More than Bread and Wine Part 3: Paul's Testimony and Jesus as the Passover Lamb

Paul's Testament to the True Presence

After Jesus ascended into heaven, we see the beginning of organized religion that differs greatly from the Jews. Peter, Paul, James, John and Luke (among others) are called upon to defend and define ideals of the faith, to guide and instruct the new believers.

When writing to the Corinthians, Paul uses similar language to that of Christ that allows for little misconception about the nature of the bread and wine used at communion.

The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ? Because the loaf of bread is one, we, though many, are one body for we will all partake of the one loaf.” -1 Corinthians 10:16-17

The “cup of blessing” is the blessed cup that is “done in remembrance.” The “cup of blessing” was also one of the cups of wine at the passover meal, the one that corresponds with the cup blessed at the Lord's Supper. This imagery would have been very potent to the Jewish converts especially because they would understand that the cup of blessing was a part of the passover, and because of that, the bread would be the Pascal Lamb (further evidenced by his reference in 1 Corinthians 5:7).

Also of note is the reference to the one loaf. Obviously, the church of Corinth was not sharing a loaf with Paul while he was away. Even the entire church of Corinth would not have been able to share one loaf. Obviously, he is not referring to a physical loaf but what the loaf is. The loaf is more than just the bread pulled from the oven. The loaf is the Bread of Life, the Body of Christ. It is partaking in that loaf that makes the Church the Body of Christ.

The following verses are Paul admonishing the people for reveling in the idolatry of the other religions, and he reminds them that their relationship with the Sacrifice of Christ is exclusive and that the sacrifice is offered to the Father or demons (Christians to God, pagans to demons). Christ is the Pascal Lamb that was sacrificed for our sins. Indeed, Christ himself said that his blood would be “poured out” for us.

Paul records the first written document we have of the Eucharist being common practice in the churches.

For I received from the lord what I also handed on to you, that the Lord Jesus, on the night he was handed over, took bread, and, after he had given thanks, broke it and said, 'This is My body that is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.' In the same way also the cup after supper, saying, 'This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.' For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the death of the lord until He comes.” -1 Corinthians 11:23-26

Do this in remembrance of me” is not the same as saying “have a memorial.” This is further emphasized by Paul's next point.

Therefore whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord unworthily will have to answer for the body and blood of the Lord. A person should examine himself, and so eat the bread and drink the cup. For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body, eats and drinks judgement on himself.” -1 Corinthians 27-29

Saying that the bread and wine are symbols in this context is like saying the flag and the White House are America. If someone burns a flag, people get mad and annoyed. If someone were to defile a picture of the White House or even graffiti it, people would get annoyed. There would be a punishment, but it wouldn't be very harsh because, in the end, no real harm is done. People are unpatriotic, but those people exist. However, if someone bombed the White House or any of American soil, then they'd have to answer for destruction of a portion of America.

Another analogy would be to state the difference between a girl, in a rage at her boyfriend for dumping ripping up all the pictures of him and actually killing him. One destroys the symbol. One destroys the life. One is an attack against a memory. One is an attack against the actual being.

It is the same here. If it were just bread and wine, then it wouldn't matter if people ate it “just because” or “because everyone else is doing it” or in a state of sin. However, Paul says that eating it unworthily, indeed, without seeing that it is indeed the body, is to eat and drink judgement (damnation in some translations) upon yourself. That seems to state rather clearly that it's not just a symbol but the actual thing. Because we have to answer for “the body and blood of the Lord.” We don't just have to answer for the wine and the bread, the flag, the photo, or the memory. We have to answer for the actual presence of our Lord.

Christ the Passover Lamb

I think we can all agree that Christ is the passover lamb. Paul is clear about that in First Corinthians, Revelation shows Christ as the Lamb, and John the Baptist heralds Jesus as “the Lamb of God who will take away the sins of the world.” We see many parallels to the passover lamb in the passion of Christ, and I will not go into all of them here. However, there is one thing I do wish to point out. When the passover was instituted, very specific rules were given. These rules were meant to be followed to the letter, otherwise, the firstborn would die.

The blood had to be sprinkled on the doorway, the lamb had to be spotless with no broken bones, the lamb had to be slaughtered in a certain manner to keep from breaking any bones, and the lamb had to be eaten. If the lamb had not been eaten, then the firstborn still would have died. Nothing could replace the actual consumption of the lamb.

Paul calls Christ our Pascal Lamb. Jesus said we had to eat His flesh. Jesus instituted the Eucharist during the Passover. Coincidence? Or not?

Soul and Divinity

Though Jesus never explicitly says “This includes my Soul and Divinity,” all Christians maintain that Jesus was fully human and fully God. Though he was in the form of man, he was still God. His soul and divinity were present even when he was man. Therefore, His flesh would still maintain His soul and divinity.

Part 1: Catholic Teaching on the Eucharist

Part 2: Jesus' Words

Part 3: Paul's Testimony

Part 4: Throughout History

Part 5: Ramifications


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