Admirers of John Calvin (1509–1564) who have not read his magisterial Institutes are often surprised when they hear that he argues for a weekly observance of the Lord’s Supper, especially considering that a majority of churches today that trace their roots to the Reformation movement do not follow this practice. Calvin believed that a fully consistent Reformed view of the Lord’s Supper called for a frequent—ideally weekly—celebration of the sacrament. Calvin’s conviction regarding a weekly frequency of celebration derived from his understanding of the normativity suggested by the apostolic practice of worship as evinced in the New Testament Scriptures and the testimony of the early church.

Apostolic Pattern and Precedent

In coalescence with the dictum, ‘The Reformed church is always reforming according to the Word of God’ (ecclesia reformata semper reformanda est secundum verbum Dei), it was Calvin’s conviction that the church should be increasingly and utterly conformed to apostolic teaching. Ever since the Creed of the First Council of Constantinople (381 AD), the church formally confessed the note of apostolicity to be indispensable to her very existence. Whereas the Roman Catholic church identified apostolicity with a succession of bishops in conformity to the church’s official teachings (which included Scripture plus tradition),[1] Calvin stood with Protestantism by insisting that true apostolicity is determined by harmony with the apostles’ doctrine in Scripture—a harmony defined in terms of the church’s teaching and her actual conformity of practice to those teachings.[2]

This restructured definition of apostolicity is important for understanding two things in particular that undergird Calvin’s conviction regarding the frequency of the Lord’s Supper. First, it explains his drive to get back at the practice of the early church and to replicate the pattern of early Christianity. This retrieval of the primitive purity of apostolic teaching and practice was the goal of all his endeavors to reform the church.[3] Second, it explains why Calvin could hold to his conviction about an ideal pattern for weekly communion while settling for a less-than-ideal practice in Reformation churches without having major conflict of conscience. This is because he held that within the broader bounds of faithfulness to the foundations of apostolic teaching, varying degrees of specific conformity to the apostolic pattern can consequent in varying degrees of health for a true church. Thus, the degree to which a local church abides in conformity to its apostolic calling may define both its validity as a true church and be determinate for its health and well-being, and while these two things are related, they must ever be distinguished. There is therefore both an absolute aspect and a relative aspect to a church’s conformity to the notae ecclesiae of apostolicity.[4]

For Calvin, the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper per se—in its essential theology and regular celebration—belonged to the absolute aspect of apostolicity, whereas the frequency pertained to the relative aspect. To be more specific, while Calvin ruled out an annual celebration of the Supper as so far deviant from the apostolic pattern that it was “a veritable invention of the devil,”[5] the question of quarterly vs. monthly vs. weekly frequency was not a question regarding what it is that constitutes a true church; it was rather one of subsidiary consequence to the health of the church. As a secondary issue, it was more than a matter of mere adiaphora but less than a matter of primary concern. The bottom line is that Calvin saw a weekly celebration as an ideal but not as an apostolic commandment.[6] It is only by situating Calvin’s take on this issue within this framework that we can avoid misconstruing him, for it allows us to appreciate his irenicism while doing justice to his conviction.[7]

New Testament Witness

Calvin believed that the biblical evidence indicates the apostles directed the church to celebrate the Lord’s Supper at every formal gathering of the congregation. “The frequent practice of communion,” he writes, was received “from the apostles themselves. For they saw that it was most wholesome for believers but that it gradually fell into disuse out of common neglect.”[8] At first the apostles practiced a daily celebration; then, once the church was better established and regularity of custom ensued issuing in weekly gatherings, at least weekly.

The foremost text Calvin expounds in support of this is Acts 2:42, which describes the apostolic church in its primitive infancy: “And they continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.” Calvin held that the activities delineated by Luke were ecclesiastical marks that define the nature of the church.[9] Accordingly, “the breaking of bread” is a metonymy for celebrating the Lord’s Supper.[10] Calvin’s logic is not difficult to discern: Since the church was gathering “daily” (Acts 2:46), and since these were the activities engaged in when it gathered, it follows that the Supper was being observed daily.

