Communion has long been an ordinance held by the
church. The Messiah clearly taught that we are
to observe the bread as His body and the wine as His
blood (Matt. 26:26-28). Though the church
seems united in the concept of observing communion,
there is a disputation regarding how to observe it.
Today it is common to take communion weekly or even
monthly, but is this what the early believers did?
The intent of this article is to identify the
meaning of the bread and wine and how we are to
observe this commandment today.
Before we continue it would be helpful to define
some terms. On the night the Messiah was betrayed He had a
special meal with his disciples. This meal is
commonly called the Last Supper.
Though the entire meal is not mentioned, the command
of communion is. This was a command to use
bread and wine as a memorial for the Messiah's death
(Matt. 26:26-28). The bread represents the
Messiah's body (Matt. 26:26), and the wine
represents the Messiah's blood (Matt. 26:28).
Though the implements are clear, the commandment to
observe communion is clouded with much doubt.
There is controversy surrounding the modality of
how to observe this command. Here are a few
terms that need to be identified.
The Greek word used for the bread of communion is
artos, which means, "bread (as raised)
or a loaf" (Strong's Dictionary - G740).
This word is used to describe regular leavened
bread, as a raised loaf of bread. This word
comes from the word
airō, which means
“to lift; figuratively to raise
(Strong's Dictionary - G142).
The implication is that it was a raised loaf of
bread. The Messiah
used regular bread and not unleavened bread to
institute His communion commandments. If He
were to have used unleavened bread He would have no
doubt used the word azumos, which means,
"unleavened bread, specifically (by implication)
the Passover week" (Strong's Dictionary -
G106). In 1 Cor. 5:7 the Apostle Paul uses the
word azumos to describe the Passover,
however later in 1 Cor. 10:16 he uses the word artos
to describe the Lords Supper. Not once in the
scripture is the word azumos used to describe the
bread at communion. If it was never called
unleavened bread in the scripture, why do we insist
it was unleavened bread today?
In fact, church history proves that the bread for
communion was regular leavened bread. For the
first 1,000 years of church history there is not one
shred of evidence of unleavened bread used for
Dr. Johannes H. Emminghaus in his book, The
Eucharist: Essence, Form, Celebration, said,
“In the first
millennium of the Church's history, both in East and
West, the bread normally used for the Eucharist was
ordinary 'daily bread,' that is,
and the Eastern Church uses it still today.”
Father William O'Shea in his book, The Worship of
the Church, said,
“Another change introduced into the Roman
Rite in France and Germany at the time [8th -
9th century] was the use of unleavened bread and of
thin white wafers or hosts instead of the loaves of
leavened bread used hitherto.”
fact, the Eastern churches still use regular
leavened bread in their services today. The
Greek church has a specific word they use for the
bread of communion. That word is artos, which
they have used for regular leavened bread since the
time of the Messiah.
The only verse in the scripture that supports the
word artos being used for unleavened bread is Luke
24:30, 35. This is an example of the Messiah
using artos, leavened bread, during the feast of
Unleavened Bread. However, upon closer review even
this verse does not prove that the bread of the Last
Supper was unleavened.
Just because artos can be used to represent
unleavened bread does not mean that it does in this
occurrence. However, I do not believe artos can
ever represent unleavened bread even in light of
Luke 24. In Luke 24 the disciples are walking
with the Messiah on the road to Emmaus. The
Messiah purposely hid his identity with His two
disciples (Luke 24:16). He used this as an
opportunity to teach how the Old Testament
scriptures spoke of the Messiah (Luke 24:27).
The point to this entire encounter was to teach
these two disciples who He was. To do this He
hid His identity from them. When He finally
was persuaded to stay with them to eat He broke
bread with regular leavened bread (Luke 24:30).
This was to reveal who he was. Immediately
their eyes were opened and they knew who He was, but
He vanished out of their sight (Luke 24:31).
They then concluded that He made Himself known to
them through the breaking of bread (Luke 24:35).
