The Blood of the New Testament
By Jason L. Weatherly
Copyright 1998, 2007

"And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed it, and broke it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is my body. And he took the cup, and gave thanks and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it; for this is my blood of the New Testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins. But I say unto you, I will not drink henceforth of this fruit of the vine, until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father's kingdom”
(Matthew 26:26-28).

     The partaking of the Lord's Supper is an important part of the faith of the New Testament Church. However, there are questions concerning what beverage was in the cup. Was the symbol Jesus used for His blood wine or grape juice? Whatever Jesus used as the symbol was identical with that which the Jews in that age used in observance of the Passover. In observance of the Passover, the Jews were commanded to put away all leaven out of their houses (Exodus 12:15). It has been said that fermented wine could not be used at Passover because it contains leaven and leaven is forbidden. Because no leaven was to be used is the very cause wine should be used.
     Grape juice is full of leaven and is what causes fermentation. Fermentation is the process by which all leaven is purged out of the grape juice. That which causes fermentation in wine is the yeast cells which collect naturally on the skins of the grapes, and is comparable or equal to leaven. Leaven is foreign to the nature of wine. Fermentation is but the latent energy of the juice nature to throw this leaven off, where it settles to the bottom of the vessel as the dregs so as to leave the wine pure and clear, fitted to drink as a symbol of the Saviour's pure blood.
     Leaven was forbidden in all offerings to the Lord by fire (Lev 2:11; 6:17). However, the drink offering which was poured out over the fire was strong wine (Num 28:7, 15:5, 7, 10; Deut 32:38). This strong wine like all wine, used after fermentation, was drawn off or separated from the dregs so that not even the dead leaven killed in the fermentation process was poured out on the sacrifices. So, any leaven that was in the original unfermented grape juice never came upon the sacrifices. Therefore wine cannot contain leaven when it is properly prepared for the ancient Jewish Passover and now the Passover celebration of Jesus Christ our Lord. Kittel's Theological Dictionary of the New Testament (KTDNT), volume 5, page 162 states:

"Wine is specifically mentioned as an integral part of the Passover meal no earlier than Jubilees 49:6, but there can be no doubt that it was in use long before."

Kittel’s, volume 3, page 732, 733 reports:

"The Jewish Passover of the time, according to Jewish sources, especially Pes. 10 and features of the Jewish rite confirmed by the NT, the course of the Passover at this period was as follows: The meal was to take place on the evening of the 14th Nisan in Jerusalem. At least 10 persons had normally to be present. When the meal has been prepared, those participating took their places at the table. The head of the house opened the feast with two blessings, first for the festival and then of the wine: Blessed be Thou, Yahweh (sic) our God, King of the world, who hast created the fruit of the vine. (Note that no name of God was used, Kittel has inserted Yahweh of his own use).

The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, Volume 1, page 165 reports:

"Other details in the synoptics characterize the Supper as a Passover: it was a lengthy and well prepared meal; it took place at night; the disciples reclined at the table (Mark 14:18) and drank wine; the whole meal closed with an act of praise."

Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible, Volume 3, page 148 states:

"Christ took the two simplest and most universal representatives of sustaining food, bread that strengtheneth man's heart, and wine that maketh glad the heart of man, and employed them as the universal representatives of spiritual foods, of his body broken and his blood poured out. His loyal followers have from the first retained these."

Alfred Edersheim, The Temple: Its Ministry and Services, states:

“The use of wine in the Paschal Supper, though not mentioned in the Law, was strictly enjoined by tradition. According to the Jerusalem Talmud, it was intended to express Israel’s joy on the Paschal night, and even the poorest must have ‘at least four cups, though he were to receive the money for it from the poor’s box’ (Pes. x. 1).”

