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.