Part I - Introduction:

All too often in the Protestant philosophy, truth involves a head count of scholars. Since the very nature of truth is not one of change at the whim of the majority opinion; logically truth cannot be determined in this manner. That truth is not subject to change is at the very core of the words of St. Paul in Galatians:
 

If we or an angel from heaven preach to you a Gospel other than that which we have preached to you, let him be anathema, I said it before and I say it again, if anyone preaches to you a Gospel other than that which we have preached to you, let him be anathema. [1]


This would be a meaningless statement if the doctrinal truths, which Paul had preached initially, were capable of being changed or "modified" with the times. Notice also that there is no time limit on this condemnation, which indicates that it is still in force. Anathema means accursed. Therefore, Paul is condemning with a curse those who teach differently than the Gospel taught by the Apostles be it an angel from heaven, an Apostle, etc: it did not matter. This very concept is at the heart of the disagreements between Christians. The most glaring differences are between Protestants and Apostolic Christians. (Catholics and Eastern Churches although the Anglicans are more in the camp of the Apostolic Churches than Protestants in many ways.) The heart of the dispute is that each believes the other to be wrong and this error cannot be seen as a slight one.

In the case of the Eucharist you have among the most serious of divides in Christendom because rather than a difference in degree you have a case of diametric opposites in looking at this issue. Apostolic Churches believe that the Eucharist is the actual flesh of Our Lord Jesus Christ and the Protestants claim that this is false. Anglicans and Lutherans from the Protestant side also believe in some form of Our Lord's Real Presence in the Eucharist so in this case side with the Historic Churches. The general position of the Protestant churches is to claim that this belief is "unbiblical." Despite possible appearances otherwise, this is not a minor matter because one side is in serious error and both sides cannot be right (that would violate the Law of Non Contradiction). The reader must ask themselves therefore which side is the "biblical" side and which side is the "unbiblical side". That is the purpose of this essay: to seek to shed some light on answering that very question.

The intention of this essay is to demonstrate from a biblical, logical, grammatical, and historical standpoint that the doctrine of the Real Presence as understood by Catholics, the Eastern Churches, Anglicans, and Lutherans is the only correct position. In doing this, the Evangelical-Reformed position will by default be shown as a position condemned under the aforementioned anathema of St. Paul. The understanding of the Apostolic Churches is not only heavily Scriptural but indeed it was the only position ever held in the Church from the time of the Apostles up until the ninth century where a brief dispute resolved the issue until the eleventh century when the Evangelical-Reformed position makes its historical debut. (From there with a few exception the position was still nearly unanimous Christendom until the sixteenth century.)

Some Protestant apologists claim that not all the Fathers took a literal view of the Real Presence. This view is without the slightest shred of doubt a historically untenable one. This essay will seek to address errors common to Protestant presuppositions when it comes to reading the Fathers writings, and also the flawed dichotomous mindset that impairs many Protestants from being honest with what the records of history reveal to us. (And by extension the inability oftentimes of Protestants to let the Bible say what it really says.) The essay will conclude with considering the lack of historical verification for the views held by the Fundamentalists, the Evangelicals, or the Reformed Protestants. The difference between transubstantiation and consubstantiation will also be touched on but only in brief as these terms but why these terms are irrelevant when it comes to the doctrine of the Real Presence as it existed in the early Church. But before discussing methods of interpretation, a bit of groundwork needs to be put in place so we will do that and follow it up with a thorough examination of John 6.

Part II - Addressing Protestant Text Criticism of John 6

It is a general rule (though not an absolute one) that if a certain passage or statement is repeated three or more times in Scripture, that this is an indication to take it literally. (Unless there is a reasonable excuse to do this.) What would be a "reasonable" reason not to do this??? For starters, any interpretation that has a consensus in historical exegesis (or at least overwhelming/dominant support) can be considered a "reasonable" interpretation. Any interpretation that cannot show a degree of consensus in early belief could logically be dismissed as an "unreasonable" interpretation if it differs markedly from those that proceeded it. Modes of speaking like Hebraic idiom whereby a statement is repeated twice in succession generally indicates that a certain statement is an important statement. (Our Lord prefacing certain statements with "Amen Amen" would be an example of this.) If you have a message stated two or three times in a slightly different manner - as in 1 Corinthians 6:11 - this also lends itself to a greater likelihood that it is to be taken in a literal manner either in content or in message being conveyed. These are just a few of the important elements that go into the proper understanding of the time period, modes, customs, languages, types of literature, assumptions, etc. germane to the time of composition and to the mindset of the initial target audience to insure the greatest accuracy in proper exegesis.

