Matthew 26:26
And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed it, and broke it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is my body.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(26) As they were eating.—Again we must represent to ourselves an interval of silence, broken by the act or words that followed. The usual “grace” or blessing had been spoken at the beginning of the feast. Now, taking one of the cakes of unleavened bread, He again utters a solemn formula of blessing, and gives it to them with the words, “Take, eat, this is my body;” or, as in St. Luke’s fuller report (Luke 22:19; comp. also 1Corinthians 11:24), “This is My body that is given for you” (literally, that is in the act of being given); “do this in remembrance of Me” (better, as a memorial of Me). It would be an endless and profitless task to enter into the labyrinth of subtle speculations to which these words have given rise. Did the bread which He thus gave them contain at that moment the substance of His body, taking the place of its own substance or united with it? In what way is He present when those words are repeated and the faithful receive the “sacrament of the body and blood of Christ?” Questions such as these, theories of Transubstantiation, Consubstantiation, and the like, are, we may venture to say, alien to the mind of Christ, and outside the range of any true interpretation. As pointing to the true path through that labyrinth, it will be enough to remember (1) that our Lord’s later teaching had accustomed the disciples to language of like figurative boldness. He was “the door of the sheep-fold” (John 10:7). What they would understand at the time and afterwards was, that He spoke of His body as being as truly given for them as that bread which He had broken was given to them. (2) That the words could scarcely fail to recall what had once seemed a “hard saying which they could not hear” (John 6:60). They had been told that they could only enter into eternal life by eating His flesh and drinking His blood—i.e., by sharing His life, and the spirit of sacrifice which led Him to offer it up for the life of the world. Now they were taught that what had appeared impossible was to become possible, through the outward symbol of the bread thus broken. They were to “do this” as a memorial of Him, and so to keep fresh in their remembrance that sacrifice which He had offered. To see in these words, as some have seen, the command, “Offer this as a sacrifice,” is to do violence to their natural meaning by reading into them the after-thoughts of theology. (See Notes on Luke 22:19.) But, on the other hand, the word rendered “remembrance” or “memorial” was one not without a sacrificial aspect of its own. Every “sacrifice” was a “remembrance” of man’s sins (Hebrews 10:3). Every Paschal Feast was a “memorial” of the first great Passover (Exodus 12:9; Numbers 10:10). So every act such as He now commanded would be a “memorial” at once of the sins which made a sacrifice necessary, and of the one great sacrifice which He had offered. (3) It seems something like a descent to a lower region of thought, but it ought to be noted that the time at which the memorial was thus instituted, “while they were eating,” is not without its significance in the controversies which have been raised as to fasting or non-fasting communion. Rules on such a subject, so far as any Church adopts them, or any individual Christian finds them expedient, may have their authority and their value, but the facts of the original institution witness that they rest on no divine authority, and that the Church acts wisely when it leaves the question to every individual Christian to decide as he is “fully persuaded in his own mind” (Romans 14:5).

Matthew 26:26. And as they were eating, Jesus took bread — The bread, or cake, which the master of the family used to divide among them, after they had eaten the passover. This custom our Lord now transferred to a nobler use. This bread is, that is, signifies or represents, my body, according to the style of the sacred writers. Thus Genesis 40:12, The three branches are three days. Thus Galatians 4:24, St. Paul, speaking of Sarah and Hagar, says, These are the two covenants. Thus in the grand type of our Lord, Exodus 12:11, God says of the paschal lamb, This is the Lord’s passover. Now Christ, substituting the holy communion for the passover, follows the style of the Old Testament, and uses the same expressions the Jews were wont to use in celebrating the passover. “When I consider,” says Dr. Doddridge, “that, on the same foundation on which the Papists argue for transubstantiation from these words, they might prove from Ezekiel 5:1-5, that the prophet’s hair was the city of Jerusalem; from John 10:9; John 15:1, that Christ was literally a door and a vine; from Matthew 26:27-28, and 1 Corinthians 11:25, that the cup was his blood, and that Christ commanded his disciples to drink and swallow the cup; I cannot but be astonished at the inference they would deduce from hence. Had Irenæus or Epiphanius reported such a thing of any sect of ancient heretics, now extinct, one would have been so candid to human nature as to suppose the historian misinformed. As it is, one is almost tempted to suspect it to be the effect of arrogance rather than error; and to consider it as a mere insolent attempt to show the world, in the strongest instance they could invent, what monstrous things the clergy should dare to say, which the wretched laity should not dare to contradict; nay, which they should be forced to pretend they believed. In this view the thought is admirable, and worthy the most malicious wit that ever lorded it over the heritage of God. But it may deserve some serious reflection, whether it be not an instance of infatuation to which God has given them up, that it may be a plain mark to all, that will use common sense, of the grossest error in a church which claims infallibility; and may not be intended by Providence as a kind of antidote against the rest of its poison.”26:26-30 This ordinance of the Lord's supper is to us the passover supper, by which we commemorate a much greater deliverance than that of Israel out of Egypt. Take, eat; accept of Christ as he is offered to you; receive the atonement, approve of it, submit to his grace and his government. Meat looked upon, be the dish ever so well garnished, will not nourish; it must be fed upon: so must the doctrine of Christ. This is my body; that is, spiritually, it signifies and represents his body. We partake of the sun, not by having the sun put into our hands, but the beams of it darted down upon us; so we partake of Christ by partaking of his grace, and the blessed fruits of the breaking of his body. The blood of Christ is signified and represented by the wine. He gave thanks, to teach us to look to God in every part of the ordinance. This cup he gave to the disciples with a command, Drink ye all of it. The pardon of sin is that great blessing which is, in the Lord's supper, conferred on all true believers; it is the foundation of all other blessings. He takes leave of such communion; and assures them of a happy meeting again at last; Until that day when I drink it new with you, may be understood of the joys and glories of the future state, which the saints shall partake with the Lord Jesus. That will be the kingdom of his Father; the wine of consolation will there be always new. While we look at the outward signs of Christ's body broken and his blood shed for the remission of our sins, let us recollect that the feast cost him as much as though he had literally given his flesh to be eaten and his blood for us to drink.See also Mark 14:22-26; Luke 22:15-20; 1 Corinthians 11:23-25.

