Against Roman Catholicism – Understanding the true meaning of the Lord’s Supper or Eucharist (Thanksgiving Meal) by looking at its context and meaning within the New Testament
As always, one looks to the Bible, the source book for all matters of doctrine. Thankfully, the meaning is very easy to discern and requires only reading the relevant passages in the Bible. How Roman Catholic’s manage to make such a mess of it with their Doctrine of Transubstantiation beggars belief.
Please take the time to prayerfully read through the following passages. To be read with my other related post, ‘Against Roman Catholicism – Refuting Transubstantiation’.
We look at the key statements by Jesus and others in the Gospels:
The Gospel of John-The Meeting with Nicodemus
John 3:3-7 KJV
3 Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.
4 Nicodemus said unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb, and be born?
5 Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.
6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.
7 Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.
Now, we all know that Jesus did not mean that we should ‘enter the second time into the mother’s womb, and be born’- he was talking spiritually. He was stating that a man must be spiritually renewed with the spirit of God, not that he must be physically reborn.
From this we can see that Jesus does not always explain himself, but he allows the hearer to consider his statement.
The Gospel of John-The Woman at the Well
Continuing with the Gospel of John, not long after Jesus meeting with Nicodemus, the account moves on to his meeting the woman at the well:
John 4:10-14 KJV
10 Jesus answered and said unto her, If though knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldst have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water. 11The women saith unto him, Sir thou hast nothing to draw with, and the well is deep: from whence then hast thou that living water?
12 Art thou greater than our father Jacob, which gave us the well, and drank thereof himself, and his children, and his cattle?
13Jesus answered and said unto her, Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again:
14But whosoever drinketh of 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.
As we read the extracts from John 4 above, it becomes crystal clear that Jesus is talking spiritually. He speaks of ‘Living Water’. He does not mean literal water, he is speaking of the spirit. Do we really believe that he means that a literal well of water will be found inside the person’s belly? Of course not!
John 4:23 KJV
But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him.
Immediately after this, his disciples came to him.
John 4:31-36 KJV
31 In the mean while his disciples prayed him, saying, Master, eat.
32 But he said unto them, I have meat to eat that ye know not of.
33 Therefore said the disciples one to another, Hath any man brought him ought to eat?
34 Jesus saith unto them, My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work.
Again, in John 4:31-36, Jesus makes himself crystal clear:
John 4:34 Jesus saith unto them, My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work.
29 Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent.
As we continue with John’s Gospel, we find that salvation is found simply by hearing Jesus’ word and believing on his Father who sent him:
John 5:24 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation: but is passed from death unto life.
No talk of eating literal flesh and literal blood as per the Roman Catholic formula here!
Continuing with the Gospel of John, we discover that John 5:24 is repeated at John 6:29 below; the work of God (hence our ‘meat’ or ‘food’ or ‘bread’ is the work of God) is to believe on him whom he has sent. We know from John 4:34 that ‘Jesus saith unto them, My meat (food) is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work’.
Gospel of John cont’d:
John 6:26KJV 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.
27 Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you: for him hath God the Father sealed.
28 Then said they unto him, What shall we do, that we might do the works of God?
29 Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent.
30They said unto therefore unto him, What sign showest thou then, that we may see, and believe thee? What dost thou work?
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.
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.
38 For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him who sent me.
40And 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.
John 6:47 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me hath everlasting life. 48 I am the bread of life. 49 Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. 50 This is the bread that comes down from heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die. 51 I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. And the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.” 52 The Jews then disputed among themselves, saying, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” 53 So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. 54 Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. 55 For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. 56 Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him. 57 As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever feeds on me, he also will live because of me. 58 This is the bread that came down from heaven, not as the fathers ate and died. Whoever feeds on this bread will live forever.
John 6:63 It is the spirit that quickeneth: the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life
Jesus answered them and said, My doctrine is not mine, but his that sent me.
From the above, we now understand the meaning of John 6:55 from John 4:31-36, Matthew 16:6-8, 11-12 and Luke 12:1. We can see that it is absolutely false to say that the Eucharist is the literal physical flesh and the literal physical blood of Jesus Christ.
Again, note the similarity of the account of the Woman at the Well and the Bread of Life narrative. In John 6:51 above, Jesus says he is the Living Bread. So if Roman Catholic’s are to take this literally and not symbolically, then they must decide what he is- is he the Living Water or the Living Bread?
