Copyright © 2001, by John Lankford, Fort Smith, Arkansas

      People ask us why we take communion every Sunday. Sometimes we even ask ourselves that question. What are the historical and biblical facts that make this practice more reasonable than any other proposal?


      Neither the writers of the New Testament nor those in the early church actually discussed this topic. It was a non-issue. That was then. As with baptism by immersion, the practice was in place and had not been changed. But now changes in the original practice exist. Since we have an obligation to be steadfast in the apostolic traditions (2 Thessalonians 2:15), the "frequency" becomes an "issue" today by the very nature of the case.


      Facts are statements that have a high degree of certainty attached to them. In the study of any matter, it is important to stick with the facts as a basis for our conclusions.

      It should be noted that very few things are proven by just one fact. It is a set of facts that cooperate and reinforce each other that makes a case certain. The goal is not proof beyond all doubt, but beyond a reasonable doubt.


#1 Historical facts outside the New Testament

      The writings of early Christians outside the New Testament prove that taking the Lord's Supper each Sunday was a consistent practice of the churches from the apostolic era onward for several centuries. It was an "identifying mark" of Christianity. (International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, Vol. 3 , p. 1923; The New Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge, Vol. 4, p. 198; Wycliff Bible Encyclopedia, Vol. 2 , p. 1049; Early Christians Speak, Everett Ferguson, p. 97).

      The fact that it was a unified and consistent practice clearly points back to a standardized teaching concerning its observance because if that were not the case, more diversity in practice would be observed.

      In the writings of these early Christians, the apostles are looked to for authoritative teaching on Christian belief and practice (Paley's Evidences of Christianity, p. 113-151). So, it is unlikely that anyone but the apostles would be giving authoritative instructions as to how and when the Lord's Supper is to be observed. And apostolic instructions should carry considerable weight in the mind of Christians today, as it did then (John 16:13).

#2 New Testament Facts

      The observance of the Lord's Supper was an important matter to Jesus (Luke 22:19). He wanted the apostles to teach the new converts how to observe all that He had taught them (Matthew 28:20). This would include the Lord's Supper (1 Corinthians 11:23-25). And from the very outset the apostles taught the new church about the Lord's Supper. (See Acts 2:42 as contrasted with just taking food in 2:46.) In Corinth, the church met regularly on the first day of the week (1 Corinthians 16:1,2). When they met it was to take the Lord's Supper (1 Corinthians 11:20). The fact that the instructions to Corinth in 1 Corinthians 16:1 are also to the churches in Galatia, makes it evident that they followed the same practice. And when seen against the historical facts listed in #1 above, it is clear that they are all following the same practice! This also can be said for the gathering at Troas on the first day of the week. (Contrast Acts 20:7 to Paul just taking food for his journey in 20:11ff.)

#3 The practice keeps Gospel facts before the church on a regular basis

      The death and resurrection of Jesus are matters of "first importance" (1 Corinthians 15:1-5) and Jesus made them a central part of His teaching (Matthew 16:21; Luke 24:26). Our very forgiveness is linked to both His death and resurrection (Romans 4:25, 1 Corinthians 15:17). These two items are tied together. So, taking the Lord's Supper on the first day of the week (resurrection day, Luke 24:1-21; Revelation 1:10) ties together in memorial those things that are tied together in reality. The practice is designed to teach the core reason for the existence of the "called out" (1 Corinthians 10:14ff).

      To have the Lord's Supper on any other day would destroy the design of the practice by not reflecting the gospel events. (Even though Jesus instituted the Lord's Supper on Thursday night it is interesting that this day was not chosen as the day of observance but "resurrection day" instead.)

      Since the "death and resurrection" of Christ are matters of "first importance," their meaning should be pondered by all assembled (1 Corinthians 14:27). They are not to be forgotten. Only weekly communion on Sunday can best effect this.


      The weight of evidence clearly shows that weekly communion is of apostolic origin and has a practical design for the spiritual life of the church. No other arrangement can deliver what this practice can.


  1. It is a mistake to classify the frequency of the Lord's Supper with optional matters like the color of paint to use, style of songs to sing or how many containers to use in serving the fruit of the vine. Something more than "just personal choice" is evident from the facts above.

  2. The practice has been an "identifying mark" of faithful churches since the beginning. Is there any reason why it should not be so now?

  3. We need to focus more on what is "going on" when the Lord's Supper is served. It is not "just a thing to do," but it is designed to make us really ponder our position before God and offer up thanksgiving.

  Link to "Another Look at the Frequency of the Lord's Supper"

  Link to other Evidences by John Lankford

West-Ark Church of Christ