Although Protestants are usually considered to be more "biblically based" than Catholics, in reality it is the converse that is true. Nowhere is this fact more evident than in the case of John 6. But in truth the manner whereby most Protestants interpret John 6 is simply par for the course with the manner in which they interpret the entire Bible. In general when it comes to literal Biblical exegesis, it is almost always the Catholics who take the words of Our Lord in the Gospels literally when engaged in a doctrinal disputes with Protestants. The latter tend towards convoluted and legalistic interpretations that are alien to the Hebrew world-view from which the Scriptures were written.

Protestants indeed often interpret the literal words of Our Lord in light of St. Paul - especially with regard to the Romans and Galatians epistles. On the other hand, Catholics interpret the words of St. Paul, St. Peter, and other writers of the epistles in light of the literal Word of Our Lord Himself. In John 6, all of the previously mentioned characteristics are present (repetition, Hebraic idiom, etc.) so the proper interpretation should be easy - even if what is being said is difficult to comprehend. Among the prevalent Apostolic interpretations of John 6 is a reference to the Eucharist in literal language. This position on the Eucharist is that it is the literal flesh and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ (in sacramental form). Indeed the Apostolic view - which to some extent the Anglicans and Lutherans shate with the Apostolic Churches - is one that lacked any significant dissent for an entire millennium after Pentecost. Let us now look at John 6 and the underlying Greek grammar for a greater understanding of this passage:

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. The Jews therefore strove among themselves, saying, How can this man give us his flesh to eat? 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. Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him. As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father: so he that eateth me, even he shall live by me. 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. [2]


In the above seven verses there are eight explicit references to eating the flesh of Our Lord made by Him to the crowds. Their response is first incredulity (which is perfectly understandable) and then disgust. Can anyone find any other passage in the entire Bible where there is so much repetition on a single point??? Let us look at the underlying structure of the Greek words behind the statement for a better understanding of the passage. First we must note that from the actual words used the literal rendering makes the most sense. Our Lord uses the realistic expressions that His flesh is "real food" and His blood is "real drink." The Greek word ajlhqhvß (transliterated alethes) is used in verse 55 and it is defined as follows:
 

Phonetic Spelling al-ay-thace'

Definition

1.true

2.loving the truth, speaking the truth, truthful [3]


The King James translates this word as "indeed"
 

For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed (KJV) [4]


So a literal rendering of Our Lord's flesh being "food indeed" and his blood being "drink indeed" is the definition that must take primacy of position. Therefore, it must be held unless a rock solid reason can be shown otherwise. There is no definition of alethes that implies anything but the truth in some form. This is not consistent with taking the statement in a purely figurative manner at all. But consider how many self-proclaimed literalists all of a sudden become very allegorical when this passage is discussed. The use of the word alethes is not consistent with an allegorical interpretation at all. From there we can move onto the verbs used for "eat."

The Greek words for "eat" also bear noting since they are important for a proper exegesis of this passage. The two words of note are phago and trogo. According to the KJV Interlinear Bible Lexicon, the meanings of these words are as follows.

First we have phago used in verses 49-53.
 

Favgomai (transliterated as phago)

Phonetic Spelling - fag'-o

Parts of Speech - Verb

Definition

1.to eat

2.to eat (consume) a thing

a.to take food, eat a meal

b.metaph. to devour, consume [5]


Here are the relevant passages from the Gospel of John where this word is used:
 

In the mean while his disciples prayed him, saying, Master, eat.

But he said unto them, I have meat to eat that ye know not of.

Therefore said the disciples one to another, Hath any man brought him ought to eat?

When Jesus then lifted up his eyes, and saw a great company come unto him, he saith unto Philip, Whence shall we buy bread, that these may eat?

