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Scripture Reading: 1 Corinthians 11:17-22
Is the Lord's Supper to be Eaten as a Table Meal?
1. Jude 12: False teachers warned against because they are:
a. Spots (hidden reefs) in your love feasts: Unseen dangers (Jude 4)
b. Deceptive beauty, but not genuine love (deadly) (Matt. 7:15; 23:28; 2 Pet. 2:3).
c. Self-serving instead of fearful (of God and sin) (Phil. 3:18-19).
2. This is true of some in churches of Christ who advance false teachings and false practices of the Lord’s Supper.
a. Some of these doctrines and practices appear righteous, but they are self-made (Col. 2:23).
b. Of particular note in this lesson is the attempt to turn the Lord’s supper into a table meal ("fellowship meal") at which Christians share food, and during which they also eat the Lord’s supper.
3. Lord’s Supper:
a. Memorial in which we have communion (fellowship) with the blood and body of Christ, 1 Cor. 10:16-17 (With Christ, Matt. 26:29).
b. Warned not to have fellowship with demons, or we forfeit fellowship with the table of the Lord, 1 Cor. 10:18-22.
4. Far cry from proving the false teaching and practice of turning the Lord’s supper into a meal.
5. The answer it this error is well supplied in 1 Cor. 11:17-34. We need to look at some important related material (love feasts, and fellowship meals).
I. WHAT ARE THE LOVE FEASTS IN JUDE 12?
A. Bible Commentators are not in Agreement on Identifying these “Feasts of Charity.”
1. Search in vain for unanimity among commentators on what the “love feasts” are in Jude 12.
-As one writer observed:
“Some believe the expression originally was just another designation for the Lord’s supper. Some think the word referred to meals which Christians ate together in their own homes as in Acts 2:46. Others feel that it referred to the type feast which Christ recommends in Luke 14:12,13 to which the poor are to be invited, rather than wealthy friends. On the basis of the information we have in the New Testament, the above suggestions may be considered as possible, but we cannot know for sure.
“Many commentators, however, make the definitely erroneous statement that the love feast in N.T. times was a meal in the assembly either before, or after, the Lord’s supper. No doubt influenced by them, some brethren have suggested that we should or may do this.”
B. Early Church History Does Not Sustain the Table Fellowship View of Jude 12 Used to Authorize Fellowship Meals as the Lord’s Supper, and/or Church-Sponsored Suppers.
1. It is true that, Ignatius (30-107 AD), Clement of Alexandria (153-200 AD), Tertullian (145-200 AD), and others wrote of love feasts in the early church.
2. That does not prove they were what is being called “love feasts” today. These early writers distinguished between common meals and the ‘agape’ (love feast), describing them as events which benefited the needy.
C. Some Liken Love Feasts to the Feast Described by Jesus in Luke 14:12-14.
-Individual action – no organized church in this passage at all.
D. Context of Jude 12 does not Compel this Forced Explanation.
1. There is no conclusive and compelling reason to interpret “love feasts” of Jude 12 to mean church-sponsored and provided social activities such as pot-luck suppers or “fellowship meals.”
2. Those who persist in using Jude 12 as synonymous with their “fellowship meal” construction of the Lord’s supper do so without the approval of scripture or the support of early church history.
E. Our Concern:
1. Not whether we are in harmony with “early church history.”
2. Whether we are in harmony with ”the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 3).
3. Must agree with the apostolic tradition in all we say and do (2 Thess. 2:15; 1 Cor. 4:17; Col. 3:17; 1 Pet. 4:11).
F. What are the “Love Feasts” of Jude 12? (“feasts,” 2 Pet. 2:13)
-At least three explanations of “love feasts” in Jude 12 satisfy Jude’s context without doing violence to the rest of the New Testament which bears upon this topic.
1. Jude’s “love feasts” could refer to the continual life of the Christian as he lives in the truth of God.
a. If so, it seems to be Paul’s use of the term “feast” in 1 Corinthians 5:8: “Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.”
b. Under this explanation, Jude is warning Christians of the apostates who pretended to love God, His truth and the brethren, but who were in fact harmful “rocks” among them.
2. Jude may have in mind the meals which Christians ate together “from house to house…with gladness and simplicity of heart” (Acts 2:46; cf. Lk. 14:12-14).
