8.2.7 The significance of bread and wine

The elements of bread and wine which constitute the sacrament belong to the domain of sustenance, of celebration, and of Israelite divine service.

Bread is a symbol for human sustenance in general. The meals of bread and the related miracles of the Old and New Testaments demonstrate that God is concerned with the human being as a whole, not only in part–that is not only the body, and not only the soul. Even within the divine service, bread had been assigned an important function by the Mosaic Law: twelve loaves of showbread ("Bread of the Presence") were placed on a table in front of the veil to the Most Holy Place. On each Sabbath, they were eaten by the priests and replaced with new loaves (Exodus 25: 30).

In general, wine is also a reference to the primal and creaturely dependence of human beings on sustenance. In ancient Israel, wine was one of the beverages consumed at feasts. In Israel, wine was also a symbol of joy and of future salvation (Isaiah 55: 1).


Holy Communion is the sacrament which is dispensed to a human being again and again. It is the central event of the divine service. (8.2)

Holy Communion is also known as the "Eucharist" ("giving thanks"), the "Lord's Supper", and the "breaking of bread". (8.2.1)

Already the Old Testament contained references to Holy Communion. (8.2.2)

Both the Passover meal and Holy Communion are meals of remembrance of which bread is an indispensable component. The Passover meal commemorates the liberation of the Israelites from captivity in Egypt. Holy Communion points to liberation in a much more comprehensive sense, namely to the redemption of mankind from the servitude of sin. (8.2.4)

On the occasion of the Passover feast, Jesus Christ shared in a meal with His Apostles. In the process He instituted Holy Communion. (8.2.5)

The oldest evidence of the celebration of Holy Communion and the words of institution which Jesus spoke at that time can be found in 1 Corinthians 11. This also recalls the situation in which Holy Communion was instituted. (8.2.6)

The sacrament is constituted by the elements of bread and wine. (8.2.7)

Bread is a symbol for human sustenance in general. Wine is also a reference to the human dependency on sustenance. In Israel, wine is also a symbol of joy and of future salvation. (8.2.7)

See also