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John 6 more consistent with Catholic interpretation

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 6/13/2014 Category: Religion
Updated: 2 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 649 times Debate No: 56542
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John 6:53
"Jesus said to them, "Very truly I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. 54Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day. 55For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. 56Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in them. 57Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on me will live because of me. 58This is the bread that came down from heaven. Your ancestors ate manna and died, but whoever feeds on this bread will live forever.""

The catholics teach that Jesus was indicating the beginning of the Lord's supper, where the catholics partake of Jesus's literal flesh and blood, even though it looks like bread and wine. Transubstantiation.

support: "when we consider the language used by John, a literal interpretation"however disturbing"becomes even more obvious. In John 6:50-53 we encounter various forms of the Greek verb phago, "eating." However, after the Jews begin to express incredulity at the idea of eating Christ"s flesh, the language begins to intensify. In verse 54, John begins to use trogo instead of phago. Trogo is a decidedly more graphic term, meaning "to chew on" or to "gnaw on""as when an animal is ripping apart its prey.
Then, in verse 61, it is no longer the Jewish multitudes, but the disciples themselves who are having difficulty with these radical statements of our Lord. Surely, if he were speaking symbolically, he would clear up the difficulty now among his disciples. Instead, what does Jesus do?"
"...our Lord turns to the twelve. What he does not say to them is perhaps more important than what he does say. He doesn"t say, "Hey guys, I was misleading the Jewish multitudes, the disciples, and everyone else, but now I am going to tell you alone the simple truth: I was speaking symbolically." Rather, he says to them, "Will you also go away?" (v. 67). This most profound question from our Lord echoes down through the centuries, calling all followers of Christ in a similar fashion. With St. Peter, those who hear the voice of the Shepherd respond: "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life" (v. 68)."

Jesus was known to clear up difficult teachings with the apostles when he was alone with them. here, though, after the jews clearly understood him literally, and left, he just asked the apostles if they wanted to leave too.

so how do you respond to that, and to the Greek uses of the word "eat"? and overall, how do you respond?


The resolution reads that "John 6 [is] more consistent with [the] Catholic interpretation," and since "more" is a comparison word, I'll defend the reformed view against the Catholic view.

John 6 begins with the feeding of the 5000. The next day, the same crowd looked for Jesus who said, "You seek me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate the loaves, and were filled" (6:26), i.e. they just wanted more food. Jesus said, "Do not work for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to eternal life" (6:27). They asked what works they should do, and Jesus said, "This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent" (6:29). So believing in Jesus is what leads to eternal life.

The crowd asked for a sign, mentioning the miracle of bread from heaven. Jesus said the Father "gives you the true bread out of heaven," and "the bread of God" that comes from heaven "gives life to the world" (vs. 32-33). The crowd, requests this bread to always be given to them. Jesus responded, "I am the bread of life. He who comes to me shall not hunger, and he who believes in me shall never thirst."

Jesus' use of the words, "hunger" and "thirst" do not refer to physical hunger and thirst, but rather the satisfaction of eternal life. "Come to me" and "believe in me" both mean the same thing. Jesus is telling them that those who believe in him will have eternal life, which is the consistent view throughout the New Testament (e.g. John 3:16). By calling himself the "bread of life," Jesus was telling them that he is the source of eternal life, and it is to Jesus that people must come in order to have it. So "eating the bread of life" means the same thing as "believing in Jesus." There is a strong parallel in John 4:14-15.

In verse 26, Jesus says that even though the crowd had seen him, they did not believe. Then he explains why. He says, "All that the Father gives me shall come to me" (6:37) The reason the crowd did not believe in Jesus is because they were not given to Jesus by the Father. If they had been given to Jesus by the Father, then they would come to Jesus.

Jesus says the reason he came down from heaven is to do the Father's will, which is that of all the Father gave to Jesus, Jesus lose none, but raise them up on the last day. In other words, Jesus' job was to give eternal life to all of those the Father gave him, and not lose any. Then he says, "For this is the will of My Father, that everyone who beholds the Son and believes in him may have eternal life; and I myself will raise him up on the last day" (6:40).

Jesus' meaning in these verses is plain. The Father gives some people to Jesus. Those people will come to Jesus and believe in him. Jesus will raise those people to eternal life. So the whole discourse about Jesus being the bread of life is simply saying that Jesus is the source of eternal life, and eating the bread of life means believing in Jesus.