(Howbeit there came other boats from Tiberias nigh unto the place where they did eat bread, after that the Lord had given thanks:)

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.

Our fathers did eat manna in the desert; as it is written, He gave them bread from heaven to eat.

Your fathers did eat manna in the wilderness, and are dead.

Then led they Jesus from Caiaphas unto the hall of judgment: and it was early; and they themselves went not into the judgment hall, lest they should be defiled; but that they might eat the passover. [6]
 

Would anyone claim that phago in any of these uses is not a literal eating as opposed to a metaphorical "consumption"??? Remember of the two  definitions of phago, the first means to eat as in "I ate lunch" and the second means "to consume" with the first sub definition (a) being a literal eating of food. Only the second sub definition (b) means to metaphorically consume something. So we must recognize that the primary definitions are to be presumed in all cases except where they can be shown to obviously not be the case. Having noted that, we can proceed to the verses of controversy between historic sacramental Christianity and anti-historical, anti-sacramental Christianity. Here are the verses in dispute:
 
This is the bread which cometh down from heaven, that a man may eat thereof, and not die.

I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this, 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.

The Jews therefore strove among themselves, saying, How can this man give us his flesh to eat?

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. [7]


The reader needs to ask themselves why we shouldimmediately not take the literal meaning of phago here. What sort of rationale does the opponent of such a rendering give??? Would it be the same indignation of the Jews in the same situation by chance??? Observe how Our Lord responds to their objections and ask yourself if this is the response of someone who intends a metaphorical meaning of his words to be conveyed:
 

Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day.

For my flesh is food indeed, and my blood is drink indeed.

He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him.

As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father: so he that eateth me, even he shall live by me.

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 forever. [8]


The word for "eat" in the above passages is not phago but instead is trogo. Here is what the same KJV Interlinear Bible Lexicon says about trogo and its different meanings:
 

Trwvgw (transliterated as trogo)

Phonetic Spelling - tro'-go

Parts of Speech - Verb

Definition

1.to gnaw, crunch, chew

a.of animals feeding

b.of men

2.to eat [9]


The first thing that one who looks closely at the above definitions is that none of these definitions is metaphorical at all. (They are instead literal renderings.) The primary definition is to crunch or chew, which is about as literal as you can get. From the actions of the Jews after Our Lord spoke the passages in John 6:54-58, it seems that we can determine what the intended meaning was and it was clearly the primary definition. For if it was otherwise, the reactions of the crowd would not make sense.

Other NT usages of trogo are as follows:
 

For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark.

 I speak not of you all: I know whom I have chosen: but that the scripture may be fulfilled, He that eateth bread with me hath lifted up his heel against me. [10]


From these passages it can be logically deduced that John 6 in its primary sense can only be properly understood if it is taken literally. The following points underscore this assessment:
 


It is also worth noting that the setting of the scene casts some interesting characteristics that favour a literal understanding of the text. One short but significant verse at the very beginning of the chapter highlights the setting and circumstances:

Now the Passover, the feast of the Jews was near. [11]


In light of this passage we should consider the background of the Passover for this point would not have been mentioned if it was not significant for understanding the context of the passage. Therefore, let us briefly consider what happened at Passover in those days. At every Passover, the Jews ate a lamb without blemish not in a figurative manner but in a real literal sense. If you are wondering why this is so significant, consider the reference to Our Lord by John the Baptist earlier in the same Gospel of John:

Again the next day John was standing there, and two of his disciples.

And looking upon Jesus as he walked by, he said, "Behold the lamb of God!!!"

And the two disciples heard him speak and they followed Jesus. [12]


It is interesting that John makes note of these extra events. If Jesus is the Lamb of God (as Catholics say at every Mass) than the Passover imagery in John 6:4 has to imply something significant or else it would not be there. It seems to evoke a bit of foreshadowing in 6:4 for what would come later on in that chapter (the discourse on the Eucharist). At least this can be said to be a reasonable interpretation of the text. We know that the Jews ate the lamb without blemish at Passover. Could it not logically be inferred based on all of the grammar analysis above that the sinless Son of God, the Lamb of God without blemish would also be eaten literally in a New Covenant Passover???

