For a majority of the religious community the frequency with which the Lord’s Supper is observed is of little concern. There are some who observe annually; some biannually (primarily Christmas and Easter) and still others who would observe the memorial quarterly and some never observe the Lord’s Supper. The Scriptures positively prove that the Lord’s Supper is to be observed with some degree of frequency (Matthew 26:29 ; Mark 14:25 ; Luke 22:18 ; 1 Corinthians 11:26,33 ).
The question must then be considered: Is the New Testament is silent on this subject or is there a divinely authorized precept that Christians are to follow concerning the partaking of the memorial. How often shall we observe; on what day shall we observe; and where should we observe the Lord’s Supper?
A Commanded Remembrance
On the night He was betrayed Christ sat down to observe the Passover with His apostles. It was within the context of this observance that our Lord instituted the Supper. In the blessing of both the bread and the fruit of the vine, Jesus said “Do this in remembrance of me.”
It is a time for those observing to remember the body of Jesus. God came and dwelt with us in the flesh; however, the sacrifice of Jesus began long before the first nail was put into His hands (Philippians 2:7-8 ; Hebrews 2 : 9; Isaiah 53:5 ). In the flesh Jesus became our perfect sacrifice that was essential for our sins to be forgiven. This thought should be with us at all times, and kept as we show remembrance of His body and all that it means to us.
Likewise it is a time to remember the blood of Jesus. It is only by the shedding of this blood that we can have any hope of forgiveness (Leviticus 17:11 ; 1 Peter 1:18-19 ). The shedding of this blood is the epitome of the love, grace, and humility of the Christ. The Blood of the Lamb overcame our adversary the devil and as a result “we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins” (Colossians 1:14 ). The shed blood of Jesus Christ represents the greatest sacrifice that could conceivably be made on the behalf of anyone. No greater price could be paid than the one that was paid. There have been many ideals and purposes man has deemed worthy of sacrificing men for men but let us not forget God Himself gave His life to save the most wretched of causes… mankind… the very ones that placed Him on the cross and pierced His body.
Because Christ commanded the Supper on a Thursday evening some have concluded that this is the proper day to observe. However, this remembrance as instructed by our Lord was to take place again for the first time in His Kingdom (Matthew 26:29 ). Those who would observe the memorial in remembrance of Christ would do so for the first time as Christ sat on His throne having assumed the role of king and priest over His Kingdom following his ascension to heaven. Thus we see the first time Christians were assembled together in His Kingdom they are remembering the Lord (Acts 2:42 ff). Here we read that they regularly “devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer” (Acts 2:42 ). The breaking of the bread is a reference to the Lord’s Supper.
A Frequent Remembrance
Moving forward in the book of Acts we read in chapter 20 that the Christians in Troas gathered “on the first day of the week…to break bread” (Acts 20:7 ).
“And upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul preached unto them, ready to depart on the morrow; and continued his speech until midnight.”
Paul planned his departure from Troas after the first day of the week, so his party likely arrived in Troas the previous Monday, six days prior to Sunday, or the arrival in Troas could have occurred on Tuesday, still seven days depending on how the days are counted and the time of arrival and departure is factored in, since their departure from Troas was early Monday morning. The fact that Paul remained in Troas for seven days further proves that this was the usual day when Christians met (cf Acts 20:16 ). Furthermore, Paul’s determination to remain is proof that this is the example the Lord set forth for the observance of His Supper. He chose to eat with the disciples in their assemblies (Acts 21:4 ) and not by himself or with those of his company. This makes it quite obvious that the church’s gathering “to break bread” is understood as the fulfillment of Jesus’ command to “do this in remembrance of me.” In Acts 20:11 , the memorial supper is again referred to in Luke's summary of Paul's worshiping with the brethren on the first day of the week before his departure early Monday morning.
It is from this account in Acts 20 we find when the memorial is to be observed. It is the first day of the week. Knowing that the saints in Troas met on the first day of the week to break bread; there is a first day in every week; Paul approved of their worship by joining them, partaking of the memorial and preaching to them thereby establishing an apostolic example of this practice for us to follow. An honest examination of the text establishes that the Lord’s Supper is to be observed and partaken of on the first day of the week, a weekly observance as we do not have an apostolic example for quarterly, semi-annual or a yearly observance.
An Approved Remembrance
It is clear that believers were receiving the bread and the cup every week, on the first day, which is the Lord’s Day. In 1 Corinthians 11 little doubt is given that this celebration of Christ’s body and blood was a not a regular occurrence. This text is Paul’s account of Jesus’ words uttered at the Last Supper as it was instituted (Luke 22:13-20 ) and his explanation of their significance of the memorial, which we call the Lord’s Supper (1Corinthians 11:20). The giving of ordinances by Paul to the Church at Corinth (1 Corinthians 11:2,23 ) was consistent with that given to other churches (1 Corinthians 4:7 ; 14:37) and likewise consistent with Christ’s command to “remember.” Paul says, “For I received from the Lord…” which implies that what he was about to instruct came directly from the Lord Jesus himself. Paul reminds the Corinthians of the occasion in which Christ gave thanks for the bread and blood and told his apostles the significance of it. “Take, eat; this is my body which is broken for you; do this in remembrance of me. This cup is the new covenant in My blood. This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me” (1 Corinthians 11:24-25 ). After this, Paul says “as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord's death 'til He comes.”
The expression “for as often as ye eat” is sometimes cited as authority for partaking of the Lord’s Supper more than once on the first day of the week. To do so is to take the expression out of its context and make application to that which is not considered. The concern of the apostle is how they were to eat and observe when they did eat it. The phrase “as often as” is from the Greek word “Osakis” is a relative adverb, which implies that the Lord’s Supper was frequently observed. The term “as often” means simply that: “as often.” In the context the expression modifies the verb “show” or “proclaim.” Again pointing to the issue at Corinth, how the Supper was being observed. Paul is saying that as saints assemble and as often as saints observe the memorial, they proclaim (honor) the Lord's death until He returns.
We find consistency between Corinth and Troas in the frequency of their observance of the Supper. Again in 1 Corinthians 11 they are to partake of the Lord’s Supper “as often as” they came together. From an examination of the book we find in chapter 16 the frequency of their assembling together for the purpose of worship. In discussing the collection for the saints in Jerusalem Paul said, “Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him, that there be no gatherings when I come.” Their coming together was done on the first day of the week.The Greek preposition “kata” in 1 Corinthians 16:2 is distributive and indicates frequency: every first day of the week. This practice of the church meeting on the first day of the week was begun in Acts 2 .
The memorial of the Supper has been kept by the church since its beginning (Acts 2:42 ) It is central to the worship of the church on the first day of the week (Acts 20:7 ) and an essential element in the church continuing to proclaim the gospel of the gospel. Among these is the “showing” or proclamation of the Lord’s death “until He comes.” The Supper is a declaration by the church that they are fully trusting in the death of Jesus and that Jesus did indeed die for the remission of their sins (1 Corinthians 10:16 –17). Their perpetual observance of it also declares their confident expectation that Christ is coming again to receive His church unto Himself (cf. 1 Thessalonians 4:13-14 , 17).
All churches in response to the institution of Christ and the authoritative instructions from His apostles, observed the bread and cup as the body and blood of Christ weekly as part of the first day of the week worship when the church came together (1 Corinthians 11:17 –20). To answer the “when” of the observance of the Lord’s Supper is on the first day of the week and the “frequency” is EVERY first day of the week when the saints assemble.