John 16:25 and the Real Presence


I have a Calvinist saying John 16:25 disproves the Real Presence, as Christ said he had been speaking figuratively that night.

He is quite… stubborn in his ways and misinformed in Catholicism (believing Constantine invented the RCC and the likes).

How can I refute his claim?


It seems your Calvinist friend is misinformed about quite a few things.

Firstly, the Church has never used Scripture as a proof-text, but rather as a witness to her teachings which she received from Christ. In fact, there are only a handful of verses she says must be interpreted in a certain way. Otherwise, the rest of Scripture is open to interpretation for devotional and study purposes.

Secondly, no one verse is sufficient to “stand on” any theological position. When determining theology, all of Sacred Tradition, which includes Scripture is taken into account.

Thirdly, if we come at reading Scripture with the idea that we know better than the Church Christ established, we make ourselves our own Magisterium, with the claim that we have the authority from God to make such determinations. It’s one of the biggest mistakes of sola scriptura. The result is plain for anyone with eyes to see with a multitude of denominations and sects all claiming to know how to interpret the Bible, while disagreeing in major points.

As to the verse itself, he is reading into it what it does not say, having torn it out of context merely to bolster something he wishes to not believe. That is very poor exegesis, to say the least.


You dont have to refute anything untill he first presents proof of these claims. Its easy to say but impossible to prove.:thumbsup:



John 16:25 refers to the Parables of Jesus. Which are not contained in the Gospel of John. This proves that John preferred the instances when Jesus was talking straightforwardly.

John does not contain the Last Supper Words of Institution, so John 16:25 is unlikely to refer to them. Moreover, it was the Gospel of John that has the most straightforward defense of the Real Presence. (chapter 6).


I agree and am curious. Could you please ask him how this disproves the real presence?

From what I read in John 16:25 it doesn’t seem to say everything I have said up until this point is symbolic. It seems to say a time will come when you will understand what I have said to you. This is right before the Crucifixion, so if we take it the way your friend is intending it the scriptures would point out that after the crucifixion Jesus retaught them not in figures.

Luke 24:44-45 kind of backs this thought process up. That what he promised in John16:25 is fullfilled in Luke 24:45 when he opened their minds to understand what he said using “figures”.

44 Then he said to them, “These are my words which I spoke to you, while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the law of Moses and the prophets and the psalms must be fulfilled.” 45 Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures,

If anything I think these verses actually support the point that we should not be interpreting bible verses on our own without the guidance of the Apostolic gift handed down through the Church.

Sure he might say that he is being guided by the holy spirit but the bible is pretty clear that we don’t all share this apostolic gift of having our minds opened to the true meaning of the scriptures.

Scripture is pretty clear throughout ACTS that no person or group of people in Scripture attained an accurate understanding of who Jesus was or what he did without guidance from the Apostles. Even though many people had clear knowledge of who Jesus was.

To me, to think we can read a bible on our own and have full understanding of what Jesus expects and wants of us is the equivalent of reading some anatomy books and considering yourself a world class brain surgeon. Sure you might know the anatomy and be able to cut in there but will you have a full understanding of what a brain surgeon needs to accomplish.


Also, He had just been saying things like “Now you won’t see me, and then you will” and that is the main sort of thing He means here.

Symbol = thing ambassadorial. The word symbol means representing, making present.

If a symbol walked into that man’s church they would all fall flat on their faces!

I don’t dispute that the Calvinist communion ceremony is a rather small symbol. The Catholic one is a far bigger one.


Sadly this Calvinist, as way too many, read Scriptures with their own agenda: they have a preconception of God and Scriptures and they search for passages that they can present as proof.

Here’s the problem… St. John 16:25, is that Jesus speaking? Yes. Would that mean that everything that He said during His three and a half years of Ministry was just figurative or just on that night? Well, Jesus does not state that “this night, I have been speaking to you figuratively,” does He?