Now it is true that taken alone without the above supporting evidence you may be able to state that thus far I have been engaging in "exegesis gymnastics" certainly. With all of the supporting evidence listed above pointing clearly and unambiguously to a literal interpretation of John 6, how can anyone honestly hold to a "metaphorical rendering"??? Considering all of the evidence that clearly points to the opposite interpretation. (Including the fact that Our Lord emphasized nine times that He would have to be eaten: find any other passage so clearly attested to in all of Scripture.) The reader needs to ask themselves how this interpretation can be seen as anything but a rational one (or at least as "rational" as the incomprehensible mysteries of God can be to us feeble-minded mortals) and the "metaphorical" interpretation taken by most Protestants not be seen as not only "illogical" but also patently unbiblical. Perhaps this is a good time to point to the understanding of the Eucharist in Church history.

There is not one single Church Father that understood this passage in a purely figurative manner. It is true that some Fathers (including Origin and Augustine) entertained a symbolic interpretation to coincide with the literal rendering. However, none of them is on record as not believing in a literal Real Presence of Our Lord in the Eucharist. (And all of them speak of the Eucharist as Our Lord's literal body on more than one occasion in very clear unambiguous terms.) This factor will be examined more in detail in part three of this essay  and particularly in the appendix section; however but first a challenge needs to be issued to anyone who still has any doubts whatsoever as to the literal rendering of John 6 as Catholics and all Apostolic Christians believe:

The Challenge:

Anyone who still has doubts or is scoffing over what has been covered above is asked to please provide one other example in the Gospels where Jesus did not explain a difficulty at least to his Apostles. It is clear from John 6 that He did not do this at all. Are there any other examples in the Scriptures of the Lord taking this approach with His Apostles??? If there is not then this would firmly underscoresthe strong evidence that the literal understanding held by everyone at the discourse is the correct one. As we will see in the next section - and particularly in the Appendix section later on, the evidence in favour of a literal reading from a text standpoint (much as the grammar standpoint already covered) is overwhelmingly positive and definitive.

Addressing a "Text Critic" on John 6:

It is very interesting that there are those who ignore the witness of history and instead think that text criticism is how you uncover the meaning of a term. I personally believe that the skepticism that goes into such endeavours is a pale and mutually destructive attempt to hide from the obvious so I seldom employ the method myself. However, there are times when a "scholarly" type attempts to bring this method out and thus abandon all other means of ascertaining the truth on a doctrine or a Scriptural interpretation. Such a view is ignorant because it acknowledges (albeit implicitly) that early Church consensus on a doctrine is not the working of the Holy Spirit as promised in John 16:13 but instead such a consensus is erroneous. This belief in essence makes the words of Our Lord in promising both His guidance unto the consummation of the world (Matt. 28:20) and also the dwelling of the Holy Spirit forever (John 14:16-18; 16:13) to be meaningless. I had an exchange with a Protestant (in early October of 1999) on text criticism who made the following statement in arguing against a literal rendering of John 6 (after I had shown him reams of Patristic evidence refuting his symbolic or metaphorical view):
 

"Shawn's handling of my point on the Greek is weak. Again, we are thrown assertions with no citations. My point here remains, why does John employ sarx and not soma???"
As is common for those who are overly critical, this individual failed to address any of the evidence I brought out to substantiate my view. Instead he quoted exclusively from modern text scholars. Are we supposed to presume that there are no polemical text scholars out there??? Someone can always find an ally to support their positions but that fact alone does not ipso facto make their position a credible one. Nevertheless, as this individual made an interesting statement, we should ask ourselves if it really prove his case. (He argued at length that John 6 is figurative and not literal based on the word sarx.) As has already been explained, the Greek word phago used in verses 49-53 means to eat. It is generally used as a literal verb. Also, alethes in verse 55 means "actual" and the Greek word trogo used in verses 54, 56, 57, and 58 translated as "eat" is a very graphic term. (It means literally "to gnaw, crunch, or chew" and is a much more literal and forceful verb then phago.) It is the verb that Our Lord reverts to using when his audience is incredulous at his use of phago ("how can this man give us his flesh to eat"???). These are hardly figurative words being used at all but in the interest of fairness, let us consider what the KJV Inerlinear Bible Lexicon says on the matter. (And yes I deliberately used the KJV lest I be accused of using one with "Catholic bias".) Here is what the source says about sarx and soma starting with the latter term:

