poly 550 2550 750 2400 1150 2300 1150 2150 1200 2075 1500 2125 1525 2300 1350 2800 1450 3000 1700 3300 1300 3475 650 3500 550 3300 450 3000 Bartholomew poly 1575 2300 1625 2150 1900 2150 1925 2500 1875 2600 1800 2750 1600 3250 1425 3100 1400 2800 1375 2600 James Minor poly 1960 2150 2200 2150 2350 2500 2450 2575 2375 2725 2375 2900 2225 3100 2225 3225 1600 3225 1825 2700 1975 2450 1925 2300 Andrew poly 2450 2575 2775 2500 2700 2650 2800 2700 2600 3000 2600 3250 2300 3250 2200 3200 2300 3000 Peter poly 2750 2500 2950 2400 3125 2600 3175 2700 3300 2850 3700 3200 3750 3200 3650 3350 3400 3200 3000 3350 2600 3325 2750 2800 2900 2700 2700 2650 Judas poly 3000 2350 3300 2350 3350 2660 3560 2600 3565 2690 3250 2800 3125 2575 Peter poly 3332 2338 3528 2240 4284 3024 4074 3332 3864 3290 3780 3150 3668 3192 3598 3024 3374 2870 3388 2772 3542 2800 3668 2702 3542 2590 3430 2604 3350 2600 3300 2500John poly 4775 2184 4915 2128 5055 2212 5083 2352 5111 2464 5181 2604 5307 2744 5573 3052 5615 3192 5657 3290 5573 3402 5461 3332 5335 3248 4495 3248 4439 3388 4243 3388 4075 3360 4173 3136 4327 3010 4509 2730 4663 2520 4733 2394 Jesus poly 5900 2100 5900 2150 5800 2400 5800 2500 5675 2589 5480 2671 5438 2507 5425 2301 5589 2452 5630 2301 5650 2100 Thomas poly 5918 2150 6041 2109 6137 2246 6192 2411 6110 2589 6110 2726 6192 2822 6302 2740 6589 3109 5658 3178 5575 2918 5300 2698 5233 2589 5274 2438 5370 2507 5521 2685 5617 2671 5712 2575 5822 2507 5808 2287 5822 2175 James Greater poly 6137 2013 6439 2013 6863 2260 7110 2515 6726 2675 6507 2548 6425 2630 6356 2753 6548 2849 6699 2781 7082 2794 7178 3109 6699 3178 6548 2986 6397 2835 6165 2775 6110 2589 6233 2438 6302 2383 6151 2287 6096 2164 Philip poly 7635 2123 7800 2013 8000 2055 8025 2287 7950 2438 8000 2698 8055 2918 7959 3164 7233 3164 7124 2972 7124 2794 6548 2794 6384 2781 6384 2671 6493 2575 6750 2650 7075 2550 7219 2400 7625 2300 Matthew poly 8325 2096 8600 2109 8635 2493 8615 2726 8439 2781 8274 2740 8125 2835 8151 2931 8400 2975 8411 3068 8589 3041 8617 3205 7987 3260 8124 3027 7987 2644 7904 2493 7959 2425 8096 2356 Jude poly 8800 2150 8900 2125 9055 2150 9125 2397 9400 2475 9550 2931 9625 3301 9151 3397 8535 3219 8726 3014 8466 3068 8411 2918 8178 2931 8124 2835 8329 2753 8535 2794 8726 2603 8725 2342 Simon
The Last Supper is the final meal that, in the Gospel accounts, Jesus shared with his apostles in Jerusalem before his crucifixion. The Last Supper is commemorated by Christians especially on Maundy Thursday. The Last Supper provides the scriptural basis for the Eucharist, also known as "Holy Communion" or "The Lord's Supper".
The First Epistle to the Corinthians contains the earliest known mention of the Last Supper. The four canonical Gospels all state that the Last Supper took place towards the end of the week, after Jesus's triumphal entry into Jerusalem and that Jesus and his apostles shared a meal shortly before Jesus was crucified at the end of that week. During the meal Jesus predicts his betrayal by one of the apostles present, and foretells that before the next morning, Peter will thrice deny knowing him.
The three Synoptic Gospels and the First Epistle to the Corinthians include the account of the institution of the Eucharist in which Jesus takes bread, breaks it and gives it to others, saying "This is my body given to you" (the apostles are not explicitly mentioned in the account in First Corinthians). The Gospel of John does not include this episode, but tells of Jesus washing the feet of the apostles, giving the new commandment "to love one another as I have loved you", and has a detailed farewell discourse by Jesus, calling the apostles who follow his teachings "friends and not servants", as he prepares them for his departure.
