PRESUPPOSITIONS: The Relationship Between Church, Eucharist and Bishop in the Consciousness of the Primitive Church


Chapter One: The divine Eucharist and the "Church of God"

1. The connection of the Eucharist with the initial appearance of the term "church"

The ecclesiology of primitive Christianity was not abstract and theoretical but rather practical.1 As a result, not only is there no definition of the Church in the sources, but there is not even a theoretical description of her. Out of the eighty or so passages in which the term ekklesia occurs in the New Testament, fifty-seven at least have in view the Church as an assembly in a particular place. If we try to group these passages under different headings, we have the following picture:

(a) those referring to the "Church" (singular) of a particular city;2

(b) those referring to the "Churches" (plural) of an area wider than a city, or without specifying a locality;3

(c) those containing the term "Church" or "Church of God" without specifying a locality;4 and

(d) those containing the phrase "church in the household" (kat' oikon ekklesia).5

Out of these passages, only those of the third group can be connected with the Church in an abstract or theoretical sense. For most of these, however, this is merely a first impression. Passages such as 1 Cor. 15:9, Gal. 1:13 and Phil. 3:6, where Paul says that he persecuted the "Church of God," have in mind specifically the Church of Jerusalem, where there was a "great persecution" during which "Saul laid waste the Church." 6

In consequence, the term "Church" in these ancient texts normally describes the Church as a concrete reality in space. This observation should serve as our basis for tackling the question, introduced by modern scholarship7 of whether the idea of the "universal" or of the "local" Church came first in primitive ecclesiology.8

But the point of altogether special importance is that it was not just any assembly, but strictly speaking, the Eucharistic assembly that was called ekklesia or "Church." This is clearly shown by a careful examination of the information we can glean from the most ancient texts we have, namely Paul's Epistles. There are also other early Christian texts which concur with these, and those will be discussed later.

The Epistles of the Apostle Paul (apart from the so-called Pastoral Epistles, which are personal in character9 and therefore do not concern us directly), which are addressed to the Christians in various regions under the term "Church," presuppose certain specific circumstances in which the recipients would be appraised of their contents.

These circumstances appear to be none other than the assembly of the Eucharist. As H. Leitzmann has observed,10 the greetings at the end of these Epistles show that they were intended to be read at the time of the Eucharist, and for this reason they would be an excellent guide in reconstructing certain parts of the ancient liturgy.11 So when Paul writes, for example, 'To the Church of God which is at Corinth12 this "Church" is first and foremost the actual assembly of the Corinthians gathered to perform the Eucharist. From certain observations on points which do not yet seem to have come to the attention of scholars, we may note the following phenomenon: while in referring to Corinth Paul uses the term "Church," when he is talking about Achaea he uses the term "saints." In other words, while he could most naturally have said: 'To the Church of God which is in Corinth and Achaea," or simply "which is in Achaea" (given that this would be understood to include Corinth)13 he makes a distinction between Corinth and Achaea, placing the "Church" in Corinth. This might perhaps be pure coincidence with no especial significance, if it were not corroborated by almost all the

passages in which the term "Church" is used according to the categories given above.14 Thus whereas the Apostle uses "Church " in the singular in all cases where he refers to the Church of a particular city, in cases where he is referring to geographical areas wider than the city he uses the term in the plural. The only possible explanation for this curious phenomenon is that for Paul, the term "Church" did not simply mean Christians in a general and theoretical sense, without regard to their Eucharistic gathering at the time when the Epistle was read. Thus Corinth, as the recipient of the epistle at the Eucharistic assembly, is called a "Church" by the Apostle. Achaea, by contrast, is not called a "Church," since it is not in Eucharistic assembly at the time when the epistle was received. This occurs in the case of every region wider than a city. Hence Paul speaks only of "Churches" and not of a "Church" in the singular in such regions.

This is the explanation for that characteristic feature of the Pauline vocabulary, namely that we never encounter in it "the Church of Macedonia" or "the Church of Achaea" or "the Church of Judea." The Christians of these wider areas did not differ from those of a city in any other particular way that would allow us to interpret this linguistic phenomenon in some other way. They, too, were full members of the Church just like those of Corinth. But because in these earliest times to which Paul's epistles belong, the word "Church" meant principally, the faithful united in their Eucharistic assembly. It was natural that for Paul and his readers the Church should be not in Achaea or some other area wider than the city, but in Corinth, i.e. in a specific city, because it was there that the assembly took place during which his epistles would be read.

Such an identification of the Church with the Eucharistic assembly can be attested more clearly from a careful analysis of the content of the First Epistle to the Corinthians and particularly Chapter 11. In this chapter, the Apostle Paul gives the Corinthians practical directions relating to their assemblies for worship. A careful examination of the terminology used by the Apostle at this point leads us to the following observations:

Although, it is evident from the whole content of this chapter that Paul is speaking here about the assembly to perform the Divine Eucharist in Corinth, he nevertheless describes this assembly as a "Church": "when you assemble as a Church I hear that there are divisions among you" (v. 18). Reading this phrase of the Apostle Paul's, the Christians of Corinth might be expected to have asked, "What exactly does the Apostle mean when he talks about "coming together as a Church"? Aren't we a "Church" whenever we meet, and even when we don't come together in the same place?" This question, which seems so natural to twentieth-century Christians, did not concern the Christians of the Apostle Paul's time. Indeed, from the passage it can be concluded quite naturally that the term "Church" was not used in a theoretical sense but to describe an actual meeting; and again not to describe just any sort of meeting, but the one that Paul had in mind when he wrote the words quoted above - the assembly to perform the Divine Eucharist. Paul does not hesitate in the slightest to call this assembly "the Church of God": to despise the Eucharistic assembly is to despise the very "Church of God" (v. 22). And going on to identify Eucharist and Church in a manner which is quite astonishing, he talks about the institution by Christ of the divine Supper, linking his reference to the "Church of God" with the subject of the Eucharist by a simple explanatory "for," as if it were one and the same thing: "For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you" (v. 23), namely the celebration of the Eucharist. This identification of the Eucharistic assembly with the Church allows Paul to use the expression "coming together in the same place" (epi to auto) as a term having at once ecclesiological and Eucharistic content. "When you come together in one place (epi to auto) it is not the lord's supper that you eat" (v. 20), because, by the way you behave, "you despise the Church of God" (v. 22). "So then, my brethren, when you come together to eat, wait for one another... lest you come together to be condemned..." (w. 33-34).15 Thus, in the thought of Paul and the Churches which read his Epistles, the terms "coming together" or "coming together in the same place" (epi to auto), "the Lord's supper" (i.e. Divine Eucharist) and "the Church" (ekklesia) or "the Church of God" mean the same thing.

That the Eucharistic assembly is identified with the very Church of God is also the conclusion that emerges from a study of the term church in the household (kat’ oikon ekklesia) contained in the passages belonging to group (d) according to our classification. 16 The significance of the term church in the household seems to be much greater than might be suggested by the number of passages in which it occurs. At a time when the Church was gradually adopting a technical terminology and did not yet have one fixed, no technical term could be universally applicable.17 Whereas, it seems that there were many such terms in use locally, either temporarily, or for a long time until they became fully part of the worldwide vocabulary of Christianity.18 The term church in the household did not survive in the vocabulary of the Church. The epistles of Paul seem to be the only sources in which it occurs. Two things, however, clearly demonstrate its importance. Firstly, this term has the appearance of a usage already established in the Pauline Churches at the time when Paul's epistles were being written. The fact that he uses the term without any variation and never goes on to explain it presupposes a familiarity with the term on the part of those who were reading the epistles. This means that in the Pauline Churches at least, this term had acquired currency as a technical term. Aside from this, the importance of the term lies in its relationship with the term "Church" which finally prevailed. What sort of Church does the church in the household represent? Students of history are usually familiar with the local Church and the Church "throughout the world." Does the church in the household constitute a third type of Church for primitive Christianity? This question does not seem to have been examined in detail hitherto, so far as we know.19 One probable reason for this is the fact that the meaning of the term is usually considered self-evident. But if we take into account the significance of this term for the history of the unity of the Church, determining its meaning through detailed study becomes a necessity.

Many of the scholars who have been indirectly concerned with this subject seem to identify the church in the household with the "Christian family" in general, which is presented as a special unity within the Pauline local Churches.20 In this case, church is used in the widest sense of "Christianity" or "Christian community" (Gemeinde). Thus for example Michel, exploring the meaning of the terms oikos and oikia in the New Testament,21 collects all the passages referring to the "church in the household" together with those referring to Christian families and gives them all the common title of Gemeinde in Familien. This approach is in agreement with the older understanding of church in the household, according to which this term denoted the groups of Christians who gathered around strong personalities such as Philemon or Priscilla and Aquila and in which, so it was believed, the Church organization and above all the bishop had their origin.22

This inclusion of the "church in the household" among the passages which refer to the Christian family in general is also continued by later works,23 with the exception of the distinguished J. Jeremias, who studiously avoids using the passages which refer to the "church in the household" alongside those referring to Christian families generally.24

But is it correct methodology to examine all these passages together? Does the church in the household belong with the passages which refer to the Christian family in general? The answer is negative if we take into account the strict division St Paul makes between the house/household (oikia) or Christian family and Church. Referring to the celebration of the Divine Eucharist in Corinth and the social distinctions which were being made in the course of it, he asks the members of the Church of Corinth: "Do you not have houses (oikiai) to eat and drink in? Or do you despise the Church of God and humiliate those who have nothing?"25 Yet it is known that at the time the epistle was written and for a long while afterwards, the Eucharist was celebrated in Christians' houses. So while house and Church are linked by the Eucharist in practice, they constitute two different realities in the faith of the Church. The Church of God should not be confused with the house; otherwise it leads to "despising the Church of God."

Another example of this firm distinction between the notions of house and Church is taken from 1 Timothy 3:4-5. This passage talks about the family of the "bishop." No other "household" or Gemeinde in Familien could be more Christian. Nevertheless, Paul not only refrains from calling it a "church," but clearly distinguishes it from the "Church of God": "A bishop must be above reproach... he must manage his own household (oikos) well, keeping his children submissive and respectful in every way; for if a man does not know how to manage his own household, how can he care for God's church?" These two examples from the Epistles of Paul are sufficient for us to conclude that the distinction between the notions of Christian family (oikos, oikia, Gemeinde in Familien) and of church was so sharp in the mind of the primitive Church that identifying the notion of the "Church" with that of the "Christian family" would not have been possible.

