Protestant understanding of John 6


I think most Protestants/Bible Christians think of John 6 as figurative. It is also my understanding that most believe “eat my Flesh” and “Drink my Blood” meant to fully absorb Jesus’ Gospel message, is that accurate?
If so, where is Jesus’ message found? The Bible, right? So, the command to “eat” and “drink” is figurative for reading/believing the word of God, the Bible?


I don’t think all non-Catholic’s understanding of John 6 can be blanketed under your proposed definition.

Just my 2cents (as one questioning Catholicism):

vs. 35 seems to give the keys to understanding the proceeding discourse:

35And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.

This would mean faith(coming to/believing on) = eating/drinking (never hungry or thirsty).

Jesus’ flesh and blood respresent His atoning sacrifice and the new covenant.

But if you are specifically addressing those who hold to the interpretation you gave, then disregard my reply :wink: .


Well, the reason I ask is I’m trying to connect the dots in my own mind.
I’m trying to determine if eating means believing, or if believing means eating. Because if we are to believe the word of God then it seems that the True Presence is more evident, for me, because “the Word was made Flesh”. So, if we believe/eat the word/Word, it is consistent, IMO, that Jesus is present in the Eucharist.:confused:
I ask about Protestants because I don’t see the issue they raise with the Catholic understanding on John 6. They say (I think) that eating means believing the word. But, if Christ said “eating” and He* is *the Word…I dunno, it makes sense to me.:shrug:


Right, there are at least some Protestants who believe “eating the flesh” refers to coming to know Jesus spiritually, particularly through Scripture. But the Protestants I’ve talked to who hold this belief wouldn’t make the inference you’re making – that Jn 1 says that Jesus is “the Word”; they would think of “the Word” as Scripture, whose contents we must accept and believe so we can have a personal relationship with Christ.

In other words: They would interpret the verse as symbolically saying that we would need to come to Jesus through prayer and study of the Bible, but they wouldn’t arrive at this conclusion just by substituting “the Word” for “flesh” in Jn 6.


Well. Our church’s standing is that we are like Catholic Church when it pertains to the body and blood in the Eucharist. Even though we have disagreements on how it happens, we both understand that Christ is really present in the sacrament.

Our understanding (deemed CONsubstantiation by most) is that there are 4 parts to the Lord’s Supper: Body, blood, bread and wine. Reason for this is that while Christ says it is his body and blood, but we see that it is also bread and wine. In the same sense that Jesus is both fully God and fully Man, as is the sacrament both bread/wine and body/blood.

Jesus doesn’t say HOW he is present, but he says that it IS his body/blood. It’s a mystery, and so should it be.:thumbsup:


Consubstantiation is misleading. The substance remains the same, but it isn’t. Only the body and blood remain. It’s transubstantiation. It looks and tastes like bread and wine. What Jesus said in John 6, was taken literally by those who heard him. As they started to leave, He didn’t try to explain that He meant it symbolically. He meant it literally.
Even at the last supper, Christ referred to the wine as His blood, and the bread as His body. He changed it over. Just like our sins aren’t covered by His sacrifice, they are completely taken away.


Then why, at the Last Supper, did Jesus not hold up a scroll of the scriptures when he said “this is my body”?


[sign]WELL PUT!!![/sign]


Lutherans believe in consubstantiation, which means they believe the bread and wine become the actual flesh and blood of Jesus, but retain their substance of bread and wine as well.

Anglicans I believe, accept transsubstantiation. So its not accurate to imply (if you were) that all Christians who are not (Roman) Catholic believe that John 6 is figurative.


That’s why I began with “I think most”, and followed that with, “it is also my understanding”.:thumbsup:


You’re right, I apologize. :slight_smile:


Read John 6:48-58:

Verse 51 Jesus tells us that the bread is His own flesh.

In verse 52, the Jews interpret Jesus literally. He repeats Himself that we must eat his flesh and drink his blood (John 6:53-56).

In verse 55, “For my flesh is food indeed, and my blood is drink indeed,” is not the language of symbolism.

The Eucharistic discourse ends with verse 58. John 6:60-70 occurs later and deals with faith, no the Eucharist.


As I have learned in my Catechism/Inquirers class, Anglicanism believes in a form of the Real Presence, but it is a spiritual presence and not transubstantiation.

