January 1, 1991 Issue
by Ronny F. Wade

Is it necessary for us to sing a hymn after we observe the Lord's Supper as was apparently done by the disciples in Mt 26:30?

Many writers believe that when the Jews observed the passover, they sung a number of hymns. (The 113rd, 114th, 115th, 116th, 117th, and 118th Psalms in particular) While the singing of hymns is not specified in the original instructions covering the passover feast, it may be that the above verse refers to the practice of singing connected with its observance. Barnes points out that the word rendered "sung a hymn" is a participle, literally meaning hymning "and is not confined to a single hymn but admitting many". There are two things we need to consider in answering the above question. First of all, did the singing of the hymn or hymns immediately follow the institution of the Lord's Supper? There is good evidence that it did not. Guy N. Woods in his commentary on John points out that the Lord's Supper was likely instituted between the verses 30 and 36 of John 13, with the teaching of chapters 14-16 following. Burton Coffman concurs in the belief that the teaching of Jesus in those chapters immediately followed the institution of the Supper. If this is the case. then the hymn was not sung until after that, at which time they left for the Mount of Olives. If this be the correct chronology, then it would not follow that one could impose the singing of a hymn after the Lord's Supper as any type of divine arrangement.

Second, do the scriptures teach that the items of Christian worship must be observed in a certain order? If so, I have never found where they so teach. To say that a song must precede or follow the communion is to speak where the Bible has not spoken. To say that the contribution must precede the communion and cannot be taken after the communion is to do the same. It thus appears to this writer that the teaching of Mt 26:30 merely points out that, sometime during the evening when the passover was observed and the Lord's Supper was instituted there was the singing of a hymn or hymns. Nothing more, nothing less.

When Christians are traveling on the Lord's day and there is no church close by, is it scriptural for them to have the communion in their motel room? 

 The New Testament church gathered for the communion. (Acts 20:7) Regarding that gathering together Paul commands in Heb 10:25 "Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together..." This command is clear and our duty in obeying it is obvious. New Testament corporate worship is congregational in nature. The observance of the communion is a function of the congregation 1 Cor 11:20-30. The structure of the local church is detailed for us in the Bible. Elders, deacons, and all members working together for the good of the cause of Christ, and worshipping together on the Lord's day in spirit and truth. In Matt 6:33 Jesus teaches us that the Kingdom must be first in our lives. Nothing should come before it, or our obligations to it. When things do, that is evidence that our priorities are out of order. The question is this: should I make my plans (vacations, business trips, etc.) fit the arrangements of God, or should I bend His arrangements to fit my plans? It is the belief of this writer that when I plan a trip, knowing that on the Lord's day I cannot be with a church to worship, and I seek to do my duty by having communion in a motel room or by the side of the road, I have in effect tried to fit the Kingdom of God into my plan rather than making my plans fit God's schedule. If I can meet by the side of the road in a far away place, where there is no church on one Sunday, why not every Sunday? How many miles from a church does it have to be before such a practice would be right? Is it wrong to stay at the lake on Sunday and have communion if there is a church ten miles away, but all right if the nearest church is several hundred miles away? Does the distance make the difference? I submit to you that it does not. The right thing to do is obey the scripture and "not forsake the assembly." The right thing to do is always make your plans so that you can be at the assembly. The wrong thing to do is go where you know you cannot worship. Carrying the Lord along in a suitcase, so to speak, as a matter of convenience, will not get the job done in heaven's sight.

Other OPA Article Links:

Querist Column
Lord's Supper

Ronny F. Wade
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