The crowd objects to Jesus saying he came from heaven. Jesus responded by saying, "Do not grumble among yourselves. No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him, and I will raise him up on the last day" (6:44). Remember earlier that Jesus had explained their unbelief by saying all the Father had given him would come to him believing, and Jesus would raise them up on the last day. So the group of people given to Jesus in verse 37 are the same group of people drawn by the Father in verse 44. So Jesus is again explaining their unbelief. The reason they don't believe in Jesus is because the Father has neither given them to Jesus nor drawn them.

Now look carefully at what Jesus says from verse 47 to 51. He says, "Truly truly, I say to you, he who believes has eternal life. I am the bread of life. . . I am the living bread that came down out of heaven; if anyone eats of this bread, he shall live forever; and the bread also which I shall give for the life of the world is my flesh." Jesus is clearly equating "he who believes has eternal life" with "if anyone eats of this bread, he shall live forever." So eating the bread of life is being used as a metaphor for believing in Jesus.

Again, the crowd objects to Jesus giving his flesh to eat. Jesus did not all of a sudden stop talking about believing in him for eternal life and begin talking about eating his flesh for eternal life. He just continues to use the metaphor. He says, "He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day" (6:54). Remember that in verse 40 he had said that "everyone who beholds the Son and believes in him may have eternal life; and I myself will raise him up on the last day." The parallel between these two verses makes it plain that eating Jesus flesh and drinking his blood mean the same thing as beholding Jesus and believing in him. After all, they both result in eternal life, and Jesus will raise them up on the last day.

The crowd persists in grumbling because, no doubt, they mistake Jesus to be speaking literally about eating his flesh and drinking his blood. They have not understood what Jesus said about believing in Jesus for eternal life. They are hung up on Jesus' use of the eating metaphor.

Jesus then says, "It is the spirit who gives life the flesh counts for nothing; the words that I have spoken to you are spirit and are life. But there are some of you who do not believe" (vs. 63-64). If Jesus has meant that literally eating his flesh is what gives eternal life, he would not have turned right around and said, "the flesh counts for nothing." Jesus points to his words as being spirit and life and points out that there are some in the crowd who do not believe his words. So again, it is belief in Jesus that leads to eternal life, not literally eating him.

Next he says, "For this reason [i.e. since they don't believe in him, 6:64] I have said to you, that no one can one to me unless it has been granted him from the Father" (6:65). Again, Jesus is explaining their unbelief. This whole passage is about belief in Jesus for eternal life. The reason some come to Jesus for eternal life and others don't is because it is granted to some people by the Father, but it is not granted to others.

After Jesus had said these things, a lot of people walked away, and Jesus said to the 12, "You do not want to go away also, do you?" Jesus knew they weren't going to go away because he knew they believed in him. And Peter responded just as we would expect. He said, "You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed and have come to know that you are the Holy One of God." Peter was interested in Jesus' words, and expressed belief in Jesus because he had been given and drawn to Jesus by the Father, and the Father granted that he should believe in Jesus.

Problems with the Catholic interpretation:

1. It destroys Jesus' flow of thought. From beginning to end, it is about believing in Jesus for eternal life and explaining why some do and some don't.

2. It makes nonsense of the claim that those who believe in Jesus will have eternal life and makes salvation about eating.

3. If taken literally, Jesus' statements would entail the reverse of what Catholics actually believe. Instead of bread turning into the flesh of Jesus, you'd have Jesus turning into a loaf of bread.

4. Even if taken literally, nothing Jesus said in this discourse could lead anybody to believe it had anything to do with turning bread and wine into the body and blood of Jesus.

Pro makes two arguments for why we should understand John 6 in the Catholic way. First, she points out that Jesus switches from using phago to using trogo. A metaphor doesn't stop being a metaphor just because it becomes more graphic.

Second, she points out that Jesus didn't explain himself more clearly to the 12 after everybody else walked away. But Peter's response reveals that he already understood Jesus to be talking about belief in Jesus for eternal life.
Debate Round No. 1


dairygirl4u2c forfeited this round.