But in that case, what led these two different notions, of house and of church, to be joined together to form one term? The crucial factor is obviously the celebration of the Divine Eucharist. All ecclesial activities could be performed outside Christian houses. We know, for example, that preaching took place also in the synagogues.26 And worship itself could in principle be performed in Jewish buildings, as we see from Acts 2:46. But there was one activity of the Church which never took place outside Christian homes: the celebration of the Eucharist.27 That this was due to strong convictions on the part of the Church and was not fortuitous is shown by Acts 2:46: "And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread at home (kat' oikon), they partook of food with glad and generous hearts...." In this passage, the contrast should be noted: prayer could take place also in the Temple, but the "breaking of bread," that is the Eucharist,28 took place in the Christians' homes. [28a see also Acts 20:7.] If we now take into account the identification of Eucharistic assembly and local Church found in Paul,29 the meaning of the term in question becomes clear. The terms house and church expressed two different realities: the former something secular, and the latter a purely ecclesial reality. But whenever the Eucharist was celebrated in the house of a Christian family, the Church of God was automatically linked with that household. The connection of the Eucharist both with that house and with the Church of God gave rise to the church in the household which took its name from the owner of the house.30

Thus the phrase church in the household refers to the assembly of the faithful for the celebration of the Eucharist.31 If this assembly was called a church, this was because the assembly, epi to auto, for the celebration of the Eucharist was also called a church (1 Cor. 11). In contrast with the other terms used for the Church, the term church in the household was the most concrete expression of the Church, denoting the assembly of the faithful in a particular place in order to be united in the body of Christ. In consequence, the church in the household was not a third type of Church, different from the "local" or the "universal," but the local Church herself or Church of God, breaking bread at the house of one of her members.

So from an examination of the oldest texts of primitive Christianity, the Epistles of Paul, it transpires that the Eucharistic assembly was identified with the "Church of God" herself. If we now examine those texts which are already seeing the end of the Apostolic period, such as the Revelation of John, we shall again have no difficulty in establishing the same identification of the Eucharistic assembly with the Church of God. Written characteristically "on the Lord's day,"32 which is to say the day of the Eucharist par excellence, 33 the Book of Revelation moves within the milieu and atmosphere of the Eucharistic assembly to such an extent that scholars studying it are faced with the problem of whether the Eucharist influenced this book or vice versa. 34 However that may be, it should be considered that there is at least a "mutual" influence between the Book of Revelation and Eucharistic worship.35 This book transports us from the Eucharist to the throne of God and from the Church on earth to the Church in heaven in such a way that we think it is one and the same reality. Indeed, the mystical identification of the Church in heaven before the throne of God with the Church on earth worshipping before the Table of the Eucharist is such as to call to mind the connection between these two aspects of the Church which only in Orthodoxy has been preserved in such depth. 36 Chapters 4 and 5 of Revelation, to which we shall return later, make no sense without the presupposition that the Eucharistic assembly incarnates on earth the very Church of God.

From this is becomes clear that from the first appearance of the term ekklesia there was a most profound connection, even to the point of identity, between this term and the Eucharist celebrated in each city. Each such Eucharist constituted the expression in space and time of the Church of God herself.


2. The connection of the Eucharist with the original consciousness regarding the unity of the Church.

The identification of the Eucharistic assembly with the Church of God herself in the use of the term church would make no sense, if there did not exist in parallel a very profound connection between the Divine Eucharist and the primitive Church's consciousness regarding unity. This connection, which extends beyond the terminology used for the Church into the early theology regarding the Church among the first Christians, is brilliantly expressed by the "theologian of unity" par excellence,37 the Apostle Paul. Addressing the Corinthians, the Apostle writes: "Judge for yourselves what I say. The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not a communion (koinonia) in the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not a communion in the body of Christ? Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread."38 In this highly significant passage, the dominant idea is that "the many" form "one body" identified with the bread of the Eucharist. Since this idea was to have a decisive influence on the whole formation of the Church's unity, it is necessary to look at it in more detail at this point while we are examining the presuppositions of this unity.

The connection of the Divine Eucharist with the consciousness that the "many" are united through it and in it into one body, and not just any body but the "body of Christ"39 - thus forming not "one thing" in the neuter but "one" in the masculine,40 the "one Lord" Himself41 - is deeply rooted right in the historical foundations of the Divine Eucharist and the Church alike. A careful examination of the texts referring to the Last Supper with which the origin of the Eucharist coincides historically42 shows convincingly that despite their many differences on various points,43 they all agree on the connection of the Supper with the "many" or "you" (pl.), "for" or "in the place of" (anti or peri) whom the One offers Himself.44 This relationship of the "many" with the "One"45 who offers Himself for them connects the historical foundations of the Eucharist with the Judaeo-Christian tradition of the servant of God or servant of the Lord46 which again is connected with Jesus Christ's understanding of Himself47 and goes back to the people of Israel's consciousness of unity.48 In this way, the connection of the Eucharist with the consciousness that the "many" are united to the point of identity with the One who offers himself on their behalf is shown to be as ancient as Christianity itself.

This connection of the Divine Eucharist with a sense of the unity of the "many" in the "One," effected through the tradition of the "Servant of God," is already firmly established in the consciousness and life of the primitive Church by the first century as shown by the oldest surviving liturgical texts after the Last Supper. Thus in the most ancient liturgical prayer of the Roman Church, which certainly goes right back to apostolic times and is preserved in 1 Clement (96 A.D.), we repeatedly read the phrase "of Jesus Thy Servant," clearly in connection with the hymns of the Servant of God in the Book of Isaiah.49 The same thing can be seen even more clearly in the Eucharistic prayer of the Didache, also very ancient, where we read: "We thank Thee, holy Father, for Thy holy Name which Thou hast caused to make its dwelling in our hearts, and for the knowledge and faith and immortality which Thou hast made known to us through Jesus Thy servant." 50 This fact is of particular significance given that, as a rule, liturgical texts preserve very ancient traditions. If indeed this is coupled with the existence of the Servant of God tradition also in other very ancient hymns of worship, such as we most likely find included in Paul's Epistle to the Philippians (2:6-11),51 the connection between the Divine Eucharist and the Servant tradition should be considered something very ancient in the mind of the Church. In this way the "many" of the Servant tradition, the "many" of the Last Supper and the "many" of Paul's epistles meet and are identified with each other through the synthesis achieved by the systematic thought of the great Apostle \ when he writes, "... one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread."

