John says that Jesus's body won't be broken:

Lu 22:19 (for context): 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.

Joh 19:36: For these things were done, that the scripture should be fulfilled, A bone of him shall not be broken.

Why does Paul say otherwise?

1Co 11:24 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.


9 Answers 9


First, in this passage Jesus is using a metaphor to teach a lesson. The point is that Jesus didn't just give himself in an emotional or spiritual way for us, He gave himself physically. He put his own skin in the game so to speak.

Second: The passage does not say, this is my "bones" which are broken for you, it says this is my "body." The body can be broken without the bones being broken. When they lashed Jesus or nailed him to the cross, or pressed a crown of thorns onto His head, they broke his skin, which is part of his body.

So, while this discussion could distract from the real point, the fact is clear, Jesus' body was actually broken and His bones were not broken, and that is no contradiction.

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    – ThaddeusB
    Commented Dec 30, 2015 at 19:02
  • This is answer is akin to the mystery of three days and night in the heart of the earth. The heart is wicked and deceitful... Jesus was in the wickedness and deceit of the earth for three days and three nights beginning when Judas agreed to betray Jesus. Jesus would have a 'limping side' due to his bruised heal and withered thigh. At Gethsemane the will of his flesh was broken in the moment between, "Remove this cup"and "Nevertheless"
    – Bob Jones
    Commented Aug 23, 2016 at 11:17
  • Breaking skin does not, to my mind sound at all like his body was "broken".
    – Ruminator
    Commented Jul 21, 2018 at 18:27

If there is a contradiction at all between Paul's tradition and the tradition of the Gospel writers, it can be resolved as a text critical issue here in 1 Corinthians 11:24. Most of the early manuscripts simply have Τοῦτό μού ἐστιν τὸ σῶμα τὸ ὑπὲρ ὑμῶν - "This is my body, which is for you." The short phrase τὸ ὑπὲρ ὑμῶν also appears in 2 Corinthians 9:3, suggesting that it's not out of place in Pauline writing.

The use of κλώμενον along with other variants θρυπτόμενον and διδόμενον (following Luke 22:19's τὸ ὑπὲρ ὑμῶν διδόμενον) likely developed later as an attempt to supply the sense in which Jesus' body is "for you." The earliest manuscripts (א* A B C*) and the papyrus P46 reflect a tradition compatible with Luke's account of the last supper. As such, most modern translation simply render 1 Corinthians 11:24 similar to the NET:

And after he had given thanks he broke it and said, “This is my body, which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.”

This appears the best reading then and resolves the issue without resorting to some sensus plenior.

  • 1
    Great answer - I agree (after quickly checking my UBS), and it seems to confirm the "interpretive gloss" statement made in the IB.
    – Peter
    Commented Aug 15, 2013 at 7:45
  • It doesn't answer why the bread is broken as a symbol of his body which is for you.
    – Bob Jones
    Commented Jul 22, 2018 at 3:17
  • @BobJones Are you talking about the Afikomen? Or the KJV? The KJV is a textual issue. The Afikomen is more about his being dying, being buried and raised again as bread of life.
    – Ruminator
    Commented Jul 27, 2018 at 13:11
  • If it were mine to choose, this would be the answer I would choose, with mine as a backup!
    – Ruminator
    Commented Jul 27, 2018 at 13:13

The word used for broken in 1 Corinthians 11:24 is κλάω, which according to Strong's is used specifically the breaking of bread, while in John 19:36, συντρίβω (shatter, break in pieces) is used.

The Interpreter's Bible, when commenting on 1 Corinthians 11:24 says of the use of broken:

This may be an interpretive gloss, as most modern editors of the Greek text hold. But it does bring out the emphasis upon the symbolic significance of the breaking of the loaf in its relation to the breaking of Christ's body in his death.

Do note that this commentary was written in 1954, so its definition of modern is 60 years ago! I would be interested to know if the view of broken being "an interpretive gloss" is still held by scholars today.

  • 2
    Hey Peter, do keep in mind that Strong's is a concordance, not a lexicon. Your source is likely relying on another lexicon that they have keyed to Strong's. See meta.hermeneutics.stackexchange.com/a/642/423
    – Dan
    Commented Aug 14, 2013 at 15:45

Jesus body wasn't broken for us, unless you take the position that piercing by thorns and spear constitute breaking. Even so, the context of 1 Cor. 11:24 seems to be the driving force in answering the question. The earliest manuscripts do not include the word "broken" as some have previously pointed out. If it were in the text it drives the reader to the conclusion that it was indeed Christ's body in view. Such a view violates the context of the passage which is a correction of improper observance of the ordinance.

The Corinthians were not rightly discerning the body and some were being judged for it through sickness and death. What body were they not discerning? Was it Christ's corporeal body, or the spiritual body of Christ, the Church. When Jesus instituted the Lord's supper, Matthew, Mark, and Luke record Him saying "this is my body, given for you." I Cor. 10:16, 17 informs the discussion by defining "the body". Quoting from the ESV, "The bread that we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ? 17Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread." Jesus gave us His body that we might become His body. The Corinthians were not discerning the other believers in their midst as His body, given for them. As a consequence they were not benefitting from the gifts given for the up building of the body, therefore, no healing, resulting in sickness and death.

