Sermons and Papers



by Rev. David Schoessow

What is the benefit of such eating and drinking? That is shown us by these words, "Given and shed for you for the remission of sins," namely, that in the Sacrament forgiveness of sins, life and salvation are given us through these words. For where there is forgiveness of sins, there is also life and salvation (SC VI).

Among Lutherans there is no debate that the first and primary benefit of the Lord's Supper is the reception of the Lord's body and blood by the Christian for the forgiveness of sins. "This is plainly evident from the Lord's words: 'This is my body and blood, given and poured out for you for the forgiveness of sins'" (LC V, 21).

The forgiveness of sins for Luther was not merely the undoing or taking away of something negative. "Forgiveness" encapsulates the whole treasure of benefits which Christ won for us, "for where there is forgiveness of sins, there is also life and salvation" (SC VI). Thus the Sacrament of the Altar is nothing less than the Gospel itself, in all its richness, as Luther teaches, "Now the whole Gospel and the article of the Creed, 'I believe in the holy Christian church, the forgiveness of sins,' are embodied in the Sacrament and offered to us through the Word" (LC V, 32).

"Well if this is true," the devout Christian might ask Luther, "if the Sacrament offers me nothing more or less than what I can find in my baptism or by reading my Bible or hearing the absolution, then why is the Sacrament necessary? Is God merely offering me a visual aid to preaching?"

As he listens to this dialogue, the Lutheran pastor might wonder whether Augustine's definition of the Sacrament as a visible word (verbum visible) has altogether obliterated the uniqueness of the Sacrament.1 Indeed if the forgiveness of sins is received by the believer even outside the Sacrament, simply by trusting in the promise of the Gospel, then what is the unique gift of the Sacrament? "What is the benefit of such eating and drinking?"

Were Luther to hear these questions, his thoughts could not help but return to his debate with Zwingli, who asked of what possible use could be the eating of the Lord's body and blood. John 6:63 decided the question for Zwingli: "It is the spirit that gives life; the flesh profits nothing." For Zwingli the teaching that the eating of the Lord's body and blood benefits the Christian was a violation of the spiritual character of the Christian faith and a return to pagan materialism. This challenge forced Luther to examine the nature of the Sacrament and its benefits.

Luther's answer to the question, "What is the use of such eating?" was straightforward. It is enough that Christ our Lord has commanded me to so eat and drink. Like Baptism, this Sacrament finds its value in Christ's institution, word and command. For "what God institutes and commands cannot be useless. It is a most precious thing, even though to all appearances it may not be worth a straw" (LC IV, 8).

Yet the Sacrament's unique benefits do not remain hidden behind the inscrutable will and command of God. Its fruits are evident now and always have been. In the Scriptures the Confessors saw at least four unique gifts offered in the Sacrament. These include the Supper as a seal and comfort through the personal application of God's promise to the individual,2 as a "daily food and sustenance" of our faith,3 as a "bond and union of Christians with Christ their head and with one another,"4 and as a "medicine for immortality, antidote against death."5

It is this last benefit of the Sacrament which is the focus of this study. It is no surprise that Zwingli, Calvin and the Reformed churches reject the idea that bodily eating and drinking can bring God's grace and blessing to soul and body. What is surprising is that so many modern Lutherans are unaware of it or reject it (notable exceptions include Sommerlath, Elert, Schlink and Sasse),6 since by its inclusion in the Large Catechism and the Formula of Concord7 it is a doctrine of the Lutheran church.8

Understanding the Sacrament as a "medicine for immortality" or pharmakon athanasias offers us a number of deep insights into the gifts which Christ gives to His church, insights which will effect our teaching and preaching, our pastoral care of the sick and dying, our personal and ecclesiastical use of the Sacrament and our faith in the person of the Word Incarnate.

Any discussion of the Sacrament as "medicine of immortality" necessarily touches on three areas of concern: Christology, anthropology and the Sacrament of the Altar itself. Since the rule is that "the Word of God shall establish articles of faith and no one else, not even an angel" (SA II, 15), we will use the Verba themselves as our cornerstone. And we will attempt to hold to the simple, proper and usual meaning of these words, for as Chemnitz observed, "this meaning does not clash with a single article of faith."

Now as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed, and broke it, and gave it to the disciples and said, "Take, eat; this is my body." And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying, "Drink of it, all of you: for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. 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" (Mt 26:26-29).


Who is this who is speaking? It is the Lord. What does He say? He claims possession of a human body. "This is My body." "This is My blood." The story of Christmas is the story of the deus absconditus who reveals Himself as deus incarnatus. The incarnation was not a symbol for a "higher spiritual reality." Nor was it some Judaic reconstruction of the pagan mysteries or a temporary manifestation of God after which he returned to the etheral realm of the Divine. Mary's baby was not a docetic baby, but "ho logos sarx egeneto" (Jn 1:14), a flesh and blood baby, "the fruit of her womb," a human being. "For a little while He was made a little lower than the angels," for "since the children share in flesh and blood, He likewise partook of the same." Nor was He "ashamed to call us brethren" for "He was born of the seed of David according to the flesh" (Heb 4:9, 11, 14; Rom 1:3). Hence the Confessions declare:

In the article of our redemption we have the mighty testimony of Scripture that God's Son assumed our nature, though without sin, so that in every respect he was made like us, his brethren, sin alone excepted (Heb. 2:17) (FC SD I, 43).

Luther too knows the wonder of this condescension.

When God is fashioned into this bawling boy, it [faith] declares: "He could not come closer. . . He that is so far from me and great puts Himself inside this tiny body. This is far nearer than mother, brother, or any other. Therefore He is called our brother, and also our bone and flesh, even closer than man and wife. For all this faith declares His flesh is ours, for He counts it to be of one body, blood, and so on. Whoever perceives this truth has what he can call comfort.9

Why does Luther find comfort in a "bawling boy" Savior? Because as the Fathers said, "He saved what He became"10 and in Christ He is flesh and blood. In the person of Jesus of Nazareth God has entered into his creation in order to redeem it, and that creation includes me.

So we watch in wonder as this "bawling boy" increases in stature before God and man, is baptized to fulfill all righteousness, does battle with the Devil, is tempted, teaches the Torah, proclaims the gospel, casts out demons, heals the sick, raises the dead, sets his face toward Jerusalem, where he institutes this Sacrament, suffers and dies. For three days creation (you and I included) holds its breath, until the angel breathes his oracle, "Why do you seek the living One among the dead? He is not here. He has risen just as he said." That same evening, for there was no time to lose, he breathes on the disciples and ordains them for the ministry of forgiving and retaining sins, a word and Sacrament ministry to announce to flesh and blood sinners that "he saved what he became."

