How often should disciples take the Lord’s Supper?
We have several passages of Scripture that address this question, but none do so absolutely or exhaustively. Nonetheless, if we patiently work with these texts, we will end up with a more than satisfactory answer to our question.
Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians is a good place to start. In chapter 16:1-2 we read:
Now about the collection for the Lord’s people: Do what I told the Galatian churches to do. On the first day of every week. each one of you should set aside a sum of money in keeping with your income, saving it up. so that when I come no collections will have to be made.
Paul was gathering a contribution from the churches of Macedonia and Achaia for the church at Jerusalem (Romans 15:25-28). He instructs the Corinthians to set aside some money “on the first day of the week” for this offering. Why the first day of the week? That’s when they assembled together.
In 1 Corinthians 11:17ff, Paul talks about:
- “your meetings” (v. 17),
- “when you come together as a church” (v. 18),
- “when you gather together to eat” (v. 33).
We already know from 16:1-2 these meetings took place on the first day of the week. We know from 11:33 they gathered “to eat.” What were they eating? It wasn’t a common meal because Paul tells them in v. 34, “Anyone who is hungry should eat something at home.” No, it was the Lord’s Supper they were eating. This is brought home in a rebuking way by Paul in v. 20 when he says, “So then, when you come together, it is not the Lord’s Supper that you eat.” One of their purposes in coming together was to eat the Lord’s Supper (v. 33), but their mistreatment of each other was defeating that purpose. After all, how could they celebrate the unselfish giving of Jesus’ sacrifice when they were displaying the selfish attitudes and behaviors they were? Paul says they couldn’t. They might be eating the bread and drinking the juice, but they weren’t memorializing the sacrifice of Jesus in a way that honored God or helped them (v. 30-31).
It’s clear from 1 Corinthians that the Lord’s Supper was something disciples participated in every first day of the week. This conclusion is confirmed by a statement we find in Acts 20:7:
On the first day of the week we came together to break bread.
Christians come together on the first day of the week to build one another up and encourage each other to love and good deeds (1 Corinthians 14:26; Hebrews 10:24-25). A central part of that is celebrating the Lord’s Supper. Just as Israel was told to remember the Sabbath and did so each week, disciples remember and proclaim Jesus’ death on the cross until He returns (Luke 22:19; 1 Corinthians 11:26). We should consider it a privilege and honor to do so.