The breaking of bread (communion) was a very
intimate thing the disciples did. This was
something He no doubt taught them throughout His
ministry. The Messiah used communion (breaking
of bread) as a way to reveal himself to His
disciples (Luke 24:35). This is no different
then Acts chapter 10 where God used eating unclean
animals (Acts 10:11-14) to teach a lesson about
racial discrimination (Acts 10:34-36). If God
can use the eating of unclean animals, which is sin,
as an object lesson, then the Messiah can use
communion with leavened bread during the feast of
unleavened bread to reveal who He is. Keep in
mind, the Messiah disappeared with the breaking of
bread. I believe the bread disappeared as well
for their is no mention of them eating the bread.
The purpose of this encounter was to reveal who the
Messiah was (Luke 24:35), not to endorse eating
leavened bread during the feast of Unleavened Bread.
I believe that artos means regular leavened bread in
all occurrences in the scriptures. If artos means regular leavened bread, it provides strong evidence that the
Last Supper meal that the Messiah provided for His
disciples was not a Passover meal. If it was,
then the Messiah did it wrong according to the
Passover Commandments of using unleavened bread (Ex.
12:6, Lev. 23:6), and we know from the scriptures
that the Messiah fulfilled all the law (Matt. 5:17).
The bread the Messiah used must have been leavened
and this is strong evidence that the Last Supper was not
the Passover meal.
The word used for wine is not mentioned in the
communion verses. Instead, the words used to
represent the wine are "the cup" (Matt.
26:26-28, Mark 14:22-24, Luke 22:19-20, 1 Cor.
11:24-25), and the "fruit of the vine"
(Matt. 26:29, Mark 14:25, Luke 22:18). We can
conclude from this that the drink in the cup was
clearly wine. In fact, we can be certain that
it was also fermented wine. The word used in
the New Testament for unfermented wine is always
"new wine" (Matt. 9:17). This time of year was Passover and well after the
grape harvest. All grapes would have fermented
by now and new wine would not have been available.
The Messiah must have used fermented wine for the
The word used for communion in the New Testament is
koinōnia, which means, "partnership,
that is, (literally) participation, or (social)
intercourse, fellowship" (Strong's Dictionary -
G2842). This word would better be translated
as fellowship. The English definition is,
“The sharing or exchanging of intimate thoughts
and feelings, especially on a mental or spiritual
Dictionary). Unfortunately, the word
communion today has become a religious ceremony
which is quite contrary to what the scripture
teaches. If communion means, "social
intercourse, fellowship, and the sharing or
exchanging of intimate thoughts and feelings,"
then why do we bow in silence and ignore all social
aspects to communion. This is contrary to what
communion is. The meal of the Last Supper is our
way of participating socially in fellowship with the
Messiah. This is a meal and not a simple
ceremony during a church service. We should
celebrate our fellowship with the Messiah during the
course of a meal.
With these definitions in place we can now gain a
better understanding of what the Last Supper was and
how we are to practice it today.
Examples of Communion:
To properly understand communion we must code plead
the statute. Code Pleading is how a lawyer
would study law. After all, the Bible is a Law
Book. It is written in legal code. That
code is "precept upon precept, precept upon
precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a
little, and there a little" (Is. 28:13).
We need to find every place that communion is
mentioned in the scripture. This is what is
meant by "here a little, and there a little."
Then we must get the context of each portion of
scripture. This is what is meant by
"precept upon precept" and "line upon line." Once
we do that everything falls into place.
If you Code Plead a meal of bread and wine you will
get three examples. The first is the meal
between Melchizedek and Abram, the second is the
meal of the Table of Showbread, and the third is the
Last Supper. These meals are one and the same.
If we gather all the evidence from each meal we will
learn what communion is.