We might add that this "enfleshed Word" is the same Logos "through whom all things came into being" (Jn 1:3, Hb 1:2). Yes, he made the great angels, those thrones and principalities of the spiritual world, but he made them to minister and serve the flesh and blood saints who will inherit salvation (Hb 1:14). This physical world is God's good work and is worthy of his redemption. So Luther teaches us to confess and to pray:

I believe that God has made me and all that exists; that He has given me and still sustains my body and soul, all my limbs and senses, my reason and all the faculties of my mind. . . that He provides me daily and abundantly with all that I need to support this body and life. . . (SC II).

Give us this day our daily bread. . . [namely] everything that belongs to the support and wants of the body. . . (SC III, 4).

While we might expect God to furnish such bodily blessings before the Fall, the magnitude of God's concern for us is such that He grants these blessings to us who live after the Fall, unworthy and corrupted as we are (see FC SD I, 34-35).

Hence that God should approach our body with our soul in the Sacrament is consistent with the Incarnation. Our Creator and Redeemer, who is Christ our Brother, is concerned with all our needs, both spiritual and physical, as demonstrated by our creation, preservation, and redemption.

But do the Verba say more about the Incarnate One? His body and blood He gives "for the forgiveness of sins." "Who can forgive sins but God alone?" "ho logos sarx egeneto." In one person we have an individual who is both "true God, begotten of the Father from eternity, and also true man, born of the Virgin Mary" (SC II; Rom 9:5). "Since the divinity and humanity are one person in Christ, the Scriptures ascribe to the deity, because of this personal union, all that happens to the humanity, and vice versa" (FC SD VIII, 41). Already from the virgin's womb, this assumed human nature possessed not only those properties characteristic of humanity, but in addition, through the union with the deity (Col. 2:9), was elevated to the right hand of majesty (FC SD VIII, 26). Thus it is false to say that even in its personal union with the deity the human nature has only its own natural characteristics.

The Holy Scriptures, and the ancient Fathers on the basis of the Scriptures, testify mightily that, because the human nature in Christ is personally united with the divine nature in Christ, the former... received, in addition to its natural, essential, and abiding properties, special, high, great, supernatural, unsearchable, ineffable, heavenly prerogatives and privileges in majesty, glory, power, and might above every name that is named, not only in this age, but also in that which is to come [Eph 1:21] (FC SD VIII, 51).

It is in this context and as "a strong and irrefutable" argument for the communication of attributes, that the Confessions declare that the power to make the dead alive has been given to Christ "because he is the Son of Man and inasmuch as he has flesh and blood" (FC SD VIII, 58). In reference to 1 John 1:7 they affirm:

John is saying in this passage that in the work or matter of our justification not only the divine nature in Christ but also his blood actually cleanses us from all sins. Likewise, John 6:48-58 says that Christ's flesh is a life-giving food, and accordingly the Council of Ephesus decreed that the flesh of Christ has the power to give life. Many other noble testimonies of the ancient orthodox church concerning this article are recorded elsewhere (FC SD VIII, 59).

In that Catalog of Testimonies, the Fathers speak in this way:

Cyril: How, then, does the flesh of Christ quicken [vivificat; lebendig]?... On account of the union with the living Word, which is accustomed to communicate the endowments of His nature to his own body (Dialogue. lib. 5).11

Athanasius: God was not changed into human flesh or substance, but in Himself glorified the nature which He assumed, so that the human, weak, and mortal flesh and nature advanced to divine glory, so as to have all power in heaven and in earth, which it did not have before it was assumed by the Word (On the Arian and Catholic Confession).12

Cyril: When you have examined the mystery of the incarnation with commendable care, and have learned to know the life dwelling in the flesh, you will believe that, although the flesh is not able to do anything by itself, it has nevertheless become quickening. For since it has been united to the quickening Word, it has entirely been rendered quickening... For the body not of Paul or of Peter or of others, but that of Life itself in which the fullness of the Godhead dwells bodily, can do this.13

The flesh and blood of Jesus has this sin-forgiving, death-defying power through the communication of divine attributes to the human nature. This is the flesh and blood which is given in the Sacrament.

Because of this personal union and the resultant communion that the divine and human natures have with each other in deed and truth in the person of Christ, things are attributed to Christ according to the flesh that the flesh, according to its nature and essence outside of this union, cannot intrinsically be or have-- for example, that his flesh is truly a life-giving food and his blood truly a quickening beverage, as the two hundred fathers of the Council of Ephesus attested when they stated that Christ's flesh is a life-giving flesh... To make certainty and assurance doubly sure on this point, he instituted his Holy Supper that he might be present with us, dwell in us, work and be mighty in us according to that nature too. . . (FC SD VIII, 76, 79).

Here Luther, in his consummate and robust style, adds color. In his 1527 treatise, "That These Words of Christ, 'This Is My Body,' Still Stand Firm" he wrote:

Since this poor maggot sack, our body, also has the hope of the resurrection of the dead and of the life everlasting, it must also become spiritual and digest and consume everything that is fleshly in it. And that is what this spiritual food does. . . It is as if a wolf devoured a sheep and the sheep were so powerful a food that it transformed the wolf and turned him into a sheep. So, when we eat Christ's flesh physically and spiritually, the food is so powerful that it transforms us into itself and out of fleshly, sinful, mortal men makes spiritual, holy, living men. This we are already, though in a hidden manner in faith and hope; the fact is not yet manifest, but we shall experience it on the Last Day.14


"Drink of it, all of you." To whom is the Lord speaking? Disciples, surely, but who were these disciples? Little gods and saints with perfectly fitted halos? Or men of like mind with us-- weak men, fearful men, sinful and mortal men?

Where the classical Greek concept of the immortality of the soul had influenced the Church's teachers, the focal point of the Lord's Supper fastened upon the soul, rather than upon the man as a whole.15 One of the great exegetical insights of Luther, according to Pelikan, was his rediscovery of the "significance that the Scriptures attached to the body, in contrast to the exegetical tradition which had treated the body as part of man's lower nature."16 This means that body and soul are not to be dichotomized. As we saw above God claims man as a whole being, created by him and found to be "very good" (Gen 1:31). The only anthropological antithesis which Scripture knows is between sarx and pneuma, the old and the new nature which are at war in the life, yes, the very "members" of the Christian (Rom 7 & 8).

