Holy Communion

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Jesus said to them, "This is my blood of the new covenant, which is poured out for many. Mark 14:24

The Lord's Supper / Holy Communion / Eucharist

The Eucharist (or Holy Communion or The Lord's Supper) refers to the memorial service that Christians perform in fulfillment of Jesus' instructions at his Last Supper recorded in the New Testament. On the night before he was crucified, Jesus gave his disciples bread, saying "This is my body" and wine, saying "This is my blood". Holy Communion is the re-enactment of that event. Different Christian denominations view Holy Communion somewhat differently, with most Protestants believing that is symbolic only, whereas Roman Catholicism teaches that the bread and wine actually transforms and becomes the body and blood of Christ.

Names for Holy Communion

Some of the commonly used names for Holy Communion include:

  1. Eucharist
  2. Communion
  3. Holy Communion
  4. The Lord's Supper

The Last Supper in the Bible

Theology - Differences in opinion

Catholicism/Eastern Orthodoxy/Oriental Orthodoxy

In Roman Catholic teaching, the Scripture passages regarding the Last Supper are understood literally. Catholics typically call Holy Communion "the Eucharist." The official teaching of the Roman Catholic Church is that when the bishop or priest consecrates the Eucharist, the bread and wine become Jesus' body and blood in their very being ("substance"), while their scientifically-testable physical properties ("accidents") remain the same. This teaching is known as transubstantiation, because the substances of the bread and wine are transformed. The eastern Churches (Eastern, Oriental, and Assyrian Orthodox) also teach this - Eastern Orthodox refer to it not as transubstantiation, however, but as metousiosis.


Lutherans typically believe in the theology called consubstantiation. Consubstantiation is the belief that when the bread and wine are consecrated, the bread and wine remain but Jesus' body and blood are also literally present. This is contrasted with the Catholic/Orthodox belief, where the substances of bread and wine cease to exist entirely, and only Christ's body and blood are present after the consecration. Also contrasting with this theology is the mainline Protestant view, which holds that Jesus is not present in a special sense at all during Holy Communion - the bread and wine are pure symbols only.

Mainline Protestant

Most Protestants believe Holy Communion to be purely symbolic. In other words, they do not hold to the Catholic/Orthodox belief of transubstantiation/metousiosis or the Lutheran belief of consubstantiation, but instead believe that the bread and wine/juice merely represent Jesus' body and blood.


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John 6:55

For my flesh is food indeed, and my blood is drink indeed.


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