Was not 2Corinthians 5:16 Paul's ideal opportunity to teach transubstantiation?

2 Corinthians 5:16

“Wherefore henceforth know we no man after the flesh;yea though we have known Christ after the flesh ,yet now henceforth know him no more” (KJV)

The long held Roman Catholic belief that the bread broken ( at the remembrance supper) is that spoken of in John 6:53 “Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood,ye have no life in you” .
The eating of that bread is according to the teaching ( as I understand it) : is to partake in (through the means of eating) his actual bodily presence or as it were his literal “flesh”

Why was Paul therefore teaching the Corinthians in 2Corinthians 5:6 that “we know no man after the flesh”?

Footnote from Catholic NAB:

According to the flesh: the natural mode of perception, characterized as “fleshly,” is replaced by a mode of perception proper to the Spirit. Elsewhere Paul contrasts what Christ looks like according to the old criteria (weakness, powerlessness, folly, death) and according to the new (wisdom, power, life); cf. 2 Cor 5:15, 21; 1 Cor 1:17–3:3. Similarly, he describes the paradoxical nature of Christian existence, e.g., in 2 Cor 4:10–11, 14. A new creation: rabbis used this expression to describe the effect of the entrance of a proselyte or convert into Judaism or of the remission of sins on the Day of Atonement. The new order created in Christ is the new covenant (2 Cor 3:6).

“Wherefore, henceforth we know no man according to the flesh; i.e. having our thoughts and hearts fixed upon Christ, as he is risen, and has prepared for us an immortal life, we know not, i.e. we do not esteem any thing in this mortal life, nor any man according to any human considerations of this life; we regard not whether they are Jews, and the sons of Abraham, or Gentiles; nay, if we have known and esteemed Christ, as descending from Abraham and David, now we know him so no longer, nor consider him as born a mortal man, but as he is risen immortal, and will bless us with an immortal and eternal glory.”

This is a great post worth re-posting:thumbsup:

Those who have the true Spirit of God, listens to the spirit of truth, follow Jesus and the apostles (faith) in the True presence of Jesus in His Eucharist is of God, those who deny Jesus comes in the flesh listens to the world and every wind of doctrine of men that do not confess Jesus come in the flesh possesses a spirit of the anti-christ and the world.

1John 4:1,2…Every spirit which confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the Flesh is of God. 3…and **every spirit which does not **confess Jesus is not of God. This is the spirit of antichrist, of which you heard that it was coming, and now it is in the world already…They are of the world, therefore what they say is of the world, and the world listens to them. 6…We are of God. Whoever knows God listens to us, and he who is not of God does not listen to us. By this we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error".

Peace be with you

Undeniably you are quite correct ( about the context around this verse) in that the Saviour is no more to be known in a “fleshly” manner.
It is in my opinion that this same lesson,( teaching) regarding a spiritual seeing of the Christ is what Jesus was showing Mary Magdalene in John 20:17 :

“Jesus saith unto her,Touch me not;for I am not yet ascended to my Father”

But to me this is the whole point of this thread: Are Roman Catholics taught to look for a literal presence in the " Host"? Yes or no?

Because 2Cor 5:16 to me ,distinctly points to a spiritual sight of Christ :

“yea though we have known Christ after the flesh,yet now henceforth know we him no more”

And as you yourself point to :New Covenant faith in his Person. Not his bodily presence in their midst.

The Church teaching on Transubstantiation and the literal Presence is not the subject of discussion in 2 Corinthians and therefore the text you mention has no connection with this matter of faith.

What St. Paul was speaking of in 2 Corinthians 5 has to do with the “new creation,” how the words of Genesis 1:26-27 are now fulfilled in the human race by what Christ has done for us on the Cross.

A new order has been ushered in through Christ’s passion, death, and resurrection. Since then humans can become what original sin prevented them from being in the fullest sense, namely reflections of God, persons who could be said to truly be made in God’s image.

Under sin we are nothing more than products of other humans, products of the “flesh.” Even Christ, though perfect, was once thought of being nothing more than a descendant of King David in the flesh and therefore the Messiah on that basis.

But in reality Jesus was much more. He is the New Creation. He was not merely a human messiah through which a mundane nation would regain its autonomy. Jesus is Son of God, the Second Person of the Most Holy Trinity, and as such Messiah in an innate sense that only the Almighty could make claim to.