Matthew 26:26

As they were eating - As they were eating the paschal supper, near the close of the meal.

Luke adds that he said, just before instituting the sacramental supper, "With desire have I desired to eat this passover with you before I suffer." This is a Hebrew manner of expression, signifying "I have greatly desired." He had desired it, doubtless:

(1) that he might institute the Lord's Supper, to be a perpetual memorial of him;

(2) that he might strengthen them for their approaching trials;

(3) that he might explain to them the true nature of the Passover; and,

(4) that he might spend another season with them in the duties of religion. Every "Christian, about to die will also seek opportunities of drawing specially near to God, and of holding communion with him and with his people.

Jesus took bread - That is, the unleavened bread which they used at the celebration of the Passover, made into thin cakes, easily broken and distributed.

And blessed it - Or sought a blessing on it; or "gave thanks" to God for it. The word rendered "blessed" not unfrequently means "to give thanks." Compare Luke 9:16 and John 6:11. It is also to be remarked that some manuscripts have the word rendered "gave thanks," instead of the one translated "blessed." It appears from the writings of Philo and the Rabbis that the Jews were never accustomed to eat without giving thanks to God and seeking his blessing. This was especially the case in both the bread and the wine used at the Passover.

And brake it - This "breaking" of the bread represented the sufferings of Jesus about to take place - his body "broken" or wounded for sin. Hence, Paul 1 Corinthians 11:24 adds, "This is my body which is broken for you;" that is, which is about to be broken for you by death, or wounded, pierced, bruised, to make atonement for your sins.

This is my body - This represents my body. This broken bread shows the manner in which my body will be broken; or this will serve to recall my dying sufferings to your remembrance. It is not meant that his body would be literally "broken" as the bread was, but that the bread would be a significant emblem or symbol to recall to their recollection his sufferings. It is not improbable that our Lord pointed to the broken bread, or laid his hands on it, as if he had said, "Lo, my body!" or, "Behold my body! - that which "represents" my broken body to you." This "could not" be intended to mean that that bread was literally his body. It was not. His body was then before them "living." And there is no greater absurdity than to imagine his "living body" there changed at once to a "dead body," and then the bread to be changed into that dead body, and that all the while the "living" body of Jesus was before them.

Yet this is the absurd and impossible doctrine of the Roman Catholics, holding that the "bread" and "wine" were literally changed into the "body and blood" of our Lord. The language employed by the Saviour was in accordance with a common mode of speaking among the Jews, and exactly similar to that used by Moses at the institution of the Passover Exodus 12:11; "It" - that is, the lamb - "is the Lord's Passover." That is, the lamb and the feast "represent" the Lord's "passing over" the houses of the Israelites. It serves to remind you of it. It surely cannot be meant that that lamb was the literal "passing over" their houses - a palpable absurdity - but that it represented it. So Paul and Luke say of the bread, "This is my body broken for you: this do in remembrance of me." This expresses the whole design of the sacramental bread. It is to call to "remembrance," in a vivid manner, the dying sufferings of our Lord. The sacred writers, moreover, often denote that one thing is represented by another by using the word is. See Matthew 13:37; "He that soweth the good seed is the Son of man" - that is, represents the Son of man. Genesis 41:26; "the seven good kine are seven years" - that is, "represent" or signify seven years. See also John 15:1, John 15:5; Genesis 17:10. The meaning of this important passage may be thus expressed: "As I give this broken bread to you to eat, so will I deliver my body to be afflicted and slain for your sins."

Mt 26:17-30. Preparation for and Last Celebration of the Passover Announcement of the Traitor, and Institution of the Supper. ( = Mr 14:12-26; Lu 22:7-23; Joh 13:1-3, 10, 11, 18-30).

For the exposition, see on [1362]Lu 22:7-23.

See Poole on "Matthew 26:30". See Poole on "Mark 6:41". And as they were eating,.... The paschal lamb, and just concluding the whole solemnity, which was done by eating some of the (k) lamb: for

"last of all he (that kept the passover) eats of the flesh of the passover, though it be but the quantity of an olive, and he does not taste anything after it; and at the same time he eats the quantity of an olive of unleavened bread, and does not taste anything after it; so that his meal endeth, and the savour of the flesh of the passover, or of the unleavened bread, is in his mouth; for the eating of them is the precept.