     The Passover was not held in the season for grape juice to be fresh. There was no way of keeping the juices from fermenting. Pasteurization, the process used today to keep juices from fermenting, was not used until 1869. Some have been misinformed by "Bible Commentaries" which tell of an "ancient custom" of storing grape juice under streams and in deep wells for thirty days to keep it from fermenting. Hastings' Dictionary page 974, article Wine and Strong Drink says:

"It maybe stated at this point that no traces can be found, among the hundreds of references to the preparation and use of wine in the Mishna, of any means employed to preserve wine in the unfermented state. It is even improbable that with the means at their disposal the Jews could have so preserved it had they wished (cf. Professor Macallaster's statement as to the impossibility of unfermented wine at this period in Hastings' DB ii, 34b)."

Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible, volume 2, page 34 states:

"When active fermentation is in progress these skins become some distended, and are liable to burst. This is especially liable to occur with new skins of young animals ...The preservation of wine did not mean keeping it from fermentation, -for, with the total absence of antiseptic precautions ...it would have been impossible to do so."

Mississippi State University, College of Agriculture and Home Economics states:

"There is no temperature short of freezing that will completely stop fermentation. Grape juice can be stored at 28 degrees and will still ferment."

Let's be honest. There are no streams or wells in the Middle East that get colder than 28 degrees. Therefore the Passover cup could not have contained anything but fermented wine. If there was no such custom of preserving grape juice for Passover and the Jews did not use a method of preserving it to avoid fermentation in the observance, then Jesus could not have used grape juice.
     The only method of storing grape juice mentioned in the whole Bible is in bottles which correctly translated would be wine-skins.

"Neither do men put new wine into old bottles; else the bottles break, and the wine runneth out, and the bottles perish: but they put new wine into new bottles, and both are preserved"
(Matthew 9:17).

Grape juice was preserved only as fermented wine. The reason the skins can burst is that during the process of fermentation and killing the leaven in fresh juice, carbon dioxide is released creating pressure within the skins (cf Job 32:19, “Behold, my belly is as wine which hath no vent; it is ready to burst like a new bottle”).
     The Jews were to keep a Sabbath of the land every seven years.

“Six years thou shalt sow thy field, and six years thou shalt prune thy vineyard, and gather in the fruit thereof; but in the seventh year shall be a sabbath of rest unto the land, a sabbath for the LORD: thou shalt neither sow thy field, nor prune thy vineyard. That which groweth of its own accord of thy harvest thou shalt not reap, neither gather grapes of thy vine undressed (that is ‘separating’ them from the vine): for it is a year of rest unto the land”
(Lev 25:3-5).

Therefore the Jews had to harvest enough on the sixth year to get them through the remainder of the sixth year and all the way to the harvest time of the eighth year ...almost two years. Therefore, the juice that was pressed out of the grapes in the sixth year had to last until the vintage of the eighth ...almost two years. It is impossible to keep grape juice fresh for two years. Not even the grape juice manufacturers can do this. Pasteurized grape juice has a typical shelf-life of 15 months. Grapes only have a shelf-life of 6 months. Pasteurized grape juice has an expiration date on the carton because it will eventually spoil, but bottled wine can stay preserved for over a hundred years. Again, it must be stated that out of the hundreds of references in ancient Jewish writings of preparing wine, there are no references of preparing it in an unfermented state. Therefore the Jew absolutely drank fermented wine in observance of the Passover.
     If you can find fresh unfermented grape juice it must be drank the same day or it will begin to cleanse out the leaven and fermentation starts. This is concluded within 12-14 days when all the leaven is dead and new wine results which the 120 were accused of drinking on the day of Pentecost. Therefore, beyond a shadow of a doubt the Jews used fermented wine for Passover which is six months after the previous year grape vintage when the juice would have been fresh only for a short time.
     It is evident that the early Church used wine, not grape juice for the Communion. Look at the Corinthian Church example. Paul rebuked the Corinthians for getting drunk while taking Communion:

"For in eating every one taketh before other his own supper: and one is hungry and another drunken
(1 Cor 11:21).

