Editor’s Note: Most of this is taken from an article from someone in our groups, I do not know who at this time. I have changed some of it for the sake of clarity and it does now give my position on this important subject. The main changes that I have made is in removing references to Christ’s Broken body to Tortured Body as Christ’s body was never broken. Only the Bread that represents His body at Passover is broken and given to us to eat.
Many people in our groups have become confused over this question, let us strip our minds of confusing non-essentials, and try to get to the CRUX POINTS IN QUESTION. What, then, is our question? What are we trying now to settle?
The sole QUESTION to be settled is: AT WHAT TIME SHALL WE TAKE THE BREAD AND WINE TODAY? Such points as time of killing of lamb, or time of eating of lamb, or time of going out of Egypt, enter the discussion only in so far as they have bearing on the CENTRAL QUESTION: When shall we, today, take bread and wine.
If that point is fixed in mind, to gain UNDERSTANDING, let us ask,
What IS the ordinance in which we take bread and wine (regardless of whether it ought to be called “Lord’s Supper,” or “Passover,” or “Communion,” or “Eucharist.” WHY do we take it, WHAT IS it, and HOW do we find in God’s Word WHEN to take it? These are the questions we must UNDERSTAND. And we must avoid getting so close to a tree we can’t see the forest. We might be in a forest of 999 fir trees, and one oak tree, and get so close to the oak tree that we could see none of the others and so declare we were in an oak forest. Let’s not get so close to whether “passover” means “sacrifice,” or eating of roast lamb, or death-angel PASSING OVER that we lose sight of the UNDERSTANDING of the meaning, the purpose and the TIME of the bread and wine today. Let’s ask, then, “WHAT MEAN YE by these things?” and HOW? and WHEN?
First, then, what is the bread and the wine? What do they represent? “Jesus took bread, . . . and said, Take, eat; this is my body.” What is the wine? “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.” (Mat_26:26-28).
What does the bread mean? Paul explains that to take it unworthily is to eat damnation to ourselves, “not discerning the Lord’s body. For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep,” (1Co_11:29-30). Jesus Himself took our sicknesses and diseases. How? “By His STRIPES we are HEALED.” His body was tortured that we might be healed — He thus suffered our sicknesses in our stead. Because many do not discern this and TRUST in it for healing, they take it unworthily and are weak, sick, and some die. His body was tortured for our healing. Therefore we break the bread. Our BREAKING it, or the minister’s breaking it, does not heal us. It means nothing till we ACCEPT it, by EATING it. When we do so we show we ACCEPT His tortured body, lashed with stripes, that we may be healed. When we DRINK the wine, we show again (annually) that we ACCEPT the blood of Christ for the remission of sins, that we may be spiritually saved. Jesus’ ministry was devoted to healing the sick (his tortured body) and preaching he Gospel (his shed blood) — and the efficacy is not accomplished merely by His having shed His blood and been sacrificed, or by His body having been tortured, but by OUR ACCEPTANCE of these in faith believing. We testify to this anew annually by TAKING, into our mouths, the bread and wine. The PURPOSE of the sacrifice and the stripes is not accomplished until WE ACCEPT AND PARTAKE of them. And today, regardless of the ancient passover, the ORDINANCE which is the crux of our question has to do with our EATING, and actually TAKING into our mouths, of these emblems.
What does this ordinance of bread and wine MEAN? What does it PICTURE?
Jesus said, “This do IN REMEMBRANCE of me.” (1Co_11:24 etc). It is a MEMORIAL. In remembrance, or a memorial OF WHAT? “Ye do show THE LORD’S DEATH till He come.” It is a memorial of CHRIST’S DEATH.
Now memorials are observed ON, not a day after, the EVENT they commemorate. But we must look to Scripture to see if that, which rings true, is correct. Why do we, unlike other worldly denominations, take this ordinance ANNUALLY?
