For this is my blood of the New Testament - This is the reading both here and in St. Mark; but St. Luke and St. Paul say, This cup is the New Testament in my blood. This passage has been strangely mistaken: by New Testament, many understand nothing more than the book commonly known by this name, containing the four Gospels, Acts of the Apostles, apostolical Epistles, and book of the Revelation; and they think that the cup of the New Testament means no more than merely that cup which the book called the New Testament enjoins in the sacrament of the Lord's Supper. As this is the case, it is highly necessary that this term should be explained. The original, Η Καινη Διαθηκη, which we translate, The New Testament, and which is the general title of all the contents of the book already described, simply means, the new Covenant. Covenant, from con, together, and venio, I come, signifies an agreement, contract, or compact, between two parties, by which both are mutually bound to do certain things, on certain conditions and penalties. It answers to the Hebrew ברית berith, which often signifies, not only the covenant or agreement, but also the sacrifice which was slain on the occasion, by the blood of which the covenant was ratified; and the contracting parties professed to subject themselves to such a death as that of the victim, in case of violating their engagements. An oath of this kind, on slaying the covenant sacrifice, was usual in ancient times: so in Homer, when a covenant was made between the Greeks and the Trojans, and the throats of lambs were cut, and their blood poured out, the following form of adjuration was used by the contracting parties: -
Ζευ κυδιϚε, μεγιϚε, και αθανατοι θεοι αλλοι,π
Οπποτεροι προτεροι υπερ ορκια πημηνειαν,π
Ωδε σφ 'εγκεφαλος χαμαδις ρεοι, ως οδε οινος,π
Αυτων, και τεκεων· αλοχοι δ 'αλλοισι μιγειεν .
All glorious Jove, and ye, the powers of heaven!
Whoso shall violate this contract first,
So be their blood, their children's and their own,
Poured out, as this libation, on the ground
And let their wives bring forth to other men!
Iliad l. iii. v. 298-301
Our blessed Savior is evidently called the Διαθηκη, ברית berith, or covenant sacrifice, Isaiah 42:6; Isaiah 49:8; Zechariah 9:11. And to those Scriptures he appears to allude, as in them the Lord promises to give him for a covenant (sacrifice) to the Gentiles, and to send forth, by the blood of this covenant (victim) the prisoners out of the pit. The passages in the sacred writings which allude to this grand sacrificial and atoning act are almost innumerable. See the Preface to Matthew.
In this place, our Lord terms his blood the blood of the New covenant; by which he means that grand plan of agreement, or reconciliation, which God was now establishing between himself and mankind, by the passion and death of his Son, through whom alone men could draw nigh to God; and this New covenant is mentioned in contradistinction from the Old covenant, η παλαια Διαθηκη, 2 Corinthians 3:14, by which appellative all the books of the Old Testament were distinguished, because they pointed out the way of reconciliation to God by the blood of the various victims slain under the law; but now, as the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world, was about to be offered up, a New and Living way was thereby constituted, so that no one henceforth could come unto the Father but by Him. Hence all the books of the New Testament, which bear unanimous testimony to the doctrine of salvation by faith through the blood of Jesus, are termed, Η Καινη Διαθηκη, The New covenant. See the Preface.
Dr. Lightfoot's Observations on this are worthy of serious notice.
"This is my blood of the New Testament. Not only the seal of the covenant, but the sanction of the new covenant. The end of the Mosaic economy, and the confirming of a new one. The confirmation of the old covenant was by the blood of bulls and goats, Exodus 24, Hebrews 9, because blood was still to be shed: the confirmation of the new was by a cup of wine, because under the new covenant there is no farther shedding of blood. As it is here said of the cup, This cup is the New Testament in my blood; so it might be said of the cup of blood, Exodus 24, That cup was the Old Testament in the blood of Christ: there, all the articles of that covenant being read over, Moses sprinkled all the people with blood, and said, This is the blood of the covenant which God hath made with you; and thus the old covenant or testimony was confirmed. In like manner, Christ, having published all the articles of the new covenant, he takes the cup of wine, and gives them to drink, and saith. This is the New Testament in my blood; and thus the new covenant was established." - Works, vol. ii. p. 260.
Which is shed (εκχυνομενον, poured out) for many - Εκχεω and εκχυω, to pour out, are often used in a sacrificial sense in the Septuagint, and signify to pour out or sprinkle the blood of the sacrifices before the altar of the Lord, by way of atonement. See 2 Kings 16:15; Leviticus 8:15; Leviticus 9:9; Exodus 29:12; Leviticus 4:7, Leviticus 4:14, Leviticus 4:17, Leviticus 4:30, Leviticus 4:34; and in various other places. Our Lord, by this very remarkable mode of expression, teaches us that, as his body was to be broken or crucified, υπερ ημων, in our stead, so here the blood was to be poured out to make an atonement, as the words, remission of sins, sufficiently prove for without shedding of blood there was no remission, Hebrews 9:22, nor any remission by shedding of blood, but in a sacrificial way. See the passages above, and on Matthew 26:26; (note).
