The Lord's Passover Supper
The New Covenant
FOR WHOM? AND WHY?
by Ed Stevens
"Prove all things; hold fast that
which is good." I Thes. 5:21
SOME RELIGIOUS GROUPS do not observe the Lord's supper but do not produce convincing scriptural reasons. New covenant truth connected therewith seems misunderstood by all.
Who desires to know whether the Lord's supper having served it's purpose in the infancy of the church is not to be observed today? "He that is spiritual" will want to know for certain, not allowing obstacles to arriving at the truth to hinder him as they do the masses, namely, trust in traditions held by the majority, and what is may cost the flesh to walk in the truth of God's "rightly divided" Word.
In a study of the Lord's supper, it is helpful to begin with Romans 15:8 where we are told that during Christ's earthly ministry He "WAS a minister to the circumcision [the Jewish people], to confirm the promises made unto the fathers" - Jewish fathers. The Lord Jesus confirmed both fulfilled and unfulfilled promises made to Israel. Verses nine through twelve speak of future blessings coming upon the Gentiles when promises made to Israel will finally be realized when her Messiah, Christ, shall "reign over the Gentiles". This will occur AFTER the present dispensation of "the church which is Christ's body", "the MYSTERY of Christ which in other ages was not made known to the sons of men", will have ended. Eph. 1:22-23; 3:3-11. THEN the Lord will make and put into effect the NEW covenant as foretold in Jer. 31:31-34, quote:
"Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will make a NEW covenant WITH the house of Israel and WITH the House of Judah: not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt which covenant they break ... but this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel: after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my law in their inward parts and write it in their hearts; and I will be their God and they shall be my people. And they shall teach no more every man his neighbor and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord; for they shall all know me ... for I will forgive their iniquity and will remember their sin no more."
It is almost universally believed that we are living under the new covenant today - we Gentiles who never had the OLD covenant (Rom. 2:14), and that this covenant was MADE at the cross. This is not true! The words "after those days"' according to the context, Jer. 31:1-10, plainly designate this covenant will not be made until after Israel has been "scattered", after "the Lord will save His people, the remnant of Israel", and "will bring them" back to their own land. Their present incomplete establishment in Palestine is their own doing, allowed of the Lord. The great final regathering is still future, as many Bible references prove. See, for example, Matt. 24:30-31 and Ezek. 39:25-29.
Christ as "a minister to the circumcision" addressed two groups in Israel, "the multitude AND His disciples". Speaking to both He had said, "the scribes and Pharisees sit in Moses' seat: all therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do ... " (in Mosaic law observance). Matt. 23:1-3. The disciples (followers of Christ) later increased in number, as can be seen in Acts 21:20, " ... thou seest, brother, how many thousands of Jews there are which believe; and they are all zealous of THE LAW". This law included, of course, the seventh day Sabbath and hold feast days, "meats and drinks and divers washings [baptisms] and carnal ordinances imposed on THEM until the time of the reformation". Heb. 9:10. We can see here that about twenty-seven years after the cross, revelation had not fully come from God releasing believing Jews from fully keeping the law of Moses. It is important to know this in studying the Lord's Passover supper.
In Acts 21:25 re-affirmation is given concerning the Holy Spirit-directed decision that Mosaic law observance was not to be placed upon believing Gentiles:
"As touching the Gentiles which believe, we have written and concluded that THEY observe NO SUCH THING, save only that they keep themselves from things offered to idols, and from blood, and from what is strangled, and from fornication."
Plainly then, believing Gentiles religiously walked differently from believing Jews, who, as a group constituted "a remnant" in Israel, as affirmed in Romans 11:5 (written during the Acts period):
"Even so then at this present time also [as was true in Elijah's day, vs. 2-4] there is A REMNANT according to the election of grace." (The "thousands" of Acts 21:20 are here identified.)
