Apologetics for the Masses #328 - A Question About the Eucharist - Jesus or Symbol

Bible Christian Society


     While Jesus truly told people to eat His flesh and drink His blood, what we partake of is, according to the Bible, still bread (1 Corinthians 11:26-28), and not literally flesh.

     After Jesus said, “This is My blood,” it was still literally ‘fruit of the vine’, and not literal blood (Matthew 26:29).  To say that there was a change in substance is to claim that both the inspired apostle Paul and our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ were either wrong or lying.

     Please accept these words in the spirit in which they were intended, an attempt to correct a mistake – the same purpose as your website.


     In Christian service,



Dear Timothy,

Regarding your contention that the Apologetics 101-18 tract on my website is not accurate, I would have to say that your interpretation of those passages from Scripture is where the problem lies here.

Let’s look at Matthew 26:29, “I tell you I shall not drink again of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.” Your interpretation is that since Jesus said “this” fruit of the vine, then the wine was still wine, not His blood. If it was His blood, then He wouldn’t have called it the “fruit of the vine.” Thus, making Catholic teaching opposed to the clear words of Scripture. Right?

Well, the problem is that you are not taking all of Scripture into account, and you are obviously not aware of what takes place at a Passover meal…the meal Jesus and the Apostles were eating.

First, a little background on the Passover meal. During the meal, four cups of wine are passed around and everyone in attendance drinks from each of these four cups. So, keep that in mind…four cups of wine.

Now, let’s look at Luke 22:17-20, “And He took a cup, and when He had given thanks He said, ‘Take this, and divide it among yourselves; for I tell you that from now on I shall not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.’ And He took bread, and when He had given thanks He broke it and gave it to them, saying, ‘This is My body which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of Me.’ And likewise the cup after supper, saying, ‘This cup which is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.’”

What do we see from Luke? We have a better picture of the order in which things were said and done at the Last Supper than we have in either Mark or Matthew, don’t we? We actually see that Jesus said, “I shall not drink again of the fruit of the vine,” after the second cup of wine. (We know it was the 2nd cup because in the Passover Meal, you drink the 2nd cup before the bread is eaten, and then you drink the 3rd cup at the end of the meal – which is exactly how Luke describes it.)

Then, after supper, the third cup of wine, the Cup of Blessing it is called, was the cup that Jesus said was being poured out as a new covenant in His blood. So, it wasn’t the cup of wine that had been turned into His blood that Jesus spoke of when He said He will not drink again of the fruit of the vine, it was the 2nd cup that he said those words about. So, your interpretation of this passage is an uninformed interpretation, and it is an interpretation that causes Scripture to contradict itself. Which we know can’t happen, therefore, your interpretation must be wrong.

Now, you might say, "Well, Jesus must have said those words both after He drank from the 2nd cup and after He drank from the 3rd cup, because in Matthew it clearly has Jesus saying those words after the 3rd cup. Well, Jesus could not have said those words after both the 2nd and 3rd cup. That would make Jesus a liar, wouldn’t it? I mean, if He said He wouldn’t drink again of the fruit of the vine after He drank of the 2nd cup, and then He drank some of the 3rd cup and said it again, well…that wouldn’t make much sense, would it? If He said it after drinking the 2nd cup, then He wouldn’t have had any wine from the 3rd cup, right?! And, if he didn’t have any wine from the 3rd cup, why say that He will not drink of the fruit of the vine “again,” until some later date? Makes no sense.

It seems that there is a contradiction, but there really isn’t, if you are familiar with the fact that things in the Gospels were not necessarily recorded in chronological order. Recording things along a nice and neat linear timeline was not necessarily a concern of the sacred writers, and wasn’t a concern for most folks in the Middle East 2000 years ago. Our Western, 21st century minds just naturally assume that if you are going to record an historical event, that you record it in chronological order. But, that’s not necessarily how the folks of that time thought. They were interested in recording the events, but not necessarily the chronology of the events. For example, in Luke 2, we see Jesus being taken to the Temple within a few weeks of His birth. After leaving the Temple, it appears He and His family go straight to Nazareth. But, is that the way it happened? Couldn’t have been, because we know from Matthew’s Gospel that they went into Egypt for a period of time out of fear of Herod. Yet, nowhere is that sojourn in Egypt mentioned in Luke. It seems they go straight from Jerusalem to Nazareth. Why? Because Luke wasn’t trying to give a nice neat linear timeline of events.

