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Particulars of Christianity:
401 First Eight Writers' Consensus

4-5: Age of the World (6000 Years);
Communion Meal

Early Church Confirmation Rubric
Early Church Consensus: Introduction
1: Nature of the Godhead
2: Covenants & O.T. Saints Relationship to the Church
3: Kingdom (Hell), Timing of 2nd Advent and Kingdom
4-5: Age of the World (6000 Years); Communion Meal
6: Baptisms
7-8: Law of Christ; Repentance
9-12: Excommunication; Divorce; Sabbath; Tithing
13: Freewill (A) Against Original Sin and Total Depravity
13: Freewill (B) Against Unconditional Election
13: Freewill (C-D) Against Ltd. Atmt.; Ir. Grace, OSAS
14-15: Church Authority; Roles of Men and Women
16-18: Charismatic Gifts; Civil Gov't., War; Men & Angels
Addendum 1: Eternal Begetting - Irenaeus and Ignatius
Addendum 2: Eternal Begetting - Justin Martyr

Full Catalog


4) View of Young Age of the World and
a 6,000 Year Limit of Human History

The earth was only a several thousand years old as indicated by the record of the Old Testament. The total length of human history prior to the return of Jesus Christ to rule his kingdom was no more than approximately 6,000 years. Jesus’ kingdom was seen as a seventh thousand years and that total 7,000 year period was seen as corresponding to the seven days of Genesis 1, with Jesus’ kingdom corresponding to the Sabbath.


Barnabas –



CHAP. XV. Further,(16) also, it is written concerning the Sabbath in the Decalogue which [the Lord] spoke, face to face, to Moses on Mount Sinai, "And sanctify ye the Sabbath of the Lord with clean hands and a pure heart."(17) And He says in another place, "If my sons keep the Sabbath, then will I cause my mercy to rest upon them."(18) The Sabbath is mentioned at the beginning of the creation [thus]: "And God made in six days the works of His hands, and made an end on the seventh day, and rested on it, and sanctified it."(19) Attend, my children, to the meaning of this expression, "He finished in six days." This implieth that the Lord will finish all things in six thousand years, for a day is(20) with Him a thousand years. And He Himself testifieth,(21) saying, "Behold, to-day(22) will be as a thousand years."(23) Therefore, my children, in six days, that is, in six thousand years, all things will be finished. "And He rested on the seventh day." This meaneth: when His Son, coming [again], shall destroy the time of the wicked man,(24) and judge the ungodly, and change the-sun, and the moon,(25) and the stars, then shall He truly rest on the seventh day. Moreover, He says, "Thou shalt sanctify it with pure hands and a pure heart." If, therefore, any one can now sanctify the day which God hath sanctified, except he is pure in heart in all things,(1) we are deceived.(2) Behold, therefore:(3) certainly then one properly resting sanctifies it, when we ourselves, having received the promise, wickedness no longer existing, and all things having been made new by the Lord, shall be able to work righteousness.(4) Then we shall be able to sanctify it, having been first sanctified ourselves.(5) Further, He says to them, "Your new moons and your Sabbath I cannot endure."(6) Ye perceive how He speaks: Your present Sabbaths are not acceptable to Me, but that is which I have made, [namely this,] when, giving rest to all things, I shall make a beginning of the eighth day, that is, a beginning of another world. Wherefore, also, we keep the eighth day with joyfulness, the day also on which Jesus rose again from the dead.(7) And(8) when He had manifested Himself, He ascended into the heavens.