But the connection of the Eucharist with the primitive Church's sense of the unity of the "many" in the "One" goes back to the historical foundation of the Church also by way of another fundamental tradition, that of the Lord as "Son of Man." This is especially true of the Johannine Churches, which, while not unaware of the connection of the Eucharist with the Servant of God tradition,52 nevertheless preferred, at least on the evidence of the Fourth Gospel, to connect it with the "Son of Man" tradition. This tradition, which also goes back to Jesus' understanding of Himself53 and through it to the Judaeo-Christian foundations of the Church,54 has justly been regarded as the source of the idea of the Church.55 For interwoven with this tradition, we find the paradoxical relationship of the unity of the many in the one which can be seen more generally in the Judaeo-Christian consciousness56 taken to the point of identity.57

This unity of the many in the "Son of Man" is first clearly linked with the Divine Eucharist in the Gospel of John. In the sixth chapter of this Gospei, which obviously refers to the Eucharist,58 the dominant figure is that of the "Son of Man." It is He who gives "the food which endures to eternal life."59 In contrast with the manna which God gave to Israel through Moses, this food is the "true bread," which as that "which came down from heaven"60 is none other than the "Son of Man."61 Clearly, then, it is as "Son of Man" that the Lord appears in His relationship with the Eucharist in the Fourth Gospel. Hence, communion in the Eucharist is described there as eating not simply the flesh of the Lord, but the flesh of the "Son of Man": "unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you."62 In this capacity, as "Son of Man," Jesus appears in the Fourth Gospel not only as identified with the bread of the Eucharist ("I am the bread of life"),63 but also as the reality which is par excellence inclusive of the "many": "he who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him."64 This abiding in the "Son of Man," though participation in the Eucharist is underlined in chapters 13-17 of the same Gospel, which move within the Eucharistic presuppositions of the Last Supper and are so profoundly connected with the unity of the Church.65 The insistent appeal, "Abide in me, and I in you"66 should not be understood without reference both to the Eucharistic presuppositions of this text, and to the Lord's property of taking up the new Israel and including it within Himself.67

For all these reasons, the Eucharistic character of the Fourth Gospel, which is increasingly being recognized,68 makes it a first class historical source for studying the presuppositions on which the formation of the Church's unity in the Divine Eucharist is based. Coming as an indispensable complement to those sources which inform us about the mind of the Pauline Churches, it proves that despite being expressed in ways different from those we encounter in Paul's Epistles,69 the consciousness was the same throughout the primitive Church: through the Divine Eucharist the "many" - the new, true Israel, those who make up the Church - become a unity to the point of identity with Christ.

All this demonstrates how incomprehensible the whole ecclesiology of ancient Christianity becomes without reference to the Divine Eucharist particularly in anything to do with the notion of the Church's unity. The principal images used to depict and describe the Church in the New Testament70 are based on the relationship of the "many" with the "One," exactly as this is dictated by the Eucharistic experience of the Church. This is especially true of the descriptions of the Church as "body of Christ," "house" or "building" (oikodomι), and "bride of Christ."

The characterization of the Church as the "body of Christ," which has provoked much discussion among modern scholars71 cannot be understood apart from the Eucharistic experience of the Church,72 which was most likely the source of the use of this term.73 Neither the parallels to this term found in Rabbinic sources,74 nor Gnosticism,75 nor other ideas from the Hellenistic milieu76 could have lent this term to the primitive Church, given that its content in the New Testament is sui generis, characterized by its emphasis not on the idea of the "body," but on the accompanying genitive "of Christ." In other words, it is not first and foremost the body of Christians, but the body of Christ.77 This takes on its full meaning only within the context of the Judaeo-Christian tradition with which, as we have seen, the Divine Eucharist was connected from the beginning.

It is within this same tradition that the other ecclesiological images, too, take on their full meaning. Thus the characterization of the Church as a "building"78 or "house"79 does not imply something inanimate, but an organism living and growing80 to "mature manhood," 81"to the measure of the stature of the fullness82 of Christ."83 This is not unrelated to the Divine Eucharist.84 In the spirit of the unity of the "many" in the One, we can also have a right understanding of the description of the Church as "bride of Christ," through which the faithful are understood as "members of Christ"85 in a manner analogous to the union of husband and wife "into one flesh."86

These ecclesiological images, of course, require special study which lies outside the scope and nature of the present work. But the point relevant to the very close connection of the Divine Eucharist with the primitive Church's consciousness of unity, is this: that all these images become meaningless outside the ontological unity of the "many" in Christ. Deeply rooted, as we have seen, in the historical foundations of Christianity, this unity found its fullest expression through the

Divine Eucharist. The ancient Church was fully aware of this when she declared, through the first theologian of her unity, "we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread."



1.The distinction between theoretical and practical ecclesiology is intended here to underline the fact that the first theology concerning the Church did not develop as    speculation about the idea or the concept of the Church, but initially appeared as an experience of a reality; a state, in which Christians were continuously living. The conscious recognition of this state and the subsequent expression of the consciousness which had been created constituted the first theology of the Church, expressed through images which described but did not define the reality which the Christians lived. Thus, the theoretical theology of the Church did not precede the historical events and institutions of the Church's life. On the contrary, the events and experiences of the Church, consciously recognized by her, led gradually to theoretical theological formulations. This has particular significance from the point of view of methodology, especially for this study, which examines the unity of the Church, starting not from the theoretical teaching on unity in the sources, but from those events, institutions and experiences, the consciousness recognition of which led the early Church to ecclesiological formulations of a purely theoretical character.