If we read through the previous verses we find that Jesus is using analogies to dissuade His Disciples from their sadness and fear:

  • In a little while they will not see Him–He is going to be arrested, condemned, and crucified).

  • After a while they will see Him–He will resurrect and Come to them.

  • His Disciples will mourn and grieve while the world rejoices–when the Messiah is brutalized and put to death His Disciples will be in mourning and pain while the world (Satan and his minions) will be rejoicing that they have slaughtered the Lamb.

Then Jesus uses the comparison of a woman who gives birth… the anguish and pain suffered during labor will soon be replaced by the joy of the new life!

In verse 25 Jesus refers to His previous imagery as figurative language/speech.

What the Calvinist refuses to accept is that when is truly necessary for Christ to declare “figurative language” or “poetic license” or “don’t take me literally,” He consciously does not:

48I am the bread of life. 49Your fathers did eat manna in the desert, and are dead. 50This is the bread which cometh down from heaven; that if any man eat of it, he may not die. 51I am the living bread which came down from heaven. If any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever; and the bread that I will give, is my flesh, for the life of the world. 52The Jews therefore strove among themselves, saying: How can this man give us his flesh to eat? 53Then Jesus said to them: Amen, amen I say unto you: Except you eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, you shall not have life in you. 54He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath everlasting life: and I will raise him up in the last day. 55For my flesh is meat indeed: and my blood is drink indeed. 56He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, abideth in me, and I in him. 57As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father; so he that eateth me, the same also shall live by me. 58This is the bread that came down from heaven. Not as your fathers did eat manna, and are dead. He that eateth this bread, shall live for ever. (St. John 6:48-58)

Here Jesus demands that His Followers eat His Flesh and drink His Blood… and what happens when they take Him literally?:

60Many therefore of his disciples, hearing it, said: This saying is hard, and who can hear it? 61But Jesus, knowing in himself, that his disciples murmured at this, said to them: Doth this scandalize you? 62If then you shall see the Son of man ascend up where he was before? 63It is the spirit that quickeneth: the flesh profiteth nothing. The words that I have spoken to you, are spirit and life. 64But 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. 65And he said: Therefore did I say to you, that no man can come to me, unless it be given him by my Father. 66After this many of his disciples went back; and walked no more with him. 67Then Jesus said to the twelve: Will you also go away? (St. John 6:60-66)

…so did Jesus call back those poor unfortunate souls that did not understand what He meant? Did He shout at them as they were leaving: “…please, don’t take me literally… I was only speaking figuratively… please, come back!”?

This of any other passages in Scriptures is the perfect time for Jesus to explain that He was using a creative license… but in actuality He insisted that those who want to be His Disciples must eat His Flesh and drink His Blood (Father Pacua from EWTN goes into the narrative of the language where Jesus actually insists that they who seek Life must chew/gnaw His Flesh/Body.

Jesus’ audience could not but appreciate the insistence of what they would think of a cannibalism… was Jesus unaware? He was fully aware, hence His insistence!

Maran atha!




Except that you are reading symbol into what is not.

Jesus’ imminent death (in a while you won’t see Me) and His subsequent resurrection (in a while you will see Me again) was not a symbol. He was actually telling His Disciples what would take place promptly after His discourse.

For Catholics the Body and Blood of Jesus are not symbols but actually tenets of Faith.

If you do not take Jesus at His Word then you are not a practicing Catholic!

Maran atha!



It is near impossible to approach a Calvinist (and to be perfectly honest I believe that to be every one who denies the Real Presence), without first questioning their entire systematic theology. The denial of the Real Presence really is the final conclusion of a very long systematic reasoning. It is almost like the entire basis of that systematic reasoning is the goal of denying the Real Presence.


Hello Zadeth.

Zadeth. Your friend takes John 16:25 and basically says because Jesus says he was speaking figuratively before then, that in John 6:47-59 Jesus could NOT have been talking about the Eucharist LITERALLY.

