Another discussion about John 6

Discussion in 'Other Christian Denominations' started by Thinkingstuff, Mar 16, 2009.

  1. Thinkingstuff

    Thinkingstuff
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    As I was reviewing this I came across something I hadn't noticed before but thought about. I'm hoping that Agnus Dei or Matt Black would discuss it. I already know the baptist view on it but welcome comments anyway. John 6 is often the key chapter for support of a real presence in the Eucharist. But it doesn't seem like a good support and here is what I mean:

    Its obvious that Jesus is saying that the only reason these people are following him is that he fed them. They were impressed by the feeding of the 5,000 and wanted to see more of that type of miracle. (Plus in that day and age free food popping out of nowhere was a good deal) However, this is the starting point. Discussion of bread. Jesus indicates that bread which is temporal spoils but they need to seek food that last forever. Obvious a jump to the spiritual. From seen to unseen. Like the woman at the well with water that will never get thirsty from again. Obviously, Jesus wasn't speaking about her body but her spirit.

    So then they understood his point and went directly to the heart of the issue. What must we do to do the works God requires? and Jesus says believe on the one that God sent. in other words himself. So the discussion so far is this: You're looking for food but you need spiritual food not physical.
    Obviously you're talking about a spiritual matter so what must we do to do what God wants?
    Believe in the one God sent.

    Now the discussion goes to whom God sent:

    Obvioulsy Moses was sent from God and he gave us manna. What's your proof that you're sent from God?

    Really, Moses didn't give you anything but God. So what you must do is look for the bread (the sent item or the one sent) that comes directly from God. And they are in for that.
    So Jesus says: I'm the one sent (bread) using the same motif as with the woman at the well and in psalms 1. (rivers of water not actual but spiritual)

    Now this is the crux. The people's first question is how can this dude claim to come from God? Not about being canabals. (even fine young ones) So they get his point about being sent from God with relation to bread.
    And when we jump to the flesh discussion Jesus isn't only saying he's the one sent but I'm in the one in the flesh (sounds like incarnation bread from heaven to flesh) which btw I'm going to give up for you.
    Now they they start speaking about canabalism. They were hanging with the spiritual discussion but with I'm Sent from God or am God in the Flesh because they are still thinking about the whole manna consept as being from God they seem to think in the flesh? We need to eat you?

    Yes you do he seems to say. But He also wants to be drunk by the woman at the well because he's living waters. So just like the waters doesn't feed her body I'm not certain here that John is jumping to the institution of the eucharist but showing that Jesus is sent from heaven and he himself feeds us spiritually. Which makes this verse make sense:
    One final thought with John 6. All the gospels were not writen to necissarily be chronological but to teach doctrine. I find it strange then that John would rely on Chapter 6 for the Eucharist but say nothing about it during the passover meal. Doesn't quite jive with me. You would think that he would repeat or say something again about it being Jesus body and blood or the real presence but he passes it over focused more on other things.
     
  2. Agnus_Dei

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    As I was researching Roman Catholicism, it seemed to me that their defense in the Real Presence was pretty well defended and laid out. When I finally settled on Orthodoxy, the first thing I noticed was that Sacramental Theology is different between Roman Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy. Another thing I noticed is that unlike the West, Eastern Orthodoxy is comfortable with the notion of “it’s a mystery”, whereas in the West theological dogmas need to be expounded upon to the T.

    Take “Transubstantiation” for instance, a term totally foreign to Eastern Orthodoxy simply because the term was born out of the Reformation, when certain Reformers started questioning the “Real Presence”. The Roman Catholic Church had no choice but to defend the dogma and thus had to theorize the dogma. Whereas the Eastern Orthodox Church wasn’t affected by the Reformation, thus we simply rely upon Holy Tradition and Holy Scripture and John 6 is defiantly a good starting point, but we also rely upon the Fathers of the Church.