Scholars have looked to the Last Supper as the source of early Christian Eucharistic traditions. Others see the account of the Last Supper as derived from 1st-century eucharistic practice as described by Paul in the mid-50s.
The term "Last Supper" does not appear in the New Testament, but traditionally many Christians refer to such an event. Many Protestants use the term "Lord's Supper", stating that the term "last" suggests this was one of several meals and not meal. The term "Lord's Supper" refers both to the biblical event and the act of "Holy Communion" and Eucharistic ("thanksgiving") celebration within their liturgy. Evangelical Protestants also use the term "Lord's Supper", but most do not use the terms "Eucharist" or the word "Holy" with the name "Communion".
The Eastern Orthodox use the term "Mystical Supper" which refers both to the biblical event and the act of Eucharistic celebration within liturgy. The Russian Orthodox also use the term "Secret Supper" ( "Тайная вечеря" , Taynaya vecherya).
Scriptural basisThe last meal that Jesus shared with his apostles, or disciples, is described in all four canonical Gospels (, , and ). This meal later became known as the Last Supper. The Last Supper was likely a retelling of the events of the last meal of Jesus among the early Christian community, and became a ritual which recounted that meal.
Paul's First Epistle to the Corinthians, which was likely written before the Gospels, includes a reference to the Last Supper but emphasizes the theological basis rather than giving a detailed description of the event or its background.
Background and setting
The overall narrative that is shared in all Gospel accounts that leads to the Last Supper is that after the Triumphal entry into Jerusalem early in the week, and encounters with various people and the Jewish elders, Jesus and his disciples share a meal towards the end of the week. After the meal, Jesus is betrayed, arrested, tried, and then crucified.
Key events in the meal are the preparation of the disciples for the departure of Jesus, the predictions about the impending betrayal of Jesus, and the foretelling of the upcoming denial of Jesus by Apostle Peter.
Prediction of Judas' betrayal
In , , and during the meal, Jesus predicted that one of the apostles present would betray him. Jesus is described as reiterating, despite each apostle's assertion that he would not betray Jesus, that the betrayer would be one of those who were present, and saying that there would be "woe to the man who betrays the Son of man! It would be better for him if he had not been born."
In and , Judas is specifically identified as the traitor. In the Gospel of John, when asked about the traitor, Jesus states:
Institution of the EucharistThe three Synoptic Gospel accounts give somewhat different versions of the order of the meal. In chapter 26 of the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus prays thanks for the bread, divides it, and hands the pieces of bread to his disciples, saying "Take, eat, this is my body." Later in the meal Jesus takes a cup of wine, offers another prayer, and gives it to those present, saying "Drink from it, all of you; for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. I tell you, I will never again drink of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom."
In chapter 22 of the Gospel of Luke, however, the wine is blessed and distributed before the bread, followed by the bread, then by a second, larger cup of wine, as well as somewhat different wordings. Additionally, according to Paul and Luke, he tells the disciples "do this in remembrance of me." This event has been regarded by Christians of most denominations as the institution of the Eucharist. There is recorded celebration of the Eucharist by the early Christian community in Jerusalem.
The institution of the Eucharist is recorded in the three Synoptic Gospels and in Paul's First Epistle to the Corinthians. As noted above, Jesus's words differ slightly in each account. In addition, is a disputed text which does not appear in some of the early manuscripts of Luke. Some scholars, therefore, believe that it is an interpolation, while others have argued that it is original.
A comparison of the accounts given in the Gospels and 1 Corinthians is shown in the table below, with text from the ASV. The disputed text from Luke 22:19b–20 is in .Jesus' actions in sharing the bread and wine have been linked with which refers to a blood sacrifice that, as recounted in , Moses offered in order to seal a covenant with God. Some scholars interpret the description of Jesus' action as asking his disciples to consider themselves part of a sacrifice, where Jesus is the one due to physically undergo it.
Although the Gospel of John does not include a description of the bread and wine ritual during the Last Supper, most scholars agree that (the Bread of Life Discourse) has a Eucharistic nature and resonates with the "words of institution" used in the Synoptic Gospels and the Pauline writings on the Last Supper.