2. Rom. 16:1; 1 Cor. 1:2; 2 Cor. 1:1; Col. 4:16; 1 Thes. 1:1; Acts 8:1 and 11:22.

3. Gal. 1:2 and 22; 1 Thes. 2:14; 2 Cor. 8:1; 1 Cor. 16:19; Acts 15:41 and 16:5; Rom. 16:16; 1 Cor. 11:16 and 14:33-34.

4. Mt. 16:18 and 18:17; Acts 5:11; 8:3; 9:31; 12:1; 12:5; 11:26; 14:23; 14:27; 15:3; 15:4; 15:22; 18:22; 20:17; 20:28; 1 Cor. 6:4; 10:32; 11:18; 11:22; 12:28; 14:4; 14:12; 14:19; 14:23; 14:28; 14:35; 15:9; Gal. 1:13 and Phil. 3:6.

5. Rom. 16:5; 1 Cor. 16:19; Col. 4:15; Philem. 2.

6. Acts 8:1-3. The same is true of most of the passages in category (c). An exception could be made only for the passages Mt. 16:18; Acts 9:31; 20:28 (?); 1 Cor. 10:32 (?); and 12:28 (?) which are also the only ones which may not have in view the Church as a concrete local reality.

7. It should be stressed that the problem as it is posed today does not stem from the texts but is artificial given that the antithetical scheme "localism vs. universalism" was alien to the mind of the primitive Church (see above, p. 21).

8. The view that the "universal" Church precedes the "local" is held by (among others) P. Bratsiotis, "The Apostle Paul and the Unity of the Church" (in Greek), in E.E.Th.S. (years 1957-58), 1959, p. 154; R. Bultmann, "The Transformation of the Idea of the Church in the History of Early Christianity," in Canadian Journal of Theology 1 (1955), 73-81; and A. Medebielle in Dictionnaire de la Bible, Suppl. II, 1934,660 and 668. The opposite view is taken by J.V. Campbell, "The Origin and Meaning of the Christian Use of the Word Ekklesia," in journal of Theological Studies 49 (1948), 130 f. and 138; K. Schmidt, "Ekklesia" in T.W.N.T., III, 503; and L. Cerfaux, La Thfologie de I'Εglise... For a full bibliography, see K. Stendahl, "Kirche..," col.1303 f.

9. G. Konidaris, On the Supposed Difference, p. 29.

10. Messe und Herrenmahl, 1926, p. 237.

11. This reconstruction is attempted by Lietzmann (Ibid J

12. Cor. 1:1.

13. On the boundaries of Achaea at this time see G. Konidaris, Church History of Greece, I,1954-60, pp. 44-47.

14. See above, notes 2 and 3.

15. Cf. verse 29, where "coming together unto judgement" is clearly connected with being a communicant of the Eucharist.

16. See above, note 5.

17. Most probably, even the term "church" had not yet prevailed everywhere as a technical term when Paul's Epistles were being written.

18. Thus, for instance, the terms "Christianity," "Catholic Church," "Bishop," etc., which first appeared in purely local usage in Antioch and soon became technical terms for the entire Church. Cf. G. Konidaris, On the Supposed Difference, p. 45f.

19. It is worth noting that one does not find an examination of "church in the household" either in H. Strack-P. Billerbeck, Kommentar zum NT., Ill, 1926, nor in the entry "ekklesia" in Kittel, T.W.N.T.

20. Eg. "the household of Stephanas" (1 Cor. 1:16 and 16:15), of Crispus the ruler of the synagogue (Acts 18:8), of Lydia in Thyateira (Acts 16:15), of Narcissus and Aristobulos in Rome (Rom. 16:10-11). etc.

21. T.W.N.T.,V,p. 132 f.

22. See e.g. K. Hase, Kirchengeschichte, I, 1885, p. 210. Cf. also Winderstein, Der Episcopal, p. 38 et infra.

23. E.g. E.A. Judge, The Social Pattern of Christian Groups in the First Century, 1960, pp. 30-39.

24. Jeremias,}., Hat die alteste Christenheit die Kindertaufe geubt?, 1938 (19422), and more recently Die Kindertaufe in der ersten vier Jahrhunderten, 1958.

25. 1 Cor. 11:22.

26. Acts 9:29; 13:14,45; 14:1; 17:1-2,10,17; 18:19; 19:8.

27. In Acts 5:42 we find Temple and house linked: "And every day in the temple and at home they did not cease teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ." But this linkage refers to preaching. It should be noted that nowhere do we find such a linkage in connection with the Eucharist; the exclusive place for which was the Christian home.

28. That this refers to the Eucharist is agreed by most modern scholars. See e.g. A. Arnold, Der Ursprungdes christiichen Abendmahl in Lichts der neusten liturgiegeschichtiichen Forschung, 1932, pp. 43-47; W. Goosens, W., Les origines de l’Eucharistie, 1931, pp. 170-174 and J. Gewiess, Die urapostolische Heilsverkundigung nach der Apostelgeschichte, 1939,99.152-157.

29. See above, p. 46f.

30. E.g. "the Church in your [Philemon's] household" (Philem. 1:2) or "the Church in their [Priscilla and Aquila's] household" (Rom. 16:5). The houses from the first four centuries found in Rome by archaeologists, which had been turned into churches, bore the names of their owners (S. Clementia etc.). On these churches, cf. J.A. Jungmann, The Early Liturgy to the Time of Gregory the Great, 1959, p. 13.

31. This view is expressed, but with no reasons given, by L.Cerfaux, La Theologie de I'Eglise, p. 145 and P. Trembelas, "Worship in Apostolic Times in Theologia 31 (1960), 183.

