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Author Topic: John 6:63 - Real presence of Christ in the Eucharist  (Read 2109 times) Average Rating: 0
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Chacci
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« on: June 30, 2005, 04:41:08 PM »

Hello Everyone,

Long time reader…first time poster.

I have found the discussions on this board very edifying to my understanding of Orthodox Christianity.  I am hoping that someone here with a good understanding of biblical exegesis and the writings of our Holy Fathers can help me with my question. ÂÂ

In past conversations with Protestants about the real presence of Our Lord Jesus Christ in the Eucharist they have quoted John 6:63 — “It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, [they] are spirit, and [they] are life.”

The argument goes something like this - Jesus was only speaking symbolically when he said “..my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed.” ÂÂ  They use John 6:63 as a proof point, interpreting it as saying Jesus’ words are what gives life… material things are of no benefit and thus Jesus was speaking symbolically when he spoke about his flesh being food — food being a material thing. ÂÂ What is the Orthodox understanding of this scripture?

If this has already been previously brought up and answered.. I apologize and ask someone to point me to the correct place.

In Christ,

Chacci
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EkhristosAnesti
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« Reply #1 on: June 30, 2005, 05:00:57 PM »

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In past conversations with Protestants about the real presence of Our Lord Jesus Christ in the Eucharist they have quoted John 6:63 — “It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, [they] are spirit, and [they] are life.”


The traps these Protestants get themselves into! Let me point out the blatant irony for the Protestants who want to interpret the whole John 6 discourse as figurative speech: John 6:63 is speaking figuratively!

"The flesh" that Christ speaks of, is flesh in the sense of our lustful, sinful human nature. The spirit therefore is the life-giving Grace; which is consistently juxtaposed against "the flesh" throughout the Biblical text: SeeÂÂ  Romans 7:5-6-25, 8:1-14, Matthew 26:41, 2 Corinthians 7:1, 1 Corinthians 5:5,ÂÂ  Galatians 3:3, 4:29, 5:13-26, 1 Peter 3:18, 4:6. I would like to point out 1 OT passage also; in Genesis 6:2, after seeing the lust of the sons of God with the daughters of Cain, The Lord said: "My Spirit will not contend with man forever, for he is flesh"; St John Chrysostom immediately recognises the connection between the sons of Gods sexually driven actions, and their identification as mere "flesh".

The following link presents a number of succint and simple answers to Protestant objections of this sort from a Coptic Orthodox perspective: http://www.suscopts.org/messages/lectures/sacrament12.pdf

Regarding this particular issue, it states more or less what I have stated:

Quote
ÃÂ  Some people become confused by what Lord Jesus Christ said after the disciples complained. He said, “It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life” (Jn 6:63). They mistakenly think that this is proof that Lord Jesus Christ is saying that He only means that the disciples will eat His Flesh and drink His Blood spiritually and not literally. But it is illogical that the Lord would say that His Flesh “profits nothing” (useless) after saying that it gives life (v 53). Rather, Lord Jesus Christ is not talking about His Flesh, but about their flesh. He is telling the unbelieving disciples that they cannot grasp or come to His blessed teaching on the Eucharist by their senses or their flesh which “profits nothing” for this purpose, but only through faith or Spirit.

Source: http://www.suscopts.org/messages/lectures/sacrament12.pdf

Peace.
« Last Edit: June 30, 2005, 05:04:58 PM by EkhristosAnesti » Logged

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« Reply #2 on: June 30, 2005, 05:27:13 PM »

EA made an excellent response regarding the differnce between the "flesh" which "profits nothing" and His flesh which He gives for the life of the world.  Let me also add, as an (unofficial) ex-Protestant who used to employ the same Protestant argumentation, that Christ said His words were "spirit", not "symbol".  "Spirit" and "symbol" are not synonyms, or else God (who is Spirit) and the angels (who are spirits) would just be symbols or metaphors, which obviously isn't the case.
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« Reply #3 on: June 30, 2005, 05:36:08 PM »

1 Corinthians 10:16
The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the Blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the Body of Christ?

1 Corinthians 11:27
Wherefore whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the Body and Blood of the Lord.

1 Corinthians 11:29
For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord's body.
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« Reply #4 on: June 30, 2005, 05:40:16 PM »

1 Corinthians 10:16
The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the Blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the Body of Christ?

