Tuesday, September 23, 2008

What it Really Means to Break Bread.

1 Cor. 11:23-26 (ESV)
For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, [24] and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, "This is my body which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me." [25] In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me." [26] For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes.

Chemnitz in chapter 8 section D of the “Lord’s Supper” brings out a very good discussion on the words of institution as we have them from Paul. He first points out that Paul was a learned man in the ways of the Law being a Jew. As such he would have been used to figures of speech concerning the law, and would not have needed anyone to explain them, as a Gentile might. Yet he is sent to the gentiles and so takes care to make sure that they understand what is happening in the Lord’s Supper.
He remains with the simple words this is my Body, this is the New Testament in my blood. Then Chemnitz has a very enlightening discussion on the word broke and what it means. It is amazing, but this is a figure of speech. In Hebrew the word shabar or break, actually means to distribute, to purchase, or buy. He cites among others the use of this word in Gen 41-56-57, and Isaiah 55:1. Whether or not Jesus actually did break the bread in the English sense of the term is irrelevant. (He may or may not have.) What is meant is that he distributed it among the disciples.
It is enlightening of so much. What is meant to be taken literally is too often taken figuratively, and where there is an obvious figure of speech or simile, that is taken literally.

1 comment:

Es ist das Heil said...

As you have said before,
I wish somebody (Hint, Hint, Jerry Kieschnick!) would put out a good English Translation of the Bible and get rid of the words like Covenant (and put in Testament!). For those of us trying to learn what the text says, it would be a Good Thing!!