Chapters 12-14 complete the context as Paul describes the gifts they were not acknowledging, or at least considering of no importance, It is not Christ's corporeal body in view in 11:24, but the spiritual body given for them.

It was not necessary to break Christ's body to complete the atonement for our sin. The OT teaches us that it's all about the blood, so there is no need for the word "broken" to be inserted.

For a more complete explanation see my blog at the following link: https://wordpress26922.wordpress.com/


Clearly, the breaking the bread and identifying it explicitly as His body, is not a game of cherades. And no Christian ever said as much until very recently (with the merely commemorative, 'symbolic' or consubstantial presence views of the Eucharist, where the bread is paraded around as, and called, His flesh, while being no different from any other bread).

There is of course a variant here about the presence of the word 'broken,' but supposing it is original, when He breaks the bread and says He is breaking His body (the verbs are neuter, referring to the body, rather than the bread, masculine, being broken), it is because He has identified the bread as His body, not because His body was broken elsewhere except in this sense. He breaks the Eucharistic bread turned His body. This is quite different from a breaking of His body, e.g. on the Cross.

... For you have just heard him say distinctly, That our Lord Jesus Christ in the night in which He was betrayed, took bread, and when He had given thanks He broke it, and gave to His disciples, saying, Take, eat, this is My Body: and having taken the cup and given thanks, He said, Take, drink, this is My Blood. Since then He Himself declared and said of the Bread, This is My Body, who shall dare to doubt any longer? And since He has Himself affirmed and said, This is My Blood, who shall ever hesitate, saying, that it is not His blood? ... Consider therefore the Bread and the Wine not as bare elements, for they are, according to the Lord's declaration, the Body and Blood of Christ; for even though sense suggests this to you, yet let faith establish you. Judge not the matter from the taste, but from faith be fully assured without misgiving, that the Body and Blood of Christ have been vouchsafed to you. ... Having learned these things, and been fully assured that the seeming bread is not bread, though sensible to taste, but the Body of Christ; and that the seeming wine is not wine, though the taste will have it so, but the Blood of Christ1

1 Cyril of Jerusalem, Catechetical Lecture 22

  • Isn't it disingenuous and demeaning to dismiss interpretation of types and shadows by honest and faithful Christians as charades. Jesus said he was the manna that the Jews ate, a door, a path, a vine. He was 'clearly' explaining the types in the meal that they had been eating for centuries. The parading of the bread is certainly a later addition than the meal Jesus celebrated. The bread was simply broken, not paraded. When you do this.. break the bread... not parade it.
    – Bob Jones
    Commented Jul 22, 2018 at 15:47
  • Yes, but that's not what I'm doing. Jesus specifically contrasts Himself with the manna given from heaven, as its antitype or fulfilment, and teaches us "The bread I will give for the life of the world is my flesh." The view which says that the Eucharistic bread has not become the body of Christ ("this is my body, given for you") makes the Eucharist into a game of charades. A blasphemy, obviously. People who are offended by what I've said should review how the Christians of all centuries consistently viewed the Eucharist, and see whether I'm attacking something apostolic or novel. Commented Jul 22, 2018 at 16:09
  • Note that he doesn't say "This flesh is my body" but rather "This bread". This indicates that the bread is bread and stays bread and is only his body in metaphor. Transubstantiation is a truly pedantic approach to the Seder.
    – Ruminator
    Commented Jul 27, 2018 at 8:58
  • Your objection implies Jesus is thought to have taken flesh, broke, and said 'This is my body.' That's not the case. It was bread He took and said the transformative words in reference to. Jesus wasn't using the word 'this,' while holding and giving to His disciples, while actually referring to something else than that thing He was holding.If anything, the pron. 'this' is neuter, corresponding to 'body,' not masculine, corresponding to the bread. Transubstantiation is just the Eucharist before men about 500 years ago came along. I'm hardly in the minority or producing something novel. Commented Jul 27, 2018 at 16:32

In case the removal of "broken for you" is incorrect...

There is no such thing as "The Lord's Supper" aka "the Eucharist" etc. What Jesus told the disciples was that the meaning of the bread and wine of the Seder was to henceforth be about Christ's blood and flesh. IE: as a remembrance/memorial. Paul explicitly rejects "Communion" as it is celebrated in Churches today (see 1 Cor 11:1ff).

When Jesus said "this is my body" he was holding the Afikomen:

A piece broken off the cake of unleavened bread, maẓẓah (usually from the middle one of the three cakes called Cohen, Levi, and Israel), at the beginning of the Seder service on Passover eve. It is secreted under the pillow of the head of the family, who presides at the seder table, and it is eaten at the conclusion of the meal...