Melchizedek and Abram:
"And Melchizedek king of Salem brought forth
bread and wine: and he was the priest of the most
high God." (Gen. 14:18). Melchizedek, the
High Priest, ate a meal of bread and wine with
Abram. The word for bread is lechem
(regular leavened bread), not matsah
(unleavened bread). Melchizedek was the High
Priest who had a priestly meal of bread and wine
Table of Showbread:
The bread for the Table of Showbread was made every
Sabbath (Lev. 24:8). The word used for that
bread is lechem pânı̂ym, which literally means
"the bread of his face." The word matsah
is never used for the Showbread. This table
also contained wine, which is called a drink
offering (Num. 4:7). Here in Numbers chapter
four the phrase is "covers to cover
withal." The word "cover withal"
is the exact same word used throughout the scripture
as a drink offering, which is wine. The
showbread also contained frankincense oil (Lev.
24:7) and salt (Lev. 24:7 - Septuagint). This
meal was eaten every Sabbath by the High Priest and
The Last Supper is another meal of bread and wine.
The word used for bread is artos, which means bread (as raised)
or a loaf" (Strong's Dictionary - G740).
This word comes from the word
airō, which means
“to lift; figuratively to raise
(Strong's Dictionary - G142). This
was regular leavened bread. Azumos, the word
for unleavened bread, is never used to describe
communion. The Last Supper also had
something to dip the bread in (John 13:26). In
the ancient cultures, this was always oil.
This meal was eaten just before the Passover.
The truth of the matter is this, communion was not a
new concept to the New Testament. This meal
had been shared by believers for thousands of years.
If you study ancient non-biblical documents you will
quickly discover this truth. Believers
throughout history have celebrated a communion meal
in anticipation of a future meal with the Messiah.
Here are some groups that did just such a meal.
Philo of Alexandria mentioned a group of believers
called Therapeutae. This was a group of
believers who practiced what we would call holistic
healing. They would use natural methods to
heal body, mind, and soul. They held a
communion meal every Sabbath. Philo said,
“And when each individual has finished his
psalm, then the young men bring in the table which
was mentioned a little while ago, on which was
placed that most holy food, the
with a seasoning of salt, with which hyssop is
mingled, out of
reverence for the sacred table,
which lies thus in the holy outer temple”
(Philo of Alexandria, On the
Contemplative Life, p. 10, v. 81)
This meal was called communion and was practiced
since well before the Messiah walked the earth.
The Essenes were a sect of the Jews living in
According to Josephus, the Essenes were Jews by
birth. They were the tribe of Judah.
"For there are three philosophical sects among the
Jews. The followers of the first of which are the
Pharisees; of the second, the Sadducees; and the
third sect, which pretends to a severer discipline,
are called Essens. These last are Jews by
birth, and seem to have a greater affection for one
another than the other sects have."
(Flavious Josephus, War of the Jews, Book 2, Ch. 8,
We have an enormous amount of evidence regarding
this community from the Dead Sea Scrolls. The
Essene community also had a communion meal of
leavened bread every Sabbath. The Dead Sea
Scrolls declare, "When they gather at the
communal table, having set out bread and wine so the
communal table is set for eating and the wine poured
for drinking, none may reach for the first portion
of the bread or the wine before the priest.
For he shall bless the first portion of the bread
and the wine, reaching for the bread first.
Afterward the Messiah of Israel shall reach for the
bread. Finally, each member of the whole
congregation of the Yahad (united community) shall
give a blessing, in descending order of rank"
(Wise, Abegg, and Cook, The Dead Sea Scrolls: A New
The Dead Sea Scrolls date to approximately two
centuries BC. This community was practicing
communion two centuries before the Messiah
instituted the command. They knew to do this
from the Table of Showbread and Melchizedek and
The Greek word for Sadducee is Saddoukaios, which
comes from the word Saddouk, the same word for Zadok
(1 Kings 1:8). The Sadducees were descendants
of the Zadokite priesthood. They were the
priests in charge of the Temple at the time of the
Messiah. We know from Josephus that the
showbread at the time of the Messiah was unleavened,
but was it always this way? Josephus also
“What I would now explain is this, that the
Pharisees have delivered to the people a
great many observances
by succession from their fathers,
which are not written in
the laws of Moses; and for that reason it is
that the Sadducees reject them, and say that we are
to esteem those observances to be obligatory
which are in the written word, but are not to
observe what are derived from the tradition of our
Antiquities of the Jews, Bk. 13, Ch. 10, v. 6.)
