Intinction is a method of taking Holy Communion, a sacred Christian practice that commemorates the Last Supper of Jesus Christ with his disciples. During the Last Supper, Jesus broke bread and shared wine, instructing his followers to do the same in remembrance of him (Luke 22:19-20). The Christian tradition has continued this practice throughout the centuries, taking on various forms of administration. One such method is intinction, which involves dipping the bread into the wine before consuming both elements together. This blog post will explore the practice of intinction communion, its historical roots, scriptural basis, and significance in today’s Christian communities.
Although intinction communion may be less familiar to some, it has a rich history and theological significance. It serves as an important reminder of the unity and connection that Christians share with one another and with Christ. As we delve into the practice of intinction communion, let us be mindful of its deep roots and its potential to bring us closer to the heart of Christian worship.
Historical Background of Intinction Communion
Intinction communion has been practiced in various forms since the early centuries of Christianity. Some evidence suggests that this method was utilized as early as the 2nd century. The practice became more widespread by the 4th century, particularly in the Eastern Orthodox Church. Intinction eventually made its way to the Western Church, where it was primarily employed in monastic communities.
The word “intinction” is derived from the Latin word “intinctio,” which means “to dip” or “to moisten.” This reflects the fundamental action involved in the practice: dipping the bread into the wine before consuming it. Intinction communion provided a practical solution to issues such as the scarcity of wine or the difficulty of administering wine from a common chalice, especially during times of contagious disease.
Biblical Basis for Intinction Communion
The practice of intinction communion is not explicitly mentioned in the New Testament, but its foundations can be traced back to the Last Supper account. The Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke, as well as the Apostle Paul’s writings in 1 Corinthians, provide descriptions of the Last Supper. These accounts serve as the primary scriptural basis for the practice of Holy Communion in general.
In the Gospel of Luke, Jesus is recorded as saying, “And He took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, ‘This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me.’ Likewise, He also took the cup after supper, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in My blood, which is shed for you'” (Luke 22:19-20, NKJV). This passage illustrates the essence of Holy Communion, which is to remember and proclaim Christ’s sacrificial death on the cross.
While the practice of intinction is not explicitly outlined in these accounts, it does align with the overall symbolism and purpose of Holy Communion. Intinction communion emphasizes the unity of the bread and wine, which represent the body and blood of Christ. This unity serves as a reminder of Christ’s singular sacrifice and the believer’s participation in it.
Theological Significance of Intinction Communion
Intinction communion carries a rich theological significance that extends beyond the practical benefits of its administration. The act of dipping the bread into the wine symbolizes the unity of Christ’s body and blood, reminding participants of the inseparable nature of his sacrifice. This act of unification also reinforces the concept of the believers’ oneness with Christ and with each other, as they partake in the same elements.
The Apostle Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 10:16-17 (NKJV), “The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ? For we, though many, are one bread and one body; for we all partake of that one bread.” This passage highlights the communal aspect of Holy Communion, which is further emphasized through the practice of intinction.
Additionally, intinction communion can serve as a reminder of Jesus’ act of humility during the Last Supper, when he washed his disciples’ feet (John 13:4-5). The act of dipping the bread into the wine can symbolize this act of service, as it requires a gentle and reverent touch, demonstrating care and respect for the sacred elements.
Intinction Communion in Contemporary Christian Worship
Intinction communion continues to be practiced in various Christian denominations today, including the Anglican, Lutheran, and Presbyterian traditions. The method of administration can vary across congregations and may involve individuals dipping the bread into the wine themselves or receiving assistance from a minister or fellow congregant.
In some Christian communities, intinction communion is offered as an alternative to the traditional method of receiving the elements separately. This may be due to hygienic concerns, personal preference, or the desire to more fully engage with the symbolism of the practice. As with any form of Holy Communion, the most important aspect of intinction is the believer’s heart and intent, as they seek to remember and proclaim Christ’s sacrifice.
Conclusion: The Heart of Intinction Communion
The practice of intinction communion holds deep historical and theological roots, as well as continued relevance in contemporary Christian worship. Its essence lies in the unity of the bread and wine, which represent the body and blood of Christ, and the believer’s participation in his sacrificial death. Through intinction, Christians are reminded of their oneness with Christ and with one another, as they partake in the sacred elements together.
As we consider the practice of intinction communion, it is essential to remember that the heart of Holy Communion lies not in the method of administration but in the believer’s reverence and gratitude for Christ’s sacrifice. The Apostle Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 11:28 (NKJV), “But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup.” Regardless of the method we choose to partake in Holy Communion, our focus should be on remembering and proclaiming Christ’s redemptive work on the cross.
Ultimately, intinction communion serves as a powerful reminder of the unity and connection that Christians share with one another and with Christ. As we embrace this ancient practice, let us do so with humility, reverence, and gratitude, remembering the incredible gift of salvation and the ongoing work of God’s grace in our lives.