A question surfaces that begs an answer at this point. Not everything predicated of the church in the book of the Acts was intended by the Lord to be prescriptive as a normative practice for his church. Robert Letham makes this point when he argues against the claim that a weekly communion is mandated in Scripture. He admits that the early church celebrated the Supper at least weekly. But he expressly denies that this apostolic practice was prescriptive for later churches, any more than the communion of goods following the events of Pentecost was prescriptive.[11] Those who hold to the traditional Reformed interpretation of the eighth commandment as a sanction to the right of personal property would at least agree with his point that the disposal of goods surrounding the events of Pentecost was an extraordinary circumstance and not a normative pattern or mandate.[12]

The question for Calvin, therefore, must be: Is the apostolic pattern described in Acts 2:42 more than merely descriptive, i.e., does it have any prescriptive quality about it? He suggests it does. As noted above, Calvin believed the activities described define a true church. While not every detail surrounding the historical circumstances of those activities in Acts 2 was prescriptive, the activities themselves were insofar as they were elements of the church’s worship.[13] Calvin points out that the practice of the church in its gatherings for worship under the apostles’ leadership established a precedent that becomes a kind of liturgical pattern for all other churches to follow.[14] In the Institutes, he explains:

Luke relates in The Acts that this [frequent celebration of the Lord’s Supper] was the practice of the apostolic church, when he says that believers ‘… continued in the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, in the breaking of bread and in prayers’ [Acts 2:42, cf. Vg.]. Thus it became the unvarying rule that no meeting of the church should take place without the Word, prayers, partaking of the Supper, and almsgiving. That this was the established order among the Corinthians also, we can safely infer from Paul [cf. 1 Cor. 11:20]. And it remained in use for many centuries after.[15]

The frequency with which the Supper was celebrated corresponded to and correlated with the frequency with which the apostolic church gathered for worship. Calvin understood the custom of the apostolic church to have established a divinely ordained pattern, precedent, and ideal.[16]

From the Patristic Era to the Reformation

A frequent communion “remained in use for many centuries after” the apostles.[17] In saying this, Calvin appealed to the practice of the early church subsequent to the apostles not so much as an authority in itself but as a testimony to the prescriptive nature of the apostolic precedent and pattern set in the Scriptures. An assiduous student of the church fathers,[18] Calvin believed their proximity to the apostolic era meant that their practice can often serve to accentuate apostolic practice, since downgrade in the church is naturally of a progressive nature and occurred incrementally over centuries.[19]

Although the early church followed the apostolic pattern of frequent communion faithfully,[20] the progressive influx of degenerate influences caused her to deviate from this practice into finally conceding permission for a much less frequent communion. Early on, the laity were growing hesitant to partake of the Supper out of fear on account of their moral laxity.[21] Over time, superstition elevated the Eucharist to the status of an actual atoning sacrifice of the real body and blood of Christ upon the altar.[22] To top it off, the cup was increasingly withheld from the laity out of fear of spilling a drop of Christ’s blood.[23] These influences generated a chasm between the Eucharist and the Christian congregant. Reformation historian Carter Lindberg writes, “The sacrament was so revered that frequency of reception declined drastically.”[24] By the time transubstantiation was officially defined in 1215 in canon one of the Fourth Lateran Council, canon 21 of the selfsame assembly decreed that the faithful should partake of the Eucharist annually, typically on Easter (corresponding to the Passover motif).[25]