We turn to the accounts of Luke and Matthew, and find that WHEN Jesus introduced the bread and wine it was “AS THEY WERE EATING” that Jesus took the bread, and the wine. Eating what? EATING THE PASSOVER (Mat_26:17, Mat_19:1-21, Mat_26:1; and Luk_22:13-15; Mar_14:12, Mar_14:18, Mar_14:22, etc.) IT IS BECAUSE OF THESE TEXTS, IS IT NOT, THAT WE LOOK BACK INTO THE INCEPTION OF THE PASSOVER, BEGINNING EXODUS 12, TO SEE WHEN JESUS WAS EATING THIS PASSOVER AT WHICH HE INTRODUCED BREAD AND WINE, AND COMMANDED US TO PARTAKE OF IT TODAY?
Now the BREAD AND WINE, clearly as proved above, MEAN the blood and body of Christ, which, if we accept, cause the penalty of sickness, and the angel of eternal death to PASS OVER us — to spare us from these penalties, since Jesus, by His shed blood and broken body paid these penalties in our stead. That is what this service PICTURES and MEANS. It means the DEATH of Christ, not the resurrection, not our putting sin out of our lives, not the coming of the Holy Spirit, not the Second Coming of Christ. Let’s HEW TO THE LINE, bear that constantly in mind, and NOT BECOME MIXED AND CONFUSED as to what this is, how, or WHEN.
Now we say one of the KEYS to UNDERSTANDING is knowledge of GOD’S PLAN as pictured by the FESTIVALS. Each has its MEANING. And one of them MEANS the same thing as the BREAD AND WINE today. Let’s keep it straight and clear.
The FESTIVALS begin (annual festivals) with the PASSOVER. Now, whatever Passover is, or MEANS, or pictures, or represents, it IS on the 14th of Abib. That point is not in question. No scripture says Passover begins on the 14th. But such expressions as “IN the 14th day of the first month is the Passover.” and “ON the 14th” etc. and “they kept the Passover UPON the 14th” — not beginning the 14th.
Now turning back to OT passages re: Passover, to see WHY Jesus introduced and commanded the bread and the wine, we find these points:
They took a LAMB, a type of Christ, without spot or blemish. It’s legs were not broken. It had to be entirely eaten at once, for its body must not begin decay or see corruption. The type is perfect. Now the KILLING of the lamb — the shedding of its BLOOD was INSIDE OF the 14th of Abib. On that we are agreed, the only question being which time of that particular day. In any event, the BLOOD was shed ON and STILL WITHIN the 14th, which ended when the sun WAS SETTING at its end. But they did not STOP with the blood sacrifice alone. The lamb was ROASTED, and then EATEN — the Israelites PARTOOK OF IT, took it into their mouths. Its BODY was broken, but no bone of it. The same with Christ. And that night, whichever night it was, the death angel PASSED OVER every house where the blood was splashed on the door-front.
Now notice Exo_12:26 — “When your children shall say unto you, WHAT MEAN YE BY THIS SERVICE? that ye shall say, It is the sacrifice of the Lord’s PASSOVER, who PASSED OVER the houses of the children of Israel in Egypt.”
STUDY THAT CAREFULLY. It is a KEY to our solution. Now what was included in “THIS SERVICE?” The paragraph begins verse 21. Moses gave instruction, take a lamb for a house, and kill the passover, sprinkle its blood on door-fronts, REMAIN INSIDE YOUR HOUSES UNTIL MORNING — the Lord will PASS OVER and spare YOU — and “ye shall observe this thing for an ordinance to thee and thy son FOREVER.”
What is THIS THING? What is to be OBSERVED? Is there any meaning to the killing of the lamb UNLESS THE DEATH-ANGEL PASSED OVER them, sparing them? What does it MEAN? Does it mean coming out of Egypt? NO! Not a word is here mentioned in connection with THIS SERVICE about their GOING OUT OF EGYPT. It MEANS, according to verse 27 in answer to the question in verse 26, that “THE LORD PASSED OVER THE HOUSES OF THE CHILDREN OF ISRAEL IN EGYPT, WHEN HE SMOTE THE EGYPTIANS, AND DELIVERED OUR HOUSES.” It means, not going out of Egypt, but DELIVERANCE FROM DEATH.
