The Baptist Pillar ©      Brandon Bible Baptist Church     1992-Present

"...The church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth."
I Timothy 3:15

Intercommunion is Unscriptural

J. R. Graves

From Old Landmarkism: What Is It?, 1880

It is objected that “should the churches return to the strict practice, many ministers who are now 'pastoring' four or five churches could not commune with the churches they serve and for which they administer the Supper."

This is not the fault of the theory, but of those churches that have no pastors. Christ ordained that each church should have a bishop, as he ordained that each wife should have one husband, and each flock a shepherd, and he also ordained that each church should support its own pastor; and, if unable to do so, it should not assume church form and prerogatives.

In this case the pastor can participate with his church, for he will be a member of, and under its jurisdiction. Still there is no real difficulty in the case, when the minister is willing to act scripturally. He can administer this ordinance to the church, without exercising the rights of a member, as well as receive members into the church, and administering the other ordinance, without voting on the qualifications of the subject. He has the same right to vote, as he has to eat, with a church of which he is not a member. We often administer the Supper for churches at their request, but participate only with our own.

Christ made no exceptions to meet difficulties arising from departures from his order, and we have no right to do it. We cannot divide a principle; we must take the whole or none at all. For unless  we observe the ordinances as he commanded, we do not observe them at all—they are null and void, and worse—perverted and profaned.


The only Scripture we have seen quoted to sustain the practice of intercommunion among Baptists, is Acts 20: 7. The brethren who quote this should never smile in pity upon Pedobaptists for quoting Mark 10:14 to prove Infant Baptism. All that passage lacks of being a proof text for the practice, is the substitution of the one word baptized, for "blessed," and all this passage lacks to be of any service to our brethren, is the statement that Paul and Luke did eat the Lord's Supper with the Baptist church at Troas, but it does not say it, or even intimate it.

And let me here state that the practice of the apostles and first ministers, divinely commissioned to promulgate the gospel and establish churches in foreign lands, certainly should not be quoted to justify ministers, or private members, in doing the same thing.

No one is warranted to preach, and to baptize now, without having received baptism or the ordination of some church, because John the Baptist did so. No deacon can claim the right to preach and baptize, by virtue of his office, when traveling in a strange country, should a stranger demand baptism at his hands, because Philip, once a deacon, baptized the eunuch.

I insist that, could a score of passages be produced to prove that Paul, or any other apostle did "commune" with the churches he planted, it would prove nothing in support of denominational communion, so long as Paul's letters to the church at Corinth are allowed to be the law to all our churches of this age, and in which the Supper is still to be observed with "one loaf," and by one church, one body, and the church required to purge out the leaven that she may observe a pure feast.

But to return to the proof text, which proves absolutely nothing, but that the "brethren at Troas" did meet, on the first day of the week, to break the loaf. Let us read it: "And upon the first day of the week, when the disciples—toon mathetoon—came together to break bread." The disciples of every church Paul organized, doubtless observed the same custom on the first day of the week, but this is not proof that Paul always or ever partook of the Supper with them. But it is claimed that verse 11 positively declares that he did eat with this church.

To verse 11, then, we go, and how does this read?

"When he therefore was come up again, and had broken bread, and had eaten, and had talked a long while, even till break of day, so he departed."

Now the facts were, the brethren of the church came together to break bread at the close of the day, and did so, then Paul commenced to preach unto them, and continued until midnight, at which time Eutychus, falling asleep, fell out of the window from the third story, and was taken up dead. Paul went down and resuscitated him. It was after this event that the eleventh verse, above quoted, comes in.

Now, that this was not the Lord's Supper, but refreshment prepared for Paul after his six hours' speaking, and preparatory to his departure, is evident from the language itself.

1. The disciples broke the loaf on Sabbath eve, and this meal was a breakfast, eaten at one or two o'clock A. M., on the beginning of the second day of the week.

2. It states that Paul ate, not the brethren of the church. Had it been the Lord's Supper, and all had participated, the Greek participles would have been in the plural, and not in the singular as they all are, referring to this matter—anabas, klasas, gensamenos, omilesas. But it is claimed that gensamenos determines it, since it sometimes means "to taste," "eat lightly," etc.

