Eat my flesh symbolic meaning Believe in Christ


#1

The parsimonous interpretation of “eating (flesh; bread; ME)… drinking blood…” in John 6:26ff is provided by the context.

It is elementary: Eating Christ results in life; Believing in Christ results in life therefore Eating=Believing.

29 Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent.

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.

47 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that BELIEVETH ON ME hath everlasting life. 48 I am that bread of life.

This interpretation of the phrases “eating my flesh…drinking my blood… eating the bread” is confirmed by the context:

John 6:51-65 51 I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man BELIEVETH ON ME (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.

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 BELIEVETH ON ME (eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood,) ye have no life in you.

54 Whoso BELIEVETH ON ME (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 BELIEVETH ON ME (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 BELIEVETH ON ME (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 BELIEVETH ON ME (eateth of this bread) shall live for ever.

59 These things said he in the synagogue, as he taught in Capernaum.

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.


#2

I’m sure there is much more to say on this issue but I just wanted to add one thought:

The verb used in John’s gospel for “eat” is more akin to “chew” or “gnaw”. This fact indicates the very real act of eating. It is not symbolic of eating in the sense of wholly accepting/believing. I believe you are correct, though, in that Jesus admonishes us to both eat his flesh and blood AND to believe in him. I think you are oversimplifying to say that they are equivalent.


#3

Yes, also, the original Greek word for flesh used was sarx, which quite literally means a hunk of meat. Also, if you just pull out phrases and replace them with what you want the verses to say, I’m sure that you can pretty much prove anything you want. If you want to have a real discussion, then we’ll discuss real Bible verses, not your versions of them.

jp2fan


#4

There are already several threads on this exact same question.

Start here.

forums.catholic.com/showthread.php?t=1015


#5

[quote=quintessential5]I’m sure there is much more to say on this issue but I just wanted to add one thought:

The verb used in John’s gospel for “eat” is more akin to “chew” or “gnaw”. This fact indicates the very real act of eating. It is not symbolic of eating in the sense of wholly accepting/believing. I believe you are correct, though, in that Jesus admonishes us to both eat his flesh and blood AND to believe in him. I think you are oversimplifying to say that they are equivalent.
[/quote]

I don’t believe you are taking the context into full consideration, Christ’s hearers objected to “gnawing His flesh” as being offensive.

Jesus expressly rejects the interpretation ‘gnawing His literal flesh quickens or is profitable’ saying:

John 6: 64 It is the spirit that quickeneth: the flesh profiteth nothing. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life.

Observe Christ defined His words teaching cannibalism for life are “spirit and life.” However that cannot be if it is the “spirit that quickeneth” and not “flesh that quickeneth” as He just seemed to say. He contradicting Himself if now the flesh profits nothing.

The only way Christ is not contradicting Himself is if we interpret “the words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life” to mean the outer covering, the flesh or literal meaning of His teaching cannibalism, covers the real spirit of His words, that these represent believe in Him and then they are life to the doer.

In other words Christ says “eating the flesh profits (quickens)” and “eating the flesh does not profit (quicken).”

The only way He is NOT contradicting Himself is where the symbol “flesh” refers to different things.

Context indicates flesh as the Jews interpreted it is literal flesh, but symbolic of ingesting the truth about the Person and Work of Christ, “believing” as Christ meant it.

As the Jews meant it, it does not profit as then they would be executed for murder and cannibalism.

As Christ meant it, the Spirit would quicken them after they believed in Christ and so they would have eternal life.


#6

Unfortunately, your interpretation does not concur with those of the Apostles, who were there with Jesus at that time.

Pax Christi. <><


#7

“It is elementary: Eating Christ results in life; Believing in Christ results in life therefore Eating=Believing.”

Actually, it is not elementary. Rather, it is an elementary logical fallacy of confusing necessary and sufficient causes.
Turning on my garden hose results in getting my lawn wet. Rain results in getting my lawn wet. Therefore, Turning on garden hose = Rain.
By the way, I eat because I believe.


#8

He didnt say that at all. Your reading into it your Interpretation. The Words “Flesh and Spirit” when opposed to each other in the NT never mean figurative and literal. Flesh means the sinfull nature of carnal man, contrasted with the nature empowerd by the Spirit. His meaning is clear. Carnal man cannot understand Him, only those of the Spirit can.

YOU, like those who left Him that day, are thinking after the Flesh, not the Spirit. It offends your fleshy human sensibilities to think you must Eat His Flesh and Drink His Blood. But that is EXACTLY what He meant. He said it FOUR TIMES.

[left][font=Arial][size=2]St. Chrysostom says: “Why, therefore did He say: The flesh profiteth nothing? Not of His flesh does He mean this. Far from it; but of those who would understand what He said in a carnal sense…You see, there is question not of His flesh, but of the fleshly way of hearing”[/left]

[/size][/font]


#9

In John 6, it says that many ceased from following Him because of what He said about “eating” His flesh and “drinking” His blood. They had taken Him literally. At that point, He could have said that He was only speaking symbolicly. But He didn’t. He could have said this all as a parable. But He didn’t. What He did do was turn to His disciples and ask, “Will you leave me also?” The answer was, “To whom shall we go? For you have the words of eternal life.”