Thus Christ has redeemed our nature as his creation, sanctifies it as his creation, quickens it from the dead as his creation, and adorns it gloriously as his creation. But he has not created original sin, has not assumed it, has not redeemed it, has not sanctified it, will not quicken it in the elect, will not glorify it or save it. On the contrary, in the resurrection it will be utterly destroyed. These points clearly set forth the distinction between the corrupted nature itself and the corruption which is in the nature and which has corrupted the nature (FC Ep I, 6).

This observation sharpens the sword. Paul found a fifth column at work within him. While in the inner man he "joyfully concurred with the law of God," a different law was at work in the members of his body, waging war against the law of his mind, and making him a prisoner of the law of sin which was in his members (Rom 7:22-23). The result is that not only man's soul, but also his body is ravaged by the deadly ordinance of sin. Jesus' earthly ministry of proclaiming the Gospel of the Kingdom with accompanying miracles over sickness, demons, death, and nature shows the total bondage to which sin subjects us and on which fronts the war was/is to be fought until the enemey's unconditional overthrow at Easter and the Parousia.

Hence Jesus too, when he bore our sins, felt the heat of the battle in his own soul and body-- in the wilderness with hunger and the wild beasts, in Galilee with no place to lay His head, above Jerusalem with tears, at the Gethsemane Garden, under the scourge and upon the beam.

The battle was fought where it had to be won-- in the body and soul of Christ, on behalf of the bodies and souls of mankind. Just as the whole man is God's creation and corrupted by sin, so the promise of eternal life and new creation comes to the whole fallen creature. Through Baptism we are incorporated into the death of Christ, having been buried with Him,

in order that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall be also in the likeness of His resurrection. . . Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body. . . (Rom 6:4-5, 12).

The same the physical-spiritual benefits which the Savior bestows in Holy Baptism, he also gives in the Sacrament of the Altar. Is it not significant that our reception of the Sacrament is manducatio oralis? "Take, eat, this is My body. . . Drink of it, all of you; for this is My blood. . . poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins." The Lord is speaking to flesh and blood sinners; inviting them to use hands and mouths and giving them forgiveness of sins. As sin is not a "spiritual" matter alone, but one which brings the most radical consequences to the body, i.e. death, so forgiveness of sin does not come to naked souls, but to human beings who use hands and mouths to eat and drink.


"Drink of it, all of you; for this is my blood of the diatheke."17

By the means of his diatheke God brings people into the closest possible relationship with Himself. In the covenant with Israel that is supremely characterized by the words, "I shall be your God and you shall be My people" and by the stupendum miraculum of Exodus 24 where "they beheld God, and they ate and drank" with Him. That communion with God was limited in time and scope yet it gave promise of something greater to come.

The fulfillment of that promise is found in Jesus Christ. Through faith in Christ all Christians participate in what the theologians call the "Mystical Union," wherein the Triune God dwells within each believer (Jn 14:23; 1 Cor 6:15, 17; Eph 5:30; 2 Pet 1:4; Gal 3:27; 2:19, 20). This union has physical effects-- both sanctification, as manifested by deeds of the body, and the final resurrection of that body (Rom 8:11-13).

This intimacy of this union is heightened in Holy Communion because it is both a spiritual and physical union. "One can only understand the Lord's Supper of the New Testament and its meaning for the church if one does not forget what the modern Christian unfortunately has forgotten again and again, that we belong to the church not only according to the spirit but also according to the body: 'Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ?' (1 Cor 6:15)."18 Paul asks, "The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not a participation [koinonia] in the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ? Since there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread" (1 Cor 10:16f). Sasse comments:

One may certainly not understand this as though the "participation in the body and blood of Christ" is something purely spiritual and not as close and as real as the connection of food and drink to the human body. In the Bible the word koinonia signifies the closest and deepest communion conceivable between God and man (1 John 1:3) and between the members of the body of Christ, a communion in which our body also takes part (1 Cor. 6:15).19

If we confess a true and substantial presence of the body and blood of Christ in the Supper, truly offered to and received by the communicants, then we too must agree with the Apology when it asks, "Since this [body of Christ] is in us, does it not also cause Christ to dwell in us bodily through the communication of the flesh of Christ?. . . Therefore we must consider that Christ is in us, not only according to the habit which we understand as love, but also by a natural participation (Ap X, 3).20 Likewise the Solid Declaration states that "he instituted his Holy Supper that he might be present with us, dwell in us, work and be mighty in us according to that nature too, according to which he has flesh and blood" (FC SD VIII, 79).

For Christ surely will make even our body eternal, alive, blessed, and glorious. . . Therefore he wills to be "in us by nature," says Hilary, in both out souls and body, according to the Word in John 6, "He who eats me abides in me and I in him." If we eat him spiritually through the Word, he abides in us spiritually in our soul; if one eats him physically, he abides in us physically and we in him. For he is not digested or transformed but ceaselessly he transforms us, our souls into righteousness, out body into immortality. So the ancient fathers spoke of the physical eating.21

That such is Paul's understanding is evident by his warnings regarding the manducatio indignorum in 1 Corinthians 11. Even the unworthy are brought into physical koinonia with the Lord, but without the benefit of the forgiveness of sins because they lack faith in the words "Given and shed for you for the remission of sins." The consequences of an unworthy koinonia bring judgment of a specific kind, namely, in their bodies. "For this reason many among you are weak and sick, and a number sleep" (11:30). "In place of this characteristic formulation one could scarcely put a statement like: 'That is why many have not had success in their work, and some have become quite poor.' The Lord punishes physically those who by unworthy participation in the Lord's Supper are guilty of profaning the body and blood of the Lord."22 The reality of this koinonia cannot be doubted. Its "how" is unknown. The cause of the bodily judgment is an inner impenitence.

That man's spiritual condition manifests itself bodily in this reception, serves to indicate the radical reality of that wholeness of man discussed above. The body receives these benefits only through its being part and parcel of that believing human being's reception of the body and blood of Christ joined to that promise of forgiveness. So we learn:

I have taught and still teach that Christ's flesh is not only of no avail but actually is poison and death if it is eaten without faith and the Word. I have said further that God and the Holy Spirit himself are pure poison and death, and of no avail, if they are received without faith. For Scripture says, "To the impure nothing is pure," Titus 1. . . But on the other hand, to eat Christ's flesh is salutary, necessary, and useful if it is eaten physically in connection with the Word and with faith.23

Is physical healing also to be attributed to reception of the Sacrament? Though some of the early liturgies pray for this result and some of the early fathers speak in this way,24 there is no Divine promise. Potentially the forgiveness of sins can always bring physical healing as Jesus' ministry to the paralytic and others indicates. But in the face of suffering and sickness we see only the hidden will of God. His revealed will is to be seen in the Sacrament's connection to the bodily resurrection. Jesus disclosed it in the Verba when he said, "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" (Mt. 26:29). That day will be after the resurrection when we are seated in His presence at the Messianic banquet.

