Vol.XVIII No.V Pg.7
July 1981

?You Know What?

Robert F. Turner

Discussing the necessity for public assembly to validate the Lords Supper, a correspondent says history supports the idea that early disciples met twice on Sunday: in the morning for scripture reading, prayer, exhortation and singing and in the evening for the Lords Supper.

I'm not familiar with the history book cited, but this sounds like an English or Scottish source. Brethren there make this distinction: morning for "worship," evening for evangelism.

One must be very careful in the use of secular history re. the early church. The historic or institutional concept of "church" and the ritualistic view of "worship" was adopted in early years, probably through Jewish or 1st Covenant (Moses) influence.

But one of the earliest writings extant on this subject is from Justin Martyr (110 - 165 A.D.) and he says: "And when the president has given thanks, and all the people have expressed their assent, those who are called by us deacons give to each of those present to partake of the bread and wine mixed with water over which thanksgiving was pronounced, and to those who are absent the carry away a portion. (my emphasis, rt) Second Apology, Ch. 65

"Then we all rise together and pray and, as we before said, when our prayer is ended, bread and wine and water are brought, and the president in like manner offers prayers and thanksgivings, according to his ability, and the people assent, saying Amen; and there is a distribution to each, and a participation of that over which thanks have been given, and to those who are absent a portion is sent by the deacons." (Ch. 67)

This is from "Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol. l, p.185-6; Eerdmans, 1950; Amer. Reprint of the Edinburg Edition.

Apparently, at this very early date, ones presence at the "assembly" was not an essential element of the Lord's Supper. For what it is worth...

The individual has fellowship with Christ in the Lord's Supper — there being no benefit if the individual does not "discern the Lord's body" (1 Cor. 11:20, 27-f; 10:16, 20-21). At the same time, saints are joint-partakers (have fellowship with one another) as they are in singing, praying, etc. They "came together" for many reasons (Acts 4:31; 14:27; 15:6, 30; 20:7; 1 Con. 5:4; 14:23-f); and Heb. 10:25 seems to urge brethren to jointly participate in whatever the reason for a particular assembling. We may be "reading into" the coming together for the L.S. far more than was intended. Is it really true — what we so often hear — that "the main reason for our assembly is the L.S."?

Does this make the L.S. less important? I did not so intend it. Instead I would like to make the singing, exhortation, prayer, etc., equally important. The desire to worship and serve God, as a total purpose, should bring us together: in fullness of faith, holding fast the confession of our hope, and provoking one another unto love and good works. Coming together promotes all of this, without being a validating element in any one part.