Some have argued that the word drunken in the text is in contrast to hungry and means full of food and not intoxicated. But is this true? The next verse proves such claims are false:

"What? Have ye not houses to eat and drink in?”
(1 Cor. 11:22).

Obviously then the word “drunken” in verse 21 is a reference to “drink” in verse 22. Drunken refers to drinking wine to excess which Paul later rebuked but he never said using wine in a Godly manner was sinful. His mention of the proper use of wine concerning Bishops, Elders, Deacons, and older women proves such to be the case. So the word drunken refers to drink. The word drunken is the Greek word methuo (Strong's 3184), which means to drink to intoxication. Now surely one cannot eat food to intoxication! Is this what Paul rebuked as some want us to believe by changing drunken to having a full belly of food? Surely it was not pasteurized grape juice they drank to the point of intoxication (methuo)!
     Notice that Apostle Paul said that he had received from the Lord that which he had delivered unto them concerning the Lord's Passover (1Corinthians 11:23). Now if they were drinking the wrong substance (wine instead of grape juice), don't you think Paul would have jumped on this right away as a perversion and corrected them? He never told them they drank the wrong substance, he only told them the manner in which they were celebrating it was wrong. Clearly it is inferred from these texts that the early Apostolic Church drank fermented wine for Communion.
     For over 1800 years of Church history the use of fermented wine in Communion was never debated. While other issues concerning the Lord’s Supper were debated (transubstantiation vs. symbolism, etc.) the issue of what beverage to use during Communion was not- they all drank wine! Grape juice was not generally used in Communion until the mid to late 19th Century (1800's). This was brought about mostly by the American Temperance Society against men and husbands who frequented saloons, bars, and dives and who had become addicted and were no longer being proper husbands, fathers, Church members, and examples to children. Their tirades against whiskey and white-lightning turned also upon wine for use in the Communion. This brought them right into the church houses where they then claimed Jesus drank grape juice and not wine. The Temperance Movement changed some Churches ever since and continues til today.

continued at top of next column

The Blood of the New Testament (cont)

     It was not until 1869 that Doctor Thomas Bramwell Welch, a dentist by trade, and a Methodist by conviction, successfully pasteurized Concord grape juice to produce an "unfermented sacramental wine" for fellow parishioners at his church in Vineland, N.J., where he was communion steward. Because the Temperance Movement taught that alcohol was a poison, he suggested to his pastor that they quit using wine and use his new "unfermented wine" for Communion. Welch's son later started Welch's Grape Juice Company in 1872. This was the beginning of several groups' using grape juice for the Lord's Memorial and a certain departure from the ancient practice held at Passover for nearly 3,400 years.
     In Genesis 14:18, Melchizedek, the priest of the most high God, brought bread and wine (Hebrew yayin Strong's 3196: fermented wine) to Abraham for communion and fellowship. This was a type or foreshadowing of the Lord's Supper that Christ, who is after the order of Melchizedek (Hebrews 7:17) would present to the Church, Abraham's seed.
     Passover wine is a beautiful symbol of the blood of Jesus Christ. The leaven collects on the skins of the grapes, just as Jesus took on our sins, yet in Him was no sin. The skins of the grapes are crushed to bring forth the juice, just as Jesus was bruised for our iniquities and out of His side came blood and water. The freshly squeezed juice lies dormant for about three days, just as Jesus was in the tomb three days and nights. After three days the process of fermentation takes place and the juice becomes “alive”, just as after three days Jesus arose from the grave. The process of fermentation “conquers” and “cleanses” the juice of all leaven, just as the blood of Jesus Christ cleanses us from sin. The wine had to sit for forty days to be declared kosher for the Passover. This is similar to Jesus spending forty days with His disciples teaching them the things concerning the kingdom of God. Thus we see that the fermented wine used at Passover during the time of Christ is the perfect symbol of the blood of Jesus Christ:

“For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins”.
(Matthew 26:28).