It — this thing — this service which means DELIVERANCE FROM DEATH — was to be observed FOREVER — WE ARE TO OBSERVE IT TODAY.
Now when Jesus took bread and wine, He merely CHANGED the eating of the roast body of the lamb to the eating of unleavened bread. BOTH MEAN THE SAME, there can be no question about that. Today, instead of eating the roast body of a typical lamb, we eat the unleavened bread to represent the tortured body of our Lord. Then, they ate it LOOKING FORWARD to that event. Today, we eat the bread looking BACK, as a MEMORIAL, on the exact anniversary of the event it commemorates. Then they shed the blood of a typical lamb, to picture the shed blood of Christ, looking forward — today we take what Jesus substituted, the wine, looking back, BUT PICTURING THE SAME THING.
What does the bread and wine MEAN? It means the SAME as this service instituted FOREVER in Exo_12:24-27. Then they looked forward to it, now we look back as an annual MEMORIAL. And the SERVICE which MEANS all this included, — Exo_12:21-23, the killing of the lamb, the accepting of the blood and dipping (on that one original time) on door-fronts, and the PASSING OVER of the death-angel, SPARING them. And also, as other texts, the EATING of the lamb, which was BEFORE the PASSING OVER of the angel. Plainly, when we see what this MEANS, to give PURPOSE to God instituting it, if nothing was done but kill the lamb, it would have been MEANINGLESS. They had to TAKE the blood, accept it, put trust in it, and sprinkle on door-posts, as we now TAKE IT, and accept it by drinking the wine. They also had to EAT THE BODY — and all BEFORE the PASSING OVER. The purpose was not the killing of the lamb nor eating its roast body, but the sparing from death by the passing over of the angel. This ordinance, therefore, means nothing unless ALL THOSE THINGS ARE INCLUDED as they indeed ARE included in God’s Word. If YOU dare exclude them, you take away from the holy Word of God, and endanger having your part in the Book of Life blotted out.
Regardless of getting SO CLOSE to technical meanings, such as meaning of word “passover” — if you try to say, as I understand, that the word “passover” does NOT include the eating of the body, or the PASSING OVER of the angel — the ordinance MEANS NOTHING unless it included all the events including the accepting and utilizing of the blood, the eating of the body, (thus accepting), and the SPARING FROM DEATH thereby. The OBJECT of the sacrifice and everything else was to SPARE THEM FROM DEATH by the PASSING OVER — and the OBJECT of the bread and wine today is the SPARING US from sickness and first death, and from eternal death, by being PASSED OVER if we accept, and partake of, the body and blood of Christ. Now verses 21-27 DO INCLUDE, specifically, the events of the service from killing of lamb to final PASSING OVER, after the eating of the bread. It is not TWO services, but ONE SERVICE. It is to be OBSERVED FOREVER. It means DELIVERANCE — verse 27. That’s its MEANING. It does not symbolize going out of sin, but deliverance from its consequences — from past guilt. That is what is called PASSOVER. The Hebrew word means “to skip over,” — and the LAMB was called by the term “passover” ONLY because it’s sacrifice WHEN APPLIED AND ACCEPTED — and WHEN SOMETHING WAS DONE BY PEOPLE FOLLOWING ITS KILLING — did PASS the people OVER from death. If you try to say the EATING OF THE BODY was no part of the Passover, THEN WHY DO YOU EAT THE BREAD TODAY.
FIRST, consider this: The Scriptures plainly state that “IN the 14th day of the first month is the Passover” — IN, not out of, or after. And “ON the 15th day of the same month is the feast of unleavened bread.”
