A Biblical Review
The Eucharist Holds Center Stage
The Eucharist is the focus of Roman Catholic faith. It is the central component of the Mass. It is the sacrament of sacraments. Without debate, the Church of Rome regards the doctrine of the Eucharist and Christ's real presence to be of utmost importance. Failure to acknowledge this truth is considered grave sacrilege by Rome. The official Catechism of the Catholic Church leaves no doubt on this point.
The Catholic Church teaches that once a Catholic priest has consecrated the wafer of bread during Communion, that the wafer turns into the literal and real body, blood, soul, and divinity of Jesus Christ.  Therefore, the communion host is no longer bread, but Jesus, under the appearance of bread, and is therefore worthy of adoration and worship. The Catholic Catechism states succinctly-
What Does the Bible Teach?
We have documented what the Roman Catholic Church teaches concerning the Eucharist. But what does the Bible teach? The Bible encourages believers to study the "whole counsel"  of God's Word and to "test all things; hold fast what is good." (1 Thessalonians 5:21). Every believer is to "be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth." (2 Timothy 2:15). To obey God's command to test all things, we will search the Scriptures to determine what the Bible teaches concerning the Lord's Supper.
The Last Supper was celebrated by first century Christians in obedience to Jesus' words "do this in remembrance of Me." (Luke 22:19). This observance was established by the Lord at the Last Supper when He symbolically offered Himself as the Paschal Lamb of atonement. His actual death the next day fulfilled the prophecy. Only Paul uses the phrase "Lord's Supper"  although it is alluded to in Revelation 19:9, where we are told that believers will celebrate the "marriage supper of the Lamb." Church fathers began to call the occasion the "Eucharist" meaning "thanksgiving" from the blessing pronounced over the bread and wine after about A.D. 100. Christians have celebrated the Lord's Supper regularly as a sign of the new covenant sealed by Christ's death and resurrection.  Today, the Eucharist means far more than simply thanksgiving.
This is My Body
So what exactly did Jesus ordain during the Last Supper? Here is the Bible's description of the events surrounding the Lord's Supper. At the Last Supper "[Jesus] took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, 'This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me.' Likewise He also took the cup after supper, saying, 'This cup is the new covenant in My blood, which is shed for you.'" (Luke 22: 19, 20). This is strong language indeed and not to be taken lightly for "all Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness…" (2 Timothy 3:16).
And if Jesus wasn't clear enough about His body and blood at the Last Supper,  He certainly left no room for doubt when He spoke about His flesh and blood, recorded in the sixth chapter of John's Gospel:
Repeatedly Jesus stated that His flesh is food and His blood drink. Taken together, these verses certainly seem to affirm that Jesus is truly present in the consecrated host. But, before putting the matter to rest, we must investigate the whole counsel of God.
Metaphors and Similes
Throughout the Bible, context determines meaning. Bible-believing Christians know to take the Bible literally unless the context demands a symbolic interpretation. Before exploring Jesus' words in John chapter 6 and elsewhere, let's review a few examples of symbolism in the Scriptures. All scholars would agree that the following verses are metaphorical. An explanation follows each verse.
It is apparent from searching the entire council of God that the Lord often uses metaphors and symbolic language to paint images for the reader. When the Bible says God hides us under His wings, we know that God is not a bird with feathers. However, the Bible should always be interpreted literally unless the context demands a symbolic explanation. So what does the context of John's Gospel and the other Gospels demand?
John Chapter 6
If we read the entire sixth chapter of John's Gospel, we not only get the context, but also some startling insights into what Jesus meant when He said we must eat His flesh and drink His blood. John chapter 6, begins with the account of Jesus feeding five thousand, followed by the account of Jesus walking on water. Starting in verse 22, we find that on the following day, people were seeking Jesus for the wrong reasons, which we understand from Jesus' words in verses 26 and 27: "you seek Me, not because you saw the signs, but because you ate of the loaves and were filled. Do not labor for food which perishes, but for food which endures to everlasting life."