Common Questions Concerning Communion

1. Was the wine Jesus made at Cana fermented wine or grape juice?

Answer: Some have attempted to find linguistic support for saying that this was grape juice rather that wine. Such support is lacking. Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible, volume 2, page 34 says:

"An attempt has been made to obtain textual support for total abstinence by differentiating intoxicating from unfermented wine in the Biblical terminology; but it is only special pleading without adequate foundation."

The Bible is very plain about the miracle of Cana. The word for wine is the Greek word oinos which refers always in the New Testament to fermented wine. Ephesians 5:18: "Be not drunk (methusko, to intoxicate) with wine (Greek oinos)...” Thus, oinos refers only to fermented wine.

2. If Jesus turned water into wine, wouldn't this justify a Christian supplying booze to a party?

Answer: The Christian answer is definitely NO! God killed Pharaoh in the Red Sea, this does not mean we should go drown the ungodly. Secondly, the answer is rather in the culture of the first century Palestine and what the Scriptures specifically labeled sin under the Old Testament. Use of wine in a Godly manner was never a sin in the Old Testament. Many places in the Middle East the water was more harmful than wine. Also, the wine usually used by the common people in the days of Christ according to the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia was not as strong as it is today. It was only 1/3 to 1/4 as strong because there were no additives put into it to increase the alcohol content. To make it strong wine in the days of Jesus they cured the wine in wormwood casks and mixed in other strong drinks to make it addictive. And remember, while wine was used liberally throughout the early Church era, there is no Apostolic record where any Minister or Church provided wine for the purpose of getting guests drunk. We do not find this as the purpose of Jesus when he turned water into wine. The use of wine for Passover does not rise or fall based upon the Cana miracle.

3. Did Jesus drink wine or grape juice?

Answer: Jesus said in Matthew 11:18-19:

"For John came neither eating or drinking (wine see Luke 1:15), and they say, He hath a devil. The Son of man is come eating and drinking (wine that which John did not drink), and they say, Behold a man gluttonous, and a winebibber."

Notice, Jesus drank that which John the Baptist did not. According to Luke 1:15, John the Baptist did not drink wine or strong drink. Therefore Jesus DID drink wine and strong drink. If Jesus did not drink wine then the accusation that he was a winebibber would have been absurd. Think of the Jews charging Jesus with being a bibber of something totally unintoxicating! What then was the accusation? That he drank grape juice? Obviously Jesus did drink wine and his holiness and sinlessness was not at all affected. Had he gotten drunk and used wine wrongly then He would be guilty of sin. We may then deduce that Jesus used wine Godly and for the right purposes. And in our discussion, the old Passover and the Lord's Passover are both Godly and the right purpose.

4. Wouldn't the use of fermented wine at Communion justify social drinking?

Answer: Definitely not as for reasons stated above. The Scriptures command us to be sober so any use of wine that would take away our right mind or conduct is forbidden (1Thes 5:6, 8). Bishops, Elders, Deacons, Older women, Young women and Young men are ALL commanded to be sober (1Tim 3:2, 11; Titus 1:8, 2:2, 4,6; 1Peter 1:13, 4:7; 5:8). To be sober not only means to be discreet in personal conduct and habits, but to have a right mind unaffected by any device that would or could alter the mind or body to do otherwise. Some have voiced a concern towards Christians who were once alcoholics, that using wine in Communion might cause them to relapse. The truth of the matter is, if a thimble full of wine used in holy reverence towards the Lord’s Passover can cause a Christian to turn towards alcoholism; then they were never delivered in the first place. Jesus said, If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed, (John 8:36). Many other things we use in our daily life contain alcohol which have a higher alcohol content than naturally fermented wine; such as cough syrup and mouth wash, none of which should cause a Christian to stumble in their walk with God. In regards to our subject, there is absolutely no way any person observing the Lord's Passover could be anything other than sober throughout the entire celebration. After all, the glory of the event is remembrance and being sober minded is the key to the whole observance.

