Waters Contra Intinction: We Must Observe The Sacraments In The Way Christ Instituted Them

We must observe the sacraments in a way that submits to the teaching of Scripture. In the public worship of God, we may only do what God has authorized us to do. What he hasn’t expressly authorized in Scripture is thereby forbidden.

1. The Lord’s Supper involves two distinct elements (bread and wine) and two distinct actions relating to those elements.
The bread is broken and given to the recipients. Then the cup is presented and given to the recipients. Further, both Matthew and Mark tell us in their accounts of the Last Supper that Jesus blesses the bread before he breaks it (Matt. 26:26; Mark 14:22), and he gives thanks before he distributes the cup (Matt. 26:27; Mark 14:23). So the bread is blessed, broken, and given, while the cup is accompanied by thanksgiving, presented, and given. Intinction conflates two elements, and their corresponding actions, that the New Testament purposefully keeps separate.

2. The breaking and giving of the bread, and the presentation and giving of the cup, are explicitly distinct in time.
“In the same way,” Paul reflects, Jesus also “took the cup after supper” (1 Cor. 11:25). The bread and the cup are neither offered nor distributed in a single action. These are two distinct and successive actions. When, therefore, Jesus commands his disciples—“Take, eat; this is my body” and “drink of it, all of you”—he intends for these commands to be observed successively, not simultaneously. Believers are first to take and eat the bread; then they take and drink the cup.

What Jesus appoints as two actions and commands separated in time, intinction collapses into a single action and command.

3. Each element, and its corresponding action, has particular and distinct significance.
Paul reminds us that the whole observance of the Supper points to “the Lord’s death.” The broken bread and presented cup each, in its own way, set forth Christ’s death on the cross. The bread points to Christ, who gave himself as a sacrifice for sinners and whom the believer feeds on by faith. The cup points to the cup of divine wrath that Christ willingly drank on behalf of his people (see Isa. 51:17; Jer. 25:15–38; Luke 22:42).

Intinction, by combining the ingestion of bread and wine into a single action, strikes at the symbolic integrity of both. Read more»

Guy Waters | “To Dip or Not to Dip? The Case Against Intinction” | Apr 20, 2022

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10 comments

  1. Dear Guy,
    This is very helpful, and you always manage to state these things more clearly than I do. If we observed my two grandsons sitting at the kitchen table, dipping Oreos into milk and then digesting them, we would never call this “drinking.” I count exactly a dozen uses of πίνω in 1 Cor. 10 and 11, and 17 uses of ἐσθίω in the same, so “eating” and “drinking” are repeatedly presented by Paul there as separate, distinct acts, and your view is indeed the view of Scripture on the matter.
    Give my regards to Miles, Charlie, and John.
    T. David

  2. I’m a simple fellow. I see intinction and think, “Didn’t Jesus give Judas the bread dipped in wine? While to the disciples he gave bread, then the cup?” Surely it is better to be a disciple than to follow in Judas’ footsteps.

    • Jay: Who ever said that Jesus dipped the bread in wine? All it says is that he dipped the bread in a dish. I’ll let others opine on what was in the dish. The wine was referred to as being in a cup.

    • Jay, simple indeed you may be! However, in your simplicity, like that archer of the Syrians that drew his bow at a venture, missed the venture, but hit Ahab, you have shot down a misapprehension of mine: Every time I read the John 13 passage, I envisaged Jesus dipping the bread into some sort of gravy or sauce before giving it to Judas. But it was a Passover meal, so, of course, there was no sauce or gravy, it would have had to be wine.
      However, Luke 22:20-21 shows us that Judas must ALSO have received the elements in the proper way, with the rest of the Apostles.

    • Bob’s comment was not there when I started typing mine, otherwise I would have pointed out that the Scripture does not say that it was a dish into which Christ dipped the sop. It could have been the cup (which might have been bigger than their individual cups – “Take this AND DIVIDE among yourselves”).

    • I have read some theologians who think the “dish” into which both Jesus and Judas dipped their bread may have been something similar to a fruit compote, which would have been included along with the other foods at a Passover meal.

  3. Thank you for posting this, and especially adding the other links at the end. The history behind this practice is very interesting. I had always assumed that Intinction was practiced as a matter of convenience; taking up a shorter amount of time during the service and needing less people to serve the elements. I regret my past naiveté of not questioning this further.

  4. As the distinct acts they are also liturgically accompanied by separate prayers. Opening and closing prayers are certainly optional regarding the celebration of the table, but the eucharistic prayers (thanks/bless) are carefully located by Scripture. It seems to me that we who hold to sola scriptura should liturgically follow this pattern as well. Intinction is also a bit Frankensteinish, reassembling, as “wiser than Thou”, what is intended to communicate the reality of the Lord’s death. Where’s the regulative principle when we need it?!

  5. My investigations indicate George is most correct here–the dish would likely have contained some fruit-based sauce into which bread was dipped before eating. This practice persists in Middle Eastern cultures to this day. I thought perhaps some mixture of bitter herbs and olive oil (similar to what one gets as an appetizer in many American Italian-style chain restaurants today) is also possible.

    • Scripture does command to eat the Passover lamb with bitter herbs. But whether those herbs were made into a sauce served in a dish, we don’t know. There is no dish mentioned in john 13.
      Nowadays Jews have some sort of horseradish pate at Passover (but no Passover lamb!).

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