The Last Supper is the final meal that, in the Gospel accounts, Jesus shared with his apostles in Jerusalem before his crucifixion. The Last Supper is commemorated by Christians especially on Holy Thursday. The Last Supper provides the scriptural basis for the Eucharist, also known as “Holy Communion” or “The Lord’s Supper”.

The First Epistle to the Corinthians contains the earliest known mention of the Last Supper. The four canonical gospels state that the Last Supper took place in the week of Passover, days after Jesus’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem, and shortly before Jesus was crucified that week. During the meal Jesus predicts his betrayal by one of the apostles presents, and foretells that before the next morning, Peter will thrice deny knowing him.

The three Synoptic Gospels and the First Epistle to the Corinthians include the account of the Institution of the Holy Eucharist in which Jesus takes bread, breaks it and gives it to others, saying “This is my body given to you” and note that the apostles are not explicitly mentioned in the account in First Corinthians. The Gospel of John does not include this episode but tells of Jesus washing the feet of the apostles in John 13:1-15 giving the new commandment “to love one another as I have loved you”, John 13:33-35 and has a detailed farewell discourse by Jesus, calling the apostles who follow his teachings “friends and not servants”, as he prepares them for his departure.

Scholars have looked to the Last Supper as the source of early Christian Holy Eucharistic Traditions. Others see the account of the Last Supper as derived from 1st Century Eucharistic Practice as described by Paul in the mid-50s.

The term “Last Supper” does not appear in the New Testament, but traditionally many Christians particularly, Catholics refer to such an event. Many Protestants use the term “Lord’s Supper”, stating that the term “Last” suggests this was one of several meals and not the meal. The term “Lord’s Supper” refers both to the biblical event and the act of “Holy Communion” and Eucharistic (or thanksgiving) celebration within their liturgy. Evangelical Protestants also use the term “Lord’s Supper”, but most do not use the terms “Holy Eucharist” or the word “Holy” with the name “Communion”.

The Eastern Orthodox use the term “Mystical Supper” which refers both to the Biblical event and the act of Eucharistic Celebration within Liturgy. The Russian Orthodox also use the term “Secret Supper” (Church Slavonic: “Тайная вечеря”, Taynaya vecherya).

The Last Meal that Jesus shared with his Apostles is described in all four Canonical Gospels (Mt. 26:17–30, Mk. 14:12–26, Lk. 22:7–39 and Jn. 13:1–17:26) as having taken place in the week of Passover. This Meal later became known as the Last Supper. The Last Supper was likely a retelling of the events of the last meal of Jesus among the early Christian Community and became a Ritual which recounted that meal.

Paul’s First Epistle to the Corinthians, [11:23–26] which was likely written before the Gospels, includes a reference to the Last Supper but emphasizes the Theological basis rather than giving a detailed description of the event or its background.

The three Synoptic Gospel accounts describe the Last Supper as a Passover meal, yet each gives somewhat different versions of the order of the meal. In chapter 26 of the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus prays thanks for the bread, divides it, and hands the pieces of bread to his disciples, saying “Take, eat, this is my body.” Later in the meal Jesus takes a cup of wine, offers another prayer, and gives it to those present, saying “Drink from it, all of you; for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. I tell you; I will never again drink of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.”

In chapter 22 of the Gospel of Luke, however, the wine is blessed and distributed before the bread, followed by the bread, then by a second, larger cup of wine, as well as somewhat different wordings. Additionally, according to Paul and Luke, he tells the disciples “Do this in remembrance of me.” This event has been regarded by Christians of most denominations as the Institution of the Holy Eucharist. There is recorded celebration of the Eucharist by the early Christian Community in Jerusalem.

The Institution of the Holy Eucharist is recorded in the three Synoptic Gospels and in Paul’s First Epistle to the Corinthians. As noted above, Jesus’s words differ slightly in each account. In addition, Luke 22:19b–20 is a disputed text which does not appear in some of the early manuscripts of Luke. Some scholars, therefore, believe that it is an interpolation, while others have argued that it is original.