Soma is defined as follows:
 

Sw'ma (transliterated as soma)

Phonetic Spelling so'-mah

Noun Neuter

Definition

1.the body both of men or animals

a.a dead body or corpse

b.the living body

1.of animals

2.the bodies of planets and of stars (heavenly bodies)

3.is used of a (large or small) number of men closely united into one society, or family as it were; a social, ethical, mystical body

a.so in the NT of the church

4.that which casts a shadow as distinguished from the shadow itself [13]


Believe it or not, this text critic made our case all by himself!!! The reason soma was not used is because it would refer to Our Lord's body as the very flesh He was wearing at the very moment he was speaking to the crowd - if you use the only applicable definition which is 1b. So it seems very obvious why soma was not used. But is the use of sarx really an argument against a literal rendering of John 6??? Sarx is defined as follows:
 

Savarx (transliterated as sarx) [14]


Savarx (sarx) is a noun of feminine gender. It appears a number of times in the NT. Among its appearances are twelve references in the Gospel of John and seven references in John 6 alone. The times sarx is used in John 6 are as follows: John 6: 51, 52, 53, 54, 55, 56, 63. As it permeated the very text we are examining, let us look one by one at the definitions of this word.

Savarx (or sarx) is defined as follows:
 

1.flesh (the soft substance of the living body, which covers the bones and is permeated with blood) of both man and beasts [15]


The first definition is exactly what the Jews referred to when they were incredulous. (How can this man give us his FLESH to eat???). It seems amusing that Jesus kept saying exactly the same thing and they still took his words literally. Or maybe it is not so amusing but is instead is something very serious. Here is the second definition of the term:
 

2.the body

a.the body of a man

b.used of natural or physical origin, generation or relationship

1.born of natural generation

c.the sensuous nature of man, "the animal nature"

1.without any suggestion of depravity

2.the animal nature with cravings which incite to sin

3.the physical nature of man as subject to suffering [16]


Perhaps "this IS my body" applies for the definition of 2a. 2b also indirectly affirms a literal interpretation. 2c is the arguable definition of John 6:63 in that the Jews were too carnally minded to comprehend how the literal words of Jesus could be possibly understood in the spiritual (yet real) sense that He intended. But none of the second definition supports a figurative or symbolic understanding of John 6. Let us consider the other definitions now:
 

3. a living creature (because possessed of a body of flesh) whether man or beast [17]


This definition does not apply to either position but if it did, the support would still be literal as living creatures are literal and not metaphorical. Finally, we have the fourth definition of the term:
 

4.the flesh, denotes mere human nature, the earthly nature of man apart from divine influence, and therefore prone to sin and opposed to God [18]


This is a possible argument for John 6:63 but is in no way an argument favouring the Evangelical position in the slightest. In fact, not one definition of sarx can be said to support a figurative interpretation except (with some serious stretching) perhaps 2c or 2c2. It seems eminently logical to presume that the repetition of the term in light of the literal understanding of the crowds is intended to reinforce their understanding of what is being said. At the very least there is no good reason whatsoever to reject the literal interpretation of the passage.

Now for the seven uses of sarx within John 6:
 

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.

The Jews therefore strove among themselves, saying, How can this man give us his flesh to eat?

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.

Whoso eateth my flesh and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day.

For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed.

He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him. [19]


When you consider the meanings of the underlying verbs phago and trogo - along with the meaning of alethes (true, real), can it possibly get any clearer than this??? The very lexicon definitions definitively refute the primary Protestant Evangelical position in every usage including the following one:

 
It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life. [20]


Unless the skeptics can cite one example in all of Scripture where "spirit" is synonymous with "symbolic", they lose this debate. (And I will go so far as to assert that this cannot be done.) For that reason, John 6:63 in no way is contrary to a literal rendering of the previous six examples. Besides, will an Evangelical claim that Our Lord's flesh profited nothing??? If they did than the entire Incarnation and Passion/Death of Our Saviour for the redemption of mankind was in vain. There is no foundation in logic or reason that supports the view that John 6:63 can possibly render the rest of the discourse in a metaphorical way. All of the foundational evidence already supplied points to a literal interpretation without exception. And there are more arguments than just those to substantiate this thesis.

