Why does the Bible say that Christ's body was broken, when we read that not one of His bones was broken?


The apostle Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 11:23-24: “For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you: that the Lord Jesus on the same night in which He was betrayed took bread; and when He had given thanks, He BROKE it and said, ‘Take, eat; this is [meaning “represents”] My body which is BROKEN for you; do this in remembrance of Me.'”

John 19:31-37 reports that at the time of Christ’s crucifixion, a soldier pierced His side with a spear and killed Him. When other soldiers came to break the legs of Christ and the two robbers, they noticed that Christ had already died. Therefore, they did not break His legs. Verse 36 informs us that “these things were done that the Scripture should be fulfilled, ‘Not one of His bones shall be broken.'”

It is important that we realize the different words used in the Greek for the English word, “broken.” In John 19:36, the Greek word for “broken” [in the phrase, “Not one of His bones shall be broken”] is “suntribomai,” meaning “to be wholly broken.” Also, when we read that the soldiers came to break the legs of the crucified victims (in verses 32 and 33), the word is “katagnumi,” meaning “to break down.”

However, the word for Christ’s “broken” body, in 1 Corinthians 11:24, is “klaomai,” which is derived from the word “klao,” (just meaning, “to break”). “Klao” is also used in 1 Corinthians 11:24 (“He broke” the bread), and in 1 Corinthians 10:16 (“The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ?”).

The use of different Greek words shows that there is no contradiction. Even though Christ’s bones were not wholly broken or broken down, His body was clearly “broken” for us, which is signified by the “broken” Passover bread.

John Gill’s Exposition to the Entire Bible points out:

“… for though a bone of him was not broken… his skin and flesh were torn and broken by blows with rods and fists, by whippings and scourgings, by thorns, nails, and spear…”

Some claim that the word “broken” in 1 Corinthians 11:24, referring to Christ’s broken body, is not contained in some old manuscripts, but even they admit that it needs to be supplied, in context with the broken bread. For instance, Jamieson, Fausset and Brown state: “The oldest manuscripts omit ‘broken,’ leaving it to be supplied from ‘brake.'” Others add the word “given” instead of “broken,” but this seems to be insufficient when analyzing the context: Christ did BREAK the bread and then gave it to the disciples, explaining that the BROKEN bread symbolized His body.

In any event, old Greek manuscripts DO include the word “broken” in 1 Corinthians 11:24, when referring to Christ’s body, and the Authorized Version, which is based on the so-called “textus receptus,” does include it in its translation. It is also included in the Greek Text of Stephens [or Stephanus], together with the Interlinear Literal Translation.

The broken Passover bread has tremendous symbolic meaning for us today. As we explain in our booklet, “The Meaning of God’s Spring Holy Days“:

“The bread which Christ ate, and which He wanted His disciples to partake of, was unleavened bread, symbolizing Christ’s sinless life. When Christ broke the unleavened bread and handed it to the disciples to eat, it foreshadowed the pain and suffering He would have to endure, being beaten and pierced with a [spear] at the cross. THE BROKEN BREAD includes healing from physical pain, sickness and injury (Isaiah 53:4–5; Psalm 103:1–3; Matthew 8:16–17).

“In addition, the broken bread symbolizes spiritual healing or reconciliation with God, as man’s sins separate him from the Father (1 Peter 2:21–25; Colossians 1:19–22). Man must also be spiritually reconciled or ‘healed’ with each other. If we devour each other (Galatians 5:14–15), we can’t expect to receive physical healing from God.

“We must pray fervently, in faith, for our physical healing, calling for the elders of the Church to be anointed, while at the same time asking for forgiveness of our transgressions and sins against God and against each other that might have caused or contributed to our physical sickness (James 5:14–16).”

When we pray for God’s healing for our sicknesses, we are to remember Christ’s broken body and the excruciating suffering and pain He endured on our behalf. It is through the Sacrifice of Christ’s broken body that we can obtain physical healing from our sicknesses and injuries. Isaiah 53:4-5 tells us, in the Jewish Tanakh translation:

“Yet it was our sickness that he was bearing, Our suffering that he endured. We accounted him plagued, Smitten and afflicted by God; But he was wounded because of our sins, Crushed because of our iniquities. He bore the chastisement that made us whole, And by his bruises we were healed.”

The margin of the New King James Bible clarifies that the meaning for “wounded” is “pierced through,” and the “bruises” or “stripes” describe “blows that cut in.” We were and are healed by Christ’s “stripes”–when He was scourged or flogged with a Roman scourge (possibly TWICE), and when He endured the pain inflicted upon Him through thorns, brutal blows on the head, nails and the piercing spear of the Roman soldier (John 19:1; Matthew 27:26, 29-30; John 20:25; compare too Isaiah 50:6). For more information on the terrible events of Christ’s suffering and crucifixion, please read our free booklet, “Jesus Christ–A Great Mystery.”

We must never forget, or be indifferent or negligent about the fact, that Christ allowed His body to be broken FOR US–for the healing of OUR sicknesses and infirmities.

Lead Writer: Norbert Link

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