It is that decree which Calvin denounces as a “a veritable invention of the devil.”[26] “Invention” is a key word here, for Calvin’s use of it speaks to this whole issue of his conviction regarding the frequency of the Supper as an ancient apostolic pattern. Contrary to popular evangelical opinion today, frequent communion is not tantamount to Roman Catholic ideology—from the historical perspective, quite the opposite is the case.[27] Scarce communion was the novelty, a definitive break with the practice of the apostolic and patristic church. As far as Calvin was concerned, annual communion had no warrant from the Word, was motivated by ideas and influences that were contrary to Scripture, and was detrimental in its practical consequences. Calvin writes, “[H]ow soon after the apostolic age the Lord’s Supper was corrupted by rust…. Now, to get rid of this great pile of ceremonies, the Supper could have been administered most becomingly if it were set before the church very often, and at least once a week.”[28] Driven by Scripture’s regulating principle, Calvin was zealous to divest worship from all manmade, innovative embellishments and to return to pure worship. He believed that the frequent celebration of the Supper was a part of what it meant to return to the church’s roots, to fully reform the church according to God’s Word.

Calvin’s Pastoral Heart in the Matter

Calvin did not succeed in implementing a more frequent communion in the churches under his pastoral care in Strasbourg or in Geneva. In spite of his petitions, the city councils insisted on retaining the practice of a quarterly communion. Calvin acquiesced on account of “the weakness of the people’s faith,”[29] and he did not deem it wise to cause division over the issue. But he writes, “I took care however that it should be remarked in the public acts, that our custom was defective, so that those who came after might have more freedom and ease in correcting it.”[30] However, later generations have not had much more freedom and ease. Many churches that stand in Calvin’s stream of biblical and apostolic Christianity still prefer the quarterly communion that dominated the Reformed churches in his day. Many have moved to a monthly observance. And some fewer have opted for a weekly communion in accord with Calvin’s view.[31]

But as far as implementing a more frequent communion, the bottom line for Calvin was a pastoral concern. He believed that the Lord’s Supper is a true means of grace, for in it the partaker in faith receives the whole Christ and all his benefits.[32] As a sanctifying sacrament, it is the Word made visible (verbum visibile)[33] which nourishes the souls of worthy partakers.[34] Calvin’s desire was that the Lord’s people would more fully and more frequently enjoy the real presence of Christ through the Supper’s transformative sacramentology;[35] to increase experiential union and communion with Christ from spiritually yet truly feasting on his body and blood in the “sacred banquet.”[36] It is quite logical that his doctrine of the real spiritual presence in the sacrament would lead him to conclude that a more frequent participation of the right kind would lead to greater edification.[37] If we believe in Calvin’s theology of the Supper, are we consistent with our theology—not to mention the biblical, apostolic, and patristic testimony—when we opt for a less frequent communion? That is a question with which pastors and elders need to reckon. We conclude with Calvin’s own words, calling attention to this pastoral concern:

As to the time of using it…if we duly consider the end which our Lord has in view, we shall perceive that the use should be more frequent than many make it: for the more infirmity presses, the more necessary is it frequently to have recourse to what may and will serve to confirm our faith, and advance us in purity of life; and, therefore, the practice of all well ordered churches should be to celebrate the Supper frequently, so far as the capacity of the people will admit…. Although we have no express commandment specifying the time and the day, it should suffice us to know the intention of our Lord to be, that we should use it often, if we would fully experience the benefit which accrues from it.[38]



[1] F. L. Cross and Elizabeth A. Livingstone, eds., The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church (Oxford;  New York: Oxford University Press, 2005), 93.

[2] Calvin writes, “this pretense of [apostolic] succession [through bishops] is vain unless their descendants conserve safe and uncorrupted the truth of Christ which they have received at their fathers’ hands, and abide in it.” John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, ed. John T. McNeill, trans. Ford Lewis Battles, vol. 1, The Library of Christian Classics (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 2011), 1043 [4.2.2].

