Events of the Paschal Supper

As the disciples are about to take their places at Luke xxii. 24-30. the table, Jesus observes a strife among them for

precedency and seats of honor. To rebuke them, He John xiii. 2-20.

arose and girded Himself, and proceeded to wash their Luke xxii. 15-18.

feet. Afterward, while they were eating, He declares Matt. xxvi. 20-24.

that one of them should betray Him. The declara- Mark xiv. 18-21.

tion creates great excitement among the apostles, Luke xxii. 21-23.

and they begin to ask anxiously, Is it I? The Lord John xiii. 21, 22. describes the traitor as one that was eating with Him,

but without designating him further. Peter makes a John xiii. 23-30. sign to John to ask Him who it was, which he does, and Jesus gives him privately a sign; and dipping

the sop, gives it to Judas, who asks, Is it I ? Jesus Matt. xxvi. 25. answers him affirmatively, and he immediately goes

out, to the surprise of those apostles who do not un- Matt. xxvi. 26-29.

derstand the cause. After the departure of Judas, Mark xiv. 22-25.

the Lord proceeds to the institution of the eucharistic Luke xxii. 19, 20. supper.

It is very difficult to arrange the events of this supper in a chronological order, as no one of the Evangelists has so narrated them. There are four points that especially demand our attention : the strife for precedency; the washing of the disciples' feet; the announcement of Judas' treachery and his departure ; and the institution of the eucharist.

Luke alone mentions that there was "a strife among them, which of them should be accounted greatest." When during the supper did this occur? This Evangelist narrates in the following order : first the Passover and institution of the Lord's supper; second, the announcement of

Judas' treachery ; third, the strife for precedency. Many of the earlier harmonists follow this order as the chronological one, and some of the moderns.1 But this has great intrinsic difficulties. It is scarce possible that, after the discovery of the treason of Judas, and with the solemn impression which the Lord's words respecting the traitor must have made upon them, and after they had eaten His sacred supper, any such strife could have occurred. And the improbability is increased if, before this, He had taught them Immility by washing their feet. Upon these grounds most affirm that Luke's order is not chronological.2 Shall we then place the strife at the beginning of the feast ? This is most probable; though some, as Calvin, would 'identify it with the incident mentioned in Matt. xx. 24, and suppose it related here out of its place. The strife may have arisen respecting their places at the table, each wishing to be as near the Lord as possible ; the degree of nearness being an index of rank in the future kingdom.3

Luke does not mention the feet washing, nor John this strife; but the two accounts combined form a consistent whole. The Lord, after rebuking the disciples in words, proceeds to teach them in a symbolic manner in what their real greatness should consist, by girding Himself, and taking a towel to wash their feet. Both events are thus to be placed at the beginning of the feast. Some, however, would place the washing of the feet at the close of the sup. per, and this has a seeming support in our English version, John xiii. 2 : " And supper being ended, He riseth," &c.

1 Patritius, Alford. » Calvin, Nevrcome, Ebrard, Oosterzee.

3 Lightfoot supposes the strife to have been between Peter, James, and John, and that Peter began it. As to the degrees of honor attached to the various places at the table, see Becker's Callus, Eng. trans., 472.

* The text is disputed. The received text is 5et7rvou yevofxevov j so Alford. Tischendorf has yivofAf-vov; so Meyer. It is rendered by Norton, " during supper;" by Campbell, " while they were at supper;" by Alford, " supper being prepared, or going on."

There can be little doubt that the commencement of the meal is meant. Some, however, would put the feet washing at the close of the paschal supper, and before the eucharistic supper; and others still after the eucharist. That it was at the close of the meal is affirmed by Thomson, (i. 183,) on the ground of oriental usage, it being customary to wash the hands and mouth after eating. " The pitcher and ewer are always brought, and the servant, with a napkin over his shoulder, pours water on your hands. If there is no servant, they perform this office for one another." In this case, however, Jesus must have washed both hands and feet; but it is plain from Peter's words, (v. 9, compare v. 5,) that He washed their feet only. It has been said that washing of the feet before a meal was an act of customary cleanliness, and that, no servant being present to perform it, each shrank from doing it, as implying inferiority.1 The references, however, to the Old Testament show only that it was customary to wash the feet after a journey, and not always before a meal. The hands were usually washed three times during the paschal supper: after the first cup of wine; after the bitter herbs and the second cup; and after the eating of the lamb. It is possible that the feet were washed after the first cup, (Luke xxii. 17.)