JOHN 16:22-25 22 So you have sorrow now, but I will see you again and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you. 23 In that day you will ask nothing of me. Truly, truly, I say to you, if you ask anything of the Father, he will give it to you in my name. 24 Hitherto you have asked nothing in my name; ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full. 25 "I have said this to you in figures; the hour is coming when I shall no longer speak to you in figures but tell you plainly of the Father.

Your friend wrongly assumes because Jesus had spoken figuratively, that before hand Jesus must have ALWAYS spoken figuratively (unless it doesn’t fit your friends “interpretation”).

Here is John 6:47-59

JOHN 6:47-59 47 Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes has eternal life. 48 I am the bread of life. 49 Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. 50 This is the bread which comes down from heaven, that a man may eat of it and not die. 51 I am the living bread which came down from heaven; if any one eats of this bread, he will live for ever; and the bread which I shall give for the life of the world is my flesh." 52 The Jews then disputed among themselves, saying, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” 53 So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you; 54 he who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. 55 For my flesh is food indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. 56 He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him. 57 As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so he who eats me will live because of me. 58 This is the bread which came down from heaven, not such as the fathers ate and died; he who eats this bread will live for ever.” 59 This he said in the synagogue, as he taught at Caperna-um.

Here is what you are going to ask HIM.

Zadeth to Calvin (ist): - OK Calvin. Show me how John 16:25 disproves John 6:47-59 and the Eucharistic teachings.

Calvin to Zadeth: Easy Zadeth. Jesus says up until now I have been talking FIGURATIVELY. So if Jesus was talking “figuratively” then we KNOW Jesus was talking about “eating His flesh” figuratively too. Your problem Zadeth is, you don’t believe Jesus’s words.

Zadeth to Calvin: I believe Jesus’ words just fine. But I don’t ADD to Jesus’ words and don’t ignore the “Father” context.

Calvin to Zadeth: What do you mean? I am only saying what Jesus said?

Zadeth to Calvin: That’s not true Calvin. You are ADDING to what Jesus said. And you HAVE to ADD to Jesus’ words because Jesus’ words do not fit in with your traditions.

**Calvin to Zadeth: ** HOW am I adding to Jesus words?

Zadeth to Calvin: You have to put (in your mind) EVERY WORD was figurative. You have to say something Jesus doesn’t say!

You HAVE TO take it when Jesus says this . . .

JOHN 16:25 (NIV) 25 "Though I have been speaking figuratively, a time is coming when I will no longer use this kind of language but will tell you plainly about my Father.

And turn it into this . . .

NOT JOHN 16:25 (PHANTOM VERSE) 25 "Though I have ONLY AND ALWAYS been speaking figuratively, a time is coming when I will no longer use this kind of language but will tell you plainly about the Eucharist.

You have to take it when Jesus says he is speaking figuratively and add the ONLY AND ALWAYS have been speaking figuratively.

Look closer at John 6:47-59 Calvin.

*]Was Jesus speaking “figuratively” when he says; “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes has eternal life.” (Don’t you REALLY have to believe in Jesus? And is “eternal life” not REALLY “Eternal”?)

*]Was Jesus speaking “figuratively” when he says; “Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died.” (Or didn’t they REALLY die?)

*]Was Jesus speaking “figuratively” when he says; “I am the living bread which came down from heaven”? (Are you saying you DENY Jesus is True GOD AND true man? Didn’t Jesus REALLY come from Heaven?)

*]Was Jesus speaking “figuratively” when he says; “the bread which I shall give for the life of the world is my flesh.” (Do you mean the Muslims are right? Do you mean Jesus didn’t REALLY give us His Flesh on Calvary? Are you implying Jesus doesn’t REALLY and ACTUALLY give us his FLESH for “the life of the world”?)


Calvin. You don’t understand this but you are having to do this because your theology doesn’t work within the framework of Sacred Scripture.

Calvin. You are doing this because your theology rejects Sacred Tradition and replaces it with a multitude of traditions of men that nullify the Word of God.