[3] E.g., Calvin’s comments on reforming the church by restoring the pastoral office “according to the apostolic rule and the practice of the primitive church.” John Calvin, “The Necessity of Reforming the Church,” in J. K. S. Reid, Calvin: Theological Treatises (Louisville, KY; London: Westminster John Knox Press, 1954), 206; in 1538, Calvin wrote to Bullinger from Geneva about his desire to reform the church by implementing ecclesiastical excommunication, stating, “we shall have no lasting Church unless that ancient apostolic discipline be completely restored.” John Calvin, “XVIII. To Henrich Bullinger,” in Jules Bonnet, Letters of John Calvin, vol. 1 (Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software, 2009), 66. His writings abundantly declare that his efforts to reform were attempts to restore ancient apostolic teaching and practice.

[4] Cunningham’s excellent Reformed survey of historical theology speaks to this when he writes, “No professing church…can have any claim to be regarded as possessed of sanctity or apostolicity, unless its system of doctrine be in accordance with the Word of God; and a church is apostolical just in proportion as in all its arrangements it is framed after the model, so far as the Scripture makes it known to us, of the church which the apostles established.” William Cunningham, Historical Theology: A Review of the Principle Doctrinal Discussions in the Christian Church Since the Apostolic Age; vol. 1 (Edinburgh: T&T Clark, n.d.), 25. The words, “just in proportion as” indicate degrees of variance within a spectrum of conformity (assuming the foundation is sure). Similarly, Vos says, “The principal features of [the church’s] government are given in Scripture and outlined in the organization of the apostolic church, and that pattern has binding authority. Within those principal features there may be a certain latitude, but they themselves may not be eliminated.” Geerhardus Vos, Reformed Dogmatics, ed. Richard B. Gaffin Jr., trans. Richard B. Gaffin Jr., vol. 3 (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2012–2016), 178. Bannerman distinguishes between what is necessary for a church’s existence and its perfection: “First, there is an important distinction between what is necessary to the being of a Church, and what is necessary to its wellbeing. There are articles of belief to be found in the Word of God, or to be deduced, ‘by good and necessary consequence,’ from it, which it is both the duty and the privilege of a Christian Church to receive and embody in its creed; the denial or rejection of which, however, would not necessarily infer that it had forfeited its essential character, and ceased to be a Church at all. In like manner, there are departures from Scripture authority or example in respect to outward order and administration in a Church of Christ, in respect to its government and discipline and worship, which, although wrong in themselves, and injurious in their operations and tendency, yet do not suffice to unchurch the Christian society, or to deprive it of its claim to be regarded as a branch of the visible Church of Christ. There is much, in short, that may be necessary to the perfection of a Church, measured and judged of by the Word of God, that is not necessary to the existence of a Church in such a sense that the want of it would exclude it from the title or privileges of a Church at all.” James Bannerman, The Church of Christ: A Treatise on the Nature, Powers, Ordinances, Discipline, and Government of the Christian Church, vol. 1 (Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1868), 55–56.

[5] Calvin, Institutes, 4.17.46.

[6] “Although we have no express commandment specifying the time and the day, it should suffice us to know the intention of our Lord to be, that we should use it often, if we would fully experience the benefit which accrues from it.” John Calvin, “Short Treatise on the Holy Supper of Our Lord Jesus Christ,” in Treatises on the Sacraments: Tracts by John Calvin; trans. Henry Beveridge (Geanies House, Fearn: Ross-shire, 2002), 180 (quoted and explicated at greater length below).

[7] Hence, Calvin’s irenic spirit on this issue was not sinful compromise as far as he was concerned; his irenicism was in full consistency with his convictions. In contemporary debates about the frequency of the Supper, the question is often raised to those who advocate for a weekly celebration if churches with a less frequent celebration are sinning. Opinions abound regarding that question, but I can find no evidence that Calvin believed that a less-than-weekly observance was sinful per se (as long as it was celebrated more often than annually). He clearly advocated for settling for a less-than-weekly observance when political, ecclesiastical, and/or practical matters made a weekly celebration imprudent in his estimation, as can be seen from his own example in Geneva, where he petitioned the city council for a more frequent observance, was denied, and submitted to the order. “He thought this course legitimate by reason of the weakness of the time.” J. H. Merle D’aubigné D.D. and William L. R. Cates, History of the Reformation in Europe in the Time of Calvin, vol. 7 (London: Longmans, Green, and Co., 1876), 76.

