Does "breaking bread" in Acts always refer to the Lord's Supper?

Among the various passages where “breaking bread” is mentioned, in Acts and elsewhere, please distinguish, which do, and which do not, refer to the Lord’s Supper.

Whatever difficulty there may be of settling this point in any particular instance, is due to one or both of two considerations. On the one hand, it is clear that the usual Jewish method of eating bread was by first breaking it up into convenient portions; and therefore the statement that a person had “broken bread” might with them signify merely that he had had a meal, with bread as its prominent feature. On the other hand, it also seems to be beyond doubt that in the apostles’ days the Lord’s Supper was often associated with a meal, of which the saints partook in fellowship together; and therefore, when the phrase “break bread” is linked with some other one about taking food, it is open to question whether this, or an ordinary meal only, is meant.

In Acts 27:35, and of course in the references in the Gospels to the Lord breaking bread to feed the hungry multitudes, there can be no suggestion of the Ordinance; and to these occurrences I would add Luke 24:30, 35; for although the Lord there took bread, blessed, brake, and gave to the two disciples; and although their eyes were opened to recognise Him as He did so; they could not, even in thought, connect this with the Supper which had been instituted a few days previously; since none but the apostles had been present on that occasion.

Over against these instances we may place Acts 2:42; Acts 20:7; and 1 Corinthians 10:16; as passages in which the reference to the Lord’s Supper cannot reasonably be denied; and we then are left with Acts 2. 46 and Acts 20. II, as the only occurrences about which there may be difference of opinion, In each of these there is an additional word or phrase about the partaking of food; and although in the view of some, this rules out any reference to the Ordinance; it seems to me that its effect is just the opposite. For why, if an ordinary meal, and nothing more, is intended, should the two separate expressions have to be used at all? Either of them, in that case, would have said all that was to be said, without the other.


In Acts 2:46 the significance of the statement appears to be that, while some of the activities of the early disciples could be carried on in the precincts of the Temple, the Breaking of Bread could not; and so it took place in their homes (see R.V.). As for Acts 20:2, the insertion of “the” (R.V., “had broken the bread”), which is according to the reading of all the most ancient authorities, links the statement with verse 7, and implies that here too the Ordinance is meant; though some may find a difficulty in the fact that Paul’s long address would thus have been given before the Supper, transgressing certain views they hold as to it being out of place for a brother to speak, or even to read the Scriptures, in the part of the meeting which precedes it.

W.R.