The whole of this passage will receive additional light when collated with Isaiah 53:11, Isaiah 53:12. By his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify Many, for he shall bear their iniquities - because he hath Poured Out his soul unto death, and he bare the sin of Many. The pouring out of the soul unto death, in the prophet, answers to, this is the blood of the new covenant which is poured out for you, in the evangelists; and the רבים , rabbim, multitudes, in Isaiah, corresponds to the Many, πολλων, of Matthew and Mark. The passage will soon appear plain, when we consider that two distinct classes of persons are mentioned by the prophet.
It is well known that the Jewish dispensation, termed by the apostle as above, η παλαια διαθηκη, the Old covenant, was partial and exclusive. None were particularly interested in it save the descendants of the twelve sons of Jacob: whereas the Christian dispensation, η καινη διαθηκη, the New covenant, referred to by our Lord in this place, was universal; for as Jesus Christ by the grace of God tasted death for Every man, Hebrews 2:9, and is that Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the World, John 1:29, who would have All Men to be saved, and come to the knowledge of the truth, 1 Timothy 2:4, even that knowledge of Christ crucified, by which they are to be justified, Isaiah 53:11, therefore he has commanded his disciples to go into all the world, and preach the Gospel to Every Creature, Mark 16:15. The reprobate race, those who were no people, and not beloved, were to be called in; for the Gospel was to be preached to all the world, though it was to begin at Jerusalem, Luke 24:47. For this purpose was the blood of the new covenant sacrifice poured out for the multitudes, that there might be but one fold, as there is but one Shepherd; and that God might be All and in All.
For the remission of sins - Εις αφεσις αμαρτιων, for (or, in reference to) the taking away of sins. For, although the blood is shed, and the atonement made, no man's sins are taken away until, as a true penitent, he returns to God, and, feeling his utter incapacity to save himself, believes in Christ Jesus, who is the justifier of the ungodly.
The phrase, αφεσις των αμαρτιων, remission of sins, (frequently used by the Septuagint), being thus explained by our Lord, is often used by the evangelists and the apostles; and does not mean merely the pardon of sins, as it is generally understood, but the removal or taking away of sins; not only the guilt, but also the very nature of sin, and the pollution of the soul through it; and comprehends all that is generally understood by the terms justification and sanctification. For the use and meaning of the phrase αφεσις αμαρτιων, see Mark 1:4; Luke 1:77; Luke 3:3; Luke 24:47; Acts 2:38; Acts 5:31; Acts 10:43; Acts 13:38; Acts 26:18; Colossians 1:14; Hebrews 10:18.
Both St. Luke and St. Paul add, that, after giving the bread, our Lord said, Do this in remembrance of me. And after giving the cup, St. Paul alone adds, This do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me. The account, as given by St. Paul, should be carefully followed, being fuller, and received, according to his own declaration, by especial revelation from God. See 1 Corinthians 11:23, For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, etc. See the harmonized view above.
As they were eating - As they were eating the paschal supper, near the close of the meal.
Luke adds that he said, just before instituting the sacramental supper, “With desire have I desired to eat this passover with you before I suffer.” This is a Hebrew manner of expression, signifying “I have greatly desired.” He had desired it, doubtless:
(1)that he might institute the Lord‘s Supper, to be a perpetual memorial of him;
(2)that he might strengthen them for their approaching trials;
(3) that he might explain to them the true nature of the Passover; and,
(4) that he might spend another season with them in the duties of religion. Every “Christian, about to die will also seek opportunities of drawing specially near to God, and of holding communion with him and with his people.
Jesus took bread - That is, the unleavened bread which they used at the celebration of the Passover, made into thin cakes, easily broken and distributed.
And blessed it - Or sought a blessing on it; or “gave thanks” to God for it. The word rendered “blessed” not unfrequently means “to give thanks.” Compare Luke 9:16 and John 6:11. It is also to be remarked that some manuscripts have the word rendered “gave thanks,” instead of the one translated “blessed.” It appears from the writings of Philo and the Rabbis that the Jews were never accustomed to eat without giving thanks to God and seeking his blessing. This was especially the case in both the bread and the wine used at the Passover.
And brake it - This “breaking” of the bread represented the sufferings of Jesus about to take place - his body “broken” or wounded for sin. Hence, Paul 1 Corinthians 11:24 adds, “This is my body which is broken for you;” that is, which is about to be broken for you by death, or wounded, pierced, bruised, to make atonement for your sins.
