Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Early Christian Quotes on Communion

Early Christian Quotes on Communion


(1st Century)



Now about the Eucharist: This is how to give thanks. First, in connection with the cup, say, "We thank you, our Father, for the holy vine of David, Your Child, which You have revealed through Jesus, Your Child. To You be glory forever."


Then in connection with the piece broken off the loaf: "We thank You, our Father, for the life and knowledge You have revealed through Jesus, Your Child. To You be glory forever.


"As this piece of bread was scattered over the hills and then was brought together and made one, so let Your Church be brought together from the ends of the earth into Your Kingdom. For Yours is the glory and the power through Jesus Christ forever."


You must not let anyone eat or drink of your communion except those baptized in the Lord's name. For about this the Lord said, "Do not give what is sacred to dogs."



Ignatius’ Letter to the Smyrneans

(Late 1st Century or Early 2nd Century)

Chapter 7:


They do not participate in the Eucharist or in prayer because they do not confess the communion to be the flesh of our Savior Jesus Christ, who suffered for our sins, and whom the Father, of His goodness, raised up again. Those, therefore, who speak against this gift of God incur death during their challenges. But it would be better for them to treat it with respect so that they also might rise again. You should keep a distance from such persons and not speak of them in private or public. Listen to the prophets, and above all, to the Gospel, in which the passion of Christ has been revealed to us, and the resurrection has been fully proved. But avoid all divisions as the beginning of evils.



Justin Martyr’s Dialog with Trypho

(Mid-2nd Century)

Chapter 31:


The offering of fine flour that was recommended to be presented on behalf of those purified from leprosy was a type of the bread of the communion, the celebration of which our Lord Jesus Christ set as a guide. It was a guide to remembering the suffering He endured for those purified in their soul from all sin. We should simultaneously thank God for creating the world for the sake of man, for delivering us from evil, and for completely overthrowing principalities and powers by Him who suffered according to His will.



Justin Martyr’s Dialog with Trypho

(Mid-2nd Century)

Chapter 117:


The Eucharist of the bread and the cup reminds us through the use solid and liquid food of the suffering endured by the Son of God.



Justin Martyr’s First Apology

(Mid-2nd Century)

Chapters 65-66:


After we have washed him who has been convinced and has agreed with our teaching, we will bring him to the place where those who are called brothers and sisters are gathered so that we may offer hearty prayers in common for ourselves and for the baptized person and for all others in every place. We do this so we may be counted worthy, now that we have learned the truth. And by our works, we seek to be good citizens and keepers of the commandments, so we may be saved with an everlasting salvation.


Having ended the prayers, we salute one another with a kiss. Then bread and a cup of wine mixed with water are brought to the president of the brothers and sisters; taking them, he gives praise and glory to the Father of the universe, through the name of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. And he offers a long prayer of thanksgiving because we have been deemed worthy to receive these things at His hands. And when he has concluded the prayers and thanksgivings, all the people present express their agreement by saying Amen. This word Amen answers in the Hebrew language to genoito, meaning “so be it.” And when the president has given thanks, and all the people have expressed their agreement, those whome we call deacons give to everyone present to partake of the bread and wine mixed with water, over which the thanksgiving was pronounced, and a portion is carried away to those who are absent.


This food is called the Eucharist. No one is allowed to eat it, except the man who believes that the things we teach are true and has washed for the remission of sins and to regeneration and who is living as Christ has commanded. We do not receive these as common bread and common drink; but in the same way that Jesus Christ our Savior, having been made flesh by the Word of God, had both flesh and blood for our salvation, so we have been taught that the food blessed by the prayer of His word, and by which our blood and flesh are nourished, is the flesh and blood of Jesus who was made flesh. According to the Gospels, which the apostles have delivered to us, Jesus took bread, and when He had given thanks, said, "Do this in remembrance of Me; this is My body." In the same manner, having taken the cup and given thanks, He said, "This is My blood" and gave it to them alone.



