Transubstantiation ?

When instituting the Lord’s Supper in Matthew 26:26,28, Jesus referred to the bread and fruit of the vine as his body and blood. As many of you know, the Catholic doctrine of “transubstantiation” says Jesus’ wording here means the bread and juice literally changed into Jesus’ body and blood respectively. On this point the Catholic Catechism reads: “’Transubstantiation’ indicates that through the consecration of the bread and … wine there occurs the change of the entire substance of the bread into the substance of the Body of Christ, … the entire substance of the wine into the blood of Christ – even though the appearances … of bread and wine remain.”

This conclusion is a misunderstanding of the text. “This is my body” and “this is my blood” in Matt 26:26,28 are metaphors. A metaphor is defined as “a figure of speech in which one object is likened to another by asserting it to be that other or speaking of it as if it were that other.” Suppose I pointed to a photograph and said “This is my Mother.” To insist it could only mean, “this is actually my Mother,” would be nonsense.

Jesus’ use of metaphors was frequent:

· I am that bread John 6:48, 35a, 51 – was Jesus’ body changed to bread here?

· I am the door of the sheep John 10:7 – was Jesus’ body changed to wood and hinges?

· I am the true vine John 15:1 – was Jesus’ body changed to a literal plant?

· Go ye, and tell that fox (Herod) Luke 13:32 – was Herod literally changed to a fox?

How do we know Jesus is using a metaphor in the communion passages and not speaking literally? Because in Matt 26:29 Jesus called the juice “fruit of the vine” after saying “this is my blood.” Either the juice changed to blood and back to juice, or it never changed at all. Also in I Cor 11:26,27,28 Paul said “as often as ye eat this bread” after it supposedly became Jesus’ literal body. So we eat bread, not His body; and either the bread changed to his body and back to bread, or it never changed at all:

One last point: Jesus’ physical blood was still in his physical body at this point; his body parts did not vanish. He still possessed his body and blood; therefore they were not on the plate or in the drinking vessel.


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