Sitting at the Table

“Ye cannot be partakers of the Lord’s table, and of the table of devils.”

1 Cor. 10:21

“But, behold, the hand of him that betrayeth me is with Me on the table.”

Lk. 22:21

“That ye may eat and drink at my table in my Kingdom”

Lk. 22:30



Order of Contents

Articles  8
Book  1
History of

Quotes  2





Ridley, Nicholas – Reasons Why the Lord’s Board should Rather be after the Form of a Table than of an Altar  1550  in Injunctions Given in the Visitation…  in Works of Nicholas Ridley, p. 321-4

Ridley (d. 1555) the English reformer and martyr under Bloody Mary argues against using an altar in worship (as in Romanism) and argues for the use of a table.

Knox, John – ‘Why the Sitting in the Action of the Lord’s Table is Preferred to Kneeling’  1552  in Peter Lorimer, Knox and the Church of England, pp. 271-4

Becon, Thomas – 16. ‘Christ did minister the sacrament…  sitting at the table.’  in A Comparison Between the Lord’s Supper and the Pope’s Mass  in Prayers & Other Pieces (Parker Society), pp. 364-365  d. 1567

Becon (c. 1511–1567) was an English reformer and chaplain to Edward VI.



Burroughs, Jeremiah – Gospel Worship, Sermon 13, Points 1 & 2, pp. 261-5

Burroughs was a Westminster divine.

Calderwood, David 

Kneeling in the Act of Receiving the Sacramental Elements of Bread and Wine Proven Unlawful  1619  30 pp.  a chapter from his larger work: The Perth Assembly.

The unlawful Perth Assembly in 1618 imposed the King of England’s will in the worship of the Church of Scotland.  One of the five unBiblical practices prescribed was kneeling at communion.  This practice was done to give a special honor (an honor that scripture does not prescribe) to the elements of the Lord’s Supper and was little different than the Roman Catholic’s worshipping of the bread and wine as Christ’s physical body and blood.  In addition to this, it overturned the Biblical and Scottish practice of sitting at the Table for communion.  Thus Calderwood Biblically refutes kneeling at communion and defends sitting at the Table.

Of the Communicants’ Gesture in the Act of Receiving, Eating and Drinking, 1636, 138 pp.  a chapter from his A Re-Examination of the Five Articles Enacted at Perth anno 1618.  The Re-examination was a later, fuller refutation of the five articles of Perth.

This book was influential in the rise of the Second Reformation in Scotland in 1638, being printed two years before that event, when Biblical worship was re-instituted in the land.

Gillespie, George – Of the Use of a Table in the Lord’s Supper, from his Treatise of Miscellany Questions, ch. 18, 1649, 20 paragraphs, with a four paragraph Introduction by Bobby Phillips.  There is also a short appendix on Gillespie on the Common Cup.

This is the fullest, most Biblically detailed article defending the practice.  Gillespie, one of the commissioners to the Westminster Assembly, gives six arguments for sitting at a table in the Lord’s Supper.  See here for a summary of his arguments.

Rutherford, Samuel

The Administration of the Lord’s Supper, 1642, 6 paragraphs, being Chapter 20, Article 6 of his A Peaceable and Temperate Plea for Paul’s Presbytery in Scotland  (1642)

Rutherford describes the Biblically rich way the Church of Scotland practiced the Lord’s Supper during his day, with a preparatory sermon the day before, the singing of psalms, sitting at a table, using a common cup, with Table addresses by the minister, etc.

Ch. 2, Question 1, ‘Whether Kneeling or Sitting be the Most Convenient and Lawful Gesture in the Act of Receiving the Sacrament of Christ’s Body and Blood?’  in The Divine Right of Church Government (1646), pp. 192-219

The Westminster Standards on the Administration of the Lord’s Supper 

Specifically with regard to a Common Cup and Sitting at the Table.

