Passover Thoughts #4

The Last Supper: Leavened or Unleavened Bread?

Scripture reveals the answer to this question in two separate parts. In this first part, we will first look at the Greek and Hebrew words for Leavened and Unleavened Bread and a few Torah references for Unleavened and Leavened Bread, and then summarise our conclusions.

Leavened vs Unleavened: Greek and Hebrew Words

In an attempt to determine whether the Last Supper was a Passover meal, many evangelicals today focus on the issue of whether the bread of the Last Supper was leavened or unleavened.

The question is, “Do the Greek words for leavened and unleavened bread reveal the type of bread used at the Last Supper?”

We will look at a brief of review of Scripture to determine the answer.

Unleavened Bread

First let us notice that the Greek word for Bread (‘artos’) is used in John chapter 6, when referring to manna from Heaven as the ‘bread’ from heaven, the (‘lechem’) as quoted in Exodus:

Our fathers did eat manna in the desert; as it is written, He gave them bread (‘artos’) from heaven to eat. (John 6:31)

Then said the LORD unto Moses, Behold, I will rain bread (‘lechem’) from heaven for you; and the people shall go out and gather a certain rate every day, that I may prove them, whether they will walk in my law, or no. (Exodus 16:4)

And when the children of Israel saw it, they said one to another, It is manna: for they wist not what it was. And Moses said unto them, This is the bread (‘lechem’) which the LORD hath given you to eat. (Exodus 16:15)

When John said, “as it is written, He gave them bread [‘artos’] from heaven to eat,” he was referring to the passages in Exodus 16:15, Nehemiah 9:15, and Psalms 105:40 — which all use the Hebrew word ‘lechem’ for bread.

So we can easily see that the Greek word for bread [‘artos’] used at the Last Supper is equivalent to, and has the same meaning as, the Hebrew word for bread [‘lechem’] when referring to manna.

Let’s next notice the Greek word for bread [‘artos’] is used in (Hebrews 9:2), when speaking of the unleavened bread seen in Exodus:

For there was a tabernacle made; the first, wherein was the candlestick, and the table, and the shewbread [‘prothesis artos’]; which is called the sanctuary. (Hebrews 9:2)

The table, and his staves, and all his vessels, and the shewbread [‘paniym (presence) lechem’], the candlestick also for the light, and his furniture, and his lamps, with the oil for the light, (Exodus 35:13-14)

And unleavened bread [‘matstsah lechem’], and cakes unleavened tempered with oil, and wafers unleavened anointed with oil: of wheaten flour shalt thou make them. (Exodus 29:2)

And one loaf of bread [‘lechem’], and one cake of oiled bread, and one wafer out of the basket of the unleavened bread [‘matstsah’] that is before the LORD: (Exodus 29:23)

These passages show the Greek word ‘artos’ used in Hebrews 9:2 referring to both the unleavened bread [‘matstsah lechem’] and shewbread [‘paniym lechem’] of the Tabernacle. What is the significance here? Notice what kind of bread Yahushua used at the Last Supper:

And he took bread (‘artos’), and gave thanks, and brake it, and gave unto them, saying, This is my body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of me. (Luke 22:19)

So we see that the ‘artos’ used to describe the unleavened bread of Torah is the same word ‘artos’ used to describe Yahushua’s body which was given/broken for us — which we know was without corruption — without leaven.

But how do we know that the sacrifice of Yahushua’s body is to be represented as unleavened bread? Notice the following passage regarding the blood sacrifice of Passover:

Thou shalt not offer the blood of my sacrifice with leaven; neither shall the sacrifice of the feast of the passover be left unto the morning. (Exodus 34:25)

So we see that because His blood is representative of the Passover Sacrifice, then His body can not be representative of leavened bread, but must speak of unleavened bread.

Now notice the Hebrew word for ‘Leavened’ bread:

Ye shall bring out of your habitations two wave loaves (‘lechem’) of two tenth deals: they shall be of fine flour; they shall be baken with leaven; they are the firstfruits unto the LORD. (Leviticus 23:17)

Thus we see that the Hebrew word for bread [‘lechem’] is used for both leavened bread and unleavened bread.

Likewise, the Greek word for bread [‘artos’], just like the Hebrew word [‘lechem’], can likewise refer to both leavened and unleavened bread.

What else do we see about the Greek words?

  • The Greek word ‘artos,’ Strong’s number , is used 99 times throughout the NT. This word used for bread in general, both leavened bread and unleavened bread. This same word for bread is used in the ‘Lord’s Prayer’ in Matt 6:11.
  • The Greek verb ‘zumoo,’ Strong’s number , [‘to leaven’], is based on the noun ‘zume,’ Strong’s number , [‘leaven’]. Together these two words form the basis for the Greek word ‘azumos’ meaning “without leaven; unleavened.”
  • This word ‘azumos’ is used 9 times in Scripture, and 7 of those nine do not refer to bread, but refer to the name of the  Feast Days of Unleavened. The remaining two uses of the word refer to ‘figurative’ unleavened bread; none of these usages refer to literal bread.

The only Greek word used for literal bread, both Leavened and Unleavened, is the Greek word ‘artos.’ Thus the bread used at the last Supper, as to leavened or unleavened, can not be determined only by observing the Greek and Hebrew words used for bread. There are many other clear markers that tell us which bread is used, which we will see in subsequent posts.

