Breaking Bread – The Meaning of the Lord’s Supper Part 5
Among the acts of worship, or the institutions of the Lord, to which the disciples attended in first days of the marriage of Christ and the Church, the breaking of bread was so conspicuous and important, that the churches are said to meet on the first day of the week for this purpose. We are expressly told that the disciples at Troas met for this purpose; and what one church did by the authority of the Lord, as a part of His instituted worship, they all did. That the disciples in Troas met for this purpose is not to be inferred; for Luke says positively, “And on the first day of the week, when the disciples came together for the breaking of bread, Paul continued his speech until midnight.” Acts 20:7 From the manner in which this meeting of the disciples at Troas is mentioned by the historian, Luke, two things are very obvious: first that it was an established custom or rule for the disciples to meet on the first day of the week. Second: The primary object of their meeting was to break bread. They who object to breaking bread on the first day of every week when the disciples are assembled usually preface their objections by telling us, that Luke does not say they broke bread every first day: and yet they contend against the Sabbatarians, that they ought to observe every first to the commemoration of His resurrection. The Sabbatarians raise the same objection to this passage, when adduced by all professors of Christianity to authorize the weekly observance of the first day of the week; and yet they contend against the Sabbatarians, that they ought to observe every first day to the Lord in commemoration of His resurrection. The Sabbbatarians raise the same objection to this passage when all professors of Christianity use it to authorize the weekly observance of the first day. They say that Luke does not tell us that they met for any religious purpose every first day of the week. How inconsistent, then, are they who make this sentence an express precedent for the observing every first day, when arguing against the Sabbatarians, and then turn round and tell us that it will not prove that they broke the bread every first day! If it does not prove the one, it is most obvious it will not prove the other; for the weekly observance of this day, as a day of the meeting of the saints, and the weekly breaking of bread in those meetings, stand or fall together. Hear it again: “and on the first day of the week, when the disciples assembled to break bread…” Now, all must confess, who regard to the meaning of words, that the meeting of the disciples and the breaking of bread, as far as these words are concerned, are expressed in the same terms as respects the frequency. If the one was fifty two times in a year, or only once, so was the other. If they met every first day, they broke bread every first day: and if they did not break bread every first day, they did not meet every first day!! How can one affirm the day of assembly be Sunday and not affirm the breaking of bread on that day in that assembly be on Sunday?? But we argue from the style of Luke, or from his manner of narrating the fact, that they did both!! If he had said that on afirst day the disciples assembled to break bread, then I would admit that both the Sabbaratians, and the semi-annual or centennial communicants, were right in their arguments.
The definite article is, in the Greek and in the English tongue, prefixed to stated fixed times, and its appearance here is not merely definitive of one day, but expressive of a stated or fixed day. This is so in all languages which have a definite article. Illustration: 500 or 1,000 years from now the annual observance of the 4th of July should have ceased for several centuries, and that some person or persons devoted to the primitive institutions of this mighty nation were desirous of seeing the 4th be observed as did the fathers of this republic during the hale and unregenerate days of primitive republican simplicity. Suppose that none of the records of the first century of this republic had expressly stated, that it was a regular and fixed custom for a certain class of citizens to pay a particular regard to the 4th day of every July; but that a few incidental expressions in the biography of the leading men in the republic spoke of it as Luke has done of the meeting at Troas. How would it be managed? For instance, in the life of John Quincy Adams, it is written, A D 1823, “And on the 4th of July, when the republicans of the city of Washington met to dine, Mr. Adams delivered an oration to them.” Would not an American, a thousand years hence, in circumstances such as have been stated, find in these words one evidence that it was an established usage, during the first century of this republic, to regard the 4th of July a special day for a special occasion, and follow that rule or order, fixed by example??