CHAP. XII. I also adduced another passage in which   Isaiah exclaims: "'Hear My words, and your soul shall live; and I will make an everlasting covenant with you, even the sure mercies of David. Behold, I have given Him for a witness to the people: nations which know not Thee shall call on Thee; peoples who know not Thee shall escape to Thee, because of thy God, the Holy One of Israel; for He has glorified Thee.'(3) This same law you have despised, and His new holy covenant you have slighted; and now you neither receive it, nor repent of your evil deeds. 'For your ears are closed, your eyes are blinded, and the heart is hardened,' Jeremiah(4) has cried; yet not even then do you listen. The Lawgiver is present, yet you do not see Him; to the poor the Gospel is preached, the blind see, yet you do not understand. You have now need of a second circumcision, though you glory greatly in the flesh. The new law requires you to keep perpetual sabbath, and you, because you are idle for one day, suppose you are pious, not discerning why this has been commanded you: and if you eat unleavened bread, you say the will of God has been fulfilled. The Lord our God does not take pleasure in such observances: if there is any perjured person or a thief among you, let him cease to be so; if any adulterer, let him repent; then he has kept the sweet and true sabbaths of God. If any one has impure hands, let him wash and be pure.



Irenaeus –



CHAP. XVI. Moreover, we learn from the Scripture itself, that God gave circumcision, not as the completer of righteousness, but as a sign, that the race of Abraham might continue recognisable. For it declares: "God said unto Abraham, Every male among you shall be circumcised; and ye shall circumcise the flesh of your foreskins, as a token of the covenant between Me and you."(13) This same does Ezekiel the prophet say with regard to the Sabbaths: "Also I gave them My Sabbaths, to be a sign between Me and them, that they might know that I am the Lord, that sanctify them."(14) And in Exodus, God says to Moses: "And ye shall observe My Sabbaths; for it shall be a sign between Me and you for your generations."(1) These things, then, were given for a sign; but the signs were not unsymbolical, that is, neither unmeaning nor to no purpose, inasmuch as they were given by a wise Artist; but the circumcision after the flesh typified that after the Spirit. For "we," says the apostle, "have been circumcised with the circumcision made without hands."(2) And the prophet declares, "Circumcise the hardness of your heart."(3) But the Sabbaths taught that we should continue day by day in God's service.(4) "For we have been counted," says the Apostle Paul, "all the day long as sheep for the slaughter;"(5) that is, consecrated [to God], and ministering continually to our faith, and persevering in it, and abstaining from all avarice, and not acquiring or possessing treasures upon earth.(6) Moreover, the Sabbath of God (requietio Dei), that is, the kingdom, was, as it were, indicated by created things; in which [kingdom], the man who shall have persevered in serving God (Deo assistere) shall, in a state of rest, partake of God's table.




Irenaeus –



CHAP. XXVIII. 2. …[He gives this] as a summing up of the whole of that apostasy which has taken place during six thousand years. 3. For in as many days as this world was made, in so many thousand years shall it be concluded. And for this reason the Scripture says: "Thus the heaven and the earth were finished, and all their adornment. And God brought to a conclusion upon the sixth day the works that He had made; and God rested upon the seventh day from all His works."(6) This is an account of the things formerly created, as also it is a prophecy of what is to come. For the day of the Lord is as a thousand years;(7) and in six days created things were completed: it is evident, therefore, that they will come to an end at the sixth thousand year.


CHAP. XXXIII. 2. For what are the hundred-fold [rewards] in this world, the entertainments given to the poor, and the suppers for which a return is made? These are [to take place] in the times of the kingdom, that is, upon the seventh day, which has been sanctified, in which God rested from all the works which He created, which is the true Sabbath of the righteous, which they shall not be engaged in any earthly occupation; but shall have a table at hand prepared for them by God, supplying them with all sorts of dishes.



5) View of the Communion Meal

The communion meal was an actual meal shared by all believers during church gatherings. It commemorated the atonement brought by Jesus Christ and celebrated the saints future resurrection to participate in the kingdom of God on earth when Jesus Christ returned. Since it was associated with participation in the kingdom of God eternally, taking communion symbolized having eternal life. (“Transubstantiation,” the doctrine that the bread and wine change to become the actual body and blood of Jesus Christ was not held. At most, it could be argued that the “Apostolic Fathers” believed in “consubstantiation,” the doctrine that the bread and wine remain actual bread and wine without being changed, but in a spiritual sense, they are joined with or by the body and blood of Jesus Christ. However, upon closer examination in detail, the surrounding context of the quotes indicates otherwise.)