These verses begin to frame the context of the verses that follow, specifically, that Jesus emphasized the need for them to seek eternal life. Jesus goes on to explain to them how to obtain eternal life, and in verse 28, when the people ask Jesus "What shall we do, that we may work the works of God?" Jesus replies (verse 29) "This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent."
Here Jesus specifies that there is only one work that pleases God, namely, belief in Jesus. Jesus re-emphasizes this in verse 35 "I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst." Notice the imperative is to "come to Me" and "believe in Me." Jesus repeats the thrust of His message in verse 40 where He states - "And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have everlasting life; and I will raise him up at the last day."
The Bread of Life
Jesus could not be more clear - by coming to Him and trusting in Him we will receive eternal life. At this point in the chapter, the Jews complained about Him because He said: "I am the bread which came down from heaven." (verse 41). Jesus responds to their murmuring in verses 42 through 58, where he states that He is indeed the "living bread" and that they must eat His flesh and drink His blood to obtain eternal life. However, let's remember the context of this statement. First, Jesus contrasts Himself with the manna that rained down on their fathers and sustained them for their journey, but their fathers are now dead. While Jesus offers Himself as the living bread, which, if they eat, will cause them to live forever.
Jesus is not the perishable manna that their descendants ate in the wilderness, He is the eternal bread of life that lives forever. Only by partaking in His everlasting life can we hope to live with Him forever. This contrast strengthens His main message, which is recorded in verse 47 where Jesus says, "Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me has everlasting life." Notice, Jesus said that as soon as we believe in Him we have, present tense, eternal life. It is not something we aim at or hope we might attain in the future, but rather, something we receive immediately upon believing.
When Jesus said these words, He was in the synagogue in Capernaum (verse 59), and He had neither bread nor wine. Therefore Jesus was either commanding cannibalism or He was speaking figuratively. If He was speaking literally, then He would be directly contradicting God the Father: "you shall not eat flesh with its life, that is, its blood." (Genesis 9:4). Therefore, because Jesus Himself said, "the Scripture cannot be broken." (John 10:35), He must be speaking metaphorically. And that is exactly how He explains His own words in the subsequent verses.
The Flesh Profits Nothing
After this, in verse 60, we find that many of His disciples said - "This is a hard saying; who can understand it?" Jesus was aware of their complaints and He responded in verses 61 through 64 saying - "Does this offend you? What then if you should see the Son of Man ascend where He was before? It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life. But there are some of you who do not believe." Wait a minute, the flesh profits nothing! I thought Jesus said we must eat His flesh? Yet, if the flesh profits nothing, Jesus must be speaking in spiritual terms. And that is exactly what He says - "The words that I speak to you are spirit."
Jesus uses the exact same Greek word for flesh ("sarx") as He did in the preceding verses. Therefore we must conclude that eating His literal flesh profits nothing! If the Lord Himself sets the context of the dialogue, we would do well to hear Him. He said that the words that He speaks are spirit and that the flesh profits nothing.
If that isn't clear enough, Peter's words allow no room for doubt. Immediately following the dialogue with the Jews, in which some disciples went away, Jesus said to the twelve apostles - "Do you also want to go away?" (verse 67). Peter's response is profound. His reply to Jesus is recorded in verse 68 - "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. Also we have come to believe and know that You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." Amazing! Peter did not say we have come to believe that we must eat Your flesh to live. He said that we know You are the Christ, and we have come to believe in You as the Christ.
This is the confession of faith that leads to eternal life, not eating Jesus' flesh and drinking His blood. It also agrees with the totality of Scripture. Here is a brief sampling:
In John chapter 6, Jesus clearly contrasted the temporary benefits of the physical manna with the eternal benefits of life in the Spirit. This theme is repeated throughout the Word of God. All through the Bible, the limited and temporary benefits of the flesh are contrasted with the infinite and eternal benefits of the spirit. Consuming manna, even manna from heaven, has limited value. However, receiving Christ's life, by placing our trust and hope in Him, has infinite value. Romans chapter 8 explains this truth:
Jesus' Seven "I AM" Statements
In addition to Jesus' teaching in John chapter 6, we get additional insight into His message by reading John's entire Gospel, and we begin to fully understand what Jesus meant when He said "I am the bread of life." In John's Gospel, Jesus makes seven "I am" statements. These seven are listed below.