One clear indicator using the Greek word ‘artos’ is seen in Luke 24:13-35. Here we see two disciples on the road to Emmaus have an encounter with Yahushua, who walked with them, and later sat at meat with them, and ate bread with them. In this event, We are told two pertinent facts regarding the bread:

But we trusted that it had been he which should have redeemed Israel: and beside all this, to day is the third day since these things were done. (Luke 24:21)

And it came to pass, as he sat at meat with them, he took bread [‘artos’], and blessed it, and brake, and gave to them. (Luke 24:30)

In Luke 24:21, the ‘third day’ since the crucifixion was still within the 7-day ‘Feast of Unleavened,’ the seven days after Passover in which no leavened bread is to be found in the house, nor eaten — but only unleavened bread is allowed.

In Luke 24:30, we know Messiah would not tempt the disciples to sin, by offereing the disciples leavened bread during this 7-day Feast of Unleavened, so we know that the bread in the Luke 24:30 passage was indeed unleavened. So although there is no direct use of unleavened artos, we know from this encounter that the word artos does indeed apply to bread that is both leavened and unleavened.

Using the same reasoning, we know that by the 14th day of the first month all leaven is to be removed from the house, in preparation for the Passover meal. And since Messiah tells us He would eat the Passover meal with His disciples that night, which was the start of the 14th Biblical day, we know that the bread on this occasion was also unleavened (Mt 26:18-19; Kk 14:14; Lk 22:11).


We have seen that the Greek word ‘artos’ is used in Scripture to refer to both Unleavened and Leavened bread. Likewise, the Hebrew word lechem is used to describe both Unleavened and Leavened bread.

However, if we consider only the direct usage of the Greek words, we can not from this alone determine whether the bread eaten at the Last Supper was Leavened or Unleavened.

The type of bread eaten at the Last Supper must be determined using the many other evidencee of Scripture, other than the Greek and Hebrew words used for bread. We will see this Scripture next in Passover Thoughts #5.

Related Articles:

  • Communion: A Man-Made Substitute for the Biblical Passover – Also called the ‘Eucharist’ and ‘Lord’s Supper,’ this man-made substitute is a counterfeit of the Biblical Passover meal eaten by Messiah and His disciples the same night in which He was betrayed. This counterfeit has been passed down to us over the centuries, and today continues to be practiced unknowingly by most evangelical Believers.
  • Eating Things Sacrificed Unto Idols: A Warning to the Bride – The Full-length article.
  • The New Covenant Passover: A Mystery – Full List of Passover Articles, with Descriptions and Links.
  • If You Love Me, Keep ‘My’ Commandments – Do we show our love for Messiah, in the way He has told us — or have we lost sight of His identity?
  • What Are the Ten Commandments? – Also called The Ten Words, these Scripture passages are shown in both Hebrew and English, enabling us to see for ourselves what these Commandments actually say. When we as New Covenant Believers understand whose words they are, we can better know how to respond to them.
  • Obeying Torah is Not About Salvation – Obedience to the Torah [Father’s House Rules for His family] is not about our redemption by Yahushua’s blood. Instead, it is Messiah’s New Testament instruction to all Born-again Believers in how to abide in Him, how to love Him, and how to walk as He walked.
  • Seven Biblical Guidelines for Studying the Bible: Using Scripture to Interpret the Scriptures – What is the source of our current understanding of the Bible? The pure Truths of Scripture are of highest importance — how we understand the Scriptures will affect our eternal condition! To avoid being deceived by man-made doctrines, we must not rely on Preachers, Teachers, Bible notes or commentaries. Instead we must study and understand the Bible for ourselves — not looking through the lenses of tradition or man-made Bible study methods — but relying only on what the Bible actually says about how to study and understand the Scriptures! Here are 7 Biblical Guidelines that show us the way!
  • Contending for The Faith – We are exhorted to contend, to fight to remain in The Faith that was originally given. Scripture shows what The Faith is, and shows why and how we must contend for The Faith. Overview of how the adversary attacks the foundation of The Faith, with examples of contending for The Faith.
  • The Wise and Foolish Virgins – Yahushua tells us why many today are not prepared.
  • The Wise and Foolish: According to Yahushua – Messiah tells us in clear and simple terms for our instruction, who the wise and foolish are today!
  • The Wise and Foolish Virgins: The Separation of the Wise – The Scriptures reveal a 2-step process of separation from the multitudes, for those who would grow in Wisdom.
  • Let No Man Steal Your Crown – Reveals there are men today trying to take away, and steal your Bridal veil, and your crown; things that allow your crown to be stolen; the Doctrine of Balaam, and how it will steal your crown.
  • Who is the Chaste Virgin? – The Bridegroom is coming for His Bride — one who is chaste, and without corruption. The Scriptures warn us of the many forms of corruption, and how to remove them, in order to remain chaste, and ready for the Bridegroom.
  • The Wedding of the King’s Son: A Parable – A parable revealing the astonishing – and magnificent – nature of the New Covenant.
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Let Us Keep the New Covenant Passover

bread and cup

"Messiah our Passover has been sacrificed for us, (1Co 5:7-8) therefore let us keep the Feast."

To find out why all followers of Messiah are called to observe the Passover, see the following:

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