John 6:63-64


#1

I read an article by an evangelical which was a detailed response to Catholics using John 6 to show the real presence. He emphasizes Jesus saying that the work of God is to believe the son and that verses 63-64 Jesus says that the flesh profit nothing and his words are spirit and life and that shows its not the physical flesh he’s talking about. Can someone read this article and help me through it? How to challenge his claims?

jesus-is-lord.com/john6pt2.htm


#2

I understand Jesus like this, the flesh (human body) is nothing without the spirit (breath)

In the same way, the bread is nothing without his word (the word about the bread)

It is the words of Jesus Christ, that make the bread, become living bread

I think the problem is, that the translators don’t understand Jesus, and translate wrong.


#3

jesus is “The Word Incarnate”

the blessed sacrament is “The body and blood, soul and divinity”


#4

For some reason it won’t open, but it doesn’t matter.
If the body doesn’t matter, then what is Jesus referring to in Jn 6,51, when he says I give my body for the life of the world? The body is the means through which he gives life, and we receive it. Then he says, my body is true food, and my blood is true drink (v 55). Whoever eats my body and drinks my blood… (v 56) I am always puzzled how can someone be blind to this. It speaks of the fact that his real body and blood he gives to us. It’s quite graphic talk here, no innuendos, no symbolism. Protestants always cling to that particular verse, that his words are spirit and life, while being blatantly unaware of the rest of the chapter.
I think he refers to the fact that the body doesn’t matter if one looses redemption, and that it is not an end in itself.


#5

Notice Jesus never says His Flesh profits nothing, he says THE flesh. Big difference. If His flesh profited nothing, then the entire Incarnation, his life, death and resurrection, was useless. I know of no Christian who would say such a thing.

Also the word flesh, sarx in Greek, is used throughout the NT to refer to human nature apart from grace. For example Romans 8:5-9 says:

*For they that are according to the flesh mind the things of the flesh: but they that are according to the spirit mind the things of the spirit.

For the wisdom of the flesh is death, but the wisdom of the spirit is life and peace.

Because the wisdom of the flesh is an enemy to God. For it is not subject to the law of God, neither can it be.

But you are not in the flesh but in the spirit, because the spirit of God dwells in you.*

Notice the contrast between spirit and flesh. The flesh apart from grace, apart from the Spirit of God dwelling in us, is futile. But that does not mean Christ’s flesh is. We’ve already seen that’s not the case.

One more thing. Spirit doesn’t equal symbolic, as this author seems to assume. Jesus says God is spirit, but that obviously doesn’t mean he’s merely a symbol.

If Jesus meant to say it was all just symbolic by that phrase, he didn’t do a good job, because immediately after many of his close followers deserted him. They clearly didn’t understand him to be refuting their possible misunderstanding, but emphasizing it.

It’s by the power of the spirit that he will give us his flesh to eat. And it’s by the spirit that we can believe it. Not by the flesh - not by human reasoning alone - because it’s the Spirit that gives life.


#6

63 It is the spirit that gives life, the flesh is of no avail; the words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life. 64 But there are some of you that do not believe.” For Jesus knew from the first who those were that did not believe, and who it was that should betray him. (John 6:63-64)

John 6:63a, "It is the Spirit that gives life, the flesh is of no avail.;"
This statement of Jesus about the necessity of the Spirit could be said of all the Sacraments. Without the associated action of the Spirit, Baptism is of no avail but just gets you wet; without the associated action of the Spirit, Confirmation, the Anointing of the Sick, and Holy Orders are of no avail but just gets you a little oily; without the associated action of the Spirit, Confession is of no avail but is nothing more than a private conversation; and without the associated action of the Spirit, the Eucharist is of no avail but is just a little bread and wine.