5. When Paul told Timothy to take a little wine was the wine a grape jelly-like substance that was mixed with water?

Answer: Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible, volume 4, page 869 states:

"The latter is the juice of the grape, boiled to the consistency of thick treacle, and set aside to cool into a mass resembling in appearance candied honey. It is NOT TRUE that this substance is anywhere used or known as wine. In its commercial form it is no more a beverage than crystallized honey, and no one here ever saw or heard of any one drinking it and using it as a drink."

     We would conclude from this that the idea of Paul telling Timothy to make a grape-jelly drink to avoid the use of real wine is simply error. To say Timothy had stomach ulcers is conjecture and is not in the text. Timothy could have suffered from any number of intestinal disorders of which wine could have been used as a cure or aid. Again, whatever Timothy's stomach disorder, the practice of using wine for the old Passover or the Lord's Passover is totally unaffected.

6. How could wine be used for Communion, when the Bible says it is a mocker (Proverbs 20:1) and that in wine takes away the heart (Hos 4:11) and that wine inflames them (Isaiah 5:11)?

Answer: Of course these in the text are those who have not used wine in a Godly manner and there is no condemnation of those that do. The condemnation is against those who use it wrongly and they are so identified. Notice also that no mention is here made against using wine for the Passover or for any of the other good purposes. The word wine (Hebrew yayin) when used in the vulgar sense can mean intoxication when so identified by the conduct of a person and is used in Genesis 9:24 to show such an event: And Noah awoke from his wine (intoxication). In Isaiah 5:11 it is brought out more clearly:

"Woe unto them that rise early in the morning, that they may follow strong drink; that continue until night, till wine (intoxication) inflame them."

Notice here that it is the misuse of wine to intoxication that is pointed as the evil and not wine itself. In the Scriptures mentioned above the misuse of “yayin” refers to the state of intoxication not to the actual beverage - wine. However, the beverage, wine, is used as a symbol of God’s blessings throughout the Bible. In Psalm 104:14-15, the Bible states that God gives us wine that maketh glad the heart of man. Prov. 3:9-10 states,

“Honor the LORD with thy substance, and with the first fruits of all thine increase: so shall thy barns be filled with plenty, and thy presses shall burst out with new wine.”

The Blood of the New Testament (cont)

7. How can wine be used for Communion, when the Bible says that God gave us the pure blood of the grapes?"

Answer: The verse is found in Deut. 32:14,

"Butter of kine, and milk of sheep, with the fat of lambs, and rams of the breed of Bashan, and goats, with the fat of kidneys of wheat; and thou didst drink the PURE BLOOD of the grape."

Those who contend for grape juice quote this verse but they do not rightly divide it. Is the pure blood of the grape fresh juice or fermented grape juice?
    The key here is the word pure which in Hebrew is chemer (Strong's 2560--wine : pure, red wine)”. The word pure refers to fermented wine, not fresh grape juice. The text then rightly divided would say: ...and thou didst drink the fermented blood of the grape. Here we have a graphic proof that wine is the blood of the grape, and that it was considered PURE which all grape juice users deny. But now with the above evidence we trust they will be honest and confess that wine can be pure and is also the blood of the grape. Therefore the text actually states, God gave us the FERMENTED blood of the grape not that he had given grape juice and this was the pure blood. This verse can only be used by those who serve wine, the pure blood of the grape. That is what Jesus did on the glorious event of sealing his wedding covenant with the Church when he blessed and then served his Passover cup to the Bride represented by the twelve apostles.

8. How can wine be used for Communion, when Jesus called it the fruit of the vine (Matt. 26:29)?

Answer: We have already shown that WINE in the Passover celebration is blessed by Jews as the FRUIT OF THE VINE! The Passover cup of blessing contained wine and no Jew will ever deny this. Try to get one to confess that it was grape juice because they were trying to avoid use of wine because either it was sinful, or had leaven in it, and watch him laugh.
    The most authoritative Greek scholars agree that fruit of the vine refers to wine:

Bauer, Arndt, & Gringrich Lexicon, page 154 states: "of WINE as the product of the vine."