Eucharistic theology is a hard thing for me. When I first went into Anglicanism, I was more on the memorialism side (came to faith in Evangelical/Non-Denominational Christianity).

These days, when I take Eucharist, I pray that “somehow, whether substantially, spiritually or symbolically, the Wine and Bread would be for me the Blood and Body”.

There are definitely Protestant defenses of John 6 though. One thing I think both Roman Catholics and Non-Roman Catholics (of various stripes) need to remember is that both sides of their share of strong, intelligent and faithful (in what their intellect and Spirit have convince them of) apologists and theologians.


Well, apology not necessary, but I know not everyone agrees within the Protestant community and I don’t want to be accused to telling anyone what their faith says. It’s just like when people say Catholics worship Mary when clearly, we don’t. Just trying to offer the same courtesy I expect.


If you directed your question to me, you must have misunderstood. I was showing that I do not interpret the passage as the op presented it.

I said (in relation to John6):

Jesus’ flesh and blood respresent His atoning sacrifice and the new covenant.

I did not discuss the Last Supper, but in both cases body/flesh and blood (imo) represent Christ’s sacrifice and the new covenant.

The o.p. presents an interpretation where eating and drinking refer to the Bible. Although I believe that may be partially true, I also see the probability that eating and drinking (faith) refer to Himself and His sacrifice (His broken body and spilled blood) - not just as presented in the Word (Bible), but in our lives through the Spirit, in our relationship with the Father - thorugh prayer, through obedience to God, especially in imitation of the Lord - to carry our cross - we must be willing to “crucify” our flesh as well (“unless you deny yourself and pick up your cross…”)… I don’t think “eating/drinking” has a cut and dry definition, nor do I see it as literal (although I don’t rule out the possibility. I see the likelihood that this eating/drinking is figurative AND literal…)


I agree there. I do realize the Jews interpreted Jesus literally, but I don’t think this means Jesus meant it literally. I think Jesus let them leave because these people lacked faith and this was the straw that broke the camel’s back. They would not be willing to follow Him the rest of the way to find out what that eating and drinking would mean or what He meant by:

vs. 51 “:…the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.”

What flesh did Jesus give for the life of the world? His own flesh which He sacrificed for our sakes. I realize Catholic understanding would see this the same way, but also as Christ’s “Eucharistic” flesh.

Regardless, I’m sure the apostles did not fully understand the discourse yet either - even according to a Catholic interpretation. They would not find out until the Last Supper. And furthermore, they would not understand the Last Supper, until the crucifixion…

The issue was not about HOW it was interpreted, but their faith (or lack thereof).


good, try to stick with what you believe and hold fast

What did the Jews, and Pagans for that matter, do with meat of their sacrifices?

Actually, the apostles would not fully understand until they received the gift of the Holy Spirit, the great Paraclete, Helper, Sanctifier, who would help them remember and understand all [that] they had seen and heard. When it became necessary, due to Jesus not immediately returning, members of the Catholic Church wrote down what had been done and said; guided by the Holy Spirit of Truth. Before they wrote the words that comprise the New Testament, according to Paul, they passed on their faith and religious practices{Tradition} by word of mouth.

So, when Paul writes about the faith in Christ, he doesn’t reference Matthew, Mark, Luke or John because these writings, as you can well understand, were not widespread, if some were even written at all when he wrote some of his epistles. Paul relies heavily on what has been taught to him. Indeed, Paul received a personal revelation that Jesus is the Saviour, but Jesus then directs him to those who would further him on his mission; the Catholic Church.

No, the issue was not about how it was interpreted. From the beginning, until this very day, and until Jesus comes again, the faith of our fathers is that it really is Jesus’ Body and Blood.:thumbsup:

Luther didn’t change the teaching, he just flung open the door…God remains steadfast. God can not lie. God can not deceive.


When the jews took Jesus literally and left, He asked the apostles if they were leaving also. He could have then explained that He meant it sympolically, or whatever. But He didn’t. The reply they gave was, “Where would we go? You have the words of eternal life.”


of free will


and the Jews that remained were, well, Jews. I say this only because surfing around it seems to be understood by some that the Jews rejected the teachings of Christ. Some did, most importantly those with positions of power - Pharisees, Sadduccees, Herod - but apparently, since Jesus brought his message - the Kingdom of God is at hand[Dt 30] - to the Jews, I guess a couple believed. Go figure:shrug:

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