John 6:63b, "the words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life."
Jesus is emphasizing that he is speaking about a life-giving, spiritual reality, about an efficacious sign of grace, about a Sacrament. St Paul makes a related statement when he says, “The unspiritual man does not receive the gifts of the Spirit of God [including the Sacraments], for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.” (1 Cor 2:14)

John 6:64, "‘But there are some of you that do not believe.’ For Jesus knew from the first who those were that did not believe, and who it was that should betray him."
Here “believing” refers both to believing that Jesus was from God and to believing his individual teachings, including his teachings about the Sacraments.


#7

To anyone who denies the “Real Presense” I point them in the direction of 1 Corinthians 11:27-29…

1 Corinthians 11:27-29 ~ Therefore whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord unworthily will have to answer for the body and blood of the Lord. A person should examine himself, and so eat the bread and drink the cup. For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body, eats and drinks judgment on himself.

This is NOT about a symbol. Period.

I have yet to see a Protestant apologist make any kind of logical, rational, or sensible rebuttal to this… Just like they never have a good rebuttal for John 21:15-17 (feed and tend My sheep and lambs). Don’t they ever grow tired of challenging us?


#8

He is right, this is the work of God. And one of the things we are commanded to believe/have faith in Jesus is the Real Presence!

If the “flesh profits nothing”, then we are still dead in our sins, because it was the sacrifice in the flesh of the Holy Lamb of God that is the expiation of our sins. So obviously, Jesus is not referring to HIS OWN flesh here.

On the contrary, he is saying that the human understanding, bound to the flesh, cannot grasp the mysteries of God, which are only grasped by grace, through faith. Our minds will never be able to understand the Eucharistic mystery by logic or human reason.

One way that we know He is speaking of physically eating is because he uses words for chewing and gnawing. Evangelicals are right, though, that we are also to “eat” the Word of God symbolically by inculcating it into our beings.

Notice Jesus never corrected those who walked away by saying “hold on a minute! I meant that symbolically!”

His statements on that occasion were very offensive to the Jews, who would never eat human flesh, and who were strictly forbidden to drink blood. It is no wonder they were scandalized.


#9

D-R Bible, Haydock Commentary:

Ver. 63. If then you shall see, &c. Christ, by mentioning his ascension, by this instance of his power and divinity, would confirm the truth of what he had before asserted; at the same time, correct their gross apprehension of eating his flesh and drinking his blood, in a vulgar and carnal manner, by letting them know he should take his whole body living with him to heaven; and consequently not suffer it to be, as they supposed, divided, mangled, and consumed upon earth. (Challoner) — The sense of these words, according to the common exposition, is this: you murmur at my words, as hard and harsh, and you refuse now to believe them: when I shall ascend into heaven, from whence I came into the world, and when my ascension, and the doctrine that I have taught you, shall be confirmed by a multitude of miracles, then shall you and many others believe. (Witham)

Ver. 64. The flesh profiteth nothing. Dead flesh, separated from the spirit, in the gross manner they supposed they were to eat his flesh, would profit nothing. Neither doth man’s flesh, that is to say, man’s natural and carnal apprehension, (which refuses to be subject to the spirit, and words of Christ) profit any thing. But it would be the height of blasphemy, to say the living flesh of Christ (which we receive in the blessed sacrament, with his spirit, that is, with his soul and divinity) profiteth nothing. For if Christ’s flesh had profited us nothing, he would never have taken flesh for us, nor died in the flesh for us. — Are spirit and life. By proposing to you a heavenly sacrament, in which you shall receive, in a wonderful manner, spirit, grace and life. These words sufficiently correct the gross and carnal imagination of these Capharnaites, that he meant to give them his body and blood to eat in a visible and bloody manner, as flesh, says St. Augustine, is sold in the market, and in the shambles;[3] but they do not imply a figurative or metaphorical presence only. The manner of Christ’s presence is spiritual and under the outward appearances of bread and wine; but yet he is there truly and really present, by a change of the substance of bread and wine into the substance of his body and blood, which truly and really become our spiritual food, and are truly and really received in the holy sacrament. — The flesh[4] of itself profiteth nothing, not even the flesh of our Saviour Christ, were it not united to the divine person of Christ. But we must take care how we understand these words spoken by our Saviour: for it is certain, says St. Augustine, that the word made flesh, is the cause of all our happiness. (Witham) — When I promise you life if you eat my flesh, I do not wish you to understand this of that gross and carnal manner, of cutting my members in pieces: such ideas are far from my mind: the flesh profiteth nothing. In the Scriptures, the word flesh is often put for the carnal manner of understanding any thing. If you wish to enter into the spirit of my words, raise your hearts to a more elevated and spiritual way of understanding them. (Calmet) — The reader may consult Des Mahis, p. 165, a convert from Protestantism, and who has proved the Catholic doctrine on the Eucharist in the most satisfactory manner, from the written word. Where he shows that Jesus Christ, speaking of his own body, never says the flesh, but my flesh: the former mode of expression is used to signify, as we have observed above, a carnal manner of understanding any thing.


