A Question I Was Asked:


Should We ONLY Use Unleavened Bread for Communion?







My Response:
We have communion services in churches today because, at the Last Supper, this was the way that Jesus instructed his followers to remember Him; this, of course, was on the night before he died.

At that meal Jesus effectively changed Jewish Passover into Christian Communion, therefore He did one or two things just a little differently. However, He would have almost certainly still used unleavened bread, simply because the Jews followed the Passover instructions in the Old Testament and this is all that probably would have been available on that evening (Exodus 12).

There are some Christians today who believe that we ought to use unleavened bread because Jesus probably did so (although we cannot be entirely sure about that for the reasons I will state later), this is why some congregations use wafers.

However, most Protestant Christians do not use wafers, or unleavened bread, because we have to understand that Christ fulfilled all of the types involved in the Passover. He Himself is our Passover lamb (1 Corinthians 5:7) who passes over the transgressions of sinners when they daub His blood on the doorposts of their hearts. The wine represented His blood and the bread represented His body, spilt and broken as a complete flesh and blood sacrifice. Likewise, normal leavened bread during the Days of Unleavened Bread (but only during that period), became symbolic of sin for the Jews, so the Israelites were commanded to de-leaven their homes, but, of course, only Christ can redeem us from sin. So our Lord and Saviour fulfilled all of the types involved in Old Covenant Passover and He has brought that particular religious service to a conclusion, being replaced by Christian Communion.

This matter seems to be finally clinched by the New Testament's choice of Greek words in describing the Last Supper; only the word 'artos' is used for bread in Matthew 26, Luke 22 and in John 13 when Jesus actually gives communion at the Last Supper. In Matthew 26:17 the Feast of Unleavened Bread is referred to (unleavened bread: 'azumos'), but when Jesus breaks bread in verse 26, He simply uses the word 'artos' (bread) with no mention of its leavened/unleavened status. This occurs again in Luke 22. The arrival of the Feast of Unleavened Bread is mentioned in verse 7, but when Jesus breaks bread in verse 19, He simply uses the word, 'artos.' Again, in John 13:18, the reference to 'bread' in that verse comes from 'artos.' Then in verses 26 and 30 the bread which is given to Judas by Jesus is simply called, 'artos' - bread. Of course, the use of 'artos' does not necessarily mean that this bread was leavened (since leavened bread would have been difficult to obtain at Passover time), but it does strongly suggest that Jesus (and the later New Testament writers) did not feel that the precise kind of bread was important, only its significance as being representative of Jesus' body.

But the question has to be asked: If Jesus really wanted us to only use unleavened bread during communion, would He not have inspired these particular texts to describe 'unleavened bread,' rather than simply 'bread'?

Some of the eminent believers who have looked at this very point include John Calvin, Charles Hodge, A.A. Hodge, Theodore Beza, and Charles Spurgeon. All of those men concluded that it is not necessary to use unleavened bread at communion (although if one prefers to use it that is no problem). The Roman Catholic Church insists on unleavened wafers, Greek Orthodoxy mostly uses leavened bread and the Lutherans now leave the matter open. The Church of England, Baptists and Presbyterians use normal, leavened bread. Charles Spurgeon wrote:

"After the thanksgiving, it is very clear that our Divine Lord broke the bread. We scarcely know what kind of bread was used on that occasion; it was probably the thin passover cake of the Jews; but there is nothing said in Scripture about the use of leavened or unleavened bread, and therefore it matters not which we use. Where there is no ordinance, there is no obligation; and we are, therefore, left free to use the bread which it is our custom to eat."

So this is best considered as one of the changes which Jesus made as He developed Passover into Christian Communion, or Eucharist.
I hope this answer helps.
Robin A. Brace, April, 2008.

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