This is my body - This represents my body. This broken bread shows the manner in which my body will be broken; or this will serve to recall my dying sufferings to your remembrance. It is not meant that his body would be literally “broken” as the bread was, but that the bread would be a significant emblem or symbol to recall to their recollection his sufferings. It is not improbable that our Lord pointed to the broken bread, or laid his hands on it, as if he had said, “Lo, my body!” or, “Behold my body! - that which “represents” my broken body to you.” This “could not” be intended to mean that that bread was literally his body. It was not. His body was then before them “living.” And there is no greater absurdity than to imagine his “living body” there changed at once to a “dead body,” and then the bread to be changed into that dead body, and that all the while the “living” body of Jesus was before them.
Yet this is the absurd and impossible doctrine of the Roman Catholics, holding that the “bread” and “wine” were literally changed into the “body and blood” of our Lord. The language employed by the Saviour was in accordance with a common mode of speaking among the Jews, and exactly similar to that used by Moses at the institution of the Passover Exodus 12:11; “It” - that is, the lamb - “is the Lord‘s Passover.” That is, the lamb and the feast “represent” the Lord‘s “passing over” the houses of the Israelites. It serves to remind you of it. It surely cannot be meant that that lamb was the literal “passing over” their houses - a palpable absurdity - but that it represented it. So Paul and Luke say of the bread, “This is my body broken for you: this do in remembrance of me.” This expresses the whole design of the sacramental bread. It is to call to “remembrance,” in a vivid manner, the dying sufferings of our Lord. The sacred writers, moreover, often denote that one thing is represented by another by using the word is. See Matthew 13:37; “He that soweth the good seed is the Son of man” - that is, represents the Son of man. Genesis 41:26; “the seven good kine are seven years” - that is, “represent” or signify seven years. See also John 15:1, John 15:5; Genesis 17:10. The meaning of this important passage may be thus expressed: “As I give this broken bread to you to eat, so will I deliver my body to be afflicted and slain for your sins.”
And he took the cup - That is, the cup of wine which was used at the feast of the Passover, called the cup of “Hallel,” or praise, because they commenced then repeating the “Psalms” with which they closed the Passover.
See Matthew 26:30. This cup, Luke says, he took “after supper” - that is, after they had finished the ordinary celebration of “eating” the Passover. The “bread” was taken “while” they were eating, the cup after they had done eating.
And gave thanks - See the notes at Matthew 26:26.
Drink ye all of it - That is, “all of you, disciples, drink of it;” not, “drink all the wine.”
For this is my blood - This “represents” my blood, as the bread does my body.
Luke and Paul vary the expression, adding what Matthew and Mark have omitted. “This cup is the new testament in my blood.” By this cup he meant the wine in the cup, and not the cup itself. Pointing to it, probably, he said, “This - ‹wine‘ - represents my blood about to be, shed.” The phrase “new testament” should have been rendered “new covenant,” referring to the “covenant or compact” that God was about to make with people through a Redeemer. The “old” covenant was that which was made with the Jews by the sprinkling of the blood of sacrifices. See Exodus 24:8; “And Moses took the blood and sprinkled it on the people, and said, Behold the blood of the covenant which the Lord hath made with you,” etc. In allusion to that, Jesus says, this cup is the new “covenant” in my blood; that is, which is “ratified, sealed, or sanctioned by my blood.” In ancient times, covenants or contracts were ratified by slaying an animal; by the shedding of its blood, imprecating similar vengeance if either party failed in the compact. See the notes at Hebrews 9:16. So Jesus says the covenant which God is about to form with people the new covenant, or the gospel economy is sealed or ratified with my blood.
Which is shed for many for the remission of sins - In order that sins may be remitted, or forgiven. That is, this is the appointed way by which God will pardon transgressions. That blood is efficacious for the pardon of sin:
1. Because it is “the life” of Jesus, the “blood” being used by the sacred writers as representing “life itself,” or as containing the elements of life, Genesis 9:4; Leviticus 17:14. It was forbidden, therefore, to eat blood, because it contained the life, or was the life, of the animal. When, therefore, Jesus says that his blood was shed for many, it is the same as saying that His life was given for many. See the notes at Romans 3:25.
2. His life was given for sinners, or he died in the place of sinners as their substitute. By his death on the cross, the death or punishment due to them in hell may be removed and their souls be saved. He endured so much suffering, bore so much agony, that God was pleased to accept it in the place of the eternal torments of all the redeemed. The interests of justice, the honor and stability of his government, would be as secure in saving them in this manner as if the suffering were inflicted on them personally in hell. God, by giving his Son to die for sinners, has shown his infinite abhorrence of sin; since, according to his view, and therefore according to truth, nothing else would show its evil nature but the awful sufferings of his own Son. That he died “in the stead or place” of sinners is abundantly clear from the following passages of Scripture: John 1:29; Ephesians 5:2; Hebrews 7:27; 1 John 2:2; 1 John 4:10; Isaiah 53:10; Romans 8:32; 2 Corinthians 5:15.
