Common Bread in the Lord’s Supper

“Number fifty days… Ye shall bring out of your habitations two wave loaves… they shall be of fine flour; they shall be baken with leaven; they are the firstfruits unto the Lord.”

 Lev. 23:16,17

“Whereunto shall I liken the kingdom of God?  It is like leaven, which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal, till the whole was leavened.”

Luke 13:20-21

“For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord’s death till he come.”

1 Cor. 11:26

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Subsection

Historic Quotes on Common Bread in the Lord’s Supper

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Order of Contents

Articles
On Using a Whole Loaf or Loaves
On Cubing the Bread Beforehand
On the Novelty of Using Shortbread in Scotland
Contra Wafers
On the Romanist Preparation of the Bread
Latin

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Articles

1800’s

Houston, Thomas – The Elements – Bread and Wine in the Lord’s Supper  1878, in The Lord’s Supper: Its Nature, Ends and Obligations and Mode of Administration, pp. 253-4 

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2000’s

Webb, Andy – Must We Use Unleavened Bread in the Lord’s Supper?  2008, 4 paragraphs with 10 historic reformed quotes following

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On Using a Whole Loaf or Loaves

Quote

Francis Turretin

Institutes, vol. 3, 19th Topic, ‘The Sacraments’, Q. 24, ‘The Breaking of Bread’, section 12, p. 446

“XII.  …(2) Many are made partakers of bread in the sacrament (1 Cor. 10:17).  Therefore one bread is necessarily broken that it may be distributed among many.”

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On Cubing the Bread Beforehand

The History of

Edgar, Andrew – pp. 149-150  of Old Chuch Life in Scotland  (London, 1885)

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The Theology Against It

Article

Calderwood, David – ch. 2, ‘Of the Distributing of the Elements’  in A Dispute upon Communicating at our Confused Communions  (Amsterdam, 1624), pp. 11-20

Calderwood, the arch-presbyterian, expounds the principle in the Supper of Christ’s command, “take this and divide it among yoursevles,” (Lk. 22:17).  Christians passing the loaf one to another and breaking off pieces (as was done at the institution of the Lord’s Supper) fulfills this directive for Christian fellowship in the Supper, whereas cubing bread before-hand, and this being passed around by elders or deacons, falls short.  

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Quotes

David Calderwood

The Perth Assembly…  ([Leiden: Pilgrim Press, 1619]), p. 40

“The third breach of the institution [of the Lord’s Supper] made by kneeling is the taking away of that mystical rite representing Christ’s passion, to wit, the breaking of the bread.  The apostle says not, the communion of one bread, but, the communion of one broken bread, hath in it a mystery of our unity.  When the bread is carved in little morsels before it be presented to the table, it is not the sacramental and mystical breaking in the use of the sacrament which ought to be performed after the thanksgiving, according to Christ’s example.

Augustine says, ‘When that which is blessed on the Lord’s table, sanctified, and broken in small pieces to be distributed,’ etc. This breaking was needful both for mystery and distribution. The breaking of the bread was thought so needful in the sacrament, that it was called ‘breaking of bread.’  The Syriac interpreter translates the breaking of bread ‘Eucharist’ (Acts 2:24, 20:7).  [David] Pareus (on 1 Cor. 11) proves at length this rite not to be indifferent, but a thing commanded.  Where kneeling is practiced, we read not in their service-books [of the Church of England, seeking to be imposed on the Church of Scotland] of this breaking of bread after thanksgiving, whereby the passion of Christ is not set forth to the communicants as it ought to be.”

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George Gillespie

A Dispute Against the English Popish Ceremonies (1637; Naphtali Press, 2013), pp. 192–193

“§2.  The fourth position we draw from the same rule [of following the example of Christ] is, that it is not indifferent for a minister to omit the breaking of the bread at the Lord’s table after the consecration and in the distribution of it, because he ought to follow the example of Christ, who, after He had blessed the bread, and when He was distributing it to them who were at table, brake it, breaking into pieces in his hands the bread he had taken,¹ but had it not carved in small pieces before it was brought to the table.

Hence, G. J. Vossius² does rightly condemn those who, though they break the bread in multas minutias [into many small pieces], yet they break it not in actu sacramentali [in the sacramental act].  Such a breaking as this (he says well) is not mystica [related to mystery], but coquinaria [related to cooking].

