Question #87

Must we use just one cup in the Lord's Supper?

How do you defend the use of multiple “cups” during the Lord’s Supper against “One cupper’s” stand that all references in the NT refer to “the cup” as a pattern?

The Answer:

The question involved in this issue is, “What did Jesus mean by “cup” when he instituted the Lord’s Supper?” Matthew’s record of the event reads: “And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed it, and brake it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is my body. 27 And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it; 28 For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins. 29 But I say unto you, I will not drink henceforth of this fruit of the vine, until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father's kingdom.” Matthew 26:26-29.

One of the rules of logic is that that which proves too much proves nothing. If the “cup” to which Jesus refers is the container, and if it is a pattern for the use of only one container, the question arises, “How is it possible for all of the congregations in the world to use only one container? To respond that it is permissible to use one container per congregation is to give up the argument for one container. It is to argue for multiple containers and then to limit the multiple containers to one per congregation. No such limitation is found in Matthew’s account. To argue for one container and then to permit a container for each congregation, thus having multiple containers, is not only to be inconsistent, it is to permit an exception that is not found in scripture if Matthew’s record is a pattern permitting only one container.

The error made by those who contend for one container is in their (mis)understanding of the word “cup” as it is used in the institution of the Lord’s Supper. In the account, Jesus gives his own definition: “27And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it; 28 For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins. 29 But I say unto you, I will not drink henceforth of this fruit of the vine, until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father's kingdom.” Note that Jesus took the cup, gave thanks for the cup, and instructed the disciples to drink of the cup. Obviously, Jesus did not tell his disciples to drink the container and he did not give thanks for the container. He gave thanks for and bade the disciples drink of the contents of the literal container – the fruit of the vine. Thus, by metonymy (using the container for the thing contained), Jesus used the cup to signify that which it contained – the fruit of the vine. That this is so is demonstrated by Jesus’ final words. Of that which he took, blessed, and bade the disciples drink, he said: “I will not drink henceforth of this fruit of the vine, until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father's kingdom.” Thus, the “cup” of v. 27 was the “fruit of the vine” in v. 29. The Lord clearly indicated that the “cup” was the “fruit of the vine”; those who contend for “one cup” clearly believe that the “cup” to which Jesus referred was the container. They are in hopeless conflict with the Lord on the matter. When we use the “fruit of the vine,” it is clear that we have one “cup,” regardless of how many containers we may use.

For a follow up to this question, please see Question 105.


God's Plan of Salvation

You must hear the gospel and then understand and recognize that you are lost without Jesus Christ no matter who you are and no matter what your background is. The Bible tells us that “all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23) Before you can be saved, you must understand that you are lost and that the only way to be saved is by obedience to the gospel of Jesus Christ. (2 Thessalonians 1:8) Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” (John 14:6) “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12)

You must believe and have faith in God because “without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” (Hebrews 11:6) But neither belief alone nor faith alone is sufficient to save. (James 2:19; James 2:24; Matthew 7:21)

You must repent of your sins. (Acts 3:19) But repentance alone is not enough. The so-called “Sinner’s Prayer” that you hear so much about today from denominational preachers does not appear anywhere in the Bible. Indeed, nowhere in the Bible was anyone ever told to pray the “Sinner’s Prayer” to be saved. By contrast, there are numerous examples showing that prayer alone does not save. Saul, for example, prayed following his meeting with Jesus on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:11), but Saul was still in his sins when Ananias met him three days later (Acts 22:16). Cornelius prayed to God always, and yet there was something else he needed to do to be saved (Acts 10:2, 6, 33, 48). If prayer alone did not save Saul or Cornelius, prayer alone will not save you. You must obey the gospel. (2 Thess. 1:8)

You must confess that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. (Romans 10:9-10) Note that you do NOT need to make Jesus “Lord of your life.” Why? Because Jesus is already Lord of your life whether or not you have obeyed his gospel. Indeed, we obey him, not to make him Lord, but because he already is Lord. (Acts 2:36) Also, no one in the Bible was ever told to just “accept Jesus as your personal savior.” We must confess that Jesus is the Son of God, but, as with faith and repentance, confession alone does not save. (Matthew 7:21)

Having believed, repented, and confessed that Jesus is the Son of God, you must be baptized for the remission of your sins. (Acts 2:38) It is at this point (and not before) that your sins are forgiven. (Acts 22:16) It is impossible to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ without teaching the absolute necessity of baptism for salvation. (Acts 8:35-36; Romans 6:3-4; 1 Peter 3:21) Anyone who responds to the question in Acts 2:37 with an answer that contradicts Acts 2:38 is NOT proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ!

Once you are saved, God adds you to his church and writes your name in the Book of Life. (Acts 2:47; Philippians 4:3) To continue in God’s grace, you must continue to serve God faithfully until death. Unless they remain faithful, those who are in God’s grace will fall from grace, and those whose names are in the Book of Life will have their names blotted out of that book. (Revelation 2:10; Revelation 3:5; Galatians 5:4)