[Article XXII(X):] Of Both Elements in the Lord's Supper

Written in Latin by Philip Melanchthon (1531)

Translated from the Latin into German by Justus Jonas (1531)

English Translation by Ambrose and Socrates Henkel (1851), Revised by W. F. Lehmann (1854)

Link to Bente/Dau Translation from Latin (1921)

[1] It is undoubtedly the divine will and right, and in conformity with the command of Christ and the words of Paul, to use both elements in the Lord's Supper; for Christ instituted both elements, not only for a part of the church, but for the whole. Not only the priests, but the whole church uses the Sacrament by the authority of Christ, not of men: and this our adversaries must acknowledge.

[2] Now, if Christ instituted the whole Sacrament for the whole church, why do they take away from the church one of the elements? Why do they alter the order of Christ; especially, since he calls it his testament? For, if we ought not to break the testament of a man, much less should we break the testament of Christ. [3] Besides, Paul says, 1 Cor. 11:23: "For I have received of the Lord that which I also delivered unto you." Now, he certainly gave them both elements, as the text clearly shows, 1 Cor. 11:24: "This do," says he, "in remembrance of me." He is here speaking of the body. Afterwards he repeats the same words respecting the blood of Christ; and a little further on, he says: "Let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup" etc., 1 Cor. 11:28. Here he mentions them both.

These are the clear words of the apostle Paul, following shortly after an introductory remark, to the effect that those who would use the Sacrament, should do so simultaneously. [4] Certainly, therefore, it was instituted not only for the priests, but for the whole church.

This custom is observed in the Greek church even to this day, and prevailed also in the Latin or Roman church, as Cyprian and Jerome testify. Thus says Jerome, commenting on the prophet Zephaniah: "The priests, who administer the Sacrament, and distribute the blood of Christ unto the people," etc. The Synod of Toledo testifies the same thing; and it would be very easy to collect many declarations and testimonies in reference to this, but, in order to be brief, we shall omit them. [5] Let each Christian reader judge for himself, whether it is right to forbid and alter the order and institution of Christ.

[6] Our adversaries, in their Confutation, do not consider how the consciences of those from whom one of the elements has been withheld by Popery, are to be consoled or excused. It would have been very appropriate for learned and pious doctors to exhibit substantial grounds, for the consolation of the conscience in this situation.

Now, they urge that it is right and consistent with Christianity, to forbid one of the elements; and they do not allow both to be used. [7] In the first place, they imagine that in the early church it was the custom to administer only one of the elements to the laity; and yet they are unable to adduce any authentic case to this effect.

They quote several passages from Luke the Evangelist, concerning the breaking of the bread, for instance, Luke 24:35, that the Lord was known of the disciples in breaking of bread, and refer also to additional passages in regard to this subject. Now, although we have no serious objection to see some of them referred to the Sacrament, yet, it does not follow, that in the beginning only one element was administered; for it is a common thing to mention but a part while the whole is meant.

[8] They likewise refer to lay-Communion, (laica communione,) as if it meant the use of but one element, which is not true. For, when the canons enjoin lay-Communion upon the priests, it is implied that, by way of chastisement, they should not themselves perform consecration, but yet receive both elements from others. Our adversaries well know this; but in this way they make a display to delude the illiterate and inexperienced; for such men, when they hear the words communio laica, are at once led to think of a Communion like the present, in which the laity received one element only.

[9] But let us further see how impudently our adversaries write against the order and institution of Christ. Among other reasons for not administering both elements to the laity, Gabriel assigns this also: That there must be a difference between the priests and the laity. And I truly believe that the principal reason for maintaining this doctrine so strenuously at this day, is, that the priesthood may appear holier than the laity. This is a human device, the design of which can easily be inferred.

[10] In the Confutation they refer to the children of Eli, 1 Sam. 2:36, where the text says: "That every one that is left in thine house shall come and crouch to him for a piece of silver and a morsel of bread, and shall say, put me, I pray thee, into one of the priest's offices, that I may eat a piece of bread." Here, say they, the one element is meant; and they add, our laity should therefore likewise be satisfied with one part (office) of the priest, that is, with one of the elements.

The authors of the Confutation are certainly impudent and grossly stupid men; they play and trifle with the Scriptures as they please, referring the history of the children of Eli to the Sacrament, for it is the condign punishment of Eli and his children, that is here described. Will they also assert that the one element is therefore given to the laity as a punishment? Verily, they are silly and mad.

The Sacrament was instituted by Christ, to console the alarmed conscience, to strengthen our faith when we believe that the flesh of Christ was given for the life of the world, and that by this nourishment we are united with Christ, and obtain grace and life.

But our adversaries have come to the conclusion, that those who receive this Sacrament in one form, are thereby to be punished; and they declare that the laity must be satisfied. [11] This is truly the height of arrogance. But, sirs, dare we not ask why they must be satisfied. Or are we to consider everything you desire and say, as true?

Strange indeed! How insolent and shameless our adversaries are. They boldly set up their declarations as lordly commands, and say without reserve, that the laity must be satisfied; but why must they? [12] Are these the grounds on which those are to be exculpated before the judgment-seat of God, who have hitherto withheld from the people one of the elements, and have slain innocent men on that account? Can they comfort themselves with the declaration concerning the children of Eli, that they shall beg? This will be a sorry excuse before the judgment-seat of God.

[14] They further assign as reasons, why both elements should not be administered: the danger of spilling a drop out of the cup, and other dreams of a similar character, for the sake of which the order of Christ cannot, of right, be altered.

[15] But even admitting it to have been left discretionary, to use one or both elements, how could they prove that they have authority to forbid the use of both elements? But it does not belong to men or the church, to assume such liberty, or to make res indifferentes, that is, things indifferent, of Christ's institutions.

[16] We have no desire to pass judgment upon these poor souls that have been deprived, by force, of the use of one of the elements, and were compelled to endure wrong. But those who have forbidden the use of the two elements, and besides publicly preach and teach thus, seize and destroy men on account of it, heap upon themselves the terrible judgment and wrath of God, and we know no way of excusing them. Let them see to it, how they can justify their design before God. [17] Nor should we at once receive, as the decision of the church, what the bishops and priests resolve; especially, since the Scriptures and the prophet Ezekiel (7:26,) say, that priests and bishops will come, who know no divine command or law.