Vincent's Word Studies of the New Testament, volume 1, page 139 states this is applied to the WINE.

A.T. Robertson, Word Pictures, volume 2, page 267 states:

"the fruit of the vine and not oinos though it was WINE undoubtedly."

Heinrich Meyer, Commentary on Matthew, page 470 states:

"The use of this term instead of oinos has something solemn about it, containing as it does, an allusion to the form of thanksgiving for the Passover WINE."

Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible, volume 2, page 34 states:

"There are several figurative names for WINE: 'fruit of the vine' (Lk 22:18), 'the blood of the grapes’ (Deut 32:14)."

R. C. H. Lenski, Commentary on Matthew, page 1032 says:

"Because oinos does not appear in this account, the use of wine is at least gravely questioned, which means practically denied. The fact that Matthew writes not merely 'fruit of the vine' peri hagiphen, the lovely liturgical term for WINE used in the Passover ritual, but most definitely 'this fruit of the vine,' the one regularly used in the Passover and thus used by the Lord for his supper, is not appreciated by those who will not use wine in the celebration of the Lord's Supper, for they think grape juice fits this phrase better than wine although in April such a thing as grape juice was an impossibility in the Holy Land of Christ's time. It could be had only when grapes were freshly pressed out, before the juice started to ferment."

     According to the Jewish Passover tradition, the very prayer over the cup of wine called it the fruit of the vine. Notice that Jesus said that He would not drink any more of THIS fruit of the vine, until that day He drinks it new in the Father’s kingdom (Matt. 26:29). The word new in this text has the meaning of fresh as opposed to old. This statement is a thesis, with an understood antithesis. For example when Jesus said This is the blood of the NEW testament, this is in opposition to the Old Testament which had already been in effect. Thus Jesus’ statement that He would no longer drink of this fruit of the vine until He drank it new or fresh is in opposition to drinking it old i.e. fermented, as He was then drinking it with His disciples. Thus the phrase fruit of the vine definitely refers to fermented wine.
     There are thirty-seven commentaries on the Book of Matthew in Harding University Library that I checked in doing this research project. Twenty-six of these reference works state that fruit of the vine refers to fermented wine; ten of them do not state either way, and only one commentary stated that the fruit of the vine refers to grape juice, which we know is an absurdity, since neither this one nor has any other, ever proved the Jews used grape juice for the Passover for the purpose of not using leaven or because wine was considered a sinful product for the observance.
     That is out of 37 reference works ONLY ONE voiced an unqualified opposition to fruit of the vine being wine. This commentary was that of the Seventh-day Adventist which states:

"The cup contained the pure juice of the grape, untouched by fermentation, and was probably diluted with water. The method used in ancient times to preserve grape juice in an unfermented state from the vintage six months prior to the Passover season is NOT KNOWN".

In other words, WE DO NOT KNOW THAT THEY DID IT, AND IF THEY DID IT, HOW THEY DID IT, AND WE CAN FIND NO JEW TO SAY THEY DID IT, BUT WE BELIEVE THEY DID IT AND IT WAS DONE!

Dr. Francis Beare's translation and commentary on Matthew 26:27 states:

"And he took a cup of WINE, and when he gave thanks, he gave it to them, saying, ‘Drink of it all of you’."

Robert Bratcher's A Translator's Guide To The Gospel of Matthew, page 334 states concerning Matthew 26:27:

"Drink it: 'Drink from it' or 'Drink the WINE.' It may be better to begin the verse 'He took a cup full of wine,' which will make drink it more intelligible."