It does not appear with what disciple the Lord began the feet washing. " If He did observe any order," says Lightfoot, "He began with Peter, who sat in the next place immediately to Himself." This commentator supposes that He washed the feet of Peter, James, and John only, thus avoiding the washing of Judas. Chrysostom affirms that He began with Judas; Greswell that He began with Peter and ended with Judas. It seems evident from vs. 5 and 6 that Peter was not the first, and from vs. 10 and 11 that the feet of Judas were washed,

1 Bengel, Ebrard, Da Costa.

Some have found proof that this was not the paschal supper in the fact that Jesus " sat down with the Twelve," and did not eat standing, as directed, (Exod. xii. 11.) Calvin, who regarded this command as binding, supposes, therefore, that He ate the Passover standing, and afterward sat down. But, as there is no doubt that the Jews generally sat at this feast, either because this was the posture of freemen, or because they regarded the command of Moses as limited to its first observance, there is no good reason why He should not have followed the general custom.1

The third point is the announcement by the Lord of the treachery of Judas, and the departure of the traitor. In His reply to Peter, (John xiii. 10,) He had said, "Ye are clean, but not all." Probably no one then knew the meaning of these words but Judas. Afterward, v. 18, He spoke more openly; still His words do not seem to have made any special impression upon their minds. He, therefore, soon after declares in plain words that one of them should betray Him, (Matt. xxvi. 21 ; Mark xiv. 18 ; John xiii. 21.) This at once attracts their deepest attention, and they all begin to ask Him, " Lord, is it I ? " In reply, He says that it is one of the Twelve, and one who was then eating with Him, (Matt. xxvi. 23 ; Mark xiv. 20 ; Luke xxii. 21.) In this designation of the traitor, He does not seem to refer to any present act of eating, but to the fact that he was sitting and partaking with Him at the same table. From these words, therefore, the apostles could not tell which of them was meant.2 It is to the fulfilment of the prophecy (Ps. xli. 9) that He has special reference : " Yea, mine own familiar friend, in whom I trusted, which did eat of my bread, hath lifted up his heel against me." (See John xiii. 18.) This prophecy was now finding its accomplishment in one sitting and eating at the same table with Him.

1 As to the early customs of the Jews in this respect, see Bynaeus, i. 204.

2 Some would render Matt. xxvi. 23: "He that dippeth his hand," "He that has dipped his hand." So Meyer, Conant.

The same truth is expressed by Luke : " Behold, the hand of him that betrayeth me is with me on the table.' Some, however, find in the language of Mark, xiv. 20 " One of the Twelve that dippeth with me in the dish," i specific designation of Judas. " The expression seems tc describe the traitor as particularly near to Christ at table and in some peculiar sense partaking wTith Him." ] It h possible that Judas may have been sitting near to Jesus, and both have dipped in the same dish; but, if so, it is plain that the others did not yet know who was meant.

At this point, when all had doubtless suspended eating, and their anxiety was at its height, and all were looking upon one another, doubting of whom He spake, and asking, Is it I ? Peter beckons to John to ask Him who it was.1 To John's question, "Lord, who is it?" which, probably from his position as lying on Jesus' breast, was unheard bj the others, He replied, " He it is to whom I shall give i sop when I have dipped it." 3 It is not probable that this reply was heard by any one but John. Taking a piece of the bread and dipping it in the broth, He gives it to Judas, and thus he is revealed as the traitor to John, but to none of the others. It may be that, on receiving the sop, Judas saw that his treachery was known not only to Jesus but also to John ; and, knowing that all longer concealment is useless, he now asks, as the rest had done, but mockingly, "Lord, is it I?" (Matt. xxvi. 25.) To his question the

Lord replies, " Thou hast said," or in other words, Thou art the man.

1 Alexander in loco ; Meyer.

2 The text, as given by Teschendorf, (John xiii. 24,) makes the question to have been addressed by Peter to John, pevet ovv rovr(p ^.ifxav Ilerpos Kcli \cyei avT<t>f Enre rts effriv irepi ou Xeyci. So Alford, Meyer. The received text is defended by Stier. Peter first beckons to John to gain his attention, and then asks him, supposing that he may know, but he, being ignorant, asks Jesus. " Then Simon Peter made a sign to this disciple, and said to him, Tell us who it is of whom He speaks ? " Norton's trans.

