John 6 and Transubstantiation (pt.1) …

Since this is my first post about Roman church (RC) doctrine, I want to make something clear from the outset.  As long as a person, as an individual, has placed all their trust and faith in and on Jesus Christ, The Father, and The Holy Spirit to save them, I don’t care what denominational title they give themselves.  I believe in the universal church; the ekklesia, in the Greek, that is made up of all believers regardless of what they call themselves.  We are to work out our own salvation with fear and trembling; I’m not willing to judge another’s salvation, that is between them and God.

That being said, I believe that all doctrine of all denominations is fair game when testing them to see if they hold up to the Apostle’s teachings, mainly found in scripture.  One of the claims of the RC is that their teachings will not contradict scripture, but that some of their teachings are based more on oral tradition.  Most of us Protestants have some issues with some of the RC teaching because they can’t be found in scripture, and are sometimes contradicted by the word.  I’ve always believed we should study to show ourselves approved, and I’ve taken a lot of time studying RC doctrines, and I also watch EWTN quite a bit; which I must say is much better in execution and style than most Protestant based television stations.

This post is to look at the doctrine of transubstantiation and John 6, I will raise more issues with the idea of transubstantiation in my next post.  I’m addressing this through John 6 because watching “The Journey Home” on EWTN regularly I’ve noticed an interesting occurrence in those Protestants that become RC…they all say they’ve never heard John 6 explained, which I can’t quite grasp, but I’m going with the flow anyway, and will discuss it here.

To start off; What is transubstantiation? Transubstantiation is the belief that the bread and wine at the celebration of Mass becomes the literal flesh of Christ, and the literal blood of Christ. When it says literal, it means literal. You are no longer eating bread; you are eating flesh (and in fact, the body, blood, soul, and divinity of Christ). You are no longer drinking wine, you are drinking blood. My main contention with this is not that this is taught per se, but rather, scripture is claimed to back it up. Transubstantiation is not something taught in scripture, nor was it believed or taught by the earliest church leaders. When we examine scripture; Christ did not teach it, Paul did not teach it, and even James, the leader at the earliest church, Jerusalem, did not teach it.

John Chapter 6; this chapter, to get at the meaning of Jesus’ words must be read in entirety and in context. Please do so, here I will only give a run down on context, then on to the the main verses at hand.

John 6:1-14 Jesus feeds the five thousand. He fed them loaves of bread and fishes. This same group follows Him after this incident.

John 6:15-21 Jesus walks on the water

John 6:22-71 As we go through this, you’ll probably want your Bible opened to this, or your web-browser open as there is a lot of ground to cover here. I’ll quote the whole verses in my responses.

So, in John chapter 6, the large group that followed Jesus were after one thing:

26 Jesus answered them and said, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Ye seek me, not because ye saw the miracles, but because ye did eat of the loaves, and were filled.

They wanted actual physical literal food. They were there when He did it before (verses 1-14), and they want more.

31 Our fathers did eat manna in the desert; as it is written, He gave them bread from heaven to eat. 32 Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Moses gave you not that bread from heaven; but my Father giveth you the true bread from heaven. 33 For the bread of God is he which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world. 34 Then said they unto him, Lord, evermore give us this bread. 35 And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst. 36 But I said unto you, That ye also have seen me, and believenot.

So Jesus is the Bread of Life. Is He literal flour and water? No. This is a spiritual analogy. This clues us in right off the bat that He’s going to be speaking this way in this discourse. The symbolic language surrounding Christ is present in full effect in the Gospel of John, for example:

John 15: 1 I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman. Is Jesus literally a plant? No.

John 4:13 Jesus answered and said unto her, Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again: 14 But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life. 15 The woman saith unto him, Sir, give me this water, that I thirst not, neither come hither to draw. We have a perfect example here, because what is being compared is an actual drink; water. Does Jesus give actual physical literal water? No.

John 10:9 I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture Is Jesus a literal door or opening, made out of wood, or nothing? No. He’s a Spiritual one. Is He an actual lamb or lion? Are we literal and physical sheep? No.

John 8:12 Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life. In this context, is He literal light waves? No. The point here is that John especially is filled with highly meaningful symbolic language.

How does Jesus give life to the world? He came, walked perfect, was a sacrifice, gave His flesh and blood in that sacrifice for us. How do we participate in this life He brings us; not by physical eating, but by coming to Him and believing (faithing) on Him. He will not give them physical, literal food, but only Himself to faithe on.

