What is the Eucharist? - Definition & Overview

An error occurred trying to load this video.

Try refreshing the page, or contact customer support.

Coming up next: Monotheism in Christianity: Definition & Overview

You're on a roll. Keep up the good work!

Take Quiz Watch Next Lesson
 Replay
Your next lesson will play in 10 seconds
  • 0:04 The Eucharist
  • 0:51 The Last Supper
  • 2:00 Eucharist References
  • 2:24 Eucharist Approaches
  • 3:11 Transubstantiation
  • 3:57 Lesson Summary
Save Save Save

Want to watch this again later?

Log in or sign up to add this lesson to a Custom Course.

Log in or Sign up

Timeline
Autoplay
Autoplay
Speed Speed

Recommended Lessons and Courses for You

Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Nate Sullivan

Nate Sullivan holds a M.A. in History and a M.Ed. He is an adjunct history professor, middle school history teacher, and freelance writer.

In this lesson, we will learn about the theological term, 'Eucharist.' We will learn what the Eucharist is, and what its place is in the Christian faith. We will also discuss the wide variety of views toward the Eucharist.

The Eucharist

The word 'Eucharist' is derived from the Greek word eucharistia, meaning 'thanksgiving.' This term originated in the 1st or 2nd century A.D. as early Christians commemorated Christ's Last Supper with thanksgiving. Christians participate in the Eucharist, also known as communion, Holy Communion, or the Lord's Supper, by eating a piece of bread, which represents Christ's body, and by drinking a small amount of wine (or in some cases grape juice), which represents Christ's blood. By eating and drinking the bread and wine, Christians commemorate Christ's 'Last Supper' and are reminded of his death on the cross.

There are a variety of theological views about the Eucharist, many of which are very abstract. While not all Christians agree on some of these theological particulars, the Eucharist is generally understood as a remembrance of Jesus Christ's crucifixion.

The Last Supper

Before we dig any deeper into the theology surrounding the Eucharist, let's review the Last Supper. Perhaps you're familiar with the famous painting The Last Supper', by Leonardo da Vinci.

null

According to the Bible, the night before Christ was crucified, he and his twelve apostles sat down and ate a meal of bread and wine. During the meal, Christ instructed his disciplines to eat and drink in his remembrance. Corinthians 11:23-26 describes this incident:

...that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, 'This is my body which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.' In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, 'This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.' For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes.

The bread was meant to symbolize Christ's crucified body, while the wine was meant to symbolize Christ's blood. Christians believe that Christ's death on the cross is the means by which salvation is brought to the human race. Therefore, his death on the cross is imbibed with spiritual symbolism.

Eucharist References

Within the Christian religion there are a variety of ways for naming the Eucharist. Many liturgical Protestant churches (such as the Anglicans, Lutherans, Presbyterians, and United Methodists) use the term 'Eucharist.' Baptist churches refer to the practice as 'Communion' or 'Holy Communion.' In the Roman Catholic Church, the Eucharist is sometimes referred to as 'Mass,' although Mass also means the entire church service.

Eucharist Approaches

The method by which the Eucharist is administered also varies. Typically, the bread is administered first, followed by the wine, with the Catholic church and many liturgical protestant churches using wine, and Baptist churches using grape juice. In some churches the bread and wine are consumed individually upon being received, while in other churches they're consumed collectively, where everyone consumes them at the same time upon receiving permission.

To unlock this lesson you must be a Study.com Member.
Create your account

Register to view this lesson

Are you a student or a teacher?

Unlock Your Education

See for yourself why 30 million people use Study.com

Become a Study.com member and start learning now.
Become a Member  Back
What teachers are saying about Study.com
Try it risk-free for 30 days

Earning College Credit

Did you know… We have over 200 college courses that prepare you to earn credit by exam that is accepted by over 1,500 colleges and universities. You can test out of the first two years of college and save thousands off your degree. Anyone can earn credit-by-exam regardless of age or education level.

To learn more, visit our Earning Credit Page

Transferring credit to the school of your choice

Not sure what college you want to attend yet? Study.com has thousands of articles about every imaginable degree, area of study and career path that can help you find the school that's right for you.

Create an account to start this course today
Try it risk-free for 30 days!
Create an account
Support