Protestants and John chapter 6


The next several weeks our homilies will focus on John chapter 6 and the Eucharist and Jesus being the Bread of Life.

I understand Protestants are Sola Scriptura, but what do they believe John chapter 6 is teaching?


Former Evangelical Protestant here; they believe it’s symbolic. Not to be taken literally. Before I knew anything about the Catholic Church, it never crossed my mind that it could be taken any other way. Although I thought it was strange every time we’d take communion, the pastor would say “this is symbolic.” Haha.


I don’t think I can ever wrap my head around the Eucharist being the Body, Blood, Soul, and DIVINITY of Christ. I believe. Yet cannot understand.

That might be the issue. There’s just no way to humanly conceptualize, so the alternative is that it’s a symbol of a higher metaphysical reality.

When I was Protestant, it was seen as symbolic…to remember the Last Supper with juice and thin unleavened baked good.


Yes! Interestingly though, All Christians believe (in its simplest terms) a spirit impregnated a virgin and God was born. They’ll believe that, but the Eucharist is just too far fetched. Hmm :thinking:


Hang a dartboard with 40,000 sections and see where the dart lands.


There are 3 main Protestant views on the Eucharist: Sacramental Union (the Lutheran view that admits to some corporeal real presence), Real spiritual presence (Reformed, no corporeal transformation), and memorialism (Baptists and others that believe in pure symbolism). Sometimes, beliefs about the Eucharist are more of a spectrum, so you can have some churches or individuals hovering somewhere between spiritual presence and memorialism.

Those who advocate for the spiritual presence and memorial view of the Eucharist would interpret John 6 as teaching that Christ is the Bread of Life, and we feed on him by faith and placing our trust in him. As the Westminster Confession states, “Worthy receivers . . . do then also, inwardly by faith, really and indeed, yet not carnally and corporally but spiritually, receive and feed upon, Christ crucified, and all benefits of His death . . .”

For the Reformed, the Lord’s Supper is a “sign and seal” of the covenant; it does not determine one’s spiritual state, but simply confirms those who are already the elect in their regeneration. “For the perpetual remembrance of the sacrifice of Himself in His death; the sealing all benefits thereof unto true believers, their spiritual nourishment and growth in Him, their further engagement in and to all duties which they owe unto Him; and, to be a bond and pledge of their communion with Him, and with each other, as members of His mystical body” (Westminster Confession).

For those churches that adopted the memorialist or symbolic view, the Lord’s Supper is a time to remember and reflect on Christ and his atonement and to realize that he is the source of a believer’s life and strength. “The Lord’s Supper is a symbolic act of obedience whereby members of the church, through partaking of the bread and the fruit of the vine, memorialize the death of the Redeemer and anticipate His second coming” (Baptist Faith and Message, Southern Baptist Convention).


Thanks for those who have replied so far.
Very interesting to read the responses.
Hope there will be more commenting.


To paraphrase Pontius Pilate, “What is Protestantism?”


Would you care to elaborate?


It has degenerated by a process I call “Theological entropy” into an undefinable religious polyglot. Trinitarian and non-trinitarian, LDS, JW, SDA, Primitive Baptists and at least 220 other defined denominations - all according to the protestant Handbook of Denominations in the United States. Beliefs all over the map.

The term quickly lost meaning even in 1500s Europe. It is useless in determining someone’s actual beliefs, other than they are not Catholic.


I don’t think its useless, but it is very broad. Historically, the central novelty of Protestantism was sola fide (other groups in the Middle Ages had believed in sola scriptura and denied transubstantiaion, such as the Lollards).

A Protestant church is simply any church that accepts sola fide and sola scriptura within a Trinitarian doctrinal framework.


Perhaps, but the disintegration began when Luther and Zwingli split in Geneva over the Eucharist. All downhill from there.


Oh, I see. The term you are talking about is Protestantism.
How did the term lose meaning in the 1500’s? That was the height of the Reformation.


IMO, the reformation was based, not on the Apostolic teaching - which was rejected out of hand; not even on the bible, as that is easily twisted, and certainly not on any actual authority - but on the egos of the individual reformers. This is borne out by their immediate splitting into disagreeing factions. That process of internecine warfare and relentless division has continued to this day. Christianity, being undefinable in our age of relativism, has become a joke, thus many in the west have abandoned it.

