of the Apostles
The church had been foretold of by the prophets and promised by Jesus. It was not a stop-
gap measure, it was the fulfillment of God’s plan for the redemption of mankind – both Jew
and Gentile (the only designation the Bible ever recognizes between men). Jesus died for
the church. It began on the Day of Pentecost following Jesus’ resurrection and ascension
recorded in Acts 2.
From a handful of apostles and disciples (originally 120), the “Way,” the “sect of the
Nazarenes,” “Christians,” spread throughout the Roman Empire and the world. Following
the outline of Acts 1:8, from Jerusalem to the house of Paul in Rome, the gospel was
preached, and men, women and children responded – both Jew and Gentile.
7. The last period of seven days included and was terminated by the Lord's day.
This passage indicates both the day of the week in which the disciples broke the loaf, and
the prime object of their meeting on that day. It shows that the loaf was broken on the first
day of the week; and we have no apostolic precedent for breaking it on any other day.
The disciples came together on that day, even though Paul and Luke and Timothy, and all he
brethren who had come from Greece, were present, not primarily to hear one or more of
them discourse, but "to break the loaf." Such is the distinct statement of the historian. That
such was an established custom in the Churches is implied in a rebuke administered by
Paul to the Church at Corinth, in which he says: "When you come together in one place, it is
not to eat the Lord's supper" (1Co 11:20). Now, for this they would not have deserved
censure, had it not been that to eat the Lord's supper was the proper object of their
assemblage. These facts are sufficient to establish the conclusion that the main object of
the Lord's-day meeting was to break the loaf.
This conclusion will be of service to us in seeking to determine the frequency with which
the loaf was broken. If the prime object of the Lord's-day meeting was to celebrate the
Lord's supper, then all the evidence we have of the custom of meeting every Lord's day is
equally conclusive in reference to the weekly observance of the Lord's supper. But the
former custom is universally admitted by Christians of the present day, and therefore there
should be no dispute in reference to the latter.
It must, in candor, be admitted, that there is no express statement in the New Testament
that the disciples broke the loaf every Lord's day; neither is it stated that they met every
Lord's day. Yet the question, how often shall the congregation meet together to break the
loaf, is one which can not be avoided, but must be settled practically in some way. The
different religious parties have hitherto agreed upon a common principle of action, which
is, that each may settle the question according to its own judgment of what is most
profitable and expedient. This principle, if applied by congregations instead of parties, is a
safe one in reference to matters upon which we have no means of knowing the divine will,
or the apostolic custom. But when we can determine, with even a good degree of
probability, an apostolic custom, our own judgment should yield to it. So all parties have
reasoned in reference to the Lord's day. The intimations contained in the New Testament,
together with the universal custom known to have existed in the Churches during the age
succeeding that of the apostles, has been decided by them all as sufficient to establish the
divine authority of the religious observance of the Lord's day; and yet they have not
consented to the weekly observance of the Lord's supper, the proof of which is precisely
As a practical issue between the advocates of weekly communion and their opponents, the
questions really has reference to the comparative weight of evidence in favor of this
practice, and of monthly, quarterly, or yearly communion. When it is thus presented, no one
can long hesitate as to the conclusion; for in favor of either of the intervals last mentioned
there is not the least evidence, either in the New Testament, or in the uninspired history of
the Churches. On the other hand, it is the universal testimony of antiquity that the Churches
of the second century broke the loaf every Lord's day, and considered it a custom of
apostolic appointment. Now it can not be doubted that the apostolic Churches had some
regular interval at which to celebrate this institution, and seeing that all the evidence there
is in the case is in favor of a weekly celebration, there is no room for a reasonable doubt
that this was the interval which they adopted.
It is very generally admitted, even among parties who do not observe the practice
themselves, that the apostolic Churches broke the loaf weekly; but it is still made a
question whether, in the absence of an express commandment, this example is binding
upon us. This question is likely to be determined differently by two different classes of men.
Those who are disposed to follow chiefly the guide of their own judgment, or of their
denominational customs, will feel little influenced by such a precedent. But to those who
are determined that the very slightest indication of the divine will shall govern them, the
question must present itself in this way: "We are commanded to do this in memory of
Jesus. We are not told, in definite terms, how often it shall be done; but we find that the
apostles established the custom of meeting every Lord's day for this purpose. This is an
inspired precedent, and with it we must comply. We can come to no other conclusion
without assuming an ability to judge of this matter with more wisdom than did the apostle."
… (Acts 20:7 KJV)