#10

“It is elementary: Eating Christ results in life; Believing in Christ results in life therefore Eating=Believing.”[size=2]Actually, it is not elementary. Rather, it is an elementary logical fallacy of confusing necessary and sufficient causes.

Turning on my garden hose results in getting my lawn wet. Rain results in getting my lawn wet. Therefore, Turning on garden hose = Rain.By the way, I eat because I believe.Not true analogy, you should have expressed it thusly:

[/size]"Water from my garden hose gets my lawn wet. Rain gets my lawn wet. Therefore, Water = Rain.


#11

If he did not literally mean eat my flesh and drink my blood, why did he let the vast majority of his followers leave? Why did he not stop them? Why did he allow this to be a charge against him before the Sanhedran? Why does St. Paul feel the same way? After all, if it is purely symbolic then why would there be a sin connected to receiving unworthily?


#12

[quote=Christy Beth]In John 6, it says that many ceased from following Him because of what He said about “eating” His flesh and “drinking” His blood. They had taken Him literally. At that point, He could have said that He was only speaking symbolicly. But He didn’t. He could have said this all as a parable. But He didn’t. What He did do was turn to His disciples and ask, “Will you leave me also?” The answer was, “To whom shall we go? For you have the words of eternal life.”
[/quote]

I was with you until you skipped over verses 63-67:

Up until verse 63 whether Christ was speaking literally or figuratively is undecided, it is certain those hearing Him understood He taught eating His literal flesh would profit them, give them life.

Christ replies to their being scandalized:

Doth this scandalize you? 63 If then you shall see the Son of man ascend up where he was before?

Oddly many commentators have Christ here offending these disciples further with additional dogma they could not accept.

Verse 64 shows that is impossible, there is no break in the context at all, Christ is addressing their misinterpretation of His words.

In effect He is saying “I fed you with thousands of others with a few loaves and fish, would my ascension into heaven convince you I am the Messiah? Would you then be so quick to give an offensive interpretation to my words I do not mean?”

64 It is the spirit that quickeneth: the flesh profiteth nothing. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life.

As it is the Spirit of God that gives life, eating literal flesh would profit you not, then you would be executed for murder and not have eternal life.

Therefore the words I spoke to you are not fleshly, they are spirit and life = They are figurative, the outer flesh or symbol conveys their spirit and life meaning.

John 6:61-68 61 Many therefore of his disciples, hearing it, said: This saying is hard; and who can hear it? 62 But Jesus, knowing in himself that his disciples murmured at this, said to them: Doth this scandalize you? 63 If then you shall see the Son of man ascend up where he was before? 64 It is the spirit that quickeneth: the flesh profiteth nothing. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life. 65 But there are some of you that believe not. For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were that did not believe and who he was that would betray him. 66 And he said: Therefore did I say to you that no man can come to me, unless it be given him by my Father. 67 After this, many of his disciples went back and walked no more with him. 68 Then Jesus said to the twelve: Will you also go away?

While some find it hard to believe Christ said eating flesh, meaning His flesh, does not profit or give life, it is clear that must be what Christ said as He would be a loon if He did not respond to the very teaching about flesh that scandalized them. Then He is sincerely answering objections with irrelevancies, something the sane don’t do.

The only way Christ is NOT contradicting Himself, where eating flesh = life, profitable and eating flesh = not life, only the Spirit quickens therefore profiteth nothing, is where flesh is a symbol referring to different things.

The Jews understood Christ literally but Christ’s words were spirit and life, not flesh.

Mt 16:6-12 parallels the disciples misunderstanding symbolic speech as literal.


#13

[quote=ralphinal]If he did not literally mean eat my flesh and drink my blood, why did he let the vast majority of his followers leave? Why did he not stop them? Why did he allow this to be a charge against him before the Sanhedran? Why does St. Paul feel the same way? After all, if it is purely symbolic then why would there be a sin connected to receiving unworthily?
[/quote]

To continue off of this, why does Jesus affirm it so many times? He does so by saying “verily, verily” (the words “truely, truely” in other versions). It is a hard thing to understand, and like ralphinal points out, the followers started leaving. Jesus has already told people elsewhere in His words that he who believes in Him may have eternal life…but for some reason John felt it was important in his writings to make a note of the disciples murmuring and walking off this time…why?, because eating of the flesh of the Son of God is a hard concept to grasp.


#14

Are you certain that your interperpratation of “spirit and flesh” is correct? On what do you base this interpretation? Thanks!


#15

So then you believe that the flesh of Christ profiteth nothing? That’s what you’re saying, that “the flesh” in John 6:64 is Christ’s flesh. And don’t add words, don’t say “gnawing His literal flesh”. Stick to the Scriptures as written.


#16

When Christ refers to His body and blood He says “My” flesh. Not “the” flesh.

It is all clear and straightforward.

I, too, would like to know on what you base your interpretation.