Prediction of Peter's denial
In , , and Jesus predicts that Peter will deny knowledge of him, stating that Peter will disown him three times before the rooster crows the next morning. The three Synoptic Gospels mention that after the arrest of Jesus, Peter denied knowing him three times, but after the third denial, heard the rooster crow and recalled the prediction as Jesus turned to look at him. Peter then began to cry bitterly.
Elements unique to the Gospel of JohnIn John, Jesus's last supper is not explicitly referred to as a Passover meal. Furthermore, John's recounting of events has the crucifixion taking place concurrently with the evening Passover meal. Recent scholarship suggests that John's chronological peculiarity is a result of his use of a more modern calendar than the one that would have been in use when Jesus was alive years earlier.
includes the account of the washing the feet of the Apostles by Jesus before the meal. In this episode, Apostle Peter objects and does not want to allow Jesus to wash his feet, but Jesus answers him, "Unless I wash you, you have no part with me", after which Peter agrees.
In the Gospel of John, after the departure of Judas from the Last Supper, Jesus tells his remaining disciples that he will be with them for only a short time, then gives them a New Commandment, stating: "A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another." in . Two similar statements also appear later in : "My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you", and : "This is my command: Love each other."
At the Last Supper in the Gospel of John, Jesus gives an extended sermon to his disciples. This discourse resembles farewell speeches called testaments, in which a father or religious leader, often on the deathbed, leaves instructions for his children or followers.
This sermon is referred to as the Farewell discourse of Jesus, and has historically been considered a source of Christian doctrine, particularly on the subject of Christology. is generally known as the Farewell Prayer or the High Priestly Prayer, given that it is an intercession for the coming Church. The prayer begins with Jesus's petition for his glorification by the Father, given that completion of his work and continues to an intercession for the success of the works of his disciples and the community of his followers.
Time and place
DateHistorians estimate that the date of the crucifixion fell in the range AD 30–36. Physicists such as Isaac Newton and Colin Humphreys have ruled out the years 31, 32, 35, and 36 on astronomical grounds, leaving 7 April AD 30 and 3 April AD 33 as possible crucifixion dates. Humphreys proposes narrowing down the date of the Last Supper as having occurred in the evening of Wednesday, 1 April AD 33, by revising Annie Jaubert's double-Passover theory.
All Gospels agree that Jesus held a Last Supper with his disciples prior to dying on a Friday at or just before the time of Passover (annually on 15 Nisan, the official Jewish day beginning at sunset) and that his body was left in the tomb for the whole of the next day, which was a Shabbat (Saturday). However, while the Synoptic Gospels present the Last Supper as a Passover meal, the Gospel of John makes no explicit mention that the Last Supper was a Passover meal and presents the official Jewish Passover feast as beginning in the evening a few hours the death of Jesus. John thus implies that the Friday of the crucifixion was the day of preparation for the feast (14 Nisan), not the feast itself (15 Nisan), and astronomical calculations of ancient Passover dates initiated by Isaac Newton, and posthumously published in 1733, support John's chronology.
Historically, various attempts to reconcile the three synoptic accounts with John have been made, some of which are indicated in the Last Supper by Francis Mershman in the 1912 Catholic Encyclopedia. The Maundy Thursday church tradition assumes that the Last Supper was held on the evening before the crucifixion day (although, strictly speaking, in no Gospel is it unequivocally said that this meal took place on the night before Jesus died).
A new approach to resolve this contrast was undertaken in the wake of the excavations at Qumran in the 1950s when Annie Jaubert argued that there were two Passover feast dates: while the official Jewish lunar calendar had Passover begin on a Friday evening in the year that Jesus died, a solar calendar was also used, for instance by the Essene community at Qumran, which always had the Passover feast begin on a Tuesday evening. According to Jaubert, Jesus would have celebrated the Passover on Tuesday, and the Jewish authorities three days later, on Friday.
However, Humphreys has calculated that Jaubert's proposal cannot be correct, as the Qumran solar Passover would always fall the official Jewish lunar Passover. Nevertheless, he agrees with the approach of two Passover dates, and argues that the Last Supper took place on the evening of Wednesday 1 April 33, based on his recent discovery of the Essene, Samaritan, and Zealot calendar, which is based on Egyptian reckoning. Humphreys' implication is that Jesus and other communities were following the original Hebrew calendar putatively imported from Egypt by Moses (which requires calculating the time of the invisible new moon), rather than the official Jewish calendar which had been adopted more recently, in the 6th century BC during the Babylonian exile (which simply requires observing the visible waxing moon). A Last Supper on Wednesday, he argues, would allow more time than in the traditional view (Last Supper on Thursday) for the various interrogations of Jesus and his presentation to Pilate before he was crucified on Friday. Furthermore, a Wednesday Last Supper, followed by a Thursday daylight Sanhedrin trial, followed by a Friday judicial confirmation and crucifixion would not require violating Jewish court procedure as documented in the 2nd century, which forbade capital trials at night and moreover required a confirmatory session the following day.
