A Protestant Interpretation of John 6


If it can be taken figuratively, then why did His disciples who left Him, not take His language figuratively? Within Our Lord’s discourse, He refuted the notion of using figurative language.

His disciples who left HIM, also saw His miracles, by definition. Yet, to the one who spoke in the beginning, and everything that is in creation, came into existence, said to Him, who can listen to this? And they left never to return

Meaning They obviously weren’t taking Him figuratively, even without the words Jesus used for the institution of the Eucharist.

Since I cited this too I’ll answer for it. It can be figurative for meditative purposes–for spiritual growth in Christ. The disciples wouldn’t be able to use it in that way at that time because they were taking it quite literally–and Jesus was speaking quite literally, only of a spiritual reality hidden in the physical–i.e., eating bread and wine substantially changed into his body and blood. That would be a lot for them to grasp when they still had their minds set in OT philosophy of the Law and the various prohibitions against eating blood. It took the full revelation of Christ in his death, resurrection, and ascension, and the gift of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, for them to have their understanding opened and their worldview take a radical turn–as St. Paul talked about in his Epistles.

So, of course, the disciples had no understanding of what Jesus meant when he told them they had to eat his flesh and drink his blood. They had to take it on faith that Jesus was who he said he was and go with that–as St. Peter did with his great statement of faith: “To whom shall we go, you have the words of everlasting life.” We are the beneficiaries of all they received from that time until the end of the apostolic age and beyond. To meditate on the fullness of the treasury is our delight and privilege.

To your points I would just say about “figurative” language

If Jesus said to do something, it should be done, no arguments…right? IOW what Jesus said to do is not a suggestion (figuratively speaking) but a command. When Jesus makes the point beginning with “unless” **John 6:53 **], there is no suggestion there but a command. This is not figurative language but a command. So how is it even possible to do what He just said to do?

The fact THOSE disciples would question Him shows their lack of faith . The eleven didn’t argue even though as He said, one of them In Context ]

I see this also as a test. Jesus knew from the foundation of the world, what He would do for our salvation. He knew in advance everyone who is in the book of life. Jesus knew what Peter would respond, before the foundation of the world as He knew those disciples would argue, and leave Him. Peter’s response should be everybody’s response, but unfortunately few make it nor are obedient to it… Jesus knew that also.

Faith doesn’t mean everything believed, can be explained perfectly or completely … YET… but to not do what He said to do, demonstrates a lack of faith, a key point in the discourse

The dynamic(s) we see in the bread of life discourse is about faith and obedience to faith. This discourse was about showing Those who have faith and are obedient to it, v those who didn’t have it…

As Aquinas said

Those who have faith no explanation is necessary, those without faith no explanation is sufficient.

And even God almighty couldn’t explain the discourse to those disciples who left Him, because they had no faith. And we know from scripture what that looks like. Not figuratively, but in reality.

We don’t disagree with the fact that Jesus was speaking literally in John 6 and not merely figuratively. We’ve gone out of our way to say that–you’re preaching to the choir thinking the choir doesn’t “get it.” :slight_smile: But we do “get it.” I’m afraid you are so bent on defending a literal meaning that you are completely missing any other meaning, as if the Bible were a proof-text for doctrines–which it isn’t. John 6 can be interpreted figuratively as we have fully described it in our posts. If you doubt us, ask your priest about it. I’m sure he’d say the same thing.

Do you see the topic of the thread?

Protestant interpretation of Jn 6 is figurative not real. I don’t validate that view.

Validation would mean agreeing that the figurative interpretation trumps the literal. Neither JohnC nor I made such a statement.

Validation means to substantiate; confirm:
I don’t validate, substantiate, nor confirm the understanding of Jn 6 as figurative. That’s what I’m saying

When you said Re: Jn 6

“It can be figurative for meditative purposes–for spiritual growth in Christ.” #22

Figurative = departing from a literal use of words; as in metaphorical, nonliteral, symbolic, allegorical,

That’s the Protestant view

I won’t mislabel Jn 6 that explains, confirms, substantiates, something valid, with the label figurative, metaphor, symbol, allegory, etc for anyone. That’s what I’m saying.

Speaking strictly from the standpoint of interpretation, the John chapter 6 passage about eating of His body and drinking of his blood, was a huge hermeneutical blunder.

If there were ever a passage that needed to be read as a figure of speech it would be that one. A literal interpretation flies right into the passage causing it to be nonsensical.

Did Jesus not know in advance, what He would institute when He gave this discourse? The Eucharist is exactly what Jesus explained here.

I will agree that holy Communion is a memorial reflecting His death, burial, and Resurrection. When we partake we should remember and reflect all He has done. Is there more than that?