Well, grant that the inditing Spirit did intend to inform us that Paul did not eat very heartily, but only lightly, it does not surprise us after the fatigue of preaching six hours, and the excitement of raising a man from the dead—his first miracle of this kind; still, not the church, but only Paul ate, and this settles the matter. The learned Alford translates gensamenos, "having made a meal," and says: "Not having tasted it—i.e., the bread which he had broken—though that is implied, usage decides for the other meaning."

Barnes says: "Had taken refreshment. As this is spoken of Paul only, it is evidently distinguished from the celebration of the Lord's Supper."


There were certain teachers that belonged to the church at Jerusalem who had a great zeal for the law, and they seemed to have made it a point to visit all the churches planted by Paul, to antagonize the doctrine he taught. And these, everywhere they went, introduced confusion into the churches, and bewitched the brethren with their Judaistic teachings. The elders and brethren at Jerusalem admitted this fact:

"Forasmuch as we have heard, that certain which went out from us, have troubled you with words, subverting your souls, etc."(Acts 15:24)

How did Paul regard these brethren?

"I marvel that you are so soon removed from him who called you into another gospel, which is not another: but there be some who trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ.” (Gal. 1:6)

"Behold, I, Paul, say unto you, that if ye be circumcised Christ shall profit you nothing…Christ is become of none effect unto you…A little LEAVEN leaveneth the whole lump." (Gal. 5:2, 9)

The false doctrine taught by these teachers Paul called "leaven."

In warning the church at Corinth of these, and such like, he says:

"For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ; and no marvel, for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore, it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness, whose end…" (II Cor. 11:13-16)

Again he says: "For many walk, of whom I have told you before, and I tell you, even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ, whose end is destruction."(Phil. 3: 18)

How did Paul instruct the churches to treat these brethren; associate and "commune" with them, or to avoid and withdraw, and purge them as leaven, away from their tables? Hear him:

"Though we, or an angel from heaven, preach another gospel unto you than that we have preached unto you, let him be accursed." (Gal. 1:8)

"I would they were cut off who trouble you." (Gal 5:12)

"From such turn away." (II Tim. 3:5)

"Withdraw from every brother who walks disorderly." (II Thess. 3:6)

“Note that man, and have no company with him, that he may be ashamed." (II Thess. 3:14)

How about communing with such? "Purge out therefore the old leaven" (I Cor. 5:7)—i. e., all these false teachers and those who hold with them.

This to my mind settles this question of intercommunion in Paul's day. The church at Corinth could not invite all the members of the church at Jerusalem to partake of the Supper, without violating the positive instructions of Paul, for there were thousands of members, if not the majority of that church, who held with these false teachers, and supported them. (See Acts 21:22)

But not a few of such like brethren had crept into all the churches Paul had planted among the Gentiles, into the churches of Galatia; and if the church at Corinth did as our churches are wont to do, invite all members in good standing in sister churches; then all the Judaized brethren at Jerusalem, and all the false apostles—impostors—all the false and corrupt teachers, and false brethren of all Asia, might have come and sat down with their loads of leaven!

No thinking man can believe, with Paul's instructions before his eyes, that the church at Corinth did practice intercommunion with the church at Jerusalem or the churches of Galatia, and very many of the other churches of Asia.

As late as the thirteenth century the practice of each church limiting its Supper to its own membership seems to be established. This was called the aphorism of Ignatius—one altar and one bishop in each church. But not into the histories of the apostate churches, which, unfortunately, most of our histories are, may we look for primitive purity; and little do we know of those that kept the faith, save through their enemies, who generally misrepresented them. The instructions given to the New Testament churches must be our "Landmarks."


1. Intercommunion between opposing denominations holding diverse faiths, is a profanation of the Lord's Supper.

2. The Lord's Supper is an ordinance of each local church, to be observed by its own members qualified to receive it, and by none else. Therefore,

3. Intercommunion between Baptist churches is unscriptural.