Believers should love these seven "I am" statements. Not only is Jesus claiming to be God, but He is defining who God is. Back in the Book of Exodus, Moses asks God what His name is.  God responds to Moses by saying, "My name is I AM". God is the self-existent One. This I AM in the Hebrew is the name of God, the YHWH where we get "Yahweh" and "Jehovah."
And in John's Gospel, Jesus expounds and explains who God is. If your soul is hungering, Jesus would say: I am the bread of life. If you're seeking illumination and understanding, Jesus would say: I am the light of the world. Are you looking for the entrance into abundant life? Jesus would say: I am the door. Do you need guidance and protection? Jesus would say: I am the good shepherd. Are you seeking eternal life? Jesus would say: I am the resurrection and the life. Jesus knows your needs better than you do. Whatever your need, Jesus would say: I am the way, the truth, and the life. I am the vine. If you abide in Me, I will supply all your needs.
What Jesus is saying in John chapter 6 and throughout the Gospel of John is: I am all you need. I created you and I know and understand what you need to be fully satisfied and it is Me. Jesus is our all in all. No matter what we think we need, Jesus, alone can supply our true need. By studying the entire Gospel of John, we see clearly that Jesus is not proclaiming Himself to be literal bread, any more than He is proclaiming Himself to be a literal vine or gate. Rather, He is affirming that as our God and Creator, He, and He alone, is all we need. Understanding the whole counsel of God is crucial.
John Chapter 6: Unrelated to the Last Supper
Before leaving chapter 6 of John's Gospel, we must realize that this chapter does not deal directly with the Last Supper, or with the doctrine of the Eucharist. That's worth repeating, John chapter 6 has nothing to do with the Last Supper! And while proponents of transubstantiation often refer to these verses to support their doctrine, nowhere in this chapter does Jesus give the disciples instruction on how to celebrate Communion, nor is the Last Supper described here.
John deals with the Last Supper starting in chapter 13, but chapter 6 is a separate subject. So even if Jesus meant that we need to literally eat the meat of His body to obtain eternal life, He does not ordain a procedure to follow concerning the Communion meal, and He certainly does not tell His disciples to institute a priesthood that will consecrate bread and turn it into His literal flesh. Nor does He teach here, or anywhere in Scripture, to worship His body and blood under the appearance of bread. The Gospel accounts do record Jesus' words at the Last Supper, so let's investigate them.
John Chapter 13
In the thirteenth chapter of John's Gospel, the events of the Last Supper are given. In verses 2 and 4 we read - "And supper being ended…[Jesus] rose from supper and laid aside His garments, took a towel and girded Himself." So we see that by this time in John's account, the Last Supper was complete, which means that Jesus had already blessed the bread, broke it and said "This is My body which is given for you." (Luke 22:19).
What is interesting in John's account of the Last Supper, is that after Jesus blessed the bread and said "This is My body," He referred to the blessed and consecrated bread as mere bread (in verse 18 and verse 26). Verse 26 states: "Jesus answered, 'It is he whom I shall give a piece of bread when I have dipped it.' And having dipped the bread, He gave it to Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon." Did Jesus lose track of what He was doing? Did He misspeak? No! According to Jesus' own words, the bread remained bread even after being blessed.
Matthew, Mark, and Luke
Matthew 26:17-29, Mark 14:12-25, and Luke 22:7-23 give parallel accounts of what took place on the night before Jesus was crucified. In Luke 22:15-19 Jesus said to His disciples -
What is notable is what Jesus didn't say. Never did He say that the blessed bread became His literal body, blood, soul, and divinity. This is worth repeating - never in any of the Gospel narratives, or for that matter, nowhere in the entire Bible does Jesus teach that the blessed bread changes into His literal body, blood, soul and divinity. What He does say is - "do this in remembrance of Me." For we know that on the very next day, Jesus was crucified, died, and was buried. He then ascended to the Father.