So that the paschal supper was now concluded, when Christ entered upon the institution of his own supper:

Jesus took bread; which lay by him, either on the table, or in a dish. Though this supper is distinct from the "passover", and different from any ordinary meal, yet there are allusions to both in it, and to the customs of the Jews used in either; as in this first circumstance, of "taking" the bread: for he that asked a blessing upon bread, used to take it into his hands; and it is a rule (l), that "a man does not bless, , "until he takes the bread into his hand", that all may see that he blesses over it.

Thus Christ took the bread and held it up, that his disciples might observe it:

and blessed it; or asked a blessing over it, and upon it, or rather blessed and gave thanks to his Father or it, and for what was signified by it; and prayed that his disciples, whilst eating it, might be led to him, the bread of life, and feed upon him in a spiritual sense; whose body was going to be broken for them, as the bread was to be, in order to obtain eternal redemption for them: so it was common with the Jews, to ask a blessing on their bread: the form in which they did it was this (m):

"Blessed art thou, O Lord, our God, the king of the world, that produceth bread out of the earth.

What form our Lord used, is not certain; no doubt it was one of his composing, and every way suitable to the design of this ordinance. It was customary also when there were many at table, that lay down there, however, as Christ and his disciples now did, for one to ask a blessing for them all; for so runs the rule (n),

"if they sit to eat, everyone blesses for himself, but if they lie along, , "one blesses for them all".

Moreover, they always blessed, before they brake:

"Says Rabba (o), he blesses, and after that he breaks:

this rule Christ likewise carefully observes, for it follows,

and brake it. The rules concerning breaking of bread, are these (p),

"The master of the house recites and finishes the blessing, and after that he breaks:--no man that breaks, is allowed to break, till they have brought the salt, and what is to be eaten with the bread, before everyone--and he does not break neither a small piece, lest he should seem to be sparing; nor a large piece, bigger than an egg, lest he should be thought to be famished;--and on the sabbath day he breaks a large piece, and he does not break, but in the place where it is well baked: it is a principal command to break a whole loaf.

continued...

{7} And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and {l} blessed it, and brake it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, Take, eat; {m} this is my body.

(7) Christ who will without delay fulfil the promises of the old covenant, institutes a new covenant with new signs.

(l) Mark says, Had given thanks: and therefore blessing is not a consecrating with a conjuring type of murmuring and power of words: and yet the bread and the wine are changed, not in nature but in quality, for without doubt they become tokens of the body and blood of Christ, not of their own nature or force of words, but by Christ his institution, which must be recited and laid forth, that faith may find what to lay hold on, both in the word and in the elements.

(m) This is a figure of speech which is called metonymy: that is to say, the giving of one name for another: so he calls the bread his body, which is the sign and sacrament of his body: and yet nonetheless, it is a figurative and changed kind of speech meaning that the faithful do indeed receive Christ with all his gifts

(though by a spiritual means) and become one with him.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Matthew 26:26.[24] The meal—having been, naturally enough, interrupted by the discussion regarding Judas—would now be resumed; hence the repetition of the ἐσθιόντων αὐτῶν of Matthew 26:21 with the continuative ΔΈ, which latter is so often used in a similar way after parentheses and other digressions, especially in cases where previous expressions are repeated; comp. on 2 Corinthians 5:8; Ephesians 2:4.

ΛΑΒῺΝ Ὁ ἸΗς. Τ. ἌΡΤΟΝ] According to the Rabbis, the order of the Passover meal was as follows (see Tr. Pesach. c. 10; Otho, Lex. Rabb. p. 448 ff.; Lightfoot, p. 474 ff.; Lund, Jüd. Heiligth., ed. Wolf, p. 1125 ff.; Wichelhaus, p. 248 ff.; Vaihinger in Herzog’s Encykl. XI. p. 141 ff.):—(1) It began with drinking wine, before partaking of which, however, the head of the family offered up thanks for the wine and the return of that sacred day (according to the school of Sammai, for the day and for the wine). “Poculum ebibit, et postea benedicit de lotione manuum, et lavat,” Maimonides. (2) Then bitter herbs (מרורים, intended to represent the bitter life of their forefathers in Egypt) were put upon the table, some of which being dipped in a sour or brinish liquid, were eaten amid thanksgivings. (3) The unleavened bread, the broth charoset (see on Matthew 26:23), the lamb and the flesh of the chagiga (see on John 18:28), were now presented. (4) Thereupon the head of the family, after a “Benedictus, qui creavit fructum terrae,” took as much of the bitter herbs as might be equal to the size of an olive, dipped it in the broth charoset, and then ate it, all the other guests following his example. (5) The second cup of wine was now mixed, and at this stage the father, at the request of his son, or whether requested by him or not, was expected to explain to him the peculiarities of the several parts of this meal. (6) This did not take place till the Passover viands had been put a second time upon the table; then came the singing of the first part of the Hallel (Psalms 113, 114), another short thanksgiving by the father, and the drinking of the second cup. (7) The father then washed his hands, took two pieces of bread, broke one of them, laid the broken pieces upon that which remained whole, repeated the “Benedictus sit ille, qui producit panem e terra,” rolled a piece of the broken bread in bitter herbs, dipped this into the broth charoset, and ate, after having given thanks; he then took some of the chagiga, after another thanksgiving, and so also with regard to the lamb. (8) The feast was now continued by the guests partaking as they felt inclined, concluding, however, with the father eating the last bit of the lamb, which was not to be less than an olive in size, after which no one was at liberty to eat anything more. The father now washed his hands, and, praise having been offered, the third cup (כסא הברכה) was drunk. Then came the singing of the second part of the Hallel (Psalms 115-118) and the drinking of the fourth cup, which was, in some instances, followed by a fifth, with the final singing of Psalms 120-137 (Bartolocc. Bibl. Rabb. II. p. 736 ff.).