Ignatius – 



CHAP. XX. If Jesus Christ shall graciously permit me through your prayers, and if it be His will, I shall, in a second little work which I will write to you, make further manifest to you [the nature of] the dispensation of which I have begun [to treat], with respect to the new man, Jesus Christ, in His faith and in His love, in His suffering and in His resurrection. Especially [will I do this 14] if the Lord make known to me that ye come together man by man in common through grace, individually,(1) in one faith, and in Jesus Christ, who was of the seed of David according to the flesh, being both the Son of man and the Son of God, so that ye obey the bishop and the presbytery with an undivided mind, breaking one and the same bread, which is the medicine of immortality, and the antidote to prevent us from dying, but [which causes] that we should live for ever in Jesus Christ.



Ignatius – 



CHAP. IV. Take ye heed, then, to have but one Eucharist. For there is one flesh of our Lord Jesus Christ, and one cup to [show forth(1)] the unity of His blood; one altar; as there is one bishop, along with the presbytery and deacons, my fellow-servants: that so, whatsoever ye do, ye may do it according to [the will of] God.



Ignatius –



VI. Let no man deceive himself. Both the things which are in heaven, and the glorious angels,(7) and rulers, both visible and invisible, if they believe not in the blood of Christ, shall, in consequence, incur condemnation.(1) "He that is able to receive it, let him receive it."(2) Let not [high] place puff any one up: for that which is worth all is a faith and love, to which nothing is to be preferred. But consider those who are of a different opinion with respect to the grace of Christ which has come unto us, how opposed they are to the will of God. They have no regard for love; no care for the widow, or the orphan, or the oppressed; of the bond, or of the free; of the hungry, or of the thirsty. CHAP. VII. They abstain from the Eucharist and from prayer,(7) because they confess not the Eucharist to be the flesh of our Saviour Jesus Christ, which suffered for our sins, and which the Father, of His goodness, raised up again. Those, therefore, who speak against this gift of God, incur death(11) in the midst of their disputes. But it were better for them to treat it with respect,(13) that they also might rise again. It is fitting, therefore, that ye should keep aloof from such persons, and not to speak of(15) them either in private or in public, but to give heed to the prophets, and above all, to the Gospel, in which the passion[of Christ] has been revealed to us, and the resurrection has been fully proved.(16) But avoid all divisions, as the beginning of evils.


CHAP. VIII. See that ye all follow the bishop, even as Jesus Christ does the Father, and the presbytery as ye would the apostles; and reverence the deacons, as being the institution(17) of God. Let no man do anything connected with the Church without the bishop. Let that be deemed a proper(18) Eucharist, which is[administered] either by the bishop, or by one to whom he has entrusted it. Wherever the bishop shall appear, there let the multitude[of the people] also be; even as, wherever Jesus Christ is, there is the Catholic Church. It is not lawful without the bishop either to baptize or to celebrate a love-feast; but whatsoever he shall approve of, that is also pleasing to God, so that everything that is done may be secure and valid.(2)


NOTE 1: Ignatius’ Words in Textual Context – When Ignatius says that unbelievers deny “the Eucharist to be the flesh of our Saviour,” what he means is that they deny Jesus’ body and blood were a sacrifice for our sins.


There is a parallel between the phrase “they confess not the Eucharist to be the flesh of our Saviour” and the previous phrase “they believe not in the blood of Christ.” Ignatius does not say, “they believe not in the wine” but “the blood.” This shows that Ignatius has in view the actual shedding of Jesus’ blood while he was on the cross.


Similarly, in the parallel phrase that follows, we should look for Ignatius to speak of the flesh of Christ that died on the cross, rather than the bread. And Ignatius does exactly that, using the term “Eucharist” metaphorically to apply to Christ’s body and even explicitly specifying for us that this is what he means.


In short, Ignatius is using “Eucharist” here to speak of Jesus’ physical death on the cross rather than to speak of the bread and wine, which represent and remind Christians of that sacrificial death.