-If so, the passage would at the most be advocating individual action – not church-sponsored meals, and not Lord’s supper “table fellowship meals.”
* 3. Jude could simply be referring to the Lord’s Supper. (Barnes)
a. The one supper the church has been commanded to observe, Matt. 26:26-29; 1 Cor. 11:23-26.
b. We partake of “table of the Lord” in memory of His death, 1 Cor. 10:21; Acts 20:7; 1 Cor. 11:26.
c. Under this explanation, Jude is warning of false brethren who “crept in unnoticed” (Jude 4).
d. Although they partook of the Lord’s Supper with faithful brethren (2 Pet. 2:13), their error was in fact dangerous (hidden “rocks”), and jeopardized the spiritual life of the saints.
G. The New Testament is Silent on Approving Church-Sponsored Social Events, Including the Modern-day “Table Fellowship” of the Lord’s Supper (“fellowship meal”). cf. 1 Cor. 10:21
-That ends the debate for all who refuse to add to the word of God. – We have no right to go beyond what is written (revealed), 1 Cor. 4:6; 2 Jno. 9; Gal. 1:6-9 (Rev. 22:18).
II. TABLE FELLOWSHIP, AND VARIATIONS OF THE SAME THEME.
A. What is Table Fellowship?
1. “The Table as a Place of Connection”
“Tables are one of the most important places of human connection. We’re often most fully alive to life when sharing a meal around a table. We shouldn’t be surprised, then, to find that throughout the Bible God has a way of showing up at tables. In fact, it’s worth noting that at the center of the spiritual lives of God’s people in both the Old and New Testaments, we find a table: the table of Passover and the table of Communion. New Testament scholar N. T. Wright captured something of this sentiment when he wrote, “When Jesus himself wanted to explain to his disciples what his forthcoming death was all about, he didn’t give them a theory, he gave them a meal.”
“I’m convinced that one of the most important spiritual disciplines for us to recover in the kind of world in which we live is the discipline of table fellowship. In the fast-paced, tech-saturated, attention-deficit-disordered culture in which we find ourselves, Christians need to recover the art of a slow meal around a table with people we care about. “Table fellowship” doesn’t often make the list of the classical spiritual disciplines. But in the midst of a world that increasingly seems to have lost its way with regard to matters of both food and the soul, Christian spirituality has something important to say about the way that sharing tables nourishes us both physically and spiritually. We need a recovery of the spiritual significance of what we eat, where we eat, and with whom we eat.
“In Matthew’s account of the Last Supper, he writes, “While they were eating, Jesus took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to his disciples, saying, ‘Take and eat; this is my body’” (Matt 26:26).” (emphasis mine)
2. Eating from “house to house” is not equivalent to coming together for the Lord’s supper, Acts 2:42, 46 (1 Cor. 11:20). Eating from house to house was largely benevolent, as it also bonded them together in love and unity of faith. But, it was not the Lord’s supper.
B. Variations of the Same Theme: F. LaGard Smith (author of Radical Restoration).
1. Smith ridicules our practice of eating the Lord’s supper:
“That wasn’t like the first century church. In the first-century church, Paul is rebuking them for the way they have the Lord’s Supper. He says, “Some of you are not waiting for the others to get there. You’re having a regular common meal. If that’s all your [sic] going to do, you’ve got houses just to eat in!” A matter of fact, what he said was, “Some of you are getting drunk on the communion wine!”
“Have you ever tried to get drunk on one little cup? I have. I tried ten of them. You can’t do it! [laughter] It’s Welch’s Grape Juice! [laughter] You’re never going to get drunk on 10 cups of Welch’s Grape Juice. I mean, there’s 48 in a tray. Try all 48! You still won’t get drunk! [laughter] It’s different from the way they did it in New Testament times. It seemed to be in New Testament times a part of a fellowship meal, an agape love feast that was being abused. Reproaching them for abuse, Paul makes an assumption that what they’re doing when they come together to break bread on the first day of the week is something quite different from what we do with our little cups and wafers,--quite different!”