We’ve all heard the expression, ‘Food for thought’, and we all know what it means. Roman Catholic’s, however, have great difficulty grasping this concept.
John’s Gospel is unique among the four gospels in that there is no account of the Last Supper and yet he says:
John 20:30-31 KJV
30 And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book:
31 But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ: and that believing you might have life through his name
The Gospel of Matthew- The leaven of the Pharisees and the Sadducees
Similarly, Jesus was talking spiritually in:
Matthew 16:6-8, 11-12 KJV
Then Jesus said unto them, Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the Sadducees. And they reasoned amongst themselves, saying, it is because we have taken no bread. Which when Jesus perceived, he said unto them, O ye of little faith, why reason ye among yourselves, because ye have brought no bread?
How is it that ye do not understand that I spake it not to you concerning bread, that ye should beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees?
Then understood they how that he bade them not beware of the leaven of bread, but of the doctrine of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees.
Here, Christ himself unequivocally equates bread/leaven with DOCTRINE, not physical bread/food/ literal flesh/literal blood. In this instance, he explains himself to his disciples.
Matthew clearly understood what the Eucharist was to signify, and he again makes it very clear in his account of the Last Supper:
The Gospel of Matthew-The Last Supper
Matthew 26:26-29 KJV:
26 And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed it, and brake it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is my body.
27 And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, drink ye all of it;
28 For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.
29. But I say unto you, I will not drink henceforth of this fruit of the vine, until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom
Clearly, Jesus is speaking symbolically here:
Verse 28 says ‘this is my blood,…which is SHED for many…’.
This cannot be literal blood as Jesus had yet to suffer on the Cross. This is ‘spiritual blood’, not physical, literal blood.
We are told in the Bible that Jesus came in the flesh, that is, he had a human body. From the gospel accounts, there is nothing to suggest that the bread which Jesus called his ‘Body’, was made by anything else but human hands.
For the Roman Catholic tale of literal blood to be even half believable, there would have to be an account in the gospels which says that Jesus tore a chunk of his own flesh from his own body (and which was not plucked out of mid air) in front of his disciples, immediately turned it into bread, and then informed them that this was now his body and blood in an ‘unbloody manner’- as per the Roman Catholic Doctrine of Transubstantiation. Of course, there isn’t such an account, because it just didn’t happen- the Doctrine of Transubstantiation is a work of pure fiction.
Verse 29 says ‘I will not drink henceforth of this fruit of the vine’
Just before he said this, he had called it his blood. So in verse 28 he calls it his ‘blood’ and in verse 29 he calls it ‘this fruit of the vine’. Clearly then, it is symbolic of his blood which would be shed on the Cross.
A virtually identical account is given in the Gospel of Mark 14:22-25 KJV.
In the Gospel of Luke 21:15-21KJV, Luke goes even further and in verse 19 says that Christ said ‘Do this in remembrance of me’ and in verse 20, he says ‘..This cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you’. If this is to be taken literally, shouldn’t RC’s be taking a nibble at the communion cup as well?
The Apostle Paul’s account of the Last Supper
In Paul’s letter to the Corinthians, before he gives his account of the Last Supper, he says:
1 Corinthians 10:1-5, 14-17 KJV:
1Moreover, brethren, I would not that ye should be ignorant, how that all our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea;
2And were all baptised unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea;
3And did all eat the same spiritual meat;
4And did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ.
5 But with many of them God was not well pleased: for they were overthrown in the wilderness….
14 Wherefore, my dearly beloved, flee from idolatry.
15 I speak to wise men: judge ye what I say.
16 The cup of the blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ?
17For we being many are one bread, and one body: for we are all partakers of that one bread.
Here, Paul continues to say that ‘the cup of the blessing’ and the ‘bread which we break’ means fellowship with Christ.
The analogy comes after and clearly follows from verses 3 and 4, and is clearly referring to them, where the fathers are said to ‘eat the SAME spiritual meat’ and ‘drink the SAME spiritual drink’ of Christ.
Note also verse 17 ‘For we being many are ONE bread, and ONE body: for we are ALL partakers of that ONE bread.’
Hebrews 13:8 KJV
8 Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever.
So what does the apostle Paul say about the Last Supper?