Calvin. You are doing this because your theology ignores and honest in depth look at history.

Calvin. You don’t understand this but you are having to do this because your Baptist religion was invented in 1609 by John Smyth (see here here here and here for more details).

I hope this helps both you and your friend Zadeth.

God bless.



The other interesting thing about all of this Zadeth.

Is that if Calvin KNOWS Jesus speaking . . . was literal despite Calvin formerly thinking Jesus was speaking figurative (despite sounding literal) . . . and the Apostles themselves knew Jesus was affirming Himself literally (they were the one’s NOT to abandon Jesus ion John 6:50-66 except for Judas) . . . .then now that Calvin KNOWS Jesus wasn’t speaking “figurative” but speaking LITERAL, WHAT is he going to do now?

Is Calvin going to go to Adoration with you and worship Jesus in the flesh?

Is Calvin going to do a real and honest historical review of the first hand documents of the Fathers?

Is Calvin going to start praying for MORE Truth to be revealed to him? And that he has the grace to submit himself to such Truths?

Probably “no” on all of these accounts. (He’ll probably just invent more objections based on his mere opinions - sand)

**This is what a good friend does . . . **

So now YOU are going to have to go to “bat” for this person.

You are going to have to fast for him (a bread and water lunch on Calvin’s behalf once in awhile?).

You are going to have to remember your friend at the moment of Consecration at Mass and beg Jesus for more Graces for this person.

You are going to have to study harder as Calvin is going to try to harpoon you and Catholicism even harder in the future as this type of thing takes out his foundational traditions.

I think you are up to the task Zadeth otherwise you would not be here asking on behalf of your friend.


John 16:25
[25] These things I have spoken to you in proverbs. The hour cometh, when I will no more speak to you in proverbs, but will shew you plainly of the Father."

‘These thinngs’ does not STATE 'ALL THINGS!":shrug:

My friend have you ever been exposed to the One Infallible Rule for right understanding of the Bible? Which BTW is a Catholic Book.

Never Ever; can, may or DOES

**One verse, passage or teaching have the power or authority to
Invalidate, make void or override another
Verse, passage or teaching:
Were this even the slightest possibility;[it’s NOT!] it would render the entire Bible useless to teach or lean Christ Faith” **

2Peter 1: 19-21
And we have the more firm prophetical word: whereunto you do well to attend, as to a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts: [20] Understanding this first, that no prophecy of scripture is made by private interpretation. [21] For prophecy came not by the will of man at any time: but the holy men of God spoke, inspired by the Holy Ghost.

THEN from the above share these:

John 6:47-58
[47] Amen, amen I say unto you: He that believeth in me, hath everlasting life. [48] I am the bread of life. [49] Your fathers did eat manna in the desert, and are dead. [50] This is the bread which cometh down from heaven; that if any man eat of it, he may not die. [51] I am the living bread which came down from heaven. [52] If any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever; and the bread that I will give, is my flesh, for the life of the world. [53] The Jews therefore strove [DEBATED] among themselves, saying: How can this man give us his flesh to eat? [54] Then Jesus said to them: Amen, amen [TRULY-TRULY]I say unto you:*** Except you eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, you shall not have life in you. [55] He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath everlasting life: and I will raise him up in the last day.

& ist. Cor, 11: 23-30
[23] For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, that the Lord Jesus, the same night in which he was betrayed, took bread. [24] And giving thanks, broke, and said: Take ye, and eat: this is my body, which shall be delivered for you: this do for the commemoration of me. [25] In like manner also the chalice, after he had supped, saying: This chalice is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as often as you shall drink, for the commemoration of me. [26]** For as often as you shall eat this bread, and drink the chalice, you shall shew the death of the Lord, until he come.** [27] Therefore whosoever shall eat this bread, or drink the chalice of the Lord unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and of the blood of the Lord. [28] But let a man prove himself: and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of the chalice. [29] For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh judgment to himself, not discerning the body of the Lord. [30] Therefore are there many infirm and weak among you, and many sleep. "SLEEP "HERE MEANS SPIRITUAL DEATH:HELL]

As for Constantine founding the CC. Ridiculous!

