The Bread

Physical Bread

Bread as a food, essential to survival

By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” -- Genesis 3:19 (ESV)

So Abraham rose early in the morning and took bread and a skin of water and gave it to Hagar, putting it on her shoulder, along with the child, and sent her away. And she departed and wandered in the wilderness of Beersheba. -- Genesis 21:14 (ESV)

The seven years of plenty that occurred in the land of Egypt came to an end, and the seven years of famine began to come, ias Joseph had said. There was famine in all lands, but in all the land of Egypt there was bread. -- Genesis 41:48 (ESV)


Then the LORD said to Moses, “Behold, I am about to rain bread from heaven for you, and the people shall go out and gather a day’s portion every day, that I may test them, whether they will walk in My law or not. -- Exodus 16:4 (ESV)

And He humbled you and let you hunger and fed you with manna, which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that He might make you know that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD. -- Deuteronomy 8:3 (ESV)

Jesus quoted also this scripture when he was hungry:

And after fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry.

And the tempter came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.” But he answered, “It is written,

‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”

-- Matthew 4:1-4 (ESV)

Bread as part of communion

Jesus did not institute communion as a religious ceremony. Sharing bread and wine was a common way to fellowship long before Jesus was born. Melchizedek's fellowship (or had communion) with Abraham:

And Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine. (He was priest of God Most High.) And he blessed him. -- Genesis 14:16 (ESV)

Abraham also washed the LORD (or the angel of the LORD)'s feet like Jesus (John 13:1-5) and served them bread.

And the LORD appeared to him by the oaks of Mamre, as he sat at the door of his tent in the heat of the day. He lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, three men were standing in front of him. When he saw them, he ran from the tent door to meet them and bowed himself to the earth and said, “O Lord, if I have found favor in your sight, do not pass by your servant. Let a little water be brought, and wash your feet, and rest yourselves under the tree, while I bring a morsel of bread, that you may refresh yourselves, and after that you may pass on — since you have come to your servant.” -- Genesis 18:1-5 (ESV)

When the same 2 angels meet Lot, he did the same:

The two angels came to Sodom in the evening, and Lot was sitting in the gate of Sodom.

When Lot saw them, he rose to meet them and bowed himself with his face to the earth and said, “My lords, please turn aside to your servant’s house and spend the night and wash your feet. Then you may rise up early and go on your way.”
They said, “No; we will spend the night in the town square.”

But he pressed them strongly; so they turned aside to him and entered his house. And he made them a feast and baked unleavened bread, and they ate.

-- Genesis 19:1-3 (ESV)

The Levite and the old man:

And he lifted up his eyes and saw the traveler in the open square of the city.

And the old man said, “Where are you going? And where do you come from?”
And he said to him, “We are passing from Bethlehem in Judah to the remote parts of the hill country of Ephraim, from which I come. I went to Bethlehem in Judah, and I am going to the house of the LORD, but no one has taken me into his house. We have straw and feed for our donkeys, with bread and wine for me and your female servant and the young man with your servants. There is no lack of anything.”
And the old man said, “Peace be to you; I will care for all your wants. Only, do not spend the night in the square.”

So he brought him into his house and gave the donkeys feed. And they washed their feet, and ate and drank.

-- Judges 19:17-21 (ESV)

Ruth and Boaz:

And at mealtime Boaz said to her, “Come here and eat some bread and dip your morsel in the wine.”

So she sat beside the reapers, and he passed to her roasted grain. And she ate until she was satisfied, and she had some left over.

-- Ruth 2:14 (ESV)

Even the non-Jew believers in the New Testament considered "breaking of bread" as "the fellowship":

And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship to the breaking of bread and the prayers. -- Acts 2:42 (ESV)

Bread of the Presence

You shall make a table of acacia wood. Two cubits shall be its length, a cubit its breadth, and a cubit and a half its height. You shall overlay it with pure gold and make a molding of gold around it. And you shall make a rim around it a handbreadth wide, and a molding of gold around the rim. And you shall make for it four rings of gold, and fasten the rings to the four corners at its four legs. Close to the frame the rings shall lie, as holders for the poles to carry the table. You shall make the poles of acacia wood, and overlay them with gold, and the table shall be carried with these. And you shall make its plates and dishes for incense, and its flagons and bowls with which to pour drink offerings; you shall make them of pure gold.