    Speaking of the Early Church Fathers believed that the Eucharist, while remaining the appearance of bread and wine, was the actual body and blood of Jesus Christ. For space sake, I’ll list two quotes:

    Take note of those who hold heterodox opinions on the grace of Jesus Christ which has come to us, and see how contrary their opinions are to the mind of God. . . . They abstain from the Eucharist and from prayer because they do not confess that the Eucharist is the flesh of our Savior Jesus Christ, flesh which suffered for our sins and which that Father, in his goodness, raised up again. They who deny the gift of God are perishing in their disputes (Letter to the Smyrnaeans 6:2-7:1 [A.D. 110]). Ignatius of Antioch​

    We call this food Eucharist, and no one else is permitted to partake of it, except one who believes our teaching to be true and who has been washed in the washing which is for the remission of sins and for regeneration [i.e., has received baptism] and is thereby living as Christ enjoined. For not as common bread nor common drink do we receive these, but since Jesus Christ our Savior was made incarnate by the word of God and had both flesh and blood for our salvation, so too, as we have been taught, the food which has been made into the Eucharist by the Eucharistic prayer set down by him, and by the change of which our blood and flesh is nurtured, is both the flesh and the blood of that incarnated Jesus (First Apology 66 [A.D. 151]). Justin Martyr​

    We also have these Church Fathers: Irenaeus (AD 189); Clement of Alexandria (AD 191); Hippolytus (AD 217); Aphraahat (AD 340); Cyril of Jerusalem (AD 350); Theodore (AD 405); Ambrose of Milan (AD 390) & Augustine (AD 411).

    And St. Paul confirms the Fathers of the Church in 1 Corinthians 10:16; 11:27, 29).

    Going back to St. John’s account in Chapter 6, we see Jesus repeating over and over and each time Jesus adds greater emphasis to His teaching, especially AFTER Jews state: How can this man give us his flesh to eat? (John 6:51–52). Jesus replys: Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you; he who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is food indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him (John 6:53–56).

    Also Jesus doesn’t correct His teaching or soften this hard teaching, many times Jesus would clear up any confusion such as Matthew 16:5-12, but not in this case and a result is many of His disciples left His group. This is also the ONLY record we have where any of Christ’s followers had forsaken Him for purely doctrinal reasons. Jesus being a “Rabbi” or “Teacher” would have been morally obligated to clear up any misunderstanding, but there was no misunderstanding. Jesus meant what He said, to the effect that 12 times He said that He was the bread that come down from Heaven and 4 times He said they would have to eat my flesh and drink my blood.

    It should also be noted that from the start there is no debate whether the Sacraments are real or symbolic. The Orthodox Faith was established by the Apostles and their successors and maintained in tact by the Orthodox Church. The Orthodox Church has held from the beginning that the sacraments are spiritual in nature, and only in relatively modern times have non-Orthodox Christians rejected this belief. Thus we do not have two parties with differing interpretations, but instead we have those who strive to preserve the faith of the Early Church and those who reject it.

    It should also be noted that the true nature of the sacraments does not depend on scriptural evidence for its justification. The sacraments were established before the writing of the Bible, and they are not subordinate in rank. The same Holy Spirit which inspired the authors of the Holy Bible also inspired the Apostles and Fathers of the Church as they taught the Jews and Gentiles about Christ and the Holy Sacraments.

    I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now. Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come. (John 16:12-13) ​
    And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ: That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: (Ephesians 4:11-15)​

    We also confirm this as we confess at every Vesper Service and on the Sunday of Orthodoxy: This is the Faith of the Apostles. This is the Faith that sustains the universe.

    In XC
    -
     
  3. Thinkingstuff

    Thinkingstuff
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    I'm very familiar with Ignatius and Justin. It is clear that the view of the real presence was an early consept. But looking at John 6 what I see is that Jesus is assuring them that You must eat my flesh and Drink my blood is related to two things. 1. his incarnation. 2. that we must take on our self sacrifice or his suffering but in the context of the discourse about Jesus being from the father and the bread taking on flesh seem more to do with his incarnation. In other words you must really believe that I'm the one God sent in the flesh.