1 Corinthians 11:27
Wherefore whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the Body and Blood of the Lord.

1 Corinthians 11:29
For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord's body.


You see,even sola scriptura protestants have no excuse.
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« Reply #5 on: June 30, 2005, 06:06:52 PM »

The disrespect towards Our Lord in his Most Blessed Sacrament is one of the main reasons why I cannot remain within the Church of England.  I went into the Real Presence a little bit here.  If you can bear reading it, please tell me what you think of it as an argument for the Real Presence.
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« Reply #6 on: June 30, 2005, 07:18:32 PM »

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The disrespect towards Our Lord in his Most Blessed Sacrament is one of the main reasons why I cannot remain within the Church of England.

Be glad you aren't a Canadian Anglican. For one thing, they give use wine and, get this, grape juice.

Y'know, belief in the Real Prescense really narrows down the choices as to who is the "Real Church." So there's Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, Catholics... some more in there (patrially: Anglicans, Lutherans, but only the Church of Sweden has valid orders, and there might be some more).
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« Reply #7 on: June 30, 2005, 09:47:10 PM »

Y'know, belief in the Real Prescense really narrows down the choices as to who is the "Real Church."

Exactly.  This is THE reason I left Protestantism.
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« Reply #8 on: June 30, 2005, 10:01:30 PM »

It is just amazing how people that constantly carry on how they "follow Bible alone", tend to have anti-scriptural views.

They all say that they take Bible LITERALLY, until you point out something that "they take figuratively".

Just how, do you read bible if everything is literall unless you disagree with it?

It is just beyond me.

"Bible alone" is the bigest travesty since...well you name it.

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EkhristosAnesti
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« Reply #9 on: June 30, 2005, 10:18:49 PM »

Michael,

I must admit, I have only skimmed the work on your website due to time constraints; It seems great, allow me to just comment on a random quote:

Quote
The word that we poorly translate as ‘remembrance/memory’ in English, in the Greek scriptures, is anamnesis. This is not a simple remembering, such as remembering where one has left one’s keys, but actually means a making present in the here and now, events of the past.

What’s interesting about the word amenesis is that each and every instance it is employed in the Biblical text, it is done so in a sacraficial context — take Hebrew 10:3 for example, where St Paul refers to the sacrafices of the Old Testament performed as a yearly anamesis of the people’s sins. The “remembrance” aspect of the Eucharist is thus not as the Protestants would have us believe — an indication that it is no more than a memorial meal - but rather the result we wish to achieve from the very performance of the memorial scarafice/offering of the Body and Blood of Christ. Protestant scholar Jeremias even concedes to this point:

Quote
"The command….may be translated: Do this, so that God may remember me.' How is this to be understood? Here an old Passover prayer is illuminates. On the Passover evening there is a prayer that is inserted into the 3rd benediction of the grace proceeding the meal, which asks God to remember the Messiah. . . . In this very common prayer…the Jews petition God at every Passover concerning 'the remembrance of His Messiah'" (The Eucharistic Words of Jesus, page 252)

So basically we can understand the Eucharist as a memorial sacrifice/offering, prompting God to remember the sacrifice that He performed through His Christ, and hence beseeching Him for that infinite Mercy and Love of His that was manifest on the Cross.

I know this isn’t directly relevant to the issue of divine presence; however I have never heard of any Protestant sect that acknowledges the sacrificial nature of the Eucharist without acknowledging the divine presence.

Peace.
« Last Edit: June 30, 2005, 10:22:46 PM by EkhristosAnesti » Logged

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« Reply #10 on: July 01, 2005, 12:42:51 AM »

Thanks for the great replies! 

I wanted to verify my less-than-a-kindergarten level understanding of Greek.  I believe the word for "flesh" in this particular passage is the object.. That is you should understand the passage as saying "the flesh does not profit" not "the flesh is not profitable".  Anyone with better handle on Greek care to validate me?

In Christ,
Chacci
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« Reply #11 on: July 01, 2005, 02:01:00 PM »

I wanted to verify my less-than-a-kindergarten level understanding of Greek.ÂÂ  I believe the word for "flesh" in this particular passage is the object.. That is you should understand the passage as saying "the flesh does not profit" not "the flesh is not profitable".ÂÂ  Anyone with better handle on Greek care to validate me?

Could you perhaps clarify what semantic distinction you see between the "the flesh profits [nothing]" and "the flesh is not profitable [at all]"?