Seeing that, according to this order, the feasting, strictly speaking, did not begin till No. 8, for all that preceded had the character of a ceremonial introduction to it; seeing, further, that it is in itself improbable that Jesus would interrupt or alter the peculiarly ceremonial part of the feast by an act or utterance in any way foreign to it; and considering, in the last place, that when Judas retired, which he did immediately after he was announced as the betrayer, and therefore previous to the institution of the last supper,—the Passover meal had already extended pretty far on into the night (John 13:30),—we must assume that the ἘΣΘΙΌΝΤΩΝ ΑὐΤῶΝ of Matthew 26:21, as well as the similar expression in Matthew 26:26, should come in after No. 7, and that the eating under No. 8 is the stage at which the Lord’s supper was instituted; so that the bread which Jesus took and brake would not be that mentioned under No. 7 (Fritzsche), but the ἄρτον (with the article, see the critical remarks), the particular bread with which, as they all knew, He had just instituted the supper. He would have violated the Passover itself if He had proclaimed any new and peculiar symbolism in connection with the bread before conforming, in the first place, to the popular ceremonial observed at this feast, and before the less formal and peculiarly festive part of the proceedings was reached. Again, had the breaking and distributing of the bread been that referred to under No. 7, one cannot see why he should not have availed Himself of the bitter herbs as well, furnishing, as they would have done, so appropriate a symbol of the suffering inseparable from His death.

καὶ εὐλογήσας] after having repeated a blessing—whether the “Benedictus ille, qui producit panem e terra” (comp. No. 7 above), or some other more appropriate to the particular act about to be performed, it is impossible to say. The latter, however, is the more probable, as it would be more in accordance with the very special nature of Christ’s feelings and intention on this occasion. Now that the meal was drawing to a close (before the second part of the Hallel was sung, Matthew 26:30), He felt a desire to introduce at the end a special repast of significance so profound as never to be forgotten. The idea that His ΕὐΛΟΓΕῖΝ, as being the expression of His omnipotent will (Philippi, p. 467 ff.), possessed creative power, so that the body and blood became realized in the giving of bread and wine, may no doubt accord with the orthodox view of the sacrament, but can be as little justified, on exegetical grounds, as that orthodox view itself; even in 1 Corinthians 10:16 nothing more is implied than a eucharistical consecration prayer for the purpose of setting apart bread and wine to a sacred use.

It is, further, impossible to determine whether by καὶ ἐδίδου τοῖς μαθητ. we are to understand the handing of the bread piece by piece, or simply the presenting of it all at once upon a plate. Considering, however, that the guests were reclining, the latter is the more probable view, and is quite in keeping with the ΛΆΒΕΤΕ. This ΛΆΒΕΤΕ denotes simply a taking with the hand, which then conveys to the mouth the thing so taken, not also a taking in a spiritual sense (Ebrard). Further, it must not be inferred from the words before us, nor from our Lord’s interpretation (my body) of the bread which He presents, that He Himself had not eaten of it. See on Matthew 26:29. He must, however, be regarded as having done so before handing it to the disciples, and before uttering the following words.