     Wine is the natural fruit (product) of the vine. What else could wine be the fruit of? All a person needs to do is crush the grapes, let the grapes and the juice mix as if in an old wine press, let the mixture stand a few days and wine is created as the leaven is conquered and killed out of the juice. Yeast cells collect naturally on the skins of grapes, and when exposed to the sugars of the juice fermentation begins, according to the Mississippi State University College of Agriculture and Economics.

9. Does it really matter what element or beverage we use in observing the Lord’s Supper?

Answer: If the element does not matter, then the Church could simply supply milk and cookies for Communion. If the element does not matter, we could serve tomato juice for Communion because tomatoes grow on the vine. We understand that the element is essential in other Church ordinances. John the Baptist instituted baptism (immersion) in water, no other element will suffice. It would be unbiblical to baptize a convert in milk, champagne, tomato juice, soda, etc. When James commanded the elders of the church to anoint with oil we understand that olive oil is meant, not motor oil, corn oil, or hair oil. Consider this, we place much emphasis on the proper mode and formula of baptism (immersion in the name of Jesus Christ), then why shouldn’t we place as much emphasis on the proper symbol of Christ’s blood. Therefore the element or beverage we use in the Lord’s Supper should be identical with that Jesus used as a symbol of His blood– fermented wine.

10. Should the congregation use only ONE cup in Communion, or is it permissible for each member to have their own cup?

Answer: It is true that Jesus chose only one cup to institute the Lord’s Supper. However, Jewish tradition states that FOUR or FIVE cups were passed around by the Jewish householder during the Passover meal. Luke’s account of the Last Supper suggests that Jesus may have used TWO CUPS as the symbol of His blood (Luke 22:17-20). The THIRD (or possibly FOURTH) cup (which is probably the one referred to in Matt. 26:28) was known as the cup of blessing. The emphasis of Jesus’ statement was not on the container itself, but the beverage in the container. The beverage (wine) in the one cup was the blood of the New Testament. When the Bible refers to this cup or the cup of the Lord, the ELEMENT in the cup is what is being referred to, NOT the actual container. We do this also today. We may ask someone if they would like a cup of coffee, and they reply, “No thanks, I’ve already had ‘a cup’.” Cup would actually refer to the beverage, and not the container. Greek scholars agree that cup refers to the beverage, and not the container:

Thayer’s Greek-English Lexicon,

“by metonymy of the container for the contained, the contents of the cup, what is offered to be drunk, Luke 22:20b”

Bauer, Arndt & Gingrich Greek-English Lexicon,

“cup stands, by metonymy, for what it contains ... Luke 22:20b ... I Corinthians 11:25b”

Bullinger, Greek-English Lexicon,

“Luke 22:17, 20 - Cup is put for its contents, as is clear from ... I Cor 10:16, 21, 11:25, 26, 27, 28 - In these and other places 'cup' is put for its contents”

Kittel’s Theological Dictionary of the New Testament,

“Nevertheless, the second element in the Lord's Supper is almost always called the cup rather than the wine in the N.T. ... it refers, not to the cup, but to its contents.”

Thus, the correct element (wine) is what is important to our observing of the Lord’s Supper, not the amount of containers. If a congregation wishes to observe the Lord’s Supper using only one cup, this is clearly permissible. However, one should not make a doctrine that a congregation MUST only use one cup. Jesus was baptized in water in the Jordan River. This does not necessitate that Christians be baptized in the Jordan River (the container), only that they be baptized in water (the element). Thus, the element (wine) is the essential part of Communion, not the number of containers.
.      We conclude by saying that whatever the Jews used for Passover is what Jesus used in his own Passover memorial cup. No one has ever proved that unfermented grape juice was ever used at the Passover because Jews considered wine a sin to use or that Jews considered wine to be leavened and unlawful for Passover use. Upon this authority and upon the authority of the Word of God, wine should be used for the commemoration of the Lord's cleansing blood that was shed for the remission of sins.

"After the same manner also he took the cup, when he supped, saying: "This cup is the New Testament in my blood: This do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me"
(1Cor 11:25).

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