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
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
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?
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
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
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