Is this a water-tight argument for the real presence at the Eucharist?

As stated on this page here,, St Ignatius of Antioch said that the Host was the real body of Jesus. Here is the exact text:

*“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]). *

Seeing how St Ignatius was a student of John the Apostle, this would seem to make a very good case that the Host is Jesus real body (seeing how we could hardly argue with a source so close to the Apostle John, who had the truth). The Letter to the Smyrnaeans is considered an authentic letter according to St Ignatius’ wiki page ( However, some of his letters have been altered for the purpose of retrospectively inserting arguments for the catholic church to fight against heretical churches that were springing up after Ignatius had died.

What i want to know is, is the letter to the Smyrnaeans water-tight (in so far as the remark to the Host) or do protestants contest the authenticity of this letter so as to argue against the real presence in the host? Anyone ever hear it contested or do protestants accept its authenticity but just ignore it?

I’ve heard protestants accept it’s authenticity and deny that it teaches the real presence. St. Irenaeus was a student of St. John. Perhaps they think that his language is similar to John 6, and since they interpret that symbolically, they can interpret this symbolically. :shrug:

“The Eucharist is flesh” isn’t really that much more clear than “This is my body.”

Are you asking if that specific letter and those words were tampered with or not?

Or, if they “prove” that the bread/wafer turns into Jesus’ body?

I can’t see how anyone would think that letter is a “water tight argument” for the real presence.
Ignatius may have been taught or may have believed the wafer becomes Jesus’ flesh…but we can still argue with him about it–of course we can.
Just because he and/or John might have believed it and might have written about it…it doesn’t mean it’s true.
Not everything people believe or write is the truth, as I’m sure you know.


[quote=DaddyGirl]Just because he and/or John might have believed it and might have written about it…it doesn’t mean it’s true.

For believers, it would be very important evidence. For skeptics, no.

What the Church teaches us with infallibility is true. We have: 1. The Magesterium, appointed by the Lord; 2. Sacred Scripture; 3. Tradition with a capital “T”. (tradition with a small "t " is about disciplinary matters that can change.)

Many years ago I read a book titled “The World’s Best Kept Secret”. It was about the Eucharist, the Real Presence. I suppose it was a “secret” to non-believers".

The more we live the life that our Lord Jesus taught us to live, we will be evangelizing by our love.


Though calling it the same flesh that suffered for our sins is suggestive, at the very least.

I haven’t had discussions on this letter specifically with Protestants, but more generally, I have found that anything outside of the Bible is discounted. Ignatius’ letters are great, but I think starting with Scripture will be more persuasive. There are three passages I find the most convincing, starting with the Bread of Life Discourse (Jn 6). Jesus’ words are very clear. Plus, he’s willing to let all his disciples leave over the teaching. It’s that important.

Second, Jesus celebrated the Mass with the disciples walking to Emmaus (Lk 24). The Eucharist must be pretty important if that’s how He chose to spend the day of His resurrection.

The most persuasive text I find is 1 Cor 11:23-34. Paul’s letters are some of the first writings of the NT, and this is the first institution narrative written well before the Gospels. Paul says he received this directly from Jesus. That means Jesus appeared to Paul to teach him about the Eucharist. Paul also explains that if we do not discern the body, we bring judgment upon ourselves. If it’s a symbol, what’s body is there to discern beyond bread and wine?

After these, St. Ignatius (and the other Church Fathers) provide confirmation of the continuity of belief within the Church from the very beginning, but the key is that they agree with Scripture. If someone who holds to the Bible alone and doesn’t see the Eucharist taught within it, I don’t think any quote from outside of Scripture will change them. The quote could still be useful, since it might lead them to reexamine Scripture.

We receive the Risen Lord…Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity.

Which parts of Ignatius’ letters aren’t genuine??

Which protestants? One historic protestant said this:

Who ever read in the Scriptures, that my body is the same as the sign of my body? or, that is is the same as it signifies? What language in the world ever spoke so? It is only then the devil, that imposes upon us by these fanatical men. Not one of the Fathers of the Church, though so numerous, ever spoke as the Sacramentarians: not one of them ever said, It is only bread and wine; or, the body and blood of Christ is not there present.
Surely, it is not credible, nor possible, since they often speak, and repeat their sentiments, that they should never (if they thought so) not so much as once, say, or let slip these words: It is bread only; or the body of Christ is not there, especially it being of great importance, that men should not be deceived. Certainly, in so many Fathers, and in so many writings, the negative might at least be found in one of them, had they thought the body and blood of Christ were not really present: but they are all of them unanimous.”

No reason to doubt the authenticity of the letter, but Christ’s words, “This is my body…” seals the deal, ISTM.


We have record that even the people who heard Jesus say it himself (I am referring to John 6) did not believe it, and found it to be a hard saying.

But Jesus also told us ‘Blessed are the pure in spirit, for they shall see God’.

The document you quote was written by one pure in spirit, so he could ‘see God’. But that does not make it proof for others. It doesn’t work that way. One needs to see with one’s heart. All the document can do is tell you that others did in fact see God in the Eucharist. If that opens your heart, then perhaps you can too.

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