Fasting question I was asked by a Protestant


I was having a conversation with a protestant friend and he asked me about giving up meat on Fridays. His statement to me was the following:

According to the KJV of the bible he fasted for 40 days and 40 nights meaning he ate nothing and drank nothing… fast: to abstain from all food. so I guess I’d have to ask where this notion of him eating bread and fish came from?

I was stuck!

Thankd for any help!:shrug:


There are very few fish in the desert.

The Church does not ask us to perform the fast that Jesus did in the desert. Rather we are asked to perform a modified fast in penance for our sins. Of course we are free to attempt a more vigorous fast but I would strongly recommend that it be done with the assistance of a spiritual director and a physician.


He had to have drunk water, or else he would have died of dehydration, but it’s probably true that he ate nothing - we can go for a really long time just drinking water.

I’d have to ask where the idea of him eating bread and fish comes from, too - it’s not in the teaching of the Church, that I’m aware of.

We abstain from meat on Fridays because Jesus “gave up His flesh meat] for us” on a Friday; not because of Jesus fasting in the desert. :wink:


The bible said he fasted 40 days and 40 nights. It does **not **say in what manner he fasted. It doesn’t say one way or the other what he ate or didn’t eat, drank or didn’t drink.

So your “bible only” friend is trying to make the bible say something it doesn’t say.

We can infer that Jesus didn’t eat anything, but we don’t know that.

John the Baptist went out into the desert eating only locust and wild honey-- not “nothing.”

This may be your friend’s definition, but that is NOT explicitly stated in the bible and your friend (or you, whoever came up with this “definition”) did not note that the dictionary defines fasting as both:

1 : to abstain from food
2 : to eat sparingly or abstain from some foods

What notion of him eating bread and fish? The Church doesn’t teach that, and that is not why we abstain from meat on Fridays. You are confused.


Thanks for your help everyone…AWESOME responses…

well this was his response:

Thanks for the response, but I will interject, that if Catholics believe Jesus to be God, then he wouldn’t have died from dehydration, because he was not a mortal being… Yes, to fast means either total abstinence or eat sparingly, but since the bible according to most Christian scholars and Catholics alike is the literal word of God, then Jesus ate or drank nothing for 40 days…


Regarding Jesus not being a mortal being. If He wasn’t mortal (in his human nature), who died on the cross on Good Friday?


He became a human being - that’s what the Incarnation is about. He was subject to all the same weaknesses that we are. And He died on the Cross for our sins, probably from heart failure.

Yes, to fast means either total abstinence or eat sparingly, but since the bible according to most Christian scholars and Catholics alike is the literal word of God, then Jesus ate or drank nothing for 40 days…

We say that it is the inerrant Word of God; not the literal Word of God. There is a difference.


Well he died from Crucifixion-- and yes he “gave up his spirit” but he DIED nonetheless. His humanity was absolutely mortal. Your friends most likely has some level of heresy going on that denies the Hypostatic Union. Jesus was FULLY human and FULLY divine.

Anyway, he’s picking nits. It doesn’t matter if he would be miraculously preserved from dehydration. Again, the bible doesn’t specifically say he ate nothing. We just don’t know. Moreover, it isn’t important.

That is not what the bible says and that is not what the Catholic Church teaches about the bible. It is not the “literal” word of God. It was written by human men inspired by God.

And, he cannot support his position that Jesus ate nothing from scripture-- because Scripture is silent on that point.

Why on earth does it matter whether he didn’t eat anything or ate very little and drank water? That has NO bearing on ANYTHING.


:slight_smile: Jesus worked several miricles involving fish…the first food we know that Jesus ate after his resurection was fish…that is what Jesus said to St. Peter “you will be a fisherman of men” an early symbol of christain idenity is a fish.the abstinence of meat on fridays helps to serve me as a reminder of our Lord’s words and works.on top of the penance of observing this abstinence.


So far the responses have related to the Church teachings.

What would have been the Jewish understanding of fasting?
Would that throw any ligth on the discussion?



Isn’t this Nestorianism?


The Jews fasted on Monday’s and Wednesday’s, I believe. It started at sunrise, and ended at sunset. I believe they were allowed a light meal during the day. I’m not sure at all if this is accurate, it’s just something I recall.


Yes, I believe you are correct regarding sunup to sundown for Jewish fasting, except Yom Kippur which is a 24 hour fast.

But, those with reason to eat are exempted-- elderly, pregnant, ill, etc, and are encouraged to eat a smaller meal.


Well, it depends on exactly what the person believes about Jesus-- possibly Nestorianism or some other derivative of it… or maybe just poorly expressing himself. We don’t really know, but based on what the OP wrote it’s clearly not an orthodox understanding of the hypostatic union and Christ’s two natures.


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