I have been debating a Baptist about the Eucharist and the literal meaning of Jesus’ statement at the last supper, “this is my body”. He wants to put a symbolic meaning to Jesus’ words. He says that, as his proof, that Jesus states that he is a gate in John 10:7, do I really believe that Jesus is a gate. Now I have understood that the gate to a shepherd’s sheepfold is the shepherd himself. The shepherd would build a short wall of stones and leave an opening in which he would lay and sleep. If this were true it would provide more proof for the literal meaning to Jesus’ words, “this is my body”. My problem is I can’t find any article or other proof to this sheepfold gate. Anyone have a document to help me?
Hi Chuck, I am a protestant. If he develops his argument properly, he would bring up all the I am, figurative statements like, “I am the Vine” for example. Ask him if the I AM of John 8:58 is literal or figurative? It is literal. Each of the statements have a context, and in most cases they are figurative. Other cases like John 8:58 they are literal. My point is, each I Am _____________ literalness or figurativness is determined by the given context. Us protestants will say that John 6 is figurative, and you all will see it as literal. We will not see eye to eye and will have to agree to disagree.
Ask him to explain, I Cor 11:27 Therefore, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord.
Those who see the Lord’s Supper as being completely symbolic, do not have an answer for I Cor 11:27.
Jesus sometimes spoke literally and sometimes He spoke figuratively. However, the real question is whether Jesus was speaking literally or figuratively at the Last Supper when he said, “This is my …” From Apostolic Tradition we know that Jesus was speaking literally. If your friend rejects Apostolic Tradition, ask your friend where in the New Testament, besides the Last Supper narratives, is the phrase, “This is my …” used figuratively to mean, “This is a symbol of my …” If the phrase is never used figuratively, then that should be a convincing enough proof from Scripture that Jesus was speaking literally when He used the same phrase at the Last Supper.
Besides the Last Supper narratives in Matthew, Mark, Luke, and 1 Corinthians 11, the phrase, “This is my…” appears in Matthew 3:17; 17:5; Mark 9:7; Luke 9:35; John 15:12; 1 Corinthians 7:14; 9:3, 2 Peter 1:17. As far as I can tell, in each case the phrase had a literal meaning and not a figurative meaning. Most of these verses are God saying, “This is beloved my Son…” in reference to Jesus. Clearly, by these words, God is saying that Jesus is literally His beloved Son and not merely a symbol of His beloved Son.
Christ is the gatekeeper, and meeting him in the flesh and becoming part of his flock is the only way you can be saved." I am what you say I am" and “I am” covers all the interpretations either litterally or symbolically. Either way you understand it, it demonstrates abilities and divine wisdom that other men do not have. Christ leads by example and thinks way outside the box which to some might be considered very strange. One might even call him a madman for taking on the government all by himself.
“I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world.” (John 6:51)
As David Currie puts it in his excellent book *Born Fundamentalist, Born Again Catholic, *“Lest we not understand whether he means “flesh” in a real, physical, touchable way, he tells us next that it is the same flesh that will be given up on the Cross! He goes on to say that this flesh must be eaten by his followers . . . If the flesh we eat for eternal life is meant in only a “figurative way” or “spiritually speaking” then so is the flesh of the crucifixion! Jesus equates the two. Either they are both literal, or they are both figurative.”
Look at his listeners’ reactions: did thousands leave Jesus, saying, “How can this guy be a gate? How can this guy be a vine?” These are hard sayings!" No, Jesus’s audiences seemed to understand when he was speaking metaphorically and when he wasn’t.
You can be crucified and nailed to a cross without actually having that specific event take place. It is the manner in which Jesus spoke and thus the resurrection is a come back from the dead, symbolically speaking as well. Jesus probably realized the world was not ready for him and simply walked away after being mocked, beaten and released. Common people understood Jesus, leaders rejected him and tried to kill him.
Please look at John 6:55 where Jesus says, "For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink." Jesus never says that He is really a gate, or really a door, or really water. He does, however, clearly state in Scared Scripture that His flesh is real food and His blood is real drink. There is no getting around this. Jesus *never *said “this bread represents my body,” or “I will come to you in a ‘special way’ during communion.” Rather, He said, “Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him” (John 5:56).
