Which Bread did Jesus Eat at the Last Supper?

This page is part of a larger study of What Day of the Week Was Jesus Christ Crucified?

The following is an attempt to show that the bread used at the Last Supper was not leavened and therefore this was indeed a Passover (all scriptures are NIV unless otherwise noted although I check various other versions in my studies).

There are two words used for bread in the New Testament, one for unleavened bread and another for leavened bread. It has been claimed that the bread that Jesus broke at the Last Supper was not unleavened bread (Matzos in Hebrew/Azumos in the Greek) and therefore this could not be a real Passover. But is this truly the case?

God gave the Israelites specific instructions on how they were to observe the Passover in Exodus:

"That same night [Nisan 14] they are to eat the meat roasted over the fire, along with bitter herbs, and bread made without yeast." (Exodus 12:1-12)

Jesus' disciples indicated this was a Passover meal they were preparing:

"Where do you want us to make preparations for you to eat the Passover?" (Matt 26:17).

So they did go to specifically prepare a Passover meal.

And here we see which bread Jesus used:

"While they were eating, Jesus took bread (artos Strong's #740), gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to his disciples, saying, 'Take and eat; this is my body'" (Matt. 26:26).

Question: Why is the word artos (Strongs #740) used in Matt 26:26, and also for the shewbread in the temple (Matt. 17:24) if it was leavened? By looking at all the occurances of artos in the NT we see it can mean just general bread, or any kind of food, sustenance and even manna, and is often also used metaphorically.

The word shewbread is a combination of two words, prothesis which means "a setting forth" and artos (Strongs # 740) a loaf of bread, i.e., "the loaves of the setting forth." If artos always has leaven in it then why wasn't the word azumos (Strongs # 106--unleavened bread) used instead, to signify shewbread or the bread Jesus used at their Passover dinner????

The word for Unleavened bread azumos is (Strong's # 106) and is used in the following passage:

"On the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread (azumos Strong's # 106), the disciples came to Jesus and asked, 'Where do you want us to make preparations for you to eat the Passover?" (Matt 26:17).

Also the word leaven is zume, (Strong's # 2219). Here is an instance where the words leaven and bread are both used in a sentence:

"Then they understood that he was not telling them to guard against the yeast (leven/zume Strong's # 2219) used in bread (artos Strong's # 740), but against the teaching of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees" (Matt 16:12).

So leaven and bread are two separate words.

Also, Jesus would not have disobeyed his father's instructions for the use of unleavened bread at the passover in Exodus 12:1-11.

It is obvious that the word artos is used interchangeably for both general everyday bread and also unleavened bread as well as symbolically for other food and metaphorically also. Therefore it appears we can safely state that the use of this bread during Jesus' Last Supper does not eliminate this event as a real Passover even though it occurred almost 24 hours before Passover on the Day of Preparation - Nisan 14, the same day the Passover Lamb was to be sacrificed.

Other Commentaries on Artos

by Lori Eldridge
Copyright 4-23-00 - updated 2-10-19
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