Fragments of Irenaeus

(Late 2nd Century)

Paragraph 37:


The communion offering is not a fleshly one but a spiritual one, and in this respect, it is pure. For we make an offering to God of the bread and the cup of blessing, giving Him thanks because He has commanded the earth to bring forth these fruits for our nourishment. When we have completed the offering, we seek the Holy Spirit and request that He may show His power on this sacrifice, both the bread (the body of Christ) and the cup (the blood of Christ) so that the receivers of these elements may receive forgiveness of sins and have life eternal.



Cyprian’s Letter to the People

(Mid-3rd Century)

Paragraph 2:


I hear that some of the elders and ministers, neither mindful of the Gospel nor considering what the martyrs have written to me, nor giving to the bishop the honor of his priesthood and of his dignity, have already begun to communicate (take Communion) with the lapsed and to offer the Eucharist on their behalf and to give them Communion, when it was fitting that they should attain to these things in due course. For, as in smaller sins that are not committed directly against God, remorse may be fulfilled in a set time and confession made with an investigation of the life of him who fulfills the shame. No one can come to Communion unless the hands of the bishop and clergy are laid on him first. How much more should matters like this, in the gravest and most extreme sins, be observed with caution and moderation, according to the discipline of the Lord!



Cyprian’s Letter to Caecilius

(Mid-3rd Century)

Paragraphs 2, 9, 11-13:


In offering the cup, one must observe the tradition of the Lord, and we must do nothing but what the Lord first did on our behalf in that the cup offered in remembrance of Him should be offered mingled with wine. For when Christ says, “I am the true vine,” the blood of Christ is assuredly not water but wine; neither can His blood, by which we are redeemed and awakened, appear to be in the cup when the cup has no wine…


[After speaking of the waters of baptism] We find that the cup which the Lord offered was mixed with water and what He called His blood was wine. It appears that the blood of Christ is not offered if there be no wine in the cup. The Lord’s sacrifice is not celebrated with a legitimate blessing unless our offering and sacrifice respond to His passion. But how will we drink the new wine of the fruit of the vine with Christ in the kingdom of His Father, if, in the sacrifice of God the Father and of Christ, we do not offer wine, nor mix the cup of the Lord by the Lord’s own tradition?...


I wonder why this practice began. Contrary to evangelical and apostolic discipline, water is offered in some places in the Lord’s cup. Water by itself cannot express the blood of Christ…certainly the Lord’s cup intoxicates them to the point of sobriety. It restores their minds to spiritual wisdom so that each one receives from that flavor of the world the understanding of God; and in the same way, by that common wine, the mind and the soul are relaxed. All sadness is laid aside, so, when the blood of the Lord and the cup of salvation have been drunk, the memory of the old man is laid aside. There arises a forgetfulness of the former worldly conversation, and the sorrowful and sad breast which before was oppressed by tormenting sins is eased by the joy of the divine mercy. Only he who drinks in the Church is able to rejoice when it is drunk because it retains the Lord’s truth…


The divine Scripture in the Apocalypse tells us that the waters signify the people, saying, “The waters which you saw, upon which the whore sits, are peoples and multitudes, and nations of the Gentiles, and languages,” which we clearly see in the ceremony of the cup.


Because Christ bore us all, in that He also took our sins, we understand the people being the water, but the wine is the blood of Christ. But when the water is mingled in the cup with wine, the people are made one with Christ, and the assembly of believers is associated and joined with Him. The association and combination of water and wine is so entangled in the Lord’s cup that that mixture cannot be separated. Moreover, nothing can separate the Church from Christ. And by Church, I mean the people established in the Church, faithfully and firmly persevering in that which they have believed…


On the other hand, the body of the Lord cannot be flour alone or water alone. Both should be united and joined together and compacted in the mass of one bread. In the same way, our people are shown to be made one, so that in the same way as many grains are collected and ground and mixed together into one mass to make one bread, so in Christ, who is the heavenly bread, we may know that there is one body, into which all of us are joined and united.


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