Institution of the Lord's Supper

The Eucharist, Holy Communion, the Lord’s Supper or Mass

Justin martyr & Irenaeus1. According to Justin (c 155 AD) the Eucharist, which, after the scripture reading, preaching and prayers was the crown of the Sunday worship....

2. “Bread is brought to the president, and wine is mixed with water. He says a Prayer of thanksgiving as he is able, and the congregation says Amen, which is Hebrew for ‘May it be so’. The deacons give the bread and wine to all present, and take it to those absent.

3. Those who are well off, and who want to do so, give to the collection. This is placed with the president, and he takes care of orphans, widows, those ill or otherwise in need, those in prison, and strangers who are staying here. In fact, he becomes the helper of those who are in need.

4. Justin continues,“ Only believers, who have received the washing of forgiveness of rebirth, and who as Christ has taught, can receive this food – the bread and wine – which is called Eucharist. For it is to us, not just bread and wine. Jesus Christ became flesh and blood to save us. And we are taught that this food, blessed by the prayer of words for Him, is the flesh and blood, blessed by the prayer of words from Him, is the flesh and blood of Jesus who became flesh”

5. Explanations of some of the words used by Justin

I. Eucharist – Justin says the food is called Eucharist. But what he means is the whole service. [ Eucharistia – is thanksgiving is Greek: 1 Cor. 11:24]

II. Wine mixed with water – At the time of Jesus poorer people added water to their wine at meal times, as many people in Mediterranean countries still do today. So probably this was done at the first Lord’s Supper.

III. As well as he is able – at this time the prayer of thanksgiving or Eucharist prayer, was not yet in one form, except for “ the prayer of words from Him” ( 1 Cor. 11:23-25).

IV. Blessed by a Prayer – Eucharist – a new Christian word.

V. Of words from Him (Christ) – The words of institution from 1 Cor. 11:23-25. Justin quotes them. Down the centuries, and across the world, these words are central in the Eucharist.

VI. Not just bread and wine – Similarly Irenaeus, the Bishop of Lyons (177-200 AD) has also explained the presence of Christ in the Eucharist.

“ We offer to God the things which are His........Bread comes from the earth, but, offered to God, it is no longer just bread. It is now something heavenly, as well as earthly. So our bodies, which will die, receiving the Eucharist, have the hope of the life eternal”

VII. Both statements are based on Scripture1. Justin – This is my body.....This is my blood ( 1 Cor. 11:23-25)2. Irenaeus - “ I am the bread of life” ( Jn. 6:35)