In the act of reception the manducatio oralis is the dawn of the last things. For this act leads us to the boundary line that separates our body, appointed to death, from the actual obliteration of that line of separation. The dawn is here related to the consummation as this present "life," which according to John is promised by Christ, is related to the resurrection on the Last Day.25

Three tests have been applied to the Sacrament of the Altar as pharmakon athanasias-- that of Christology, anthropology and the Sacrament itself. In each case it is clear that to confess the Sacrament as efficacious for the body as well as the soul has not been contradicted by either Scripture or the Lutheran Confessions. Indeed, both loudly affirm that such a bodily benefit is a consequence of our Lord's forgiveness of the sinner, for where there is forgiveness of sins there is also life and salvation. What the Lord would give, faith knows only to receive.


Our confessions reflect a long history of appreciation in the church for the benefits which the body receives from her Lord in the Sacrament, especially as a guarantee of the resurrection. The idea that the Supper is meant for the whole man, body and soul, is one of the fundamental elements of the church's worship and teaching. An easy way to gauge that usage is to examine some of her historic liturgies.

These liturgies serve as a witness to what the church has believed, confessed, and taught, for the church has always used her liturgy for catechesis. The church's ancient liturgies can be divided into four major regional families: 1) The Syrian liturgies, centered in Antioch which was probably the origin of the earliest complete communion rite which has come down to us, the "Apostolic Constitutions." A further distinction is made between east Syrian liturgies from Mesopotamia-Persia and west Syrian liturgies from Syria-Palestine of which the liturgy of St. James is the prime example. 2) The liturgy of Alexandria used in Egypt and the neighboring countries, of which the Liturgy of St. Mark is best known. 3) The western type of liturgy used of which the Roman rite is the prime example and, 4) the Byzantine liturgy centered in Constantinople and derived from the west Syrian tradition. Constantinople's prestige as the New Rome enabled its rite to finally replace other local rites, just as in the West the rite of Rome eventually prevailed.26

"Come together on the Lord's Day, break bread and give thanks. . ."

These words of the Didache, dated as early as A.D. 50-70 remind us that from the very beginning our Lord's resurrection has been linked to the celebration of the Sacrament, a practice no doubt received from the apostles (Acts 20:7).

The Anaphora of Addai and Mari, one of the oldest known texts, was probably composed about A.D. 200 for the Syriac-speaking church at Edessa, one of the earliest centers of Christianity (East Syrian rite).27 Its epiclesis reads:

May your Holy Spirit, Lord, come and rest on this offering of your servants, and bless and sanctify it, that it may be to us, Lord, for remission of debts, forgiveness of sins, and the great hope of resurrection from the dead, and new life in the kingdom of heaven.28

Later the priest prays:

For he [Christ] is the living and life-giving bread who comes down from heaven, and gives life to the whole world, of which they who eat die not; and they who receive it are saved by it, and do not see corruption, and live through it for ever; and you are the antidote of our mortality, and the resurrection of our entire frame.29

The Euchologion of Sarapion is attributed to Sarapion, the Bishop of Thmuis in the Nile Delta. He was the close friend and supporter of Athanasius. The Euchologion consists a kind of ritual with thirty liturgical prayers. It is dated in the fourth century though some of the prayers may date from well before that period (Alexandrian rite). The anaphora reads:

O God of truth. . . make all who partake to receive a medicine of life for the healing of every disease.30

The Liturgy of St. Mark, the traditional Greek eucharistic liturgy of the church of Alexandria, contains substantial additions from the liturgies of St. Basil and St. James in its final thirteenth century form. An early edition of this rite appears in a Coptic translation (Anaphora of St. Cyril) made soon after A.D. 451 (Alexandrian [Coptic] rite). Its anaphora reads:

. . . send upon these loaves and these cups your Holy Spirit. . . that they may become to all of us who partake of them for faith, for sobriety, for healing, for renewal of soul, body, and spirit, for fellowship in eternal life and immortality.31

It also has the priest say in the homologia prior to the communion:

This is in truth the body and blood of Emmanuel our God. . . I believe and confess unto the last breath that this is the vivifying flesh which thine only begotten Son our Lord and our God and our Savior Jesus Christ took of the lady of us all, the holy Theotokos. . . It is given for us to be salvation and forgiveness of sins and life everlasting to them that shall receive it.32

The Apostolic Constitutions is a compilation from about A.D. 375. Book 8, in describing the ceremonies for the consecration of a bishop, inserts the prayers of a liturgy attributed to St. Clement of Rome. It's source is the Apostolic Tradition of Hippolytus of Rome which was compiled in the year A.D. 315.33 Its post-communion prayer reads:

Having received the precious body and blood of Christ. . . let [them] not be [to] our condemnation but our salvation, the well-being of soul and body. . . the forgiveness of sins, the life of the world to come.34

The Anaphora of the Twelve Apostles shares much common material with the Anaphora of St. John Chrysostom and both seem derived from an older common original text dating from the beginning of the fourth century (Antioch).35

. . . that they [the body and the blood] may be to all who partake of them for life and resurrection, for forgiveness of sins, and health of soul and body, and enlightenment of mind, and defence before the dread judgment-seat of your Christ.36

The Mass of the Roman Rite cannot be precisely dated. Quotations and parallels begin to appear towards the end of the fourth century. The oldest manuscripts go back to the eighth century.

[Post-communion prayer] May the receiving of your body, Lord Jesus Christ, which in my unworthiness I dare to take, bring on me neither judgment nor condemnation; but in your mercy may it be to me protection of mind and body, and receiving of a remedy.37

Three of these early liturgies include specific language that links the reception of the Sacrament to the resurrection of the body (the anaphoras of Sts. Addai and Mari, St. Peter, and the Twelve Apostles). These are derived from the Jerusalem/Antioch family of liturgies. The coptic translation of the liturgy of St. Mark (Alexandrian rite) speaks more generally of "immortality" as being a benefit. This language is also found in other liturgies.38

In addition four of the above liturgies connected reception of Holy Communion to some kind of bodily health or protection (the liturgies of Sarapion, St. Mark [Coptic translation], the Twelve Apostles and the Roman Rite). These liturgies originated in the worship life of Alexandria and Rome. So of the four major centers of Christianity in the early church, only the communion liturgy of the Byzantine rite of Constantinople is without a specific reference to the benefits to the whole man which our Lord offers in the Sacrament.

