Questions From Readers
What did Paul mean when he said: “As often as you eat this loaf and drink this cup”?
Referring to the institution of the Memorial of Jesus’ death, Paul wrote: “As often as you eat this loaf and drink this cup, you keep proclaiming the death of the Lord, until he arrives.” (1 Corinthians 11:25, 26) Some feel that the word “often” here indicates that Christ’s death should be commemorated frequently, in the sense of many times. Hence, they commemorate it more often than once a year. Is that what Paul meant?
It is now almost 2,000 years since Jesus inaugurated the Memorial of his death. Therefore, celebrating the Memorial even once a year means that it has been celebrated often since 33 C.E. However, in the context of 1 Corinthians 11:25, 26, Paul was discussing, not how often, but how the Memorial should be observed. In the original Greek, he did not use the word pol·laʹkis, which means “often” or “frequently.” Rather, he used the word ho·saʹkis, which means “as often as,” an idiom meaning “whenever,” “every time that.” Paul was saying: ‘Every time that you do this, you keep proclaiming the death of the Lord.’*