If ancient Israel was commanded to actually OBSERVE the Passover ordinance — or EAT the passover — on the beginning of the 15th, after having killed the lamb during afternoon of 14th, then is not this true:
The BLOOD of the lamb, one half of the ordinance, representing the blood of Christ, was shed on the 14th, but the BODY of the lamb, the other half of the ordinance, was eaten and accepted by the people on the 15th — actually on a different day of the month! Is it consistent to DIVIDE the ordinance representing the BLOOD and the BODY of Christ, into two different days of the month — one of the two emblems on one day, the other on another day? And if they ATE the Passover — OBSERVED the ordinance — on the 15th, how could they be observing the DEATH of Christ annually, looking forward to it, on its anniversary, when He died on the 14th?
AND, if that be considered what God commanded, then when we come to the NEW Testament time, since the ONLY CHANGE is in the emblems (PASSOVER WAS COMMANDED AN ORDINANCE FOREVER) — the bread and wine being now substituted for the blood and roast body of a literal lamb — then, those who so believe MUST TAKE THE WINE ON THE AFTERNOON OF THE 14th, and then wait until the next day, and TAKE THE BREAD IN THE EVENING OF THE 15TH. Those who take the Passover on the 15th believe the BLOOD was spilled, in literal lambs, on afternoon of the 14th. But they take the wine on the beginning of the 15th. IS THIS CONSISTENT?
AND, since Jesus said, “This do in REMEMBRANCE of me,” it is a MEMORIAL, showing HIS DEATH till He comes. Now WHY is it ONCE A YEAR? Because MEMORIALS are observed annually on the SAME DAY OF THE YEAR as the event they commemorate. The EVENT commemorated by the Passover is CHRIST’S DEATH. He died on the 14th, not the 15th. Those who observe it on the 15th DO NOT OBSERVE IT ON THE SAME DAY OF THE YEAR on which it occurred. Can’t we see this is CONFUSION — and not consistent?
The Feast of Unleavened Bread:
Does It Begin the 14th, or 15th, Abib?
Some figure PASSOVER should be taken on the 15th,instead of the 14th Abib — first month of the sacred calendar. And now comes the idea that the seven days of unleavened bread begin the 14th, instead of the 15th!
This idea has arisen from an ignorance of the meaning of the word “even” and “evening,” and of the inspired original Hebrew for these words.
In Exodus 12:6, “And ye shall keep it up until the fourteenth day of the same month; and the whole assembly of the congregation shall kill it in the evening.” The Hebrew word for “evening” is ereb, pronounced “eh’-reb,” derived from the Hebrew word for “arab” (aw-rab’), defined “dusk: and day, even (-ing, tide), night.” Or, arab meaning “to grow dusky, at sundown; or to be darkened.” It is a DUAL word. Literally there are TWO evenings combined in the word, and it may designate either, depending upon the way it is used. One evening is the late afternoon, before sunset — that is, in God’s reckoning, just prior to and leading to, the END of a day. The word is often used in the Old Testament to designate the CLOSE of a day at sunset. The other evening is the early night, after dark. In ancient times, the Hebrews, according to the technical information found in the commentaries, understood that this “evening” began when three stars became visible to the eye. Now there is a short period in BETWEEN these two “evenings” AFTER the sun had set and a new day actually began, which we call dusk, or twilight — the short time between sunset and dark. This short dusk period always occurs in the very BEGINNING of a day.
In the New Testament, the Greek word is opsios. It is more clearly defined: “late afternoon, or nightfall.” It is derived from opse, defined: “late in the day; or, by extension, after the close of a day.” This is the word used in Mat_28:1, “In the end of the Sabbath.” Here opse is translated “in the end of,” in the A.V., and in the American Revised as “Late on the Sabbath.”
