I use the previous story by way of illustrating that metonymy is not a subject that is oft discussed. Earlier this year I had a discussion with a young evangelist who was attempting to make an argument based on metonymy, yet he did not know or understand the term, nor the rules that govern it. Simply put, the young man had been only partially introduced to metonymy, and a false sense of metonymy at that! My experience with this young evangelist reminded me that metonymy needs to be discussed more frequently than it is and with greater clarity than perhaps it receives.
One of the few times you will ever come into contact with the subject of metonymy is during a discussion of the Lord’s supper and the number a drinking vessels that are to be used. In his excellent book Biblical Figures of Speech, Wayne Jackson brings up the subject of metonymy, properly defines it, a discusses the rules which govern it. Yet unfortunately, in his very next breath, he misapplies his definition and rules as he advocates for the use of multiple cups in the Lord’s Supper based on a falsely naming a metonymy which is not one.
The reason I bring up Wayne Jackson’s book is twofold: First, though I feel Biblical Figures of Speech is an excellent work in general, Jackson’s misuse of metonymy makes me hesitant to recommend it without noting my objection to his error due to the problems such teaching has caused in the Lord’s church. Second, Jackson’s comments represent the typical dodge presented by brethren advocating multiple cups in communion, and can thus be used as a learning tool when truth is presented.
I will now share an excerpt from George Battey’s Debate Notes: Indidual Cups In The Lord’s Supper explaining the use of metonymy in connection with Scripture’s teaching on communion and multiple cups.