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These are the verses:

7 On the first day of the week we came together to break bread. Paul spoke to the people and, because he intended to leave the next day, kept on talking until midnight. 8 There were many lamps in the upstairs room where we were meeting. 9 Seated in a window was a young man named Eutychus, who was sinking into a deep sleep as Paul talked on and on. When he was sound asleep, he fell to the ground from the third story and was picked up dead. 10 Paul went down, threw himself on the young man and put his arms around him. “Don’t be alarmed,” he said. “He’s alive!” 11 Then he went upstairs again and broke bread and ate. After talking until daylight, he left. 12 The people took the young man home alive and were greatly comforted. NIV

I would first think that "break bread" means partaking of the Eucharist or the Communion, because it was the first day of the week. But the verses seem to be saying it only in passing and not really saying that Paul was observing a religious rite. Also, he does it twice in the same day, which is also confusing if it is the Eucharist.

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Colloquially, in English "to break bread" means to share a meal. So you probably need to start by going back to the Greek to see if this is a literal or idiomatic translation. –  Gone Quiet Apr 21 '13 at 2:47
    
When this Greek combination of "break" (κλάω) and "bread" (ἄρτος) is used it appears to me in a brief perusal of each case to imply the "sharing of a meal", with perhaps the emphasis on the division of the meal (to be shared by many), coming with the use of "break" which appears in some use in the LXX to translate "shattering" (i.e., of one's enemies). Perhaps other lit. would indicate if this is an idiomatic phrase, or relating to meetings of associations. However, the plain alternative would be to use the verb "to eat" "bread", which has less emphasis on the event of a special shared meal. –  Qoheleth-Tech Apr 21 '13 at 5:39
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1 Answer

It simply means to break the piece of bread and distribute it. This was a common practice with bread which was a common component of the daily meal.

For example, Matt. 14:19,

And he commanded the multitude to sit down on the grass, and took the five loaves, and the two fishes, and looking up to heaven, he blessed [God] and broke [the loaves], and he gave the loaves to the disciples, and the disciples to the multitude.

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Yes, this shows precedence that breaking bread did not always mean the Eucharist and that it was done before the Last Supper. Are there more verses like Matt 14:19. Even in Old Testament? –  fredsbend Apr 20 '13 at 15:10
    
Jer 16:7 [LXX] is the only verse that I find in the OT that has the verb for "break" and the object "bread" in Greek: καὶ οὐ μὴ κλασθῇ ἄρτος ἐν πένθει αὐτῶν εἰς παράκλησιν ἐπὶ τεθνηκότι οὐ ποτιοῦσιν αὐτὸν ποτήριον εἰς παράκλησιν ἐπὶ πατρὶ καὶ μητρὶ αὐτοῦ. In several places, a derived word refers to "pieces of bread" (i.e. Ps.102:9). –  Qoheleth-Tech Apr 21 '13 at 7:26
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