Have you ever noticed how so many professing Christians take parts of the Scriptures out-of-context? It is easy to do, really! Sometimes the context of Scripture actually changes mid-verse, or mid-sentence even!
In order to really understand what any passage means you need to read the passages before and after, but you also need to consult all the Scriptures which touch on the same subject! The reason is this:
9 Remember the former things of old: for I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me, 10 Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure: Isaiah 46:9-10
Because God knows all things at all times, he can’t make statements that contradict Himself! There are apparent contradictions, but when you understand what is being said, you find that He never actually contradicted Himself. It is only our understanding that is dim, and we often force contradictions into our interpretations, due to our limited knowledge!
One passage that is frequently taken out-of-context, with disastrous results, is found in John 6. In fact it appears that they are doing what I have recommended above, but they are not. They do use multiple verses, but they ignore Jesus’ own explanation;
I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world. John 6:51
Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you. Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him. As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father: so he that eateth me, even he shall live by me. This is that bread which came down from heaven: not as your fathers did eat manna, and are dead: he that eateth of this bread shall live for ever. John 6:53-58
Then they go to the Last Supper and what Jesus said there;
And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed it, and brake it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is my body. And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it; For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins. Matthew 26:26-28
And as they did eat, Jesus took bread, and blessed, and brake it, and gave to them, and said, Take, eat: this is my body. And he took the cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them: and they all drank of it. And he said unto them, This is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many. Verily I say unto you, I will drink no more of the fruit of the vine, until that day that I drink it new in the kingdom of God. Mark 14:22-25
Its not wrong to cross-reference these Scriptures, but stopping here does not cover all the passages that touch this teaching, and thus it leaves our understanding incomplete! We also need to read Luke’s Gospel, Paul’s teaching in 1 Corinthians, and indeed we need to complete reading John 6 as well!
And he took bread, and gave thanks, and brake it, and gave unto them, saying, This is my body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of me. Luke 22:19
Hmmm, “this do in remembrance of me” certainly should be taken as a clue that He is not telling us that the bread and wine of the last supper becomes the literal blood and body of Jesus Christ.
Paul also affirms this interpretation;
And when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me. I Corinthians 11:24
Yes, Paul also states very clearly that this celebration of the Lord’s Supper is to be a memorial, for the root of the word “remembrance” is the same as the root of “memorial”, the memory i.e. to remember!
But what about the rest of John chapter 6?
Earlier in John 6 Jesus fed the five thousand men (plus women and children) with the five loaves and two fish. This miracle is not insignificant; they ate the literal loaves and fishes, but Jesus is clear that His flesh and blood is spiritual, and not literal.
They asked a question, and His answer is totally relevant to the conversation which is about to follow;
28 Then said they unto him, What shall we do, that we might work the works of God? 29 Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent.
So, what “work” must we do to do the work of God? We must believe in the one He has sent, the Lord Jesus Christ! It is belief in Him that saves, not actual work! (It is not to believe that He existed, but that His work on the cross is sufficient for us.)
But is this something different than the statement that “Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day”?
No! Absolutely not! He is talking about the same thing! Just keep on reading;
61 When Jesus knew in himself that his disciples murmured at it, he said unto them, Doth this offend you? 62 What and if ye shall see the Son of man ascend up where he was before? 63 It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life. 64 But there are some of you that believe not. For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were that believed not, and who should betray him.
He is talking about the same subject all the way through. He is not changing the subject!
When He says “What and if ye shall see the Son of man ascend up where he was before?” He is rebuking the idea that they could eat his physical body! He is saying essentially “How can you eat this body, if you see it ascend up to Heaven?” or “How are you going to get there to get at it, in order to eat it?”
While he had just multiplied the loaves and fishes, he is not thinking that his body could be literally multiplied like that! Not at all! Churches that teach that it is His literal body which could be multiplied are taking the whole conversation out-of-context! Truly it is like the loaves and fishes, but in a spiritual sense! His grace is multiplied to all who believe!
Notice verse 63. “It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.”
This is the key to the whole conversation; It is the spirit that gives eternal life. This life comes from the Holy Spirit.
When he says “ the flesh profiteth nothing” who’s flesh is He talking about? Its His flesh, of course! If you ate Jesus literal flesh you would still be lost in your sins! Look, if you licked-up a little of His blood from under the cross, and if you snuck into his tomb and snipped off an ear-lobe and ate it, you would still be going to Hell!
Where does eternal life come from? He just told us; “the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life”
The Holy Spirit comes in the words of Jesus! Eternal life is not something you can earn with a physical action!
When Jesus says “Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you”, what He means is that you must read His words, this is like taking a bite of Him. Then you must think about what His words mean; this is like chewing on His flesh! Then you must believe what He has said; this is like swallowing Him!
The person of Jesus Christ is carried in His words, and not only in His words, but in the words of all of His chosen spokesmen, from Moses, all the way to John! He is synonymous with His Words! Jesus is the Word of God!
The 66 books of the bible are the greatest treasure ever given to mankind! It is all His Word, and we ought not to neglect this life-giving book! The message of this library is our only hope! (Note: the original bible is preserved in the Ben Chayyim Hebrew text, and the Textus Receptus, Greek text. All other texts are doctored, by unbelieving men, and are not reliable!)
All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works. 2 Timothy 3:16-17
The words of the Lord are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times. Thou shalt keep them, O Lord, thou shalt preserve them from this generation for ever. Psalm 12:6-7