by Jerry Shugart

V. The Lord's Supper

Let us first look at these words of the Lord Jesus where He connects the "cup" to His "blood" or death:

"Then he took a cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, and they all drank from it. 'This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many,' he said to them" (Mk.14:23-24).

Here we can understand that when the Lord Jesus speaks of drinking the "cup" He is speaking of what the cup symbolizes. In this case the cup symbolized the "blood of the covenant." Now let us look at what the cup refers to in the following verse:

"In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, 'This cup is the new covenant (diatheke) in my blood, which is poured out for you'"(Lk.22:20: NIV).

Here we can understand that the cup symbolizes the New Covenant (diatheke, the promissory disposition of Jeremiah 31:31) and the words "in my blood" speak of the fact that it was to be the Lord's death which would inaugurate the New Diatheke promised to Israel.

Therefore, according to His symbolic language the Lord Jesus was saying that upon His death those who drank of the "cup" which represented the New Diatheke promised to Israel would partake of that New Diatheke. On the day of Pentecost the Jewish believers were receiving the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, which was the first stage in the fulfillment of the New Diatheke promised to Israel.

Delay of the Fulfillment of Israel's New Diatheke

Robert B. Chisholm, Jr, Professor of Old Testament studies at Dallas Theological Seminary, recognizes the fact that on the day of Pentecost the coming of the Millennium remained in view:

"When he (Peter) observed the outpouring of the Spirit on the day of Pentecost he rightly viewed it as the first stage in the fulfillment of Joel's prophecy. Apparently he believed that the kingdom was then being offered to Israel and that the outpouring of the Holy Spirit signaled the coming of the Millennium. However, the complete fulfillment of the prophecy (with respect to both the extent of the Spirit's work and the other details) was delayed because of the Jewish unbelief" [emphasis added] (The Bible Knowledge Commentary; Old Testament, ed. Walvoord & Zuck [Colorado Springs: Chariot Victor Press, 1985], 1421).

Robert L. Saucy recognizes the fact that the New Covenant will be fulfilled in the Millennium, writing that "the connection between the new covenant and the kingdom is evident in Jesus' teaching that his work, which throughout Scripture is intimately identified with the coming of the kingdom, is also the fulfillment of the new covenant. In fact, Jesus expressly tied the fulfillment of the Passover, which he celebrated with his disciples, to the coming of the kingdom of God (Lk 22:16, 18; cf. Mt 26:29; Mk 14:25)" [emphasis added] (Saucy, The Case For Progressive Dispensationalism [Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1993], 133).

Saucy correctly notes that the Lord Jesus' words in the upper room tied the fulfillment of Israel's New Diatheke to the earthly kingdom:

"...for this is My blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for forgiveness of sins. But I say to you, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in My Father's kingdom" (Mt.26:28-29).

The New Diatheke is the Lord's Last Will and Testament

It was only later after Paul was converted that an understanding of the meaning of the significance of the Lord's Supper for the present dispensation was given. Evidently Paul received a special revelation ("I have received of the Lord...") about the meaning of the Lord's Supper which is not related to the kingdom:

"For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord's death till he come" (1 Cor.11:26).

Paul specifically ties communion to the Lord's return to the rapture and not to the kingdom--"ye do shew the Lord's death till he come." The fulfillment of the New Covenant was delayed due to Jewish unbelief and Paul no longer connects the memorial of the Lord's Supper to the kingdom. Instead he connects it to the rapture. Therefore, when Paul quoted Luke 22:20 he obviously placed a different meaning on the Greek word diatheke:

"After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, this cup is the new testament (diatheke) in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me. For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord's death till he come" (1 Cor.11:25-26; KJV).

This speaks of a commemoration of the Lord Jesus' death spoken of in His Last Will and Testament, the gospel - "justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus."

In his commentary on Paul's words at 1 Corinthians 11:25 A.R. Fausset applies Paul's words to the Lord Jesus' Last Will and Testament:

"the new testament--or 'covenant.' The cup is the parchment-deed, as it were, on which My new covenant, or last will is written and sealed, making over to you all blessings here and hereafter" [emphasis mine] (Jamieson, Fausset and Brown, Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible, Commentary on 1 Corinthians 11).

"Type" and "Antitype"

Next, we will see that there is a definite typological correspondance between the New Diatheke promised to national Israel and the New Diatheke which is in operation today. The Scriptures reveal that God will employ a diatheke (A Promissory Disposition) as the instrument by which national Israel will receive her blessings and this principle illustrates or pictures the way that individuals are now being blessed--through the instrumentality of a diatheke (Last Will and Testament).

Some of the earlier Traditional Dispensationalists saw a typical relationship between the two. In his book Progressive Dispensationalism Craig A. Blaising points out that C.I. Scofield taught that the blessing of the Spirit under Israel's New Covenant "typified" the blessing of the Spirit that is in regard to the Body of Christ: "Scofield...interpreted the New Covenant in the same manner as he did the Abrahamic covenant: literally it had to do with God's earthly plan for Israel; spiritually it revealed God's spiritual plan for the church (the blessing of the Spirit for Israel in Ezekiel 36 typified the church's blessing of the Spirit)..." [emphasis added] (Blaising & Bock, Progressive Dispensationalism [Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 1993], pp.28-29).

Blaising continues, stating that "Classical dispensationalists believed that the biblical covenants would be fulfilled for earthly people in the Millennium and eternal state. Since the covenants did not concern heavenly people (except in a typological or spiritual sense) it was not proper to say that they were being fulfilled in the present dispensation (except in a spiritual or typological manner)" [emphasis added] (Ibid., pp.29-30).

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