Knowing this about the Gospel writers, it becomes clear that in order to reconcile the seeming discrepancy between Matthew and Luke on the timing of Jesus’ statement, we have to go with Jesus saying those words about not drinking of the fruit of the vine after the 2nd cup, rather than the 3rd cup. This is because Luke’s account of this particular event is much more specific as to the timing of Jesus’ statement than Matthew’s Gospel is. In Matthew, Jesus’ statement comes after Matthew talks about the distribution of the 3rd cup, but it doesn’t say, specifically, that the statement was made by Jesus after passing around the 3rd cup. Luke, however, is very specific as to the timing of the statement.

Now, one could make the argument that rather than Matthew inserting that statement into the account in a non-linear fashion, that it was Luke who had done that. That is indeed a valid argument. But, again, Luke’s account is much more specific as to the timing than Matthew’s, and, in general, one would go with the account that has the more details as being more accurate…in terms of the actual order of events. However, we obviously cannot “prove” it either way. But, the weight of evidence appears to be on the side of Jesus speaking those words after the 2nd cup, not the 3rd.


But, either way, your argument that Matthew 26:29 disproves the teachings of the Catholic Church is reduced to mere interpretative speculation on your part, rather than something that could be termed as cold hard fact.

But, let’s say, for argument’s sake, that Jesus did say those words in reference to the 3rd cup. So what? Doesn’t Jesus refer to Himself as the TRUE vine at the Last Supper (John 15:1)? So, when He said the words “this” fruit of the vine, would He not then be referring to His blood, if He indeed is the true vine? In other words, your fallible interpretation of this verse is just that…a fallible interpretation.

Now, regarding Paul and the passage from 1 Cor 11:26-28. His use of the word “bread,” you claim, makes Catholic teaching null and void. But, what about His use of the term “body” and the term “blood”? Does that not then make your claim null and void? How can someone be guilty of profaning the body and blood of the Lord, if it isn’t the body and blood of the Lord? And, furthermore, how can one discern the body of the Lord, if it isn’t the body of the Lord? How can you discern something that isn’t there?

The fact of the matter is, that after the consecration of the bread and the wine, they still appear to be bread and wine. Therefore, it is not stretching the bounds of reason to believe that Paul would refer to them as such while also then referring to them as the body and blood of the Lord, to reiterate to folks that what they see as bread and wine, are actually the body and blood of the Lord.

Basically, it comes down to the fact that when Jesus says, “This is My body,” I say, “Yes, Lord, I believe you.” You say, “No, Lord, it’s not.”

And, when you throw in the passages from John 6:51 and following, where Jesus repeats Himself as He does like nowhere else in the Gospels, that we must eat His Body and drink His blood, and that His body and blood are real food and real drink…well, that is pretty much Katy barred the door, from a scriptural perspective. And that isn’t even getting into the witness of the early Church regarding this.

Sorry, but, again, yours is merely a fallible interpretation which is not supported by Scripture when looked at as a whole, and which is not supported by the witness of the early Christians, and which is not supported by the witness of the Church.

One question: Look at John 6:51. The bread which Jesus is talking about giving us to eat, is the flesh that He will give for the life of the world, right? When did He give His flesh for the life of the world? On the cross, right? So, if Jesus is speaking symbolically in John 6 – He wants us to eat His symbolic flesh and drink His symbolic blood, then it seems He must have given us only symbolic flesh on the cross, and it must have only been symbolic blood shed on the cross, right? I mean, He’s talking about giving us to eat His flesh that He will give for the life of the world. If, therefore, He’s talking about giving us His symbolic flesh to eat, then it must have only been His symbolic flesh hanging on the cross, not the real thing…right?

God bless!

John Martignoni

Apologetics for the Masses