Transubstantiation from Scripture

In the Bible in Luke 22:19, it is written: "And he took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.”

I understand that Jesus was literally giving the disciples His body and blood to eat. But then He says, “do this in remembrance of me.”

Where does the belief come from, that in the Eucharist since that time, transubstantiation takes place? Instead of that transubstantiation took place that one time, and ever since we are to do the same thing in remembrance of that one significant event?

I know the Church teaching is that transubstantiation takes place, and that this is a point of contention between Catholics and other Christians, but what I am asking is how did the Church arrive at that conclusion? Is it based on an interpretation of the Scripture? I have heard that the early church believed it in this way, but this doesn’t answer the question of how they arrived at it. As far as I know there was no more discussion (accessible to us through the Scriptures) after the Last Supper and the death and Resurrection.

suggestion: See what you can find out in chapter six, Gospel of John.
Also John 14: 18 which is my favorite.

The Eucharist IS Scriptural

This is a fairly extensive Bible study type of article that may help you out with this.

I would prefer Mathew and Mark version where it mentioned Jesus blessed the bread and the wine before giving to them saying they were his body and blood.

That would be closer to the consecration that we understand today during transubstantiation.

So yes, transubstantiation occurred when Jesus said that they were his body and blood now after he blessed them (bread and wine). We know that Jesus performed miracles, so there was no problem here.

Of course he could just say nothing before that but the blessing (and thanksgiving) of the bread and wine was very significant as it was a kind of ritual. And how Jesus liked ritual when he performed miracles (example the spittle and the mud on the blind man).

…here’s the Apostles understanding of Christ’s Command to Commemorate what He did:

23 [size=]For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you:[/size] The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, 24 and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.” 25 In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.” 26 For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.

27 So then, 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. 28 Everyone ought to examine themselves before they eat of the bread and drink from the cup. 29 For those who eat and drink **without discerning the body of Christ **eat and drink judgment on themselves. 30 That is why many among you are weak and sick, and a number of you have fallen asleep. 31 But if we were more discerning with regard to ourselves, we would not come under such judgment. 32 Nevertheless, when we are judged in this way by the Lord, we are being disciplined so that we will not be finally condemned with the world.

33 So then, my brothers and sisters, when you gather to eat, you should all eat together. 34 Anyone who is hungry should eat something at home, so that when you meet together it may not result in judgment. (1 Corinthians 11:23:34)

Maran atha!


Jesus said that it was his body. When he said “do this in memory of me” he meant that we are to take the Eucharist in memory of him—not that the bread itself was a memorial of him.
I think that the early church understood this distinction from the beginning.

You and I are forced to live with English translations.

However, the original accounts were written in Greek. Sometimes in Hebrew.

Translated into Latin.

And then into English.

So, the best thing, if anyone wants to study the original descriptions is to seek out the Greek versions of the original accounts.

Some scholars have written very interesting studies.

One of my favorites is Scott Hahn.

In the early centuries of Christianity there were diverse beliefs about the Eucharist and the significance of the bread and wine. Many early theologians like Clement of Alexandria (182-202AD) and Tertullian (197-220AD) taught that the bread and wine are a figure or symbolic of Christ’s body and blood. In the 4th century Cyril of Jerusalem (315-386AD) and Ambrose (340-397AD) were first credited with articulating that the elements of the Eucharist actually converted to Christ’s body and blood. Soon after this Augustine (386-430AD) wrote much about the Eucharist, including the fact that John 6:53 was figurative. (On Christian Doctrine, Book III, Chapter 16 - 24

The Doctrine of Transubstantiation was written in the 9th century when 2 monks were disagreeing over the literal or figurative meaning of the elements of the Eucharist. Much later at the Lateran Council in 1215AD transubstantiation became official doctrine. After this those who taught in opposition to transubstantiation were accused of heresy and often executed. However, for the first 1000+ years of Christianity it was acceptable for theologians to hold a wide spectrum of beliefs about the Eucharist.

Read “Eucharistic Miracles” by Joan Carroll Cruz.

She helps to fill in the blanks.