32. Rev. 1:10.

33. Cf. D. Moraitis, The Liturgy of the Presanctified (in Greek), 1955, p. 12 f.

34. See P. Bratsiotis, The Revelation of the Apostle John (in Greek),1950.

35. Ibid. p. 51.

36. See P. Bratsiotis, "L'Apocalypse de Saint Jean dans le Culte de l'Eglise Grecque Orthodoxe," in Revue d'Histoire and de Philosophic religieuse, 42 (1962), 116-121.

37. V. Ioannidis, "The Unity of the Church..." (in Greek), p. 172.

38. 1 Cor. 10:15-17. Cf. P. Neuenzeit, Das Herrenmahl. Studien zur Pautinischen Eucharistieauffassung, 1958; K. Rahner, "Kirche und Sakrament," in Geist und Leben 28 (1955), 434 f. and R. Schnackenburg, Die Kirche im Neuen Testament, 1961, p. 41 f.

39. 1 Cor. 10:16, taken together with 12:27 and Eph. 1:23; 4:12-16; 5:30; Col. 1:18-24.

40. Gal. 3:28. Cf. 2 Cor. 11:2.

41. Eph. 4:5.

42. See M. Siotis, Divine Eucharist (in Greek), p. 50 f.

43. Historical and literary differences of a liturgical character be tween these texts do not concern us here. On these see Lietzmann's work Messe etc. See also J. Betts, op. cit. p. 4 f. and especially D.Moriatis, History of Christian Worship. Ancient Times (First to Fourth Century) (in Greek), 1964, p. 56 f.

44. See Mk 14:24; Mt. 26:28; Lk 22:20 and 1 Cor. 11:24.

45. Cf. also H. Fries, "Die Eucharistie und die Einheit der Kirche,"in Pro Mundi Vita. Festschrift zum Eucharistischen Weltkongress, 1960, p. 165f.

46. On this connection see J. Betz, "Eucharistie," in L.T.K., III, 1959, col. 1143.

47. The identity of the Servant of God is clearly applied by the Lord to Himself in Lk. 22:37 (= Is. 53:12), as also in all the passages concerning the sufferings of Jesus, while the correspondence between the story of the Servant and the account of the Lord's Passion is amazing (Mt. 27:38 or Mk 15:27 or Lk. 23:32 f., 39 = Is. 53:9). The view of this passage by modern exegetes as a vaticinia ex eventu (e.g. R. Bultmann, Geschichte der synoptischen Tradition, 1951, p. 154 and Theotogie des N.T., 1,1953, p. 30), runs into insuperable difficulties, on which see O. Cullmann, Die Christoiogie des N.T., 1957, p. 63f. More generally on the significance, only recently recognized, of the figure of the Servant in the Gospels, see W. Zimmerli - J. Jeremias, "?AI?," in T.W.N.T., V, 636 f.; H.W. Wolff, Jesajia 53 im Urchristentum, 19502; and O. Cullmann, "Jesus, serviteur de Dieu," in Dieu vivant 16 (1950), 17 f.

48. The people of Israel appeared from the beginning as a strong unity in the formation of which strong religious and ethnic figures such as Moses and David had been a contributory factor. See V. Vellas, Personalities of the O.T. (in Greek), 1,19572, pp. 58,66,70,80f. 121 etc. This unity was considered so profound and strong as to make the people of God one entity in it, relationship with its God. Hence, the repeated description of Israel in the O.T. through images of living organisms such as the vine (Is. 5:1 f., Hos. 10:1-2, Jer. 12:10, Ezek. 15:6), the cedar (Ezek. 17:22), the olive tree (Jer. 11:16), and indeed the son (Ex. 4:22-23, Hos. 11:1, Is. 49:14 etc.) and wife of God (Jer. 31:32, Masoretic text). It was within the context of this sense of organic unity that there arose the tradition of the Servant of Yahweh of which we get a clear picture in the Book of Isaiah, 40-55. The discussion of how this figure is to be interpreted belongs to others (see. V. Vellas, op. cit. p. 295 f.; P. Bratsiotis, The Prophet Isaiah (in Greek) 1956, p. 8 and N. Bratsiotis, The Position of the Individual in the O.T. (in Greek), I. Introduction, 1962). But regardless of whether the individualistic or the "collectivist" interpretation of this paradoxical figure is correct, the relationship to the point of identity between the Servant and the "many" whose sins he takes upon himself is a clear characteristic of this figure. This is recognized today not only by Protestant theology but by Roman Catholic theology as well, as shown by J. de Fraine's work Adam et son Lignage: Etudes sur la "Personalitι Corporative" dans la Bible, 1959. This interpretation does not necessarily vitiate the individual characteristics of the Servant, which are beyond doubt, as V. Vellas proves (op. cit. p. 295 f.).

49. 1 Clem. 59:2-4.

50. 1 Didache 10:2. Cf. also 9:2: "We thank Thee, our Father, for the holy vine of David thy servant (pais), which Thou hast made known to us through Jesus Thy servant." On the identification of both of these passages as Eucharistic texts see J.P. Audet, La Didache. Instruction des Apotres, 1948, p. 407. Cf. also D. Moraitis, History of Christian Worship (in Greek), p. 88.

51. On the phrase "taking the form of a servant" as an allusion to the tradition concerning the Servant of God, see E. Lohmeyer, Gottesknecht und Davidsohn, 1945, p. 3 f. The same idea is also implied in Rom. 5:19 through the prominence given to the relationship of the "one" with the "many": "by one man's obedience many will be made righteous." This is a clear reference to Is. 53:11 where the Servant is presented as the one through whom "many" are justified.

52. When the Lord is likened to the "Iamb, who takes away the sin of the world" in Jn 1:29 and 36 (cf. also 19:36), this is a reference to the Servant who, in Is. 53:7, is likened to a "sheep." The same characterization is also prevalent in the Book of Revelation which is now clearly linked with the Eucharist by the fact that Christ who is offered is likened to a "lamb."