NOTE 2: Ignatius’ Words in Historical Context – Justin Martyr is a close contemporary of Ignatius, and he uses similar language concerning the communion meal.

First, Justin held that it was by remembrance that Christians saw in the bread and wine the sacrifice of Jesus’ body and blood, not through an actual change of substance.


Second, that the bread and wine did indeed remain normal solid and liquid food without changing substance (i.e. transubstantiation).


Third, Justin understood the foundation of communion meal imagery in a way that is reversed from Roman Catholic views. Justin did not start by thinking of the bread and wine as being Christ’s body and blood. Instead, for Justin and his contemporaries, the initial step was to think of Jesus’ body and blood on the cross metaphorically as sacrificial bread and wine. From there, by extension the communion meal itself could be spoken of in terms of Christ’s sacrificed body and blood. It was the application of the terms “bread” and “wine” as metaphorical descriptors to Christ’s body that formed the basis of the communal language. It was not the application of the terms “body” and “blood” as actual, literal descriptions of the bread and wine.


If we apply this contemporary view to Ignatius words, we further understand that when Ignatius says that unbelievers deny “the Eucharist to be the flesh of our Saviour,” what he means is that they deny Jesus’ body and blood were a sacrifice for our sins.


Justin Martyr –



CHAP. LXVI. And this food is called among us Eukaristia(5) [the Eucharist], of which no one is allowed to partake but the man who believes that the things which we teach are true, and who has been washed with the washing that is for the remission of sins, and unto regeneration, and who is so living as Christ has enjoined. For not as common bread and common drink do we receive these; but in like manner as Jesus Christ our Saviour, having been made flesh by the Word of God, had both flesh and blood for our salvation, so likewise have we been taught that the food which is blessed by the prayer of His word, and from which our blood and flesh by transmutation are nourished, is the flesh and blood of that Jesus who was made flesh.(6) For the apostles, in the memoirs composed by them, which are called Gospels, have thus delivered unto us what was enjoined upon them; that Jesus took bread, and when He had given thanks, said, "This do ye in remembrance of Me,(7) this is My body;" and that, after the same manner, having taken the cup and given thanks, He said, "This is My blood;" and gave it to them alone. Which the wicked devils have imitated in the mysteries of Mithras, commanding the same thing to be done. For, that bread and a cup of water are placed with certain incantations in the mystic rites of one who is being initiated, you either know or can learn.


Dialogue of Justin –



CHAP. LXX. Bread shall be given to him, and his water[shall be] sure. Ye shall see the King with glory, and your eyes shall look far off. Your soul shall pursue diligently the fear of the Lord. Where is the scribe? where are the counsellors? where is he that numbers those who are nourished,--the small and great people? with whom they did not take counsel, nor knew the depth of the voices, so that they heard not. The people who are become depreciated, and there is no understanding in him who hears.'(5) Now it is evident, that in this prophecy [allusion is made] to the bread which our Christ gave us to eat,(6) in remembrance of His being made flesh for the sake of His believers, for whom also He suffered; and to the cup which He gave us to drink,(6) in remembrance of His own blood, with giving of thanks.


Dialogue of Justin –


CHAP. CXVII. "Accordingly, God, anticipating all the sacrifices which we offer through this name, and which Jesus the Christ enjoined us to offer, i.e., in the Eucharist of the bread and the cup, and which are presented by Christians in all places throughout the world, bears witness that they are well-pleasing to Him. But He utterly rejects those presented by you and by those priests of yours, saying, 'And I will not accept your sacrifices at your hands; for from the rising of the sun to its setting my name is glorified among the Gentiles (He says); but ye profane it.'(4) Yet even now, in your love of contention, you assert that God does not accept the sacrifices of those who dwelt then in Jerusalem, and were called Israelites; but says that He is pleased with the prayers of the individuals of that nation then dispersed, and calls their prayers sacrifices. Now, that prayers and giving of thanks, when offered by worthy men, are the only perfect and well-pleasing sacrifices to God, I also admit. For such alone Christians have undertaken to offer, and in the remembrance effected by their solid and liquid food, whereby the suffering of the Son of God(5) which He endured is brought to mind, whose name the high priests of your nation and your teachers have caused to be profaned and blasphemed over all the earth.