A "MIDDLE WALL OF PARTITION"
In Ephesians 2:14-22 Paul wrote that a "middle wall of partition" had existed between Jew and Gentile believers. This wall was "broken down" at the cross, but it was not so revealed until Paul wrote Ephesians after the Acts period of about thirty years had ended, after God had temporarily set aside Israel as a nation in His dealings with that people. A very great mistake has been made in Christendom in taking the so-called "teachings of Jesus" as found in Matthew, Mark and Luke, and the "Acts" of the apostles (a book of transition) as directives for Christian faith and practice for all believers to this day, disregarding the Lord's revelations for us as given in the epistles of Paul, "THE minister of Jesus Christ to THE GENTILES". Rom. 15.16. Remember, the Lord said to His disciples, "I have yet many things to say unto you but ye can not bear them now". John 16:12. He said them much later through His special apostle Paul. The professing Christian masses cannot bear them even now!
On the Jewish side of the "middle wall of partition", during the Acts period, the promises, including the new covenant, confirmed by Christ as "a minister to the circumcision" was preached by Jewish believers to the nation Israel. The prophesied blessings of the new covenant could not come upon Israel until she as a nation contritely believed on her ascended Messiah, in true repentance. Therefore Peter preached to Israel as recorded in Acts 3:19-21 as follows:
"Repent YE therefore and turn again that your sins may be blotted out, that SO there may come seasons of refreshing from the PRESENCE of the Lord; and that He may send the Christ who hath been appointed for YOU, even Jesus: whom the heaven must receive until the times of RESTORATION of all things whereof God spake by the mouth of all His holy prophets that have been from of old." Amer.. Standard Revised Version.
The apostle Paul who was primarily sent to the Gentiles, but also to Israel (Acts 9:15; Rom. 11:13; 15:16), likewise preached to Israel the prophesied reign of Christ on. earth when the new covenant (which was only made "of force" when the Testator thereof died, Heb. 9:17), will be put into effect. In Acts 13:14-41 we find Paul and Barnabas so preaching to Jews in Asia Minor, saying, "the promise which was made unto the fathers, God hath fulfilled [as to Christ's first advent] the same unto us their children in that He hath raised up Jesus again. . . and as concerning that He raised Him up from the dead now no more to return to corruption, He said on this wise, I will give you [Christ] the sure mercies of David", i.e.. the everlasting THRONE promised and assured to David in the future earthly reign of the greater David, Christ. II Sam. 7:16; Psalm 89:1-3; Isa. 55:3. Thus Paul properly wrote to the Corinthian believers that God "also bath made us [Barnabas and Paul, not all ministers today] able ministers of the new covenant." II Cor. 3:6. So Paul, like Peter (Acts 3:19-21), preached the same kingdom message to Israel. Did this continue after Israel became fully set aside after her time of probation ended, as announced in Acts 28:28? The answer, of course, is NO!
We will search our Bibles in vain to find that the new covenant has been made with the church, as such; that it has been put into effect in this present dispensation. Condition obtaining in that covenant such as, "all shall know the Lord", "the wolf shall dwell with the lamb", "the lion shall eat straw like the ox", Israel to be supreme over the nations, certainly are not seen today as all will have to admit. Please read Jer. 31:34; Heb. 8:8-11; Isa. 11:1-10; 49:23; 60:14; 61:6; Zech. 8:23. Thus, who can claim "the cup of the new covenant" today? No one! Our portion today is to be "blessed with all SPIRITUAL blessings in heavenly places in Christ". Eph. 1:3.
Certainly, as Israel's sins will in a future time be taken away through Christ's blood which was "shed for many for the remission of sins" (Matt. 26:28), so His blood avails for us today in "the forgiveness of sins according to the riches of His grace", Eph. 1:7. This comes to us, however, in application of the Abrahamic covenant as stated in Gal. 3:6-18 and Rom. 4:16-25, not the Jewish new covenant of the future when "all Israel shall be saved" (the remnant then). Then: "as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob, for this is my covenant with THEM when I shall take away their sins." Rom. 11:26, 27.