And you shall set the bread of the Presence on the table before me regularly. -- Exodus 25:23-30 (ESV)

They shall be holy to their God and not profane the name of their God. For they offer the Lord’s food offerings, the bread of their God; therefore they shall be holy. -- Leviticus 21:6 (ESV)

Feast of unleavened bread

You shall keep the Feast of Unleavened Bread. Seven days you shall eat unleavened bread, as I commanded you, at the time appointed in the month Abib, for in the month Abib you came out from Egypt. -- Exodus 34:18 (ESV)

The LORD's Passover

Jesus was not instituting a new type of feast or sacrament like the "the Lord's Supper", "Holy Communion", "The Mass", "The Eucharist". He was simply celebrating passover with his disciples. The bread and wine symbols which was already common dates all the way back to the first passover

Then they shall take some of the blood and put it on the two doorposts and the lintel of the houses in which they eat it. They shall eat the flesh that night, roasted on the fire; with unleavened bread and bitter herbs they shall eat it. Do not eat any of it raw or boiled in water, but roasted, its head with its legs and its inner parts. And you shall let none of it remain until the morning; anything that remains until the morning you shall burn. In this manner you shall eat it: with your belt fastened, your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand. And you shall eat it in haste. It is the LORD’s Passover. -- Exodus 12:7-11 (ESV)

Note that "LORD" is written in capital letters which mean it was YHVH's feast. In other words, the feast was not Jesus' idea and the feast was already celebrated even before Jesus was born.

Now on the first day of Unleavened Bread the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Where will you have us prepare for you to eat the Passover?”
He said, “Go into the city to a certain man and say to him, ‘The Teacher says, My time is at hand. I will keep the Passover at your house with my disciples.’”

And the disciples did as Jesus had directed them, and they prepared the Passover.

When it was evening, he reclined at table with the twelve. And as they were eating...

-- Matthew 26:17-21 (ESV)

Then Jesus explained to his disciples what the already known and common symbols of the Passover meant:

Now as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and after blessing it broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, “Take, eat; this is my body.”
And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying, “Drink of it, all of you, for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.

-- Matthew 26:26-28 (ESV)

This means that as often as Jesus' disciples fellowship, they must remember:

  • that the bread symbolizes Jesus' body (fellowship) which is about sharing and caring
  • that the wine symbolizes that Jesus paid an expensive price with his blood to install a covenant "for the forgiveness of sins".

Symbolic Bread

Communion is wise

Wisdom has built her house;
she has hewn her seven pillars.
She has slaughtered her beasts;
she has mixed her wine;
she has also set her table.

She has sent out her young women to call from the highest places in the town,

“Whoever is simple, let him turn in here!”
To him who lacks sense she says, “Come, eat of my bread and drink of the wine I have mixed. Leave your simple ways, and live, and walk in the way of insight.”

-- Proverbs 9:1-6 (ESV)

This possibly also refers to communion where one ought to fellowship with God which is only possible by repentance of sin.

Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty concerning the body and blood of the Lord. Let a person examine himself, then, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. -- 1 Corinthians 11:27-28 (ESV)

In other words, communion is only possible if you do not offend God or fellow believers like the congregation of Corinthians did (1 Corinthians 11:33-34), but instead live in right standing with each other.

Unleavened bread

The unleavened bread is Jesus' body:

Now on the first day of Unleavened Bread... Now as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and after blessing it broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, “Take, eat; this is my body.” -- Matthew 26:17,26 (ESV)

Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you. -- John 6:27 (ESV)

Jesus then said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven, but my Father gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.”
They said to him, “Sir, give us this bread always.”
Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.”


Jesus answered them, “Do not grumble among yourselves. No one can come to me unless the Father Who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day.

It is written in the Prophets, ‘And they will all be taught by God.’

Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to me — not that anyone has seen the Father except he who is from God; he has seen the Father. Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes has eternal life. I am the bread of life. Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. This is the bread that comes down from heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. And the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.

The Jews then disputed among themselves, saying, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?”

So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him. As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever feeds on me, he also will live because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven, not like the bread the fathers ate, and died. Whoever feeds on this bread will live forever.

Jesus said these things in the synagogue, as he taught sat Capernaum.

When many of his disciples heard it, they said, “This is a hard saying; who can listen to it?” But Jesus, knowing in himself that his disciples were grumbling about this, said to them, “Do you take offense at this? Then what if you were to see the Son of Man ascending resurrected to where he was before? It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life.

-- John 6:32-35,43-63 (ESV)

Obviously Jesus was not encouraging cannibalism, so what did he mean?

