Question & Answer Forum

Why in 1 Corinthians 10:16 is the cup referred to as “the cup of blessing,” and why is it mentioned first, before the bread?

In 1 Corinthians 11:23 Paul outlines the order for observing the Lord’s Supper, bread and cup. While he employs these elements in chapter 10 his emphasis is not order but association and communion. Throughout the chapter examples and exhortations are given of conduct which results in association.

Israel began well with God (1Cor 10:1-4). Some regressed into idolatry and immorality by association with godless nations (vv5-10). “All these things happened unto them for ensamples” (v11). The Lord’s Word to the believers in God’s assembly in Corinth is, “flee from idolatry” (v14). Apparently some had gone to idol’s temples and eaten meat which had been offered to an idol. On the Lord’s Day they attended the assembly remembrance meeting and partook of the loaf and of the cup. This conduct outside of the assembly gathering denied the fellowship they confessed at the Lord’s Supper. “Ye cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons; ye cannot be partakers of the Lord’s table and the table of demons” (v21). The focus therefore in chapter 10 is communion, which should regulate associations.

Mentioning the cup before the bread in verse 16, Paul emphasizes this spiritual communion. The foundation of the believer’s relationship and fellowship with God is “the communion of the blood of Christ.” Through the precious blood of Christ shed at Calvary the believer has cleansing from sin and acceptance in the presence of God (1John 1:7). This standing brought us into oneness in the spiritual body of Christ, expressed by partaking of the loaf (v17).

Referring to the cup, Paul calls it, “the cup of blessing.” This term was used for the third cup at the Passover supper. Each member lifted their cup with praise to Jehovah, before partaking of its contents. Throughout the epistle Paul gives examples of church truth from Israel’s rituals: chapters 3:17, 5:7, 10:1-11. He uses the third Passover cup to remind them of their partaking of the cup of remembrance each Lord’s Day. In doing so, we eulogize and confess Jesus as our Lord and Redeemer. Our conduct and associations should never be a denial of this “cup of blessing.”

J. N. Smith

What is the significance of one cup instead of multiple cups at the Lord’s Supper?

In 1 Corinthians 11:23 the apostle Paul says; “I received of the Lord,” by revelation, the pattern of the Lord’s Supper. The other apostles, having been present in the upper room with the Lord, witnessed His institution of this remembrance meeting following the Passover supper.

In the upper room, Jesus and His disciples observed the appointed rituals of the Passover supper. Each participant had a cup of wine accompanied by other Passover elements such as roast lamb, herbs, and bread. At specific intervals they raised their cup and drank a portion as a memorial of the Passover experience of Israel.

Toward the close of the formalities of the Passover memorial, the Lord Jesus chose one loaf of bread and one cup of wine from the table. Taking the bread, He gave thanks for it, broke from it, and passed it to the 11 disciples, saying “Take, eat; this is My body. And He took the cup, and gave thanks and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it” (Matt 26:26-27).

The Lord introduced to the apostles this beautiful and simple form of “remembrance of Me.” Each assembly believer obeys the Lord’s will by accepting and partaking of the cup. They thus display a common fellowship and participation in His blood, “shed for many for the remission of sins” (Matt 26:28). It is likewise a significant expression of committed fellowship one with another. Together as believers, we sit in the Lord’s presence with the purpose of extolling our glorious Lord and Redeemer in praise. In partaking of the bread and cup we “do shew the Lord’s death till He come.”

This is the Spirit-taught manner for the assemblies of God; “’till He come.”

Individual cups at the Lord’s Supper deny the meaning of this symbol and the expression of communion. There is no Scriptural precedent to justify the use of multiple cups.

At times, health or physical impairment may exist with a believer which hinders participating of the common cup. The accommodation of a separate vessel is very reasonably understood as appropriate. This necessary action is not a denial of mutual fellowship with the other believers.

J. N. Smith

To what does “the fulness of the Gentiles” refer?

When the fulness of the Gentiles occurs, the Lord will reverse the judgment of blindness on Israel. He will resume His dealings with the Jewish nation. Therefore the fulness of the Gentiles is at the end of this present age.

In Romans 11, Paul emphasizes that individual Gentiles enjoy the place of privilege and blessing along with individual Jews. The “full number” of the Gentiles will be reached when the last individual in this age is saved. In terms of God’s dealings with Israel, this age is only temporary and is to provoke Israel to jealousy (v11). When it has served that purpose, the age will end. The full number of souls from this age will have been reached. The Church will be completed.

D. Oliver