[8] Calvin, Institutes, 4.17.45.

[9] “Yea, he expresseth in this place four marks whereby the true and natural face of the Church may be judged. Do we then seek the true Church of Christ? The image thereof is lively depainted and set forth unto us in this place.” John Calvin and Henry Beveridge, Commentary upon the Acts of the Apostles, vol. 1 (Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software, 2010), 126–127 [Acts 2:42].

[10] Calvin, Commentary upon the Acts of the Apostles, 2:42.

[11] Letham concedes, however, that Acts 2:42, 20:7, and 2 Cor. 11 bear witness to a weekly Supper: “In Acts 2, it was a regular feature of church life. The disciples devoted themselves to ‘the breaking of bread’…the phrase is in an ecclesiastical context, linked with the apostles’ teaching, fellowship, the prayers, and the temple. The church at Troas met each week for the express purpose ‘to break bread’ (Acts 20:7). Again, at Corinth the regular purpose of church gatherings was to observe the Lord’s Supper (1 Cor. 11:18ff.).” But then he interjects, “However, while the example of the early church is a guide, it cannot bind us, any more than their disposal of personal property requires us to do likewise.” Robert Letham, The Lord’s Supper: Eternal Word in Broken Bread (Phillipsburg, PA: P&R, 2001), 57.

[12] The apostle Peter clarifies that the disposal of goods being practiced was voluntary and not obligatory. When he rebukes Ananias for pretending to have disposed of the entire monies of his sold property, Peter tells him that he was at liberty to have retained it all in the first place: “Whiles it remained, was it not thine own? and after it was sold, was it not in thine own power?” (Acts 5:4). Since God’s moral law is immutable, the eighth commandment, which presupposes the ownership of personal property, must permanently remain in force.

[13] Waldron’s comments about hermeneutical implications and the regulative principle of worship are helpful: “I should make clear that I do not think that to justify a part of worship an explicit command is necessary. If the regulative principle is true and thus was practiced in scriptural examples of proper worship, then a scriptural example or precedent would be sufficient. Such an example or precedent would then assume an implied command.” Samuel Waldron, “The Regulative Principle,” Going Beyond the Five Points: Pursuing a More Comprehensive Reformation, ed. Rob Ventura (self-published by editor: 2015), 63fn.

[14] Cf. the title of his 1542 liturgical book for Geneva: “The Form of Church Prayers and Hymns with the Manner of Administering the Sacraments and Consecrating Marriage According to the Custom of the Ancient Church.”

[15] Calvin, Institutes, 4.17.44.

[16] Cf. “The classic Reformers, which would include Calvin, Bucer, Oecolampedius, Beza, Farel, Zwingli, and Knox, all sought a weekly celebration of the Lord’s Supper, which they viewed as an apostolic custom, as part of regular Sunday morning service.” Robert Webber, Twenty Centuries of Christian Worship, vol. 2, The Complete Library of Christian Worship (Nashville, TN: Star Song Pub. Group, 1994), 289.

[17] Calvin, Institutes, 4.17.44.

[18] A thorough study on Calvin’s use of the church fathers can be found in Anthony N. S. Lane, John Calvin: Student of the Church Fathers(Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 1999).

