Luke 22:17-19, the Order of the Eucharist

After taking the cup, he gave thanks and said, “Take this and divide it among you … And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it …

//In, Luke, and only in Luke, the cup is served before the bread. Five other places in the New Testament suggest the reverse order. So why is Luke different, and who is right?

Right or wrong, Luke may be actually describing the earlier tradition. Christianity is an offshoot of Judaism, and Luke’s order more closely matches first-century Jewish custom, where a cup of wine is blessed and passed at the beginning of the meal. Moreover, the Didache, perhaps the earliest Christian document not in the Bible, carefully describes the ritual of the Eucharist … and it clearly indicates the cup is shared before the bread.

One reason to imagine the Didache presents the more original order is that it may capture the more primitive meaning in the ritual. It’s nothing like Paul’s rendition. No mention of the Last Supper, no sacrifice, no body or blood. It’s not about the death of Jesus at all, but about his vision of God’s Kingdom. It’s about thanksgiving to God for his provision, and the practice of community sharing. Converts shared a full meal together, not a sip and a wafer.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>