In a review of Humphreys' book, the Bible scholar William R Telford points out that the non-astronomical parts of his argument are based on the assumption that the chronologies described in the New Testament are historical and based on eyewitness testimony. In doing so, Telford says, Humphreys has built an argument upon unsound premises which "does violence to the nature of the biblical texts, whose mixture of fact and fiction, tradition and redaction, history and myth all make the rigid application of the scientific tool of astronomy to their putative data a misconstrued enterprise."
LocationAccording to later tradition, the Last Supper took place in what is today called The Room of the Last Supper on Mount Zion, just outside the walls of the Old City of Jerusalem, and is traditionally known as The Upper Room. This is based on the account in the Synoptic Gospels that states that Jesus had instructed two disciples (Luke 22:8 specifies that Jesus sent Peter and John) to go to "the city" to meet "a man carrying a jar of water", who would lead them to a house, where they would find "a large upper room furnished and ready". In this upper room they "prepare the Passover".
Bargil Pixner claims the original site is located beneath the current structure of the Cenacle on Mount Zion.
No more specific indication of the location is given in the New Testament, and the "city" referred to may be a suburb of Jerusalem, such as Bethany, rather than Jerusalem itself. The traditional location is in an area that, according to archaeology, had a large Essene community, a point made by scholars who suspect a link between Jesus and the group.
Saint Mark's Syrian Orthodox Church in Jerusalem is another possible site for the room in which the Last Supper was held, and contains a Christian stone inscription testifying to early reverence for that spot. Certainly the room they have is older than that of the current coenaculum (crusader – 12th century) and as the room is now underground the relative altitude is correct (the streets of 1st century Jerusalem were at least 12 ft lower than those of today, so any true building of that time would have even its upper story currently under the earth). They also have a revered Icon of the Virgin Mary, reputedly painted from life by St Luke.
Theology of the Last Supper
St. Thomas Aquinas viewed The Father, Christ, and the Holy Spirit as teachers and masters who provide lessons, at times by example. For Aquinas, the Last Supper and the Cross form the summit of the teaching that wisdom flows from intrinsic grace, rather than external power. For Aquinas, at the Last Supper Christ taught by example, showing the value of humility (as reflected in John's foot washing narrative) and self-sacrifice, rather than by exhibiting external, miraculous powers.
Aquinas stated that based on (in the Farewell discourse) in which Jesus said: "No longer do I call you servants; ...but I have called you friends". Those who are followers of Christ and partake in the Sacrament of the Eucharist become his friends, as those gathered at the table of the Last Supper. For Aquinas, at the Last Supper Christ made the promise to be present in the Sacrament of the Eucharist, and to be with those who partake in it, as he was with his disciples at the Last Supper.
John Calvin believed only in the two sacraments of Baptism and the "Lord's Supper" (i.e., Eucharist). Thus, his analysis of the Gospel accounts of the Last Supper was an important part of his entire theology. Calvin related the Synoptic Gospel accounts of the Last Supper with the Bread of Life Discourse in that states: "I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry."
Calvin also believed that the acts of Jesus at the Last Supper should be followed as an example, stating that just as Jesus gave thanks to the Father before breaking the bread, those who go to the "Lord's Table" to receive the sacrament of the Eucharist must give thanks for the "boundless love of God" and celebrate the sacrament with both joy and thanksgiving.
RemembrancesThe institution of the Eucharist at the Last Supper is remembered by Roman Catholics as one of the Luminous Mysteries of the Rosary, the First Station of a so-called New Way of the Cross and by Christians as the "inauguration of the New Covenant", mentioned by the prophet Jeremiah, fulfilled at the last supper when Jesus "took bread, and after blessing it broke it and gave it to them, and said, 'Take; this is my body.' And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, and they all drank of it. And he said to them, 'This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many. Other Christian groups consider the Bread and Wine remembrance to be a change to the Passover ceremony, as Jesus Christ has become "our Passover, sacrificed for us", and hold that partaking of the Passover Communion (or fellowship) is now the sign of the New Covenant, when properly understood by the practicing believer.