Is it possible that the Pharisees changed the
showbread from leavened bread to unleavened bread?
Since every other community practiced a leavened
bread Table of Showbread meal it is very probable
that this bread was changed. Especially since
the word matsah is never used for the Showbread.
In the New Testament we have the Lord's Table (1
Cor. 10:21), what
we call communion. The phrase Paul used for
the Lord's Table is the same phrase used by these
Jewish communities to describe their Table of
Showbread meal, what we call communion. The word used for the bread
is artos, which is regular leavened bread.
Today, however, we use unleavened bread for
communion. Was there a change to this bread as
well? As stated earlier in this article, if you study church history you will
find such a change.
Dr. Johannes H. Emminghaus in his book, The
Eucharist: Essence, Form, Celebration, said,
“In the first millennium of the Church's
history, both in East and West, the bread normally
used for the Eucharist was ordinary 'daily bread,'
that is, leavened bread,
and the Eastern Church uses it still today”
(Dr. Johannes H. Emminghaus, The Eucharist: Essence,
Form, Celebration, page 162). Father William
O'Shea also said, "Another
change introduced into the Roman Rite in France and
Germany at the time [8th - 9th century] was the use
of unleavened bread and of thin white wafers or
hosts instead of the loaves of
leavened bread used hitherto”
(Fr. William O'Shea, The Worship of the
Church, page 128)
. This change happened
at the same time the doctrine of Transubstantiation
is the “singular change of the whole substance
of the bread into the body and the whole substance
of the wine into the blood,
which change the Catholic Church most aptly
calls transubstantiation" (Council
of Trent, 2nd canon)
Once you believe that the bread is the literal body
of Messiah, it becomes necessary to insist on
unleavened bread. Especially since leaven
typically depicts sin.
Putting it all together:
This communion meal contained several elements.
These elements were leavened bread, wine, oil, and
salt. This meal was eaten every Sabbath and
before feast days. These elements are very
important for they teach many important truths.
If you study the Gospel accounts of the Last Supper
you will discover something very different than what
is taught today. At the Last Supper the
Messiah, ". . . took bread, and blessed it, and
brake it, and gave it to the disciples, and said,
Take, eat; this is my body" (Matt. 26:26).
At first glance this appears to be speaking of the
Messiah's body, but a closer look reveals something
quite different. The Greek language has a way
of determining which verb matches which noun.
This is done by matching the gender of words.
The word "this" and the word "bread"
do not agree in gender. R. C. H. Lenski, a
Greek scholar from the 1800's, said "we must
note that του̑το (this) is neuter, and hence cannot
grammatically or in thought refer to αρτος (bread)
which is masculine."
Interpretation of St. Matthew’s Gospel 15–28, p.
1025) This is significant
for the Messiah is not referring to the single loaf
of bread, but rather the twelve pieces of broken
bread handed to the Apostles. The Messiah is
not referring to His physical body, but His body of
believers who are now eating the bread. This
is made clear in the Apostle Paul's writing on this
very subject. First Corinthians chapter eleven
is typically the chapter referred to regarding
communion. The reality is that first
Corinthians chapters ten through twelve are the
chapters on communion. Paul said in chapter
ten, "The cup of blessing which we bless, is it
not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread
which we break, is it not the communion of the body
of Christ? For we being
many are one bread, and one body: for we are
all partakers of that one bread" (1 Cor.
10:16-17). Paul says the same thing. We
are the body of Christ. Later Paul calls this
meal "the Lord's table" (1 Cor. 10:21).
This is in reference to the Table of Showbread.