    Now the writings you pose are evidence of early belief in the real presence and are exampled by tradition. But what many don't realize is that scripture and tradition overlap in most areas. Very few things are "passed on" not mentioned in scripture. Mainly what tradition is; is the way to interpret scripture from an authoritative source. The thing his how scripture is interpreted has changed over the years. For instance in the case of Alexandria and Antioch. Two methods of scriptural interpretation Alexandria being more mystical in approach or allegorical in approach Antioch (would be favored by most protestants) is expositionary based less on allegory or mystical John Chrystosom being a fine example of Antioch tradition of scriptural interpretation. Both Polis or Metropolis were authoritative with regard to their Catechical Schools. So then, which tradition is valid or more valid? Progressive revelation was how God revealed himself over the course of the books of the bible as they were being writen. How about the church? Not that there would be new revelation (I don't believe in that) but a more full understanding as time goes on? Kind of like God Reveals himself as I am whom I am and then reveals himself as Jehovah Jirah, etc... none contradicting what has already been established.
     
  4. Marcia

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    Eating the living bread is believing in who Jesus is.
     
  5. Eric B

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    I see a doctrinal development there. Christ mentions "eating his flesh", and in John 6, just like Matt.16, people mistunderstood and thought it was "literal". Paul just repeats what Christ said verbatim.
    Ignatius paraphrases it, replacing the word "body" with "flesh--the flesh that suffered". This is still closer to metaphorical, but it's starting to become a bit ambiguous.
    Then Justin introduces this "change" by a prayer.

    According to you, all of this was taught exhaustively by the apostles, orally only, but it's like bits and pieces of it were now being leaked out gradually by the ECF's.

    But it really looks to me like they were slowly putting their own interpretation on it. Funny, how if the people in John 6 were so "offended" by this "literal but spiritual cannibalism", that the issue never came up in the epistles to be articulated more clearly.
    Most likely, what happened is exactly what you said happened in the later Western church. They had to defend the doctrine, and in the process theorized on it, thus the more developed articulation we see as the ECF's go on. Same things happened with the Trinity. It was much less structured before Nicaea. Then the East draws a line and accepts only what they had by the 10th century, while the West uses its "apostolic authority" to continue to theorize on dogma and come up with new expressions.
     
  6. Doubting Thomas

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    Or perhaps it's because John records that those 'offended' left Christ at that point and walked with Him no more (John 6:66) so they weren't around with the faithful disciples at the Last Supper when Christ declared the bread and wine to be His body and blood which they were to eat and drink. By the time the churches were founded the tradition of the Last Supper and Words of Institution had apparently become so much a part of the apostolic kerygma that Paul could rhetorically ask the Corinthians:
    "The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ?" (1 Cor 10:16). In other words, for the recipients of the kerygma, delievered by the faithful disciples who were witnesses to the Institution of the Eucharist at the Last Supper, the issue did not need to be articulated any more clearly.

    The reason we know that the disciples initially misunderstood Christ in Matthew 16 is that the Scripture specifically indicates such to be the case at the point when they did realize what He actually meant--
    "Then they understood that He did not tell them to beware of the leaven of bread, but of the doctrine of the Pharisees and Sadducees." (Matt 16:12).

    There is no similar narrative comment in John 6, which is striking considering John did offer such in an earlier episode in which the Jews misunderstood Jesus' comments about "destroy(ing) this Temple":
    "But He was speaking of the Temple of His body." (John 2:21). We don't see an editorial comment from John in chapter 6 to the effect of: "But the 'eating' and 'drinking' of which He was speaking was to closely follow His doctrine and example", or "But His flesh and blood of which He spoke was His doctrine and way of life".

