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“On the first day of the week, when we were gathered together to break bread, Paul talked with them, intending to depart on the next day, and he prolonged his speech until midnight” (Acts 20:7).

IN THIS VERSE, WE FIND THE CHRISTIANS IN THE CHURCH AT TROAS DOING SOMETHING THAT WAS MORE IMPORTANT IN THOSE DAYS THAN MANY PEOPLE THINK IT IS TODAY. They gathered together on the first day of the week to “break bread,” which in this context is a reference to what we know appropriately as the “Lord’s Supper.”

The Lord’s Supper is a partaking of unleavened bread and fruit of the vine in memory of Jesus’ death for our sins. The bread represents Christ’s body which was crucified and the fruit of the vine, the blood which He shed. It was instituted by Christ on the night before His execution (Matthew 26:26–29), and we find more teaching about it in texts like 1 Corinthians 10:16,17 and 11:17–34.

In the assembly. The Lord’s Supper is not a private observance. Every word spoken about it in the New Testament presumes that it is to be done when the Lord’s people have come together.

Every Lord’s Day. Just as it is linked to the assembly, it is also linked to the first day of the week — the Lord’s Day — that being the day of the Lord’s resurrection (Luke 24:1–3) and the day, a few weeks later, when the gospel was first preached in its completeness (Acts 2:1–4). And it was every Lord’s Day, as we infer from Acts 20:7 (see also 1 Corinthians 16:1,2; Revelation 1:10). Historically, it was sometime later before the Supper was separated from the Lord’s Day.

But this essay is not meant as a general discussion of the Lord’s Supper; it is written to emphasize the connection between the Lord’s Supper and the Lord’s people. Against the argument that one may be a Christian and not have anything to do with a local congregation, this is a point that needs to be pondered. If we reject “organized” religion and adopt the “spiritual but not religious” approach, where does that leave the Lord’s Supper? It is not Christianity that we are practicing today if we don’t take seriously an observance that, in the New Testament, was so extremely important to Christians on the first day of every week.

O Father, bless this solemn day,
When we assemble, sing and pray,
To honor Christ, Thine only Son,
Who tasted death for everyone.
(Craig A. Roberts)

Gary Henry — +

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