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Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament [1]

(δεῖπνον,  1 Corinthians 11:20-21,  Revelation 19:9;  Revelation 19:17; cf.  Mark 6:21,  Luke 14:12;  Luke 14:16-17;  Luke 14:24,  John 12:2;  John 13:2;  John 13:4;  John 21:20)

Of the two principal daily meals common to the Jews in NT times, ‘supper’ was the more important. It was usually taken about sunset or shortly after ( Luke 14:12;  Luke 17:7-8). ‘Dinner’ (ἄριστον) was a lighter meal, being taken about noon or a little before. Prayer was offered before eating ( Acts 27:35,  Matthew 14:19;  Matthew 15:36,  Luke 9:16;  Luke 22:17,  John 6:11), and the hands were scrupulously washed ( Matthew 15:2), sometimes also the feet ( Luke 7:44).

There are really only two passages in apostolic history which fall within the scope of this article.

(1)  1 Corinthians 11:20-21, ‘When therefore ye assemble yourselves together, it is not possible to eat the Lord’s supper (κυριακὸν δεῖπνον): for in your eating each one taketh before other his own supper; and one is hungry, and another is drunken.’ This is the only passage in the entire NT which gives us the name ‘Lord’s supper,’ and even here the name is not to be restricted to the Eucharist (q.v.[Note: .v. quod vide, which see.]) alone, for at this time it was not dissociated from the love-feasts (q.v.[Note: .v. quod vide, which see.]) or Agapae (ἀγάπαι,  Judges 1:12; cf.  2 Peter 2:13 Revised Version) which preceded the ordinary evening services of the Church. Other passages of course refer to it, but not by name (cf.  1 Corinthians 10:16;  1 Corinthians 10:21). The emphasis of the passage is on ‘Lord’s.’ St. Paul is here rebuking the Corinthians concerning their manners and worship. In the first instance he reminds them of the unbecoming boldness of their women, who, taking advantage of the freedom allowed by the gospel, appear in public unveiled. Only harlots were accustomed to do so in Corinth; therefore let women take heed not to abuse their liberty in Christ. He next addresses himself to their selfish, greedy, haphazard, disgraceful, even scandalous conduct in eating their supper in the sanctuary. Originally it seems to have been their custom to come together on the first day of the week to break bread together ( Acts 20:7). The meal was what might be appropriately called a club or church supper, after which the religious service of worship took place. It was a kind of enlarged family meal (cf.  Acts 2:46), the object of which was primarily social. In keeping with Greek custom among certain gilds, each one brought with him his basket of provisions, and these were spread indiscriminately before, and partaken of by, the company present as a corporate body. But there had developed factions in the church at Corinth. A selfish spirit was manifesting itself. Instead of coming together as brethren in Christ, the worshippers came and hastily devoured that which they had brought themselves, not waiting to share it with the poor or others who had failed to supply themselves. The consequence was that social differences were accentuated, and the prayer of consecration was omitted. But, more shameful even than this, the indigent who had brought nothing had nothing wherewith to satisfy their hunger, while the rich ate and drank to satiety, becoming actually drunken. Such conduct was unbecoming in the Lord’s house and unfitted the worshippers to celebrate in any sense worthily the ‘Lord’s Supper.’ Against this manner of worship the Apostle vehemently protests. It was unbecoming for the followers or Christ: there was a want of love in the exercise; the corporate spirit was absent; the unity of the brotherhood was destroyed; and, consequently, the Corinthian Christians were rapidly becoming ‘weak and sickly’ in a spiritual sense ( 1 Corinthians 11:30). Not many years subsequently to this the Eucharist and the Agape were celebrated separately for the sake of greater decorum, until, finally, the latter so degenerated that it became extinct.