    We also have in John's Gospel the instance of Christ personally correcting a misunderstanding in the account of His discussion with Nicodemus regarding the New Birth.
    "Nicodemus said to Him, 'How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother's womb and be born?' Jesus answered, 'Most assuredly I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the Kingdom of God.'" (John 3:4-5).
    Jesus is saying that to be "born again" is to be "born of water and the Spirit"; it is not to "enter a second time into his mother's womb and be born (again physically)". In other words, he corrects Nicodemus' overliteral misunderstanding.

    Therefore, in John 6 it would have been consistent (and an easy thing) for Jesus to correct any potential misundertanding of the questioning Jews when they asked (similar to Nicodemus): "How can this Man give us His flesh to eat?" (v52). He could have said something like: "the flesh I give is my teaching and example of life, and to 'eat this flesh' is to closely follow the same." Instead, however, He repeated Himself more forcefully: "Most assuredly I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man, and drink His blood, you will have no life in you. Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise Him up on the last day. For My flesh is food indeed and My blood is drink indeed. He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me and I in Him." (6:53-56). Again, after this Jesus would have another opportunity to correct any potential misunderstanding when they asked, "This is a hard saying, who can understand it?", by saying something like, "Know ye not that I am speaking metaphorically of inwardly digesting My teaching and way of life, and not of an eating My actual flesh or a drinking My actual blood?". But he doesn't soften the realism in the force of His words, except by indicating that He would be ascending back into heaven (v62)--which would mitigate against a crass, cannibalistic interpretation of His words--and by giving the caveat that His words must be discerned spiritually--through the eyes of faith--and not carnally: "It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words I speak to you are spirit, and they are life. But there are some of you who do not believe. (v63-64). Those that questioned Him and left Him did not believe He was who He said He was, let alone grasp that there could possibly be a way to eat His flesh and drink His blood beyond a crass cannibalism. The faithful disciples--those that recognized He had the words of Life, and thus remained with Him without yet fully knowing of what He was speaking--on the other hand learned at the Last Supper how they were to eat the flesh and drink the blood of Christ, and that was by eating the bread and wine that Christ identified with His body and blood. That this was their understanding is reflected in Paul's statement that the bread and wine (cup) of the Lord's supper were indeed the communion of (ie, participation in, sharing in) the Body and Blood of Christ (1 Cor 10:16).

    So the absence in John 6 of either (1) a narrative, editorial comment indicating what Jesus really was teaching, in response to an alleged misundertanding on the part of others (as in Matthew 16 and John 2), or (2) a personal correction of their misunderstanding (as in John 3 and elsewhere) is telling that both the disciples who walked away and those that remained (including John himself) both understood Christ to be speaking of eating His flesh and drinking His blood, not in a metaphorical sense, but, in some way, a realistic sense.

    Not exactly. He adds a bit, particularly in: comparing our partaking of the bread and cup (which is a participation in the body and blood of Christ) with OT Israel's partaking of the sacrifices of their altars (1 Cor 10:16,18); and in warning that to eat the bread and to drink the cup unworthily would be to be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord (1 Cor 11:27).


    I hate to break it to you, but you are the only person whom I've ever read that suggests Ignatius' view on the Eucharist is somehow "closer to metaphorical" or "ambiguous". Ignatius is uniformly cited by church historians (eg Kelly, Pelikan) as an example of having a strong realist view in regarding the identification of the Eucharistic bread and wine with the actual body and blood of Christ. For you to suggest otherwise is a case of wishful thinking...to say the least.

    It should be obvious that if there was no "change" in the status of the elements implied in the liturgical setting, then all common bread and wine could be regarded already as the Body and Blood of Christ...which of course has never been taught in the Scripture or by the Church. The absence of the specific word, "change", in the Scriptural texts therefore doesn't mean anything in the way of a doctrine developing in a distorted way.