1 Corinthians11 KJV:
23 For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you. That the Lord Jesus the same night in which he was betrayed took bread;
24 And when he had given thanks. He brake it, and said., Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me.
25 After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me.
26 For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord’s death till he come.
27 Wherefore whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord.
28 But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup.
29 For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body.
Paul clearly views the Eucharist as a celebration of Christ’s Passion, a thanksgiving and remembrance meal, in anticipation of his coming again.
Note, if the Body and Blood is to be taken literally and not symbolically, then verse 25 says that Jesus drank from the cup – if this is literal blood, then was Jesus drinking his own blood?
However, immediately after, in verse 26, Paul says Jesus referred to his body and his blood as this ‘bread’, and this ‘cup’. Clearly, the bread and the cup are symbolic of Jesus’ sacrifice.
In verse 29,they are ‘not discerning the Lord’s Body’. What does he mean here? Why does he say it?
In all the physical attributes of the bread, it is corruptible- it is bread- it looks the same and tastes the same as any piece of bread, so the discernment must therefore be spiritual, not physical. He says it is not common bread because it has been blessed and is holy because. it symbolises Christ’s Passion/Sacrifice, and those partaking of it must eat it recognising the fact that it is a celebration and thanksgiving meal, in remembrance of the sacrifice of Christ, his resurrection and his coming again. We are spiritually nourished by this ‘spiritual meat and spiritual drink’ when we celebrate Christ’s Passion and recall to mind his teaching and do his will. Those who eat and drink unworthily are those who do not respect or believe the reason for the Eucharist and consider it common bread and not holy.
We already know from Matthew 16:6-8 above that when Jesus used the term ‘leaven’ or ‘bread’ it can also mean ‘Doctrine’ or ‘Teaching’. It is true to say that Jesus’ life contained the New Testament doctrine. When we follow his teaching, he dwells in us and we dwell in him.
Therefore, if, as the Roman Catholic’s believe, Jesus was talking about his literal flesh and literal blood, they must then answer the following insurmountable problems:
1. How did Jesus shed blood and give it to his disciples before his crucifixion?
2. If it is his literal blood, Jesus drank his own blood with his disciples?
3. Will Jesus drink his own blood with his disciples when he comes into his Father’s kingdom?
4. Jesus and his disciples must be cannibals (On this issue, see Fragment 13- Irenaeus, in my post ‘Against Roman Catholicism – Refuting Transubstantiation’ )
Luke 23:39-43 KJV
39 And one of the malefactors which were hanged railed on him, saying, If thou be Christ, save thyself and us.
40 But the other answering rebuked him, saying, Dost not thou fear God, seeing thou art in the same condemnation?
41 And we indeed justly; for we receive the due reward of our deeds: but this man hath done nothing amiss.
42 And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom.
43 And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, Today shalt thou be with me in paradise.
We know that this criminal had not taken any eucharistic meal.
Matthew 4:1-11 KJV
4 But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.
The Doctrine of Transubstantiation- How does it stack up in the light of the Bible?
We have studied the accounts of the Last Supper and the other related passages and we can see below that this doctrine is not found in the Bible.
Just like the Roman Catholic Trinity doctrine, it is a work of fiction. When scrutinized by anyone with even a basic knowledge of the Bible, it falls apart.
Let’s see what the Roman Catholic’s claim, by looking at catechisms from the Vatican’s own website:
1376 The Council of Trent summarizes the Catholic faith by declaring: “Because Christ our Redeemer said that it was truly his body that he was offering under the species of bread, it has always been the conviction of the Church of God, and this holy Council now declares again, that by the consecration of the bread and wine there takes place a change of the whole substance of the bread into the substance of the body of Christ our Lord and of the whole substance of the wine into the substance of his blood. This change the holy Catholic Church has fittingly and properly called transubstantiation.”
1377 The Eucharistic presence of Christ begins at the moment of the consecration and endures as long as the Eucharistic species subsist. Christ is present whole and entire in each of the species and whole and entire in each of their parts, in such a way that the breaking of the bread does not divide Christ.
1364 In the New Testament, the memorial takes on new meaning. When the Church celebrates the Eucharist, she commemorates Christ’s Passover, and it is made present the sacrifice Christ offered once for all on the cross remains ever present. “As often as the sacrifice of the Cross by which ‘Christ our Pasch has been sacrificed’ is celebrated on the altar, the work of our redemption is carried out.”
