Early Church Beliefs In the Eucharist



Q. Did the Christians in the first three centuries believe in the Real Presence in the Eucharist?

A. Yes. They certainly did!

110 AD–St. Ignatius of Antioch, a disciple of the Apostle John wrote:

“They abstain from the Eucharist and from prayer, because they do not confess that the Eucharist is the Flesh of our Savior Jesus Christ. Flesh which suffered for our sins and which the Father, in His goodness, raised up again.” (Letter to the Smyrnaeans 6,2)

“I desire the Bread of God, which is the Flesh of Jesus Christ…and for drink I desire His Blood, which is love incorruptible.” (Letter to the Romans 7,3)

150 AD–St Justin Martyr wrote to the Emperor of Rome :

“We call this food Eucharist; and no one else is permitted to partake of it, except one who believes our teaching to be true…For not as common bread nor common drink do we receive these; but since Jesus Christ our Savior was made incarnate by the word of God and had both flesh and blood for our salvation so too, as we have been taught, the food which has been made into the Eucharist by the Eucharistic prayer set down by Him, and by the change of which our blood and flesh is nourished, is both the Flesh and the Blood of that incarnated Jesus” (First Apology 66,20 )

180 ADSt. Irenaeus, was the bishop of Lyons, France and a student of St. Polycarp who sat at the feet of the Apostle John. St. Irenaeus wrote :

“He (Jesus) has declared the cup, a part of creation, to be His own Blood, from which He causes our blood to flow; and the bread, a part of creation, He has established as His own Body, from which He gives increase to our bodies.” (Against Heresies, 5,2,2 )

350 AD St Cyril of Jerusalem, in a teaching to those coming into the Church wrote in:

Do not, therefore, regard the bread and wine as simply that; for they are, according to the Master’s declaration, the Body and Blood of Christ. Even though the senses suggest to you the other, let faith make you firm. Do not judge in this matter by taste, but be fully assured by the faith, not doubting that you have been deemed worthy of the Body and Blood of Christ.” (Catechetical Lectures:(Mystagogic 4) 22,6 )

Thus we see that the Christian Church, at the very beginning of its history taught and believed that the bread and wine of communion was transformed into the body and blood of Jesus Christ in fulfillment of Jesus’ discourse on the Bread From Heaven in John 6 and the plain sense of His words at the institution of Communion at the Last Supper. “This is My Body” This is My Blood”

This is the same Church that Jesus founded on Peter and the Apostles.

This is the same church that Jesus promised the Gates of Hell would never overcome.

This is the same Church that chose the books of the Bible out of all the other books floating around the ancient world, at the end of the fourth century.

This is the same Church that was called Catholic at least as early as 110 AD.

This is the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church. Ancient, but ever young.

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2 Responses

  1. Who were St. Ignatius of Antioch, St. Justin Martyr, St. Irenaeus, St. Cyril…? Historically speaking these people may have existed but I take the Bible, the Word of God as final authority on all matters pertaining to this life and the next. These men are mentioned nowhere in the Holy Scriptures which I turn to for guidance and for revelation.
    “For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.” (1Cor. 3v11)
    The Roman Catholic Church is not the same church that Jesus founded, or of whom He said: “the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” (Matt. 16v18)
    The Church is not an organisation – nor can it be contained within walls. The Church consists of those, who by faith, have made the Lord Jesus Christ – their Lord and Saviour. His words to all today are:
    “There be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh.” (Matt. 24v44)

  2. Dear Ready,

    Ready: These men are mentioned nowhere in the Holy Scriptures which I turn to for guidance and for revelation.
    “For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.” (1Cor. 3v11)

    BFHU: Agreed. We have built on that foundation the ONE, HOLY, CATHOLIC, AND APOSTOLIC CHURCH. It would be silly to lay a foundation and just leave it.

    Ready: The Roman Catholic Church is not the same church that Jesus founded, or of whom He said: “the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” (Matt. 16v18)

    BFHU: How do you know this? I used to think that too. I thought that when I went back and researched what the early Church believed I would find a faith and practice in line with Protestant Christianity. But to my horror I found faith and practice in perfect alignment with the CATHOLIC Church.

    Ready: The Church is not an organisation – nor can it be contained within walls. The Church consists of those, who by faith, have made the Lord Jesus Christ – their Lord and Saviour

    BFHU: Agreed: All the baptized are a part of the Body of Christ.

    As a Protestant, I was never taught about the people of Faith except the apostles and those beginning with Martin Luther and so on except for St. Augustine when they could quote something that supported Protestant theology.

    There was a complete ignorance about all those Christians who kept Christianity alive and died for it for 1500 years. Isn’t that weird? But there was a a very good reason for this. They were all Catholic in their beliefs and practice. To learn about them one would also learn about their Catholic beliefs, even St. Augustine.

    “To be deep in history is to cease to be Protestant”

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