Chapter eleven explains the Last Supper and the
implements. Immediately after the communion
discussion is chapter twelve regarding the gifts of
the spirit. Paul mentions "For as the body
is one, and hath many members, and all the members
of that one body, being many, are one body: so also
is Christ" (1 Cor. 12:12). He finishes
this section on communion by saying, "Now ye are
the body of Christ, and members in particular"
(1 Cor. 12:27). The body of Messiah is the
body of believers, which is what the bread
This fits perfectly for leaven usually represents
sin in the scripture. This leavened bread
represents us, sinful man, who now has a
relationship with God. After all, God eats of
the unleavened bread of the offerings because He is
sinless. His body of believers eat of the
leavened bread of the Table of Showbread because we
are sinful. The Messiah connects the two
together. He is God in the flesh eating this
leavened meal with His body of believers. This
pictures the Messiah, who is our High Priest, and we
are His priesthood (1 Pet. 2:9). Leavened
bread gives a different symbolism of communion than
traditionally thought. The bread represents
us, the body of Christ, fellowshipping with each
other. Meals with close, intimate
conversations promote growth more than any sermon
can. Our enemy has attacked communion because
it promotes the growth of the body. It has
been attacked by religious tradition and ritual.
The tradition keepers of the Old Testament
(Pharisees) changed the showbread from leaven to
unleavened and the tradition keepers of the New
Testament (Catholic Church) changed the communion
bread from leavened to unleavened as well. Why
would the enemy try so hard to make this change?
The reason is simple. When we have open
conversations about the scripture everyone learns at
their own level. This promotes growth far
better than any ritual can.
Understanding communion like this depicts a beautiful
picture. The wine represents the blood of the
covenant (Matt. 26:27-28). Blood always
ratifies a contract. Without the Messiah's
shed blood to ratify the covenant we have no
relationship with God. The bread represents
the body of Messiah (1 Cor. 12:27). This is
us. The single loaf of bread represents the
Messiah as the Word of God. This bread was
broken into 12 pieces and given to the disciples.
The emphasis of communion is the 12 broken pieces,
not the single loaf. We are the leavened bread, sinful man,
that the Messiah has restored unto God (1 Cor.
10:16-17). By eating of the one loaf we are
grafted into the one body as the Messiah's
Priesthood. This is the same picture that the
Table of Showbread depicts. The
oil represents the Holy Spirit (Acts 10:38).
It is the Holy Spirit that changes us. This is
the work of God in our lives. This is our
sanctification. The salt represents our
ministry. We are the salt of the earth (Matt.
5:13). When we have the Holy Spirit in our
lives we season the entire earth.
Communion, like other commandments of God, have been
twisted and perverted today. If studied
properly communion is clearly a Table of Showbread
meal. It is a High Priest Messianic Banquet.
It is the same meal that Melchizedek, the High
Priest, had with Abram his priesthood. It is
the same meal that the High Priest in the
Tabernacle/Temple had with their priesthood in the
holy place. It is the same meal that the
Messiah, the true High Priest, had with His
priesthood, the Apostles in the upper room. We
share that meal today in anticipation of the future
meal we will eat with the Messiah.
This meal anticipates the Messiah's return to marry
His bride. During communion, the Messiah said,
"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" (Matt. 26:29).
In the future we will eat this meal with our Bride
Groom for "... Blessed are they which are called
unto the marriage supper of the Lamb ..." (Rev. 19:9). This is a meal we
eat in anticipation of that very Wedding Feast.
This is an intimate social celebration. We are
to eat in an intimate way talking and communicating
with each other. During this meal we can bear
each others burdens, share scripture, pray for each
other, and much more. The idea of a quiet
personal time bowing our heads is not what communion
Since learning this understanding of communion my
family has decided to start each Sabbath with a
communion meal. We break bread and dip it in
olive oil mixed with frankincense and salt. My
wife and I drink wine and our children drink grape
juice. During this time we discuss the
scripture, answer Bible questions from our children,
and thank the LORD for His New Covenant. We do
the same before all Holydays. This time has
developed into the most important time our family
has together and has proven to be a wonderful way to
start our Sabbath and Holydays.