The Gospel according to John lacks the account at the Last Supper; there is no "Take, eat; this is My body..." But commentators note while lacking those words, John includes things which show a greater interest in the eucharist. C.K. Barrett says (my emphasis added):

The reason of John's omission of the significant words and action of Jesus at the last supper is discussed below (p. 71), but what is said there must be anticipated here because it points the way to an understanding of John's omission of the other events which have been mentioned. It is certain that John was more, rather than less, interested in the eucharist that the synoptics; he gives indirect teaching on the subject at some length. But because he was concerned to root the sacrament as observed by the Church in the total sacramental fact of the incarnation, he was unwilling to attach it to a particular moment and a particular action.1

The sacraments, then, so far as the appear in John, are means by which Christians are incorporated into the saving work of Christ, sharing thus in the descent of the Redeemer to an obedient death, and in his ascent through death to the glory he enjoyed with the Father before the creation. There is thus a close relation between the Johannine teaching and Paul's baptismal doctrine of crucifixion, burial, and resurrection with Christ, and his eucharistic doctrine of a rite based upon the proclamation of the Lord's death and continued in hope of his return in glory, though there is no literary ground for supposing that John had heard of Paul's terminology.2 3

Commentating on the Bread of Life Discourse Barrett says:

John is less ready than some of his commentators to argue about the eucharist; he assumes it, and knows that his readers will assume it, while he also knows that except in the context of the fulfillment of God's purposes in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus it is a meaningless ceremony. The realization of eschatology and the consequent gift of life by the death of Jesus, are central themes of this discourse as of the whole gospel.4

The main theme of the Prologue5 is the necessity of belief in His name and receiving Him in order to have the right to becoming a child of God:

But to all who did receive (ἔλαβον) him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God (John 1:12) [ESV]

John includes the necessity to "receive" λαμβάνω after believing in His name. In other words, it is not simply a matter of belief or to receive: both must be present.

John's "receive" is how Jesus instructed those at the Last Supper:

Now as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and after blessing it broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, “Take (Λάβετε), eat; this is my body.” (Matthew 26:26)

And as they were eating, he took bread, and after blessing it broke it and gave it to them, and said, “Take (Λάβετε); this is my body.” (Mark 14:22)

Should λαμβάνω in John 1:12 be seen in light of the Last Supper? In other words, has John written to correct those who thought they could eat without believing, as Judas did?6

1. C.K. Barret, The Gospel According to St. John, S.P.C.K, 1962, p. 41
2. Ibid., p. 71
3. Barret also says "The reader of the New Testament cannot fail to be impressed by the considerable measure of agreement between John and Paul in their presentation of Christian theology." (p. 45) On the topic of the eucharist, Jeremias, citing J.H. Bernard, shows John 6:51c follows 1 Corinthians 11:24b stating, "John has only expanded it paraphrastically at the beginning and at the end." [Joachim Jeremias, The Eucharistic Words of Jesus, Translated by Norman Perrin, SCM Press Ltd, Trinity Press International, 1966, p. 107-108]
4. Ibid., p. 236
5. Brad McCoy, "Chiasmus: An Important Structural Device Commonly Found in Biblical Literature", [Chafer Theological Seminary], p. 29 [Adapted from M.É. Boismard, Le Prologue de Saint Jean, Lectio Divina, vol. 11 (Paris: du Cerf, 1953), 107]
6. At the time of writing, eating food sacrificed to idols or to false gods was a common occurrence and an issue for the Church. So the condition is not simply one of belief on the part of the participant. (No doubt those who engaged in the pagan feasts believed there was some benefit.) The issue is belief in Jesus and participation in the meal He instituted.

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    Those who have received Christ partake of the memorial of bread and wine. At which time they receive digestible foodstuffs. There is no warrant in the words to support an hypothesis that eating and drinking, in and of itself, conveys Jesus Christ into the soul.
    – Nigel J
    Aug 1, 2018 at 3:24
  • @NigelJ Where do you see I say eating of itself conveys Christ? The question is: "Is λαμβάνω in John 1:12 a reference to the Last Supper with the added element of belief in His name as a way to separate Judas from the others who took and ate the bread and so show the inefficacy of simply eating without believing? We are on the same page. If I haven't said it clearly please feel free to edit. Aug 1, 2018 at 5:36
  • Your reference says The sacraments, then, so far as the appear in John, are means by which Christians are incorporated into the saving work of Christ, which sounds, to me, as though mere digesting is assumed to be 'receiving Christ'.
    – Nigel J
    Aug 1, 2018 at 8:21
  • @NigelJ I have edited the question to remove the uncertainty. Aug 1, 2018 at 14:39

1 Answer 1


No, the intended meaning is clearly to contrast with the previous verse: "He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him." (ESV) Go back another verse and we read "and the world did not know him."

These verses are about the theme which is present in all the Gospels: will you accept Jesus? John 1:10-12 refer to the world's ignorance and rejection of Jesus, and specifically the rejection of Jesus by most of his own people, the Jews.

I'd have to see the argument for the chiasmus reading of the prologue, but I couldn't say now that I thought the main theme was becoming children of God. That's too human centered. I'd say the main theme is seeing in all his glory the Word become flesh.

Unlike other places in John which do appear to evoke imagery of the lord's supper, I don't see any other food or sustenance vocabulary in these verses. λαμβάνω is a very common word, the twelfth most common NT verb in fact, with 258 occurrences. Don't read more into it than is warranted.

  • Not to be pedantic, but λαμβάνω is (according to Mounce's list) the 64th most common word, not 12th. Mounce agrees that 258 is the occurrence.
    – Nigel J
    Aug 4, 2018 at 14:01
  • @NigelJ Sorry, it's the 12th most common verb, not word. I'll edit.
    – curiousdannii
    Aug 4, 2018 at 14:07

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