(2) The second passage contains a double picture: (a)  Revelation 19:9, ‘And he saith unto me, Write, Blessed are they which are bidden to the marriage supper of the Lamb.’ Here the bliss of the next world is depicted under the figure of a banquet. The Rabbis were accustomed to interpret  Exodus 24:11 to mean that the sight of God was like meat and drink to the beholders. Here it is the picture of a marriage-feast. The Lamb has come to claim His bride, who has long been betrothed and waiting for the bridegroom. It is a vision of the final consummation of the Kingdom, including the overthrow of the kings of the earth, the binding and loosing again of Satan, and general judgment. With this picture the climax is reached in the imagery of the book. But out of it grows another picture of very different hue: (b)  Revelation 19:17-18, ‘And I saw an angel standing in the sun; and he cried with a loud voice, saying to all the birds that fly in mid heaven, Come and be gathered together unto the great supper of God; that ye may eat the flesh of kings, and the flesh of captains, and the flesh of mighty men, and the flesh of horses and of them that sit thereon, and the flesh of all men, both free and bond, and small and great.’ This, then, is ‘the great supper of God,’ and the invitation is to the birds of prey. Most vividly the Apostle here sets forth the tragic contrast between the ‘marriage supper’ of the Lamb ( Revelation 19:9) and the destruction of the slain, on whose carcasses the birds shall feed. To be left unburied and devoured by birds of prey the Orientals considered the worst misfortune possible for the dead. For example, the most awful penalty that could possibly be inflicted on the opponents of Zoroastrianism is that their corpses should be given over to the ravens. The symbolism here, which seems to us crude and ghastly, is based on  Ezekiel 39:17-18, ‘Speak unto the birds of every sort, and to every beast of the field, Assemble yourselves, and come; gather yourselves on every side to my sacrifice … upon the mountains of Israel, that ye may eat flesh and drink blood,’ etc. But, in this vision of the Messiah’s final victory over His foes, it must be remembered that, though He is pictured as a silent and implacable conqueror, who has vanquished all His foes and disposed of them in huge masses, leaving them to their inexorable doom, yet He is not described as a merely human, vindictive conqueror. His garments are indeed sprinkled with blood, but it is His own blood, not that of others (v. 13); He smites the nations with a sword, but it is the sword of His Word which proceedeth out of His mouth; He has trodden the winepress of God’s wrath, but He has trodden it alone (v. 15; cf.  Isaiah 63:3); and He is not pictured as gloating over the torments of His enemies (cf.  Isaiah 66:24).

Literature.-Percy Gardner, The Origin of the Lord’s Supper, 1893; F. Schultzen, Das Abendmahl im NT, 1895; J. C. Lambert, The Sacraments in the NT, 1903; R. M. Adamson, The Christian Doctrine of the Lord’s Supper, 1905. Cf. the articles ‘supper,’ ‘Eucharist,’ ‘Lord’s Supper,’ ‘Meals’ in the various Bible Dictionaries and Religious Encyclopaedias, notably Hastings’, Piercy’s, Cheyne-Black’s, Herzog’s, the Standard, and the Temple. See, further, Literature under articleEucharist.

George L. Robinson.

Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary [2]

LORD'S, derives its name from having been instituted by Jesus, after he had supped with his Apostles, immediately before he went out to be delivered into the hands of his enemies. In Egypt, for every house of the children of Israel, a lamb was slain upon that night, when the Almighty punished the cruelty and obstinacy of the Egyptians by killing their first- born, but charged the destroying angel to pass over the houses upon which the blood of the lamb was sprinkled. This was the original sacrifice of the passover. In commemoration of it, the Jews observed the annual festival of the passover, when all the males of Judea assembled before the Lord in Jerusalem. A lamb was slain for every house, the representative of that whose blood had been sprinkled in the night of the escape from Egypt. After the blood was poured under the altar by the priests, the lambs were carried home to be eaten by the people in their tents or houses at a domestic feast, where every master of a family took the cup of thanksgiving, and gave thanks with his family to the God of Israel. Jesus having fulfilled the law of Moses, to which in all things he submitted, by eating the paschal supper with his disciples, proceeded after supper to institute a rite, which, to any person that reads the words of the institution without having formed a previous opinion upon the subject, will probably appear to have been intended by him as a memorial of that event which was to happen not many hours after. "He took bread, and gave thanks, and brake it, and gave it unto them, saying, This is my body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of me. Likewise also the cup after supper, saying This cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you,"

 Luke 22:19-20 . He took the bread which was then on the table, and the wine, of which some had been used in sending round the cup of thanksgiving; and by saying, "This is my body, this is my blood, do this in remembrance of me," he declared to his Apostles that this was the representation of his death by which he wished them to commemorate that event. The Apostle Paul, not having been present at the institution, received it by immediate revelation from the Lord Jesus; and the manner in which he delivers it to the Corinthians,  1 Corinthians 11:23-26 , implies that it was not a rite confined to the Apostles who were present when it was instituted, but that it was meant to be observed by all Christians till the end of the world. "As often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do show the Lord's death till he come." Whether we consider these words as part of the revelation made to St. Paul, or as his own commentary upon the nature of the ordinance which was revealed to him, they mark, with equal significancy and propriety, the extent and the perpetuity of the obligation to observe that rite which was first instituted in presence of the Apostles.

