Within the brotherhood of believers around the world, there is a group which sets itself apart.
Depending on the extent of their extremism, they may or may not consider themselves to be in
fellowship with the rest of the church. Tragically, their peculiar position on the Lord’s Supper
has created a wedge between them and their brethren to the extent that some of them enjoy no
fellowship with Christians with whom they disagree. Their position on this subject creates a wall
of exclusion from their brethren, whom they may not even recognize as such. They are the “One-
Cuppers” — those who insist that it is sinful to use multiple containers for the fruit of the vine in
the Lord’s Supper.
Few in number, they typically grow, if at all, by proselytizing members from other
congregations around them. If they can find a new member, or some weaker Christians who are
not informed on this issue, they may convince them to come over to their assembly, and they will
eventually take them in. Like other “anti-” extremists, they usually do not convert and retain
many from the world, but rather they take over congregations built up by the hard work and
efforts of others. They may work secretively, without the consent of leadership.
“One-Cuppers” make the mistake of binding where the Bible does not bind. They take matters
of expediency, convert them into matters of doctrine, and insist that these can only be done their
way, (cf. Mt. 15:9). They make the mistake of concluding that the “cup” refers to the container,
when in reality, it is often a reference to the precious contents, and what it represents. If I drink
a “cup” of coffee, I do not drink the container, but its contents. Indeed, all agree that there is only
one “cup” — but that cup can be distributed in multiple containers.
“One-Cuppers” make the mistake of assuming that “breaking bread” always refers to literally
tearing off a piece of the loaf of bread, when in reality this is sometimes simply an expression
for eating. When a person “breaks bread,” he eats. When Christians “break bread” together, they
eat together, (cf. Acts 2:46; 27:35). One must examine the context in order to determine whether
any particular instance of “breaking bread” refers to the Lord’s Supper or a common meal. We
must avoid reading too much into the phrase in order to support a hobby.
For example, in Acts 20:7, it is clear that this is a reference to partaking of the Lord’s supper,
because it has specific application to an act of worship performed while the church was regularly
assembled, or “gathered together,” and here Paul used the assembly as an opportunity to preach
to the church. In verse 11 of that chapter, after the raising of Eutychus, it is said that Paul departed
after he “had broken the bread.” This would be a very strange statement if the expression here
referred merely to a common meal.
It is a mistake to bind incidental customs of that day, which were naturally observed in the
performance of Christian worship. When Jesus instituted the observance of the Lord’s Supper, it
was done during their customary observance of the Passover. But the Passover was strictly part
of the Mosaic Age, and its unique provisions and features have passed away. Jesus instituted the
Lord’s Supper in a “large upper room furnished,” (Lk. 22:12) but this was incidental to the Lord’s
Supper itself. Today, it would be wrong to insist that Christians must meet in a “large upper
room” when they observe the Lord’s Supper. When the church in Troas partook of the Lord’s
Supper, there were “many lights” in the upper chamber where they were gathered together. But
would anyone seriously insist that we must have “many lights” in the room where we partake
today? These incidental features are clearly secondary to the purpose for the Supper. They are
collateral details supplied for accuracy and edification, but are not binding in the observance
The number of containers is not bound, but is a matter of expediency. The contents of the
container is one. The number of pieces of literal bread is incidental. When we eat that bread, we
are partaking of the one body. “The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not a communion of the
blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not a communion of the body of Christ,” (1 Cor.
10:15)? Whether we partake in Jerusalem, or Troas, or Corinth, or in West Virginia, we partake
of that one cup—regardless of how many containers are utilized.
– by Robert C. Veil, Jr.