NOTE 3: “Transmutation” – In the first quote above, Justin uses the term “transmutation” with regard to the bread and wine of communion. In saying these things, Justin is not asserting that the bread and wine actually become Jesus’ body and blood in any sense.


“Transmutation” here simply refers to the physical change in the food that takes place when our bodies digest it for nourishment. The word “transmutation” occurs in a phrase accurately enclosed in commas: “and from which our blood and flesh by transmutation are nourished.” This enclosed phrase modifies the word “food” and the occurrence of the word “transmutation” is in connection to the nourishment that our bodies derive from food. Connecting the two conveys the simple idea that “the food from which our blood and flesh are nourished by transmutation.” In saying that the food is changed into nourishment for our bodies for normal digestion, Justin actually affirms that the food remains normal food and the only change in the substance of the food is the normal and natural change of digestion. 


NOTE 4:The food is the flesh and blood of Jesus” – As indicated above, the word “transmutation” occurs in a phrase enclosed in commas, which is an adjectival phrase applied to the food. However, if we skip over the intervening descriptive phrases about the food, Justin still says “we have been taught that the food…is the flesh and blood of that Jesus who was made flesh.”


First, before we can interject and suppose that the bread and wine actually become Jesus’ body and blood, Justin himself explains that the bread and wine are taken as a “remembrance” of Jesus’ sacrifice.


Second, we must remember that the opening statement of this sentence is “For not as common bread and common drink do we receive these.” Justin’s point is to explain how and why the communion meal is not regarded as an everyday meal.


On the night the Passover meal was eaten, Jesus announced to his disciples that his body and blood would be sacrificed for them, using the Mosaic Passover sacrificial meal as an illustration. As instructed by Christ, the Christians merely appropriated the Passover meal, which previously foreshadowed Christ’s sacrifice, only now the meal would look backward at Christ’s historic sacrifice rather than forward. Justin’s language merely reflects this Christian association of this particular meal as uniquely intended to depict the Messiah’s sacrifice.


Justin is specific about this in two later chapters (the second and third quotes above, which we referred to previously.)


First, he states, “the bread which our Christ gave us to eat,(6) in remembrance of His being made flesh for the sake of His believers” and “the cup which He gave us to drink, in remembrance of His own blood, with giving of thanks.”


Second, Justin states that “in the remembrance effected by their solid and liquid food, whereby the suffering of the Son of God(5) which He endured is brought to mind.”

In both passages, Justin plainly states two important ideas.


Number one, the bread and wine indeed remain “solid and liquid food,” even that Christ gave Christians this bread and wine “in remembrance of His being made flesh” for their sakes. They do not change into something else.


And number two, the reason that this meal was not regarded as an ordinary meal by Christians was because this meal in particularly was intended for reminding Christians of the incarnation and sacrifice of Christ.


Consequently, the fact that this meal was given by Christ “in remembrance” of his incarnation and sacrifice fully explains Justin’s opening statement that “not as common bread and drink do we receive these.”


NOTE 5: “In like manner…so likewise” – Lastly, it is necessary to address Justin’s opening phrase as a whole. Justin states, “in like manner as Jesus Christ our Saviour, having been made flesh by the Word of God, had both flesh and blood for our salvation, so likewise have we been taught that the food which is blessed by the prayer of His word, and from which our blood and flesh by transmutation are nourished, is the flesh and blood of that Jesus who was made flesh.(6)” Does this mean that Justin understood that the bread and wine became actual flesh and blood in the same sense that the Word of God became flesh and blood? There are two reasons why the answer to this question is “no.”


