How do Protestants regard Jesus's words "This is my body. Do this in memory of me"?

How do Protestants regard Jesus’s words “This is my body. This is my blood. Do this in memory of me”? How much gravity do you ascribe to the Eucharist? Are there any denominations that interpret His words as an invitation to dine with loved ones? What sources do you quote for these differences in interpretation? Sorry if these sound like dumb questions. Please state your denomination if you are comfortable. Thank you in advance.

As a Lutheran, I take our Lord at his word. “This is my body” means exactly that. There is no symbolism in the statement.

I think it depends on the Protestant. Although I don’t consider myself Protestant, I know that most here do, so I’ll let you lump us together this one time. :wink:

I’m Episcopalian, and though I can’t (and won’t pretend to) speak for any other Episcopalian, I believe the words are literal. I think the wine and the wafer are the literal body and blood of Christ and we do it in Christ’s memory. As far as gravity of the Eucharist, I think Mass is rarely worth attending without it. So yes, I think it’s grave indeed.

I don’t follow this question: “Are there any denominations that interpret His words as an invitation to dine with loved ones?”

I’m not quite sure that I understand the bolded question. Perhaps it is something like the belief espoused by Berthold von Schenk, a Lutheran theologian. In his book The Presence, which focused on the Sacrament of Holy Communion set forth his belief that when he received Communion that he received it not only with those present at worship but also with the whole communion of saints in the Church Triumphant. He wrote the book shortly after his wife had passed away and he took great comfort in his belief that when he knelt at the altar rail she was with him in some way, partaking of the great and promised feast.

I am wondering if some churches believe His words were merely symbolic for gathering at table. I understand that some Protestant pastors consecrate the eucharist, but do all Protestant denominations? I was told that some churches only have communion once per month or so, so I would like to know if those pastors consecrate the eucharist, and if so, then why only once per month?

Not to play devil’s advocate, but Jesus never said, “Do this in remembrance of me four times a month.” I can’t honestly say why some denominations do it once a month and others do it daily. Does it matter?

It seems that if you’re going through the effort to hold regular Sunday services, then why not include the most important part?

This explains Catholic belief very simply and to the point:

As a Lutheran we take it literally. Catholic apologists make it seem like all Protestants do not agree with baptismal regineration, infant baptism, the real presence, etc. As a Lutheran I believe in all three and also have a high view of Mary. Not all denominations are so different from the early church fathers you know. If one can call the bodily assumption of Mary and papal infallibility “the growth of doctrine” Lutherans can easily say the same thing about our beliefs.

In the Church of Christ, communion is very important. We take it every Sunday as the early church broke bread every time they met. As for symbolism, I’m not sure we believe more than the literal. As for verses, we use the “do this in rememberance of me”.

I don’t think these are dumb questions at all. I am a Pentecostal Christian.

Pentecostals do not believe in transubstantiation or consubstantiation. We believe that the elements, when received by faith, mediate to the believer the spiritual benefits of Christ’s death. Though not the physical flesh and blood of Christ, in faith real communion with the Lord is experienced and the benefits of that communion may be mediated.

The Lord’s Supper is an act of obedience to the Lord’s command. In the Lord’s Supper, the Church proclaims and confesses faith in the efficacy of Christ’s atoning work. In the Lord’s Supper, the Church prophesies the return of Christ to finalize his redeeming work. It is an experience of communion with the Lord in which the believer receives the strength and blessing of fellowship with the Savior. It is communion with believers at the Lord’s table and a statement of unity of Christ’s body.

It is a very serious and solemn ceremony. A very holy thing, and participants should examine themselves in their manner of taking and their attitude toward other believers. They need to discern the Lord’s body and not partake in an irreverent or frivolous manner. Spiritual, physical, and other great blessings can result from partaking in faith. Likewise, one who partakes in an unworthy manner endangers him or herself. Pentecostals are warned to examine themselves before partaking; if we find fault we are asked to withhold from partaking until we make things right with God.

I’ve never seen it. However, I was told by a friend that at her church when they celebrated communion it was part of a larger dinner. Food was prepared and the whole church ate a meal together. At some point (I suppose after the actual dinner), actual communion occurred with bread and grape juice.

To me, this seems like an attempt to place communion back into the context of a communal dinner as would have been experienced by the early church.

Umm 2000 years of people doing church. Variation is bound to happen.

As I said above, while some churches may have an actual dinner along with communion, no Christians that I’m aware of believe that simply having dinner with other Christians constitutes communion. There would be a clear distinction between gathering together and fellowshipping over food versus participating in an act of divine worship.

Protestant pastors certainly pray over the bread and wine. They will also read a Scripture passage recounting Jesus’ institution of the Eucharist. However, if you mean by “consecrate” a change in the elements, then no. Pentecostals, Baptists, etc. do not believe that the elements change when a minister prays over them. They remain bread and wine (or grape juice).

Yes, Pentecostals tend to go longer periods without having communion. My church seems to have it annually at least. I believe that the Pentecostal Holiness Church observes quarterly communion. One reason is that we want to cultivate a respect for communion. By having it all the time, it loses value.

