Take the 2-minute tour ×
Christianity Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for committed Christians, experts in Christianity and those interested in learning more. It's 100% free, no registration required.

A related question asks about Catholic practice (of using a common cup).

In some Protestant Churches — I’ve experienced this myself in both Baptist and Free Churches — the wine at the Communion service is poured into small glasses and distributed amongst the congregation. Everyone drinks their glass at the same time.

The Biblical account tells us that Jesus used a single cup at the Last Supper. While it seems many Protestant Churches attach paramount importance to the Biblical account, why do they not follow suit in using a common cup?

share|improve this question
2  
Sanitation. That's all. Also, most Protestants do not see it as the blood of Christ--just a symbol of that. –  Narnian Apr 10 '14 at 16:40
    
Why did the RCC withhold the cup altogether for 400 or so years? –  david brainerd Apr 11 '14 at 7:52
    
@davidbrainerd Is that a question you can link to? What are you referring to? –  fredsbend Oct 13 '14 at 18:59
    
In our church, communion is seen primarily as an opportunity to hang out with friends and give thanks in prayer. The bread and wine is symbolic anyway and just a way of setting this apart from any other meal we might share, so its unimportant how it is served or whether anyone takes part in it. One guy has a gluten allergy so doesn't eat the bread, several people don't drink so they have water. I used to hate wine so I'd have a beer. The communion with God and each other is just a lot more important than the ritual attached to it. –  Jason Bray Jan 6 at 15:10
    
Please explain why you call it the blood of Christ in the title but not in the question. –  curiousdannii Jan 6 at 22:01

5 Answers 5

The practice originated sometime during the Second World War. It is designed to avoid spreading germs or other contagious diseases.

Although it certainly unscriptural (i.e., not the way it was done in the Bible) it is an accommodation to modern health practices.

share|improve this answer
3  
And we could suggest that using a common cup is not biblical, just traditional. The Bible does not specify that one cup MUST be used. –  Narnian Apr 10 '14 at 16:40
2  
It's 'unscriptural' only in the same sense that wearing pants is unscriptural - i.e. they tended not to do it two thousand years ago. –  DJClayworth Apr 10 '14 at 18:50
    
Read the writings of William Tyndale. He advocated the use of multiple cups in the 1500s. However, it doesn't seem to have caught on until the 1900s. –  david brainerd Apr 11 '14 at 7:52

The real reason for the practice is sanitation concerns. But it has often been justified in the following way: Although the Biblical accounts sound like everyone was drinking directly from one cup, there is a belief that this was not the case due to Jewish traditions about Passover. The Jews are said to require everyone to bring their own cup to the Passover. So the thinking is that Jesus took one cup, blessed it, and then poured it into each apostles' cup.

share|improve this answer
    
Of course, from the other side, it can be said that Jesus was not so in to Jewish tradition, so why not take the text to mean what it literally seems to imply, i.e. that the disciples all drank from one cup... –  david brainerd Jan 7 at 5:02

Because they want to.

As stated already in other answers, they may use more than one cup for sanitary or efficiency purposes. But the real answer is that the issue of whether or not the communion liquid* is distributed in one vessel or several is a non-doctrinal, purely preferential issue with most Protestants. Jesus may have used one cup, but most Protestants don't believe this was meant to be a strict representation of how the Lord's Supper must be performed.


Personal Anecdote: I grew up in a church body that used little plastic cups. We probably did that because it would have taken forever to get everyone through a line to one liquid source. I'm in a church body now that does communion in smaller groups, so we each break off a piece of bread and dip it in one cup of wine. To Protestants it's just a matter of preference.

*Protestants don't believe it's literally Christ's blood. They believe it's just juice/wine that is meant to be symbolic.

share|improve this answer

Luke 22;11,15,17,19,20

11 And ye shall say unto the goodman of the house, The Master saith unto thee, Where is the guestchamber, where I shall eat the passover with my disciples?

15 And he said unto them, With desire I have desired to eat this passover with you before I suffer:

17 And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and said, Take this and divide it among yourselves:

19 And he took bread, and gave thanks, and brake it, and gave unto them saying, This is my body which is given for you: this do in rememberance of me.

20 Likewise also the cup after supper, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you.

I believe verse 17 answers the question, apparently they were told to divide what they were given.

share|improve this answer
1  
Hmm. That hinges on the translation of a single word διαμερισατε, which could easily be translated as share among rather than divide among; and I counter that passage with Mark 14:23, where they all drank of a single cup. –  Andrew Leach Apr 13 '14 at 9:32
    
As you wish, that seems to be the norm. –  V. Rollins Apr 13 '14 at 12:27

In majority of Protestants Churches they pray to Bless the Wine and the Bread before take the Supper and before to divide It into individual Cups, so there is not need to take the Supper in the same Cup, because now the Wine is the Holy Blood and the Bread is the Holy Body.

share|improve this answer
    
Note: Sorry for my English is too poor. –  MelgoV Jan 6 at 16:17
1  
I believe there are at least two factual errors here. First, the number of Protestants that pray over the cup before dividing it into servings is not a "majority". Likewise Protestants don't tend to believe the wine/bread becomes anything different than what is was as a result of the prayer. So while this sounds like a plausible theory, I don't think this accurately represents Protestant doctrine. –  Caleb Jan 6 at 16:56

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.