstand the quote from Pliny. Pliny did not say that the Lord’s Supper was a common meal. He said that the Christians in Bythynia worshipped before dawn (common when the fields must be worked and Sunday was a work day in those days). Then, they separated and came back together later for their common meal. Who wants the big feast to be at 5:00 a.m.? They had their worship before dawn, including the Lord’s Supper. Then they came back together after dusk for the agape feast. Thus, the Eucharist and agape were separated by 12 hours or more. This supports your point, Ferguson agrees, but you don’t even understand what is being said and feel the need to argue against phantoms.

    More education, less ignorance, less stupidity, and more Christian charity would all be welcome in your writings.

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