Does the word “is” mean “is”?

 

Última_Cena_-_Juan_de_Juanes

In an older post I broke down the passages that convinced me on the doctrine of the Real Presence.  If you have not already read that I recommend you do so before proceeding as I will be building on conclusions I have already reached from that study.

Although all analysis in this post is my own, I initially learned the concepts discussed from a podcast that I highly recommend.  It is put together by a Pastor by the name of Jordan Cooper and you can find his work HERE.

There are different ways that those coming from a Calvinist or Zwinglian approach deny the real presence as taught in scripture.  What I am going to focus on though is those who approach it from arguing that the word “is” in the words of institution doesn’t mean “is” but instead means “represents”.

The way I worded that might sound absurd, but it is good to remember that the New Testament wasn’t written in English so it is possible the Greek work has a different range of uses than the English.  First, let’s Jesus words found in the first three Gospels.

 

“26 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. 27 And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it; 28 For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.” Matt 26:26-28 KJV

“22 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. 23 And he took the cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them: and they all drank of it. 24 And he said unto them, This is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many.” Mark 14:22-24 KJV

“17 And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and said, Take this, and divide it among yourselves: 18 For I say unto you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine, until the kingdom of God shall come. 19 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.; 20 Likewise also the cup after supper, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you.” Luke 22:17-20 KJV

 

The plainest reading of the word “is” would be to understand Christ as referring to the whole in part.  This is a figure of speech called a synecdoche.  For example, if I were to hold up a Mug and say “This is my coffee” I would be using one noun to refer to a whole by its part.

In my opinion, if Christ were to have meant symbolism then he would have expounded upon that in greater detail as we see in other passages where he does use metaphor.  That aside though, can we find examples where this word is used symbolically?

I am not educated in Greek, but I can certainly use a concordance and cross reference context.  To facilitate this I will be using Biblehub.  The word for “is” here in Greek is “estin”

 

Is-Matt26

 

For the purposes of this post I am going to focus on this word and see how it is used elsewhere in a broad sample of the historic narrative accounts written by Matthew, Mark, and Luke.  The reason I am focusing on historic narrative is because that is the category I would put the Lord’s Supper in.

Some of the verses below are translated as “is” in english and others convey the meaning differently.  All use the word “estin”.  The goal is to demonstrate consistency in use of the word.  Click HERE for an exhaustive list of all uses of the word.

 

“Is” in Matthew

“But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost.” Matt 1:20 KJV

“Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.” Matt 1:23 KJV

“Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him.” Matt 2:2 KJV

“For this is he that was spoken of by the prophet Esaias, saying, The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.” Matt 3:3 KJV

“I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire” Matt 3:11 KJV

“Then charged he his disciples that they should tell no man that he was Jesus the Christ.” Matt 16:20 KJV

“While he yet spake, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them: and behold a voice out of the cloud, which said, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him.” Matt 17:5 KJV

“10 And when he was come into Jerusalem, all the city was moved, saying, Who is this?; 11 And the multitude said, This is Jesus the prophet of Nazareth of Galilee.” Matt 21:10-11 KJV

“26 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. 27 And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it; 28 For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.” Matt 26:26-28 KJV

“Saying, Prophesy unto us, thou Christ, Who is he that smote thee?” Matt 26:68 KJV

“And when they were come unto a place called Golgotha, that is to say, a place of a skull” Matt 27:33 KJV

“And set up over his head his accusation written, THIS IS JESUS THE KING OF THE JEWS.” Matt 27:37 KJV

The word “is” is used in a consistently literal fashion in all passages detailing historic events.  A few of them that stand out to me are as follows:

“which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost”

“Where is he that is born King of the Jews?”

“he was Jesus the Christ”

“This is my beloved Son”

“this is my body”

“this is my blood”

Are there any conservative Bible believing scholars that argue for a figurative conceiving of the Holy Spirit?  Who would read Jesus as figuratively the “king of the Jews”?  Is he only a representation of Christ?  Is Jesus the beloved Son of the Father or only a representation?  Is the bread and wine his body and blood or only a representation?

Matthew uses the word “is”  in a very literal sense very consistently.  I feel confident that the word “is” means “is” in the book of Matthew.

 

“Is” in Mark

Below we see that Mark uses the word “is” in much the same fashion that Matthew does during the entire gospel.

