During the Last Supper, when Jesus told his disciples to drink the wine because it was his blood. Which cup of wine was this? Was it the third cup, or was it the cup of Elijah (or one of the other cups) in the Passover Seder meal?

(Luke 22:20 and 1 Corinthians 11:25)

  • 4
    What is "the third cup," "the cup of Elijah", or any of the other cups?
    – Flimzy
    Commented Aug 26, 2011 at 19:28
  • 5
    @Flimsy - The Passover meal has 4 cups of wine that you drink in a particular order at a particular time. There is also a cup that is not drunken by anyone: the cup of Elijah. The meals Jews observe today are similar to the traditional meal during Jesus' time, so when the Bible says, "the cup" it's talking about a particular cup. Good question, Joel.
    – dleyva3
    Commented Aug 26, 2011 at 20:40
  • 2
    This question suggests the answer is "no", as perhaps the Last Supper was not the Passover at all...
    – Flimzy
    Commented Sep 25, 2011 at 20:33
  • 3
    The Last Supper was not the Passover seder, so none.
    – user900
    Commented Jan 13, 2013 at 19:31
  • @H3br3wHamm3r81 That is an interesting assurance as many elements of the sedar are present. Also the origins of the Seder are beleived to be a custom started around the time of Christ as a way of preserving the jewish Faith after the Romans concord Jerewsalem in 63BC. I am inclined for one to believe Christ was fallowing the traditions of his people as a faithful Jew, and bringing that ritual into the New Covenant, fullfilling it, and perfecting it all the while preserving the Isreal of God through the ritual established by the Rabbis. I say this without any assurance.
    – Marc
    Commented Apr 15, 2015 at 11:28

2 Answers 2


Per 1 Corinthians 11:25 (NIV)

25 In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.”

(emphasis added, obviously)

This seems to indicate that it was the third cup.

Here is a much larger article about it.

This is presuming that it was the Passover meal at all.

  • Excellent article, thanks for that resource.
    – Joel
    Commented Aug 30, 2011 at 21:39

Before answering which cup of the Passover Seder meal it was, we must establish there were "four cups" in the first place. And this is precluding the discussion that the Last Supper even was the Passover meal.

Historical accounts and archeological evidence points to the Seder not existing as we know it today before 70 CE, the destruction of the temple and the Diaspora of the Jews. Second Temple Jewish writers such as Josephus seem to be unaware of it.

...practically everything preserved in the early rabbinic traditions concerning the Passover Seder brings us back to the time immediately following the Roman destruction of the Temple in 70 C.E. It’s not that rabbinic literature cannot be trusted to tell us about history in the first century of the Common Era. It’s that rabbinic literature—in the case of the Seder—does not even claim to be telling us how the Seder was performed before the destruction of the Temple. 1

In an excellent summary on the (Origins of the Seder) 2, evidence is given of possible Greek banquet customs having an influence. On the cups:

According to the Mishnah (10:1), a person must drink four cups of wine at the Seder. The Greeks too drank many cups of wine at the symposium. Antiphanes (4th century B.C.E.) said that one should honor the gods to the extent of three cups of wine (Stein, p. 17).

So we see that even if there was a form of the Seder at the time of the Last Supper, there are no assurances of what the early traditions were. There could have been one, two, three, four or even more cups!

So what DO we know of the Last Supper?

Presumably, Jesus and his disciples would have visited the Temple to slaughter their Passover sacrifice. Then they would have consumed it along with unleavened bread and bitter herbs, as required by the Book of Exodus. And presumably they would have engaged in conversation pertinent to the occasion. But we cannot know for sure. 1

Exodus 12 gives us the elements of the lamb, the unleavened bread and the bitter herbs, so it is reasonable to conclude a Jewish Passover meal would include them somehow. Wine also would be the most common drink.

Given that the cups of wine are not part of the original elements of the meal and no evidence of them exist before the Diaspora, we cannot make any claims or conclusions on how the cup that Jesus passed would compare to our modern Seder traditions, even if it was the same meal.

  • This is not to say there are not a great number of symbols and parallels that Christians can point to in The Jewish Seder, just that the original Last Supper likely did not have most of them. Christ as our Passover lamb, the unleavened (sinless) bread and the wine his blood, was more than enough for the early church. (see Justin Martyr's Dialogue with Trypho chapters 40,111)
    – Joshua
    Commented Apr 3, 2016 at 3:31

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