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John Chapter 6, "It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing"


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#1 Anthony G. Peggs

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Posted 15 March 2011 - 10:55 PM

hi all!

as Orthodox Christians we believe in The Holy Eucharist being The True Body and True Blood of Christ, but in John chapter 6 Jesus says: "It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing".

what does this mean?

and also, John chapter 6 is about The Holy Eucharist right?

hope you all are having a Good Lent!

#2 Daniel R.

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Posted 16 March 2011 - 01:09 PM

John Chrysostom explains it in his homily on the Gospel of Saint John,

"It is the Spirit that quickeneth, the flesh profiteth
nothing."

His meaning is, "Ye must hear spiritually what relateth to Me, for he
who heareth carnally is not profited, nor gathereth any advantage." It
was carnal to question how He came down from heaven, to deem that He
was the son of Joseph, to ask, "How can he give us His flesh to eat?"
All this was carnal, when they ought to have understood the matter in a
mystical and spiritual sense. "But," saith some one, "how could they
understand what the eating flesh' might mean?" Then it was their duty
to wait for the proper time and enquire, and not to abandon Him.

"The words that I speak unto you, they are spirit and they are life."

That is, they are divine and spiritual, have nothing carnal about them,
are not subject to the laws of physical consequence, but are free from
any such necessity, are even set above the laws appointed for this
world, and have also another and a different meaning. Now as in this
passage He said "spirit," instead of "spiritual," so when He speaketh
of "flesh," He meant not "carnal things," but "carnally hearing," and
alluding at the same time to them, because they ever desired carnal
things when they ought to have desired spiritual. For if a man receives
them carnally, he profits nothing. "What then, is not His flesh,
flesh?" Most certainly. "How then saith He, that the flesh profiteth
nothing?" He speaketh not of His own flesh, (God forbid!) but of those
who received His words in a carnal manner. But what is "understanding
carnally"? It is looking merely to what is before our eyes, without
imagining anything beyond. This is understanding carnally. But we must
not judge thus by sight, but must look into all mysteries with the eyes
within. This is seeing spiritually. He that eateth not His flesh, and
drinketh not His blood, hath no life in him. How then doth "the flesh
profit nothing," if without it we cannot live? Seest thou that the
words, "the flesh profiteth nothing," are spoken not of His own flesh,
but of carnal hearing?



#3 Anthony G. Peggs

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Posted 16 March 2011 - 09:04 PM

thank you for your reply. i have read this commentary, and Blessed Theophylact's as well. i just don't understand what they are saying. can you maybe dumb it down for me in laymans terms? thank you!

#4 Anthony G. Peggs

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Posted 17 March 2011 - 10:58 AM

please forgive my impatience, but i'm still concerned about this passage, is there anyone who can explain it to me in very simple terms?

again thank you to those who have replied, i don't mean to discount what you said to me at all, please forgive me if thats how it sounds.

#5 Daniel R.

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Posted 17 March 2011 - 11:12 AM

I'll read through the homilies and try to do what you asked for above, I was going to answer last night but I got to tired for my brain to work rightly.

#6 Kusanagi

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Posted 17 March 2011 - 12:20 PM

To me it seems like do not understand in the bodily sense when He said eat my flesh just like eating your normal food, which keeps the body going.
But to eat my flesh which is needed for spiritual nourishment and for life. Not in bodily life but for the soul/ spirit.

That's how it seems to me, not to think of His flesh as normal food which fills the belly but as spiritual food which is nourishing the soul and gives life.

#7 Daniel R.

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Posted 17 March 2011 - 12:45 PM

This is my understanding of what the Holy Fathers are saying about it-all unstated quotes are by Saint John Chrysostom so of which are paraphrased.

Basicly they are saying that Christ is not talking about his flesh but about the Jews way of understanding. Instead of trying to understand spiritually they simply saw Jesus [whom they thought the son of Joseph] and did not believe he had come down from heaven and asked how he could given them his flesh to eat.

'From utter ignorance, some of those who were being taught by Christ the Saviour, were offended at His words. For when they heard Him saying, "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" they supposed that they were invited to some brutish savageness, as though they were enjoined to eat flesh and to sup up blood, and were constrained to do things- which are dreadful even to hear.' -Saint Cyril.

They could not understand spiritually but were 'looking merely to what is before their eyes, without imagining anything beyond.' They were not trying to see the mystery only the fact that a man was before them saying he was to give them his flesh to eat and were reacting as you or I would if some one came up to us in the street saying such things.

'But we must not judge thus by sight, but must look into all mysteries with the eyes within [spiritual eyes]. This is seeing spiritually' and so with our inner eyes we see the Body and Blood of Christ even though with our physical eyes we see bread and wine and this is a mystery. It is real not symbolic and yet our eyes tell us otherwise this is why we 'must look into all mysteries with the eyes within' and 'This is seeing spiritually'.


'Besides this, they full surely reasoned thus with themselves, How can the human body implant in us everlasting life, what can a thing of like nature with ourselves avail to immortality? Christ therefore understanding their thoughts heals them again, leading them by the hand manifoldly to the understanding of those things of which they were yet ignorant.

When the nature of the flesh is considered alone and by itself, plainly it is not life-giving. For never shall anything of things that are, give life, but rather it hath itself need of Him who is mighty to quicken. But when the Mystery of the Incarnation is carefully considered, and ye then learn who it is who dwelleth in this Flesh, ye will then surely feel (He says) unless you would accuse the Divine Spirit Itself also, that It can impart life, although of itself the flesh profiteth nothing. For since it was united to the Life-giving Word, it hath become wholly Life-giving.

Although then the nature of the flesh be in itself powerless to give life, yet will it inwork this, when it has the Life-working Word, and is replete with His whole operation.
-Saint Cyril

So Saint Cyril is saying that Christ is telling them because they thought 'How can the human body implant in us everlasting life' that it was not flesh of its own that gives life but profits nothing. However the flesh of Christ which he took from the Theotokos from that moment is united to his Godhead. 'For since it was united to the Life-giving Word, it hath become wholly Life-giving.
Although then the nature of the flesh is in itself powerless to give life, yet will it inwork this, when it has the Life-working Word, and is replete with His whole operation.

Not the flesh of Paul (for instance) nor yet of Peter, or any other, would work this in us; but only and specially that of our Saviour Christ in whom dwelt all the fulness of the Godhead bodily.

Wherefore as to all other things the saying will be true, that the flesh profiteth nothing; but as to Christ alone it holdeth not, by reason that Life, that is the Only-Begotten, dwelt therein.
And He calls Himself Spirit, for God is a Spirit and as the blessed Paul saith, For the Lord is the Spirit. And we do not say these things, as taking away from the Holy Ghost His Proper Existence; but as He calls Himself Son of man, since He was made Man, so again He calls Himself Spirit from His Own Spirit. For not Other than He is His Spirit.' -Saint Cyril

Hope this helps.

Daniel,

P.S. Full Homily of Saint Cyril of Alexandria can be found her http://www.tertullia...hn_04_book4.htm

Edited by Daniel R., 17 March 2011 - 01:09 PM.





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