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The Seudah (communion) - Passover Fulfilled

By Elie Nessim, July 9, 2001 Printer Friendly Version



Do this in remembrance of Me.
SCRIPTURE EVIDENCE

The Se’udah is directly derived from Passover, and was instituted by Messiah Yeshua.  He took that part of the Seder following the Passover meal, and gave new meaning to the Aphikomen(the matza) and the cup of Blessing (the third cup).

  • MATTHEW 26:26-30 - Messiah instituted the Se’udah.  Significantly, He did not refer to the flesh of the lamb, but to the matza as a symbol of His body given for us.  Hence it was not the Passover as such that He used in inaugurating the Se’udah, but an adaption of part of the ceremony.
  • MARK 14: 22-26 - The same account is repeated.  Just as the blood of the Passover lamb signified redemption by blood under the First Covenant, so the wine signifies redemption by Messiah’s blood under the Second.
  • LUKE 22: 19-20 - The matza and the wine are made the symbols of Messiah’s body and blood, not those of the Passover Lamb.
  • JOHN 6:51-59 - Messiah Yeshua used the figure of eating His flesh and drinking His blood to illustrate what it means to live in spiritual union with Himself.

In all these passages, He made it clear that the true spiritual meaning of Passover is found in Him as the Antitype(the Fulfiller of the type).  When He said ‘Do this in remembrance of Me’ He was referring to the Se’udah, not the whole Seder.  Following His resurrection and ascension, the earliest believers gathered regularly to celebrate Se’udah and to share a meal together.  Both are referred to as the ‘breaking of bread’; in the following passages, Scripture is careful to distinguish between the two:

  • ACTS 2:41-47 - The Se’udah is mentioned in verse 42 in the context of worship, together with doctrine, spiritual fellowship, and prayers.  Following their times of worship described in verse 46, they shared a meal together.  Both were regular events.
  • ACTS 20:6-12 - Following the celebration of Passover, Shaul arrived in Troas and joined the disciples in their breaking of bread service on the first day of the week.  Following his teaching, they all broke bread and then had a meal; the two events are recorded in verse 11, and are distinct from each other . If otherwise, Scripture would be speaking twice in one verse of the same thing.  Following the service and meal, Shaul discoursed further with the disciples.  There were also warnings about improper observance of the Se’udah, just as there were warnings regarding the misuse of the Passover (e.g. Exodus 12:18-20).
  • 1 CORINTHIANS 5:6-8 - Messiah is our Passover; we celebrate the Feast spiritually by feeding in faith on Him and by ridding ourselves of spiritual leaven(guile).  We are compared to unleavened dough in this passage.
  • 1 CORINTHIANS 11:20:26 - In Corinth, the fellowship meal was in danger of becoming the main event, upstaging or overshadowing the Se’udah.  The words: as often as, repeated for emphasis, indicate a frequent celebration of the Se’udah at full gatherings(verse 20).

Summarizing all the above texts, while the literal Passover ceremony was observed once a year, the spiritual counterpart(the Se’udah) is often observed. Just as the Passover ceremony differed from the inaugural one in Egypt, so our observance of the Se’udah differs from the inaugural one in the Upper Room.  There is thus a similarity as to the substance, but a dissimilarity in the observance.

HISTORICAL EVIDENCE

Dr. Ray Pritz in his study of the earliest Jewish believers, entitled Nazarene Jewish Christianity, describes Messianic beliefs and practices from the second temple period until their disappearance in the Fourth Century.  He writes(page 109), ‘The Nazarenes, as Jews, continued to observe certain aspects of Mosaic Law, including circumcision and the Sabbath, and it was this which brought about their exclusion from the Church.’ The historian Pliny the Younger, who wrote in the first century C.E. described the practices of Jewish and gentile believers in Pontus and Bithynia.  Amongst other matters, he mentions their habit of meeting before daybreak to worship and to break bread.

TYPE AND FULFILMENT

Messiah chose the matza not the lamb, as the type of His body given for us.  This is in keeping with His declaration that He is the Bread of Life.  Under the First covenant, the weekly shewbread was the symbol of this Bread.  Every Sabbath it was renewed, and the replaced loaves were eaten by the priests.  As they partook weekly of it, so may we partake weekly of Messiah in the Se’udah, although we may choose the frequency of the Se’udah.  Passover is the anniversary of three events: the Akkedah in Genesis 22, the Exodus in Exodus 12, and the Last Supper in the Brit HaChadasha.  The themes are Sacrifice and Redemption.  The type leads to the Antitype (see 1 Corinthians 15:46-49).....

A final word:  If centuries later an idolatrous church misappropriated and misused the Se’udah shall we renounce its regular celebration?  Shall we refuse to eat that which is good because sinful men spoil it?




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