Most Christians have a fairly clear understanding of the wine as the obvious red liquid representing Christ’s blood shed in payment for our sins and the purchase of our souls, but frequently less clearly understand or even much discussed in today’s churches is the symbolism of the bread. Adherents of the Roman Catholic cult claim that it ‘transubstantiates’ into Christ’s body, and once ingested, imparts holiness and saving grace to the recipient, or at least, the world’s millions of nominal Catholics misunderstand it to do so. Protestants of course reject the error of transubstantiated bread, but what teaching on the meaning of the bread in the communion service do they put in its place? Very little in fact, to the detriment of the communion service and to the church itself. So we must go to scripture to learn what the bread teaches us about the Church and the Communion.

1 Corinthians 11:23 “The Lord Jesus, the same night in which he was betrayed, took bread… …and broke it, and said ‘Take, eat, this is my body which is broken for you – This do in remembrance of me’”.

Paul then writes to the church of God which is at Corinth “For we being many are one bread, and one body, for we are all partakers of that one bread.”

In 1 Corinthians 5:6, Paul writes to the body of Christ which is at Corinth about discipline. There was one heretical member of the body there, and Paul says to them “A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump”.

‘Leaven’ is another word for ‘yeast’, and it is yeast which makes dough rise in bread. Always in scripture, the word leaven is used to illustrate sin. Paul is saying that leaven represents heretical or discordant church members, and that one disobedient and uncorrected church member, will in time spoil and corrupt all the other members until the whole body is sick and corrupt.

One piece of yeast in the dough will spoil the whole lump of dough. One bad apple spoils the whole barrel. One dirty bacterial germ in a cut finger makes the whole hand get infected and swell up if it isn’t treated, and must be amputated if left too late.

Yeast in dough is like that. It is an infector. It makes the lump of dough swell up. One lump. One loaf. One Church. Not several lumps, or several loaves, but one loaf. Paul is describing conditions in one local church.

Thus, the ideal stipulation for bread to be used in the communion service of a local church is to use one loaf of unleavened bread (and this again indicates a numerically small optimum church-membership size) – Unrisen, without yeast – Flatbread, such as crackers or pitta bread. One loaf to portray Christ’s one sinless body, broken into pieces specifically for the members who God has placed in that local church.

A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump. One lump. But how can a little leaven leaveneth several lumps of dough? The answer is, it can’t, if it is only one lump. It is a careless Jewish cook indeed, who when preparing Passover bread, allows leaven to get into not just one breadcake, but all of them! Thus it is carelessness to allow heresy to spread from church to church, like leavening yeast which spreads from loaf to loaf of bread which is supposed to be unleavened. So to prevent this, church members should not drift from church to church. Those who do, tend to be heretics and other kinds of troublemakers within the local church, who must be dealt with by church discipline. And discipline begins with self-discipline which in turn begins with the self-examination which scripture instructs us is a prerequisite to partaking in the communion supper. (1 Corinthians 11:28).


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