The One Loaf
by Don L. King
In The Christian System page 268, Alexander Campbell began his comments regarding the loaf; "On the Lord's table there is of necessity but one loaf." He went on to point out that just "as there is but one literal body, and but one mystical or figurative body having many members; so there must be but one loaf." This is what Paul meant in 1 Corinthians 10:17 when he said: "For we being many are one bread, and one body: for we are all partakers of that one bread."
What a shame this simple and easily understood component of the Lord's Supper has been so carelessly set aside by men. According to 1 Corinthians 11:23; Mark 14:22; Matthew 26:26 and Luke 22:19, Jesus took bread, gave thanks for it, brake (or broke) it, gave it to the disciples who were with him, and said, "take." He further commanded them to eat it (Mark 14:22, Matthew 26:26) saying, "this is my body." Jesus was holding the loaf as he spoke these words. Surely, no one in the group thought he meant that the bread had physically become (miraculously) his body. They all understood, just as we do, that Jesus meant the bread stood in the place or represented his body in the Lord's Supper. The use of the word "is" in Luke 22:19 is suggestive of represent.
I have heard brethren argue that Jesus didn't say the bread represented his body. One has only two choices. Either to believe the bread actually turns into the literal body of Christ. Or, if that be admitted an impossibility, to understand by the word "is" that the bread represents or stands in the place of his body. I can't imagine any other way to explain the verse.
Then, in the latter part of Luke 22:19 Jesus said:"... this is my body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of me." In other words, Jesus took bread, gave thanks for it, broke it, gave it to the disciples along with the command to eat of it and also told them they were to do this in remembrance of him. So, it is to be a memorial to Him. That is the way we are to remember Him.
Let's go back to the phrase, "Jesus took bread," (Matthew 26:26) etc. How many loaves did He take? In Matthew 14:19 we read: "And he commanded the multitude to sit down on the grass, and took the five loaves, and the two fishes, and looking up to heaven, he blessed, and brake, and gave the loaves to his disciples, and the disciples to the multitude." The word "loaves" is from the word ARTOUS in the Greek. The meaning is, of course, plural just as the verse tells us. However, in Matthew 26:26; Mark 14:23; Luke 22:19; 1 Corinthians 10:16,17 and 1 Corinthians 11:23 the word "bread" (singular) is seen and the word ARTOS (singular) in the Greek meaning a small loaf or cake according to W.E. Vine, Page 146.
Now, let us see if we can't put this together. Jesus took "bread." He took a single loaf or cake of bread. Then He gave that single loaf or cake of bread to the disciples commanding them to eat of it. Finally, He said "this do." Do what? Do as they did by each of us eating of the one loaf.
In 1 Corinthians 11:23-34 Paul gave instructions in the observance of the Lord's Supper. He gave his Apostolic commands to one church (Corinth) instructing them to use ARTOS (one loaf) and one cup. Yet, he said he taught the same things in "every church." (1 Corinthians 4:17) Hence, we understand that every church received this teaching and were using one loaf and one cup in the Lord's Supper. There is no other way to obey the command "this do" in Luke 22:19 and 1 Corinthians 11:24. Either you use one loaf and one cup or you are in obvious violation of Lord Himself.
These is a beautiful picture of the Lord's Supper presented in type and anti-type or shadow and substance in Exodus 12. In Ex 12:3 the Lord said: "Speak ye unto all the congregation of Israel, saying, In the tenth day of this month they shall take to them every man a lamb, according to the house of their fathers, a lamb for an house."
We recall that Paul wrote in 1 Timothy 3:15: "But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth." Hence, the house of God refers to the church. In Exodus 12 when God required "a lamb for an house" this pointed toward later things. It was a"... shadow of things to come,..." (Hebrews 10:1)
Let's view the picture. As Israel observed the passover in keeping with God's commands in Exodus 12 they were required to have a lamb for an house. Their observance of it was congregational (or within each house) just as our observance of the Lord's Supper is congregational. They were not told to have a lamb for all Israel but rather, one for each house. Some say that the number of loaves or cups are incidental; but if so, the Old Testament picture certainly didn't indicate that. Israel had many houses within it, but each house was to have one passover lamb. Today, spiritual Israel is composed of many houses, or congregations, but each of them is to have one loaf and one cup on the Lord's Table.
As previously mentioned, the Passover was typical of "good things to come." (Hebrews 10:1) The paschal lamb was in fact a type or shadow of Christ. "Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us." (1 Corinthians 5:7) During the time of the Passover, Israel was to put all leaven out of their houses. (Exodus 12:19) Since the Lord's Supper was instituted during the time of the Passover, it would have been impossible for Jesus to have used leavened bread in His own Supper. None was allowed in the houses. He would have been in violation of the law. So we know the bread was unleavened that Jesus "took" when He instituted the Lord's Supper. It certainly needs to be unleavened today if we wish to follow the scriptural pattern.
To use more than one loaf in the Lord's Supper is to do what Jesus did not do. He took ONE loaf, "gave it to the disciples, and said take, eat; this is my body." (Matthew 26:26) May the Lord help us all to be content to do as Jesus Himself did.