Many of the Magesterial line of Reformed people hold this type of belief regarding communion & spiritual union with Christ:

"**Communion, also known as the Lord’s Supper or Eucharist, is Christ’s gift to the church. On the night in which he was betrayed, Jesus took bread, gave thanks, broke it, and shared it with his disciples. “This is my body that is for you,” he said. “Do this in remembrance of me.” He also took a cup of wine and said, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this as often as you drink it in remembrance of me.”

Following Jesus’ example and instruction, when the church celebrates the Lord’s Supper we receive gifts of bread and wine; we give thanks to God; we break the bread and pour the wine; we share the food and drink with each other. In these simple actions believers experience a profound mystery: Christ himself is present and his life passes into us and is made ours. As baptism is the sign and seal of our ingrafting into Christ, so the Lord’s Supper is a means by which Christ continually nourishes, strengthens and comforts us**."

My former Fundamentalist Baptist church saw communion as purely symbolic. There were no prayers of consecration, only various extemporaneous prayers by the pastor. We were instructed to pray to God to forgive us our sins and then we were free to receive. The Bible passages were read, but the service was a memorial showing obedience to the command to have communion. It was done monthly. The prohibition on receiving unworthily was read, but that had to do with not being a believer or with not saying a silent prayer to be forgiven of all sins.

The quote " This is My Body" was believed to be in no way literal. Therefore, we self-communicated by passing plates with broken crackers and trays with small glasses of grape juice. There was no sign of reverence because the grape juice and the cracker pieces were nothing but symbols.

Westminiser confession on the Eucharist

In practice at my church; The Elders will make time for confession to God, then certain members may be asked to join them in passing the cup or the bread to the people as they approach. It’s a reverent time. We do it quite often, personally I stand with Calvin and would like it to be weekly. As Itwin as said, it’s all about faith.

To borrow Augustine: "*Consequently, he that dwells not in Christ, and in whom Christ dwells not, doubtless neither eats His flesh [spiritually] nor drinks His blood [although he may press the sacrament of the body and blood of Christ carnally and visibly with his teeth], but rather does he eat and drink the sacrament of so great a thing to his own judgment, because he, being unclean, has presumed to come to the sacraments of Christ, which no man takes worthily except he that is pure: of such it is said, Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. * - Tractate 26 (John 6:41-59), Part 18,


Thank you all for your responses! They have been very educational.

My husband is Lutheran (I’m Catholic) and we just had this same conversation last Sunday.

He stated that in his church growing up, attending Lutheran schools as well, he was taught Transubstantiation not Consubstantiation. Though, from everything I read, it is said that Lutheran’s believe the latter not the former. He was confused when I mentioned this, as that is not what he was taught.

Interesting? Pretty much.

Yea I have seen that and it really is amazing to me how much more beautiful is the Epicopalian, Lutheran and Catholic Mass. I much prefer the solemn beauty of the Eucharist at the Anglican church to the other lack of beauty in the Baptist or non-denominational churches.

As others have mentioned, it depends on the Protestant. When I was Baptist, we only took the Eucharist (which we called the “Lord’s Supper”) the first Sunday of the month with grape juice substituted for the wine and with the mindset of symbolism. As someone else mentioned, bread and small grape juice cups were passed out through the pews. It was more or less the same in the Methodist churches I attended, though we went forward instead of just staying seated. The Episcopal/Anglican churches, however, were very different, taking the Eucharist every Sunday, using bread and wine, and with no mention of “metaphors.”

ISTM the proper catechesis for Lutherans is that Transubstantiation and consubstantiation are both metaphysical constructs, and Lutheranism chooses to ignore both. Sometimes, Sacramental Union is incorrectly identified as consubstantiation, which it is not, but the Lutheran confessions are direct in not describing the real presence as Transubstantiation.
As Pastor Gary stated, the Lutheran view is quite simple, we believe Christ’s words when He says, “This [bread] is my body”. And to paraphrase Luther, we receive His body and blood for the forgiveness of sins, in remembrance of Him, and God does with the bread and wine has He wills. In other words, it is a mystery.


Blessings’ Jon:)

Consubstantiation is rejected all together by the Catholic Church defined in the Eucharist.

Transubstantiation is never defined by Trent or the CCC by metaphysics.

Transubstantiation substance by Catholic Church definition can never be measured or quantified. Those defining the Eucharist by metaphysical standards from transubstantiation are living their faith all wrong, according to Cardinal Ratzinger.

Transubstantiation only describes a change has occurred in the whole substance of the bread and wine into the body, blood, soul and divinity of Jesus Christ “whole presence”.

After the consecration involving prayer, blessing and the Word of God faith for the Catholic begins and is manifested in the Amen when our Catholic “faith is the substance of things hoped for the evidence of things not seen”, because “through (our Catholic) faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear” See Hebrews 11:1-3

Transubstantiation understood according to a metaphysical standard comes from a natural carnal mindset of understanding the mysteries of God." for they are foolishness unto him ; neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned" (1Cor.2:14), Catholic faith “have recieved, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is from God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God” (1Cor.2:12)

Discernment of the true bodily presence of Jesus is described by the Catholic Church from a transubstantiation that describes “spiritual realities in spiritual terms”.

In conclusion a symbolic “spirit” does not exist in our world nor in eternity. That is why Jesus states to his doubting audience from John 6:63 “The words I speak to you are spirit and life; for it is the spirit that gives life while the (carnal) flesh is of no avail”.

Peace be with you Jon

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