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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?

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Sanitation. That's all. Also, most Protestants do not see it as the blood of Christ--just a symbol of that. –  Narnian Apr 10 at 16:40
    
Why did the RCC withhold the cup altogether for 400 or so years? –  david brainerd Apr 11 at 7:52
    
@davidbrainerd Is that a question you can link to? What are you referring to? –  fredsbend Oct 13 at 18:59

3 Answers 3

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.

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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 at 16:40
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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 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 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.

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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.

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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 at 9:32
    
As you wish, that seems to be the norm. –  V. Rollins Apr 13 at 12:27

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