  • Mystery: The Orthodox Christians belief that the Eucharist is literally the actual body of Christ in Holy Communion, but they cannot explain how it is possible as it is considered a mystery.
  • Doctrine of Transubstantiation: The Catholic Christians belief that the Eucharist literally transforms to the actual body of Christ in Holy Communion.
  • Doctrine of Consubstantiation: The Lutheran Christians belief that the Eucharist contains Jesus spiritual presence in/with/under the Eucharist.
  • Doctrine of the Spiritual Presence: The Anglican Christians also belief that the Eucharist is Jesus figuratively in the sense that when a believer eat the bread, he/she unite spiritually with Jesus.
  • Doctrine of the Sacramental Union: The Methodist Christians combines the views of the Spiritual Presence and Transubstantiation.
  • Doctrine of the Memorial View: The Reformed Christians belief that the bread is symbolic and only reminds us of the sacrifice Jesus made at his crucifixion.
  • Doctrine of Spiritual Sustenance: The Universal Unitarians belief that the bread is a symbol of the believers' strive to live moral and ethical so that they can become more like God.
  • Some Christian denominations, like the Quakers, belief that Jesus meant that the bread refers to Jesus' teachings (the word) and that one should study it daily as one would eat food (bread) daily to learn how to represent Jesus as his disciple.

Today, communion is considered to be just another religious ceremony where any kind of social interactivity is considered disrespectful. Sadly this resulted that Christians became strangers to each other.

However, Paul has a different theology:


In 1 Corinthians 10, Paul contrast the communion with pagan food sacrificed to idols with communion with bread and wine dedicated to Christ. In both cases the food did not transform to an idol or Christ. In both cases the focus was on the social fellowship with believers and their idol or God.

Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry. I speak as to sensible people; judge for yourselves what I say.

The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ?
The bread that we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ?

Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread.

Consider the people of Israel: are not those who eat the sacrifices participants in the altar? What do I imply then? That food offered to idols is anything, or that an idol is anything?

No, I imply that what pagans sacrifice they offer to demons and not to God. I do not want you to be participants with demons. You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons. You cannot partake of the table of the Lord and the table of demons.

Shall we provoke the Lord to jealousy? Are we stronger than He?

-- 1 Corinthians 10:14-22 (ESV)

When one eat or drink with other, you fellowship with those persons. This is the same reason why friend or lovers would go out on a date to eat or drink together. This is also the same reason why a spouse would be jealous when he/she finds his/her partner eating or drinking with someone else. Therefore, when we are having fellowship with pagans (eat and drink) we provoke the Lord to jealousy.

God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. -- 1 Corinthians 1:9 (ESV)

It was never about what we eat and what we drink, but about with whom we are having fellowship for what purpose.

Therefore let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink, or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath. These are a shadow of the things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ. Let no one disqualify you, insisting on asceticism and worship of angels, going on in detail about visions, puffed up without reason by his sensuous mind, and not holding fast to the Head, from whom the whole body, nourished and knit together through its joints and ligaments, grows with a growth that is from God. -- Colossians 2:16-19 (ESV)

In other words, believers (the body) need to fellowship with each other. Just as the body needs nourishment to stay alive, so does the believers. Just as the body take care of itself, so should believers feed and nourish each other.

In a practical sense the bread is considered the teachings of God which Christ testified because of the quote "they will all be taught by God" (John 6:45). However, the bread is much more than just "teachings", this may also include praying, encouragement, to rendering skilled services or providing resources like physical food, clothes, money, shelter, or anything else that we need in this world to survive and grow and build eternal relationships.

Normal everyday services like feeding, hospitality, caring and visiting are very important to Jesus as written by Matthew:

“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne.

Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left.

Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For

  • I was hungry and you gave me food,
  • I was thirsty and you gave me drink,
  • I was a stranger and you welcomed me,
  • I was naked and you clothed me,
  • I was sick and you visited me,
  • I was in prison and you came to me.’

Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’

And the King will answer them, Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’”

-- Matthew 25:31-40 (ESV)

Paul also wrote that the body should do more than just "teaching" each other:

For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them:

  • if prophecy, in proportion to our faith;
  • if service, in our serving;
  • the one who teaches, in his teaching;
  • the one who exhorts, in his exhortation;
  • the one who contributes, in generosity;
  • the one who leads, with zeal;
  • the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness.

-- Romans 12:4-8 (ESV)

For example:

And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship to the breaking of bread and the prayers. And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. And all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved. Acts 2:42-47 (ESV)

Leavened bread

In contrast to the Unleavend bread, there also exist a "body" of "Leavened bread":

Jesus said to them, "How is it that you fail to understand that I did not speak about bread? Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees." -- Matthew 16:11 (ESV)

Leavened bread is puffed up and associated with pride which is sin:

Your boasting is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump?
Cleanse out the old leaven that you may be a new lump, as you really are unleavened. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. Let us therefore celebrate the festival, not with the old leaven, the leaven of malice and evil, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.

-- 1 Corinthians 5:6-8 (ESV)

In other words the Pharisees and Sadducees are considered congregations of pride scholars competing for selfish gain, while the body of Christ is supposed to serve in humility.