Let it be known that my opponent has forfeited round 2. Extend all arguments.
Debate Round No. 2


merely stating that believing in Jesus is doing the work of God, doesn't mean Jesus wasn't being literal. if you believe in him, you will do what he teaches. and we are discussing his teachings, an they seem to say something about eating his flesh etc.
looking at the verse con gives establishes little to nothing. same goes for the other stuff, like thirst etc being used metaphorically elsewhere. maybe, but it doesn't say anything about it here. we just have to look at what was said and the reactions as proof.

con says it is plain that Jesus was speaking symbolically, due to him leading up the conversation with symbolic sounding language. however, he could have just been leading up to a literal teaching. con argues it was plain, even after con admitted that Jesus continued in literal sounding language. how can it be clear if Jesus is doing that?

Jesus when he asked the twelve if they wanted to leave to, seemed to be going along with it in the vein of 'they left cause of my teaching, will you too?" it says more that he doesn't change anything, he just asks if they will leave too. all that can be said of them not leaving, is that they have been convinced, no matter what we think of it being literal or not, or what they would think.. bottom-line is they are convinced.
if Jesus meant to switch his teaching by saying "the flesh profits nothing". it doesn't looks like the apostles understood that, and it's obvious and seems to be admitted by con that the crowd didn't understand. how can we understand Jesus's words as plain in saying what con argues, if no one seems to take it that way when he, supposedly, talking plainly that way?
it would make more sense that Jesus meant something else by the flesh profit nothing. maybe perhaps, you can't think of these things carnally for them to make sense. even catholics would go for that interpretation.

con argues a literal interpreation destroys the flow of thought. it could be argued to strengththen his flow of thought. especially leading into the literal language. but also at the end, it's most consistent to show what everyone understood and would e more destructive of Jesus's thoughts, to act like he's plain about things no one understands him as.

con says it doesn't matter than Jesus switched to a more graphic form of eat. arguably, but does it support his view more or mine, if he does do it? obviously it supports mine. it would be pointless, and in fact counter productive, to switch to a more graphic use.
it's best to conclude that if he did it, he did it for a reason.


I want you to notice the difference between my presentation and Pro's presentation. I went through the whole of John 6, explaining as I went along so that you could see Jesus' flow of thought and see how each part of his discourse was connected with the next part, and how it shed light on the interpretation. Pro merely talking about one small part of John 6 without explaining how it fit into the broader context of John 6, and how it fit into Jesus' whole argument. Remember that the resolution for the debate is that John 6 is more consistent with a Catholic interpretation. Even if it had been just about the small part of John 6, we needed the rest of the context in order to understand it.

From the very beginning of the bread of life discourse, Jesus was talking about belief in him for eternal life. He explained that the reason some came to him, believing, and others didn't, is because some people were given to him by the Father, and some weren't. Some are drawn to the Father, and some aren't. The Father granted some to believe but not others. Jesus repeats this point three times in the bread of life discourse. So the passage is clearly about belief in Jesus. Pro didn't talk about any of that.

So why talk about eating Jesus' flesh and drinking his blood if it's really about believing? Well, that's explained at the very beginning of the discourse. Remember what Jesus said. The crowd found him the day after they were all miraculously fed, and Jesus told them the reason they came looking for him was not because they had seen a miracle and therefore believed in Jesus, but because they were fed, and they were hoping to get some more food.

Think about that. Their aim was to get tangible food, like bread. Jesus was trying to point them, not to perishable bread, but to himself. So naturally, he compared himself to bread. Just as in John 4 when he contrasted the water in the well with living water that springs into eternal life, so also in John 6, Jesus contrasted real bread with the living bread from heaven that leads to eternal life, namely, himself. Jesus wasn't talking about literal water or literal bread. He was talking about himself as the source of eternal life. He used water as a metaphor in John 4 because the woman went to the well seeking water, and he used bread as a metaphor in John 6 because the crowd sought out Jesus because they wanted some bread.

The entire New Testament witnesses that we gain eternal life by believing in Jesus. There is nowhere in the New Testament where it says that to have eternal life, we should eat Jesus. Rather, it says to have eternal life, we must place our faith in Jesus, believing in him, etc.

We know that Jesus was speaking metaphorically when telling the crowd they must eat him to have eternal life because he says the exact same thing about believing in him.

