Taking The Lord's Supper With One Cup


A. There are some sincere brethren who teach Christian's, when observing the Lord's Supper, must be served the fruit of the vine in only one container.

B. They sincerely believe the use of two or more containers is unscriptural and is perverting the worship of Christ.

I. Definition of the "cup".

A. Scriptures to examine:

1. Matthew 26:27-29 - "And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it; For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins. But I say unto you, I will not drink henceforth of this fruit of the vine, until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father's kingdom."

2. Mark. 14:23-25 - "And he took the cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them: and they all drank of it. And he said unto them, This is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many. Verily I say unto you, I will drink no more of the fruit of the vine, until that day that I drink it new in the kingdom of God."

3. Luke 22:20 - "Likewise also the cup after supper, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you."

B. In all these verses, "the cup" is the fruit of the vine.

1. Jesus "took the cup, and gave thanks". Was He giving thanks for the cup itself or for the contents of the cup?

2. The disciples were then told to "drink". Were they to drink the cup or the contents of the cup?

3. Christ said, "For this (cup) is my blood of the new testament..." Was He referring to the cup or the contents of the cup?

C. Another passage.

1. 1 Cor. 11:25-26 - "After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me. For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord's death till he come."

a. He records Jesus as saying, "...drink this cup,...". Were they drinking the cup or the contents of the cup?

D. Much of the misunderstanding and differences over the scriptures comes from not understanding the way the Bible uses a word. For example:

1. The word "heart" in the Bible refers to the part of man that thinks, remembers, desires, loves, hates, and purposes.

a. Many of our religious neighbors do not understand this and think the heart refers to the blood pump.

b. Often times they are seen to pat themselves on the chest and say, "I wouldn't give what I feel here in my heart for all the Bibles in the world!"

c. Therefore, religion is a matter of feeling rather than reasoning.

2. The word "baptize" means "to dip, to plunge, to immerse" but so many of our religious neighbors, not understanding this, sprinkle or pour a little water over someone and say they have baptized them.

E. Same is true of our word in this study - "cup". Consider this illustration:

1. "Fried chicken is my favorite dish."

a. Am I speaking of some sort of platter or plate when I say "dish"?

b. You understand that I am not.

c. I am simply using the word "dish" to mean "a particular kind of food".

2. The same is true of the word "cup". It means a particular kind of drink.

F. Once we can get this one simple principle in our minds, the entire difficulty ought to clear up.

G. The "cup" does not mean the container.

1. Luke 22:18 - "For I say unto you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine, until the kingdom of God shall come."

a. Notice the expression "the vine". Does this mean just ONE vine?

b. Does this mean that if the grape juice that we have on the Lord's table has come from the fruit of different vines in different vineyards, it is unscriptural? Certainly not!

c. "The vine" means the kind of vine, not the number of vines.

d. It must be the fruit of the vine - the grape vine; the KIND of vine.

e. "The cup" therefore means the KIND of cup or drink - grape juice; the fruit of the vine.

f. It does not refer to the number of cups, but the kind of cup, or drink, in exactly the same way that "the vine" does not refer to the number of vines, but the kind of plant that is to be used in producing the emblem of the Lord's blood.

2. Luke 22:17 - "And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and said, Take this, and divide it among yourselves:"

a. If Jesus is talking about the container, they had to take the cup, break it up into twelve pieces, and pass little pieces of the container around to each of them.

II Jesus Used Individual Cups.

A. With Luke 22:17 still in our minds, let's remember that Jesus instituted His Supper during the Passover meal. Consider these quotes concerning the passover:

1. "...at the Passover supper each participant had his own cup to drink from..." (Hastings Dictionary, pg. 326-327)

2. "...with a glass or silver cup for each member of the family and each guest likewise are placed on the table..." (Jewish Encyclopedia, p. 144)

3. "...is on the table with drinking cups for each person present, big or little..." (Jewish Services in Synagogue and Home by Lewis Dembitz, p. 358).

B. Again the question must be asked: Did Jesus break a cup and pass out the fragments or did they divide the liquid contents?

III Another Scripture Offered.

A. In addition to the scriptures previously examined, there is one other scripture often given as "proof" that only one cup is to be used in the Lord's Supper:

Luke 22:20 "Likewise also the cup after supper, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you."

1. The argument made: Jesus said the cup is the new testament, not new testaments; just one. One cup - one new testament.

2. Indeed, we all understand there is one new testament but the new testament may be contained in many different books, in many different sizes, and different type covers.

a. There are new testaments that may have the words of Jesus in red or they may not. Some are hard back while others are paperback or leather bound. Yet, there is just one new testament.

3. You have one new testament in many different containers or books.

4. So it is with the cup - the fruit of the vine - it represents the blood of Christ - it is still one cup, it's one element, but it's contained in many different containers. The container doesn't enter into it any more with the cup than it does with the new testament. There is just one cup, there is just one new testament.


Many of these brethren that refuse to use individual containers with the argument that the Lord did not mention them in the Bible use a plate to put the bread on. We know that the Lord told us to partake of the bread, and a container to pass the bread around on is not an addition, it is just an expedient. As to how many plates, as to what size, as to whether they be glass, paper, or silver, is left up to our own judgment. If we can see this, why can't we see the same with regards to the cup?

The cup represents the blood of Christ; the bread represents His body. The container has no significance whatsoever. The number of the cups and/or the size of them is also an expedient and left to our own judgment. We are at liberty to use any size, any kind whether glass, paper, or silver, and as many as we want that may be convenient.

However, this also must be understood. We are not trying to say that many cups MUST be used. If any brother wants to only use one container that is fine because the Bible does not bind any number on us. But sad to say, this has become an issue and has resulted in division among those professing themselves to be Christians and members of the Lord's church. Brethren err when they try to make another brother use many containers; likewise, do brethren err by trying to limit one to using one container!

By Unknown Author

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