THREE PASSOVERS IN THE BIBLE
God's Word plainly speaks of THREE passovers, two physical passovers and one spiritual passover in between the two. In the twelfth chapter of Exodus is found the first passover, when the Lord passed over the Jewish homes in Egypt that had the required blood on the doorposts and lintel, so that "the destroyer" came not to smite the firstborn there. The Lord had Moses then institute "the sacrifice of the Lord's passover". "By this service" the children of Israel were to remember the Lord's passing over their houses in Egypt. Exodus 12:25-27. The sacrificed lamb typically pointed forward to Christ, "the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world". John 1:29.
Every saved person before and after the cross has been passed over as far as God's just judgment for sin is concerned. God's Lamb made this possible by His substitutionary cross-work. Therefore Paul in writing to believers at Corinth, "sanctified in Christ Jesus, called saints", said they were "unleavened", or "blameless" before God, positionally, that is, because "Christ our passover is sacrificed for us". I Cor. 1:2, 8; 5:7. This is the second, a spiritual passover accomplished at the cross when "Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures". All who believe in Him "shall not come into judgment". I Cor. 15:3; John 5:24. They are "delivered from the wrath to come". I Thes. 1:10.
The Lord, foreknowing that Israel would become hardened in unbelief so that she would be temporarily set aside, began building His church at Pentecost adding "daily to the church such as were being saved". Acts, 2:47. After the church is completed and "caught up to meet the Lord in the air" (I Thes. 4:13-16), a physical third passover will take place, at the close of Daniel's 70th "week". From Dan. 9:24-27 we learn that "seventy weeks" (490 years) were "determined" upon Israel before "everlasting righteousness" would be brought in by Israel's "Messiah, the Prince" when He will "set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed". Dan. 2:44. It is stated that at the end of 69 weeks (483 years) "Messiah shall be cut off and have nothing" (R.V.), i.e. He would not then begin His reign upon earth, being rejected, as we now know, by "His own" who "received Him not". John 1:11. God is, now taking "out of the Gentiles a people for His name" in an unprophesied period of indefinite time. Acts 15:14; Eph. 3:5, 6. When "the fullness of the Gentiles be come in" (Rom. 11:25), a seven year period of time "determined" upon Israel must still run its course as seen from Dan. 9:26, 27, at the close of which will come "the time of Jacob's trouble; but he shall be saved out of it". Jer. :30:7. Then when the Beast, "the Assyrian" and the armies of the nations besiege Israel (14. 10;24; 34:42; Zech. 12:2, 3) a THIRD passover 'will occur, as literal as the first one in Egypt:
" . . . so shall the Lord of hosts come down to fight for mount Zion . . . As birds flying so will the Lord defend Jerusalem; defending also He will deliver it; and PASSING OVER He will preserve it." "And the Lord shall be seen over them . . . and the Lord their God shall save them in that day." Isa. 31:4, 5; Zech. 9:14-15.
THEN the new covenant which was only made "of force" and "dedicated" by Christ's shed blood on the cross (Heb. 9:16-18), will at last be MADE "with the house of Israel" as foretold in Jer. 31:31-34. Then "the Messenger of the covenant", the Lord Jesus, "shall suddenly come to His temple". Mal 3:1. Then, just as "the angel of His presence saved them" when Israel was led out of Egypt (Isa. 63:9) when the "first covenant" was made with them, so they will again be saved in another passover, and a NEW covenant will be made. The Lord Jesus will then appear with His church (Col. 3:4) in His RESTORATION COMING, the second stage of His return, and will set up His kingdom and will "reign over the Gentiles". Then will His statement to His apostles come to pass:
"But I say unto you, I will not drink henceforth of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father's kingdom." Matt. 26:29. "Ai ,d I appoint unto yen a kingdom as my Father bath appointed unto me; that ye may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom. and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel." Luke 22:29, 30.