You might want to ask your protestant friend how he eats the flesh of Christ - since he doesn’t receive it in communion. Christ clearly says we must eat His flesh to remain in Him - so how do Protestants do that? If he suggests that “feasting on the Word of God” - or reading the Bible is eating Christ’s flesh, ask him to point you to the Scripture that backs up this idea (there isn’t one). God Bless.
In the I am statements in John, when Jesus says, “I am the Bread of Life” he is speaking metaphorically as he did in other places where he speaks of himself as “shepherd, door, etc”.
However, the movement in John 6 is from the figurative to the literal.
In other “I AM” discourses the movement is the same.
[font=Arial]John 10:7-10 Jesus speaks in figure of himself as a gate, then of providing pasture, then literally of eternal life. Eternal life is not symbolic. It is real. So we see the movement from metaphor to literal.
John 10:11-18 the movement is the same, he speaks figuratively of the good shepherd laying down his life for his sheep, yet in 10:17 of his literal laying down of his life.[/font]
[font=Arial]No one assumes that laying down his life is metaphorical. Again, he uses metaphor then proceeds to the literal application of the metaphor in Christ.
John 6: 35-40 Jesus is speaking in metaphor
John 6: 43-51 the language is symbolic but not merely symbolic. That he is speaking of a real and literal “bread that I will give” is clear from the context — this is a discourse after the feeding of the 5000 and he connects the bread he will give with the manna sent from heaven which was literally bread
John 6: 52-59 the language is very realistic and literal his words are not “body” but “flesh” and the word “to eat” is “to gnaw” as one does to flesh
The whole discourse put in context reveals that there is to be a literal bread that is to be his real flesh.
If in John 6:61-64 Jesus is clarifying that he is speaking merely symbolically why is it that the result of his clarification many of his disciples leave and return to their former way of life. [/font]
[font=Arial]Jesus says “the bread that I will give is my flesh”.
If he gives us mere bread in the Eucharist then he lies because “the bread that I will give is my FLESH"
If he gives us his flesh as flesh then he lies because “the BREAD that I will give is my flesh”
[font=Arial]If he gives us his flesh as bread then he fullfills what he promised.
Therefore, his flesh is bread. This is the Eucharist.[/font]
[/font][font=Arial]So again, the I am statements follow this progression.[/font]
[font=Arial]The metaphor (I am, the gate, bread of life, vine, etc)[/font]
[font=Arial]Then he explains how the metaphor applies.[/font]
[font=Arial]Then Jesus proclaims that He is the literal application of the metaphor.[/font]
[font=Arial]I am the bread of life (metaphor)[/font]
[font=Arial]If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.” Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.
(application of how the metaphor applies)[/font]
[font=Arial] For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. (literal fulfillment of the metaphor)
[/font][font=Arial]Hope that helps.
Protestants like to use this argument, but grammatically it is a false comparison. Look at some of the “I am” statements:
“I am the vine.”
“I am the gate.”
God, the subject, compares himself to something ordinary, the predicate nominative, to illustrate something about himself. By comparing himself to a vine, he is saying that he brings us life and nourishment. By comparing himself to a gate, he is saying that he is the only entrance to heaven. He is using mundane objects to make his identity concrete.
However, now look at the statement, “This (the bread) is my body.”
Now bread is the subject and God is the predicate nominative. This should mean that, if we are speaking figuratively, the predicate nominative - God - is being used to describe a quality of bread. So now, if this is figurative, he is describing a mundane object as divine, which is idolatry. See the silliness of this below if I turn the metaphors into similes.
God is like a vine. (makes sense)
God is like a gate. (makes sense)
This bread is like a God. (huh?)
If protestants want to make the argument that, because Christ often spoke metaphorically, he was doing so during the last supper, then they should find other examples of where Christ is walking around and “metaphorically” calling other mundane objects god-like.
But at the last supper, the choice of words and structure do not support the pattern that Protestants often suggest.
Excellent argument! I love arguments from grammar!
Let me also add - in John 6, when Jesus says what He says about eating His flesh and blood, and the people start leaving - He turns and asks the apostles if they are going to leave also. If He was speaking figuratively, He would have said “Wait! I am only making an analogy!” He was speaking literally, THEY KNEW IT, and THEY LEFT. He did not try to correct their perception.
I don’t know what could be any clearer, and anyone who reads that with an open heart will conclude the same.