The Afikomen was introduced early in the Seder, broken in two pieces and "buried" under the pillow of the host. At the end of the Seder it is reproduced and everyone eats of it. It, together with the cup representing the blood Jesus shed, represents the death of Jesus to ratify the new covenant and his resurrection.

  • 1
    Actually, he didn't say "this bread is my body." He said, "this is my body." Commented Jul 21, 2018 at 20:34
  • Doesn't "In the same manner He also took the cup after supper" indicate the bread was not the Afikomen, which is eaten after the meal? Commented Jul 26, 2018 at 20:11
  • I'm not Jewish so am not prepared to traverse the minutiae of the ceremony. However, to any honest person this verse must be accepted as evidence that Jesus and the disciples were observing the passover: Luk 22:15 And he said unto them, With desire I have desired to eat this passover with you before I suffer:
    – Ruminator
    Commented Jul 26, 2018 at 20:19
  • The bread at the Passover is more than the Afikomen. The Afikomen is a broken piece from a loaf whose other parts are eaten earlier in the meal. After the meal is over, the Afikomen is eaten and the final 2 cups are shared. So the language which says the bread was broken and immediately eaten and then after the meal the cup, sounds like it was the other part of the loaf Paul is speaking about (assuming it was a Seder meal). BTW how can you use the "minutiae" of the Passover to provide an answer if you aren't prepared to explain the minutiae you use? Commented Jul 27, 2018 at 4:42
  • We need not assume that it was a Passover meal as we have it on good authority: Luk_22:15 And he said unto them, With desire I have desired to eat this passover with you before I suffer:
    – Ruminator
    Commented Jul 27, 2018 at 8:54

1Co 11:24 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.

Sensus Plenior always argues from a position of faith that God has preserved his word and that apparent contradictions are riddles which have intended meaning.

This verse is used to show that Paul was familiar with sensus plenior.

All the things which are torn, split and broken are one image of the cross. The veil that was torn, the rock which was split, the water which was parted all represent that God himself was torn on the cross. The Son was separated from the Father.

As such, one who practices the discernment of SP can say with equal intent, that he was torn, broken, parted, separated, split etc without contradiction, even though his body itself was not physically broken since it is a metaphor of the cross.

Christ himself broke the bread, and therefore the Paul is referring back to the supper where Christ broke the bread.

  • I'll give the points to an answer which can derive the same meaning from the literal alone or a plausible answer that doesn't disparage the text.
    – Bob Jones
    Commented May 28, 2012 at 4:58
  • An anonymous editor left the following comment via an edit request: The Holy Trinity was to be separated through the body of Christ for the first time, this was done for our benefit.
    – ThaddeusB
    Commented Nov 1, 2015 at 14:38
  • Hebrews does speak of his flesh being "torn": Heb 10:20 By a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh; But that still isn't "broken". Not a bone was broken.
    – Ruminator
    Commented Jul 27, 2018 at 13:08

As rightly quoted from Joh 19:36, the author understood the relationship of Christ to the Passover lamb - it was to be cooked whole and not broken. This is supported by NT commentary where it describes Christ as being crucified, put to death and nailed to the cross. No other scripture (OT or NT) indicates that Christ's body was or required to be broken. His sacrifice was complete (whole). It would appear that most translators acknowledge this and it fits with internal scriptural interpretation.

  • 1
    If you mention "NT commentary" in your answer, please cite one that supports your answer.
    – user862
    Commented Jun 8, 2016 at 15:32

Going down the 'Metaphor Road' is a path that ultimately turns slippery. I've listened to too many lectures by PhD's of Bible "Whatever" as they ventured forth, and before long the entire Book becomes a metaphor! Anyone wishing to see the little picture inside the big must come to the understanding that everything Messiah did was, and will do is, the fulfillment of one of the OT Feasts ("shadowpictures"), and of the OT Prophecies. Messiah freely gave his body in our stead - there is no metaphor in his being our Passover Lamb - he had to have been "qualified" in each & every way. (Yes, Messiah did elsewhere use "eat my flesh" and "drink my blood" metaphorically - but that's a whole 'nother discussion!)

Those who choose to hold to the belief that the sent-one Shaul would have intended to add or take away from what had occurred at the Passover Meal might at least first try putting the comma where it belongs:

...and having given thanks, he broke it (the bread) and said, "Take, eat (the bread), this is my body (the bread), which (the bread!) is broken for you... ."

This then has the same syntax as what next follows. In the same way also the cup:

"This cup is the renewed covenant in my blood. As often as you drink it [the cup!], do [these] in memorial of me."

This memorial to which Messiah referred (acknowledging him as our Passover Lamb) was to take place at each succeeding Passover Meal partaken of by Followers of the Way (Netsariym).

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  • 1
    Welcome Robert, I have cleaned up the formatting of your answer to help make it clearer to readers - this is a good start to an answer, but could use development to be a full answer addressing the OP's question (and not just a response to 'what other people think'). Do take a look through the site tour as per James' suggestion. Thanks!
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