SUPPER—CONFIRMATION OF FUTURE PASSOVER
It should be plain to all that when the Lord Jesus ate a last passover supper with His disciples, He confirmed the promise "made unto the fathers" about the future passover in association with the new covenant. According to Jewish time (their days began with sunset), this supper was eaten when the 14th day of Nisan had begun, after sunset. This was about twenty-four hours before the customary great "sacrifice" of the Mosaic passover took place. Since Luke's account of this supper is the most clarifying in that it contains the words "until IT be FULFILLED", we quote therefrom:
"And He said UNTO THEM, With desire I have desired to eat THIS passover with you before I suffer: for I say unto you I will not any more eat thereof until IT be FULFILLED in the kingdom of God. And He took the cup and gave thanks and said, Take this and divide it among yourselves: for I say unto you I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God shall come. And He took bread and gave thanks and brake it, saying, This is my body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of me. Likewise, also the cup after supper, saying, This IS THE NEW TESTAMENT [or covenant] in my blood which is shed for you" Luke 22:15-20.
We see then that in this scripture passage the Lord gave His disciples a new outlook, a forward look, when He celebrated with them for the last time the old Mosaic passover. They were henceforth to look forward to His visible return (remember Matt. 23:39 and Acts 1:11 here) to set up His kingdom, when the promised future Passover will be FULFILLED and when His eating and drinking with them will be REPEATED. Has not the significance of the words "until it be fulfilled" been almost universally overlooked in Christendom? We must "rightly divide the Word" here as to who is speaking and to whom, when Christ as "a minister to the circumcision" addressed his Jewish disciples when He said, "This do in remembrance of me". Was this request later passed on to believing Gentiles who about eight years later began to be "added unto the Lord"? Acts 10 and 15:4 11:24. No! but rather, the Holy Spirit-inspired decision came shortly there, after that only four abstainings were to be placed upon them:
"The apostles and elders and brethren send greeting unto the brethren which are of the Gentiles .. . it seemed good to the Holy Ghost, and to us, to lay upon YOU no greater burden than these necessary things; that ye abstain from meats offered to idols, and from blood, and from things strangled, and from fornication: from which if ye keep yourselves ye shall do well. FARE YE WELL."
Yes, we can fare WELL before the Lord without physical rites! "Without faith it is impossible to please Him"; for "faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the Word of God". Heb. 11:6; Rom. 10:17.
In all of this a contrast should be noted concerning the literal and spiritual "kingdom". The apostles were told, "I appoint unto you a kingdom ... that ye may eat and drink . . . and sit on twelve thrones . . . "; but the Lord later inspired Paul to write, "The kingdom of God is NOT meat and drink, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Ghost". Luke 22:29, 30; Rom. 14:17. Failure to "rightly divide the Word" here has been a major cause of doctrinal confusion in Christianity to this day! The church is NOT the prophesied literal kingdom! God "hath translated us into the kingdom of His dear Son", a spiritual kingdom. Col. 1:13.
Furthermore, please notice in connection with the words "this do in remembrance of me", that remembrance o' Christ's DEATH and his RETURN in connection with the literal kingdom and the new covenant singularly stand out in the Lord's passover supper. For Gentile believers Christ's RESURRECTION (which, of course, was also preached to Israel: Acts 3:15; 13:30) is particularly stressed. Romans 4:22-25 tell us that righteousness will be imputed to us "if we believe on Him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead who was delivered [to death] for our offences and was RAISED AGAIN for our justification." In II Tim. 2:8 we read, "REMEMBER Jesus Christ RISEN FROM THE DEAD, according to my GOSPEL", R.V. It is timely here to now discuss Paul's only reference to the Lord's supper in all of his epistles, and to give special attention to his statement in verse 26 of I Cor. 11.