These meals evolved into more formal worship services and became codified as the Mass in the Catholic Church, and as the Divine Liturgy in the Eastern Orthodox Church; at these liturgies, Catholics and Eastern Orthodox celebrate the Sacrament of the Eucharist. The name "Eucharist" is from the Greek word εὐχαριστία (eucharistia) which means "thanksgiving".
Early Christianity observed a ritual meal known as the "agape feast" These "love feasts" were apparently a full meal, with each participant bringing food, and with the meal eaten in a common room. They were held on Sundays, which became known as the Lord's Day, to recall the resurrection, the appearance of Christ to the disciples on the road to Emmaus, the appearance to Thomas and the Pentecost which all took place on Sundays after the Passion.
Since the late 20th century, with growing consciousness of the Jewish character of the early church and the improvement of Jewish-Christian relations, it became common among some lay people to associate the Last Supper with the Jewish Seder. This is due to the fact that the Synoptic Gospels describe it as a Passover Meal. Some evangelical groups borrowed Seder customs, like Haggadahs, and incorporated them in new rituals meant to mimic the Last Supper; likewise, many secularized Jews presume that the event was a Seder. This identification is somewhat erroneous, as although it was most likely a Passover Meal, it was according to the Second Temple Period customs and included the consumption of a full lamb. The earliest elements in the current Passover Seder (a fortiori the full-fledged ritual, which is first recorded in full only in the ninth century) are a rabbinic enactment instituted in remembrance of the Temple, which was still standing during the Last Supper.
The fifth chapter in the Quran, Al-Ma'ida (the table) contains a reference to a meal (Sura 5:114) with a table sent down from God to ʿĪsá (i.e., Jesus) and the apostles (Hawariyyin). However, there is nothing in Sura 5:114 to indicate that Jesus was celebrating that meal regarding his impending death, especially as the Quran states that Jesus was never crucified to begin with. Thus, although Sura 5:114 refers to "a meal", there is no indication that it is the Last Supper. However, some scholars believe that Jesus' manner of speech during which the table was sent down suggests that it was an affirmation of the apostles' resolves and to strengthen their faiths as the impending trial was about to befall them.
HistoricityJesus having a final meal with his disciples is almost beyond dispute among scholars, and belongs to the framework of the narrative of Jesus's life.
Some Jesus Seminar scholars consider the Lord's supper to have derived not from Jesus' last supper with the disciples but rather from the gentile tradition of memorial dinners for the dead. In this view, the Last Supper is a tradition associated mainly with the gentile churches that Paul established, rather than with the earlier, Jewish congregations.
Luke is the only Gospel in which Jesus tells his disciples to repeat the ritual of bread and wine. Bart D. Ehrman states that these particular lines do not appear in certain ancient manuscripts and might not be original to the text. However, it is in the earliest Greek manuscripts, e.g. P75, Sinaticus, Vaticanus and Ephraemi Rescriptus.
Many early Church Fathers have attested to the belief that at the Last Supper, Christ made the promise to be present in the Sacrament of the Eucharist, with attestations dating back to the first century AD. The teaching was also affirmed by many councils throughout the Church's history.
The Last Supper has been a popular subject in Christian art. Such depictions date back to early Christianity and can be seen in the Catacombs of Rome. Byzantine artists frequently focused on the Apostles receiving Communion, rather than the reclining figures having a meal. By the Renaissance, the Last Supper was a favorite topic in Italian art.
There are three major themes in the depictions of the Last Supper: the first is the dramatic and dynamic depiction of Jesus's announcement of his betrayal. The second is the moment of the institution of the tradition of the Eucharist. The depictions here are generally solemn and mystical. The third major theme is the farewell of Jesus to his disciples, in which Judas Iscariot is no longer present, having left the supper. The depictions here are generally melancholy, as Jesus prepares his disciples for his departure. There are also other, less frequently depicted scenes, such as the washing of the feet of the disciples.
Well known examples include Leonardo da Vinci's depiction, which is considered the first work of High Renaissance art due to its high level of harmony, Tintoretto's depiction which is unusual in that it includes secondary characters carrying or taking the dishes from the table and Salvadore Dali's depiction combines the typical Christian themes with modern approaches of Surrealism.