[19] “Calvin’s liturgical criteria were the warrant of scripture and ‘the custom of the ancient church,’ as indicated by the subtitle of his 1542 liturgy for Geneva. By ancient church, he meant the church of the apostles, martyrs, and Fathers before the rise of the Papacy.” Anne T. Thayer, “Preaching and Worship,” in T&T Clark Companion to Reformation Theology, ed. David M. Whitford, T&T Clark Companion (London; New York: T&T Clark, 2012), 170. Cf. “The Reformation was just that: a re-formation. It was an attempt to take the church that existed in the sixteenth century and reform it into its early form in the days of the church’s fathers. When it came to liturgy, our Protestant forefathers did not get rid of the existing liturgies in their regions by radically starting over, although this is asserted in popular literature. Instead, the many Reformers took what existed and followed the dictum of the Renaissance: “[back] to the sources” (ad fontes). To be a Protestant, then, was not to be novel, as Rome accused, but to be truly catholic by protesting the abuses of the Roman Catholic Church as a means of aligning with the historic Catholic church. In what follows, I will survey several treatises of the Reformers that attempt to do just this. In doing so, we will discover the appropriate context for Calvin’s liturgy.” Daniel R. Hyde, “According to the Custom of the Ancient Church? Examining the Roots of John Calvin’s Liturgy,” ed. Joel R. Beeke, Puritan Reformed Journal Volume 1, no. 2 (2009): 189–190.

[20] Numerous writings connect the Lord’s Supper with weekly Lord’s Day worship; e.g., Francis X. Glimm, “The Didache or Teaching of the Twelve Apostles,” in The Apostolic Fathers, trans. Francis X. Glimm, Joseph M.-F. Marique, and Gerald G. Walsh, vol. 1, The Fathers of the Church (Washington, DC: The Catholic University of America Press, 1947), 182; cf. Justin Martyr, “The First Apology of Justin,” in The Apostolic Fathers with Justin Martyr and Irenaeus, ed. Alexander Roberts, James Donaldson, and A. Cleveland Coxe, vol. 1, The Ante-Nicene Fathers (Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Company, 1885), 185–186 [Justin, 1 Apol. 67]; Irenaeus of Lyons, “Against Heresies,” in The Apostolic Fathers, The Ante-Nicene Fathers, 1:486 [Adv. Haer. 4.18.6].

[21] Calvin, Institutes, 4.17.45.

[22] Calvin, “Short Treatise on the Holy Supper of Our Lord Jesus Christ,” in Treatises on the Sacraments: Tracts by John Calvin; trans. Henry Beveridge, 182-83. For a sketch of the development of the early church’s eucharistic theology of sacrifice, see Gregg R. Allison, Historical Theology: An Introduction to Christian Doctrine (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2011), 636-46.

[23] To capitulate to this error, the Council of Constance (1415) formalized the doctrine of concomitance, which states that the bread alone contains both the body and blood of Christ. See Carter Lindberg, The European Reformations, Second ed. (Chichester, West Sussex, U.K.: Wiley-Blackwell, 2010), 177. See Calvin’s denunciation of this in this “Short Treatise on the Holy Supper of Our Lord Jesus Christ,” 189-90; Institutes 4.17.47-50.

[24] Lindberg, The European Reformations, 177.

[25] Riddlebarger explains, “Since the Fourth Lateran Council (1215) required that the faithful partake of the sacrament once a year, ordinarily on Easter (Canon 21), by the time of the Reformation in the sixteenth century, the frequent celebration of the Lord’s Supper—which had been the practice of the early church— had given way to infrequent (annual) communion in the actual practice of the Roman church. Various efforts were made to reform the practice so as to encourage more frequent participation by the laity, but this was not achieved in any great measure until Vatican II in 1965.” Kim Riddlebarger, “The Reformation of the Supper,” in Always Reformed: Essay in Honor of W. Robert Godfrey (Escondido, CA: Westminster Seminary California, 2012), 200.

[26] Calvin, Institutes, 4.17.46.

[27] As Horton observes, “Innovation arose not with Calvin, but with the medieval church which had, along with so much else, abandoned the sufficiency of Scripture in regulating worship. The innovation was infrequent communion among the laity.” Michael Horton, “At Least Weekly: The Reformed Doctrine of the Lord’s Supper and of Its Frequent Celebration,” Mid-America Journal of Theology, vol. 11 (2000): 150.

[28] Calvin, Institutes, 4.17.43.

