THE LORD’S SUPPER
Did Paul invent the Lord’s Supper? Surely, the Jewish apostles shared bread together, but did they really celebrate the Lord’s Supper as claimed by Paul? Let us look at the passage concerning the Lord’s Supper from 1 Corinthians.
For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: the Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed [handed over], took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.” For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes. (1 Cor. 11:23-26) (Emphasis mine)
It must be remembered that this was the earliest attestation to the Lord’s Supper. The Gospel accounts were at least a generation later. So it is extremely interesting that Paul received this Lord’s Supper directly from the Lord Jesus. Since Paul never met Jesus in the flesh, any message received from the Lord had to come through revelation. This is exactly what Paul wrote in Gal. 1:12 about his own gospel: “I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it; rather, I received it by revelation from Jesus Christ.” Certainly, this Lord’s Supper did not come from any other man as well. It, too, was a revelation from Jesus Christ. Consider what this means. Paul invented the Lord’s Supper and the Gospel writer’s simply incorporated this ritual into their rewrite of history.
This invention scenario is not far-fetched. What law abiding Jew would have spoken about a cup of wine being the “new covenant in my blood.” First, that Jew had to assume that the old covenant was not everlasting. This, in and of itself, made the statement unacceptable to the Jews. Second, God did not approve of human sacrifice. In Leviticus 20:1-5, the Lord told Moses that anyone sacrificing his children to Molech must be put to death. As the Pharisees would have argued: if it were a sin for the people to sacrifice their children, how much greater a sin for God to sacrifice one of his children. Third, Paul claimed that righteousness was given by God through faith in the blood of Jesus. (Rom. 3:22) This was not part of any Jewish group’s belief system, especially the Fourth Philosophy. They believed that righteousness was given by God based upon a person’s actions and intentions. Therefore, the law abiding followers of Jesus (Judas the Galilean) would never have practiced this pagan exercise, coined the Lord’s Supper.
The universally translated phrase “on the night he was betrayed,” has been incorporated into the Gospel lore. The Greek word translated as betrayed actually means “handed over” or “delivered over.” This is incredibly important for our current study. According to my theory, Judas the Galilean was the historical Jesus of Nazareth. In this theory, Judas Iscariot never even existed. Note that Paul did not mention a betrayer, only that Jesus had been handed over. Did not the High Priests hand Jesus over to Pilate? Could this passage by Paul have nothing whatsoever to do with Judas Iscariot? Later in this same letter, Paul stated that the resurrected Jesus appeared to Cephas and then to the Twelve. (1 Cor. 15:5) In the Great Commission, recorded in Matt. 28:16, the Eleven disciples were instructed by Jesus. (See also Mark 16:14 and Luke 24:33. John 20:24 had Jesus appearing to Ten, as Thomas was not with the others.) Now either the Gospels were wrong about the Eleven or Paul about the Twelve. The earlier passage by Paul, no doubt, related the real story. Jesus appeared to the Twelve, proving that a betrayal did not occur.
Finally, Paul stated that his disciples would continue to celebrate the Lord’s Supper until Jesus returned. In this, Paul was no different that the Jerusalem apostles. They too believed that Jesus would return, not as the Prince of Peace but as an avenging destroyer of Rome (See Revelation!) So while Paul also taught that the end was near, his vision of the return of Christ was much different than that of the Twelve.
View my new book, Judas of Nazareth, at www.danielunterbrink.com
Daniel T. Unterbrink
Author of Judas of Nazareth, available from these booksellers: