The Lord’s Supper

We believe, teach and confess … “that in the Lord’s Supper Christ’s body and blood are truly and substantially present and are truly administered with those things that are seen – bread and wine – to those who receive the Sacrament.” (Apology X.54)

The Division concerning the Lord’s Supper

The following question is helpful to reveal the division that exists: 2] [1]In the Holy Supper, are the true body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ are (a) truly and essentially present, (b) distributed with the bread and wine, and (c) received with the mouth by all those who use this Sacrament.  [2]And this whether they are worthy or unworthy, godly or ungodly, believing or unbelieving. Are they received by the believing for consolation and life, but by the unbelieving for judgement? The Sacramentarians say, No. We say, Yes.

3] For the explanation of this controversy it is to be noted in the beginning that there are two kinds of Sacramentarians. Some are openly crass Sacramentarians, who declare in plain words as they believe in their hearts, that in the Holy Supper nothing but bread and wine is present, and distributed and received with the mouth. 4] Others, however, are subtle Sacramentarians, and the most harmful of all, who partly speak very fancy in our own words, and pretend that they also believe a true presence of the true, essential, living body and blood of Christ in the Holy Supper. However, they hold that 5] this occurs spiritually through faith. Nevertheless, they retain under these fancy words precisely the former crass opinion, namely, that in the Holy Supper nothing is present and received with the mouth except bread and wine. For with them the word spiritually means nothing else than the Spirit of Christ or the power of the absent body of Christ and His merit, which is present; but the body of Christ is in no mode or way present, except only above in the highest heaven, to which we should elevate ourselves into heaven by the thoughts of our faith, and there, not at all, however, in the bread and wine of the Holy Supper, should seek this body and blood of Christ.

Confession of the pure doctrine against the 3Sacramentarians

6] 1. We believe, teach, and confess that in the Holy Supper the body and blood of Christ are truly and essentially present, and are truly distributed and received with the bread and wine.

7] 2. We believe, teach, and confess that the words of the testament of Christ are not to be understood otherwise than as they read, according to the letter, so that the bread does not signify the absent body and the wine the absent blood of Christ, but that, on account of the sacramental union, they, the bread and wine, are truly the body and blood of Christ.

8] 3. Now, as to the consecration, we believe, teach, and confess that no work of man or recitation of the minister of the church produces this presence of the body and blood of Christ in the Holy Supper, but that this is to be ascribed only and alone to the almighty power of our Lord Jesus Christ.

9] 4. But at the same time we also believe, teach, and confess unanimously that in the use of the Holy Supper the words of the institution of Christ should in no way be omitted, but should be publicly recited, as it is written [1 Corinthians 10:16],  “The cup of blessing which we bless … ,” etc. This blessing occurs through the recitation of the words of Christ.

10] 5. The grounds, however, on which we stand against the Sacramentarians in this matter are those which Dr. Luther has laid down in his [2]Large Confession concerning the Lord’s Supper.

The first is this article 11] of our Christian faith: Jesus Christ is true, essential, natural, perfect God and man in one person, undivided and inseparable.

12] The second: That God’s right hand is everywhere; at which Christ is placed in deed and in truth according to His human nature, and therefore being present, rules, and has in His hands and beneath His feet everything that is in heaven and on earth [as Scripture says, Ephesians 1:22]. There no man else, nor angel, but only the Son of Mary is placed.

13] The third: That God’s Word is not false and does not deceive.

14] The fourth: That God has and knows of various modes of being in any place, and is not bound to the one which philosophers call “localis” (local).

15] 6. We believe, teach, and confess that the body and blood of Christ are received with the bread and wine, not only spiritually by faith, but also orally; yet not in a [3]Capernaitic, but in a supernatural, heavenly mode, because of the sacramental union; as the words of Christ clearly show, when Christ gives direction to take, eat, and drink, as was also done by the apostles; for it is written [Mark 14:23], “And they all drank of it.” St. Paul likewise says, [1 Corinthians 10:16]. “The bread that we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ?” That is: He who eats this bread eats the body of Christ, which also the main ancient teachers of the Church, Chrysostom, Cyprian, Leo I, Gregory, Ambrose, Augustine, unanimously testify of.

16] 7. We believe, teach, and confess that not only the true believers in Christ and the worthy, but also the unworthy and unbelievers, receive the true body and blood of Christ; however, not for life and consolation, but for judgement and condemnation, if they are not converted and do not repent, [1 Corinthians 11:27-29].

17] For although they thrust Christ from themselves as a Saviour, yet they must admit Him even against their will as a strict Judge, who is just as present also to exercise and render judgement upon impenitent guests as He is present to work-life and consolation in the hearts of the true believers and worthy guests.

18] 8. We believe, teach, and confess also that there is only one kind of unworthy guests, namely, those who do not believe, concerning whom it is written [John 3:18], “… whoever does not believe is condemned already…”. And this judgement becomes greater and more serious, being aggravated, by the unworthy use of the Holy Supper, [1 Corinthians 11:29].

19] 9. We believe, teach, and confess that no true believer, as long as he retains living faith, however weak he may be, receives the Holy Supper to his judgement, which was instituted especially for Christians weak in faith, yet penitent, for the consolation and strengthening of their weak faith [Matthew 9:12; 11:5]. 28].

20] 10. We believe, teach, and confess that all the worthiness of the guests of this heavenly feast is and consists in the holiest obedience and perfect merit of Christ alone, which we appropriate to ourselves by true faith, and of the application of this merit we are assured by the Sacrament, and not at all does this worthiness depend upon our virtues or inward and outward preparations.

[1] Concordia: The Lutheran Confessions © 2005, 2006 Concordia Publishing House. Used with permission. All rights reserved. To purchase a copy of Concordia, please contact CPH at 800-325-3040. Epitome, VII, 2; pg 505.

[2] BOC,, Epitome, VII, 2-20. Note: This passage has been edited, slightly, to enhance the readability and to fit the structure of the website page.


[4] Luther’s Works: American Edition, vol. 37, pp. 161–372.