Who is permitted to oversee the Lord's Supper?
The Lord's Supper (also called Communion or the Eucharist) was instituted by Jesus Christ on the night of His arrest as a practice to be observed by all Christians. In addition to the teachings of Jesus included in the four Gospels, Paul spoke about the Lord's Supper in 1 Corinthians 11:23-26.
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In these passages, there is no direct mention regarding who can oversee or distribute Communion in the church. In a large church such as the first church in Jerusalem (with more than 3,000 people; Acts 2:41, 47), many people were likely involved in overseeing the Lord's Supper.
However, certain guidelines emerge through a close look at Scripture. First, the Lord's Supper should clearly be led by people who are Christians. Non-Christians are not part of the biblical practice of the Lord's Supper.
Second, church leaders would have been highly involved in the Lord's Supper. The apostles would have been the first church leaders to continue the practice. Soon, other leaders would have been required, perhaps including the seven leaders mentioned in Acts 6.
Third, local church leaders are involved in the decision making about the Lord's Supper. In other words, if your particular local church only allows elders or deacons to distribute the Lord's Supper during services, members should be respectful of this decision.
Beyond these guidelines, little emphasis is given in Scripture about the person who oversees the Lord's Supper. In fact, the emphasis in Scripture is often more on the attitude in which the Lord's Supper is taken and observed. In his teaching in 1 Corinthians 11, Paul wrote about taking the Lord's Supper in a worthy manner and that believers were to examine themselves before participating.
The Lord's Supper is a key part of the church's life. Believers are to participate responsibly, reflecting on one's life, the Lord's grace, and as an act of worship. When believers gather and partake in the Lord's Supper in this way, they truly do so "in remembrance of Me" as Jesus originally taught. As the apostle Paul said, "For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes" (1 Corinthians 11:26).
What is the significance of the Lord's Supper?
What is the biblical frequency of Communion?
Is Communion supposed to be open or closed?
Is it okay for Christians to celebrate Communion outside of church?
What is the breaking of bread that the Bible talks about?
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