3 Tischendorf and Alford read j3a^a>, Meyer fiwffas.

There is some difficulty in determining when Judas asked this question and the Lord replied, from the fact that when the former went out none of the apostles seems to have known the cause of his departure, (John xiii. 28, 29.) Grotius supposes it to have been asked before Peter beckoned to John, the Lord's reply not being heard,by him; and Friediieb puts it before the sign of the sop given to John. In the general agitation and confusion the Lord's reply was unnoticed. According to Ebrard, (518,) the Lord answered John's question, " Who is it ? " openly, so that all knew who was meant, and then Judas asks, " Is it I ?" According to some, as Stier, all heard the question of Judas, but none specially marked it, as all had asked the same, and no suspicion seems to have attached to him in particular. The difficulty, however, is not with the question of Judas, which might easily have passed unnoticed, but with the Lord's reply, which, if heard, was too direct to have been misunderstood. If Judas had been thus openly designated as the traitor, how could the other apostles suppose that he was sent out to execute some official commission? Some, therefore, suppose that both question and reply were in a whisper, or very low tone of voice, and inaudible to the others. This is possible if Judas was very near the Lord, perhaps upon one side as John was upon the other, as some have inferred from Mark xiv. 18. In this case what was said might easily have escaped the ears of the other apostles; and it seems that Judas must have been near Him when he received the sop. According to some, both question and reply were not by words, but by signs. Others still suppose that both were heard and understood by all present, but that the apostles, looking forward to the betrayal as not imminent, did not imagine that His words, spoken immediately after, " That thou doest, do quickly," (John xiii. 27-29,) had any reference to the execution of his treacherous project. This is not intrinsically improbable. Notwithstanding the express terms in which He had spoken of His betrayal and death at this Passover, none of the disciples seems to have taken His words literally ; and thus the designation of Judas as the betrayer by no means aroused them to a just apprehension of the treachery he was meditating—much less that it was to take effect that night.1 They might, therefore, suppose that Jesus had given him some command connected with his official position as the treasurer of the band of apostles.

Before considering when, during the meal, the Lord instituted the eucharist, it will be necessary to have before us the order of the paschal supper.2 1. The supper opens with a glass of wine mingled with water, preceded by a blessing, and followed by washing of the hands. 2. Giving of thanks, and eating of the bitter herbs. 3. Bringing in of the unleavened bread, the sauce, the lamb, and the flesh of the chagigah, and thank offerings. 4. Benediction. The bitter herbs dipped in the sauce are eaten. 5. The second cup is mixed, and the father explains to his children the origin of the feast. 6. The first part of the Hallel (Psalms cxiii. and cxiv.) is sung, prayer offered, and the second cup drank. 7. The father washes his hands, takes two loaves of bread, breaks one and blesses it, takes a piece, and, wrapping it in the bitter herbs, dips it in the sauce, and eats it with thanksgiving. Giving thanks, he then eats of the chagigah, and, again giving thanks, eats of the lamb. 8. The meal continues, each eating what he pleases, but eating last of the lamb. After this was consumed, no more was eaten. 9. He washes his hands and takes the third cup, after giving thanks.

i Licbtenstein, 404; Luthardt, ii. 2S3.

3 For this, see Lightfoot and Meyer on Matt. xxvi. 26; Friedlieb, Arch. 54 ; Brown, Antiq. i. 450.

10. The second part of the Hallel (Psalms cxv.-cxviii.) is sung. 11. The fourth cup is taken, and sometimes a fifth. 12. The supper concludes with singing the great Hallel, (Psalms cxx.-cxxvii.)

Upon several of these points there is dispute among the Jewish writers, but the order, as here given, is substantially according to the paschal ritual of the Talmudists. Whether this order was generally followed in our Saviour's time, is very doubtful; nor, if so,"is it by any means certain that He strictly followed it.

The order may be most clearly seen in its relation to the evangelical narratives, if we consider it in connection with the several cups of wine. " Four cups of wine," says Lightfoot, "were to be drank up by every one." The first introductory with thanksgiving. This was followed by the bringing in of the bitter herbs and eating of them; the bringing in of the bread, the sauce, the lamb, and the chagigah; the explanation of the meaning of the feast; and the first part of the Hallel. The second cup, followed by the eating of the unleavened bread, of the chagigah, and of the lamb. The third cup, commonly called the cup of blessing, and the second part of the Hallel sung. The fourth cup drank. If the great Hallel was sung, a fifth cup. All that took place between the first and second cups was introductory to the meal. The feast proper began with the second cup and ended with the third. Except the partial eating of the bitter herbs, the object of which was to awaken the interest of the children preparatory to their instruction, nothing was eaten before the second, and nothing at all was eaten after the third. The singing of the second part of the Hallel, and the fourth cup, generally closed the feast.