"YE DO SHOW"
Searching carefully, we shall find that Paul never commanded supper-observance in any of his epistles. In reading I Cor. 11:23-25 it should be noted in these verses that Paul merely related what he had "received of the Lord" concerning what He had done and said, namely, "THAT the Lord Jesus in the night in which He was betrayed took bread . . . ", and so on. Paul did not in this chapter (as is usually thought) give orders (as though so received from the Lord) to perpetuate a supper-ritual whereby Christ's death is to be remembered. Verses 23-25 being parenthetical, it can be seen that verse 26 is a continuation of verse 22, Paul's utterance directly to, the Corinthians concerning what THEY were doing. A command is usually read into verse 26, but this is not so; it is simply a declaration:
"For as often as ye eat this bread and drink this cup YE DO SHOW the Lord's death till He come."
The words "do show" mean, "to proclaim" (R.V.), or "to make something known by setting it forth". This setting forth centered in Christ's DEATH and His having dedicated and made of force THE NEW COVENANT by His shed blood, as indicated by Christ's words to His Jewish disciples, quoted by Paul in verse 25, " . . . this cup is the new testament [or covenant] in my blood, this do ye in remembrance of me".
The Jewish people knew that the old covenant had been dedicated with blood, as the writer of "Hebrews" reminded them:
"The first covenant was not dedicated without blood. For when Moses had spoken every precept to the people according to the law, he took the blood of calves and of goats, with water and scarlet wool, and hyssop and sprinkled both the book and all the people, saying, This is THE BLOOD OF THE TESTAMENT which God hath enjoined unto YOU." See Hebrews 9:15-20.
Also, to them God had said:
"As for thee also, whose covenant is by blood, I have sent forth thy prisoners out of the pit wherein is no water . . . And the Lord shall be seen over them . . . And the Lord their God shall save them in that day as the flock of His people . . . ". Zech. 9:11-16, marginal reading.
Certainly then, Israel could well understand what was proclaimed in the Lord's supper as it was continued by obedient believing Jews. These had anticipated Christ's restoration coming, as seen in the words, "till He come".
CHRIST'S RETURN IN TWO STAGES
By reading Acts 1:6,11 it can definitely be ascertained that for some time the early believers' only knowledge of things to come was the visible return of Christ, and that He would "restore again the kingdom to Israel" (which involved the promised new covenant). They were told by two angels, "this same Jesus which is taken up from you into heaven shall SO COME in like manner as ye have SEEN Him go up into heaven". The Lord had said to them, "It is not for you to know [at that time] the times or the seasons which the Father hath put in His own power. But ye shall receive power ... ". Acts 1:7, 8.
About twenty-five years later, after many had "fallen asleep" in Christ (I Cor. 15:6; I Thes. 4:14) and continued to do so, the Lord used Paul to progressively fulfill His words recorded in John 16:12, "I have yet many things to say unto you but ye can not bear them now". His prediction that He would send to Israel "prophets, and wise men, and scribes" having been fulfilled (Matt. 23:34), the Lord gradually revealed through Paul the new revelation that the church would be "caught up" in a "mystery" phase, or first stage, of Christ's promised second coming. I Thes. 4:13-18; I Cor. 15:51, 52. This event will be invisible to people on earth. In I Thes. 5:1-3 Paul wrote that the "day of the Lord" (corrected revision of "day of Christ" in verse 2) would not come before the "man of sin be revealed" and the "one that restraineth now" (the Holy Spirit) "be taken out of the way" in the departure of the church, which event will occur in "the day of Christ"— so termed in Phil. 1:6, 10; 2:16. We repeat here, Daniel's 70th "week" of seven years must elapse after the departure of the church, and then the church w "appear with Him in glory". Col. 3:4.