NOW — here is the important point for us to understand: In Exo_12:6, quoted above, the Hebrew word ereb is combined with the Hebrew preposition meaning “BETWEEN.” The literal inspired Hebrew did not say “kill it AT ereb,” but “kill it BETWEEN ereb.” Or, as you will find in the MARGINAL REFERENCE in your Bible, “BETWEEN the two evenings.” The Jewish translation into the English language renders it “at DUSK.” Moffatt translates it “between sunset and dark.” The technical expositions of the “higher critics” shows this is the correct meaning of the inspired original Hebrew. The lamb was to be killed AFTER the sunset, and before dark — AFTER the first evening (late afternoon) had ended, AFTER a new day had begun, and BEFORE the second evening (early night) had begun. It was killed in the VERY BEGINNING MINUTES of the 14th day. Otherwise, if, as some believe, the lamb was killed during the late afternoon near the END of the 14th, then eaten after sunset on the 15th, then the OBSERVANCE of PASSOVER as an ordinance was the 15th, but Exo_12:1, and Lev_23:5 and Num_28:16 all say the PASSOVER, as an ordinance, was IN the 14th, not after it.
Now notice Lev_23:5-8. “IN the 14th day of the first month at even (margin, “between the two evenings” or dusk) is the Lord’s PASSOVER. And ON the 15th day of the same month is the feast of unleavened bread unto the Lord: SEVEN DAYS ye must eat unleavened bread.”
NOTICE carefully! The PASSOVER and the FEAST OF UNLEAVENED BREAD are two different, separate ordinances. The one ordinance, the PASSOVER, is IN the 14th day, at dusk, the very beginning of the day. The FEAST, lasting SEVEN DAYS, does not begin until 24 hours later, ON the 15th The seven days of unleavened bread do not begin on the 14th. They do not begin until the 15th. The two are SEPARATE ORDINANCES, commencing on different dates!
Notice what Hebrew scholars say:
ADAM CLARK commentary: “Exo_12:15 — seven days shall ye eat unleavened bread. This has been considered as a distinct ordinance, and not essentially connected with the Passover. The Passover was to be observed on the 14th day of the first month; the Feast of Unleavened Bread began on the 15th and lasted seven days, the first and last of which were holy convocations.”
CHAS. GORE, “A New Commentary on Holy Scriptures”: ” Exo_12:14-20 This Festival, originally intended to celebrate the beginning of harvest, was distinct from the Passover, though it followed it immediately.”
The ONE VOLUME COMMENTARY: “1Co_1:1-8 (keep festival’ — i.e.,the festival of unleavened bread which followed the Passover.)”
WESTMINSTER COMMENTARIES: “Exo_12:14 — this day,’ i.e., the first of the seven days’ festival. The festival was quite distinct from the Passover, on which mazzath was eaten, though it immediately followed it. This is clearly shown by Lev_23:5-6.”
2Ch_35:17 shows the seven days of unleavened bread to be a festival SEPARATE from, and in addition to, the Passover” “And the children of Israel kept the passover at that time, and the feast of unleavened bread seven days.” Ezra kept the PASSOVER on the 14th. He did not kill it on the afternoon of 14th and keep the SERVICE on beginning of 15th — but KEPT THE SERVICE on the 14th — see Ezr_6:19. And then, AFTER THAT WAS OVER, they “kept the feast of unleavened bread seven days with joy,” verse Ezr_6:22. The “feast of unleavened bread” are the days when NO LEAVEN is to be found in our houses. There are SEVEN of them, not eight. Those seven days constitute a Festival SEPARATE and in addition to, and following, beginning a day AFTER the PASSOVER. Passover does not last a whole DAY. Passover is “BETWEEN THE TWO EVENINGS” — at dusk, the very BEGINNING of the 14th. When the next morning comes, it is still the 14th all day, but it is no longer Passover — because the Passover was held the evening before, and is all over by morning. The DAY of the 14th is “the PREPARATION” — preparation FOR the FEAST which is to be eaten after sunset, 24 hours AFTER Passover! The Passover is IN the 14th not ON the 15th as is the First Day of Unleavened Bread which is a holy day for the entire day.
Num_28:16-17 is almost word for word the same as Lev_23:5-6. It, too, proves Passover and the seven day Feast are two separate ordinances.