Problem #1: How did the Church arrive at that conclusion. Remember that the Church existed BEFORE the New Testament was written. The Apostles WERE THERE. They are filled with Faith AND the Holy Spirit. THEY taught the doctrine of the real presence FROM THE BEGINNING.

Problem #2: "But then He says, “do this in remembrance of me.” " It is unfortunate that our English translations do not really convey the true meaning of what it means to "do this in remembrance of me. The word used is the same one used when God told the Israelites to keep the Passover as a remembrance of their deliverance. The word would be better translated “to make present” than merely remembrance. IOW, Jesus told the Apostles to DO exactly as HE had done, or make this Act of Sacrifice present again, by His command. This was the NEW Passover, the NEW Covenant in HIS BLOOD, which fulfilled the OT type, which was the Pascal Lamb’s blood. So bear in mind that “in remembrance” of me is a Divine Command, exactly like the one the Israelites received on that first Passover.

Problem #3: Transubstantiation is a word that the Church uses to describe a Divine Action. Just as the Church uses the word Trinity to describe the Persons of the Godhead, transubstantiation was taught as a defense against the heresy that the bread and wine were still bread and wine after the consecration. This heresy didn’t arise until after 1000 years of Christian belief in the real presence after the consecration. Before then, there were many ways the early Church Fathers described the real presence in the Eucharist. But after the Lateran Council used the word transubstantiation, that became the doctrinal understanding of the real presence.

That transubstantiation would take place more than once is suggested by Jesus himself, who, in John 6, seems to associate the miraculous New Testament Eucharist with the miraculous Old Testament manna. One expects the things (types) in the New Testament to be superior to the things (types) of the Old Testament that foreshadowed them. Now, the miraculous Old Testament manna was provide to the Israelites for forty years, six days a week, or about 12,480 times. If the miraculous New Testament Eucharist is suppose to be superior to this miraculous Old Testament manna, doesn’t that suggest the miraculous New Testament Eucharist would be provided more than one time?

In the early centuries of Christianity there were various understandings of the bread and wine in the Eucharist. Clement of Alexandria (182-202) and Tertullian (197-220) wrote that the elements of the Eucharist were a figure or symbol of Christ’s body and blood. In the 4th century Cyril of Jerusalem and Ambrose are credited with being the first to articulate that the bread and wine converted to Christ’s body and blood. Soon after (and overlapping) their time Augustine (386-430) wrote that John 6:53 was figurative and not literal. (On Christian Doctrine Book III Chapter 16:24

The Doctrine of Transubstantiation was written in the 9th century when 2 monks disagreed about the substance of the elements of the Eucharist. It was at the Lateran Council in 1215 that the Doctrine of Transubstantiation was officially recognized and became the only acceptable understanding of the Eucharist.

Do you believe in the Holy Trinity?

Was the Holy Trinity Taught by the Apostles?

How long till the term became known?

When was the term officially adopted by the Church?

Why are there people who claim to be Christians who, even today, still reject the Holy Trinity?

…you seem to accept Catholic Teaching when citing divergence of thought; yet, it seems that you shun Catholic Teaching when an issue (as Transubstantiation) is officially adopted… have you noticed your methodology (it’s not far from the Jehovah Witnesses)?

Maran atha!



Yes. Even if the term Trinity is not used, the one God in 3 persons is clearly evident throughout the Gospels and NT Epistles.

It was commonly by around 200AD. So sometime before then.

Tertullian was defending it soon after 200AD. He couldn’t have defended something that wasn’t already established within Christianity.

Because loving Jesus doesn’t guarantee that you will always be right.

I don’t know if I completely understand what you are saying here. But, I believe that the Scriptures are God breathed and inerrant. I think that all sources that came after this time are filled with much great teaching and are useful for learning and understanding. However it is possible that there could be errors present in them.

In Koine Greek, the language the gospels were written in, the word was anamnesis, which coincides with the Jewish word zikkaron, which had significance for the Passover. The idea wasn’t just that you were remembering the Passover, but that you were mystically making present and participating in the original Passover. It wasn’t a re-enactment, but a re-presenting and participation in that first Passover. The fact that Jesus himself uses it for the Eucharist, our new Passover, is important. The implication is not just remembering the past or a particular moment or even just a symbol, but about mystically making present and participation in the original actions on the cross, re-presented at each Eucharist since and first presented (prior to the actual action) at the Last Supper.