1365 Because it is the memorial of Christ’s Passover, the Eucharist is also a sacrifice. The sacrificial character of the Eucharist is manifested in the very words of institution: “This is my body which is given for you” and “This cup which is poured out for you is the New Covenant in my blood.”187 In the Eucharist Christ gives us the very body which he gave up for us on the cross, the very blood which he “poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.”
1366 The Eucharist is thus a sacrifice because it re-presents (makes present) the sacrifice of the cross, because it is its memorial and because it applies its fruit:
[Christ], our Lord and God, was once and for all to offer himself to God the Father by his death on the altar of the cross, to accomplish there an everlasting redemption. But because his priesthood was not to end with his death, at the Last Supper “on the night when he was betrayed,” [he wanted] to leave to his beloved spouse the Church a visible sacrifice (as the nature of man demands) by which the bloody sacrifice which he was to accomplish once for all on the cross would be re-presented, its memory perpetuated until the end of the world, and its salutary power be applied to the forgiveness of the sins we daily commit.
1367 The sacrifice of Christ and the sacrifice of the Eucharist are one single sacrifice: “The victim is one and the same: the same now offers through the ministry of priests, who then offered himself on the cross; only the manner of offering is different.” “And since in this divine sacrifice which is celebrated in the Mass, the same Christ who offered himself once in a bloody manner on the altar of the cross is contained and is offered in an unbloody manner. . . this sacrifice is truly propitiatory.”
1368 The Eucharist is also the sacrifice of the Church. The Church which is the Body of Christ participates in the offering of her Head. With him, she herself is offered whole and entire. She unites herself to his intercession with the Father for all men. In the Eucharist the sacrifice of Christ becomes also the sacrifice of the members of his Body. The lives of the faithful, their praise, sufferings, prayer, and work, are united with those of Christ and with his total offering, and so acquire a new value. Christ’s sacrifice present on the altar makes it possible for all generations of Christians to be united with his offering.
It does not take long to see that the Roman Catholic’s have departed from the true faith.
Their own Catechisms contradict each other (bold emphasis mine).
Catechism 1364 says ‘…”As often as the sacrifice of the Cross by which ‘Christ our Pasch has been sacrificed‘ is celebrated on the altar, the work of our redemption is carried out.”
Catechism 1365 says ‘…the Eucharist is also a sacrifice’
Catechism 1367 says ‘…The sacrifice of Christ and the sacrifice of the Eucharist are one single sacrifice: “The victim is one and the same’
If the victim is one and the same, then in Roman Catholic doctrine, the victim is being sacrificed again each time the Eucharist is celebrated.
Catechism 1367 says ‘…the same Christ who offered himself once in a bloody manner on the altar of the cross is contained and is offered in an unbloody manner. . . this sacrifice is truly propitiatory.”
In this catechism, the Roman Catholic’s have out done themselves. If it is an ‘unbloody sacrifice’, then it cannot be the literal, physical blood of Jesus as they maintain, period.
In fact, if it is ‘unbloody’, then it is not even blood- whether literal or spiritual! Of course, they mean it is actual blood, which is not actual blood- rather like another one of their inventions- their Roman Catholic Trinity doctrine, which makes ‘three Gods equal to one God, but not one God equal to three Gods’. Or as one great Roman Catholic once told me, 1+1+1 = 1. Get it?
What the Bible says
No amount of artful dodgery and playing with words, can hide the fact that the Roman Catholic church makes the ‘once for all sacrifice’ of Christ into a farce- a daily sacrifice of Christ which must be repeated again and again continually at the altar for remission of sins. This is in complete contradiction to the Bible.
Hebrews 7:26-27 KJV
26 For such an high priest became us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens;
27 Who needeth not daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifice, first for his own sins, and then for the people’s: for this he did once, when he offered up himself.
Hebrews 9:24-28 KJV
24 For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but unto heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us.
25 Nor yet that he should offer himself often, as the high priest entereth into the holy place every year with blood of others;
26 For then must he often have suffered since the foundation of the world; but now once in the end of the world hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.
27And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgement:
28 So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.
Final Thoughts and Conclusion
The choice is clear, to follow the teaching of Jesus in the Bible, or to depart from it and follow the teaching of the Roman Catholic church.
Beware the leaven of the Pharisees and the Sadducees!