Holy Communion in Third Century Rome


Hippolytus, the leading theologian of the third century, wrote at least 10 volumes of work during his lifetime. He lived in Rome and gives us some of the most detailed information about the church in that early era.  The material below was taken from his writing on baptism which was followed by the reception of the Eucharist.

I thought his inclusion of milk and honey and water was interesting.  There are allusions to the promised land flowing of milk and honey, which is fulfilled in Jesus.  Also, Peter wrote, “Like newborn infants, long for the spiritual milk so that through it you may grow into salvation, for you have tasted that the Lord is good.”  The drinking of the water recalled the outward washing of baptism.

Then the deacons shall immediately bring the oblation (elements used in the sacrament). The bishop shall bless the bread, which is the symbol of the Body of Christ; and the bowl of mixed wine, which is the  symbol of the Blood which has been shed for all who believe in him; and the milk and honey mixed together, in fulfillment of the promise made to the fathers, in which he said, “a land flowing with milk and honey,” which Christ indeed gave, his Flesh, through which those who believe are nourished like little children, by the sweetness of his Word, softening the bitter heart;  and water also for an oblation, as a sign of the baptism, so that the inner person, which is spiritual, may also receive the same as the body.

The bishop shall explain all these things to those who are receiving.

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