Islam has no such problems, and is ascending - both in prominence and in power. What does this portend for the immediate as well as distant future?


@7_Sorrows , some Protestants believe as Catholics believe on this subject .

John Wesley , the founder of Methodism and prolific hymn writer , wrote some Eucharistic hymns which may surprise some Catholics and probably some Methodists . For example - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

John Wesley can speak of “presenting our Saviour’s death” to the Father, of “offering up the
Lamb of God” in the eucharist.

To Thee His passion we present,
Who for our ransom dies;
We reach by this great instrument
Th’ eternal sacrifice.
The Lamb His Father now surveys,
As on this altar slain,
Still bleeding and imploring grace
For every soul of man .

And - - - - - - -

With solemn faith we offer up,
And spread before Thy glorious eyes
That only ground of all our hope,
That precious bleeding Sacrifice,
Which brings Thy grace on sinners down,
And perfects all our souls in one .

John Wesley came to the Lord’s table expecting to meet with Someone - - - - - - - - -

We come with confidence to find
Thy special Presence here.

Who can say how bread and wine
God into man conveys?
How the bread His flesh imparts,
How the wine transmits His blood,
Fills His faithful people’s hearts
With all the life of God!

Sure and real is the grace,
The manner be unknown;
Only meet us in Thy ways,
And perfect us in one.
Let us taste the heavenly powers;
Lord, we ask for nothing more:
Thine to bless, ‘tis only ours
To wonder and adore.


I think verse 57 sums things up nicely.

Just as the living Father sent me and I have life because of the Father, so also the one who feeds on me will have life because of me.

I see this saying that those who “feed on Christ” or in other words learn of Christ and sincerely attempt to emulate His life will one day receive Eternal Life. I hope this helps…


Catholic Answers is the first and only “place” where recall having “experienced” John 6 … seminars and discussion.

I do make an issue of it, but just get blank looks.

[Maybe it’s me.]


The ironic thing is when Jesus doubles down on the whole ‘eating flesh’ thing, a bunch of his disciples leave, saying ‘this is a hard teaching’ . Then, Jesus addresses the 12, who are among the remainder, and re-teaches the doctrine, but uses ‘gnaw’ instead of ‘chew’


Certainly Wesley had a high view of the Eucharist and believed it was a means of grace, and his Eucharistic theology has been described as a convergence of Catholic and evangelical theology. However, he did not believe exactly the same thing as Catholics. Wesley rejected both transubstantiation, consubstantiation and memorialism. If anything, he was closer to the Calvinist doctrine of real spiritual presence.

Take Hymn 57, which you’ve already excerpted:

Who can say how bread and wine
God into man conveys?
How the bread His flesh imparts,
How the wine transmits His blood,
Fills His faithful people’s hearts
With all the life of God!

Let the wisest mortal show
How we the grace receive:
Feeble elements bestow
A power not theirs to give:
Who explains the wondrous way?
How thro’ these the virtue came?
These the virtue did convey
Yet still remain the same

Hymn 71 makes the meaning of “feed on him” for Wesley even clearer:

Gross misconceit be far away!
Through faith we on His body feed
Faith only doth the Spirit convey,
And fills our souls with living bread,
Th’effects of Jesu’s death imparts,
And pours His blood into our hearts.


There are seven “I am” statements of Christ in the book of John

I am the bread of life
I am the light of the world
I am the door of the sheep
I am the good Shepard
I am the resurrection and the life
I am the way, the truth and the life
I am the true vine

In John 4:14 Jesus also says but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

Jesus used these statements to convey the truth of our need for Christ, our dependence on Christ, how Christ alone can meet our needs, and how our only hope in in Christ.

The key verse in John 6 is verse 35. Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.

For those of us who come to Christ seeking forgiveness of our sins and rest in His love and Grace our spiritual hunger and thirst (needs) are satisfied by Christ. We eat the bread of life and drink the spring of water welling up in Eternal life by surrendering our heart (our inmost self) to Christ which is made evident by our living faith in Christ.

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