First, the bread and the wine cannot in any way be observed to become real flesh and blood. Nor would any test or proof reveal them to be anything other than ordinary bread and wine. Consequently, if Justin means to convey that the transformation of the bread and wine into Jesus’ flesh and blood is the same as the Word miraculously becoming flesh and blood, then this comparison undermines the reality of the incarnation.


For the parallel to be true, it would mean that the Word only became man in some intangible sense, which could not be observed or proven any more than the bread and wine can be observed or proven to be flesh and blood. In other words, the incarnation would only be intangible.


But such a doctrine would undermine the constant insistence of the early Christians that the Word truly became real flesh and blood, a real man in actuality, not just in some intangible spiritual sense, and furthermore that the death of Jesus Christ was the ultimate proof of the reality of his humanity, without which all hope for salvation was meaningless. (See Philippians 2:5-11.)


So, there is good reason to reject even the possibility that Justin intended the comparison in this way, especially when a much more acceptable, logical, and likely comparison is available.


Second, Justin’s meaning is best understood in the following way.


Human flesh and blood is common. Every man has it, even sinners. But by taking on flesh and blood, the Word made it holy and by extension opened the way for all men, though flesh and blood, to live holy.


Nevertheless, at the incarnation the flesh and blood of Jesus Christ remained actual flesh and blood. They did not change their substance. The change was that these ordinary, physical things common to men were made holy.


So likewise, when we apply this pattern to the communion meal, the result would be that the bread and wine remain actual bread and wine, just as when the Word became flesh and blood these were real, actual flesh and blood and their substance was not changed.


But in like manner, just as the common substance of flesh and blood was made holy by the presence of the Word, so the communion meal becomes holy, even though it does not change into anything other than ordinary bread and wine, because Jesus’ promised that he would be present wherever two or more of his followers gathered in his name.



First, both Ignatius and Justin use the metaphor of the bread and wine in reverse of the common misperception. Instead of saying that the bread and wine become Jesus’ body and blood in the communion meal, they are speaking of the Word metaphorically becoming sacrificial bread and wine when he took on body and blood at the incarnation.

Second, Christians do not regard this meal as ordinary because, unlike other meals, this meal was intended to remind them of the incarnation and sacrifice of their Savior. It was the remembrance, not any change in the food, which made it more than a common meal.

Third, Christians understood that the bread and wine did not change but remained ordinary food and drink, yet the meal was changed from “common” and “ordinary” to “holy” by their remembrance of the presence of the Lord in the same way that the presence of the Jesus Christ, the Word of God, dwelling among men in flesh and blood made, made his flesh and blood holy and opened the way for all of us to become holy by means of his sacrifice. The change was from common to holy despite the fact that the substance, whether flesh and blood or bread and wine, remained unchanged.


NOTE: In the quote below, Justin refers to the bread and wine of the Eucharist as “sacrifices.” Justin does not indicate or intend to convey that Christ is “re-sacrificed” again and again at every communion meal as though the bread and the wine were his actual body being sacrificed repeatedly in a real sacrifice. First, “sacrifice” is plural here, not because Christ is repeatedly re-sacrificed, but because “sacrifices” here refers to both the bread and the wine distinctly. Both are sacrifices. Moreover, Justin specifies why he is calling the bread and the wine sacrifices. His reason is not that they become Jesus body and blood and so, Jesus is re-sacrificed every time the meal is eaten. Justin’s explanation is far simpler. He speaks of the bread and wine as sacrifices because the Old Testament sacrifices are types or prefigures of the bread and the wine. Thus, the bread and the wine are “sacrifices” so to speak.


Dialogue of Justin –



CHAP. XLI. And the offering of fine flour, sirs," I said, "which was prescribed to be presented on behalf of those purified from leprosy, was a type of the bread of the Eucharist, the celebration of which our Lord Jesus Christ prescribed, in remembrance of the suffering which He endured on behalf of those who are purified in soul from all iniquity, in order that we may at the same time thank God for having created the world, with all things therein, for the sake of man, and for delivering us from the evil in which we were, and for utterly overthrowing(4) principalities and powers by Him who suffered according to His will. …He then speaks of those Gentiles, namely us, who in every place offer sacrifices to Him, i.e., the bread of the Eucharist, and also the cup of the Eucharist, affirming both that we glorify His name, and that you profane [it].