Some of the early hymns of the church likewise proclaim a connection between the Sacrament and resurrection. The communion hymn Your Sacred Body, written before the third century, leads the church to pray in the context of receiving the Lord's body and blood:

In place of the shroud in which you were buried,
may we too be clad in invincible power.
In place of the new tomb and your sepulcher,
may we receive the renewal of soul and body.39

The close connection between the reception of the Lord's body and blood and our physical selves has disappeared in the Reformed and Lutheran liturgies. However that is not the case in Lutheran hymnody.

Break forth, my soul, in joy and say:
What wealth has come to me today,
What health of body, mind, and soul!
Christ dwells within me, makes me whole (LW 245:2).

My Lord, you here have led me Within your holiest place
And here yourself have fed me With treasures of your grace;
For you have freely given What earth could never buy
The bread of life from heaven, That now I shall not die.

You gave me all I wanted; This food can death destroy. . . (LW 244:2, 3).

Through the gifts Thou here dost give me
As Thy guest in heaven receive me. (TLH 305:9)

This feast is manna, wealth abounding
Unto the poor, to weak ones power,
To angels joy, to hell confounding,
And life for us in death's dark hour. . . (TLH 315:10)

and omitted German stanzas continue:

Dein Fleisch wird mich einst auferwecken
und bringen aus dem Grab herfnr,
drum kann kein finster Grab mich schrecken,
es wird durch dich mein Lustrevier. . .

Mein todtes Fleisch wird wieder leben,
ob es die Wnrmer schon verzehrt,
ihm wird das Leben wieder geben dein Fleisch,
das mich jetzt hat gen_hrt. . .(Kirchengesangbuch, St. Louis, 202:18,19)

Other hymns include the phrases "this food is to be taken By the sick who are distressed" (LW 236:5); "Though weary, sinful, sick, and weak, Refuge in you alone I seek, To share your cup of healing" (LW 248:2); and "Found in your strength, your healing. . . Dead yet alive I praise you" (LW 246:5). "Grant that this Sacrament may be A blessed comfort unto me When living and when dying" (TLH 306:8).


As clear as these witnesses are, some may wonder whether this is a new and novel doctrine. That is why the confessors were careful to maintain that in the Evangelical Faith we "teach nothing that has not already been taught by the fathers." Space allows us to quote only a few of the many references which the fathers make to the Lord's Supper as a medicine of immortality.40

Ignatius of Antioch (c.35-c.107) provides the seminal teaching about the bodily effects of the Lord's Supper when he urges the Ephesians to

. . . break[ing] one bread, which is the medicine of immortality, the antidote that we should not die, but live forever.41

Justin Martyr (c.100-c.165) is the only apologist to speak in detail about the Lord's Supper. Like Ignatius, Justin following John 6, regards the body and blood of Christ in the Sacrament as the food of immortality."

We do not receive the Eucharist as ordinary bread or as an ordinary drink. But just as our Savior Jesus Christ was made flesh by the Word of God and took flesh and blood for our salvation, in the same way, we have learned, that by the words of prayer received from him, the eucharistic food is the flesh and blood of Jesus incarnate, food that is assimilated and nourishes our flesh and blood.42

Irenaeus (c.130-c.200), bishop of Lyons and pupil of Polycarp, uses the doctrine of the Lord's Supper to defend the faith against the Gnostics "who. . . deny the salvation of the flesh, and scorn its new birth, saying that it cannot receive incorruption."43 For example, in the Gospel of Philip the writer links John 6:53-56 and 1 Corinthians 15:50, and concludes that there will be a resurrection of the flesh, but it will be Christ's flesh, not that of the individual. Irenaeus argues the other way: because in the Sacrament our bodies are incorporated into the body of the Lord and are fed by his flesh as a nourishing food the believer's flesh and bones will also be raised.44

Therefore to us, as to babes, the perfect Bread of the Father communicates Himself as milk. . . in order that we, nourished by His Flesh as by the breast. . . might be able to retain in ourselves the Bread of Immortality.45

So even as. . . the grain of wheat which falls into the earth, and decaying, is raised up manifold by the Spirit. . . so also our bodies, nourished [by the Body and Blood of Christ], and put into the ground, and dissolved therein, shall rise again in their own time, the Word of God giving them resurrection.46

The Council of Nicaea (325) was summoned by Emperor Constantine primarily to deal with the Arian heresy. The leading champions of Orthodoxy were Athanasius and Alexander of Alexandria. While not addressing the Sacrament directly, Canon XIII is significant.

Concerning the departing, the ancient canonical law is still to be maintained, to wit, that, if any man be at the point of death, he must not be deprived of the last and most indispensable Viaticum.47

So intimately was the Sacrament connected with death and resurrection that even the "stern and invariable canons of the public penance" were bent to allow its reception.48

Cyril of Alexandria's (d. 444) doctrine of the Eucharist is a consequent result of his Christology. He stressed the hypostatic union of the two natures in opposition to Nestorius. Because he is quoted so frequently by the confessors, we take a somewhat longer look at the writings of Cyril. In his Third Letter to Nestorius Cyril writes,

. . .when we approach the sacramental gifts and are hallowed participants in the holy flesh and precious blood of Christ, Savior of us all, by receiving not mere flesh (God forbid!) or flesh of a man hallowed by connection with the Word in some unity of dignity or possessing some divine indwelling, but the personal, truly vitalizing flesh of God the Word himself. As God He is by nature Life and because He has become one with His own flesh He declared it vitalizing (ep. 70).

Cyril calls the flesh of Christ "vitalizing" because he, along with the Fathers before him, identified the essence and nature of God with his power (dunamis) and activity (energeia). Thus the union of the Logos and his body is a union of divine power and energy with human flesh.49 "Cyril transfers his understanding of the role of divine dunamis and energeia from his doctrine of the Incarnation into his understanding of the vivifying virtue of the Eucharist."50 Cyril maintains that what the life-giving Word Incarnate did among men during His earthly ministry, He now does in the Lord's Supper.

