30 May 2008

Definitive Answer to the John 6 Question

In quoting the sixth chapter of John, as bearing on the Lord's Supper, it may be well, once for all, to say that it is quoted not on the supposition that it speaks of the Lord's Supper specifically, but that in stating the general doctrine of the life-giving power of Christ's flesh and blood, it states a doctrine under which the benefits of the sacramental eating comes a species. If we come into supernatural, blessed participation of Christ's body and blood, in the act of faith, without the Lord's Supper, a fortiori, we have a blessed participation of them in the act of the Lord's Supper. The sixth chapter of John treats of the grand end of which the Lord's Supper is the grand means. We partake of Christ's body and blood sacramentally, in order that we may partake of them savingly. Of the latter, not the former, the sixth of John speaks. -- C. P. Krauth, *The Conservative Reformation* p. 598


Trent Sebits said...

ST. John Chrysostom
Homily 47

Jesus therefore said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of Man, and drink His blood, you have not eternal life in yourselves. Whoso eats My flesh, and drinks My blood, has life in himself.

When we converse of spiritual things, let there be nothing secular in our souls, nothing earthy, let all such thoughts retire, and be banished, and let us be entirely given up to the hearing the divine oracles only. For if at the arrival of a king all confusion is driven away, much more when the Spirit speaks with us do we need great stillness, great awe. And worthy of awe is that which is said today. How it is so, hear. Verily I say unto you, Except a man eat My flesh, and drink My blood, he has not eternal life in him. Since the Jews had before asserted that this was impossible, He shows not only that it is not impossible, but that it is absolutely necessary. Wherefore He adds, He that eats My flesh and drinks My blood, has eternal life.
And I will raise him up at the last day. For since He had said, He that eats of this bread shall not die for ever John 6:50, not verbally quoted, and it was likely that this would stand in their way, (just as they before said, Abraham is dead, and the prophets are dead; and how sayest Thou, that he shall not taste of death? John 8:52, not verbally quoted) He brings forward the Resurrection to solve the question, and to show that (the man who eats) shall not die at the last. He continually handles the subject of the Mysteries, showing the necessity of the action, and that it must by all means be done.
For My flesh is true meat, and My blood is true drink.
What is that He says? He either desires to declare that this is the true meat which saves the soul, or to assure them concerning what had been said, that they might not suppose the words to be a mere enigma or parable, but might know that it is by all means needful to eat the Body. Then He says,
He that eats My flesh, dwells in Me.
This He said, showing that such a one is blended with Him. Now what follows seems unconnected, unless we enquire into the sense; for, says some one, after saying, He that eats My flesh, dwells in Me, what kind of a consequence is it to add, As the living Father has sent Me, and I live by the Father. Yet the words harmonize perfectly. For since He continually spoke of eternal life, to prove this point He introduces the expression, dwells in Me; for if he dwells in Me, and I live, it is plain that he will live also.

Pastor Beisel said...

Looks like Chrysostom was a Lutheran after all.

Nice quote by Krauth.

Chris Jones said...

An almost definitive answer.

Krauth's distinction here between end and means is interesting and perhaps valid, but I think he goes too far is suggesting that John 6 does not speak of the Supper specifically. It is true that our Lord does not speak of the Supper explicitly but there is no doubt that He is referring to it specifically -- that is, that He is referring to the eating of His flesh and blood in the Supper and not referring to anything else.

The reason I can say that is because there is nothing else that He could be referring to. Krauth is right that the Supper is the means and the receiving of His body and blood is the end, but the fact is that there is no other means that we are given by which we may partake of His flesh and blood. When the Jews asked How can this man give us his flesh to eat?, the only answer that can be given is In the Supper. What other answer could there be?

In my experience, those who say that John 6 is not about the Supper are saying that because they do not believe in the Supper. They think that Jesus' words about eating His flesh and drinking His blood are only a metaphor for having faith in Him, and that this Man does not, in fact, give us His flesh for food.

To the contrary, St John Chrysostom writes:
For when questioning concerning the "how" comes in, there comes in with it unbelief. So Nicodemus was perplexed, saying, "How can a man enter into his mother's womb?" In the same way, these men are confounded, saying, "How can this man give us his flesh to eat?"

If you seek to know the "how", why did you not ask this about the loaves, how He extended five to so great a number? Because at that time they thought only of being satisfied, not of seeing the miracle. But, one might say that their experience then taught them. Then because of that experience, these words ought to have been readily received. This is why He wrought beforehand that strange miracle, so that being taught by it they might no longer disbelieve what He would say afterwards.

Those men then at that time reaped no fruit from what was said, but we have enjoyed the benefit in the very realities. For this reason it is necessary to understand the marvel of the Mysteries, what it is, why it was given, and what is the profit of the action. We become one Body, and "members of His flesh and of His bones." Let the initiated follow what I say. In order then that we may become this not by love only, but in very deed, let us be blended into that flesh. This is effected by the food which He has freely given us, desiring to show the love which He has for us. On this account He has mixed Himself up with us; He has kneaded up His body with ours, that we might be a certain One Thing, like a body joined to a head.
(Hom. 46; Jn 6.41-49)

It was not given to the Jews to whom Christ spoke to know the "how"; but it is given to us who are in Christ: we have enjoyed the benefit in the very realities. For this reason it is necessary to understand the marvel of the Mysteries, what it is, why it was given, and what is the profit of the action ... let the initiated follow what I say.

Erich Heidenreich, DDS said...

Pr. Jon C. Bischof (remember him from Lutherquest, Pr. Weedon?) presented his STM thesis at St. Louis in May, 1999, on John 6 and the Lord's Supper. I have a copy of it. It's 147 pages and quite good. He concludes that:

"...we should teach that John 6:51-58 speaks of the benefits of believing reception of the Lord's Supper."

He also makes the argument that:

"Luther's admission that he did not understand the grammar of John 6:62 and his habitual use of the Latin text leads us to the conclusion that he probably had no knowledge of the function of the kai...dé (sorry, I can't do Greek on blogger) conjunction in John 6:51. We cannot speculate whether this knowledge would have changed Luther's interpretation, but certainly no interpretation can be any better than the text on which it is based. The Vulgate does not reflect an accurate translation of this conjunction."

Anonymous said...


DO you have the copy of said thesis electronically? Could you share that?

I would love to read it!

If you can, I can be emailed at mbowers@mailctp.com


Erich Heidenreich, DDS said...

No, I'm sorry. I don't have it electronically, nor can I share it. I had to purchase it. But I can't even find the link to the company that sells these. But I can tell you that Rev. Jon Bischof's email address is jonbischof-at-hotmail-dot-com. I'm sure he could provide you with the method of procuring a copy.

Anonymous said...


THank you for your reply!

Matt B.

Erich Heidenreich, DDS said...

Here's the link if anyone's still interested! The digital e-Doc is $14.70. It's worth the price. :-)

BISCHOF, Jon C., John 6 And The Lord's Supper.