Constantine was in the 4th Century.



It was the Eary Catholic Fathers who selected, guided by the HS, which OT books [46 of THEM] were to be included

It was the Early Catholic Fathers who ACTUALLY AUTHORED the ENTIRE New Testament.

Today’s RCC beging being called “THE WAY” in the Bible

Acts 18:25
This man was instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in spirit, spoke, and taught diligently the things that are of Jesus, knowing only the baptism of John

Acts 19:23
Now at that time there arose no small disturbance about the way of the Lord.

Acts 24:14
But this I confess to thee, that according to the way, which they call a heresy, so do I serve the Father and my God, believing all things which are written in the law and the prophets:

Today’s CC was the ONLY Christian church and Faith to exist in the world from the time of Christ Death and Resurrection UNTIL 1054 AD [after death], when the GREAT EASTERN:shrug: Schism took place, ALSO historically provable.Catholics.

CATHOLIC. Its original meaning of “general” or “universal” has taken on a variety of applications in the course of Christian history. First used by St. Ignatius of Antioch (A.D. 35-107) (Letter to the Smyrneans, 8, 2), it is now mainly used in five recognized senses: 1. the Catholic Church as distinct from Christian ecclesiastical bodies that do not recognize the papal primacy; 2. the Catholic faith as the belief of the universal body of the faithful, namely that which is believed “everywhere, always, and by all”

WE ARE TO WITH CHARITY PRESENT THE FACTS, NEVER ARGUE, Only the Holy Spirit can grant right and true understanding. AMEN!

God Bless you! Thanks for asking


I just read the verse, and it’s quite clear from the text that it has NOTHING to do with the Eucharist. Does he believe that Jesus symbolically claimed to be the Son of God?


This is tangential to your request for a Catholic refutation, but it’s worth pointing out that most self-described Calvinists (especially evangelicals in the Americas) have much ‘lower’ sacramental theologies than Calvin himself. It might be worth showing him that Calvin, despite disagreeing with both the Roman Catholics and Luther than there was a substantial presence of Christ’s flesh and blood in the eucharist, taught that there was a real spiritual presence of Christ in the sacrament in far more explicit and powerful terms than most modern Calvinists are willing to admit.

A good starting point for your discussion might be to ask whether he agrees with the bolded bit from Calvin’s Institutes below, (source:

The presence of Christ in the Supper we must hold to be such as neither affixes him to the element of bread, nor encloses him in bread, nor circumscribes him in any way (this would obviously detract from his celestial glory); and it must, moreover, be such as neither divests him of his just dimensions, nor dissevers him by differences of place, nor assigns to him a body of boundless dimensions, diffused through heaven and earth. All these things are clearly repugnant to his true human nature. Let us never allow ourselves to lose sight of the two restrictions. First, Let there be nothing derogatory to the heavenly glory of Christ. This happens whenever he is brought under the corruptible elements of this world, or is affixed to any earthly creatures. Secondly, Let no property be assigned to his body inconsistent with his human nature. This is done when it is either said to be infinite, or made to occupy a variety of places at the same time. But when these absurdities are discarded, I willingly admit anything which helps to express the true and substantial communication of the body and blood of the Lord, as exhibited to believers under the sacred symbols of the Supper, understanding that they are received not by the imagination or intellect merely, but are enjoyed in reality as the food of eternal life. For the odium with which this view is regarded by the world, and the unjust prejudice incurred by its defence, there is no cause, unless it be in the fearful fascinations of Satan. What we teach on the subject is in perfect accordance with Scripture, contains nothing absurd, obscure, or ambiguous, is not unfavourable to true piety and solid edification; in short, has nothing in it to offend, save that, for some ages, while the ignorance and barbarism of sophists reigned in the Church, the clear light and open truth were unbecomingly suppressed. And yet as Satan, by means of turbulent spirits, is still, in the present day, exerting himself to the utmost to bring dishonour on this doctrine by all kinds of calumny and reproach, it is right to assert and defend it with the greatest care.