In his commentary on John 6:53 Cyril makes reference to the raising from the dead by Jesus of the daughter of the chief of the synagogue (Luke 8:54) and of the son of the widow of Nain (Luke 7:12). What Cyril says in this connection helps to illustrate our point. Cyril writes, "And if by the touch of His holy flesh, He gives life to that which has decayed, how shall we not profit yet more richly by the life-giving blessing when we also taste it."51

The flesh of Christ, impregnated with divine power and energy, has a "life-giving virtue." Hence the terms "vivifying" and "of life," are used with almost all of Cyril's references to the Sacrament. The two most common designations are "life-giving flesh: (sarx zoopoios) and the "flesh of life" (ha sarx tęs zoęs).52 Thus to participate in the Communion is to participate in the life of Christ.53

What are the benefits of such a participation? The first benefit is that the faithful become "concorporeal" (sussomoi) with Christ (Jo. 11). Through the Holy Spirit they partake of the nature of God (glaph. Gen. 1) and are "mixed (sunanakirnasthai) with Christ on a level befitting man (fr. Mt. 26:27). The former union is effected through the Holy Spirit and the latter through the body and blood of Christ."54 Christ is in the faithful in a real way by a natural participation (methexis phusikę). "Just as melting two pieces of wax by fire results in one thing out of two, so are those who participate in the body and blood of Christ united to Him and He to them" (Jo. 10).

Secondly, through the Eucharist the believers become "concorporeal" with one another by virtue of the fact that they share in the same physical body of Christ. "Blessing, through the mystery of the Eucharist, those who believe on Him, He makes us of the same body with Himself and with each other by one body (His own)" (Jo. 11). "Cyril calls this union a "physical union" (henosis phusikę) (Jo. 11). Thus the faithful are incorporated into a "physical union" with Christ and with each other."55

The third benefit is as a "journey provision" (ephodion) for the Christian Church on pilgrimage. The Table of the Lord is a place of restoration and renewal for the fight against the flesh and the devil. "...the mystical table, the flesh of Christ, makes us strong against passions and demons. For Satan fears those who receive the mysteries with reverence and piety."56

But the gift of the Eucharist which Cyril mentions most frequently is incorruptibility, for which he uses the words aphtharsia and athanasia interchangeably. Death dared to attack Christ, the "body of Life," but was instead destroyed by Him. This victory is now given to the believer through the Eucharist.57 Cyril writes,

From early times, that is, from the first time of the present world, death ravaged those who lived on earth, until the hour of the meal, i.e. until the time of the table. But when the time of the holy table arose for us, that table which is in Christ and is mystical, from which we eat the bread which is from heaven and is live-giving, then death, which of old was fearful and most powerful, was destroyed (ador. 3).

Gebremedhin summarizes Cyril's teaching in these words:

Through the sacrifice of Christ the flesh is clothed (amphiennusthai) with incorruptibility (Mal. 1:10). Christ's holy body keeps together or preserves (sunechein) unto incorruptibility those bodies with whom it has been mixed through the Eucharist (Jo. 3). The dwelling of death in man is replaced by the dwelling of life and immortality. Christ is said to dislodge death which dwelt in the flesh of man. Christ is said to hide life in the faithful through His own flesh (Jn. 4). He inserts life in the faithful as a seed of immortality (sperma athanasias) which abolishes all the corruptibility which is in man (Jn. 4). The Eucharist expels death and disposes of corruption (Jn. 4). It vanquishes (nikein) corruption totally (Jn. 10). The death of Christ puts out of function the death which had fallen upon man's members (1 Cor. 6:15).

Through the Eucharist Christ abides in the faithful and makes them superior to corruptibility, infusing Himself (into them) through His own flesh which is true food (Nest. 4:5). So much so that Cyril can teach that the life-giving blessing (i.e. the Eucharist) transforms (metapoiein) into immortality those who partake of it (Jo. 4).58

In light of Cyril's close connection to it, we mention here the third General Council held at Ephesus in 431. Summoned by Theodosius II in the hope of settling the Nestorian controversy it made this pronouncement against Nestorius who was unwilling to ascribe quickening to the flesh of Christ, but explained the passages in John 6 as referring to the divinity alone: Si quis non confitetur carnem domini esse vivificam propterea, quod propria facta est verbi, quod omnia vivificat, anathema sit. "If anyone does not confess that the flesh of the Lord is quickening, because it was made the Word's own, who quickens all things, let him be anathema."59 Though "councils can err," such a pronouncement, quoted by the Reformers bears such weight that it can not be easily cast aside.

If one thing is evident from the above survey it is the connection which the fathers saw between receiving the body and blood of Christ and our resurrection. The Bible does not tell us the how of this connection, only that "He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day" (Jn 6:54).60 That our body is fed with the body of Christ, accompanied by a promise of forgiveness more sure than the rising of the sun, can only be with the effect that "our faith and hope. . . abide and that our body live eternally from the same eternal food of the body of Christ."61

The Sacrament as pharmakon athanasias is not a doctrine to be brushed into a corner. The ancients understood that with it the pastor could never preach a sermon or visit in a home without encouraging "callous and cold hearts" (LC V, 53) to see with new eyes the gift here given.

With it our ministry is focused on the one thing needful, putting aside trendy solutions to membership decline with the assurance that through the reception of the Sacrament the heart will be quickened, "warmed and kindled" (LC V, 54).

With it we can endure the cross and temptation, for by joining himself so intimately to us in our misery he thereby assures us that he does not want us to remain so forever, but will someday conform us to his glorious body which we receive in the Supper as a seal of our coming glorification.

With it we enter the hospital room bringing hope through the vivifying body of the Lord, for where medicine ends and doctors fail, ours is the Lord who "will change our lowly body to be like his glorious body" (Phil 3:21). But until that day we are incorporated by his body and blood into the fellowship of those whose bodies wait to be quickened, and who join us around the altar with angels and archangels and all the host of heaven singing "Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord God, the Almighty" (Rev 4:8).