#10

If the sentence is one of command, either forbidding a crime or vice, or enjoining an act of prudence or benevolence, it is not figurative. If, however, it seems to enjoin a crime or vice, or to forbid an act of prudence or benevolence, it is figurative. Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man, says Christ, and drink His blood, you have no life in you. John*6:53 This seems to enjoin a crime or a vice; it is therefore a figure, enjoining that we should have a share [communicandem] in the sufferings of our Lord, and that we should retain a sweet and profitable memory [in memoria] of the fact that His flesh was wounded and crucified for us.

Augustine - On Christian Doctrine. Book 3 Chapter 16.


#11

What you see on God’s altar, you’ve already observed during the night that has now ended. But you’ve heard nothing about just what it might be, or what it might mean, or what great thing it might be said to symbolize. For what you see is simply bread and a cup - this is the information your eyes report. But your faith demands far subtler insight: the bread is Christ’s body, the cup is Christ’s blood. Faith can grasp the fundamentals quickly, succinctly, yet it hungers for a fuller account of the matter. As the prophet says, “Unless you believe, you will not understand.” [Is. 7.9; Septuagint] So you can say to me, “You urged us to believe; now explain, so we can understand.” Inside each of you, thoughts like these are rising: “Our Lord Jesus Christ, we know the source of his flesh; he took it from the virgin Mary. Like any infant, he was nursed and nourished; he grew; became a youngster; suffered persecution from his own people. To the wood he was nailed; on the wood he died; from the wood, his body was taken down and buried. On the third day (as he willed) he rose; he ascended bodily into heaven whence he will come to judge the living and the dead. There he dwells even now, seated at God’s right. So how can bread be his body? And what about the cup? How can it (or what it contains) be his blood?” My friends, these realities are called sacraments because in them one thing is seen, while another is grasped. What is seen is a mere physical likeness; what is grasped bears spiritual fruit. So now, if you want to understand the body of Christ, listen to the Apostle Paul speaking to the faithful: “You are the body of Christ, member for member.” [1 Cor. 12.27] If you, therefore, are Christ’s body and members, it is your own mystery that is placed on the Lord’s table! It is your own mystery that you are receiving! You are saying “Amen” to what you are: your response is a personal signature, affirming your faith. When you hear “The body of Christ”, you reply “Amen.” Be a member of Christ’s body, then, so that your “Amen” may ring true! But what role does the bread play? We have no theory of our own to propose here; listen, instead, to what Paul says about this sacrament: “The bread is one, and we, though many, are one body.” [1 Cor. 10.17] Understand and rejoice: unity, truth, faithfulness, love. “One bread,” he says. What is this one bread? Is it not the “one body,” formed from many? Remember: bread doesn’t come from a single grain, but from many. When you received exorcism, you were “ground.” When you were baptized, you were “leavened.” When you received the fire of the Holy Spirit, you were “baked.” Be what you see; receive what you are. This is what Paul is saying about the bread. So too, what we are to understand about the cup is similar and requires little explanation. In the visible object of bread, many grains are gathered into one just as the faithful (so Scripture says) form “a single heart and mind in God” [Acts 4.32]. And thus it is with the wine. Remember, friends, how wine is made. Individual grapes hang together in a bunch, but the juice from them all is mingled to become a single brew. This is the image chosen by Christ our Lord to show how, at his own table, the mystery of our unity and peace is solemnly consecrated. All who fail to keep the bond of peace after entering this mystery receive not a sacrament that benefits them, but an indictment that condemns them. So let us give God our sincere and deepest gratitude, and, as far as human weakness will permit, let us turn to the Lord with pure hearts. With all our strength, let us seek God’s singular mercy, for then the Divine Goodness will surely hear our prayers. God’s power will drive the Evil One from our acts and thoughts; it will deepen our faith, govern our minds, grant us holy thoughts, and lead us, finally, to share the divine happiness through God’s own son Jesus Christ. Amen!