Jesus' One Body is in Heaven
We are told in Mark 16:19 that "[Jesus] was received up into heaven, and sat down at the right hand of God." Jesus ascended bodily to be at the right hand of the Father. Peter says it this way: "[Jesus] has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God." (1 Peter 3:22). Jesus' one and only body is in heaven. This makes sense when we remember that He said "do this in remembrance of Me." If Jesus' body, blood, soul and divinity is with us in the Eucharist, the words "do this in remembrance of Me" would make no sense. A memorial service is not held for someone who is in attendance, but rather for someone who has departed.
Now, of course, Jesus is God and "God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth." (John 4:24). Jesus is with us spiritually and He is omnipresent (present everywhere), so He is with all of us right now - wherever we may be. But His body is in heaven. "After He [Jesus] had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God, from that time waiting till His enemies are made His footstool. For by one offering He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified." (Hebrews 10:12-14). It is clear that Jesus' body is in heaven and we are to remember what He did for us on the cross by celebrating Communion.
The Acts of the Early Church
The early church celebrated Communion frequently and their actions are recorded in the Book of Acts. Let's look at how the apostles and disciples celebrated Communion after Jesus' ascension. In the Book of Acts we read:
The Lord's apostles, the very same ones that were present at the Last Supper, broke bread daily, celebrating Communion, and not once did they refer to the bread as the literal body, blood, soul and divinity of Jesus. Even on Sunday, which is the day that the Lord rose, they referred to Communion as mere bread. In a key verse in the Book of Acts, we read: "Now on the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread…" (Acts 20:7).
Notice that the disciples broke bread on Sunday in remembrance of Jesus' death and resurrection. Search as we might, there is no hint in the entire Book of Acts that the disciples considered the Communion service as anything but a memorial service. This does not lessen its importance, rather it emphasizes that the reason for the Communion celebration is to remember the completed work of the cross and that Jesus is now in heaven as our triumphant King!
God Does Not Dwell in Temples Made with Hands
What is interesting in the Book of Acts is the repeated, emphatic statement made by the disciples that God does not dwell in temples! "However, the Most High does not dwell in temples made with hands…" (Acts 7:48).
This truth is also echoed in the Book of Hebrews: "For Christ has not entered the holy places made with hands…but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us." (Hebrews 9:24).
Amazing! The Eucharistic Tabernacle is a "holy place" made with human hands! Yet, the Bible states that Christ is not there but in heaven. In addition, the Greek word for "temple" is "naos", which can also be translated as "shrine" or a place of worship. God says He doesn't dwell there, yet the Catholic Church insists that Jesus is present in all the tabernacles of the world. The communion host is made with men's hands, yet, the Bible states that God is NOT worshipped with men's hands (Acts 17:25). The Scriptures clearly teach us that Jesus' body is in heaven and that Communion is meant as a memorial of the finished work of the cross.
Abstain from Blood
Furthermore, the apostles also commanded believers to abstain from blood. In the Book of Acts, we find that the apostles and elders came together to consider certain Jewish customs that had crept into the early church. Their decision, stated by James, is as follows:
If the original apostles and disciples repeatedly commanded new believers to abstain from blood (see also Acts 15:29; 21:25), why does the Roman Catholic Church encourage followers to eat Jesus' body and blood? If the consecrated communion host becomes Jesus literal body, BLOOD, soul, and divinity, then partaking in Communion goes against the Holy Spirit's command to abstain from blood. This is a direct contradiction.
1 Corinthians 11
Some proponents of the Eucharist argue that 1 Corinthians 11 supports transubstantiation. They refer to verse 29 that states - "For he who eats and drinks in an unworthy manner eats and drinks judgment to himself, not discerning the Lord's body." A thorough read of 1 Corinthians 11, reveals that the Corinthians were not making the proper distinction between Communion and common meals. Not discerning the Lord's body meant not discerning in the bread and wine the symbols of Christ's body and blood, but partaking of them irreverently, as if it were a common feast.
It is evident that this was the leading offense of the Corinthians. Those who were eating and drinking in an unworthy manner, were getting drunk and selfishly eating before others in the body of Christ. Paul states this as the problem in verses 20 and 21. There is no indication in chapter 11 of 1 Corinthians that Paul believed in or taught transubstantiation.