John 6:40 "For this is the will of My Father, that everyone who beholds the Son and believes in him may have eternal life; and I myself will raise him up on the last day."

John 6:47 "Truly truly, I say to you, he who believes has eternal life."

John 6:54 "He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day."

It is clear when comparing these verses that "believe in me" and "eat my flesh" mean the same thing because each one of them is said to lead to eternal life, and those who do them will be raised up on the last day.

I brought up four problems with the Catholic interpretation that Pro said little about.

1. It destroyed the flow of thought in the passage since he'd be talking one minute about belief in him for eternal life, then talking instead about eating him for eternal life. Pro said it actually strengths the flow of thought, but she didn't demonstrate it. She didn't even discuss the rest of Jesus' discourse to show us how her interpretation fits Jesus flow of thought.

2. If eternal life can be had merely be eating Jesus, then all the statements about believing in Jesus for eternal life are nonsense. An atheist could eat Jesus.

3. Catholics take Jesus' claim at the last supper that "This is my body" turned the bread into the flesh of Jesus. However, in John 6, Jesus said, "I am the bread of life." If they take that just as literally, it would follow Jesus himself turned into a loaf of bread. But no Catholic thinks Jesus literally turned into a loaf of bread while giving the bread of life discourse. He was clearly not being literal!

4. Jesus talked about eating his flesh and drinking his blood, but he said nothing about turning bread into flesh or wine into blood during the discourse, so there is no way to get the Catholic doctrine of transubstantiation from John 6. If you took Jesus literally, you'd be left with the impression that you were supposed to butcher him and eat him. So the passage doesn't support the Catholic view even if taken literally.

Pro attempts to reconcile believing in Jesus for eternal life with eating Jesus for eternal life by claiming that what we are to believe is Jesus' teaching that we should eat his flesh. Think about that for a minute. To be consistent, that means every place in the New Testament where it says those who believe in Jesus have eternal life really means that those who believe that they should eat Jesus (and do so) will have eternal life. So that's the gospel--that those who eat Jesus will have eternal life. You could just plug "eat Jesus" into John 3:16, and that's what Pro is advocating.

John 3:16 "For God so loved the world that he gave his only son to eat so that whosoever eats him will not perish but have eternal life."

Pro claims that when Jesus asked his disciples whether they would also leave, he was implying that the crowd left because of his teaching, and he wanted to know if the disciples would, too. This doesn't fit the explanation Jesus gave himself for why the crowd left. The reason they left is because they could not believe in Jesus, and the reason they could not believe in Jesus is because the Father did not grant it. When Jesus asked them whether they would leave, too, Peter's response was to say that he believed in Jesus. And notice that he when he expressed belief in Jesus, he expressed belief that Jesus was the holy one of God.

Pro claims that I admitted nobody understood Jesus, but I argued just the opposite. Peter clearly understood Jesus, which is why he expressed belief in Jesus as his explanation for not walking away.

Pro repeats her claim that a more graphic word for "eat" implies a literal eating. I don't see how. If "eat" means "believe," and Jesus wanted to emphasize the depth of faith that one must have in him, it stands to reason that he'd say "chew," like we might ask somebody to chew on our words. We say "chew" to emphasize that we want people to REALLY think about what we're saying.

Pro seems to hang much on the fact that the crowd misunderstood Jesus, and Jesus didn't bother to explain himself. But there was no need to. Jesus explained that they cannot believe in him because it had not been granted by the Father. All that the Father gives to Jesus WILL believe in him, so those not believing in him were not given to him by the Father and therefore are unable to believe in Jesus. In Luke 8:10-11, Jesus said to his disciples, "To you it has been granted to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God, but to the rest it is in parables, so that seeing they may not see, and hearing they may not understand." In other words, Jesus didn't always intend his audience to understand him. He spoke cryptically on purpose so they wouldn't. It shouldn't surprise us that he would do the same thing in John 6, especially considering the fact that he explains WHY they are unable to believe in him in this same passage. Jesus had no intention of getting those people to believe in him because he knew they couldn't.

Thank you for coming to tonight's debate.
Debate Round No. 3
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1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by lannan13 2 years ago
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Total points awarded:05 
Reasons for voting decision: Pro forfeited and had no so great grammar in this debate. Con also gives great explination of the John 6 and his debate arguments have better flow than Pro's.