When did the apostles first "get it"?

I mean, when, according to scripture, did the apostles realize and KNOW what Jesus had taught them concerning himself as the Son of God and that he’d come to redeem mankind? At Pentecost?

And did they also then realize fully that Jesus was to be present to us in the Eucharist? I say they did, since they would have then understood John 6 (I am the Bread of Life, etc.), and having been filled with the Holy Spirit, they understood and could then preach it with authority.

I met an ex-Catholic-now-Fundamentalist online that says they did not have Transubstantiation, and Catholics are worshipping a piece of bread (sigh).

God bless,

Regarding your question on when they realised fully that Jesus would be present in the Eucharist, it seems to me that this would have been completely clarified at the Last Supper. As you pointed out, some time before the Last Supper, Christ told His apostles that He is the Bread of Life and then that unless they eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, they would have no life in them. From then they believed that they would have to do this, but it was not until the Last Supper that they were told how - that they would eat His body and drink His blood under the appearence of bread and wine. I’m willing to be corrected of course, but I would say that John 6 was the first step in the revelation of the Eucharist to the Apostles.

Your Fundamentalist friend is making a standard argument against the Eucharist - that there was no transubstantiation. The term transubstantiation began to be used to consisely define the nature of the Eucharist in the thirteenth century, however that does not mean that transubstantiation did not actuall occur just because that wasn’t the term originally applied to it. Scripture is very clear that we must actually eat the flesh of Christ rather than symbols. It is interesting that the only time we hear of disciples leaving Christ for doctrinal reasons is when He tells them “I am the living bread which has come down from heaven; he who eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh…unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood you have no life in you…” Jesus knew people were offended by this - to those who didn’t believe, He was suggesting cannibalism and drinking blood which Jewish law forbade. If the Lord were merely speaking symbolically why did He not explain this to the disciples who had turned their backs on Him? Peter, on the other hand, speaking for the Twelve trusted in Jesus and accepted what He told them - “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life…” This to me is actually the most compelling argument for the true presence in the Eucharist - if Jesus were merely speaking metaphorically the disciples would have known. How many times are we told in Scripture that Jesus told them a parable? Many indeed, because either Christ told them or it was clear to them - with the Eucharist, strange as it is, the disciples know that Christ is speaking the truth clearly. The same applies to the Last Supper - “This is my body… This is my blood…” - there is no symbolism here, it is as Jesus is telling them. The apostles knew this, the Early Church Fathers knew this, and it was many centuries before the idea of the True Presence was seriously challenged… Some passages from the Early Church Fathers would be useful in understanding what the Early Church thought of the Eucharist, though non-Biblical sources may not interest your friend. Finally, it may be useful to ask your friend why Paul tells us that those who receive the Eucharist unworthily shall be guilty of the body and blood of Christ. If the Eucharist is only a symbol - bread and wine - how can that make us guilty of the body and blood of Christ?

With regard to your first question, I cannot answer it off-hand, but they certainly knew before Pentecost. Even in the passage we spoke of earlier - John 6 - Peter assures Christ that they know that He has the words of eternal life and that they had already come to know that He was the Holy One of God.

IMHO, it wasn’t until after the Resurrection that they finally put everything together.

I tend to agree with you. They may have learned and known things before that but I don’t think they really understood otherwise why would Peter have denied Jesus and the others run away and go into hiding. I think the penny finally dropped when Jesus first appeared to them after the resurrection.

I dunno–even then they had it wrong, believing that God was now going to restore the political kingdom to Israel. I’m with the OP–I think it was at Pentecost that things really became clear.

That’s my opinion. I could be wrong. I have been wrong before :smiley:


I certainly don’t disagree–Pentecost was after the Resurrection! What I meant was that I don’t think that before the Resurrection they were able to really put things together, and it was not until the Resurrection and all the events following it (the Thomas event, the Emmaeus event, Jesus cooking fish on the shore and his other appearances, the Ascension, Pentecost), that they finally fully got the message, and Pentecost was certainly the culmination of everything, with the Holy Spirit to teach them. I think they (esp. Peter) had some glimpses of “it”, but they were not able to get the full picture.

Luke 24:32
They asked each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?”

Luke 24:45
Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures.

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.