Why is it that many denominations partake of leavened bread and wine during the Lord's Supper when the bread and wine of the original Supper was unleavened? The Passover coincides with the start of the Feast of Unleavened Bread.

  • 1
    I've been to many different Churches from many denominations and almost all use unleavened bread, unleavened wafers, or saltine crackers without the salt. Why do you believe that "most denominations" use leavened bread? Can you provide a list of denominations that use leavened bread? (As for the wine, I see your point. But more than half the denominations I'm familiar with use grape juice instead of wine because of the fermentation and the belief that fermentation of wine is no different than leavening of bread.) Commented Dec 10, 2012 at 13:04
  • David Stratton is, however, correct, most Protestant denominations don't use leavened bread, or if they do, it is out of ignorance, not theology. Commented Dec 10, 2012 at 13:30
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    At least some Presbyterians use leavened bread--two PCUSA churches did while I was there and on PCA church did sometimes (my current PCA church does not--and provides grape juice as an option "for reasons of conscience or health"); Presbyterian elders generally are not ignorant on basic theology. My guess would be cultural familiarity--identification of what is bread--is a factor but convenience may be a factor. For a display (not distributed) loaf, unleavened bread might be more easily visible. For intincture, leavened bread provides a better 'cup'--though that seems a trivial factor.
    – user3331
    Commented Dec 10, 2012 at 13:58
  • That should be "leavened bread might be more easily visible".
    – user3331
    Commented Dec 10, 2012 at 14:08
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    The Last Supper was not the Passover seder. Now, since the Last Supper occurred during Chag ha-Matzot, and thus no leaven could have been in the homes of Jews, we could likely assume that yes, the bread used during the Last Supper was unleavened. So, to your question, I say, it is indeed a good one.
    – user900
    Commented Dec 16, 2012 at 2:09

2 Answers 2


Theologically, Episcopalians liken the leaven to the power of the Holy Spirit giving lift and rise to the loaf. As an Episcopalian myself, however, my pragmatic analysis is that this is primarily because they like the taste better (silly 'Episcopalians). I, too, however dislike the symbolism, because in my mind, leaven is associated with sin.

  • 1
    In the Apostle Paul's mind as well: 1 Corinthians 5:6-8 (e.g., "yeast of malice and wickedness" [NIV]).
    – user3331
    Commented Dec 10, 2012 at 14:03
  • Yeast is also associated with the Kingdom of God (Matthew 13:33)
    – neil
    Commented May 14, 2013 at 23:06
  • I can give strong argument that baking power isn't leaven.
    – Joshua
    Commented Jun 26, 2017 at 20:39

I don't remember details, but Benedict XVI in his Jesus of Nazareth, volume 2 discussed when did the Last Supper happen and concluded that it's more likely that it has been a day before the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread. I don't remember the places in Bible supporting it (and in fact I would rather wait a week before I can re-read the chapter 5 in Jesus of Nazareth for all the reasoning), but Kaiphas wanted to kill Jesus before the feast. There is a tradition (I think it's rooted in Bible but I'm not sure how firmly) that Jesus died in the same hour when the Passover lambs were killed. Also, Joseph of Arimatia hurried with the burial of Jesus "because it was the Jewish day of Preparation" (John 19:42), which makes more sense if the Passover was on Saturday. John's term of Last Supper ("It was just before the Passover Festival." - John 13:1) that the Last Supper was before Passover.

The point is that it's not so clear that Jesus celebrated the Last Supper with unleavened breads. I'll add some more reasoning when I get home and remind what Ratzinger/Benedict XVI writes in Jesus of Nazareth.

Thomas Aquinas in Contra Errores Graecorum (almost in the end) cites some suspicious source claiming to be Pope Gregory saying: “The Roman Church offers unleavened bread because the Word of the Father took flesh without any carnal conmingling; but other Churches offer leavened bread because the Word of the Father is clothed with flesh and is true God and true man. So, also, yeast is mixed with flour and this becomes the true body of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

  • Yes, Benedict XVI opined that John's timeline, as is typically understood (before Passover), is probably the correct one. If one knows some history about this controversy, one would know Pope Leo the Great "rolled over in his grave" at this. Leo asked (to paraphrase) c455 CE how could Mark (Peter's associate) teach one thing in Alexandria, while Peter taught another at Rome? Rome taught (and still does typiclly) that it was a Passover (unleavened bread used).
    – SLM
    Commented Jun 16, 2017 at 17:12

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