If your interlocutor is willing to accept, like Calvin, some kind of true, spiritual presence of Christ in the sacrament, then you’ll have a better starting point in pressing him on whether Calvin is right or wrong to not go further and agree with the Catholic doctrine of the real presence.


I don’t think that’s true. Calvin’s denial of the real presence moves from the universally accepted premises of Chalcedonian Christology, so he’s building on a strong common foundation of Catholic systematic orthodoxy. It’s only the latter stages of his systematic reasoning that go wrong, namely his worry that the ubiquity of the eucharist (i.e. the presence of Christ simultaneously on multiple altars all over the world) is a denial of Christ’s human nature, as human bodies aren’t generally capable of multilocation, etc., and a denial of the presence of Christ’s body at the right hand of the Father.

The orthodox response to this might involve saying that while Christ’s body is the subject of the eucharistic presence, the mode of its presence is not necessarily bound by the divine nature. Without thinking deeply about this or researching what the Fathers teach, I’d guess that the orthodox theologian would appeal to the communicatio idiomatum in rejecting Calvin’s Chalcedonian concerns, but I’m not sure.


As you noted, modern Calvinists, like modern Lutherans, have moved quite a bit away from the positions held by their founders. Most have little to no interest in what those men taught because they feel they were too influenced by their Catholic upbringing and education–that if they had lived longer or been able to break free from that influence, they’d hold the positions their modern adherents hold now. So, I’m not sure how effective citing Calvin would be to such a modern Calvinist, who, like his founder, has rejected what he doesn’t like (as Calvin did of his Church), and devolved Calvin’s teachings beyond what Calvin intended. :slight_smile:


…I’m addressing the issues highlighted…

The fact is that Christ body is no longer limited to human nature as of the moment of Christ’s resurrection His Body became a Glorified Body:

17 Jesus said, “Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father…’”

19 On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” 20 After he said this, he showed them his hands and side.

26 A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” 27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.” (St. John 20:17a, 19-20, 26-27)

30 When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. 31 Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight. (St. Luke 24:30-31)

6 After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, (1 Corinthians 15:6)

In the above passages Jesus’ Body is no longer limited by human nature; this makes Calvin’s argument void.

But even if we did not have such examples of Christ’s Glorified Body, we must still take into account that it is Christ Himself that makes His Body and Blood accessible to us; hence there’s a mystical accident in the Sacramental Blessings as Christ Himself becomes Real Food and Real Drink!:

54 Then Jesus said to them: Amen, amen I say unto you: Except you eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, you shall not have life in you. 55 He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath everlasting life: and I will raise him up in the last day. 56 For my flesh is meat indeed: and my blood is drink indeed. (St. John 6:54-56)

26 And whilst they were at supper, Jesus took bread, and blessed, and broke: and gave to his disciples, and said: Take ye, and eat. This is my body. 27 And taking the chalice, he gave thanks, and gave to them, saying: Drink ye all of this. (St. Matthew 26:26-27)

Maran atha!



I agree. There was a progressive development of systematic theology over the next few centuries which did see a shift. But it was a shift based on “reason” not “unreason”. ie Since we now believe A to be false, why is it that we believe B to be true? Wouldn’t it be more reasonable for B to be false? Since we now believe B to be false, why is it that we believe C to be false? Wouldn’t the fact that A were false and B were false suggest it to be more reasonable that C is true?

I believe this was an inherent consequence developed from an original system that had elements of inconsistency. In the event that this reasoning were cyclic in 200 years they will eventually end up back at Calvin or better still Catholic.


Reason not based in faith but in the evasion of faith–much like the Sadducees in Jesus’ day–at least that’s how I see it. :wink:

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