I highlighted the seven examples and if you look carefully, the first six refer to the flesh of Our Lord and the one on John 6:63 is differentiating between THE spirit and THE flesh. The latter is not the same context as the prior six passages at all. John 6:63 is more congruently understood as Our Lord telling the Jews that they were thinking too carnally and not spiritually enough. He would not hack off His limbs and feed them the flesh He was wearing at that moment and in that form. No, he would feed them spiritually His very flesh and blood in the form of a sacramentum (mystery) which He promulgated at the Last Supper. Their error was not in misunderstanding what He said but instead how He would do what He said He would do. Any other interpretation involves seeking to explain away Our Lordís literal words, which one should never do except as an absolute last resort. And in the Bible there is seldom ever a need for such a last resort yet it is so often the first one that Protestants go to in defending the systematic theologies of their founders from being contradicted by the literal words of Scripture. (They do this most notably with the Gospel accounts.)

Let us look at the other examples of savarx from the NT.  There are 33 uses of the word sarx in the Gospels, Acts, and the other writings of the Evangelist John (including five non-John 6 uses in Johnís Gospel). Surely there ought to be enough in those books to make my case. Let us address them now starting with the Gospel of John:
 

Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. [21]


Is this "metaphorical" flesh???

 
And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth. [22]


Was Jesus' flesh "metaphorical" or "symbolic" here???
 

That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.

Ye judge after the flesh; I judge no man.

As thou hast given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him. [23]


Do these usages imply a metaphorical or symbolic flesh??? I do not think so.
 

And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. [24]


Is Peterís flesh not literal flesh???
 

And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh [25]


The one flesh here can in some ways be said to be metaphorical. However, when spouses become "one flesh" it does at times involve conception of a child which is human after all. So it seems reasonable to assert that this is a literal rendering as well in that light.

 
Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder. [26]


Same as the previous comment.
 

And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect's sake those days shall be shortened.

Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak. [27]


Who would claim that these are anything but literal renderings of sarx???
 

And they twain shall be one flesh: so then they are no more twain, but one flesh.

And except that the Lord had shortened those days, no flesh should be saved: but for the elect's sake, whom he hath chosen, he hath shortened the days.

Watch ye and pray, lest ye enter into temptation. The spirit truly is ready, but the flesh is weak. [28]


These verses are duplicates of the ones from Matthews Gospel. Thus far, every usage of sarx in the Gospels supports a literal interpretation of that term in John 6:

 
And all flesh shall see the salvation of God.

Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have. [29]


Surely no one would claim that these verses are "metaphorical" because they obviously are not.
 

And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams:

Therefore did my heart rejoice, and my tongue was glad; moreover also my flesh shall rest in hope

Therefore being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him, that of the fruit of his loins, according to the flesh, he would raise up Christ to sit on his throne

He seeing this before spake of the resurrection of Christ, that his soul was not left in hell, neither his flesh did see corruption. [30]


None of the uses in Acts supports the common Protestant interpretation of sarx either. Since every example in the Gospels and Acts ouside of John 6 is literal, then it makes sense to read John 6 literally also. To do otherwise is purely arbitrary on the part of the interpreter. If such a pattern also surfaces in John's epistles than that should cinch it for anyone but the willfully ignorant that the uses in John 6 are unmistakably literal ones.
 

For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. [31]


Sarx is used to emphasize literal flesh here.

 
Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God [32]


Again, Jesus did come in the literal flesh right???
 

And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world. [33]


If this is taken metaphorically than it refutes the Incarnation. Obviously it is a literal intent then.
 

For many deceivers are entered into the world, who confess not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist. [34]


Same comments as for 1 John 4:3.
 