(And augh... Scott Baio, off my screen! Wink )
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« Reply #12 on: July 01, 2005, 02:53:29 PM »

This is what I was thinking..

One could read the passage one of two ways...at least in my world:

The Protest-ant way - The flesh (The literal body and blood of Jesus) is not profitable... as in Jesus is only speaking figuratively

or

It (the Eucharist) doesn't profit the flesh.. rather it profits the spirit... as in the point of the  Eucharistic meal is not for bodily nourishment but rather for spiritual nourishment. 

I may be way off base here.. wouldn't be the first time.  Grin

My deepest apologies for the picture of Chacci but I am who I am and that's all that I am!!

Thanks and God bless,

In Christ,
Chacci
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« Reply #13 on: July 01, 2005, 02:58:22 PM »

Missing the whole point, of course, as EA stated, which is that Christ speaks not of HIS flesh, but of flesh--also called a lot of other places the passions--meaning the things we struggle with that detriment the spirit, for of course the physical flesh is good-God created it.
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« Reply #14 on: July 01, 2005, 03:15:10 PM »

The first reading is untenable, especially in light of verses 53-56--but then, we knew that. The second reading is really somewhat far-fetched, as the plain grammatical sense of the text is that *the flesh* profits nothing. But this flesh can't be the Divine Body, as we know, and this it must be something else--as EA noted, our sinful nature (the passions). (This is also the technical meaning of the term in the Pauline epistles.)

Here is St John Chrysostom's commentary on the passage:

     His meaning is, “Ye must hear spiritually what relateth to Me, for he who heareth carnally is
not profited, nor gathereth any advantage.” It was carnal to question how He came down from
heaven, to deem that He was the son of Joseph, to ask, “How can he give us His flesh to eat?” All
this was carnal, when they ought to have understood the matter in a mystical and spiritual sense.
“But,” saith some one, “how could they understand what the ‘eating flesh’ might mean?” Then it
was their duty to wait for the proper time and enquire, and not to abandon Him.

     “The words that I speak unto you, they are spirit and they are life.”

     That is, they are divine and spiritual, have nothing carnal about them, are not subject to the
laws of physical consequence, but are free from any such necessity, are even set above the laws
appointed for this world, and have also another and a different meaning. Now as in this passage
He said “spirit,” instead of “spiritual,” so when He speaketh of “flesh,” He meant not “carnal
things,” but “carnally hearing,” and alluding at the same time to them, because they ever desired
carnal things when they ought to have desired spiritual. For if a man receives them carnally, he
profits nothing. “What then, is not His flesh, flesh?” Most certainly. “How then saith He, that the
flesh profiteth nothing?” He speaketh not of His own flesh, (God forbid!) but of those who received
His words in a carnal manner. But what is “understanding carnally”? It is looking merely to what
is before our eyes, without imagining anything beyond. This is understanding carnally. But we
must not judge thus by sight, but must look into all mysteries with the eyes within. This is seeing
spiritually. He that eateth not His flesh, and drinketh not His blood, hath no life in him. How then
doth “the flesh profit nothing,” if without it we cannot live? Seest thou that the words, “the flesh
profiteth nothing,” are spoken not of His own flesh, but of carnal hearing?
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« Reply #15 on: July 01, 2005, 03:18:25 PM »

Missing the whole point, of course, as EA stated, which is that Christ speaks not of HIS flesh, but of flesh--also called a lot of other places the passions--meaning the things we struggle with that detriment the spirit, for of course the physical flesh is good-God created it.

Yeah, that. Grin Simultaneous posting is the bane of my soul!
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« Reply #16 on: July 01, 2005, 03:29:05 PM »

I was talking to a priest recently, and he said that what is important is that the gthering and the prayers of the people are gathered to do the work of God.  As to the "fomula" of the presence, we have many, many writings of the fathers and proof in miracles that show the presence is there.  But as to how iti is the presence, the answer is "We dont know how.  We know simply that it is by Go's blessing and by movement of the Holy Spirit."  We simply know it is.  If we have faith, we need no other explanation.  In cases like this, and even in our spiritual lives, we need to be humble and say "I belive Lord.  Help my unbelief " should doubt threaten to overtake us. ÂÂ

Many try to make umpteen explanations.  The faithful will simply say "Thy will be done" and trust what was given us from the beginning.  We have always belived in the Real Presence.  Thats good enough for me.


Peace


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