1. Paræus in 1 Cor. 11:24. manibus comminuendo panem acceptum in partes. [Cf. Ad Corinthios priorem (1609), col. 743.]
2. De Symb. Cœnæ Dom., disp. 2, thes. 5. [Cf. Theses Theologicæ et Historicæ, 1658 ed., p. 275.]”

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Webpages

‘The Sacramentally Significant Actions of the Supper’  on our page, ‘The Administration of the Lord’s Supper’

See also the articles expounding with regard to the Cup, ‘Divide it amongst yourselves’ on our page, The Common Cup.

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On the Novelty of Using Shortbread in Scotland

Intro

The great majority of the evidence of the Reformation and puritan eras was that the Church used, and should use, common bread in the Lord’s Supper, as that is what the Greek word artos signifies in the Scriptural accounts.

The following evidence documents that in Scotland in the late-1800’s there was a large scale shift to using shortbread for communion, a sugary and biscuit-like kind of bread.  Various justifications were given for this, though the main impetus seems to have been the notion that one ought to use the ‘best’ bread for the Supper.  Needless to say, shortbread was not the common bread in Scotland that was used regularly as regular bread at meals.

This shift in practice occured at the same time as the height of the Liturgical Renewal of worship movement in Scotland.  Some mixed data is apparent during this time in the sources below, that some churches began to use common bread at this time after having used shortbread.  But this is what one would expect in large-scale societal shift of practice, there being some resisters to the innovation who sought to bring back the old paths.

Some churches in America have adopted the use of shortbread, believing the practice to be a ‘historic’ one from Scotland.

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Articles, 1800’s

Edgar, Andrew – pp. 148-9  of Old Chuch Life in Scotland  (London, 1885)

Thomason, John H. – II – ‘Shortbread at the Lord’s Supper’  in Proceedings & Transactions of the Dumfiesshire & Galloway Natural History & Antiquarian Society, Session 1892-91, 2nd Oct. 1891, pp. 8-10, being bound with Sessions 1887-90

Burns, Thomas – p. 16  of Old Scottish Communion Plate (Edinburgh, 1892)

414, ‘Use of Shortbread at the Communion’  in The Scottish Historical Review, #45, quoting Scotsman, Dec. 5, 1891

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On the Romanist Preparation of the Bread

Edgar, Andrew – p. 148  of Old Chuch Life in Scotland  (London, 1885)

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Contra Using Wafers, or Hosts

Also see the reformed polemics against Lutheranism and Romanism.

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Article

Barth, Paul – ‘Why Wafers are Inappropriate for Communion’  2021  15 paragraphs

Barth gives four main arguments and quotes from Witsius, Willison, Ursinus, & Gillespie.

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Quotes

Wilhelmus a Brakel

The Christian’s Reasonable Service  (RHB), vol. 2, pp. 474, 529 & 532

“The ceremonies associated with these signs are of express significance, and therefore are to be implemented as Christ has exemplified in the institution of it. Christ broke the bread, thereby signifying the breaking of his body, that is, his death. The apostle passes on to the congregation the ceremony of breaking; he refers to it as ‘the breaking of bread,’ and ‘the bread which we break’ (1 Cor. 10:16). The apostolic church did likewise, ‘…breaking bread’ (Acts 2:46); ‘…when the disciples came together to break bread’ (Acts 20:7).

Therefore today the minister also must break the bread and give it as such to the communicants. The Papists and the Lutherans do this in an entirely different manner by giving a wafer to everyone without breaking it.”

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Latin

Voetius, Gisbert – ‘6. Question: Ought the Bread to be Unleavened?’  in Ecclesiastical Politics, vol. 1, book 2, tract 2, section 4, ch. 1, pp. 733-735

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“And they baked unleavened cakes of the dough which they brought forth out of Egypt, for it was not leavened; because they were thrust out of Egypt, and could not tarry, neither had they prepared for themselves any victual.”

Ex. 12:39

“And on the fifteenth day of the same month is the feast of unleavened bread unto the Lord: seven days ye must eat unleavened bread.”

Lev. 23:6

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Related Pages

The Lord’s Supper

The Administration of the Lord’s Supper