Now let’s begin with Exo_23:14-19. Exo_23:18 is the disputed one. Verse 14: “This day — which day? It is a “memorial,” to be kept “a FEAST.” This, then, as all commentaries quoted show, is the 15th of the month. The Feast is for SEVEN DAYS.
Exo_12:15-18 “Seven days shall ye eat unleavened bread.” Notice,we are to eat unleavened bread only SEVEN, not eight days. The question, then, is do we put leaven out of homes on the 13th and actually STOP eating it from the beginning of the 14th,or do we put it out on the PREPARATION day which is the 14th, and stop eating it BEGINNING the 15th? When do we put leaven away? The very next words TELL US PLAINLY — listen! “even the first day ye shall put away leaven out of your houses.” The leaven is not to be OUT of our houses until the FIRST of these seven days. Now is this the 14th?
Verse 16: “And in the first day there shall be an HOLY CONVOCATION, and in the seventh day there shall be an holy convocation.” The FIRST of these seven days is a SABBATH day. Notice! This SETTLES IT! The leaven is not to be out of our houses UNTIL the FIRST DAY of these seven — that is the day leaven is to be out of our houses, and THAT is also the annual SABBATH, and we know THAT is the 15th, and not the 14th! There are SEVEN days in which leaven is to be OUT. The first of these is a Sabbath. That is the 15th. The SEVENTH of those is a Sabbath — the 21st of the month. HOW PLAIN!
Verse 17: “THIS DAY” — the annual Sabbath — the day leaven is to be OUT — is the day Israel went out of Egypt — the 15th, the morrow after the Passover.
Verse 18: In the first month, on the 14th day of the month AT EVEN, ye shall eat unleavened bread, UNTIL the one and twentieth day of the month AT EVEN.” Here is the text which has confused some. Now here is does NOT say “BETWEEN ereb” — the original Hebrew is “AT ereb.” Now this same word is used all thru the Old and New Testaments (Greek equivalent in New), and in SOME places it means LATE AFTERNOON, in some it means END OF DAY, and in others it means EARLY NIGHT. But EVERYWHERE the term is used with “UNTIL” — that is “UNTIL the ereb” it means until the end of the LATE AFTERNOON. If they touched the carcass of an unclean animal they were unclean “UNTIL ereb” — exactly as unleavened bread is to be eaten “UNTIL ereb” or until the end of the LATE AFTERNOON (first of the two evenings) on the 21st Abib. See Leviticus 11:24, 25, 27, 28, 31, 32, 39, 40; and 15:5, 6, 7, 8, 10, 11, 16 — ALL SAME HEBREW! Look at Judges 19:9 — “day draweth toward evening” or “toward ereb” — late afternoon toward END of that first of the two evenings, which ended the day. Now notice Lev_23:32. HERE IS THE TEXT WHICH TELLS EVERY SABBATH KEEPER WHEN TO START KEEPING THE SABBATH! “In the 9th day of the month AT EVEN, from even unto even,shall ye celebrate your SABBATH.” Now this is the day of Atonement, and we know it is celebrated the TENTH day of the seventh month, not the ninth. Yet it BEGINS the ninth day AT EVEN, and lasts UNTIL the tenth day AT EVEN. Here is exactly the same expression, the same original Hebrew! Here the ninth day AT EVEN means the CLOSE of the ninth day AT SUNSET, as that day ENDS. Notice Exodus 12:18, “On the 14th day of the month AT EVEN . . . UNTIL the 21st day AT EVEN.” The meaning is identically THE SAME. From the END of the 14th day at sunset, until the END of the 21st day AT SUNSET. The leaven, then, is not to be put out of our homes until the afternoon of the 14th, just before the HOLYDAY begins at sunset.
In the New Testament the same expression is used in Luk_24:29, “it is TOWARD EVENING, and the day is far spent,” and again Joh_20:19, “The same day AT EVENING, being the first day of the week.” In both cases, it is LATE AFTERNOON, near END of the day, same as Exo_12:18.