    One must also keep in mind that Paul's letter and Ignatius' letters were written to Christians (who were already familiar with the practice and beliefs regarding communion), whereas Justin's Apology was written to a nonbeliever and had to explain perhaps in more detail Christian's belief about the Eucharist, particularly when many pagans were already accusing Christians of cannibalism. This difference can certainly explain why the word "change" (and the idea of the change occuring after prayer) was "introduced" in Justin's writings and not needed in the contexts in which First Corinthians and Ignatius' epistles were written.

    It's safe to say, therefore, that the attempt to trace an alleged deviation of Eucharistic doctrine from a hypothetical proto-Zwinglian starting point, through an allegedly ambiguous Ignatius to an alleged introducer of doctrinal novelty (Justin Martyr), is nothing more than historical revisionism on the level of perhaps Dan Brown or the Trail of Blood.
     
    #6 Doubting Thomas, Mar 19, 2009
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 19, 2009
  7. canadyjd

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    Obviously, I believe Jesus corrected their misunderstanding of literally eating His flesh and drinking His blood by saying..

    ("It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words I speak to you are spirit, and they are life.")

    He is speaking of spiritual things when He speaks of eating His flesh and drinking His blood. Just as He was speaking of spiritual things when He said a man must be "born again".

    peace to you:praying:
     
  8. Marcia

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    Those who left, left because of this:
    They withdrew because they did not believe Jesus was who he said he was.
     
  9. Eric B

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    So a batch of Christ rejectors left. Does there would never be both objectors and questioners and people getting it wrong in the Church afterward? (like with every other moral and doctrinal subject covered).

    This is speculation. Why would they perfectly understand this, but little else? This is much harder to understand than all the other things Paul chastizes the Corinthians for.

    Or, he could have just said "you're not really tasting actual human flesh, it will look/taste like physical bread and wine that will be changed into a "real presence" of my flesh by a prayer". That probably would have allayed their fears, just as much as saying it was symbolic. (Hence why to me, you might as well just say it is symbolic).

    People often assume that ECF's are teaching a full blown later concept. just like Archbishop Wake, who translated 2 clement, says that it articulates a "fullness of belief"in the tinity just because it states "Bretheren, we must think of Christ, as of God". Yes, that would be part of the later Nicene formula, but it is still not a fully developed articulation of it.
    Again, Christ or John's narrative could have just stated the "change" from the beginning. It was obviously a later deduction from moving to some sort of more metaphysical interpretation of the communion.
     
  10. Doubting Thomas

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    Perhaps you didn't read my entire post--I addressed that particular comment of Jesus therein.

    However, let me ask you a question: do you think Jesus' physical flesh--the same He was literally giving for the life of the world "profits nothing"?

    (And, yes, He was indeed speaking of spiritual things when He was speaking of a literal eating and drinking of His flesh and blood. :cool:)

    peace to you, too. :praying:
     
  11. canadyjd

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    You addressed it by dismissing the plain meaning of what He said. Jesus clearly is telling His disciples that His discussion concerning eating His flesh and drinking His blood were not to be taken literally, but that He was speaking of spiritual things. Just like He said that being "born again" concerned things of the Spirit.

    So, you stated that Jesus didn't comment and clarify to His disciples as He did in other places...you then took His words which clearly do the very thing you claim He doesn't do...and you dismiss it.
    I believe Jesus's suffering and death accomplished everything God intended the moment He said "it is finished" and breathed His last breath. Jesus died, was taken off the cross and buried. He rose from the dead, His physical body transformed forever, and He ascended into heaven.

    His "flesh" and "blood" are not present in pieces of bread or in wine, as He is sitting at the right hand of the Father, glorified with the glory He had prior to putting on humanity and coming to the earth. Everything He accomplished for our redemption, He accomplished on the cross.

    peace to you:praying:
     