Sermon 272 of St Augustine

St Augustine knew only of the Catholic Church, of which he was part of.


#12

The error that your evangelical is making is to equate ‘spirit’ as meaning some form of figurative language. But that is not so. Read John 6 (after the multiplication of the loaves) Jesus is speaking to the Jews and reminds them of the OT story of the manna in the dessert. The manna was a material food provided by God. The Jews knew this story very well. They understood this story literally. So they understood it literally and materially . So when Jesus starts to speak about the NT manna, the food from heaven which is His flesh; the Jews were ahast. They are thinking that Jesus is talking of cannabalism because they are still thinking literally of a material food.

Now Jesus knows they are misunderstanding Him. As a teacher He has a duty to correct any misunderstandings and He does so… He corrects their misunderstanding of the New Testament manna being a material food. He says His words are spirit not material. Notice He says nothing to correct their understanding that He was speaking literally. He doesn’t have to because there is nothing to correct. He was speaking literally of a spiritual food. The scripture tells us that many walked away from Him at that time but He did not call them back.


#13

That was exciting to read!

But Augustine certainly looked at John 6 as symbolic.

Honestly, I had to read it again because it really spoke to me. I love his enthusiasm and I’ve become attached to Augustine lately:

What is seen is a mere physical likeness; what is grasped bears spiritual fruit. So now, if you want to understand the body of Christ, listen to the Apostle Paul speaking to the faithful: “You are the body of Christ, member for member.” [1 Cor. 12.27] If you, therefore, are Christ’s body and members, it is your own mystery that is placed on the Lord’s table! It is your own mystery that you are receiving! You are saying “Amen” to what you are: your response is a personal signature, affirming your faith. When you hear “The body of Christ”, you reply “Amen.” Be a member of Christ’s body, then, so that your “Amen” may ring true! But what role does the bread play? We have no theory of our own to propose here; listen, instead, to what Paul says about this sacrament: “The bread is one, and we, though many, are one body.”


#14

I love Augustine, too. He is my favorite saint, along with St Paul and St John.
In the part that you quoted from his sermon, he speaks of the sacraments. Physical link, that bears spiritual fruits. The bread (physical) is the body of Christ (spiritual). We see the bread, but we know, through faith, that it is the body of Christ. He knew not to explain it with Thomistic terms, but he was referring to the same reality.
Immerse yourself in Augustine, if you love him!


#15

I’ve read the first four books on, “On Christian Doctrine” and I’m absolutely loving it. It’s hard to add such a length of books into my library when I’m so busy with other things, but I’m working on it.

I believe Augustine is saying it’s our own mystery and is not making a definite proclamation of how the Sacrament works.

But for the sake of the topic, I have shown that Augustine looks at John 6 differently than some Catholics here.


#16

A correct understanding of the word spirit as it is used in the Bible reveals what Jesus really meant.

timhollingworth.blogspot.com/2011/01/spirit-and-life-symbolism-or-real.html

As someone else posted, spiritus is Latin for breath. Jesus could well have said, “The words I have spoken to you are breath and life.”

-Tim-


#17

Your voice (words) and your breath are connected.


#18

Thank you for that… You have to breathe out to make a word. Nice.

