Blood of the Covenant

There are those who believe that the number of cups used in the Lord’s Supper signifies the number of covenants or number of testaments we are under. It is argued that since we are under one covenant the Covenant of Christ, the New Testament, therefore,  there should only be one cup used in one congregation when celebrating the Lord’s Supper. Is this argument valid? Let us analyze several passages.

(1)     “… and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing…?“ (Hebrews 10:29, KJV)  Note the following: (a) The blood is mentioned that has relation with the covenant, (b) it is the blood that sanctifies the believers, and (c) the material cup-container o or the fruit of the vine is not mentioned to represent anything.

(2)   “Whereupon neither the first testament was dedicated without blood.” (Heb. 9:18, KJV)  Note the following: (a) it is the testament that is confirmed by the blood, (b) it is the blood that has relationship with the testament, and (c) there is no mention of the cup-container as representing anything.

(3)   “… he took the blood of calves and goats, with water, and scarlet wool, and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book, and the people. Saying, ‘This is the blood of the testament which God hath enjoined unto you.” (Heb. 9:19, 20, KJV) Note the following: (a) It is the blood that has relation with the testament, (b) the blood confirmed the testament between God and Israel at Mt. Sinai, and (c) there’s no mention of the cup-container  to represent anything.

(4)   “And Moses took half of the blood, and put it in basons, and half of the blood he sprinkled on the altar xxxxx And Moses took the blood, and sprinkled it on the people, and said, Behold the blood of the covenant, which the LORD hath made with you …” (Exodus 24:6, 8, KJV). Note the following: (a) calves and goats were offered and the blood of these many animals were put into a plurality of basons or basins, (b) it is the blood that has relationship with the covenant because blood confirms the contract, (c)clearly there was plurality of basons or basins upon which the blood was placed but there was only one covenant between God and Israel, (d) the blood put in several basins didn’t indicate a plurality of covenants with Israel, and (e) there’s no mention of the cup-container as representing anything.

(5)   “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?” (1Cor.10:16) Note the following: (a) The bread that is blessed represents the body of Christ  and participating in breaking and eating of the bread is communion or fellowship, (b) whatever container whether it is a plate, a basket or a coconut shell, the bread is passed around  but the container has no representation; (c) in like manner the grape juice is blessed to represent the blood of Christ, (d) the cup of blessing is the communion of the blood of Christ is clearly referring to the content and not the container, and (e) no mention of the cup-container as representing anything.

(6)   “And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, ’Drink ye all of it; for this is my blood of the new testament which is shed for many for the remission of sins.’” (Matt 26:27-28, KJV) Note the following: (a) “Drink ye all of it” definitely points to the content as the element taken in and not the container, (b) the pronoun in the phrase “this is my blood of the new testament” definitely points to the content and not the container; (c) it is the blood that has relationship with the testament because the blood confirms the covenant and not the container that confirms the covenant, and (d) there is no mention of the cup-container as representing anything.

(7)   “And he took the cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, and they all drank of it. And he said unto them, This is my blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many.” (Mark 14:23-24 KJV) Note the following: (a) Christ gave thanks and gave it to them and they all drank of “it”, (b) the pronoun it is the content because the rule in grammar is that the succeeding pronoun “this” should have an antecedent and the logical antecedent is the content and not the cup-container because the content  represents the blood of the new covenant, and (c) the cup-container is not mentioned to represent anything.

(8)   “And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and said, Take this, and divide it among yourselves; for I say unto you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine, until the kingdom of God shall come.” (Lk 22:20-21, KJV) Note the following: (a) “Take this, and divide it among yourselves” should refer to content and not the cup-container because the cup-container could be divided; (b) the following clause “I will not drink of  the fruit of the vine” necessarily points to the content of the cup and not the container, and (c) there’s no mention of the cup-container as representing anything.

(9)   “The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ?” (1Cor 10:16, KJV) Note the following: (a) something singular is blessed: is it the cup-container or the cup-content?   (b) the succeeding clause has the pronoun “it” and the rule in grammar says that there should be an antecedent of the pronoun and clearly it is the “cup” (c) and since the “it” in the second clause refers to the communion of the blood, the conclusion is that the cup refers to the content of the cup which represents the blood of Christ in the Lord’s Supper celebration.

(10)   “After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me. For as often ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew  the Lord’s death till he come.” (1Cor 11:25-26, KJV)  One cup-container brethren conclude that from this verse the cup represents the new testament. The correct grammar of the passage does not say that the material cup represents the new covenant. There is a difference between “this cup is the new testament” and “this cup is the new testament in my blood.” There is also a difference between “Now concerning the collection for the saints” and “Now concerning the collection it is for the saints” and one-cup brethren know that. The phrase that should be the whole predicate is “the new testament in my blood.” To say that the whole predicate is “new testament” is grammatically wrong. What should be explained is “the new testament in my blood.” There’s so much meaning in the phrase “in my blood.”

Now note the following:

(a) As in passages #1 to #9 there should be the automatic shift from the material container to the content in this passage #10 to be consistent,

(b) A failure to make the consistent shift from container to content would create contradiction and contradiction among verses is frowned upon in hermeneutics,

(c) To follow a diverging interpretation in 1 Cor 11:25-26 that would overrule the plain, uncontestable meaning in the above nine  passages treating the same issue is simply arbitrary,

(d) Again watch the function of the pronoun “it” in the phrase “as oft as ye drink it” which pronoun demands and antecedent,

(e) Grammar demands that the antecedent of it should be identified and definitely the “cup” antecedent is the one that is drunk by the disciples and what is the cup that is drunk cannot be the container but the content,

(f) The purpose of drinking is “in remembrance of Christ” and it is the content of fruit of the vine that represents the blood of Christ, and

(g) There is simply no mention in the passage about  the container as representing or remembering the number of covenants.  (E.Tanicala)

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