There is no explicit mention of how often the Eucharist was celebrated in the Bible.

What are the earliest historical documents that make reference to how often the Eucharist was celebrated?

1 Answer 1


The earliest indication may be in the Didache, typically dated at the end of the first century. It describes the celebration of the Lord's Supper in terms of the cup and breaking bread, and then says:

But every Lord's day gather yourselves together, and break bread, and give thanksgiving after having confessed your transgressions, that your sacrifice may be pure. (§14)

If this is a reference to the Eucharist, then we have evidence for weekly celebration less than 100 years after Christ's death.

In the middle of the 2nd century, Justin Martyr more clearly writes that the Lord's Supper is observed every week on Sunday:

And on the day called Sunday, all who live in cities or in the country gather together to one place, and the memoirs of the apostles or the writings of the prophets are read, as long as time permits; then, when the reader has ceased, the president verbally instructs, and exhorts to the imitation of these good things. Then we all rise together and pray, and, as we before said, when our prayer is ended, bread and wine and water are brought, and the president in like manner offers prayers and thanksgivings, according to his ability, and the people assent, saying Amen; and there is a distribution to each, and a participation of that over which thanks have been given, and to those who are absent a portion is sent by the deacons. (First Apology, §67; see also §65)

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    I get the impression that the Lord's Supper was originally observed every time a gathering ("where two or three gather in my name") of believers met. As Sunday became adopted as the standardized time to meet, it was most strongly associated with this day. Eventually, the ritual, since it was associated with the church, became less common in casual meetings. The Road to Emmaeus account may be an early evidence of this. Jul 15, 2016 at 16:52
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    Also, 1 Corinthians 11:17-34 strongly connects coming together to eat in general with the Lord's Supper. Jul 15, 2016 at 19:57
  • @called2voyage That's a distinct possibility, but if so the transition to weekly seems to have happened pretty quickly from what I can tell from the writings of the apostolic fathers. Jul 15, 2016 at 19:59
  • Well, given Paul's account there, it looks like it was already breaking down. They were not treating meals like the Lord's Supper. Jul 15, 2016 at 20:01
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    @eques v. 22 and v. 33 specifically state that if one is hungry, they should eat before coming together. That would be a rather odd command if this were referring to a feast rather than to the communion. Also, vv. 23-26 would seem very out-of-place in such an interpretation.
    – reirab
    Jul 15, 2016 at 22:38

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