Slotel, Die, van dat Secreet des Nachtmaels

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Die Slotel van dat Secreet des Nachtmaels (The Key to the Mystery of the Communion) is an important treatise in the Dutch language on the doctrine of the communion, both on the Last Supper of Jesus with His disciples and on the communion services as observed in the Christian churches. The author combats the doctrine of transubstantiation as taught by the Roman Catholic Church: the words of Christ, "This is my body," and 'This is my blood," do not mean that bread and wine really became His flesh and blood, but that they represented His flesh and blood. Again and again the author emphasizes that "those who go to the communion table to obtain forgiveness of sin" have "a blind doctrine." He also attacks Luther's doctrine of consubstantiation.

Then the author broadly presents his own view: The Christian communion is an analogy to the Jewish Passover. It was not the eating of the Pascal lamb that saved them, nor does the eating of the bread in the communion service redeem Christians. The Jews ate their Passover with thankful hearts that they were freed from the Egyptian slavery; in the same way the Christians eat the bread in gratitude for release from the power of sin and from death and hell. During the first eating of the Passover the Jews in Egypt had not yet actually been liberated, but they praised God for His promise, which would surely be realized. In the same way the disciples of Christ praised God in joyful thankfulness, because they believed in the promise of God, then not yet fulfilled. God's promise was fulfilled at Calvary's cross. Therefore the believers should meet and hold their Lord's Supper in joyful gratitude; "The spirit of the heart must eat and not only the mouth." The author attacks the views of Carlstadt and Campanus, who believed that communion services were of little value.

The author also deals with the question of who should be called to the communion services and who is allowed to eat the bread and to drink the wine. In Israel, he says, only those were admitted to the Passover lamb who bore the token of circumcision. Among the Christians only those should approach the communion who are "inwardly circumcised, that is, who believe in Christ and who are baptized." It is not clear, however, whether the author means here baptized by water or by the Holy Ghost. But one thing is evident: all those, who are still living according to the flesh, are not allowed to draw near to the table of Christ. The communion should be held in the congregation of believers, which is identical with the body of Christ. Those who wish to take part in the communion must be "alive" (that is, faithful), not "sick" (that is, doubting the grace of God). They must be "hungry" (that is, desiring to proclaim the glory of God) and "thirsty" (that is, longing for salvation).

There is not much uncertainty as to the author of Die Slotel van dat Secreet des Nachtmaels. Though the treatise is anonymous, a number of old witnesses, for example, Klopreis and de Zuttere, have ascribed it to Henric Rol. Samuel Cramer believes it to have been written between 1531 and 8 November 1533. The first and second editions have been lost; a third edition appeared without date about 1563. This edition, also containing Eyne rechte Bedijnckung hoe dat Lichaem Christi van onsen lichaem tho onder-scheyden isz, probably by the same author, was edited by Pieter de Zuttere (Petrus Overd'hage). It was republished from this third edition, copies of which are very rare, in Bibliotheca Reformatoria Neerlandica V (The Hague, 1909) and provided with introduction and notes by Samuel Cramer.


Cornelius, C. A. Geschichte des Münsterischen Aufruhrs II. Münster, 1860: 163 ff.

Cramer, Samuel and Fredrik Pijper. Bibliotheca Reformatoria Neerlandica. The Hague: M. Nijhoff, 1903-1914: v. V, 1-94.

Sepp, Chr. Kerkhistorische Studien. 1885: 1-90.

Author(s) Nanne van der Zijpp
Date Published 1959

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MLA style

Zijpp, Nanne van der. "Slotel, Die, van dat Secreet des Nachtmaels." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1959. Web. 4 Aug 2021.,_Die,_van_dat_Secreet_des_Nachtmaels&oldid=119090.

APA style

Zijpp, Nanne van der. (1959). Slotel, Die, van dat Secreet des Nachtmaels. Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 4 August 2021, from,_Die,_van_dat_Secreet_des_Nachtmaels&oldid=119090.


Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 4, pp. 544-545. All rights reserved.

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