τοῦτό ἐστι τὸ σῶμά μου] There can be no doubt that τοῦτο is the subject, and (avoiding the Lutheran synecdoche) can only refer to the bread that was being handed to them, and not to the living body of Christ (Carlstadt), nor to the predicate which first follows (Ströbel), while it is equally certain that no emphasis of any kind is to be laid upon the enclitic ΜΟΥ (in opposition to Olshausen and Stier). But seeing, moreover, that the body of Jesus was still unbroken (still living), and that, as yet, His blood had not been shed, none of the guests can have supposed what, on the occasion of the first celebration of the supper, was, accordingly, a plain impossibility, viz., that they were in reality eating and drinking the very body and blood of the Lord,[25] and seeing also that, for the reason just stated, Jesus Himself could not have intended His simple words to be understood in a sense which they did not then admit of,—for to suppose any essential difference between the first and every subsequent observance of the supper (Schmid, Bibl. Theol. I. p. 341; Thomasius, Chr. Pers. u. Werk, III. 2, p. 62; Stier; Gess, I. p. 167) is to have recourse to an expedient that is not only unwarrantable, but extremely questionable (see, on the other hand, Tholuck in the Stud. u. Krit. 1869, p. 126 f.), and because, so long as the idea of the κρέας is not taken into account, any substantial partaking of the ΣῶΜΑ alone and by itself, without the ΑἿΜΑ, appears utterly inconceivable;[26] for here, again, the idea of a spiritual body, which it is supposed Jesus might even then have communicated (Olshausen; Rodatz in the Luther. Zeitschr. 1843, 3, p. 56; Kahnis, Abendm. p. 453; Hofmann; Schoeberlein, üb. d. heil. Abendm. 1869, p. 66), belongs entirely to the region of non-exegetical and docetic fancies, for which even the transfiguration furnishes no support whatever (see on 1 Corinthians 10:16), and is inconsistent with the αἷμα (1 Corinthians 15:50; Php 3:21): it follows that ἘΣΤΊ is neither more nor less than the copula of the symbolic statement:[27] “This, which ye are to take and eat, this broken bread,[28] is, symbolically speaking, my body,”—the body, namely, which is on the point of being put to death as a λύτρον ἀντὶ πολλῶν (Matthew 20:28). The symbolical interpretation has also been correctly adhered to by David Schulz, de Wette, Julius Müller, Bleek, Rückert, Keim, Weizsäcker; comp. Ewald, Morison, Weiss on Mark, and others. According to Matthew, as also according to Paul (1 Corinthians 11:24, where κλώμενον is spurious), Jesus omits entirely the tertium comparationis,—an omission, however, which in itself is more in keeping with the vivid symbolism of the passage and the deep emotion of our Lord. The symbolical Acts of breaking, which cannot possibly have anything to do with the glorified body, but which refers solely to that which was about to be put to death, was sufficient to enable us to perceive in this breaking what the point of comparison was; for the breaking of the bread and the putting to death of the body resemble each other in so far as the connection of the whole is violently destroyed, so that the bread in fragments can no longer be said to be the bread, nor the body when put to death to be any longer a living being.[29] The eating (and the drinking), on the other hand, is a symbol of the reception and appropriation, in saving faith (John 6:51 ff.), of the atoning and redeeming virtue inherent in the death of the body (Paul as above: τὸ ὑπὲρ ὑμῶν) and in the shedding of the blood of Jesus; so that the act of receiving the elements in the consciousness of this, establishes a κοινωνία with the body and blood that is spiritually living and active, and therefore, in all ethical respects, genuine and real (see on 1 Corinthians 10:16),—a fellowship in which the believing communicant realizes in his inward experience that the divine-human life of the crucified Redeemer is being imparted to him with saving efficacy, and in which he acquires a full assurance of eternal life. With regard to the divers views that have prevailed upon this point in the church, and of which the two held by Protestants do not admit of being harmonized without sacrificing their distinctive peculiarities (in opposition to Ebrard, Lange), it may be said that those of the Catholics and Lutherans are exegetically at one in so far as their interpretation of the ἐστί is concerned, for they agree in regarding it as the copula of actual being; it is only when they attempt a more precise dogmatic definition of the mode of this actual being that the divergence begins to show itself. Similarly, there is no difference of an exegetical nature (Rodatz in Rudelbach’s Zeitschr. 1843, 4, p. 11) between the interpretation of Zwingli (and Oecolampadius) and that of Calvin (“externum signum dicitur id esse, quod figurat,” Calvin). On the relation of Luther’s doctrine to that of Calvin, see Julius Müller’s dogmat. Abh. p. 404 ff. For ἐστί (which, however, Jesus would not express in Aramaic, His words probably being הָא גוּשְׁמִי) as a copula of symbolical or allegorical being, comp. Matthew 13:38 f.; Luke 12:1; John 10:6; John 14:6; Galatians 4:24; Hebrews 10:20; Revelation 1:20.

That Jesus might also have used σάρξ instead of σῶμα (comp. John 6) is clear; in that case prominence would have been given to the material of which the σῶμα is composed (comp. Colossians 1:22). Comp. Rückert, p. 69. But it would not have been proper to use κρέας (dead flesh, the flesh of what has been slain, Romans 14:21; 1 Corinthians 8:13; see Schulz, Abendm. p. 94).

[24] On ver. 26 ff. and the parallel passages, see Ebrard (Dogma vom heil. Abendm. I. p. 97 ff.), who also (II. p. 751 ff.) mentions the earlier literature of the subject; see besides, the controversy between Ströbel and Rodatz in the Luther. Zeitschr. 1842 ff.; Rückert, d. Abendm., Lpz. 1856, p. 58 ff.; Keim in the Jahrb. f. D. Theol. 1859, p. 63 ff.; of modern dogmatic writers, consult, in particular, Kahnis and Philippi. Comp. on Mark 14:22 f.; Luke 22:19 f.; 1 Corinthians 11:24 f.

[25] Wetstein well observes: “Non quaerebant utrum panis, quem videbant, panis esset, vel utrum aliud corpus inconspicuum in interstitiis, panis delitesceret, sed quid haec actio significaret, cujus rei esset repraesentatio aut memoriale.” Thomasius, however, as above, p. 61, finds no other way of disposing of the simple impossibility referred to, but by maintaining that this giving of Himself on the part of the Lord was of the nature of a miracle. Comp. Hofmann, Schriftbew. II. 2, p. 215, also Philippi, p. 433 f., who is at the same time disposed to assume that the Spirit illuminated the minds of the disciples as with lightning flash. The supposition of a miracle is certainly the last resort, and this on exegetical grounds is wholly unjustifiable in a case in which neither the narrative itself nor the thing narrated implies a miracle.

[26] In reply to the question why Jesus distributes the body and blood separately, Thomasius, p. 68, has no answer but this: “I do not know.” We are accordingly met on the one hand with the assertion of a miracle, on the other with a non liquet. This is the way difficulties are supposed to be got over, but they remain, and continue to assert themselves all the same. There ought to be no hesitation in conceding that the separate participation, namely, of the body without the blood, and then of the blood by itself, is not to be understood as an actual eating and drinking of them, but as due to the symbolism based upon the circumstance of the body being put to death and the blood shed.