NOTE: The language of the quote below does not including anything outside the same figurative language associated with the communion meal in the New Testament itself. The language is figurative and, from its earliest usages in John 6, it was clearly understood by the disciples as metaphorical rather than literal. Further evidence that the language of “sacrifice” is intended metaphorically here is shown by the reference to the prayers of the saints as an offering of incense. Prayers, of course, do not transubstantiate into incense, or vice versa.


Irenaeus –



CHAP. XVII. 5. Again, giving directions to His disciples to offer to God the first-fruits(5) of His own, created things--not as if He stood in need of them, but that they might be themselves neither unfruitful nor ungrateful--He took that created thing, bread, and gave thanks, and said, "This is My body."(6) And the cup likewise, which is part of that creation to which we belong, He confessed to be His blood, and taught the new oblation of the new covenant; which the Church receiving from the apostles, offers to God throughout all the world... 6. Since, therefore, the name of the Son belongs to the Father, and since in the omnipotent God the Church makes offerings through Jesus Christ, He says well on both these grounds, "And in every place incense is offered to My name, and a pure sacrifice." Now John, in the Apocalypse, declares that the "incense" is "the prayers of the saints."(9)…


NOTE: The “spiritual” reality of our bodies when they receive the Eucharist does not entail an actual physical change to those visible, corruptible bodies. Instead, the “spiritual” reality is the receiving of “the hope of the resurrection.” Consequently, “spiritual” here does not denote what is actually occurring in the invisible realm, as though the bread and wine were bread and wine in the visible but in the invisible they are the body and blood of Jesus. Instead, here “spiritual” means (as it sometimes does in New Testament scripture itself) a hidden meaning to physical thing, a reality to come in contrast to the one in the present. A contrasting phrase would be “speak after the manner of men” as found in Romans 6:15-23 or Galatians 3:15-17 (see also Galatians 4:22-26), in which cases a physical example is offered, not to indicate a simultaneous alternate spiritual reality, but to illustrate a spiritual truth. In this case, the physical body is made alive by physical food, such as bread and wine, and that signifies not an alternate present reality in the spiritual realm, but the hope that by keeping Christ’s words in us, his words and his Spirit will make us alive again in the resurrection.


CHAP. XVIII. 3. …Sacrifices, therefore, do not sanctify a man, for God stands in no need of sacrifice; but it is the conscience of the offerer that sanctifies the sacrifice when it is pure, and thus moves God to accept [the offering] as from a friend. "But the sinner," says He, "who kills a calf [in sacrifice] to Me, is as if he slew a dog."(10) …5. Then, again, how can they say that the flesh, which is nourished with the body of the Lord and with His blood, goes to corruption, and does not partake of life? Let them, therefore, either alter their opinion, or cease from offering the things just mentioned.(4) But our opinion is in accordance with the Eucharist, and the Eucharist in turn establishes our opinion. For we offer to Him His own, announcing consistently the fellowship and union of the flesh and Spirit.(5) For as the bread, which is produced from the earth, when it receives the invocation of God, is no longer common bread,(6) but the Eucharist, consisting of two realities, earthly and heavenly; so also our bodies, when they receive the Eucharist, are no longer corruptible, having the hope of the resurrection to eternity.