Your screen name is not lost on me either. :thumbsup:

-Tim-


#19

Quote:
Originally Posted by anixx
I love Augustine, too. He is my favorite saint, along with St Paul and St John.
In the part that you quoted from his sermon, he speaks of the sacraments. Physical link, that bears spiritual fruits. The bread (physical) is the body of Christ (spiritual). We see the bread, but we know, through faith, that it is the body of Christ. He knew not to explain it with Thomistic terms, but he was referring to the same reality.
Immerse yourself in Augustine, if you love him!

I think you are totally wrong about Augustine. Augustine did make definite proclamation of how the Sacrament works. What you did was to cherry pick Augustine. Here is what Augustine also said:

“Christ was carried in his own hands when, referring to his own body, he said, ‘This is my body’ [Matt. 26:26]. For he carried that body in his hands” (Explanations of the Psalms 33:1:10 [A.D. 405]).

“I promised you [new Christians], who have now been baptized, a sermon in which I would explain the sacrament of the Lord’s Table. . . . That bread which you see on the altar, having been sanctified by the word of God, is the body of Christ. That chalice, or rather, what is in that chalice, having been sanctified by the word of God, is the blood of Christ” (Sermons 227 [A.D. 411]).

… “What you see is the bread and the chalice; that is what your own eyes report to you. But what your faith obliges you to accept is that the bread is the body of Christ and the chalice is the blood of Christ. This has been said very briefly, which may perhaps be sufficient for faith; yet faith does not desire instruction” (ibid., 272).

Augustine was a great defender of the faith, proclaimed a Doctor of the Church. But even he did not attempt to correct Cyril, bishop of Jerusalem, when Cyril wrote:

“The bread and the wine of the Eucharist before the holy invocation of the adorable Trinity were simple bread and wine, but the invocation having been made, the bread becomes the body of Christ and the wine the blood of Christ” (Catechetical Lectures 19:7 [A.D. 350]).

“Do not, therefore, regard the bread and wine as simply that; for they are, according to the Master’s declaration, the body and blood of Christ. Even though the senses suggest to you the other, let faith make you firm. Do not judge in this matter by taste, but be fully assured by the faith, not doubting that you have been deemed worthy of the body and blood of Christ. . . . [Since you are] fully convinced that the apparent bread is not bread, even though it is sensible to the taste, but the body of Christ, and that the apparent wine is not wine, even though the taste would have it so, . . . partake of that bread as something spiritual, and put a cheerful face on your soul” (ibid., 22:6, 9).

What Cyril taught in his Catechetical Lectures was formalized in the Doctrine of Transsubstantiation centuries later. The bread retains its ‘accidents’ (taste, smell, touch, etc.) These ‘accidents’ are what our physical senses perceive but our senses only perceive material or physical attributes. But the ‘essence’ of the bread is changed. It is no longer bread but the Body of Christ. That is why Paul admonishes us to not partake of the Body and Blood of the Lord, the Eucharist, unworthily (with unrepentent sin on our souls). For if we do, we eat and drink damnation. That, my friend, is a very heavy price to be paid for eating mere bread.

There are other examples of the early church fathers proclaiming the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist. This idea that the Eucharist is only a symbol is a novel idea of the last 500 years and represents a change in christian doctrine.

That being said, there is one qualifier. In order to consecrate the bread and wine into the Body and Blood of of Christ, one must be validly ordained and imbued with Apostolic Succession. Apostolic Succession is not found in any of the non Catholic, Orthodox or Coptic denominations. Therefore the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist is only found in the Sacrament of the Eucharist in the liturgies of the Catholic, Orthodox and Coptic churches. Since, in your denomination, there is nobody who possesses valid Apostolic Succession, there is, therefore, no one who is empowered to change the bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ. So to your denomination, communion is indeed merely symbolic and devoid of everlasting life. .


#20

Oh, I don’t doubt that Augustine believed differently than you and I on many matters. All I’m saying is that even Augustine took John 6 figuratively.


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