[27] In the case of Luke and Paul, the necessity of adopting the symbolical interpretation of ἐστί shows itself above all (1) in the words used with reference to the cup (ἡ καινὴ διαθήκη). The new covenant has been made in and through the actual blood of Christ. This blood, inasmuch as it has been shed, is the essential objective causa effectiva of the covenant. It is so in virtue of the historical fact of the shedding, while it is this same fact that justifies its being designated a new covenant (John 11:25). The wine poured into the cup can be said to be the blood of Christ as it actually was after being shed on the cross, only in so far as it represents that real covenant-blood as it was previous to its being shed, and with the near prospect of its shedding fully in view; it is this blood, but only in the sense warranted by a profound vivid symbolism. (2) It is on the strength of this symbolical interpretation that Luke and Paul would appear to have added the expression εἰς τ. ἐμὴν ἀνάμνησιν to the words of the institution. See on Luke 22:19 f. The ἀνάμνησις denotes a realizing of that as present which is no longer so in bodily form.

[28] Not: that which I here hand to you in the form of bread (the Catholic view), nor: that which I here hand to you in, with, and under the covenant (the synecdoche of Lutheran orthodoxy). The doctrine of the omnipresence of Christ’s body is inconsistent with the essential idea of a body, as was pointed out as early as the time of the Fathers, especially by Augustine: “Cavendum enim est, ne ita divinitatem adstruamus hominis, ut veritatem corporis auferamus,” Augustine, ep. 57, ad Dardan.; they understood the body of Christ to be in heaven, where it always remained.

[29] Philippi, p. 422 ff., is wrong in refusing to admit that the point of comparison lies in the breaking. The ἔκλασε is the circumstance above all which the whole four evangelists agree in recording, making it appear, too, from the terms they employ, that it was regarded as a special act. Moreover, the fact that at a very early period the spurious κλώμενον of 1 Corinthians 11:24 had come to be extensively adopted, may be regarded as affording evidence in favour of the correctness of the church’s interpretation of this symbolical act. The same view is implied in the reading θρυπτόμενον; comp. Constitt. Ap. viii. 12, 13.Matthew 26:26-29. The Lord’s Supper (Mark 14:22-25; Luke 22:19-20).26. this is my body] The exact Greek is “this is the body of me;” St Luke adds, “which is being given for you;” St Paul, “which is being broken for you;” the sacrifice had begun, the body of Christ was already being offered. The expression may be paraphrased: “This—the bread—and not the paschal lamb, represents—is to the faithful—the body of Me, who am even now being offered a sacrifice for you.” Without entering on the great controversy of which these four words have been the centre, we may note that; (1) the thought is not presented now for the first time to the disciples. It was the “hard saying” which had turned many from Christ, see John 6:51-57; John 6:66. (2) The special form of the controversy is due to a mediæval philosophy which has passed away leaving “the dispute of the sacraments” as a legacy. St Luke and St Paul have the addition, “this do in remembrance of me”—now, as a memorial of Me, not of the Passover deliverance.Matthew 26:26. Ἐσθιόντων δὲ αὐτῶν, And as they were eating) As in Matthew 26:21. Judas[1128] therefore was present;[1129] cf. the πάντες, κ.τ.λ. (all, etc.) in Mark 14:23, and πλὴν, κ.τ.λ. (but, etc.) in Luke 22:21.—λαβὼν, taking) sc. in His hand. This implies the supreme dignity of the holy supper; cf. John 4:2.[1130]—τὸν ἄρτον, the bread) which was at hand.—εὐλογήσας, having blessed) In the next verse we find εὐχαριστήσας, having given thanks (corresponding to the Hebrew ברך). Each verb explains the other. He gave thanks to the Father, and at the same time blessed the bread and also the wine by the act of giving of thanks and by prayer; cf. Luke 9:16; John 6:11; 1 Corinthians 14:16-17.—ἜΚΛΑΣΕ, brake) after blessing it (post benedictionem): which is inconsistent with the notion of transubstantiation. For an accident, as the Romanists declare the bread to be after it has been blessed (post benedictionem, cannot be broken.—ΚΑῚ ἘΔΊΔΟΥ, and gave) Our Lord is not said Himself to have eaten and drunk on this occasion: since not for Himself was His body being given, nor His blood being shed.—Λάβετε, Take) Who could have taken (“received”) if the Lord had not instituted it? Cf. John 3:27.—τοῦτο, This) sc. in opposition to the shadows of the Old Dispensation; as much as to say, you have Me, My actual self; This, sc. which I command you to take: for it is immediately followed by My blood, which is of the New Testament—ΣῶΜΑ, Body, must be taken as literally as Αἶμα, blood. The separate distribution, however, of His body and blood represents the actual death[1131] of our Lord, in which His blood was drawn forth from His body. The benediction preceded and precedes the utterance of the words, This is My body. We readily allow that there is an allusion to the formula of the Jews, who, in celebrating the Passover, when asked by their children, What is this? replied, זה גוף של פסח וגו, This is the body of the Lamb which our fathers ate in Egypt.—τὸ σῶμά Μου, My body) understand here “ΤῸ ὙΠῈΡ ὙΜῶΝ ΔΙΔΌΜΕΝΟΝ,” which is given for you, words implied in Matthew 26:28, and expressed in Luke 22:19.—The Evangelist describes the matter briefly, as being well known by the practice of those for whom he writes. The expression, “This do in remembrance of Me” (which is recorded by St Luke), is implied in Matthew 26:29.