NOTE: In the quote below, there is language indicating that the cup of wine at communion is Jesus’ own blood and the bread is his own body. However, as the text continues, it becomes apparent that these expressions are not meant as literal descriptions about what happens to the communion bread and wine. The communion bread and wine are being used here as metaphors illustrating what the Lord does for our bodies through his body. In the same way that our mortal bodies are nourished and build up by food and drink, by becoming God incarnate, dying, and rising again, Jesus has likewise made his human body into a means of strengthening our mortal bodies into immortal bodies. Such statements are plain in the quote. And this is the meaning of the phrase, “When, therefore, the mingled cup and the manufactured bread receives the Word of God, and the Eucharist of the blood and the body of Christ is made,(5) from which things the substance of our flesh is increased and supported.” This statement is not intended to convey that the physical bread and wine is entered into or indwelled by the Word himself and so changes in substance in some spiritual way to become the Eucharist. Instead, the word “receives” simply relays the idea that in the metaphorical illustration of the communion meal, the bread and the wine “received” the position that is analogous to the role performed by the Word Himself through his incarnation. Irenaeus’ point is that, if the bread and wine can receive this role in illustrating what the Word’s body does for us, then how can the heretics deny that the Word truly had a body? In other words, Irenaeus is simply pointing out that to deny the incarnation is to deny the fundamental, illustrative purpose of the communion meal. Consequently, when properly understood rather than taking key phrases out of context, this statement does not infer that the bread and wine actually become indwelled by the presence of the Word.


Irenaeus –



CHAP. II. 2. He has acknowledged the cup (which is a part of the creation) as His own blood, from which He bedews our blood; and the bread (also a part of the creation) He has established as His own body, from which He gives increase to our bodies.(4) 3. When, therefore, the mingled cup and the manufactured bread receives the Word of God, and the Eucharist of the blood and the body of Christ is made,(5) from which things the substance of our flesh is increased and supported, how can they affirm that the flesh is incapable of receiving the gift of God, which is life eternal, which [flesh] is nourished from the body and blood of the Lord, and is a member of Him?--even as the blessed Paul declares in his Epistle to the Ephesians, that "we are members of His body, of His flesh, and of His bones."(6) He does not speak these words of some spiritual and invisible man, for a spirit has not bones nor flesh;(7) but [he refers to] that dispensation [by which the Lord became] an actual man, consisting of flesh, and nerves, and bones,--that [flesh] which is nourished by the cup which is His blood, and receives increase from the bread which is His body. And just as a cutting from the vine planted in the ground fructifies in its season, or as a corn of wheat falling into the earth and becoming decomposed, rises with manifold increase by the Spirit of God, who contains all things, and then, through the wisdom of God, serves for the use of men, and having received the Word of God, becomes the Eucharist, which is the body and blood of Christ; so also our bodies, being nourished by it, and deposited in the earth, and suffering decomposition there, shall rise at their appointed time, the Word of God granting them resurrection to the glory of God, even the Father, who freely gives to this mortal immortality, and to this corruptible incorruption,(8)


NOTE: In the quote below, Irenaeus argues that the saints will inherit and inhabit the earth for all eternity in the kingdom. And in particular, he argues that Jesus’ promise to drink wine with his apostles in the kingdom is proof of this. His point is that since the fruit of the vine is a physical, earthly substance, it cannot be consumed in some super-celestial reality, nor can it be consumed in some way that does not involve a body that physically ingests it. All such statements necessarily imply that in Irenaeus’ view, the communal meal (of which the Last Supper was the first occurrence) is actually a physical meal comprised of normal, earthly substances of bread and wine. If the bread and wine become super-celestial or non-corporeal spiritual concepts or realities, then Irenaeus’ argument would not work, because such spiritualized bread and wine could arguably take place in some non-corporeal, celestial manner and location.


CHAP. XXXIII. 1. …Thus, then, He will Himself renew the inheritance of the earth, and will re-organize the mystery of the glory of [His] sons; as David says, "He who hath renewed the face of the earth."(3) He promised to drink of the fruit of the vine with His disciples, thus indicating both these points: the inheritance of the earth in which the new fruit of the vine is drunk, and the resurrection of His disciples in the flesh. For the new flesh which rises again is the same which also received the new cup. And He cannot by any means be understood as drinking of the fruit of the vine when settled down with his [disciples] above in a super-celestial place; nor, again, are they who drink it devoid of flesh, for to drink of that which flows from the vine pertains to flesh, and not spirit.