Skip to comments.John 6:53 - Unless you eat My flesh (open)
Posted on 05/28/2008 1:33:50 PM PDT by Manfred the Wonder Dawg
Unless You Eat the Flesh of the Son of Man and Drink His Blood You Have No Life In You
Are these words of Jesus from John 6:53 to be taken literally or figuratively? The Roman Catholic Church teaches the context of John chapter six and the above headlined verse 53 are literal. Thus Jesus is giving absolute and unconditional requirements for eternal life. In fact, this literal interpretation forms the foundation for Rome's doctrine of transubstantiation -- the miraculous changing of bread and wine into the living Christ, His body and blood, soul and divinity. Each Catholic priest is said to have the power to call Jesus down from the right hand of the Father when he elevates the wafer and whispers the words "Hoc corpus meus est." Catholics believe as they consume the lifeless wafer they are actually eating and drinking the living body and blood of Jesus Christ. This is a vital and important step in their salvation and a doctrine they must believe and accept to become a Catholic.
If priests indeed have the exclusive power to change finite bread and wine into the body and blood of the infinite Christ, and if indeed consuming His body and blood is necessary for salvation, then the whole world must become Catholic to escape the wrath of God. On the other hand, if Jesus was speaking in figurative language then this teaching becomes the most blasphemous and deceptive hoax any religion could impose on its people. There is no middle ground. Therefore the question of utmost importance is -- Was the message Jesus conveyed to the Jewish multitude to be understood as literal or figurative? Rome has never presented a good argument for defending its literal interpretation. Yet there are at least seven convincing reasons why this passage must be taken figuratively.
There is no Biblical precedent where something supernatural occurred where the outward evidence indicated no miracle had taken place. (The wafer and wine look, taste and feel the same before and after the supposed miracle of transubstantion). When Jesus changed water into wine, all the elements of water changed into the actual elements of wine.
Drinking Blood Forbidden
The Law of Moses strictly forbade Jews from drinking blood (Leviticus 17:10-14) A literal interpretation would have Jesus teaching the Jews to disobey the Mosaic Law. This would have been enough cause to persecute Jesus. (See John 5:16)
When John 6:53 is interpreted literally it is in disharmony with the rest of the Bible. "Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you," gives no hope of eternal life to any Christian who has not consumed the literal body and blood of Christ. It opposes hundreds of Scriptures that declare justification and salvation are by faith alone in Christ.
It appears that the "eating and drinking" in verse 6:54 and the "believing" in verse 6:40 produce the same result - eternal life. If both are literal we have a dilemma. What if a person "believes" but does not "eat or drink"? Or what if a person "eats and drinks" but does not "believe?" This could happen any time a non-believer walked into a Catholic Church and received the Eucharist. Does this person have eternal life because he met one of the requirements but not the other? The only possible way to harmonize these two verses is to accept one verse as figurative and one as literal.
Figurative In Old Testament
The Jews were familiar with "eating and drinking" being used figuratively in the Old Testament to describe the appropriation of divine blessings to one's innermost being. It was God's way of providing spiritual nourishment for the soul. (See Jeremiah 15:16; Isaiah 55:1-3; and Ezekiel 2:8, 3:1)
Jesus informed His disciples there were times when He spoke figuratively (John 16:25) and often used that type of language to describe Himself. The Gospel of John records seven figurative declarations Jesus made of Himself -- "the bread of life" (6:48), "the light of the world" (8:12), "the door" (10:9), "the good shepherd" (10:11), "the resurrection and the life" (11:25), "the way, the truth and the life" (14:6), and "the true vine" (15:1). He also referred to His body as the temple (2:19).
Words Were Spiritual
Jesus ended this teaching by revealing "the words I have spoken to you are spirit" (6:63). As with each of the seven miracles in John's Gospel, Jesus uses the miracle to convey a spiritual truth. Here Jesus has just multiplied the loaves and fish and uses a human analogy to teach the necessity of spiritual nourishment. This is consistent with His teaching on how we are to worship God. "God is Spirit and His worshippers must worship in spirit and in truth" (John 4:24). As we worship Christ He is present spiritually, not physically. In fact, Jesus can only be bodily present at one place at one time. His omnipresence refers only to His spirit. It is impossible for Christ to be bodily present in thousands of Catholic Churches around the world.
When Jesus is received spiritually, one time in the heart, there is no need to receive him physically, over and over again in the stomach.