For those that believe in Transubstantiation do you claim not to physically and literally hunger anymore? Do you claim not to thirst? Of course not, so this idea is not a literal physical one. We don’t hunger spiritually anymore, we don’t thirst spiritually anymore after coming to Christ and faithing on Him.

John 6:40 And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day.

For everyone that has Faith in Him, they get everlasting life.

John 6:47 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me hath everlasting life. 48 I am that bread of life. 49 Your fathers did eat manna in the wilderness, and are dead. 50 This is the bread which cometh down from heaven, that a man may eat thereof, and not die. 51 I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.

So, He is the living bread. For those of you who believe Transubstantiation is literal, do you believe that you will not literally, physically die? Of course not, it is obvious He is talking about spiritual death. If we come to Christ, and Faith on Him, we will not die. How does He give His flesh for the life of the world? By sacrificing it, not by us literally ingesting it.

John 6:52 The Jews therefore strove among themselves, saying, How can this man give us his flesh to eat? 53 Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you. 54 Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day. 55 For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. 56 He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him. 57 As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father: so he that eateth me, even he shall live by me. 58 This is that bread which came down from heaven: not as your fathers did eat manna, and are dead: he that eateth of this bread shall live for ever.

Notice it is NOT as their fathers did eat manna. How did they eat manna? Literally and Physically. We also have a repeat of the phrase “hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day.” Where did we see this phrase before? In verse 40: And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day

So, we get this everlasting life by belief, or more accurately rendered; by faith in Him. This too lines up with all of Paul’s teachings on faith vs. works. And also professing Christ (Romans 10:9 That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. 10 For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation) is indeed what saves, not literally eating or drinking.

John 6:60 Many therefore of his disciples, when they had heard this, said, This is an hard saying; who can hear it? 61 When Jesus knew in himself that his disciples murmured at it, he said unto them, Doth this offend you? 62 What and if ye shall see the Son of man ascend up where he was before? 63 It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life. 64 But there are some of you that believe not. For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were that believed not, and who should betray him. 65 And he said, Therefore said I unto you, that no man can come unto me, except it were given unto him of my Father. 66 From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him. 67 Then said Jesus unto the twelve, Will ye also go away? 68 Then Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life. 69 And we believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God.

Now we come to the conclusion of this chapter, and it wraps the whole thing up. It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life. Jesus is blatantly telling us that nothing you physically and literally eat can save you (this goes right along with His teaching that nothing you physically and literally eat can make you unclean; Matthew 15:18). His word are about Spiritual matters, not fleshly, the flesh doesn’t profit anything.  Peter’s answer sheds more light on the situation. “Thou has the WORDS of eternal life.” Peter got it, it was Jesus’ words themselves that were giving life, His teachings. Again, it’s backed up by Peter’s believing Him; thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God. That is what saves, that is what we need to come to and believe in order to have eternal life.

In part 2, I will continue on by examining the reaction of the crowd, and other scriptural insights, such as the scene at the Last Supper, that do not support the doctrine of transubstantiation.


Filed under Apologetics, Communion, Theology

16 responses to “John 6 and Transubstantiation (pt.1) …

  1. Sherry

    That was very good. A while back I had made a post to this very idea on a certain forum that we frequent.

    The Bread of Life is His word, and as we partake of His word, we are able to be spiritually full.

    His blood washes us. It is the inside of the vessel that needs cleansing.

    When God had opened that up to me, it made so much sense. Thanks for clarifying further this piece of scripture.


  2. Kliska

    Yep, I remember this topic coming up, and it is always interesting how it all fits together. As you say, it is indeed the inside of the vessel that needs cleansing; our hearts need to be worked on for sure!

    Grace and Peace,

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  8. Mike

    “The Bread of Life is His word…”

    No, the bread of Life is his FLESH! The whole point of John 6 is to get one not to spiritualize away its meaning. That is precisely why I believe the bread and cup were left out of the last supper narrative in the Fourth gospel. Jesus in the flesh is the one and only “sacrament”. We can only know God through this Jesus as he came in the flesh. There is no mystical ritual or experience, such as the the eucharist, that can take the place of that. I think the author of John knew that pagans-turned-Christians would simply not get the whole eucharist thing, and apparently, they didn’t!