So the Lord comforted believers, giving them new hope. They had been witnessing Israel's nation rejection of her Messiah and this had dimmed the hope they held as to Christ's RESTORATION coming as it was originally understood, and preached the apostles. Acts 3:19-21. That coming could m occur, please remember, apart from the nation( conversion of Israel. (That conversion will yet tale place, as seen in Isa. 66:8; Rom. 11:25-27, for example.) Because that coming had been in min when the Lord's supper had been eaten, therefor Paul wrote in connection with that supper, "ye show the Lord's death till He come". I Cor. 11:26. This expression, used but once in Paul's epistles, was associated only with the future new covenant as that covenant had been confirmed by Christ, and must not be divorced therefrom.
It should be apparent to us then, that the Jewish Lord's supper-eating, associated with Jewish promises, Jewish hope and testimony, would naturally cease after Israel as a nation was temporarily set aside because of national rejection of Christ. In Him alone rested her hope of kingdom restoration and tin new covenant. Since God's bona fide kingdom offer to Israel during the Acts period was rejected, all must needs be postponed. Near the close of this period came the new revelation about Christ coming at an indefinite time to meet the church in the air, an expectancy remaining imminent to this day.
The querulous argument is often given in defense of keeping up the present day Lord's supper ritual, "Well, He hasn't come yet, has He?" The foregoing should sufficiently explain those seemingly difficult words, "till He come". After the church is gone the restoration coming will again be expected "till He come" — by a Jewish remnant, Christ's "brethren", and those Gentiles to whom "the King shall say, Come ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world". Matt. 25:34, 40.
SPIRITUAL CUP AND BREAD
Why should the apostle Paul write in I Cor. 10:15, "I speak as to WISE men; JUDGE ye what I say", unless he inferred that what immediately follows requires spiritual discernment?
"The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of. the body of Christ? For we being many are one bread and one body: for we are all partakers of that one bread." I Cor. 10:16, 17.
This "communion" is the real thing, as one has said. It is a spiritual communion, not using wine (to represent Christ's blood), drinking it from a literal cup; nor using literal bread (to represent Christ's physical body) eating a bit of it, as is commonly believed. (The Lord's Passover supper was a MEAL, please remember.) "Communion" here means "Participation", or FELLOWSHIP, centered in the spiritual blessings made possible by the cross of Christ. The Bible many times speaks of figurative, cups, as, "cup of trembling", "cup of salvation", a cup or portion, that "runneth over", etc. Zech.. 12:2; Psalm 116:13; 23:5. Also figurative tables are mentioned, as "wisdom hath furnished her table", "the table [altar] of the Lord is polluted". Prov. 9:2; Mal. 1:12.
Believers can "bless", or thank God for their "cup", their common portion in Christ by whose blood they were saved, and that they may have united Christian fellowship in "one body" — "one bread", or loaf. All believers are "partakers of that one bread", Christ, i.e. they can have participation, or fellowship — "communion" — in Christ, who, in union with the "members of His body" is "that one bread". I Cor. 12:12, 27; Eph. 5:30; 1:22, 23. Believers are "called unto the fellowship of God's Son" and have "the communion [fellowship] of the Holy Spirit". I Cor. 1:9; II Cor. 13:14.
Israel had been "baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea" (I Cor. 10:2), but of believers in Christ it is said:
"By [or in] one Spirit are we all baptized into one body... and were all made to drink of one Spirit " I Cor. 12:13. In this one body we figuratively break bread in the communion of God's Word, "the bread of life". His Word is spirit and life; "the flesh profiteth nothing". John 6:48, 63.
Three figurative "tables" are mentioned in I Cor. 10, the "Lord's table" in connection with Christian fellowship (vs. 16, 17, 21), a table for "Israel after the flesh", namely, their literal "altar" with its animal "sacrifices" (v. 18), and "the table, of devils" (demons), speaking of the idolatrous sacrifices of the Gentiles (vs. 19, 20). In verse 32 we have these three classes of people grouped — a key verse in "rightly dividing the Word of truth":
"Give none offence, neither to the Jews, nor to the Gentiles, nor to the church of God."