[1128] i.e. In Matthew 26:21 it is said, “AND AS THEY WERE EATING, He said, “Verily, I say unto you that one of you (sc. of those who were then at table) shall betray Me.” The repetition of the expression, And as they were eatiny, implies, in Bengel’s opinion, that the act was continuous, and that those spoken of in Matthew 26:21, concerning whom it was said that one of them should betray our Lord, were all, including the traitor, still present.—(I. B.)

[1129] I will state, in a summary form, the arguments, independent of the one given above, on which this proposition which I maintain, rests:—

[1130] It is there said,” JESUS Himself baptized NOT.” It is here said, “JESUS TOOK BREAD,” etc.—(I. B.)

[1131] The memory of which ought to be perpetuated till His coming again.—B. G. V., Matthew 26:29.

In the very moment of death Christ approached that state which is different from the life that He lived before His death and after His resurrection, and thenceforward for ever.—Harm., p. 510.

1. If Judas had departed before the singing of the hymn, he would have been doing the same as if one in the present day were to depart before the offering of the grace and prayers at the close of a banquet, and would have thereby the more disclosed his atrocious design.

2. During the continuance of our Lord’s supplications on the Mount of Olives, Judas had no lack of time sufficient for bringing the cohort to effect his purpose.

3. Luke, ch. Matthew 22:21, immediately subjoins after the words of the Institution, these words, BUT, NEVERTHELESS (πλὴν), behold the hand of him that betrayeth Me is with Me on the table; and as this very complaint is placed before the Lord’s Supper by Matthew and Mark, these speeches [that as to Judas, and that in which the Institution took place] cannot be severed from one another.

4. To explain our Lord’s words (Luke 22:21) of the table, in the sense, the counting-board [of the chief priests] on which Judas’ hand was laid, with Jesus as the merchandize which he offered for sale, is out of place; for (1) It is not the seller that is said to be with the merchandize, but the merchandize with the seller [whereas Jesus says that Judas is with Him]; (2) Thirty pieces of silver was not so large a sum as to suggest the idea of a counting-board or banking-table; (3) The money had been already reckoned out to Judas, Matthew 26:15; (4) The ἰδοὺ, Behold, Luke 22:21, implies, in fact, the presence of the traitor, as reclining at the same banqueting table with Jesus (comp. Luke 22:30; Luke 16:21), and dipping his hand in the dish.

5. The words πλὴν ἰδοὺ, But, nevertheless, behold, being taken in their usual sense, are we to say that the traitor was driven away from the bread and the cup after these had been blessed? But Mark, after having made mention of the twelve, ch. Matthew 14:17, immediately subjoins the statement, that they ALL drank of the cup, Matthew 26:23, with which comp. Matthew 26:27.

6. If you say, the traitor was known to John or even to Peter already, on the preceding day, how, then, is it that they, not till now, one by one, are represented as having said, Is it I? For, in fact, when John, in a covert way, made enquiry, it was in a secret manner that the traitor was disclosed to him: and as to his having informed Peter of the fact, it is easier to suspect than to affirm this. The remaining nine disciples did not even observe the nod of Peter [beckoning to John to ask the Lord]: therefore both the question of John and the reply of the Lord escaped their notice, John 13:28.

7. That the traitor should have been vouchsafed the washing of feet, is a circumstance almost as astonishing as his being admitted to the Lord’s Supper: nor does even the permission of the kiss, given for the purposes of treachery, move us to less astonishment. As to the rest, we are here treating only of a question of historical truth: nor is it our intention ever to uphold the cause of unfair adapters of facts to their own aims (perfidorum œconomorum.)—Harm., p. 511, etc.Verses 26-29. - The institution of the Lord's Supper. (Mark 14:22-25; Luke 22:15-20; 1 Corinthians 11:23-25.) The endless controversies which have gathered round the Holy Eucharist, for opposite views of the meaning and purpose of which men have fearlessly met death, render it a difficult matter to expound the text succinctly and yet with due regard to clearness and precision. If I do not expatiate upon the diverse opinions which have been held on this momentous subject, it is not because I have neglected to weigh and examine them, but because it is more conducive to edification to have a plain statement of what appears to the writer to be the truth, than to confuse a reader with a multitude of interpretations which in the end have virtually to be surrendered. The points to be specially remembered before trying to expound the section are these:

1. He who institutes the ordinance is Almighty God made man, who is able to set aside one observance and to substitute another in its place.