53. The use of this title to denote the person of Jesus is so frequent in the Gospels (the term appears 69 times), occurring exclusively in the mouth of the Lord Himself, that many scholars consider this attribute "Son of Man" to be the most authentic expression of Jesus' understanding of Himself. (See e.g. J. Hering, Le royaume de Dieu et sa venue, 19522, p. 11 f. and S. Mowinckel, He that Cometh, 1956, p. 445 f. The rejection of the Christological sense of the term on literary grounds originated with H. Lietzmann, in his youthful work Der Menschensohn. Ein Beitrag zur neutestametttlichen Theologie, 1896, the reason being that the Aramaic term barnasha means simply "man" (Menschenkind); this view was later abandoned by Lietzmann himself, but found a supporter in J. Wellhausen (Sttzzen und Vorarbeiten, VI, 1899, p. 187; cf. also P. Feine, Theologie des N.T., 1934, pp. 57-70. Today, some reject the Christological sense of the term on the basis of textual criticism in those passages which refer to Jesus' activity on earth, "Son of Man" being thus seen as a property of Christ's future coming (see e.g. R. Bultmann, Geschichte..., 1958, pp. 124,128,163,171 etc.; H.E- Todt, Der Menschensohn in der synoptischen Uberlieferung, 1959, pp. 197-201 and J. Hering, op. cit- p. 142). Some scholars are also dubious about the passages referring to the future coming of the "Son of Man." So P. Vielhauer, "Gottesreich und Menschensohn in der Verkundigung Jesus', in Festschrift fur G. Dehn, 1957, p. 51 f.; H.H. Conzelmann, in Zeitschrift fur Theologie und Kirche, 54 (1957) 277 f. and P. Winter in Theolog. Literaturzeitung 85 (1960), 745 f. However, the objections of these liberal commentators conflict with the idea of a "hidden Messiah," who has an awareness of his identity as "Son of Man" but does not reveal it fully before his future coming (see E. Sjdberg, Der verborgene Menschensohn in den Evangelien, 1955, p. 120 f. Cf. E. Schweitzer, "Der Menschensohn," in Zeiischrift fiir die neutest. Wissenschaft 50 (1959) 185-209). Besides, the Lord's identification of the "Son of Man" who will come in glory "on the clouds of heaven" with the humiliated Jesus on earth is clear in such passages as Mk 8:31; 10:45; Mt. 8:20 etc. On this identification see also A. Papageorgakopoulos, The Son of Man (in Greek), 1957, p.65 f.

54. The tradition probably goes back to the Book of Daniel (7:13 f.). Cf. J. Coppens, "Le Fils d'Homme Danielique et les Relectures de Dan. 7,13 dans les Apocryphes et les Ecrits du NX," in Ephemerides Theologicae Lovanienses, 37 (1961) 37.

55. Earlier by F. Kattenbusch, "Der Quellort der Kirchenidee," in Harnack-Festgabe, 1921, p. 143. See also more recently Y. Congar, The Mystery of the Church, 1960, p. 85 f.

56. This gave rise to the theory of "corporate personality," the chief exponents of which were J. Pedersen, Israel: Its Life and Culture, 1926; H. Wheeler Robinson, The Hebrew Conception of Corporate Personality (Werden und Wesen des A.T. Wissenschaft), 1936, p. 49 f. and A.R. Johnson, The One and the Many in the Israelite Conception of God, 1942. An extension of this theory to the whole of the Bible has been attempted more recently by both Protestant theologians (e.g. O. Cullmann, Christus und die Zeit, p. 99 f.) and Roman Catholics (e.g. de Fraine, op. cit.). On the O.T., cf. also N. Bratsiotis,, p. 22 f.

57. Such appears to be the relationship between the "Son of Man" and the "people of the saints" in Daniel 7:13-27. In the N.T., this same relationship is clearly presented in the depiction of the Judgement (Mt. 25:31-46) where the "Son of Man" identifies Himself completely with the group of "the least of these my brethren" (w. 40 and 45). Cf, with certain reservations, the interpretation of T.W. Manson, the Teaching of Jesus, 1955, p. 265.

58. See M. Siotis, Divine Eucharist (in Greek), p. 33 f. Cf. H. Fries, be. cit, p. 170 f.

59. Jn6:27.

60. Jn6:51.

61. The principal characterization of the "Son of Man" in the Fourth Gospel is as "he who descended from heaven." See Jn 3:13, where the phrase "he who descended from heaven" is followed by the explanatory phrase "the Son of Man."

62. Jn 6:53.

63. Jn6:48.

64. Jn 6:56. One indication of the connection in the Fourth Gospel between the "Son of Man" and the idea of the identity of Christ with the Church is the curious interchange between "I" and "we" in Jn 3:11-13: 'Truly, truly, / say to you, we speak of what we know, and bear witness to what we have seen; but you do not receive our testimony. If / have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if J tell you heavenly things? No one has ascended into heaven but he who descended from heaven, the Son of Man." It should be noted that here again the "Son of Man" is mentioned. Cf. characteristically 1 Jn 1:1 f.

65. Through their climax in Christ's prayer for unity "that they may all be one" {Jn 17).

66. Jn 15:4-16.

67. The Lord's description of Himself as the true vine in which the disciples are called to remain, comes precisely at the moment when He appeals to them, "Abide in me" (Jn 15:1-5), cannot be seen as unrelated to the idea of Israel as the "vine" (see above). For John, the Church, as comprising those who are "of the truth," is the true Israel (cf. C.H. Dodd, The Interpretation of the Fourth Gospel, 1953, p. 246) with which the "Son of Man" is identified. This is indicated, for example, by the way John transfers the passage from Gen. 28:12 into his Gospel (Jn 1:51) by replacing the word "Jacob" with the phrase "the Son of Man" (cf. C.H. Dodd, ibid.)