And the ten horns which thou sawest upon the beast, these shall hate the whore, and shall make her desolate and naked, and shall eat her flesh, and burn her with fire.

That ye may eat the flesh of kings, and the flesh of captains, and the flesh of mighty men, and the flesh of horses, and of them that sit on them, and the flesh of all men, both free and bond, both small and great.

And the remnant were slain with the sword of him that sat upon the horse, which sword proceeded out of his mouth: and all the fowls were filled with their flesh. [35]


In line with the OT figurative usages of "eat my flesh" (see Deut 28:53ff; 32:42; 2 Sam 23:17; Psalm 27:2; Isaiah 9:18- 20; 49:26; Ezek 5:10ff; Bar 2:3; Micah 3:1-4) these speak of assaulting or reviling someone. So if "eating my flesh" is figurative in John 6, the meaning would be to "assault" or to "revile" Our Lord in order to gain eternal life. (That is how the term is used in Revelation and the list of other OT references above.) This meaning would claim that to gain eternal life we must repudiate Our Lord. Such a view makes no sense and therefore it must be false.

Summary of Part II:

The interpretive concept of repetition and solemnity (Amen amen translated as "verily verily" in verse 53) and the principle of repetition (over seven and arguably nine times between verses 48 and 58) commands a literal interpretation of this or else no part of the Bible does.

Althes in verse 55 means "actual" which supports a literal rendering of John 6 and not a figurative or symbolic one. "My flesh is actual food indeed and my blood is actual drink indeed" is hardly the statement of someone making a parabolic statement unless they are a lousy teacher and Our Lord was the best of teachers.

Phago (in verses 49-53) is almost always used literally which lends further evidence to taking Our Lord at His word when he refers to eating his flesh in these verses.

Trogo in verses 54, 56, 57, ane 58 means "to gnaw or chew" which refutes a figurative or symbolic rendering of John 6 and places a heavy emphasis on a literal interpretation. (Because it is not a verb used in a non-literal sense anywhere in the New Testament.) Therefore, why should it be applied that way here??? The only viable explanation for this glaring inconsistency is some perverse need to defend Protestant systematic theology. And that brings us to the Protestant need to explain away the literal words of the Scriptures in so many areas.

Our Lordís literal words anathematize the Protestant position so frequently that there are Protestants who try to dismiss Our Lordís words as belonging to a "previous dispensation" to focus on Paulís writings. In short the Gospels are not actually in the Gospels according to them. And these kinds of people have the temerity to call themselves "Bible Christians!!!" A "Bible Christian" recognizes that when Our Lord says something it is to be taken literally almost all the time. Any other view makes the Gospel subordinate to the whims of mere men. Finally, we come to the uses of the term sarx in the Gospels, Acts, the epistles of John, and Revelation.
 

On Sarx (flesh):

Matthew: All five renderings are unmistakably literal

Mark: All three renderings are unmistakably literal

Luke: Both renderings are unmistakably literal

Acts: All four renderings are unmistakably literal

John: The five renderings outside of John 6 are unmistakably literal

John 1: The three uses in John 1 are unmistakably literal

John 2: Obviously a literal rendering is intended here also.


With the Book of Revelation, all three verses are clearly metaphorical or symbolic renderings. They all take into account reviling or injuring someone by "eating their flesh." Like the OT references cited earlier, the literal rendering cannot be supported and in all cases the metaphorical rendering involves injuring the party whose flesh is being "eaten."

In short, of the thirty-three references, we have three obviously figurative usages which clearly support the literal rendering of John 6. Of the thirty other verses, we have three from 1 John that support the literal position (as well as the one from 2 John). All of the verses from Matthew, Mark, Luke, and Acts support the literal position along with all five non John 6 renderings of sarx. Therefore, the only coherent conclusion is that the seven references to sarx in John 6 are also to be taken literally. If we factor in the other Greek words mentioned which strongly reinforce the literal meaning of the text (althes, phago, and trogo) and the literal position is bolstered even stronger.

If we take into account the Passover imagery and themes as well, the case for a literal understanding of the Real Presence is bolstered yet further. For (i) the Jews ate the lamb at Passover and (ii) Jesus is the Lamb of God who (iii) specifically stated around Passover time that He would have to be eaten. He also (iv) at the Last Supper declared the bread and wine He blessed to be His Body and Blood and told the Apostles to eat and drink them.