[29] Quoted in Paul Henry and Henry Stebbing, The Life and Times of John Calvin, the Great Reformer, vol. 1 (New York: Robert Carter & Brothers, 1851), 444. In making this statement, it would seem that Calvin was concerned about people partaking in an unworthy manner. At least, that was his and Farel’s concern in 1537 when they proposed reforms before the city council in Geneva. “They express the opinion that it is desirable to celebrate the Supper every Sunday. At the same time, lest such frequent celebration should bring it into contempt, they suggest that it should be celebrated once a month in St. Peter’s, St. Gervais, and Rive in turn, and in order that it may not be profaned by persons of wicked life, they propose that the Council should take measures to secure that those who partook of the Supper had a right to be called members of the body of Christ.” Hugh Y. Reyburn, John Calvin: His Life, Letters, and Work (London; New York; Toronto: Hodder and Stoughton, 1914), 65.

[30] Quoted in Henry and Stebbing, The Life and Times of John Calvin, the Great Reformer, 1:444.

[31] Most Congregationalist Puritans celebrated the Supper each Lord’s Day, as did a number of the Baptists, according to Horton Davies, The Worship of the English Puritans (1948; repr., Morgam, PA: Soli Deo Gloria, 1997), 206. Owen, Goodwin, and Edwards commend as much, and so does Spurgeon. John Owen, The Works of John Owen, ed. William H. Goold, vol. 15 (Edinburgh: T&T Clark, n.d.), 512; Thomas Goodwin, The Works of Thomas Goodwin (Edinburgh: James Nichol, 1855), 11.398; Jonathan Edwards, “123. To the Reverend John Erskine,” in Letters and Personal Writings, ed. George S. Claghorn and Harry S. Stout, vol. 16, The Works of Jonathan Edwards (New Haven; London: Yale University Press, 1998), 365-67; C. H. Spurgeon, “Songs of Deliverance,” in The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit Sermons, vol. 13 (London: Passmore & Alabaster, 1867), 423–424.

[32] Horton explains, “The gift in the Supper is nothing less than Christ: not just his memory, nor even merely the benefits of Christ, but Jesus Christ himself, and not just his divinity, but the whole Christ. However, Christ is communicated to the believer in the sacrament in precisely the same manner as the union itself: namely, through the agency of the Spirit.” Michael Horton, “Union and Communion: Calvin’s Theology of Word and Sacrament,” International Journal of Systematic Theology 11, no. 4 (2009): 398-414. For elaboration with references to Calvin, see Ronald S. Wallace, Calvin’s Doctrine of the Word and Sacrament (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1957), 199-203.

[33] Calvin, Institutes, 4.14.6 (following Augustine).

[34] Calvin, Institutes, 4.14.7 and 4.17.3. On worthiness, cf. 1 Cor. 11:29. No personal merit is in view when Calvin speaks of a ‘worthy’ partaking. See his discussion in “Short Treatise on the Holy Supper of Our Lord Jesus Christ,” 174-81.

[35] On which, see Horton, “Union and Communion: Calvin’s Theology of Word and Sacrament,” 398-414.

[36] Calvin, Institutes, 4.17.2-4 and 4.18.12.

[37] Among recent writers, Horton, Riddlebarger, and Mathison argue from the theology of Calvin’s doctrine of the real presence of Christ in the sacrament for a weekly communion. Horton, “At Least Weekly,” 147-69; Riddlebarger, “The Reformation of the Supper,” 203-204; Keith Mathison, Given For You: Reclaiming Calvin’s Doctrine of the Lord’s Supper (Phillipsburg: P&R, 2002), 293-97. Another recent monograph suggests as much; consult Richard C. Barcellos, The Lord’s Supper as a Means of Grace: More Than a Memory (Ross-shire, Scotland: Mentor, 2013), 111-13.

[38] Calvin, “A Short Treatise on the Holy Supper,” 179-80.