The Divine Lamp

The unfolding of thy words gives light; it imparts understanding to the simple…Make thy face shine upon thy servant, and teach me thy statutes

Father MacIntryre’s Commentary on John 6:51-58

Posted by Dim Bulb on August 14, 2012

Joh 6:51  I am the living bread which came down from heaven. 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.

The bread that I will give, is my flesh (σαρξ). This gift has not yet been given; it is held out in promise. Moreover, the gift is Christ s flesh: most literally the very flesh of Christ not a generic gift as in v. 27 (βρωσιν = food) but that specific flesh which the Word had become, “The Word was made flesh” (John 1:14). Therefore, not the flesh exclusively, but the whole body of Christ (Matt. 26:26; Luke 22:19).

my flesh for the life of the world (υπερ της του κοσμου ζωης). This is the full declaration to which the whole discourse has been gradually leading from the food which perisheth, to the food which endureth to life everlasting; from the food which endureth, to the bread of God, which cometh down from heaven and giveth life to the world; from the bread of God, to Christ Himself personally; from Christ personally, to His flesh for the life of the world. From the outset the general idea has been deepening and growing in definiteness. The giving for the life of the world points to Christ s coming sacrifice (Jn 3:14-17); the giving of Christ s flesh as bread points to the manner of our nourish ment by the saving flesh of Christ. (In the A.V. there is an inauthentic addition, the bread that I will give is My flesh, which I will give for the life of the world. This addition is removed from the text in R.V.). These words must have sounded mysterious to the Jews; none the less did they fail to perceive the substantial idea that Christ was promising to give His flesh as food.

Joh 6:52  The Jews therefore strove among themselves, saying: How can this man give us his flesh to eat?

The Jews therefore strove among themselves ( προς αλληλους); see John 6:41.

How can this man (ουτος = this fellow) give us His flesh to eat? Instead of believing, on the strength of Christ s word, that it could be done, and that the manner of its doing should be left to Christ’s omnipotent wisdom, their souls are lost in vain conjectures about its possibility and the manner of its accomplishment. But faith is the essential condition of life (vv. 29, 35, 36, 40), therefore our Lord insists on belief in the truth, which He at once sets forth in more definite terms (cf. Jn 3:3-5).

Joh 6:53  Then Jesus said to them: Amen, amen, I say unto you: except you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you shall not have life in you.

These words were said in their literal meaning. Even the exuberant and florid imagery of the Oriental imagination has never expressed the simple idea of accepting a teacher’s doctrine by the metaphor of eating and drinking the teacher’s flesh and blood. The words eat my flesh, drink my blood, cannot therefore mean believe in me, accept my doctrine. Whenever the phrase eating a man’s flesh was used, not in its literal, but in a metaphorical sense, it meant to destroy or to injure him (Job 19:22; Ps 27:2; James 5:3). It only remains, therefore, to take the words in their obvious meaning, as the Christian Church has always taken them, and not to “make a riddle what Christ made so plain.” St. Paul in speaking of the heinousness of an unworthy communion says, “Whoso ever shall eat this bread, or drink the chalice of the Lord unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and of the blood of the Lord” (1 Cor 11:27). In these words we see that our Lord is received whole and entire under each form, so that it is not necessary to receive both forms. Christ is not divided; hence, although by force of the words of consecration the bread is changed only into the body of Christ, and the wine only into His blood, yet, by force of union and concomitance, the whole Christ, body, blood, soul, and Divinity, is under each species.

Joh 6:54  He that eateth my flesh and drinketh my blood hath everlasting life: and I will raise him up in the last day.

He that eateth (ο τρωγων). The idea of the previous verse emphatically repeated affirmatively. The verb used is most expressive. Its primary meaning is to crunch, to chew. It is again employed in verses 57, 58, 59.

Joh 6:55  For my flesh is meat indeed: and my blood is drink indeed.

For (γαρ, assigning reason of the statement) my flesh is meat indeed (αληθης εστιν βρωσις), i.e., is true and real food: and My blood true and real drink (αληθης εστιν ποσις); not by metaphor, but in truth and in deed My flesh is food.

Joh 6:56  He that eateth my flesh and drinketh my blood abideth in me: and I in him.

Abideth in me (cf. Jn 15:4-6). It means the closest and most intimate union. The phrase is characteristic in St. John. For the doctrine cf. Jn 1:16. The closeness of this union is shown by the fact that our Lord compares it to the union between Himself and the Father.

Joh 6:57  As the living Father hath sent me and I live by the Father: so he that eateth me, the same also shall live by me.

As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father ( δια τον πατερα). δια with the accusative usually denotes the reason for which, or on account of which, anything is done; but it may also denote the efficient reason, as here (cf. Jn 6:26).

Joh 6:58  This is the bread that came down from heaven. Not as your fathers did eat manna and are dead. He that eateth this bread shall live for ever

This is the bread. That is, and now the description of the bread from heaven is completed; such is the bread of which I began to speak.

One Response to “Father MacIntryre’s Commentary on John 6:51-58”

  1. […] Father MacIntyre’s Commentary on John 6:55-58. On 51-58. See note above. […]

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