Worship Terminology: Breaking Bread


At Jesus’ last Supper He gave new meaning to the centuries old tradition of the Passover.  This new meal is referred to in various ways, but the most common are: Eucharist, Holy Communion, the Lord’s Supper and the Breaking of Bread.  Today we will look at some of the implications of the title “Breaking of Bread”.

This title is found in Acts 2:42.

 And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.

In contrast to the other terms for this memorial meal, Breaking of Bread seems to have a more positive, even joyful, feel to it.  Notice that the title is “Breaking” of Bread not “Eating” of Bread.  This unusual title reminds us that this is not an ordinary meal but one that has special significance.

And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people.  Acts 2:46-47a

This meal was perceived by the early church as a joyful event rather than a mournful remembrance.  It is likely that they were more focused on Christ’s resurrection appearance than his last supper.  They were more focused on the joy of fellowship with a risen Savior than the agonizing loss of their beloved Teacher.

In fact, many of Jesus’ resurrection appearances are associated with meals:

  • Luke 24:28-33 – two men on the road to Emmaus recognize Christ when he “broke bread” with them.
  • Luke 24:41-43 – Jesus eats fish with the disciples
  • John 21:9-14 – Jesus eats a breakfast of fish and bread with seven of His disciples after they have been fishing all night.
  • Acts 1:4 – Jesus may have been eating with the disciples when He ordered them to wait at Jerusalem for the Spirit.  Although usually translated “while staying with them”, this phrase could also mean “while eating with them”.
  • Acts 10:40-41 – Peter tells the Gentiles at Cornelius‘ house that witnesses had ate and drank with Jesus after the resurrection.

As we look forward to Christ’s return we are also told that this will involve a blessing of eating with our Savior.

And the angel said to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.” And he said to me, “These are the true words of God.”  Revelation 19:9

Finally, Jesus promises, “If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.”  Every time we celebrate the Lord’s Supper we have the opportunity to commune with Jesus through the Breaking of Bread.

The title “Breaking of Bread” reminds us that the Lord’s Supper does not have to always be experienced as mournful, introspective or solemn.  It can be celebrated as a joyful remembrance of Christ’s resurrection appearances and our future heavenly meal as the bride of Christ!

Question:  Have you ever experienced communion as a joyful event or do you always see it as a solemn memorial?

by Jerry Wyrick, President of Worship Arts Conservatory

Posted in General Worship.