#17

[quote=LetsObeyChrist]Not true analogy, you should have expressed it thusly:

"Water from my garden hose gets my lawn wet. Rain gets my lawn wet. Therefore, Water = Rain.

Sorry to disagree but I gave a “good” analogy with the same logical form as the original quote (X results in Y ; Z resuts in Y; Therefore X = Z --this form of argument is invalid as my analogy correctly demonstrates). Your counter analogy is invalid and does not have the same logical form as the original. The subject is “Water from my garden hose”, therefore the conclusion is not “Water” but “Water from my garden hose.” So the absurd conclusion logically follows.
[/quote]


#18

Matthew 18: 8-9 says this. If your hand or foot causes you to sin, cut it off and cast it from you. It is better for you to enter into life lame or maimed, rather than having two hands or two feet, to be cast into the everlasting fire. And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you. It is better for you to enter into life with one eye, rather than having two eyes, to be cast into hell fire. NKJV


In John 6, Jesus didn’t say that he was speaking figuratively, and neither did He here. He didn’t say it was a parable, or a figure of speech. But I don’t see many limbless, eyeless Christians wondering around (except if they’ve been in accidents or victim of disease or something.) :ehh:



#19

Jesus was quite capable of using the word “believe” when he meant “believe.” He was capable of clarifying things whenever necessary.

But in John 6:53-55 he says

"Let me solemnly assure you, if you do not eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. He who feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has life eternal, and I will raise him up on the last day. For my flesh is real food. And my blood is real drink."
His disciples were Jews, and familiar with Jewish ways of expression. They knew enough to know when he was using hyperbole for effect, and when he wasn’t . In this case, he wasn’t.
That’s why his hearers were scandalized, and apparently still are.

It never fails to amaze me the extent to which people will go to avoid hearing these clear words of Jesus. Their exegetical dances rival anything that modernist skeptics have come up with.

Many in his audience back then rejected this teaching. So do many now reject this teaching. The reaction is exactly the same, then and now: unbelief. But his apostles said, “Lord, to whom shall we go?”

He goes on to institute the Eucharist at the Last Supper, as recorded by Matthew, Mark, Luke, and Paul in 1-Corinthians 11. And Paul takes care to warn that anyone who eats and drinks without “recognizing the body” brings judgment on himself. The real presence was important enough to Paul to warrant this special warning. Nobody gets that excited about a symbol.

Following Paul, the real presence was the constant teaching of the Fathers of the Church, and of the entire Church up to the present day.

The words that Jesus spoke to the apostles after so many left him because of this teaching can be asked again today: “Do you want to leave me too?” (John 6:67)

JimG


#20

Note how in this case when the disciples clearly misunderstood, Matthew makes it clear to the reader:

“Be careful,” Jesus said to them. “Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” They discussed this among themselves and said, “It is because we didn’t bring any bread.” Aware of their discussion, Jesus asked, “You of little faith, why are you talking among yourselves about having no bread? Do you still not understand? Don’t you remember the five loaves for the five thousand, and how many basketfuls you gathered? Or the seven loaves for the four thousand, and how many basketfuls you gathered? How is it you don’t understand that I was not talking to you about bread? But be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” Then they understood that he was not telling them to guard against the yeast used in bread, but against the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees. Matt 16:6-12 (NIV, I like using Biblegateway because its search capabilities are awesome).

Mentioning this passage only strengthens the Catholic exegesis of John 6 as John leaves us to believe that Jesus was talking about his actual flesh and blood.

I also want to put this discussion in the context of the early church fathers (from catholic.com/library/Real_Presence.asp):

Ignatius of Antioch:
“Take note of those who hold heterodox opinions on the grace of Jesus Christ which has come to us, and see how contrary their opinions are to the mind of God. . . . They abstain from the Eucharist and from prayer because they do not confess that the Eucharist is the flesh of our Savior Jesus Christ, flesh which suffered for our sins and which that Father, in his goodness, raised up again. They who deny the gift of God are perishing in their disputes” (Letter to the Smyrnaeans 6:2–7:1 [A.D. 110]).

Justin Martyr:
“We call this food Eucharist, and no one else is permitted to partake of it, except one who believes our teaching to be true and who has been washed in the washing which is for the remission of sins and for regeneration * and is thereby living as Christ enjoined. For not as common bread nor common drink do we receive these; but since Jesus Christ our Savior was made incarnate by the word of God and had both flesh and blood for our salvation, so too, as we have been taught, the food which has been made into the Eucharist by the Eucharistic prayer set down by him, and by the change of which our blood and flesh is nurtured, is both the flesh and the blood of that incarnated Jesus” (First Apology 66 [A.D. 151]).

Also, John 6 should be put in the context of the whole Bible. Jesus came as the new and perfect Paschal Lamb. Every Jew in the time of Jesus knew that one did not participate in the Passover if he did not consume the lamb as God has prescribed. Likewise, to participate in the New Covenant of the Lamb we eat of his flesh and drink his blood. In this way we abide in him and he in us.*


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