The literal rendering is also the primary one according to the Protestant KJV Lexicon for the word sarx. (Definitions 1 and 2 refer unmistakably to physical flesh.) Therefore, the literal rendering must be adopted especially considering the overwhelming evidence listed above. In light of all of this evidence and taking into account Church history (which will be examined later in this essay), the Protestant symbolic rendering of John 6 is clearly unbiblical when viewed from every conceivable angle. By contrast, the Apostolic position is supported by all of the evidence without exception. How than can anyone logically claim that an interpretation that differs from the Historic literal interpretation of this passage can be anything but the very different Gospel condemned under an anathema by the Apostle Paul (1 Gal. 1:8-9)???

Bibliography:

[1] Galatians 1:8-9

[2] John 6:51-58

[3] KJV Interlinear Bible with Greek Lexicon: Definitions given for Ajlhqhvß (or alethes)

[4] John 6:55

[5] KJV Interlinear Bible with Greek Lexicon: Definitions given for the verb "Favgomai" (or phago)

[6] John 4:31-33; 6:5,23,26,31,49; 18:28

[7] John 6:50-53

[8] John 6:54-58

[9] KJV Interlinear Bible with Greek Lexicon: Definitions given for the verb "Trwvgw" (or trogo)

[10] Matthew 24:38 John 13:18

[11] John 6:4

[12] John 1:35-37

[13] KJV Interlinear Bible with Greek Lexicon: Definitions given for the noun neuter "Sw'ma" (or soma)

[14] KJV Interlinear Bible with Greek Lexicon: Heading and subheading given for the feminine noun "Savarx" ( or sarx)

[15] KJV Interlinear Bible with Greek Lexicon: First definition given for the feminine noun "Savarx" (or sarx)

[16] KJV Interlinear Bible with Greek Lexicon: Second definition given for the feminine noun "Savarx" (or sarx)

[17] KJV Interlinear Bible with Greek Lexicon: Third definition given for the feminine noun "Savarx" (or sarx)

[18] KJV Interlinear Bible with Greek Lexicon: Fourth definition given for the feminine noun "Savarx" (or sarx)

[19] John 6:51-56

[20] John 6:63

[21] John 1:13

[22] John 1:14

[23] John 3:6; 8:15; 17:2

[24] Matthew 16:17

[25] Matthew 19:5

[26] Matthew 19:6

[27] Matthew 24:22; 26:41

[28] Mark 10:8; 13:20; 14:38

[29] Luke 3:6; 24:39

[30] Acts 2:17,26,30-31

[31] 1John 2:16

[32] 1John 4:2

[33] 1John 4:3

[34] 2John 1:7

[35] Revelation 17:16; 19:18,21

Other Notes:

The Scripture citations were taken from the King James Version of the Bible except where noted. An online version of the King James Bible can be read at the following link: http://www.biblegateway.com/
Linking to this site does not in any way whatsoever constitute an endorsement of this website.

The KJV New Testament Lexicon definitions of "ajlhqhvß" (or "althes") were obtained at the following link: http://bible.crosswalk.com/Lexicons/Greek/grk.cgi?number=227&version=kjv

The KJV New Testament Lexicon definitions of "favgomai" (or "phago") were obtained at the following link: http://bible.crosswalk.com/Lexicons/Greek/grk.cgi?number=5315&version=kjv

The KJV New Testament Lexicon definitions of "trwvgw" (or "trogo") were obtained at the following link:
http://bible.crosswalk.com/Lexicons/Greek/grk.cgi?number=5176&version=kjv

The KJV New Testament Lexicon definitions of "savarx" (or "sarx") were obtained at the following link:
http://bible.crosswalk.com/Lexicons/Greek/grk.cgi?number=4561&version=kjv
 
 

©2003, 2000, "On the Real Presence", written by I. Shawn McElhinney. This text may be downloaded or printed out for private reading, but it may not be uploaded to another Internet site or published, electronically or otherwise, without express written permission from the author.
 
 

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