If we now turn to the Evangelists, we find that Luke only (xxii. 17 and 20) mentions two cups of wine. To which of the four customary cups of the paschal supper shall these be referred ? Many identify the first of Luke with the first of the supper.1 But against this are the Lord's words, vs. 16 and 18, that He would no more eat or drink of the Passover till the kingdom of God should come, which imply, that He had already eaten and drunken, and that the paschal supper was over.3 The words, however, may mean no more than that He would partake of no Passover after the present. Meyer insists that the words, " Take this and divide it among yourselves; for I say unto you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God shall come," show conclusively that He did not Himself drink of the cup; which abstinence, if this were the first cup, is most improbable, and that therefore these words, which were later spoken, (Matt. xxvi. 29,) Luke has erroneously inserted here. But it is by no means certain that the words, " Take this and divide it among yourselves," do exclude His own participation in the cup. He greatly desired to eat the Passover with them, and it is not questioned that He did so. Why then should He not partake of the wine, which, though not divinely commanded, was yet regarded as a regular part of the supper ? Luke's language does not at all forbid the supposition that He had Himself partaken of the cup ere He gave it to the disciples,3

The similarity of Matt. xxvi. 29 and Mark xiv. 25 with Luke xxii. 18, may best be explained by supposing that the latter was spoken in reference to the paschal supper, the former in reference to the eucharistic supper. He kept the Passover with His disciples according to the law, and thus fulfilled it. He would no more partake of it, till it should be observed in its new and higher form in the kingdom of God. He established the eucharistic supper, and henceforth would no more partake of it, till all should be made new in the kingdom.

1 So Robinson, Stier, Alford.

2 So Paulus in loco, who makes this the fifth cup. * See Alford in loco.

It may be, that in this are references to two distinct ordinances in the age to come: that of the paschal supper for the Jews, and of the Lord's supper for the Church.

Some, however, make the first cup of Luke to have been the third of the paschal supper.1 The supper was then, so far as eating the Passover was concerned, fully over; and His words, " With desire have I desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer," refer to His own supper, which He was about to establish. Bucher (742) refers these words, vs. 15-18, to the paschal supper just ended ; but Matt.xxvi. 29, and Mark xiv. 25, to the eucharistic supper.

The second cup of Luke (v. 20) was that " after supper," fxera To SeiwT/o-at, (see also 1 Cor. xi. 25,) and is the same as that mentioned by Matt. xxvi. 27 and Mark xiv. 23. To which of the four cups of the supper does this correspond ? Many refer it to the third.2 Of this cup, Brown remarks : " It was emphatically called 4 the cup of blessing,' because, while it stood before them, the president did what we commonly do at the end of a feast—he returned thanks to the Father of all for every temporal and spiritual blessing, but especially that of the Passover." To this some suppose St. Paul to refer, (1 Cor. x. 16 :) " The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ ? " If this be correct, then, after the eating of the paschal lamb was ended, and the law had thus been fulfilled, and the supper finished, Jesus, before proceeding to take the cup after supper, the cup of blessing, takes bread, probably the unleavened bread upon the table, and gives thanks, and declaring it to be His body, gives them to eat. It had been a rule that the paschal lamb should be the last thing eaten; but He now sets this aside, and gives them the flesh of " the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world."

* Brown, Antiq. 465.

a So Lightfoot, Lange, Robinson, Lichtenstein.

He now takes the cup, and giving thanks, gives it to them, that all might drink. By thus placing the taking of the eucharistic bread immediately after, and in connection with, the eating of the paschal lamb, we best meet the statements of Matthew and Mark, that "as they were eating, eo-^tovrov avTw, He took bread," &c.

Some, however, make this to have been the fourth cup.1 The chief argument for this is, that if it was the third cup, the fourth cup must have been wholly omitted, which is not probable. Of this fourth cup, Brown remarks : " We are not particularly informed whether it immediately succeeded the third, or that a certain interval was between them. But we know that it was called the cup of the Hallel, because the president finished over it the Hallel which he had begun over the second cup."2 Still, as this observance respecting the four cups of wine was not commanded in the law, Jesus might not have regarded it, and have sung the hymn after the third. If, however, a cup was taken after the sacramental cup, which is not probable, it is not mentioned.