In a sense when Christ died all humanity as fleshly descendents of Adam also died. And when Christ rose from the dead all humanity also rose from the dead in a spiritual sense. The era of the New Creation began wherein spiritual realities became more real that fleshly or physical ones.

This is why Paul wrote:

We are convinced that one has died for all; therefore all have died. And Christ died for all, so that those who live might live no longer for themselves, but for him who died and was raised for them.

From now on, therefore, we regard no one from a fleshly point of view; even though we once knew Christ according to the flesh, we know him no longer in that way. So if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old things have passed away; see, everything has been made new!–2 Corinthians 5:14-17.

This doesn’t mean we don’t believe in the True Presence of our Lord in the Eucharist. We are part of the New Creation, and this does not prevent us from having bodies of flesh. In the same way this text does not speak contrary to our beliefs as Catholics regarding the Eucharist.

If I remember correctly, most of the synoptic Gospels teach the real presence - in that Christ tells us that ‘this is my body’ and then He tells us ‘to do this in remembrance of me.’

If you discern that Paul was silent on this, then that’s fine. We should still listen to our Lord who told us in such straightforward language that there is no possibility for misunderstanding if we are attentive.

To be more precise I believe,most of the " synoptic " gospels omit the injunction to repeat or remember the supper: thus no mention is made of " do this in remembrance of me ".

In John’s gospel there is no historical record of the supper at all ;and only in the similarity of the symbols employed in John 6 is there the assumption that the supper is inferred.

Considering John was there present at the supper , (I believe) if it was his intention to connect directly the two distinct periods in the ministry of Jesus : he had all the resources needful to link them together.

Only in the gospel of Luke ( as Luke has a strong association with Paul’s ministry) and so not without the influence of Paul ,do we have recorded in one gospel only ,the words " do this in remembrance of me".

For me the implication is that it was not until Paul was given directly from The Lord himself ,(1Cor11:23 “For I have received of The Lord that which also I delivered unto you”) that we see at all,the supper being remembered,in the New Testament .

And this solitary record was to correct where the " Church at Corinth had erred from " that which " Paul had previously “delivered unto " them.
So for me anyway :where is a sense of proportion ?
There is by many ,connection made elsewhere ,of the " breaking of bread” ,but as this was an everyday occurrence ( as it is in my house: in the eating of it) then without direct reference ( to the supper) it must be assumed there is none, and everyday appetites were here being satisfied.

I would say that the desire for proportionality is is wise for secular essays, but not necessary for the Word of God

In my opinion, Matthew 26:26-28 is pretty clear and is sufficient for my belief.

Two thoughts from a Lutheran:

  1. Not speaking for Catholics, but I was not taught to look for, but rather to know and believe that there is indeed the literal presence in the sacrament.

  2. I’m not sure I understand what appears to be an either/or proposition here, that being spiritual vs. literal. From our perspective, which may or may not be different than that of our Catholic Christian siblings, we receive both, spiritually by faith, and literally by the mouth.


Hi Jon,yes Romans 10:10 agrees with you about belief being essential in any understanding of Christ: “For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness ; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation”
So it is with inward eyes that we must see him.But this does not take away from 2Corin 5:16
because Paul in Context is talking about himself here :knowing Christ ( “yea ,though we have known Christ after the flesh) so Paul at the time of writing this letter Knew Christ both in the literal sense,that is " after the flesh”; and at the same time he also knew him in his heart :believing “unto righteousness” with his inward ( eyes) sight of Christ ( crucified).

So is it not the spiritual or inward sight that is the subject of 2Cor5:15?
The reason being: that the literal or actual bodily presence is no longer a focus: “yet now henceforth know we him no more”

To me ,after all the corrections Paul made ( to their wrongly seeing the supper aright) to their not continuing in that “also which I delivered unto you” ,in his first letter ,which letter was received and in all points made effectual in their assembly: " In all points you have approved yourselves to be clear in this matter" ( 2Cor 7:11), why is he not in 2Cor5:16, elaborating on Transubstantiation.
But he seems in this place to be the rather :confusing there " belief " or understanding of a literal presence ( as you claim) in the broken bread?
If you were a Corinthian back then Jon ,would you not have asked him about this “essential” exception( ie the “Host”)?

