Question #105

What is the one cup?

Please respond to these arguments that have been made in defense of the use of only one literal cup is the observance of the Lord’s Supper.

I have enjoyed looking at your website, but in this question regarding the use of one cup, you provide a poor defense of your position and an even poorer attack on the use of one cup.

The idea of using one cup in every congregation is absurd. Each congregation is autonomous and acts as such. Each utilizing a singular cup in no way violates the example given by Christ. The straw man you have posted up to knock down is a disservice to the word of God and any ability to reasonably understand it.

Secondly, you should better learn the use of metaphorical/symbolic language terms before utilizing them in your answers. Metonymy speaking of one thing for another always requires the presence of both. In other words, if there were no cup (singular), there could be no metonymy for the contained (fruit of the vine). In other words, both are necessary. To take one away would leave an incomplete picture (and a messy floor).

Finally, you conveniently ignore 1 Corinthians 11:25 which says, "In the same manner He also took the cup after supper, saying, 'This cup is the new covenant in My blood. This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.'" Here the cup is defined as symbolic of the new covenant. In Matthew we see that the cup is the fruit of the vine. What we find here is the close connection of the one NT, which is God's word to us and His pattern for our lives and the fruit of the vine, symbolic of Christ's blood which gives us eternal life. The cup and its contents together provide this symbolism.

Paul describes it in 1 Corinthians 10:16 this way: "The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ?"

We show our connectedness (communion) by taking jointly of it. How is that accomplished with everyone having an individual cup? Also, he speaks of a singular cup being blessed (remember the cup and contained must both be there). If there were multiple cups present, why would it not be the "cups of blessing which we bless?"

How are we doing what Jesus did ("Do this in remembrance of me.") when He gave to his disciples to pass it and all partake of the same cup (and its contents) and you take an individual cup that no one else uses and drink from it?

The Answer:

The author of this response to the answer to Question 87 is to be complemented for having the courage of his conviction; unfortunately, his arguments fail and his conviction that only one container may be used to the Lord’s Supper is wrong.

First, his assertion that my first comment is absurd is absolutely correct. The problem that this creates for him is that he thereby admits the validity of the argument to which he attempts to respond. That argument involves reduction ad absurdum, or reduction to the absurd. Please notice that it began by observing that that which proves too much proves nothing. In this case it proves that which is absurd. If there must be only one container, and that is his position, then there can not be more than one even if it is one per congregation. He recognized the absurdity of that and sought to eliminate the absurdity by adding to the scripture, i.e, adding a container for each congregation. What that means according to this defender of the use of one cup is that the scripture does not teach only one container, but one container for each congregation. I do not find that enlargement in any of the scriptures that he cites and I am certain that he does not either. A position that leads to an absurd conclusion when pressed to its limits is by definition an illogical position. His position is not that there can only be one cup, but that there can only be one cup per congregation. Strange indeed is a position that can only be defended by giving it up, but that is what has been attempted here.

Second, I agree with the observation that someone needs to learn more about metonymy, but I think that it is not I. Metonymy is a figure by which one name or noun is used instead of another, to which it stands in a certain relation. It is derived from the Greek, metwnumi,a, from meta,, meaning change, and o[noma, meaning a name, or, in grammar, a noun. There are four types: 1) of the CAUSE, 2) of the EFFECT, 3) of the SUBJECT, and 4) of the ADJUNCT. Involved here is number 3, specifically the container is used for the contents, here the cup for the fruit of the vine. It is absolutely wrong to say that both the items, the thing stated and the thing for which it is substituted must be present. It is, of course, true that both items must exist or be known. Otherwise the figurative language would have no meaning. Either way our apologist would have it he is wrong. He admits that the language is figurative. That being admitted, only one of the items is meant – either the thing substituted (the cup) or the thing for which it is substituted (the contents). If the cup is a literal reference to the container, it is not the use of metonymy or figurative language. If cup is used figuratively, then the question is “For what does it stand, or, in this instance, for what is it substituted? Here again the apologist who demands the use of one cup has surrendered his position that it refers to a literal cup. He argues that the cup is substituted for “the new covenant.” That being the case, there is no reference here to a literal cup at all except to use it figuratively to refer to something else. Of course, even the passage cited refers it to “the new covenant in my blood,” or that which the fruit of the vine (the contents) represents. Thus the passages are consistent, both referring to the contents or the shed blood which it represents.

No one “takes” the literal cup (in the sense that one “takes” the Lord’s Supper); no one “observes” the cup; no one “eats” the cup; no one “blesses” the cup (except in the sense that it stands for the contents). Isn’t it strange to even think that Christ would place such emphasis on a material item that will ultimately be destroyed?

Thirdly, our apologist argues that we show our connectedness by taking jointly of it [the one literal cup]. More than likely that connectedness is shown by the sharing of diseases than in any other manner. We are connected by the blood of Christ which we commemorate by partaking of the contents which “is” his blood. Here our apologist understands the use of figurative language. I am quite certain that he does not accept the Catholic doctrine or transubstantiation, i.e., that the contents literally “is” the blood of Christ, yet that is what the scripture says.

Fourth, we are challenged to explain why Paul did not refer to the “cups of blessing which we bless” if multiple cups were present. The answer is because, as we have abundantly demonstrated, by metonymy the “cup” is substituted for the “contents,” and that is the fruit of the vine that represents His one shed blood. In that manner we are doing exactly what Jesus told his disciple to do – commemorating the one blood in which there is salvation. There is no other “name” given among men by which we must be saved. (Notice that “name” is substituted for Jesus life, death, resurrection, and saving power – another use of metonymy.)

Finally, our apologist asks how we do what Jesus did when He gave to the disciples to pass it and all partake of the same cup and its contents and individual cups are used. Once again a lesson in logic is needed because this argument begs the question, i.e., it assumes as true that which must be proved. It does this because it assumes that “cup” is used literally and that Christ demanded that they all drink of the same literal cup. The issue here is not whether one or more literal cups were present. The issue is whether “cup” refers to a literal cup or to the contents. When Jesus took the “cup” and told them to drink, he was telling them to drink the contents. Read the scripture carefully: “26 And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed, and brake it; and he gave to the disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is my body. 27 And he took a cup, and gave thanks, and gave to them, saying, Drink ye all of it; 28 for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many unto remission of sins. 29 But I say unto you, I shall 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. Jesus took “bread” and he took the “cup.” Of each he said, “this is.” The bread “is” his body; the “cup,” which is the antecedent of “it,” “is” His blood. Jesus Himself tells us what he means by the “cup.” Indeed there is but one – His precious blood represented by the fruit of the vine.

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)