  1. See Hermann Sasse's discussion of the weakness of Augustine's sacramental theology and its influence on Lutheran doctrine in We Confess the Sacraments (St. Louis: Concordia, 1985), pp. 12-21.
  2. "Christ bids me eat and drink in order that the sacrament may be mine and may be a source of blessing to me as a sure pledge and sign--indeed, as the very gift he has provided for me against my sins, death, and all evils" (LC V, 22). See also AC XIII.
  3. "Therefore, it is appropriately called the food of the soul since it nourishes and strengthens the new man. While it is true that through Baptism we are first born anew . . . there are so many hindrances and temptations of the devil and the world that we often grow weary and faint. . . The Lord's Supper is given as a daily food and sustenance so that our faith may refresh and strengthen itself and not weaken in the struggle but grow continually stronger" (LC V, 23f).
  4. FC SD VII, 44. Luther emphasized this benefit in his first writings on the Supper. See especially "A Treatise Concerning the Most Holy Sacrament of the True Body of Christ and Concerning the Brotherhoods" (1519).
  5. For we must regard the sacrament as "a pure, wholesome, soothing medicine which aids and quickens us in both soul and body. For where the soul is healed, the body has benefitted also. . . those who feel their weakness, who are anxious to be rid of it and desire help, should regard and use the sacrament as a precious antidote against the poison in their systems. For here in the sacrament you receive from Christ's lips the forgiveness of sins, which contains and conveys God's grace and Spirit with all his gifts, protection, defense, and power against death and the devil and all evils" (LC V, 68, 70).
  6. Ernst Sommerlath, Der Sinn des Abendmahls nach Luthers Gedanken 1527-29 (1930); Werner Elert, Morphologie des Luthertums, I (1931), pp. 263-80; Der christl. Glaube (1941), pp. 464-476; Edmund Schlink, Theology of the Lutheran Confessions (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1961), pp. 163-165; Hermann Sasse, This is My Body (1977), pp. 147-150.
  7. See FC SD VIII, 59 and 76 where twice the Confessors appeal to John 6:48-58 and the Counsel of Ephesus for support in regarding the flesh of Christ as vivificus cibus. See also the quotations in the Catalogus Testimoniorum, especially can. 11 (Trig. p. 1128) and the "Visitation Articles," authored by Melanchthon, "The body and blood of Christ are received. . . for a pledge and assurance of the resurrection of our bodies from the dead" (Trig. p. 1151).
  8. The "second Martin", Chemnitz gives significant attention to this doctrine in his work on The Lord's Supper De coena Domini, tr. J.A.O. Preus (St. Louis: Concordia, 1979).
  9. Weimarer Ausgabe, 34, 2. 492, as translated by Norman Nagel, "The Incarnation and the Lord's Supper in Luther," Concordia Theological Monthly 24 (September 1953), pp. 631f.
  10. Gregory Nazianzen, "What was not assumed was not redeemed;" Cyril of Jerusalem, "If the incarnation was a fantasy, also the redemption was a fantasy" (Catech. 4); also Tertullian (Adv. Marc. III, 8).
  11. Triglotta, p. 1115.
  12. Triglotta, p. 1128.
  13. Triglotta, p. 1133. Similar declarations by Cyril, other fathers and councils are cited on pages 1115, 1128, 1134, 1140, 1147 and less specific statements by the fathers throughout the Catalog of Testimonies.
  14. Martin Luther, Luther's Works, gen. ed. Helmut Lehmann, Vol. 37: Word and Sacrament III (Philadelphia: Muhlenberg Press, 1961), pp. 100f.
  15. For a discussion of immortality and resurrection and its Greek counterparts see Kieran Nolan, The Immortality of the Soul and the Resurrection of the Body according to Giles of Rome (Rome: Studium Theologicum Sugustinianum, 1967); Bruce Reichenbach, Is Man the Phoenix? A Study of Immortality (Washington D. C.: Christian College Consortium and Wm. B. Eerdmans Pub. Co.); and Krister Stendahl, ed., Immortality and Resurrection (New York: Macmillan Co., 1965).
  16. Jaroslav Pelikan, Luther's Works: Luther the Expositor, (St. Louis: Concordia Pub. House, 1959), p. 175.
  17. For a discussion of the challenge in translating diatheke, see Leon Morris, "Covenant" in The Apostolic Preaching of the Cross (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1960), pp. 60-107 and "Diatheke" in Holy Bible New Evangelical Translation (Cleveland: NET Publishing, 1992), pp. 531-540.
  18. Sasse, We Confess the Sacraments, p. 96.
  19. Sasse, We Confess the Sacraments, p. 75.
  20. When the Lord gives us his true body and blood in the Sacrament he thereby incorporates us into his body, the church. This incorporation takes place not only through the "truly and substantially present" (vere et substantialiter adesse) Christ, but also through the truly and substantially present body and blood of Christ (Ap. X, 1). We are one body in Christ not only because of the spiritual blessings of the Sacrament, but also through the "communication of the flesh of Christ" (Ap. X, 3).
    Does this have any ramification for the various "Inter-Communion" dialogues taking place? Does it not force us to confront the question, "Dare we receive the gift of the Lord's body and blood with those who deny that gift is present? Is it really sufficient to confess the real presence of Christ in the Sacrament in such a general, "spiritualized" manner that the vere et substantialiter adesse body and blood of Christ, with all of its benefits, is omitted? By acknowledging only a "partial presence" of Christ, do we not thereby deny Him and make our own participation "unworthy?"
    Such inter-communion also jeopardizes our confession of other doctrines, for are they not equally pure gifts to the church given us to joyfully confess at the altar? The real and substantial presence of Christ's body and blood in the Sacrament hinges upon and confesses our Lord's incarnation, sacrificial death, victorious resurrection, ascension and session at God's right hand, and his coming again in glory. It confesses the Bible's revelation of Jesus Christ as true God and true man and the communication of the attributes of those two natures. To acknowledge the presence of his vivifying body is to confess our own status as sinners, our impotence before the grave, and the solid hope of our own resurrection.
  21. Luther, Works, Vol. 37, "This Is My Body," p. 132.
  22. Sasse, We Confess the Sacraments, p. 76.
