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An Early Christian Eucharist
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In the early church, the celebration of the Eucharist was an essential part of the Christian life. In continuation of last week's tremendously popular feature article, Divided by Communion, we are featuring selections from early Christian writings that shed light on how Christians in the first two centuries celebrated Communion.
Note: We appreciated the many responses we received to last week's newsletter and have made a selection of them available for all our readers on the website.
Justin Martyr (100-165): Christian philosopher and apologistFirst Apology(155 A.D), chapter 66
And this food is called among us the Eucharist of which no one is allowed to partake but the man who believes that the things which we teach are true, and who has been washed with the washing that is for the remission of sins, and unto regeneration, and who is so living as Christ has enjoined. For not as common bread and common drink do we receive these; but in like manner as Jesus Christ our Savior, having been made flesh by the Word of God, had both flesh and blood for our salvation, so likewise have we been taught that the food which is blessed by the prayer of His word, and from which our blood and flesh by transmutation are nourished, is the flesh and blood of that Jesus who was made flesh. For the apostles, in the memoirs composed by them, which are called Gospels, have thus delivered unto us what was enjoined upon them; that Jesus took bread, and when He had given thanks, said, "This do ye in remembrance of Me, this is My body;" and that, after the same manner, having taken the cup and given thanks, He said, "This is My blood;" and gave it to them alone.
Read all of chapter 66 Christian Classics Ethereal Library
First Apology, chapter 65
There is then brought to the president of the brethren bread and a cup of wine mixed with water; and he taking them, gives praise and glory to the Father of the universe, through the name of the Son and of the Holy Ghost, and offers thanks at considerable length for our being counted worthy to receive these things at His hands. And when he has concluded the prayers and thanksgivings, all the people present express their assent by saying Amen. And when the president has given thanks, and all the people have expressed their assent, those who are called by us deacons give to each of those present to partake of the bread and wine mixed with water over which the thanksgiving was pronounced, and to those who are absent they carry away a portion.
Read all of chapter 65 at Christian Classics Ethereal Library
Ignatius of Antioch (35-107): Early Christian bishop and martyrEpistle to the Ephesians, chapter 20
Stand fast, brethren, in the faith of Jesus Christ, and in His love, in His passion, and in His resurrection. Do ye all come together in common, and individually, through grace, in one faith of God the Father, and of Jesus Christ His only-begotten Son, and "the first-born of every creature," but of the seed of David according to the flesh, being under the guidance of the Comforter, in obedience to the bishop and the presbytery with an undivided mind, breaking one and the same bread, which is the medicine of immortality, and the antidote which prevents us from dying, but a cleansing remedy driving away evil, [which causes] that we should live in God through Jesus Christ.
Read more of Ignatius' Epistle to the Ephesians at Christian Classics Ethereal Library
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