Sitting down together to share a meal with family and friends is one of the oldest examples of friendship and community which exists, even to this day. In our last article on the Church built by Jesus Christ, as found in Acts 2:42-47, we discussed the component of fellowship and in particular where the fellowship took place. As we continue this teaching we will examine the third component given for the establishment of the Church which is the “breaking of bread.” The “breaking of bread” is itself at once an extension of fellowship within a community of believers, and yet in practice becomes even more.
During the time in which our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ lived, the phrase “breaking of bread” was common in the vernacular of the people of Israel and in fact is commonly found to be idiomatic among a great many peoples of the world, historically and currently. In nearly every culture the act of sharing a meal and eating together is an activity which promotes community, friendship, and harmony. This is one of the reasons this practice was instituted in the early Church. God’s people gathered around a table together and broke bread for the express reasons of developing a family relationship within the body of believers and to share in the memory of the One who is the Head of the body.
I believe within this passage, Acts 2:42-47, we find a duality of meaning in the phrase “breaking of bread.” During the period of Jesus’ earthly ministry among His disciples, the Scriptures record instances which shows that they often ate together. Sometimes it was in the homes of friends such as Mary and Martha in Bethany, and at other times in public places, such as when He ate with the publicans and sinners, and yet others when they were simply eating together on their own. On most of these occasions it is recorded that Jesus presided over the meal and therefore was the One who would break bread and give thanks.
Mark 14:12-26 records the last Passover meal that Jesus shared with the twelve disciples. Today we know this as the Last Supper, and it was at this meal that our Lord Jesus gave them instruction by example, to share in the breaking of bread and drinking the fruit of the vine from the Cup, in remembrance of that which He was about to accomplish until He returned to set up His Kingdom. (1 Corinthians 11:23-26) This “breaking of bread” we now know and participate in as the “Lord’s Supper.”
The Scripture record is clear that after His resurrection, the disciples of Jesus began to meet together and fellowship in the sharing of a meal. The risen Christ Himself upon occasion joined in eating these common meals with them as is evidenced in Luke 24:29-31; Luke 24:41-43; and John 21:9-15. After the Lord’s ascension, the practice continued and it is at one such meal we find the disciples gathered at the Feast of Pentecost in Acts 2:1.
So as we look together again at Acts 2:42 we read; “And they continued steadfastly in the apostle’s doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers.” And in Acts 2:46-47 we read; “So continuing daily with one accord in the Temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, praising God and having favor with all the people.”
In 1874, C. H. Spurgeon wrote; “Their own houses were houses of God, and their own meals were so mixed and mingled with the Lord’s Supper that to this day, the most cautious student of the Bible cannot tell when they left over eating their common meals and when they began eating the supper of the Lord.” Unfortunately, the institutionalization of the “church” in all of its many denominational forms has removed the “breaking of bread” for “Lord’s Supper” from its original setting as a part of church fellowship, and placed it within ritualistic confines. I believe the scriptural record is clear that the “breaking of bread” in a fellowship meal and the “breaking of bread” for the Lord’s Supper were intentionally intimately connected. It is my opinion that turning the remembrance into a ritual destroys the intimacy of fellowship for which the remembrance was intended, and that the Lord’s Supper as well as the Body of believers, have been diminished by the Church having allowed it to happen.
What then is the remedy for this situation in the “church” today? Again, I believe that True followers of Jesus Christ need to return to the model and pattern which Christ gave us for His Church in the book of Acts. Doctrine, Fellowship and Breaking Bread, and Prayer. Obedience in this area will help identify those remaining groups of believers which are His Remnant Church in the Last Days.
I encourage you to take a good look at, and evaluate, how the church where you worship compares to the model and pattern of the church established by Jesus Christ in the book of Acts. Next we will look at the Church in Prayer, but until then remember that;
Jesus is Coming Soon!