2. The new ordinance had an analogy with that which it superseded.

3. It was intended to be the one great service and means of grace for all Christians.

4. The interpretation is to he connected with the great discourse of Jesus in the sixth chapter of St. John, where Christ speaks of himself as the Bread of life that came down from heaven, and his flesh and blood as the nourishment of his people. Verse 26. - As they were eating. Before the supper was quite ended, and before the third cup of wine (see on ver. 21) was drunk. Jesus took bread (τὸν ἄρτον, the bread, according to the Received Text). The special unleavened cake prepared for the Paschal meal. The four accounts agree in this detail, and seem to indicate a formal action or elevation, like the wave offering in the old Law. We see here the "High Priest after the order of Melchizedek" bringing forth bread and wine like his great prototype (Psalm 110:4), and by anticipation offering himself as victim. And blessed it. The Received Text here and in St. Mark has εὐλογήσας, which in some manuscripts has been altered to εὐχασιστήσας, in conformity with the wording in St. Luke's and St. Paul's accounts. We find a similar interchange of the words in the miracles of the loaves (see Matthew 14:19; Matthew 15:36; Mark 8:6, etc.). Virtually, the two expressions are identical; the thanksgiving is a blessing, the blessing is a thanksgiving. The usual blessing uttered by the master over the unleavened cake is said to have been, "Blessed be he who giveth the bread of earth." From this benediction on the elements, and the thankful remembrance of Christ's death and the benefits thereof herein connoted, the Holy Communion has from the earliest times been called the Holy Eucharist. And brake it. The fraction of the bread was so important and essential a part of the institution, that it gave its name to the whole rite, and "breaking of bread" represented the cele bration of the Holy Eucharist, the sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving (see Acts 2:42, 46; 1 Corinthians 10:16, etc.). Under the old Law the fraction represented the sufferings endured by the chosen people; in Christ's new institution it symbolized his death, when his feet and hands were pierced with the nails and his side with the spear. Gave it (ἐδίδου, was giving) to the disciples. He gave to each of them a portion of the cake in their hand. If they had risen from their couches at the solemn benediction, as we may well suppose they did, they were still standing when the Lord distributed the consecrated bread. That they received it reclining in an easy posture seems unlikely. Take (ye), eat (ye). The two words are given only in our Gospel; St. Mark has "take ye" (φάγετε being there an interpolation). St. Luke and St. Paul omit them altogether. We should infer that Christ did not himself partake of the bread or wine (which would have confused the deep significance of the ordinance), but gave it to his apostles, that by such participation they might be identified with the sacrifice represented by the broken bread, thus transforming the Levitical rite into a new sacrament which did not merely commemorate his death, but conveyed its benefits to faithful receivers. This is my body. "This" in the Greek is neuter (τοῦτο), and therefore is not in agreement with "bread" (ἄρτος), which is masculine. It is to be explained as "This which I give you, this which ye receive." The copula "is" would not be expressed in the Aramaic, which Christ spoke; and yet what a world of controversy has hung on this ἐστι! Some take it as absolutely identifying subject and predicate; others regard it as equivalent to "represents;" others, again, would modify it in some manner, so that it should not logically express the agreement of the two terms of the proposition. It was doubtless a startling statement to those who then heard it for the first time, but it came upon them not wholly unprepared. In his momentous discourse on the Bread of life, after the feeding of the five thousand, Jesus had spoken of himself as the Food of his people, and then proceeded to make the amazing assertion, "Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you" (John 6:53). The meaning of this mysterious warning was not further explained. Now as the Lord distributed to the apostles the blessed morsels with those solemn words, they learned what he meant by eating his flesh and drinking his blood, how he put it in his servants' power to fulfil the injunction. In what sense could "this" be his body? He was there before their eyes in human form, perfect Man; and yet he gives something else, not that which was standing before them, as his body. Stupendous mystery, past finding out! There is no room here for metaphor or figure. He is not figuratively describing himself or his office or his work, as when he calls himself the good Shepherd, the Door, the Vine, the Way: he directs attention to one part of his nature, his body, and that as toed to be eaten. He shows the mode by which we may be participators of this his lower nature, that as, joined to Adam, we die, so thus united to Christ, we live. We must, as before observed, remember that he who said these words was God incarnate, and that he designed to give his Church a means of realizing and receiving those stupendous blessings set forth in his Eucharistic discourse as depending upon due reception of his body and blood. It is obvious that the apostles could not understand the terms literally, but, believing in his Godhead, believing that he could bring to pass that which he said, they apprehended them in a supernatural, mystical sense; they had faith to know that in these holy elements, blessed by their Lord, they received him, ate his flesh and blood, to their soul's health. This was no mere commemorative rite, not simply a way of remembering Christ's death and Passion, but it was a sacrament, an outward sign of an inward reality, something from without entering the recipients and imparting to them that which before they had not. How the outward and inward are joined together we cannot tell. It is, and will always remain, an unfathomable mystery. The presence of Christ's humanity in the Holy Communion is beyond, above, the ordinary conditions of man's nature; it is supernatural, miraculous, even as was his incarnation, which joined manhood and Deity. The substance, indeed, of the elements remains as before, their nature is not changed, but they have a new relation and use and office; they serve as a means of communicating Christ's body and blood, and they are so called before reception, so that the receiver's faith does not make them to. be such, but Christ's own word with power. Attempts to explain this Divine matter hopelessly fail. Hence the Romanist with his transubstantiation, or change of substance; the Lutheran with his consubstantiation, or confusion of substance; the Zuinglian with his irreverent virtualism, alike fall into error and depart from pure doctrine. The only right attitude is to leave all such efforts alone, to believe Christ's word simply but wholly, and to use the sacrament in full faith, that by and through it to the faithful recipient are imparted incalculable benefits. To the words, "This is my body," St. Luke adds, "which is being given (διδόμενον) for you;" and St. Paul, "which is [broken;? genuine] for you." Thus the Lord, before he actually suffered, offered himself as a Victim voluntarily undergoing death, and showed it forth by the broken bread and the poured wine. We are told that the master of the household, when he distributed the pieces of the lamb, said solemnly, "This is the body of the Paschal lamb." Christ transformed this formula to a new use, but in neither case did it introduce a mere symbol of something absent.
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