But I say unto you - That is, the observance of the Passover, and of the rites shadowing forth future things, here end.
I am about to die. The design of all these types and shadows is about to be accomplished. This is the last time that I shall partake of them with you. Hereafter, when my Father‘s kingdom is established in heaven, we will partake together of the thing represented by these types and ceremonial observances - the blessings and triumphs of redemption.
Fruit of the vine - “Wine, the fruit or produce” of the vine made of the grapes of the vine.
Until that day - Probably the time when they should be received to heaven. It does not mean here on earth, further than that they would partake with him in the happiness of spreading the gospel and the triumphs of his kingdom.
When I drink it new with you - Not that he would partake with them of literal wine there, but in the thing represented by it. Wine was an important part of the feast of the Passover, and of all feasts. The kingdom of heaven is often represented under the image of a feast. It means that he will partake of joy with them in heaven; that they will share together the honors and happiness of the heavenly world.
New - In a new manner, or perhaps “afresh.”
In my Father‘s kingdom - In heaven. The place where God shall reign in a kingdom fully established and pure.
And when they had sung a hymn - The Passover was observed by the Jews by singing or “chanting” Matthew 20:1.
Faith, in itself, is an act of the mind. Jesus Himself is the author and the finisher of our faith. He gave His life for us; and His blood speaks in our behalf better things than spoke the blood of Abel, which cried unto God against Cain the murderer. Christ's blood was shed to remit our sins. RC 77.6Read in context »
In His teachings while personally among men Jesus directed the minds of the people to the Old Testament. He said to the Jews, “Ye search the Scriptures, because ye think that in them ye have eternal life; and these are they which bear witness of Me.” John 5:39, R.V. At this time the books of the Old Testament were the only part of the Bible in existence. Again the Son of God declared, “They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them.” And He added, “If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead.” Luke 16:29, 31. PP 367.1
The ceremonial law was given by Christ. Even after it was no longer to be observed, Paul presented it before the Jews in its true position and value, showing its place in the plan of redemption and its relation to the work of Christ; and the great apostle pronounces this law glorious, worthy of its divine Originator. The solemn service of the sanctuary typified the grand truths that were to be revealed through successive generations. The cloud of incense ascending with the prayers of Israel represents His righteousness that alone can make the sinner's prayer acceptable to God; the bleeding victim on the altar of sacrifice testified of a Redeemer to come; and from the holy of holies the visible token of the divine Presence shone forth. Thus through age after age of darkness and apostasy faith was kept alive in the hearts of men until the time came for the advent of the promised Messiah. PP 367.2
Jesus was the light of His people—the Light of the world—before He came to earth in the form of humanity. The first gleam of light that pierced the gloom in which sin had wrapped the world, came from Christ. And from Him has come every ray of heaven's brightness that has fallen upon the inhabitants of the earth. In the plan of redemption Christ is the Alpha and the Omega—the First and the Last. PP 367.3
Since the Saviour shed His blood for the remission of sins, and ascended to heaven “to appear in the presence of God for us” (Hebrews 9:24), light has been streaming from the cross of Calvary and from the holy places of the sanctuary above. But the clearer light granted us should not cause us to despise that which in earlier times was received through the types pointing to the coming Saviour. The gospel of Christ sheds light upon the Jewish economy and gives significance to the ceremonial law. As new truths are revealed, and that which has been known from the beginning is brought into clearer light, the character and purposes of God are made manifest in His dealings with His chosen people. Every additional ray of light that we receive gives us a clearer understanding of the plan of redemption, which is the working out of the divine will in the salvation of man. We see new beauty and force in the inspired word, and we study its pages with a deeper and more absorbing interest. PP 367.4Read in context »
11 (Matthew 26:28; Hebrews 9:22). Blood Was Sacred—The blood of the Son of God was symbolized by the blood of the slain victim, and God would have clear and definite ideas preserved between the sacred and the common. Blood was sacred, inasmuch as through the shedding of the blood of the Son of God alone could there be atonement for sin (The Signs of the Times, July 15, 1880). 1BC 1112.1Read in context »
“The Lord Jesus the same night in which He was betrayed took bread: 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. After the same manner also He took the cup, when He had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in My blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of Me. For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do show the Lord's death till He come.” 1 Corinthians 11:23-26. DA 652.1Read in context »