  12. Doubting Thomas

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    Canadyjd,
    In response to my saying that perhaps you didn't read my comment on John 6:63 in my earlier post in this thread, you said this...
    But clearly He wasn't referring to His own physical flesh (and blood) as profitting nothing, or else He'd be implying that His incarnation and atonement would be pointless, which would make His words nonsensical. He taught that He was going to give His (actual physical) flesh for the life of the world (v51), the same He said was "food indeed" which we must eat (literally "munch or gnaw, v54 and following) and drink in the case of His blood. Here was the only place in Scriptures where it said that some of His disciples walked away from Him (6:66) on account of His teaching, and instead of clarifying that "eating His flesh" and "drinking His blood" were really new metaphors for spiritually digesting His teachings and way of life, He let them walk away stating that it was only by the Spirit, and not by the flesh, that they could accept His teaching, which is basically same point He was making in 6:37 and 6:44 when He said that none could come to Him unless enabled by the Father (with v.44 coming in answer to their question about what He meant about coming down from heaven). In other words, v63 is along the same lines of 6:37,44,and 65 rather than a carte blanche to over-spiritualize Christ's reference s to His flesh and blood and to eating and drinking in some Gnostic fashion*.

    (*Interestingly the only ones in the early Church that we have record of giving such a spiritualized interpretation to Christ's John 6, were those of the Origenist school--like Origin, Eusebius, and Evagrius for example. HOWEVER, this was in addition to the realist interpretation, which they also affirmed, rather than instead of it...as a thorough going Gnostic would so over-spiritually interpret it.*)


    Indeed He did...which I also mentioned in my previous post. Had you looked closely you will have noticed that in response to Nicodemus' query about how one could enter his mother's womb a second time and be reborn (John 3:4) Christ corrected him by clarifying that the new birth was to "born of water and the Spirit" (i.e, baptism) rather than a second birth from a mother's physical womb. By contrast, in John 6 in response to the question (v52) about how He could give His flesh to eat, He did not say "My flesh is really my teachings" or "To eat my flesh is to spiritually digest my teachings and example of life", but rather He repeated Himself (several times) in more forceful terms and introducing the concept of drinking His blood as well. Since He have no corrective explanation from Christ (other than they had to comprehend His words by faith and the power of the Spirit rather than according to their carnal fleshly way of thinking...which is why they couldn't even accept His claim that He literally had come down from heaven--v41-42), nor any narrative correction as in John 2 or Matt 16, we must conclude that He meant that His flesh and blood were real food that we were to somehow literally eat and drink. The only other places in Scriptures which talk about "eating His flesh(body) and drinking His blood" is in the context of eating the bread and drinking the wine in Holy Communion.

    I didn't dismiss it all... I was correcting the mistaken way in which Zwinglians try to use this verse to dismiss what Christ really meant.

    I then asked...
    To which you replied...
    I believe that too, but that has no bearing on on whether or not one is justified in over-spiritualizing (dare I say, "gnosticizing") Jesus' meaning in John 6:51-57.

    The Apostle Paul would disagree, stating that the cup IS the participation in the blood of Christ, and the bread IS the participation in the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 10:16). This is in the context of the Lord's Supper the same when instituted that Christ identified the bread with His body and wine with His blood, the same body and blood Christ said we had to eat and drink to abide in Him (and He in us) and have eternal as recorded in John 6.


    Yet this one-time objective redemption must still be subjectively appropriated by the individual person. In other words, the Atonement has to be applied to the soul...sort of like the blood of the OT passover lamb had to be applied to the door posts of the Israelites in order for the angel of death to pass-over them.
     
  13. canadyjd

    canadyjd
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    Jesus said His "words.....are spirit..." He did not say, as you maintain, that you could only understand His words by faith, or by the Spirit.

    Jesus was referring to His just completed dialog concerning eating His flesh and drinking His blood. His "words.....are spirit...." That is the further explanation you claimed He never gave concerning His discourse.

    Just as He told Nic at night that he must be "born again", and then explained further that He was speaking of spiritual things, He does so concerning eating His flesh and drinking His blood.

    He is speaking spiritual words that are not meant to be understood in the flesh....i.e. to be taken literally as eating His flesh and drinking His blood.

    peace to you:praying:
     

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