2 Corinthians 5:11-21 (NAB)
As a Corinthian I would have understood vs 16 within the context it was positioned; in the discussion of reconciliation. The insertion of the real presence would not have fit in the instruction being delivered here.

Please consider 1 Corinthians 10:16-17 (NAB)
“Is not the cup of blessing we bless a sharing in the blood of Christ? And is not the bread we break a sharing in the body of Christ? Because the loaf of bread is one, we, many though we are, are one body, for we all partake of the one loaf.”

Pita53 in the post above took the words right out of my mouth. I see Paul’s words in 2 Corinthians in light of those in 1 Corinthians. Further, it is in 1 Corinthians that St. Paul quotes Christ directly.

Additionally, it doesn’t seem to me, as a Lutheran, that you proposing against Transubstantiation per se, but instead the real presence. This Lutheran’s perspective is the Catholic Church adopted the expression of Transubstantiation for a particular purpose, that being to defend the doctrine of the real presence. Perhaps St. Paul saw no need to do so, since those who rejected Christ’s words about it had already walked away.
To be sure, I do not see those who reject the RP as turning their back on Christ. OTOH, I do not understand the reluctance to not take Him, or Paul at their word regarding, “This is my body.”


Well…Bernard…several here have placed 2cor5:16 in context, and in no way refers to transubstantiation…yet you persist in forcing your interpretation…so can you explain why?

Hi Pablope,

The fact that transubstantion is not the subject here is the whole emphasis of my post here!

Both of Paul’s letters to the Corinthians ,I would suggest,have to be taken into consideration in establishing a wider and therefore more consistent context in which to view 2Cor5:16, and in so doing “comparing spiritual things with spiritual”(1Cor2:13).

For example in 1Corinthians 10:17 “For we being many are one bread,and one body:for we are all partakers of that one bread : for we are all partakers of that one bread”

Would any deny that in this verse Paul is speaking in symbolic metaphor regarding the “many” ,that is believers ,viewed as a whole seen : “are one bread” " and one body" ?

Then since Paul does not in this place directly deal with the subject of the literal ( or real
presence) why suggest that which the “many " are partakers of " that one bread” is " transubstantiated" by inference ,even “that one bread” in which they have all been partakers of?
To me it would not be an unreasonable conclusion to assume that since the first usage of bread in this verse is in a symbolic reference ,and thus lays the ground for its continuing use as such.
In either case would you say I was “forcing” the issue if I was to ask Paul for further clarification in his actual meaning?

Then also in 2Corinthians 5: 16.

I am certainly not an expert on scripture but as regards St. Paul and the teachings on the ‘real presence’ I find it helpful to look at the whole and not just sound bites, as it were. That being said, I would draw your attention to 1 Corinthians 11:23-27. This is just one of many references that illustrate the early church belief in and practice of transubstanatiation. Sometimes the author will omit expounding upon things that are in common practice and, therefor, already understood by the audience being addressed.:slight_smile:


Hi ,I would not claim to be an expert in regards Paul and as I would say ,teachings on the symbolism employed by the Lord in regards his coming sacrifice.But I would say ,that which Paul " received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you " (1Cor11:23) ,is unique and as far as common practice is concerned : a solitary example of the “supper” actually seen as being repeated as a memorial: " in remembrance of me".(25)in the same verse (from my point of view) you have “This cup is the new testament in my blood” : the emphasis here is upon the cup and not as such the blood; that is ,it does not say ,this blood is the new testament : but the “cup is the new testament” If so, is not “this cup” here being used as a metaphor ; that is :of the new testament as a whole?
Also as I have stated previously: “For as often as ye eat this bread and drink this ““cup””,ye do shew the Lord’s death till he come.”(KJV) the memorial was only ( I believe) meant to show ( in a figure) “his death”,not in the eating of : convey (his) life.

Furthermore since the emphasis in your chosen verses is I believe placed upon the partakers ( of the supper) " for he that eateth and drinketh unworthily"(29) rather than a exposition of a literal verses symbolic meaning of the elements used,then I would personally have started my enquiry at 1Cor 10:16-18. The first mention of “the cup”; and “The bread which we break”(10:16).

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.