Jon, Re: Jn 6


*] Do all Anglicans follow the Thirty-Nine Articles
*] how is article #28 to be interpreted

  1. Of the Lord’s Supper. (emphasis mine)

The Supper of the Lord is not only a sign of the love that Christians ought to have among themselves one to another, but rather it is a Sacrament of our Redemption by Christ’s death: insomuch that to such as rightly, worthily, and with faith, receive the same, the Bread which we break is a partaking of the Body of Christ; and likewise the Cup of Blessing is a partaking of the Blood of Christ. Transubstantiation (or the change of the substance of Bread and Wine) in the Supper of the Lord, cannot be proved by Holy Writ; but is repugnant to the plain words of Scripture, overthroweth the nature of a Sacrament, and hath given occasion to many superstitions. The Body of Christ is given, taken, and eaten, in the Supper, only after an heavenly and spiritual manner. And the mean whereby the Body of Christ is received and eaten in the Supper, is Faith. The Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper was not by Christ’s ordinance reserved, carried about, lifted up, or worshipped


If that is so, and I asked that sincerely,

Then The highlighted section is saying, Jesus is NOT there in Anglican Eucharist. That idea of Him being present is repugnant, and leads to superstition. Not my words.

If that is what Anglicans teach and believe, that article completely refutes Jesus real presence in the Anglican Eucharist.

I disagree. The language is clear, and the reactions of the crowd and loss of disciples is nothing to blink at. If we didn’t have the Institution narratives, John 6 would come off more as an unfulfilled promise than something figurative.

Why do you think that?

Well then, you seem to know better than the Church, which has not made a definitive doctrinal statement regarding the interpretation of John 6. It may be read figuratively without denying it’s Eucharistic meaning. That’s it, plain and simple. I have no more to say about it to you.

Absolutely there is more.

1 Cor 11: 27 "Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of profaning the body and blood of the Lord. 28 Let a man examine himself, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. 29 For any one who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment upon himself. "

The Eucharist is more than just a reflection. And one can’t eat and drink condemnation on themselves by eating and drinking a symbol.

We went over some of it here

#53 ]

(open the internal links provided in that link).

For example

#48 ] See the consequences for one who deliberately misses mass ( the Eucharist) on Sunday. It has huge consequences. How does all that happen with mere faulty reflection? It doesn’t. The action is what counts

To add some context to his comments, he has expressed a very Protestant view in other topics (calling Church councils, Church Fathers, the Magisterium, Christological pronouncements related to Christ’s nature and person, and Marian dogmas as being only “subjective opinions”), so his label of “Catholic Christian” shouldn’t be understood as meaning he’s Roman Catholic in belief.

And it’s fine if he’s not Catholic, don’t get me wrong, but you’ll get off on the wrong track if you try to respond to him as one.

Figuratively = metaphorically

St. JPII, the Great used Jn 6 copiously in describing the Eucharist.

From: Paragraph 16 of encyclical ECCLESIA DE EUCHARISTIA

“As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so he who eats me will live because of me” (Jn 6:57). Jesus himself reassures us that this union, which he compares to that of the life of the Trinity, is truly realized. The Eucharist is a true banquet, in which Christ offers himself as our nourishment. When for the first time Jesus spoke of this food, his listeners were astonished and bewildered, which forced the Master to emphasize the objective truth of his words: “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life within you” (Jn 6:53). This is no metaphorical food: “My flesh is food indeed, and my blood is drink indeed” (Jn 6:55)."


because when jesus, holding up bread, said, this is my body, obviousloy it was bread. This forces the interpretatio to go figuratively instead.

He also said, i am the vine, you are the branches… Certainly jesus didn’t mean he was a vine. He also said, i am the door… Why interpret literaly here? It would be nonsensical.

He told the jews he was the bread that came down from heaven as manna. Really? Was he really bread? … Of course not.

Holy communion serves as a symbol to the jewish people as a passover. We must remember who he was speaking to and what he intended to say

You’re mistaken. Is the Eucharist the symbol, or the fulfillment of symbols (or, signs)?

It’s a mistake to assume that, because Jesus wasn’t really claiming to be a vine, that He was necessarily speaking the same way somewhere else. Jesus didn’t correct the crowd’s understanding when they asked, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” He kept repeating that we must eat His flesh and drink His blood. If I remember correctly, the crowds didn’t take Jesus literally when He said He was a vine or a gate, so there was no need to correct them. However, if they had been getting the wrong idea in John 6, wouldn’t Jesus have corrected their misunderstanding? At the very least, He would have told His disciples, right?

The crowd took Jesus seriously when He said this. They believed that He actually wanted them to do what He said. Jesus didn’t correct them because there was nothing to correct.

Look at it this way: the apostles only saw bread, but what did Jesus say it actually was?

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.