The Fathers Speak: Receiving the Fleshly Gifts of God in Christ and His Supper
“If the mingled cup and the bread that has been made receives the Word of God and the Eucharist of the blood and the body of Christ is made — and these are the things from which the substance of our flesh is increased and supported — how can they [the Gnostic heretics Irenaeus is writing against] say that the flesh is incapable of receiving the gift of God, which is eternal life, when the flesh itself is nourished from the body and blood of the Lord and is one of His membes? The blessed Paul declares the same thing in his epistle to the Ephesians: “we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of of his bones.” (Eph 5:30). He does nto speak these words of some spiritual and invisible person, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones. Rather, he is referring to that dispensation by which the Lord became an actual man, consisting of flesh and nerves and bones—that flesh that is nourished by the cup that is his blood and receive increase from the bread, which is his body. And jsut as a cutting from a vine planted in the ground bears fruit in its season, or as a grain of wheat falling into the earth and becoming decomposed rises with manifold increase by the Spirit of God, who contains all things, and then, through the wisdom of God, serves for the use of people, and having received the Word of God, becomes the Eucharist, which is the body and bloof od Christ—in this same way also ou bocies, being nourished by it and deposited in the earth and suffering decomposition there will rise at teir appointed time. The Word of God grnts them resurrection to the glory of God, even the Father, who freely gives to this mortal immortality and to this corruptible incorruption, because the strength of God is made perfect in weakness.”
— Irenaeus, Against Heresies, 5.2.3; ANF 1:528.