“And they were all amazed, insomuch that they questioned among themselves, saying, What thing is this? what new doctrine is this? for with authority commandeth he even the unclean spirits, and they do obey him.” Mark 1:27 KJV

“Whether is it easier to say to the sick of the palsy, Thy sins be forgiven thee; or to say, Arise, and take up thy bed, and walk?” Mark 2:9 KJV

Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary, the brother of James, and Joses, and of Judas, and Simon? and are not his sisters here with us? And they were offended at him.” Mark 6:3 KJV

“And when the day was now far spent, his disciples came unto him, and said, This is a desert place, and now the time is far passed”  Mark 6:35 KJV

“And there was a cloud that overshadowed them: and a voice came out of the cloud, saying, This is my beloved Son: hear him.” Mark 9:7 KJV

“And he asked his father, How long is it ago since this came unto him? And he said, Of a child.” Mark 9:21 KJV

“And one of the scribes came, and having heard them reasoning together, and perceiving that he had answered them well, asked him, Which is the first commandment of all?” Mark 12:28 KJV

“22 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. 23 And he took the cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them: and they all drank of it. 24 And he said unto them, This is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many.” Mark 14:22-24 KJV

“And he that betrayed him had given them a token, saying, Whomsoever I shall kiss, that same is he; take him, and lead him away safely.” Mark 14:44 KJV

“And he saith unto them, Be not affrighted: Ye seek Jesus of Nazareth, which was crucified: he is risen; he is not here: behold the place where they laid him.” Mark 16:6 KJV

Would it be appropriate to say that Christ was figuratively risen?  Does “is” mean represent there?

 

“Is” in Luke

 

We find in Luke that his use of the word “is” is much the same.  Below are the relevant samples I have assembled for review.

 

“60 And his mother answered and said, Not so; but he shall be called John.; 61 And they said unto her, There is none of thy kindred that is called by this name.” Luke 1:60-61 KJV

“For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.” Luke 2:11 KJV

“And the scribes and the Pharisees began to reason, saying, Who is this which speaketh blasphemies? Who can forgive sins, but God alone?” Luke 5:21 KJV

“And Jesus asked him, saying, What is thy name? And he said, Legion: because many devils were entered into him.” Luke 8:30 KJV

“And there came a voice out of the cloud, saying, This is my beloved Son: hear him.” Luke 9:35 KJV

“And ye shall say unto the goodman of the house, The Master saith unto thee, Where is the guestchamber, where I shall eat the passover with my disciples?” Luke 22:11 KJV

“17 And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and said, Take this, and divide it among yourselves: 18 For I say unto you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine, until the kingdom of God shall come. 19 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.; 20 Likewise also the cup after supper, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you.” Luke 22:17-20 KJV

“And when they had blindfolded him, they struck him on the face, and asked him, saying, Prophesy, who is it that smote thee?” Luke 22:64 KJV

“And the people stood beholding. And the rulers also with them derided him, saying, He saved others; let him save himself, if he be Christ, the chosen of God.” Luke 23:35 KJV

“But they constrained him, saying, Abide with us: for it is toward evening, and the day is far spent. And he went in to tarry with them.” Luke 24:29 KJV

Same situation as before, I am not willing to read “is” as “represents” in any of those verses.  The damage it would do to Christian theology is staggering, instead of something that occurred in human history we would end up with a sad allegory and no Gospel.

 

“Is” in the Parables

 

Above I used the historic narrative as that is most comparable to the Lords Supper, which is what I am reviewing.  What about the word “is” in parables though?  Below is a verse from each gospel using the word “is” with a figurative referent.

 

“For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” Matt 6:21 KJV

“It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.” Mark 10:25 KJV

“Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God.” Luke 8:11 KJV

 

My point by bringing these up is that even when the referent is figurative the word “is” still means “is”.  In no case does it ever mean “represents” in any of the synoptic gospels.  It simply isn’t used that way by these writers, thus to assert that “is” does mean “represents” the one time it has to for a symbolic hermeneutic to work is special pleading.

 

Conclusion

 

Because of what I have demonstrated above I firmly believe that one cannot arrive at Zwinglian theology from arguing that “is” means “represents”.  I am resolved that if one is coming to this conclusion they are not taking these texts very seriously.

I have seen some try to argue that the referent to “is” in the words of institution contains the symbolism.  Specifically, they say it is either the body and blood or bread and wine that is symbolic rather than the word “is”.  I disagree with that just as much but will save this for a future post.

Thanks for taking a look at my study on this and please let me know what you think in the comments.

For Laughs I will leave you with this….

 

Advertisements

About ACTheologian

I am a layman who blogs my Biblical studies. Enjoy, please read with an open Bible and do double check with your pastor.
This entry was posted in Armchair Lounge, Soteriology and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Does the word “is” mean “is”?

  1. James V. says:

    Thank you for your great work! I LOVE your Blog! Lord’s Blessing my brother!

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s