The Three Tenses of the Lord’s Supper

In Richard Barcellos’ helpful book on the Lord’s Supper,  The Lord’s Supper as a Means of Grace, he outlines in summary form the three tenses of the Lord’s Supper.

There are three tenses of the Lord’s Supper – past (the accomplishment of redemption), present (the application of redemption), and future (the consummation of redemption). When we take the Supper, we do so in remembrance of Christ’s death. At the Supper, we enjoy present communion with Christ. But our Lord said he will drink with his people in the future in his Father’s kingdom. It is of interest to note that at the inauguration of the Old (Exod. 24:1-11) and New Covenants (Matt. 26:26-29) God was with his people, and eating occurred. There is also a prospect held out for us, an eschatological feast in the New Heavens and the New Earth (Matt. 26:29; Luke 14:14; Rev. 19:9). There will be eating and feasting at the consummation. All of this is due to the blood of the Lamb, slain for sinners, in order to bring us to God. The Lord’s Supper reminds us of the past, blesses us in the present, and looks to future eating, future feasting with the Lamb in all his glory. As Vos said, in it ‘there is an anticipation of what the eschatological state has in store for the believer’.

From Richard C. Barcellos, The Lord’s Supper as a Means of Grace: More than a Memory (Mentor, 2013), 38-39.

I highly recommend Barcellos’ book for a rich understanding of the Supper. It is a great introduction to the biblical teaching on the Lord’s Supper, with a special emphasis on how the Lord’s Supper functions as a means of grace for the believer.

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