"MIDDLE WALL" AND JEWISH RITES "ABOLISHED"
In Paul's prison epistles (known as such by the word "bonds" found in them) written after the Acts period, about A.D. 63, Israel now being set aside nationally, the Lord revealed through Paul that the "middle wall" between Jew and Gentile was "broken down". God had put "no difference" between them concerning salvation by grace, as seen in Peter's words found in Acts 15:9, 11, quote:
"And put NO DIFFERENCE between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith. But we believe that through the GRACE of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved, even as they."
We have seen there WAS a difference between Jew and Gentile believers as to their religious WALK, a difference that was truly nullified by the cross, but not so revealed fully, and put into effect until the prison epistles, Ephesians and Colossians were written, as follows:
"For He [Christ] is our peace who bath made both one and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us; having ABOLISHED in His flesh [by the cross] the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain ONE NEW MAN,, so making peace; and that He might reconcile both unto God IN ONE BODY by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby." Eph. 2:14-16. "Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to His cross . . . Let no man therefore judge [or condemn] you in meat [eating] or in drink, or in respect of an holy day, or of the new moon, or of the Sabbath days: which are a SHADOW of things to come; but the body [or substance] is Christ." "And ye are COMPLETE IN HIM . . . ". Col. 2:14, 16, 10.
The "law of commandments" was one whole Mosaic law containing ceremonial laws (Heb. 9:10) as well as the ten commandments. This can be seen by reading Exodus 20 through 24:8. Christ having "fulfilled" the entire law (Matt. 5:17, 18), that law which was "enmity" and "against us", could be "abolished", "blotted out" and taken "out of the way", having been "nailed to His cross". The latter expression, "nailed", in ancient times denoted full payment of a debt when the creditor nailed the cancelled document to one's doorpost. However, the important point to remember is that this blotting out was not so REVEALED until Paul wrote his prison epistles and Israel as a nation had been set aside. Paul was made the new commandment-giver for the present dispensation. See I Cor. 14:37. He re-iterated all the ten commandments except the fourth (which was a "sign" between God and Israel and also a "shadow", Deut. 5:15; Exod. 31:13, 17; Heb. 4:1-10) in many injunctions and admonitions found in Paul's epistles. Never did he command ceremonial rites in his epistles!
"If any man think himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things that I WRITE unto you are the commandments of the Lord." I Cor. 14:37.
All of this conclusively proves for those who "will do His will" and shall therefore "know of the doctrine" (John 7:17), that the Lord's PASSOVER supper, enjoined on His JEWISH disciples while still under the Mosaic law dispensation, as well as the rite of water baptism, has been BLOTTED OUT as far as we are concerned today. They were "shadows of things to come", relating to "promises made to the fathers". Therefore Paul wrote, "Let no man judge [condemn] you" — in religiously eating and drinking, keeping days, etc.
DO WE NEED SHADOWS?
Rather than having Israelitish promises fulfilled today, we have the SUBSTANCE, Christ himself; we possess "the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles, which is CHRIST IN YOU, the hope of glory". Col. 1:27. The instructed spiritual Christian knows we do not need shadows in physical elements such as bread and a cup of wine (shadows of Christ's physical body and of His blood which dedicated Israel's future new covenant) to make us remember our Savior's death. We who are made to "sit together in heavenly places in Christ" (Eph. 2:6) are not to "show the Lord's death till He come" — in His future restoration coming (we won't be on earth then, as another has said), but to show His LIFE "manifested in us" in the spiritual "new man". We are to "hold forth the Word of life in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation among whom YE [not emblematic elements!) are seen as lights in the world". Phil. 2:15, 16.
Philippians 3:3 (another prison epistle), according to the context. deals with "righteousness" being not obtainable by the law, or works of the flesh, in which so very many have "confidence" both for obtaining and retaining salvation. However, Paul's statement here does also apply to fleshly rites, or "sacraments", so-called:
"For we are the circumcision who worship God in the spirit, and rejoice [or glory] in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in THE FLESH." (Wey mouth's translation has it: "no confidence in outward ceremonies!"