    See Vernard Eller’s excellent study of this material:

    • Kliska

      While you are right that the bread of life is His flesh indeed, in one sense, one must be very careful on how you phrase it so as not to give credence to the idea that a wafer of bread becomes His literal flesh and then we have to eat that. I would also note that the Bread of Life is indeed His Word, and the Word was made flesh. We don’t literally consume His flesh, but we partake of His body and blood via faith in Him and His teachings. That is the clear distinction that must be made, that I am making in my blog posts; He was indeed speaking metaphorically when He talks of eating His flesh.

      Thanks for your comment, will check out the link you gave.

  9. Maria Smith

    A Bascilican monk (RC) also once doubted the True Presence of Christ in the Eucharist.
    A miracle proven by SCIENCE is revealed at

    “Amen, amen I say to you, unless you eat my flesh and drink my blood, you shall not have life within you. For my flesh is TRUE food and my blood is TRUE drink. ”
    Many of his followers left him after Christ said these words.

    On the road to Emmaus, it was in “the breaking of the bread” that his disciples recognized Him.

    He is TRULY Present with us now! “I will never leave you, even until the end of time”…right before he ascended into heaven.

    The Eucharist is Jesus…body, blood, soul, and divinity. Pray to Jesus with your heart that loves Him so. The Holy Spirit will lead you to the TRUTH…not just of mind, but of body and soul.

    Enter in to the fullness of the FAITH!
    God bless you,

    • Kliska

      Maria, the scripture (“unless you eat…”) you cite is fully covered in my articles on the subject, please take the time to really read them and get the full context of Christ’s teaching. As always, pray to God to guide your understanding as you study and don’t rely on man’s supposed accounts or “signs and wonders” not promised in the Bible.

      • Maria Smith

        Did you even look at the Miracle of Lancianno???????? SCIENCE has even proven that the “bread” became true flesh…heart flesh with blood type AB, the same as found on the Shroud of Turin.

        The TRUTH is pure love, and love wants an intimate relationship with us. Another incredible read is “Eucharstic Miracles”. Once you have researched these two resources, then I beg your reply.

        God bless you!!!!

      • Kliska

        Yes, I looked at the information available. Logic (and science) dictates that you cannot jump to the conclusion that just because it is human flesh, with a human blood type that it is the flesh and blood of Jesus Christ (I can think of several explanations that have nothing to do with the miraculous). Scripture would actually be against the idea, as I explain in depth in my transubstantiation articles (remember, the injunction against consuming blood is found in both the old and new testaments). As for the shroud, there has been no concrete conclusions there either.

        It is true that Christ is Truth, and God is Love, and He wants an intimate relationship with us. However, that does not support the idea of transubstantiation, nor to we get that relationship by consuming bread and wine. We get that relationship by placing all of our faith and trust on/in Jesus Christ. When we do that, we receive the indwelling and sealing of the Holy Spirit…God literally within us at all times, and we are made “right” with God upon faith because of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

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  11. Diana

    Dear Scribbler,
    I have read your writings on transubstantiation. I am catholic, though not sure for how much longer.
    I agree on 98% of what you wrote: Tho I still don’t get why Jesus would say ‘eat my flesh’ & ‘drink my blood’. It just seems like he means for us to take it literal? And that we should find Him in the Eucharist.
    Btw, I have seen Eucharistic miracles…it could be anyone’s flesh being preserved there.
    Thnx, DK

    • Kliska

      Diana, Notice that this proclamation from Jesus comes after He fed the crowds real food. Those same crowds followed him simply because their stomachs were growling. Jesus, instead of feeding them physical food again, offers Himself instead. Notice that it was INSTEAD of physical food. He is inviting them to partake of Truth, as Jesus is Truth. He is inviting them to learn of Him and to follow Him. Again, make sure you read the whole context of the scripture, including His followup with His disciples. They knew He was talking about His words, and not to eat His literal flesh and drink His literal blood (they also knew He was speaking symbolically because it is forbidden by God Himself to ingest literal blood of any kind, and Jesus is God, hence He was not speaking literally). Also note that Jesus also likened Himself to things like the temple and used other directly symbolic language to express symbolic truth.

      You should indeed find Him in communion (what we protestants call the eucharist). However, you find Him through the symbols of the bread and wine. That doesn’t diminish the power of communion, instead it enhances it by pointing to Christ in powerful centuries old symbols. I bet you would enjoy studying all the symbols of Passover, and the Matzoh bread and wine! It adds a richness to taking communion!

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