And yes, it is his body, as presented at the Last Supper, as it was presented in the Eucharistic Discourse in John 6. It is, literally, the new manna from Heaven, which Jewish tradition expected the Messiah to bring back (see the opening to the Eucharistic Discourse, and I think the manna connection is exceptionally powerful), but it is superior to the old manner. We are not being asked to eat snippets of human flesh and blood, we are being called to take into ourselves the divine in a holy covenant. We are being nurtured by God himself in the manna, in a total self-giving of Himself. The Eucharist also goes back to the idea of the shewbread (bread of the presence) and of course, perhaps most importantly, the Paschal Lamb. The Passover rights required not just the sacrifice of the lamb, but that the sacrificial lamb itself was eaten by the family. That was part of the prescribed ritual of the Passover.

From the writings of Ignatius and the Martyrdom of Polycarp likening martyrdom to the Eucharist, from Saint Justin Martyr describing the Eucharist as Christ’s real flesh and blood, the writings of Irenaeus, etc… This change was understood by the earliest Christians, even if the language wasn’t fully developed. The decisions of the Church at later councils were not new innovations, but statements meant to protect the oldest traditions handed down by the Church, the same way we see the doctrine of the Trinity and the language used to speak about it develop throughout the fourth century as we see the divinity of Christ attacked first by the Arians and then the divinity of the Holy Spirit attacked once the Arian dispute was resolved. The creeds we have today, this refined language on the Trinity, while being the oldest doctrine, was not fully developed or articulated in the first or second century, but was done in response to heresies and challenges the Church faced. Same with the Eucharist.

It seems that you are implying that if a term/belief is not found in Scriptures then it is not Inspired by the Holy Spirit. (I may be wrong, maybe that’s not what you meant to convey; yet, that’s what I gather when you point out that a term/belief is not found in Scriptures or it was not adopted till “x” or “y” period in history.)

I was attempting to demonstrate that even though the Church has held Doctrinal Beliefs, these have not have been defined in terms (ie: Holy Trinity) till decades, if not hundreds of years, past Jesus’ Ministry or are not explicitly found in Scriptures.

Absence of note in the Written Tradition (Sacred Scriptures) does not automatically (or if you prefer, by default) translate to absence from the Oral Tradition (the Teachings of the Apostles passed on Orally).

…and while it is a fact of human trait that we do not always operate in humility, only when we allow the Holy Spirit to guide us can we come to accord in the Works of God (ie: the Bible’s Canon: it was not inked while the Apostles Wrote or Preached the Word of God but much much later–final word on it came in the fourth century–while it took till the fifth century for the east to join the west in agreement.

…from your take, it seems that there’s no Biblical Canon since: a) there’s no mention of it in Sacred Writings and b) it took over three hundred years to finalize the Church’s Canon of Scriptures.

Maran atha!


Excellent post! :thumbsup::thumbsup::thumbsup:

Maran atha!


You seem to keep changing the topic from transubstantiation.

Yes, there is a New Testament written by the Apostles. They wrote this in the 1st century and it was accepted and used right away.

1 Timothy 5:18 - For Scripture says, “Do not muzzle an ox while it is treading out the grain,”[a] and “The worker deserves his wages.”**
a.1 Timothy 5:18 Deut. 25:4
b.1 Timothy 5:18 Luke 10:7

2 Peter 3 - 15 Bear in mind that our Lord’s patience means salvation, just as our dear brother Paul also wrote you with the wisdom that God gave him. He writes the same way in all his letters, speaking in them of these matters. His letters contain some things that are hard to understand, which ignorant and unstable people distort, as they do the other Scriptures, to their own destruction.

The theologians readily accepted and used the Scriptures and quoted them regularly. This is actually a pretty cool chart for many reasons, but it shows how frequently these Scriptures were cited long before a council confirmed the already accepted Scriptures.**

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