Communion--Why Do It On Sundays?

Churches of Christ have communion on each first day of the week based apparently on the best Biblical evidence available and not necessarily pervasive evidence from the New Testament. It is difficult to find a very direct, "Thou shalt . . ." command about taking communion on Sunday. The nearest approximation to that is in Acts 20:7, "On the first day of the week, when we were gathered together to break bread, Paul talked with them, intending to depart on the morrow; and he prolonged his speech until midnight" [RSV]. "Breaking of bread" as it is used in the New Testament usually referred to communion; there would have been no need to specially mark an otherwise common meal. The fact that he "prolonged his speech" suggests a sermon, not just a conversation. Then, as now, the corporate worship service of the early church included "speaking" or preaching. The Acts 20:7 passage appears to be the best evidence of the day of the week that communion was practiced in the early church.

If we accept that the first day of the week--or first day of a week--is the day that communion should be practiced, is it necessary that communion be done on every first day of every week? When we look at the importance that our Lord attached to the communion, it seems reasonable that such a weekly feast take place. The Lord's Supper is recounted in all four Gospels (Matthew 26: 26-29; Mark 14: 22-25; Luke 22: 7-23; John 13: 1-30) and by the "apostle untimely born" (I Corinthians 15: 8), Paul. The Pauline account closely parallels the Gospel ones: 1 Corinthians 11:23-26--"For I received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, that the Lord Jesus in the night in which he was betrayed took bread; and when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, This is my body, which is for you: this do in remembrance of me. In like manner also the cup, after supper, saying, This cup is the new covenant in my blood: this do, as often as ye drink it, in remembrance of me. For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink the cup, ye proclaim the Lord's death till he come." The death, burial, and resurrection of our Lord is mentioned in every Gospel, whereas His birth, the most highly celebrated Christian event of the year, was mentioned in only two. [Could it be that the emphasis upon His birth, instead of His death, is somewhat misplaced by the world?--STW] Given the importance that our Lord placed upon being remembered, it is not unreasonable that we should remember Him upon every first day of the week, and not just once per year, twice a year, or once a month. To leave the weekly pattern and go to quarterly, semi-annual, or annual communions is to leave what little best evidence we have and to venture entirely into speculation and man's reasoning. There is no Biblical evidence for intervals other than weekly.

Accepting the first day of each week for communion clears up some other questions also. Why would Paul direct that the congregational giving should be done "on the first day of every week" (I Corinthians 16: 2, RSV) if Christians were not going to already be assembled for communion? Placing the giving within the same time frame strengthed an already existing meeting that Christians were having--a meeting on the first day of the week that included communion and preaching.

The celebration of Christ's death, burial, and resurrection on Sundays harks back to His resurrection on the first day of the week. Revelation 1: 10 speaks of "the Lord's day" as if it existed at the end of the first century as a systematic, organized occasion: "I was in the Spirit on the Lord's day, and I heard behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet." Secular historians have regarded "the Lord's day" as Sunday since the days of the prolific first century writer Josephus. Based upon the best evidence available, we have the Lord's Supper on the first day of the week, Sunday.


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