Dury, John – A Model of Church Government: or the Grounds of the Spiritual Frame & Government of the House of God. Showing what the Holy Scriptures have therein Delivered; what the best Reformed Churches do Practice; what the Tender Consciences may Rest in  (London, 1647)

Ch. 9, Certain Rules Concerning the Administration of the Lord’s Supper for the Decent Ordering of the Action, Offered to the Consideration of Those that Scruple at the Gesture of Sitting, pp. 36-55

Ch. 10, The Practise of the Best Reformed Churches in the Administration of the Lord’s Supper




Voet, Gisbert – ch. 4, ‘Of the Utensils or the Instruments, and Also of Certain Adjuncts and Circumstances’  in  Ecclesiastical Politics, vol. 1, book 2, tract 2, section 4, pp. 789 ff.  See especially 4. Question.

Vitringa, Sr., Campegius – Vol. 8, pp. 415-422, ‘Of the Table of the Sacred Supper’  of The Doctrine of the Christian Religion, Summarily Described through Aphorisms  d. 1722

Vitringa, Sr. (1659-1722) was a professor in Franeker and a Hebraist.  “…Vitringa…  maintained a fairly centrist Reformed position…  Vitringa and De Moor serve as codifiers and bibliographers of the earlier tradition, the former from a federalist, the latter from a nonfederalist perspective.” – Dr. Richard Muller




Begg, James – A Treatise on the Use of The Communion Table, in Celebrating the Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper, 1824, this is only 4 of the 7 sections of the book, including the Introduction and the Conclusion

This is the fullest book on the topic.  Begg argues for the practice from the example of Christ and the apostles, that it is in conformity with the practice of the early church, that corruptions and innovations away from the practice came later, that sitting at the table has always been the authorized practice of the Scottish Church, and lastly answers arguments in favor of “the late innovation.”



The History of Sitting at the Lord’s Table


Drysdale, Alexander H. – pp. 46-4765-69 & 173  of History of the Presbyterians of England  1889

Isbell, Sherman – The Administration of the Lord’s Supper  2006  20 pp.

This historical essay describes the Biblically principled practice of the reformation Scottish Church’s administration of the Lord’s Supper.  Special attention is given to their communion seasons which were often held outdoors in fields, ministering to thousands, and included preparatory preaching, sitting at tables, and using common cups. 




John Hooper  1550  English reformer

pp. 536-537 of Sermons upon Jonah  in Early Writings (Parker Society)


John Knox  1552  while in England

p. 261-3 of ‘John Knox to the Congregation of Berwick’  in Peter Lorimer, John Knox and the Church of England  1875


Roger Hutchison  1552  English reformer

pp. 232 & 253  in Three Sermons on the Lord’s Supper  in Works (Parker Society)


The First Book of Discipline [of the Church of Scotland]  1560

The Second Head, Of Sacraments

The Table of the Lord is then most rightly ministered when it approaches most nigh to Christ’s own action.  But plain it is, that at that Supper Christ Jesus sat with his disciples, and therefore do we judge that sitting at a table is most convenient to that holy action

The Ninth Head, Concerning the Policy of the Church

“The reparation would be according to the possibility and number of the church.  Every church must have doors, closed windows of glass, thatch or slate able to withhold rain, a bell to convocate the people together, a pulpit, a basin for baptism, and tables for the ministration of the Lord’s Supper.”

David Calderwood

The Perth Assembly, 1619

p. 33-34

That has been the uniform and constant order of this Church [of Scotland], since the reformation [in 1560]: that the communicants should receive the sacramental elements of bread and wine, sitting at the table.  In the second head of the First Book of Discipline [of the Church of Scotland, 1560], are set down these words:  ‘The table of the Lord is then rightly ministered when it approaches most near to Christ’s own action, but it is plain that at that supper Christ Jesus sat with his disciples, and therefore we do judge that sitting at a table is most convenient to that holy action.’

In the general Assembly held in December 1562 it was ordained, That one uniform order be observed in the ministration of the sacraments, according to the order of Geneva [Switzerland, where John Calvin was]… 

But so it is, that sitting at the table in the act of receiving has been established by laws, custom, long prescription of time and confirmed by oaths and subscriptions as is evident by the former deduction.”  




Related Pages

The Administration of the Lord’s Supper

The Common Cup

Table Addresses