What is very provocative, in verses 26 and 28 of chapter 11, is that Paul refers to the blessed bread as mere bread after it had been blessed. Paul states in verse 26 - "For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord's death till He comes."
Additionally, if Jesus is really physically present in the Eucharist, why would Paul state that we are to celebrate the Lord's Supper "till He comes"? This would only make sense if the Lord's Supper is in memory of the finished work of Calvary. And that is exactly what Jesus ordained when He said "do this in remembrance of Me." (Luke 22:19). Jesus is the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. Of course, Jesus did not become a literal lamb when He died for the sins of the world, anymore than a wafer turns into the literal body, blood, soul, and divinity of Jesus during Communion.
Perhaps the most disturbing aspect of this Catholic doctrine is that Christ is being re-sacrificed daily by thousands of Catholic priests. And that by receiving the Eucharist a Catholic can obtain forgiveness of sins. In other words, the Catholic Church teaches that the Eucharist is a sacrificial offering able to atone for sins. Therefore, Christ is ever suffering and dying each time a priest consecrates the wafer. Here is how the Catechism explains it:
This teaching directly contradicts the Word of God. When Jesus died on the cross He proclaimed - "It is finished!" (John 19:30). The Greek word used is "tetelestai". It was a Greek accounting term that meant paid in full. The work for our salvation is complete! Christ purchased our redemption once and for all on the cross. Jesus is not being perpetually sacrificed in the Eucharist as the Catholic Church teaches. Partaking in the Eucharist does not appease God, nor does it atone for sin. If you are a Catholic, then the following verses can be transforming and revolutionary if you will simply take God at His Word.
Clearly, the Catholic doctrine of the Eucharist is contrary to God's Word. It is therefore rebellion to partake in the Catholic Mass. Worse, it is an abomination to worship and adore a piece a bread. This directly violates the second commandment (Exodus 20:4, 5).
If transubstantiation is true, then Jesus' body must be in hundreds of thousands of tabernacles simultaneously. Yet, the Word of God states unequivocally that Jesus has only one body: "and that He [Jesus] might reconcile them both to God in one body through the cross…" (Ephesians 2:16), and "a body you have prepared for Me [Jesus]." (Hebrews 10:5).Finally, at the risk of being redundant, it must be pointed out that nowhere in the Bible does the Holy Spirit teach that the blessed bread becomes the literal body, blood, soul and divinity of Jesus Christ. Proponents of transubstantiation cannot show a single, clear, biblical teaching to support their doctrine.
One final quote, taken from "Foxe's Book of Martyrs" recounts how Mrs. Prest of Cornwall was accused of denying transubstantiation. Her final words to the Catholic bishop prior to being burned at the stake are very illuminating.
For further study, refer to appendix A which summarizes the numerous Scriptures that refute transubstantiation.
Appendix A: Scripture Summary of the Lord's Supper
1. "Catechism of The Catholic Church," An Image Book, published by Doubleday, 1994, para. 1324, p. 368.
2. Ibid., para. 2181, p. 583.
3. Ibid., para. 2120, p. 570.
4. This process is called transubstantiation and is described in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, paragraphs 1373-1377 and 1413, on pages 383-385 and page 395.
5. "Catechism of the Catholic Church," para. 1374, p. 383.
6. Ibid., para. 1380, pp. 385, 386.
7. Ibid., para. 1418, p. 395.
8. Acts 20:27
9. 1 Corinthians 11:20
10. "Holman Bible Dictionary," Parsons Technology, 1994.
11. Scriptural instructions concerning Communion can be found in the following verses: Matthew 26:17-35; Mark 14:12-31; Luke 22:7-23; John 13:1-17, 26 and 1 Corinthians 11:17-34.
12. Exodus 3:11-15
13. "Catechism of the Catholic Church,", para. 1414, p. 395.
14. Ibid., para. 1405, p. 393.
15. Ibid., para. 1366, p. 380.
16. John Foxe, "Foxe's Book of Martyrs," Nashville, Tennessee, Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2000, p. 155.