The Gift Giver of John 6
by Frank Jerry
The 6th Chapter of John has always been a strong witness in favor of the Catholic Dogma of Transubstantiation. Many non-Catholics, including James White, have found this Catholic Dogma hard to accept. On his website, White writes:
John 6:35 Then Jesus declared, "I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty. Jesus says that He is the bread of life. Obviously, as we will see, this is connected with what comes later in regards to the manna in the wilderness.On an apologetic basis, we need to remember the importance of this passage in dealing with Rome's misuse of the passage. That is, Rome tries to make John 6:50ff to present transubstantiation. However, the key to the entire passage is right here: the first reference to eating and food is CLEARLY spiritual.
Mr. White is partially correct.
Jesus IS speaking spiritually in verse 35 when He
speaks of Himself as the OBJECT of faith under the image
of food and drink. Using food in a figurative sense to signify
the nourishment received from doctrines was common in the Old
Testament and therefore easily comprehended by His listeners.
Prov.9:5: "Come, eat my bread, and drink the wine which I have mingled for you."
Ecclesiasticus 15:3: "With the bread of life and understanding, she shall feed him, and give him the water of wholesome wisdom to drink: and she shall be made strong in him, and he shall not be moved"
In fact, from verse 26 through verse 51, the necessity of believing in Him is the main point of Jesus' teaching. But here is what Mr. White and many other Protestants miss. When these terms are used figuratively as we just saw in verse 35, they are used in relation to "food" given by THE FATHER.
32 Then Jesus said to them: Amen, amen I say to you; Moses gave you not bread from heaven, but my FATHER GIVETH YOU THE TRUE BREAD from heaven.
66 And he said: Therefore did I say to you, that no man can come to me, unless it be given him BY MY FATHER.
Faith in Christ is necessary to have eternal life and we can only receive this gift from the Father.
Matt16:16 Simon Peter answered and said: Thou art Christ, the Son of the living God. 17 And Jesus answering, said to him: Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-Jona: because flesh and blood hath not revealed it to thee, but my Father who is in heaven.
Starting in verse 48, we see a critical transition though from a figurative sense to a literal sense when speaking of this bread from heaven. When we reach verse 52, we notice that now Jesus speaks about food which HE WOULD GIVE.
52 If any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever; and the bread that I WILL GIVE, is my flesh, for the life of the world.
This distinction in gift givers naturally means a difference in gifts or it would be pointless to make the distinction in the first place. It is here where Christ begins speaking literally about giving and consuming his body and blood and even uses a different and much stronger verb meaning to munch or gnaw in order to emphasize this fact. It is also here where some of his followers leave him. James White, along with others, have followed along with these first protesters. The Catholic Church on the other hand has followed Peter's example and repeats with him:
"Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life. And we have believed and have known, that thou art the Christ, the Son of God."
The Catholic Legate
October 26, 2005