  23. Luther, Works, Vol. 37, "Confession Concerning Christ's Supper," p. 238; see also p. 191. Pieper's concern [Christian Dogmatics, vol. 2, (St. Louis: Concordia, 1953), p. 113] that ascribing the benefit of pharmakon athanasias to the Lord's Supper might lead us to fall into the Romanist error of an operation of the sacraments ex opere operato sine bono motu utentis is acknowledged but is here answered by Luther. The body and blood of the Lord are present and received according to his Word, but their benefits are grasped only by faith. The same would be true of the promises in Holy Baptism or Holy Absolution.
  24. Augustine reports how several miraculous cures were effected through the sacraments of Baptism and the Lord's Supper (De civ. dei, 22, 6ff.).
  25. Werner Elert, The Lord's Supper Today, trans. Martin Bertram (St. Louis: Concordia Pub. House, 1973), p. 43.
  26. C. Jones, G. Wainwright, E. Yarnold, P. Bradshaw, ed., The Study of the Liturgy (New York: Oxford University Press, 1992), pp. 230-244, 252-263.
  27. F.L. Cross and E.A. Livingstone, ed., The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1974), p. 16.
  28. R.C.D. Jasper and G.J. Cuming, ed., Prayers of the Eucharist: Early and Reformed (New York: Oxford University Press, 1980), p. 14. The Third Anaphora of the Apostle Peter, preserved in the liturgy of the Maronite church, uses similar language and may go back to an even earlier date. See Jasper and Cuming, pp. 29, 31-33.
  29. Coxe, Fathers of the Third and Fourth Centuries, p. 566.
  30. Jasper and Cuming, pp. 38, 40-41. Hans Lietzmann, Mass and the Lord's Supper, tr. Dorothea H.G. Reeve (Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1979), p. 63, notes that the phrase "medicine of life" (pharmakon zoˆs) indicates a "somewhat more ancient" liturgical source.
  31. Jasper and Cuming, p.54.
  32. Ezra Gebremedhin, Life-Giving Blessing - An Inquiry into the Eucharistic Doctrine of Cyril of Alexandria (Uppsala: Doctoral dissertation at Uppsala University, 1977), p. 71.
  33. Jasper and Cuming, p. 70; Wegman, p. 117.
  34. Deiss, p. 238.
  35. Wegman, p. 127.
  36. Jasper and Cuming, p. 95.
  37. Jasper and Cuming, pp. 118, 124.
  38. The Didache, Anaphora of Basil, Liturgy of St. James, Apostolic Constitutions and the Anaphora of Epiphanius of Salmis. This language is preserved in the contemporary Lutheran liturgy, where communicants are dismissed with the words, "The body and blood of our Lord strengthen and preserve you steadfast in the true faith to life everlasting" (LW p. 152). More specific is the distribution formula of The Book of Common Prayer of 1549, and The Scottish Prayer Book of 1637(!):
    The body of our Lord Jesus Christ, which was given for thee, preserve thy body and soul unto everlasting life.
  39. Deiss, p. 256.
  40. Clement of Alexandria (c.150-c.215), Paed. I.6.42.2-3; I.6.49.3; Ped. 43.1 and 47.1; Eusebius of Caesarea (ca. 260-ca. 340); Hilary of Poitiers (c. 315-67), the 'Athanasius of the West,' was a defender of orthodoxy against Arianism and the leading and most respected Latin theologian of his age: De Trin. 8.13-17; Ps. 127.10; St. Athanasius (c. 296-373), Bishop of Alexandria and defender of the Faith against Arianism: Ep. 5 & 7; De Incarn. et cont. Ar. 18.1.2; Epist. 4 ad Serapion 19; Gregory of Nyssa (c. 330-c. 395), the younger brother of St. Basil and an ardent defender of the Nicene dogma of the Trinity: Great Catechism 37; Julius Firmicus Maternus (d. after 360) De errore profanarum religionum; Marius Victorinus (4th cent.) Advers. Arium; Ambrose (c. 339-97), bishop of Milan, one of the four traditional Doctors of the Latin Church: On the Mysteries VIII; Serm. on Ps. 119; John Chrysostom (c.347-407), bishop of Constantinople and Doctor of the Church, Hom. 50.3; 82.4f; John 6, Hom. 46; 1 Cor. 16, Hom. 24; Augustine (354-430), bishop of Hippo Regius and one of the Doctors of the Church, does not clearly speak of the Sacrament in terms of a Medicine of Immortality, but does attribute eternal life to its worthy reception: On S. Joh. 3:3. Hom. 26.11; Theodore of Mopsuestia (c.350-428) Catech. Paulinus (353-431), bishop of Nola, intimate friend of Ambrose, Augustine, Martin of Tours and Pope Anastasius I: Poetic Ascription for Church Built by Severus; Theodore of Alexandria (d.412) hom. div. 10; Theodoret (393-466), bishop of Cyrrhus: Ps. 21; Qu. 52 in 1 Kg. 1; Ps. 33; Esai. 65. 22; Peter Chrysologus (c.400-50), bishop of Ravenna: Serm. 33, 34; 70. For a single source to many of these quotations see E.B. Pusey, The Doctrine of the Real Presence as Contained in the Fathers (Oxford: for John Henry Parker, 1855).
  41. "os estin pharmakon athanasias, antidotos tou ma apothanein" Eph. 20, 2. Lietzmann, p. 210, observes that Ignatius most probably borrowed the expression from the liturgy of Antioch.
  42. Justin Apology 1. 66. 2. (ex has aima kai sarkes kata metabolan trefontai hˆmon). The Latin translation in M. J. Rouet De Journel, Enchiridion Patristicum (Barcelona: Herder, 1949), p. 128 reads ex qua sanguis et carnes nostrae per mutationem aluntur. One can understand Justin to be referring to the assimilation of the elements into the body of the communicant or their operation upon the communicant's body with reference to the resurrection. So the New Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge, 1910 ed., v. 2, p. 242.
  43. Irenaeus Against Heresies 5. 2. 2.
  44. For a discussion of Gnostic thought and orthodox thought on the resurrection and the Eucharist, see Van Eijk, "The Gospel of Philip and Clement of Alexandria," Vigiliae Christianae 25 (1971): 94-120.
  45. Against Heresies 4. 38. 1.
  46. Against Heresies 5. 2. 3.
  47. Philip Schaff & Henry Wace, gen. ed., Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1979), vol. XIV, The Seven Ecumenical Councils, Henry Percival, ed., p. 29.
  48. Percival, The Seven Ecumenical Councils, p. 30.
  49. Gebremedhin, pp.48f.
  50. Gebremedhin, p. 50.
  51. Gebremedhin, p. 67.
  52. Gebremedhin, p. 54.
  53. For an insightful summary of Cyril's Christology and Eucharistic doctrine, especially as it pertained to the Nestorian controversy, see Henry Chadwick, History and Thought of the Early Church (London: Variorum Reprints, 1982), pp. 145ff.
  54. Gebremedhin, p. 90.
  55. Gebremedhin, p. 92.
  56. Luke as quoted in Gebremedhin, p. 91.
  57. Gebremedhin, pp. 100-101.
  58. Gebremedhin, p. 101.
  59. Triglotta, "Catalog of Testimonies." p. 1129. Percival, The Seven Ecumenical Councils, p. 213.
  60. For a discussion of the applicability of John 6 to the Lord's Supper, see Sasse, We Confess the Sacraments, pp. 74ff.
  61. Luther, Works, Vol. 37, "This Is My Body," p. 132.

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