Article - Does the Lord’s Supper Change into Jesus’ Literal Body and Blood?
“Transubstantiation” (Latin for “Across-Substance”) is a doctrine which claims that the Lord’s Supper actually changes into the literal body and blood of Jesus. Such a view is based on an erroneous understanding of the following statements of Jesus: “This is My body” and “This is My blood” and “Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life” (Mark 14:22-25; John 6:51-58). This doctrine is false for the following reasons: (1) “This is My body/blood” is a figure of speech (metaphor) meaning “This represents/symbolizes My body/blood” in the same way that “I am” means that Jesus “represents/symbolizes” the lamb, bread, light, door and vine (John 1:29; 6:35; 8:12; 10:9; 15:1); (2) When Jesus gave His apostles the Supper and made His remarks, the objects He gave did not change into His body and blood. Jesus was still in full possession of His body and blood. Even Jesus called the contents of the cup “the fruit of the vine” and said He would drink it new with the apostles in His Father’s kingdom (Matthew 26:29). Jesus was not saying He would eat His own flesh and drink His own blood; (3) By stating “do this in remembrance of Me,” Jesus was implying that He would not be present physically in the Supper itself when Christians partook (Luke 22:19); (4) The present tense of John 6:54 indicates that there were disciples who were continuing to eat His flesh and drink His blood while Jesus was living on earth; yet they were not literally eating and drinking Jesus. John 6:56 indicates they continued to abide in Jesus while He was living on earth; yet they were not physically inside of Jesus. These figures were used to convey the importance of ingesting and obeying Jesus’ words in order to have eternal life (John 6:63; 1 John 3:24). The Lord’s Supper is not a cannibalistic consumption of the Lord’s actual flesh and blood. Instead, it is a representation of the body and blood of Jesus that is to be taken every Sunday in worship as faithful Christians remember the significance of the Lord’s death until He comes (Acts 2:42; 20:7; 1 Corinthians 10:16-17; 11:23-29).
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