2. F. LaGard Smith: Lord’s Supper is “A Memorial Within a Meal”—
“…perhaps the most universally-overlooked feature of the Lord’s Supper as practiced in the primitive church is that—from all appearances—it was observed in conjunction with a fellowship meal. That is, a normal, ordinary meal with the usual variety of food. However, unlike ordinary meals, this combined table fellowship and memorial was shared among the disciples for the special purpose of strengthening, not just their physical bodies, but their common bond in the spiritual body of Christ. Hence, Jude’s reference to their “love feasts” in (verse 12).” (128-129, emphasis mine)
3. Smith explains further in his book, Radical Restoration:
In addressing 1 Corinthians 11:22, Smith says, “Far from prohibiting a fellowship meal in conjunction with the Lord’s Supper, it is clear that Paul is saying (in current vernacular): If the reason you are participating in the fellowship meal is to feed your stomach, then you’d do better to stay home and pit our!” (131). He concludes, “The Lord’s Supper gave meaning to their table fellowship, and their table fellowship gave meaning to the Lord’s Supper. Each was a picture of the other” (133). “the ritual we now euphemistically call ‘communion’ (not wholly unlike the Catholic’s sacramental eucharist) doesn’t hold a candle to the dynamic koinonia communion of the first-century disciples in their sharing together of the Lord’s Supper within the context of a fellowship meal” (135). “Having emasculated the vibrant fellowship meal of the early disciples and reduced it to little more than an emblematic ritual, we have already made a false start in our worship focus” (141). (emphasis mine)
III. ANSWERING THESE FALSE TEACHERS.
A. 1 Corinthians 11 Rebukes and Rejects the Table Fellowship Application of the Lord’s Supper.
1. “Love feasts” are never mentioned in 1 Corinthians 11. (Must assume Jude 12 is more than Lord's Supper)
2. The Corinthian Christians were promoting division and class distinctions, which also corrupted their eating of the Lord's Supper (for which they were supposed to came together), 1 Cor. 11:19-20.
3. Solution: Separate Lord’s supper and your supper by place, time, and purpose, 1 Cor. 11:22, 34.
B. Eating “From House to House” is Distinguished from the Jerusalem Church Coming Together in One Place, Acts 2:46 (42); cf. Breaking bread, Acts 20:7 (11).
C. The NT Pattern: Local Churches Coming Together to Eat a Memorial Supper, 1 Cor. 11:22.
1. It is a meal eaten in the assembly, as each worshiper has communion with the Lord (his body and blood). 1 Cor. 11:28
2. It is not a meal that satisfies hunger (11:34).
1. Jude 12 warns us against false teachers who disrupt brethren’s faith and corrupt the cause of Christ with their teachings.
a. One such disruptive and corrupting doctrine is local churches changing the focus of the Lord’s supper to communion with each other instead of communion with the Lord.
b. Jude 12 does not contain a commandment, an apostolic-approved example or a necessary conclusion that the local church has a scriptural right to engage in restructuring the table of the Lord (Lord’s supper) after the likeness of the Passover table or the table of demons (or, of the social gospel, which is not there, either).
2. Futile and fruitless appeal to the wisdom and will of human beings, Col. 2:8, 22. Beware!
3. To ignore the false teacher and his false teaching is even more dangerous than a ship’s captain ignoring the presence of reefs and rocks in the ocean. Hidden rocks can take a seaman to his death. False teachers, when hidden among us, take souls with them into eternal destruction (2 Pet. 2:1-3).
“Fellowship Meals, Love Feasts, and Jude 12” (http://www.bibleanswer.com/fellowship_meals.htm)
“When We Come Together” (http://www.bibleanswer.com/1co11_17.htm)
 Roy Allen Davison, “Worship” (http://www.oldpaths.com/Archive/Davison/Roy/Allen/1940/worship.html)
 Barry D. Jones, “The Dinner Table as a Place of Connection, Brokenness, and Blessing,” Dallas Theological Seminary, https://voice.dts.edu/article/a-place-at-the-table-jones-barry/
 Transcription of speech by F. LaGard Smith, delivered at York College’s Celebration Days, “Filled With the Fullness of God,” October 13, 2000, York, Nebraska (transcription by Sterling C. Morrow) (www.theseeker.org/learning/churchbuilding/lagard.htm)
 Mike Willis, “The Perversion of the Lord’s Supper Advocated by F. LaGard Smith in Radical Restoration”
By: Joe R. Price
Posted June 5, 2019