It has been a point much discussed, whether Judas departed before or after the institution of the eucharist. Matthew, (xxvi. 25,) who alone relates his question, " Master, is it I ? " and the Lord's reply, " Thou hast said," says nothing of his departure, but mentions the eucharistic supper as taking place after the question and reply. John, (xiii. 26-30,) who mentions his departure immediately after receiving the sop, says nothing of the eucharistic supper. The Evangelists Mark and Luke do not speak of Judas by name. Where then, in Matthew's narrative, shall we insert his departure ? Probably between vs. 25 and 26. From the expression, v. 26, "

1 Meyer, Brown. Bynaeus hesitates between the third and fourth. a See Friedlieb, Arch. 58.

And as they were eating, Jesus took bread," &c, some infer the presence of Judas, the paschal supper not being yet ended.1 But the expression may mean no more than that, while yet at the table, Jesus took bread; or if the eating was even of the lamb, of which all were bound to partake, the peculiar position of Judas would justify his exclusion. The argument from the Lord's words, v. 27, " Drink ye all of it," as implying that Judas was to drink with the others, is thus stated by Alford: " It is on all accounts probable, and this account confirms the probability, that Judas was present, and partook of both parts of this first communion. The expressions are such throughout as to lead us to suppose that the same persons, the Twelve, were present." But Matthew uses the same expression : " All ye shall be offended in me this night," (v. 31, so vs. 33 and 35,) when only eleven were present. According to many, this command that all should drink, is a prophetic warning against the custom of the Romish Church in withholding the cup from the laity.2 Perhaps the right explanation may be that given by Buxtorf,3 who says, that it is the law among the Jews, that all who were present at the paschal supper, should drink of the four cups, whether men or women, adults or children; and especially of the fourth or last cup.

If we turn to the narrative of John, we read that, after Jesus gave Judas the sop, Satan entered into him, and " he went immediately out." Some have attempted to determine, from the mention of the " sop," to what period of the meal this event is to be referred. But it is uncertain whether this sop, ^oi/xtov, literally bit, or morsel, was of flesh or bread.4 If of bread, as is most probable, it may have been given immediately after the second cup, when each of the company, wrapping a piece oi unleavened bread in bitter herbs, dipped it in the sauce and ate it.

* Bengel; ergo Judas aderat. a Calvin, Alexander. ' Cited by Bynaeus, i. 624.

* The opinion of Origen and others, that this was the bread consecrated to be the Lord's body, and now given to Judas, is refuted by Augustine.

This was before the paschal lamb was eaten. But, as both the bread and sauce continued on the table to the end of the meal, the Lord may have given him the sop at a later period, and no definite inference can be drawn from this circumstance

If Judas went out immediately after receiving the sop, and yet were present at the Lord's supper, this supper must have been prior to the dipping of the sop. But where in John's narrative can it be placed ? According to Stier, it may find place between vs. 22 and 23. But there is the greatest intrinsic improbability, that after Jesus had solemnly announced to them, " Verily, verily, I say unto you, that one of you shall betray me," and " all were looking on one another, doubting of whom He spake," He should have proceeded at once to the institution of this holy rite. It is to be noted, also, that in announcing the treachery of Judas, v. 21, " He was troubled in spirit," but that after the departure of Judas, v. 31, He said, " Now is the Son of man glorified, and God is glorified in Him." There seems to be in John's narrative no possible place for inserting the institution of the eucharist prior to the departure of Judas. Where, after that, it is to be placed is disputed. Some place it between vs. 30 and 31 ; some between vs. 32 and 33; some after v. 33; some after v. 38; and others find no place wholly satisfactory.

Some would make a distinction between the two parts of the Lord's supper, an interval elapsing between the consecration of the bread and that of the wine.1 Hence it is said that Judas partook of the bread, but went out before the distribution of the cup. There is no sound basis for this distinction.

1 Greswell, iii. 181. " The bread was ordained during the supper, the use of the cup was prescribed after it."

Upon these grounds, we conclude that Judas left the paschal supper before the Lord instituted the eucharist. This point has been connected with questions respecting the spiritual efficacy of the sacrament, into which it would be foreign to our purpose to enter. The weight of authority down to recent times, is in favor of the view that he was present, and partook with the other apostles of the bread and wine.1

♦ i Wichelhaus (257) enumerates as its defenders, Cyprian, Jerome, Augustine, Chrysostom, the two Cyrils, Theodoret; and later, Bellarmine, Baronius, Maldonatus, Gerhard, Beza, Bucer, Lightfoot, Bengel. Calvin is undecided. Probabile tamen esse non nego Judam affuisse. It is affirmed by the Lutherans, but denied by the Reformed. Of the later commentators affirming it, are McKnight, Krafft, Patritius, Stier, Alford; denying it, Meyer, Teschendorf, Robinson, Lichtenstein, Friedlieb, Bucher, Ebrard, Lange, Wieseler, Riggenbach, Ellicott. For an interesting discussion of the point, see Bynaeus, i. 443.