68. See S. Agouridis, 'Time and Eternity," loc. cit, III, 1958, p. 114 and 150.

69. The fact that the Pauline Churches had different ways of expressing their consciousness regarding the Divine Eucharist from those familiar to the Johannine Churches is indicated also by the different terminology they used to designate the Eucharist. Thus, for the Pauline Churches, the favored term is the "body," whereas, for the Johannine Churches, it is the "flesh" of Jesus Christ; perhaps on account of John's battle against Docetism, as was the case with Ignatius. See G.H.C. MacGregor," The Eucharist in the Fourth Gospel," in New Testament Studies 9 (1963), 117. For both of these terms see J. Jeremias, Die Abendmahlsworte Jesu, 19492, p. 103 f. In the end the Pauline term "body of Christ" to denote the Eucharist prevailed in the Church as is shown by the ancient phrase "The Body of Christ" which accompanied the giving of Holy Communion, and to which the communicant answered "Amen" (see Hippolytus, Apost. Trad., ed. Dix, p. 4V,Apost. Const. VTII:13:15; and Eusebius, Ecd. Hist. VT:43:19).

70. For a detailed analysis of these images see P. Minear, Images of the Church in the New Testament, I960- Cf. also E. Mersch, Le corps mystique du Christ, I, p. 143 f.

71. See inter altos E. Schweitzer, "??MA," in T.W.N.T.; eiusdem "Die Kirche als Leib Christi in den Paulinischen Antilegomena," in Theolog. Literaturzeitung, (1961) 241-256.; D. Michel, Das Zeugnis des NT. von der Gemeinde, 1941, p. 44 f.; J.A.T. Robinson, The Body, 1952; E. Best, One Body in Christ, 1955; R.P. Shedd, Man in Community, 1958, p. 161 f.; R. Bultmann, "The Transformation of the Idea of the Church...," in Canadian Journal of Theology, 1 (1955) 73-81; K.Barth, Kirchliche Dogmatik, IV/1,1963, p. 741.; P. Minear, op. cit.; J.Schneider, Die Einheit der Kirche nach N.T., 1936, p. 60 f. For RC views see inter alios T. Soiron, Die Kirche als der Leib Christi nach der Lehre des hi. Paulus, 1951, p. 9-32; H. Dieckmann Die Verfassung der Urkirche, dargestellt auf Grund der Paulusbriefe und der Apostelgeschichte, 1923, p. 107 f.; F. Mussner, Christus, das All und die Kirche, 1955; L. Cerfaux, La Theobgie..., p. 150ff; and J. Hamer, L'Eglise est une communion, Ί962, p. 50 f. For an Orthodox view in very general terms, see V. Ioannidis, "The Unity," loc. cit. p. 178 f.

72. Cf. C.T. Craig, The One Church in the Light of the N.T., 1951, p.21: "The identification of the Church with the Body of Christ can not be understood apart from the Eucharistic word This is my body1." Cf. H. Schiier, Die Zeit der Kirche. Exegetische Aufsatze und Vortrage, 19623, p. 246 f. and R. Schnackenburg, op. cit., p. 158 f.

73. For details, see A.D.J. Rawlinson, "Corpus Christ," in Mysterium Christi (ed. G.A. Bell and A. Deissmann), 1930, p. 225 f.

74. See L. Strack - P. Billerbeck, Kommentar, III, p. 446 f.

75. See e.g. R. Bultmann, "The Transformation...," ibid., pp. 73-81.

76. See e.g. V. Ioannidis, "The Unity," loc. cit- p. 179, where the source of the term is regarded as being the story told by the Roman Menenius Agrippa who was trying to emphasize to the rebellious Roman plebeians that the citizens of a state are like the members of a body.

77. This is in response primarily to the view set out in the preceding note.

78. 1 Cor. 3:9; 14:5,12; 2 Cor. 12:19; Eph. 2:21,4:12,4:16.

79. 1 Tim. 3:15; Heb. 3:6; 1 Pet. 2:5.

80. The notion of "building" (oikodomι) here is not static. The Church is "being built up," i.e. she "increases." Cf. 1 Cor. 14:4; 1 Thes. 5:11; 1 Pet. 2:5 in combination with 1 Cor. 3:6-7; Eph. 2:21, 4:15-16; Col. 1:10, 2:19; 1 Pet. 2:2.

81. 2 Cor. 11:2 and Eph. 4:13.

82. The interpretation of the term pleroma presents difficulties for which see F. Mussner, op. cit. p. 46 f. Cf. also H. Schiier, Die Zeit der Kirche, p. 170 f. But whether the word is given an active meaning (= the Church as complement of Christ), as favored by ancient exegetes including St John Chrysostom, or a passive meaning (= the Church is fulfilled through Christ), as favored by modern commentators, it still makes no sense without the idea of an ontological interdependency between Christ and the Church.

83. Eph. 4:13. Cf. 1:23.

84. This is dear at least in Hebrews 12:22-24 and 13:10, where the allusion is certainly to the Eucharist as shown by the verb "to eat." Cf. D. Stone, A History of the Doctrine of the Holy Eucharist, 1,1959, p. 15, and perhaps also the relevant passages of 1 Peter.

85. 1 Cor. 6:15,12:12,12:27; Eph. 4:25, 5:30 etc.

86. Eph. 5:29 f. Cf. also the whole of Paul's argument in 1 Cor. 6:15 f.





Article published in English on: 3-11-2007.

Last update: 19-2-2008.