Some ultra-dispensationalists are presently teaching that water baptism has been abolished in that it was a Jewish ordinance, but not so the Lord's supper because, they say, "though it was made with Israel at Calvary it concerns us also . . . what God promised by covenant to Israel we receive by grace". Error in this statement should readily be seen by the reader. These people also teach, falsely, that "the gospel of the GRACE of God" was a new revelation given through Paul (Eph. 3:2 is mainly used here), that "repentance and water baptism for the remission of sins" had been demanded heretofore, and that "under the kingdom program the Jews and the 'unclean' Gentiles alike had to be baptized" with water. ("The Fundamentals of Dispensationalism", by C. R. Stam, pp. 228, 267-270.) Such teaching ignores the historic decision recorded in Acts 15 absolving all Gentiles from Judaistic law, and also Peter's statement in verses 9 and 11 and in Acts 10:43 that both Jew and Gentile are saved alike "by faith", "through grace". Also, those revealing words in Jer. 31:33 regarding when the new covenant will be made: "after those days", are disregarded by these teachers.
In Ephesians 3:2, as in verse 8 and in Col. 1:25, 26, Paul simply spoke of the grace that had been extended him, that God used him to reveal "the mystery of Christ [not grace] which in other ages was not made known to the sons of men ... that the Gentiles should be fellowheirs and of the same body and partakers of His, promise in Christ by the gospel . . . and to make all men see what is the fellowship of the Mystery .... ". Eph. 3:5, 6, 9.
The facts that nowhere in Paul's epistles is the Lord's supper commanded; that it wasn't at all mentioned in his prison epistles and only once earlier, in I Col. 11. and then only in connection with rebuking the assembly at Corinth for ungodly behavior, should be highly significant for all who study this subject.
It is generally believed that the Gospel according to John was written after Paul's death. Is it not significant that John made no mention of the new covenant nor was inspired to include Christ's words to His disciples, "this do in remembrance of me"? It is in John's Gospel where our Lord's teaching concerning purely spiritual worship is found:
"But the hour cometh and now is when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth, for the Father seeketh such to worship Him. God is a spirit and they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth." John 4:23, 24.
When physical rites were still observed by Jewish believers after the cross, as we have related, their preaching of the promised kingdom and the new covenant was accompanied by physical miracles. This coincides with direct judgment coming upon those who then ate the Lord's supper "unworthily", so that many were "weak and sickly", and death came to many. I Cor. 11:30. Today all must admit that now such results do not occur, nor the miracles of the Acts period!
That the expression "breaking bread" found in Acts 2:42, 46; 20:7, speaks of eating meals together as in "feasts of charity" (Jude 12; II Pet. 2:13) can be ascertained from reading Luke 24:35, "He was known of them in breaking of bread" at an evening meal.
People speak of the practices in "the early church" and that writers in the early centuries tell of water baptism and the Lord's supper being commonly observed. It is not so well known that these writers also speak of an early decline into apostasy and that some Christians were derisively called "Paulicians", who walked as God had instructed them through His specially-chosen apostle, Paul. These worshipped God "in spirit" apart from physical rites. We should remember that it is displeasing to God, and wrong, for us to take our eyes off God's inspired Word, rightly divided, to look back at what the majority believed and practiced — the traditions and dogmas of past centuries.
Ponder this: Why did Paul finally write, "This thou knowest, that all they which are in Asia be turned away from me . . . " ? II Tim. 1:15. "PROVE all things; hold fast that which is good." I Thes. 5:21.
"He that is of God HEARETH God's Word." John 8:47.
Anyone who seeks after righteousness, hungering to know what is right, may have the blessed experience, entirely apart from shadow-rituals, spoken of in Rev. 3:20, "Behold, I stand at the door and knock: if any man hear my voice and open the door, I will come in to him and will SUP with him and he with me."
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