There is a striking correspondence between this view of the Lord's Supper, as a rite by which it was intended that all Christians should commemorate the death of Christ, and the circumstances attending the institution of the feast of the passover. Like the Jews, we have the original sacrifice: "Christ our passover is sacrificed for us," and by his substitution our souls are delivered from death. Like the Jews, we have a feast in which that sacrifice, and the deliverance purchased by it, are remembered. Hence the Lord's Supper was early called the eucharist, from its being said by St. Luke, "Jesus, when he took the bread, gave thanks;" and his disciples in all ages, when they receive the bread, keep a feast of thanksgiving. To Christians, as to Jews, there is "a night to be much observed unto the Lord," in all generations. To Christians, as to Jews, the manner of observing the night is appointed. To both it is accompanied with thanksgiving.

The Lord's Supper exhibits, by a significant action, the characteristical doctrine of the Christian faith, that the death of its author, which seemed to be the completion of the rage of his enemies, was a voluntary sacrifice, so efficacious as to supersede the necessity of every other; and that his blood was shed for the remission of sins. By partaking of this rite, his disciples publish an event most interesting to all the kindreds of the earth; they declare that, far from being ashamed of the suffering of their Master, they glory in his cross; and, while they thus perform the office implied in that expression of the Apostle, "Ye do show forth the Lord's death," they at the same time cherish the sentiments by which their religion ministers to their own consolation and improvement. They cannot remember the death of Christ, the circumstances which rendered that event necessary, the disinterested love and the exalted virtues of their deliverer, without feeling their obligations to him. Unless the vilest hypocrisy accompany an action, which, by its very nature, professes to flow from warm affection, the love of Christ will constrain them to fulfil the purposes of his death, by "living unto him who died for them;" and we have reason to hope, that, in the places where he causes his name to be remembered, he will come and bless his people. As the object of faith is thus explicitly set before them in every commemoration, so the renewed exercise of that faith, which the ordinance is designed to excite, must bring renewed life, and a deeper experience of the "great salvation." See Sacrament .

Vine's Expository Dictionary of NT Words [3]

1: Δεῖπνον (Strong'S #1173 — Noun Neuter — deipnon — dipe'-non )

denotes "a supper" or "feast" (for an analysis of the uses see Feast , No. 2). In   John 13:2 the RV, following certain texts, has "during supper" (AV, "supper being ended").

 Luke 22:20Sup.

Morrish Bible Dictionary [4]

In the East this is the chief meal of the day; it is enjoyed in the evening when the labours of the day are over and the partakers have only rest before them.  Mark 6:21;  John 12:2 . It is typical of the fulness of grace set forth in our Lord Jesus Christ, to enjoy which Israel were first invited, and afterwards the poor and outcast were compelled to come and taste in God's house.  Luke 14:16-24 . See Lord'S Supper The destruction of the two beasts and their armies is spoken of as providing a supper for the birds that fly in mid-heaven.  Revelation 19:17 .

Wilson's Dictionary of Bible Types [5]

 Luke 14:16 (b) It is used to represent the great variety of rich blessings which will become the heritage of the saints as they hear and heed the call of GOD, in Christ

 Revelation 19:9 (b) Here we see a picture of the times of refreshing and blessing which are in store in Heaven for all those who belong to the King of Kings.

 Revelation 19:17 (b) This is symbolic of the terrible destruction which awaits those who reject CHRIST, and who will be punished by GOD for their rebellion.

Webster's Dictionary [6]

(1): ( n.) A meal taken at the close of the day; the evening meal.

(2): ( v. i.) To take supper; to sup.

(3): ( v. t.) To supply with supper.

American Tract Society Bible Dictionary [7]

See Eating , and Lord'S Supper . For the suppers, or love feasts, which used to accompany the celebration of the Lord's supper, see Feasts .

Easton's Bible Dictionary [8]

 Mark 6:21 John 12:2 1 Corinthians 11:21

King James Dictionary [9]

SUP'PER, n. The evening meal. People who dine late, eat no supper. The dinner of fashionable people would be the supper of rustics.

Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible [10]

Supper . See Meals, 2  ; and for the ‘Last Supper’ see Eucharist.

Fausset's Bible Dictionary [11]

(See Meals .)

Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature [12]

Bibliography Information McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'Supper'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.