This is part of the Bread of Life sermon. Since the OT refers to the sacrifice of a spotless lamb as the “bread of God”, I would say this part of John Chapt 6 is meant to be taken figuritively. ie. Jesus is the spiritual bread (also described as the living water in Chapt. 4) which gives eternal life as opposed to literal bread which gives material life but only for a limited time. “Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness and they died, This is the bread that comes down from heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die.” Jn 6:49-50
Amen - it is the Spirit that gives eternal life. All blessing and glory and honor and power be unto the Lamb of God, who was crucified ONCE for our sins and sits at the right hand of our heavenly Father.
The word Flesh here is sarx, a translation of this could mean physical flesh, but is also used in the context through the Bible as mere human nature, the earthly nature of man apart from divine influence, and therefore prone to sin and opposed to God. (from Strong's). This is the same word we find used as translated as 'carnal'.
One of the translations of blood (haima) is 'seat of life'.
The word eat is esthiÅ� and in addition to physically eating, it also means to take in or become one with.
The word drink is pinÅ� and this one is interesting. Other than to literally drink, it also means to receive into the soul what serves to refresh strengthen.
.. I need to think about how this could be put together based on the different meanings of the words...
The institution of the Eucharist is a biblical event, recorded in the Gospels.
The Law of Moses strictly forbade Jews from drinking blood
It also forbade Jews from eating pork. Yet Acts 10:13 is part of Scripture.
It opposes hundreds of Scriptures that declare justification and salvation are by faith alone in Christ.
Not one passage of Scripture ever says that salvation is by "faith alone."
If both are literal we have a dilemma.
Unless, of course, one reads 1Cor 11:29.
The Jews were familiar with "eating and drinking" being used figuratively in the Old Testament
Indeed. Which is why Christ went out of His way to make it absolutely clear that He was not speaking figuratively, by saying that His flesh was real food and that His blood was real drink.
Jesus ended this teaching by revealing "the words I have spoken to you are spirit" (6:63). As with each of the seven miracles in John's Gospel, Jesus uses the miracle to convey a spiritual truth. Here Jesus has just multiplied the loaves and fish and uses a human analogy to teach the necessity of spiritual nourishment.
So the loaves and fishes were just figurative loaves and fishes then? The crowd was not literally fed?
Not here. Here it is phagein - to chew or gnaw.
It is a very graphic word.
sarx, a translation of this could mean physical flesh, but is also used in the context through the Bible as mere human nature
The passage then would make no sense - since "flesh" is only used figuratively to refer to the sin-prone aspect of human nature. Christ's sarx? is not general, it is the sarx of a very specific incarnated individual. An individual whose sarx is not sin-prone.
Christ is not telling the faithful to figuratively nourish themselves on sin-prone human nature.
He is telling them to nourish themselves on his own life-giving flesh.
If Jesus was speaking figuratively why when his disciples and other followers left him because “this was hard to hear” did he not let those who were leaving him over this hard to hear message know he was only speaking figuratively?
Two thousand years later, people still refuse to believe that Jesus meant what He said. “He can’t have meant that because logically if that’s what he was saying my whole world view blows up!”
Yep. That’s about the size of it.
For the same reasons he spoke in parables he know many could not understand. Jesus knew they could never understand. No one can accept and understand unless God specifically gives them the faith to do so.
"no one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father." Jn 6:65
"No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him." Jn 6:44
In Chapter 4 Jesus gives the same figurative speech using the "living water" analogy and a whole city of Samaritans not only understand but are almost instantly converted. This despite the fact the Jews were in a much better position to understand and believe. Thus, faith is a gift from God and cannot be obtained by one's will or works.
True, the word 'alone' is not there. It just says we are saved by grace through faith, and that not of yourself. It is a gift of God, not of works, so that no man can boast.
Jesus also said if your eye offends you, pluck it out. He said if your hand offends you, cut it off. Never seen a Catholic missing an eye or hand that he’d removed himself. I guess Jesus wasn’t being literal there.
What Strong's reference number do you have for phagein?
Precisely. We are saved by grace. Faith is a means that God uses to infuse the soul with His saving grace. Our own belief does not save. God saves.
Never seen a Catholic missing an eye or hand that hed removed himself. I guess Jesus wasnt being literal there.
Again, it is clear from the context of John 6 that Christ is repreatedly emphasizing the literal, non-figurative nature of what he is saying.
"My flesh is real food, my blood is real drink."
He did not say "If an eye offend thee, pluck it out. Pluck out your real eye."
So he meant your pretend eye and your pretend hand? Um, okay.
You are correct, the word is esthio. It means to consume. It doesn’t have to literally mean “eat” in this context.
That's because Strong's does not assign a separate number to phagein. Strong's is a useful but flawed tool.
If one consults John 6:53 in any Greek text of the New Testament, the word used is phagein.
I do not find phagein in Rev 2:17.
The word used for eat in John 6:53 is not "esthio" but "phagein."
Check your Greek New Testament.